Extracts from Nazarene Fellowship writings
Pearls of Wisdom“As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die?” (Ezekiel 33: 11) God is not particularly concerned about inflicting punishment on sinners - His purpose is to turn them from their evil ways in order that they may live, and this is why He has chosen to regard them as debtors. They owe that which they cannot pay without perishing, and indeed if God dealt with us as the sinners we are, He might justly blot us out of existence. But in His forbearance, choosing not to mark iniquity but to exercise mercy, we are required to recognize that our life is something to which we are not properly entitled and that it is only because God Himself has provided One who had in His own possession the wherewithal, and because that One determined of His own freewill to use His wealth to pay the debt we owe, that we can be delivered from the bondage into which we are born. This is, of course, an abstract concept and its purpose is to develop in the minds of those to whom it is made known, that faith which can appreciate that while God is pleased to show mercy, He chooses at the same time to uphold the supreme principles of justice and law. This is what the offer of salvation through the atoning sacrifice of Christ is able to accomplish.
Could anyone deny that Adam was typically redeemed in the figure of the animal slain - “The Lamb slain (in figure) from the foundation of the world”? Therefore does it not follow that the Antitype died the violent death (not natural death) instead of Adam and we as “in Adam”? Why, the very fact that God spared Adam the violent death necessitated the Christ. The question will then be asked, Why did God place Adam under condemnation, i.e. concluded Adam and all in him under sin, if He had spared him from paying the penalty? I reply, The fact that God spared Adam the violent death did not mean that the price would not be paid, but that someone else would pay it - as per the figure of the animal slain for a covering. The debt was due to King Sin. The condemnation or bondage of Sin under which we were all sold in Adam is the principle whereby God’s justice is presented. “No man cometh unto the Father but by me.” We are born in bondage (Adamic relationship) and we can escape from the very bondage that we are born in by accepting the redemption from such. If the condemnation we inherit from Adam be our corruptible nature, I am at a loss to understand in what sense we are a purchased possession. If we are not fully cleansed from “Sin” until we pass through the grave, then Jesus in paying the price only paid in full for Himself and an instalment for us!!
I understood it to be a biological fact that there is no connection between the blood circulatory systems of mother and child, but that when a new life commences, its blood is newly created in the embryo, from the nourishment of the parent. Thus, Jesus being begotten by a miracle, neither His blood nor His life which it sustained, can be the life of Adam. This does not mean that either Jesus flesh or His blood or the nature and quality of His life were different from Adam’s or any other man’s, but that He was a man newly created, from the Source.
If Jesus was by virtue of His coming from God superior to mankind in general, a super-human being, then how could He be “like unto his brethren” and what special honour is due Him for overcoming? If He was a ‘God man’ partly Divine and partly human in His nature, He ought to have overcome and what need of Him “being made perfect through suffering” for He was already superior to Adam at the start. And furthermore such a being would not be any kind of example for poor humanity to attempt to follow, as such a being could not be “tempted in all points as we are” for God cannot be tempted, neither can He sin. But Jesus was of such a nature like unto His brethren that He was tempted in all points as we are yet without sin. He overcame temptation and thus showed by His great example that it was possible for others to overcome evil and live sinless lives.
The real test of whether human nature has been changed is to ask the question, “Was Adam capable of experiencing temptation and committing sin while he was in his original very good state?” The answer is obviously yes, otherwise he could not have sinned. That disposes of the suggestion that people sin because their flesh or their nature predisposes them to do so.
The question has been asked, “How did Jesus bear our sins in His own body on the tree if it was not by bearing our sin nature?” The answer is that Jesus bore our sins by suffering the punishment they deserved. Indeed if Jesus did not bear the punishment of the sins of others, He died in vain. While Ezekiel 18:20 is intended as a prohibition of the practice of punishing the innocent instead of the guilty, to use it for the purpose of discrediting the sacrificial death of Jesus is blind perversity. Jesus was not punished instead of the guilty. He voluntarily bore the punishment due to sinners in order to set them free and show Divine Love.
Matthew 8:17, “He cast out spirits... that it might be fulfilled... himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.” Jesus took their infirmities by taking them from the people He cured, yet He Himself did not take the evil spirits into Himself. He bore sicknesses like leprosy, blindness, lameness, the palsy, without becoming leprous, blind, lame, or palsied, but curing those who had such diseases. In like manner Christ took upon Himself our sins when God “laid on him the iniquity of us all,” by removing them from us. But there is a difference in the manner. A devil, i.e. a deranged mental state or a disease, could be removed as an act of mercy pure and simple by the exercise of divine power, whereas sins could only be removed by transferring the penalty to Himself; and so He suffered, the Just for the unjust, on the tree, bearing our sins, i.e. the punishment of them
The facts of creation are basic from the beginning and founded on adamant principles. The first and foremost being light. The earth was without form and void, and darkness covered the face of the deep. And God said, “Let there be light, and there was light.” There we have the very first essential, because without light there is no life, and surely life is what the gospel of God is all about, and if we are taught of God, we shall have learned that He is the only one that has the power and authority to cause the light to shine; just to add a quote from the Lord Jesus in support, “He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” Our own Apostle writes, “For God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
If Christ did not die the death I was due, then my baptism into that sacrificial death is a pure absurdity. But seeing that it is imperative I should be baptized into that death, then Christ is my substitute. Indeed, it is on this principle alone that animal sacrifice can be explained. From Eden to Gethsemane the sinner died symbolically in the death of the animal slain. Hence baptism into the sacrificial death of Christ has been indispensable from Gethsemane to the Kingdom of God.
This was Paul’s mission - to invite men to change masters - to open men’s eyes, to turn them from darkness (of mind) to light and from the power of Satan to God, that “they may receive forgiveness of sins and inheritance among the sanctified by faith (which leads) into Christ.” (Acts 26:18). He invited Sin’s servants to become Jehovah’s servants upon the principle of purchase; so that in addressing those who had abandoned the synagogue and temple for the house of Christ, he says to them, “Ye are bought with a price.” They were “not their own,” being bought bodily and spiritually; “therefore,” said he, “glorify God with your body and with your spirit, which are God’s.” When a man’s body and spirit become another’s property, all property in himself is surrendered to the purchaser. All that he used to call his before he was sold is transferred to his owner; and, if allowed to retain it, he must use it as the steward of his Lord.
Sin is defined for us in 1 John 3:4 as transgression of law; in some places it meant sin-offering; it is never used as a synonym for human nature. Christ was human nature; He was not sin. He became a sin-bearer in exactly the same way as a sacrificial lamb under the law became a sin-bearer, i.e., by suffering the penalty due to the sinner by whom it was offered. He bore our sins in His own body to the tree when the Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all, in the same sense as the scape-goat carried in its body into the wilderness the sins confessed over its head by the High Priest on the Day of Atonement. He was made sin for us when on Calvary He was treated as if He were guilty of sin and surrendered by His Father to the power of evil as if He had been the personification of the whole load of sin and wickedness committed by mankind from Eden onward. But He Himself was ever holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners morally and physically; in Him personally was no sin; He never forfeited the Sonship and harmony with His Father which belonged to Him by birth.”
In the parable of the labourers in the vineyard each one received a penny, whether he had borne the burden and heat of the day or had laboured but one hour; so those who are Christ’s at His coming shall each receive the gift of eternal life - the young disciple who, at the last hour of the day of salvation, put on the Lord Jesus, and the veteran who from youth to old age has fought the good fight of faith; yet the place and position of these in the glorious Kingdom of God shall differ immensely from each other. And so the Judge heralds His advent cry: “Behold, I come quickly and my reward is with me, to give to every man according as his work shall be.” And all this is in perfect accord with the apostolic deliverance, “The dead shall be raised incorruptible.” In further confirmation of this truth see the words of our Lord in Luke 20:35,36, “They who shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from amongst the dead, cannot die any more, but are equal to the angels.” And Revelation 20:6, “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” In 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17, the Apostle writes to the same effect; “The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” This teaching of the Apostle is directly opposed to the doctrine that the dead in Christ rise in mortal bodies; but is in complete harmony with his glowing words in 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.” As in 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17 two companies are spoken of - “the dead in Christ,” and “those who are alive and remain” - so here; and both companies share the same glorious being and destiny; the dead raised incorruptible, and the living changed while alive; the thus, together, they meet the Lord in the air. One incorruptible band, to be associated for ever with the ever-living Redeemer. Blessed Hope! Transcendent destiny! So far from having to be tried for his life at the judgment seat of Christ, the Christian has his name inscribed in the book of life even now. Else what mean these gracious words “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment, and 1 will not blot his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before His angels” - Revelation 3:5?
“God sent forth his Son… that we might receive the adoption of sons” Galatians 4:4,5. If Jesus was under Adamic condemnation would He not have needed adoption? Who would dare to say that the only-begotten Son needed adoption into His Father’s family?
‘When He allowed His murderers to impale Him to the Cross, Jesus submitted to a condemnation which was utterly unjust and to a penalty He did not deserve, in order to cancel, by the surrender of His own life, the debt owed by sinners. He paid on Calvary the debt incurred in Eden .”
“In Romans 5:15-21 the Apostle gives a sevenfold reiteration of the fact that, as one sinner closed the door of life against himself and all in him, so God has provided a ransom in value equal to the greatness of the occasion.”