Reply to Brother Bradbury.
“What part of man is quickened into life?” We object to the form of the question; for we are no where informed that any part of man is quickened into life. God’s people which were dead in sins, has God quickened, according to his mighty power which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power, and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come, and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. Paul addressed this epistle to the saints which were at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus; and the faithful in Christ Jesus, including the saints at Ephesus, are the fulness of the body, of which Christ is the Head. Those who are in him are members, or partides, of that body which has many members, which members being many are one body, even so is Christ. They are the fulness of Christ, as a perfectly organized body, and he as their Head presides over them all, and as their life and immortality, he fills them all, and is all, in all his members. As the constituents of his body or church, they were all chosen in him before the foundation of the world, and predestinated to the adoption of children, and to be made acceptable to God in the Beloved, in Christ, in the body of Christ, as members of his body, of his flesh and of his bones. When that body was demanded by the law, and was delivered up to die, and died, then were all his members buried with him by baptism into death, and each member of his body can say, as the writer of our text has said, “I am crucified with Christ.” “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead; and that he died for all, that they which live, should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died and rose again. Wherefore, henceforth know we no man after the flesh; yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet henceforth know we him no more. “Therefore if any man be in Christ he is a new creature,” or new creation. II Corinthians 5:14-17. If any man be in him, he is in him as a member of his body. Not in the body of the sins of the flesh, which is put away by the circumcision of Christ, but in the resurrection power and regeneration of the whole body, or church, from a carnal, or fleshly, to a quickened, spiritual, regenerated newness of life. “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God,” which kingdom is the church and body of Christ. “Neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” I Corinthians 15:50.
Those who are quickened by the resurrection life and immortality of him who is given to be their Head and their all, were in their earthly natures, or by that nature, children of wrath even as others, and walked according to the course of this world, and according to the prince of the power of the air, or elements of that nature, and were all of them dead in sins. But the apostle is treating upon what is the hope of the calling of the saints, and the riches of the glory of Christ’s inheritance in his saints, and of the exceeding greatness of God’s power to usward who believe according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead. It will not be disputed by brethren that it is the same power that quickened and raised up from the dead the crucified body of Christ, that quickens the saints and makes them believers; hence it is said, “to usward who believe according to his mighty power which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead.” But that the church, the body of Christ, were all quickened in him, and with him, when he arose from the dead, is not so clear to the minds of all the brethren. Brother Bradbury quotes Ephesians 2:1, “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” Who does the apostle mean by you? This personal pronoun has for its antecedent, the saints which are, or were, at Ephesus, and the faithful in Christ Jesus, including all who are and were in him before the foundation of the world, and who are in the verse immediately preceding this text defined to be Christ’s body, and the fulness of the body to whom the risen Savior is given to be the Head. If it does not mean all who compose the body of Christ, let those who are wise above what is written, tell who they are who are quickened. If the you addressed does not mean all the members of Christ’s body, which make up the entire fulness of it according to the verse next preceding, and the whole chapter preceding, will somebody tell us who of all that were chosen in him before the foundation of the world are left out, and not included in the you who are quickened?
But when were they quickened? Let the same apostle tell. In the connection immediately following, he does tell in as clear and definite words as our language affords. “But 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.” Then, not only the body and members were quickened, but Christ who was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, was also quickened. And this quickening of the head and body, and all the members, was together, or simultaneous.
To make the matter still more clear and plain, the apostle continues, “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” We do not understand the apostle to say or to mean that all the members which compose the body and fulness of Christ, were at that time brought forth in manifest development, but that the spiritual and immortal life which quickens all the church or body of Christ was then and there, at the resurrection of Christ, given to every member in him who is their Head; according to the record of I John 5:11,12. “And this is the record, that God hath given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” “He asked life of thee, and thou gayest it him, even length of days forever and ever.” Psalm 21:4. This must relate to his Mediatorial intercession for his church and body, for in no other sense can we conceive of his asking for life. This life is figuratively set forth, by the exceedingly precious ointment in the consecration to the priesthood, which was poured on Aaron’s head, and ran down his beard, and descended to the skirts of his garments. Psalm 133:2. So Christ is to his church a priest forever, by the power of an endless life. “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon him,” and that spirit is life, and through him as the head all the body has its anointing. “Ye have an unction from the Holy One.” “The anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you.” I John 2:20 & 27. We have no difficulty in understanding that natural life was given to all the family of mankind when God breathed in Adam the breath of life, and man became a living soul. The book of the generations of Adam was complete, in the day that God created man, and called their name Adam, which was a hundred and thirty years before Seth was born. Genesis 5:1-3. This Adam is the figure of him that was to come. Romans 5:14. The last Adam was made a quickening spirit. The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. I Corinthians 15:45 & 47. The Lord from heaven was made flesh and dwelt among us; he took on him the seed of Abraham; took part of the same flesh and blood that his children were partakers of, that through death he might destroy death. As in the first Adam, we all die, by Christ’s death for us he has redeemed us from death, from our earthy relations to the law of sin and death, redeemed us from the kindreds of the earth, so that, being redeemed, his kingdom is not of the earth, we are no more known in the flesh, this relation to the earth being annulled by the death of Christ, we henceforth, or from the time of the death of Christ, as members of Christ’s resurrected body, know no man after the flesh. The body of the sins of the flesh is put off by this circumcision of Christ, wherein he was put to death in the flesh, but quickened in the Spirit; so that we are dead to the law by his body, that we might be lawfully married to him that is risen from the dead, and identified with him in his resurrection life and immortality, and made manifest in due time as his body, his flesh and his bones. By his death we are buried with him by baptism into death, and are dead, and our life is hid with him in God.
Now, to return to the apostle’s testimony in Ephesians 2, we observe that as he had shown the exceeding greatness of the mighty power of God in the resurrection of Christ from the dead, and in that resurrection the quickening of the church which is his body, and the raising up of that body from under the law, and from sin and death, and from the kindreds of mankind, what he has secured. “That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace, in his kindness towards us in Christ Jesus.” Ages to come, after the redemption of the church, in her resurrection in Christ from the dead, to develop all his members, and bring them manifestively and experimentally into the grace wherein we now stand and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. As all the ages of the existence of this world are required for the manifest development of that natural life which was breathed by the Creator into the nostrils of Adam, in the day that he was created, so all the ages to come, from the resurrection of Christ from the dead, are required for the development of the generation of Jesus Christ, the Second Adam, and the Lord from heaven. To develop in the posterity of the earthy Adam that life which was given them in him in the day they were created, they must all of them be born of the flesh, and in their fleshly nature fill their day and generation, according to the decree of God, so to bring into manifestation all the members of Christ in the regeneration, all his chosen generation must be born again of his spirit, and receive personally the quickening power of his resurrection life and immortality.
In this quickening or spiritual birth of the members of Christ, we do not understand that some particular part of those who are the subjects of it are quickened into life; but rather as the apostle has shown, divine, spiritual, resurrection life is given to them who were dead in sins, and entirely destitute of it by their earthly nature. The life is one thing, and that, or they who are quickened by it, is quite another. When that body of Adam which God had formed of the dust of the ground was quickened, and man became a living soul, Adam could say, I live; but he could not say, I am life. He was not quickened or converted into life, but life was put in him. And to show that his quickened and animated dust was not life, though living, it was afterwards taken from him, and the dust returned to dust, and the life which had animated it returned to God who gave it. So they who are quickened by the Spirit possess life, and are quickened, though they were before being quickened, dead in sins; but the life is Christ in them the hope of glory; no part of what they were before becomes life, though quickened; for to quicken is to communicate life to that which was destitute of life. God has given eternal life to his children; but his children are the recipients, and not the gift. Paul could say in truth, “I live.” But none but Jesus could say, I am life. Hence Paul said, “The life which I live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who hath loved me and given himself for me.” Yea, he is still more plain. “I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” Galatians 2:20. For him to live was Christ. “The body is dead because of sin,” even after we are born of the Spirit; but the spirit, which is born of God, is life because of righteousness. Our mortal has not put on immortality, although Christ our life dwells in us, and we live this life in the flesh; still our flesh itself is corruptible, and in it, its element, is found no good thing. Our mortal must put off mortality, and put on immortality, before death in us shall be swallowed up of victory. So it is as difficult or impossible for us, as it is for brother Bradbury, to find any part of our old sinful and depraved nature that has become life. But with Job, we will wait all our appointed time till our change come.
June 15, 1869.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 7
Pages 435 – 439