AFFLICTIONS OF CHRIST FOR CHURCH AND WORLD
ST. PAUL writes, "I fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh, for his Body's sake, which is the Church." (Col. 1:24.) How should this text be understood in harmony with the thought that the Church is represented in the sacrifice of the Lord's goat, whose blood was sprinkled "for all the people"?
We are to "lay down our lives for the brethren" (I John 3:16) in serving them, but the merit of that sacrifice and its application at the end of this age, at the close of the antitypical Atonement Day, is a different matter. The merit of the sacrifice--Jesus' merit passed through his "Body"--when presented to Justice on the Mercy Seat by the High Priest is quite another matter from the spending of the strength. Who will claim that the Apostle in this text meant that he or we could do sacrifice for the Church's sin? Our Lord will properly apply the merit as his own "for the sins of all the people."
The same principle holds true in respect to our Lord's sacrifice. He did not lay down his life day by day in the service of the world, but in the service of God's peculiar people Israel, and especially in the service of such of those as evidenced that they were "Israelites indeed, in whom was no guile."
Although the merit of Christ's sacrifice (after being passed through the Church selected from Jews and Gentiles) is ultimately to be applied for the cancellation of "the sins of the whole world," he did not in any sense or degree lay down his life in serving the world. He said to his disciples, "Ye are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." (John 17:16.) And in sending them forth to preach the Gospel he charged them not to go to the world, saying, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not; for I am not sent save to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." In a word, then, it matters not to Justice how our Lord's life was consumed or laid down--instantly, or during three and one-half years--it was a sacrifice or giving up of certain earthly rights belonging to him--an asset, a virtue, a price which he, as a New Creature, was privileged to dispense and did give to us, the "household of faith." Likewise the "household of faith," being justified through the merit of Jesus' sacrifice presented to Justice, was invited to become dead to earthly rights with him--to sacrifice restitution rights and privileges. It matters not how, in God's providence, our lives may be spent or in what kind of service they are consumed --at the wash-tub, in the store, in the pulpit, or otherwise; the restitution rights are sacrificed and those rights in the end will be made available to natural Israel and to the world under the New Covenant arrangement. "They shall obtain mercy through your mercy." (Rom. 11:31.) We are to have no preference as to how our sacrifice will be accepted of the Lord; but, if different doors are opened to us, we should follow the Apostle's exhortation and, as far as possible, "do good unto all men, especially unto the household of faith," "laying down our lives for (in the service of) the brethren." We have nothing to do, as sacrificers, with how our Lord, the great High Priest, will ultimately apply those restitution privileges which we sacrifice in the sealing of the New Covenant.
THE PASSOVER AND THE ATONEMENT SACRIFICES
What is the relationship between the sacrificed Passover lamb and the Atonement Day sin-offering?
These types view sin-atonement from two different standpoints. As we have frequently heretofore shown, Jesus the Lamb of God was the antitype of the Passover lamb. The Passover, observed by the Jews yearly in the spring, memorialized the passing over or saving of the firstborns of Israel at the time when all the other firstborns of Egypt were slain by Divine decree. The death of that lamb, which typified the death of Jesus, was therefore not for all the people, but merely for the firstborns who were passed over "in that night." The "household of faith" are Scripturally represented as "the Church of the firstborns" and that night typified this Gospel Age, when gross darkness covers the earth and will continue to cover it until the Sun of Righteousness with healing in his beams will arise, ushering in the Millennial Day. Then there will be a general deliverance of all Israelites from bondage to Egypt, the world. In other words, when the Millennial morning shall be ushered in, the passed-over Church will alone have been spared or passed over or been delivered from death by the efficacy of the blood of the Lamb. However, the general deliverance of the people resulted, and so deliverance will come to all who will accept it during the Millennium. Only the Church are being passed over now. The general deliverance of the world will be in order soon. That deliverance could not in God's order take place without first the passing over of the firstborn. Thus we see that the typical Passover Lamb is our Lord Jesus alone and that we, his Church, his members, are not at all represented in that [R4493 : page 308] lamb and its death. Thus the Apostle says, speaking of that Lamb, our Lord Jesus, "Christ our sacrifice is slain; therefore let us keep the feast."
The Day of Atonement sacrifices were Divinely placed exactly at the opposite end of the year, apparently to disassociate the two types. They give a detailed illustration of the work of atonement, so far as God is concerned. As shown in TABERNACLE SHADOWS the Day of Atonement as a whole represented the entire Gospel Age--"the acceptable day" of sacrifice. The bullock, which represented the priest, was the type of our Lord Jesus in the flesh. Its sacrifice typified his death, "the Just for the unjust." The application of its blood was efficacious for the members of the High Priest's family--the under-priests, "himself," his Body, and for his entire "house," the house of the [R4493 : page 309] tribe of Levi. It applied to none other. Then came the second sacrifice of the Atonement Day--"the Lord's goat." It was not sacrificed for the priest nor for his house, but for "all the people." It represented Christ's Bride, the Church. It and "the scape-goat" were supplied by the people and therefore represented mankind in a general way, while the bullock was furnished by the priest and represented Jesus' flesh--"a body hast thou prepared me" "for the suffering of death." The Lord's goat was treated just as the bullock was treated--just as we are assured that the Bride class must suffer with Christ and have similar experiences to his. At the close of the Atonement day of sacrifice, otherwise called "the acceptable year of the Lord," and, again, "Now is the acceptable time," the time in which God will accept us as sacrifices--the blood of "the Lord's goat" was sprinkled in the Most Holy as was the blood of the bullock. The antitype of this will be at the close of this age, when the merit (blood) of Christ, passed through the Church, will be applied on the Mercy Seat "for the people"--atoning for their sins and sealing the New (Law) Covenant and its Mediatorial Kingdom.
Both of these animals represented the High Priest: the bullock, our Lord and Head, and the goat, his Body, the Church. When the high priest sprinkled the blood of the bullock, it represented "his own blood," the merit of his own sacrifice. He applied it for us, not for the world; hence only believers and not the world in general have had the blessing secured by our Lord's sacrifice, thus far. Meantime, according to Divine intention, the Church has been gradually in process of selection--according to willingness in sacrificing earthly interests--walking in the footsteps of our Lord; filling up the sufferings of Christ; laying down their lives for the brethren. Our presentation of ourselves to the Lord was at the door of the tabernacle, as represented by the tethering of the goat there. Thus we offered ourselves and, when we were accepted, our sacrifice as the Lord's goat class began. This acceptance was indicated by the killing processes. Henceforth we ceased to be men and were recognized on a new plane as "members of the Body of Christ," without any headship of our own. Consequently, when at the end of the Day of Atonement sacrificing the antitypical High Priest shall make a further presentation of the blood of the goat upon the mercy-seat, it will be "his own blood" in two senses of the word:
(1) It will be his own in the sense that all the merit was originally his and appropriated to us in order that we might have the opportunity to share with him in sacrifice. The sacrificial merit merely passed through us, "the Lord's goat" class. We were favored by the privilege accorded of "suffering with him that [in due time] we might be also glorified together with him." It is not necessary to question whether our sacrifice could add anything to the merit of the transaction, because no more merit was necessary than that which our Lord had and which he applied on our behalf.
Undoubtedly there is a merit in the Church's work, else the Scriptures would not so indicate. But if we were actually perfect instead of reckonedly perfect, it would still be true that only one man was directly condemned by Justice and hence the death of only one man was needed to constitute the ransom-price of the whole world. Justice does not object to the extra sacrifice, however. Yea, Justice has promised a great reward to the 144,000 joint-sacrificers --that they may become joint-heirs with Christ Jesus, their Lord and Head. Justification is a free gift from God through Jesus our Lord; but "the high calling" is everywhere classed as a reward of merit intended only for "him that overcometh"; "They shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy," although when drawn by the Father to the Son we were "sinners," "defiled," "children of wrath"; but ye are washed, ye are sanctified--but ye are justified in the name of our Lord Jesus and by the spirit of our God."--I. Cor. 6:11.
"That which God has cleansed call not thou unclean." While God called "the mean things," he does not leave them thus, but justifies by faith in Christ, and sanctifies by the Truth, by giving them opportunity to share in Christ's sacrifice; to share in Christ's "cup" of the blood of the New Covenant shed for them and for many; to share Christ's baptism into death; thus to learn obedience even unto death in the school of Christ; and finally to share in his glory, honor and immortality--the divine nature.
The cleansing of justification by faith is for the very purpose of cleansing us that we might be acceptable sacrifices on his altar. See Malachi 3:3; Rom. 12:1.
(2) The blood (merit) which our Lord will apply as soon as the Church shall have finished her share in his sacrifice will be "his own blood," in the sense that he accepted or adopted us as his members, we losing our personality in the transaction in the same manner that a bride loses her name and her individuality at marriage. All that we have and are belong to the great Bridegroom, and we are delighted that he is pleased to count us in with himself in any sense of the word in connection with his sufferings of this present time, and the glories which will follow.
"THE SIN OF THE WORLD"
John the Baptist declared of Jesus, "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world!" The type of the Passover shows the death of the lamb only in connection with the firstborn of Israel. Its blood on the doorposts was for the protection of the firstborn, and not for the remainder of Israel. Since the firstborn represented "the Church of the firstborn" now in process of selection, and since the others of Israel represent those of the world who will ultimately be saved from the bondage of Pharaoh and Egypt (typifying Satan, sin and present worldly conditions), how can we apply John's words, namely, "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world?"
If there were no other Scriptures on the subject, we would be at a loss to know how to understand the discrepancy. However, other Scriptures show us that the Church of the Firstborn, passed over in this night of this Gospel Age, will be the Church of Glory soon. Then, under the headship of Christ, it will constitute a Royal Priesthood, which, during the Millennial Age, will bless mankind with assistance, instruction and uplifting influences of every kind. The Lamb of God has not yet taken away the sin of the world. He began to lay down the ransom-price at his baptism at Jordan. He finished this at Calvary. He ascended up on high with that price in his hand, so to speak, and presented it not for the world but for the Church. As the Apostle declares, "He ascended up on high there to appear in the presence of God for us"--for the household of faith--for the antitypical priests and Levites. Other Scriptures show us that the merit of Christ when passed through the Church will be made available in the end of this age for the sin of the world. Thus and then the Lamb of God will take away the sin of the world--in God's due time and order.
The separateness of the types is here again duly noted: Moses was not one of the firstborns, but Aaron, his brother, was. In this type, therefore, Moses does not appear. Subsequently while all the passed-over ones were, by Divine direction, exchanged for the tribe of Levi, the priestly tribe represented those firstborns, and Aaron, the high priest, became the representative of our Lord, the High Priest of our profession or order.
THE RANSOM-PRICE AND THE SIN-OFFERING
How should we distinguish between the ransom-price and the sin-offering?
The ransom price relates to the valuable thing itself, namely, the blood or death of Christ--a ransom price sufficient for the payment of the penalty of one member of the human family or of all, as it may be applied. The sin-offering shows the manner in which the ransom-price is applicable or effective to the cancellation of the sins of the whole world. As already shown, under Divine arrangement, [R4493 : page 310] the ransom-price was first made effective toward the Church and justified freely every believer in an acceptable attitude of mind--an attitude of consecration to be a loyal follower of the Lord Jesus. Secondly, at the end of this age, the ransom-price having been applied to the Church and used by her and laid down in death again, will be available in the hands of the great High Priest as the sin-offering, the Atonement price for the sins of the whole world--aside from the household of faith already justified through its merit.
Let us give an illustration: Suppose a man possessing property valued at $10,000. Suppose a number of friends of his had been kidnapped and were held as hostages by bandits, a ransom-price of $10,000 being demanded for their release. Suppose that our friend sold his $10,000 property and got the cash with a view to paying their ransom-price. That cash would be the ransom-price for the liberation of his imprisoned friends. No less sum would do. No greater sum was necessary, for one or for all. The [R4494 : page 310] selling of the property and the getting of the ransom-money into his possession would not constitute a satisfaction for his friends. That must come later. At his convenience he could take this ransom-price and apply it for one of the captives or two or more, or even for all. The application of the money, whether in one portion or in different portions at different times, corresponds to the presentation of the sin-offering on behalf of sinners.
When the property was sold its money value was the ransom-price of those sinners, even though not applied. So Jesus gave himself, surrendered his life as a ransom-price sufficient for the sins of the whole world, and in the interest of the world of mankind. This work he began at Jordan and finished three and a half years later at Calvary. The moment he died the ransom-price was complete, was laid down. But this value was not turned over to Justice and made applicable to mankind when Jesus died, nor three days later when he arose from the dead, nor forty days later when he ascended up on high. A little later, after he had ascended on high, he appeared in the presence of God for us (for the household of faith) as our Redeemer, our Advocate, our great High Priest. He had in his possession the merit of his own sacrifice, the ransom-price, and there and then he offered it on our behalf. This is shown in the type by the High Priest taking into the Most Holy the blood of the bullock, which represented his human sacrifice, the ransom-price which he possessed. He took that blood or ransom-price into the "most holy" and there sprinkled it upon the Mercy Seat and before the Mercy Seat, thus applying it for us (for his Body, the "little flock") and for his house--the household of faith.
As we have heretofore shown, this value or ransom-price is freely applicable to every conservative believer giving reckonedly earthly rights, perfection and privileges. But these are given to us conditionally, upon our covenant to sacrifice them, after the example of our Redeemer, our Lord. When we agreed to thus sacrifice we were accepted as members of his "Body." We there lost our identity with humanity and were begotten of the holy Spirit, and were thenceforth recognized as New Creatures in Christ Jesus--"members in particular of the Body of Christ," sharing with him now the privileges of the Holy (the light of the candlestick, the shew bread, and the privileges of the golden altar) with the agreement that in due time, as "his members," we shall pass beyond the veil into the Most Holy, to be thereafter with the Lord. That time will mark the completion of "his resurrection"-- the First Resurrection. Thereafter the great High Priest, Head and Members, in glory, in the Most Holy, will offer his second sacrifice, namely, his ransom-price sacrificially passed through his Church, his Body. The merit of the Head having thus passed through the members of the Body is virtually the same sacrifice as the first one, but now is ready to be applied afresh. The type (Lev. 16) shows this application as "the blood of the Lord's goat," and that it was applied on behalf of "all the people."
Thus with the end of this age Christ will offer to Justice (represented in the Mercy Seat) full satisfaction for the sin of the world--the Adamic sin. This will be acceptable to the Father and forthwith the entire world will be turned over to the great Messiah, Prophet, Priest, King, Judge, Mediator between God and mankind--that he may do with them as he wills. In harmony with the Father's arrangement, our Lord will at once begin to exercise the functions of his offices, including those of Mediator of the New Covenant. Israel, cast off, will be reclaimed. "The law shall go forth from Mt. Zion (spiritual Israel) and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem (the Kingdom on the earthly plane). The blessing of the Lord will eventually reach all the families of the earth through Israel. "The knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth." The blessings of restitution, identified with the new Mediatorial Kingdom, may be attained by all mankind by their acceptance of the New Covenant conditions-- by their becoming Israelites indeed.
IS THERE MERIT IN OUR SACRIFICES?
Is there or is there not a value and merit in the sacrifice which the Church is invited to participate in, in harmony with the Apostle's words, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service?"--Rom. 12:1.
We are accustomed to say that we are saved from wrath and made the children of God, not for any work or merit or righteousness on our part, but purely, solely, by the grace, the favor, of God; and that any attempt on our part to proffer to the Lord good works, would be rejected by him, because as "children of wrath" we can do no work that God could accept, being sinners and under just condemnation. Hence the forgiveness of our sins, our reconciliation to the Father, must be purely and solely upon the grounds of Jesus' merit and sacrifice--his ransom sacrifice.
This is all exactly true and just as we have presented it for years, and as we still hold and present it. This grace, this forgiveness, this reconciliation, is what we Scripturally term "justification by faith"--not by works! However, after being justified by faith, after being reckoned of God as freed from Adamic imperfection, through the applied merit of our Redeemer, we are on a new footing entirely, where we may do works acceptable to God, and, more than this, where we are required to do those works. Cancellation of sin, the legal covering of our blemishes, is made operative to us only when (acting upon our faith justification) we become followers of our Redeemer and covenant to walk in his steps. Then we received the begetting of the holy Spirit and started as embryo New Creatures, as prospective members of the Body of Christ, the Royal Priesthood. "No man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron." (Heb. 5:4.) But when we responded to the Divine "call" and entered into a covenant of sacrifice with Christ (Psalm 50:5) to be dead with him, to suffer with him, and when the holy Spirit was received as God's acceptance of this contract, thenceforth works, self-denials, sufferings, faithful endurance, were expected, yea, were required.
Everyone who thus becomes a branch in the True Vine obtains a possession without works, without merit of his own; but, having become a branch, it is required of him that he should bring forth fruit. Did not our Lord explain this matter, saying, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away (cuts it off from fellowship in the Vine); and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit." (John 15:1,2.) So our justification was through faith a free gift from God through Christ Jesus our Lord; but from the moment of our sanctification it has been our privilege to bring forth fruit and to labor while it is called today and to be servants and ambassadors of God. We are God's servants doing a preparatory work in the interest of the New Covenant which God hath promised from long ago, and of which our Lord Jesus, at his death, became a surety or guarantor (Heb. 7:22), and which is soon to be sealed with the merit [R4494 : page 311] of his sacrifice, "his blood," after it shall have served its present purposes of justifying the household of faith and thus giving them the opportunity of suffering with Christ and of entering into his glory. In a word, those justified by faith and sanctified in Christ Jesus are required to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, while God works in them by his holy Spirit, the promises of his Word and his providences.
There is, therefore, according to the Scriptures, in God's sight a labor, a work, a sacrifice, possible for the Church and a merit in the faithful performance thereof. Of our Lord Jesus it is written, "A body hast thou prepared me" "for the suffering of death." (Heb. 10:5.) The bodies of believers born in imperfection, by reason of the fall, are not fit for sacrifice. With our minds we desire to do the will of God, but our bodies are imperfect. Instead of preparing for us special bodies for sacrifice the Lord provides through Jesus' sacrifice a justifying merit which covers, in his sight, all the blemishes and imperfections of those who have the spirit of loyalty and obedience and who undertake the consecration vow as members of the Body of Christ. The Body of Jesus, specially prepared for the sacrifice, was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners. Our bodies are made holy and acceptable to God, not actually, nor by a covenant, nor by a mediator, but by a Redeemer, "through faith in his blood."
The merit in our Lord was that of the willing mind, the obedient heart which delighted to do the Father's will, in the perfect body in which it was tested to "obedience even unto death, even to the death of the cross." With us also, the thing that is meritorious in the sight of the Father is the willing mind, the obedient heart, though in an imperfect body, reckoned perfect through faith in the precious blood. We are assured that our trial, our testing, will not be according to our flesh, but according to our renewed wills, minds, hearts. The various members of the Body of Christ vary greatly as respects physical conditions, blemishes, heredity, environment, etc. In every case the Divine tests are not to prove our flesh, which is conceded to be actually imperfect and unworthy, but which is ignored in this testing and counted dead. It is thus as New Creatures that God is testing, and to us he says, "Ye are [reckonedly] not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you." (Rom. 8:9.) And again, "Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh." (2 Cor. 5:16.) God knows us according to the spirit, the will, the heart, the intent. [R4495 : page 311]
It is the New Creature which does acceptable works which will be rewarded in the Kingdom. And the rewards will vary as shown by our Lord's parables of the Pounds and the Talents; and as shown in the Apostle's words, "As star differeth from star in glory, so also will be The Resurrection, the Church Resurrection. In conclusion then--as men we cannot commend ourselves to God by any works possible to us, because we are all imperfect and our works would be imperfect. But as new creatures our willing services and sacrifices are "holy and acceptable to God" and our reasonable service.
OUR MERIT NOT DEMANDED BY JUSTICE
If, then, it be true that the Church has a merit as a New Creation; that her sacrifice is holy and acceptable in the sight of God, why should we declare that all the merit of the redemptive plan is the merit of Jesus, and that no portion of that merit which secures the cancellation of the world's sin is from the Church?
It is not because the sacrifice of the Church has no merit, but because that merit is not needed, and therefore not called for, in Divine arrangement, that it is not thus acceptable. Our Lord's sacrifice was a sufficient price for the sins of the whole world; and it pleased the Father to allow that one sacrifice to be efficacious for the sins of the whole world, instead of allowing merit of ours to commingle with it. The commingling of the merit of the Church with the merit of the Lord might be misunderstood by angels or men to signify that the merit of Jesus was insufficient and needed to be supplemented with the merit of the sacrifice of the Church. It was because not needed, because, in the Divine arrangement, only the one man, Adam, was on trial--only he was directly sentenced to death. None of his race was so sentenced. We all merely share in the effects of his death sentence.
When in due time God sent forth his Son with a specially prepared body to be Adam's Redeemer, the merit of his sacrifice was sufficient as an offset for Adam's sin, and hence sufficient to cover all the effects of that sin in Adam's race. There was, therefore, in our Lord's sacrifice a sufficiency of merit for the sins of the whole world. Before using it for the world, before applying it for the sealing of the New Covenant, with Israel and all nations through Israel, our Lord Jesus, in harmony with the Divine program from before the foundation of the world, used this merit upon the household of faith, "Even as many as the Lord your God shall call." (Acts 2:39.) After giving us the benefit of it and requiring it of us again he (and we associated with him) will apply his merit on behalf of "all the people." We with him, and under him as our Head, will be the great Mediator between God and men--the world--the Mediator of the New Covenant of which we are now, with him, ministers and servants engaged in the preparatory operations. It pleased the Father, and therefore pleases all who are in harmony with him, that in our Lord Jesus all fulness should dwell--that the full credit of the redemptive work should thus be in him, and that the merit of our sacrificing should not be counted in, as it is not necessary. As all things are of the Father, so, according to his purpose, all things shall be of the Son, and we by him, and the world by him.
"JESUS' BLOOD" AND "THE BLOOD OF THE NEW
The Scriptures repeatedly mention the fact that we are justified by faith in his blood--in the blood of Jesus. They also speak of the blood of the Covenant wherewith we were sanctified." (Heb. 10:29.) And again in Hebrews 13:20,21 we read, "Through the blood of the everlasting Covenant make you perfect." How shall we understand this? Do these Scriptures all three refer to the same thing?
No, these Scriptures do not refer to the same thing. The first one relates to us as natural men, sinners, before we made our consecration to the Lord and became New Creatures. We, as members of the fallen race, were first justified by faith through the merit of Christ's blood. This justification lifted us from the plane of sin and death condemnation, to a standing with God of life and harmony. From this standpoint we were invited to become joint-sacrificers with Jesus Christ our Lord--sharers with him in his great work for mankind, namely, the sealing of the New Covenant with his blood, and ultimately the blessing of the world during the Millennium under the conditions of that New Covenant. So, then, it was after we had been justified by faith in the blood of Jesus that we were sanctified, set apart, consecrated through or in connection with "the blood of the New Covenant"--by our consecration to be dead with Christ, to be buried with him by baptism into his sacrificial death--to drink of his cup of suffering, ignominy, shame, death--to partake of or share his blood--set apart or devoted to the serving of the New Covenant for Israel and the world. It was on account of our entering into this great engagement that the Heavenly Father sanctified us or set us apart, separated us from the world by begetting us to a new nature through his holy Spirit. "Ye are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."--John 17:16.
The text cited in the last question, "The blood of the everlasting Covenant make you perfect," refers not to a perfecting of the flesh--not to anything which refers to us as natural men. It refers to us as New Creatures who have been begotten of the holy Spirit because, after we were justified through faith in the blood of Jesus, we presented our bodies living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God as part and parcel of our Lord Jesus' sacrifice and, [R4495 : page 312] under his Headship, to be associated with him in his sacrifice for the sealing of the New Covenant; and by and by to be associated with him in the glorious work of establishing that New Covenant, after it shall have been sealed for the blessing of Israel and the world. It is through our obedience to our Sacrificial Vow to "be dead with Christ" as joint-sacrificers in connection with the sealing of the New Covenant that we may become members of his Body, the Vine. It is this sacrificing with him which will make us perfect as New Creatures and give us a share with our Lord in his glory, honor and immortality. Thus we see that justification by faith in the blood of Jesus is the first step, by which believers separate themselves from the world according to the will of God; and that participation with our Lord in his sacrifice is the second step of sanctification. There could be no such step of sanctification, no perfecting as new creatures of the "divine nature" had it not been that God granted us the privilege of sharing with our Lord in his sacrificial death, in his work of sealing the New Covenant with his blood.
The majority of Christians, of course, have gone no further than the first step of justification through faith in the blood of Jesus. Failing to go on, to "present their bodies living sacrifices" and to thus share with Christ in his sacrificial death, they are not privileged to understand "the mystery of God" (Rev. 10:7), which is "Christ in you the hope of Glory" (Col. 1:27)--your membership in the Body of Christ, your share with him in present sufferings and future glory.
When the disciples James and John said to the Master, "Lord, grant that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy Kingdom," they were already consecrated, in the sense of agreeing to take up the cross to follow after Jesus in the narrow way. But the Father had not yet accepted their consecration, and set them apart, and did not do so until Pentecost. Our Lord Jesus, therefore, addressed them not as New Creatures, but as justified men, when he answered their request, saying, "Ye know not what ye ask! Can ye drink of the cup that I drink of and be baptized with the baptism (into sacrificial death) that I am baptized with?"-- Mark 10:37,38.
Here we see that drinking of the cup--drinking and partaking of the blood of the New Covenant shed for us and for all for the remission of sins and being baptized with Christ's baptism into a sacrificial death--was a wholly different matter from justification by faith. They were already justified by faith, but could not sit on the throne unless they would be sanctified by participation in Christ's death.
ONE MEDIATOR, JESUS
St. Paul declares that there is "one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all." (I. Tim. 2:5,6.) Should we understand this one Mediator, the man Christ Jesus, to refer to the complete Christ, Head and Body, as when the Apostle declares that the Church shall ultimately "come unto the full stature of a man in Christ?" (Eph. 4:13.) And again he declares that God is selecting some from amongst the Jews and some from amongst the Gentiles, "that of the twain he might make one new man."--Eph. 2:15.
We admit that such an interpretation as the question suggests has considerable force, and that much could be said in its favor, inasmuch as the Apostle tells us that God, who foreknew our Lord Jesus, foreknew us also, and hence foreknew the share he had provided for the Church in the "filling up of that which is behind of the afflictions of The Christ."
However, this is not the interpretation of this text which appeals to the Editor as being probably the Apostle's thought. While the matter is concededly an open question, we prefer the thought that the Apostle by the words, "The man Christ Jesus, who gave himself," refers to our Lord Jesus personally and not at all to the Church, his Body. We hope to give in our next issue a thorough examination of this text.
ABLE MINISTERS OF THE NEW COVENANT
In what sense was our Lord Jesus "the Messenger of the Covenant" and in what sense are we the "able ministers (or messengers) of the New Covenant"?--Mal. 3:1; 2 Cor. 3:8.
Our Lord was the Messenger of the New Covenant by a divine promise. Israel was aware that their Law Covenant under its Mediator Moses had not brought to [R4496 : page 312] them the long-expected blessings implied in the Abrahamic Covenant. God had promised that at a future time he would make a New Covenant with them (Jer. 31:31), thus implying that they were right in not expecting much from the Law Covenant. Of course, a New Covenant would imply a new mediator for that Covenant. This Moses himself had foretold, saying, "A prophet (teacher, mediator) shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren like unto me" (but greater). (Acts 3:23.) They understood that this great Prophet or Mediator would be Messiah, and they consequently longed for and delighted in the prospect of his coming.
This is the thought behind Malachi's prophecy, "He shall come, even the Messenger of the Covenant, whom ye delight in." Of course at that time our Lord had not yet become the messenger or servant of the Covenant, hence this was merely a prophecy respecting his future work. He became the Messenger or Servant of the New Covenant at Jordan, when he consecrated his all unto death as the ransom-price for the world (its application in due season). He there began to serve the New Covenant by providing the price, the blood, which should ultimately seal the New Covenant or make it effective. The laying down of his life was not the sealing of the Covenant, however, but merely a preparatory work. He there became the "surety" or guarantor that in due time the New Covenant would be sealed and made effective. In his sacrifice of himself our Lord was serving a Covenant not yet sealed, but merely promised or guaranteed.
Similarly the Lord is now gathering his Church, a "little flock," to be members of the antitypical Prophet, Priest, King, Judge, Mediator between God and the world of mankind during the Millennium. These called, chosen, spirit-begotten, are "able ministers of the New Covenant," after the same manner as their Lord--walking in his steps. They minister or serve the New Covenant as an attorney serves in drawing up an agreement or Covenant. It will not be a Covenant until sealed, but, while it is in process of preparation it is spoken of as a Covenant and, in writing the agreement, the attorney is serving that agreement by putting it into shape, arranging for its sealing, etc. So Christ and his members are able or qualified ministers or servants of the New Covenant which God has promised and in which the hope of Israel and the world is centered.
In what way do Christ and the Church now minister for or serve that New Covenant? In various ways:
(1) In gathering the members of the Body of the great Mediator.
(2) In learning and teaching to others the lessons necessary to qualify for the position.
(3) In preparing the blood with which it is to be sealed--"his blood," "Jesus' blood," appropriated first to the Church and ultimately, after having served its purpose in the justification of the Church, to be passed on for the blessing of the world through the sealing of the New Covenant with Israel.
BROOKLYN BETHEL HYMNS FOR NOVEMBER
After the singing of the hymn the Bethel Family listens to the reading of "My Vow unto the Lord," then joins in prayer. At the breakfast table we consider the MANNA text:
(1) 332; (2) 293; (3) 60; (4) 66; (5) 313; (6) 146; (7) 52; (8) 4; (9) 5; (10) 162; (11) 79; (12) 222; (13) 291; (14) 209; (15) 130; (16) 279; (17) 93; (18) 325; (19) 144; (20) 113; (21) 210; (22) 229; (23) 12; (24) 95; (25) 62; (26) 105; (27) 273; (28) 246; (29) 153; (30) 24; (31) 315.