My Brethren In Christ: – Christ is our life. So, naturally, Adam is our life. We were born with his breath of life. This is natural existence only. But the word says, “God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” God did not give it to us in Adam. In him God gave us natural life or existence only, from which we grow up into our natural being, and derive all our natural capabilities and powers. “The first man is of the earth, earthy. * * * As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy.” They are types and copies of Adam, they are born with his earthly being and nature, and they breathe his breath of life. So, also, they die his death; for the reason that when he sinned, and sinning, died, their vital being was in him. “In Adam all die.” “Dying, thou shalt die.” A sinful existence and being, although it may continue a hundred or a thousand years, is not life. “He that hath not the Son of God, hath not life.” Wonderfully endowed in nature, and highly cultured he may be, yet he hath not life. The seal of death is impressed upon him; he is born under the law, born in sin, and born unto death, because of sin. “I am carnal, sold under sin.” All in Adam are thus. “There is none righteous, no, not one.” “They are all under sin.” “Death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” “The wages of sin is death.” “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” “That every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” “By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners.” “Sin hath reigned unto death.” This reign of sin is over all.
The above is the common inheritance of all who are in and of Adam, or of all earthy or natural people. Their natural life and being, which is now also sinful and corrupted, produces after its own kind. Every faculty and power of the natural man, in his whole being, springs from a corrupted life and nature, an unholy source, as unclean water from a polluted fountain, or as bad fruit from a corrupt tree. “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” Our perfect Teacher says again, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit.” The word “that “is a pronoun, and it does not refer to a property or faculty of man, but to man himself. So the nest sentence says, ‘-Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” The primary truth here taught is, “Except a man be born ag.iin, he cannot see the kingdom of God. * * * Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” The kingdom of God is spiritual, heavenly and holy, as is God himself, and it is in unity and harmony with him. But not so is man as he is born of the flesh, as proven above. “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption,” said inspired Paul. “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. * * * So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” This is a very strong denial, and shows an impossibility. The man who is born of the flesh is flesh, is in the flesh, he has not life, but only a fleshly and sinful existence; therefore he knows not God, neither does he love him, nor can he please him. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Being only natural, he has no spiritual discernment. The very highest and best that he is capable of is still natural, for it is a product of his natural life or being. All the religion and service and worship possible to the one who is born only of the flesh, is like himself, fleshly and natural. He may have a great zeal for God, and do many wonderful works in the name of Christ, and pride himself on his obedience to all gospel commandments, yet it is not according to spiritual knowledge, but all is fleshly, selfish and in the letter only. Neither he nor all his offerings and works can please God, because he is in the flesh, and all he is and does is fleshly and legal. All men who are of Adam are born in sin, and therefore born under the law; “For sin is the transgression of the law.” Hence, all fleshly or natural religion and religious works and worship are legal, because they arise out of the Adamic life and nature, but not out of the Christ-life. Therefore, all the religion and service that man is capable of, naturally and morally, is tried and judged by the law of God, which, Paul says, “is holy, and just, and good.” Now, the Scripture says, “There is not a just man upon the earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.” “By the law is the knowledge of sin.” So the holy law condemns and rejects all religious worship and work which have their source in the natural life of man, because of their fleshly and unholy nature. “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” Every one that is quickened by the Spirit and taught of God, experiences the truth of all this, and will confess with Paul, “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing.” Paul wrote by inspiration, therefore the words, “my flesh,” agree with the words of the Lord Jesus: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh.” It is the fruit of a fleshly or natural life, which is also carnal, sold under sin. Nothing holy and good, therefore, can arise from the flesh. Everything partakes of the nature of the life of which it is the offspring, and cannot be different nor more holy than the parent-life, but is like it in kind and quality. This is a universal law, ordained of God, the Creator and Law-maker.
The life of man endows him with a spirit and soul and body, mind and intellect and heart; therefore he has a moral nature and is accountable to God, being under the law of God. But yet no attribute or faculty of a natural man can possibly arise higher than his life, nor become rnore holy, by any effort of his, nor by any cultivation it may receive. At his highest and best he “is flesh.” So said the holy Son of God. Moses said, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Paul said, “That was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.” Behold, how infinite the difference between the first man and the second man, the earthy and the heavenly, the natural and the spiritual. For the first is only a creature, a living soul; the second is the Lord, a quickening Spirit. The first man received natural life; the second Man gives spiritual life. The first man is corruptible; the second Man is immortal. By the first man came sin and death to all men in him; by the second Man comes righteousness and life to all men in him. By the first man came weakness and dishonor to his people; by the second Man comes power and glory to his people. Now, wherein is the secret of this wonderful difference between the two men! It is found in the life of each one. The first man was given the breath of life only, as a creature of God; the second Man inherited eternal life, as “the only begotten Son of God.” Out of the life of Adam, and out of the life of Jesus, springs forth all the amazing developments and results alluded to above, as manifested unto and in all who are related to Adam, on the one hand, and unto and in all who are related to “the Lord from heaven,” on the other hand. This relationship, both to the first man and to the second Man, is in the life of Adam, and in the life of Christ. As born of the flesh, we are in death union with Adam, because his is a sinful and forfeited existence; as born of the Spirit, we are in life union with Christ, because his is a righteous and eternal life. Therefore, his word to u.5 is, “Because I live, ye shall live also.” “And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” This is the true life; it is the union of holiness and immortality. The Lord of life and glory, the Son of God, the second Adam, alone possesses it by inheritance from the eternal Father in its infinite fullness and power. To all the children of men who shall inherit it in Christ, it is the free gift of God, and is the expression of his everlasting love to his people, whom he hath chosen and blessed with all spiritual blessings in his beloved Son.
The creatureship of all the chosen people of God is in the life (the breath of life) of Adam. As partakers of this natural life, they are born of the flesh, and are the children and heirs of Adam, in whom they die. The sonship of all the redeemed of the Lord is in the life of Christ. As given this holy and eternal life, they are born of the Spirit, and are the children and heirs of God in Christ Jesus, in whom they live. The Scriptures fully reveal that in “the eternal purpose,” God foreordained that the people of the new covenant should, at his appointed time, be born of the flesh, and should also be born of the Spirit, as Christ taught NiGodemus. The first birth manifests them as the Lord’s sinful people under the law; the second birth manifests them as the children of God under grace. In both relations, therefore, they are the Lord’s. The holy Son of God is not ashamed to call them “brethren.” For as the Son of man, Jesus was verily their Brother in the flesh, and as born of God, they are as truly his brethren in the Spirit. Of Jesus and his members and brethren, Paul therefore says, “Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.” This is a very mysterious, solemn and wonderful way of life unto holiness, for it is a continual experience of the suffering and death of Jesus unto sin in our mortal flesh, that his righteous life also might be manifested in its power over sin and death in our body, and that we should thus live unto God in Christ Jesus. “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”
Thus both the way and the end are feelingly presented to us, “that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope “in our tribulations in the flesh. We are taught the solemn truth of God in our twofold experience of death in Adam, and life in Christ, that we must suffer and die unto sin in the flesh, that we might rejoice and live unto righteousness in the Spirit. “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” The law of sin and death was upon the man in Adam, but Paul had become dead to this law by the crucified body of Christ, and therefore he was a new man in the risen Christ, in whom he lived a new life. He thus relates his experience of death and life: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” This is a profound and solemn way of righteousness unto life. It shows that all the life and righteousness of Paul was by the grace of God, and in the life of Christ, who lived in Paul. This is also true in all who are Christ’s, and who live in him. Their faith embraces him as their life and righteousness, and in their experience they are made to know the truth that, “Neither is there salvation in any other.” The life of Christ is holy, immortal and eternal; it is spiritual, divine and of God the Father; therefore all its attributes, powers and operations are according to holiness, and are well pleasing unto God, who is infinitely holy. And it has been fully proven, and is confirmed in the experience of the children of God, that all the fruits of righteousness in them grow up out of the Christ-life in them, but never out of the Adam-life. The faith and hope and love of the children of God are in Christ, and spring forth out of his life. Of God the Father “are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” Christians, therefore, are forbidden to glory in Adam or man, or in themselves or the flesh. For out of the life of Adam in us, and out of the spirit of the flesh or natural spirit, there cannot possibly arise any goodness or righteousness superior to or better than the corrupt fountain of the Adamic life and nature, which cannot please God, hat all of which is rejected by his holy law. When we are given the mind that was in Christ, then we experience the truth of this, and desire with Paul to be found in Christ, “not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.” This truly is dying, that we may live; sowing in tears, that we may reap in joy. Yet it is the way that our meek and lowly Redeemer went.
Let us consider him in the days of his flesh, lie was verily a man, and the Son of man, for he was made of a woman, and made under the law, “for the suffering of death.” “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.” Thus and in this way only does he bring us to God; that is, in the way that he went to God before us and for us, through his death in the flesh for our sins, and by his quickening life in us. As a man in the flesh and under the law, Christ died. His death in the body of his flesh was the end of sin, and the fulfillment of the law. Likewise must we die with Christ before we shall live with him, and thus must we suffer with him before we shall reign with him. For it was in his resurrection from the dead that Christ abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, not through the law.
Therefore, dear brethren, our life and righteousness and salvation is in Christ, the risen Christ, and in his life. “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” How by his life! In answer, hear Paul again: “God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved:) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” So we are quickened together with Christ in his risen life, and are raised up with him above the flesh and the law into heavenly places and heavenly service. Thus and in this way shall we be saved by Christ’s life. With him we “pass from death unto life,” and arise to “walk in newness of life,” and serve God “in newness of spirit.” Gospel baptism is the figure of this truth. In his new gospel kingdom, into which Christ was raised up out of death, he was a spiritual and new man, and no longer served under the law nor lived in the flesh, but in .the Spirit. In his gospel kingdom, which is new, grace reigns, and all the service and worship in this kingdom is spiritual and by the grace of God. The only throne herein is the throne of grace. All the fruits herein are “the fruit of the Spirit.” No works of the flesh, nor legal service, nor anything that is a fruit or product of the life of Adam, can be admitted in our risen Lord’s new kingdom. For it is a holy and spiritual temple, the house of mercy, and it all goes up, even to the head-stone thereof, “with shoutings of, Grace, grace unto it.” In all this wonderful way that Christ our forerunner went unto God, must we also follow him, and be made like him, both in his death and in his life. “He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more “(after the flesh). Most clearly does Paul thus show that in entering into the kingdom of Christ, we are cut off from the fleshly life in Adam, to be henceforth known and accepted only in Christ Jesus. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Thus it is in Christ and his new kingdom. Paul again affirms this truth, saying, “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.”
Baptism solemnly represents a rising up out of death in Adam, into life in Christ. So the Lord’s supper shows that Christ is our meat indeed, and our drink indeed; that Christ, who gives us eternal life, is also our bread of life, and our water of salvation, and than we live in him and by him, even as he liveth by the Father. All spiritual life, and all spiritual service and worship, with all righteousness and acceptable obedience unto the holy Father, arise only from the Christ-life in us, for in his life only are we righteous and obedient in the sight of God; but never do the fruits of righteousness and loving obedience to the Father in heaven spiring forth from the life and spirit of Adam in us, or from our natural spirit and volition, for all that is of Adam is fleshly and legal, selfish and sinful, and all this ends in death. “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” Such is the impassable gulf between the flesh and the Spirit.
Our life, our obedience, our righteousness, our acceptance, our love, our faith, our hope, our peace, our rejoicing, our worship, our praise, our glorying, our conquering, our triumphing, our prevalence in prayer, all our spiritual blessings, our salvation, our resurrection unto glory, our adoption unto the Father in heaven – all, all are in Christ and by him, to the praise of grace and the glory of God, who hath made us accepted in the Beloved.” “The one thing needful, dearest Lord, is to be one with thee.”
In the faith and hope and love of Christ, our life, your brother,
Signs Of The Times
Volume 69, No. 9
May 1, 1901