A Few Questions
First delivered as a lecture at the 2001 Labor Day Gathering in Martinville, Arkansas
Historically speaking the phrase the “law of sin and death” also refers to the term we know as Adamic Condemnation due to its relationship to Adam’s sin. Simply put, the law that is here being spoken of is a condemnation to death that all men inherit due to the transgression of the law that was given to Adam and Eve in the Garden. Adam and Eve ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and for that they were condemned to die which became a physical law of their being and was passed on to all their descendants as well. Sin brings forth death.
Are we personally guilty for the sin of Adam? No we are not. But we still inherit the consequences of that sin, and condemnation to a permanent death is one of those effects.
Consider Romans 5:
Vs 12 – “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.” (all have sinned constitutionally in Adam).
Vs. 14 “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression”.
Vs. 15 “Through the offence of one many be dead”
Vs. 17 “by on man’s offence death reigned by one”
Vs. 18 “by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation
Vs 19 “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made (constituted) sinners”
When we refer to Sin in the scriptures we must understand it in two ways. First, it has reference to a state or condition of being (our physical makeup in the eyes of God is considered to be unclean or “Sin’s Flesh” or “Sin in the Flesh”). And second, it is our own personal acts carried out that are contrary to God’s laws. In the first sense we are in a state of sin when born into the world due to the Sin of Adam, and in the second sense we commit our own acts of transgressing law. The application in the fifth chapter of Romans, due to the context is that of “constitutional sin” (state of sin, or uncleanness that we are born under) due to the sin of Adam.
The teaching here in Romans 5 and connected to Romans 8 is clear. All those born “in Adam” due to his transgression in the Garden are born into a state of sin and are under condemnation (Gr., katakrima – a legal sentence) to death. All are born under “the law of sin and death” or what is often termed – Adamic Condemnation.
What does the second verse of Romans 8 tell us, “For the law of the Spirit of life IN Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” How do we get into the position of being “IN Christ Jesus” so that we may be loosed from the “law of sin and death” and brought into the hope of life through the “law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus”? Continue over to the memory verse found in Galatians 3:27 and we find our answer, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”
So how do we become free from “the law of sin and death”? Through BAPTISM!! By coming symbolically connected to the sacrifice of Christ, the blood of Christ, through the waters of Baptism. By being “in Christ” rather then “in Adam”. I Corinthians 15: 22 tells us “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive”. There are those who say that we cannot be truly “in Christ” until we are immortalized and since even baptized believers die it is concluded that we must still be “in Adam” even after baptism. This is a horribly erroneous position and denies the clear change of relationship that takes place upon baptism and shows a lack of understanding as to the context of I Corinthians 15, which is an explanation, and exposition of comfort as to the fate of those who have fallen asleep in Christ. The context of the passage is clear. The reward of those “in Adam” is death and Paul contrasts this with the reward of the believers he is addressing that are “in Christ” and they will be “made alive”. The phrase “in Adam” does not, and cannot refer to those who are baptized into Christ.
But on the surface it would seem that we have a problem by concluding that Baptism frees us from “the law of sin and death” or Adamic Condemnation. Do not those who are baptized still die? We even know that Paul died himself who by his words indicated that his relationship to Christ made him “free from the law of sin death” and brought him into the hope of eternal life. Did Paul make a mistake?
1. Does our relationship to Christ produce any change in our physical condition, in the sense of neutralizing the physical effects of Adam’s transgression? Does our Body physically change at Baptism by putting on immortality? No it does not and we would be foolish to claim such a thing.
2. But, does the act of baptism produce any change in our relationship to God, in the sense of being “made nigh by the blood of Christ,” instead of being “far off”? In the sense of being brought from under the wrath of God to a state of reconciliation? Roman 5:10 tells us “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life”. Instead of being divided or separated from God due to the condemnation we are born with we are made at one with him by the atonement. Verse 11, “we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” The taking away of inherited condemnation does not release us from the natural laws of decay that will eventually lead to the grave, but as a matter of Divine Law we are no longer condemned to an eternal death. There is not a physical change but a change of our status before God and His laws, a legal change if you will.
The death of one who has been baptized into Christ is quite different from one who has never taken on the saving name. The man out of Christ returns to the dust as the result of the physical effects of sin, and with a law of condemnation (eternal death) hanging over him. The man in Christ returns to the dust as the result of the same cause, but with the law of condemnation removed from over him.
Imagine a man commits a crime, and the law passes sentence of condemnation against him; he is condemned to receive forty lashes and imprisonment for life. The effect of the lashes is to cause him to be a dying man; he is therefore under the condemnation of the law, as well as suffering the effects of the condemnation in himself. Through the intercession of others he is redeemed from prison, the condemnation is removed and he is made a free man, but continues to suffer the physical consequences of the penalty. So with the human family; the law of Eden was transgressed, condemnation pronounced, the lash of death inflicted (which scripture bears out was passed on to the descendants of Adam). But intercession was made, and those who have availed themselves of the means have had the condemnation removed – they have been made free by the Truth – they are considered Christ’s “freemen” as I Corinthians 7:22 explains. They are restored to favor with God though they (we) are still suffering the consequences of sin in our mortal bodies, and will continue to do so, until Christ returns in which at that time it is our hope to be freed from the physical consequences by “changing their vile bodies that they be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself”. (Phill. 3:20)
So, does baptism in fact now free us the “law of Sin and Death”? Absolutely! It does in a legal sense, as a matter of relationship to God. Reading also the second portion Romans 5:18 “Therefore as by the offense 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.” Also verse 19 “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made (constituted) righteous”. But as simple observation can tell us we are not yet freed from the physical effects of Adam’s Sin, which still operates in our mortal bodies and will continue to do so until Christ returns, and if judged worthy of keeping our garments undefiled by living faithfully to the commandments of Christ that fall under “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” we will then receive, as Romans 8:23 puts it, “the redemption of our body”. If we are condemned to eternal death it will have nothing to do with “the law of sin and death” which we had been already freed from, but because we had counted the blood of Christ a light thing by not living up to the requirements that the “law of the spirit of life” demands. Those rejected have not truly appreciated the sacrifice of Christ and all that it does for them, they have not glorified the Father by their actions but have brought shame to Him and His Son.
Quoting from Thomas Williams from the May 1889 Advocate to summarize this question, “It is a great mistake to deny that we are redeemed from under the condemnation of Adam by induction into Christ. It virtually denies that the “truth makes us free”. The whole Adamic race is Adam multiplied. Adam in the Garden of Eden was the whole race in one individual. What is true of Adam individually is true of him racially. Keeping this in view, a few questions and answers will simplify the matter. Why did God condemn Adam? Because he sinned. What did the condemnation result in as regards the relation existing between God and Adam? It resulted in a breach in the union that had previously existed. How long would that breach continue? As long as the pronounced condemnation remained. What was necessary to be done for Adam’s salvation? Remove the breach- the condemnation. What would such removal result in? Reconciliation. When reconciliation had taken place, how would Adam stand, as regards to his relationship to God? He would stand where he stood before he sinned, at one with God, with no breach between. Could Adam be a child of God, reconciled to him, redeemed, and yet be under the condemnation – wrath, or frown – of God? No. Then in order for Adam to obtain salvation, must he not obtain forgiveness for the sin he had committed, and for which he had been condemned? Yes. Then would not the Adamic sin be forgiven? Yes. Seeing that what is true of Adam individually, is true of him racially, are not men redeemed from under Adamic condemnation when they are inducted into Christ, the At-one-ment? Undoubtedly.”
Let us turn to Ephesians 2:3 for the answer to this. We are here informed of our condition before coming into Christ. Not only are we here demonstrated as “fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind” which is no doubt in reference to our own acts of transgression but we are also told that we “were by nature the children of wrath”. To be something “by nature” is not something that we developed ourselves into but something that we already are from the beginning. The question is asked in the book of Job “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one.” Remember that under the Law considered to of Moses a woman was defiled by the birth of her child, which even Mary by giving birth to Jesus was defiled and needed cleansing. Can something be born in a reconciled state to God that is considered to be unclean from birth? The scriptures only speak of two conditions before God either reconciled or alienated. There is no neutral position. So are we born in a state of reconciliation to God? Absolutely not!
We have already read through Romans 5, which answers this question for us. Through whom is man originally alienated? - Through Adam. And why? - Because of Adam’s disobedience to the law given in Eden. This does not take away from the fact that man commits his own acts of disobedience, which only confirms what he already is by nature and confirms the breach that already exists.
But it might be asked how can God hold against us something we did not do? There is no doubt, as we have already mentioned, that we are not personally guilty for the sin of Adam, but the effects of that sin are passed down to us. When we are born we are in the Sin State, made or “constituted” sinners as we are told in Romans 5. By nature we are “Sin’s Flesh” and sin, whether inherited in our physical nature or done by actual deed, is still incompatible with the righteousness of God. This can easily be seen through the types found in the Law of Moses. The items that were used in the Tabernacle service such as the laver, table of shewbread, the lampstand, the altar, the ark of the covenant, etc. all had to be cleansed by the sprinkling of the blood of the sin offering. What sin can inanimate objects possibly be guilty of? When an individual contracted leprosy a sin offering was required on the behalf of the one who had the disease. What sin is there in catching a disease that is out of one’s control? Because, the corruption of the human flesh that allows disease to take place is the result of sin – Adam’s Sin. Also, one who touched a dead body was declared unclean. This is not hard to understand remembering that death is the result of sin. Who’s Sin? - Adam’s Sin. To be unclean is to be at odds with God, whether it is our fault or not and must be atoned for if life is to be hoped for.
We were in the loins of Adam when he transgressed as a part of the genetic pool, he sinned and sin therefore became a physical law of his and his descendants being. All would agree that sin alienates from God, and since all are born in sin, all are born alienated from God. But, through God’s mercy a way has been provided out of this situation.
Romans 5:1 informs us “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” So by faith or an understanding of the Promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob which contains The Things Concerning the Kingdom of God and the Name of Jesus Christ, which was the faith of Abraham, we are justified through the sacrificial work of God’s only begotten Son. Whether Jew or Gentile the principle of having faith in the Promises of God, as was demonstrated by Abraham and confirmed through the shedding of blood, has always been the standard for true reconciliation.
When does this happen? For those who came before Christ it would have hinged upon a faithful, knowledgeable, and continual observance of the animal sacrifices as those sacrifices (if done in faith) foreshadowed the One True Sacrifice of the promised Savior. Without the sacrifice of Christ the “blood of bulls and goats” on their own merit were meaningless. For those after Christ’s sacrifice it no doubt hinges upon a faithful and knowledgeable observance of the right of baptism, which symbolically represents the “death, burial, and resurrection” of our Lord. Ephesians 2:13, “But now in Christ Jesus ye who ONCE were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” And in Collosians 1:21 we read, “And you, that were sometime alienated AND enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled.”
Hebrews 2:14 – “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 had the power of death, that is, the devil.” II Corinthians 5:21 – “For he hath made him to be sin for us, Who new no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” And Romans 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.” As the redeemer of mankind it was necessary that Christ be born into the same relationship to sin in order to redeem men out of “sin and death.” But a distinction must be made. In the physical sense it behooved Him to be made “like unto his brethren” because he was “made of a woman.” So He was in sin’s flesh like other men, under condemnation like other men, unclean like other men as it applied to his physical nature. All men are under condemnation and Christ was a part of the human race as much as anyone else. But morally speaking, considering Christ’s character, it was not tainted with sin but “holy, harmless, and undefiled”. It would not have been just for God to demand the sacrifice of His Son if his body had not been a body of sin. Let it be understood that Christ needed atoning for his nature but not his character.
7. Question -Was Jesus ever in a state of separation or alienation from God?
Again we must consider Christ in the physical sense and then in the moral sense. In the physical sense we cannot escape the fact that Christ was “made sin” for us or under “the law of sin and death”- in this condition there is a breach or separation. In the moral sense he never was “in a state of separation from God” for he was without personal sin, but again considering the physical he was one possessed with sin’s flesh and from a physical standpoint, with the law of condemnation hanging over him was separated from God. For some they find this demeaning to Christ but if properly understood it shows how great Jesus’ accomplishment to overcome the sin stricken nature was and how valuable His sacrifice is to us who are also born under the same condemnation.
That concludes our questions on these matters. At this time we would like to admit a few things to you. None of this material that has been presented to you up to this point has been original work. From the questions that were asked, and how they were phrased, and most of the words and phrases that we have presented to this point have either been direct quotes or paraphrased passages. The questions that we used were taken from the 1892 Christadelphian Advocate in a series known as the Advocate Bible Class. Various brethren as well as Thomas Williams provided the answers. All remaining quotes and phrases that we borrowed are taken from the Christadelphian Advocates from 1885-1893.
Why did we do this? These doctrines that we have gone over are considered to be traditional Unamended Teaching but they were being taught ever before there was an Unamended Community. Please understand that these doctrines were being emphasized and strongly upheld ever before J.J. Andrew wrote the “controversial” pamphlet The Blood of the Covenant (1894) or before there was ever a split between the Amended and Unamended Community (1898). Such teaching or phrases were not considered to be controversial and they were the standard of Christadelphian Teaching. The Advocate was widely circulated not only in North America but also in England and had even gained the support of Robert Roberts as seen in a letter he wrote to Thomas Williams in 1888. These doctrines were not new in the latter portion of the 1800’s but were the accepted standard of Christadelphian teaching.
Within the past couple of years a series of articles appeared in the Logos magazine (Australia) that dealt with the subject of J.J. Andrew and some of his teachings. To give some background, the Logos magazine is currently fighting the spread of the Clean Flesh theory (Partial atonement) in the Amended community in Australia. Basically put, such a theory holds that Christ did not have to die for himself or that there was no inherited condemnation upon Christ or uncleanness that he himself needed atonement for. To their credit the Logos Magazine is contending against this false teaching and is are professing that there was something in the Nature of Christ that in fact needed Atonement. This is what the Unamended community has contended for all along. And because the Unamended community is associated to such Truths Logos is being accused of “Andrewism” by other portions of the Amended community. But, to be accused of “Andrewism” in the Amended community is viewed as quite a strong accusation and so to combat these charges the Logos has attempted to separate themselves from what they perceive to be the teachings of J.J. Andrew and the Unamended community in relation to Adamic Condemnation and Alienation as well as the purpose of baptism.
They accuse Bro. Andrew of being the one to introduce “new theories” concerning these issues as well as in relation to the Responsibility issue itself. But let it be realized that Bro. Andrew taught the same doctrines that the Advocate had already been teaching for years and no one ever complained. The Blood of the Covenant itself was not written until 1894. And also let it be noted that Thomas Williams and what became known as the Unamended community taught the exact same things after the split of 1898 as they did before. The doctrines we have covered are not Andrewism, but Christadelphianism. Yes, Bro. Andrew did take what some view as an “extreme” stand in relation to the fact that he believed that due to the laws that God Himself established that those “in Adam” could not be raised to appear before the Judgment Seat. But if Brother Andrew’s words and arguments are carefully considered in context it will be seen that for Bro. Andrew it was an issue of Divine consistency and the efficacy and purpose of Christ’s Sacrifice rather then as is declared by some- “limiting God’s power”. But nonetheless, it must be admitted that the main theme of Brother Andrew’s teachings concerning the Atonement were not of his own invention and not new to the Christadelphian community.
Keep these matters in mind as we direct our attention back to the Logos. Here are some samples of what the Logos has said in comparison with the issues that we just discussed.
May 2000, p. 209 - “The scripture says nothing of moral or legal consequences of Adam’s sin resting upon us. We are not alienated from God because of our nature (body), nor are we children of wrath because of our nature, but mankind is alienated from God through ignorance (Eph. 4:18) and wicked works (Col 1:21).
And leading into the nature of Christ:
“Andrewism” teaches that the Lord Jesus himself was regarded as “legally guilty” of “original sin” and the subject of “alienation” on account of his nature or body. Clearly this is false doctrine.”
Logos June 2000, p.245 – “The false theory of Andrewism does teach that mankind, including the Lord Jesus in the days of his mortality, is alienated from God because of mortal, sinful nature. This is complete error, as already pointed out in our previous article. Ignorance and wicked works alienate from God (Eph. 4:18; Col. 1:21), not our nature.”
August 2000, p.331- “Baptism into Christ does not make a man free from the law of sin and death, as claimed by JJA, but is the beginning of a process of freedom. The ritual of baptism is only a figure…We are therefore baptized for the remission of our personal sins, and those baptized into Christ are justified from sin.”
June 2000, p.244 – “He (Br. Andrew) was a most outstanding and courageous advocate of the Truth…But that was all to change with the introduction into the Brotherhood of a ‘different gospel’, asserting that a baptismal covenant was the basis of resurrection.” Wasn’t it “by the blood of the everlasting (or Abrahamic) covenant” that Christ himself was raised? Would it not be reasonable if not necessary to believe knowing that we are “baptized into His death” that we too are raised from the dead by the same means?
This is the attitude of the Logos magazine towards doctrines that in fact were not invented by J.J. Andrew but were taught and accepted by most long before The Blood of the Covenant and still hopefully believed by many today. Though it cannot be said that the Logos speaks for the entire Amended community, because they do not, from what this writer has have found they are the most conservative and the closest to us on fundamental doctrines as can be demonstrated in the Amended community – but obviously not close enough for such obvious differences to be ignored. We do appreciate their forthrightness as to where they stand on these issues.
In order to dogmatically support a belief in the Enlightened Rejecter as a first principle by its supporters it is believed that knowledge is the basis of resurrection rather then the blood of Christ, and then other doctrines have to be changed or compromised as well to support such logic. It is such doctrines as “the law of sin and death”, alienation, the nature of Christ, and the nature of man, and baptism as they relate to these subjects that were the real cause of the division that took place among Christadelphians in 1898, and divide us still today.
Thomas Williams gave a lecture in the December of 1907 in Leads, England in which he attempted to establish the facts of why the division took place and showed that the separation took place due to a departure on the very fundamental issues that we have shown were part of the Christadelphian community long before a split occurred. He states: “for, be it known, the responsibility question was only a very small outgrowth of these doctrines, and you will not forget that is was (in the way they put it, to make it appear ugly) “Adam’s sin” and Christ’s sacrifice and baptism in relation thereto that were the real issues.” And to get an Amended point of view, the same conclusions are also made but from a different side of the fence. From the September 1995 Logos the question is asked, “What is the difference between the two fellowships? The main difference historically centers on Adamic Condemnation. The Unamended teaching held that this refers to the sentence of legal guilt that rested on Adam after he sinned. This “guilt” passed on to all men, even to Christ, and could only be removed by baptism. The logical outworking of this false idea is that if a person was not baptized, so this “guilt” was not removed, he would not be resurrected, even though fully enlightened to do God’s will.”
Over the past couple of years, and it seems more and more up to now, this writer has heard it stated by other Unamended brethren that “The Amended believe just like we do.” In addition to this, “the only difference is the Enlightened Rejecter.” Now we do not want to give the wrong impression concerning the purpose of this essay. This article was not designed to be about the Amended or to criticize the Amended. This commentary is not about J.J. Andrew nor is it even about Thomas Williams. This consideration is very much about us, the Unamended Community. What do we believe? We feel that it can be easily demonstrated as to what the Unamended Community believed in the past, but to be honest as this writer is exposed to such statements more and more we are not confident that our community solidly stands (that is the Unamended) on the same doctrinal ground that our earlier brethren did.
We are not in a position to deny someone’s personal conclusions based upon their individual contact with the Amended but for this writer to say “that they all believe like we do” does not match up with what they continually and openly write and teach. Nothing has changed in the past 100 years. Brethren dealt with these issues in the 1890’s, in the “Teens”, in the early 1930’s, 1950’s, 1970’s, and 1980’s, but the same differences on vital principles of Truth kept coming up. What proof can be brought forth that there has been a change now? The NASU document has done very little to clear up the matter, if not creating more ambiguity concerning the Truth. Is it maybe that our convictions and attitudes towards purity of Truth and its specifics are not as strong as they once were? In answer to this I have heard it said that most amended do not believe what their own writers and teachers teach. But that doesn’t make sense due to the fact that we see those who are propounding serious error continually asked to teach at Amended Bible Schools, Ecclesias, and Gatherings. (Such information is easily obtained off of the Internet or in Amended periodicals.) We also must mention that the Amended community is extremely large and because of that we may sometimes make the mistake of saying that all the Amended believe “such and such” whether positive or negative. It is mistake to say that all Amended believe in clean flesh, but it is of an equal mistake to say that they all or the majority of their community believe just like we do. The Central Fellowship is a large group that in fact has a wide divergence of beliefs and practices. Brethren and young people, let us not be too quick to throw out the lessons of history concerning the existing division and ignore the wisdom and efforts of brethren who have fought these battles before despite the efforts of some to discredit the labors of many who have come before us who have defended the Truth rather then water it down for the sake of “unity”. If we think that we are some how smarter or more spiritually minded let us think again. Maybe more open minded, but that is not necessarily a good thing.
If we call ourselves Unamended what do we believe on the matters of salvation? What do you believe? What do we believe about the issues of how we are saved, and what we are saved from? What does baptism do for us? Do these things not matter? Let us be sure as to what we, the Unamended community believe on these issues. Let us not compromise but work to be a continual witness of the Truth. If there are others outside of the Unamended community that believe as we do on these matters then they have some serious decisions to make as to who they wish to affiliate themselves with. If there are those who now consider themselves Unamended that find offense to traditional Unamended teachings or think they are not important- they also have some serious decisions to make. If we wish to help those outside of our community as well as our own let us be open and frank using the same terminology and resources that have served The Truth so well for so long. To attempt to come up with different words or phrases in order to satisfy two opposing views will only create more suspicion and division among the Unamended community and at the same time will lesson the clarity of the Truth that was so earnestly contended for by our earlier brethren. Brethren, there is no middle ground in which we must meet anyone on. If we believe we have the Truth, may we teach it, defend it, may we never be fooled by smooth words and fair speeches never ever compromising or forsaking the Truth as it is in Jesus.