Right, we are now going to have a short time for both sides to sum up their arguments and hopefully without resorting to fisticuffs…
The seed of Abraham
Well, ladies and gentlemen, in conclusion I think we must each ask ourselves the question, Are we humble to the word of God? Do we go through this word and say “ah, my Father is greater than I. I can of my own self do nothing”. Christ learned obedience to God by what he suffered. Ah, well obviously this cannot mean that Jesus is God himself. There are very few of us that have that humility and that is what, though, God is looking for.
I would also like to stress in conclusion that Christadelphians are not Unitarians. We believe, as both Old and New Testaments clearly teach, that there is one Almighty God and Father whose Son is Jesus Christ, who was begotten at a definite point in finite time by God’s power, the Holy Spirit, acting on the womb of the virgin Mary. As Paul says “the head of the woman is the man, the head of the man is Christ and the head of Christ is God” (1 Corinthians 11: 3). That is conclusive to me, at least.
Jesus was then, of our nature. The man, Christ Jesus, as Paul calls him and as he is described at times even after his ascension to heaven. It was essential for him to be of our fallen nature in order that he could be tempted. As Hebrews 4 says “he was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sinning”. Through his overcoming of sin, a way to forgiveness and eternal life has been opened. “The wages of sin is death” sin brings death, therefore Jesus had to have our sinful nature in order to overcome sin; in order to be tempted to sin. Because he overcame those temptations, therefore he has opened up a way of escape for us. In Hebrews 2 verses 14 to 18 we read some words which really sum up the whole of my presentation to you tonight and you may like to read them later. Hebrews 2:14-18: “Forasmuch then as the children (that is us) partake of flesh and blood (that is, human nature), he (Jesus) also himself likewise partook of the same”. It is as if Paul is going out of his way there to emphasize this fact: “ he also himself likewise” was of our nature, “he took not hold of the nature of angels (if he did he would have had the nature of angels, no he took not hold of the nature of angels); but he took hold of the seed of Abraham”. Now he opened then a way of escape from sin and death for the seed of Abraham to deliver then, I am quoting again from Hebrews 2 “to deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage”. And that is, of course, the position of every one of us here tonight, living in fear of death all our lifetime subject to bondage to sin and death. Christ through being of our nature having the same bondage has opened the way of escape from this miserable position. Leslie said “how could a man take away our sins” and yet Hebrews 2 says unless he was a man then he couldn’t have done so. That was the very point of him being of our nature in order that God could lay on him the iniquity of us, his brothers and sisters. So then, if your life or if your religion seems pointless because you sense that you’re enjoying as it were a sort of “feel –good” religion as I call it, and you sense that at the end of the day you are not sure whether you are really going to overcome sin and death, then the way of escape is clear through an understanding of the real Christ and becoming one of Abraham’s seed or descendants.
Now I’d like to talk a lot more about Abraham’s seed because it was only, Paul says there in Hebrews 2, for Abraham’s seed or descendants that a way of escape has been opened, through Jesus having our nature. So then, we have got to become Abraham’s seed or descendants if we are going to have the hope of salvation from sin and death which Jesus opened up. So how can we do it, how can we become the descendants of Abraham? The natural descendants of Abraham are the Jews. So how then can Gentiles become part of those people in order that Christ’s sacrifice should apply to us? Paul gives us the answer, Galatians 3:27-29 “as many of you (he says) as have been baptized into Christ…are Abraham’s seed” or descendants. Only as many of us as are baptized into Christ (the real Christ) are “Abraham’s seed”, and that baptism, I suggest to you, is not just a sprinkling, it is a total dipping in water.
At this point we must consider, I feel, the question, “what is the gospel?” What is the gospel? I submit to you that the majority of Evangelical Christians and Christendom generally have no clear cut – and – dried answer to that question. What is the gospel? And yet it does, fundamentally, affect our eternal salvation. Galatians 3:8 says that the gospel was preached to Abraham in the form of the promises that God made to him. God promised Abraham two things. He promised him, first of all, that he would have a great descendant through whom blessing and forgiveness would be brought to this earth. Galatians 3:16 tells us that that descendant was Jesus Christ. The second thing Abraham was promised was that he would have many descendants who would reign for ever upon this earth, Romans 4:13. So then, the gospel is made up of those two parts. Things about Jesus, the seed of Abraham, and things about the descendants of Abraham who are going to live for ever upon the earth. They are the two elements of the gospel which were preached by Jesus; remember how he went around the cities of Israel and the villages preaching the gospel, the good news of the coming kingdom of God that he would establish when God sent him back to the earth, and those two elements were preached by Christ’s apostles. Acts 8:5 says that Philip went to Samaria and preached Christ. Now in the eyes of many of you, you would say: well, he turned round and said “believe on Jesus everybody” – but he didn’t. It goes on to define what “preaching Christ” involves. Acts 8:12 says that when the people believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ they were baptized. So then, there are the same two elements that were preached to Abraham. The things concerning the kingdom of God were preached to Abraham when he was told he would have many descendants who would reign for ever upon this earth. The things concerning the name of Jesus Christ were preached to Abraham when he was told that he would have one great descendant through whom the world would be blessed.
Now I submit to you that that is the gospel message in a nutshell. I also submit to you that if you believe in the Trinity, that belief makes a nonsense of that clear, simple, original gospel message. If you believe that Jesus was God, how could he have been Abraham’s descendant. If he had no beginning, how could he have been a descendant of Abraham or David because those promises were repeated to Isaac, to Jacob and to David. God said to David that of the fruit of his body he would raise up this descendant who would be Jesus the Christ. Jesus said “salvation is of the Jews” John 4:22. It is only by being the descendants or seed of Abraham that we can have hope of salvation from death through Jesus.
So then, you see that these things are of vital importance. This is the gospel, the true gospel, I humbly, honestly believe that we are preaching to you tonight.
“God has appointed a day in the which he will judge the world (Acts 17:31) by that man whom he hath appointed” whom He will send back to this earth to set up God’s kingdom.
So then, Jesus is coming, the Son of God coming back to this earth to set up God’s kingdom upon this earth, and at the end of the first thousand years, we believe, of that kingdom, as someone has already commented tonight in 1 Corinthians 15, he will give up the kingdom to God who put all things under his feet, that God may be all in all.
So then, ladies and gentlemen, this is not just an academic debate. I am sorry if it has sounded like that at times. It is not an academic debate. “This is life eternal (this is everlasting life) that we should know the only true God and Jesus Christ whom he sent”.
Thank you and God bless you all.