Table of Contents
Part IV: The Virgin Birth and
Rebirth and Incarnation Anew
Version renders the first part of Acts 17:26 as follows: "[God]
hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all
the face of the earth." The Revised Standard Version renders
this, "[God] hath made from one every nation of men to live
on all the face of the earth," omitting the word "blood."
The omission reflects the fact that some of the most reliable
and ancient manuscripts show the latter reading. For reasons
which are worth careful consideration, the issue may be an important
one both from a theological point of view and from the point
of view of a proper understanding of the processes of growth
in Christian character after conversion.
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When we commonly speak of a group
of people as belonging within a single family, we refer to them
as "blood relatives." And if we say that all men are
of "one blood," the usually accepted inference is that
ultimately all men belong within a single family and can be traced
back to the same father and mother. This common father and mother
would be Adam and Eve.
It is quite possible that this
is all Paul had in mind, namely, that the human race is a single
family, all the members of which have shared the same father
and mother. But I think that something more may be intended by
Paul, who, directed by the Holy Spirit, modified the common phrase
for blood relationship by the omission of the word "blood."
He was not simply tracing the human race back to the common parentage
of Adam and Eve, but back to a single progenitor, Adam.
In short, Paul was underscoring the fact that since Eve was taken
out of Adam in the first place, we can quite properly speak of
all men having descended not from a single pair, but from
a single individual.
theological significance of this fact stems from the requirement
that the Lord as Redeemer must truly represent all men.
But this requirement could not have been fulfilled if Eve, instead
of being formed out of Adam, had been an entirely separate creation.
The point is worth careful consideration, for genetically speaking,
if Eve had been created independently of Adam and then the two
had been mated, their union would have resulted not in a single
line of descendants, but in two lines. If Adam and Eve
were separate creations, each with a truly individual and independent
identity in terms of their genetic constitution, their descendants
would actually form three distinct lines or recognizable
strains. Two of these would be pure strains, owing their character
to either Adam or Eve and sharing nothing of the hereditary
constitution of the other parent. The third would be a
hybrid composed of an amalgam of each, of both Adam and Eve
in varying proportions.
A similar situation was the basis
of some correspondence in The New Scientist recently.
In an earlier issue of this journal, Hans Eysenck reaffirmed
his view that Negroes as a "race" have a slightly lower
I.Q. than whites. This has, expectedly, aroused much heated debate.
The issue itself is not the question in the present context,
but rather the definition of the word "race" and more
particularly the concept of a "pure race." Is
there such a thing as a pure race? In the correspondence that
ensued, two geneticists from the Medical Research Council of
the Institute of Animal Genetics in Edinburgh, C. Auerbach and
G. H. Beale, (38)
argued that if one starts any line with two animals of
supposedly independent origin, one can never speak of their descendants
as a pure race. Applying this to man, they observed:
Man's ancestor was not a single
individual that, by asexual reproduction, handed on all its genes
to its progeny, thus fathering a true-breeding line of individuals.
And this is
precisely the point. Unless man was such an asexual (or
a bisexual) individual, he could not father a single line
for he must then start the line by mating with some other independent
fountain of genes. This is as true of a specially created "help"
as it would have been had he mated with some ape-like creature
with nearly human character. To create a single line, this mate
must be formed out of himself with identical genes. For this
reason God must make all men of one, if all men equally
are to be potentially redeemable by a single
38. Auerbach, C., and Beale, G. H., Letter
to the Editor, New Scientist, May 29, 1969, pp.491f.
Saviour who is truly
representative of Adam, Eve must have derived her genes from
Had God decided to start the human
race on its way by the union of a first man and a first woman
who were separately created and therefore totally unrelated,
there would have been a very important consequence. For no
single Redeemer could then ever have appeared as a Second Adam
to act as an appropriate substitute for those individuals who
happened quite by chance to have fallen within the pure line
traceable to Eve but not to Adam. Such individuals would all
be entirely "in Eve" and in no sense "in Adam."
The moment we allow for an independent creation of Adam
and of Eve, we bring into being as an inevitable consequence
three distinct strains, one of which must of necessity be composed
of individuals who would be carrying nothing whatever of the
hereditary constitution of Adam. They would, in fact, be as unrelated
to Adam as Eve was by the fact of her independent creation. It
is statistically certain that such individuals would always be
appearing among the descendants of Adam and Eve, no matter how
many generations removed they might be from the first pair.
In such a situation, no single
individual could thereafter ever truly represent all the descendants
of Adam and Eve. This may sound incredible. It may seem absurd
to suggest that in a race of men all descended from the first
pair, Adam and Eve, there could still be a significant number
of people whose hereditary constitution owed nothing to the first
father, Adam. Yet it is so.
Let me attempt an analogy, with
apologies to dog lovers who may object to my hypothetical experiment.
Suppose we have in the world (perhaps due to some war) only two
dogs left. One is a pure Alsatian and the other a pure Spaniel:
the first a male, the second a female. We decide they should
be mated in order to perpetuate the canine species. The first
litter produces a family of marvelous little bundles of fluff
and energy (and wetness!), all of which display the same amalgam
of character halfway between the two breeds, exactly as one might
expect. After an appropriate interval of time, we cross two of
the puppies. According to genetics, we may now expect to have
the following proportion of types in this third generation: instead
of all the puppies having the same delightful mixture of characters,
the statistical probability is that one quarter of them will
be pure Alsatian (like their grandfather), one quarter pure Spaniel
(like their grandmother), and the balance of them are the hybrid
or mixture of characters observed in the preceding generation.
So we have within two generations recovered in physical type
both the grandfather and the grandmother lines, to which we have
added a mongrel crossbreed line as well. And if we wish, we can
now arrange to perpetuate these three lines indefinitely as
distinct and separate varieties. In the pure Spaniel line we
would see the elimination of all genetic constitutional influences
of the original Alsatian "father," i.e., by analogy
the "Adamic" strain. (39)
In other words, transferring this
analogy to the human race, we see that if Adam and Eve were separately
created, they could give rise to a human family in which something
of the order of one quarter of the population would be constitutionally
non-Adamic. It would not be true to say any longer that all men
were of one blood (Acts 17:26) and a significant portion of the
human race would in actual fact be pure Eve and unrelated "by
blood" to Adam. They would be, as it were, pure Spaniels,
owing nothing to an Alsatian grand sire. A Redeemer who
was to be truly, in every way, representative of all men in order
that His sacrifice might be efficacious for "whosoever will"
must then find that He cannot act as an appropriate substitute
for some 25 percent of the world's population who are constitutionally
To revert to the Alsatian and Spaniel
situation once again. Suppose that by some chance circumstance
all the original experimental hybrid animals were destroyed and
that only three pure-line Alsatians and one pure-line Spaniel
remained. And let us imagine, for the sake of argument, that
you happen to be the fond possessor of two Alsatians and I of
the Spaniel and the other Alsatian. Then let us make one further
supposition, namely, that quite by accident you killed my Spaniel.
Now, how can you compensate me for my loss? By giving me one
of your Alsatians? Even if it were of the right sex, it would
not compensate. You can only compensate for the death of my Spaniel
by giving me a Spaniel as a substitute: the Alsatian is not appropriate
for my purposes.
All analogies, except those used
by the Lord in His parables, soon turn out to be sadly incomplete.
But this one may serve to show
39. One reason why my analogy would break
down in reality is that we have no reason to suppose an Alsatian
and a Spaniel do really represent separate creations. Somewhere
back along the line they must converge to a single ancestor.
Hence no matter how pure we may think the purebred Spaniel is,
we are mistaken. Such a line still carries some of the hereditary
constitution which had long ago been shared by the Alsatian,
so that with sufficient time and care we could probably recover
the Alsatian strain out of our pure Spaniels. To this extent
the analogy is not a true one, for in the event of an entirely
independent creation there would be no such common ancestor as
we can safely assume there is for the pure-line Alsatian and
for the pure-line Spaniels. No amount of cross-breeding of Adam
and Eve's progeny could ever bring into being the supposed common
ancestor again, since it never existed if Adam and Eve were separate
that on the principle
set forth in the Old Testament of an eye for an eye and a tooth
for a tooth, a basic principle adhered to in ancient law and
in primitive law today all over the world, the substitute must
be fully adequate and proper for the thing substituted if satisfaction
is to be given. If Adam and Eve had indeed been created as separate
individuals, we could in fact have three distinct lines, one
which might be called "in Adam," in which the heredity
of Eve was excluded; one which might be called "in Eve,"
in which the heredity of Adam would have no part; and a cross
which shared some of both Adam and Eve. No one single substitute
could stand in for all these descendants. Approximately one-quarter
of all mankind (if we apply the ordinary Mendelian laws of percentage)
would be beyond reach.
By contrast, consider what the
situation actually was according to Genesis. Adam contained Eve
as part of his genetic constitution. He was an Adam/Eve creation
in one individual. When Eve was taken out of him, she was indeed
given an independent existence, but her blood relationship to
Adam was as complete as it could possibly be. Any "pure"
line of Eve could still exist among us, but it could never be
said of it that it had nothing of Adam's hereditary constitution,
for it did, Eve herself being the link in the genetic
chain leading us back ultimately to Adam. Relationship by descent
from Eve means relationship by descent from Adam, for Eve was
"descended" from Adam.
It may appear to some readers that
this is a mundane subject, hardly befitting the divine mystery
of the Incarnation. Yet it is important to bear in mind that
Christianity is not simply a system of beliefs articulated independently
of the physical framework in which man lives and moves and has
his being, but has been wrought out in the real space-time world
in which he lives. His body is to be redeemed as well as his
spirit. The whole man came under judgment. The body suffered
a physical assault upon its integrity, just as the spirit did.
Both were mortally wounded. Both became sick. Both came under
judgment. But God has provided a means by which man may be wholly
saved, by ensuring the redemption of his body and the rebirth
of his spirit. We constantly stress man's spiritual needs but
seem to feel much less concern for the ultimate destiny of the
body. Yet in the New Testament the word "redemption"
is applied exclusively to the body. And the very fact of the
Incarnation and of the bodily resurrection of the Lord settles
once for all the importance of man in the eyes of God, not merely
as a spiritual creature who happens to have a body, but as a
creature who in eternity will have a glorified body as an essential
part of his being. It was therefore
necessary that the Redeemer
should be able to act substitutionally for the whole man, for
the corporeal side of his being as well as for the spiritual
side. Because all men are derived ultimately from a single
person, Adam, a Second Adam can truly represent them as individuals
both as to the bodies they inhabit and the persons that they
are. It is not merely the saved who will be resurrected in body,
but the unsaved also; for Jesus tasted death "for every
man" (Hebrews 2:9) Thus, as in Adam all die, so in
Christ shall all be made alive (1 Corinthians 15:22).
This brings us to the final topic
of this Paper, namely, the method by which God is able to implant
in the believer's heart a "new man," a new nature,
a new personality, which, though appropriate to him as a unique
individual, is nevertheless the consequence of the indwelling
presence in every believer of one and the same Person, Jesus
Christ. The new man in Christ is not a reformed "old man,"
but is in fact the Lord Jesus incarnate once again in the heart
of the believer. This fact is abundantly confirmed in the New
Testament. The new life of the Christian is not the old life
set aright but is the actual presence of Christ within.
All the infinite variety of human
personality that has found expression through the centuries in
the individual lives of those who came out of Adam's loins must
have been latent in Adam at the first. So in the Second Adam
this vast potential reappeared and found expression in His
life. When He now enters into a human heart, He is incarnated
anew. But no one of us could possibly display His character in
its total range; and so He distributes part of Himself, as it
were, to each believer that He may display to the world just
that measure of His total personality which is completely appropriate
to that indwelt soul.
I suppose if man had never fallen,
each one of us individually would have displayed this fragment
of the total potential in Adam as a natural outgrowth of our
constitution as one of his children. But now the new life is,
instead, the supernatural outgrowth of a new constitution as
a child of God indwelt by the Second Adam. Perhaps at any moment,
were it possible to add us all together, we should find that
the Lord Jesus was still altogether and wholly present in the
world. In this sense we each provide a small channel for Him
to express Himself, and all together form the vehicle, the Body,
of which He is the Head and by which He still dwells with men.
Consider the following passages:
Perhaps Galatians 2:20 is one of the best known and most explicit
passages of this nature: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless
I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth
in me." In 2 Corinthians
13:5 Paul wrote: "Know ye not your own selves, how that
Christ Jesus is in you...?" In writing to the Colossians
Paul said, "To whom God would make known what is the riches
of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ
in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27). And again
in Colossians 3:4: "When Christ, who is our life shall appear,
then shall ye also appear with him in glory." We are not
filled with some kind of impersonal power that descends from
His presence: when we open the heart's door, it is He Himself
who enters in. In Revelation 3:20 John wrote that Jesus said:
"Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear
my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will
sup with him, and he with me." And it was the same John
who told us how awareness of His presence within is brought home
to us, when he said, "And hereby we know that he abideth
in us, by the spirit which he hath given us" (1 John 3:24).
In the same Epistle he wrote "Ye are of God, little children,
and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you,
than he [that is, Satan] that is in the world" (1 John 4:4).
And again, "And this is the record, that God hath given
to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath
the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not
life" (1 John 5:11,12).
In describing the conflict in himself
which, like the rest of us Paul also experienced, he could nevertheless
take great comfort from the knowledge that the new Paul delighted
in the law of God. Why? If we render the Greek of Romans 7:22
literally, it is "according to the man inside." The
Authorized Version has "after the inward man," but
the real source of Paul's new life was Jesus Christ, the Man
Like the precious ointment in Mary's
alabaster vase (Mark 14:3), we have this treasure in these earthen
vessels of ours (2 Corinthians 4:7). The treasure is the Lord
Jesus Christ Himself. It is by Him that we "are filled with
the fruits of righteousness" (Philippians 1:11) and therefore
"filled with all joy and peace in believing" (Romans
15:13). In Ephesians 3:19 Paul writes praying that we may be
"filled with all the fulness of God." And what is the
fullness of God? Jesus Christ -- "For in him dwelleth all
the fulness of the Godhead bodily" (Colossians 2:9); "for
it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell"
Consequently, when all these apportioned
"fillings" within the individual are summed together,
the end result is "His Body," the fulness of Him that
filleth all in all. Thus in due time we shall all
come in the unity of
the faith "unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature
of the fulness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:15).
The Seed which is introduced into
the new man is Christ (Galatians 3:16), and this Seed is sinless.
The Seed which is born in the believer is incorruptible (1 Peter
1:23) for it is Christ Himself. I am persuaded that this is the
meaning of 1 John 3:9: "Whosoever is born of God doth not
commit sin; for his [God's] seed [Christ] remaineth in him [the
believer]: and he cannot sin because he [Christ] is born of God."
That portion of Jesus which He is pleased to commit into my keeping
and into your keeping, a portion which is exactly suited to my
nature or to your nature, is incorruptible and cannot be the
source of any sin. If we will allow Him, He will grow at the
expense of our old nature, the new Adam displacing the old. Christianity,
unlike all other religions, is incarnational in the sense that
God proposes to set free in the world through the believer the
Lord Jesus so that the new life becomes nothing less than Himself
reliving in us. (40)
Although it is the same Lord who
unveils Himself in each child of God, the unveiling in some measure
takes the shape of the vessel it indwells so that, contrary to
expectations, no two Christians will have the same character,
even though it is the same Lord who indwells them. It is true
that if any man be in Christ Jesus he is a new creature, old
things have passed away, behold, all things have become new (2
Corinthians 5:17). Yet not all old things have passed away. While
the old self is not reformed, it is not simply replaced either.
It is a common experience to find that in a subtle way something
of the old personality does remain. Simply to by-pass it, to
cast the old self aside as meaningless, would seem to do violence
to all that the experiences of the past have contributed to its
molding. Almost every child of God can look back and see how
at certain critical points before conversion, the hand of the
Lord had been at work arranging events so that experience might
act upon the soul to form a certain kind of character.
The fact is that in each one of
us Christ "distributes" Himself aptly, as experience
has molded our capacity to receive His person. As Dan Crawford
put it, looking back over twenty-two years without a break in
Central Africa, "With the converted African, Christ's mercy,
like the water in a vase, takes the shape of the vessel that
holds it." (41)
And I do not think he meant by this only that the Lord expects
no more of us than circumstance has prepared us for, but rather
40. See further on this, "The Development
of Personality: The Old and the New," Part IV in Man
in Adam and in Christ, vol.3 in The Doorway Papers Series
41. Crawford, D. M. C., Thinking Black, Morgan and Scott,
London, , 1914, p.484.
He finds ways of expressing
His own Person to the fullest possible extent without doing any
violence to what we have become. He respects not merely our limitations,
but our capacities, too. Culturally, the African Christian is
still an African, as the Hebrew Christian remains Hebrew. Moreover,
the converted child remains a child, and the converted woman
remains a woman, even though it is the same Lord who is expressing
Himself in each.
It is not too difficult to see
how this can be. The structure of every kind of personality existed
in the first man and has since been divided by inheritance, fragmented
and re-distributed by natural circumstance so that each of us
has a small portion of the total potential and all of us together
may perhaps sum up what was latent in Adam. In Adam all of us
were waiting to be born.
Out of Adam were derived not only
all men as individuals, but whole nations sharing a certain recognizable
temperament. The distinctive personality of the Chinese in contrast
to the Italian for example, however we may account for it (whether
by cultural influence or by heredity), was latent in Adam, only
as yet unexpressed.
When the Lord indwells the Chinese
Christian it is, as it were, a "Chinese indwelling,"
and with the African an "African indwelling." Humanly
it is inconceivable that a single person could so express himself
through such different channels without contradiction. But as
all these potentials were in Adam, so they were in Christ. Adam
could only consistently sustain one character because of his
human limitations, but no such limitations existed for the Son
of God. That this is really so is intimated for us in the New
Testament by the existence of four Gospels, each of which presents
us with a type of personality that seems distinct. (42) Matthew saw in Jesus a
kingly Person, Mark saw in Him precisely the opposite -- a Servant
par excellence. Luke saw in Jesus a man, pre-eminently Man
in every way; whereas John saw Him pre-eminently as the Son of
God. All these were seen by different people in one man, apparently
without any conflict. We are not particularly aware of this divergence
of view either, until it is drawn to our attention.
I am sure other such portraits
might easily have been written and preserved for us as Gospels
had God so wished it. One might have been written by a Negro
who, living as one of the disciples and spending much of each
day in His presence, would nevertheless have somehow seen Jesus
as a Negro like himself, not merely in temperament,
42. The four-fold portrait of Jesus: see chapter 3 of
"The Harmony of Contradiction" Part
II in Hidden Things of God's Revelation, vol.7 of The Doorway
but even in facial aspect
and skin colour. One might have been so written, but it would
be misleading if it overlooked the fact that half of the Lord's
genetic complement was derived through Mary, who was a Jewess
and presumably not coloured, else Joseph would not have been
willing to adopt Him as his legal son. But this complement still
only accounted for half of the total. We have no way of
knowing about the other half which God the Holy Spirit provided.
I think it is a terrible mistake
that we should presume to portray Jesus Christ as a white man,
and it is certainly in direct contravention to the injunction
against the making of images. Many black men who are now prominent
leaders in America and who are violently anti-white state that
they reject Christianity outright because Jesus was a white man.
(43) He was
a white man; but He was also a Negro, Chinese, and American Indian.
He was all men. He was the Son of man, of mankind. And
He was all these things because He was Adam again, out of whom
all these were originated in the first place.
It is not at all uncommon nowadays
to see Christmas cards in which Jesus is represented as a "national"
by the people who produce the card. I have examples of Hawaiian
pictures of this kind, Negro pictures, and Chinese pictures.
They are all perfectly justified in one sense only: namely, that
Jesus is identified appropriately as a Saviour who was a Hawaiian,
a Negro, or a Chinese. Yet in all other ways such pictures are
quite inappropriate, since in the very nature of the case they
exclude His identification with men of other races. There is
no way of producing "images" or pictures of the Lord
which do not distort the truth, even while they may in a small
way clarify it. The truth here is spiritually, not visually,
What seems to me quite clear is
that from the very beginning God planned the creation of man
along such lines as to make it possible for all men to be redeemed
with a total redemption that ensures, if they will but accept
it, the ultimate salvation of the whole man in all his individuality,
black or white, young or old, male or female. And the full glory
of this redemption will be mediated entirely through the person
of the Lord Jesus Christ. In a unique way each child of God will
be a perfected spirit in a glorified body, our spirit a reflection
of His and our body re-fashioned like unto His glorified body,
but still identifiable as the individuals we are; yet
43. As an example, the black novelist James
Baldwin was quoted in Time magazine for July 19, 1968,
as saying that he rejected Christianity completely because "the
Christ I was presented with, though He was born in Nazareth under
a hot sun, was presented to me with blue eyes and blonde hair;
and all the virtues to which I, as a black man, was expected
to aspire to had by definition to be white."
owing everything to
one man, the man Christ Jesus. And it required that all be derived
originally out of one and not out of two who had independent
Only God could have formed
such a plan as this.
Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights
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O the depth of the riches both
of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his
judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known
the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counselor?
For of him, and through him, and
to him are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
(Romans 11:33, 34, 36)