Dear Elder Grotheer:
I have enough faith to believe Jesus was tempted in all ways like I am, yet without sin. However, My 11 year old son can not believe that anyone born a baby like he was could live a sinless live unless he was different from him. I read your WWN every month and yet I am slow to understand. Could you help a struggling mother with her very honest son. I know he is honest hearted and when he is totally committed to the Lord it will be wonderful. I have always (until the last few months) understood the Born born again. Now I am confused. Sometimes I just need it explained to me in 11 year old language. Thank you so much for your help. Even if you don't have time to respond I know God will help me.
A sister in need,
Dear Sister G.:
Your E-mail letter came to me this morning via Fax from the Webmaster. Accessing the computer for a specific address, with only a name is sometimes difficult. The names have been entered by Zip-code, but sometimes a unique name, such as ". . . " will trigger the address. I tried that approach this afternoon, and it worked. So now we can begin - note I wrote, "begin" - a discussion of one of the most difficult of the questions which surrounds the doctrine of the Incarnation.
You should be a most happy mother to have an 11 year-old son who will probe you with a question, of that perception, such as your son has done. My mother was a devoted Baptist. She raised me on Bible story books available to her. She never let me forget that she had dedicated me to the Lord before I was born. The truth was brought to our home by a retired Bible Worker when I was 11. The challenge was only enhanced because of the truth we had received. I preached my first Sabbath morning sermon before I was 14 from behind the dinning room table of the retired minister's home where services were held each Sabbath. (Then, even the conference had "home churches." His wife was the Bible worker who had given us the studies.)
I wish that I had a quick simple answer to your question but such is not the case, So I am going to send you two statements From the Writings, and then go from there into factors that might help us to understand better. (The quotation from the YI is the third quotation on page 3 of quotations.)
First, let us consider your son. He is an individual with a distinct "identity." But that "identity," while uniquely his, was derived from union of both father and mother. It never pre-existed! Jesus, however possessed a pre-Bethlehem "identity" that had existed from all eternity - He is "the father of eternity" (Isa. 9:6, Heb.). KJV: - "everlasting Father." He did not have to be "born again" because He never sinned. He was sinless. But us, we have sinned, and our "self" cannot hold to the course without power and grace extended to us by God because of what Jesus had attained for us. Did this give Jesus an advantage? In a sense, yes, but not when we understand the sacrifice He made and the privileges gained for us, and the "vantage ground" He places us upon. This needs to be held up before the youth.
From another point: Adam sinned as an adult. To begin where Adam failed, Christ would need to be at the same point. He at thirty appeared, and entered the warfare of the wilderness temptations. He conquered Satan. He was preserved by God's power, and so long as He kept connected, He continued to conquer. I have no problem with Divine Intervention during the "baby" years. How and what all that involved is not revealed. So I let it rest there. Hasn't God paid enough? I do not even find the devil challenging that exercise of staying power on the part of God to keep Jesus. While Satan tried to kill Jesus(Herod's execution of infants of Bethlehem), it was after thirty years and forty days of fasting that Satan came "tearing at Jesus" in the weakness of humanity. Jesus was victorious, and he offers to credit me with that victory besides giving me many more.
Does this answer all the questions? No! But it does challenge me to understand "righteousness by faith" so that at last I can stand in Him complete, and join in singing Rev. 5:13.
Praying that this will be helpful to you and your son, I remain,
Wm. H. Grotheer, Editor