The Gospel Herald -- Promoting the fundamentals of the 1888 message.

 

BIBLE STUDY ONE

In Order to Save Us, Christ Had to Take Our
Fallen, Sinful Nature

A. INTRODUCTION

Jones and Waggoner consistently taught that in order to save us, Christ had to take upon His sinless nature our sinful, fallen nature, including the necessity to deny self. They saw this truth as essential to understand if a people can be "prepared for the day of God, " to borrow Ellen Whiteís oft-repeated phrase. We are all born in a state of natural selfishness; Christ chose to be totally unselfish. As we are, He was born self-centered BUT unlike us He perfectly denied self all His life up to His cross. Thus He was "in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin," facing temptation both from without and from within. This is an essential element of the 1888 message, the Laodicean message, for people to understand and believe if they "are to overcome even as [Christ] overcame."


B. THE BIBLE EVIDENCE

Genesis 3:15. The Saviour must be the "seed" of the fallen, sinful "woman, not of a newly created, unfallen Eve. 1

Genesis 12:3. "In" Abraham, in an unbroken line through his genes and DNA, the Saviour is to come and be a blessing to "all families of the earth."

Genesis 15:8-18; Hebrews 2:14. God entered into a solemn oath of covenant blood-relationship with Abraham and with us, his "children" by "flesh and blood." 2

Leviticus 25:47-49; Ruth 2:20; 3:9, 12. The Saviour cannot redeem the human race unless He is "near of kin," even the nearest of "kin" to us. 3

Exodus 25:8. The establishment of the sanctuary "among them" teaches the nearness of Christ to us, the opposite of the Roman Catholic view of farness from us.

Deuteronomy 21:22, 23. The complete nearness of the Saviour to us, His total identity with the fallen human race, is seen in that He became "cursed of God" For our sake, executed on a tree. 4 It would be impossible for a person with a sinless, unfallen nature to be so executed.

Psalm 22:1. No person with an unfallen, sinless nature could utter such a cry.

Isaiah 9:6. "Unto us," the fallen, sinful human race, "a child is born."

Isaiah 53:3, 11. To be "despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" could not be "travail of ... soul" for Him unless He fully identified with our fallenness.

Daniel 7:13. The union of God with fallen man is expressed in the title, "Son of man."

Zechariah 5:1-4. "The curse that goeth forth unto the face of the whole earth" that "remains with us and shall be "consumed" with us, is the curse that Jesus was "made" to be for us. This "curse" is what killed ("consumed") Christ.

Matthew 1:21-23. His name is "God with us," not merely "God with Him."

Matthew 26:39. In His incarnation, Christ took upon Himself a human will of His own just as we each have a will of our own; He could not follow His Fatherís will unless He denied His own will. Thus He had an internal struggle, as have we. And a terrible one! 5

Luke 1:35. "That holy thing" was born of a fallen, sinful woman, "holy" at His birth because even from the womb He never yielded to "self" as have we. His holiness was a sinless character in sinful flesh, not a sinless nature. 6

Luke 9:23. If we "follow" Him in self-denial, then He also had to practice self-denial. 7

John 1:14. When "the Word was made flesh," there was only one kind He could have been "made," the same fallen, sinful flesh we have.

John 5:30. Christ had a "self," but a "self" which He says, "I seek not." This "self" is equivalent (in His words) to "Mine own will" which He had to deny in order to follow "the will of the Father which hath sent Me." Thus He bore a constant cross and demonstrated His perfect sinlessness.
John 6:38. The express purpose of His life-mission was to live a life of totally denying "Mine own will" in order to do "the will of Him that sent Me" up to the cross." 8

Romans 1:3. Christ was "made" of the "seed [DNA] of David according to the flesh."

Romans 5:18. When He died upon the cross, Christís "holiness" had become "righteousness," the result of "condemning sin in the flesh." 9

Romans 8:3. God sent Him "in the likeness [homoioma, reality, not mere resemblance] of sinful flesh."

Romans 8:3. He "condemned sin in the flesh [sarx, fallen, sinful]." This He accomplished by the total, painful denial of self, "even [to] the death of the cross." 10

Romans 8:4. This total victory over sin in fallen, sinful flesh is to be "fulfilled in us" (dikaiomata) who also deny "the flesh" and "walk ... after the Spirit." 11

Ephesians 2:15, 16. Christ felt "in His flesh the enmity" we feel, but by faith He "abolished" it, "having slain the enmity" by the cross (that struggle with inward alienation is delineated in Psalm 22).

Colossians 1:21, 22. "In the body of His flesh" He "reconciled" our "alienation"and "enmity." 12


C. SUMMARY

The consistent Bible teaching seems to be that in His incarnation the Saviour had to take upon Himself the fallen nature of sinful mankind, yet therein totally condemned and defeated sin and guaranteed such deliverance for all who choose not to resist His grace. Jones and Waggoner believed that receiving the truth would prepare a people for the second coming of Christ. 13

  • Sinful man is flesh (John 3:6): Christ "was made flesh" (John 1:14).
  • We are under the law (Romans 3:19): Christ "was made under the law" (Galatians 4:4).
  • We are under the curse (Galatians 3:10); Christ was "made a curse" (Galatians 3:10).
  • We are "Laden with iniquity" (Isaiah 1:14); He bore "the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6).
  • We are "a body of sin" (Romans 6:6): God "hath made Him to be sin for us" (2 Corinthians 5:21).
  • Christ, who was of the divine nature, was made partaker of our human nature, that we who are altogether human might become "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4).
  • Christ, who knew no sin, suffered the full extent of the horror and despair of our second death, that we might know the full extent of His endless life.

D. CONCLUSION

Fallen man cannot know how to deny self unless he looks at the antitypical "serpent" lifted up on a pole. This unique aspect of 1888 truth is a sharp demarcation between Babylon and the remnant church. In order for a church, a corporate "body" of Godís people, to "overcome even as [Christ] overcame," this truth is essential. It must not be dismissed as mere semantics. Our youth in this age of alluring temptation desperately need to know of a Christ who is "nigh at hand, and not afar off," to borrow Ellen Whiteís appraisal of this message of the nature of Christ as Jones and Waggoner presented it.

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Notes

  1. Romanism immediately denies this earliest Bible salvation-truth, insisting that Christ must be born of an unfallen, sinless woman so that He can come with an unfallen, sinless nature as was that of Adam in Eden (the "Immaculate Conception" dogma). 1 John 4:1-3 identifies this as "antichrist" (Jones and Waggoner both agreed on this). To the extent that we insist on a generic"exemption" for Jesus so He cannot be tempted from within "Like as we are, we are introducing into Adventism the Roman Catholic idea (cf. Questions on Doctrine, pp. 383, 650). The terrible worldwide breakdown of morality because of fornication and adultery is in particular due to the influence of the Roman Catholic doctrine of the nature of Christ. It is the "wine of Babylon" that has made the nations "drunk." This false Catholic doctrine, that distorts the truth of Christ as a Saviour able now to save us from transgressing the holy Law of God, has no rightful place in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. [return to study]
  2. Note that Jeremiah recognizes the corporate nature of Godís oath with Abraham: it was not only Abraham who "passed between the parts of the calf," but also "the men,.... the princes of Judah, and ... of Jerusalem, the eunuchs, and the priests, and all the people of the Land" Jeremiah 34:18, 19). In a corporate sense, we also "passed between the parts." [return to study]
  3. This is evidence that the Roman Catholic "christ" cannot be the Christ of the Bible. And to the extent that Protestantism comes ever closer to Rome, it must also be true of their "christ." [return to study]
  4. Compare Galatians 3:10. [return to study]
  5. "The warfare against self is the greatest battle ever fought" (SC 43). [return to study]
  6. Although Christ was "holy" at His birth, Romans 5:18 says He was "righteous" at His death, having "condemned sin" in fallen, sinful flesh or nature (Romans 8:3). [return to study]
  7. This explains how God "sent His Son in the Likeness of sinful flesh,"and"condemned sin in [our] flesh." [return to study]
  8. If someone says this was "easy" For Him since He was divine as well as human, check what happened in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:39). This again indicates the severity of His internal struggle with temptation "like as" we struggle, except that He, unlike us, totally denied self. [return to study]
  9. "Righteousness" is "holiness" that has met and conquered the problem of sin in fallen, sinful flesh or nature. [return to study]
  10. See Philippians 2:5. [return to study]
  11. Cf. Titus 2:11, NIV. Emphatically we declare that this is neither perfectionism nor pantheism. [return to study]
  12. As Psalm 22 makes clear, on the cross Christ suffered the agony of separation, or alienation, from His Father. This was a frightful inner temptation, involving total identity with us, even to the point of bearing our guilt as He "was made to be sin for us, who knew no sin." "In the body of His flesh" includes in His nervous system, in His deepest soul. Psalm 22 demonstrates how the alienation was "reconciled" by His faith "through death,"and becomes effectively ours through identifying with Him through faith. [return to study]
  13. It is futile to try to force Ellen White to contradict Bible evidence. But detractors of the 1888 message cite several of her statements in an effort to prove that she specifically did not endorse it in this respect. The most common are:

MS 94, 1893. "Christ did not possess the same sinful, corrupt, fallen disloyalty we possess, for then He could not be a perfect offering." The context indicates she is speaking of His character of perfect loyalty.

Letter 8, 1895. "Do not set Him before the people as a man with the propensities of sin. ... Not for one moment was there in Him an evil propensity." If He had ever yielded to self rather than to deny self then He would have had "an evil propensity " But He perfectly denied self hence there was in Him no "evil propensity."

Letter 8, 1895. "Never ... leave the slightest impression upon human minds that a taint of or inclination to corruption rested upon Christ, or that He in any way yielded to corruption." Underline the two verbs of volition ("rested" and "yielded") that refer to Christís character, and the meaning is crystal clear.

MS 143, 1897. "There should not be the faintest misgivings in regard to the perfect freedom from sinfulness in the human nature of Christ." The context indicates that Ellen White is referring to His perfect character. An excellent collection of Ellen White statements on the nature of Christ is Appendix B of Woodrow Whidden IIís book entitled, Ellen White on the Humanity of Christ (RH, 1997, pp. 105-149). The collection itself contradicts the authorís thesis that in her later life Ellen White changed from a post-fall position to supporting a pre-fall position. [return to study]

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