Gospel Truth #5
In seeking us, Christ came all the way to where we are, taking upon Himself "the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh." Thus He is a Savior "nigh at hand, not afar off." He "is the Savior of all men," even "the chief of sinners." But sinners have the freedom to refuse Him and reject Him.
Waggoner sees Christ as "Nigh at Hand."
"Christ took upon Himself man's nature, and as a consequence He was subject to death. He came into the world on purpose to die; and so from the beginning of His earthly life He was in the same condition that the men are in, whom He died to save.
"Don't start in horrified astonishment; I am not implying that Christ was a sinner. One of the most encouraging things in the Bible is the knowledge that Christ took on Him the nature of man, to know that His ancestors according to the flesh were sinners. They had all the weaknesses and passions that we have. No man has any right to excuse his sinful acts on the ground of heredity. If Christ had not been made in all things like unto His brethren, then His sinless life would be no encouragement to us. We might look at it with admiration, but it would be the admiration that would cause hopeless despair.
"From the earliest childhood the cross was ever before Him" (The Gospel in Galatians, pp. 60-62, condensed).
"His humanity only veiled His Divine nature, by which He was inseparably connected with the invisible God, and which was more than able successfully to resist the weaknesses of the flesh. There was in His whole life a struggle. The flesh, moved upon by the enemy of all righteousness, would tend to sin, yet His Divine nature never for a moment harbored an evil desire, nor did His Divine power for a moment waver" (Christ and His Righteousness, pp. 28, 29). (Jones sees the Love of God in the Incarnation as a Powerful Truth to Motivate the Heart)
Waggoner sees practical godliness in this truth.
"There were two questions handed me, and I might read them now. One is this: 'Was that holy thing which was born of the virgin Mary born in sinful flesh, and did that flesh have the same evil tendencies to contend with that ours does?' I do not know anything about this except what I read in the Bible. I have had my time of discouragement and despondency. That which for years had me discouraged was the knowledge to some extent of the weakness of my own self, and the thought that those who in my estimation were doing right and those holy men of old in the Bible, were differently constituted from me. I found that I could not do anything but evil. . . .
"If Jesus, who came here to show me the way of salvation, in whom alone there is hope—if His life here on earth was a sham, then where is the hope? 'But,' you say, 'this question presupposes the opposite, that He was perfectly holy, so holy that He never had any evil to contend with.'
"That's what I am referring to. I read, He 'was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.' I read of His praying all night, in such agony the drops of sweat like blood fell from his face. But if that were all make-believe, if He were not really tempted, of what use is it all to me? I am left worse off than I was before.
"But O, if there is One—and I do not use this 'if ' with any thought of doubt; I will say since there is One who went through all that I ever can be called upon to go through, who resisted more than I can ever be called upon to resist, who was constituted in every respect as I am, only in even worse circumstances than I have been, who met all the power that the devil could exercise through human flesh and yet who knew no sin—then I can rejoice. That which He did 1900 years ago He is still able to do to all who believe in Him.
The Immaculate Conception denies the Bible view of the nature of Christ.
"We need to settle, every one of us, whether we are out of the church of Rome or not. Many have the marks yet. Do you not see that the idea that the flesh of Jesus was not like ours (because we know ours is sinful) necessarily involves the idea of the immaculate conception of the virgin Mary?
"Suppose we start with the idea that Jesus was so separate from us, so different that He did not have in His flesh anything to contend with—sinless flesh. Then you see how the Roman Catholic dogma of the immaculate conception necessarily follows. But why stop there? You must go back to her mother, and so back to Adam; and the result?—There never was a fall. Thus you see the essential identity of Roman Catholicism and Spiritualism.
"Christ was tempted in the flesh, He suffered in the flesh, but He had a mind which never consented to sin. He established the will of God in the flesh, and established that God's will may be done in any human, sinful flesh" (General Conference Bulletin, 1901, pp. 403-405, condensed).