A Special Family
God’s Eternal Purpose
Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.—1 John 3:1
The annual observance of the memorial of our Lord’s death is intended to heighten our appreciation of our continual relationship with God through the ransom blood of Christ. Although the principal observance of the Memorial is an annual event, “as oft as ye drink it” (1 Corinthians 11:25), our appreciation and appropriation of Jesus’ sacrifice must take place each and every day of our consecrated walk.
Let us go back to the beginning of time and look at God’s plan. This was before man was created, before the universe was created, even before the Logos was created. God was alone, complete in himself, possessing the attributes of justice, wisdom, power, and love, as well as life within himself, the divine nature. He wanted to express these attributes in a creative act that would share the blessings of life on various planes of existence. Intelligent creatures would ultimately be created in his likeness, with his moral goodness indelibly written in their characters, and in the expression of their free wills. But most of all, God wanted a family of divine beings, of the same nature as himself, all of whom possessed perfect justice, wisdom, power, and love (Psalm 132:13,14). They would also possess immortality.
How could this be done? The creation of a divine being is the ultimate creative act, both irreversible and irrevocable. The best way to do this is to first create a mortal being of a lower nature, and through heart’s desire, and with the proper lessons and experiences, to develop a perfect character and test it fully even unto death, and then to transfer that character to the immortal, divine nature. This is God’s plan.
God created the Logos, who then created the heavenly host, the universe, earth, and eventually man. Adam was told that if he disobeyed one particular commandment, he would die (Genesis 2:17), strongly implying that if he did not disobey, he would live. But without experience with both good and evil, Adam succumbed to temptation; he fell and was condemned to death. His children inherited his dying condition and therefore no descendant of Adam could “by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him” (Psalm 49:7) to deliver mankind.
Over two thousand years later, after Abraham’s display of unswerving faithfulness, God promised to bless all the families of the earth through Abraham’s seed (Genesis 22:15-18; Galatians 3:8,16; Acts 3:25. In due time, this promise began to be fulfilled when the Logos was made flesh and born of Mary, but separate from the fallen seed of Adam (Galatians 4:4,5).
At the age of thirty he who was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners” (Hebrews 7:26) made a covenant with God (Psalm 50:5), offering himself in sacrifice—laying down all he was, all he had, and all he could hope for as a perfect human being—as the exact corresponding price for Adam. His character would be tested and proven through experiences and suffering, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:7-11). Because of his fidelity to God in his covenant of sacrifice, Jesus was raised from death to the divine nature. His perfect human life, which was sacrificed but unforfeited, was still his, to be used to fulfill the promise to Abraham.
Jesus could enter into this covenant with God because he was a perfect man, and as such, had full legal standing before God. God indicated his acceptance of Jesus’ consecration by begetting him by the holy spirit, at which time he became Christ, the anointed of God.
The Anointed: More Than One
At Pentecost, it became apparent that the Christ, the anointed of God, would be more than one individual. It would be one individual plus an additional 144,000 individuals, taken from mankind. This was the hidden mystery, hidden in Old Testament types, but now made manifest: “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). How could this be? Jesus was a perfect human being with full legal standing before God, permitting God to accept his consecration and enter into a covenant or legal contract with him. But members of the fallen race of mankind have no standing before God, and can certainly not enter into a contract with him.
But to those with a hearing ear, that special combination of qualities left over from Adam, including intellectual honesty, reverence for God, and a desire to know the truth and do God’s will regardless of the cost, God says through James: “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you” (James 4.8). He draws them nigh by first bringing them to Christ (John 6:44). Here they see God’s attributes of justice, wisdom, power, and love. They learn of God’s plan of ransom and restitution, of his mercy and longsuffering, of his intent to bless all the families of the earth, and that all these blessings are through the sacrifice of his own son. They begin to see that Jesus is the “way” to God (John 14:6). With faith and trust in the blood of Christ, they approach even closer for the purpose of making a consecration, the same covenant Jesus made at Jordan, sacrificing all they are, all they have, and all they could hope for as human beings.
We can see, in our mind’s eye, God looking at the contract papers signed by the one approaching. He sees the necessary clauses and agreements, the sincere heart’s desire, as well as the signature of the fallen human being approaching him. He then sees the signature of his own son, endorsing the agreement as co-signer and advocate. He will certainly accept the blood of his own son to cover all deficiencies, and sees the individual as having full legal standing before the perfect bar of divine justice. With acceptance of the consecration contract, the person is reckoned dead in the flesh and begotten of the holy spirit, becoming part of the “Anointed of God.” God shows that he can “be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Romans 3:26). From this moment on, the individual maintains his relationship with God only through the imputed merit, the ransom blood, of Christ.
The Lamb of God
This need for an acceptable offering to provide atonement (or at-one-ment) with God has been illustrated again and again in the Scriptures through the sacrifice of a lamb. Over six thousand years ago, Abel “brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering” (Genesis 4:4). Abel offered a firstborn lamb. About two thousand years later, God asked Abraham to offer Isaac, his firstborn son by his beloved Sarah, as a burnt offering on Mount Moriah (a name in Hebrew meaning “seen of Jah” or “seen of God”). As they were on their way, Isaac asked, “Where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham replied, “My son, God will provide himself a lamb” (Genesis 22:7,8), which of course he did when Abraham’s hand was stayed from actually killing Isaac. Hundreds of years later, in 1615 B.C., God delivered Israel from Egypt through the Passover lamb, saving alive the firstborns under the blood, while the firstborns of Egypt died. In 29 A.D. Isaac’s two-thousand-year-old question was finally answered by John the Baptist when he said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
A lamb is a gentle creature, trusting and obedient to the will of its master. Its willing sacrifice demonstrates great love and devotion. God has repeated this lesson of the Passover in its annual observance, which was also the first feature of the law. But the real meaning was not shown for another 1,647 years, when at the conclusion of his last meal with those closest to him, Jesus instituted the memorial of the antitype: “He took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19).
Jesus was the true “bread from heaven,” who gave up his sinless human life in order to “give life unto the world” (John 6:32-35). Jesus himself was raised an exalted spirit being. The value of the human life that he sacrificed would be for others. This ransom price would be imputed to his followers to justify them and give them a basis for a relationship with God.
“Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:20). The blood represented his life poured out, the manner in which his sacrifice was offered. He was tested fully and completely by drinking the cup of experiences the heavenly Father had provided for him, even the ignominy of being hung upon a tree, the death of the cross (Deuteronomy 21:22,23; Galatians 3:13). He had proven his perfect character and his fidelity to God. Now he could be raised to the divine nature through God’s “mighty power” (Ephesians 1:19,20) to justify, teach, and make intercession for us, that we may become “more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Romans 8:37).
In Remembrance of Me
Let us remember his words, “This do in remembrance of me.” Let no feelings of unworthiness or past sins prevent us from claiming this privilege of showing forth our trust in our Lord’s greatest work of laying down his humanity for us, to be our advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1). We know that God will certainly accept the blood of his own son as full satisfaction for all our shortcomings (Romans 8:33,34). The only question now is, “Will we?”
Remember the first word in the description of God’s name, “The LORD, The LORD God, merciful …” (Exodus 34:6). He is the one who made provision for our justification, our cleansing, and our full reinstatement: “He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear [reverence] him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust” (Psalm 103:10-12,14).
Let us lay hold on the promised merit of Christ, both to justify us, and to wash our robes on a continual basis. This is what it is for! “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). This is how we maintain our relationship with our Father. We can “come boldly” [confidently] to him by “looking unto Jesus” as our high priest, our advocate, our example and forerunner (Hebrews 4:14-16; 12:2).
Jesus spent his last night of earthly life with his disciples so they would have the needful lessons and strength to continue. He washed their feet to teach humility and mutual helpfulness. He spoke of the vine and the branches to show their dependence upon him, as well as their need for pruning, fruit bearing, and to show his great love for all his body members. As we think of just how much the heavenly Father loved Jesus, it brings deeper meaning to his statement, “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love” (John 15:9).
The greatest way we can show our love and appreciation for our heavenly Father and all he has done for us, is to abide in the love of Christ. Let us daily claim the “exceeding great and precious promises” (2 Peter 1:4) and the privilege of partaking of our Lord’s flesh and blood as “meat indeed, and … drink indeed” (John 6:55).
As the observance of our Lord’s memorial approaches, let us examine ourselves and reverently “eat of that bread, and drink of that cup” (1 Corinthians 11:28).