WWN XXV - 10(92) Excerpt


what of the night?”

"The hour has come, the hour is striking and striking at you,
the hour and the end!"        Eze. 7:6 (Moffatt)


Part 1

10(92) Page 3

Ever since the revival of interest in what took place at the 1888 General Conference session in Minneapolis, with its aftermath, there has been projected upon the Adventist consciousness, the concept of "corporate repentance." This was due wholly to the research, writing, and preaching of Elders R. J. Wieland and D. K. Short since 1950. Even though in recent years, these men have waffled over the meaning of "corporate repentance," if the experience these brethren called for in the beginning had occurred, then there would be no need for further consideration of other aspects of corporate accountability. While our God is a God of mercy, He is also a God of justice. His Spirit will not always strive with men. (Gen. 6:3) While the times and seasons remain at His discretion (Acts 1:7), there is no record in all Sacred Writ where He granted unlimited time in which to repent. Thus there comes a very real aspect of corporate accountability - corporate guilt - and what God will do about it. With this is involved our individual responsibility.

That we might understand what we are talking about, we should keep before us a clear definition of the term - corporate. This word comes from the Latin - corpus - meaning, body. To incorporate is to make into a body, a single unit composed of few or many members. Such a corporate body, religious in nature, is called a church. In Scripture, such a body is compared to the human organism. (1 Cor. 12:12) The legal aspects of a corporation is a body formed and authorized by law to act as a single person although constituted of more than one person, and legally endowed with the right of succession. This right of succession, while legally recognized in its provision for corporations, is a fundamental Scriptural teaching regarding the church.

Over and above, and within a corporate concept, there is granted to every individual, the power of choice. In most instances, I choose to become a part of a "corpus," the only exception being my natural birth, with its gift of family ties, nationality, race, and citizenship. But even here, I can spurn my family; I can renounce my citizenship, or choose another. However, in the area of the corpus we call the church, I must choose what that church shall be. Then, what are my responsibilities by so choosing? What is my accountability because of that choice? What choices does one have, once he becomes a part of such a corpus?

There is and always has been tension between individual responsibility and corporate accountability. Man was created in the Image of God, and with this image came certain power - power to think and to do. It has been stated thus:

Every human being, created in the image of God, is endowed with a power akin to that of the Creator - individuality, power to think and to do....It is the work of true education to develop this power; to train youth to be thinkers, and not mere reflectors of other men's thoughts. (Education, p. 17)

Since "in the highest sense, the work of education and the work of redemption are one" (ibid., p. 30), the Church, though a corpus, to be true to its trust, must seek the development in the individuals composing the body, that restoration of the image of God, which gives them the power to think and to act. It is the object of this study to explore what God has to say about corporate accountability, so that we may know how to relate as individuals to the crisis of corporate identity at this present time.

God created the first corporation. Its formation is described in these words:

And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh thereof; and the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made He a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: for they shall be one flesh. (Gen. 2:21-24)

Here we have two individuals, with individual responsibility, yet declared to be one in a corporate identity.

The next picture presented in the Scripture record is the seduction of Eve by the serpent to partake of that which God had forbidden. But the question comes - Did Adam have to sin because he was one with Eve? No! He had been created in the image of God with the power to think and to do as an individual. How God would have met the situation had Adam not chosen to eat of the fruit offered to him by Eve is a moot question. However, the Scripture does not state that by Eve sin entered the world, but

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by "one man." (Rom. 5:17) By his deliberate disobedience, Adam not only surrendered his individual responsibility, but joined corporately in passing death to the human race. "As in Adam all die." (1 Cor. 15:22a) Since a corporation has the power of succession, death passed upon all man because of their identity in that first corporation. Paul stated it this way - 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." (Rom. 5:12)

God has provided another corporation. There is the corpus of Adam; there is the corpus of Christ. "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." (1 Cor. 15:22) "Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of One the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." (Rom. 5:18) Since I by natural birth am involved in the corpus of Adam, how do I change corpora? To as many as receive the Word made flesh, "to them gave He power to become sons of God [not sons of Adam], even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:12-13) With the coming of God into humanity - "God was manifest in the flesh" (1 Tim. 3:16) - the corpus Christi became as real as is the corpus of Adam. This new corpus brought about by God, as was the first corporation in Eden, has likewise the power of succession. To that new corpus Christi, Jesus committed the great commission, and clearly stated that it was to endure to the end of the age. He would be with them by His Holy Spirit through all time. (Matt. 28:19-20; John 14:16-18) They were to become one spirit with Him, as He had become one flesh with them.

Is this succession organizational, or is it the succession of truth? In other words - Do we find the truth by submitting to the Church, or do we find the Church by submitting to the truth?


Jesus declared - "I am the way, the truth and the life:  no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me." (John 14:6) The only access back to the Father and to life - for "in Adam all die" - is through Jesus Christ. When alone with His disciples in the region of Caesarea Philippi, Jesus questioned them about whom the people perceived Him to be. The disciples had heard various comments as they mingled with the multitudes who came to listen and to be healed. Then Jesus asked them directly - "But whom say ye that I am?" (Matt. 16:15) To this question, Peter responded - "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." This perception of reality in contradiction to what He appeared to be - the Son of man - came only through revelation. It could not be comprehended through the insight available to "flesh and blood" but came from the "Father which is in heaven." Upon this revelation of truth - divine in origin, solid as a rock - Jesus declared He would build His Church. (Matt. 16:17-18) He, the very embodiment of Truth, became the head of that body - the Corpus Christi.

Paul perceived this nature of the Corpus Christi when he wrote to Timothy, stating:

These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: but if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and the stay of the truth. (1 Tim. 3:14-15, margin)

The Corpus Christi is to be the pillar, the stay, the visible means through which truth is to be revealed to man. And only as it adheres to truth can it truly be the Church of the living God.

It is most informative, and also very revealing how the Apostolic Church viewed themselves and how they were viewed by the Jewish Church of which they were or had been a part depending upon their spiritual progression. When Paul, sought to apprehend heretics, dissidents, or whatever name they might have been called in the synagogues of Damascus, his letters of authority described these people as followers "of the way." (Acts 9:1-2, Gr.) Luke tells of an incident on Paul's third missionary journey which occurred at Ephesus and what he did about it. The record reads:

And he [Paul] went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of the way [Greek] before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples,...(Acts 19:8-9)

After this decision by the Apostle Paul, the word of God grew mightily and prevailed so that "there was no small stir about the way." (Acts 19:23 Gr) This concept of "The Way" was again used by Paul as he addressed the riotous Jewish mob from the stairs of the Tower of Antonia.

Speaking in the Hebrew tongue, he told of his education and training in Jerusalem "at the feet

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of Gamaliel, his zeal "toward God," and how he "persecuted this way unto death." (Acts 22:4) It is clear from the book of Acts, that while the disciples of Christ were first called "Christians" at Antioch (11:27), they were known throughout Jewry as simply Followers of The Way.

This concept of the way of truth which brings life is very interestingly projected in the New Testament. Christ presented the devil as a murderer - the one who brings death, and the reason given is that he "abode not in the truth." (John 8:44) Christ on the other hand is set forth as "the Prince of life." (Acts 3:15) He came to "destroy him that had the power of death." (Heb. 2:14) He, the Word made flesh, was "full of grace and truth." (John 1:14) Through the atoning sacrifice of Calvary, Jesus made it possible for the sons of Adam to become sons of God, thus changing their identification from the corpus of Adam to the corpus of Christ. This accomplishment of Christ, and the provision thus made for man, is spoken of as "the way out," or the "exodus." Luke, in telling of the coming of Moses and Elijah to Jesus at the time of the Transfiguration, states that they spoke of "His decease which He should accomplish at Jerusalem." (Luke 9:31) The word translated in the KJV as "decease" is the Greek, exodos, or "the way out." Thus those who proclaimed Him as the only way to the Father, as the sole source of salvation (Acts 4:12) were dubbed by the Jewish religious leaders as "Followers of the Way." And to the Hebrew Christians, Paul could write of that "new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say His flesh." (Heb. 10:20)

The concept as to what constitutes succession in the Corpus Christi, whether it be organization, or whether it be truth, is vividly contrasted in the confrontation between Paul and the lawyer for the hierarchy of Jerusalem in his arraignment before Felix. When permitted to speak in his own defense, Paul declared, "I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and the prophets." (Acts 24:14) His basis of belief was the same that it always had been - he still accepted the truth of the Word of God. He still worshipped the God of his fathers. To Paul, he was merely continuing in the truth which the Lord had revealed - the revelation of the promised Messiah. But because Paul was willing to walk in that way, how was he viewed by the hierarchy of Jerusalem? Tertullus, advocate for the religious leaders, declared him to be "a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes." (Acts 24:5) What really was Paul's crime? He could no longer support the hierarchy, nor the program they projected for the people. To him, the leadership of Israel had rejected the Truth; they had betrayed the Trust committed to them. He with Stephen believed they had resisted the Holy Spirit to their damnation, and though they had received the law by the disposition of angels, they had not kept it. (Acts 7:51, 53)

These convictions form the basis for Paul's teachings as found in the book of Romans: "They which are the children of the flesh [the succession upon which the corpus of Israel was based], these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise [succession based upon the Word of God - truth] are counted for the seed." (Rom. 9:8) Therefore, "hath God cast away His people?" To this Paul answers - "God forbid." What then is the answer? Noting the history of Israel in the days of Elijah, Paul concludes - "Even so then at the present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace." (Rom. 11:1-5) To Paul, this remnant is "the Israel of God." (Gal. 6:16)

What did Paul want those to see - those still attached to the succession of the flesh? "If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." (Gal. 3:29) The inheritance would not come through the corporate structure of Israel, but by following The Way - truth that leads to life. To remain attached to the earthly Jerusalem was not the answer. Paul declared that church controlled by the hierarchy to be "in bondage with her children. But the Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all." (Gal. 4:25-26) He wrote to the Hebrews that they had come "unto Mount Zion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels [who still abode in the truth], to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the judge of all." (Heb. 12:22-23) And the only way - The Way - to that God with Whom we have to do, is by Jesus Christ, "the way, the truth and the life." The succession which God recognizes is not the way of organization, but the way of truth. Organization, though necessary, is only a vehicle, a means by which truth is carried. Loyalty is not to a vehicle, but to truth itself. Those who are thus loyal to truth constitute the Corpus Christi.

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Let us consider Paul's question - "Hath God cast away His people? - in the context of today - the "now time." Hath God cast away the Advent Movement? God forbid! How can He deny that which is the fulfilment of prophecy which He himself mandated? (Rev. 1:1; 14:6-12) But the Advent Movement and the Seventh-day Adventist Church are two different things. The latter is merely the vehicle God chose through which to carry forward His Movement. God never told His people that in the balances of the sanctuary the Advent Movement would be weighed. But He did declare, through His messenger to the remnant, that "in the balances of the sanctuary the Seventh-day Adventist church is to be weighed." (8T:247) Even at the present time, there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

Continued in WWN 11(92)