Part 1 – Where Did We Come From?
CHAPTER 2 – THE PRINCIPLE OF HEADSHIP: IN CHRIST OR IN ADAM
THE PRINCIPLE OF SIN AND DEATH
Before a person can appreciate the provision of new life in Christ, two truths must be seen: first, man’s sinful condition; secondly, that Jesus is the Christ, God becoming flesh, who dealt with the problem of sin once and for all.
Up to this point our attention has focused on the conditions caused in man’s earliest history through the initial sin of Adam and the spread of sin’s influence throughout the human race. But in order to see how desperate man’s condition is under the principle of sin and death, it is important to see God’s perspective on the issue.
Psalm 14 provides us with God’s indictment against man’s rebellion and rejection of God. Some of the descriptions of man’s condition as stated in Psalm 14 would include the following: godless, corrupt, abominable works, without understanding, wayward, filthy, without goodness, workers of iniquity, fearful, shameful.
In Romans 3, the Apostle Paul incorporates Psalm 14 and adds more statements as to man’s condition under sin (vs. 9). Verses 10 and 11 are a direct quote from Psalm 14:1‑3. In Romans 3:12, he includes the word unprofitable. Verse 13 is a quote from Psalm 5:9, when it says, Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips. The indictment continues in Romans 3:14‑18, and includes quotations from Psalm 10:7; 36:1; 140:3, as well as from Isaiah 59:7,8.
Someone might ask why God’s indictment of man is so severe. It sounds as if God hates man. We might liken God’s indictment of man to a doctor’s diagnosis of a terminal illness. We would not regard a doctor with much respect if he tried to win our favor by not giving us a complete diagnosis if we were suffering from a terminal illness. According to Galations 3:22, we can understand the reason God’s attitude about man’s condition under sin seems so harsh when Paul says, But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of (margin, “in”) Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. God’s purpose in His strong indictment of mankind’s sinful state is to remove all possibility of man’s attempting to come to God in his sinful state, but that man will realize that God’s provision through the redemption of Jesus Christ is the only basis for entrance into God’s presence.
JESUS – THE SINLESS ONE MADE TO BE SIN FOR US
It is essential, in addition to seeing how sinful man is in God’s sight, to see that God sent Jesus to be the Christ as a sufficient substitutionary sacrifice for man’s sinful condition and to pay the debt of all of man’s sinful deeds.
First, it is necessary to see how the Scriptures present Jesus, conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of Mary, as the Messiah (Old Testament), the Christ (New Testament), the only sacrifice acceptable to God, and the only one through whom man can receive redemption, forgiveness of sins, and eternal life.
Although the account of the virgin birth is recorded in both the gospels of Matthew and Luke, there are earlier Scriptures in point of time that predict the virgin birth. In Genesis 3:15, the use of the words, her seed, and, he shall bruise thy head, are recognized by many Bible scholars as the first reference to the virgin birth since the word, seed, is normally attributed to the male parent. In Isaiah 7:14, the prophet gives God’s promise that the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. These words were spoken more than 700 years before the actual event took place. In Matthew’s gospel, chapter 1, verse 23, Isaiah’s prophesy is spoken by the angel in addressing Joseph to assure him that the babe to be born of Mary is the son that Isaiah predicted would be born of a virgin. Also, the angel explained in verse 20 of that chapter that the conception was accomplished by the Holy Spirit. But even before the angelic appearance to Joseph, an angel had spoken to Mary earlier according to the account recorded in Luke 1:35. In response to Mary’s question as to how she could conceive and bear the son mentioned at first by the angel in verse 31, the angel explains, The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. The Holy Spirit accomplished within Mary’s womb the creation of the humanity in which the eternal Son of God would dwell (or, tabernacle), according to the meaning of the Greek in John 1:14).
The testimony as to this one’s being the Messiah begins with those involved in this momentous event and continues through Christ’s public ministry to the testimony of the apostles. In Luke 1:43, Elizabeth recognizes that the expected child is the Lord. Joseph, by being willing to accept Mary in her pregnancy as his wife, in response to the angel’s message to him, and by giving the name Jesus to the child, testifies to the fact that Jesus is the anointed one (Messiah). In Luke 2:26 and 29, at the presentation of the infant Jesus at the temple, Simeon testifies that the newborn infant is the Lord’s Christ. Likewise, Anna, also at the temple presentation, spoke of Him as the Redeemer (Lk. 2:38).
At Jesus’ baptism in Luke 3:22 (as well as in Matt. 3:17, Mk. 1:11, and Jn. 1:32‑34), the testimony of God, the Father, identifies Jesus as God’s beloved Son, the highest testimony to Jesus as being God’s anointed one.
God bore witness to Jesus as His beloved Son also at the transfiguration, as recorded in Matthew 17:5; Mark 9:7; and in Luke 9:35. The Apostle Peter, who witnessed the transfiguration in person, testifies in II Peter 1:16,17, when he states:
For we have not followed cunningly devised fables when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God, the Father, honor and glory, when there came such a voice to Him from the excellent glory, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”.
In Acts 2:36, Peter, speaking on the day of Pentecost, testifies, Therefore, let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. This statement comes at the conclusion of Peter’s message in which he declares, in reference to the resurrection, that Jesus was the Christ foreseen in David’s prophetic predictions in the Psalms. The resurrection served as the final evidence that God would provide that Jesus was truly the Christ.
In considering the truth of Jesus’ being the only acceptable sacrifice for sin, the declaration of John the Baptist would seem to be an appropriate starting point when he said, Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world (Jn. 1:29). In I Peter 1:18,19, the apostle states that believers are …redeemed…with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. In verse 20, he adds that the sacrifice of Christ was foreordained before the foundation of the world.
A similar statement is used concerning Christ in Revelation 13:8, where He is identified as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. In the book of the Revelation the word, Lamb, is used 28 times in reference to Christ, thus keeping our minds centered on His sacrificial death on our behalf even as we consider the unfolding events of the end time.
A very significant example of the identification of Jesus as the sacrifice in our stead is seen in Acts 8, with the account of Philip’s meeting the Ethiopian eunuch in the Gaza desert. The Ethiopian eunuch was reading a scroll from the book of Isaiah, chapter 53, verses 7 and 8, and is quoted in Acts 8:32 and 33, which says:
He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearers, so opened he not his mouth; In his humiliation his judgment was taken away, and who shall declare his generation? For his life is taken from the earth.
When the eunuch asks to whom the prophet has reference, Philip answers that Jesus is the one Isaiah was describing (v. 35). It was clearly understood both by Philip and the eunuch that Jesus of Nazareth was truly the Messiah, as evidenced by the request of the eunuch to be baptized, and by Philip’s declaration in verse 37, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. The eunuch’s answer is the strongest affirmation possible: I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. His response reminds us of Nathanael’s declaration upon his first meeting of Jesus as recorded in John 1:49, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King Of Israel. It is also in keeping with Peter’s confession in Matthew 16:16, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
The apostle Paul’s opening statement in Romans 1:1-4 is a strong affirmation as to the combined human and divine natures of the Lord Jesus Christ. He describes the gospel as follows:
Concerning His (God’s) Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who was made of the seed of David according to the flesh, And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead, Rom. 1:3,4.
Through these testimonies we are able to see that it was God alone who could satisfy His just demands for a perfect sacrifice by sending His Son, Jesus, to take on human flesh (but without sin), to destroy sin, and at the same time to pay the penalty of death for man’s sinful deeds.
Next week: Chapter 2 continued…
Used with permission.
A. Ward Brandenstein
Pastor Ward earned an M.A. in Guidance and Counselling from Eastern Michigan University after taking special courses in psychology at Wayne State University, and earned a Bachelor of Theology (Th.B.) from Baptist Bible College and Seminary with Greek and Hebrew studies, and earned a diploma from Philadelphia Bible Institute (now Cairn U.), including New Testament Greek studies. His knowledge of the Bible and close walk with God are appreciated by all who know him and have sat under his teaching. Pastor Brandenstein and his wife Rose Ann reside in California, teaching college level singles and married couples, young professionals, and retired pastors and missionaries.