It is generally supposed that to teach that Christ was of divine nature in the days of his flesh is to honor him; and to carry this error further, with a view, it would seem, of honoring him as to his fleshly nature also, the theory of "Immaculate Conception" was invented. Instead of this theory of dual nature, perfect on the one hand by being of divine substance; and perfect on the other by a miraculous transformation of the flesh of his mother from "sinful flesh" to "immaculate flesh," honoring him, it robs him entirely of merit and consequently of honor as the result of merit. If He had been immortal before he inhabited a flesh body, and was so during his bodily existence, he could not have died; for that which is immortal (deathless) cannot die. And if his body was immaculate it was free from the power of that death which came upon mankind through the sin of Adam; and in that case his body ought not to have died.
Supposing the theory of duality of nature--one immortal, the other immaculate flesh--during his earthly life, it will be admitted by all that both the personality which is supposed to have preceded the begettal of the body and the body itself are now immortal and therefore immaculate. Is there any revealed principle of law or justice upon which (supposing it were possible for an immortal person to die) Jesus could be required to die now? Certainly not, and why not? Because he stands in no sense related to any law of death; and therefore, according to the law of death which God has revealed and which he honors, it would be unlawful for Christ to die. Now if this law is carried back to Jesus in the days of his flesh, if his supposed immortal personality (which, it is claimed, pre-existed), and his fleshly body were both free from any law of death, then his death was unlawful; and how shall we account for a "very God" doing, or submitting himself to, an unlawful thing? Moreover, how shall we account for the other two co-equal parts of the Trinity allowing, yea requiring, death on the part of one who, according to the divine law of death, ought not to have died? The further we press these questions the more evident it becomes that instead of it being any honor to Christ to teach that he was composed of a personal, immortal entity, and an immaculate body, we dishonor him and the Deity, in that, according to Deityís own law--and we have no other governing the case--an unlawful thing was required by two supposed persons of the Godhead, and an unlawful thing was done by the other supposed person of the Trinity.
There are revealed facts on this subject which cannot be ignored, and which must shape our course in deciding the question of the nature of Christ and how salvation was exemplified in him.
1. It is a fact that
God devised his plan of salvation in such a way as to depend upon the
death of Christ.
2. It is a fact that Jesus realized that he must die a sacrificial death in obedience to the law of the spirit of life, or the gospel.
3. God has revealed it as His law that death cannot take place by His approval unless the subject is in some manner involved in the "law of sin and death."
Now it must be evident that an immortal Christ could not be in any sense related to the law of sin and death; neither could an immaculate Christ be subject thereto. In order, therefore, to really believe in the actual death of Christ we must believe that he was of a nature capable of dying, and that he was so related to the law of sin and death that his death, as required by the plan of salvation, should not conflict with any revealed law of God but rather be in accordance with it; I use the words, "really believe in the actual death of Christ," because one holding that Jesus was the second person of the Trinity, deathless and co-equal with God, cannot really believe that Jesus actually died. He must, when he says that Christ died, hold in mental reserve the thought that he who was "God very God" could not and did not die; but he will quiet his conscience with the thought that he does believe that his body died, and so with this compromise he lets it go at that, which is but a sort of a bargain made with a solemn, serious subject. But even to admit that Christís body died, there must be an admission that his body, instead of being immaculate, was involved in the law of sin and death, under the same Adamic condemnation which all descendants of Adam are under; otherwise the belief in the death of even his body, only, would be in direct conflict with the law and justice of God as revealed in his Word. To believe that Jesus was mortal, under the law of sin and death in common with those he came to redeem, and that notwithstanding this he lived a perfect life, triumphed over sin and death and hades and thus merited the honor and glory he now enjoys, is to honor him in the highest sense; while to believe that he was God, immortal and immaculate, and that he therefore could not sin, is to regard his temptation, suffering and death as unreal, a mere sham, in which there could be no merit, no honor, no glory.
But we must be sure that the three propositions we have submitted are sound, and the Scriptures must be our authority.
1. That Godís plan of salvation was made dependent upon the death of Christ is evident from the following scriptures:
Gen. 3: 15--And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel.
Gen. 15: 8, 9--And he (Abraham) said, Lord God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it? And he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtle dove, and a young pigeon. [All these were sacrifices typical of Christ.]
Numb. 21: 9--And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass he lived.
John 3: 14, 15--And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life
II. Sam. 7: 14--I will be his father, and he shall be my son. In suffering for iniquity I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men.
Isa. 53: 10-12--Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief; when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bear the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
Dan. --And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself [or because of any sin of his own committing].
Zec. --As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein there is no water.
Phil. 2: 8--And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Matt. 26: 39--O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.
Acts --Him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.
Heb. 12: 2--Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, etc.
Heb. 13: 20, 21--Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect, etc.
These testimonies are sufficient to prove our first proposition, that the death of Christ was a necessity in the plan of salvation, and that this was Godís arrangement "according to his determinate counsel and foreknowledge." Whether we can ever see the reason for this or not, the fact remains the same, the testimony is clear and emphatic. "Thou shalt bruise his heel;" thou Abraham shalt receive thine everlasting inheritance by means of the sacrifice typified by the offerings which I command thee to make, which is my answer to thy question, "Lord God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?" "As Moses lifted up the serpent even so must the Son of Man be lifted up;" by "making his soul an offering for sin" he should cause "the pleasure of the Lord to prosper in his hand;" "Messiah shall be cut off" as a means of "bringing in everlasting righteousness;" "by the blood of thy covenant shall the prisoners be sent forth out of the pit or the grave." In dying Jesus was obedient unto death and therefore commanded of his Father. In drinking the cup, it is "thy will" that is done. For the joy of his reward he must endure the cross. Through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Jesus is brought out of death.
The entire plan of salvation is expressed in the word "covenant;" and of this covenant the Apostle Paul says, as the Authorized Version gives it: "For where a testament is, there must of necessity be the death of the testator." Properly rendered, as in the Diaglott, this is, "For where a covenant exists, the death of that which ratified it is necessary to be produced." All is therefore predicated upon the death of Christ as the Covenant sacrifice--a necessity according to "the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God." This is a divinely revealed truth; and we must accept it as the foundation upon which, and in harmony with which, all our reasoning and conclusions must be based.
2. That Jesus realized that, according to the Fatherís plan, he must die a sacrificial death is evident from the following testimonies:
Matt. --From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his
disciples, how that he must go unto
John --And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up.
John 12: 32--And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
Luke --And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer.
Verse 20--This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is shed for you.
Luke 24: 26--Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
Heb. --Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the peopleís: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.
Heb. 9: 23--It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
Heb. 10: 4-7--For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins. Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offering and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo I come to do thy will, O God.
Heb. --* * * without the shedding of blood is no remission.
Heb. 12: 2--* * * who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross.
Heb. 5: 7--Who in the days of his flesh, when he offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from [out of] death, and was heard in that he feared.
From these scriptures it will be seen that Jesus realized that the redemption of fallen man depended upon the fulfillment of his mission, in enduring great temptation and trial and developing a character "holy, harmless and undefiled and separate from sinners," crowned with an obedient sacrificial death upon the cross. Why God so arranged his plan as to make this a necessity we shall consider further along; it is sufficient now (and indeed it is a fact whether we can ever discover why or not) that we accept the testimony declaring that it is so. This was so important a matter in the gospel which Paul preached that he writes the Corinthian brethren that "he delivered to them among the chief things how that Christ died, and was buried, and rose again." And, he further declares, "If Christ be not raised (which, of course, implies his acceptable death), your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins, and we are found false witnesses of God;" and, moreover, if Christ has not been raised in attestation of the acceptability of his sacrificial death, "then they also who have fallen asleep in Christ are perished."
Now, since we see that God so arranged his plan of redemption as to require and depend upon the death of Christ; and that Jesus so understood the matter and performed all that his Fatherís plan required, as a means to the attainment of the "joy that was set before him" beyond the cross, the next question to be considered is that of our third proposition.
3. God has revealed it as his law that death cannot take place by His approval unless the subject is in some manner involved in the law of sin and death.
In a previous chapter
we have shown that death is the great enemy of mankind, which came by sin. If
it sometimes appears to be a welcome visitor, it is only when of two evils it
is the lesser. In view of the fact that men are prone to wickedness in this
present fallen state, it is well that the wisdom of God has caused death to
limit human life, both as to the extent of the "multiplication of sorrow
and conception," and as to menís length of days. But the evil which
necessitated this consequent evil is back of all this; and when we discover the
primary cause of death we shall see the divine law which governs the inception
and its continuance in the world. Death had a beginning in relation to man; and
it will have an end. Its beginning is shown by the following: "Wherefore
as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed
upon all men for that all have sinned"--Rom. 5: 12. Its end is declared as
follows: "The last enemy shall be destroyed, death"--
Following are a few scriptures as proof of this:
Gen. 2: 17--But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
Gen. 3: 17--And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth unto thee; and thou shalt eat of the herb of the field: in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken; for dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return.
Rom. , 17, 18--Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. For if by one manís offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
Rom. --For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
I. Cor. , 56--For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
From this testimony we learn that man is in bondage to death and the grave as the result of sin; and that redemption from the power of death is the work to be accomplished by the plan of salvation which God in his love devised. But deliverance from death is predicated upon death; and here is the question, How can death deliver from death? The death of an actual sinner would only fasten the claims of death more tightly upon the victim; and since all mere men, from Adam to Christ, were, in some degree, actual sinners, no man could redeem his brother nor give to God a ransom. Supposing the possibility of an angel dying, that would not redeem, because, since angels do not belong to the race of mankind and therefore stand in no sense related to the law of death under which man is held, it would be contrary to Godís law of death for an angel to die; and that which is contrary to Godís law is unlawful and one unlawful act could not redeem from the effects of another unlawful act. To discriminate between what is lawful and unlawful we must be governed by the revealed law of God. Since He made death dependent upon sin in the law given to Adam, it follows that Godís law was, If you sin you shall die; if you do not sin you shall not die. If you sin it will be lawful for me to impose death upon you; if you do not sin it will be (according to my law) unlawful for me to impose death upon you. God cannot oppose himself. He cannot break his own law.
Moreover, angels having become spirit beings are forever free from death--they cannot, according to Godís law, die. So it will be with the redeemed of mankind when they are made "like unto the angels to die no more." An angel, therefore, could not be a redeemer of the fallen race of Adam, because Godís plan predicated redemption upon a sacrificial death, which must be consistent with and not opposed to His law that death cannot justly take place unless there is a relation in some sense to sin. To substitute the death of a being of another race would be unjust, because it would require the death of one who ought not to die for one who ought; and now it becomes still more clear that if Christ were, as to himself, immortal; and, as to his body, immaculate, it would have been unjust for God to have required him to die, and it would have been unlawful for Jesus to voluntarily offer himself a victim to death. We are therefore driven by Godís revealed law and by all that is just, reasonable and right to conclude that a saviour that would meet all the requirements of the case must be one whose nature was capable of dying; one whose death would be consistent with Godís revealed law of sin and death, and therefore one whose death would be in accordance with divine justice; and yet he must be one who, in character, is free from sin, "holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners." This would necessitate
1. That the Redeemer
should be in nature mortal, like unto those he would redeem.
2. That he should by inheritance, according to Godís law as expressed in the words "And so death passed upon all men," be included with all those of whom it is said, "By the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation."
3. That he should bear the infirmities, temptations and trials of the race and suffer the inherited effects of the sin which brought sorrow, pain and death upon the race, and yet be personally, as to character, without sin, and practically a manifestation of the righteousness of God.
In this way God "would be just and the justifier of all who would believe in the Redeemer." In this way, too, the glory would be to God, in that He would produce one out of the race vested with the mental and moral powers necessary to accomplish the work; merit and honor would be due to Christ, in that he faithfully used the powers he possessed and completely triumphed; and the blessing would be to the redeemed, in that they would be delivered from death and the grave, and could finally exclaim triumphantly, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
But now we have three propositions to prove again in order that what we have set forth may be shown to rest upon the impregnable rock of divine truth. These may be reduced to the form of three questions;
1. Was Christ mortal
like unto those he came to redeem?
2. Did he inherit the death which "passed upon all men;" and was he born under the results of that "judgment which came upon all men unto condemnation?"
3. Did he bear the infirmities, temptations and trials of the fallen race and suffer the effects of that sin which brought sorrow, pain and death upon the race; and yet develop a character absolutely spotless?
Now when we say that Jesus was mortal, let it not be said that all so-called Christians believe that he was mortal as to his body; for that only evades the real question. We are dealing with that person called Jesus, as to what he was; and we are not separating Jesus from his body and allowing for himself one nature, and for his body another. As a personality Jesus cannot be thought of nor spoken of apart from bodily existence. Therefore, what he was in nature he was bodily and there is no other personality to be considered. When, therefore, we read that Jesus "was made," etc., we are not reading of what the place of his habitation was made of, as if he was one thing and the body was another. We are reading of what the very person, the only person who was Jesus or Christ--what he "was made," whether flesh or spirit; whether mortal or immortal; whether maculate or immaculate. There has been so much play upon words in an endeavor to separate "spirit entity" from body in relation to man generally, and "Divine substance" from body in relation to Jesus, that it is necessary that terms should be defined, so that when we read or employ the terms "his body" we may not quibble and endeavor to establish a theory of the "his" being a separate entity from the "body," any more than when we speak of the floors, walls, roof, etc., of the house--every thing of the house, we mean that the house is a separate thing of itself independently of the component parts named. When one employs the terms concerning Jesus, "His body, his spirit, his being, his nature," etc., it would be the part of a quibbler to argue that the possessive pronoun "his" is a separate personality from the component parts named. Now let us consider our propositions:
That Jesus was, in the days of his flesh, mortal like all descendants of Adam, inheriting the death which passed upon the race; and born under the condemnation which all "sinsí flesh" is under, bearing our infirmities, etc., we submit the following proofs:
The same testimonies will apply to what our three propositions set forth:
Gen. 3: 15--And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed.
Gen. 22: 17--* * * And thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies.
II. Sam. * * * I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.
Isa. 53: 2, 3--For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. * * * He was despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
John --And the word was made flesh.
Gal. 3: 16--. . . he saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
Gal. 4: 4--But when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law.
I. Tim. --And without controversy, great is the mystery of Godliness; God was manifest in flesh, justified in the spirit, etc.
Heb. 2: 9--But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels. . . For it became him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of our salvation perfect through suffering.
Verse 14--Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that hath the power of death, that is, the devil.
Verses 16-18--For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.
Heb. 4: 15--For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
I. Peter 2: 24--Who his own self bore our sins in his own body on the tree.
I. John 4: 2, 3--Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God.
Rom. --. . . And so death passed upon all men.
Verse 18--Therefore by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation.
II. Cor. --For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
After the fall of our first parents their nature was the same as before, that is, flesh and blood, of the earth earthy; but there was a change in its condition, in that it was no longer "very good," but it was sin-stricken, death-stricken, and had become "sinís flesh" in which had been begotten the diabolos proclivities. Now for Jesus to be the "seed of the woman" he must be of the same flesh and blood in the same condition; and his work was to overcome the flesh proclivities, redeem himself thereby, and thus become the "Captain of our salvation." Hence if we compare him with Adam before sin "entered into the world" we shall see the reason why Adam was not a "man of sorrow," while Jesus was. Sorrow, suffering and death came as the result of Adamís sin; and these became inherent in manís nature. Therefore Jesus, by being made of the "seed of Abraham," had these to contend with in his nature and to overcome. Therefore the serpent in the form of sin "bruised his heel;" but he, when he finally destroys sin and all its effects and even death itself, will bruise the serpentís head. For this purpose he was the Word made flesh-- "sinís flesh;" "made of a woman;" "made lower than the angels;" "partook of the same flesh and blood that he might destroy the devil" (diabolos) or "sin in the flesh;" "made like unto his brethren;" "tempted in all points like unto his brethren;" among those included in the words "death passed upon all men;" and with those of whom it is said that, "By one offence judgment came upon all men unto condemnation," sinís flesh being under condemnation hereditarily; our old man was crucified with him, when he was crucified, sinís flesh being an embodiment of the "old man" (Adamís) sin, a sin state needing restitution and redemption; "made sin" or sin nature for us, so as to be an exemplification of redemption out of sin-nature, the fallen state, which "redemption of the body" Godís people are "waiting for."
The great question involved is, Did Jesus experience salvation? Some are shocked at the very thought of such a question, because they are prejudiced by the theory of the divinity and "immaculate conception." If Jesus did not experience salvation, then his life in the flesh was a sham; for he is represented as suffering, tempted, dying, being raised, and rewarded. We are not to be driven from facts by the amazement of superstition. The testimony we have given shows that Jesus was born into the fallen state into which the sin of our first parents plunged the race. Manís fallen state was that of his very nature, in which "the whole creation groaneth;" and how could Jesus "come in the flesh" without partaking of the same fallen nature? If he did not inherit a nature which caused or necessitated his life of suffering and his death, then all that he suffered was directly imposed upon him without an adequate cause, and in that case according to Godís revealed law of sin, suffering and death, there was injustice. A substitutionary saviour would be the suffering and death of one for whose suffering and death there was no law, and that would be unlawful. We see infants suffering, and we know that it is according to "the law of sin and death." Sin took effect in the beginning, the stream was poisoned at the fountain. Recognizing the laws of God in Nature and in Revelation, we can trace the effects to a lawful cause. Now apply this to Jesus, and we are compelled to attribute his suffering and death to the one primary cause of the worldís evils. Upon this principle of divine law Jesus really, in his nature, bore the burden of mankind; and the reason that burden did not crush him and hold him under its ponderous weight in death and hades was because he accomplished what no man ever had been able to accomplish; and which no mere man ever could have accomplished, namely, a life of perfect holiness despite the heavy burden of a sin-stricken, tempting nature in which diabolos dwelt, but, in His case, to be destroyed.
Some people object to this and ask, Why should Jesus suffer as the result of the sin of Adam? We may answer by asking, Why do all Adamís descendants suffer from that cause? If the rejoinder is, We suffer because we sin ourselves, then we ask, Do we not suffer before we commit personal sin; and do not thousands die without having committed a single sin? To what shall we trace the cause? "By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men." To cry out that our fallen state into which we are born is not "our fault" will not help the matter. If it is not "our fault" it is our fact, and it is the fact we must deal with whether all can see the adequate cause of the fact or not. But all nature is a lesson to show the discerning mind that defects or "faults," call them by what name we will, are transmitted, naturally too, now since sin has thrown a "very good" state into an abnormal state. Now let us view the entire race as down in the "valley of the shadow of death" as the inherited effect of sin; and let us realize that Godís plan of redemption requires that one of the race shall climb to the top of the mountain without stumbling or falling. Not one is found able to perform the task. To send an angel to do it would be no task and therefore no merit to the angel. To send a "co-equal god" to do it would be trifling; for it would be nothing but a sham. But for one burdened with the nature of fallen humanity it would be a task--yes a task which no mere man could accomplish. What must be done then? Is there no hope for these fallen ones down in this "valley of the shadow of death?" No hope if they are left to find help of themselves. The arm of the Lord must reach down and come to the rescue. But how? By miraculously and suddenly lifting them all to the mountain top? God could have done that, of course, so far as power was concerned; but then there would have been no merit to any one. Here is the beauty of the divine plan, then, in that God in His love does his part of helpless man; and yet there is a part to be performed in one of the fallen which shall be a wonderful achievement on his part and by which he merits reward; and yet there is a part for all the rest who will be benefited to perform in order to partake of the results of the triumph of the one who accomplishes the work. The hand divine reaches down and produces one "made in all points like unto his brethren;" but he is begotten in the valley, not on the mountain top. The difference between him and "his brethren" is not a difference of nature; for his first work is to redeem his own nature before he can be the "captain of the salvation" of "his brethren." The difference is that by divine begettal, and by special guardianship, providentially as to human environments, and divinely by Holy Spirit and angelic ministration, in all of which the love of God shines gloriously as primarily our Saviour. Then Jesus, with these divine helps, does his part with human nature tested and tried to its utmost limit, in which his temptation, sufferings and death are real; and so he carries the heavy load and yet ascends the mountain-top to be the Redeemer of all who identify themselves with him in the appointed way. Thus was salvation exemplified really, practically and experimentally in the person of Jesus the Christ.
To present the matter
in a different form, we may view Jesus as commencing his work where Adam left
us, not in that state wherein Adam was created "very good." There was
no life of "sorrow and suffering" between Adam and the tree of life;
Jesus was "a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief," without any
personal fault of his own. Adam before he sinned was in paradise: Jesus was
born into a lost paradise. There was no cross between Adam and the tree of
life; Jesus was born into a state in which there was no access to life eternal
and the crown of glory, except by way of
How beautiful the plan, that, since Adamís fall (and the fall of the race in him, Jesus included) was first mental, second moral, third physical, redemption through Christ was, first mental, unison with God; second, moral, harmony with the divine attributes, third, physical, redemption of body, or consubstantiality with Deity. Thus Jesus became "the fulness of the Godhead bodily," and the "only name given under heaven whereby we must be saved." Manís relation to Adam and the fallen state he caused, is expressed by the words "in Adam;" our relation to Christ and the reconciled state he effected is expressed by the phrase "in Christ." Since this has been effected by means of God manifested in the flesh by the Spirit, Jesus is the one name in focal manifestation. He is the Father manifested by the Spirit; and therefore to be in Christ is to be "in the name (one name) of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
Now there are some who try to evade the force of those passages which prove that Jesus was "made in all points like unto his brethren" and that he took part of "the same" flesh and blood as the race, by claiming that he was not actually of mortal, sinful flesh, but that he was "sent in the likeness of sinful flesh," emphasizing the word "likeness" as if it meant something similar to, but not the same thing. If this were true we should still have the same incongruity of one dying who, according to Godís law, ought not to die. The passage referred to is Rom. 8: 3--"For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh." The latter part of the verse shows the object to be attained, namely, "to condemn sin in the flesh." "The flesh," says the apostle in another place, "lusteth against the Spirit." That is, the lustfulness of flesh, which was propagated by the sin of our first parents, makes it "sinful flesh," and a state which, uncleansed by whatever law God gives as a means of cleansing, first provisionally, and second absolutely, is under divine condemnation and unfit for reconciliation to Him. This inherent lustfulness was the diabolos to be overcome and finally destroyed, by a life that would be a curbing, checking and condemning of all the fleshly proclivities. This would be to practically "condemn sin in the flesh," which the passage says was the object in view in Godís sending Jesus Christ "in the likeness of sinful flesh." It will therefore be readily seen that one coming in another sort of flesh could not condemn sin in the flesh in which was the diabolos to be overcome and destroyed. The one fitted for the work must have the flesh in which inhered the Adamically-produced sin-proclivities in order that he might "condemn sin in the very flesh" in which lust in the sense of inordinate desire had come to exist as the result of sin. For God to send Jesus in "the likeness of sinful flesh" was for him to send him in sinful flesh itself.
If there be still a
disposition to play upon the word "likeness," let it be remembered
that a writerís use of any word must be governed by the sense in which he uses
it; and no one has a right to assume for the writer a meaning to suit a theory.
It happens that this same apostle Paul uses a similar word in another letter;
and a comparison can therefore be made and a clue to his meaning be
There is another way in which some attempt to construe scripture to suit the theory that Jesus was a separate personality from his body. It is by quoting the words of Heb. 2: 16--"For verily he took (margin, taketh) not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham." The claim is made that the "he" who "took" existed as a person before "he took on him the seed of Abraham." This claim arises from a dwarfed understanding of the use of words. It is similar to the argument based upon the words "his body" which seeks to separate the "his" from the body, as meaning a separate immortal entity; but the apostle speaks of "the bodies of those beasts" in Heb. 13: 11, in which case the "disputer about words to no profit" will see the absurdity to which his premises lead. He will hardly be prepared to claim for the beasts a separate existence from their bodies because the apostle uses the phrase "bodies of the beasts."
Suppose one should say to one building a house, "Your house begins to assume a handsome appearance" no one would conclude that the house was a pre-existent thing, and that it must actually exist before it could begin to assume a handsome appearance; nor could any one conclude that the house was an active agent in so assuming. One is compelled to use the noun which stands for that which is to be a completed thing before there is a beginning to produce it.
Now the fact is that God begat Jesus, and that he was "born of a woman" whose nature was sinful flesh and blood. In the very nature of things Jesus could not be an active agent in bringing about his own existence. For the apostle to say that "he took on him the seed of Abraham" is, therefore, to say that he was made in the nature of Abraham, and this is so explained in the very next verse, which begins with "Wherefore." It is as if the apostle had said, "Jesus took on him the nature of Abraham in the sense of being made or constituted of the same flesh and blood that Abraham was--wherefore in all things (as to nature) it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest; for had he been of any other flesh or nature, he could not have been touched with the feeling of our infirmities," nor tempted in such a manner as to be able to "succor them that are tempted."
Again it happens that a clue is given us in this case. Verse 14 reads, "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same." In the same sense that the children were partakers, he was a partaker of "the same" flesh and blood. In the same sense that Jesus partook of "the same flesh and blood," the children partook of it. If the words "took part" mean that Jesus must have existed before he "took part," then the word "partakers" must mean that "the children" existed before they could be "partakers." The truth leaves no way of escape from its real meaning. The human family constitute the totality of "flesh and blood;" each individual partakes, or is a partaker; and Jesus was no exception. Therefore the Apostle John is very emphatic in declaring that he that denieth that Jesus came in the flesh is antichrist. The reason is because such a contention distorts the entire plan of redemption as it was exemplified in Christ; it makes God appear unjust and Jesus unworthy of the great reward he attained to; while the truth, harmonious, glorious truth, presents to our view a beautiful system which manifests the love and the justice of God; the faithfulness, fidelity and marvelous triumph of His glorious Son; and consequent blessing brought within the reach of poor fallen man. Let it be noted that the apostle in Heb. not only declares that Jesus was a partaker of flesh and blood; but he informs us why it was necessary that this should be so. "He also, himself, likewise took part of the same, that through death he might destroy him that hath the power of death, that is, the devil" (diabolos). Of course the devil here is not the imaginary immortal personal being of "orthodox" creeds. To be made of flesh and blood in order to die would be the way to fail utterly to destroy such a devil. The passage identifies the devil with flesh and blood, and his destruction required that he be dealt with in his native element. The serpent became a sign of sin; and when Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, there was a type of the lifting up of sinís flesh upon the cross, whereby the devil was destroyed so far as related to Jesus personally, and Jesus obtained the power to ultimately destroy him entirely. The flesh of sin impaled upon the cross was the result of an obedience of Jesus to the Fatherís requirements; it was, on his part, a voluntary sacrificial offering up to death of sinís flesh and thereby a public acknowledgment of the Fatherís justice in the condemnation of sinís flesh. Then the Father forsook the impaled flesh body for a moment, when the Son cried out, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" There was nothing in Jesus as to character to cause the Father to forsake him; the reason must be sought for in the fact that God took this means of manifesting the unfitness of fallen flesh and blood nature to be his permanent habitation as regards men. Had Jesus been a flesh and blood being devoid of a holy character, the forsaking would have been permanent. As it was, it was the divine frown upon the flesh of sin, while the Fatherís love smiled upon His Son as to his holy character, and soon changed him from being a "heavenly treasure in an earthly vessel" to a heavenly treasure in a heavenly vessel--a nature immortal, resplendent and glorious. God had "made him to be sin (sinís flesh) for us, who knew no sin;" and now the work was complete in him as the nucleus of the grand redemption of the Christ body multitudinous, which will be "a habitation of God through the Spirit to all eternity."
Another aspect of this
subject is Christís relation to the law of Moses. This
law had been "added" to the Abrahamic covenant "till the seed
should come to whom the promise was made"--Gal. . It served the double purpose of restraining sin in
There were two classes under Mosesí law, which may be termed men of sight and men of faith. The former submitted to the law as a law only, by which they were to be governed in temporal matters; the latter did all that the former did, but they, being men of faith, saw through the types of the law him who was its end--Jesus. One of these classes stood related to Moses, on the one hand, and the other to Moses and Jesus. To the men of faith the ceremonies, sacrifices, etc., of the law were temporary and provisional means by which they could receive in advance certain blessings and immunities, pending their confirmation by Jesus. Among these blessings were reconciliation to God, protection of life in infancy and during special occasions of worship, and immunity from diseases of the surrounding nations. Their "days were long in the land" proportionately to their obedience to the law. When a man of sight only offered his sacrifice to God, he received only the temporal blessings which the law vouchsafed to him; but when the man of faith offered his sacrifice he received both the temporal benefits and the heavenly which depended for their eternal fulfillment upon the fulfillment of the law by Jesus, who was its Alpha and Omega. Had Jesus failed to fulfill his mission all benefits of the law would have been temporary only; and all who "died in faith" or fell "asleep in Christ" would have "perished" (I. Cor. 15: 18). The law of Moses was really a specification of the mission of Christ. It was Christ enfolded, while when his work was done, he was the law unfolded; the specification was laid aside and the work, which was the specification carried out, stood out in bold relief as a manifestation of the wisdom and goodness of God.
The Apostle Paul says,
"If there had been a law given which could have given life, verily
righteousness should have been by the law"--Gal. . While the law was powerful in restraining sin, it was too
perfect for mere mortals to keep. It was too high for them to reach. It was
never intended that any one of its mere mortal subjects should keep it to
perfection--indeed, its aim was to show them what they were incompetent to do,
and thus impress upon them the "weakness of the flesh." The law was
good--too good for weak, fallen man. Therefore "what the law could not do because
of the weakness of flesh," God did through Christ. There was no
injustice in Godís giving
1. It would restrain
sin in the nation of
2. It would show its subjects their weakness and inability to earn eternal life by a law of such righteous demands.
3. It would point them from themselves to the only one whom God had provided as able to accomplish the task.
When the law had fully shown manís inability to reach the blessings of life eternal by means of it, because of the "weakness of the flesh," the "body prepared" was ready. Hence the apostle says, "When we were without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly"--Rom. 5: 6. To the Judaizers who desired to cling to the shadow and ignore the substance, Peter said, "Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear"--Acts .
Now here is another evidence of the necessity of the Divine sonship of Christ. He must be one prepared of God; for the work to be done had been proved by four thousand years of experience, and made certain by a law of God, to be beyond the power of mere man: no mere man could meet the requirements. The arm of the Lord must be stretched out or all was for ever lost.
Not only was the law of Moses a means by which to prepare a national body for the work of God in the earth, but it was a means in the hands of God of preparing him who said, "Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me.* * * Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first that he may establish the second"--Heb. 10: 5. In the national body there was being prepared the body of Jesus, which would be the only permanent sacrifice for sin.
The result of this
preparation was that Jesus was born under a law already prepared to be a
guardian of his life in the hands of those who would be careful custodians of
the precious one entrusted in their hands. Their careful observance of the law
in its relation to mother and child would insure the protection of the child
from death by disease or accident till he would become capable of voluntarily
doing his Fatherís will. At twelve years of age he realized that he must
"be about his Fatherís business." At thirty years of age he declares
that to "fulfill all righteousness" he must be baptized. Then, after
three and a half years, the end of his probationary life had come, and although
he had fulfilled the law that far, the law seized him in its condemnation and
made him "a curse" by finding him hung upon a tree--"Christ hath
redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is
written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree"--Gal. 3: 13. Here was
a clause in the law that cursed every one that should hang on a tree; but here
was also a victim who had done nothing amiss. What must be done? Repeal the
law? No. The law is always righteous that will condemn and curse sinful flesh;
because sinful flesh is the result of sin, and it is unfit for Godís eternal
purpose and "cannot inherit the