XXXVIII - 3 (05)

“Watchman,

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)

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Interpretive History of Incarnation — IV (Concluded)

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Continued from page 7, WWΝ 2(05)

 

The Doctrine of the

Incarnation As Understood by

Α. T. Jones & E. J. Waggoner

 

He stated:

 

Weak as we, sinful as we, simply ourselves, - He went through this world, and never sinned. [1]*He was sinful as we, weak as we, helpless as we, helpless as the man is who is without God; yet by His trust in God, God so visited Him, so abode in Him, so strengthened Him, that, instead of sin ever being manifested, the righteousness of God was always manifested.

 

But who was He? He was ourselves. Then God has demonstrated once in the world, and to the uniνerse, that He will so come to me and you; and so live with us, as we are in the world today; and will cause His grace and His power to so abide with us; that, in spite of all our sinfulness, in spite of all our weaknesses, the righteousness and the holy influence of God will be manifested to men, instead of ourselves and our sinfulness (ibid. p. 302)

 

To A. T. Jones, it would be no mystery for God to be manifest in sinless flesh. "But the wonder is that God can do that through and in sinful flesh. That is the mystery of God, - God manifest in sinful flesh." Then he stated:

 

In Jesus Christ as He was in sinful flesh, God has demonstrated before the universe that He can so take possession of sinful flesh as to manifest His own presence, His power, and His glory, instead of sin manifesting itself. And all that the Son asks of any man, in order to accomplish this in him, is that the man will let the Lord have him as the Lord Jesus did....

 

Then God will so take us, and so use us, that our sinful selνes shall not appear to influence or effect anybody; but God will manifest His righteous self, His glory, before men, in spite of all ourselves and our sinfulness. That is the truth. And that is the mystery of God, "Christ in you the hope of glory," - God manifest in sinful flesh (Ibid., p. 303).

 

The "false idea that [Christ] is so holy that it would be entirely unbecoming in Him to come near to us, and be possessed of such a nature as we have, sinful, depraved, fallen human nature" had its source in "the incarnation of that enmity that is against God, and that separates between man and God, the papacy." To accomplish this, "Mary must be born immaculate, perfect, sinless" and "then Christ must be so born of her as to take His human nature in absolute sinlessness from her." But Jones declared for himself [and for all of us] - "I need someone to help me who knows something about sinful nature; for that is the nature that I have; and such the Lord did take. He became one of us." Then Jones challenged those present at the meeting that in the light of a revival of papal power, and the formation of the image to the beast - "having the form of godliness without the reality, without the power" - is not the truth of the incarnation needed as never before so that there can be proclaimed "the real merits of Jesus Christ ..· and His holiness?" (ibid., p. 311).

 

By the time Jones reached his 16th study, some of the delegates were either openly challenging his presentation of the Incarnation by calling attention to the statements in Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 2, or else were beginning to study carefully what had been presented and

 

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sought an answer to what appeared to be a contradiction between Jones' presentation and the Spirit of Prophecy. At the close of the study, Jones made the following comment:

 

Some have found, and all may find, in the Testimonies the statement that Christ has not "like passions as we have." The statement is there; everyone may find it there, of course.

Now there will be no difficulty in any of these studies from beginning to end, if you stick precisely to what is said; whether it be Church or State, separation from the world, or this of Christ in our flesh (Ibid p. 312).

 

Even though the concept that the Son of God assumed man's fallen nature had been presented with clarity during the previous four years by the “messengers" of the Lord (See bracketed comment, WWN 2 (05), p. 6, col. 1), many were still reluctant to express themselves in regard to this basic truth. At the beginning of his presentations on the Incarnation during these 1895 studies, Jones asked the assembled delegates - "Well, then, in His human nature, when He was upon earth, was He in anywise different from what you are in your human nature tonight?" A stenographer noted the reaction: "[Α few in the congregation responded, 'No')" To this Jones replied - for to him this concept was basic to the teaching of righteousness by faith:

 

I wish we had heard everybody in the house say, "No," with a loud voice. You are too timid altogether. The Word of God says that, and we are to say, That is so; because there is salvation in just that one thing. No it is not enough to say it that way; the salvation of God for human beings lies in just that one thing. We are not to be timid about it at all. There our salvation lies, and until we get there we are not sure of our salvation. That is where it is. "In all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren." What for? - 0, "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 succor them that are tempted." Then don't you see that our salvation lies just there? Do you not see that it is right there that Christ comes to us? He came to us just where we are tempted, and was made like us just where we are tempted; and there is the point where we meet Him - the living Savior against the power of temptation (ibid., p. 233).

 

In the 17th study, Jones devoted the time answering the questions some had raised because of the statements found in Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 2. He began the study with these words:

 

Now as to Christ not having "like passions" with us: In the Scriptures all the way through He is like us, and with us according to the flesh. He is the seed of David according to the flesh. He was made in the likeness of sinful flesh. Don't go too far. He was made in the likeness of sinful flesh; not in the likeness of sinful mind. Do not drag His mind into it. His flesh was our flesh; but the mind was "the mind of Christ Jesus" (ibid. p. 327).

 

In this distinct differentiation, Jones was not only doing what he had done previously, separating between the inherited tendencies to sin common to man, and the habits of sin which men have cultivated by yielding to temptation. On this point, he elucidated as follows:

 

Our minds have consented to sin. We have felt the enticements of the flesh, and our minds have yielded, our minds have consented, and did the wills and desires of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind. The flesh leads, and our minds have followed, and with the flesh the law of sin is served. ...

 

Now the flesh of Jesus Christ was our flesh, and in it was all that is in our flesh, - all the tendencies to sin that are in our flesh were in His flesh, drawing upon Him to get Him to consent to sin. Suppose He had consented to sin with His mind; what then? Then His mind would have been corrupted, and then He would have become of like passions with us. ... But until that drawing of our flesh is cherished, there is no sin....

 

Therefore Jesus Christ came in just such a flesh as ours, but with a mind that held its integrity against every temptation, against every inducement to sin, - a mind that never consented to sin, - no, never in the least conceivable shadow of a thought (ibid. p. 328).

 

During this study Jones quoted from two sources in the Spirit of Prophecy. One was an article in the Review & Herald, July 5, 1887,

 

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from which he quoted extensively, and the other was a pre-publication copy of the Desire of Ages, which he referred to as "the new Life of Christ, advance copy." After quoting from this advance copy at length, Jones concluded his study with these remarks:

 

You see, we are on firm ground all the way, so that when it is said that He [Christ] took our flesh; but still as not a partaker of our passions, it is all straight, it is all correct; because His divine mind never consented to sin. Αnd that mind is brought to us by the Holy Spirit that is freely given to us.

 

"We know that the Son of God has come, and hath given us a mind;" and "we have the mind of Christ." "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (Ibid., p. 333).

 

In 1905 the Pacific Press published, The Consecrated Way to Christian Perfectiοn by A. T. Jones. This book based in Hebrews contained the same basic concepts in regard to the human nature of our Lord, which he had so clearly presented in the 1895 studies at the General Conference Session. As indicated by the title and summarized in the book, the humanity of the Son of God as the Son of man, and the perfection of character to be manifested by the Christian cannot be separated. Here is that summary:

 

Perfection, perfection of character, is the Christian goal – perfection attained in human flesh in this world. Christ attained it in human flesh in this world, and thus made and consecrated a way by which, in Him, every believer can attain it. He having attained it, has become our great High Priest by His priestly ministry in the true sanctuary to enable us to attain it.

 

Perfection is the Christian's goal; and the High Priesthood and ministry of Christ in the true sanctuary is the only way by which any soul can attain this true goal in this world. "Thy way, Ο God, is in the sanctuary." Psalm 77:1 (p. 84, emphasis his).

 

Jones in his studies and presentations during a lifetime of ministry for the Church rescued the truth of the Incarnation of the Son of God presented by Irving during the Second Advent Awakening in England. He freed it from misstatement and overstatement, and placed it in its rightful place in connection with the "final atonement."


[1] *Admittedly, Jones used "strong language” when he used the expression - "sinful as we" - in identifying Christ with man. This is another echo from Irving's teaching. But in reality, what difference in basic thought, from Jones, is this statement: - "With the terrible weight of the sins of the world upon Him, Christ withstood the test upon appetite, upon the love of the world, and upon that love of display that leads to presumption" (Desire of Ages, p. 117). The question is how are the Biblical expressions of Christ's identity with man to be verbalized? Paul wrote that God "hath made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin" (2 Cor. 5:21). Also he penned that Christ abolished in His flesh the enmity" (Eph. 2:15). Peter stated that Christ bore "our sins in His own body to the tree" (I Peter 2:24). Jones was speaking of Christ in the context of the Psalms. Psalms 69:5 was quoted - "0 God, thou knowest my foolishness; and my sins are not hid from Thee." Jones commented - "We read here His confession of sin. This was He as ourselves, and in our place, confessing our sins." Thus, "sinful as we," is not to be understood that Christ was a sinner, but that He had put Himself in the sinner's place.