"What Think Ye Of Christ?"Matthew 22:42 "But seek ye first His righteousness and kingdom" (Matthew 6:33 – Emphatic Diaglott) "Therefore every scribe which is instructed into the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasures things new and old"- (Matthew 13:52). "It is the glory of God to conceal a thing, but the honour of kings to search out a matter"- (Proverbs 25:2) "Wisdom is the principle thing, therefore get wisdom; and with all thy getting, get understanding" - (Proverbs 4:7).
These Scriptures quoted above are, like many more, exhortations to the effect that it is necessary to seek, study, and prayerfully meditate in order to find out many things that would otherwise be hid. If we search we shall find (Isaiah 55:6; John 7:17). The secrets of the Lord are with those that are waiting and watching at His gates daily, and who delight in the law of the Lord. The heading or the title of this article may not seem interesting, and perhaps, after trying to understand the meaning of what we say, most will probably disagree with our conclusions. But we ask you, while considering this article, to compare Scripture with Scripture, and see if a more loving and harmonious plan of God's redemption of man can be scripturally produced. There are many ideas propounded upon this subject, and they are in opposition to each other, and are the cause of most of the religious disputes that exist, which disputes we know will not end until the Judge of all the earth returns. When we contemplate the maze of conflicting theories and confusion that exists over God's plan of redemption, it is evident that "mystery" is written over those theories. There is always a bias at the root of all theories which cannot find a scriptural foundation, and that bias will invariably be maintained in reasoning, even at the expense of truth. A ball with a bias will never run straight to the "tee." Jesus we know, is the person through whom God hath appointed to reconcile the world unto Himself (2 Corinthians 5:18,19). God in His wisdom, has condescended to teach us this most important lesson in a simple manner that all may understand, who desire to, by being open minded and not allowing theorisers with a bias to do their thinking for them. We must remember that Jesus said that "all who will, shall know of the doctrine." Without the necessity of their being among the "wise and learned" whose learning unfortunately is in opposition to the attributes of a just God upon the question of man's redemption as centred in Jesus. We must be learned in "the simplicity that is in Christ." God has used many every day experiences in the natural order that a "childlike disposition" can understand, and which is proof of the spiritual (Romans 1:20). Jesus said: "If I have told you earthly things and ye believe not, how shall ye believe if I tell you heavenly things?" (John 3:12). Look at the following few conflicting ideas as to how Jesus is the centre of God's plan of redemption:- The Roman Catholics make Jesus the Christ to have been of a different nature to every son of Adam. The Josephites say that He was like every other son of Adam because Joseph was His father; in other words He was born of the will of the flesh. Then we have the Trinitarians, or the pre-existence theorists. Then the Unitarians who exclude Jesus from being the Son of God. Then we have others who contend for the glorious truth as proclaimed in the Scriptures regarding His divine birth, but nullify that glorious truth by contending that He was sinful flesh, and was as much under the curse of Adam as those He came to save, merely to uphold their theory that the condemnation passed upon all men was physical, i.e., that we are sinful flesh, and under physical condemnation because of Adam's sin. The Scriptures are absolutely silent regarding physical condemnation and sinful flesh is only mentioned once in the whole Bible, and even then it is a faulty translation, ignoring the Greek genitive case (Romans 8:3). We say emphatically that none of the above contradictory theories are in accordance with the Scriptures of truth. "Extreme begets extreme," but the truth is in harmony with itself, and this is an advantage ground where all things can be seen in their true perspectives. We could scripturally refute each of the foregoing theories from several angles, but we will do it from what God has caused to be written for our learning on this important theme. God, who is the Creator and Sustainer of all things, is also just, and we can rest assured that all He does is on a just principle, because God cannot be otherwise. First that which is natural, and second, that which is spiritual (1 Corinthians 15). Adam was first created, and he was the figure of Him that was to come - Christ (1 Corinthians 15:45,48; Romans 5:14). The "elder" (Adam, the natural) shall serve the younger (Christ, the spiritual). "The first shall be last, and the last first." It is out of the natural which is first that God is taking out a people for His name to be His sons and daughters to eventually fill the earth with His glory (Numbers 14:21). "He created it for His pleasure" (Revelation 4:11). And He created it not in vain (Isaiah 45:18). The manner how God is going to justly bring this about can only be understood upon the Federal Principle. God has not shackled anyone physically, because He is just. His principle concludes all under Adam's sin, without that sin physically affecting anyone. All are constituted legally in Adam as the basis of the operation of that principle. We can leave the Adamic Federal Head (as members of that body) and place ourselves under the Christ Federal Headship. God does not physically punish anyone because of Adam's sin, but that sin was the means of bringing a just principle of concluding all Adam's posterity under Adamic relationship, which relationship a person annuls by becoming "in Christ." It is all a matter of law, therefore, "legal" not physical. We are in the privileged position to have the comments of inspiration upon these two federal headships. Though the term "Federal" is not used, reason demands that we understand it as such owing to the fact that we can leave Adam, and "put on Christ" while still remaining the same "natural" person or persons. Paul, in the 5th chapter of Romans gives us a sevenfold divinely balanced antithesis of a Just God revealing a mystery which was hid, and not revealed, as it was in the days of the apostles. (Ephesians 3:5). The first man was God's son by creation. He was placed under law to his Creator, and was given dominion over the creation. Had he been obedient to his creator, all would have been well with him. The life (natural) that he possessed was unforfeited to sin while he was obedient. When he transgressed that law by disobedience, his life became forfeit, as the terms of God's law was to the effect that on the literal day (B'Yom, Hebrew idiom) that he transgressed, he would surely die (Hebrew; Muth Temuth, - therefore violent death). He had sold himself to sin which is personified as a master or Lord, and therefore he had changed his master. "His servants ye are to whom ye obey, whether of sin unto death, or obedience unto righteousness" (Romans 6:16). "Ye cannot serve God and mammon" (Matthew 6:24). Had Adam received the execution of the sentence that he had incurred, viz., a violent death on the day that he transgressed, that would have been final, and we would not have existed, but thanks be to God, He began with mercy and typically covered Adam's sin in the figure of the animal slain. Adam could not be allowed to remain in Eden, as God's justice was that Adam and his posterity should only enter the paradise of God (of which Eden was the type) upon God's conditions, viz., "I (Jesus) am the door." To climb up another way is to be a "thief and a robber" said Jesus. The expulsion of Adam from Eden after transgression was necessary to the bringing in of God's just principle of concluding all under Adamic relationship because of Adam's sin, which excludes all from entering into Eden that is to come otherwise than in the appointed way. Jesus said, "No man cometh unto the Father but by me." Why? Because a man needed to be redeemed from Adamic relationship. Adam could not redeem himself, because the equivalent ransom price was "a life for a life," and if Adam gave his own life (which would have been impossible because the equivalent required a life not forfeited to sin) that would have been the end of all, for him and us; so it is evident that if Adam could not redeem himself we cannot redeem ourselves. This brings out God's just method of concluding all federally "in Adam" from birth, in order that none can ever entertain any hope of entering the kingdom without first leaving his Adamic relationship by accepting redemption therefrom in the recognition of Christ's death being the redemption price which could only be an unforfeited life which Adam could not pay himself. We can either be "in Adam" or "in Christ," either dead while alive, or alive to God now while we live, in that if we fall asleep our resurrection is sure. By man came death, by man came the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:21). "By one man sin entered, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men (in whom, Adam, - margin) all have sinned." "Through the offence of one many be dead...and the gift by grace by one man, Jesus Christ." By one man's offence death reigned, much more will those receive the abundance of grace - shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. By one offence sentence came upon all men to condemnation, so also through one righteous act sentence came on all to justification of life. "By one man's disobedience many were made (constituted) sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made (constituted) righteous." "As sin hath reigned unto death, so grace reigned through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:12,21). Can we have a more just principle than this, in God concluding all under one sin (without in any way interfering with man's physical constitution) as the groundwork of becoming constituted righteous by leaving that relationship to become obedient adopted sons and daughters? One man, one sin, one life. All under sentence, constituted sinners. Sin is an act. Here we have all under sentence before they knew good or evil! Under sentence in Adam's loins simply because they will be born in Adamic relationship. There is no physical condemnation in this, but entirely a legal procedure on God's part from which His righteous principle must be manifested. "As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Cor. 15:22). The other (Christ) one man, one act, one life. All under sentence (of life) constituted righteous. Adam the head of the natural; Jesus the head of the spiritual. Two distinct heads of two distinct bodies which have many members. First that which is natural, then that which is spiritual. The purpose of this article is to prove conclusively that the second man, or last Adam, was the only possible means of bringing about God's plan of redemption. The very statements "second man" and "last Adam" utterly forbid the possibility of any other son of Adam accomplishing such; besides the one to accomplish God's plan of redemption had to be clear of any Adamic condemnation. If this were not the necessary qualification how is it that no other son of Adam, born of the will of the flesh, could accomplish it? If redemption could have been accomplished by anyone in "Adam's lions" then the appearing of Jesus in the plan of redemption would have been unnecessary. If man born of the will of the flesh, or law, obedience to law (Galatians 3:21) could bring redemption about, there would be no need of the following Scripture: "No man could redeem his brother" (Psalm 49:7,8). "What the law could not do (Romans 8:3) God did."
The Seed Of The Woman
Let us watch the slow but sure development of the last Adam (Jesus Christ). The first intimation that we get in the Scriptures of this wonderful and loving plan of redemption is in the promise of God to the woman in Eden. The promise was, that her seed should bruise the serpent's head (Genesis 3:15). If the promised seed was, as some affirm, in the loins of Adam, then He could not possibly have been the seed of the woman. Because He was raised of the seed of David according to the flesh, it is affirmed by some that He was in the loins of Adam, and bore Adamic physical condemnation because He was born of a woman (Galatians 4:4). It is indeed a deplorable fact that the genealogies of Matthew and Luke are studied (or supposed to be studied) with a biased mind. If fair attention was paid to the Matthew and Luke registers it would be found without any fear of doubt that Jesus came in the female line; therefore, God being His Father, and a virgin being His mother, He was the seed of the woman, which glorious truth rules out any theory of Jesus being at any time in Adam's loins. Let us further enhance this glorious truth by glancing at a prophetic statement that occurs in Jeremiah 22:29 - "Wherefore are they cast out, he and his seed? O earth, earth, earth; hear the word of the Lord; write this man childless, a man who shall not prosper in his days. For no man of his seed shall prosper sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah." What is the importance of this prophetic statement? Why, it is of the utmost importance to the understanding of the genealogies of Matthew and Luke. According to Matthew's register, Joseph is the direct descendant of Solomon. We observe, therefore, that the continuance of the royalty in this line was, positively, contingent upon faithfulness. (Psalm 132: 11; 1 Chronicles 28:5-9 and 22:13; 1 Kings 9:1-9). Were these conditions fulfilled? Alas! Both Solomon and his posterity proved unfaithful. What was the result? "The Lord was angry with Solomon because his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel" who had appeared unto him twice. Though the kingdom was not taken from Solomon, it was only spared for a while. The prophecy quoted from Jeremiah 22 referred to Coniah - Jechonias in Matthew's register. If Jesus came through the Solomon branch of the Davidic tree, He would have come through a branch that was eternally barred from occupying the throne of the Lord. Where would this land Jesus? This would force the Almighty to stultify Himself who declared: "I will give unto him the throne of his father David." Listen - "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise up a righteous branch, and a king shall reign and prosper" (Jeremiah 23:5). In what branch of the Davidic tree was he raised up? In the kingly Solomon branch? No; that branch, with its fruit has been eternally barred from royalty, and another branch divinely chosen in its stead. Shall we therefore make Jesus a twig of that rejected branch or one of the righteous chosen branch? "Every tree which my heavenly father hath not planted shall be rooted up." Let us examine this other branch. Do we find Solomon and the other kingly descendants there? No, it is the branch of low degree. Luke's register reveals also a direct line to David like Matthew's not through Solomon but through the lowly Nathan-Mary line. This is indeed very important. Joseph is here said to be the son of Heli also, but this can only mean son-in-law, since Matthew declares that Jacob begat Joseph. The foregoing is truly remarkable because Jesus is still the "Prince of the House of David," but in the lowly Nathan Mary line. There is no Solomon or Jechonias in Luke's register. Did the thought of the Son to be born of her inspire Mary's song, if that Son was ever in the loins of Adam, which would debar that son eternally from being the seed of the woman; "And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, even my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour." Why Mary? "Because He (God) hath regarded the low estate of His handmaid. He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their heart. He hath put down the mighty from their thrones and exalted them of low degree." Behold the seed of the woman, "Holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners." We have had to traverse a long way from Genesis 3:15 but it is indeed necessary to do so in order to set aside the bogey of Jesus ever being in Adam's loins which would nullify Him being the seed of the woman. Let us retrace. God, who is spirit (John 4:24 R.V.), and the fountain of life (Psalm 36:9) caused the creation of the first Adam from the dust, and promised to raise another in the natural order by His own power. The promise of a Son in this way necessitated a miracle as in the case of the first son, because the Son promised was to bruise the serpent's head, therefore that Son would need to be miraculously begotten because such a Son could not be born via the natural channels as in that case He would be under the same legal condemnation. He would of necessity have to be the seed of the woman (not man) in accordance with God's promise. The seed of the woman also became in time the seed promised to Abraham and to David through the female line as we have shown. This has been carefully guarded as can be seen first in type to Abraham. The promise to the faithful friend of God needed a miracle to produce a son in Sarah's old age, as recorded in Genesis 18:10 - 15; 21:1 - 7; and the Spirit's comments in Romans 4:16-21 and Hebrews 11:11. But even the type of Isaac was inferior to the antitype, because Abraham was the father of Isaac, Sarah being given strength to conceive. Not so Mary. She knew no man. Jesus was holy from His conception. "That holy thing that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1). Regarding the promise to David in 2 Samuel 7, we have shown in our remarks on the genealogy that the promise cannot apply to Solomon, we are faced with the fact that never in the history of the world has there been such a miracle performed as was performed upon Mary. God was the Father of Jesus; He was the only begotten, and Adam was the only created. Here we have the two direct sons of God, therefore brothers in the sense that they had the same Father. What was the difference between them? None physically, but the difference lay in the fact that the first sold himself to another master and became sin's slave, whereas the second retained His position. "She (wisdom, God) is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her; and happy is everyone that retaineth her" (Proverbs 3:18). Jesus retained His hold of the tree of life; Adam lost his hold, therefore Jesus was in a position to redeem Adam His brother, and all in Adam who will accept redemption. No man can by any means redeem his brother. Even Jesus did not redeem us. God alone could do that by giving Jesus the life. Hence we have the clear proof of Jesus being the only possible redemption price of a "life for a life." Jesus was born outside the prison and He could therefore give Himself in the stead of those who were in prison. This He could not do if He was in the same condemnation. We wonder how much the thief on the Cross realized when he railed upon his fellow culprit saying "We are in the same condemnation"? Undoubtedly he realized the truth that Jesus was the only one who can set the prisoner free from bondage, and the thief understood it in a higher sense than mere natural deliverance from natural danger, when he said "Remember me Lord when thou comest into thy kingdom." The first son of God incurred death by sinning; the second Son retained His right to life. This does not mean that the second Son had a different nature from the first, which was corruptible or natural. He was made in all points like unto His brethren. "There is one flesh of men" (Jesus included) as Paul says (1 Corinthians 15:39). This is where we can profitably ask why there was the re-need of this special miracle? We answer firstly that God saw the necessity of it being so from the beginning and brought it to pass as an essential necessity in accordance with the just attributes of His wisdom and justice. His ways are right and just, and none can ask "What doest thou?" We can endeavour to find out God's reason for doing things without thinking for a moment of calling God in question. God desires that we should endeavour to find out, and He is pleased at our so doing, but it must be in harmony with His just attributes as revealed in the Scriptures, and not with our pre-conceived ideas as to what His reasons are. "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the honour of kings to search it out." The fact that Adam forfeited his life to sin, and would have suffered a violent death if God had not spared him and all in his loins, does not alter the fact that the equivalent debt to sin is a life for a life which had to be paid. The violent death inflicted upon the animal in Eden was the type and lesson of what the wages of sin was, but this had to be supplemented by a higher order of sacrifice, which was the equivalent of what Adam incurred, but was spared from paying. This equivalent could only be found in Christ (Revelation 5:3) whose life was not forfeited to sin, being as Adam was before transgression, "direct" son of God, which life He retained being obedient in all things, even unto the death of the Cross. The one act of obedience paid the debt that Adam incurred. "Without the shedding of blood there is no remission." God typically redeemed Adam with a "paper note" in Eden, but He laid down the "golden sovereign" on Calvary.
The seed of Abraham
We have this type developed in the seed of Abraham. Abraham was quite willing to offer up his only begotten son of Sarah (Genesis 22) believing that God would have raised him from the dead (Hebrews 11:17,19). That God was the Redeemer can be seen in His promise, and in providing the ram instead of Isaac. The ram was caught by the two horns (or power) in the thicket. The horns (or power) was typical of Jesus. The people put Him to death because He was king, and claimed to be the Son of God (John 19:13,16; Luke 22:70). He had these titles from the beginning (John 1:49). Nathaniel said on seeing Jesus, "Thou art the Son of God, thou art the king of Israel." Jesus was the seed of Abraham. He was the promised seed of which Abraham's son was the type. In Galatians we are expressly informed that Christ was Abraham's seed. In the 3rd chapter, verse 16, the apostle says, "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not unto seeds as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ." Upon what authority does Paul use seed in the singular here? Why, upon the authority of Scripture, and that Scripture none other than the Old Testament which were the only Scriptures extant. Being as Paul referred to the promises made to Abraham with regard to the particular seed, it is necessary to verify Paul's authority for using the seed in the singular by referring to the promise of the seed in the singular itself. In the 22nd chapter of Genesis we read of the offering up of Isaac, and the staying of Abraham's hand from slaying his son. Let us now read the consequence of Abraham's faith in God. Verses 16 and 17, "And said, by myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and has not withheld thy son, thine only son; that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy Seed shall possess the gate of His enemies." There is Paul's authority for the use of the seed in the singular. Who but Christ is to possess the gate of His enemies? Here we have the Christ as the head of the multitudinous body. The Jews boasted that they were Abraham's seed, and Christ did not deny it. He said to them, "I know ye are Abraham's seed." But what Christ did not deny was that they were Abraham's seed after the flesh, or by natural descent. Jesus went higher when He pointed out to them that the true Abrahamic seed were the spiritual seed. He said to them, "If ye were the children of Abraham, ye would do the works of Abraham; ye seek to kill me – that would not Abraham." It is evident that the Abrahamic true seed is not confined to fleshly descent. Paul says definitely in Galatians 3, "If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." There is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, ye are all one in Christ Jesus. No one can be heir to the promise (which is by faith, not by fleshly descent) who has not accepted the redemption from the bondage of Adamic relationship, which redemption can only be found in Christ as the seed promised to bruise the serpent's (sin) head. Abraham looked forward through the eye of faith to the day when his promised seed should be manifested to Israel and the whole world. Christ declared that He was the seed that Abraham saw (by faith) manifested. He declared "Abraham rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad." How did the Jews take this announcement? Why, they were maddened. They said, "Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?" Is it not clear that the promised seed to Abraham needed to be entirely apart from fleshly descent? Was it not necessary for Him to be outside the prison? Could He offer to set them free if He was in the same prison (condemnation) Himself? We say emphatically, No. The Jews said that as Abraham's seed they were in bondage to no man, but they only judged after the flesh; if they were not in bondage, how did Jesus go to them only to bring the kingdom nigh as an offer of inheritance? This of course was an enigma to them, as they understood the Abrahamic seed as fleshly descent. If the true Abrahamic seed of promise was merely fleshly descent then the Jews would have been born in the kingdom of God. There would have been no need for Messiah to come to them; only for the purpose of restoring the literal kingdom of Israel to them from the hands of the Romans. They could not understand anyone but themselves having any part in the Abrahamic promises. To them, the Abrahamic seed was just themselves. Jesus told them that they judge after the flesh. They could not see the spiritual arising out of the natural. They boasted in the law (of Moses), but did not do the works of Abraham in keeping the spirit of the law; the very ordinances of which law prefigured the promised Seed that was to Redeem them, who merely kept the letter of the law, from under the law. They could not understand Jesus telling them "If the Son shall make you free ye shall be free indeed." It is obvious that if He were not free from all condemnation Himself, He could not offer freedom to others. Jesus said, "The flesh profiteth nothing" (John 6:63). Fleshly descent confers no privilege regarding entering the kingdom of God. Neither was Jesus condemned because He was flesh. It was necessary that Jesus should be flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone before He could be a sacrifice for sin to condemn sin. He could not have paid the price of redemption were He not flesh because a life for life was the equivalent price needed to pay sin's claim. That life He gave, which was the life of His flesh which was in the blood thereof. Thus we see the promised seed of Abraham opening up the way of life for all whosoever will by paying the ransom price of the redemption from the condemnation that all were concluded, and are concluded under, namely, Adamic condemnation. It was all done for us. He was made, at 33 years of age, not at birth, a sin offering for us, for what purpose? That we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. There is neither Jew nor Greek; bond nor free, but ye are all one in Christ Jesus; and if ye are Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, the multitudinous members of the living head, Christ, and heirs according to the promise. "God commendeth His love towards us." How? In that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. It was not because we loved Him, but because He first loved us, not willing that they should perish, even Adam, but that all should come to Him. But only upon His just conditions, viz., to recognize that we must leave Adamic relationship (not physically) and become adopted sons and daughters of a new relationship, through the medium of the price paid for our release, the blood of Christ, the promised seed to Abraham, born not of the will of the flesh, but of God.
The Figurative Seed Of A Plant Or Tree
We will now proceed to look at the same lesson under the figurative seed of a plant or tree. The earth in the Scriptures is representative of the peoples in many instances. The following are a few examples:- "Give ear O ye heavens (rulers) and I will speak; and hear O earth (people) the words of my mouth" (Deuteronomy 32:1). "Hear, O heavens, and give ear O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, - Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah" (Isaiah 1:2,10). "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else" (Isaiah 45:22; Genesis 11:1; Jeremiah 6:19 etc.). "And of the earth God caused to grow all kinds of trees after its kind whose seed was in itself" (Genesis 1:11). The Scriptures represent nations and individuals by a tree, and each can only bring forth its own kind (whose seed is in itself). The most prominent example as a nation is the nation of Israel. Israel is represented by the vine and olive. As an individual, the outstanding example of Jesus, who spoke of Himself as the true vine. Many other examples could be given. Judges 9; Psalm 1 - "Trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord." "The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree" (Isaiah 61:3). Then we have them mentioned as figures of the nations in prophecy (Psalm 92:12-14). In Psalm 80 and Isaiah 5 we have in figure God's plan of redemption manifested through the Jews under the figure of a vine and vineyard. The different stages of this nation could not be more forcibly illustrated (as history has proved). It speaks of what God has done for them, with a continual reminder of His plan of earth's redemption. He brought His vine out of Egypt, and planted it in the land of Canaan. He cared for it (or, in the words of the prophet) "What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done?" As we read in Isaiah 5, "Watered it and hedged it about." Hedged it about with His loving protection. He looked for them to bring forth much fruits of righteousness (good grapes) but they went wild, and brought forth unrighteousness (wild grapes). They became a degenerate plant, which was once a strong vine (Jeremiah 2:21). They were a children in whom there was no faith (Deuteronomy 32:20). The result was that the vine was uprooted, branches broken off, some burned or destroyed, and others scattered to the four winds of heaven. Yet out of this degenerate vine, God said He would raise up for them a plant of renown (the Messiah). In Psalm 80:15 we read "And the vineyard which thy right hand hath planted, and the branch (R.V. Son) that thou madest strong for thyself." Verse 17 - "Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the son of man whom thou has made strong for thyself." Here we see the nation of Israel which we know God has termed His firstborn (Exodus 4:22) which was the choice of the nations or tree (a multitudinous body as one) a natural nation which is the type of the spiritual Israel. The flesh (fleshly descent from Abraham) profiteth nothing; as Paul more fully emphasized when he said, "They are not all Israel which are of Israel: but the children of the promise (Spiritual Israel) are counted for the seed" (Romans 9:7.8). Jesus was the firstborn of God through the spirit and of the flesh; the man born of the Spirit from the dead by resurrection (Colossians 1:18; Luke 2:7). He is God's firstborn; the highest of the kings of the earth (Psalm 89:27). He is the true vine; the federal tree (Colossians 1:18) of which God planted and not man: and whose branches (which remain in Him) shall never perish. Let us refer you to a very important passage of Scripture in connection with His being the seed of the Lord. The reference is to Isaiah 53:1, that much quoted chapter, "Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" It is a remarkable fact that the word translated "arm" from the Hebrew is the same Hebrew root from which is translated the word "seed." That the word here translated "arm" should be "seed" is quite obvious as the context shows. Verse 2, "for he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground," etc. Here we have Jesus as the seed of the Lord's planting. Well could the prophet say "Who hath believed our report?" Well could the apostle John refer to these words of the prophet (John 12:38). Well can the same be said to-day. Who can believe our report that He was the seed of the Lord and still say that He was condemned human nature though admitting that He was the seed of the Lord? Why, it is like believing a report that God produced a condemned thing in order to save that which was already condemned!! The promise of a righteous branch unto David (shoot or bud - R.V.) that should reign as king (Jeremiah 23:5) or, in the words of the Spirit in Ezekiel, "I will raise up for them a plant of renown" (Ezekiel 34:29) is proof that the plan and production is of God (Isaiah 9:7). (We do not forget the planting of the natural Jew again upon the mountains of Israel). Isaiah 11:1 reads, "And there shall come forth a rod, or shoot, out of the stem, or stock, of Jesse, and the branch shall grow out of his roots." Verse 10, "And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse" etc. This seems to be paradoxical, or, as the critics say, a contradiction. The best answer to this is to employ the words of Jesus when He asked the Jews, "What think ye of Christ? Whose son is he?" They answered, "The son of David." "Jesus saith to them, How then doth David in Spirit call him Lord?" They could not answer. Nor can anyone else answer unless they have the Spirit's answer. If He was born of the will of the flesh, or was of a different nature to the rest of the human race, this question is unintelligible and the plan of God's redemption cannot be understood. The question can only be understood by realising that God, who is Spirit, produced Jesus from the female line of David, therefore also of Adam, and Abraham in accordance with the promise without the intervention of man. The seed of the woman that should bruise the serpent's head. This spirit power was before Adam or Abraham, therefore Jesus could say, "Before Abraham was, I am." The Spirit's declaration in the promise to the woman and to the nation of Israel regarding a Righteous branch, became flesh to manifest God's love, grace and truth. God's love, in the words of John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son." Why? "That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Grace, in that it is unmerited favour. Truth, because God cannot lie. His truth was manifested in that He gave the seed in accordance with the promise. This is not accepted in its simplicity, but is made the ground of mystery, hence the forceful application of the prophet's words in Isaiah 53:1 to our day - "Who hath believed our report?" From the birth of Christ until now there has indeed been very few who have believed the report in its simplicity without intermingling it with mystery. Truth and error are like iron and clay; they don't mix. In His own day Jesus came unto His own and His own received Him not (John 1:10). Though He had done so many miracles, yet they believed not on Him, that the saying of the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled. "Who hath believed our report?" (John 12:37-43) "We will not have this man to reign over us." (John 19:14) "We have no king but Caesar." But yet as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God. But these believed the report that He was the Seed of the Lord, the plant of renown, the true vine, the righteous branch. The tender plant that grew up to become strong for man's redemption, and not a physically condemned sacrifice. Many are called but few are chosen (Matthew 20:16). Few there be that find it (7:14). We do not find many of the eunuch type who enquired about man's redemption according to Isaiah 3. He said, "How can I (understand) unless some man show me?" Ah, reader, he was shown by one of God's inspired apostles in harmony with God's plan from the beginning; in harmony with the Scriptures, which Scriptures, Christ died for our sins according to. No man-made creeds with a load of biases to uphold entered into Philip's explanation as to whom the seed in Isaiah 53, nor was there any shadow of doubt as to the free, unfettered production of that seed. Surely, Israel was indeed a dry ground in many ways, and especially with regard to producing such a seed and root. Surely this was impossible, not only with Israel, but with the whole human race, because all were concluded under Adamic relationship, therefore in prison, sold under sin. There was no eye to pity, none to help, guide nor uphold, therefore His own Arm brought salvation. We see the germ or seed of the spirit growing out of a dry ground; (a virgin) as a tender plant. The whole Adamic race was barren to the production of this necessary seed, therefore it could only be done by a divine miracle of a new creation which was the only possible and just way. This new tree or federal head, God has brought forth that no flesh should be justified but by His grace, and that He might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus through faith in His blood as the only method of redemption and deliverance (Rom. 3). Adam was spared in Eden from suffering the violent death which he had incurred, and in sparing Adam God spared also his buds which were in Adam's loins. So from the degenerate Israel vine was raised up a plant of renown by God who was the husbandman to accomplish His salvation of man. First that which is natural, then that which is spiritual. All are born in the Adamic tree (relationship) and all who desire to be grafted into the true vine can have that desire gratified, but only upon the conditions of the husbandman. When the conditions are complied with, one is in a position to be a partaker of the root and fatness (Romans 11) "As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in me" (John 15). "Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up" (Matthew 15:13). How do we become engrafted into the vine? Why, by leaving our Adamic tree relationship (not physical or we would be under two heads while still a natural being) and becoming branches of the new tree and root. These two federal trees speak to us of death and life. Death if we remain in the tree of Adamic relationship, and life, joy, and peace if grafted into the true vine. If Jesus was a branch of the Adamic tree, as we are, we ask, Could a branch redeem the tree from corruption? If it is contended that Jesus came as merely a branch of that tree to save that tree, we ask, Why then the need of the special intervention of God? Could not one righteous man born of the will of the flesh have sufficed on that reasoning? Throw over the bogey of physical condemnation in Adam, i.e., that Adam's flesh was changed after transgression and avoid confusion becoming worse confounded. In concluding this section we say emphatically that if Jesus was not the New and True vine, the idea of us being engrafted into Him would be a matter of "moonshine." We would be grafted into the same body and thus do away with the necessity of Jesus, who is "the way, the truth and the life."
The Figure Of Stones
The next section under the figure of "stones" teach the same lesson and result. There are many examples of this figure, and we will commence with the prophet Isaiah, "I lay in Zion a tried stone, a sure foundation" (28:16). Jesus used this similitude in His day when He told the people to build upon a rock, and not upon sand, which is wise counsel even from a natural standpoint (Matthew 7). The first prophetic statement concerning the stone is perhaps not so familiar. Jacob, in blessing his sons, made the following statement when blessing Joseph, "From thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel" (Genesis 49:24). That Jesus came through the tribe of Judah is well known (Matthew 1:1; Hebrews 7:14; Genesis 49:10). Joseph, and all others received from God blessing. Even the wicked receive blessing from God in that He provides for them, though they do not recognize the source, but partake of God's goodness like the beasts of the field, for the satisfaction of stomach merely. Nevertheless, God's goodness descends upon the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45; James 1:17; Psalm 104). So, it was from the Mighty One of Jacob (The God of Israel) came the shepherd, the stone of Israel, and not from Joseph. This was a direct statement to Joseph, that God would be Christ's Father, and not as the Jews thought of the Messiah coming through Judah in the male line. We see this again in the words "And if thou make me an altar of stone, thou shall not build it of hewn stone for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it" (Exodus 20:25). Is not Jesus the antitypical altar? Undoubtedly. Would He be the antitypical altar if He were "dressed" by a human tool? No! But all doubt is cast away as chaff before the wind in the face of the fact that He was the stone cut out of the mountain without hands. This was according to the pattern, so that if Joseph were His father, or that He came in the male line, then Jesus would have been no more the antitypical pattern than any other son of Adam. The spirit that gave the life of Jesus came direct from God, hence the command to Israel not to use any tool upon it. "We have an altar whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle" (Hebrews 13:10). He was separate from sinners, not only in that He did no sin, but also in the mode of His production. "The Lord of hosts shall perform this" (Isaiah 9:7), which is equivalent to saying that He had no connection with sin. He had none morally, as everyone who professes to be a believer will agree. He had none physically, as there is no such thing as physical condemnation inherent. The sin that He did not have apart from personal moral sinlessness, was the legal condemnation passed upon all men born of the will of the flesh. He was legally separate from sinners in being begotten of the spirit of God, and morally separate in that He kept the moral condition. The prophet Daniel, the beloved of God who acknowledged that God was the revealer of secrets, gives us another picture of the history of the world in God's plan in his second chapter, in which is recorded the words, "The dream is certain, and the interpretation sure." The dream that Nebuchadnezzar forgot, God brought back through Daniel, and gave the king (and us) what has and surely will come to pass. The historical fact of the four empires having existed in confirmation of the prophetic word is proof of the certainty of a fifth, which will break in pieces all other kingdoms. The kind of kingdom that will break in pieces all other kingdoms will be of God. Daniel saw that it was not to be of man. "Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands," verse 45 "and smote the image, and became a great mountain and filled the earth." God alone, who knows the end from the beginning, who could swear by no greater, declared Jesus to be His only begotten Son in whom He was well pleased (Matthew 3:17; 2 Peter 1:17). Which is proof of His being the Son of the Highest, cut out of the mountain of humanity without human hands. This is the sure word of prophecy, and the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. (Revelation 19:10) "Hear ye him." "I come from above (spirit) ye are from beneath (born of the will of the flesh). I came to do my Father's will." "Did ye never read in the Scriptures, the stone which the builders rejected, the same was made the head of the corner; this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?" (Matthew 21:42). Jesus of Nazareth is the stone, and there is no salvation under heaven except by Him. He is not only the foundation stone, but also the head or keystone; the alpha and omega of all God's promises. (2 Corinthians 1:20; 1 Peter 2:3,8; Revelation 1:8). He is the chosen of God; elect, precious. "The head in whom ye are builded together as a temple of spiritual stones." Here can be clearly seen the federal body of Christ while still natural beings. Builded and fitly framed together, "An holy temple unto the Lord." (Ephesians 2:20) "Ye are God's building." (1 Corinthians 3:9). And "none can lay any other foundation stone but that which is laid in Jesus Christ." All who are lively stones have passed from death unto life now, if they retain their place in the building. Their incorruptibility is sure if they have "the witness in themselves." This beautiful figure of the stone could be enlarged upon, but we proceed to present to you in brief what we have dealt with as a threefold cord which is not quickly broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12), namely, The Seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15); The Plant of Renown (Ezekiel 34:29); and The Stone of Israel, which came forth from the mighty God of Jacob (Genesis 49:24). What was impossible for the law to do, God did, in sending His own Son in the likeness of flesh of sin, and as an offering for sin, condemned sin in the flesh. Could Jesus pay the price due to sin if He were not in the flesh? No. He had to be flesh before He could pay the equivalent redemption price, viz., "a life for a life." The life of His flesh which was in the blood, and that life, God gave. "I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement..." Jesus condemned and made void the sin (by paying unto sin all that it could claim) that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit (Romans 8). By grace are we saved, through faith, so that no flesh should glory. Being Justified by faith... by His blood we are reconciled to God. Could the law produce such an one? No; because the law was as Paul says "a ministration of death." What did Paul mean when he said "The law that was ordained to life I found to be unto death"? Did he mean the law which was holy, just, and good, was a worthless thing? Certainly not. Paul kept the letter of the law blameless (Philippians 3:6), but had he understood the spirit of the law he would not have gone about causing many to be put to death thinking that he was doing God a service. Paul could say upon recognition of the spirit of the law. "I, through the law, am dead to the law." He recognized that by the works of the letter of the law no flesh was justified. It was the works of Abraham, who was before the law, which were works of faith, that was the spirit of the law. Paul recognized that flesh, fleshly descent from Abraham, profiteth nothing, and that the spirit of the law concluded all under sin, Adamic relationship, and that it was necessary to be dead unto sin before works of righteousness could commence. Hence the need of the first requisite - redemption from Adamic relationship, which is legal and which make's one's natural death become eternal death by remaining therein. Upon acceptance of the redemption from that relationship, one becomes a member of the family of God by adoption. If Jesus was under Adamic condemnation, would He not have needed adoption? Who would be prepared to say that the only begotten Son needed adoption into His Father's family? We can only receive adoption through the Son, and it is only through the Son that we can be made free, and for the Son to make us free necessitates the Son being free Himself before He can offer liberty to us. Our liberty was bought with a price, and the price was the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot. The law could not produce such an one, because all were born in Adamic relationship, and by the law "sold under sin," even though not born, but in Adam's loins. All under the law had every opportunity of seeing in the ordinances and moral code of the law the spirit of it, but they did not (with few exceptions). It was therefore necessary for one to be produced apart from the will of the flesh, born under the law (of Israelitish maternity) to redeem those who were under the law. Why redeem those who were under the law given by God? Was not this an enigma to the Jew? If they were under God's law, and needed redemption though under that law, it is obvious that they were under condemnation. The explanation lies in the fact that the letter of the law could not give life, but the spirit of the law could. An individual had to see in the ordinances of the law the prefiguring of the redemption price that would ultimately be paid by Him who was prefigured, which price was not paid in Eden (or we would not have existed) but on Calvary. They had to recognize that what they needed redemption from was something pertaining to the legal sphere, and not to the physical. That "something" was Adamic relationship; the sin that all were concluded under, and if they recognized that they were born under Adamic relationship, they would be keeping the spirit of the law by afterwards keeping or reckoning themselves dead to sin. Their circumcision would then be of the heart, and not merely of the letter. "Do one, but not leave the other undone," said Jesus. The spirit of the law is as much in force to-day as it ever was. What was "taken away" was the handwriting of the ordinances which Jesus nailed to His Cross because He was the substance of all that those ordinances or shadows prefigured (Colossians 2:14). The substance had to be free in every sense of the term from condemnation, and this could only be accomplished by God providing the life by His own power. Jesus was not free from the same temptations which beset every son of Adam, being tempted in all points like them. If that were not so, overcoming would be a farce and this testing of Jesus a mere sham fight. When we say that Jesus had a free life we are immediately misunderstood by some, because they base their reasoning upon "flesh" being under condemnation, and contend therefore that Jesus, being "flesh" was as much under condemnation as every son of Adam. If this were so, we ask, What did Jesus mean when He said "If the son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. I am from above, ye are from beneath."? Again, "As the father hath life in himself, so hath he given the son to have life in himself."? Did not God give Jesus His life which He had in the flesh by causing His Holy Spirit to operate upon Mary? Did not God give Him the life He now possesses by the same Spirit? Did not Jesus receive both (the life of His flesh and the life He now possesses) direct from God? Certainly He did. Not being born of the will of the flesh, but of God, was He not legally free from Adamic relationship? Certainly He was. Why are certain individuals jumping to the conclusion that the term "free life" means that Jesus was a different kind of "flesh" to us? Why be frightened by the term? "Free life" is not found literally in the Scriptures, but is there anything more clearly taught? If Jesus did not have a free life, then the redemption price could not have been paid by Him for those in prison, because He would be in prison Himself, and what is more, if God had not produced Him in accordance with His sure word of prophecy there would have been no redemption, because He, Jesus, would be a sinner in Adam on the federal principle of being under the Adamic head, and the term "second man" (1 Corinthians 15:47) would have no meaning. Was He the second man only after resurrection? No, He was holy (separate) from conception (see Luke 1:35). The second man had to be produced by God separate from the first. If that were not so, the first son of Adam (Cain) could logically be called the second man, if the production were via the will of the flesh. "O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgements, and His ways past finding out. For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed unto Him again? For of Him, and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be the glory for ever" (Romans 11:33). "Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift (Christ)" (2 Corinthians 9:15). "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). "Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might; let not the rich man glory in his riches, but let him that glorieth, glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exerciseth loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth; for in these things I delight, saith the Lord" (Jeremiah 9:23). Jesus was rich by being Son of the Highest, and free, but for our sakes He became poor. How? By giving His all; the life of His flesh which was in the blood that we might, through faith in that shed blood being the price of our redemption, and our acceptance of that redemption and loving reciprocation to God for the love wherewith He hath loved us in giving Jesus to die for us while we were yet sinners, have right to the tree of life. As freely as Jesus received, He freely gave, therefore we feel very thankful to God for the knowledge we have received, and as freely as we have received, we freely give. (1 Chronicles 29:14; 1 Corinthians 4:7; Matthew 10:8; Acts 20:35).