Humanity in Adam and in Christ; Armageddon; Danger of Discussion on the Nature of Christ; Denial of Immortality of the Soul; the Person of the Lord

 •  9 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Dear Sister,—The questions you ask me make me feel deeply how sorrowful are subtle questions upon the Person of Jesus; they tend to dry up and confuse the soul, to cause the spirit of worship and of love to be lost, and in its place to put intricate questions, as if the mind of man could resolve the way in which the humanity and divinity of Jesus are united.
It is in this sense that it is said, "No man knoweth the Son save the Father." (I need not say that I do not pretend to do so.) The humanity of Jesus is incomparable. His was a true and real humanity; body and soul, flesh and blood, like mine as far as humanity is concerned, sin excepted; but He appeared in circumstances quite different from those in which Adam was found. He came for the express purpose of bearing our sorrows and infirmities. Adam had none to bear: not that his nature was not in itself susceptible of them, but he was not in the circumstances which entail them: God had placed him in a position which could not be reached by physical evil until he had fallen under moral evil.
Again, God was not in Adam; God was in Christ amid all kinds of misery and suffering, weariness and trial. Christ passed through them according to the power of God, and with sentiments of which the Spirit of God was always the source, although they were human in their sympathies. Adam, before his fall, had no suffering; God was not in him, nor was the Holy Spirit the source of his sentiments; after his fall, sin was the source of his sentiments; it was never so in Jesus.
On the other hand, Jesus is Son of man, Adam was not; but, at the same time, Jesus was born by divine power, so that that holy thing which was born of Mary is called Son of God: this is true of none other. He is Christ born of man, but even as man born of God, so that the condition of humanity in Him is not that which Adam was, either before his fall or after his fall. Now humanity for Adam was not changed by his fall, but the condition of humanity; he was as much a man before as after, after as before. Sin came in, and humanity became alienated from God: it is without God in the world. Now it was not thus with Christ. He was always perfectly with God, save in suffering on the cross in His spirit the forsaking.
Also, the Word was made flesh; God has been manifested in flesh. Acting thus in that veritable humanity, His presence in the unity of the same Person was incompatible with sin.
We are mistaken if we imagine that Adam had immortality in himself; no creature possesses that; they are all maintained by God, who alone has immortality essentially. When it was no longer God's will to maintain it in the world, man became mortal, and his strength in fact wears out, according to the ways and the will of God; when such is God's will, he has a life of more than a thousand years—only three score and ten when He thinks fit. It is God's will that life should come to a close, that we should die, sooner or later; except those who shall be alive at the coming of Jesus, who shall be changed, because the Lord has vanquished death.
Now God was in Christ, which changed everything; but not with respect to the reality of His humanity, with all its affections, its sentiments, its natural needs of soul and body, which were all in Jesus, who underwent consequently the effect of all that surrounded Him, only according to the Spirit, and without sin. No man takes His life from Him, He lays it down, but He does this when the moment appointed by God was come. In fact, He gives Himself up to the effect of the iniquity of man, because it was the will of God that He came to accomplish. He allows Himself to be crucified and put to death, only He is master of the moment in which He yields up His spirit. He works no miracle to hinder the effect of the cruel means of death which man was using, or to screen His humanity. He leaves it to the consequence of those means. His divinity is not used to screen Him from it, to screen Him from death, but to add all its moral value, all its perfection to His obedience. He works no miracle that He may not die, but He works a miracle by dying. He acts according to His divine prerogative in dying, but not in screening Himself from death, for He commends His spirit to His Father as soon as all is finished.
The difference then of His humanity is not that it was not really and fully that of Mary (surely it was), but in that it was that by an act of divine power, so as to be such without sin; and further, in that instead of being separated from God in His soul, as every sinful man is, God was in Him, and He was of God. He could say, "I thirst;" "now is my soul troubled;" "it is melted like wax in the midst of my bowels;" but He could say, "The Son of man who is in heaven;" and "Before Abraham was, I am."
The innocence of Adam was not God manifest in flesh; it was not man subjected, as to the circumstances in which his humanity was placed, to all the consequences of sin. On the other hand, the humanity of fallen man had fallen under the power of sin, of a will opposed to God, of desires hostile to Him. Christ came to do the will of God, and in Him was no sin. That was humanity in Christ, where God was; not humanity in itself separated from God. It was not humanity in the circumstances in which God placed man when He created him, but in the circumstances in which sin had placed Him, yet in those circumstances without sin; not such as sin made him in them, but such as divine power made Him in all His ways, such that the Holy Spirit was expressed in humanity in the midst of those circumstances. It was not man where there was no evil, like Adam, innocent, but Man in the midst of evil; yet it was not sinful man in the midst of evil like Adam fallen, but Man perfect, and perfect according to God, in the midst of evil—God manifest in flesh; a real, true humanity; but His spirit having always the sentiments which God produces in man, and in absolute communion with God, except when He suffered upon the cross, when it was necessary, as far as the sufferings of His soul were concerned, that He should be forsaken of God—more perfect then, with regard to the extent of the perfection and the reach of obedience than at any other time, because He was doing the will of God in the face of His wrath, instead of accomplishing it in the enjoyment of communion with Him. This is why there, and only there, He asked that that cup might pass from Him His sustenance could not be found in the wrath of God.
Our precious Savior was Man, as truly as I am, as regards the simple abstract idea of humanity, but without sin, miraculously born by divine power; and more than this, He was God manifest in flesh.
Now, having said so much, I entreat you with all my heart not to try to define and to discuss the Person of our precious Savior; you will lose the savor of Christ in your thoughts, and you will get in its place only the barrenness of the human mind in the things of Christ, and in the affections which belong to them. I have begged the brethren to refrain from this, and they are all the better for it. It is a labyrinth for man, because he works from his own resources. It is as if one were to dissect the body of one's friend, instead of delighting in his affections and his character. In the church, it is one of the worst signs I have met with. It is very sad to get into this way, very sad that this should be shown in such a light before the church of God, and before the world. I would add, that so deep is my conviction of man's incapacity in this matter, and that it is outside the teaching of the Spirit to wish to define the manner of the union of divinity and humanity in Jesus, that I am quite ready to suppose that even while desiring to avoid it, I may have fallen into it, and thus may have spoken in a mistaken way in something which I have said to you.
That He was truly Man, Son of man, dependent on God as such, and without sin in that condition of dependence—truly God in all His ineffable perfection: this I hold, I trust, dearer than life. To define everything is what I do not presume to do. "No man knoweth the Son but the Father." If I find anything which weakens one or the other of these truths, or which dishonors Him who is their subject, I shall oppose it with all my might, as God may call me to do so. May God grant you to believe all which the word teaches with regard to Him—Jesus. It is our food and sustenance to understand all which the Spirit has given us to understand, and not to seek to define that which God does not call upon us to define, but to adore on the one hand and to feed upon on the other, and to love in every way according to the grace of the Holy Spirit.