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APPARENTLY a great many of God's people have difficulty in discerning just what is signified in the expression, "Gave Himself a Ransom for all." They ask, If our Lord Jesus gave His human life a Ransom for Adam and his race, where has He now any right to human life to give in justification to those who accept His favor, in view of the fact that we read, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life"?—John 3:36.
To appreciate the answer to this question, we must realize that the giving of the Ransom has various features. First of all, our Lord's consecration when He was thirty years of age, which He symbolized by water baptism, represents the giving up, the surrender, of His life to God. The life which He surrendered was a perfect human life, one to which He had a full right. St. Paul tells us that He was "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners." Our Lord was not a member of the Adamic race in a direct sense—in the sense of having received His life from a human father; therefore His was not a condemned life, like that of the rest of the world. Nothing more was needed. He surrendered the full equivalent of Adam's life and perfection. But He did not surrender His life to Adam; He merely put it into the Father's hands without giving it to anybody.
During the three and a half years of His ministry our Redeemer laid down His life. He completed that work at Calvary, saying there, "It is finished!" He there finished His Baptism into death; He continued His self-surrender to the end. But He has not yet made any application of this human life to Adam and His race. He has merely put it into the Father's hands. It was a life that had not been forfeited, that had not been mortgaged, that had not been embargoed. He simply surrendered His life in harmony with the Father's Plan—Luke 23:46.
When the Father raised Him up on the third day, He made Jesus a spirit being. He was put to death in the flesh and was raised a spirit—quickened in spirit. (1 Peter 3:18—Diaglott.) This quickened One of the new nature had this new life as a reward for His obedience in permitting His earthly life to be taken from Him. But he had not forfeited His right to the earthly life; hence as a New Creature He still retained this right to perfect human life. Everything that belonged to a perfect life belonged to Him. He had permitted the Jews to take away His life, but he had neither surrendered nor forfeited His right to life. So when He was raised to life by the Father, He had not only the right to the spirit nature, but also the right to the earthly nature—not that He would have use for this for Himself; for any one having the Divine nature would have neither use nor desire for the earthly nature. The specific right that He had was the right to give, to bestow freely upon Adam and his race, human life—the very object He had in mind when He came into the world.
So when the Lord Jesus arose from the dead and ascended up on High forty days later, He retained all the rights that He ever had. He had the right to human life, never having forfeited it; He also had the Divine nature, the reward of His obedience—a superior right, a superior nature. But when He ascended up on High, He did not apply the merit of His sacrifice for the world of mankind; otherwise the whole world would not now lie in the Wicked One. (1 John 5:19—Diaglott.) If our Redeemer had made an application of His merit for the world when He ascended, it would have taken away the sin of the world; but He did not do this. The Scriptures tell us that the Church alone has escaped from the condemnation upon the world. (Romans 8:1.) Evidently, then, the world is still in the Wicked One. The only ones who have escaped from this condemnation are those who have accepted the arrangement of this Gospel Age. Nobody else except the consecrated class has had merit and justification from Christ.
How, then, does our Lord apply the merit to the Church? We answer, Not directly. If He were to apply His merit directly, it would give the Church human life, human perfection. God has some better thing for the Church—that the Church might attain to the same Divine nature to which Jesus attained. The Church attains this by following in the footsteps of Jesus. This signifies that as He sacrificed His human life, and laid down His earthly rights according to the will of the Father, so all who would become members of His Bride class must do the same, must surrender their earthly life, in order to be associated with Him. Only if we suffer with Him shall we reign with Him.—2 Tim. 2:11,12.
"If any man would be My disciple, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me." (Matthew 16:24.) [R5621 : page 36] Then, "Where I am there shall My disciple be." (John 12:26.) Whosoever will so do during this Gospel Age will attain to the same Divine nature, the same glory, the same immortality—the difference being that our Lord will always be Head over all, the Chief over the Church, which is His Body, and that they will always be His members in particular, the Church in Glory.
The question, then, comes up, if it was necessary for Jesus to be pure, holy, how could the Church be acceptable to the Father, when they are of the depraved human nature? The answer of the Bible is that to this class who become His disciples Jesus imputes the merit of His sacrifice to the extent of covering their blemishes, their imperfections. We are to discern between give and impute. He will give His merit to the world by and by. But now He is making an imputation to the Church.
By this term imputation is signified, that if the Church had remained of the earthly nature the same as the world, they would by and by have the right, the same as the world, to come up out of degradation to human perfection. Jesus secured by His death the privilege of giving all those rights to the Church as well as to the remainder of Adam's race. But this class, the Church, forego all those rights to human perfection. When we consecrated ourselves to God, we gave up our right to become inheritors of the earth and earthly things; we gave up all our rights in the sense of merely surrendering them. By faith we believe that Jesus would in due time have given us those blessings of Restitution the same as to the whole world of mankind. By faith we accept those blessings and by faith we surrender them. The only thing left for the Church to do is to surrender their earthly lives. Some may have more vitality, and some may have less; some may have more talents, and some less; some may have more years, and some less; but whatever each has it is to be given up, surrendered.
So, then, at consecration the Church class voluntarily surrender their earthly nature. They surrender all the earthly rights that they have of the present time, and also those rights that would have been theirs had they remained part and parcel of the world. Jesus does not give to the Church at the present time any part of the Ransom-sacrifice, but merely imputes to them, counts to them, that part which they might have had if they had remained a part of the world.
When Jesus died, He did not pay over a ransom as an offset for Adam. When Jesus was raised from the dead, He had not paid a ransom; and when He ascended to the Father He did not pay over a ransom for the world. But He laid in the Father's hands the merit of His sacrifice. He has been imputing of this merit down through the Gospel Age to the Church only, but now He has about finished the imputing to the Church, and the work of giving to the world Restitution is about to begin; and before it begins the merit imputed (loaned) to the Church must be actually paid over to Divine Justice as the basis for human Restitution.
On the Jewish Atonement Day the High Priest, first of all, killed the bullock. That bullock represented our Lord Jesus, the perfect man, and the priest represented our Lord, the New Creature. Thus He typified the consecration of the human nature and also the condition of the New Creature, still in the fleshly body, typed by the priest in the first Holy.
Our Lord was in this condition of the Holy during the three and a half years of His ministry. During that time He had the privileges of the Golden Altar, and the light from the Golden Candlestick (representing the light of God's Truth), and the blessings represented by the Table of Shewbread (the spiritual food). At the end of the three and a half years, having finished the work of sacrificing Himself, having burned the antitypical incense, He passed under the Second Veil.
On the third day our Lord arose on the other side of the Second Veil—on the spirit plane—fully perfected as a New Creature, no longer in any sense of the word a man. He could go and come like the wind. He remained with His disciples to convince them that He was no longer a man—going and coming like the wind, and appearing in various bodily forms. Then, when He ascended up on High, as the great antitypical High Priest He took with Him the blood. The blood signifies the life of the sacrifice. He appeared in the presence of God, and there He sprinkled of the blood on the Mercy-Seat. This sprinkling of the blood on the Mercy-Seat was to make atonement for a certain class. That atonement we see was made only for the priests and the Levites—not for the world.—Leviticus 16:6.
After the High Priest had finished making the atonement for the priests and the Levites, he went out into the Court again and there began a different work. Our Lord made application of the blood for the antitypical priests and the Levites during the ten days between His [R5622 : page 36] ascension and the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. He made application of His merit for the Church. We know this; for this satisfaction for sins was followed by the pouring out of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the evidence that Divine mercy had come to them.—Hebrews 9:24.
In the type, after the priest had offered the bullock, he then proceeded to the next part—the killing of the Lord's goat. A goat is inferior to a bullock. The Lord Himself was typified by the bullock. The Lord's goat symbolized the faithful members of the Church, His Body. It has been the work of the Gospel Age to offer up the Church. Not that they were able to offer up themselves; for being naturally the members of the condemned Adamic race, they were not fit to be priests, and could not be priests until the great High Priest had made an imputation of His merit for them. Therefore, the great High Priest who offered the bullock also offered the goat.
Then we see the conclusion of the matter. In the type the blood of the goat was taken into the Most Holy and was applied, not for the priests, not for the Levites, but for the people. The blood of the bullock was applied only for the priests and the Levites; the blood of the goat, for the people. (Leviticus 16:6,15.) These two sacrifices represent all the sacrifices of the Gospel Age; the superior sacrifice was that of the Lord Jesus, the inferior sacrifice was that of the Church.
There was a sufficiency of merit in the antitypical bullock to have been applied for the sins of the whole world. But it was God's arrangement that the Church might be permitted to share in the sacrifice. Only those who have the privilege of sharing in the sacrifice have the privilege of sharing in the glory. It was not necessary for the satisfaction of Justice that any of the Church should die; but it was necessary in order for them to partake of the promised glory. Therefore, while it was a sacrifice for our sins on the Lord's part, it was necessary on our part, in order to share in His glory. He makes the sacrifice; it is not our sacrifice. As the Apostle Paul points out, we merely present our bodies. (Romans 12:1.) God would not accept our sacrifice except through Christ; we are accepted only in the Beloved One. (Ephesians 1:3-6.) [R5622 : page 37] Thus by virtue of our Lord's acceptance of us is it that we have any privilege of sharing with Him in the sacrifice and in the glory.
Our Lord, therefore, has still a human life ungiven away. He does not give to the Church human life. He does not part with even a particle of the right to human life which He had. The Lord does not need an earthly body; neither will His Church need earthly bodies. What use would Jesus make of earthly rights, or what use would we make of them? We never intend to become men again; nor does He intend to become a man again. The merit of Christ was imputed to us only for the purpose of making us acceptable sacrifices; and this merit becomes released again when the last member of the Church is glorified. Then the whole value of Christ's sacrifice will be ready for appropriation for the world of mankind; for at that time the Church will have ceased to be of Adam's race, having become of the Divine nature.—2 Peter 1:4.
This work, then, of appropriating the merit of Jesus on behalf of the world is left until the Millennial Age; when the Redeemer's Kingdom will make man's Restitution privileges a real boon. Therefore, as soon as the merit of Christ is appropriated for the world, He will immediately take charge of His purchased possession. He will then take His great power and reign. Then to all those redeemed ones for whom He will appropriate the merit of His sacrifice He will be ready to give the long-promised Restitution blessings.
Through the Prophet David, Jehovah God said to His Son, "Ask of Me and I will give Thee the heathen [Gentiles, nations, people] for an inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession." (Psalm 2:8.) This, we believe, is at the door. The Lord is about to take possession of the Church, which is the jewel class of the whole world. The blessings which He then will give are human Restitution to the race of Adam and the bringing of the whole earth, their earthly home, up to the grandeur of the Garden of Eden. This work He will share with His Body, His Bride.
From this Scriptural standpoint the Ransom-price that Jesus gives has been a progressive matter, and is not yet completed. He began to give it when He became a man; He progressed in giving during the three and a half years of His earthly ministry; He finished the giving at Calvary. He has since been using that to which He had a right on behalf of the Church, by imputation. He will have all of this merit of His sacrifice to make satisfaction for the sins of the whole world—not a single individual omitted. During the thousand years He will be giving to mankind that which He has secured by His death, and which He will make applicable to them by sealing the New Covenant. That New Covenant will be sealed as soon as the Church shall have been completed, as soon as the Church shall have passed beyond the Veil.
The views of Christian people seem to be very confused. They acknowledge that Jesus was a spirit being before He came into the world, and that He experienced some kind of change of nature in becoming a man. But very inconsistently they seem erroneously and unscripturally to reason that, having become a man, He must stay a man to all eternity—"a little lower than the angels." We should remember that the Logos was "made flesh," "humbled himself," not for all eternity, but merely "for the suffering of death,...that He...might taste death for every man."—Hebrews 2:9.
The Scriptures indicate that there is a difference in natures. As St. Paul points out, there is one flesh of man, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes and another of birds. And so on the spiritual plane—there are angels, cherubim and seraphim, just as there are beasts and birds, fishes and men, on the earthly plane. (1 Corinthians 15:39-41.) Our Lord distinctly told that He left the glory that He had with the Father. He said to His disciples, "What and if you should see the Son of Man ascend up where He was before?"—John 6:62.
The expression, "Where He was before," refers to a difference in nature, in condition, from that He then had. Jesus had been in the world many times before, but never before was made flesh. Jesus perhaps was the Representative of God in the Garden of Eden with Adam. Very certain it is, He was the One who gave the Law to Moses as the Representative of the Father. And most assuredly He was the One who communicated with Abraham at the time when the Lord and two angels went down to Sodom, and stopped on the way to tell Abraham about the matter. Incidentally Abraham remembered that they appeared like men, ate like men, talked like men, but he knew not till afterward that they were angels. When our Lord was made flesh, it was not the first time He was on earth. On His previous visits He was a spirit being who merely assumed a flesh body as a convenience in communicating with men as the Father's Representative.
We see that this same power of materialization was used by other angels. For instance, at the time of our Lord's ascension the angels said, "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into Heaven? This same Jesus shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go." We remember also that the fallen angels had the power to assume human bodies. As the Scriptures point out, they desired to be men, to live on the earthly plane and in the earthly condition, for sensual reasons. Thus they abandoned their own habitation, lived as men and sought to bring forth a new race.
If Jesus during His First Advent had merely appeared as a man, but had all the while been really a spirit being veiled in flesh—"incarnate"—He could not have been the Redeemer at all. The Scriptures say that Jesus was a man, "the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us" (John 1:14)—not that He pretended to be a man. To be the Redeemer of man it was necessary for Him to become a man, not to pretend to be one. He must be really a man; otherwise He could not have been a ransom-price for Adam; for the Divine Law required like for like—"life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot."—Deuteronomy 19:21.
The word Ransom (antilutron in the Greek) signifies a corresponding price. And so Jesus actually left the Heavenly glory—not merely pretended to leave it. He who was rich for our sakes became poor, so that He was truly that which He appeared to be—the Man. He was the perfect Man who presented Himself at Jordan—the only one who could be the corresponding price for Adam. The Scriptures represent our Lord as saying to the Father, "A body hast Thou prepared Me" for the suffering of death. (Hebrews 10:5.) Many of us have overlooked the fact that this body was Divinely prepared for a purpose—for the suffering of death, and not, as many think, a body for placing the Lord Jesus in a state of permanent humiliation before all the holy angels, as expressed in the old hymn,
Our Lord is not parading Heaven under the disadvantages of a body and a nature all out of accord with [R5623 : page 38] His surroundings. He has already accomplished the work of sacrifice, and the merit of His sacrifice is in the hands of God. God has accepted the sacrifice that was made more than eighteen centuries ago; and on the books of Justice there are to our Redeemer's credit those earthly life-rights to which, as a perfect man, He was entitled.
When God conferred upon Father Adam human life and human life-rights, he immediately became the great king of earth. And so when Jesus became the natural Man He became the natural Ruler. He was the One to whom the earth belonged; and the perfect man would have had the right to earth and all the fulness thereof. Instead of keeping these rights and becoming the grand earthly Potentate, Jesus surrendered all these earthly rights and received the reward of obedience—not the reward of sacrifice, but the reward of obedience. He still has these human life-rights, and is about to give them to the world of mankind, upon condition that they shall desire to come into harmony with God, that they shall enter into a covenant of obedience. By His own blood Jesus makes them eligible to full Restitution to all that was lost in Eden and to all that was redeemed at Calvary.
The appearance of our Lord in the flesh after His resurrection was only similar to the appearance that was made by Himself and the angels long centuries before, and does not indicate that He was still a man. As a Man He never went into a room, the door being shut; as a spirit being He could enter, the door being shut. As a spirit being He could materialize, and then dematerialize, vanish out of their sight. This materialization, dematerialization and vanishing appertain not only to the flesh, but also to the clothing. Once He appeared as a wayfarer, and once as a gardener; and then He appeared as His former self in the upper room, the doors being shut. At these various times He appeared in different garments, each time dressed suitably to the occasion. It was just as easy for Him to create one style of clothing as another, and one form of body as another. It is hard to tell just where the misconceptions held by many Christian people have come in. It behooves us to be very kind and sympathetic in reproving the error, and to remember that we ourselves once had the errors and held them just as tenaciously as do others.
Our Lord Jesus was put to death in the flesh and quickened in spirit, or made alive in spirit; and He has been a spirit being ever since. This Spirit Being, Saul of Tarsus saw on his way to Damascus. He tells us that what he saw was gloriously bright. It was not the flesh of Jesus that was shining. The Apostle says that he caught a glimpse of Jesus in His real personality—"Last of all He was seen by me also, as of one born out of due time"; that is to say, born before the time, referring to the Church, the resurrection birth.
We are begotten of the Spirit, and the birth will be in the First Resurrection. As it was said of Jesus, He was the First-born from the dead; just so we, the Church, will be born to spirit conditions. Then "we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is." (1 John 3:2.) We will not be in the flesh then, and it will not hurt our eyes to see our glorified Lord. We shall see Him as He is! We shall be with Him! And the Apostle explains that before this we shall be "changed," because "flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God."