THE MEDIATOR OF THE ATONEMENT
DAVID'S SON AND DAVID'S LORD
How David's Son--Joseph's Genealogy Through Solomon--Mary's Genealogy Through Nathan--Abase the High, Exalt the Low--Whence Christ's Title to be David's Lord--How He was Both Root and Branch of David--Meaning of His Title, "The Everlasting Father"--How Secured and How to be Applicable--Who are Children of Christ--The Church His "Brethren"--Children of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
"Jesus asked them, saying, What think ye of Christ? Whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit [by inspiration] call him Lord, saying, The Lord [Jehovah] said unto my Lord [adon, master, ruler], Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord [adon, master] how is he his Son?" Matt. 22:42-45
IT SHOULD be noticed, first of all, that the discussion of this question does not relate to our Lord's pre-existence, but merely to his relationship to the human family. He became related to the human family, as we have seen, by taking our nature, through his mother Mary. Mary's genealogy, as traced by Luke, leads back to David, through his son Nathan (Luke 3:31*), while Joseph's genealogy, as given by Matthew, traces also back to David, through his son, Solomon. [E130] (Matt. 1:6,16) Joseph having accepted Mary as his wife, and adopted Jesus, her son, as though he were his own son, this adoption would entitle Jesus to reckon Joseph's genealogy; but such a tracing back to the family of David was not necessary, because, as we have seen, his mother came also of David, by another line.
The divine proposition, clearly stated, was, first, that unequivocally and unquestionably the great heir of the throne of the world, the great King of Israel, should come of David's line. Secondly, it was also declared that he should come of the line of Solomon, of the reigning family, only upon certain conditions. If those conditions were complied with, he would come of that line; if those conditions were not complied with, he would come of some other line, but in any event must come through David's line and be both David's son and David's Lord.
Note the Scriptural statement:
"The Lord hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn him from him: Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne. If thy children will keep my covenant, and my testimony that I shall teach them, their children shall also sit upon thy throne forevermore." Psa. 132:11,12
"And of all my sons (for God hath given me many sons) he hath chosen Solomon my son to sit upon the throne of [E131] the Kingdom of the Lord over Israel. And he said unto me, Solomon thy son shall build my house....Moreover, I will establish his kingdom forever, if he will be constant to do my statutes and my judgments as at this day." 1 Chron. 28:5-7
"If thy children take heed to their way, to walk before me in truth, with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail thee [be cut off from thee, from the throne-- margin] a man from the throne of Israel." 1 Kings 2:4
The promise of the Messianic Kingdom in Solomon's line, and in the line of his posterity according to the flesh, is thus made clearly and specifically conditional, contingent upon a certain faithfulness to the Lord; and by all rules of interpretation of language, the implication of this is that unfaithfulness to the Lord would assuredly bar the posterity of Solomon and his line from the throne of Israel, as related to the Messianic Kingdom, according to the flesh. The question therefore arises, Did Solomon and his successors upon the throne of Israel "take heed to their way, to walk before me [God] in truth, with all their heart and with all their soul?" If they did not, they are barred from being of the ancestral line of the Messiah, according to the flesh.
We must go to the Scriptures to ascertain the answer to this question. There we find most unmistakably that Solomon and his royal line failed to walk after the divine precepts. Hence we know of a surety that that line was cut off and abandoned from being the Messianic line, and that it must come through another ancestral line, from David. Hear the word of the Lord:
"And thou, Solomon, my son, know thou the God of thy father and serve him with a perfect heart....If thou seek him he will be found of thee, but if thou forsake him he will cast thee off forever." 1 Chron. 28:9
"And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel....Wherefore the Lord said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom [E132] from thee....Nevertheless in thy days I will not do it--for David thy father's sake; but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son. Howbeit, I will not rend away all the kingdom, but will give one tribe to thy son, for David my servant's sake and for Jerusalem's sake which I have chosen." 1 Kings 11:9-13
In harmony with this, the record is that the ten tribes were rent away from the Solomonic line, directly after Solomon's death--ten of the tribes never acknowledging allegiance to Rehoboam, Solomon's son and successor. But let us hearken to the word of the Lord respecting the tribe of Judah, and its consort Benjamin, which remained for a time loyal to the line of Solomon, and thus apparently associated with the promised antitypical Kingdom, and Messiah, the great King. The last three kings of Solomon's line who sat upon his throne were Jehoiakim, his son Jehoiachin (called also Jekoniah and Coniah), and Zedekiah, Jehoiakim's brother. Let us mark the testimony of the Lord's Word against these men, and his assurance that none of their posterity should ever again sit upon the throne of the Kingdom of the Lord--actual or typical. We read:
"As I live, saith the Lord, though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, were the signet upon my right hand, yet would I pluck thee hence....Is this man Coniah a despised broken idol? Is he a vessel wherein is no pleasure? Wherefore are they cast out (he and his seed), and are cast into a land which they know not? O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord: thus saith the Lord, Write ye this man childless, a man that 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." Jer. 22:24-30
"Thus saith the Lord of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, he shall have none to sit upon the throne of David." Jer. 36:30
Concerning Zedekiah we read:
"Thou profane and wicked prince of Israel, whose day is coming, when iniquity shall have an end: Thus saith the Lord God, Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this [E133] shall not be the same: exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high. I will overturn, overturn, overturn it: and it shall be no more until he come whose right it is; and I will give it to him." Ezek. 21:25-27
Here the complete overturning of the Solomonic line is declared: it was the line that was exalted, and which should thenceforth be debased, while the debased or obscure line of Nathan, which had never made any pretensions to the throne, was to be exalted in due time in its representative, the Messiah, born of Mary, according to the flesh.
Who could ask more positive testimony than this, that the Messiah could not be expected through the line of Solomon --all the rights and claims of that line, under divine promises and conditions, having been forfeited by wickedness and rebellion against God? Thus the claim that our Lord must have been the son of Joseph, and thus have inherited his rights and claims through Joseph, are proven utterly false, for no man of that line shall ever sit upon the throne of the Lord.
This changing of the kingdom from the branch of Solomon to another branch of the house of David is clearly foretold in other scriptures, as we read, "Behold the day is coming, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David A RIGHTEOUS BRANCH, and a king shall reign and prosper....In his days Judah shall be saved and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is his name that Jehovah proclaimeth him, Our Righteousness." Jer. 23:6--See Young's Translation.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, seems to have caught this proper thought, or else was moved to speak by the holy Spirit prophetically, when she gave utterance to the remarkable song of thanksgiving quoted by Luke (1:46-55): "He [God] hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their heart; he hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he hath sent empty away." Here the favored family of Solomon's line is contrasted with the humbler family of Nathan's line. The diadem and crown were [E134] removed from Zedekiah, and from the line of Solomon, to be given to him whose right it is--the Righteous Branch from the Davidic root.
We have seen how our Lord is the branch, or offspring or son of David, and the line through which his genealogy is properly to be traced, and the full accordance of the Scriptures thereto: let us now see in what respect he was David's Lord. How could Jesus be both the Son and the Lord of David?
We answer that he is not David's Lord by reason of anything that he was as a spirit being before he was "made flesh," and dwelt amongst us--no more than he was David's Branch or Son in his prehuman existence. Our Lord Jesus became David's Lord or superior, as well as "Lord of all" (Acts 10:36), by reason of the great work which he accomplished as the Mediator of the Atonement. "To this end Christ both died and rose and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living." Rom. 14:9
True, the Logos might properly have been styled a Lord, a high one in authority, as he is styled a God, a mighty or influential one.* Likewise the man Christ Jesus, before his death, might properly be styled a Lord, and was so addressed by his disciples, as we read, "Ye call me Lord and Master, and ye do well, for so I am." (John 13:13) As the special messenger of the Covenant, whom the Father had sanctified and sent into the world to redeem the world, and whom the Father honored in every manner, testifying, "This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased"--it was eminently proper that all who beheld his glory, as the glory of an Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, should reverence him, hear him, obey him, and worship him--do him homage--as the representative of the Father. But, as indicated by the Apostle in the text above [E135] cited, there was a particular and different sense in which our Lord Jesus became a Lord or Master by virtue of his death and resurrection.
But though by virtue of his having bought the race, he has, in the eye of Justice, become its owner, its master, "Lord of all," he did not purchase the race for the purpose of enslaving it, but for the very reverse object of setting at liberty from sin and death all who will accept the gracious gift of God through him. And the very object of the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom is that through it may be bestowed upon the human family the rights and privileges of the sons of God--lost in Eden, redeemed, bought with a price, at Calvary. It was to obtain this right to release man that our Redeemer became the purchaser, owner, Lord of all. Thus by his death Messiah became David's Lord, because David was a member of the race purchased with his precious blood.
"The Root and Offspring of David"
Much of the same thought is presented in these our [E136] Lord's words to the Church. According to the flesh, our Lord Jesus was, through his mother, the son, the branch, the offshoot or offspring of David. It was by virtue of his sacrifice of his undefiled life that he became the "root" of David as well as his Lord: for the thought suggested by the word "root" differs somewhat from that furnished in the word "Lord." The "root" of David signifies the origin, source of life and development of David.
The Scriptures declare that David was "a stem out of Jesse:" his father therefore was his root, according to natural generation. When and how did Christ become David's root or father? We answer, Not before he "was made flesh"--it was when made flesh that, as the man Jesus, he became related to Adam's race through his mother. (Heb. 2:14-18) And in that relationship to the race and to David he was "branch," not "root." How and when did he become the "root"? We answer, By the same means and at the same time that he became David's Lord: the means was his death, by which he purchased life-rights of Adam and all his race, including David's; the time was when he was raised from the dead, Adam's Redeemer, the race's Redeemer and hence David's Redeemer.
It was therefore not the prehuman Logos nor yet the man Jesus that was David's Lord and David's Root; but the resurrected Messiah. When David in spirit (i.e., speaking under the prophetic spirit or influence) called Jesus Lord, saying, "Jehovah said unto my Lord [Jesus], Sit thou on my right hand," etc., the reference was not to the sacrificing one, "the man Christ Jesus," who had not yet finished his sacrifice, but to the victor Jesus, the Lord of life and glory, "the first born from the dead, the prince of the kings of earth." (Rev. 1:5) It was of this one that Peter said, "Him God raised up the third day....He is Lord of all." (Acts 10:36,40) Of this one also Paul declared that at his second coming he will display himself as "King of kings and Lord of lords."* 1 Tim. 6:15
"The Second Adam"
The first "root" or father of the human race, Adam, failed, because of disobedience to God, to bring forth his family in his own likeness, the image of God; he not only failed to give to his posterity everlasting life, but forfeited his own right to the same, and entailed upon his offspring a legacy, a heredity of sin, weakness, depravity, death. The Logos was made flesh, became the man Christ Jesus, in order that he might be the Second Adam, and take the place of the first Adam, that he might undo the work of the first Adam, and give to him and to his race (or so many of them as will accept it upon the divine terms), life more abundant everlasting life, under its favorable conditions, lost through disobedience.
It is a great mistake of some, however, to suppose that "the man Christ Jesus" was the Second Adam. Oh no! As the Apostle declares (1 Cor. 15:47), "The second Adam is the Lord from Heaven"--the Lord who will come from heaven, and at his second advent assume the office and duties of a father to the race of Adam, which he redeemed with his own precious blood at Calvary. The purchase of the race of Adam from under the sentence of Justice was necessary before it would be possible for our Lord Jesus to be the Life-giver or Father of the race: and this great work alone was accomplished by our Lord at his first advent. He comes, at his second advent, to lift up mankind by processes of restitution, and to give eternal life, and all the privileges and blessings lost through the first Adam. The interim is devoted, according to the Father's program, to the selection from amongst the redeemed world of a class whose qualifications were predestined--that they should all be "copies of God's dear Son." (Rom. 8:29) This class is variously called the under-priests of the Royal priesthood, the body or Church of Christ, and the Bride of Christ, the Lamb's wife, and joint-heir with him in all the honors and blessings and service of his Kingdom. [E138]
Accordingly, the work of the future, the work of the Millennial Age, the grand object for which Messiah will reign, is expressed by the word regeneration. The world was generated once through father Adam, but failed to get life; it was generated only to sin and its sentence, death. But the new Father of the race, the second Adam, proposes a general regeneration. The time of this regeneration, as it shall become available to the world, is distinctly indicated by our Lord's words to his disciples to be the Millennial Age. He said, "Ye that have followed me, in the regeneration shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel," etc. The fact that the Church, selected during this Gospel age, experiences a regeneration, is generally recognized by Bible students, but many have overlooked the fact that another and separate regeneration is proposed, and has been provided for the world of mankind, as a whole: not that all shall experience the full regeneration, but that all shall have an opportunity, which, if rightly used, would lead to full, complete regeneration.
It is well, in this connection, to notice more particularly the wide distinction between the regeneration of the Church and the regeneration of the world: in the case of the Church many are called to the regeneration offered during this Gospel age, and few are chosen--few experience the full regeneration to which they are invited--namely, to become new creatures in Christ Jesus, partakers of the divine nature. The regeneration provided for the world, as we have already seen, is not to a new nature, but to a restoration or restitution of the human nature in its perfection.
And so it is written, "The first Adam was made a living soul [an animal being], the last Adam a quickening spirit. However, the spiritual was not first, but the animal--afterwards the spiritual." (1 Cor. 15:45-47--See Diaglott.) Verily our Lord Jesus in the days of his flesh did take hold on or become identified with the first Adam and his race, through the seed of Abraham (Heb. 2:16), and was made "lower than the angels, for the suffering of death...that he by the [E139] grace of God might taste death for every man." But having accomplished that object he was raised from the dead a partaker of the divine nature, the purchaser of the human family, but no longer of it--no longer "of the earth earthy," but the heavenly Lord--the Second Adam, a life-giving spirit.
The first Adam was the original "root" out of which the entire human family has been produced, and hence our Lord Jesus in the flesh, son of Mary, son of David, son of Abraham, was in the same sense a shoot or branch out of Adam (but supplied, as we have seen, with an unimpaired life from above, which still kept him separate from sinners). It was his sacrifice of himself as the man (in obedience to the Father's plan) that not only secured his own exaltation to the divine nature, but purchased to him all the race of Adam and Adam's right as father or "root" of the race. Thus by purchasing Adam's place and rights, our Lord is the Second Adam. As he gave his own human life for that of Adam, so he sacrificed also the possibilities of a race which he might have produced in a natural way, for Adam's children --that he may in due time accept "whosoever will" of Adam's family as his own children, regenerating them, giving them everlasting life under reasonable terms. No longer a "branch," out of the root of Jesse and David, our Lord is a new root, prepared to give new life and sustenance to mankind --Adam, Abraham, David and every other member or branch of the sin-blighted human family who will accept it on the terms of the "Oath-bound Covenant."
Like the first work of the Lord for his Church of this age will be his work for all of mankind who will accept it during the Millennial age. His first work for his Church now is justification to life (human life) in harmony with God, in fellowship with God: the same enjoyed by the perfect man Jesus, prior to his consecration to death at baptism; and the same enjoyed by the perfect man Adam before he transgressed-- except that theirs was actual while ours is merely a reckoned perfection of life. (Hence the statement that we are "justified-- by faith.") [E140]
Our Lord represents himself and his Church as a grapevine; and it furnishes us a good illustration of the branch and root proposition. Adam and his race were the original vine and branches, attacked by the virus of sin, producing bad fruit and death. Our Lord Jesus became a new branch, and was grafted into the Adamic vine, and bore a different kind of fruit. It is a peculiarity of the grapevine that its branches may be buried and become roots. So our Lord, the branch ingrafted upon Adamic stock, was buried, ceased to be a branch and became a root. His Church during this age are "branches" in him, and likewise have their "fruit unto holiness" (Rom. 6:22) the new life being drawn from him. But all the branches of this age are required not only to "bear much fruit" as branches, as he did, but also like him eventually to be buried and with him become parts of the root that during the Millennial age shall invigorate and sustain the regenerated human race.
The fallen root, Adam (with the first Eve, his helpmate,) generated the human family in bondage to sin and death; the Second Adam, Christ, (with his Bride and helpmate), having bought the rights of the first as well as him and his race, will be prepared to regenerate all the willing and obedient. This is termed "restitution" (Acts 3:19-23)--giving back to the worthy the earthly privileges and blessings lost in the first Adam, that, as the Lord's vine, humanity restored may bear much fruit to God's praise. But be it noted, this privilege of becoming the "root" is confined to the Christ, Head and body, "elect according to the foreknowledge of God through sanctification of the spirit and the belief of the truth" during this Gospel age. (1 Pet. 1:2) David and other worthies of the past (who died before the "branch" was buried and became the "root") can never become parts of the root; nor will the faithful of the Millennial age. All, however, will be satisfied when they attain his likeness, whether it be the earthly or the heavenly. Mankind will be privileged to attain his likeness as the perfect man Christ Jesus, the holy "branch," while the Church, his [E141] "bride," his "body," his faithful under-priests, who now fill up that which is behind of the sufferings of Christ and are "planted with him in the likeness of his death," shall bear his heavenly image. 1 Cor. 15:48,49; Heb. 11:39,40
"The Everlasting Father"
"His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." Isa. 9:6
We have already noted the propriety of the title "The Mighty God" as applied to our Lord Jesus; and few will dispute that he is indeed the Wonderful One of all the Heavenly Father's family; none will dispute that he is a great Counsellor or Teacher; or that, although his Kingdom is to be introduced by a time of trouble and disturbance incident to the death of present evil institutions, our Lord is nevertheless the Prince of Peace--who will establish a sure and lasting peace upon the only proper basis--righteousness --conformity to the divine character and plan. Now we come to the examination of the title, "The Everlasting Father," and find it as appropriate and meaningful as the others.
It does not, as some have surmised, contradict the multitudinous scriptures which declare Jehovah to be the Father everlasting--"the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," as Peter expresses it. (1 Pet. 1:3) On the contrary the Scriptures clearly show a particular sense in which this title will apply to our Lord at his second advent--that he will be the Father of the human race regenerated during the Millennium. Indeed, this title is merely the equivalent of those we have just considered--the new "Lord" of David and of mankind, the new "Root," the Second Adam, merely signifies the Everlasting Father--the Father who gives everlasting life.
Since our Lord purchased the world of mankind at the cost of his own life, and since it is by virtue of that purchase [E142] that he became its Lord, its Restorer, its Life-giver, and since the very central thought of the word father is life-giver, our Lord could take no more appropriate name or title than "Everlasting Father" to represent his relationship to the world about to be regenerated--born again from the dead by restitution, resurrection processes. The world's life will come directly from the Lord Jesus, who, as we shall shortly see, by divine arrangement bought it and paid Justice the full price for it. Nevertheless, the restored world will, after the restitution process is finished, recognize Jehovah as the great original fountain of life and blessing, the author of the great plan of salvation executed by our Lord Jesus-- the Grand Father and Over-Lord of All. 1 Cor. 15:24-28; 3:23; Matt. 19:28
In full accord with what we have just seen is the prophetic statement which for centuries has perplexed the wise and the unwise, the scholar and commentator as well as the student; namely:
Instead of Thy Fathers Shall Be Thy Children Whom
Thou Mayest Make Princes in All the Earth
The patriarchs and prophets, and especially such as were in the genealogical line upon which our Lord took hold, through his mother Mary, were long honored with the title of "fathers," progenitors of Messiah; just as the texts before cited declare David to be the root out of which the Messiah, the righteous Branch, should spring; and that the Messiah should be David's son. But all this is to be changed, when the Church, the body of Christ, shall be completed, and joined to Jesus the Head in glory, and as the Everlasting Father of mankind begin the world's regeneration. Those previously the fathers will then be the children. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David--none of these had life, in the proper sense of that word: they were all members of the death-condemned race. And when Jesus took hold upon our humanity, [E143] and became identified with the seed of Abraham and of David, and accomplished the work of redemption, it applied not only to the world in general, but as well to these, his progenitors according to the flesh. He bought all, and none can obtain life (complete, perfect, everlasting) except through him. "He that hath the Son hath life, he that hath not the Son shall not see life." (John 3:36) Hence, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and David and all the prophets, and all the remainder of the world, must receive future and everlasting life from Christ, or not at all; and outside of him is only condemnation. Therefore it is true, that when in God's due time they shall be awakened from death, it will be by the great Life-giver, Jesus, who will thus be their Father or Life-giver.
In this connection it is well to notice also that the Scriptures clearly point out the Heavenly Father as the begetter in the regeneration of the Church, the Bride of Christ. In proof of this, note the Scriptural statements on this subject. The Apostle Peter declares, "The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ...hath begotten us." (1 Pet. 1:3) The Apostle John also declares that we are "begotten of God." (1 John 5:18) The Apostle Paul also declares, "To us there is one God, the Father." (1 Cor. 8:6) He hath sent forth his spirit into our hearts, whereby we are enabled to cry unto him, "Abba, Father." (Rom. 8:15) Our Lord Jesus testified to the same thing, saying, after his resurrection, "I ascend to my Father and to your Father, to my God and to your God." (John 20:17) John's Gospel testifies to the same, saying, "To as many as received him, to them gave he liberty to become the sons of God," and declares of such that they are "begotten, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:12,13) The Apostle James declares of the Father of lights that "Of his own will begat he us with the Word of truth, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures." Jas. 1:18
Indeed, everything respecting the Church indicates that the faithful of this Gospel age are not the children of Christ, but children of his Father, begotten of the Father's spirit [E144] and to the Father's nature, and intended to be "heirs of God, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord, if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." Rom. 8:17
Our relationship to our Lord Jesus, on the contrary, is specifically and repeatedly indicated to be that of brethren, and not sons. Speaking of the Church the Apostle says, "He is not ashamed to call them brethren," as had been prophetically stated; "I will declare thy name unto my brethren; in the midst of thy church will I sing praises unto thee"; and again, "Behold I and the children [of God] which God hath given me." These are the "many sons" whom the Father is bringing to glory, under the lead of the Captain of their Salvation, Christ Jesus, and as respects this Church, it is again stated that our Lord Jesus, in his resurrection, was "first-born among many brethren." Rom. 8:29; Heb. 2:10-13
This great work of lifegiving to the world in general is deferred until the Body of the Life-giver has been completed, until the "brethren," with their Lord and Redeemer, shall be received as sons of glory, and enter upon the work of restitution. Even in the case of those of the world (the ancient worthies), whose faith and loyalty to the divine will has already been tested and approved, there can be no lifegiving until the body of the great antitypical Moses (the Church) has been fully completed (Acts 3:22,23), as it is written, "They without us [the overcomers of the Gospel age, the Body of the Anointed] shall not be made perfect"-- not inherit the earthly good things promised to them. Heb. 11:39,40
From this standpoint of the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, and in view of the authority or lordship of earth lost by Adam and thus redeemed by Christ, purchased by his precious blood, we see Christ's title to the office of Life-giver and Father to all of the race of Adam who will accept the blessings of restitution under the terms of the New Covenant, and from this standpoint only can we see how our Lord Jesus could be both the Root and the Offspring [E145] of David, both David's Son and David's Father, David's Lord.
In this connection it may be proper to inquire, How comes it that the Church of this Gospel Age, a part of the world, "children of wrath even as others" (Eph. 2:3), and needing to experience as much as the others the forgiveness of sins through the merit of the great atonement, is, in any just sense, separate and distinct from the world, so that they should be designated "sons of God," while the world should be designated sons of the Life-giver, the Christ?
The distinction lies in the fact that the world not only had its human life-rights purchased by the Lord Jesus, but the obedient of mankind will have that purchased life restored to them by him, through the gradual processes of the Millennial age. The Church, on the contrary, does not receive the restitution of human life which her Lord purchased for her. The restitution life is merely reckoned to believers of this Gospel age, in that they are justified (or made perfect, restored as human beings) by faith--not actually. And this faith-reckoned human perfection is for a specific purpose: namely, that such may sacrifice the reckoned or imputed human life and its rights and privileges in the divine service, and receive in exchange therefor the hope of sharing the divine nature.
Earthly life and earthly blessings were lost by Adam, and the same and no others were redeemed for men by our Lord, and these and none others he will eventually bestow during the times of restitution. But the Church, the body, the Bride of Christ, is called out from mankind first, a specially "elect" class, called to a "heavenly calling," a "high calling,"--to be joint-heir of Jesus Christ, her Lord and Redeemer. As Jesus offered his perfect sacrifice, "the man Christ Jesus," and was rewarded with the divine nature, so the believers of this Gospel age are permitted to offer their imperfect selves (justified or reckoned perfect through the merit of the precious blood of Jesus) on God's altar; and so doing are begotten of the spirit to be "new creatures," "sons of the Highest," accepted as Christ's brethren--members of the "royal priesthood" of which he is the Chief Priest. [E146]
These are drawn of the Father, not drawn of the Son, as will be the case with the world during the Millennium. (Compare John 6:44and 12:32.) Those whom the Father draws to Christ he, as an elder brother, receives as "brethren," and assists in walking in his footsteps in the narrow way of self-sacrifice, even unto death. Thus they may become dead with him, and be reckoned as joint-sacrificers with him, and thus be reckoned also as worthy to be joint-heirs with him in the Kingdom and work which is to bless the world and give eternal life to as many as will receive it. These, we are distinctly told, are to "fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ"--to "suffer with him, that they may also reign with him." (Col. 1:24; 2 Tim. 2:12) Thus the position of the Church is particularly different from that of the world in general, even as their calling is a high calling, a heavenly calling, and even as its reward is to be the divine nature. 2 Pet. 1:4
This is the great "mystery" or secret which, as the Apostle declares, is the key, without which it is impossible to understand the promises and prophecies of the divine Word. (Col. 1:26) The heavenly Father purposed in himself the creation of a human race, a little lower than the angels, of the earth earthy, and adapted to the earth in its Paradisaic condition: but he foreknew also the result of the fall, and its opportunity for manifesting divine justice, divine love, divine wisdom and divine power. As he forearranged that his Only Begotten Son, the Logos, should be given the opportunity of proving his fidelity to the Father and to the principles of righteousness, by becoming man's Redeemer and thus heir of all the riches of divine grace, and chief over all, next to the Father, that in all things he might have the pre-eminence, so he also designed that before the world of mankind in general should be uplifted by their Redeemer, he would make a selection, according to character and according to faithfulness, of a "little flock," to be joint-heirs with the Only Begotten One, and his associates in the Kingdom, far above angels, principalities and powers, and every name that is named. [E147]
Accordingly, the apostle declares, we are "elect according
to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification
of the spirit." (1 Pet. 1:2) The Apostle Paul
corroborates the thought, saying, "Whom he did foreknow
he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that
he might be the first-born among many brethren." Further
he desired that the eyes of our understanding might be enlightened,
so that we "may know what is the hope of his
calling, and what the riches of his inheritance in the saints,
and what the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward
who believe." He declares that this mercy toward us came
without our having done aught to merit it; God, "when we
were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, and
hath raised us up together, and hath made us sit together in
heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come he
might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness
toward us, through Christ Jesus....For we are his workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus unto good works."
Eph. 1:17-19; 2:4-10
GIVE STRENGTH, BLEST SAVIOR
"We seek not, Lord, for tongues of flame,
Or healing virtue's mystic aid;
But power thy Gospel to proclaim--
The balm for wounds that sin has made.
"Breathe on us, Lord; thy radiance pour
On all the wonders of the page
Where hidden lies the heavenly lore
That blessed our youth and guides our age.
"Grant skill each sacred theme to trace,
With loving voice and glowing tongue,
As when upon thy words of grace
The wondering crowds enraptured hung.
"Grant faith that treads the stormy deep
If but thy voice shall bid it come;
And zeal, that climbs the mountain steep,
To seek and bring the wanderer home.
"Give strength, blest Savior, in thy might;
Illuminate our hearts, and we,
Transformed into thine image bright,
Shall teach, and love, and live, like thee."