Reply to Brother Cory
Brother Elijah Cory of Mooreland, Indiana, has requested our views of the following Scripture:
“For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” – Romans viii, 22, 23.
If our dear brother had diligently searched the Scriptures with that object in view, we question whether he could have found a testimony more fully revealing the entire economy of salvation, than the one which he has proposed for discussion.
“For we know that the whole creation.” We desire first to find the creation here alluded to, and will quote from the Scriptures. “These things saith the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God.” – Revelation iii, 14. “Who is the image of the invisible God, the First born of every creature.” – Colossians i. 15. But to elucidate more fully we quote John i. 1-4; “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.”
In the opening chapter of Genesis we have an account of the beginning of an earthly creation. The word Genesis means, The beginning; and can well be termed, as it is, “The Book of the Beginning of the creation of God.” This is however a natural creation; but the creation of which we wish to write is its counterpart, a spiritual creation.
As in Genesis, the first book of what is termed the Old Testament, we have an account of the natural creation; so too, in Matthew and John, the opening book or books of the New Testament, we have an account of the spiritual creation. “In the beginning,” says John “was the Word.” Assuredly this is not the beginning of anything that is earthly or natural. Says Jesus personified by Wisdom in Proverbs viii. 23: “I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.” Decidedly emphasizing that here is a beginning antedating all time. He continues; “While as yet He had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world.”
Here then is a church set up IN HIM as its Head; a family eternally chosen in a seed. Not in prospect; but in actual existence in a seed; as surely as the Son existed in the bosom of the everlasting Father. Jesus says: “When He prepared the heavens, I WAS THERE;” and as surely as the developing family of Adam were created in Adam’s creation, existing vitally in his loins before there were developed or born of him. Here then is the Word, and “the same was in the beginning with God;” “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.”
One definition of the word create is “to invent with a new form, office, or character.” We met last May at the constitution of a church near Gordon, Ohio. The members who entered into this constitution existed before they were thus set apart, created, or organized into such newness of travel. So the members of this heavenly creation existed before their actual development, “for as the days of a tree are the days of My people.” – Isaiah lxv, 22.
We might quote without limit the testimony bringing to view the origin, character, and actual development of this creation; as being of God, the Father; chosen in Him, set up in Him; existing eternally and personally in seed-substance in Him, as the development necessarily exists in the prior existing seed. And if in Him it must be like Him; spiritual as He is spiritual; eternal as He is eternal; one with Him, and in Him before all worlds were made; and indissoluble from Him in development, born of Him; “born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” – John i. 13; as the seed within itself produces like kind – Genesis 1: 22, 24, etc.
We trace the development back to the seed from whence it sprang. Its identity cannot be lost when “made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth;” (Psalm cxxxix, 15.) And thus the developing kingdom comes “first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear;” (Mark iv. 28,) all of which is in vital oneness with the seed that was dropped in the ground; assuming new forms and manifestations in its creative development.
We desire to emphasize the Truth presented in this testimony; tracing the new creation to a distinct Headship, which is Christ; and that the development does not alter its spiritual identity; but seals the earthly body as an heir of adoption, which we will hereafter notice: but we trace the new man after the spiritual, not after the natural.
Speaking of this glorious creation the Lord by the prophet says, “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” “But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.” – Isaiah Lxv, 17,18. Here is a glorious development of a prior existing life; and this life John says was in Christ, (John i:4;) and “the same was in the beginning with God.” It is that life – life eternal, that the believer is given in regenerating grace – the life of Christ.
This testimony traces the beginning of the Creation of which we are writing back to God as its fountain source; as the Rock from whence we are hewn, and the hole of the pit from whence we are digged. Isaiah Li. 1.
In the fierce controversies of former years our old brethren in the faith were charged with holding to a creation in Christ similar to a creation in Adam, applying the word creation in the same sense in both cases. But they distinctly disclaimed any such meaning. Referring to this false charge by John Clark, the late Elder Samuel Trott in his “Calm Reply” page 14, says:
“Will Elder Clark now see that my views of the person of Emmanuel is, that it is so compound that He could be a Son given, and a child born, and yet be the Mighty God; that He could be the Beginning of the creation of God, and yet the I AM that I AM, If so he will see that he has fallen as far short of giving my views of the person and character of Christ as the earth is below the heavens.”
“For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” Groaning and pain are associated with living, feeling, sensible beings. The apostle in the connection (verse 20) refers to the personal identity of the creature in this creation. He says, “For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope.” The creature here referred to is evidently the “new creature” brought to view in Galatians vi. 15; “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” Again, “Therefore if any man be IN Christ, he is a new creature.” – 2 Corinthians v. 17. “And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him.” – Colossians iii, 10. In the last quotation the apostle speaks of this new creature as the “new man;” and in Ephesians iv. 24, the same testimony is more clearly presented; “And that ye put on the new man, which after God (as if inherited from Him,) is created in righteousness and true holiness.” – Ephesians iv. 24.
Evidently the late Elder Thomas P. Dudley was not alarmed at the use of the words creature and creation in the sense in which we here use the terms: we quote from his admirable Circular on the Christian Warfare, the following:
“Is it not evident, then, that all “living souls” were created in and simultaneously with the “first man Adam,” that they all, being born of him, necessarily partake of his nature “and He called their name Adam?”
And that all “quickened spirits” were created in and simultaneously with the “last Adam” – that they all, being born of Him, “born of God,” as necessarily partake of His nature? That all living souls no more necessarily descend from the first Adam than all quickened spirits necessarily descend from the last Adam; that the seed of the “first man Adam” disclose his nature, and the seed of the “last Adam” make manifest His nature.
The children of the “first Adam” are born of flesh and are earthly in all their feelings and affections; the children of the “last Adam” are born of the Spirit and are necessarily heavenly or spiritual in their feelings and affections. The children of the first are born for earth; of the last Adam, are born for heaven. Those of the “first” are born of corruptible seed; those of the “last Adam” are born of incorruptible seed. The first necessarily partake of human; the last, of the divine nature. The antagonistic principles attached to the two men necessarily result in the Christian Warfare.”
The vanity to which this creature is subject is all that pertains to time and mortality; the burden of an earthly inheritance. It is so expressed in Ecclesiastes 1; “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanities of vanities; all is vanity.” “Behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.” The reader will notice that the creature is “not a willing subject” to this vanity, “but by reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope.” “For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.”
These children born of God were, are, and ever have been one WITH and in Him who is their eternal and living Head. These are they who “came down from God out of heaven” that John saw (Revelation xxi.2) taking up their abode in an earthly body; and these children partook of flesh and blood before Jesus did (Hebrews ii. 14;) partook of it as He did; that is they are not made out of flesh and blood, but simply take up their abode in regeneration in a body that is born of “corruptible seed,” albeit, they are born of “an incorruptible seed, the word of God that liveth and abideth forever.” The children themselves, as born of God in the new birth, are as pure and holy as their heavenly progenitor; and “whosoever is born of God cannot sin, because he (they) is born of God.” – 1 John iii.9.
They groaned, travailing in pain under the law until they were born from under that law in the birth of Jesus from under it; “who was made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law.” – Galatians iv. 4,6. “And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves.” The apostle wrote to those who had together with themselves been first delivered or made manifest under the new covenant: who had been brought from under the law in vital union with their living Head; and yet who, like those who had been made manifest under that law, had groaned in the bondage of a body of sin and death; “even we ourselves groan within ourselves.”
What a striking testimony, and how expressive of the two-fold relation of these Children of the Regeneration; ourselves, groaning within ourselves; the new man, groaning within the old man; the new creature IN Christ Jesus, groaning to be delivered from the bondage of this fleshly body of sin and death.
The child of God (spirit, born of the Spirit, “of like kind”,) is one thing; and the body which he bears (flesh, born of flesh,) is another. And yet so intimate and vital is the relationship between the child and the body which he bears; that it can well be termed his body, I in the flesh, as Paul traces it in Romans Chapter vii, or I in the Spirit. “That which I do, I allow not.” Or as expressed in our text: “we ourselves groan within ourselves” – the child, born of God, groaning within the child born of the flesh – the new man’s grief within the bondage of the old man’s flesh. Paul says: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth IN me.” Does he not here most wonderfully and accurately trace who the new creature, or new man is: “Christ in you the hope of glory.” Again, “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.” – 1 Corinthians xii, 12. Here is assuredly all needed testimony to show the eternal substance (Christ,) and the development of each personal child from that seed-substance.
And the duel relationship is expressed in 2 Corinthians iv, 10. “The life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.” What he means by the body the apostle explains in the next verse; “that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.”
The apostle tells us in 2 Corinthians v, 4. “For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened.” It is not difficult to trace this testimony in the living experience of the child of grace, who groans beneath the weight of sin and death; “earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our (his) house which is from heaven.” “Waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.”
In the contest of 1886-1889, Silas H. Durand, and men of his ilk claimed that Adoption was a legal term. The late Joseph Broders of Alexandria who was one of the self-appointed leaders in the Contest, held that Adoption was an already accomplished fact. “Go ask Paul,” wrote Broders, “if this is not so.” And to indicate the ignorance of Scripture testimony on the part of the Baptists who followed the leadership of such men, we have but to notice that such loose and glaring falsehoods, and many more of the same character, were readily swallowed as truth by the blind of that party.
So far as Adoption being a legal term, it is not mentioned at all under the law; but stands in the forefront of the very brightest Gospel terms. Durand’s idea on this is akin to his notion that to be born of God was one thing; to be born of the flesh another; and to be born from above still another!
Broder’s request to ask Paul whether or not we are already adopted, is readily answered by that apostle in our text, when he tells us that “we are waiting for it.” It would indeed seem that there should be no question in regard to what Adoption is when the apostle so plainly tells us that it is “the redemption of our body.” In Adoption the natural man is truly born again, as “born from the dead in the resurrection, and thus adopted into the heavenly family, upon the true principle of adoption, which is bringing (adopting) the child of one family (Adam), into that of another (Christ’s.) While in our mortal state we “receive the Spirit of adoption – not the adoption itself – (Romans viii, 15;) and by this spirit are sealed unto the day of redemption. – Ephesians i, 13, iv. 30.
P. G. Lester once remarked, that we (as natural men and women,) by the Spirit cry, Abba Father. But the apostle tells us the “Spirit itself cries, Abba, Father.”- Galatians iv, 6. Romans viii, 15. Here is surely a marked distinction.
The apostle says; “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” “And if Christ be in you, the body is dead (not quickened) because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”
The reader will see from such Scripture testimony that Adoption is the culmination of the glorious work of salvation. It seals the chosen vessel of mercy which holds the heavenly treasure, unto a bright and grand consummation; for “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.” Here is the “manifestation of the sons of God,” when this corruptible puts on incorruption, and this mortal puts on immortality, and “Death is swallowed up in victory;” and the church shines forth in a blaze of light, in the fadeless and crowning glory of a world without end.
Precious indeed beyond all comparison such a hope as this to one like our dear brother Cory, who has seen the fading nature, the vain character of all beneath these mortal skies; and whose faith grasps the enduring things of eternity. For “if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” “For I reckon that the suffering of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” “Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”
Elder William M. Smoot