Sunday, May 21, 2017

Divine Economy in the Ransom

There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a Ransom for all, to be testified in due time." -- 1 Timothy 2:5,6.

The ransom is the very center of all the New Testament teachings, the general touchstone by which we may determine what is truth and what is not truth in respect to every feature of the divine plan. The ransom may be likened to the hub of a wheel, from which various spokes radiate in every direction to a general periphery, or circumference. In the great plan of God for human salvation, the ransom constitutes the very central feature, and from it radiate all the doctrines which end in the fullness and completeness of that divine plan. Indeed, from whatever viewpoint we look at this subject, it is both beautiful and consistent.

Yet, for many of us, there was a time when it would have seemed strange that there could be any necessity for a ransom; for we had not then come to understand our great Heavenly Father's character and plan. At that time we would have been inclined to say, "Oh no! God would never in any sense of the word have a plan or program which would necessitate the shedding of blood! He would not wish to have any one die for the wrong doings of another! Such a proposition would be unjust." But in so expressing ourselves we would be reasoning falsely; and this is just what many earnest people are doing today. Many thoughtful people are saying, "I do not believe in this idea of a necessity for a human sacrifice." Nevertheless, this thought of a ransom is found throughout the Scriptures; and when we get the right conception of the subject from the Bible viewpoint, we see such a wonderful beauty, such a wonderful consistency, in this whole matter that we are amazed, and long for the time when all the world shall see it.

Different phases of God's Plan strike different individuals amongst his children in slightly different ways. Some are more attracted by one particular, and others by another. What we wish to particularly focus on in this study is the wonderful element of economy exhibited by our Heavenly Father, who apparently never wastes anything. So, also, with our Lord Jesus. After he had, by divine power, fed thousands from a few loaves and fishes, he instructed his disciples to gather up the fragments, that nothing be lost. (John 6:12.) Surely this injunction must have seemed strange to them. Why would the Master, who had power to create on so large a scale, be so careful about the fragments? Doubtless, too, every scientist has marveled at the divine economy in nature, where all things are balanced, and merely change their form as they pass from one condition to another -- whether from solid to liquid or from liquid to gas, etc. Apparently, God has a principle of perpetual motion in nature, by which nothing is lost, but reappears in another form.


This divine quality of economy is manifested even in the great plan for human salvation. Once our minds grasp this thought, we may exclaim:  "Wonderful! Nobody but our Heavenly Father Himself would have thought about this principle!" Many of us have been blessed with parents who have endeavored to raise us in a Christian manner, and may have the advantage of understanding, to some degree, about the fall of man and original sin. Although we have been taught wrong conceptions as to what constitutes the penalty of sin, nevertheless, even before comprehending the ransom for all, we may have had some of the scriptural facts -- that our first parents were created upright (just, not in need of being justified -- Ecclesiastes 7:29] and God placed in a perfect environment in Eden (Genesis 2:8), that they had sinned and had come under God's curse, and that somehow the result was that all our race was still under that curse, even though we may have been taught the curse was some form of eternal conscious suffering. As we come the study the Bible more closely, however, we begin to understand that the penalty of sin is death -- not life in any condition; understanding this may, however, still not result in full appreciation of the economy of the ransom sacrifice. The question arises that, if there is to be a redemption, how could one human being die for an entire condemned race of sinners; it may seem to us that such a proposition is not reasonable. To answer this, man has sought out many imaginative answers. Many have claimed that Jesus is God, and that since he was God he could suffer in payment for absolutely all sins. Such often seem to have the view that in the three and a half years of his ministry, and especially during the short time on the day of his crucifixion, our Lord Jesus suffered as much as all the human family would have suffered throughout all history. We should note, however, that there is nothing at all in the Holy Bible that makes such a claim. Neither Jesus, nor any of his apostles ever made such a claim, and if we actually stop to think about this, the more unreasonable this claim appears to be. On the other hand, once one learns the meaning and application of the word "ransom" in the Bible, we find this subject ceases to be a mystery.


A careful study of the word Ransom with the aid of an unabridged concordance brings to light the fact that the Greek word thus rendered -- often transliterated as antilutron -- means an offsetting price, a price that corresponds. Any one can study the matter out for himself by means of using Strong's or in Young's Concordance. If one submits his thoughts to what the scriptures say, that one will gradually begin to get the correct idea that our Lord, as the man Jesus Christ, gave himself a ransom, a corresponding price, for all mankind. (1 Timothy 2:5,6) Then we can better understand the apostle's words, "As by a man came death, by a man came also the resurrection from the dead." (1 Cor. 15:21.) There was one man who sinned -- Adam, who brought the death penalty upon all his posterity. There was one man who died, the just for the unjust -- Christ Jesus. Thus we have the corresponding-price. But many of us may been taught that there are three persons in the Godhead, that our Lord Jesus was the second of these, and yet that God cannot die. We may be told told that, being God, our Lord could not really die -- that his body alone died. Actually, if this idea is applied to many scriptures, we only get further confusion. It would have it that the death of God would be necessary to pay for the "infinite sin" mankind, but that at the same time, God cannot die. They end up contradicting their own conclusions about God suffering for the infinite sin of mankind by saying that it was only human being, Jesus, who died, and not Jesus, the God-being, who died. To do this, they add to the scripture the "hypostatic union" or "dual natures of Jesus" dogmas, and yet even such does not do away the with self-contradiction of stating that only God Himself could pay the price of "infinite sin". If we lay aside man's dogma, and study the Bible alone apart from such dogma, we can begin to clear our heads from all the nonsense and confusion which has crept into the Church due the Apostasy, and we can begin to see that the doctrine of the Trinity is not found in the Holy Bible at all. Then we can fully appreciate that our lord is the Son of God, as He Himself had declared, "the Beginning of the creation of God." (Revelation 3:14; Colossians 1:15.) We can then appreciate that the word "ransom" as used in the Bible regarding our redemption does not call for a God to be offered up to God in order to redeem a man, nor could a spirit being of any rank do so; for there could be no correspondency between them. Finally, we can then perceived that whoever would redeem man must himself be a man -- the full equivalent of the man who sinned. This thought will further aid us to understand all that the Bible said about our Lord's having left the Heavenly glory and becoming a man. -- Philippians 2:6-11; 2 Corinthians 8:9; John 1:14.


The doctrine of incarnation teaches that Jesus, being God the only Most High, remained God the Most High while also became flesh, which made him having an existence as the Most High, above the angels, while at the same time that he had an existence as a man, lower than the angels. Truth-seekers may wonder if this is really what is revealed in the Bible, or is this what men had added to the Bible in order to accommodate their dogma. Many, however, use the word "incarnation" as simply meaning the time in which Jesus was in the days of his flesh, without thought of how the word is used to refer a specific doctrine. As far as the doctrine of incarnation, there is nothing in the Bible on this subject, and there is no truth in this doctrine. In the scriptures, we read that the Logos "was" THEOS, a mighty spirit being (John 1:1), before he came into the world that was made through him, and that when he came into the world, he was actually made, or became, flesh, not that he remained what he "was", and thereby assumed or added flesh to what he "was". (John 1:14) The incarnation dogma, in effect, would mean that our Lord in his prehuman existence added flesh to his what he already was, just as three angels did back in the days of Abraham. (Genesis 18:2.) The three were incarnated. They were still spirit beings, but appeared to Abraham as men, possessing bodies of flesh, and ate and talked with him. But this was not true with our Lord Jesus when he was conceived, begotten of God's Holy Spirit, in the womb of Mary. (Matthew 1:20) He who was rich became poor for man's sake (2 Corinthians 8:9) -- not that He merely pretended to be poor; not that He acted as if He were poor and so assumed an inferior body for awhile. On the contrary He "was made flesh" -- he became flesh (John 1:14) -- not assumed flesh. Do you perceive the difference? He was "the Man Christ Jesus" (1 Timothy 2:5,6), he did not "appear to be the Man Christ Jesus." He left the glory which He had with the Father before the world was; he laid it aside; although he had the sinless terrestrial glory while he was in the days of his flesh, and never fell short of that glory by si (John 1:4,14; Romans 3:23; 1 Corinthians 15:40; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 6:5), he did not have his former celestial glory, as can be seen from John 17:5. It was only as a man, defined as possessing a glory aa little lower than the angels (Psalm 8:4,5), that he could be the "man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all." (1 Timothy 2:5,6) Thus, while in the days of his flesh, he had given up that glorious condition on the spirit plane, and exchanged his life on the spirit plane to be a human being -- a little lower than the angels (Psalm 8:4,5; Hebrews 2:9), in order to be a corresponding-price equal to the man in whom the whole race has been condemned. -- Romans 5:12-19.

The Bible explains that it was a sinless man that sinned. Therefore whoever would ransom him must also be a sinless man -- a corresponding-price. No matter how great the angel, no matter how glorious the Logos, no one on a higher plane of being would do. Nor would anything below the human plane do. The finest bullock in all the world could not be a real sin-offering or actually take away sin. Nothing higher or lower than perfect humanity would atone for the sinner. A sinless man had sinned. Only a sinless man -- who could be tempted to sin -- could redeem the sinner. Thus, God provided for the sinless body of Jesus, that it could be an offering for sin. -- Psalm 40:6-8; Hebrews 10:1-10; 1 Peter 3:18.

But one may still wonder: How could this one Man Christ Jesus by this one death redeem all mankind -- Adam and his thousands of millions of children? When one's mind perceives the Scriptural teaching on this subject, one receives a wonderfully broad thought of God's Wisdom, by which He planned it all in advance, so that only one death was necessary. Then we see the marvelous economy of the Divine Plan for human salvation. Nobody but God could have thought of such beauty and symmetry. Only one man was tried at the bar of Divine Justice, and condemned to death. By the laws of heredity his condemnation came upon all his posterity, all of whom die because of his original sin. If God had tried and condemned two men or ten men or a hundred men or more, their redemption would have required an individual redeemer for each one.


If one believes that traditional teachings men, one may wonder why God did not give all mankind the same opportunity that He gave Adam, why all are not permitted to come into Eden and have a fair chance as Adam had. Has God been unjust in condemning all mankind for what Adam did? What joy we may have to see the beauty of the doctrine of the Ransom, for undertanding this doctrine makes the reason seem very simple. If you and I had been brought into the world under conditions similar to those under which Adam was, we would have done just as he did, for the same reason that he did -- lack of experience. We are therefore not faulting Father Adam and Mother Eve; but we are extolling our great and wise God. He was not taking any chances to see whether one out of a hundred thousand might do differently, and planning to provide a redeemer for every one who did wrong. What confusion such a plan would have wrought!

For instance, suppose that God had placed fifty perfect human beings on trial in Eden at the beginning, and that one half of them had sinned -- twenty-five sinners and an equal number of saints; and suppose that there had been provided a Paradise for the saints and the cursed condition for the sinners. Condemnation on one side of the fence, and blessing on the other -- what confusion there would be! Then when it came to the redemption of the sinners, it would require that the twenty-five saints die for the twenty-five sinners. Where would the matter have ended then? While Adam and the human race (outside of Israel) where never placed under the Law Covenant through Moses, the princple of justice given in the law has an application to the ransom: "life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot". (Deuteronomy 19:21; Exodus 21:23-25) God operates His government along the line of Justice, as the Psalmist intimates. Should some one wonder why God operates along the line of Justice rather than Love, we reply: In His great mercy God sees best to exercise absolute Justice in order that Love may operate impartially toward all. But because mankind are fallen from their original perfection God instructs us to work along the line of love; for we need to exercise mercy and to learn the great lesson of loving-kindness toward all. Let us not forget that God did not originally put man in the sinful conditions which we see all around us. The bondage of corruption which now engulfs man is the result of disobedience. (Romans 5:12-19; 8:19-22) When, during the Millennium, God shall have brought the human race back into harmony with Himself, and when every creature in Heaven and on earth shall be in full harmony with Him, all their lessons on right and wrong learned perfectly, and all able and willing to do righteously, then no one will need mercy. All will be able to meet the just requirements of God's Government, and they will not be harmed by His Divine arrangements; for God's Justice is for fair dealings toward every one of His creatures. But now we must make an allowance because our human flesh is under a sinful condition (Romans 8:3; Ecclesiastes 7:13) and all around us are likewise under this same condition. -- Psalam 89:14.

God is not now applying the great salvation through Jesus to the fallen race of Adam, except for those who, through faith, become justified. The unjustified remain under the condemnation of Adam, but will have the ransom sacrifice of Jesus applied to them so that they may be raised in the resurrection of judgment. (John 5:28,29; 12:47,48; Acts 24:15) If we desire to draw near to God we must lay hold upon the one who is able to save to the uttermost all who come to the Father through Him -- Christ Jesus our Redeemer. All God's mercy is exercised through Christ. God does not exercise mercy directly. He maintains the even tenor of His rule of righteousness, but makes special provision for the sinner race through Christ Jesus. Forgiveness of sin, and everything relating to repentance and reformation of life, come through our Lord Jesus Christ -- through the Ransom-price which He has provided.


This economical feature of the Divine Plan is a most wonderful thought. By one man's disobedience God permitted the results of that transgression to affect all of Adam's children. All mankind were involved under the original sin of the one man. "Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men." (Rom. 5:12.) Then in due time God so arranged that the sin of the one man, Adam, would be met by the man Christ Jesus; that thus Adam would in due time be freed from the death penalty; and that all his children, who inherited death as well as weakness and imperfection through him, would also be amenable to this one redemption -- that the one Ransom-price was sufficient for Adam and all his posterity.

Oh, how understanding of God's plan exalts and glorifies His love for us, and His wisdom, justice and His might as the Most High. How blessed are those to whom God has given to understand this thought of God's great Wisdom manifested in His arrangement through Christ Jesus, through the Ransom. The more we meditate upon it, the more wonderful it becomes; for it is the very central feature of God's great Plan for human salvation, its very brightest spot.


1 Timothy 2:5,6 declares that our Lord gave Himself a Ransom-price for all. He did so for all in the sense that eventually its benefits will extend to every member of the Adamic race. The mere giving up of His life did not extend a blessing to all mankind; but the giving up of His life was the basis upon which God will permit Him in due time to establish His Millennial Kingdom and to bring in the blessings of Restitution for the whole race during the thousand years of His Reign. If it had not been for the Ransom, there could have been no Restitution. The whole race of Adam had been condemned to death in their first father. Therefore it would not have been proper for the Man Jesus to attempt to bring out from under condemnation those whom the Justice of God had sentenced to death.

Adam and his posterity were sentenced to death, not to eternal torment, as some erroneously suppose the Scriptures to teach. (Genesis 2:17; 3:17-19; Ezekiel 18:4,20; Romans 6:23.) Indeed, if the wages of sin had been eternal torment, or eternal separation from God, then Jesus would have to suffer eternal torment or eternal separation from God in order to pay the wages of sin for us. However, tefore there could be a resurrection, it was necessary that this death penalty against the race be met. As by man came death, by a man must come this cancelling of the death penalty, in order to make possible a resurrection, a raising up of the dead. (1 Corinthians 15:21,22) There is no other way by which any may have a future life. Therefore all this great Divine Plan for the blessing of the world hinges upon this basic of the program -- the Ransom. St. Paul says that the Ransom was for all. When the Apostle says that our Lord gave Himself a Ransom -- a Corresponding-price -- for ALL, his thought evidently is that this was the purpose lying behind the sacrifice of Christ Jesus. By this we do not understand that our Lord has yet made an application of His sacrifice to all; for God's due time for blessing all men has not yet come. Moreover, it would not have been appropriate for our Lord to make the application of the merit of His sacrifice in advance -- at the First Advent -- and then to come back later on -- at His Second Advent -- to deal with mankind. Therefore the whole matter is held over until the due time comes for dealing with the Adamic race. Meantime, Adam, who fell asleep thousands of years ago, and others of his posterity can await in sleep for that glorious Day when He who redeemed them shall place the merit of His sacrifice on behalf of Adam and all his race, shall make application of it, paying it over to Divine Justice, and then take over mankind as His purchased possession. Our Lord gave Himself -- gave up His life, surrendered His life -- with this end in view. This was the program set before Him -- that He -- as a sinless human being -- was to surrender Himself to death, and that this would be the basis upon which He might become the great Mediator between God and men, the great Restorer of mankind, the long-promised Seed of Abraham, to bless all the families of the earth.


Just here some one may ask, "Why is it that our Lord did not make application of the merit of His sacrifice at Pentecost? Why this long delay of eighteen hundred and more years before He begins this work of blessing the world?" We reply, If it had not been that God had planned to have associated with our Lord in this glorious work of blessing the families of the earth (Genesis 18:18) other members of the seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:16,26,27), there would have been no delay of eighteen centuries. In other words, if the Church had not been included in God's Plan, then when our Lord Jesus had risen from the dead and had ascended on High to appear in the presence of God, doubtless He would have offered the value of His sacrifice for the whole world of mankind, and at once would have taken over the Adamic race and begun His Reign for their blessing. But because this was not the Divine Plan, therefore our Lord did what He did -- He appeared in the presence of God for US, for the CHURCH, who taste of the power of the age to come (Hebrews 6:4,5; 9:4), delaying application to world to the age to come. (1 Timothy 2:5,6). Thus far, then, our Lord has appeared only for His Church. He has not as yet appeared for the world. After the Church shall have been glorified with Him, then the sons of God will be made manifest (Romans 8:19), and our Lord will appear for the world. Meantime, however, he is dealing with his Church, taking the Church class out of the world, as He said: "You are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world." (John 15:19; 17:14.) The Church, consecrated believers, having become sons of God, new creatures in Christ, have escaped the condemnation which is still on the world. (2 Peter 1:4; Romans 8:1-4.) But the world is still under condemnation. As yet our Lord has appeared only for the believer; he has not done anything for the unbeliever, except that in his death for the church and world. Although the price has been paid, it will not be applied all mankind, but will be applied "in due time."

In His prayer the night of his apprehension our Lord said: "I do not pray for the world, but for those whom you have given me; for they are Yours." (John 17:9-11.) Yet a few hours later He died for the world, and all mankind are included in what our Lord is to do -- "a Ransom for all, to be testified IN DUE TIME." But since He knew that it would be about 2,000 years before that due time would come, Jesus would not with propriety pray for those who were to blessed so far in the future. But the Father had given to our Lord the Church. The Divine purpose was that during this long period of time this class would be gathered out of the world under certain conditions, in order that they might be with the Lord and share His exaltation, might be his companions in His glory, honor and immortality. Therefore our Lord prayed for them on the night in which he was betrayed, as was right and proper. He had called His twelve Apostles, and five hundred had believed on His word. The work thus begun would continue until the full amount of the elect would have been received of Christ.


The Bible assures us that in due time our Lord will pray for the world, and that he will be heard. Jesus prophetically says that Jehovah will say to him: "Ask of Me; and I shall give you the nationss for your inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for your possession." (Psalm 2:7-9.) When the first feature of the work, the selection of the Church, shall have been completed, when the joint-heirs with Christ shall have passed into Heavenly glory, then will come the "due time" for the next feature of the Divine Program. Then our Lord will make application of the Ransom-price on behalf of the sins of the whole world. He will say in substance, "Father, I now appropriate for the world of mankind this value of My death as the offset to Father Adam's death. I now apply it to Adam and all his children, as their Purchase-price; And now I ask for them. I ask You to give them to me according to your promise to give me the nations -- the whole world of mankind." Then the Father will turn them over to our Lord as his purchased possession.

The fact that he who redeemed the race of Adam is to be the one to give them their trial for life everlasting, during the thousand years of his reign, is the very best guarantee that mankind will have a fair, full, complete trial, a just, reasonable, loving trial at the hands of a loving redeemer, who will do everything proper to be done in order to help them out of their weaknesses and imperfections and to bring them back to the full perfection of human nature, lost through Father Adam's original sin in Eden, but redeemed by our Lord at Calvary. That is to say, the redemption-price was laid down at Calvary; and in due time that redemption-price will be applied, or given over, surrendered to Justice in exchange for the world of mankind. Thus the ransom work will have been accomplished, the whole world taken possession of by our Lord, and He shall reign for a thousand years, the "times of restitution spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began." -- Acts 3:19-23.


Now, we have before our minds the ransom, the necessity for it, the time when the sacrifice for sin was made, and the time when the merit of that sacrifice is to be applied for the world of mankind. But, meantime, the church receives an imputation of that merit. It is the blood of new covenant that provides to the church both justification and sanctification. (Luke 22:20; Romans 5:9; Hebrews 10:29) In being justified, we have become new creatures in Christ, sinless sons of God, as was Adam before Adam sinned; as new creatures we are reckoned as already living in the age to come, when all the present things have passed away. (Luke 3:38; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 3:26) As new creatures in this age, Paul likens the believer to a grain or seed, which grain or seed is first given, assigned, a terrestrial, physical body. 1 Corinthians 15:35-46) But our calling in this age is not so that we remain with such a body, but so that we might attain the resurrection of Christ -- that is, to not be simply be sons of God with early inheritance, as Adam, but rather to become joint-heirs with Christ, so as have in the resurrection, not a physical body, but a spiritual body, like our Lord Jesus.

The ransom sacrifice of Jesus provides only begettal to what was lost in Adam -- it does not make one a joint-heir with Christ. Paul spoke of how all who believed in Christ are sons of God, but he goes on to say that these sons are joint-heir if they joinly suffer with Christ. (Romans 8:17) In effect, if one is a joint-sacrificer with Christ, that one sacrifices the justification that he has with Christ. The Bible does not speak of this as another begettal; it is simply a transferranceo the kind of body being assigned ot the new creature. Jesus said, "He who overcomes, I will give to him to sit down with me on my throne, as I also overcame, and sat down with my Father on his throne." (Revelation 3:21) This cannot mean to overcome in the sense of being justified in the blood of Christ, for Jesus never needed such. Jesus not only did disobey his God, but he proved himself to incorruptible, by which he brought life and incorruption to light for mankind. In other words, Jesus, by proving himself incorruptible, put on incorruption. Likewise, the sinless new creature, created in Christ, if he is to be such an overcomer, must not only bear the image of the sinless man, but also he must bear the image of he who is now in heaven, and put on incorruption as Jesus put on incorruption. Once the new creature has overcome and Jesus overcame, that one will no longer be subject to the second death. This means that the new creature has proven himself incorruptible, having put on incorruption, so that he might recieve immortality. But while developing as New Creatures in Christ, we need an imputation of the merit of His Sacrifice to cover our blemishes and imperfections resulting from the original sin in our flesh and transmitted to us by the law of heredity. Our Lord did not need any such imputation; for He was "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners," and the Father had agreed to accept such a sacrifice for Adam. Our Lord needed no one to make good for Him. He was acceptable to God as a full offset to Adam. As a reward for the work which our Lord was to accomplish for mankind the Father gave Him the promise of glory, honor and immortality -- the highest celestial glory next to that of being the Most High; and our Lord has attained it. -- 1 Corinthians 15:39-41; Philippians 2:8-11.

To those who, during this Gospel Age, will surrender their wills to God and permit their lives to go down into Death in obedience to the Divine will, the Father has promised a share with Our Lord in His glory, honor and immortality as His Bride and Joint-heir. "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a Crown of Life." (Revelation 2:10) But before we can present our bodies a living sacrifice a difficulty must first be removed; for we are members of the sinner race, and God cannot recognize sinners. We have already been condemned to death in Adam. We are by nature  members of that sinner race upon whom the sentence of death already rests. Before we can offer ourselves to God something must be done to release us from the death sentence resting upon us. That something was done when our Lord had "ascended on High and appeared in the presence of God for us" -- the Church. There Jesus made an arrangement with the Father by which the merit of His sacrifice has been imputed to those who have placed their faith in the blood of Jesus.

This above is edited and adapted from the sermon by Charles Taze Russell. Nevertheless, since it is designed to represent our own thoughts, all the thoughts we have presented may not be in harmony in every detail of what Charles Taze Russell presented.  --- Ronald R. Day, Sr. (Restoration Light Bible Study Services -- ResLight, RLBible.


1 Peter 3:18 – Raised in the Spirit
Jesus Died a Human Being – Raised a Spirit Being
Jesus Saves the Whole World Condemned in Adam

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