The Saviour of Mankind
by E.H. “Jack” Sequeira
In order to appreciate fully the redemptive work of Christ wrought out in our corporate, sinful humanity, we will conclude this study on the humanity of Christ by examining the threefold aspects of salvation realized in the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of our Lord.
Christ came to reverse the damage brought about by the fall of Adam. Everything necessary for the restoration of fallen man has already been prepared in the holy history of Christ, so that there is nothing the believer receives or experiences in this life and in the world to come that has not been accomplished in Christ. For this reason, our faith must be built on a foundation already laid, namely Christ Jesus.
1 Corinthians 3:11:
For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.
As the result of Adam’s sin, the human race has become a ruined species. The effects of that original sin are passed on from generation to generation, so that apart from God’s redemptive act in Christ, all men are hopelessly lost. Adam’s sin has alienated us from God and thus all men are born into a realm over which sin and death rule. Christ assumed this sinful condemned humanity in order to save such a race.
To benefit fully from such a great salvation, we must first understand the effects of the Fall. Scripture tells us that Adam’s sin affected mankind in three ways: Spiritually, Morally, and Physically. Let us briefly examine these as the basis of appreciating the fullness of Christ’s redemptive work.
“From eternal ages it was God’s purpose that every created being, from the bright and holy seraph to man, should be a temple for the indwelling of the Creator.” (Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, page 161.)
But when Adam rebelled against God, this purpose was brought to naught. The Holy Spirit immediately left him, and Adam’s life was plunged into darkness. Thus was fulfilled the warning God gave our first parents:
“...But you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
The immediate result of the Fall therefore was spiritual death. And this death was passed on to all men, so that all men are born in this world spiritually dead, alienated from God.
Ephesians 2:1, 5:
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,... made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved.
But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.
“Through disobedience Adam’s powers were perverted, and selfishness took the place of love. His nature became so weakened through transgression that it was impossible for him, in his own strength, to resist the power of evil.” (Steps to Christ, p. 7, Ellen G. White.)
This is what Isaiah meant when he said:
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
It is this bent to self-love that the Bible calls iniquity, that makes all our good works polluted and, therefore, condemned as “filthy rags” in God’s eyes.
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
In this sense man’s moral nature, since the fall, is totally depraved.
...And free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
To redeem us from every one of these consequences of the Fall, Christ came to this world as Saviour. And in order to do this:
For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.
With this in view, let us observe how fallen humanity was redeemed from the three-fold effects of sin, in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ.
...Made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved.
Thus, we must never equate Christ’s humanity with that of unbelievers who are still spiritually dead. While no distinction exists between the flesh (sinful human nature) of the believer and the unbeliever, two major differences do exist between the total humanity of believers and that of unbelievers.
Romans 7:22, 25:
For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; ...Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
Paul refers to this converted mind as the inner or new man.
Ephesians 3:16; 4:24:
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,... and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
This is not true of the unbeliever, whose mind is still unconverted and is in harmony with sin and the flesh.
All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.
The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.
You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
And this experience is based on the objective truth that he was first made spiritually alive in Christ when divinity was united to our corporate sinful humanity.
Hence, the new birth, the believer’s first experience at conversion, is the result of a reality already prepared for all men in Christ. And it is this new birth, referred to as “first fruits of the Spirit” or regeneration that changes the believer’s whole situation, so that now holy living and law-keeping are brought within his reach.
Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.
...He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,....
While fallen man is totally depraved so that, in and of himself, he cannot be subject to the law, this same person, when made spiritually alive with God’s Spirit dwelling in him, finds holy living a possibility.
You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness.
Galatians 5:16, 22-23:
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. ...But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
To such a converted person, Christ’s holy life becomes his example and goal.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.
2 Corinthians 3:17-18:
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
“Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
While the mind of Jesus was fully surrendered to God’s will, so that not even an inclination or propensity to sin rested there, His flesh was dominated by the principle that affects all mankind — the principle of self. Consequently, holy living to Him was not simply a matter of following the natural inclinations of His human nature, as in the case of sinless Adam, but involved a constant battle against “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.”
1 John 2:15-16:
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — comes not from the Father but from the world.
When He declared to His disciples that He has overcome the world...
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
...His victory over the flesh was included in that statement (see 1 John 2:15-16, just above, for the meaning of “the world”).
Such an understanding of Christ’s holy living gives a deeper and more complete meaning to His redemptive mission. In this context, The International Critical Commentary makes a most interesting observation with reference to Paul’s statement in Romans 8:3, wherein the Apostle declared that in the likeness of sinful flesh Christ “condemned sin in the flesh”:
“But if we recognize that Paul believed it was fallen human nature which the Son of God assumed, we shall probably be inclined to see here also a reference to the unremitting warfare of His whole earthly life by which He forced our rebellious nature to render a perfect obedience to God.”
According to Peter, all the sufferings of Christ that resulted in His perfect character took place in His flesh.
1 Peter 4:1:
Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin.
And this could only be possible because His flesh was the likeness of our sinful flesh, and was denied sinful desires. But this is an essential part of the good news of the gospel that must fill us with deep, heartfelt appreciation of His righteousness, and make us willing in turn to suffer in the flesh that He may be glorified.
The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
Having produced perfect obedience by completely and totally overcoming the flesh for 33 years, Christ took this condemned flesh and surrendered it to the wages of sin on His cross. Thus He “condemned sin in the flesh” by both His active and passive obedience and forever became the author and finisher of salvation to all who believe.
Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him....
In this knowledge of full and complete salvation rests the hope of fallen man. And this hope is twofold: “Justification unto life,” as well as “sanctification of the Spirit,” and both become effective by faith alone.
Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
In the light of this full and wonderful good news, the humanity of Christ is indeed “everything to us.” This perfect, full, and complete gospel in Christ which was once preached by the apostles must again be restored to our dark and doomed world before the end comes.
...How shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him.
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.