XXXI - 4 (98)
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)
Eternal Verities - 4
THE INCARNATION - II
Let’s Talk It Over
The first article concludes the summation of the second "Eternal Verity" - the Incarnation. We discuss the doctrine as found not only in the Pauline Epistles but also in the Epistles of John. In reviewing the first verses of John's first Epistle, new perceptions of Christ's eternal pre-existence broke into my mind. Using the same preposition as in the prologue of his Gospel - proV - John declares they showed to the believers "that Eternal Life which was with the Father." No inference is suggested that that "Eternal Life" was en (in) the Father and was "begotten" by Him, but rather had been ever "with" the Father. The capsheaf on the nature Christ assumed in accepting humanity is found in the heart of the Revelation of Jesus Christ. He was a male Child who could understand all of our infirmities.
Coming home from a weekend in Alabama, I found that I had received in the mail the clipping pictured on page 5. The thoughtfulness of the one sending it to me is much appreciated. "Unbelievable" is probably too mild a term, but what else can one say after reading it? It must be assumed that the one making the statement in direct quotes is a leader of some rank in the Church at Frederick, Maryland. Whatever the situation; whatever his background and training; where has been the Pastor-Teacher with the gift to give faithful instruction to the laity? The article indicates that the same pastor is serving the Church now, who was serving the Church when it burned. Is it a sad picture of one too busy doing the "Lord's work" of building a new edifice, that he did not have time to plant truth into the minds and hearts of the members of the congregation? How can anyone knowing the assumptions made in the celebration of the Mass, think that God answered such prayers? If indeed there was more than a mere coincidence involved as suggested in this report, those who so believe need to make a new appraisal of the corporate Church.
The editorial - "Let's Talk It Over" - suggests that we need to take a new look at what is really unique about Adventism.
The Incarnation - II
In the Epistles is to be found a theology of the Incarnation, a theology sufficiently detailed so that it can be determined beyond question whether Christ took upon Himself the nature of Adam prior to the Fall, or the nature after the Fall, or a selected human nature which resembled both the post-Fall and pre-Fall Adamic nature.
Paul, writing to the Church at Corinth, stated that God in "reconciling the world unto Himself," made Christ "to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be the righteousness of God in Him." (II Cor. 5:19, 21) While the emphasis by Paul in this section of his letter is on reconciliation and its ministry, it cannot be overlooked that basic to this reconciliation is Jesus "made sin." This could not be unless He incarnated in the fallen nature of man where sin held its dominion. To break the power of "the strong man," Christ had to "first bind the strong man," then He could "spoil his house." (Matt. 12:29) We can but dimly comprehend the depths of the condescension to rescue man from the grasp of sin, except as we meditate on the "outer darkness" that enveloped the cross and hear the anguished cry that pierced the Heavens, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me"? The result - "we [can] be made the righteousness of God in Him."
As he continued his epistle, Paul noted another aspect of the Incarnation. He wrote - "Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich." (II Cor. 8:9) This was more than the mere fact that "the Son of man hath not where to lay His head." (Matt. 8:20) As Alford in his Greek Testament comments - "It was not merely by His renunciation of human riches during His life on earth, but by His exinanition [act of evacuating] of His glory." (Vol. II, p.681) The force of this aspect of the Incarnation, Paul will pursue in his letter to the Philippian Church. This we will now consider. He wrote:
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 Himsef of no reputation, and took on 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. (Phil 2:5-8)
Within these verses, four words used by Paul need to be fully understood: "form" (morfh), "fashion" (schma), "no reputation" (κενόω), and "likeness" (omoiwma).
Moulton and Milligan in their work, The Vocabulary of' the Greek New Testament, observe that morfh "always signifies a form which truly and fully expresses the being which underlies it." (p.417) Paul uses it twice to contrast what Jesus was and what He took upon Himself. He was "in the form of God.” This is defined as being equal (isa) with God. The word, isa means equal in either "quality or quantity" (Thayer). In the case of Christ it was both. However, in the incarnation, He took upon Himself, "the form of a servant" (slave, δοῦλος). If this statement were all that was given in the New Testament in regard to the nature that Christ assumed in the flesh, it would be sufficient to settle the question once and for all what Adamic nature He accepted. Not until Adam sinned did he have a slave form.
The second word - schma - signifies the outward appearance. His external bearing was "in the likeness of men."
The third word, a verb (κενόω), in the KJV reads that Christ made Himself of no reputation." The RV translates the same word as "but emptied Himself." Literally translated the text reads - "But Himself, He emptied" (alla eauton ekenwsen) - the emphatic sentence structure. Moulton and Milligan cited above, notes a use of the verb, κενόω, in secular literature supporting the RV translation (p.340). Laying aside "the form of God," He took the slave form of man. John in his Gospel records the prayer of Jesus, requesting of the Father that He be glorified "with the glory which He had with [Him] before the world was" (17:5). Yet John in his gospel declares that when the Logos became flesh He possessed a glory as the unique One of the Father, "full of grace and truth" (1:14). He emptied Himself of the manifest possession of Deity, yet retaining the essential elements of Divinity - grace and truth.
The fourth word, omoiwma (in likeness), is connected with what He became, anqrwpwn (of men) - literally "in the likeness of men becoming." The question is, Did Christ really become man, or did He merely give the appearance of being a man? The Bible plainly teaches the reality of the humanness of Jesus. He slept; He hungered; He thirsted; He wept - He was truly a man. The religious leaders who contended with Him had no problem with the fact that He was a man. They said to Him - "For a good work we stone thee not, but ... because that thou being a man, makest thyself God." (John 10:33) This force of the word used by Paul to convey that Jesus was really a man needs to be understood and retained in one's thinking, because elsewhere he uses this same word in defining the nature He assumed in humanity.
We consider this text next. In his letter to the Romans, Paul wrote - "God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin condemned sin in the flesh." (Rom. 8:3) Here is again the same word translated "likeness." Literally, en omoiwmati sarkoV amartiaV - "in the likeness of a flesh of sin. To understand the word, 'omoiwma, differently here than in Philippians 2:7, is wresting Scripture. God sent His Son in the reality of a flesh of sin. Paul is not saying that He was sinful, but that He was like all others who were born into the human race having the tendencies and potential to sin. To emphasize the force of this fact, Paul adds that He condemned sin "in the flesh." If not the reality, the condemnation was only an appearance - the victory a farce.
In his letter to the Galatians, Paul emphasizes that Christ "was born out of woman, born under law." (Gal. 4:4) He came as all
other children come, came under the same law of heredity to which all are subject. Since the Fall, there has been no other flesh than the flesh of sin. But because of what Jesus did in that flesh of sin - condemned sin - there is hope that when He comes the second time, He will come "without sin unto salvation." (Heb. 9:28)
The discussion of Jesus as a man, and his relationship to those He came to save, in Hebrews 2:9-18, has been the basis upon which not only the leaders of the Holy Flesh Movement built their Christology, but is also the text used today by those who teach that Christ came born, born again. The assumption drawn from these verses is that while Jesus was "in all things made like unto His brethren" (ver. 17), these "brethren" were "sanctified" (ver. 11). Therefore Jesus did not come in the likeness of sinners, but in the likeness of men redeemed and sanctified. (It is not explained how these "sanctified ones" became sanctified, because if Jesus came only to that level, who made the provision for them to reach the level where they were? Is there an unknown "Saviour"?) This faulty teaching results from a failure to understand what the text actually states in verse 11 - "for both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one." The KJV omits a word from the final phrase - "all of one." The Greek text reads - ex enoV panteV - out of one, all. If the preposition, ek (ex before vowels) meaning "out of” were not in the text, then the assumption that all - the sanctified, and the One sanctifying were of one nature, might have merit. This cannot be with the use of the preposition, ek, denoting source or origin. The text indicates a common source - all out of one source. Two possible sources would do no violence to the text: 1) Out of the Father, or 2) Out of Adam. The evidence from the context would indicate the latter because it reads - "He took on Him the seed of Abraham" (ver. 16).
This was the interpretation given by A. T. Jones. In a series of talks at the 1895 General Conference session on "The Third Angel's Message, Jones commented on Heb. 2:11 stating:
In His human nature, Christ came from the man from whom we all have come; so that the expression in this verse, "all of one," is the same as "all from one," - all coming forth from one. And the genealogy of Christ, as one of us, runs to Adam. Luke 3:38. (GC Bulletin, p.231)
A closer look at what is written to the Hebrews tells us something. "For as much as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also himself took part of the same;" - for a purpose - "that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil" (ver. 14). We might ask: Could Adam have died, once created, unless he sinned? We might inquire further; could Christ if He had taken the nature of unfallen Adam have died, since He did not sin? He took the nature of those He came to save from "the power of death."
Turning now to the Epistles of John, and the book of Revelation which he was commissioned to write, the same position in regard to the Incarnation is reflected as has been noted in the Epistles of Paul. Using the same theme which marks the introduction to his Gospel, John begins his first Epistle declaring –
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word (logoV) of life. (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifest unto us;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ (I John 1:1-3)
The Word of life which was with God was a reality - they saw, heard, and felt His substance. That "Eternal One" which was from the beginning with the Father was manifest - made flesh (John 1:14) - to them. This One which John had seen and heard declared he unto those to whom he was now writing. It was in that manifestation in flesh - real tangible flesh - that the believer was to have fellowship with the Son, Jesus Christ. He is the Son of God in our flesh, not in some emanating spirit form. "Unto us a son is given" in our flesh and blood. On this point a warning is sounded in his epistles:
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist (I John 4:1-3)
In his second Epistle, the warning is again sounded:
For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist (II John 7)
While John's emphasis is clearly centered on the reality of God in the flesh, and not that Jesus Christ was only an appearance, it cannot be side-stepped that He came in the flesh, the same as those to whom He was manifest, who both saw, heard, and handled Him. They lived with Him; ate with Him, dwelt with Him. He was not different from them. John uses only one word to describe His reality as a man - the Word was made flesh, and the only flesh he knew was that which he himself possessed.
At the very heart of the Unveiling (apokalaluyiV) of Jesus Christ is the visionary manifestation of Jesus as "a Man-child" (Rev.12:5). The Greek text reads - kai eteken uion, arsen - literally, "and she brought forth a son, a male." The emphasis is that this Son was a male, not a eunuch. He was not bereft of the forces which surge through human beings; He understood the "feelings of our infirmities" (Heb. 4:15). In the next scene of the vision, as a warfare between Michael and the dragon, "the Man-child" conquered. "The dragon ... prevailed not." From heaven - to which the Man-child was taken - came "a loud voice" declaring, "Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ (Messiah); for the accuser of our brethren is cast down"
(Rev.12:10). Herein lies the hope of those who place their trust in Him - "the Man-child." He is "to rule all nations with a rod of iron" because He ruled the flesh He took with the same rod. It is declared of those who exercise their privilege to become "sons of God" (John 1:12), brothers of "the Man-child," that they, too, "overcame him [the dragon] by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto death" (Rev.12:11).
In the heart of this Apocalypse to John is to be found in symbolism the victory over sin at its very fountainhead - the flesh. The Word (Logos) came to be flesh - "a Man-child." Accepting "a flesh of sin," He condemned sin in that flesh, that we might overcome "through the blood of the Lamb" to which we have contributed nothing, yet are enabled to testify to its saving power, willingly following the blood stained path to Calvary, loving not our lives even unto death.
(To Be Continued)
In the mid-seventies, when the documents connected with the EEEC vs. PPPA became available, the first shock of what was happening in the thinking of the hierarchy of the regular Church was experienced by concerned Adventists. A footnote in a Brief submitted by the legal counsel for the Church read:
Although it is true that there was a period in the life of the Seventh-day Adventist Church when the denomination took a distinctly anti-Roman Catholic viewpoint, and the term "hierarchy" was used in a pejorative sense to refer to the form of church governance, that attitude on the church's part was nothing more than a manifestation of a widespread anti-popery among conservative protestant denominations in the early part of this century and the latter part of the last, and which has now been consigned to the historical trash heap so far as the Seventh-day Adventist Church is concerned. (Reply Brief dated March 3, 1975, Footnote #2; submitted in the US District Court, Northern District of California)
This drift Romeward was heightened in 1981 with the publication of God Cares, a commentary on Daniel, written by C. Mervyn Maxwell. After listing eight identifying marks of the little horn in Daniel 7, Maxwell wrote:
Only one entity really fits all eight of these identifying marks - the Christian church which rose to religiopolitical prominence as the Roman Empire declined and which enjoyed a special influence over the minds of men between the sixth and eighteenth centuries.
To call this Christian church the "Roman Catholic" Church can be misleading if Protestants assume that the Roman Catholic Church of, say, the sixth century was one big denomination among others, as it is today. Actually the Roman Catholic Church was virtually the Christian church in Western Europe for about a thousand years. Because of this early universality, both Protestant and Catholics may regard it as the embodiment of "our" Christian heritage, for better or for worse." (p.127; emphasis his)
Before listing the eight points of identification of the little horn, Maxwell actually wrote that "in Daniel 7 God purposefully presented a one-sided picture of Rome as a terrible beast ..." While shocking, this should not have been unexpected. Maxwell's father, Arthur S. Maxwell, had declared upon his return from the Vatican II Council - "We must rethink our approach to our Roman Catholic friends. How can we reject an outstretched hand and be Christians?" By "friends" Maxwell was referring to the priests and hierarchy of the Roman Church. He suggested "that a lot of our preachers are going to have to throw away a lot of old sermons. You and me - a lot of old sermons. I scrapped a lot of them already." (Present Truth, 1968, #3, pp.13, 14) Where? - on "the historical trash heap." So what did Dr. Merwyn do? He scrapped the basic Adventist understanding of who the antichrist is, and whitewashed it into "the Christian Church" of the Dark Ages!
During this decade - 1975-1985 - other things were taking place in the Romeward drift of the Church. B. B. Beach, during a papal audience at Rome in 1977, placed in the hand of Pope Paul VI, a gold medallion, as a symbol of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Sculptured by a Roman Catholic, Ralph J. Menconi, it was replete with Roman symbolism. (See, Steps to Rome, a documented manuscript, pp.10-11, & Appendix B)
At the General Conference session in 1990, for the first time in the history of such sessions, an observer representing the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity attended. In introducing T. J. Murphy, pastor of Saint Joan of Arc Church in Indianapolis, B. B. Beach declared, "He is here to give greetings on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church." (GC Bulletin, #7, p.8) The delegates applauded. Murphy responded:
During this occasion, the fifty-fifth world session of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, I convey to you greetings and prayerful best wishes from the president, secretary, and members of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. I bring you personal greetings from the archbishop of Indianapolis, promising and assuring you that prayers are being offered within our community for the blessed success of this General Conference. It is a deep honor to be present as an observer of these momentous and Spirit-filled proceedings and deliberations. For it is the desire of the Saviour Himself that His disciples might all be one so that the world may believe.
I conclude with a prayer from our liturgy, a prayer we
(Continued on original p 6)
What Next? - from p 4
can voice from our hearts. "Deliver us, Lord, from every evil, and grant us peace in our day. In Your mercy, keep us free from sin and protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen." (ibid.)
Keep in mind that this Roman priest did not come on his own volition. While he was a local parish pastor, he spoke as a representative of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. He was sent by that higher Roman authority because that Pontifical Council had an invitation lodged with it by the Adventist Church leadership.
What Next? The next happening is dated January 17, 1998. We have reproduced on the previous page the article from the Hagerstown, Maryland, The Herald-Mail, as it was received by us, so that all may read the key paragraph in full context. The first four paragraphs have been enlarged for your in depth consideration. The direct quotes of Frank Damazo by the Staff Writer is beyond comprehension.
Let us do a little thinking about the implications of these remarks. What perceptions could a Roman Catholic priest have of the present thinking in Adventism to dedicate a blasphemous Mass to the Seventh-day Adventist Church? What "spirit" motivated such a gesture, and at such a time? What power turned the air currents and saved the Church School? If Damazo believed as indicated by the Staff Writer of The Herald-Mail, he must believe that the power of God is working in the celebration of the Mass. How far has Adventist thinking gone?
All of this along with the series of documentation cited above, recalls a letter received by the "Evangelistic Literature Enterprise" located in Brendale, Queensland, Australia, January 17,1984, signed, "Shannon." Claiming to be a Jesuit priest, he wrote –
The main aims of our organization have been direct, against a Christian Church which we have very thoroughly infiltrated. They are the Remnant Church of Revelation 12:v.17 and Rev. 14: v.12 [A Handwitten Letter, copy of which was received at the Foundation office]
An Australian inquiry received a response from the editor of the Evangelistic Literature Enterprise which stated - "I do believe it was an authentic Jesuit. Basing my judgment on the word, 'remnant' I would conclude that he was referring to the SDA Church."
Let's Talk It Over
This morning I was reading a "Statement of Faith" prepared by a congregational Seventh-day Adventist Church which had been in association with the conference of Churches where it is located. Several points in this statement, along with the circumstances and events associated with its break-a-way from the Conference, need to be discussed. The Lord willing, we shall do so in a future issue of WWN.
Over the years, we have taught that the Sabbath is the distinguishing mark of God's true Church. (Now there are various communions outside the community of Adventism which observe the Bible Sabbath) We have proclaimed it as the seal of God's Law. I was - and I am groping for a word to describe my reaction to what I read in this "Statement of Faith" about their position on the Sabbath. Perhaps the word I want is "astounded." I have never faced before the line of reasoning used to justify the keeping of the Sabbath, yet a line of reasoning which permits Sunday-keeping "all in the same breath," and I was engaged in public evangelism many years of my ministry for the Church. Here is what it states in full on "The Sabbath:
Because God rested on the seventh day from His work of creation, and Jesus rested on the Sabbath after His completed work of salvation on the cross, the Sabbath has become a symbol in time of God's finished work in Christ (Heb. 4:9-10). Since the principle of a seventh day of rest is clearly taught in the OT and not untaught in the NT, we choose to conduct our regular worship services on Saturday. Rather than creating nonbiblical religious Sabbath-keeping traditions like the Pharisees at the time of Christ, we celebrate the Sabbath as a symbol of Christ's finished work. God may and should be worshiped on every day of the week, therefore we do not intend for the day of worship to be a point of contention or division with other Christians.
You find a word now to describe your reaction. There is both simple truth and subtle error in the above statement, but very smoothly blended. In this statement a basic pillar of Adventism is applied so as to annul another basic pillar. In so doing, you really end up with neither.
So this raises the fundamental question as to our existence as Adventists. What was the unique message given to the Seventh-day Adventist Church to proclaim? Or what makes our teaching unique? We say the Three Angels' Messages of Revelation 14:6-12. (See 9T:19) However, only as we relate them in the context of Daniel 7:9-10 do we have a uniqueness. "The hour of His judgment is come." (Revelation) "The judgment was set and the books were opened." (Daniel) All of this must be associated with "the everlasting gospel."
Just what is unique in Adventism that you cannot find in the teachings of any other group? The Sabbath is no longer a distinctive mark as we noted above, neither the teaching of the Second Advent of Jesus Christ. You might respond and say the sanctuary doctrine. Yes and No. We have in the Foundation Library a book by Henry W. Soltau first published in 1851. It is titled - The Holy Vessels and Furniture of the Tabernacle. The "jacket" indicates "this study draws the believers to a wide field of blessed truth which typifies the Lord Jesus." In other words, the meanings of the type and antitype symbolisms of the sanctuary structure were worked out by another prior to Adventism.
What then is unique in our sanctuary teaching? Speaking of the priests "that offer gifts according to the law," Paul declares that these "serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things." (Heb. 8:5) It was the service, not the structure per se, which contains the message which opens our understanding to the heavenly reality. This should be readily seen by a simple comparison. The earthly model contained a most holy place whose length, width and height were equal, making a ten cubit cube. Now consider by contrast that Daniel sees the judgment set in an amphitheater which could seat all the heavenly hosts (Dan. 7:10). This means simply that we need to carefully rethink all our perceptions of the heavenly ministry of Christ, in line with the example given, not of structure revealed but of the services carried forward in that structure. Further, a careful consideration of the tense of the verb used by John, as he penned the first angel's message, could enhance our understanding of its relationship and meaning to the beginning of the judgment as pictured in the prophecy of Daniel.
Then there are some questions that need to be probed and some answers found.
Why were all the angels gathered at the very beginning of the convening of the Judgement in the Heavenly Most Holy Place? (As traffic cops to confirm the tickets they gave the law breakers of earth? Hardly? A bit ridiculous? But why were they called at the opening of the judgment?)
Could it be that the final message of mercy could not begin until the Heavenly Host made a decision in the light of the open books of heavenly record?
Does the "theorem" that the judgment on sin must begin at the point and over the point where sin began have validity? If so, is this one of the reasons for the assembling of the Heavenly Hosts?
Does the dictum that sin will not arise a second time include also the angels of heaven? If yes, why would it?
In the light of the above questions, is a re-study of the services performed in type on the Day of Atonement as outlined in Leviticus 16 mandated?
Take another look as to the precise wording of the "Statement of Faith" which we quoted above. It speaks of the Sabbath as "a symbol in time of God's finished work in Christ," and uses a reference from Hebrews to confirm the statement. Yet the book of Hebrews speaks of the continuing ministry of Christ. Does that intercession obtain nothing for him who comes boldly to the throne of grace? (Heb. 4:16) Would not a clearer perception of the types in the "service" outlined, clarify the meaning of the sacrifice completed at the Cross. Or do we no longer believe that Adventism did carry a unique message, and for the concerned Adventist today it still carries such a message!
To hear truth and not accept does not nullify truth