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Eternal, Vital Union of Christ and His Church

By Thomas Dudley, 1847

Moderator of Licking Association of Particular Baptists of Kentucky.

Brethren and Sisters: - The Father of Lights, in whom there is neither variableness or shadow of turning, in His kind and unerring Providence, has permitted us to meet in our associate capacity, and to hear from you through the medium of your letters and messengers, and to avail ourselves of the opportunity of addressing you briefly on the three following propositions, viz: First, That Christ and His Church are one. Secondly: That their oneness is vital and spiritual. Thirdly: That it is eternal.

That they are one, is proven by the testimony of Paul, 1 Cor. 12:12, “For as the body is one and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.” Here the oneness is so complete that the body or church is called “Christ.” “So also is Christ;” that is, Christ the Head, and the church, His body, are one. Verse 27, “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.”

That this union is “vital,” we think is clearly proved by the fact that the Spirit of Christ, which testified through the holy Scriptures, in setting this doctrine forth, has used the strongest figures known, viz: Head, Husband, Vine, Shepherd, 7c. But the limits of a circular will not permit us to particularly notice more than one of these at present. We therefore pass to Romans 5:14, “Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of Him that was to come.” Now, we ask, was not the reign of death considered by the Apostle as a consequence of vital oneness with the first Adam? And if he was not a figure of Christ in relation to this oneness, why did Paul allude to that subject? In the figure, as a unit, we behold the substance of all the seed in Adam. But how came it there? Not by being born of the flesh; not by being quickened; but by the creative act of God. Gen. 1:26, “ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.” This vital relationship to the first Adam preceded, and is the foundation of every ordinary birth into this natural world. But how shall we apply this? Shall we say that all the seed of Christ are one with Him by virture of the creative act of God? Will not some one charge us with teaching that the blessed Redeemer is a “created being?” Paul said, Eph. 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” And, Eph. 1:4, “According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.” And now we are saved and called, “according to His own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” – 2 Tim. 1:9. And in view of our becoming partakers of flesh and blood, God, that cannot lie, promised us, in Christ, eternal life, before the world began. Titus 1:2. All of which leads us to the conclusion that it is our creation in Christ that gives us vital oneness with Him, as His seed, and hence we are born again, born from above, born of an incorruptible seed- born of God. But, in order that you may more fully understand us, we will premise that the nature in which the Church stands, and has stood from the foundation of the world related to Christ, is not His Godhead; but His manhood, in which, according to Proverb 8: 22,23, “The Lord possessed Me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.” He was constituted Mediatorial “Head over all things to the Church which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.” “Who is the image of the invisible God; the first-born of every creature: for by Him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions, or principalities or powers, all things were created by Him, and for Him, and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist; and He is the Head of the body, the Church, who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in all things He might have the pre-eminence. For it pleased the Father, that in Him should all fullness dwell.” That is, as we believe, in the Man Christ Jesus. As to His Godhead, He was never brought forth, never set up, never made Head over all things, - never was the first-born of every creature, but is uncreated, underived, unbegotten Deity. “For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and man; the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” –1 Tim. 2:5. Now a Mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one. Just as ancient then as is the date of Christ’s Mediatorial Headship, is His manhood. But you are not to suppose that what the Scriptures denominate The Man Christ Jesus, or He who is the Mediator between God and man, existed in flesh, blood and bones, before the world began, (as has been charged against us.) Nor yet that His incarnation constituted Him the Mediator. “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 natural, afterwards that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven.” –1 Cor. 15:45-47. The first man Adam was first only in development. And no man has ascended up to heaven but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. – John 3:13. God dwells in this Man, and He is God. John 14:10,11- “Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak unto you, I speak not of Myself, but the Father that dwelleth in Me He doeth the works. Believe Me, that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the very work’s sake.” In view of the foregoing are we not justified in believing that the oneness of the first Adam with his seed was figurative of Christ and all His spiritual seed? But again, Adam is not only a figure as a unit, but after the development of His Bride, He recognizes her union with Him. Genesis 2:23,24 – “And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh.” Compare this with Ephesians 5:23-32. “For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is Head of the Church, and He is the Savior of the body – 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 to his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and the Church.” Here is an indissoluble bond, a vital relationship which is as old as the constitution of man. We regard our mother Eve as representing figuratively the same that the Apostle represents Sarah, the wife of Abraham, viz.: Jerusalem which is above and is free, which is the mother of us all.” Thus God is, through Christ the Everlasting Father of His people, while Jerusalem, which is above, and is free, is their mother. But, according to the decree of predestination, these children were regarded as partaking of flesh and blood. Hence the two-fold character of the Church. The one earthly, the other heavenly; in her earthy relation she was liable to, and did become corrupt, but she did not thereby sever the bond which united her to Christ. “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same.” – Hebrews 2:14. Here we are taught that the flesh and blood relation that the Savior assumed in His incarnation was not to make them children, but because they were children. If what we have said in reference to the spiritual vital nature of the oneness, be true, it follows of course, that it is eternal. We see already that it has led to the incarnation of the Son of God. He is now, in all things made like unto His brethren, and in an attitude to meet the claims of the law and justice. The Father looks justly to Him as the Head, Husband, Shepherd and Surety. The iniquities of them all are laid on Him, and heaven’s own voice sounds the battle-cry, “Awake, O Sword, against My Shepherd, against Man that is My fellow, saith the Lord of Hosts. Smite the Shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered, and I will turn My hand upon the little ones.” He cries, “It is finished!” and gave up the Ghost, Yes,

“He paid whate’er His people owed,
And canceled all their debt.”

He finished transgression, made an end of sin, and brought in everlasting righteousness. Much more might be said upon this subject, dear brethren, but lest we weary you, we will close for the present, in the beautiful language of Psalm 40:5-8, “Many, O Lord My God, are Thy wonderful works which Thou hast done, and Thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto Thee: if I would declare and speak them, they are more than can be numbered. Sacrifice and offering Thou didst not desire; Mine ears hast Thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast Thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of Me, I delight to do Thy will, O My God: yea, Thy law is within My heart.” “By the which will,” said Paul, “we are sanctified, through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all.”

May grace, mercy and peace, from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, be with you all, Amen.

Done by order of the association,

Thos. P Dudley, Moderator.
H. Rankings, Clerk.