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"Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end that
the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only
which is of the Law, but to that also which is of the faith
of Abraham, who is the father of us all."—Rom. 4:16 .
PAUL HAS elsewhere shown that there is but the one Seed of Abraham (Christ) in the chief or special sense, in the highest sense. And he tells us that it is our privilege and "calling" to be members of the Body of Christ. "If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's Seed, and heirs according to the promise." We who are not Abraham's seed according to the flesh, are thus counted as Abraham's Seed because of our faith and because we become members of the Spiritual Seed. We are not to suppose that this is trifling with language and that the Lord would say "Abraham's Seed" and then accept as Abraham's seed those who are not his seed, who are not of his posterity at all. That would be to make his language delusive and ensnaring and deceptive. It must be, therefore, that our Lord Jesus is the "Seed of Abraham," not only according to the flesh, but that he is also the Seed of Abraham according to the Spirit, on a higher plane than his fleshly relationship to Abraham; and it is on this higher plane that we are members of our Lord's Body. We are members of him as New Creatures; [R4606 : page 149] we are members of the Christ Spiritual, and not of the Man Christ Jesus.
It is important, therefore, for us to see how Jesus became the Spiritual Seed of Abraham, and to see that he was not the Spiritual Seed of Abraham and could not have fulfilled those conditions as the Man Christ Jesus. For instance: God promised that "in the Seed of Abraham all the families of the earth should be blessed"; but the Man Jesus could not bless the world after the manner that God had implied—could not give them eternal life. He could not give it to them because he did not have any more eternal life than he needed for himself. The only way in which he would be able to give eternal life would be according to the Divine Plan, viz., that he lay down his earthly life in accordance with the Divine arrangements and will; that God would then give him, as a reward for this obedience, the higher nature, the divine nature, with its glory and honor on the higher plane, and that this would leave him in possession of the earthly rights which he had as a man and which he did not forfeit by disobedience. It would leave him these as an asset or fund of blessing, to give to mankind.
So, then, the only way in which our Lord could be the Seed of Abraham to bless all the families of the earth would be as a New Creature, the New Creature Christ Jesus. The New Creature on the spiritual plane has a gift to bestow and mankind on the earthly plane is needing this very blessing which he has to give. And it is this Spiritual Christ of whom we are invited to become members—this great Mediator. And in order for us or for any Jew to become members of this Spiritual Christ, this Spiritual Seed of Abraham, one thing is necessary; viz., not a certain earthly relationship to Christ or a certain earthly relationship to Abraham, but a begetting of the holy Spirit to this same spiritual nature that Christ possesses. Whoever, therefore, through the merit of Christ, is enabled to offer his body a living sacrifice, acceptable to God, and does this, will get the promised reward to the same nature that Christ possesses—will become a member of his Spiritual Body. Hence this Spiritual Seed may be comprised of people of the natural seed of Abraham and of those not of his natural seed, as in our case. We who are Gentiles are now becoming members of the Spiritual Seed of Abraham, but we could not become members of the natural seed; we were never such.
As the Apostle intimates in this text, it is the Divine purpose to have two seeds of Abraham; one of them the Spiritual Seed, to which we have just referred, and the other the natural seed of Abraham. The one of these, he says, is developed according to the spirit, according to grace, favor. We do not come into this relationship through the Law, but we come into it through participation with Christ. It is the favor of being permitted to present our bodies living sacrifices, acceptable to our Redeemer, of having this sacrifice accepted by God and of having a share in the reward. This is the favor or grace which now comes to us as the Spiritual Seed, in which we have participation to the extent of our faithfulness to the Lord.
This is the Seed, then, that we find represented by the "stars of heaven." The other seed of Abraham is likened unto the "sands of the sea." This Scripture tells us that this seed, the earthly seed of Abraham, is a seed that will be developed under the Law. We know from the same Apostle's writings that this Law could not be the Law that God instituted with the Jews at the hands of Moses. That Law did not bring any of them everlasting life. It did not bring forth any of the seed of Abraham to perfection.
How, then, shall we understand the Apostle in connection with this statement, that some of the seed are to be of the Law, when the Law could make nothing perfect? We answer that he was here pointing back to that Law Covenant which was instituted through Moses, and in the other expression he is pointing forward to the Law Covenant of the future, which will be instituted at the end of this Gospel Age, and which is called the New [Law] Covenant. It will be the same as the one just referred to, but it will have a better mediator, one who will be able to give eternal life and all the blessings God intended for them and promised. We see, then, according to other Scriptures, that all the nations will have the privilege of coming in under this New [Law] Covenant arrangement, of which Christ is the Mediator and of which we are becoming members, so that by the end of the Millennial Age, his Seed will include all the saved on the human plane. All will get eternal life who shall comply with the conditions—"the number of whom will be as the sands of the seashore for multitude."
Hence this statement, "that which is of the Law, and that which is of grace," refers to those who are now the Spiritual Seed of Abraham through grace, and to those who will become the seed of Abraham under the New Covenant arrangement during the Millennial Age by obedience to the Law under the better Mediator than Moses, under the great antitypical Moses, Christ the Head and the Church his Body, whom God is now raising up during this Gospel Age. He raised up the Head eighteen centuries ago. The Body will soon be fully raised up and joined to the Head in glory.
While the Ancient Worthies will be a separate and distinct class from the remainder of mankind, and while they are to have a special reward for their faith, in that they will "have a better resurrection," will come forth from the tomb in full human perfection; nevertheless, they will be under the Law, because there seem to be only two ways by which any could be brought into harmony with God. First, there will be those who sacrifice the earthly interests in the present time and are begotten to the spirit nature and are thus counted in as members of the Spiritual Seed; and secondly, those who will come in under the New [Law] Covenant, of which the Spiritual Seed will be the Mediator. As Abraham and the other Ancient Worthies cannot be included in the Spiritual Seed, the only place to put them, logically, is with the natural seed; and that they were not begotten to the spiritual nature is clearly evidenced by our Lord's words when he said of John the Baptist, "There hath not arisen a greater Prophet than John the Baptist, but the least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he." He thus clearly marked the dividing line between those in the Kingdom class and those who cannot be in that class, however great they may be. We must understand, therefore, that the Ancient Worthies, in their perfection, will be subject to the rules and regulations of the Millennial Kingdom and from the very start will have the full perfection of all that the remainder of mankind will be able to attain during the Millennium. That special privilege will be a reward for the faith they manifested, and will gain for them participation in the Kingdom work, to be agents of the spiritual class and to attain the perfection of the human nature instantly, instead of having to climb [R4607 : page 150] up gradually out of imperfection, as will the remainder of the world of mankind.
As we have already suggested, we think there are statements in the Scriptures which imply that God intends ultimately to give them a place on the spiritual plane, but we see no way in which they can come to that plane under the arrangements thus far outlined in the Word of God, up to the completion of the Millennial Age. It is our thought, however, that instead of becoming members of the Bride of Christ, their place will be rather with the "Great Company," serving before the throne, and not seated in the throne.