`Even the death of the Cross . . .'

Posted Nov 27, 2011 by kym Jones in Everlasting Gospel Hits: 4,487

From the time that Lucifer (who is also known as Satan, or the Devil), first entertained thoughts of rebellion against God, to when sin is finally vanquished when death is cast into the `lake of fire' with him (Revelation 20: 10, 14), the entire issue of salvation has from eternity hinged upon the principle of the character of God, in contrast to the character of Satan. Philippians 2: 5 - 8 contrasts the selfless mind of Christ (of which we are exhorted to partake of), with the selfish mind of Lucifer, the fallen angel of God:

`Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.' (Philippians 2: 5 - 8.)

This passage may be considered as the foundation upon which all other Scripture rests, for it clearly delineates the unconditional, or unselfish and selfless `agape' love of Christ, and contrasts it with the self-centred love of the Greeks, which was called `eros'. For `eros' depicts the mind of `iniquity' or lawlessness which Lucifer appropriated when he fell into sin. It is the mind of `self', or `selfishness'. So if we are to describe the fall of man in these terms, for the fall first took place when Adam fell from grace when he sinned, it is this mind of utter selfishness which Adam first `fell' into. But a way of escape was made for Adam and all of his children who by faith follow his example. By faith He could look through the long corridor of history, and behold the cross of His Saviour, for Galatians 5: 6 informs us that true faith `works' by love. And what is that love? It is the unconditional love which Christ has for us, which was demonstrated to us on the cross; and we are exhorted to simply:

 

 

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus


For in our `natural’ state, that is, our `natural’ minds which have been corrupted by the fall, we are by nature selfish. This is the mind which Lucifer appropriated when he first turned from away from God, and then to self – and is the same mind which Adam then received from him when he first sinned and turned away from God. And as we are the sons of Adam, then by reason of inheritance it is impossible for us to attain to anything higher than the mind of Adam when he was first tempted by Lucifer. Therefore of our selves, it is impossible for us to conceive of any form of love that is not motivated by self, for in turning away from God, Lucifer loved himself more than he loved the Father, and this love of self became our `natural' mind after the fall, when Lucifer, in the form of the serpent, first tempted Eve. Therefore it is impossible of ourselves to comprehend the love which the Father and Son have for us, for every thought and desire which we have of our own nature is corrupted by self. But Christ is self-less – and we could never have comprehended this self-less love unless it was first demonstrated to us at Calvary.
Christ rightly teaches us that `no greater love hath a man than this, than to lay down his life for his friends’ (John 15: 13), and most men believe this to be true; for in exceptional circumstances, a good man would most certainly lay down his life for his friends and family. But how many men would die for their enemies? The answer is none - for in this passage, Christ comments on our natural human conception of love, which is like water finding its own level. We seek out those who are like us, and fear those who are unlike us. While many men aspire to be President, how many men aspire to become garbage collectors, instead? The answer is none. Yet Christ aspired to become the divine `garbage collector' of the refuse of fallen humanity, for none are `good' - for the simple reason that all men share in the fallen nature of Adam, and it is only by the grace of God that we are not murderers, thieves and rapists. Yet it is natural for us to despise those who do these things, then thank God that we are not like them, and then sneer in contempt of them; for our natural human reaction is to regard them as the refuse of humanity. But is is only by the grace of God that we don't do these things, for we all share the same nature, and given the wrong set of circumstances, would be exactly the same as them! Thus, our natural conception of love is self-seeking and is in fact disguised selfishness; for God first loved us while our minds were still corrupted by this selfish mind of Adam, and were therefore enemies to Him!
Within the text `Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus' is found a comparison of the mind of Christ with the mind of Lucifer, the Devil - for although Christ:

 

 

 

Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God,

 

. . . . did not think equality with God something to be grasped at, earnestly desired, or eagerly retained, for `It pleased the Father that in Him should all the fullness dwell' (Colossi ans 1: 19); the devil did indeed think it a usurpation to be equal with God, by attempting robbery from God; so that he might appear as God, for a usurper is someone who attempts to illegally wrest control of a throne by devious means. Before the Devil was cast out of heaven, his name was Lucifer, which means `the bright and shining one'. He was the `anointed cherub', or angel, which covered, or protected the Law of God, until iniquity, or lawlessness was found in him:

`Thus says the Lord GOD; You seal up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. You have been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, the ruby, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of your timbrels and of your pipes was prepared in you in the day that you were created. You are the anointed cherub that covers; and I have set you so: you were upon the holy mountain of God; you have walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. You were perfect in your ways from the day that you were created, till iniquity was found in you. By the multitude of your merchandise they have filled the midst of you with violence, and you have sinned: therefore I will cast you as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.' (Ezekiel 28: 12 - 16.)

The Lord tabernacled, or dwelt with His people in the Tabernacle, or Tent, which the children of Israel pitched in the desert of sin. In it were two apartments which were called respectively the Holy Place, and the Most Holy Place. Above the Ark of the Testimony in which the Ten Commandments had been placed, were two cherubim which faced each other, and gazed slightly slightly downward in wonder at the mercy-seat which covered the Ark, for on the Day of Atonement the sins of the people were reconciled back to God by the sprinkling of shed blood, which thus represented:
`. . . . God, who has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation.' (2 Corinthians 5: 18.)

In between the two cherubim, and slightly above them, dwelt the Shekinah Presence, or Holy Spirit of the Lord. The wings of the cherubim stretched forth over the ark of the covenant until their wingtips touched each other, and in this way covered the Ark of the Testimony. In this sense Lucifer had been known as "the anointed cherub that coverer", for he protected the Law of God. But although he was created perfect in all his ways, iniquity was found in him, for:

`your heart was lifted up because of your beauty, you have corrupted your wisdom by reason of your brightness' (Ezekiel 28: 17).

Being "perfect in beauty" and set "in the holy mountain of God" as the keeper of the law of God, this creature began to admire himself, instead of worshiping Him who had adorned him with this perfect beauty. As a consequence, he became proud of himself, and concluded that the position which he occupied as the Commander of the Angels was not worthy of the position of equality with God which he desired - for Christ was more esteemed by the Father than he was. Certainly, he had perfection of beauty and the fullness of wisdom, but everything he had of natural right was nothing, for he owed his very existence to Christ, his Creator. But in foolishly imagining that these things were instead naturally inherent in himself, he began to corrupt his wisdom by his own vain self-glory, and in his own estimation, began to see himself as equal with God! But as a mere creature who could not fathom `the eternal purpose which he [God] purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord' (Ephesians 3: 11), he could only measure `the eternal purpose of God' by his own confused imaginings, which resulted in him believing that the Father and Son had deliberated between them to prevent him from occupying the position which he now believed was rightfully his. "Why should Christ, and not Lucifer have access to the councils of the Father", he asked. It was explained to him that:

"In the beginning there was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God." (John 1: 1-2.)


In the beginning, there was One Who was with the Eternal Father from the beginning - Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God who is one with the Father in character, mind and purpose, for only He can enter into the eternal purposes of God. But as Lucifer would not cease imagining himself to be equal with Christ, so also did he begin to meditate upon usurping the position which Christ has in relation to the Father, which is equality with the Father! But Lucifer, who was created by Christ, did consider himself to be equal with Him, and so it is written:

`How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how are you cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations! For you have said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.' (Isaiah 14: 12 - 14.)

This passage refers to the north side of the Hebraic Sanctuary, in which was found the Table of Show bread, from which the words of life proceed from Christ, Who is the `bread of life' (John 6: 35, 48.). The `mount of the congregation' represents His Church, and this prophecy indicates that Lucifer declared that he would sit in the Church of God, professing to be Christ, for Christ is the `bread of life'; and those who are not thoroughly grounded in the Word of God would think that they worship Christ, when in fact they would be deluded by the corrupted word of God which issues from the mouth of ministers whom Christ has not sent:
`For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.' (2 Corinthians 11: 13 - 15.)
Thus he said in his heart, I will be like the Most High God, and having convinced himself that he was like the Most High, determined that he, Lucifer, who was not, nor could not be God, would be worshiped as God, and would sit in `sides of the north', or the seat of Christ, appearing to be as Christ, in the Church which professes to administer to us for our sins. And as he descended further into darkness, so also did he begin to believe that equality with God is a thing which is to be violently striven for, and eagerly seized upon. As he began to entertain thoughts of outright rebellion against the principles which enshrine the government of God, he failed to consider that this violence which he did to God was not a thing which should be accounted as robbery from God. For the one thing which Lucifer demanded - that there be a change in the order of government, was the one thing which God could not do, for to change the government of God necessitated that there would be a change in the Law of God, for in a negative since, the Ten Commandments are a transcript of God's character of `agape' love and cannot be improved upon. For example, when we are told that `Thou shalt not bear false witness' (Exodus 20: 16), this is because God does not bear false witness, and if Lucifer was able to successfully petition God to change this commandment or any other, then this amounted to Lucifer demanding that there be a change in the character of God! But as the justice, judgment, mercy and compassion of the government of God reflects His righteous character, then when Lucifer insinuated that the Law of God is unjust, this amounted to Lucifer insinuating that God Himself should be replaced by this pretender to the throne.
Thus the foundation of the government which Lucifer first unwittingly proposed, was based upon the flawed foundation of self, for as his vain imaginings led him to drift further and further from the path of righteousness which the Father had lovingly placed at his feet, this perfect creature who covered the Law of God failed to retain the perfect, selfless mind of Christ which he had happily partaken of. As he descended further into darkness, he could no longer see that if the Law was selflessly followed by all, then this would naturally lead to the happiness of all, for the commandments of God reflect the selfless`agape' love which He has for his children. But as Lucifer began to believe that this form of government should no longer be tolerated, then it naturally followed that the unselfish principles which form the basis of the throne of God must give way to an entirely different set of principles which are in fact the exact opposite of those which form the basis of His government. For these principles could only be based upon the desire to covet the love of supremacy over all other living creatures and could only be maintained by oppression, suppression and tyranny, and is expressed in one word - FORCE! It was not, nor could not be the mind of Christ which was originally manifested in Lucifer that led to his rebellion. It was self and the exultation of self which led to this - which was the mind of self and the minding of self to the exclusion of all other things. The Father and Son at first pleaded with Lucifer to forsake self when he took his first wavering steps toward sin, and in his heart he realized the foolishness of his actions. But pride in self prevented this, and he would not repent, because pride in self determined that he could not repent, and his fate as the `accuser of the brethren' was sealed when he and a third of the angels of heaven whom he had seduced with his sophistries were cast out of heaven with him, when he declared war on God (Revelation 12: 9 - 10). For when he was first implored by the Father and Son to return to Christ, he was not invited to return with the mind of self, which thought equality with God a prize to be seized, but was instead implored to return to the mind of God which is in Christ` . . . . Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God'.
The Father had foreseen that Lucifer would fall, and in the `counsel of peace' which existed between the Father and Son from from eternity, had determined that at infinite cost to Himself, His dear Son would provide a means of salvation for the penitent, who by faith desire to be saved from sin. For He would freely give His life for theirs, and then minister to their sins as a High Priest on the throne of heaven:
`And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD: Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.' (Zechariah 6: 12 - 13.)

But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon the form of a servant

 

Some translations read `but emptied Himself' - for in making Himself of `no reputation', He literally emptied Himself of self! This is sharply contrasted by our `natural' human nature, for we treasure our reputation, and will do almost anything to keep it! But Christ did the exact opposite to what we would do; He made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Himself the form of a servant - and more specifically a bond-servant, Who has happily bonded Himself to fallen man in the form of a man and as the servant of men for eternity.While He could have been born into the splendid purple, which signified the royalty of Kings and Queens, He instead chose to be born in a cattle barn to non-descript paupers who were nobodies. Thus the manner in which Christ chose His human incarnation helps us to gain a better understanding of the sense of the phrase `made Himself of no reputation', for the original Greek drives home the point which the apostle Paul first intended to make. In Greek, the word `made' is derived from the word `kenoo' , and means `to make empty'. Thus, Christ literally `emptied Himself' of `self'! Some translations take note of this rendition of the original Greek, and read, `but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant'. Christ emptied Himself of self, and became our bond-servant for eternity. He who is the Commander of the Host of Heaven, Who was `made a lttle lower than the angels' and appeared in the lowly form of abond- servant, so that He could `taste' death for every man:
`But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that by the grace of God should taste death for every man'. (Hebrews 2: 9.)
The common idea of a servant is a slave, and in the ancient Greek and Roman worlds, slaves were either born into slavery, or were soldiers, or were the subjects of nations that had been defeated by war, and then sold into slavery. This was the most abject form of slavery, for slaves had no free will of their own, and were in permanent servitude to their masters who held their lives in their hands until they died. However, when the apostle Paul spoke of a servant, the Roman and Greek idea of `slavery' is not what he meant, for when properly translated, Paul refers to Christian slaves by using the Greek word "doulos", which means bond-servant. It had a positive, instead of a negative meaning, for it was a bond of slavery which was solely attentive upon one's chosen object of love; for true`agape' makes one a slave to that which it adores! The Lord demonstrated this principle to the Hebew people during Old Testament times by the law of restitution.

If a Hebrew found himself in insurmountable debt, he could sell himself to another Hebrew as a bond-servant for a period of six years to pay off his debt (Exodus 21: 1 - 6). His debt was then redeemed at the beginning of the seventh year. This corresponded symbolically with the Biblical Sabbath, in which all who are faithful to the fourth commandment of the Bible rest in God on the seventh day of the week, and is also reminiscent of the typical agrarian cycle, in which the land itself received a Sabbath rest every seven years, at which it lay fallow - and coincidentally formed the basis of farming management today! If the master who the Hebrew had sold himself to had been exceptionally good to him, then the bond-servant could choose to remain a bond-servant for life. His ear would then be pierced with an awl, which marked him as a willing bond servant who chose to serve his master for his life. Christ referred to this practice when He said:


`He who has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'
(Revelation 2: 7,11,17,29 3: 6,13,22.)

An ear that hears his Master's voice is an ear which is obedient to his master, and an ear that was pierced by an awl signified that the bond-servant willingly gave service to his Master. Thus the Bible exhorts Christianz to be true disciples of Christ and cheerfully give their lifves to their divine Master, notwithstanding the fact that they will always endure trials and tribulations, for he meaing of the word `disciple' indicates that the one who is a disciple has chosen to follow their teacher, for they trust, love and obey their teacher. Thus, this was a service which the bond-servant did out of love for his master, and is the service which Paul cheerfully undertook for the Divine Master Himself: `Paul, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God.' (Romans 1: 1.) We see this representation of the bond-servant in the churches, which is why the phrase `lend an ear' is primarilly addressed to the Churches. While Christ was called the bond-servant of God (Isaiah 52: 13), Israel, which represented His Church was also called a bond-servant of the Lord (Isaiah 45: 4) Moses and Joshua, who represented the leaders and priests were called to be bond-servants of the Lord (Joshua 1:2, 24: 29), as were the prophets of God (Amos 3: 7, Jeremiah 7: 25). Finally, the individual who is a member of the body of the Church, is addressed by this phrase:


`If any man have an ear, let him hear.' (Revelation 13: 9.)

Ultimately, all of these representations were in fact representative of Christ, who made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Himself the form of a bond-servant, out of uncondtional love for fallen humanity, so that He might tender to our needs. For this reason, Christ:

 

Was made in the likeness of men

 


The `beloved disciple of Christ' who is known as John the Revelator begins his Gospel with an emphasis that differs from the other three writers of the Gospel, for he specifically focuses upon Christ Himself tabernacling among us in a `tent' of human flesh:
`The Word became flesh and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth' (John 1: 14.) However, the translation which reads `and dwelt among us' is not really an accurate translation, as it should read:

`And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us in a tent . . . '


John wrote the Book of Revelation under divine inspiration, in which we find the rich symbology of the Sanctuary service of the Old Testament is relegated to the Sanctuary service in the New Testament, in which Christ is depicted as ministering to fallen humanity in the Heavenly Sanctuary, and intimately connects the `flesh' which Christ assumed, with this ministration to us - for Scripture teaches us that Christ is near to us, even at the door of our hearts, instead of being so far away that we must go in search of Him so that we might find Him. Unfortunately though, most Christians believe that anything which pertains to the Old Testament solely pertains to the `Old Covenant of works' which was made between God and Moses and therefore no longer applies, because we are now in the `New Covenant of Grace' - which thus means that this intimate connection between the Sanctuary service depicted in the Old Testament, and the ministration of Christ which is delineated for us specifically in the Book of Hebrews and the Book of Revelation, has been lost. But while it is true that we are not saved by anything we can do which might be regarded as having has merit in our salvation, then why make the assumption (as some do), that the `Old Covenant' specifically relates to the Hebrew people of both the Old and New Testaments and has nothing at all to do with two thousand years of New Testament Church history? This question becomes particularly pertinent when we take into account the fact that John refers directly to the Hebraical Sanctuary of the Old Testament when he speaks of beholding `the glory of Christ as the only begotten of the Father', in a `tent' of flesh. For John is suggesting that just as it was in the Tent of the Tabernacle, or Sanctuary of the Old Testament in which the pre-incarnate Christ revealed His glory to the Israelites, it was in a tent of human `flesh' that Christ revealed His glory to all humanity. Other writers, such as Paul the apostle build upon this concept that John the disciple of Christ first set out for us, by clearly revealing that the way by which the glory of Christ is revealed to fallen man, is by saving fallen man in a `tent' of flesh which is very much like our own:

`Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he 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. 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 has suffered being tempted, he is able to help them that are tempted.' (Hebrews 2: 14-18)

Paul is emphatic that this is the only way by which Christ could save fallen man, so that He is able to save to the uttermost all who call upon His Name, for reason that whatever is not assumed cannot be saved. According to Scripture, Christ did not take upon Himself the lofty `nature' of unfallen angels who have never experienced the temptation to sin, or the unfallen `nature' of Adam the first, who stood in the Garden of Eden and communed daily with God; but Christ was instead born into this world four thousand years later, at which time He took upon Himself a human body which had been subject to the cumulative effects of four thousand years of the degradation of sin working its dire consequences upon the human spirit, by weakening the resolve of fallen man to live in harmony with the will of God. For if Christ had taken upon Himself the `nature' of unfallen angels, or His temptation was limited to innocent infirmities such as hunger and thirst, it would have been impossible for Him to give fallen man help where we need it most. Therefore if Christ were to identify with His brethren, it was necessary for Him to be `made like unto His brethren', so that we might be sure that our Elder Brother can closely identify with us; for He has been tempted by the same temptations which we are tempted with, yet victoriously overcame them by constantly being connected with His Father by the Holy Spirit of the Father which dwelt `in' Him:

`And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.' (Isaiah 11: 1 - 5.)


While the `flesh' which He assumed was assailed by the `accuser of the brethren' (the Devil) and was tempted to sin, the Divine Mind which He shared with the Father by the Holy Spirit of the Father was a bulwark of righteousness by which He was more than able to overcome the temptations of the devil. For this reason, in Philippians 2: 5 we are exhorted to simply let this same mind that was in Christ Jesus be in us, for that same mind is our bulwark against the sins that so easily beset us. But we cannot force His mind into our mind; to try to do so is legalism, for our selfish mind must instead die to self and take upon itself the selflessness which is in Christ. Nor does it mean that we partake of His divinity, and attain to `Holy Flesh' which cannot sin, as the Greeks believed. We are to instead behold the cross and the life-changing event that transpired there, so that we might develop a heart-felt appreciation of the self-less `agape' love which the Father and Son have for us, so that our selfish mind (or `old man' of sin, as Paul calls it) which is our `natural' inheritance as a result of the fall, will die to sin and is thus crucified with Christ on the cross. Thus, as we draw closer to Christ, we find that we no longer want to do the sins that formerly entrapped us, for by some mysterious process of alchemy which we cannot comprehend, Christ imparts the same `agape' love into our hearts that impelled Him to die on the cross for our sins and thus changes the desire of our hearts; for `by beholding, we are changed':


`But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the LORD.' (2 Corinthians 3: 18.) Thus, we choose to become a bond-servant to Christ for the span of our natural life out of love, and cheerfully devote our lives to His:
`We love Him, because He first loved us.' (1 John 4: 19.)

In the phrase `it behoved Him to be made unto His brethren', in the original Greek, the word `ophelio' is translated as `behoved', and means that He was indebted to be `made like unto His brethren', in which the human was blended with the divine, for there was no other way by which the salvation of fallen man might be accomplished, and because there was no other way, then Jesus was

` . . . in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin': `Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.' (Hebrews 4: 14-16)

However, a word of caution should be exercised here. Christ was never, nor ever will be `just like us.' He is the only-begotten Son of God, and by divine right was born of the Spirit of God. Christ never partook of the `carnal mind', that is, the mind which has, by temptation, yielded to the carnal desires of the `indwelling sin' of the flesh. Christ constantly prayed for unity between Himself and His Father; `Not My will be done, but thy will be done' (Luke 22: 42) and was bonded with the Mind of the Father by the Holy Spirit of the Father. While His human will was to avoid the responsibility of the cross and indulge Himself in this one selfish act of saving Himself at the expense of fallen mankind, then this exercise of His human will would have been sin for Him. But He instead trod the winepress of the Father's wrath against sin alone, so that we might not have to ourselves, for all sin arises from selfishness; which is the act of putting self before God. But Christ never for a moment even considered doing this, for Christ was selfless. In the original Greek, the word which John uses to describe the flesh is the Greek word `sarx'. He uses this word when He tells us that the `the word became flesh (sarx) and dwelt among us in a tent', and again when he says that `every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God'. It is also precisely the same word which Paul uses when he says `Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he 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' (Hebrews 2: 14). Therefore the `sarx' which Paul speaks of is the same `flesh' which John speaks of, for if it were not so, he would have told us so by using an entirely different word! But he does not - he employs the word `sarx', and it was in the `sarx' that Christ was made like unto His brethren, and it was in the `sarx', that He crucified sin! John is emphatic when he stresses that anyone who teaches that Christ did not come in the `sarx' is not of God, and this is the spirit of antichrist:


`Hereby know all of you the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof all of you have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.' (1 John 4: 2 - 3.)


And why? Because if Christ had assumed `flesh' which had not been tempted to sin (which is the flesh of Adam before the fall), then this flesh of the sinless Adam which is mysteriously substituted for ours cannot save us, for in order to to provide a complete atonement for sin, then that which is saved must first be assumed - and if Christ came in the `flesh' of Adam before the fall, then this is the only flesh which He can save, for our `flesh' is entirely unlike that of a sinless Adam before he `fell' into sin, and must be regarded as `Holy Flesh' which cannot be tempted to sin! But Scripture completely refutes this, for on the cross, Christ became the sin of the entire world and crucified it `in the sarx' at Calvary, so that the condemnation of death which was pronounced upon the entire race when Adam first sinned has been reversed, so that the entire race has been pardoned and put on probation `in' Christ':


`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 . . . . even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.' (Romans 5: 12, 18.)

But why probation? Weren't all men `saved' when Christ died on the cross? The answer is no, because although `justification', or being made right with God through the forgiveness of sins is a free gift, and is freely given to all; in order to benefit from it, we must first receive it! John uses the phrase `The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us in a tent', so that we might be reminded that the gospel itself is revealed in the daily ministration which took place in the Sanctuary service in the Old Testament, in which the hand of the penitent sinner was placed over the head of a sacrificial lamb that pointed forward in time to Christ as the Lamb of God Who was sacrificed at Calvary for their sins, so that the sinner might know that sin results in the death of the sinner unless they are covered by the surety of the blood of the Saviour to come:

`Say unto them, "As I live," saith the Lord GOD, "I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?" ' (Ezekiel 33: 11.)

On the cross, Christ became the sin of the entire world and crucified it `in the sarx' at Calvary, so that the condemnation to death which was pronounced upon the entire race `in Adam’ has been reversed, so that the entire race has been pardoned and put on probation `in Christ'. It is then up to each individual to choose whether they receive Christ into their heart, as prompted by His Holy Spirit, or not - and thus choose to remain in the condemnation that is `in Adam'. This is surely good news, for this testifies that we do not need to go in search of our Saviour, for He is the `good shepherd' who constantly pursues the lost sheep of His flock, for He has already found us! The fact that you are reading this right now testifies to this! The apostle Paul then concludes that:

`Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: that as sin has reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.' (Romans 5: 20, 21.)

Thus the `good news' of the Gospel, is better than we think, for our Lord has given us a gospel of much more abounding grace! How much? Much more! Thus we see this typified in the Hebraical economy, in which the High Priest represented Christ. In the daily Hebraical economy individuals of the nation of Israel confessed their sins before the Lord at sundown and sunset of each day during the daily Sanctuary service through the Priest, who represented them. In his representation of Christ, the High Priest bore in his body the very same weakness of the flesh which Christ manifest Himself in, `yet without sin'; so that just as Christ is able to `help them that are tempted', so also did the High Priest represent the twelve tribes of Israel aid his fellow men as he administered to their sins in the Sanctuary service. But as he could only administer to the people until he died, and he himself was a mere man who was tempted to sin and who therefore had to make sacrifice for himself, there was a succession of many High Priests, who were to set themselves apart from other men and thus represented Christ in every aspect of their lives, for the Sanctuary service depicted the High Priest as a living symbol of Christ, who ministered to the sins of the people. On the Day of Atonement, which was the one day in the year in which the entire nation of Israel was judged, the whole nation was reckoned as being `in' him:

`The high priest in his official capacity was not simply a man. He was an institution; he was a symbol; he was the embodiment of Israel. He bore the names of Israel in the two onyx stones “upon his two shoulders for a memorial”; he. carried them in the twelve precious stones “in the breastplate of Judgment upon his heart”; he bore “the judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart before the Lord continually.” Exodus 28:12,29,30. He thus carried Israel both on his shoulders and on his heart. On his shoulders he carried the burden of Israel; in the breastplate, on his heart, the seat of affection and love-the mercy seat he carried Israel. In the Urim and the Thummim that is, the Lights and the Perfection (verse 30, A.R.V., Margin)-he bore “the judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart. In the golden crown upon the miter inscribed with “HOLINESS TO THE LORD,” he bore the “iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel shall hallow in all their holy gifts,” and this that “they may be accepted before the Lord.” (Verses 36-38)' (`The Sanctuary Service', M.L. Andreason, 1947, p. 19.)

On this day, all of Israel was accounted as being `in' the High Priest, and if the High Priest sinned, then the people were also accounted as sinning. The reason why all of Israel was represented as being `in' the High Priest, was simply because if the High Priest sinned, then no forgiveness for sin could be provided for the people. This typified Christ, for if at any time Christ our High Priest had sinned, then there would have been no forgiveness provided for our sin, and we would remain dead in our sins. But as Adam was representative of the entire race, just as Adam sinned, so also are we are accounted as having sinned in him, not because we are accounted as suffering the guilt of Adam's sin through genetic inheritance, but simply because his sin determined that as his children, we `naturally' partake of the selfish mind of Lucifer which Adam now partook of, and as a result, we will sin and are therefore condemned by Adam's sin. But on the cross, Christ reversed that judgment, and a verdict of acquittal was given to the entire race. But as this acquittal is a free gift, in order to benefit from it, we must first receive Christ as our Saviour. For this reason, there are few who benefit from the `free gift' of salvation, for there are few who will receive Christ:


“The high priest was to act for men in things pertaining to God, 'to make propitiation for the sins of the people' (Hebrews 2:17). He was the mediator who ministered for the guilty. 'The high priest represented the whole people. All Israelites were reckoned as being in him. The prerogative held by him belonged to the whole of them (Exodus 19:6). That the high priest did represent the whole congregation appears, first from his bearing the tribal names on his shoulders in the onyx stones, and, second, in the tribal names engraved in the twelve gems of the breastplate. The divine explanation of this double representation of Israel in the dress of the high priest is, he 'shall bear their names before him upon his two shoulders for a memorial' (Exodus 28:12, 29). Moreover, his committing heinous sin involved the people in his guilt: 'If the anointed priest shall sin so as to bring guilt on the people' (Leviticus 4:3). The LXX [Masoretic Text] reads, 'If the anointed priest shall sin so as to make the people sin.' The anointed priest, of course, is the high priest. When he sinned, the people sinned. His official action was reckoned as their action. The whole nation shared in the trespass of their representative. The converse appears to be just as true. What he did in his official capacity, as prescribed by the Lord, was reckoned as done by the whole congregation: 'Every high priest is appointed for men' (Hebrews 5:1).” - (The National Standard Bible Encyclopedia, vol. 4, page 2439, art. “Priest.”)' (Andreason, p. 19.)

Yet this is a two-fold ministry, for just as during the daily sanctuary service the people confessed their sins, on the Day of Atonement, when the people were judged of their sins, God reconciled Himself back to man, and the sins of the people were literally placed upon the head of a scapegoat which represented the devil, which was then led into the wilderness by a `strong man' to die (Leviticus 16: 21), which represented Christ, for He is the `strongest man' there is, thus pointing forward in time to when the devil, sin and ultimately death itself is cast into the `lake of fire' to be finally destroyed, after the Devil has been loosed on the earth for a little while (Revelation 20: 13,15,3.).

And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross!

 

Christ's entire life was an object lesson in humility. Here was the Commander of heaven, Who had the entire host of heaven at his feet, Who, equal with the Eternal One, came all the way down from the lofty heights of heaven, and `was made a little lower than the angels', and `made like unto His brethren', so that He could give fallen man `help' where we need it most, so that He `by the grace of God should taste death for every man':


`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.' (Hebrews 2: 9.)

He could have been born to nobility, as was His right, but instead chose to identify Himself with the weakest of the weak, and the poorest of men, and to these He was born. As a bond-servant to fallen man whose lives are ensnared by sin, his entire life was an abasement of self, so that He might provide corporate humanity with the highest service which is possible for fallen man, which is for God Himself in veil of flesh to unselfishly `taste death' for us, so that we might live. He humbled Himself by joyfully taking upon Himself the burden of our sins as our servant, but was instead despised, and we esteemed Him not', and He `numbered Himself with the transgressors':

`Who has believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he has no form nor loveliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our sicknesses, and carried our pains: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opens not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he has put him to grief: when you shall make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he has poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.' (Isaiah chapter 53.)

Here the prophet Isaiah pictures in graphic form the crucifixion of Christ and informs us that that Christ was `cut off out of the land of the living'. Daniel 9: 26 employs similar language and states that `And after threescore and two weeks, Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself'; which is a part of a prophecy which is known as the Seventy `Weeks' of Daniel, and is the greatest prophecy of all of Christ. Sir Isaac Newton, the famous scientist who founded the Law of Gravity said of this prophecy that the Seventy `Weeks' of Daniel is:

"The foundation of the Christian Religion." (`The First and Second Advent: or, The Past and the Future, with Reference to the Jew, the Gentile, and the Church of God', Bouchier Wrey Saville, 1858.)


He further stated that:

`Thus we have in this short Prophecy, a prediction of all the main periods relating to the coming of the Messiah; the time of his birth, that of his death, that of the rejection of the Jews, the duration of the Jewish war whereby he caused the city and the sanctuary to be destroyed, and the time of his second coming . . .' (`Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel, and the Apocalypse of St. John', Sir Isaac Newton, p. 137.)

It is the phrase `Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself’ upon which the entire plan of salvation hinges. It is the most misunderstood and poorly comprehended phrase in the Bible. John Calvin, the sixteenth century French theologian, comments on it:

`The angel, then, here asserts, Christ should die, and at the same time he specifies the kind of death by saying, nothing shall remain to him. this short clause may be taken in various senses, yet I do not hesitate to re present the angel's meaning to be this—Christ should so die as to be entirely reduced to nothing. Some expound it thus,—the city or the people shall be as nothing to him ; meaning, he shall be divorced from the people, and their adoption shall cease, since we know the Jews to have so fallen away from true piety by their perfidy as to be entirely alienated from God, and to have lost the name of a Church. But that is forced. Others think it means, it shall be neither hostile nor favorable ; and others, nothing shall remain to him in the sense of being destitute of all help ; but all these comments appear to me too frigid. The genuine sense, I have no doubt, is as follows,— the death of Christ should be without any attractiveness or loveliness, as Isaiah says.' (Calvin, Institutes', Chap. liii. 2, p. 221.)

While Calvin quite correctly asserted that `Christ should so die as to be entirely reduced to nothing’, what does Calvin mean when he states that Christ`died on the cross and was reduced to nothing’? Does the atonement affect the collective human race more deeply than we have ever imagined? Indeed, did Calvin really understand what he was writing, or was he just `skimming the surface’ of deeper truths which (over the centuries) have been either lost or misunderstood? This question is fundamentally important in affecting our perception of salvation, for if we misunderstand what took place at Calvary, then not only is our perception of salvation flawed, but our perception of the character of God is also flawed, as the unconditional `agape' love of Christ becomes infused with erroneous conceptions of love that amount to the disguised selfishness which is depicted in the Greek fable of King Admetus, and his young queen, Alcestis, at which the idea that only the good are worth saving is propagated. The question must be asked, "What did Christ accomplish when He died on the cross?" More to the point, would the mere death of His human body satisfy the demands of the broken law – or would He have in some way endured what befalls the impenitent, which is eternal separation from the Father? But this raises another question – as only a Divine Sacrifice can satisfy the judicial equity of the broken law (which is to say that if only His human body died on the cross, then His atonement cannot satisfy the penalty of the broken law, for this does not provide for a divine sacrifice); then how is this even possible, as the very essence of divinity is defined by its eternal nature? We find a clue in Galatians 3:13:

`Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree’ (Galatians 3:13)

In the Hebrew economy, death by stoning was the usual penalty for what were considered to be grave sins. Contrary to popular opinion, this was not a barbaric form of execution, but was instead merciful - the first stone which was cast was big enough to crush the chest, thus ensuring that death would be immediate. In a spiritual sense this represented Christ, the `Rock of offense' (1 Peter 2: 8) passing judgment upon all who refuse His `free gift' of eternal life:

`And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.' (Matthew 21:44.)

But if you were convicted to die by this most horrible death you could still take solace in the fact that if you confessed your sins and repented of them, then the Father would hear you, and you would be assured that a place could be found for you in the Book of Life when you died and you would have eternal life. However, if you were convicted of a sin worthy of death - you were hung on a tree outside of the camp and were accursed of God; you could pray to the Father for forgiveness, but the heavens would be as brass and He will not hear your prayers, for you have absolutely no hope of redemption:

`And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be put to death, and you hang him on a tree: His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but you shall in any way bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that your land be not defiled, which the LORD your God gives you for an inheritance.’ (Deuteronomy 21:22,23.)


This was not mere physical death - for you were `cut off’ from the Giver of Life Himself for eternity and you would die with absolutely no hope of an afterlife. It would be as if you never existed:

`Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for your mercies' sake. For in death there is no remembrance of you: in the grave who shall give you thanks?' (Psalms 6:4-5) This is the death which Christ ` . . . by the grace of God, should taste death for every man'! (Hebrews 2: 9.)

He did not `taste' it merely for the good, for there are none that are good, simply because all men by inheritance share in the selfish mind which Adam `fell' into when he first sinned. For this reason, no man is better than another, for all share in the same sinful desires! It is this death that Christ died for us; for by `numbering Himself with the transgressors' and being `hung on a tree' outside of the camp (in this case, the city walls of Jerusalem), Christ Has Himself reconciled us to God by becoming sin for us, so that He can `save to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing that he forever lives to make intercession for them.' (Hebrews 7: 25, 26.) The disciple Peter referred to this when he was confronted by the High Priest of the Sanhedrin, who had previously commanded that he was not to teach in the name of Christ (Acts 5: 28), Peter replied:

`We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him has God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. ' (Acts 5: 29-31)

In this passage Luke declares that Christ was `hung on a tree', as did the apostle Paul. While both men could have simply said that Christ was crucified on a cross, they instead stated that He was `hung on a tree', which signified that they were referring to the eternal death which Christ dared to die for our benefit, so that we might not have to die it ourselves, for it demonstrates to us the `agape' of God! The Bible calls this death the `second death' (Revelation 2: 11, 20: 6,14, 21: 8), which all will suffer who do not accept Christ as their Lord and Saviour. However, this is not to say that Christ remained dead in the grave, for being sinless, the chains of death could not hold Him, and He was raised to life on the third day by the Spirit of His Father, just as the dead in Christ shall be raised to life to meet Him in the air at the Second Coming:

`Your dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, all of you that dwell in dust: for your dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.' (Isaiah 26:19)

After Moses descended Mt. Sinai with the Ten Commandments and found his people dancing around the golden calf, the Lord threatened to destroy them and start again with him. But Moses loved his errant children so much, that he instead begged the Lord to spare them, and instead blot His name out of the `book', so that his people might be spared. The prophet Daniel refers to this same book - which is the Book of Life, when he refers to the second coming of Christ:

`And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which stands for the children of your people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time your people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.' (Daniel 12: 1 - 3.)

The names of all who have overcome the selfish mind of the Devil shall have their names written in the `Book of Life', and their names shall be confessed before our Father, and His angels:


`He that overcomes, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.' (Revelation 3: 5.)


However, those who refuse the `free gift' of salvation will have their names `blotted out' of the `Book of Life':


`And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.' (Revelation 20: 12 - 15.)


This `blotting out' from the Book of Life indicates that the sinner who had committed a sin worthy of death will be eternally separated in death from the great Giver of eternal life. Christ dared to die the second death, so that in becoming the `curse' which is due to us, He has reconciled fallen man back to God - `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.' (Romans 5: 10)


`But I was like a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter; and I knew not that they had devised devices against me, saying, Let us destroy the tree with the fruit thereof, and let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name be no more remembered.' (Jeremiah 11:19.)

And so we find that Christ was hung `outside the camp' (the literal city of Jerusalem) with thieves and murderers; thus signifying that Christ died the death which those who are accursed of God are condemned to die:


`And the scripture was fulfilled, which said, `And he was numbered with the transgressors.' And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, `Ah, you that destroy the temple, and build it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross.' (Mark 15: 28-30.)

Paintings of the Renaissance and Baroque periods generally pictured Jesus hanging on the cross with a cloth draped demurely around His groin in a manner that does not offend our sensibilities. Yet the cross is an offense to God (Galatians 5: 11). The grim reality of the cross, is that the Romans used this barbaric form of execution to terrorize offenders, so that local populations of subject nations might be kept in check. It was a slow and agonizing death; those who were condemned to crucifixion were stripped naked and usually slowly died over a period of several days. They were often permitted to have their buttocks supported by a small seat called a `sedile'; but this in fact prolonged their agony, as both legs were broken, forcing the offender to lift themselves up on their arms every time they took a breath. Although the sedile gave them some support, as they grew weaker, eventually they suffocated and died. Yet Christ died in just a few hours - the weight of the sins of the world crushed the life out of Him.


The `blotting out' of the names of the wicked from the `Book of Life' indicates that contrary to popular belief, man has no `natural immortality of the soul' and does not directly ascend to heaven or hell when he dies. Most Christians would be astonished to find that not only did this doctrine gain entrance into the early Church via the conduit of Greek Platonism, but the majority of the disciples of Christ in the first and second centuries believed that this doctrine in fact denied the Resurrection, as it in fact nullifies the atonement! They regarded it as blasphemous, and believed that those who partake of it are not Christians!

`The ancient Church differs most of all from Hellenism in its belief in the Resurrection. Christian tradition affirmed the 'Resurrection of the flesh,' which the Apologists opposed to the Hellenistic doctrine of the 'Immortality of the Soul.' The antithesis was conscious and intentional, for at no point so much as this was their opposition to the Hellenistic spirit felt by the early Christians. The Platonic, Hellenistic doctrine of the Immortality of the soul seemed to the Apologists a godless and blasphemous doctrine, which above all they must attack and destroy (Justin Dial. lxxx. 3-4) Their motto in this regard might well be Tatian's word: "Not Immortal, O Greeks, is the soul in itself, but mortal. Yet it is possible for it not to die." (Tatian Oratio ad Graecos, xiii. 1.) The difference between Christian and non-Christian in this matter was so great that belief in the 'Resurrection of the flesh' could become a shibboleth. One who believes in the 'Immortality of the Soul' shows thereby that he is not a Christian. As Justin [Martyr] says:
"If you have fallen in with some who are called Christians... and who say that there is no resurrection of the dead, but that their souls, when they die, are taken to heaven; do not imagine that they are Christians." (Dial. lxxx. 4)' (`Agape and Eros', Anders Nygren,1969, pp. 280-281).


The Bible teaches that eternal life is conditional and is dependent upon our acceptance of Christ as our Savior:
`For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much greater punishment, suppose all of you, shall he be thought worthy, who has trodden underfoot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and has done despite unto the Spirit of grace?' (Hebrews 10: 26-29.)

Furthermore, this `blotting out' of the names of those who refuse salvation indicates that some form of judgment must take place either when we die, or sometime in the future after we die! So if type