Dear Brother Beebe; Being confined at home today by affliction and inclement weather, I have concluded to offer a few thoughts in connection with the following, but which is at your disposal:
“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.” Heb.2:14,15.
In this connection Arminians and Universalists claim proof of a general atonement, when Jesus is spoken of as having tasted death for every man; but take the connection and it appears to prove to the contrary. Two headships are spoken of, namely; Adam, the head and representative of his natural family, was created by Jehovah, and made a little lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor, and all things put under his feet, and there was nothing left that was not put under him. This of course referred to all the natural creation of God, because the apostle changes the subject and speaks of the other headship, saying; “But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus, [the life and immortality, head and representative of the church of God,] who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor, that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man, for it became him for whom all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons [every man] unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings, for both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one, for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.” So it plainly appears that the term every man referred to his brethren, the church of whom he was the life, head and representative. These his brethren, or chosen people, the children of God, being partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same. If we can scripturally determine what is meant by the children of God, then we may more easily progress with the subject. We read in Rom.9:8 – “They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God.” Again in I Cor.15:50 – “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.”
From these texts we can see that nothing belonging to mortals has anything to do with constituting them the children of God, nor cause them to inherit the kingdom of heaven. The children of God must be so spiritually, having their life and being of God the Father, in his only begotten Son Jesus Christ. In proof read John 1:12,13. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name, which were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” John 3:6. “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.” I Pet.1:23. “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” I John 5:11. The generation of God’s children spiritually had their existence in Jesus Christ from eternity, even as the generation of Adam’s children naturally had their existence in him from his creation – of the earth, earthy, and have been manifested by ordinary generation. So the children of God have been manifested by taking up their adobe in flesh and blood in men and women, chosen to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to God the Father, according to the good pleasure of his will. In this way the children of God have been partakers of flesh and blood from the earliest age of the world. The people of God’s choice are called vessels of mercy which he had afore prepared unto glory, such as he calls, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles. Which are first born of the flesh, and when called by grace, are born again, of incorruptible seed, by the word of God, or of the Spirit of God. Hence they are denominated the children of God, and spoken of as the new man, created after God in righteousness and true holiness, as in the following texts: “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the spirit; if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his.” Rom.8:9. “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” Rom.8:15,16. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away, behold all things are become new.” II Cor.5:17. It seems, too, that his place of abode is changed, for before he was under the law, or ministration of death and condemnation; but now he is under grace, or the ministration of life and peace; was before under the power of darkness, but now is delivered from it, and translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son. They are thus spoken of because of the superiority of that heavenly birth they are subjects of, which shall finally result in the redemption or resurrection of their bodies in the likeness of their glorious Redeemer, to be with him and behold his glory forever, because he has taken part of the same flesh and blood with his children, and for his people, the object of which was that for them he through death might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, which he has through his life, death and resurrection, and now he holds the keys of death and of hell, and though his people fear death, and his children that cannot sin are subject to bondage while they remain in these earthly houses, yet when they shall fall in death, deliverance will be realized, and in the resurrection the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads, and sighing and sorrow shall flee away.
It is worthy of notice that Jesus did not come into the world to redeem and save his children from their sins, speaking of them in their spiritual existence, but to save sinners, men and women, chosen to the adoption of children. “Thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins.” “The Lord’s portion is his people, Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.” The distinction in one sense seems to be clearly made between his children spiritually and his people according to the flesh, and yet his people are chosen and redeemed, and in them his children take up their abode, after which his people are denominated the children of the living God, the sons of God. They, his chosen people, are sometimes spoken of prospectively as sons and daughters, and as children of the promise, counted for the seed. The relation in which Jesus stood to them in oneness of life and immortality, and in the covenant of redemption, is represented, first, speaking of Jesus, as husband of his bride, and her life; secondly, as the great Shepherd of the sheep, responsible for their trespasses. It is wonderful indeed, and well may the apostle, when speaking of the vital and covenant relation in which Jesus stood to his people, say; “For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones; for this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” Eph.5:30-32. This eternal-vital union of Christ and his church is as mysterious as that of the human and divine natures existing in the same person, and each retaining all their original qualities. That which was born of the flesh, remaining flesh, with all the carnal and evil propensities it had before; and the divine nature, holy as God is holy, cannot sin because born of God. John, well acquainted with the christian warfare, says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Again, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” Paul, who was equally acquainted with the warfare, says, “For the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.” “The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary the one to the other, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” “When I would do good, evil is present with me, so that the good that I would, I do not; but the evil that I would not, that do I … O, wretched man that I am; who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord; so then with the mind I myself [divine nature, or new man] serve the law of God, but with the flesh [human nature, or the old man] the law of sin.” “Return, return, O Shulamite, what seest thou in the Shulamite? As it were a company of two armies.” These two armies represent the flesh and the spirit, constantly at war, but the victory is given through our Lord Jesus Christ; and the spirit being the stronger, shall surely prevail, and the old man fall in death, to be quickened and raised by the Spirit in the likeness of Jesus, in the morning of the resurrection.
Yours in love,
Orlethorpe County, Georgia, March 15, 1868.