Life on the Highest Plane
Vol. 1: The Person and Work of Christ
God's Second Man The Last Adam
Three things are clear: man cannot save himself, God has undertaken to save him, Jesus Christ is the means. The question follows:
What method would God use in salvaging the wreckage wrought in humanity? Would He try to repair the ruin in the old creation or would He replace it by a totally new creation? Would He reestablish the old order of humanity or would He inaugurate a radically new order?
The race had been ruined through a man, therefore it must be redeemed through a man. The first man had failed to fulfil God's original intention in creation so a second Man must come forth who would succeed in fulfilling it. The old order of which the first Adam was the head had gone down in ruin so a new order of redeemed men under the headship of the last Adam must be started. The sentence of death had fallen upon all mankind through the first Adam's disobedience; it must be lifted through the obedience of another Adam, whose work would be so perfect that He could be rightly called "the last Adam" for none other would ever be needed. The redemption wrought through the last Adam is set in sharp contrast to the ruin accomplished through the first Adam in Romans 5:12-21.
THE FIRST MAN
THE FIRST ADAM
THE SECOND MAN
THE LAST ADAM
"BY ONE MAN"
THE NECESSITY OF A MEDIATOR
God, then, will redeem man through a Man. What then would be required in a Redeemer? Remember that sin has caused a terrible breach between God and man. God is morally unable to have fellowship with the sinner and the sinner is morally unable to have access to God. If any real reconciliation is to be effected between them there is need of a Mediator, one who would stand between God and man. Such a Mediator must needs be one accepted and trusted by both parties, one who partakes both of God's nature and of man's nature, one who in the work of reconciliation would represent both God and man equally, one who would satisfy every claim of God upon man and of man upon God. In other words a true Mediator must be a God-man. The Saviour of men must be a God-man. Christ Jesus, the Mediator, is the God-man. He is not the man-God. He is not a man who became God but God who became man. He is not a man who for a special purpose and at a special time was invested with Deity but He is God who for a special purpose and at a special time was invested with humanity. He always was God: He became man.
Hebrews 1:1-3, "God who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he 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, when he had himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high."
No words could teach more clearly that Christ Jesus, the Saviour, the God-appointed Mediator, is God. He is the eternal Son, the Heir, the Creator, the upholder of the universe and all therein. He is the Son who is the commencement, the continuance, and the consummation of all things. He is the Son, the effulgence of the Father's glory and the very essence of His Person. He is the eternal Son who said of Himself, "Before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:58); who declared "I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again I leave the world, and go to the Father" (John 16:28) and on the eve of returning to His Father, prayed, "And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was" (John 17:5).
Only God could represent God in this mediatorship. As in creation so in redemption the Father works in and through the Son. "God in Christ was reconciling the world unto himself." Christ Jesus, the Mediator between God and man is God, the eternal Son, "the Lord from heaven."
But where could God find one who would qualify as the God-man? Most surely not among the sons of men on earth, nor among the angelic hosts of Heaven for they are neither God nor man. One and only One even in Heaven itself could ever be thought of for such an exalted task the eternal Son of God.
But how could even He be a Mediator for man? It is easy to see how the Lord from Heaven could represent an holy God but could He be a just, righteous, impartial representative for sinful man? If such a reconciliation demanded a divine-human Mediator how could He qualify who had been throughout all the eternity of the past the holy Son of God?
Just here we come to the place where the human mind has to acknowledge its finiteness, where human reasoning is silenced, where human comprehension confesses defeat, for we are lifted above all that is human, earthly and natural, upupupinto the realm of that which is divine, heavenly and supernatural, to the wondrous grace of God. Nothing but the grace of God could have provided such a divine human Mediator, could have conceived the thought of a God-man.
Again we are driven back in thought to that which took place in the eternal councils of the Godhead as the Omniscient Father, Son and Holy Spirit looked out upon the universe they were to make, upon the man they were to create, and foresaw the tragedy in Eden with all its terrible consequences. Then and there the Triune God looked from eternity to eternity and compassed fully in thought and plan all that would take place between, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth " (Genesis 1:1) and "I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away" (Revelation 21:1). It was then and there determined that the eternal Son of God, the Alpha and the Omega, "the beginning and the end, the first and the last" (Revelation 22:13), should lay aside for a brief space of time His essential glory, and "be made in the likeness of men . . . [to become] obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:6-8) that He in returning to glory might bring "many sons unto glory " (Hebrews 2:10), to be forever with the Lord. There in the glory of eternity the grace of God fashioned the wondrous plan of redemption by which the eternal Son of God would become the incarnate Son of Man; the divine-human Mediator; the God-man whom both God and man would need when sin entered into the human race and separated man from God. Christ Jesus is the divinely provided Mediator.
1 Timothy 2:5, R.V., "For there is one God, one mediator also between God and men, himself man, Christ Jesus."
In no book of the Bible is the person of Christ Jesus, the God-man and His work as the divine-human Mediator more clearly set forth than in the Epistle to the Hebrews. In it we can trace back to glory the unfolding of truth regarding His glorious person and follow from Heaven to earth and from earth to Heaven again His gracious work as Redeemer.
We shall consider His work in the following chapters. May we concentrate our thought now upon His person. Who is He?
The divine-human Mediator the eternal Son of God "The Lord from heaven."
1 Corinthians 15:47, "The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven."
John 1:1-2, "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."
The divine-human Mediator the incarnate Son of Man "The Word made flesh."
John 1:1, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
John 1:14, R.V., "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth."
"The Word became flesh." "The statement is appalling, overwhelming. Out of the infinite distances into the finite nearness; from the unknowable, to the knowable; from the method of self-expression appreciable by Deity alone, to a method of self-expression understandable of the human" (G. Campbell Morgan, The Crises of the Christ, p. 73). Christ Jesus, the Mediator, is the God-man. The eternal Son of God became the incarnate Son of Man. Heaven came to earth.
In Hebrews, chapter 1, the Mediator is divine. He is called "Lord," "God," "the Son." In Hebrews, chapter 2, He is human. He is called "Jesus," "brother," "high priest." In chapter 1 He is as far above us as the heavens are above the earth; He is absolutely separate from us; He is in a class by Himself; He is the unapproachable; the incomprehensible; the incomparable One. In chapter 2 He is on the level of our humanity, He has stooped to come to our human plane of life.
Hebrews 2:9, "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man."
In chapter 2 He is one with us, He has entered into our humanity, He has actually become part of our flesh and blood.
Hebrews 2:11, "For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren."
Hebrews 2:14, "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself like we took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil."
In chapter 2 He is the tender, sympathetic, understanding Son of Man: the gracious, gentle One.
Hebrews 2:17-18, "Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted."
Only Man could represent man in this mediatorship. Christ Jesus, the Mediator between God and man is Man: the Incarnate Son: "the Word made flesh."
From the beginning to the end of Scripture this story is told: Christ Jesus, the Mediator between God and man is God; the Eternal Son; the Lord from Heaven; the Alpha and the Omega. Christ Jesus, the Mediator between man and God is Man; the Incarnate Son; the Man of Galilee; the Babe of Bethlehem.
HOW THE ETERNAL SON BECAME THE INCARNATE SON
That Christ Jesus was a divine-human Mediator is not only a fact of revelation but of history as well. Not only the words of Scripture but the A.D. on our desk calendar tells us that at some one point of time "The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us."
Luke 2:12, "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."
"Christ the Lord" "a babe"! "A Saviour" "wrapped in swaddling clothes"! The Creator of the universe "lying in a manger"! The Author and Sustainer of life "born"! The Father of eternity beginning to count His life by days and weeks and years! A God-man! It is a fact of revelation and of history staggering: stupendous: sublime. In this fact we are face to face with the miracle of miracles, the mystery of mysteries.
Many have asked the question, How can such a thing be? How did the Eternal Son of God become the Incarnate Son of Man? How was the uncreated Lord of glory born a babe in Bethlehem? The answer is plainly given in the annunciations of the angels to Joseph and to Mary.
Matthew 1:20, "But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost."
Luke 1:30-31, 34-35, "And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary; for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shell be born of thee shall be called the Son of God."
Perhaps nothing in God's holy Word challenges man to greater reverence, deeper humility, sublimer faith, than this divine record of God's supernatural entrance into human life. Yet to the truly humble, reverent, worshipful, man of faith there is no difficulty in accepting the statement of revelation that through the supernatural operation of God, the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary gave birth "to that holy thing which wasas called the Son of God." He reads and accepts these two annunciations without making any attempt to explain the heart of the mystery therein because he humbly acknowledges that it transcends all human understanding.
He sees in Christ Jesus, the God-man, essential Deity and real humanity, very God and very Man. He gladly acknowledges the supernatural in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. He finds no way to account for such a result except in an adequate cause. A supernatural life demands a supernatural birth. So he joyfully accepts as true God's divine revelation that in the origin of the God-man there was to be found the cooperation of Deity and humanity. He believes that Christ Jesus, the God-man, was "conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary," as the evangelical Church has believed through the centuries.
Thus the supernatural birth of the Lord Jesus is the connecting link between eternity and time: between Heaven and earth: between Deity and humanity: between God and man. Through the doorway of that supernatural conception there came into this world such a Person as had never lived in it before or ever has since. In Him there is essential Deity and essential humanity each in its wholeness and completeness. He is "the Son of God, the Word of the Father, be-gotten from everlasting of the Father, very and eternal God, of one substance with the Father. Being such, He took man's nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin, of her substance, so that two whole and perfect Natures, that is to say, the Godhead and the Manhood, were joined together in one Person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God and very Man" (H.C.G. Moule, Outlines of Christian Doctrine, p. 57).
All that God is, Christ Jesus is. All that unfallen man was, He is. Nothing that belonged to Deity or to sinless humanity was lacking in Him. The divine and the human nature are each fully manifested in His unique personality. Both God and man are equally represented in the constituent elements of the personality of the God-man. He is veritable God and veritable man in one person.
Even though the God-man is a unit in whom God and man meet in a harmonious union of natures yet the root of His wonderful personality is God. Through all eternity He was God. At one moment of time He became Man. "The Son of God came from the eternities. The Son of Man began His Being." "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God." The Deity of Christ Jesusis basic and primary. "The Word was made flesh" and there was "born this day in the city of David a Saviour a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes." The humanity of Christ Jesus is assumed and therefore secondary though essential. In the union of God and ma and man God is the dominant factor. "The incarnation is the humanizing of deity and not the deification of humanity." The God-man is "God . . . manifest in the flesh?" (1 Timothy 3:16).
In the following Scriptural classic we have a very clear and beautiful revelation of the person of the God-man and the process by which He became such and the purpose.
Philippians 2:5-8, R.V., "Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross."
He was the Eternal Son, "existing in the form of God " and "on an equality with God." But in the presence of Eden's tragedy and man's need of redemption He counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped but by a sublime act of self-emptying He qualified to be the world's Saviour. While not divesting Himself of His essential nature as God, He became the Incarnate Son, "taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men," and submitted to the temporary non manifestation of His divine prerogatives.
"He emptied Himself." He did this by permitting the essential glory and majesty of His divine person to be covered and hidden for a while by the flesh, by voluntarily putting His several attributes, omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence, under temporary limitations; and by placing Himself under the sovereign will of the Heavenly Father and under the control of the Holy Spirit.
"The emptying indicates the setting aside of one form of manifestation, in which all the facts of equality with God were evidently revealed, for another form of manifestation, in which the fact of equality with God must for a time be hidden, by the necessary submissiveness of the human to the divine . . . The Word passed from government to obedience, from independent cooperation in the equality of Deity to dependent submission to the will of God" (G. Campbell Morgan, The Crises of the Christ, pp. 76-77).
"He humbled Himself." God took man's form, the Lord of glory stooped to an actual union with human nature. In His humiliation He endured every conceivable suffering, the culmination of which was His cruel death on the Cross as a condemned criminal.
His voluntary self-humbling and self-emptying was for a purpose. "He became obedient unto death, yea, the death of the cross" that through His divine-human mediatorship He might become mankind's all-sufficient Saviour. (See Diagram 5.)