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Abstract

Table of Contents

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Appendixes


     

Part I: The Intrusion of Death

Chapter 13

The Theological Implications Of Death

 

Death is the wages of sin
(Romans 6:23)

All have sinned.
(Romans 3:23)

It is appointed unto men once to die.
(Hebrews 9:27)

As in Adam all die,
even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

(1 Corinthians 15:22)

We see Jesus. . .
made a little lower than the angels
for the suffering of death. . . .
that He, by the grace of God,
should taste death for every man.

(Hebrews 2:9)

I lay down my life . . .
No man taketh it from me,
but I lay it down of myself

(John 10:18)

Hereby perceive we the love of God,
because He laid down his life for us.

(1 John 3:16)

 

     To conclude Part I, let me try to put the death of the last Adam in the context of what has been said about the death of the first.

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     The death of the Lord Jesus Christ was an absolutely unique event in history. There has never been another death like it, either as a punishment, as a suicide, as a martyrdom, or even as an act of self-sacrifice by any other human being on behalf of his fellows. And yet it was for man, and AS A MAN that He died.
     In relation to the origin and nature of Adam as created, the circumstances surrounding the death of the Lord are of tremendous importance: and they are equally important in relation to the phenomenon of death itself in so far as it came to be part and parcel of human experience as a consequence of Adam's disobedience in eating the forbidden fruit.
     We have, unfortunately, become so familiar with the concept of self-sacrifice and martyrdom that we have difficulty in discerning how entirely unique the Lord's death really was. We readily acknowledge that He was master of his life and beyond the reach of his enemies until He chose to submit to them. This we commonly take to be the meaning of his words, "No man taketh my life from Me. I lay it down of Myself" (John 10:18); or again, where we are told, "Then they sought to take Him: but no man laid hands upon Him for his hour was not yet come" (John 7:30). In short, we assume that his choice was really a matter of timing: when the time was come,
He would submit Himself to their designs and permit his own death by crucifixion. This did, indeed, happen: but
it is only part of what happened. Moreover, it is really the least part: for the cross itself was only the stage upon which a unique drama of death was acted out when the Lord Jesus Christ not only chose the TIME to die, but chose to die.
     We have no choice in this matter. We can sometimes choose the setting or the hour of our death by provoking martyrdom or by committing suicide, for example. We can provoke others into effecting our own destruction, or we can voluntarily sacrifice our lives by some act of heroism in a time of crisis. But however noble the act, we are after all only choosing the mode or the setting or the time for the fulfilling of an event which is inevitable in any case. In the final analysis, we have no choice in the matter of whether we will die. We will, in due course. We know we will, for we are mortals. Death is appointed for us as an inescapable terminus to life. *

      It is merely a question of whether we die early or late, prematurely or protractedly. Within certain limits we may hasten death or postpone it: but we cannot escape it and therefore we cannot pretend that we ever do any more than influence the time of our dying. In the matter of being subject

* It is true that we shall not all die (1 Thessalonians 4:17), but the circumstances here are quite exceptional.

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to death as mortal creatures, we have no say. We shall die, willy nilly. Yet we know now that it is quite possible to conceive of a situation in which this might not have been the case. As we have seen, death is by no means an inevitable consequence of being alive. Millions of creatures never do die, and even more millions never need to die, even though they do. (157) And we still have no clear understanding of the cause of death for those creatures below man even when it does occur, unless it is the result of accident or disease where of course the reason is clear enough. There is no certainty that death is ever "natural" in the commonly accepted sense for any creature. Functioning protoplasm in some organisms (especially plant life, but even in unicellular animals) is still potentially immortal. Nor is it strictly "natural" for man either, but un-natural. The penalty of eating the fruit was not the shortening of a life which had an appointed terminus in any case, but the introduction of an entirely new experience PHYSICAL DEATH.
     We die because we are killed. Death is a penalty imposed upon us. Death is passive in the strictest sense, something that is done to us, something that we "suffer" which is the meaning of the word passive. Strictly speaking, we are executed. We do not die actively in the sense that our wills decide at some particular moment that we shall now terminate our lives with no other compulsion to do so save that we will it. But Jesus did. He died by an act of will, a triumph of spirit over flesh rather than flesh over spirit as it is with us. Death came to Him only because He deliberately dismissed his life when, and only when, He had completely finished the work his Father had given Him to do. He died on the cross but not because of it. He may just possibly have died with a broken heart; * but a broken heart was not the real cause of his death. He was slain, that is true; but this was really only a slaying by intent, even as adultery may be committed by intent (Matthew 5:27,28). For it will be noted that He was slain and crucified (Acts 2:23). He had affirmed unequivocally that no man could take his life (John 10:18). He laid down his life of Himself.

      We are subject to death, He became subject to death (Philippians 2:8). We are humbled, He humbled Himself (Philippians 2:8). We may, like Paul, be ready "to be offered" (2 Timothy 4:6), which is passive; He offered Himself (Hebrew 7:27), which is active. He did not merely choose the time of dying: He had the choice of whether to die at all. We no longer have any such choice.
     I do not wish to become too deeply involved at this point in this most wonderful of all truths. It is the more specific subject matter

157. See Notes at the end of this chapter (page 15).
* See Appendix VII, Heart Rupture: A Possible cause of the Lord's Death?

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of Part IV. But it is of fundamental importance to realize the uniqueness of this one death in history. Because He was made after the power of endless life (Hebrews 7:16), there was no time limit imposed on Him, no appointed life span. He could have sustained his life for ever, endlessly, effortlessly not merely as God, but as MAN. Thus He was uniquely in a position to choose not simply the time at which He would permit Himself to be crucified (which even mortal men have the power to do under certain circumstances) but He could actually choose whether to die or not to die at all. This is such a simple truth: so easily missed. It is so seldom preached that the world is left even yet to assume that his death was merely a particularly noble martyrdom under circumstances which were unusually distressing because of its protractedness as a means of execution.
     In the trial of the Lord Jesus Christ we have a very remarkable situation. He proved Himself to be totally unjudgeable! Not one person could be found to demonstrate any single fault by which to condemn Him to death. He was without blemish. Pilate, Pilate's wife, the centurion in charge of the execution detail, the thief on the cross, even Judas who betrayed Him all gave the same unequivocal verdict, "Not guilty." Yet He was condemned as guilty and his guilt was established on the basis of a statement which He made about Himself which was absolutely true! (Mark 14:61-65). So He went to the cross in order that there might be laid on Him the sinfulness of others, having proved that He had none of his own. As we have noted, our physical death is passive: He died actively. Our spiritual death, by contrast, is active, for we deliberately choose to be and want to be the kind of people we are: his spiritual death, on the other hand, was passive; for God "laid upon Him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6), and though He willingly accepted the burden, He nevertheless cried out in agony against it when the judgment fell (Matthew 27:46); for it meant spiritual separation from his Father in heaven, and such a "darkness" that even the sun hid its face.
     On the cross, the Lord thus died two deaths, even as we die two deaths: first a spiritual one and then a physical one. But whereas for us spiritual death is active and our physical death is passive, spiritual death for Him was passive whereas his physical death was active. The cross was a unique setting for this, as we shall have occasion to explore in depth in Part IV. Without any compulsion of any kind, least of all the compulsion of the poisonous stream which, through Adam, introduces death into our bodies and by which we are called upon in due time to surrender our lives, He dismissed his life (John 19:30) just as effectively as Pilate had dismissed Him from the court (John 19:16). The same word is used in the Greek, paradidomi, in both cases, a fact which most translations obscure.

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     What the first Adam might potentially have been, the second Adam realized to the full both physically and spiritually. He died, it is true: but He died for us, for me, and not on his own account, being neither worthy of spiritual death nor subject to physical death.
     Only if Adam had this same spiritual and physiological potential could the Lord Jesus Christ have stood as his counterpart as MAN and been in a position to perform these two vicarious functions. Only thus was He truly representative of fallen man. The Lord's death might still have been vicarious in the truest sense if He had been supernaturally born an immortal creature: but unless Adam was also such a creature, the Lord was not truly a second Adam and his death was not really legal tender for man.
     But He had to be something far more than man. The legal principle requires an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth: and it requires accordingly two eyes for two eyes. . . .  On the same principle, one man may sacrifice himself for one man but not for two, and certainly not for ten, or a hundred, or a thousand. This Man was more than man, for this Man was also God. Here, then, was an atonement sufficient, if need be, for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). The "whosoever will" makes demands upon such a Redeemer that no mere man can possibly suffice for all who actually will. Yet the Redeemer must be truly Man and not superman if he is to stand as a substitute for any one of those who will. When we abandon any single part of the revelation of Scripture, we make shipwreck of the whole plan of redemption. From the record of Adam's creation in Genesis right through to the birth and life and death and bodily resurrection of the Second Adam in the New Testament there is an unbroken thread of logical necessity. It is a single fabric of tightly woven historical exigencies.

     Christian theology is not a system of beliefs loosely thrown together with no essential coherence between the component elements. It is an organic whole, a unified system, a closely connected framework of thought which is logically defensible if preserved in its entirety but irrational if merely presented selectively as a catalogue of traditional beliefs. There were physiological reasons for creating Adam first and then deriving Eve out of him as a second step, physiological reasons why Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, and physiological reasons why the virgin conception was necessary.
     While the cause of the Lord's unexpected early death on the cross was not itself strictly a physiological one, all the steps that led up to it were. And so was his bodily resurrection without seeing corruption. The means by which our redemption has been secured are all firmly

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rooted in physiological processes. It was a redemption achieved only because the Lord Jesus Christ was in a position to sacrifice his life in an entirely unique manner, a manner never before witnessed in history and never to be repeated again.
     This does not mean that there were not spiritual reasons also, nor that these spiritual reasons were not equally or perhaps even more important. It only means that we are in a better position today to gain some deeper insights into the physiological aspects of these events which were not available in former times. Such new understandings will never generate faith, no matter how clear the evidence may come to be: but such understandings should surely be used to enable us to explore the faith we already have. Whereas it is true that the actual APPLICATION of the redemptive process depends upon the nature of man's spirit, a nature which allows him to see his own need and to appropriate God's promises (which animals never could do), it is still a fact that the MANNER of man's redemption hinges upon the nature of man's body which permits the Son of God to be made flesh in order to achieve it.
     It is customary to look upon man's body as a burden to him, as though only his spirit had eternal significance. Yet Scripture is very clear in stating that the crucifixion by which his eternal redemption was secured was dependent upon One who also sacrificed his BODY. He was made flesh (John 1:14; 1 Timothy 3:16) in order that He might bear our sins in his own body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24). So that we are now reconciled to God in the body of his flesh through death (Colossians 1:21,22), and perfected for ever by the offering of his body (Hebrews 10:5,10,20). Man is not a spiritual creature who merely happens to have a body and who might, therefore, just as easily have been an angel. The distinction between men and angels is very carefully drawn for this very reason, namely, that man's redeemability hinges upon his physical existence. Man's body is as much a part of his total being as the Lord's glorious body became part of his total glory: and man's bodily resurrection is as essential to his completion as the Lord's bodily resurrection was to the completion of his sacrifice. Man is a body/spirit entity: not a body with a spirit or a spirit with a body but a reality resulting from the interdependence of both. Though we have been already re-created in spirit if we have availed ourselves of the salvation which is in Christ Jesus, we still wait for the process to be completed by the adoption of i.e., the redemption of the body (Romans 8:23) which is yet to be fashioned like his glorious body (Philippians 3:21). Though we do indeed groan in this body and desire to be freed from its limitations, we do not want to be bodiless but re-embodied, "reclothed" as Paul put it, that "mortality might be swallowed up of life" (2 Corinthians 5:4). As Thomas Boston put it so very beautifully: *

* Boston, Thomas, Human Nature in its Fourfold State, London, Religious Tract Society, no date, p.99; originally published in 1720.

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There is a vileness in the body (Phil. 3:21) which as to the saints, will never be removed, until it be melted down in the grave, and cast into a new form at the resurrection, to come forth a spiritual body.

      It is the reality of man's bodily existence even after resurrection that allows us to see something of the vital connection between man and the world he is a part of, and to find in man its ultimate significance.
     It seems sheer presumption to suppose that such a stupendous Universe should have been created merely as a setting for man. Yet the idea is not altogether irrational even from the scientific point of view. All the evidence tells us that this is truly a uni-verse, in which every element plays some essential part. Today there are those who in all seriousness tell us that our world and its living inhabitants owe their character to the structure of the rest of the Universe.
    The nature of the Universe, by its total composition, determines the nature of life itself. In the past it was customary to say that life was solely dependent upon the existence and character of the earth itself. This no longer appears to be entirely true: indeed, those who are searching for the origin of life along purely naturalistic lines now tend, generally speaking, to search elsewhere than on the earth. Russell W. Maatman has this to say about the inter-dependence between the phenomenon of life and the character of the Universe as a whole:
(158)

     At the molecular level, there is only one element, carbon, which comprises the skeleton of the long chain molecules found in all living things. Living things are similar to each other in this respect because no other element is capable of forming long chains: and this relation between the elements can in turn be shown (using the quantum mechanics) to exist because of the very nature of the universe. Likewise, at the microscopic level, God made similar structures in living creatures because only these structures can carry out the functions intended for them. Again, the basic reason a certain function can be carried out by only one structure lies in the very nature of the universe.

     Harold Blum observed that "the stage upon which living systems bowed their debut was set by all the preceding events in the history of the earth, or for that matter of the universe." (159) D. W. S. Sciama is now suggesting that even our ability to manipulate and handle the objects of our environment, which is so enormously simplified for us by the presence of gravity, may in fact be dependent upon the very

158. Maatman, Russell W. (Dept. Chemistry, Dordt College, Sioux Centre, Iowa), "Inerrancy, Inspiration and Evolution: the Position of Russell W. Maatman," Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation, vol.24, no.2, 1972, p.88.
159. Blum, Harold, Time's Arrow and Evolution, New Jersey, Princeton, 1951, p.76.

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existence of distant galaxies elsewhere in the Universe. (160) John A. Wheeler would pursue this line of thought beyond the realm of biology even into the realm of consciousness itself: (161)

     No one . . . can fail to find thought-provoking a suggestion made by Dicke, half jokingly, half seriously. "What sense does it have," he asks, "to speak about a universe unless that universe contains intelligent beings?"
     But intelligence implies a brain. And a brain cannot come into being without life. As the foundation for life no biochemist sees any alternative but DNA. But DNA demands carbon for its construction. Carbon in turn comes into being by thermonuclear combustion in the stars. Thermonuclear combustion demands billions of years in time.
     But according to general relativity a universe cannot provide billions of years of time unless it also has billions of light years of extent. On this view it is not the universe that has dominion over man, but man who governs the size of the universe.

     Julian Huxley saw man as unique above all other living creatures by reason of his power of conceptual thought. (162) It is this faculty which makes man capable of entering into fellowship with God and of returning his love. And this appears to be the fundamental reason why God created man. If, as Sciama proposes, the Universe itself is essential for the existence of such an earth as ours, and such an earth as ours for the existence of such a creature as man, then God created the Universe in order that He might create man. But a creature with the power of conceptual thought is a creature with a series of unique requirements. For one does not have thought, where man is concerned, without a brain and thought does not find expression without language. And, tied together with these in a causal chain of necessity, is a whole series of further requirements which may be summed up in terms of freedoms and capacities which are uniquely true only of man. Julian Huxley seems to have been aware of these necessities, even though he attributes them to a process of blind evolution. Thus he wrote: (163)

     There is only one group of animals which will fulfill these conditions a terrestrial offshoot of the higher primates. Thus, not merely has conceptual thought been evolved only in man: it could not have evolved except in man. . .
     Conceptual thought on this planet is inevitably associated with a particular type of Primate body and Primate brain.

     It is sometimes said that there must be other intelligent beings not unlike man elsewhere in a universe of such fantastic dimensions as this Universe appears to be. But those who make this assumption do not always take into account the extraordinary number of unique

160. Sciama D W S quoted by R. E. D. Clark from Sciama's The Unity of the Universe (1959) in The Christian Stake in Science, Exeter, Paternoster Press, 1967, p.113.
161. Wheeler, John A., "Our Universe: the Known and the Unknown," American Scientist, Spring, 1968, p.18.
162. Huxley, Sir Julian, quoted by E. L. Mascall, The Importance of Being Human, New York, Columbia University Press, 1958, p.6.
163. Huxley, Sir Julian, ibid., p.7.

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circumstances attendant upon the existence of such a creature as man is with all his potentiality, both for good and for evil. Without in any way surrendering his wholly agnostic position, no less an authority than Gaylord Simpson has expressed very grave doubts about such a possibility. In an essay entitled, "Some Cosmic Aspects of Evolution," he has this to say: (164)

    To what extent and in what way were the species of organisms that actually exist, and most particularly the species Homo Sapiens, the inevitable or necessitated results of evolution? An attempt to answer that question is the central theme of this essay. The question is truly cosmic in at least two senses. First, its answer must depend on and at the same time shed light on the nature of the whole physical universe. Second, the probability that man-like organisms exist elsewhere in the universe can be estimated only if some answer to this question is first obtained...
     The chances that anything like man . . . exist elsewhere in the universe are, I think, the same as the chances that any other planet had exactly the same history as the earth and as its inhabitants (i.e., plant and animal) in every essential detail. . . .   In my opinion, these chances are effectively nil.

     We are in fact, almost driven to the conclusion that man is indeed "possible" only because the Universe is what it is, and that the Universe was created to make this "possibility" a reality. Hugo St. Victor put it this way: *

     The world was created for man's body, man's body for his spirit, and man's spirit for God:
the spirit that it might be in subjection unto God, the body unto the spirit, and the world unto the body.

     A later writer, whose name is not known, said simply, "The cosmos was pregnant with man."** Later still, Hodge said, "Creation is in order to redemption." Linnaeus said that the mineral Kingdom supports the vegetable Kingdom, and the vegetable Kingdom supports the animal Kingdom, and the animal Kingdom supports Man. It is

164. Simpson, G. C., "Some Cosmic Aspects of Evolution" in Evolution and Hominuation, edited by Gottfried Kurth, Stuttgart, Fischer, 2nd edition, 1968, p.2.
* Hugo St. Victor: quoted by H. O. Taylor, Medieval Mind in the Early Middle Ages. London, Macmillan, Book II, 1938, p.91.
** Ramm, Bernard, The Christian View of Science and Scripture, Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1954, p.227.
Hodge, Charles, Systematic Theology, Grand Rapids, Eerdmans reprint, 1973, vol.II, p.316.
Linnaeus: quoted by John C. Greene, The Death of Adam, Iowa State University Press, 1959, p.132.

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all of a piece, the setting was designed for the fulfillment of a special purpose by the Creator: namely, the exhibition of his love by an act of self-sacrifice on behalf of a creature whose need and whose nature specifically equipped him to be the recipient of its benefit. As Irenaeus put it, "Man had to be created from the first in the image of Him who was afterwards to be incarnate for man's redemption." *
     One may ask, "How could man have borne a physical image of God who is pure spirit?" The question can only be answered by saying that it was looking forward to the time when God would objectify Himself by Incarnation in order to sacrifice Himself for man's redemption, a sacrifice which, as far as we know, could not have been made in any other form than through incarnation, because this sacrifice involved the tasting of death.
     We have said that in order to redeem more than one man, the Redeemer had to be more than man. In Psalm 8:5 we are told that the angels partially fulfill the condition of being in some way more than man in the hierarchy of created beings, and therefore it is conceivable that the sacrifice of an angel might have sufficed for the redemption of more than one. But Scripture seems to make it reasonably clear that an angel is not capable of experiencing death and could not therefore become a sacrificial victim anyway. And, of course, God Himself, as pure uncreated spirit, cannot die either. As Luther stated it: "for God by his very nature is not able to die" (non enim in sua natura Deus moripotest). For this very reason, God in the Person of his Son the Lord Jesus Christ, had to become man and so be made for a season "a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death" (Hebrews 2:9), thus fulfilling the role of Saviour without surrendering his deity.
     Man is not merely a spiritual creature who happens to have the kind of body he does and who might just as suitably have been equipped with any other kind of animal body. He is a creature whose uniqueness from the point of view of his humanness, both in terms of culture and spiritual aspiration, is as much dependent upon the structure of his body as upon the nature of his soul. It is quite wrong to imagine that the form of man's body is incidental and that he might have been structured like a giraffe or a dog or a mouse or even an ape and still have fulfilled the role for which he was created. This role required that he not merely be capable of redemption, but that he also be an appropriate prototype of the One who was to be the Redeemer. Indeed, it would be more strictly true to say that the

* In A Dictionary of the Bible, James Hastings, New York, Scribners, 1906, vol.II, p.453.

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Redeemer incarnate was the prototype of man. In a sense, this is what man was for, and knowing this, we really have the answer to the more commonly asked question of what man IS. He must always have been such a creature that God in the Person of his Son could have become incarnated in the same form at any time in order to be his redeemer. And He must be able to do this without demeaning in any way his glory as the Son of the Father.

     Perhaps we can illuminate this by the use of an analogy. If a man builds a house for his animals, he suits its construction to their nature and disposition, besides being guided by what he hopes to do with them. If he happened to be raising snakes in order to extract their venom for research purposes, it would be a house from which they could not escape but in which they would still thrive. For his cattle, he can build a house that is large enough to accommodate their greater bulk with facilities for keeping them fed and warm and clean, but they must be able to go in and out. Yet he would not need to take the same precautions against their escape as he would have to do with dangerous creatures like snakes, or destructive animals like pigs, or with vagrant ones like horses. For his dog, he would construct a house that in some small measure shared his own home comfort and style, for this is what his dog is likely to do.
     Thus the nearer he gets to a house for a creature sharing his own likes and dislikes, the more like his own house it will be. For his hired man, he will probably build a house that he himself and his family would be willing to occupy if he is a man of feeling and concern for those who work for him.
     Ultimately, we come to his own house. How does he build it? He builds it not to suit his livestock, or his pets, or even his hired man. He builds it for himself. It takes on and reflects his own person in many subtle ways. It is likely, at least in so far as he has the resources and the design ability, to be uniquely suitable for HIM. . . more suitable for him than for anyone else. When a man hands over such a house to someone else, either by sale or as a gift, it is almost certain to be modified by the next in-dweller: thus proving how special in certain respects it was for himself as a habitation.
     Now what, then, will God do if He decides to build a house which is to be fit for Himself, which in due course will be his habitation, a house which is to serve Himself for thirty-three years, in which He will live and express his character, inhabiting it day and night, constantly, actively, fully, sleeping and waking, being born and dying? It will be a house capable of being so lived in, appropriately and worthily. It will be a house that can sustain the demands of habitability that He will make upon it. 

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     It will be beautiful, for obviously God must rejoice in beauty that He should make so many beautiful things in the world, and it will be 'flexible' to allow the expression in the face, by the hands, by body movement, of the whole range of human mood from delight to mourning, from solitude to companionship in the way. It must have all the facilities (faculties in this context since it is a body that we speak of) which will permit movement, expression, communication, gesture, comprehension, display of emotion, and even feelings of weariness, which are necessary for true sympathy of the human lot and to which others can minister upon special occasion. And above all, if the object from the very first was to be not merely the revelation of God but the redemption of man, it must be a house of such a nature that it can be deliberately sacrificed, not because it has worn out or is wearing out, but because He who is incarnate in it chooses to sacrifice it.
     In order that this sacrifice could be truly and wholly an act of will and not something that had to be surrendered inevitably by the very wearing out of it, the house must be a house that would never wear out of itself, never collapse in the course of time as our houses do because it is their nature to do so, for otherwise it is merely being prematurely demolished. It must be capable of lasting indefinitely, even though it can be deliberately sacrificed. This house had to be of such a nature as to allow an event which was to signify something other than the mere premature breakdown of its structure: the house had to be of such a nature that its demolition could be purely an act of will unrelated to the condition of the house itself.
     Moreover, precisely the same kind of house must be appointed as a habitation of both the first and the last Adam alike, in order that the conditions of physical life of both may have the same potential. It must be, for God's purposes, a house built with the capability of lasting for ever, even though that capability was twice sacrificed the first time in Eden by an act of disobedience, and the second time on Calvary by an act of obedience. Remember Augustine's statement regarding Adam's constitution: "It was not impossible for him to die, but possible for him not to die." This must be true of both Adams, for unless it was, the death of Jesus Christ was not vicarious. If Jesus was not immortal, his death was merely premature. If Jesus was immortal but Adam was not, then Jesus was not truly man and his death would not be substitutionary for MAN.
     This house, this body that is the home of man's spirit, is not just a complex electro-chemical machine. It was designed from the very first for a special purpose. It was so built that it would properly meet the requirements which God had in mind both for man and for Himself in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. In due course, it was to make it possible for God to express Himself perfectly in terms of human  

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personality AS A MAN. And then, as a Man, to sacrifice his life vicariously for any man who would believe and appropriate that sacrifice as a full, perfect and sufficient satisfaction in the face of the divinely appointed moral law, against his own sinfulness and failure and self-will. God made man's body such that He Himself could assume it for a season as his own proper House so that in due time in the person of his Son Jesus Christ, He might die in it, that we who are dying from the day of our birth might be redeemed to live again and for ever in a new and more glorious resurrected 'house' throughout eternity. Thus was exhibited the grace and love of our God and Saviour in an entirely personal way. No mere animal body could have sufficed for such a tremendous purpose and we therefore see that Adam cannot have received his body by animal descent.
     It is inconceivable that God could have expressed Himself as a Person in any other creature than man as we know him now. It is only in man's reprobate mind that the idea of God as a serpent or a crocodile or a bull or a wolf could have occurred with such force that he would bow down and worship such images, changing the truth of God into a lie and worshipping and serving such creatures rather than their Creator (Romans 1:23-25). No wonder idol worship is so strictly forbidden (Exodua 20:4,5).
     Many devout people find it possible to make out some kind of case for the derivation of fallen man's body from some animal prototype. But in order to account for a body such as housed the spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, which reflected in a unique way the unfallen Adam as created, one has to search outside the ordinary course of events entirely. For if Adam's body was derived from some prior animal form for which death was "programmed" and inevitable, then Adam's body must have shared this programmed character and for him too death would have been inevitable, not as a penalty but as a fact of life. So also, then, would the second Adam. For Him, death would have been likewise inevitable in the end. His death on the cross then becomes merely premature and not substitutionary at all.
     As the second Adam, He voluntarily embraced death, a phenomenon foreign to his physiological constitution. When He died He did not merely surrender what remained to Him of his expected life, being then about thirty-three years old. He embraced death entirely as an act of will, being wholly free and able to make such a choice. Thus He undid what Adam had imposed upon the human race as a universal penalty, by "tasting death for every man" (Hebrews 2:9).

     We have now to see how it came about that Scripture identified the Lord Jesus Christ as a second "Adam"
(l Corinthians 15:45). In what sense was Jesus Christ both a "last" Adam and the "second" man? Were there then

     pg.13 of 15   


only two who could properly be called "men"? What of all the saints who came between Adam and Christ the seven thousand, for instance, who had not bowed the knee to Baal (1 Kings 19:18)? If we hold that by rebirth our true identity as "man" has been recovered, and if we hold that the Old Testament saints had a genuine experience of conversion, were there not therefore many who succeeded the first Adam as truly men?
     How, then, does it come about that the Lord Jesus Christ is identified as only the second man? Clearly He has title to this according to Scripture. Yet upon what basis, within the framework of human history, does this title rest? In Part II the grounds for this title are set forth.


     pg.14 of 15     

NOTES

157. (S33 page 3) Richard J. Harrison and William Montagna in their book Man remarked upon the necessity of death and the potential hazard it would be to life as a whole if the majority of creatures were not "programmed" to die [New York, Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1969, p.354f]:

     One can conceive that under ideal circumstances tissues could remain unchanged and animals live forever. This 'foreverness' seems to be man's goal in studying the aging processes. Had this goal been achieved in the past, the numbers of each species would, eons ago, have exceeded the limits of their natural ecological niches. The total inhabitable surface of the earth and the oceans, lakes, and streams would have long ago been overpopulated, and the competition for survival would have been magnified to such an extent that the destruction of life might have resulted. .
     It is singularly true of animals with a circumscribed reproductive function that when this function ceases the individual dies, as if nature had ordained that organisms that are no longer useful in genetic succession are ipso facto useless and must be eliminated. Some justification can be found for such belief when one analyzes the situation in all vertebrates except man [emphasis mine]. The perpetuation of each species, after all, can only be assured by reproductively vigorous animals. Hence the elimination of those no longer able to reproduce seems to establish a natural order of things.

     All this is true provided that the only purpose in the system is that each species shall survive. The question of what a species is to survive for is unasked. If individual worth has some significance, then the mere serving of a reproductive function in the life of the species is not enough to determine how long an individual organism is to survive. To die off as soon as reproductive capacity is ended, does indeed suggest that life was allocated only for this purpose. But man may live long after he is no longer reproductive. His life therefore must serve some further objective.
     Animals would, if given unlimited longevity, soon swamp every available nook and cranny of the globe. But man was never originally planned to come to an end by dying but by being "graduated" to another sphere of living without passing through death. In such an order of life, the earth would never have been "knee deep in human bodies." This signifies that he is something more than just
a reproductive machine. But translation of animals below man does not seem to have been part of the plan, and death for them must therefore have been programmed. Yet there is still no hard evidence that life per se has to be terminated in death as a natural process of wearing out by the exhaustion of its vital resources. It is simply that the longer an animal lives the greater are its chances of being killed. All life had to be constituted with the possibility either of dying or of being translated, otherwise there is no safety valve against over-population.

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Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved

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