A Lesson from Real Life

E. J. Waggoner [click here to download]

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1).

“Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous” (Rom. 5:18–19).

“For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power” (1 Cor. 4:20). The promises and the gifts of the gospel are not matters of mere theory, but of fact. And, in order to show us the reality of the power, Jesus Christ came to earth and demonstrated it in such a way that all can comprehend it. In the life of Christ we shall find every gospel truth illustrated. Let us see something of how the above texts work in real life.

A woman whose life had been slowly and steadily wasting away for many years, and who had spent all her living in a vain attempt to recover her health, and was only made to suffer the more from the experiments of many physicians, heard of the great Physician, and went to Him. She was timid, and the multitude of people pressed about Jesus so closely that she could scarcely approach Him; but “she said within herself, If I may but touch His garment, I shall be whole.” Her faith was rewarded, for as she touched the border of His garment, immediately she was fully healed.

Although Jesus was crowded and jostled by the people, He instantly detected that gentle touch. That touch was different from every other, because it was the touch of faith, and it drew power from the person of Jesus. When the disciples wondered that in the midst of such a crowd He should ask, “Who touched Me?” He said, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me” (Luke 8:45, 46). That power was the power of His life, for it supplied the woman’s need, and what she wanted was life.

Here we have something that our mind can lay hold of and our senses can appreciate. A real thing was done. Something real went from Jesus into the woman. It was not imagination; it was not a figure of speech; but it was an actual fact that the woman was healed. She had the life that she before lacked, and that life came from Jesus. We can never know what life is—only its Author can understand it—but we do know the need of it, even of the righteous life of Christ, and here we see how it is obtained, for the words of Jesus to that poor woman show that she was healed in the same way and by the same means by which we are justified and have peace with God. He said unto her, “Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace” (Luke 8:48). If we should apply the words of the apostle Paul to her particular experience, we might read, “Therefore being made whole in body by faith, she had peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Perhaps this may enable someone to grasp more fully the reality of the righteousness which comes by faith of Jesus Christ.

Nothing is said about forgiveness of sins in this instance, but we may be sure from other instances that such faith as the poor woman had brought healing of soul as well as of body. But no one need have a doubt as to whether this is really parallel to Rom. 5:1, and an illustration of the truth there stated, for we find the same words used with express reference to sins. In the preceding chapter (Luke 7) we are told of the sinful woman who anointed the feet of Jesus after her tears of repentance had washed them Jesus did not repel her, but said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” And then followed words almost identical with those with which He dismissed the poor woman of whom we have been reading. To the woman who was well in body, but mortally diseased with sin, Jesus said, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace” (Luke 7:50). Compare Luke 8:48.

This proves beyond all possibility of doubt that the same thing is done in the forgiveness of sins that was done in healing the woman with the issue of blood. The method is the same, and the results are the same. Therefore, as we know that something real was done for the diseased woman, so we may be sure that something real is done for the repentant sinner. Just as something real, although invisible, went from Jesus into the person of the diseased woman, making her perfectly well and strong, even so we are to know that something real comes from Christ into the person of the repentant sinner, making him whole, and free from sin.

That something is nothing less than the actual life of Christ. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (v. 7). The blood is the life; and so it is the life of Jesus Christ that cleanses us from sin. This is what we read in Rom. 5:10, in continuance of the statement that, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. “For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”

Many think that the forgiveness of sins by the imputed righteousness of Christ is something that exists only in the mind of God. Of course they acknowledge its reality, yet at the same time they do not realize it. There is always something unreal about it in their minds. The trouble is that they fail to grasp and to make real the Living connection between Christ and them. There is between the true disciples and Christ a connection as real as that between the vine branch and the parent stalk. The forgiveness of sins is too often thought to be illustrated by the payment of a poor man’s debt by a rich friend. If a rich man pays the debt of a poor man, then the shopkeeper credits the poor man with the sum, and the record on the books shows that the debt is canceled. Of course the poor man is benefited, but he does not actually receive anything that will keep him in the future. But it is different when God, for Christ’s sake, forgives sins.

Christ “gave Himself for our sins” (Gal. 1:4). His life is given to be manifest in our mortal flesh. 2 Cor. 4:17. Just as the sap flows through the vine to the farthest branches, and just as the life of Christ went into the poor, diseased woman, to make her perfectly well, so the sinless, endless, inexhaustible life of Christ flows into those who have faith in Him, to cleanse them from sin, and to make them walk in newness of life.

His life on earth was one of obedience to the commandments of God. (John 15:10). The law of God was in His heart (Ps. 40:8), so that His very life was the fullness of the law. He fulfilled the righteousness of the law. (Matt. 5:17). That is, the fullness, the perfection, of the law appeared in His life. And it is by this life that we are saved. It is not that we are counted righteous because Jesus of Nazareth was righteous eighteen hundred years ago, but because “He ever lives,” “the same yesterday, and today, and forever,” to save by the power of His [present] endless life all that come to Him. 

Jesus fulfilled the righteousness of the law, in order “that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Rom. 8:4). The Revised Version reads, “That the ordinance of the law might be fulfilled in us,” and gives “requirement” in the margin, as an alternative. The idea is, therefore, that Christ kept the law, in order that its utmost requirement might be fulfilled in us, not by us, but in us, for whereas we have no power to do even what we know to be right, Christ dwelling in us does the right by His own power through our members when we yield them to Him. This he does for all who trust him. And thus it is that “by the obedience of one, shall many be made righteous.”

We may thus know two things, first, how we are made partakers of Christ’s life, and, second, what the nature of that life is, and what it will be in us. The miraculous healing of the poor woman shows us the first. The second we learn by reading the Ten Commandments, and by studying the life of Christ. All that was in His life when He was on earth is in it now, and that is what He gives to us. And that which was not in His life cannot possibly be given to us in it. Everything that is not in His life is sin, and Christ is not the minister of sin.

The Signs of the Times 20, 59 (December 24, 1894), pp. 934, 935.

E. G. White: “Through the power of Christ, men and women have broken the chains of sinful habit. They have renounced selfishness. The profane have become reverent, the drunken sober, the profligate pure. Souls that have borne the likeness of Satan have become transformed into the image of God. This change is in itself the miracle of miracles. A change wrought by the Word, it is one of the deepest mysteries of the Word. We cannot understand it; we can only believe, as declared by the Scriptures, it is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).... (AG 107)