Lexington, Ky., Nov.29, 1879.
ELDER G. BEEBE & SON – DEAR BRETHREN IN CHRIST: - I wrote an article on the doctrine of adoption, which appeared in one of the earlier numbers of the SIGNS OF THE TIMES of the present year. I now propose with your permission to offer some additional thoughts on that important subject. Important as I consider it to be in the christian system, I have never seen it incorporated with any formula of faith, either printed or written.
I am aware that the doctrines of election and predestination are most generally confounded by professors of religion in our day. I however conclude that they are radically different in their import, election being a sovereign act of the Creator as already consummated; predestination looks to the future for its consummation. The Bible presents us with two families: The earthly and the heavenly, each family having its respective head or progenitor. The offspring of each is necessarily one with its progenitive head in nature. Those two heads are the earthy Adam and the Lord from heaven, as described by the apostle. “And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening Spirit. Howbeit 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. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” The law of God was given to the earthly Adam, which is obligatory upon him and all his seed; hence it is said, “The law was not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient.” Again, “Sin is the transgression of the law.” Again, it is said, “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” “All flesh hath corrupted his way before the Lord.” Hence we see that the whole earthly family are guilty before God, having violated his law. The apostle tells us, “Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” Now with regard to the heavenly family, it is said, “According as he hath chosen us in him [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” Again, “According to his [God’s] own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” Again, “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations; before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth or the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou God.” [Ps.90:1,2] The offspring of our spiritual Progenitor “are born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.” The psalmist tells us, “A seed shall serve him, it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation; they shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done it.” Isaiah calls them the “holy seed;” again, he calls them “the seed of the blessed.” Hence it appears the law never was given to Christ as the spiritual Head, nor to his spiritual seed; consequently they never went into transgression, and needed no redemption. It is moreover said of them, “which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” Here we have the direct antagonism between the children of the flesh and the children of the Spirit, out of which grows the christian warfare. The apostle tells us, “The old man [or child of the flesh] is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; but the new man after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Again, “But though our outward man perish, the inward man is renewed day by day.”
There are those who contend that the election of God was in the earthly Adam. I cannot concur with this idea, because there is no authority in the Bible for it. The election of grace I have already shown to be anterior “to the creation of the heavens and the earth and the sea, and all that are therein,” and necessarily was antecedent to the creation of Adam and his earthly family. Moreover, it is said of Christ, the Head of his spiritual seed, “who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and higher than the heavens.” Again, “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.” Of the spiritual seed it is said, “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.”
Now with regard to adoption, which looks to the future for its consummation, it is said, “having predestinated [foreordained or pre-appointed] us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ unto himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved.” Thus it is seen that a portion of the earthly Adam’s family are predestinated to the adoption of children, in which the distinction is plainly drawn between the heirs of one’s body and strangers that might be adopted. The heir of the body looks alone to the will of the testator for title to enjoy the inheritance, his name being written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. The adopted has to resort to the records of the court to establish his claim to participate in the inheritance. The apostle tells us, “Forasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he [Christ] 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. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham.” “Unto Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ.” Again, “Neither because they are the seed of Abraham are they all children; but in Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.” Hence it appears that the children were children before they partook of flesh and blood, even as Christ was the Christ of God before he partook of flesh and blood; therefore it is seen that the part of which he took was the predestinated to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ.
To deny the existence of the two families would be to ignore the mediation of Christ, for it is said, “A mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.” It would also ignore the doctrine of adoption. There is perfect oneness between the progenitor of each family and the offspring of that family, hence the term mediator would be unmeaning. But when we remember that the earthly family are bound by law to their Creator, and that all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God, we see a propriety in the Mediatorial work of Christ. Hence the apostle said, “There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all [the adopted,] to be testified in due time.” An apostle says, “Even so we, when we were children [of the flesh,] were in bondage under the elements of the world; but when the fullness of the time was come God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” Owing allegiance to the law, we could not receive the adoption of sons until its claims were fully met. The apostle says, “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.” Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us. It is written, “Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” Christ says, “Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee; as thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” This eternal life, or the new man after God, created in righteousness and true holiness, becomes a tenant in the house or body with the old man, who is corrupt, according to the deceitful lusts. The antagonism between those two men is very soon made manifest, the war commencing between the flesh and spirit, and will be continued till the old man falls a prey to death. We conclude that the resurrection of the dead is the crowning glory, so to speak, of the Mediatorial work of the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle says, “As in Adam all die [that are in Adam,] even so in Christ shall all [that are in Christ,] be made alive. But every man in his own order; Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” “But some man will say, How are the dead raised up; and with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die; and that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain; but God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.” I Cor.15:35-38. “There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.” It is said of Christ, “Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his own glorious body.” “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” The adopted in the new birth only received the spirit of adoption; they now receive that for which they have been waiting, to wit, the redemption of the body. Hence an apostle said, “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.”
Now of the things herein written this is the sum: The election of grace was in Christ before the foundation of the world; the holy seed is the substance thereof; the Lord has been their dwelling place in all generations, before the mountains were brought forth; their sonship is in the only begotten Son of God; they are born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible; they cannot sin, because they are born of God, and therefore have no need of redemption, their names are written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world; their title to the inheritance of the saints in light is found in the will of the testator; they are begotten again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for them who are kept by the power of God unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time. Predestination is accomplished in the adoption of a definite number of the family of the earthly Adam, who were by nature the children of wrath, even as others; hence it is said, “But Christ being come an High Priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood, he entered in once into the most holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.”
“And who but the Redeemer, say, was able to endure,
The weight of guilt which on him lay, and make salvation sure?
Yet this redeeming Angel came so vile a worm to bless,
He took with gladness all my shame, and gave his righteousness.”
I delight to do thy will, O my God; thy law is within my heart. The spirit of adoption is received in the new birth, and the eyes of the understanding are opened. They discover wondrous things out of God’s law. “The soul that sinneth it shall die.” “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the law to do them.” The sinner is made to cry,
“Darkness and shame and grief oppressed my gloomy mind,
I looked around for relief, but no relief could find,
At length to God I cried, he heard my plaintive sigh,
And instantly he sent salvation from on high.
My drooping head he raised, my bleeding wounds he healed,
Pardoned my sins, and with a smile the gracious pardon sealed.
O may I ne’er forget the mercy of my God,
Nor ever want a tongue to spread his loudest praise abroad.”
How transporting the thought, that “when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”
With warm affection, your brother in hope of the better resurrection,
Thomas P. Dudley.