Emmanuel God With Us

Introduction

The above titles are well known by us and it has been the work of God’s ministers to enlighten the people in regard to the practical reality of these. It is the purpose of this study to gaze into the depths of the intended meaning of the given titles. To be saved from sins involves an intelligent interrelationship of sinful humanity with Divinity which of necessity must include a conscious process of detection, overcoming and eradication of sin.

The work of gaining salvation is one of co-partnership, a joint operation. There is to be co-operation between God and the repentant sinner. This is necessary for the formation of right principles in the character. Man is to make earnest efforts to overcome that which hinders him from attaining to perfection. But he is wholly dependent upon God for success. Human effort of itself is not sufficient. Without the aid of divine power it avails nothing. God works and man works. Resistance of temptation must come from man, who must draw his power from God. On the one side there is infinite wisdom, compassion and power: on the other, weakness, sinfulness, absolute helplessness. Acts of the Apostles 482

For this work of saving from sins Jesus was born, that he could be the Author of this interrelationship, this joint operation.

Hebrews 5:8,9 Though He were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which He suffered: and being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him.

Satan wanted to prevent this.

In every possible way Satan sought to prevent Jesus from developing a perfect childhood, a faultless manhood, a holy ministry, and an unblemished sacrifice. But he was defeated. He could not lead Jesus into sin. He could not discourage Him, or drive Him from the work He had come to this earth to do. 5BC 1130

Being the author of this work of gaining salvation to them that obey him, it naturally follows that if we profess to be the ones, we need to study Him and fix our eyes upon Him, in order for us to comprehend how resistance of temptation must come from man, how he must draw his power from God, etc.

1 Peter 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.

The steps of freedom from the experiences and senses of our sin laden life, must be observed and identified in Him so we can intelligently follow Him.

To be successful in striving for the mastery over sin:

2 Timothy 2:5 And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.

It would be a shame to discover that after striving for a lifetime for the mastery we are not crowned with victory because we have not striven lawfully. Hence it is absolutely imperative that the truth of Christ’s nature and work upon earth in establishing a pattern for us to follow is clearly known and understood so we can copy the pattern. Hence correct doctrines on the Nature of Christ are needed. These will now be briefly listed.

Doctrines Held On the Nature of Christ

Son Of God

Jesus was born on earth by the divine Father:

Luke 1:35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

Hence constituting Him as Divine – the Son of God:

Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

All the attributes of the nature and character of God such as omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, immortality and absolute holiness were undeniably inherent in His person.

Son of Man

Jesus was also born with the inherent attributes of humanity via the female contribution of the birth. As Mary was a human in the fallen condition, he received fallen human nature:

Romans 1:3 Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh:

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:

Jesus became to him the example, the author of salvation in whom he saw the temptation such as is common to man. 1 Corinthians 10:13 surmounted. He discovered that in all things Christ was made like unto his brethren, and in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor [help] them that are tempted.

The Christian [in his sinful flesh] will feel the promptings of sin, but he will maintain a constant warfare against it. Here is where Christ’s help is needed. Great Controversy 469

It would have been an almost infinite humiliation for the Son of God to take man’s nature, even when Adam stood in his innocence in Eden. But Jesus accepted humanity when the race had been weakened by four thousand years of sin. Like every child of Adam He accepted the results of the working of the great law of heredity. What these results were is shown in the history of His earthly ancestors. He came with such a heredity to share our sorrows and temptations, and to give us the example of a sinless life. {DA 48.5}

God permitted His Son to come, a helpless babe, subject to the weakness of humanity. He permitted Him to meet life’s peril in common with every human soul, to fight the battle as every child of humanity must fight it, at the risk of failure and eternal loss. {DA 49.1}

Clad in the vestments of humanity, the Son of God came down to the level of those He wished to save. In him was no guile of sinfulness: He was ever pure and undefiled: yet He took upon Him our sinful nature. BC. QOD 656-657

The flesh of Jesus is here referred to.

But at no point did the humanity of Jesus mean that He can be regarded as a sinner. He was pure, spotless, undefiled in character, of sinless nature-

John 8:46 Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?

14:30 Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.

1 Peter 2:22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:

In taking upon Himself man’s nature in its fallen condition, Christ did not in the least participate in its sin. He was subject to the infirmities and weaknesses by which man is encompassed, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses. He was touched with the feeling of our infirmities, and was in all points tempted like as we are. And yet He knew no sin. He was the lamb without blemish and without spot. Could Satan in the least particular have tempted Christ to sin, he would have bruised the Saviour’s head. As it was, he could only touch His heel. Had the head of Christ been touched, the hope of the human race would have perished. Divine wrath would have come upon Christ as it came upon Adam. Christ and the church would have been without hope. {5BC 1131.3}

We should have no misgivings in regard to the perfect sinlessness of the human nature of Christ. Our faith must be an intelligent faith, looking unto Jesus in perfect confidence, in full and entire faith in the atoning sacrifice (ST June 9, 1898). {5BC 1131.4}

Perfection Sinless

In His humanity Jesus was holy, sinless: namely the condition believers in Him are to be elevated to:

1 Peter 1:13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ:

1:14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:

1:15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation:

1:16 Because it is written, Be ye holy: for I am holy.

Colossians 1:21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in [your] mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled

1:22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:

The followers of Christ are to become like Him.

Christ is a perfect example of such a character. He says: I have kept My Father’s commandments. I do always those things that please Him. John 15:10: 8:29. The followers of Christ are to become like Him–by the grace of God to form characters in harmony with the principles of His holy law. This is Bible sanctification. {GC 469.2}

His Death to Satisfy Justice

At His death, Jesus was the unblemished sacrifice, to facilitate the transferal of the sins of the world upon the sinbearer who was to have no sins of His own. Only in this way could He be the atonement, or expiration for our sins in the justice of God.

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God:

3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

3:25 Whom God hath set forth [to be] a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God:

3:26 To declare, [I say], at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

Hebrews 7:26 For such an high priest became us, [who is] holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens:

7:27 Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.

9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood: and without shedding of blood is no remission.

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.

It was possible for Adam, before the fall, to form a righteous character by obedience to God’s law. But he failed to do this, and because of his sin our natures are fallen and we cannot make ourselves righteous. Since we are sinful, unholy, we cannot perfectly obey the holy law. We have no righteousness of our own with which to meet the claims of the law of God. But Christ has made a way of escape for us. He lived on earth amid trials and temptations such as we have to meet. He lived a sinless life. He died for us, and now He offers to take our sins and give us His righteousness. If you give yourself to Him, and accept Him as your Saviour, then, sinful as your life may have been, for His sake you are accounted righteous. Christ’s character stands in place of your character, and you are accepted before God just as if you had not sinned. {SC 62.2}

His Suffering Incentive and Example

Christ’s sufferings and death was God’s means by which He could reach us and draw us to repentance and conversion. Without this His expiratory sacrifice would avail nothing

John 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

3:15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

12:32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all [men] unto me.

12:33 This he said, signifying what death he should die.

Romans 2:4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering: not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

Galatians 3:1 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?

These basics in the doctrines that touch on the nature of Christ are generally already held by true Seventh-day Adventists but we are to do more than simply hold these doctrines.

The gospel is to be presented, not as a lifeless theory, but as a living force to change the life. God desires that the receivers of His grace shall be witnesses to its power. Evangelism 16

Let us gather together that which our experience has revealed to us of the preciousness of Christ and present it to others as a precious gem that sparkles and shines. Evangelism 186

It is not enough for ministers to present theoretical subjects: they should also present those subjects which are practical. They need to study the practical lessons that Christ gave His disciples and make close application of the same to their own souls and to the people. Testimonies Volume 3 257

We shall then proceed to make close application of the doctrines listed as it has been my habit to do, so we may comprehend something of the practical bearing they have on our soul.

Our Desperate Need

As a people living in the time of the sealing of the 144,000, we believe that the condition we must be in is one of faultlessness, purity of character and without guile. We are aware that Christ has not yet returned because He is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church. When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own. Christ’s Object Lessons 69.

How perfectly do we reflect His character in the home and in the church? Can we control our impulses to fret, irritability, censure, impatience, scolding etc, when we know these are not to appear in our life? Do we as a people walk in perfect obedience to the principles of our faith? Taking an honest look at ourselves, how much longer does the Lord have to wait? Are we not desperately in need of a message that will give us a clear concept of the nature of our work of purification and the incentive to delay no longer in submitting to it? With the keen knowledge of what is right and wrong which we have, how many times do we find ourselves falling short? But why? Temptations to lose control get the better of us and we disgrace the glory of God we profess to reveal. Our desperate need is felt when:

The Christian will feel the promptings of sin, but he will maintain a constant warfare against it. Here is where Christ’s help is needed. The Scriptures plainly show that the work of sanctification is progressive. When in conversion the sinner finds peace with God through the blood of the atonement, the Christian life has but just begun. Now he is to go on unto perfection: to grow up unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. {GC 470.1}

What is the help needed when the promptings of sin are felt and we become afraid that we might fall? In the light of a previous statement Acts of the Apostles 482 we noted that we are involved in a joint operation, co-operation between God and the repentant sinner. For Christ to help us in this:

Hebrews 2:18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor [help] them that are tempted.

4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

We are admonished, Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, to find help in time of need. We observe that the help available to us while in time of need under the pressure of temptation or promptings of sin is obtained in the knowledge of the fact that Christ was tempted like we are and yet without sin. Hence by studying and receiving living manifestations of the actions of Christ, we will receive the help to change.

By beholding we become changed, morally assimilated to the One who is perfect in character. … Beholding Christ means studying His life as given in His word. We are to dig for truth as for hidden treasure, we are to fix our eyes upon Christ. Bible Commentary Volume 6 1098.

Therefore the need of help we feel, to gain the victory over every prompting to sin will be met in the study of Christ, and as previously cited, The humanity of Christ is everything to us… This is to be our study. Christ was a real man. But to merely study Christ as a man would be insufficient to help us: it is God with us that is so significant. Thus in the study of the humanity of Christ we must correctly link His Divinity. By his humanity, Christ touched humanity: by His divinity He lays hold upon the throne of God. As the Son of man, He gave us an example of obedience: as the Son of God, He gives us power to obey.

As He went about doing good, and healing all who were afflicted by Satan, He made plain to men the character of God’s law and the nature of His service. His life testifies that it is possible for us also to obey the law of God. {DA 24.2}

In the previous paragraph it says as one of us He was to give an example of obedience, then Hebrews 2:14, 4:15 is quoted to link this thought with the overcoming of temptation. He became one with us to illustrate to us the steps for us to follow in destroying sin and overcoming temptation. This leads us to the grand subject – the Atonement.

The Atonement

We who are sinners, separate from God need to study Christ in order to be linked with God. The humanity of Christ is the golden chain that binds our souls to Christ and through Christ to God.

The humanity of the Son of God is everything to us. It is the golden chain that binds our souls to Christ, and through Christ to God. This is to be our study. Christ was a real man: He gave proof of His humility in becoming a man. Yet He was God in the flesh. When we approach this subject, we would do well to heed the words spoken by Christ to Moses at the burning bush, Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground Exodus 3:5. We should come to this study with the humility of a learner, with a contrite heart. And the study of the incarnation of Christ is a fruitful field, which will repay the searcher who digs deep for hidden truth. {1SM 244.1}

All too often the Atonement of Christ is only understood to apply to his expiation for our sins and hence the depth of meaning often remains unfathomed when reading about this point.

The atonement of Christ is not a mere skillful way to have our sins pardoned: it is a divine remedy for the cure of transgression and the restoration of spiritual health. It is the Heaven-ordained means by which the righteousness of Christ may be not only upon us but in our hearts and characters Letter 406, 1906. {6BC 1074.2}

We note expiation is not all the word atonement embraces but what the root word in English suggests – at-one-ment. The righteousness of Christ not only upon us suggested by expiation but in our hearts and characters, at one with. This is further upheld:

Adam, in his innocence, had enjoyed open communion with his Maker, but sin brought separation between God and man, and the atonement of Christ alone could span the abyss and make possible the communication of blessing or salvation from heaven to earth. Man was still cut off from direct approach to his Creator, but God would communicate with him through Christ and angels. Patriarchs and Prophets 67

All who comprehend the spirituality of the law, all who realise its power as a detector of sin, are in just as helpless a condition as is Satan himself, unless they accept the atonement provided for them in the remedial sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who is our atonement – at-one-ment with God. Bible Commentary Volume 6 1077

In Bible Commentary Volume 6 1082 the Spirit of Prophecy interchanges the mystery of the incarnation of Christ, the union of divinity with humanity with the term the atonement that He made. Upon wide reading in the Testimonies one must conclude that the unity of divinity with humanity is included when studying the Atonement. On this vein we are made aware that the value of the Atonement is likely to be poorly understood by some.

While men and women professing godliness are diseased from the crown of their head to the soles of their feet, while their physical, mental, and moral energies are enfeebled through gratification of depraved appetite and excessive labor, how can they weigh the evidences of truth and comprehend the requirements of God? If their moral and intellectual faculties are beclouded, they cannot appreciate the value of the atonement or the exalted character of the work of God, {1T 487.2}

Some who labour in word and doctrine have not a practical understanding … of the atonement of Christ. Testimonies Volume 2 512.

May God help us to gain a more practical understanding in the study of the remaining pages.

The only way in which we can gain a more perfect apprehension of truth is by keeping the heart tender and subdued by the spirit of Christ. The soul must be cleansed from vanity and pride, and vacated of all that has held in its possession, and Christ must be enthroned within. Human science is too limited to comprehend the atonement. The plan of redemption is so far reaching that philosophy cannot explain it. It will ever remain a mystery that the most profound reasoning cannot fathom. The science of salvation cannot be explained: but it can be known by experience. Only he who sees his own sinfulness can discern the preciousness of the Saviour. Desire of Ages 494-495.

We see from the above that in proceeding further in this subject we may be in danger of misunderstanding in it. It is linked with experience to discern it, and what is more, we need to see our own sinfulness to really benefit by it. Because it is a mystery, human thought cannot comprehend or fathom, we may be tempted to lay it aside. But the Testimony says:

The union of the divine with the human is one of the most mysterious, as well as the most precious truths of the plan of redemption … while it is impossible for finite minds to fully grasp this great truth or to fathom its significance, we may learn from it lessons of vital importance to us in our struggles against temptation. Christ came to the world to bring divine power to humanity, to make man a partaker of the divine nature. 1895 General Conference Bulletin 333 EG White – Life of Christ.

This brings us back to the beginning, we need to know the vital lessons to help us in our struggles against temptations. Therefore I make no apology for presenting the detail that has been revealed regarding this fathomless mystery.

Lessons from the Atonement

Another testimony to re-emphasise the concept that the humanity of Christ was necessary to teach us heavenly living:

In Christ’s parable teaching the same principle is seen as in His own mission to the world. That we might become acquainted with His divine character and life, Christ took our nature and dwelt among us. Divinity was revealed in humanity: the invisible glory in the visible human form. Men could learn of the unknown through the known: heavenly things were revealed through the earthly: God was made manifest in the likeness of men. Christ’s Object Lessons 17

Christ could have done nothing during His earthly ministry in saving fallen man if the divine had not been blended with the human. Bible Commentary Volume 7 904

Divinity and Humanity Of Christ

We all believe that Christ was both, but to gain practical help from this it is important to know some more detail. Two brief statements reveal that each of the two attributes Christ had were indeed part of Him and did not cancel out each other.

But although Christ’s divine glory was for a time veiled and eclipsed by His assuming humanity, yet He did not cease to be God when He became man. The human did not take the place of the divine, nor the divine of the human. This is the mystery of godliness. The two expressions human and divine were, in Christ, closely and inseparably one, and yet they had a distinct individuality. Though Christ humbled Himself to become man, the Godhead was still His own. His deity could not be lost while He stood faithful and true to His loyalty. Bible Commentary Volume 5 1129.

Was the human nature of the Son of Mary changed into the divine nature of the Son of God? No: the two natures were mysteriously blended in one person–the man Christ Jesus. Bible Commentary Volume 5 1113

The significance of these realities will be made clear: but not in passing, that the man Christ Jesus was a new kind of man, a dual natured man:

Ephesians 2:15 For to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace.

When we speak of Jesus as a person we do not speak of the man Christ Jesus as the Lord God Almighty. Neither do we speak of Him as a sinful fallen man. He was a different man, a new man.

There is no one who can explain the mystery of the incarnation of Christ. Yet we know that He came to this earth and lived as a man among men. The man Christ Jesus was not the Lord God Almighty, yet Christ and the Father are one. The Deity did not sink under the agonizing torture of Calvary, yet it is nonetheless true that God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. {5BC 1129.7}

But that His two natures were in and upon Him is a fact that has its important bearing upon our life. It is important that we remember these points throughout the remaining study – Jesus was a new person not one or the other alone.

Divinity – Its Place

The Mind

The Divine Nature in Jesus was the power, and attribute which He needed in order to be our helper and example. Hence in His life upon earth, divinity was harnessed to express itself only as far as it is possible to be expressed in the life of the believing human being. Regarding this the apostle writes of Christ:

Philippians 2:6, 7 RSV. Being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but emptied himself and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.

Jesus empties himself of the glory and power of Divinity to render himself as a person who can of himself do nothing. i.e.. The Son can do nothing of himself. I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just: because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent men.

Although He was divine, equal with God the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person yet He exercised in His own behalf no power that is not freely offered to us. As man, He met temptation, and overcame in the strength given Him from God. Desire of Ages 24.

He was a man in need of the help and strength of his Father.

He met man as man, and testified by His connection with God that divine power was not given to Him in a different way to what it will be given to us. Bible Commentary Volume 7 925.

The Son of God had taken upon Himself man’s nature. He must do as man must do in like circumstances. Therefore He would not work a miracle to save Himself the pain and humiliation that man must endure when placed in a similar position. Desire of Ages 729

He could, in His divine person, ever have withstood the advances of death, and refused to come under its dominion: but He voluntarily laid down His life … Wondrous combination of man and God! He might have helped His human nature to withstand the inroads of disease by pouring from His divine nature vitality and undecaying vigor to the human. But He humbled Himself to man’s nature. Bible Commentary Volume 5 1127

We observe from these statements that His Divine nature was there, kept in the background, only to express itself in the revelation of character, this is better comprehended by reading Bible Commentary Volume 7 929:

When we give to His human nature a power that it is not possible for man to have in his conflicts with Satan, we destroy the completeness of His humanity.

Jesus, the world’s Redeemer, could only keep the commandments of God in the same way that humanity can keep them. Christ’s character was sinless because that human nature was fully united to the divine nature. In this union is our only hope. Here we discover the glimmerings of the science of our salvation, not in the display of the glory and power of the divine nature lies our strength, but in the character of that nature. The Saviour was deeply anxious for His disciples to understand for what purpose His divinity was united to humanity. Desire of Ages 664

He clothed His divinity with humanity, He associated with the human race, that with His long human arm He might encircle humanity, and with His divine arm grasp the throne of Divinity. And this, that He might restore to man the original mind which he lost in Eden through Satan’s alluring temptation. Bible Commentary Volume 7 487

It is this, the divine heart and mind of Jesus that he came to offer us in the atonement.

2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear: but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:5

I will permit A.T. Jones to summarise all that has been shown:

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who emptied himself. That mind must be in us, in order for us to be emptied: for we cannot of ourselves empty ourselves. Nothing but divinity can do that: that is an infinite thing. Can the mind of Satan empty itself of self? No. Can the mind that is in us, that minding of self, empty itself of self? No: self cannot do it. Jesus Christ, the divine One, the infinite One, came in his divine person in this same flesh of ours, and never allowed his divine power, his personal self to be manifested at all in resisting these temptations and enticements and drawings of the flesh. What was it then that conquered sin there, and kept Him from sinning? It was the power of God, the Father, that kept Him. 1895 General Conference Bulletin 330.

Here is one lesson of vital importance to us in our struggles against temptation. Follow carefully to observe more:

Immortality

Divinity is immortal: as the two expressions ‘human’ and ‘divine’ were in Christ closely and inseparably one, Bible Commentary Volume 5 1129 and because In taking our nature, the Saviour has bound himself to humanity by a tie that is never to be broken. Desire of Ages 25, it naturally follows that the new man, Jesus, is immortal: As a member of the human family, He was mortal: but as God, He was the fountain of life to the world. Bible Commentary Volume 5 1127.

It goes on in the same statement to show how this immortality was isolated and revealed:

He could, in His divine person, ever have withstood the advances of death, and refused to come under its dominion: but He voluntarily laid down His life, that in so doing He might give life and bring immortality to light. Bible Commentary Volume 5 1127.

It follows then, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.

He that hath the Son hath life: and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. 1 John 5:11, 12.

In Him was life: and the life was the light of men. It is not physical life that is here specified, but eternal life, the life which is exclusively the property of God. The Word, who was with God, and who was God, had this life. Physical life is something which each individual received. It is not eternal or immortal: for God, the Lifegiver, takes it again. Man has no control over his life. But the life of Christ was unborrowed. No one can take this life from Him. I lay it down of myself, He said. In Him was life, original, unborrowed, underived. This life is not inherent in man. He can possess it only through Christ. He cannot earn it: it is given him as a free gift if he will believe in Christ as his personal Saviour. This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. John 17:3. This is the open fountain of life for the world ST Feb. 13, 1912. {5BC 1130.3}

Observing that the divine nature in Jesus produced the divine mind and love in the Man, which in turn, depended on the divine power that the Father would reveal through Him, and that immortality comes to light through this: let us now study the human nature of Christ to reap the full benefits of the knowledge of this mystery.

Humanity – Its Place

We have already been shown that the mind of Jesus was the divine nature. So, right at the outset of the study of this section, I want to put a nail in a sure place. Any statements quoted, or personally made regarding the human nature of Christ do not refer to His mind!!!

Do not go too far. He was made in the likeness of sinful flesh: not in the likeness of sinful mind. Do not drag his mind into it. A.T. Jones 1895 General Conference Bulletin 327.

Recall again that this study, if understood, reveals the golden chain that binds our souls to Christ and through Christ to God. Let us move forward carefully, and reverently – this is holy ground.

The Flesh

The apostle writing of Jesus appropriates:

Psalm 40:6 Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire: mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.

and enlarges it:

Hebrews 10:5 Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou fitted me.

According to the margin the divine person of one of the Godhead was fitted clothed by a body, which according to the word the King James Version uses, God prepared for Him. What was this body? How as it prepared and fitted, and what significance and influence did it have upon Him? These questions will be answered, and also how these will benefit us. When this body was prepared for Immanuel He was so identified with it that the apostle says:

Hebrews 2:17 Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren.

This text also leads us to the nature of that body prepared: like that of His brethren, i.e.

Romans 1:3 Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh.

Hebrews 2:16 but he took on him the seed of Abraham.

To make no mistake as to the nature of this flesh or body we note how this body was prepared and fitted. Note the words of Gabriel to Mary:

Luke 1:31, 35.And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. … And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

The preparation of the body was evidently performed via the physiological process of conception in which the female contributes the human elements of that transaction. That holy thing born of Mary was fearfully and wonderfully made: curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

Psalms 139:14 I will praise thee: for I am fearfully [and] wonderfully made: marvellous [are] thy works: and [that] my soul knoweth right well.

139:15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, [and] curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

Like every other human, and the seed being partly comprised of the race to whom Psalm 51 applies.

Psalm 51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

This reality has its ramifications which are spelt out for us as follows:

Hebrews 2:14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same.

Namely:

Romans 8:3 God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh.

The pioneers understood this as here implied:

God, in Christ, condemned sin, not by pronouncing against it merely as a judge sitting on the judgment seat, but by coming and living in the flesh, in sinful flesh: and yet without sinning. In Christ, He demonstrated that it is possible, by His grace and power, to resist temptation, overcome, and live a sinless life in sinful flesh. Bible Reading for the Home Circle 174.

Hence the nature of the body prepared for Jesus is understood by them on the same :

In His humanity, Christ partook of our sinful, fallen nature. If not, then He was not ‘made like unto His brethren’, was not ‘in all points tempted like as we are’, did not overcome as we have to overcome, and is not, therefore, the complete Saviour man needs and must have to be saved. The Old Addition of Bible Reading for the Home Circle.

To conclude that in some miraculous way Jesus did not partake of this nature via the body is nullified by the statement in Bible Commentary:

Was the human nature of the Son of Mary changed into the divine nature of the Son of God? No: the two natures were mysteriously blended in one person. Bible Commentary Volume 5 1113.

A.T. Jones summarises it for us so we make no mistake as to what was referred to by the Angel as that holy thing, not to mistake it for nature of the body:

Therefore Christ took flesh and blood in a way like we take it. But how did we take flesh and blood? – By birth and clear from Adam too. He took flesh and blood by birth also: and clear from Adam too. And in order to be just like sinful flesh, it would have to be sinful flesh: in order to be made flesh at all, as it is in this world, just such as we have, and that is sinful flesh. This is what is said in the words ‘likeness of sinful flesh’. 1895 General Conference Bulletin pp. 231, 232

Now many people do not know what is implied by sinful flesh: some take it to mean that he had merely received a body that had physical functions that man did not have before sin, namely that of excreting waste and unpleasant odours, and the necessities of sleep and relaxation. Others seem to take it too far and understand sinful flesh means sinning flesh, and if so He was a sinner, hence they flee from such an expression regarding Him. Sinful flesh means more than a body that produces waste, but by no means does it suggest that the flesh commits sin. The Bible does not teach the doctrine of original sin.

Ezekiel 18:1 The word of the LORD came unto me again, saying,

18:2 What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge?

18:3 [As] I live, saith the Lord GOD, ye shall not have [occasion] any more to use this proverb in Israel.

18:4 Behold, all souls are mine: as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.

Sin is an act of meditation and execution for which the mind is responsible – the flesh of itself cannot act contrary to the will of God.

The lower passions have their seat in the body and work through it. The words flesh or fleshly or carnal lusts embrace the lower, corrupt nature: the flesh of itself cannot act contrary to the will of God. We are commanded to crucify the flesh, with the affections and lusts. How shall we do it? Shall we inflict pain on the body? No: but put to death the temptation to sin. The corrupt thought is to be expelled. Every thought is to be brought into captivity to Jesus Christ. All animal propensities are to be subjected to the higher powers of the soul. The love of God must reign supreme: Christ must occupy an undivided throne. Our bodies are to be regarded as His purchased possession. The members of the body are to become the instruments of righteousness. {AH 127.2}

Sin then has damaged the physical, mental and moral powers of the human flesh, so that the emotions, impulses and electrical currents the flesh is responsible for are in disarray and consequently make man in sinful flesh more vulnerable to commit sin in thought or action.

He who has once yielded to temptation will yield more readily the second time. Every repetition of the sin lessens his power of resistance, blinds his eyes, and stifles conviction. Every seed of indulgence sown will bear fruit. God works no miracle to prevent the harvest. Patriarchs and Prophets 268.

This illustrates that sin weakens us, takes its toll upon our body so we find it easier to sin again and the harvest is death by that sin. Hence we see why the sin of Adam and Eve has multiplied: each generation has fallen more readily until man is in abject hopelessness to stop sinning. The condition of the sinful body has deteriorated to such a degree, that under temptation it is too easy to relent, the power of resistance is minimal and sin is repeated. Such weakening of flesh by sin is passed on via birth by the law of heredity, and is described clearly in Testimonies Volume 8 312:

Through sin the whole human organism is deranged … Sin has degraded the faculties of the soul. And Jesus took upon Himself fallen, suffering human nature, degraded and defiled by sin. Bible Commentary Volume 4 1147.

As such, He possessed all the human organism. Bible Commentary Volume 5 1130.

This is what the Spirit of Prophecy means in contrasting Christ with Adam.

When Adam was assailed by the tempter in Eden he was without the taint of sin. He stood in the strength of his perfection before God. All the organs and faculties of his being were equally developed, and harmoniously balanced. In what contrast is the second Adam as He entered the gloomy wilderness to cope with Satan single-handed. Since the fall the race had been decreasing in size and physical strength, and sinking lower in the scale of moral worth, up to the period of Christ’s advent to the earth. And in order to elevate fallen man, Christ must reach him where he was. He took human nature, and bore the infirmities and degeneracy of the race. He, who knew no sin, became sin for us. He humiliated Himself to the lowest depths of human woe, that He might be qualified to reach man, and bring him up from the degradation in which sin had plunged him. Bible Commentary Volume 5 1081

Adam was tempted by the enemy, and he fell. It was not indwelling sin which caused him to yield: for God made him pure and upright, in His own image. He was as faultless as the angels before the throne. There were in him no corrupt principles, no tendencies to evil. But when Christ came to meet the temptations of Satan, He bore ‘the likeness of sinful flesh.’ Signs of the Times October 17, 1900.

Christ bore the sins and infirmities of the race as they existed when He came to the earth to help man. In behalf of the race, with the weaknesses of fallen man upon Him, He was to stand the temptations of Satan upon all points wherewith man would be assailed. Bible Commentary Volume 5 1081.

Consider the heredity of Jesus, the sinfulness of his predecessors. Note Rahab the harlot, King David in adultery and murder, Solomon during his years of apostasy, etc. Recalling the explanation above, with what weakness to resist sin was Jesus endowed physically?

But Jesus accepted humanity when the race had been weakened by four thousand years of sin. Like every child of Adam He accepted the results of the working of the great law of heredity. What these results were is shown in the history of His earthly ancestors. He came with such a heredity to share our sorrows and temptations, and to give us the example of a sinless life. Desire of Ages 49.

The Temptation

In believing these things as presented so far we would be tempted to write to Sister White as Letters have been coming in to me, affirming that Christ could not have had the same nature as man, for if He had, He would have fallen under similar temptations. Selected Messages Volume 1 408

It is as important to understand the process of temptation, as it is to believe the truth of the nature of the body of Christ, in order to learn the vital lessons important to us in our struggles against temptation. The people concluding in the manner as written to Sister White reveal that they do not understand the nature of temptation. She goes on to explain;

If He did not have man’s nature, He could not be our example. If He was not a partaker of our nature, He could not have been tempted as man has been. If it were not possible for Him to yield to temptation, He could not be our helper. It was a solemn reality that Christ came to fight the battles as man, in man’s behalf. Ibid

The underlined sentence above gives us to understand that our temptations are linked with our sinful flesh which Christ had to have in order to make it possible for him to be tempted as we are. Carefully follow therefore:

The Mechanics of Temptation

They are very simple:

James 1:14, 15 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

Here is the definition of temptation, and many misunderstand it because they read lust as sin already. The setting in which this word is used must reveal its dictionary meaning of strong desire or striving, which becomes enticed by something. This process of enticing a latent strong desire is the temptation, and is not sin in thought or action until the strong desire has conceived and brings forth the sin.

But until that drawing of our flesh is cherished there is no sin. There is temptation, but not sin. Every man is tempted when he is drawn away thus and enticed: and when lust has conceived, when that desire is cherished, then it brings forth sin: 1895 General Conference Bulletin 238

The question is, when this lust and strong desire is enticed where is it enticed from? The apostle speaks of it:

Ephesians 2:3 the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh.

The words and of the mind I omitted, because these lusts are not part of temptation, for when the mind has lusts of sin, sin is already conceived. When tempted to sin, the flesh is enticed, which in turn appeals to the mind for consent to indulge in that sin. To know physiology may help us to better understand this, and in passing may I point out that ministers of the Gospel would do well to study it.

All should have an intelligent knowledge of the human frame … The relation of the physical organism to the spiritual life is one of the most important branches of education. Christ’s Object Lessons 348

And those who understand physiology and hygiene will, in their ministerial labor, find it a means whereby they may enlighten others in regard to the proper and intelligent treatment of the physical, mental, and moral powers. Therefore those who are preparing for the ministry should make a diligent study of the human organism… Testimonies Volume 6 302

If we can observe in the study of physiology the relation of the physical organism to the spiritual life, we would learn something about the process in temptation. The five senses of our flesh translate stimulations exercised upon them into electric impulses, which are normally carried along their designed nerve tracks as emotions of sense to the brain, there to be recorded and decided upon. The response of the thinking brain will determine the action of the body. If there was no existence of sin, or threat because of sin, the body would have always followed this procedure. But we are told, that through sin the whole human organism is deranged … sin has degraded the faculties of the soul. Hence the normal track of stimulation from sense to brain has been deranged. Bridges in the nervous system of sinful flesh have been developed and passed on by heredity, so that electric impulses can jump from sense to response and cause tendencies, appetites, cravings, passions and propensities upon which the brain had no effect. These will produce emotions and sensations in the human organism which can be effectively entitled the desires wills:

Ephesians 2:3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind: and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. (margin of the flesh).

To illustrate – if you accidentally touch a hot iron, a reflex has developed so you can pull your hand away before you have time to think to do so. More complicated reflex actions are illustrated when you walk through a field and upon looking over your shoulder you see an angry bull bearing down upon you. Before you have time to think of the danger you are in, a cold chill of fear pervades your whole body. These illustrations are very simple and reveal the possibility that myriads of other reflex tracks in the sinful body have developed, and these are termed as hereditary and cultivated tendencies.

In our own strength it is impossible for us to deny the clamours of our fallen nature. Through this channel Satan will bring temptation upon us. Desire of Ages 122

The apostle describes the experience of all this:

Romans 7:21-25: I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God: but with the flesh the law of sin.

The apostle Paul is defeated in a battle in which his mind has not been solicited. He speaks of the inward man – the mind, wanting to do good, but the law of sin in his members, i.e. the law of heredity persists in doing things contrary to the will of his mind. So wretched does he feel that he calls for salvation from such failure. Do we know the answer in practice to this plight?

There is a science of Christianity to be mastered–a science as much deeper, broader, higher than any human science as the heavens are higher than the earth. The mind is to be disciplined, educated, trained: for we are to do service for God in ways that are not in harmony with inborn inclination. Hereditary and cultivated tendencies to evil must be overcome. Ministry of Healing 453

The Answer

Apostle Paul was delighted to find the answer to this problem in the mystery of this science. I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. There he found the science of salvation.

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.

Jesus became to him the example, the author of salvation in whom he saw the temptation such as is common to man. 1 Corinthians 10:13 surmounted. He discovered that in all things Christ was made like unto his brethren, and in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor [help] them that are tempted.

The Christian [in his sinful flesh] will feel the promptings of sin, but he will maintain a constant warfare against it. Here is where Christ’s help is needed. Great Controversy 469

Christ knew that the enemy would come to every human being, to take advantage of hereditary weakness, and by his false insinuations to ensnare all whose trust is not in God. And by passing over the ground which man must travel, our Lord has prepared the way for us to overcome. Desire of Ages 122-123.

If we have in any sense a more trying conflict to endure than had Christ then Christ is not able to succor help us when tempted. He took the nature of man with the possibility of yielding to temptation, and He relied upon divine power to keep him. 1895 General Conference Bulletin 333.

We let A.T. Jones again summarise this position for us:

Now every man is tempted, you know ‘When he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed’ James 1:14.

That is the definition of temptation.

Thus in the flesh of Jesus Christ, not in himself but in his flesh – our flesh – which he took in the human nature, there were just the same tendencies to sin that are in you and me. And when He was tempted, it was the ‘drawing away of these desires that were in the flesh’. These tendencies to sin that were in the flesh, drew upon Him, and sought to entice Him, to consent to the wrong. But by the love of God and by His trust in God, he received the power, and the strength, and the grace to say ‘No’ to all of it and put it all under foot. And thus being in the likeness of sinful flesh, he condemned sin in the flesh. All the tendencies to sin that are in me were in him, and not one of them was ever allowed to appear in him. Everyone was put under foot, and kept there. All the tendencies to sin that are in the other man were in Him, and not one of them was ever allowed to appear. That is simply saying that all the tendencies to sin that are in human flesh were in His human flesh, and not one of them was ever allowed to appear: he conquered them all. And in him we all have the victory over them all. 1895 General Conference Bulletin pp. 266, 267

Observation

  1. It is important to note that the tendencies, passions and propensities of our human flesh, as they were in Christ’s flesh, are not to be understood as being in Him or in His inmost life. Note the following comment:

The brain nerves which communicate with the entire system are the only medium through which Heaven can communicate to man and affect his inmost life. Testimonies Volume 2 347 This reveals that the flesh is the external part of man through which both Heaven and the evil realm seek entrance.

  1. Christ was tempted it was from the outside – the voice of Satan – and from within, the flesh, i.e. desires of the flesh Eph 2:3.

Though He had all the strength of passion of humanity, never did He yield to temptation to do one single act which was not pure and elevating and ennobling. In Heavenly Places 155

In our own strength it is impossible for us to deny the clamours of our fallen nature. Through this channel Satan will bring temptation upon us. … And by passing over the ground which man must travel, our Lord has prepared the way for us to overcome. Desire of Ages pp. 122, 123.

He knows by experience what are the weaknesses of humanity, what are our wants, and where lies the strength of our temptations Ministry of Healing 71.

So Christ suffered temptation, which is resisted when man is powerfully influenced to do a wrong action and, knowing that he can do it, resists, by faith, with a firm hold upon divine power. This was the ordeal through which Christ passed. Ponder this:

Would that we could comprehend the significance of the words, Christ suffered being tempted. While He was free from the taint of sin, the refined sensibilities of His holy nature rendered contact with evil unspeakably painful to Him. Bible Commentary Volume 7 927.

He is a brother in our infirmities, in all points tempted like as we are: but as the sinless one His nature recoiled from evil: He endured struggles and torture of soul in a world of sin. Steps to Christ 94

His inmost life coming into contact with the evil involved in temptation brought pain and torture to His life.

  1. James 1:13 God cannot be tempted with evil. If Jesus was only God with us in a detached sense, He could never have been tempted. Only by having humanity upon Him was that possible.
  2. Anything that lessens physical strength enfeebles the mind. Counsels on Diet and Foods 48 Vigor of mind depends largely upon vigor of body. Testimonies Volume 7 247.

Christ had to demonstrate one who is weakest in moral power may over come in the strength of God. For forty days He fasted and prayed. Weak and emaciated from hunger, worn and haggard with mental agony:

Isaiah 52:14 His visage was so marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men.

Now was Satan’s opportunity. Now he supposed that he could overcome Christ. … It was in the time of greatest weakness that Christ was assailed by the fiercest temptations. Thus Satan thought to prevail. By this policy he had gained the victory over men. When strength failed, and the will power weakened, and faith ceased to repose in God, then those who had stood long and valiantly for the right were overcome. Desire of Ages s 118, 120

When Christ was weakened physically as a result of the long fast, His willpower weakened too.

Whatever injures the health not only lessens physical vigor but tends to weaken the mental and moral powers. Ministry of Healing 128.

Hence Christ in the wilderness endured in reality what the weakest soul in moral power has to endure. His willpower having been weakened was linked with the will of God by His principle of life not my will but Thy will be done hence:

As the will of man co-operated with the will of God, it becomes omnipotent. Christ’s Object Lessons 333

Genesis 3:15 ‘It [her seed] shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his’ head? – No, sir: no, sir. ‘Thou shalt bruise his heel’. All that Satan could do with Christ was to entice the flesh: to lay temptations before the flesh. He could not affect the mind of Christ. Now the flesh of Christ was our flesh, and in it was all that is in our flesh, all the tendencies to sin that are in our flesh were in his flesh, drawing upon him to get him to consent to sin. Suppose He had consented to sin with his mind: what then? Then His mind would have been corrupted, and then He would have become of like passions with us. But in that case He Himself would have been a sinner: … We all would have been lost – everything would have perished. A.T. Jones 1895 General Conference Bulletin pp. 328, 329

Owing to the fact of Christ’s flesh it was necessary for Him to be constantly on guard in order to preserve His purity.

He was subject to all the conflicts which we have to meet, that He might be an example to us in childhood, youth, and manhood. Desire of Ages 71

In order for Christ not to have the propensities and passions which we have, he had to guard well the flesh, lest these would come into existence. By following His example, the Christian will also do this:

But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection. 1 Corinthians 9:27.

This means literally to beat back its desires and impulses and passions by severe discipline, even as did those competing for an earthly prize. Paul was ever on the watch lest evil propensities should get the better of him. He guarded well his appetites and passions and evil propensities. Bible Commentary Volume 6 1089

If we have in any sense a more trying conflict than had Christ He is not our helper. Hence we are to have control of:

…appetite and passions Testimonies Volume 3 pp. 569, 570 and bring all propensities under the control of the higher powers Testimonies Volume 3 491 and cast out the evil passions that cause strife and dissension Desire of Ages 305 as well as evil propensities which must be separated from the worker Testimonies to Ministers pp. 171, 172.

Only in Christ can we do that.

The Natures

In continuing to study the place that the humanity of Christ had in Him, it is essential to spend some time upon His natures. We read in the Spirit of Prophecy of three different Natures:

  1. The Divine Nature – already quoted
  2. The Sinful Nature – fallen nature.

Clad in the vestments of humanity, the Son of God came down to the level of those He wished to save. In him was no guile of sinfulness: He was ever pure and undefiled: yet He took upon Him our sinful nature. BC. QOD 656-657

Notwithstanding that the sins of a guilty world were laid upon Christ, notwithstanding the humiliation of taking upon Himself our fallen nature, the voice from heaven declared Him to be the Son of the Eternal. Desire of Ages 112.

This we identified as the nature of His body.

  1. The Sinless Human Nature:

We should have no misgivings in regard to the perfect sinlessness of the human nature of Christ … This holy substitute is able to save to the uttermost: for He presented to the wondering universe perfect and complete humility in His human character, and perfect obedience to all the requirements of God. BC QOD 658.3.

Please observe that the visible, expressed nature of Jesus was sinless, and that was His character. It was this that He came to earth to develop.

Christ in His humanity wrought out a perfect character, and this character He offers to impart to us. Christ’s Object Lessons 311.

To develop this nature is described in Hebrews:

Hebrews 5:8,9 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered: And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.

As any human develops from childhood to adulthood in character, Jesus did so in sinless perfect character.

In every possible way Satan sought to prevent Jesus from developing a perfect childhood, a faultless manhood, a holy ministry, and an unblemished sacrifice. But he was defeated. He could not lead Jesus into sin. Desire of Ages 759.

Observation

We do not have a Divine Nature, we do not have a sinless nature, we only have the nature of the flesh. Through faith in the Saviour – the science of salvation – we may be partakers of the divine nature, and work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, during which God worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure, and we become His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works. In this way we may also have the Divine Nature and the Sinless Human Nature and so be a new man in Christ Jesus. Praise His Name!

The Mortal Flesh

One other element in the human nature of Jesus that has a bearing upon the events of His life and death and consequently upon our own, needs to be understood. Jesus in His Divine Nature was immortal: if He would not have taken upon Himself our body in its fallen state, He could not have died. In fact it was for this purpose that we are told He was made like us. 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: And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. The underlined section reveals He took part of the same in order that He might die. But the text talks of breaking the power of death.

Because he was divine and inseparably connected Himself to the human, fallen nature, He was the Mortal Son of man and the Immortal Son of God 1976 SS Lesson 4th Q 24.

The body prepared for him was sinful flesh, mortal – the ultimate result was death. But He humbled Himself, and took mortality upon Him.

As a member of the human family, He was mortal: but as a God, He was the fountain of life to the world. Bible Commentary Volume 5 1127.

He did not stop here in this process of humiliation, but obeyed the natural demand of mortal flesh:

Philippians 2:8 being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

He could, in His divine person, ever have withstood the advances of death, and refused to come under its dominion: but He voluntarily laid down His life, that in so doing He might give life and bring immortality to light. Bible Commentary Volume 5 1127

When His time came and His mortal body could bear the strain no longer, divinity did not come into action to sustain Him, He expired. When Christ was crucified, it was His human nature that died.

Deity did not sink and die: that would have been impossible. Deity did not die. Humanity died, but Christ now proclaims over the rent sepulcher of Joseph, I am the resurrection, and the life. In His divinity Christ possessed the power to break the bonds of death. Bible Commentary Volume 5 1113.

Here again we observe the implications of this great science.

Divinity, immortality was laid down in the process of human death in order that it would come to light.

Christ was invested with the right to give immortality. The life which He had laid down in humanity, He again took up and gave to humanity. I am come, He says, that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. Bible Commentary Volume 5 pp. 1113, 1114.

It is valuable to observe a little further that His immortal life was in prison because of the mortality of His physical life.

He was in that stony prison house as a prisoner of divine justice. He was responsible to the Judge of the universe. He was bearing the sins of the world, and His Father only could release Him. Bible Commentary Volume 5 1114.

When the voice of the angel was heard saying, Thy Father calls thee, He who had said, I lay down my life, that I might take it again, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up, came forth from the grave to life that was in Himself. {5BC 1113.4}

In Him was life: and the life was the light of men. It is not physical life that is here specified, but eternal life, the life which is exclusively the property of God. The Word, who was with God, and who was God, had this life. Physical life is something which each individual received. It is not eternal or immortal: for God, the Lifegiver, takes it again. Man has no control over his life. But the life of Christ was unborrowed. No one can take this life from Him. I lay it down of myself, He said. In Him was life, original, unborrowed, underived. This life is not inherent in man. He can possess it only through Christ. He cannot earn it: it is given him as a free gift if he will believe in Christ as his personal Saviour. This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. John 17:3. This is the open fountain of life for the world (ST Feb. 13, 1912). {5BC 1130.3}

Observation

The study of this science helps us to understand what happens to the sinful flesh, the mortal body at translation. Jesus used no power which we cannot use and was in a body of sinful, mortal flesh, subject to the corruption of decay so that He was resurrected before the body could decompose. As such He permitted the out workings of sin and death and was raised with a body which was to come forth from the tomb untarnished by corruption. This was in order to become the forerunner of our change.

The resurrection of Jesus was a sample of the final resurrection of all who sleep in Him. The risen body of the Saviour, His deportment, the accents of His speech, were all familiar to His followers. In like manner will those who sleep in Jesus rise again. We shall know our friends even as the disciples knew Jesus. Bible Commentary Volume 6 1092.

Our personal identity is preserved in the resurrection, though not the same particles of matter or material substance as went into the grave. The wondrous works of God are a mystery to man. The spirit, the character of man, is returned to God, there to be preserved. In the resurrection every man will have his own character. God in His own time will call forth the dead, giving again the breath of life, and bidding the dry bones live. The same form will come forth, but it will be free from disease and every defect. It lives again bearing the same individuality of features, so that friend will recognise friend. There is no law of God in nature which shows that God gives back the same identical particles of matter which composed the body before death. God shall give the righteous dead a body that will please Him.

Paul illustrates this subject by the kernel of grain sown in the field. The planted kernel decays, but there comes forth a new kernel. The natural substance in the grain that decays is never raised as before, but God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him. A much finer material will compose the human body, for it is a new creation, a new birth. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. Bible Commentary Volume 6 1093

We know that Jesus’ body did not decay, but like the living at His Second Coming the body material was changed.

1 Corinthians 15:51, 52 Behold, I show you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

Observing that Jesus’ body was not left too long so he would not see corruption, it is revealed that His body before the change was corruptible: it was certainly mortal, but now at resurrection, Divinity and immortality flashed through and the change took place. This can be understood from Christ’s words Destroy the temple, and in three days I will raise it again. He destroyed the sinful mortal body by death: that which was raised was the same body, but rebuilt, no longer mortal, corruptible, sinful flesh.

The Atonement of the Crucifixion

Having sought to establish the elements, the building blocks, of the science of salvation, and draw many lessons from it already, we now come to the great climax of the atonement of Christ. So far we have come to see a body was fitted for Christ in order for Him to:

  1. Condemn sin in the flesh:
  2. Experience temptation and thus be our Helper: and
  3. Become subject to death and thus save us from it.

Now by focusing on His sacrifice from Gethsemane to the Cross we will seek to grasp an extension of point 1. While living and being tempted, He condemned sin by living in sinful flesh and not committing sin. But upon the cross Apostle Peter makes us aware that his own self bare our sins in his own body to the tree. 1 Peter 2:24. Hence more than overcoming temptation was here involved to condemn sin: sin in His body is here mentioned where it was condemned on the tree. If temptation was a real experience for Him, which produced torture and suffering to Himself as described earlier, what was the reality of this suffering?

Walking in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus is noted for His strange behaviour: He began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Matthew 26:37. In the Desire of Ages it enlarges why:

Throughout His life on earth He had walked in the light of God’s presence. When in conflict with men who were inspired by the very spirit of Satan, He could say:

John 8:29 He that sent Me is with Me: the Father hath not left Me alone: for I do always those things that please Him.

But now He seemed to be shut out from the light of God’s sustaining presence. Now He was numbered with the transgressors. The guilt of fallen humanity He must bear. Upon Him who knew no sin must be laid the iniquity of us all. So dreadful does sin appear to Him, so great is the weight of guilt which He must bear, that He is tempted to fear it will shut Him out forever from His Father’s love. Feeling how terrible is the wrath of God against transgression, He exclaims, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. Desire of Ages 685.

The statement goes on to describe His behaviour, such utter sadness and silence as never before seen, making His disciples anxious as this deepened. He swayed, and stepped with laboured effort, and twice He was supported to save Him from falling. Obviously He suffered an internal death struggle. Being numbered with transgressors obviously meant more than being crucified between two criminals.

Luke 22:37 For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned with the transgressors.

For it to be fulfilled in Him, and that in Gethsemane, reveals clearly that the realm of transgressors is applied to the field of the thoughts. This takes us back to the flesh and mind of Jesus. Thus you see that where the victory comes, where the battle-field is, is right upon the line between the flesh and the mind. The battle is fought in the realm of the thoughts. The battle against the flesh, I mean, is fought altogether, and the victory won, in the realm of the thoughts. 1895 General Conference Bulletin 328.

What flesh did Jesus have? Sinful flesh. Where did God lay the sins of us all? Upon Him in His body – 1 Peter 2:24. Recalling the facts of physiology previously cited we can believe that the horrible motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members – Romans 7:5 and that these motions or according to the margin, passions were laid into the members of Jesus.

The weight of the sins of the world was pressing His soul and His countenance expressed unutterable sorrow, a depth of anguish that fallen man had never realised. He felt the overwhelming tide of woe that deluged the world. He realised the strength of indulged appetite and of unholy passion that controlled the world. BC QOD 654.

Through this avenue, the battle Jesus was suffering, namely that between the flesh and the mind, in the realm of the thoughts was so intense that he staggered and swayed and was exceeding sorrowful even unto death. Considering that He suffered the accumulated sins of the church ponder the following:

Imagine, if possible, the nature and degree of Christ’s sufferings. This suffering in humanity was to prevent the outpouring of the wrath of God upon the whole of those for whom Christ died. Yea, for the church this great sacrifice will be efficacious throughout eternity. Can we compute the amount of her transgression in figures? Impossible. Then who can approach unto a conception of what Christ has endured when standing in the place of surety for His church? HP 42.

And included in all this He suffered the justice and wrath of God upon the sin that He felt so keenly.

The sword of justice was unsheathed, and the wrath of God against iniquity rested upon man’s substitute, Jesus Christ, the only begotten of the Father. Bible Commentary Volume 5 1102.

Christ was now standing in a different attitude from that in which He had ever stood before.

As the substitute and surety for sinful man, Christ was suffering under divine justice. He saw what justice meant. Hitherto He had been as an intercessor for others: now He longed to have an intercessor for Himself. Desire of Ages 686.

Be sure that the wrath of God was not all that Jesus felt, He felt the wrath in consequence of sensing the sin. It was the sense of sin, bringing the Father’s wrath upon Him as man’s substitute, that made the cup He drank so bitter, and broke the heart of the Son of God. Desire of Ages 753.

But bodily pain was but a small part of the agony of God’s dear Son. The sins of the world were upon Him, also the sense of his Father’s wrath as He suffered the penalty of the law transgressed. It was these that crushed His divine soul. To imagine the struggles that were transpiring within Jesus is near impossible, but these are recorded for us in the Bible and also described in the Spirit of Prophecy. Let us try and receive the implication:

2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin.

He the Sin Bearer, endures the wrath of divine justice, and for thy sake becomes sin itself. Desire of Ages 756.

Jesus the undefiled in Mind and Character was suffering the body of sin itself as a very integrated part of His experience so that He is recorded in the prophecies of Psalms to have confessed the sins He sensed as thought they were His very own. Psalm 69 is a record of His thoughts during His terrible ordeal. He calls upon God to save Him in verse 1, revealing the fact that he placed himself in the position of those who needed someone to save them – He was numbered with the transgressors. He continues to express His sinking experience in the pit of sin, sinking in the mire of iniquity until he expresses in verse 5 O God thou knowest my foolishness: and my sins are not hid from thee. To isolate this text to apply only to the psalmist would destroy the context of this psalm for the very next two verses are intercessory statements, note verse 7 Because for thy sake I have borne reproach: shame hath covered my face.

  1. T. Jones puts it thus:

Then when we read these psalms, we know that we are reading of Jesus Christ, and of God’s dealing with Him, – he too being ourselves all the time, weak as we are, sinful as are we in the flesh, made to be sinners just as we are, in all our guilt and our sins being laid upon Him, and He feeling the guilt and the condemnation of it in all things as ourselves. 1895 General Conference Bulletin 299.

These psalms further reveal regarding the climax of Christ’s sufferings. AT Jones quotes Psalm 40:6-12. We all acknowledge that verses 6-10 are Christ’s words, but some doubt 11 and 12 belong to Him. Follow carefully Jones’ presentation:

Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O Lord: let thy loving kindness and thy truth continually preserve me. For innumerable evils have compassed me about [Who? Christ.]; mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me. {February 22, 1895 ATJ, GCB 299.9}

Who? Christ. Where did He get iniquity? Oh, “the Lord hath laid upon Him the iniquity of us all.” {February 22, 1895 ATJ, GCB 300.1}

Were they not more than the hairs of His head? And when He would look at Himself and consider Himself, where would He appear in His own sight? Oh, “my heart faileth me,” because of the enormity of the guilt and the condemnation of the sin–our sins that were laid upon Him. {February 22, 1895 ATJ, GCB 300.2}

Let us break in here for a moment and permit the Spirit of Prophecy to verify these things.

As one with us, He must bear the burden of our guilt and woe. The Sinless One must feel the shame of sin. Every sin, every discord, every defiling lust that transgression had brought, was torture to His spirit. Desire of Ages 111.

His burden of guilt, because of man’s transgression of the Father’s law, was so great that human nature was inadequate to bear it. BC QOD 667.

It was the burden of sin, the sense of its terrible enormity, of its separation of the soul from God – it was this that broke the heart of the Son of God. Steps to Christ 13.

Jesus did not just fight the battle as an actor on the stage, to Him the experience of the workings of sin was a terrible reality from which He desired salvation.

But in his divine faith and trust in the Father He continues:- ‘Be pleased, O Lord , to deliver me: O Lord, make hast to help me. Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it: Let them be driven backward and put to shame that wish me evil. Let them be desolate for a reward of their shame that say unto me, Aha aha. Didn’t they say that to Him on the cross? Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, the Lord be magnified. 1895 General Conference Bulletin 299.

Who said so? He who was conscious of iniquities in such number that they were more than the hairs of His head. He who was so bowed down and so burdened with these–He was praising and rejoicing in the Lord! {February 22, 1895 ATJ, GCB 300.5}

But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and deliverer; make no tarrying O my God. {February 22, 1895 ATJ, GCB 300.6}

Now turn to the first verse of the fortieth Psalm: {February 22, 1895 ATJ, GCB 300.7}

I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. {February 22, 1895 ATJ, GCB 300.8}

He brought me up also out of the horrible pit, out of the miry clay etc, and referring to Psalm 22 and 69 he demonstrates that Jesus was in our place crying for salvation to His father who bent down and heard and after death brought Jesus out. Not his explanation:

Who says that the Father will not hide His face from such as I, and such as you? Christ says so, and He has demonstrated it; for is He not now alive and in glory at the right hand of God? And in that it is demonstrated before the universe that God will not hide His face from the man whose iniquities are gone over His head and are more than the hairs of His head. Then be of good cheer; be of good courage. He is our salvation; he has wrought it out. He has demonstrated to all men that God is Saviour of sinner. {February 22, 1895 ATJ, GCB 301.1}

When He put Himself where we are, where did He get salvation? He did not save Himself. That was the taunt, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. . . . Let Him now come down from the cross and we will believe on Him.” He could have done it. But if He had saved Himself, it would have ruined us. We would have been lost if He had saved Himself. O, but He saves us! Then what saved Him? This word of salvation saved Him when He was ourselves, and it saves us when we are in Him. {February 22, 1895 ATJ, GCB 301.8}

These excerpts of A. T. Jones can be found in the 1895 General Conference Bulletin Third Angels message – 15. I recommend all to read it. He shows clearly that Jesus died because of sin, and that He was in need of the Father to be His saviour, or deliverer.

2 Corinthians 13:4 For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.

Summary

From Gethsemane to the cross Jesus demonstrated:

2 Corinthians 5:21 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.

Christ, who knew no sin, was made to be sin, even the sinfulness of man, in order that we, who knew no righteousness, might be made righteousness, even the righteousness of God. {1905 ATJ, CWCP 47.6}

And as the righteousness of God, which, in Christ, the man is made, is real righteousness, so the sin of men, which Christ was made in the flesh, was real sin. {1905 ATJ, CWCP 47.7}

As certainly as our sins, when upon us, are real sins to us, so certainly, when these sins were laid upon Him, they became real sins to Him. {1905 ATJ, CWCP 47.8}

As certainly as guilt attaches to these sins and to us because of them, when they are upon us so certainly this guilt attached to these same sins of ours and to Him because of them, when they were laid upon Him. {1905 ATJ, CWCP 47.9}

As the sense of condemnation and discouragement of our sins was real to us when these sins of ours were upon us, so certainly this same sense of condemnation and discouragement because of the guilt of these sins was realized by Him when these sins of ours were laid upon Him. {1905 ATJ, CWCP 48.1}

Thus the guilt, the condemnation, the discouragement of the knowledge of sin were His–were a fact in His conscious experience–as really as they were ever such in the life of any sinner that was ever on earth. And this awful truth brings to every sinful soul in the world the glorious truth that “the righteousness of God,” and the rest, the peace, and the joy, of that righteousness, are a fact in the conscious experience of the believer in Jesus in this world, as really as they are in the life of any saint who was ever in heaven. {1905 ATJ, CWCP 48.2}

He who knew the height of the righteousness of God, acquired also the knowledge of the depth of the sins of men. He knows the awfulness of the depths of the sins of men, as well as He knows the glory of the heights of the righteousness of God. And by this “His knowledge shall My righteous Servant justify many.” Isa. 53:11. By this His knowledge He is able to deliver every sinner from the lowest depths of sin and lift him to the highest height of righteousness, even the very righteousness of God. {1905 ATJ, CWCP 48.3}

That is, by whose stripes ye were healed – 1 Peter 2:24.

Observation

  1. It is essential to remember that in Christ’s ordeal of sense of sin, He at no time fell into sin, His mind and character were unpolluted – that was what made it possible for Him to be the Sacrifice without spot or blemish. It was for this occasion of supreme suffering that Jesus developed a perfect childhood, a faultless manhood, a holy ministry, and an unblemished sacrifice;

In every possible way Satan sought to prevent Jesus from developing a perfect childhood, a faultless manhood, a holy ministry, and an unblemished sacrifice. {LHU 235.4}

Without that He would not have been able to carry out this final work.

  1. In taking our body flesh in this way to the cross:

He took all the sins which we have committed, He answered for them and took them away from us forever: and all the tendencies to sin which have not appeared in actual sins – these He put forever underfoot. Thus he sweeps the whole board, and we are free and complete in Him. O He is a complete Saviour. He is a Saviour from sins committed, and the Conqueror of the tendencies to commit sins. In Him we have the victory. 1895 General Conference Bulletin 267.

  1. We observe in which circumstance our Saviour needed a Saviour

‘I can of mine own self do nothing.’ He cried to God to save him, God released Him out of the prison of the tomb, God brought Him up ‘also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay’. Psalm 40:12.

  1. When Christ cried out My God My God why has thou forsaken me? it is evident that when Christ became sin itself – our sins which separated us from God, the words of Isaiah 59:2 were real to Him But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

The Saviour could not see through the portals of the tomb. Hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the grave a conqueror, or tell Him of the Father’s acceptance of the sacrifice. He feared that sin was so offensive to God that Their separation was to be eternal. Christ felt the anguish which the sinner will feel when mercy shall no longer plead for the guilty race. Desire of Ages 753.

Jesus died the second death.

The Atonement Extended

We believe that the atonement was not finished at the cross. Jesus is now in Heaven, ministering on our behalf to apply the merits of his atonement to our lives. This is so that we who are only human may by His power in the Gospel be made partakers of the Divine nature, be transformed by the renewing of our mind after the image of His divine mind letting His mind be in us. By this work we may become at-one with Him and thus with God as was Christ’s prayer in John 17. When we are fully there by His mediation in the Sanctuary above, the Atonement will be complete and Christ can return to take us to glory. This we believe and teach, but it can never be achieved unless we see Jesus in His atonement for us. Romans 6:1-11 makes it abundantly clear that we must follow the footsteps of Jesus as do many other passages dealing with the Atonement of Jesus. To be able to follow His Authorship, the reality and tangible experimental exercises of His temptation and suffering need to be understood and believed.

Final Summary

Jesus in divine nature came and lived in human sinful flesh and wove a character, a sinless human nature. This robe or righteousness He offers to us who are in a condition of abject hopelessness in our sinful flesh. To help us receive this robe He invites us to look at His experience upon the cross. There we may see our experience of sin, guilt and condemnation doing its complete work and thus come to abhor it by beholding its heinous nature. Letting the full impact of inherent evil in us be placed upon Jesus by believing it took place,, we may confess and repent as He confessed it for us then. We may believe that His perfect mind and character, His faith in living in Him simultaneously with our sinfulness in His flesh, can be given to us, if we receive it and thus we be enabled to crucify with Him our sins and believe that they are destroyed with Him. By rising again in Him, the new creature that He is, God and Man at one, we may like He did, keep under our body in temptation, and so go on living victoriously until the redemption of our body. At that time we receive a physical change as that of Jesus’ body at His resurrection. No longer sinful, corruptible flesh, but a glorious new body, made of material that is sinless, perfect and incorruptible. If we believe in Him thus we will be saved.

Closing Comments

If we believe this message and study to practice it, we will do more than grow from sin to righteousness in the manner described in:

Under the influence of divine grace, every good quality would be gaining strength, while evil traits would as steadily lose their power. {2BC 1016.8}

Every living Christian will advance daily in the divine life:

As he advances toward perfection, he experiences a conversion to God every day; and this conversion is not completed until he attains to perfection of Christian character, a full preparation for the finishing touch of immortality. {2T 505.1}

This message in its 1888 application will do the work more quickly:

Romans 9:28 For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.

Said the angel, Deny self: ye must step fast. Some of us have had time to get the truth and to advance step by step … But now time is almost finished … Early Writings 67.

We need a quick righteousness – if we will co-operate with this wonderful message given by God in 1888 making itself manifest in works of obedience, we will be ready quickly. The appeal comes from A. T. Jones:

This you can do alone for yourselves, and nobody else can do it for you. Brethren, let us go to doing that. Let us get into that place. When a man is there, then he simply waits the direction of the Lord: waits the time of the Lord. When the Lord gets ready to pour out His Holy Spirit there is nothing to hinder. If there be something that he does not know, – oh well that was surrendered long ago. It may be as dear as the right eye: but that went long ago. It is gone, thank the Lord: and so there is nothing between you and Him, and He can pour out His Spirit whenever He pleases. That is where he wants you and me to stand in this conference, waiting for Him to give us that teaching of righteousness according to righteousness. 1893 GCB pp. 300, 301.

Therefore, brethren, let us rise: and that will separate us from the world: that will put us in the place where long ago the prophet was told to look a little higher, to see those who were in the right way. But, O, shall we not drop everything and die with Him, and take the death that we have in Him, and let that death that has been wrought in Him work in us? And then that life which has been wrought in Him, that power which has been wrought in him, will do for us what it did for Him. That will take us out of Babylon: there will be non of Babylon’s material about us at all. We will be so far from Babylon and all the Babylonish garments, that we will be seated at the right hand of God, clothed in heavenly apparel: and that is the only clothing that becomes the people now: for we are soon to enter into the wedding supper, and the fine linen with which the bride and guests are clothed is the righteousness of the saints. But He supplies it all. We have it all in Him. 1895 GCB 365:

May God help us in the study of this message that:

Ephesians 1:18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,

1:19 And what [is] the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,

1:20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set [him] at his own right hand in the heavenly [places],

It is my prayer that this work is understood to be the stimulus for more deeper study into the Message of Christ our Righteousness. God help the reader to see the golden chain that links each part to the other to make the complete picture.

Posted on August 28, 2009, in The 1888 Message, The Nature of Christ and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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