(1) The legal condemnation of the race has rested upon the world since Adam's disobedience, and this has led to the actual sufferings and dying of mankind. There is a difference, however, between the legal and the actual "curse." The legal curse or sentence went into force against Adam immediately after he had sinned, but the effects of that legal sentence in pain and suffering came on him and his posterity gradually, and are still with them. Similarly, there will be a difference between the cancellation of the legal sentence and the rescue of man from the difficulties which came upon him as the result of the legal sentence.
(2) The work of Christ, the work of the atonement, embraces both of these features—man's release from the legal sentence of the divine law, and subsequently his release from the actual pains and weaknesses which came upon him as a result of that divine sentence. Our Lord's death was a full offset to the sentence against Adam, and could have been so applied at once, had this been the divine arrangement. If so applied it would have canceled at once the legal sentence against man, but it would have done nothing in the way of recovering him from his fallen and dead condition—that work of restitution is separate and apart from his redemption or purchase from the curse or legal condemnation of the law.
(3) Instead of applying his death at once, as a full cancellation of the legal penalty against the race, the teachings of the Scriptures give us the thought that our Lord Jesus presented the whole matter of his death sacrifice on man's behalf before the Father, and that it became a credit on his account, but that it was not yet applied to the world. The next step in the divine [R3000 : page 126] program was the arrangement for the justification of the Gospel Church—not actually, but by faith, reckonedly. So many as believed, so many as accepted Jesus, were reckonedly justified—reckonedly had the legal curse lifted from them, tho they were actually allowed to remain under the weaknesses and difficulties resulting from that curse. To such of these, reckonedly justified ones, as made full consecration of themselves to the Lord, the privilege was granted of walking by faith in the footsteps of Jesus, and being conformed to his sacrificial death;—the promised reward for this being a share in the Lord's glory, honor and immortality. But not until the last member of this elect body of Christ shall have been accepted as faithful will this Gospel age of sacrifice terminate.
(4) As the Apostle explains, the Lord is reckoning that the various members of the body of Christ are filling up a measure of the afflictions of Christ (they are joined with him in the atonement sacrifice; not that their sacrifices could have been acceptable with God at all without that of their Lord Jesus, but that they are acceptable to God through and under the merit of his sacrifice). "I beseech you, therefore, brethren, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, your reasonable service." (Rom. 12:1.) When the Church's sacrifice is complete the whole work of suffering for sin ends, and forthwith the Church will be received to conditions of glory with her Lord, in the first resurrection, as he was received by the Father from the dead after he had finished his sacrifice. Then, according to the Scriptures, the Lord will appropriate on behalf of the whole human family so much of the merit of his own sacrifice, and of the entire sacrifice of the Church, as Justice could demand, and Justice will be fully satisfied of all its legal claims against mankind.
(5) As a result of such a legal satisfaction of the claims of Justice, early in the Millennial day, there will be no hindrance whatever to prevent the institution of the restitution arrangements which God has provided in Christ and the Church, and of which all the holy prophets have spoken since the world began.—Acts 3:19-23.
(6) Thus seen, the curse or condemnation for Adam's sin will be no more—as a legal sentence against mankind from thenceforth forever. Full atonement will have been made and accepted, for the [R3000 : page 127] sins of the whole world.* But this will not mean that the effects of the curse will then instantly disappear; just as if a man imprisoned for crime by an earthly court lost his hair, his sight, his hearing, and in general his entire health, while serving out the imprisonment; if he were then pardoned and set free the pardon would not restore to him his hair, his sight, his hearing, all his health. These must be sought for in some other direction. Justice is not responsible for their loss, and has nothing to do with their restoration. The freed man must look for some good physician. Just so with the race and its release from the sentence—from the condemnation to death. It must also look to the "Good Physician." And this is just what God is providing for the world in the glorified Christ—a wonderful and faithful Prophet, Priest and King—to rule and bless and uplift the redeemed world, or so many of the race as will accept his just and gracious terms.
(7) Here, then, we see the distinctions between Christ, the Redeemer, and Christ, the Life-giver. We were redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ, and through the merits of that sacrifice all will be freed from the condemnation; and then, as the Life-giver, he who previously redeemed will restore as many as will accept his favors, bringing them back to the conditions of perfection from which they fell—back to a condition in harmony with their Creator, and thus back to a condition of at-one-ment with God by the close of the Millennial age.