In what sense Christ was made perfect through sufferings is one of the most important subjects that ever occupied the mind of man. If we class him in his humanity with Adam we make a fatal mistake. “The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.” The first natural, the last spiritual; the first was made of the dust of the ground, and before the law, the last was made of a woman and under the law, to redeem them that were under the law; the first man is of the earth earthy, the second man is the Lord from heaven; the first saw corruption, the last saw no corruption. To say Christ was imperfect in any sense would be to contradict every type of him in the Old Testament. To say his nature was faulty would be to say sin was in it, for man is faulty only because of sin. The man Christ Jesus was not the son of Adam, but the Son of God; he was not the seed of man, but “the seed of the woman.” He did take on him the seed of Abraham, so far as lineage was concerned, and was the promised seed, but God was his Father, and not Abraham. None of the sons of Abraham could have atoned for sin. “As the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same.” The taking of flesh and blood did not make him imperfect, he was not a faulty creature because of sin, but God manifest in the flesh. He took flesh and blood upon him that he might die or shed his blood for the remission of sins. His blood or life was not contaminated with sin or disease, he was the spotless Lamb of God. We in the flesh are imperfect because we are the sons of Adam; in the Spirit we are perfect because we are the sons of God. Would not the only Begotten of the Father, both in the flesh and Spirit, be perfect from the same cause! Christ is presented throughout the Scriptures as being gloriously perfect; in the types, in prophecy, in his own words and in all that is written of him by the apostles it is so. The idea that he had to be imperfect in his humanity in order to be made perfect, is wrong; he was the Word “made flesh;” he was perfect with the Father before time began, and he was perfect also in the flesh. “Mark the perfect man.” – Psalms xxxvii. 37. We shall now quote a few Scriptures to prove the perfection of his humanity as the Son of God. “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” “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.” These references are sufficient to establish his perfection as a man both human and divine. The book of Hebrews begins by presenting Christ the Son of God; he is “appointed heir of all things, by whom also he [God] made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image ,of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, * * * Being made so much better than the angels.”‘ All this exalts him far above man, and forbids us to say that his humanity was imperfect. If Adam was perfect, (not spiritual) without sin and faultless, having been made in the image of God, why not Christ the Son, who is the express image of his person and the brightness of his glory? He “was made a little lower than the angels.” This refers always to Christ, and means in the sense of his ignominious death, “Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.”
We shall now attempt to answer the important question: In what sense was Christ made perfect through sufferings! It became God “in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” These sons would be afflicted with severe trials, persecutions and temptations, therefore would need one who could succor them. As captain he was perfect, but they needed also in him an high priest who could be touched with the feeling of their infirmities, hence it behooved God to call his only begotten Son to pass through all that his sons, brought unto glory, would be called upon to endure. “In all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest.” Therefore by actual experience our High Priest knows our infirmities, having been tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin. Under the law the high priest who offered blood for the sins of the people, first offered for himself, he having sins. Our High Priest knew no sin, but was made sin for us, and in this sense he is one with us, knowing our temptations and sins, having borne them in his own body. “Such an High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undented, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.” He was made perfect (prepared) through his sufferings to be an high priest. These sufferings were trials, persecutions and temptations, and not the sufferings of death. There is no sense in which he as a man, the Son of God, was made perfect through the sufferings of death. His body, the church, was perfected, however, in that one offering. When he said, in Luke xiii. 32, “The third day I shall be perfected,” he referred to his resurrection and the resurrection, in him, of his members, by the glory of the Father from under the curse of the law. Had he not been tempted in all points like as we are, he would not know our sufferings by experience. We could not come to him for succor, in his character of High Priest, had he not known and felt our infirmities, yet he was perfect in his humanity. Thus we understand how he was made perfect (prepared, not purified) through sufferings to succor them that are tempted. This was in fulfillment of the prophecy, “In all their affliction he was afflicted.” In Hebrews v. 8, we are told, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” There is a vast difference between learning obedience, and being made obedient by the things which he suffered; that kind of obedience is not acceptable in the sight of God. Therefore Christ was not forced or made obedient by the things he suffered; it was his “delight” to do the will of God, it was his meat and his drink to finish the work given him of the Father to do. The obedience of Christ preceded his sufferings, he was obedient even unto death. Obedience to God always, in his sons and daughters, precedes their sufferings, they suffer because of obedience, living, as it were, a living death, or in other words, crucifying the flesh day and night. It is in the crucifixion that we suffer, and the crucifixion is because of obedience; “crucified with Christ.” Adam satisfied the lusts of his flesh, hence no obedience, no sufferings. Christ learned what Adam never knew, viz., obedience, living “by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God,” or in living in perfect obedience to the righteous law of God. Adam transgressed and died; Christ obeyed and lives to make intercession for us. In his sufferings he learned that the law given to Adam demanded perfect obedience. We learn obedience in the same way, but are not made obedient by the things we suffer; our sufferings are the best evidence we can have that we are obedient. It must be a willing, though painful crucifixion, or it is not acceptable to God.
“And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” We should not confound the office of high priest with the offering for sin. This text is presenting Christ the Son of God as the Author of salvation, and it shows him to be a perfect offering, not made so through sufferings, but because he was the Son of God. God the Father made him perfect for the work of redemption: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” He could not have done this had he been imperfect in any sense of the word. If Christ was imperfect, as some think, and sufferings could purify or perfect his flesh or humanity, then might we not ask, Could not our sufferings make us perfect also? If this were possible we would need no Savior, but could atone for our own imperfections through our own sufferings. God made the Son “without blemish and without spot,” therefore being made perfect he became the Author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; not unto all who say they are obedient, but unto all who, like himself, live the life of crucifixion: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live.”
We leave these reflections for the consideration of our readers. K.
Editorial – Elder H. C. Ker
Signs Of The Times
Volume 74., No. 22.
NOVEMBER 15, 1906.