Growth in knowledge of truth is not only the privilege but also the duty of the Christian; so the education of the saints will not be complete until they have laid off the flesh, and been made like Christ.
Then we ought to understand more fully the deep things of God now than at any other time in the past; and so we should comprehend more clearly what it is to suffer with Christ, as well as the glory which is to follow.
Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances; after the commandments and ordinances of men? Touch not, taste not, handle not the unclean thing. Col. 2:20,22.
The conscience must be purged from dead works to serve the living God, (Heb. 9:14). For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God (Gal. 2:19). It is a faithful saying: "For if we be dead with Him we shall also reign with Him," (2 Tim. 2:11). Yea, doubtless and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them as vile refuse that I may win Christ and be found in him; not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto His death; if by any means I may attain unto the resurrection of the dead, (Phil. 3:8,11). Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered [R128 : page 5] unto death for Jesus sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. (2 Cor. 4:10,11.)
These passages seem to teach more than a crucifixion of the flesh simply; i.e., an actual giving of ourselves, as did our head, for the purpose of completing the sacrifice for the world; to fill up that which is behind of the sufferings of Christ. He gave His flesh for the life of the world (John 6:51). Hereby perceive we love, because he laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren, [1 Jno. 3:16].
If we are still under the death penalty entailed upon us by Adam, how we can be counted as dead, crucified with Christ, I can not conceive; but if He redeemed us from that penalty, by His death, I can see how we can give ourselves a voluntary sacrifice for the world in Him. He could give Himself because of His own righteousness; His body can do it only by having His righteousness imputed to them. There were two sacrifices for atonement under the law Lev. 16; one for the priesthood or high priest's house, and the other for the people. Jesus, our high priest, gave himself a propitiation for our sins (1 John 2:2) or his house, whose are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end, Heb. 3:6.
Then again Christ, our passover is sacrificed for us [the church of the first-born.] 1 Cor. 5:7. Whom God has set forth to be a mercyseat, by his own blood, through the faith; for an exhibition of His righteousness in passing by the sins formerly committed, during the forbearance of God; and for an exhibition of His righteousness at the present time, in order that he may be righteous while justifying him who is the faith of Jesus [Rom. 3:25,26]. [Diaglott.] So faith in Christ, or the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus hath made us free from the law of sin and death [Rom. 8:2].
If the death of Christ releases us from the Adamic penalty, then why do we die? To complete the sacrifice. Presenting our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is our reasonable service, [Rom. 12].
Dead with him. Not only dead to the world, to the law, to sin, to the flesh, but really dead with Him. Baptized into his death; for if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall also be in the likeness of his resurrection. Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin; for he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Him, we believe that we shall also live with Him [Rom. 6]. The completion of the individual sufferings of the head was his laying off the flesh; so with the body.
The atonement was for the purpose of cleansing. That Jesus gave himself for the church—the church of the first-born—that they might be partakers with Him in making atonement for the world, seems to be clearly taught in Numbers 8. "Take the Levites from among the children of Israel and cleanse them."
"And Aaron shall offer the Levites before the Lord for an offering of the children of Israel, that they may execute the service of the Lord. And the Levites shall lay their hands upon the heads of the bullocks; and thou shalt offer the one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering unto the Lord, to make an atonement for the Levites.
"Thus shalt thou separate the Levites from among the children of Israel; and the Levites shall be mine. For they are wholly given unto me from among the children of Israel; Instead of the first-born of all the children of Israel have I taken them unto me. For all the first-born of the children of Israel are mine. And I have given the Levites as a gift to Aaron and to his sons among the children of Israel to do the service of the children of Israel in the tabernacle of the congregation, and to make atonement for the children of Israel."
Do not the first-born represent the church? And has not God chosen them out from among the nations and given them to Christ for a purpose? By virtue of Jesus having given Himself a propitiation for our sins; and as our passover having been slain for us, our sins go beforehand to judgment. We are first on trial, and do not come into Judgment [trial] with the world. We escape the things that are coming upon the world, and having suffered with Him, crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts; completed the sacrifice, we shall be exalted with Him to the throne, as kings and priests, to reign over, judge and bless the nations. When the sacrifice for the world shall have been completed, the ransom fully paid, and the perfected Christ exercises authority, not another individual will die on account of Adam's transgression; nor indeed for mere sins of the flesh, but for sins against the knowledge of the truth.
[No other scripture or type shows so fully perhaps, the intimate relationship between Jesus, the head, and "the little flock" as members of His body as this. [Lev. 16.] The head was a sacrifice and the body follows in His footsteps. The Head died for all the household of faith; the body fills up the measure of the sufferings of Christ, and dies for all "the people" not of the household. We may learn better to appreciate the apostle's expression concerning the prophets when he says that "they spake before of the sufferings of Christ [head and body] and of the glory that should follow. Have patience, brethren, until the sufferings are full then we shall have the glory. "For if we suffer with Him we shall also be glorified together." "If we suffer we shall also reign with Him." And as when the suffering of death was accomplished for "His house" by the head they were recognized by the Father no longer as enemies and aliens, but as sons were given the spirit of adoption, [at Pentecost] so when all the sufferings are completed and filled up the Father will recognize all the world as free from Adam's transgression and justified to life, and the great work of the millennial age, "Restitution," will begin when the sufferings are complete for the world God will send the spirit upon them as he did upon the church when its redemption was finished as it is written: "It shall come to pass in the last days saith the Lord, I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh." The first installment or "early rain" came upon us at Pentecost, the promise will be completed when we are glorified.
But, another point shown by this atonement type is, that all believers constitute a part of the household, they are represented by the Levites and are a part of "the church of the first-born." Though apparently none except the willing living sacrifices—"The Lord's Goat," those who suffer and shall reign, are counted overcomers—His bride—the members of his body. Typified by the priests all other members of the household will be wonderfully blest but will lose much. It rejoices us however to think that many who through fear of death (afraid of the scoffs of the world, afraid though longing to crucify themselves,) and therefore subject to bondage. That these dear loved ones will not be suffered to have part with the world, but during the time of trouble "the rod and staff" of our shepherd will lead them through great tribulation to our Father's house and family. Thus they may become palm bearers even though they are not part of the "little flock" of crown wearers. It is the Lord's plan, and marvelous in our eyes. How wonderfully good our Father is and how His plan shows it. "Let me love Thee more and more."]—EDITOR.