With a consciousness of the magnitude of the subject involved, and of our incompetency to elucidate the subject so as to remove all darkness or doubt from the contemplation of it, we propose to submit such views as we have, to the consideration of all who feel an interest in the investigation of a subject which is so profound as to excite the admiration of angels, and so boundless as to mock every human essay to comprehend its limit. The incarnation of our blessed Redeemer is, without controversy, a great mystery. “God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” - 1 Tim. iii. 16. And yet the participation of the children of God of flesh and blood, and the incarnation of the Son of God, are placed on the same ground, and based upon the same principle, by the inspired apostle in his epistle to the Hebrews ii. 14, “Forasmuch, then, as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same.” To our mind, this text is a key to the subject, so far as we may be favored with the Spirit’s teaching to enlighten us on the subject. So far, therefore, as we can comprehend the mystery of godliness in the one case, we have an illustration of it in reference to the other. When we read that Christ is come in the flesh, that the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and that he also likewise took part of the same flesh and blood of which his children are partakers, we very naturally and unavoidably infer that he had an identity and did exist as the Son of God, as the Head, Life and Immortality of his body, the church, before he partook of flesh and blood; and that his participation of the same was not to make him the Son of God, nor to make him the life and immortality of his church (for he was their Head and Life before); but he took part of the same for the purpose which is distinctly stated in the text, namely, 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. That Christ did so exist before his advent, is so fully established by Scripture testimony, that but few have the audacity to deny it. But whether denied or admitted by men, the matter is settled in the divine testimony, “But when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth his Son.” - Gal. iv. 4. He had a Son to send, and he was a Son before he was sent, when he was sent, and shall continue to be the Son of God after he shall have delivered up the kingdom unto the Father, and the Son, as such, shall be subject to him that hath put all things under him, that God may be all in all. (1 Cor. xv. 28.) “Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.” - Eph. iv. 9, 10.
It being established that Christ did exist, not only as God, but also as the Son of God, the only begotten of the Father, and as the first-born, and before all things, and at the appointed time, when the fullness of that time had come, he was sent forth, and the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us; so the doctrine of the incarnation of his children, together with that of their previous existence in him, is exemplified. They were created in him, chosen in him, preserved in him, saved and called, according to the purpose and grace which was given them in him before the world began. And all spiritual blessings (past, present, or to come, that the saints ever have, or ever will or can enjoy) were given them according as God hath chosen them in him before the foundation of the world. (Eph. i. 3, 4.) Their spiritual, eternal life was given them in Christ before the world began, as their earthly, fleshly life was given them in the earthly Adam, in time. John says, “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” - 1 John v. 11, 12.
We now pass to consider the development of these relations. These children in Christ were, in the matchless wisdom of God, destined to partake of the life of the natural Adam. This participation, however, had nothing to do in making them the children of God, any more than the incarnation of Christ had in constituting him the Son of God; for the relationship of sons or children was, as we have proved, as perfect before as subsequently to that participation. The two headships were, according to the counsel of God, to be developed. The first, in the order of time, was that Adam which is of the earth; the second, is that Adam, or seminal head, which is the Lord from heaven. The one is natural, the other is spiritual. In the creation of the earthly Adam we have the creation of all that constitutes the outward man, or earthly bodies of the children of God; and the reception by them of this earthly nature is that wherein they are made partakers of flesh and blood. This, of which they were to partake in Adam, was provided for them in his creation, marked and identified in the foreknowledge, predestination and election by which they were chosen and ordained to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ unto himself, according to the great pleasure of his will.
Viewed now in either headship, they were the chosen and peculiar people of God. And as there was a fixed period when the Son of God should take upon him the seed of Abraham, or in other words, when also himself should likewise partake of flesh and blood, so there was and is an appointed time when the spiritual, eternal life which was given to the saints shall be made manifest in them personally and individually, and when they shall be born of the Spirit, of an incorruptible seed, by the word of the Lord, which is immortal.
In the exemplification of this by the incarnation of Christ, we have to consult the inspired record. The explanation of the angel Gabriel, who was sent from God to a city of Galilee, unto the virgin Mary, is clearly in point. The inquiry of the virgin Mary embraced the mystery: How can that spiritual, eternal life which God gave his people before the world was, become identified with that natural, earthly life which he gave them in the earthly Adam? To which Gabriel replies, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee, therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” - Luke i. 35.
So, after this example, that life by which God’s people were identified in Christ before all time, is implanted in those persons, by which God’s chosen people were identified in the earthly Adam. The Holy Ghost comes upon them, and the power of the Highest overshadows them. The incorruptible seed, not by the agency of man, but by the word of the Lord, which liveth and abideth forever, implants in them that spiritual, eternal life which was and is hid with Christ in God, by which is given to them “power to become [manifestly] the sons of God”; and they are “born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” - John i. 13.
That body which Christ assumed when he was made of a woman, was a body prepared for him, and he adopted it, or in other words, took it on him, and thus became a partaker of the same flesh and blood that his children are partakers of; in that adopted or assumed body he suffered death, that body was laid in the grave, (but saw no corruption) was raised up from the dead, and finally ascended up into heaven, a spiritual, immortal body. And so these earthly bodies of his saints are predestinated to the adoption of children, and have received the spirit of adoption, or implantation of the Spirit, and are sealed unto the day of redemption. Yet even we who have received the first-fruits of the Spirit (in receiving the spirit of adoption) even we ourselves do groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” - Rom. viii. 11, 33; Eph. vi. 30. “Now this I say unto you, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” - 1 Cor. xv. 50. But though there is no flesh and blood heirship securing to us an incorruptible inheritance of glory, these adopted bodies from the Adamic stock shall be changed by the Spirit of him that raised up Christ from the dead; and this spirit of adoption shall quicken the mortal bodies in the resurrection of them from the dead, and they shall put on incorruption and immortality, and mortality shall be swallowed up of life.
That life which is born of God requires no adoption, for it was never out of the family; it was always identified with Christ, who is our life; but that which is to be raised up from the dead, being alienated, must be made nigh, and brought by adoption into the family of God. “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. - Gal. ii. 20
As Adam is our natural life, and in him, and in all that is Adam (which includes all that is born of the flesh,) we all die, so Christ is our life, our immortality, and in him we live. “I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.” “For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though, after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another, though my reins be consumed within me.” “Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” - Psalm xvii. 15; Job xix. 25-27; 1 John iii. 2,3.
The subject contemplated in the foregoing remarks is by no means exhausted; it is rich, boundless and glorious; it involves the ground of our hope for heaven and an incomputable inheritance. If what we have suggested shall be blessed to the edification and comfort of any of the lambs of our Redeemer’s fold, we shall not have labored in vain. Let the readers compare what is written, with the divine standard. What is not sustained by the Scriptures reject; but see that ye reject not what the testimony of God sustains. And may the Lord give you understanding in all things, for the Redeemer’s sake; so prays one who claims to be the chief of sinners, and less than the least of all saints.
Middletown, N. Y.
September 15, 1856.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 3
Pages 372 - 377