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WE READ, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16.) A brother claims that in this Scripture the word son refers to the Church, the Body of Christ, as well as to Jesus, the Head of that Body. Is this correct? We did not so understand your discourse on this text printed in the newspapers, entitled "The Most Precious Text."
Assuredly the suggestion is wrong. The text refers to our Lord Jesus only. How else could he be "the only begotten?" The difficulty with many seems to be that they see the Divine Plan only in sections and do not get these connected up in one general whole. Let us endeavor again to briefly locate the parts and show their relationship together:
The Plan of God is for the salvation of the world. To accomplish this God sent his only-begotten Son into the world. Jesus sacrificed his life, in harmony with the Divine Plan, for the salvation of the world. Incidentally, by virtue of his [R4528 : page 363] sacrifice, he attained Divine natureglory, honor and immortalitywhich qualified him to be the great Prophet, Priest, Mediator, King of the world. But before beginning his work for the world, and in harmony with the Divine Plan, a little flock of footstep followers of Jesus must be selectedtaken out of the world. "Ye are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." In order that these may share with Jesus in all of his great and glorious work for the world during the Millennium, they must be spirit beings like their Head. In order to grant them this "change" of nature from human to spiritual they must be granted the privilege of sacrificing the human nature and its rights even as did their Redeemer, Head, Fore-runner.
But they are blemished; for, although pure in heart, in intention, in will, they are imperfect, sinful, as respects their flesh. In a word, they have no earthly life-rights to sacrifice. Hence, in order to give them these earthly life-rights which they are desirous of sacrificing, the Redeemer applied for these, his consecrated followers and under-priests or members, the merit of his sacrifice first, before giving it to the world. The merit of his sacrifice and the restitution or earthly rights which it is able to secure for every man, has been temporarily diverted from the world to the Church, the [R4528 : page 364] assurance being given that "in due time" it will still be available and efficacious for the world.
In accord with this proposition our Lord Jesus, after his resurrection, ascended up on high and appeared in the presence of God "for us," "on our behalf"; for he "bought us with his own precious blood"with the merit of his sacrifice of earthly rights. He could have bought the world just as easily, but he followed the Divine Plan and bought the Church. "Christ loved the Church, and gave himself for it." (Eph. 5:25.) As it required all of the Lord's merit for any one individual, so it required all of it for the Church and left none unappropriated. But the world is not by this arrangement to be deprived of the originally intended blessing. It will get it at the time intended of the Father. The only-begotten of the Father was sent into the world long enough in advance of the world's "due time" for deliverance to permit the developing of the "mystery"the Church as the Bride of Messiah.
The application of the benefit of Christ's sacrifice to "the household of faith" imputes to them earthly rights, earthly restitution, human perfection, etc., solely for the opportunity this will give them of receiving these restitution blessings by faith and sacrificing them by faithlaying them down as did their Lordbecoming dead to earthly interests, hopes, etc., that they may become alive as his members toward the spiritual mercies and blessings promised. This work of faith-justification and faith sacrifice has progressed throughout this Gospel Agethe antitypical Day of Atonement. The entire matter has been under the control of our glorified Head, the High Priest, who by this means is not only justifying, but also sanctifying the antitypical priests and Levites. He is thus preparing the agencies and instrumentalities for the world's blessing in its "due time."
With these under-priests the Father deals directly, yet through the Chief-Priest, his Representative, their Advocate. Their call is of God"Ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." (I Pet. 2:9.) Their justification is by the Father. "It is God that justifieth." (Rom. 8:33.) Their sanctification is of God by Jesus. "The very God of peace sanctify you wholly." (I Thess. 5:23.) "Father...sanctify them through thy Truth: thy Word is Truth." (John 17:17.) The evidence that the Father has already received us as "members" of the Mediator is the impartation of the holy Spiritfirst given at Pentecost. The spirit of begetting is only a foretaste of the greater blessing we are to receive from our Father in our resurrection "change"which will be as members of the Anointed Mediator, sharers in "his resurrection." (Phil. 3:10.) We are particularly informed that it was the Father that raised up Jesus from the dead and that the Father will "raise us up also" by his own power exercised through Jesus our Head.2 Cor. 4:14.
When all this shall have been accomplished the great Prophet, Priest, Mediator and King of the Millennial Age will be complete, according to the Divine foreknowledge and intention. Then, in various ways, as represented by these various titles, the antitypical Prophet, Priest, Mediator and King will begin the exercise of the various offices represented by these titles "for the world." By that time the merit of Christ's sacrifice applied to the Church as faith-restitution will all have been returned to Justice; because all to whom that merit is now appropriated (during this Age) will have died to or surrendered back sacrificially the earthly restitution rights.
As New Creatures, begotten of the Spirit, the Church will have no need for restitution rights or human perfection, even as our Lord in his resurrection had no further need for the earthly tabernacle or its rights. Thus the merit of Christ for the world's restitution, temporarily loaned to the Church for a faith-justification as a basis for sacrifice" will all get back again in the hands of Justice to the credit of our Lord the Redeemerof whom we will be "members." And then the Redeemer our Head will apply to the world that merit now loaned to us. It will not be similarly loaned to the world for sacrificing it, but will be given to them. The world will not have the opportunity of sacrificing the earthly rights and getting a higher nature, because the "acceptable time," the day of sacrifice, the antitypical Atonement Day, will have ended. The resurrection rights which our Lord will give to the world at the beginning of the Millennium will not only cancel their past sins, but, under the terms of the New Covenant made with natural Israel, will bring actual restitution, human perfection and human rights, to so many of mankind as will respond to the Millennial opportunities which the great High Priest will then almost, but not quite, force upon them.
Thus seen the Law Covenant effected with natural Israel under Moses as its Mediator and Aaron as its priest was a type of the New Covenant with The Christ as its Mediator and Priest combined"after the order of Melchisedec," a kingly priest. The present Gospel Age is the time for the finding, testing and glorifying of the antitypical Mediator, Head and membersthe antitypical Melchisedec Head and members. Not until the Mediator is complete, or, in the other picture, not until the Kingly-Priest is complete will God's dealing with the world of mankind begin. That dealing will all be with and through the Mediator, the Priest. And incidentally the Mediator's dealing with the world will be through Israel, the "natural seed (children) of Abraham," under the terms of the New Covenant.
The Original Covenant made with Abraham and typed by his wife Sarah is our motherthe mother of the Spiritual Seed, begotten directly by the Father, typed by Abraham. (Gal. 4:24-26.) "We brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of the promise" or original Covenant. "If ye be Christ's ['members'] then are ye Abraham's Seed and heirsaccording to the promise." "As many of you as have been baptized into Christ [by 'immersion into his death '] have put on Christ." (Gal. 3:27-29.) We are the children neither of the old Law Covenant, nor of the New (Law) Covenant; but of "the Covenant that was confirmed before of God in Christ."Gal. 3:17.
This Seed of Abraham as Testator bequeaths to Israel (and through Israel to the world) all the earthly or restitution privileges secured by Jesus' death and applied by him "on our behalf" and surrendered by us in death. The death of the Testator is not yet fully accomplished; hence the restitution blessing delays and has not yet begun: Israel's New (Law) Covenant with its better Mediator and restitution glory must wait until the last one for whom the merit of Christ was imputed when he appeared "for us" shall have died actuallybecause, "they shall obtain mercy through your mercy." Not even the Ancient Worthies (already declared acceptable to God) can get actual restitution until the last member of the Testator shall have died and passed beyond the vail. Thus the Apostle declaresthe New Covenant or testament or bequest is of no strength, "no efficacy, while the Testator liveth."Heb. 9:16,17.
Surely it is inconsistent and unscriptural to claim that the Body of Christ is developed under different covenants. It seems equally inconsistent to claim that the Christ of the spirit plane is developed by the faith-sacrifice of earthly rights, under the same Covenant by which the world will secure earthly rights never to be sacrificed.