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The Nature and Sacrifice of Jesus Christ

 

PREFACE

 

Since the turn of the century, the Christadelphian community has been involved in much controversy concerning the doctrine of the Nature and Sacrifice of Jesus Christ. This disputation could be virtually eliminated if brethren would make an earnest effort to take heed of rightly divided truth (2Tim. 2: 15), revived providentially through the work of brother John Thomas.

The following compilation represents the thinking of our pioneer brother on the aforementioned subject, and has been extracted from Elpis Israel, Eureka, An Exposition of Daniel, Catechesis, The Revealed Mystery, Phanerosis, Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, and The Christadelphian.

  A thoughtful reading will reveal that brother Thomas believed Christ to be, by birth, of the same Adamic sin-nature as the rest of the race; and that his death, as a sacrifice, was necessary to cleanse himself as well as others. Also included in this booklet are some of our brother's thoughts concerning the efficacy of baptism. Not only did he teach that baptism effects a cleansing of our personal sins, but he also concluded that there is a metaphorical putting off of flesh as well, through a symbolic participation in the atoning death of Christ. Moreover, a legal change in relationship take place whereby one passes from under the sentence of death in Adam, to the sentence of life in Christ.

  This compilation is issued in the interest of preserving these basic truths, which form an integral part of the Gospel of Christ (Rom. 1:16).

  March 20, 1987

THE NATURE OF MAN

Before he sinned, Adam's conscience was good; he was naked, but not at all ashamed, or afraid of the presence of the Elohim. But immediately after, his conscience being defiled, shame and fear caused him to hide himself, because he was uncovered. This teaches us that sin needs to be covered. Adam felt this, and undertook to cover his own sin in the best way he could devise, being ignorant of the manner in which sin is covered by Divine appointment. But the Lord God stripped him of his own devise, which did not recognize the principle of blood-shedding in the covering of iniquity. He taught Adam to shed the blood of a lamb, and to cover his nakedness with its skin. This was the lamb slain at the foundation of the world, and represented Him who is the Lamb typically slain from the foundation of the world. Adam and his wife were in this way clothed by Yahweh Elohim; and being thus clothed, their iniquity was expiated or covered.

  All mankind are born of corruptible parents into a state of sin. By this natural birth, they become members of this sinful and evil state, and heirs of all its disabilities. By virtue of this birth, they are "constituted sinners," though they could not help, and had no hand in the matter.

  It was "through the disobedience of one man (Adam), the many (his descendants, babes and adults) were constituted sinners"; and so it was "by the obedience of the one (Christ), the many, (or true believers) are constituted righteous.”

  As the constitution of sin hath its root in the disobedience of the First Adam, so also hath the constitution of righteousness root in the obedience of the Second Adam. Hence the apostle says, " As through one offence (sentence was pronounced) upon all men unto condemnation; so also through one righteousness (sentence was pronounced) upon all men (that is, Jews and Gentiles) unto a pardon of life. For as through the disobedience of the one man the many were constituted sinners; so through the obedience of the one the many were constituted righteous" (Rom. 5:18-19). The two Adams are two federal chiefs; the first being figurative of the second in these relations. All sinners are in the first Adam, and all the righteous in the second, only on a different principle. Sinners were in the loins of the former when he transgressed; but not in the loins of the latter, when he was obedient unto death.

  In this life, then, there are two states in relation to God and the children of Adam--the one a state of sin, and the other a state of favor; the former is occupied by "constituted sinners'' of all ages, from the babe to the old man, of every shade and variety--and by illuminated transgressors, whose sin is not only constitutional but voluntary; and the latter state is composed of persons who were not only constituted sinners and voluntary transgressors, but who, by obedience to the laws of God and to Christ, are constituted righteous. In regard to the righteous, they are delivered from the fear of death, because, having obeyed the truth, they have passed from death to life; but this is not the case of constituted sinners and intelligent transgressors. These are both under the sentence of death eternal, with this difference only, that the punishment of the constituted sinners is the common lot of man, aggravated by the demoniacal institutions of Idolatry, Mohammedanism, etc., "ending in death" which is uninterrupted by a resurrection; whereas the actual transgressors who know the law, though subject to all this, are raised to judgment and the terrors of the second death, the eternal consummation of their woes.

Sin in the flesh is hereditary; and entailed upon mankind as the consequence of Adam's: violation of the Edenic law. The "original sin" was such as I have shown it previous pages. Adam and Eve committed it; and their posterity is suffering the consequences of it. The tribe of Levi paid tithes to Melchisedec many years before Levi was born. The apostle says, "Levi, who receiveth tithes, paid tithes in Abraham." Upon the same federal principle, all mankind ate of the forbidden fruit, being in the loins of Adam when he transgressed. This is the only way men can by any possibility be guilty of the original sin. Because they sinned in Adam, therefore they return to the dust from which Adam came says the apostle, "in whom all sinned."

Children are born sinners or unclean, because they are horn of sinful flesh; and "that which is born of the flesh is flesh," or sin. This is a misfortune, not a crime. They did not will to be born sinners. They have no choice in the case; for it is written, "The creature was made subject to the evil, not willingly, but by reason of him who subjected it in hope." Hence the apostle says, "By Adam's disobedience the many were made sinners"; that is, they were endowed with a nature like his, which had become unclean, as the result of disobedience; and by the constitution of the economy into which they were introduced by the will of the flesh, they were constituted transgressors before they were able to discern between right and wrong. Upon this principle, he that is born of sinful flesh is a sinner.

The word sin is used in two principle acceptations in the Scripture. It signifies in the first place, "the transgression of law"; and in the next, it represents that physical principle of the animal nature, which is the cause of all its diseases, death, and resolution to dust. It is that in the flesh "which has the power of death"; and it is called sin, because the development, or fixation, of this evil in the flesh, was the result of transgression.

THE ONE GREAT OFFERING

The first idea that Moses gives us of the Christ is that, (1) He was to be born of Adam's race; (2) He was to be Seed of the Woman and Son of God; (3) He was to he killed; (4) He was to rise from the dead; and, (5) He was to destroy the power that killed him. All this is expressed or implied in (Genesis 3: 15). It teaches us by implication that he was not begotten of the impulses of the flesh, nor of the will of man; so that in being born of the human nature, he would be directly Son of Woman, and only indirectly Son of Man.

Sin, I say, is a synonym for human nature. Hence, the flesh is invariably regarded as unclean. It is therefore written, "How can he be clean who is born of a woman!" (Job 25:4). "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean! Not one" (Job 14:4). "What is man that he should be clean! And he which is born of a woman that he should be righteous! Behold, God putteth no trust in his saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight. How much more abominable and filthy is man, who drinketh iniquity like water!" (Job 15:14-16). This view of sin in the flesh is enlightening in the things concerning Jesus. The apostle says, "God made him sin for us, who knew no sin" (2 Cor. 5:2 1); and this he explains in another place by saying, that "He sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh'' (Rom. 8: 3), in the offering of his body once (Heb. 10:10, 12, 14). Sin could not have been condemned in the body of Jesus, if it had not existed there. His body was as unclean as the bodies of those he died for; for he was born of a woman, and "not one" can bring-a clean body out of a-defiled body; for -"that," says Jesus himself, "which is born of the flesh is flesh" (John 3:6).

Sinful flesh being the hereditary nature of the Lord Jesus, he was a fit and proper sacrifice for sin; especially as he was "innocent of the great transgression," having been obedient in all things.

Jesus was constitutionally a sinner.

(Psalm 51)--The Holy Spirit, in view of Messiah's conception, incarnation, and subsequent sufferings for iniquity, supplicates his absolution of Yahweh, verses 1, 2. He acknowledges the justice of God in condemning sin in the flesh, verses 3 and 4; and prays for his restoration to favor, verses 6 and 7. Verse 2--"Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin," i.e., the sin for which I am to be an offering. Verse 4--"Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight." Thee only; this shows the strict applicability of this Psalm to Messiah, who never sinned against any man; this can be said of none but of him. Verse 3--"Behold I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me." "In sin," i.e., he was to be born of the woman, a quality of the accidental constitution of whose nature is sin; the original constitution of human nature was sinless.

When and where did Christ make the one great offering, (1) By what phrase is this offering Scripturally expressed! By the words "the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once" (Heb. 10:10); (2) In what did the offering of this body consist! In the condemnation of sin in the nature that sinned in the Garden of Eden (Rom. 8:3).

The mission of the Lord Jesus Christ was to "destroy that having the power of death, which is the devil"; or sin's flesh; in other words, to "take away the sin of the world"; and to "destroy the works of the devil," or sin (Heb. 2:14; John 1:29; 1 John 3:8).

Nothing born of a woman is clean, even though it have been begotten in her substance by the power of the Spirit (Job 14:4; 25:4). Now this is a principle of knowledge revealed to us, and is of universal application. It obtained in relation to Jesus himself.

As the Dead One, anointed with spices and bound itl grave clothes, he Jesus was sin's flesh crucified, slain, and buried; in which, by the slaying, sin had been condemned, and by the burial, put out of sight.

It was absolutely necessary that he should die by violence of the Serpent-power, (1) That sin might be condemned in sin's flesh; (2) That the sins of his brethren might be borne by him on the cross; and, (3) That the covenants might come into force, etc.

Thus, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews," is brought before the reader as the only personage from among the dead, or among the living, who could open the words and unseal the mystery of God, as he hath declared the glad tidings to his servants the prophets (Apoc. 10:7). That mystery required the cutting asunder a covenant for the covering of iniquity; and for causing to come in a righteousness of Aions (Dan. 9:24). In other words, "Messiah the Prince" had to be cut off; and so to be made a covenant of, according to the saying, "I will give thee ·for a covenant of the people" (Isa. 42:6; 49:8). Until this was accomplished no practical solution could be given of the end. Had the Second Adam failed to establish his worthiness, like the first, John's weeping would never have been assuaged. But Jesus did "prevail”: for though in all points tempted as we are, according to the likeness of his nature to ours, yet he did not sin. Though a Son, he learned obedience by the things, which he suffered. He was made perfect through sufferings, having been obedient unto death. He kept his body under, triumphing over its lusts; and, though, sorely tried, he yielded not, but evolved a character that was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners (Heb. 2:10, 14, 16; 4:15; 5:2, 7-9; 7:26). When he died, he was delivered from death, and now lives for evermore. Death hath no more dominion over him. For he had power to lay down his life, and to take it up again; a commandment which he had received of the Father. This he did; and in so doing, abolished the power of death, having led captivity captive, and brought to light the life and incorruptibility of the gospel of the Kingdom (Psa. 68:18; Eph. 4:8; 2 Tim. 1:10). Having established his worthiness in this moral conflict with the world and the flesh, God accepted him as the most excellent of all the intelligences of his universe; and in consequence gave to him what no one else possessed; namely, power to unroll the scroll and to loose its seals.

The only sin-covering from the Fall to the resurrection of Jesus, the world had ever known, was typical; or a yearly covering of sin that represented the coveting foretold by Gabriel. The patriarchs, prophets, and others, who Abrahamically believed in the things covenanted to the fathers, and were dead, had died with no other covering for their sins than could be derived from the pouring out of the blood of bulls and goats. But "it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins" (Heb. 10:4); their sins therefore remained uncovered and unexpiated; and as "the wages of sin is death," if the expiation of the seventy heptades had never been effected, they would never have risen from the dead to eternal life. Hence, speaking of the covering efficacy of Christ's death, Paul says, "For this cause he is the mediator of the New (or Abrahamic) Covenant, that by means of death for the redemption of the transgressions under the First Covenant (the Law) they which are called might receive the promise of the everlasting inheritance" (Heb. 9: 15); and Isaiah says, "For the transgressions of my people was he stricken" (Isa. 53:8). Thus, the death and resurrection of the mediator, and therefore representative testator, of the Covenant made with Abraham, brought it into force; so that the already dead, who had, while living, believed the things promised in it, obtained a covering of their sins, the effect of which they will experience after rising from the dead to possess them for the age.

If Jesus had died a natural death, like other testators of wills, would not that have brought the covenants into force! No; because it was necessary that the heavenly things should be purified with sacrifice, or blood. God 's covenants are made sanctifying to believers of their promises by being dedicated or purified by blood. It was so with the Mosaic, and afterwards with the Abrahamic; for ''through the Second Will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once"; and, "by one offering he hath perfected for a continuance them that are sanctified by the Will."

The flesh made by the Spirit out of Mary's substance, and rightly claimed therefore in Psalm 16:8; Acts 2:31, as his flesh, is the Spirit's Anointed Altar, cleansed by the blood of that flesh when poured out unto death "on the tree." This flesh was the victim offered--the sacrifice. Suspended on the tree by the voluntary offering of the Spirit-Word (John 10:8), "sin was condemned in the flesh," when the soul-blood thereof was poured out unto death. The Spirit-Word made his soul thus an offering for sin (Isa. 53:10); and by it sanctified the Altar-Body on the tree. It was now an Altar Most Holy; and all that touch it are holy; and without touching it none are holy.

When was the Jesus-altar purified; the Jesus Mercy-seat sprinkled with sacrificial blood, and the Jesus-Holy of Holies lustrated! After the Veil of his flesh was rent, and before he awoke at the early dawn of the third day.

Before this Holy Place is AN ALTAR to which faith approaches; and which was cleansed by atonement being made for it, before it was placed there. It is most holy; and whatsoever touches it becomes holy. Paul styles this altar, Jesus. It was cleansed, when the blood of its consecration was poured out from his side. All worshipers who would enter the Holy Place must first come to this altar, that touching it they may be holy. --- Dr. Thomas

THE EFFICACY OF BAPTISM

While a believer is out of Christ, he is in his sins, and while he is in his sins, he is under sentence of death; for "the wages of sin is death." As soon, however, as his sins are forgiven through Christ's name, in the act of forgiveness he passes from under the sentence of death; and, as there is no middle or neutral position, he comes under the sentence of life, and rejoices in the hope of the Kingdom of God.

The being begotten and born of the water by the Word, is the passing from the sentence of death, to the sentence of life.

Whosoever is in him (Christ), is said to be "complete in him"; in whom he is circumcised "in putting off the body of the sin of the flesh"; that is, all part sins being buried with Christ in the baptism, in which also he rises with him through the belief of the power of God evinced in raising him from among the dead.

They (the Colossian believers) were in the last Adam, and conformed to his moral image, in hope of being conformed to his material image at the coming of their chief.

In passing through the water, he (the believer) passes through the Laver to the Altar and in the passage, he becomes sprinkled in heart by the blood of sprinkling, which is the blood of the Altar-Covenant, through the faith which he has in the doctrine concerning it (Heb. 10:22; 12:24; 1 Pet. 1:2; 2:24). Such a one is no longer a sinner, because he has touched the Altar; and" whatever toucheth it is holy," or a saint.

Their robes are made white by washing in blood, and that not their own blood, but the blood of the Lamb. In their soul-body existence, or lifetime, they believed the promises covenanted to the fathers and "the faith" which came by Jesus-in other words, in the things concerning the name of Jesus Anointed, among which, the cleansing from sin by his sprinkled blood, the blood of the Abrahamic covenant, holds an indispensable and prominent position; they believed this gospel, and were immersed in water into Christ, and so put on their holy garments, which are therefore said to be "washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb."

By being buried with Christ in the one immersion, he (the believer) puts on Christ; and when thus invested with him as with a white robe, all his sins are covered over, remitted, or washed away; and he stands "complete in him." Those who are thus qualified (by belief of the Word), in the act of passing through the bath of water pass into Christ...When they are in the bath, and buried under the water, the are "buried with Christ by the immersion into his death," which was for sin. Hence, this water burial is their investiture with Christ as with a white robe. The burial is; therefore, a clothing or covering over by which their sin-nakedness is metaphorically concealed; and they ate in that situation in which it may be said of them, in the words of the Spirit-, "Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered over'' (Rom. 4:7). This is the point of time in which they are "circumcised with the circumcision made without hands"; and, as in the circumcision performed with hands, there was a cutting, or putting off, of flesh, so in the circumcision made without hands, there is a metaphorical putting off of flesh, "in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh in the circumcision of the Christ, being buried with him in the immersion."

Such a person is, without question, "in Christ Jesus"; and, on being introduced into him, the sinner, who is out of Christ is "condemned already" (John 3: 18) passes from that condemnation, and comes under the sentence to "justification of life" (Rom. 5:18; 8:1). Being "purged from his old sins" (2 Pet. 2:9), he is no longer liable to punishment on their account; he has "passed from death unto life," in the sense of having obtained a "right to eat of the tree of life," and to enter through the gates into the city" (Apoc. 22:14). But Paul teaches that this right may be forfeited by saints; and that persons in Christ Jesus will be condemned if they walk after the flesh; for, in writing to saints, he says, "if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die" (Rom. 8:13). But does not Paul say that "there is now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus"! How, then, can there be condemnation to any such in a judgment! Such quotation as used in the question, is "handling the Word of God deceitfully," and making the apostle stultify himself. When the whole verse is quoted, it is seen to contain two statements: first, that there is no condemnation to them in Christ Jesus who walk after the spirit; and, second, that there is condemnation to them in Christ Jesus who walk after the flesh (Rom. 8:1).

The apostles taught that death had been cancelled, and immortality, that is, deathlessness, or life and incorruptibility, brought to light by Jesus Christ in the gospel of the Kingdom--that the writing of death against the saints had been crossed, or blotted, out; and incorruptibility of body and life for them procured--by his resurrection -as-the earnest of theirs (2 Tim. 1:10) Redemption is release for a ransom. All who become God's servants are therefore released from a former Lord by purchase. The purchaser is Yahweh; and the price, or ransom, paid, the precious blood of the flesh through which the Anointed Spirit was manifested. It is therefore styled, "the precious blood of Christ. "

The action of baptism is clearly a burying in water, or immersion, and an emergence from it. This is a sign based upon the burial of Christ crucified for our offences, and his resurrection for our justification (Rom. 4:25); and signifies that the subject, having Christ in him by faith (Eph. 3:17), is crucified, dead, buried and risen together with him, to walk in newness of life. But how doth the God-instructed and gospel-believing sinner "from faith," as the motive principle pass "into faith"! Answer: "In delivering his self-condemnatory verdict according to the divine testimony, which convinces him of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment to come." He sentences the thing styled "self" and "me," that is, "the flesh, in which dwells no good thing," to crucifixion, death and burial; that a new and self-denying character, styled "the new man" and "the new creature," may thenceforth come into living manifestation. But, furthermore: In what particular form is this verdict rendered against "self'! Answer: "In confessing with the mouth the word of faith Paul preached, and written in the heart by the divine testimony--heart-belief, and mouth confession (Rom. 10:8-10)--and in invoking, or calling upon, the Name of the One Yahweh (vs. 13). And how is this One Yahweh-Name apostolically and scripturally invoked! Answer: In the way illustrated by Paul in his own person (Acts 22:16): by the believing sinner, in obedience to the command of the Spirit, being immersed into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit--the One Name of Deity manifestation—the Eternal Father manifested through the Flesh-Veil by Holy Spirit—the Christship of Deity.

 

  
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Updated last on 2013-04-15.