'Replies from Christadelphians'

6.  Simon Richardson……(cont.)

10th January, 2005 >

(Continued from page 251)

Jesus was fully human - but He was more than just the 'second Adam' (or 'last Adam' - 1 Corinthians 15:45: 'And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit').  He was so fully human that even those who lived and worked with Him for thirty years, even those brothers who grew up in His own household, did not realize that He was anything more than another very good human being. They apparently had no idea that He was God come in the flesh. Though the New Testament clearly affirms that Jesus was fully human just as we are, it also affirms that Jesus was different in one important respect: He was without sin, and He never committed sin during His lifetime. Some have objected that if Jesus did not sin, then He was not truly human, for all humans sin. But those making that objection simply fail to realize that human beings are now in an abnormal situation. God did not create us sinful, but holy and righteous. Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden before they sinned were truly human, and we now, though human, do not match the pattern that God intends for us when our full, sinless humanity is restored.  The sinlessness of Jesus is taught frequently in the New Testament. We see suggestions of this early in His life when He was "filled with wisdom" and "the favour of God was upon Him" (Luke 2:40). Then we see that Satan (who Christadelphians don't believe in, of course) was unable to tempt Jesus successfully, but failed, after forty days, to persuade Him to sin: "And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time" (Luke 4:13). We also see in the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) no evidence of wrong-doing on Jesus' part. To the Jews who opposed Him, Jesus asked:  "Which of you convicts me of sin?" (John 8:46) - and received no answer.  However, by simply mis-reading Scripture, Christadelphians accuse Him of having a sinful nature, as the first Adam:

Therefore, we conclude that it is not only that Jesus was called a sinner at his trial by his enemies or that he was 'numbered with the transgressors' when he was crucified between two thieves, but more particularly that he shared the very nature which had made a sinner out of ever other man who had borne it. It is for this reason that the nature we bear is called "sinful flesh" or more briefly, 'sin' (Rom. 7:20 and 8:4)." (
The Christadelphians: What They Believe and Preach, p. 74)

"And it was for that very reason  -  being a member of a sinful race  -  that the Lord Jesus himself needed salvation...But it is equally true that, being 'made sin for us' (2 Cor. 5:21), he himself required a sin offering; in other words, he sacrificed himself, for himself, that he might save us. Or, in other words, he saved himself in order to save us...That Christ needed salvation is seen from Psalm xci.16."
(Christadelphian Answers, p. 24)

The statements about Jesus' sinlessness are more explicit in John's gospel. Jesus made the amazing proclamation:  "I am the light of the world" (John 8:12). If we understand light to represent both truthfulness and moral purity, then Jesus is here claiming to be the source of truth and the source of moral purity and holiness in the world - an astounding claim, and one that could only be made by someone who was free from sin. Moreover, with regard to obedience to His Father in heaven, He said:  "I
always do what is pleasing to Him" (John 8:29; the present tense gives the sense of continual activity, "I am always doing what is pleasing to Him"). At the end of His life, Jesus could say:  "I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in His love" (John 15:10). It is significant that when Jesus was put on trial before Pilate, in spite of the accusations of the Jews, Pilate could only conclude:  "I find no crime in Him" (John 18:38).

In the book of Acts Jesus is several times called the "Holy One" or the "Righteous One," or is referred to with some similar expression (see Acts 2:27; 3:14; 4:30; 7:52; 13:35). When Paul speaks of Jesus coming to live as a man he is careful not to say that he took on "sinful flesh," but rather says that God sent His own Son "
in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin" (Rom. 8:3).  Christadelphians endeavour to seize on these verses to try and support their erroneous view of the 'last Adam'.  The full Scripture reads:

"For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh."

Christadelphians try to teach that the "likeness of sinful flesh" means that Jesus had a sinful nature.  However, this is a clear misunderstanding of the word "likeness".  Greek expert, W.E. Vine, had this to say about the Greek word,
homoioma, translated 'likeness' in Romans 8:3:

homoioma (3667) denotes "that which is made like something, a resemblance," (a) in the concrete sense, Rev. 9:7, "shapes" (RV, marg., "likenesses"); (b) in the abstract sense, Rom. 1:23, RV, "(for) the likeness (of an image)"; the KJV translates it as a verb, "(into an image) made like to"; the association here of the two words homoioma and eikon (see IMAGE) serves to enhance the contrast between the idol and "the glory of the incorruptible God," and is expressive of contempt; in 5:14, "(the) likeness of Adam's transgression" (KJV, "similitude"); in 6:5, "(the) likeness (of His death); in 8:3, "(the) likeness (of sinful flesh); in Phil. 2:7, "the likeness of men." "The expression 'likeness of men' does not of itself imply, still less does it exclude or diminish, the reality of the nature which Christ assumed. That … is declared in the words 'form of a servant.' 'Paul justly says in the likeness of men, because, in fact, Christ, although certainly perfect Man (Rom. 5:15; 1 Cor. 15:21; 1 Tim. 2:5), was, by reason of the Divine nature present in Him, not simply and merely man … but the Incarnate Son of God'" (Gifford, quoting Meyer).

Why would this word even be in the text if the inspired writer meant to say that Jesus partook of 'sinful flesh'?  If this word were omitted the text would read:  "...sending His own Son in sinful flesh...".  Since the word clearly does not mean what the Christadelphians think it means - and if it did it is clearly superfluous anyway - then we can know that the text is consistent with all other Scripture in declaring that Jesus came in the 'likeness' of 'sinful flesh',
not in 'sinful flesh'.  Because all natural descendants of the first Adam are sinners, Jesus appeared as a man - in the likeness of a sinner, though He was not a sinner.  Jesus is also referred to as "Him . . . who knew no sin" (2 Cor. 5:21).  As we have already seen, Hebrews also affirms that Jesus was tempted but simultaneously insists that He did not sin:  Jesus is "one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4:15). He is a high priest who is "holy, blameless, unstained, separated from sinners, exalted above the heavens" (Heb. 7:26).  Peter speaks of Jesus as "a lamb without blemish or spot" (1 Peter 1:19), using Old Testament imagery to affirm His freedom from any moral defilement.  Peter directly states:  "He committed no sin; no guile was found on His lips" (1 Peter 2:22). When Jesus died, it was "the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God" (1 Peter 3:18).  And John, in his first epistle, calls Him "Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 John 2:1) and says:  "In Him there is no sin" (1 John 3:5).  It is difficult to see how any sincere reader can avoid seeing the clear truth that there was no sin of any kind in Christ.  Since, clearly, the sinlessness of Christ is taught in all the major sections of the New Testament, Christadelphians have the wrong 'Adam' and, tragically, 'another Jesus' (2 Corinthians 11:4).

Christadelphians also misunderstand Heb. 2:14 which states:

"Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil."

This verse is also easily explained since it clearly states that Jesus partook of flesh and blood without ever stating that He had a sin nature.  To have a sin nature would require Jesus to share in our fallen, defiled, and unholy nature and make Him an unholy person who could not offer Himself as a holy sacrifice sufficient to please an infinitely holy God.  Christadelphians claim that, even though Jesus had a sin nature, He never committed a sin and thus He kept the Law and was satisfying to God.  However, if Jesus had a sinful and unholy nature, how could it be possible for Him to provide a sinless and holy sacrifice - especially since  states that we are by nature 'children of wrath' - meaning that the natural state of fallen man is judgment.

There are other problems for the un-Scriptural Christadelphian 'Jesus'.  The Bible teaches us that the sacrifice to God must be without blemish, for Deuteronomy 17:1 (cf. Ezekiel 43:22-23, 25; 45:18, 23) informs us:

"You shall not sacrifice to the Lord your God an ox or a sheep which has a blemish or any defect, for that is a detestable thing to the Lord your God."

The Hebrew word (
ra) translated "defect" in the RSV and NKJV, and as "flaw" in the NIV, is translated as "evilfavourdness" in the KJV.  The Christadelphian view of Jesus requires that a 'blemished', 'flawed', 'defective' sacrifice is still sufficient for salvation - when Scripture tells us otherwise.

1 Corinthians 5:7 describes the true Sacrificial Lamb:

Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:   

The aorist verb
ekkatharate ('purge out' or 'get rid of completely') is very expressive here: "clear out of the house, get rid of any evidence of the old yeast" and is a reference to the first Passover with its unleavened bread (Exodus 13:3-7).  Generally in the New Testament and other related literature the verb (thyo) indicates the sacrifice of animals and Christ is here clearly identified with the sacrificial lamb, Christ the Lamb of God (cf. John 1:29).  In Revelation 5:6 Christ is clearly identified:

And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders, I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth;   

The word for "lamb," or young sheep, used in the Book of Revelation some twenty-eight times is
arnion, which occurs only once outside in John 21:15 (plural).  The alternate word elsewhere is amnos, which occurs only four times and is used of Christ (John 1:29, 36; Acts 8:32; 1 Peter 1:19). Both words occur in the Septuagint (LXX) and are used in Exodus 12 to refer to the Passover sacrificial lamb - a year-old male taking the place of Israel's first-born males who were young and fresh with the vigour of life.

The Old Testament sacrificial system gives a clear pattern for the sacrifice of a lamb that was to have no defect at all.  God is holy and does not accept imperfect sacrifices.  Yet Christadelphians claim Christ had a fallen and sinful nature - which is definitely a defect - while the Bible informs us that Jesus has no defect, no blemish: "How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Heb. 9:14).  Who are we going to believe - the Word of God, or Christadelphian spokesmen?

For Christadelphians to maintain that Jesus had a sinful nature is to claim that the offering He made had a defect - and is insufficient to pay the price for humanity.  While the High Priests of the Old Testament were fallen by nature and unholy, and therefore had to be cleansed themselves in order to offer the sacrifice to God, the Lord Jesus Christ was sinless and holy.  The tragic result of Christadelphian doctrine that insists that Jesus had a fallen and sinful nature is faith in a defiled and imperfect sacrifice which is insufficient.  As a result all who put their faith in the Christadelphian 'Jesus' are going to a lost eternity.

In connection with Jesus' sinlessness, we should notice in more detail the nature of His temptations in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13).  The essence of these temptations was an attempt to persuade Jesus to escape from the hard path of obedience and suffering that was appointed for Him as the Messiah.  Jesus was "led by the Spirit for forty days in the wilderness, tempted by the devil" (Luke 4:1-2).  In many respects this temptation was parallel to the testing that
Adam and Eve faced in the Garden of Eden, but it was obviously much more difficult.  Adam and Eve had fellowship with God and with each other and had an abundance of all kinds of food, for they were only told not to eat from one tree. By contrast, Jesus had no human fellowship and no food to eat, and after He had fasted for forty days He was near the point of physical death.  In both cases the kind of obedience required was not obedience to an eternal moral principle rooted in the character of God, but was a test of pure obedience to God's specific directive. With Adam and Eve, God told them not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and the question was whether they would obey simply because God told them.  In the case of Jesus, "led by the Spirit" for forty days in the wilderness, He apparently realized that it was the Father's will that He eat nothing during those days but simply remain there until the Father, through the leading of the Holy Spirit, told Him that the temptations were over and He could leave.  We can understand, then, the force of the temptation:  "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread" (Luke 4:3).  Of course Jesus was the Son of God, and of course He had the power to make any stone into bread instantly. He was the one who would soon change water into wine and multiply the loaves and the fishes. The temptation was intensified by the fact that it seemed as though, if He did not eat soon, His very life would be taken from Him. Yet He had come to obey God perfectly in our place, and to do so as a man. This meant that He had to obey in His human strength alone.  If He had called upon His divine powers to make the temptation easier for Himself, then He would not have obeyed God fully as a man. The temptation was to use His divine power to "cheat" on the requirements and make obedience somewhat easier. But Jesus, unlike Adam and Eve, refused to eat what appeared to be good and necessary for Him, choosing rather to obey the command of His heavenly Father.  Orthodox Christians recognise the temptation to bow down and worship Satan for a moment and then receive authority over "all the kingdoms of the world" (Luke 4:5) was a temptation to receive power not through the path of lifelong obedience to His heavenly Father, but through wrongful submission to the Prince of Darkness. Again, Jesus rejected the apparently easy path and chose the path of obedience that led to the cross. Similarly, the temptation to throw Himself down from the pinnacle of the temple (Luke 4:9-11) was a temptation to "force" God to perform a miracle and rescue Him in a spectacular way, thus attracting a large following from the people without pursuing the hard path ahead, the path that included three years of ministering to people's needs, teaching with authority, and exemplifying absolute holiness of life in the midst of harsh opposition. But Jesus again resisted this seemingly "easy route" to the fulfilment of His goals as the Messiah.  However, we should note that this route would not actually have fulfilled those goals in any case.

These temptations were really the culmination of a lifelong process of moral strengthening and maturing that occurred throughout Jesus' childhood and early adulthood, as He "increased in wisdom . . . and in favour with God" (Luke 2:52) and as He
"learned obedience through what He suffered" (Heb. 5:8). In these temptations in the wilderness and in the various temptations that faced Him through the thirty-three years of His life, Christ obeyed God in our place and as our representative, thus succeeding where Adam had failed, where the people of Israel in the wilderness had failed, and where we had failed (see Rom. 5:18-19).  As difficult as it may be for us to comprehend, Scripture affirms that in these temptations Jesus gained an ability to understand and help us in our temptations: "Because He Himself has suffered and been tempted He is able to help those who are tempted" (Heb. 2:18). The author goes on to connect Jesus' ability to sympathize with our weaknesses to the fact the He was tempted as we are:

For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then [lit., "therefore'] with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Heb. 4:15-16).

This has practical application for us: in every situation in which we are struggling with temptation, we should reflect on the life of Christ and ask if there were not similar situations that He faced. Usually, after reflecting for a moment or two, we will be able to think of some instances in the life of Christ where He faced temptations that, though they were not the same in every detail, were very similar to the situations that we face every day.

The Christadelphians have another logical problem with their comparison of the 'first Adam' with the 'last Adam'.

You write:  Jesus was not a man exactly like us, Jesus was a man like Adam. Had Adam obeyed, Adam would have been given the inheritance of a son, and given the immortal resurrection body (and there would be no Bible between Genesis 3 and Revelation 22). But Adam disobeyed.

TCE:  There is an obvious flaw in such reasoning.  Since the first Adam was sinless and 'would have been given the inheritance of a son, and given the immortal resurrection body...', yet disobeyed - how is it reasonable for the 'last Adam' (Jesus Christ), who Christadelphians claim inherited 'a fallen and sinful nature' to have passed the 'test' which the first Adam - with a sinless nature - failed!?  It is neither Scriptural nor reasonable to make this claim.

The essence of God is holiness, purity, sinlessness, etc., whereas the essence of humans, on the other hand, is sinful. In Mark 7:21-23, Jesus disclosed to us the very nature of our hearts when He said:

'21For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. 23""All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man,"" (NASB).

Ephesians 2:3 makes it clear that we are by nature children of the wrath, for our hearts are sinful by nature and the source of the sins listed by Jesus.  This is also why Paul said in Romans 7:18 that nothing good dwelt in him, that is, in his flesh, for he knew his nature was sinful and the reason he was lost and without hope (except for his faith in Jesus and His unblemished sacrifice).

Christadelphian teachings would attempt to show that it is possible that a 'Jesus' with a fallen, unholy, and sinful nature could produce a pure and perfect sacrifice without defect!  Christadelphians often challenge orthodox doctrines - yet claim that it is possible for someone unholy to offer themselves as a holy sacrifice! How is it possible for someone sinful by nature, to offer themselves as a sinless sacrifice? If Christ had a sin nature, yet never sinned, it wouldn't mean that He was perfect.  He would not be perfect, but flawed - and His sacrifice would be useless.

Christadelphians neglect the issue of the sinful and fallen nature of their 'Jesus', yet claim such a flawed 'last Adam' could keep the Law perfectly.  They expect us believe that the 'last Adam', an 'Adam' they say had a sinful nature, could keep all of God's law perfectly.  Since we know that the first Adam was made sinless and yet was not able to keep the law of God, how can we believe that a 'Jesus' with a sinful and unholy nature could be a sinless, holy, perfect, unblemished sacrifice?  It is a nonsense!

Christadelphians argue that Jesus had a sin nature since He was under the Law, for a person is only under the Law if they are capable of sin.  As demonstrated above, Adam did not have a sin nature and he was tempted.  But, of course, Adam was under the law of God even though he had a sinless nature  - and even though he was capable of sinning.  God gave a Law to Adam when He said:

"...From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die," (Gen. 2:16-17).

The phrase "you shall not" is as emphatic as those occurring in the Ten Commandments!  Adam was under Law and, because He broke that Law, he sinned.  Romans 3:20 is clear: "...through the Law comes the knowledge of sin" - but "sin is not imputed when there is no law" (Romans 5:13).  Jesus was under the Law so that He could become a sacrifice for us and redeem those who are under the Law (Gal. 4:4). He had to be made like His brethren in order to satisfy the Law requirements of being a sacrifice.  He had to be a man to atone for men - and He had to be God in order to offer a sufficiently valuable atoning work.  Surely it is logical to conclude that, if only a perfect Adam had died, he could only have paid for the sins of another (imperfect) Adam?

(Continued on page 253)

Home Page   |   Expositor History   |   'Orthodox' Heretics   |   Other Religions   |   Cults  |   Occult   |   New Age Movement  |   Rome & Ecumenism