Saviour of the World
by E.H. “Jack” Sequeira

Chapter 4 — The Truth As It Is In Christ

In an earlier chapter, we saw that faith is more than a mere mental assent to the gospel message; it is a heart obedience to the truth as it is in Christ.  The importance of this truth as it is “in Christ” cannot be overemphasized because it is the very heart of the gospel message.  The ground of our salvation is God’s agape love which is unconditional, self-emptying, and everlasting.

Romans 5:5-10
And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.  You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!  For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
Ephesians 2:1-6
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.  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.  But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus....
Titus 3:3-5
At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures.  We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.  But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 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....
Jeremiah 31:3
The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying:  “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”

But the means of our salvation is the truth as it is in Christ.  We must understand what it means to be “in Christ” if we are to fully understand the gospel message.  Our faith must be rooted and grounded “in Christ.“  Otherwise, our subjective experience of salvation will be marred.

God sent Jesus to be the gospel, the good news of salvation.  But He appointed the apostle Paul to be the one to most clearly explain this good news:

Romans 1:1
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God....
Ephesians 3:8-9
Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me:  to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.

Paul’s letters make up almost half of the New Testament and, when we examine them carefully, we find this key phrase, “in Christ,” running through them all.  In fact, if we were to remove this phrase, “in Christ,” from Paul’s writings, there would be very little left of his exposition of the gospel!  It is the central theme of his theology.  Altogether, this phrase, in its different forms, appears more than 160 times in the New Testament.  Sometimes we find the idea expressed in slightly different wording such as, “in Christ Jesus,” or “in Him,” or “by Him,” or “through Him,” or “in the Beloved,” or “together with Him,” etc.  These all mean the same thing.

We have absolutely nothing as Christians except what we have received “in Christ.“  Everything we enjoy, experience, and hope for as believers — the peace that comes through justification by faith, the victorious life we experience through the process of sanctification, and the blessed hope of glorification we look forward to — is ours always and only “in Christ.“  Outside of Him we have nothing but sin, condemnation, and death.

Jesus Himself first introduced the truth behind this phrase when He told His disciples, “Abide [or Remain] in Me”:

John 15:4
Remain in me, as I also remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

Abiding or remaining “in Christ” is the foundation of the gospel experience, so unless we understand what Jesus and Paul are talking about, we will never fully understand and appreciate the gospel.

Let’s examine, then, what the New Testament means when it talks about being “in Christ.“  Just as Nicodemus had a difficult time understanding what Jesus meant by the new birth, so we, today, have difficulty understanding what Paul means by the phrase, “in Christ.“  Especially is this a difficult concept for the western mind that is accustomed to thinking in terms of the individual.  When we read what Paul wrote about being “in Christ,” we begin wondering, “How can I, as an individual, be in someone else?  Even more, how can I, who was born in the twentieth century, be in Christ who lived almost 2,000 years ago?”  The idea makes absolutely no sense to our western way of thinking.  As a result, we ignore or misinterpret this expression “in Christ” and, therefore, miss the very core of the gospel message.  Yet our whole understanding of the gospel hinges on understanding the significance of these two vital words.

When we read what Paul has written to believers in the New Testament, he seems to be saying that we Christian believers were actually together with Christ when He died, was buried, and rose to life.  That somehow, “in Christ,” we did those things too when He did them and that we are now actually sitting with Him in heavenly places:

Ephesians 2:5-6
[God] made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved.  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus....  [KEY PTS.]

What does Paul mean?

For Paul, the “in Christ” concept is based on the biblical idea that he whole human race shares a common life and, therefore, is considered to be a single unit.  We call this idea, “solidarity” or “corporate oneness.” What does the Bible teach about solidarity?  Let’s look at two texts.

The first is:

Romans 9:12
...Not by works but by him who calls — she was told, “The older [child] will serve the younger.”  [KEY PTS.]

Speaking of the unborn twins of Rebekah, Isaac’s wife, Paul quotes Genesis 25:23.  At face value, it sounds as if God is predicting that Esau, the older twin, would serve Jacob, the younger.  But the fact is, this never happened.

However, when we examine the original statement in Genesis from which Paul is quoting, we discover that God had something else in mind.  In Genesis, God actually says to Rebekah:

Genesis 25:23 [Emphasis Added]
The Lord said to her [Rebekah], “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.”  [KEY PTS.]

He is saying that the descendants of Esau will serve the descendants of Jacob.  This actually happened.

God sees not only Esau and Jacob in their mother’s womb as individuals; He sees two nations — the descendants who would come from them.  All those thousands of people who would trace their lineage back to Jacob and Esau are considered to be one with their ancestor.  This is a “solidarity statement,” and it is typical of the way the Bible views a whole group of people — or indeed, the whole human race — as being one single corporate unit.

The second text is:

Hebrews 7:7-10
And without doubt the lesser is blessed by the greater.  In the one case, the tenth is collected by people who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living.  One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham, because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor.  [KEY PTS.]

Here the writer of Hebrews uses the solidarity concept to prove that Christ, as our High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary, is superior to the Levitical priests of the earthly sanctuary.  To us, today, his argument seems hard to follow.  But remember, he is writing to Jewish Christians of New Testament times who would be familiar with the idea of “solidarity,” so his argument based on that concept would be convincing to them.

Here is the reasoning behind his argument:  Christ, he says, is a priest after the order of Melchizedek, not Levi.  After all, when Christ was born, He was not born into the tribe of Levi.  So, from that standpoint, He isn’t even eligible to be a priest.  That is why the writer of Hebrews goes to some lengths to establish that Christ is a priest after the order of Melchizedek, not Levi:

Hebrews 7:12-17
For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also.  He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar.  For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.  And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life.  For it is declared:  “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”

Then he goes on to argue that Levi and the Levitical priests are inferior to Melchizedek and the priests of his order.  How does he prove that?  By showing that Levi paid tithes to Melchizedek, thus indicating that Levi acknowledged Melchizedek to be the greater.

But wait a minute!  How could Levi have paid tithes to Melchizedek when Levi wasn’t even alive until long after Melchizedek’s time?  The two individuals didn’t even live at the same time!

For the writer of Hebrews and his first century Jewish readers, this was no problem:

Genesis 14:18-20
Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine.  He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth.  And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.”
Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
  [KEY PTS.]
Hebrews 7:4-10
Just think how great he was:  Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder!  Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people — that is, from their fellow Israelites — even though they also are descended from Abraham.  This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises.  And without doubt the lesser is blessed by the greater.  In the one case, the tenth is collected by people who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living.  One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham, because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor.  [KEY PTS.]

Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek, and Levi, Abraham’s great grandson, was “still in the body of his ancestor” [“in Abraham’s loins”] although still unborn when this happened.  Given the idea of solidarity, the writer and his original readers would have no difficulty understanding that Levi paid tithes to Melchizedek “in Abraham.”  Levi could be said to do what actually was done by his great grandfather Abraham because they were really a single unit.

According to the plain teaching of Scripture, God created all men in one man, Adam.  That is why when Genesis says:

Genesis 2:7
Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

The original Hebrew word for life is in the plural form, so it really says “the breath of lives.”  This means that, when God created Adam, He was creating not just one man, but the whole human race in that one man.

Acts 17:26
From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.  [KEY PTS.]

In fact, in Hebrew, the very word Adam means “mankind.”

So, when Satan caused Adam to fall, sin and condemnation were not confined only to Adam himself; sin and condemnation entered the whole human race:

Romans 5:12-18
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.  To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law.  Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.  But the gift is not like the trespass.  For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!  Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin:  The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.  For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!  Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.  [KEY PTS.]
1 Corinthians 15:21-22
For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.  For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.  [KEY PTS.]

Adam had no children when he fell; all his posterity was still “in him” and, therefore, was implicated in his sin, just as Levi was implicated in Abraham’s tithe paying.

Of course, this does not make us guilty of Adam’s sin.  That is the heresy of the doctrine of Original Sin.  Guilt, in a legal sense, involves personal volition or responsibility, and God does not hold us guilty for Adam’s sin in which we had no choice.  We do, however, suffer its consequences since Adam passed on to his children a life that had already sinned and, as a result, stood condemned to death.

But the wonderful good news of the gospel is that, just as all are condemned to death in one man, Adam, so God has redeemed all in one man, Jesus Christ.  How did He do it?  By using the same principle of solidarity.  At the incarnation, God united, in the womb of Mary, the divine life of His Son with the collective life of the human race that stood condemned and which needed redeeming.  In this way, Christ became the “second Adam,” or the “last Adam.”  In reality, He became us, and we became one “in Him.”

Although this corporate oneness with Christ in His humanity did not save us, it did legally qualify Christ to be our substitute and representative, just as the first Adam was our representative when he fell.  Hence, by His perfect life, which met the positive demands of the law, and His sacrificial death, which met the justice of the law, Christ re-wrote our human history.  And, in His resurrection, He changed humanity’s status from one of condemnation to one of justification:

Romans 4:25; 5:18
He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.  ...Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.  [KEY PTS.]

This is what constitutes the fantastic good news of the gospel:

1 Corinthians 1:30-31
It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God — that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.  Therefore, as it is written:  “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
Ephesians 1:3-6; 2:5-6
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.  In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will — to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.  ...[God] made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved.  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus....

As our substitute, Christ had to meet the full demands of the law — both its positive demands, as well as its demands for justice — in order to save sinful humanity.  By doing this, He obtained legal justification for all mankind and became the Saviour of the world:

Romans 5:18; 10:4
Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.  ...Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
Titus 2:11
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.
1 John 2:2
He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

This is God’s “indescribable gift” to every human being:

2 Corinthians 9:15
Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

Unfortunately, many have great difficulty understanding how this “in Christ” idea can be possible.  They have no difficulty accepting the fact that all humans were created in one man, Adam.  But how could God collect and put all humans into Christ 4,000 years after creation?  This may seem impossible from a human standpoint, but let’s not forget that “with God all things are possible”:

Matthew 19:26
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Really, we shouldn’t ask, “How can this be possible?”  We should ask, “What does Scripture teach?” After all, the Bible declares many things to be true that our human minds cannot fathom, yet we accept them by faith.  A good example is the uni-personality of Christ, the fact He could be at the same time fully God and fully man in one person.  After struggling with this truth for some 300 years, the Christian church finally decided, at the Council of Chalcedon, to accept this mystery as a fact.

Likewise with the “in Christ” motif.  We may not be able to understand how all the aspects of solidarity may be possible, yet because Scripture clearly teaches it, we accept it by faith.  The major issue is not whether we understand this truth; the issue is:  Does Scripture present the “in Christ” motif as a fact and, if so, are we willing to accept this biblical truth?

The following diagram illustrates how God rewrote our human history in the God-man, Jesus Christ, thus changing our legal status from one of condemnation to one of justification.  The circle represents Christ’s divinity, while the human figure in the circle represents the corporate humanity that Christ assumed at the incarnation in order to be our substitute and the Saviour of the world.

By His perfect life, Jesus, the God-man, met the positive demands of the law.  This was symbolized in the sanctuary service by the spotless lamb, the lamb without blemish.  By His death, Jesus met the justice of the law, signified in the sanctuary service by the sacrificed lamb consumed by the divine fire on the bronze altar.  In the resurrection, Jesus raised the redeemed human race — glorified and cleansed of its sinful nature.  Thus, through His earthly mission, Christ became forever the righteousness of every child of Adam.  And this righteousness is made effective individually when it is received by faith:

Acts 13:39
Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.
Romans 1:16-17; 9:30-33
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes:  first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.  For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed — a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written:  “The righteous will live by faith.”  ...What then shall we say?  That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal.  Why not?  Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works.  They stumbled over the stumbling stone.  As it is written:  “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame.”
Philippians 3:7-9
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.  I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ — the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.

The “in Christ” understanding of the gospel also solves an ethical problem.  Many non-Christians have difficulty understanding how God can justify and give eternal life to sinners who believe in Jesus Christ.  They see the following ethical problem:  God’s law condemns sinners to death.  Yet God gives these condemned sinners life on the basis of what someone else (Jesus Christ) has done!

Galatians 3:10
For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written:  “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”
Romans 4:5
However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.

Many see this as a make-believe righteousness and an ethical problem.

The answer lies in the idea of “in Christ.” The humanity Christ assumed really was our corporate humanity that needed redeeming.  Because we were “in Him,” through our corporate humanity, we lived the perfect life He lived — “in Him.”  We died the death He died — “in Him.”  What He did, we did — “in Him.”  This is no make-believe righteousness.  Christ is the end, fulfillment, or termination of the law:

Romans 10:4
Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
Galatians 3:13
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written:  “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”

That is why faith involves a heart obedience to the gospel, because the life, death, and resurrection of Christ is our corporate history.  If that history is to be effective in us, God’s supreme gift to mankind, the gospel, demands our surrender to what God did with us in Christ.  The objective good news of the gospel is a truth that applies to all humanity, but only those who believe will actually be saved experientially:

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  [KEY PTS.]

Understood in this context, true justification by faith prevents what many conservative Adventists are afraid of — namely antinomianism, or what is commonly referred to as “cheap grace.”  Cheap grace is the idea that Christ did it all, and I don’t have to do anything — the idea that I can live as I please and, as long as I believe in Christ, salvation is mine.

In contrast to cheap grace, true righteousness by faith means that we identify ourselves with Christ and Him crucified.  And since Christ died on the cross “to sin,” we likewise consider ourselves “dead to sin, but alive to God in Jesus”:

Romans 6:10-11
The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.  In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

This is true obedience in faith to the gospel, and it is the true significance of baptism:

Romans 6:3-11
Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.  For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.  For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin — because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.  Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.  For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.  The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.  In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

[Compare also Ellen G. White, SDA Bible Commentary, Volume 6, Page 1,075, “Many Buried Alive.”]

Christian faith is more than merely a mental assent to truth; it is participation in Christ’s life and death.  This is what Jesus meant when He said to the Jews:

John 6:53
Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”

This is the true righteousness by faith message God brought to His people some one hundred years ago.  And when the church, as a corporate body, accepts this truth and surrenders to it, God will take over and lighten this earth with His glory.

Furthermore, when the gospel is proclaimed in the light of the “in Christ” motif, there is no excuse for any person to be lost.  According to the New Testament, a person is not lost because he or she is a sinner, but because of unbelief — willful, persistent, and ultimate rejection of the truth as it is in Christ:

Mark 16:15-16
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”
John 3:18, 36
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.  ...Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.
Hebrews 2:3; 10:26-29
...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.  ...If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.  Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.  How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?

This is why Christ will not come to take believers to heaven until every person who has reached the age of accountability hears this good news of the gospel and makes a choice, either for Christ or against Him.

Matthew 24:14
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Since the “in Christ” motif constitutes the very heart of the gospel message, let’s note what some Bible students — Adventists and others — have said about this idea:

H.P. Liddon, University Sermons, Pages 225-226
As human nature was present in Adam, when by his representative sin he ruined his posterity; so was human nature present in Christ our Lord....  Our nature is his own.  He carried it with him through life to death.  He made it do and bear that which was utterly beyond its native strength.
Brooke Foss Westcott, The Gospel of the Resurrection, Page 39
If Christ took our nature upon him, as we believe, by an act of love, it was not that of one but of all.  He was not one man only among many men, but in him all humanity was gathered up.  And thus now, as at all time, mankind are, so to speak, organically united with him.  His acts are in a true sense our acts, so far as we realize the union.  His death is our death, his resurrection our resurrection.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, Page 35
When God’s Son took on flesh, he truly and bodily took on, out of pure grace, our being, our nature, ourselves.  This was the eternal counsel of the triune God.  Now we are in him.  Where he is, there we are too, in the incarnation, on the cross, and in his resurrection.  We belong to him because we are in him.
W.W. Prescott, 1895 General Conference Bulletin, Page 24
Jesus Christ was the representative of humanity, and humanity centered in him, and when he took flesh, he took humanity....  This is the most glorious truth in Christianity.  It is Christianity itself; it is the very core and life and heart of Christianity.

But I can envision some readers saying, “What about Ellen White?  Does she have anything to say about the truth as it is in Christ?”

My response to this is a most definite yes!  She has much to say about this glorious truth.  Normally, I am not impressed when someone gives me pages of Ellen White quotations which they have collected on any given subject.  The reason is simple:  one can make Ellen White say almost anything by stringing together a list of carefully selected quotations, many of which are taken out of context.  However, for those who would like statements by Ellen White on this subject of what Christ accomplished for the human race in His earthly mission, please consider the following:

Selected Messages, Vol. 1, Pages 250-251
By His obedience to all the commandments of God, Christ wrought out a redemption for men.  This was not done by going out of Himself to another, but by taking humanity into Himself.  Thus Christ gave to humanity an existence out of Himself.  To bring humanity into Christ, to bring the fallen race into oneness with divinity, is the work of redemption.
Sons and Daughters of God, Page 120
Blessed is the soul who can say ... I am lost in Adam, but restored in Christ.
Letter 53, 1904
For every human being Christ has paid the election price.  No one need be lost.  All have been redeemed.  To those who receive Christ as a personal Saviour will be given power to become sons and daughters of God.
Manuscript 77, 1899
He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes, we are healed.  This penalty Christ bore for the sins of the transgressor, He has borne the punishment for every man.
Letter 67, 1902
Christ came to the earth and made an offering of such value that He redeemed the race.
Ministry of Healing, Page 90
With His own blood He has signed the emancipation papers of the race.
Selected Messages, Vol. 1, Page 343
No sin can be committed by man for which satisfaction has not been met on Calvary.
Letter 136, 1902
The world does not acknowledge that, at an infinite cost Christ has purchased the human race.  They do not acknowledge that by creation and by redemption, He holds a just claim to every human being.  But as the redeemer of the fallen race, He has been given the deed of possession, which entitles Him to claim them as His property.
Manuscript 133, 1897
As Christ bore the sins of every transgressor so the sinner who will not believe in Christ, ...who rejects the light that comes to him, and refuses to respect and obey the commandments of God, will bear the penalty of his transgression.

The fact that all people are resurrected, some to eternal life and others to eternal damnation, indicates that Jesus actually redeemed the entire human race:

John 5:28-29
“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out — those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.”

If any are lost eternally, it will be because they have willfully and ultimately rejected the salvation God has already obtained for them in Christ:

John 3:18, 36
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.  ...Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.

That is why “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all nations,” before the end of the world will take place:

Matthew 24:14
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

In concluding this important chapter, let’s consider some of the glorious blessings we sinful humans receive as a result of this truth as it is in Christ, which we receive by faith alone:

  1. Peace with God.  This is the first and immediate blessing we receive through justification by faith in Christ.

    Romans 5:1
    Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ....  [KEY PTS.]

    This means:

    Romans 8:1
    Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus....

    In view of this fact, Christians can come boldly to God, with full assurance of salvation, since God no longer looks at them on the basis of their personal performance, but on the basis of what Christ has done for them in His holy history:

    Hebrews 10:19-22
    Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
  2. Assurance of Forgiven Sins.  When we accept by faith that we are “in Christ,” we can know that all our sins have been forgiven.  We can know that we therefore stand perfect before God in Christ — without spot or blemish, now and in the judgment:

    Ephesians 1:3-7
    Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.  In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will — to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.  In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace....  [KEY PTS.]
    1 John 2:1-2
    My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin.  But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father — Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.  He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.  [KEY PTS.]

    As Ellen White admonishes us:

    Selected Messages, Vol. 2, Pages 32-33
    We are not to be anxious about what Christ and God think of us, but about what God thinks of Christ our Substitute.
  3. New Birth.  Justification by faith also brings about the new birth.  This means the old is gone and the new has come:

    2 Corinthians 5:17
    Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:  The old has gone, the new is here!  [KEY PTS.]

    This exchange of our condemned life for Christ’s righteous life is the result of our faith obedience to the gospel message.  It gives us not only the title to heaven, but also makes holy living possible through the power of the indwelling Spirit:

    Romans 8:9-11
    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.
    Galatians 5:16
    So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

    As Paul expressed it:

    Romans 7:24-25a
    What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?  Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

    This is what it means to be standing in grace and rejoicing in the hope of glory:

    Romans 5:2
    [...Our Lord Jesus Christ] through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.  And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.
    1 Corinthians 15:9-10
    For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.  But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.  No, I worked harder than all of them — yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.
    2 Corinthians 12:7-9
    ...Or because of these surpassingly great revelations.  Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
  4. Adoption as Children of God.  Because of our faith union with Christ, one of the great privileges we receive is that we become the adopted children of God:

    Romans 8:15-17
    The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.  And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”  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.  [KEY PTS.]
    Galatians 4:4-5
    But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.  [KEY PTS.]
    1 John 3:1-2
    See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  And that is what we are!  The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.  But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.  [KEY PTS.]

    This means we become “joint heirs with Christ” and will reign with Him a thousand years during the millennium — and then throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity in the earth made new!

    Romans 8:17
    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.
    Revelation 20:6; 22:5
    Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection.  The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.  ...There will be no more night.  They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light.  And they will reign for ever and ever.

    No wonder Paul speaks of this privilege as “the exceeding riches of God’s grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus”:

    Ephesians 2:7
    ...In order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

All these blessings come to us because:

2 Corinthians 5:21
God made him [Christ] who had no sin to be sin [singular, meaning what we are totally by nature and performance] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

But this wonderful truth as it is in Christ becomes an impossibility if in any way we make a distinction between Christ’s humanity and the humanity He came to redeem.  As our substitute, Christ was one with us, since He was the second Adam.  That is why He was called Immanuel, God with us:

Isaiah 7:14
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:  The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Matthew 1:23
“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

And since we were in Him by God’s act, we can legally claim by faith all that He accomplished in His life, death, and resurrection.  That’s why Jesus declared that those who believe in God who sent Him have already passed from death to life:

John 5:24
“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”

This is the incredible good news of justification by faith, the fruit of which is holiness of living.

Some, however, raise this objection to the glorious idea of “in Christ.”  “If we actually obeyed the law in Christ,” they say, “isn’t this just a subtle way of saying that we actually saved ourselves?  Isn’t this really a form of self-righteousness that deprives Christ of the glory He deserves?”

The answer is NO!  A thousand times NO!  No credit can go to us, since we weren’t responsible and played no part in the actual obedience of Christ.  God does not hold us responsible or guilty for Adam’s sin in which we personally had no choice.  In the same way, we get no personal credit for the obedience of Christ, in which we had no choice.

However, just as Adam’s sin condemned all humanity to death because we were in him when he disobeyed God’s command in the Garden of Eden, in the same way, we can legally claim the righteousness of Christ by faith, since God united His Son to our corporate humanity in the incarnation in order that He might be our Substitute, Representative, and Surety in His work of redemption.  But all the glory must go to Christ — and Christ alone.

This is the context — the truth as it is “in Christ,” — in which we must examine the human nature of Christ.  This is the only way to come to a correct and meaningful understanding of the subject.

In the first place, Christ’s humanity reconciled us to God, since it was in our corporate humanity that He assumed in the Incarnation and in which He fully satisfied the demands of the law — both its positive demands as well as its justice:

2 Corinthians 5:18
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation....
Romans 10:4
Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

Second, what Christ accomplished in His humanity, through the power of the indwelling Spirit, becomes an example for us who have obeyed this gospel by faith and experienced the new birth.  The same power that overcame and condemned sin in Christ’s flesh, which was our very flesh, is now made available to us:

Romans 8:2-4
...Because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.  For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.  And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

This is the precious message God brought to the Adventist Church more than a hundred years ago.  Unfortunately, it was rejected to a large degree.  But thank God, He has not forsaken us.  In His great mercy, God is trying His best to restore this message, in its fullness, if we will only be willing to put aside our preconceived ideas and come together in the spirit of humility and Christian love to study that which is everything to us — the humanity of the Son of God.


Key Points in Chapter 4
• The Truth As It Is In Christ •
  1. Faith is more than a mere mental assent to the gospel message; it is a heart obedience to the truth as it is in Christ.

  2. We find a key phrase running through all Paul’s New Testament letters.  That phrase is “in Christ.” It is the central theme of Paul’s theology.

  3. Paul seems to be saying that Christian believers were actually together with Christ when He died, was buried, and rose to life.  He seems to be saying that somehow, “in Christ,” we believers did those things too when Christ did them (see Ephesians 2:5-6).

  4. For Paul, the “in Christ” concept is based on the biblical idea that the whole human race shares a common life and, therefore, is considered to be a single unit.  We call this idea, “solidarity” or “corporate oneness.”

    1. In Romans 9:12, Paul, speaking of the unborn twins of Isaac’s wife, Rebekah, quotes Genesis 25:23 that the older child (Esau) would serve the younger child (Jacob).  This never happened.  Genesis 25:23 actually says Rebekah would give birth to two nations and that the descendants of Esau would serve the descendants of Jacob.  All the thousands of people who would trace their lineage back to Jacob and Esau are considered to be one with their ancestor.

    2. Hebrews 7:7-10 argues that Levi paid tithes to Melchizedek, thus proving that the priesthood of Melchizedek is superior to that of Levi.  But how could Levi have paid tithes to Melchizedek when Levi wasn’t even alive until long after Melchizedek’s time?  For first-century Jewish readers, this was no problem.  Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek (see Genesis 14:18-20; Hebrews 7:4-10), and Levi, Abraham’s great-grandson, was “in Abraham’s loins.”  Levi could be said to do what actually was done by his great-grandfather Abraham because they were really a single unit.

  5. According to the Bible, God was not just creating one man when He created Adam, but the whole human race (see Acts 17:26).

  6. When Satan caused Adam to fall, sin and condemnation were not confined only to Adam himself; sin and condemnation entered the whole human race (see Romans 5:12, 18; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22).

    1. This does not make us guilty of Adam’s sin.  That idea is the heresy of the doctrine of Original Sin.  But we do suffer the consequences of Adam’s sin because he passed on to his children a life that had already sinned and, as a result, stood condemned to death (see Romans 5:12-18; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22).

    2. The wonderful good news of the gospel is that, just as all were condemned to death in one man, Adam, so God has redeemed all in one man, Jesus Christ.

  7. At the incarnation, God united in Mary’s womb the divine life of His Son with the collective life of the human race that stood condemned and which needed redeeming.  In this way, Christ became the “second Adam.” In reality, He became us, and we became one “in Him.”

  8. By His perfect life, which met the positive demands of the law, and by His sacrificial death, which met the justice of the law, Christ rewrote our human history.  And, in His resurrection, He changed humanity’s status from one of condemnation to one of justification (see Romans 4:25; 5:18).

  9. The “in Christ” understanding of the gospel also solves the following ethical problem:  God’s law condemns sinners to death.  Yet God gives life to those condemned sinners on the basis of what someone else (Jesus Christ) has done.  Many see this is as a make-believe righteousness — and an ethical problem.  The answer lies in the idea of “in Christ.”  The humanity Christ assumed was really our corporate humanity that needed redeeming.  Because we were “in Him,” through our corporate humanity, we lived the perfect life He lived — “in Him.”  We died the death He died — “in Him.”  What He did, we did — “in Him.”  This is no make-believe righteousness.

  10. Although all humanity has been corporately redeemed “in Christ,” if that history is to be effective in us individually, God’s supreme gift to mankind — the gospel — demands our surrender to what God did with us in Christ.  The objective good news of the gospel is a truth that applies to all humanity, but only those who believe will actually be saved experientially (see John 3:16).

  11. In this context, true justification by faith prevents antinomianism, or “cheap grace” — the idea that, as long as I believe in Christ, salvation is mine, and I can live as I please.  Christian faith is more than merely a mental assent to truth; it is participation in Christ’s life and death.

  12. As a result of this truth as it is “in Christ,” we receive the following blessings by faith alone:
    1. Peace with God (see Romans 5:1);
    2. Assurance of forgiven sins (see Ephesians 1:3-7, 1 John 2:1-2);
    3. New birth (see 2 Corinthians 5:17);
    4. Adoption as children of God (see Romans 8:15-17, Galatians 4:4-5, 1 John 3:1-2).

  13. This wonderful truth of the gospel as it is “in Christ” becomes an impossibility if in any way we make a distinction between Christ’s humanity and the humanity He came to redeem.

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