--Earthly or Human and Heavenly
or Spiritual Natures
--Earthly Glory and Heavenly Glory
--Bible Testimony Regarding Spirit Beings
--Mortality and Immortality
--Can Mortal Beings Have Everlasting Life?
--Justice in the Bestowment of Favors
--A Supposed Principle Examined
--Variety in Perfection
--God's Sovereign Rights
--God's Provisions for Man a Satisfying Portion
--The Election of the Body of Christ
--How their Change of Nature is Effected
Failing to see that the plan of God for mankind in general contemplates a restitution to
their former estate--the human perfection lost in Eden--and that the Christian Church, as
an exception to this general plan, is to have a change of nature from human to spiritual,
Christian people generally have supposed that none will be saved except those who reach
the spiritual nature.
The Scriptures, however, while holding out promises of life and blessing and restitution
to all the families of the earth, offer and promise the change to spiritual nature only to
the Church selected during the Gospel age; and not a single passage can be found which
sustains such hopes for any others.
If the masses of mankind are saved from all the degradation, weakness, pain, misery and
death which result from sin, and are restored to the condition of human perfection enjoyed
before the fall, they are as really and completely saved from that fall as those who,
under the special "high-calling" of the Gospel age, become "partakers of
the divine nature."
a perfect man?
The failure to understand rightly what constitutes a perfect man, the misapprehension of
the terms mortal and immortal, and wrong ideas of justice, have together tended to this
error, and mystified many scriptures otherwise easily understood. It is a common view,
though unsupported by a single text of Scripture, that a perfect man has never been on
earth; that all that is seen of man on earth is only the partially developed man, and that
to reach perfection he must become spiritual. This view makes confusion of the Scriptures
instead of developing that harmony and beauty which result from "rightly dividing the
word of truth."
were only two perfect men Adam and Jesus.
The Scriptures teach that there have been two, and only two, perfect men--Adam and Jesus.
Adam was created in the image of God: that is, with the similar mental powers of reason,
memory, judgment and will, and the moral qualities of justice, benevolence, love etc.
earth, earthy," he was an earthly image of a spiritual being, possessing qualities of
the same kind, though differing widely in degree, range and scope. To such an extent is
man an image of God that God can say even to the fallen man, "Come, let us reason
made ruler over
all earthly things...
...a little lower
than the angels.
As Jehovah is ruler over all things, so man was made a ruler over all earthly
things--After our likeness, let him have dominion over the beasts, fowl, fish, etc.
Moses tells us (Genesis 1:31) that God recognized the man whom he had made--not merely
commenced to make, but completed--and God considered his creature "very good,"
that is, perfect; for in God's sight nothing short of perfection is very good, in his
perfection of man, as created, is expressed in Psalms 8:5-8:
"Thou hast made him a little
lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor.
Thou madest him to have dominion
over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:
All sheep and oxen, yea, the
beasts of the field, the fowl of the air and the fish of the sea."
is not the same;
but there is
one kind of flesh
of men, another
flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and
another of birds."
I Corinthians 15:39
It has been suggested by some who would make the Bible conform to
a theory of evolution, that the statement, "a little," in Hebrews 2:7, might be
understood to mean a little while lower, and not a little degree lower than the angels.
There is, however, neither authority nor reason for such an interpretation. This is a
quotation from Psalms 8:5, and a critical comparison of the Hebrew and Greek texts can
leave no doubt as to the import. The idea, clearly expressed, is a little lower in degree
David, in the psalm, refers to man in his original estate, and prophetically intimates
that God has not abandoned his original plan to have man in his own image and the king of
earth, and that he will remember him, redeem him and restore him to the same again.
(Hebrews 2:7) calls attention to the same fact--that God's original purpose has not been
abandoned; that man, originally grand and perfect, the king of earth, is to be remembered,
and visited, and restored. He then adds, We see not this promised restitution yet, but we
do see the first step God is taking toward its accomplishment.
Jesus crowned with this glory and honor of perfect manhood, that he, as a fitting ransom
or substitute might by God's favor taste death for every man, and thus prepare the way for
the restitution of man to all that was lost. Rotherham, one of the most scrupulous
translators, renders this passage as follows:
"What is man,
that thou rememberest him;
Or man's son, that thou visitest him?
Thou madest him less some little than messengers:
With glory and honor thou crownedst him,
And didst appoint him over the works of thy hands."
little lower" does not mean
a little less perfect.
Nor should it be inferred that a little lower in degree means a little less perfect. A
creature may be perfect, yet on a lower plane of being than another; thus, a perfect horse
would be lower than a perfect man, etc. There are various natures, animate and inanimate.
To illustrate, we
arrange the following table:
in the Vegetable
in the Mineral
nature does not
change a nature.
Each of the minerals mentioned may be pure, yet gold ranks the highest. Though each of the
orders of plants should be brought to perfection, they would still differ in nature and
rank. Likewise with animals: if each species should be brought to perfection, there would
still be variety; for perfecting a nature does not change a nature.*
*The word nature is sometimes used
in an accommodated sense, as, for instance, when it is said that a dog has a savage
nature, or that a horse has a gentle nature, or is bad natured. But in using the word thus
it signifies merely the disposition of the one described as compared with others, and does
not, strictly speaking, relate to nature.
distinct differences of each nature.
The highest grade
is a little lower than the lowest grade of vegetable, because
there is life.
The grades of spiritual being, also, though perfect, stand related to each other as higher
and lower in nature or kind. The divine nature is the highest and the superior of all
spiritual natures. Christ at his resurrection was made "so much better" than
perfect angels as the divine is superior to the angelic nature. Hebrews 1:3-5
that while the classes named in the above table are distinct and separate, yet a
comparison between them may be instituted, thus: The highest grade of mineral is inferior
to, or a little lower than, the lowest grade of vegetable, because in vegetation there is
highest grade of vegetable is a little lower than the lowest grade of animal life, because
animal life, even in its lowest forms, has intelligence enough to be conscious of
man, though the highest of animal or earthly beings, is "a little lower than the
angels," because angels are spiritual or heavenly beings.
a great contrast between sinful
and restored mankind.
There is a wonderful contrast between man as we now see him, degraded by sin, and the
perfect man that God made in his image. Sin has gradually changed his features, as well as
his character. Multiplied generations, by ignorance, licentiousness and general depravity,
have so blurred and marred humanity that in the large majority of the race the likeness of
God is almost obliterated.
The moral and intellectual qualities are dwarfed; and the animal instincts, unduly
developed, are no longer balanced by the higher. Man has lost physical strength to such an
extent that, with all the aid of medical science, his average length of life is now about
thirty years, whereas at first he survived nine hundred and thirty years under the same
penalty. But though thus defiled and degraded by sin and its penalty, death, working in
him, man is to be restored to his original perfection of mind and body, and to glory,
honor and dominion, during and by the Millennial reign of Christ.
things to be restored by and through Christ are those things which were lost through
Adam's transgression. Romans 5:18,19 Man did not lose a heavenly but an earthly paradise.
Under the death penalty, he did not lose a spiritual but a human existence; and all that
was lost was purchased back by his Redeemer, who declared that he came to seek and to save
that which was lost. Luke 19:10
a spiritual being.
In addition to the above, we have proof that the perfect man is not a spiritual being. We
are told that our Lord, before he left his glory to become a man, was "in a form of
God"--a spiritual form, a spirit being; but since to be a ransom for mankind he had
to be a man, of the same nature as the sinner whose substitute in death he was to become,
it was necessary that his nature be changed.
And Paul tells us
that he took not the nature of angels, one step lower than his own, but that he came down
two steps and took the nature of men--he became a man; he was "made flesh."
Hebrews 2:16; Philippians 2:7,8; John 1:14
Notice that this teaches not only that angelic nature is not the only order of spirit
being, but that it is a lower nature than that of our Lord before he became a man; and he
was not then so high as he is now, for "God hath highly exalted him," because of
his obedience in becoming man's willing ransom. Philippians 2:8,9 He is now of the highest
order of spirit being, a partaker of the divine (Jehovah's) nature.
But not only do we thus
find proof that the divine, angelic and human natures are separate and distinct, but this
proves that to be a perfect man is not to be an angel, any more than the perfection of
angelic nature implies that angels are divine and equal with Jehovah; for Jesus took not
the nature of angels, but a different nature--the nature of men; not the imperfect human
nature as we now possess it, but the perfect human nature. He became a man; not a depraved
and nearly dead being such as men are now, but a man in the full vigor of perfection.
a perfect man,
a perfect law.
Again, Jesus must have been a perfect man else he could not have kept a perfect law, which
is the full measure of a perfect man's ability. And he must have been a perfect man else
he could not have given a ransom (a corresponding price--1 Timothy 2:6) for the forfeited
life of the perfect man Adam;
"For since by man came
death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead." 1 Corinthians 15:21
been in the least degree imperfect, it would have proved that he was under condemnation,
and therefore he could not have been an acceptable sacrifice; neither could he have kept
perfectly the law of God. A perfect man was tried, and failed, and was condemned; and only
a perfect man could give the corresponding price as the Redeemer.
could give a
for a perfect man.
Now we have the question fairly before us in another form, viz.: If Jesus in the flesh was
a perfect man, as the Scriptures thus show, does it not prove that a perfect man is a
human, fleshly being--not an angel, but a little lower than the angels? The logical
conclusion is unmistakable; and in addition we have the inspired statement of the Psalmist
(Psalms 8:5-8) and Paul's reference to it in Hebrews 2:7-9.
Neither was Jesus a combination of the two natures, human and spiritual. The blending of
two natures produces neither the one nor the other, but an imperfect, hybrid thing, which
is obnoxious to the divine arrangement. When Jesus was in the flesh he was a perfect human
being; previous to that time he was a perfect spiritual being; and since his resurrection
he is a perfect spiritual being of the highest or divine order.
It was not until
the time of his consecration even unto death, as typified in his baptism--at thirty years
of age (manhood, according to the Law, and therefore the right time to consecrate himself
as a man)--that he received the earnest of his inheritance of the divine nature. Matthew
3:16,17 The human nature had to be consecrated to death before he could receive even the
pledge of the divine nature. And not until that consecration was actually carried out and
he had actually sacrificed the human nature, even unto death, did our Lord Jesus become a
full partaker of the divine nature.
becoming a man he became obedient unto death; wherefore, God hath highly exalted him to
the divine nature. Philippians 2:8,9 If this scripture is true, it follows that he was not
exalted to the divine nature until the human nature was actually sacrificed--dead.
|Jesus was not
of two natures.
a change of nature.
"But when the
fullness of the time was come,
God sent forth his Son,
made of a woman,
made under the law."
"And the Word
was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory,
the glory as the only begotten of the Father,)
full of grace and truth."
for what Adam lost.
"For such an high priest became
us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled,
separate from sinners,
and made higher than the heavens." Hebrews 7:26
Thus we see that in Jesus there was no mixture of natures, but that twice he experienced a
change of nature; first, from spiritual to human; afterward, from human to the highest
order of spiritual nature, the divine; and in each case the one was given up for the
In this grand example of perfect humanity, which stood unblemished before the world until
sacrificed for the world's redemption, we see the perfection from which our race fell in
Adam, and to which it is to be restored. In becoming man's ransom, our Lord Jesus gave the
equivalent for that which man lost; and therefore all mankind may receive again, through
faith in Christ, and obedience to his requirements, not a spiritual, but a glorious,
perfect human nature--"that which was lost."
perfect faculties and powers of the perfect human being may be exercised indefinitely, and
upon new and varied objects of interest, and knowledge and skill may be vastly increased;
but no such increase of knowledge or power will effect a change of nature, or make it more
than perfect. It will be only the expanding and developing of the perfect human powers.
Increase of knowledge and skill will doubtless be man's blessed privilege to all eternity;
yet he will still be man, and will be merely learning to use more fully the powers of
human nature already possessed. Beyond its wide limits he cannot hope, nor will he desire,
to advance, his desires being limited to the scope of his powers.
Jesus as a man was an illustration of perfect human nature, to which the mass of mankind
will be restored, yet since his resurrection he is the illustration of the glorious divine
nature which the overcoming Church will, at resurrection, share with him.
are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial;
but the glory
of the celestial
and the glory
of the terrestrial
I Corinthians 15:40
Because the present age is devoted mainly to the development of this class which is
offered a change of nature, and because the apostolic epistles are devoted to the
instruction of this "little flock," it should not be inferred that God's plans
end with the completion of this chosen company. Nor, on the other hand, should we go to
the opposite extreme, and suppose that the special promises of the divine nature, spirit
bodies, etc., made to these, are God's design for all mankind.
To these are the
"exceeding great and precious promises," over and above the other precious
promises made to all mankind. To rightly divide the Word of truth, we should observe that
the Scriptures recognize the perfection of the divine nature in the "little
flock," and the perfection of the human nature in the restored world, as two separate
a spirit being?
Let us now inquire more particularly, What are spirit beings? what powers are theirs? and
by what laws are they governed? Many seem to think, because they do not understand the
nature of a spirit being, that it must be a mere myth, and on this subject much
superstition prevails. But Paul does not appear to have such an idea. Though he intimates
that a human being is incapable of understanding the higher, spiritual nature (1
Corinthians 2:14), yet he plainly states, as if to guard against any mythical or
superstitious notions, that there is a spiritual body, as well as a natural (human) body,
a celestial as well as a terrestrial, and a glory of the earthly as well as of the
The glory of the earthly, as we have seen, was lost by the first Adam's sin, and is to be
restored to the race by the Lord Jesus and his Bride (the Christ, Head and body) during
the Millennial reign. The glory of the heavenly is as yet unseen except as revealed to the
eye of faith by the Spirit through the Word. These glories are distinct and separate. 1
to some extent what the natural, earthly, terrestrial body is, for we now have such,
though we can only approximately estimate the glory of its perfection. It is flesh, blood
and bones; for "that which is born of the flesh is flesh." And since there are
two distinct kinds of bodies, we know that the spiritual, whatever it may be, is not
composed of flesh, blood and bones: it is heavenly, celestial, spiritual--"That which
is born of the Spirit is spirit."
a spirit body is, we know not, for "It doth not yet appear what we shall be; but...we
shall be like him"--like our Lord Jesus. John 3:6; 1 John 3:2
We have no record of any being, either spiritual or human, ever having been changed from
one nature to another, except the Son of God; and this was an exceptional case, for an
exceptional purpose. When God made angels he doubtless intended them to remain angels
forever, and so with men, each being perfect on his own plane. At least the Scriptures
give no intimation of any different purpose.
As in the
inanimate creation there is a pleasing and almost endless variety, so in the living and
intelligent creation the same variety in perfection is possible. Every creature in its
perfection is glorious; but, as Paul says, the glory of the celestial (heavenly) is one
kind of glory, and the glory of the terrestrial (earthly) is another and a different
can be present,
saw Angels in Chariots
An Angel Appeared
By examining the facts recorded of our Lord Jesus after his resurrection, and of angels,
who are also spirit beings, thus "comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (1
Corinthians 2:13), we may gain some general information with regard to spirit beings.
First, then, angels can be and frequently are present, yet invisible.
"The angel of the Lord
encampeth round about them that fear him"; and "Are they not all ministering
spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" Psalms
ministered visibly or invisibly? Undoubtedly the latter. Elisha was surrounded by a host
of Assyrians; his servant was fearful; Elisha prayed to the Lord, and the young man's eyes
were opened, and he saw the mountains round about them full of chariots of fire and
horsemen of fire (or like fire).
Again, while to
Balaam the angel was invisible, the ass, his eyes being opened, saw him.
angels can assume human bodies and appear as men. The Lord and two angels so appeared to
Abraham, who had a supper prepared for them, of which they ate. At first Abraham supposed
them to be three men, and it was not until they were about to go that he discovered one of
them to be the Lord, and the other two, angels, who afterward went down to Sodom and
delivered Lot. Genesis 18:1,2
appeared to Gideon as a man, but afterward made himself known. An angel appeared to the
father and mother of Samson, and they thought him a man until he ascended up to heaven in
the flame of the altar. Judges 6:11-22; 13:20
Saul of Tarsus
"At midday, O King, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the
sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me.
And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking
unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks."
Thirdly, spirit beings are glorious in their normal condition, and are frequently referred
to as glorious and bright. The countenance of the angel who rolled away the stone from the
door of the sepulchre was "as the lightning."
Daniel caught a glimpse
of a spiritual body, which he described, saying, His eyes were as lamps of fire, his
countenance as the lightning, his arms and feet like in color to polished brass, and his
voice as the voice of a multitude. Before him Daniel fell as a dead man. Daniel
Tarsus caught a similar glimpse of Christ's glorious body shining above the brightness of
the sun at noonday. Saul lost his sight and fell to the ground.
we have found spirit beings truly glorious; yet, except by the opening of men's eyes to
see them, or by their appearing in flesh as men, they are invisible to men. This
conclusion is further confirmed when we examine the particular details of these
The Lord was
seen of Saul alone, the men traveling with him hearing the voice, but seeing no one. Acts
The men that
were with Daniel did not see the glorious being he describes, but a great fear fell on
them, and they ran and hid themselves. Again, this glorious being declared, "The
prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days."
Did Daniel, the
man greatly beloved of the Lord, fall as dead before this one whom Persia's prince
withstood one and twenty days? How is this? Surely he did not appear in glory to the
prince! No; either he was invisibly present with him, or else he appeared as a man.
since his resurrection, is a spirit being; consequently the same powers which we find
illustrated in angels (spiritual beings) should also be possessed by him. And such is the
case, as we shall see more fully in a succeeding chapter.
Thus we find that the Scriptures regard the spiritual and the human natures as separate
and distinct, and furnish no evidence that the one will evolve or develop into the other;
but, on the contrary, they do show that only a few will ever be changed from the human to
the divine nature, to which Jesus, their head, has already been exalted. And this
remarkable and special feature in Jehovah's plan is for the remarkable and special purpose
of preparing these as God's agents for the great future work of restoring all things. Let
us now examine the terms
death is possible.
find their true significance in exact harmony with what we have learned from our
comparison of Bible statements concerning human and spiritual beings, and earthly and
words are usually given very uncertain meanings, and wrong ideas of their meanings produce
erroneous views of subjects with which they stand connected, in general and in Scripture
usage. "Mortality" signifies a state or condition of liability to death; not a
condition of death, but a condition in which death is a possibility.
"Immortality" signifies a state or condition not liable to death; not merely a
condition of freedom from death, but a condition in which death is an impossibility.
common but erroneous idea of mortality is, a state or condition in which death is
unavoidable, while the common idea of the significance of immortality is more nearly
death is impossible.
confusion on mortality
The word immortal signifies not mortal; hence the very construction of the words indicates
their true definitions. It is because of the prevalence of a wrong idea of the word mortal
that so many are confused when trying to determine whether Adam was mortal or immortal
before his transgression.
They reason that if he had been immortal God would not have said, "In the day that
thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die"; because it is impossible for an immortal
being to die. This is a logical conclusion.
other hand, say they, Had he been mortal, wherein could have consisted the threat or
penalty of the statement, "Thou shalt surely die"; since if mortal (according to
their erroneous definition) he could not have avoided death anyhow?
is sustained by external elements.
The difficulty, it will be perceived, is in the false meaning given to the word mortality.
Apply the correct definition, and all is clear. Adam was mortal--that is, in a condition
in which death was a possibility. He had life in full and perfect measure, yet not
inherent life. His was a life sustained by "every tree of the garden" save the
one tree forbidden; and so long as he continued in obedience to and in harmony with his
Maker, his life was secure--the sustaining elements would not be denied.
Thus seen, Adam
had life; and death was entirely avoidable, yet he was in such a condition that death was
possible--he was mortal.
The question arises, then, If Adam was mortal and on trial, was he on trial for
immortality? The general answer would be, Yes. We answer, No. His trial was to see whether
he was worthy or unworthy of a continuance of the life and blessings already possessed.
Since it was
nowhere promised that if obedient he would become immortal, we are bound to leave all such
speculations out of the question. He was promised a continuance of the blessings then
enjoyed so long as obedient, and threatened with the loss of all--death--if disobedient.
It is the false idea of the meaning of the word mortal that leads people in general to
conclude that all beings who do not die are immortal.
class they therefore include our heavenly Father, our Lord Jesus, the angels, and all
mankind. This, however, is an error: the great mass of mankind saved from the fall, as
well as the angels of heaven, will always be mortal; though in a condition of perfection
and bliss, they will always be of that mortal nature which could suffer death, the wages
of sin, if they would commit sin.
security of their existence will be conditioned, as it was with Adam, upon obedience to
the all-wise God, whose justice, love and wisdom, and whose power to cause all things to
work together for good to those who love and serve him, will have been fully demonstrated
by his dealings with sin in the present time.
The great mass
of mankind will always be mortal.
Satan is to be destroyed,
which proves that angels are mortal.
Nowhere in the Scriptures is it stated that angels are immortal, nor that mankind restored
will be immortal. On the contrary, immortality is ascribed only to the divine nature
--originally to Jehovah only; subsequently to our Lord Jesus in his present highly exalted
condition; and finally by promise to the Church, the body of Christ, when glorified with
him. 1 Timothy 6:16; John 5:26; 2 Peter 1:4; 1 Corinthians
Not only have we evidence that immortality pertains only to the divine nature, but we have
proof that angels are mortal, in the fact that Satan, who was once a chief of their
number, is to be destroyed. Hebrews 2:14 The fact that he can be destroyed proves that
angels as a class are mortal.
Thus considered, we see that when incorrigible sinners are blotted out, both immortal and
mortal beings will live forever in joy and happiness and love--the first class possessing
a nature incapable of death, having inherent life life in themselves (John 5:26);
and the latter having a nature susceptible to death, yet, because of perfection of being
and knowledge of the evil and sinfulness of sin, giving no cause for death. They, being
approved of God's law, shall be everlastingly supplied with those elements necessary to
sustain them in perfection, and shall never die.
of eternal torment.
it shall die."
The proper recognition of the meaning of the terms mortal and immortal, and of their use
in the Scriptures, destroys the very foundation of the doctrine of eternal torment. It is
based upon the unscriptural theory that God created man immortal, that he cannot cease to
exist, and that God cannot destroy him; hence the argument is that the incorrigible must
live on somewhere and somehow, and the conclusion is that since they are out of harmony
with God their eternity must be one of misery.
But God's Word
assures us that he has provided against such a perpetuation of sin and sinners: that man
is mortal, and that the full penalty of willful sin against full light and knowledge will
not be a life in torment, but a second death. "The soul that sinneth, it shall
that Repliest Against God?"
It is the
mistaken idea of some that justice requires that God should make no difference in the
bestowment of his favors among his creatures; that if he exalts one to a high position, in
justice he must do the same for all, unless it can be shown that some have forfeited their
rights, in which case such might justly be assigned to a lower position.
|God had a
to create Jesus higher than
If this principle be a correct one, it would show that God had no right to create Jesus
higher than the angels, and then further to exalt him to the divine nature, unless he
intended to do the same for all the angels and for all men. And to carry the principle
still further, if some men are to be highly exalted and made partakers of the divine
nature, all men must eventually be elevated to the same position.
And why not carry
the principle to its extreme limit, and apply the same law of progression to the brute and
insect creation, and say that since they are all God's creatures they must all eventually
attain to the very highest plane of existence --the divine nature? This is a manifest
absurdity, but as reasonable as any other deduction from this assumed principle.
Perhaps none would be inclined to carry the erroneous assumption so far. Yet if it were a
principle founded in simple justice, where could it stop short and still be just? And if
such were indeed the plan of God, where would be the pleasing variety in all his works?
But such is not God's plan.
All nature, both animate and inanimate,
exhibits the glory and diversity of divine power and wisdom. And as "the heavens
declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork" in wonderful
variety and beauty, much more shall his intelligent creation exhibit in variety the
superior glory of his power. We so conclude--from the express teaching of the Word of God,
from reason and from the analogies of nature.
It is very important that we have right ideas of justice. A favor should never be esteemed
as a justly merited recompense. An act of simple justice is no occasion for special
gratitude, nor is it any proof of love; but God commendeth his great love to his
creatures, in an endless train of unmerited favors, which should call forth their love and
praise in return.
God had a right, if he chose, to make us merely the creatures of a brief space of time,
even if we had never sinned. Thus he has made some of his lower creatures. He might have
permitted us to enjoy his blessings for a season, and then, without injustice, might have
blotted us all out of existence. In fact, even so brief an existence would be a favor. It
is only of his favor that we have an existence at all.
Aspiration of Lucifer--
"How art thou
fallen from heaven,
son of the morning!
"How art thou cut down to the ground,
which didst weaken
"For thou hast said
in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God:
"I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides
of the north."
How much greater favor is the redemption of the existence once forfeited by sin! And
further, it is of God's favor that we are men and not beasts; it is purely of God's favor
that angels are by nature a little higher than men; and it is also of God's favor that the
Lord Jesus and his bride become partakers of the divine nature. It becomes all his
intelligent creatures, therefore, to receive with gratitude whatever God bestows. Any
other spirit justly merits condemnation, and, if indulged, will end in abasement and
A man has no right to aspire to be an angel, never having been invited to that position;
nor has an angel any right to aspire to the divine nature, that never having been offered
the aspiration of Satan's pride which brought his abasement, and will end in his
destruction. Isaiah 14:14
"Whosoever exalteth himself
shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted" (Luke 14:11), but not
necessarily to the highest position.
Partly from false ideas of justice, and partly from other causes, the subject of election
as taught in the Scriptures has been the occasion of much dispute and misunderstanding.
That the Scriptures teach election few would deny, but on just what principle the election
or selection is based is a matter of considerable difference of opinion, some claiming
that it is an arbitrary, unconditional election, and others that it is conditional. There
is a measure of truth, we believe, in both of these views.
An election on
God's part is the expression of his choice for a certain purpose, office or condition. God
has elected or chosen that some of his creatures should be angels, that some should be
men, that some should be beasts, birds, insects, etc., and that some should be of his own
divine nature. And though God selects according to certain conditions all who will be
admitted to the divine nature, yet it cannot be said that these more than others merit it;
for it is purely of favor that any creature has existence on any plane.
"So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that
showeth mercy"--kindness or favor. Romans 9:16 It is not because the chosen ones were
better than others, that God gave them the invitation to the divine nature, for he passed
by the angels who had not sinned and called some of the redeemed sinners to divine honors.
God has a right to do as he pleases with his own; and he chooses to exercise this right
for the accomplishment of his plans. Since, then, all we have is of divine favor,
Hath not the potter power
over the clay?
"Who art thou, O man, that
repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say unto him who formed it, Why hast thou
made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, to make one vessel unto honor and
another unto dishonor"--or less honor? Romans 9:20,21
created by the same divine power--some to have higher nature and greater honor, and some
to have lower nature and less honor.
"Thus saith the Lord, the
Holy One of Israel, his [man's] maker: Ask me of things to come. Concerning my
children, and concerning the work of my hands, command ye me? I have made the
earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all
their hosts have I commanded."
"Thus saith the Lord that
created the heavens, God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established
it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord, and there is
none else." Isaiah 45:11,12,18
None have a right to dictate to God. If he established the earth, and if he formed it not
in vain, but made it to be inhabited by restored, perfect men, who are we that we should
reply against God, and say that it is unjust not to change their nature and make them all
partakers of a spiritual nature either like unto the angels, or like unto his own divine
How much more becoming to come humbly to God's Word and to "Ask" concerning
things to come, than to "command" or to assert that he must carry out our ideas?
Lord, keep back thy servants from presumptuous sins: let them not have dominion over us.
None of God's children, we believe, would knowingly dictate to the Lord; yet how easily
and almost unconsciously many fall into this error.
race are Gods children by creation the work of his hands.
The human race are God's children by creation--the work of his hands--and his plan with
reference to them is clearly revealed in his Word. Paul says that the first man (who was a
sample of what the race will be when perfect) was of the earth, earthy; and his posterity,
with the exception of the Gospel Church, will in the resurrection still be earthy, human,
adapted to the earth. 1 Corinthians 15:38,44
that man was made only a little lower than the angels, and crowned with glory, honor,
dominion, etc. (Psalms 8:4-8) And Peter, our Lord, and all the prophets since the world
began, declare that the human race is to be restored to that glorious perfection, and is
again to have dominion over earth, as its representative, Adam, had. Acts 3:19-21
this portion that God has elected to give to the human race. And what a glorious portion!
to the scenes of misery and woe, degradation and
sorrow that yet prevail on account of sin, and picture before your mental vision the glory
of the perfect earth.
Not a stain of
sin mars the harmony and peace of a perfect society; not a bitter thought, not an unkind
look or word; love, welling up from every heart, meets a kindred response in every other
heart, and benevolence marks every act.
There sickness shall be no more; not an ache nor a pain, nor any evidence of decay--not
even the fear of such things.
Think of all the
pictures of comparative health and beauty of human form and feature that you have ever
seen, and know that perfect humanity will be of still surpassing loveliness.
The inward purity
and mental and moral perfection will stamp and glorify every radiant countenance.
Such will earth's
society be; and weeping bereaved ones will have their tears all wiped away, when thus they
realize the resurrection work complete. Revelation 21:4
|Man will be
and enraptured with the glory on the human plane.
As God rejoices
so will it be
And this is the change in human society only. We call to mind also that the earth, which
was "made to be inhabited" by such a race of beings, is to be a fit and pleasing
abode for them, as represented in the Edenic paradise, in which the representative man was
at first placed.
Paradise shall be restored. The earth shall no more bring forth thorns and briers, and
require the sweat of man's face to yield his bread, but "the earth shall [easily and
naturally] yield her increase."
"The desert shall blossom as the rose"; the lower animal creation will be
perfect, willing and obedient servants; nature with all its pleasing variety, will call to
man from every direction to seek and know the glory and power and love of God; and mind
and heart will rejoice in him.
The restless desire for something new, that now prevails, is not a natural but an abnormal
condition, due to our imperfection, and to our present unsatisfactory surroundings. It is
not God-like restlessly to crave something new. Most things are old to God; and he
rejoices most in those things which are old and perfect. So will it be with man when
restored to the image of God.
The perfect man will not know or appreciate fully, and hence will not prefer, the glory of
spiritual being, because of a different nature, just as fishes and birds, for the same
reason, prefer and enjoy each their own nature and element most. Man will be so absorbed
and enraptured with the glory that surrounds him on the human plane that he will have no
aspiration to, nor preference for, another nature or other conditions than those
A glance at the present experience of the Church will illustrate this. "How
hardly," with what difficulty, shall those who are rich in this world's goods enter
into the kingdom of God. The few good things possessed, even under the present reign of
evil and death, so captivate the human nature that we need special help from God to keep
our eye and purpose fixed on the spiritual promises.
plan for the
That the Christian Church, the body of Christ, is an exception to God's general plan for
mankind, is evident from the statement that its selection was determined in the divine
plan before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4,5), at which time God not only
foresaw the fall of the race into sin, but also predetermined the justification, the
sanctification and the glorification of this class, which, during the Gospel age, he has
been calling out of the world to be conformed to the image of his Son, to be partakers of
the divine nature and to be fellow-heirs with Christ Jesus of the Millennial Kingdom for
the establishment of universal righteousness and peace. Romans 8:28-31
is being selected
for a purpose.
The church class
is chosen by
an individual trial and by individually overcoming.
This shows that the election or choice of the Church was a predetermined thing on God's
part; but mark, it is not an unconditional election of the individual members of the
Church. Before the foundation of the world God determined that such a company should be
selected for such a purpose within a specific time--the Gospel age.
While we cannot
doubt that God could have foreseen the action of each individual member of the Church, and
could have foreknown just who would be worthy and therefore constitute the members of that
"little flock," yet this is not the way in which God's Word presents the
doctrine of election.
not the thought of an individual predestination which the apostles sought to inculcate,
but that a class was predetermined in God's purpose to fill the honorable position, the
selection of which would be upon conditions of severe trials of faith and obedience and
the sacrifice of earthly privileges, etc., even unto death. Thus by an individual trial,
and by individually "overcoming," the individual members of the predetermined
class are being chosen or accepted into all the blessings and benefits predetermined of
God for this class.
The word "glorified" in Romans 8:30, from the Greek doxazo, signifies
honored. The position to which the Church is elected is one of great honor. No man could
think of aspiring to so great an honor. Even our Lord Jesus was first invited before he
aspired to it, as we read:
"So also Christ glorified [doxazo--honored]
not himself to be made an High Priest, but he that said unto him, 'Thou art my Son, today
have I begotten thee.'"
heavenly Father thus honored our Lord Jesus; and all of the elect body who are to be
joint-heirs with him will be thus honored by Jehovah's favor. The Church, like its Head,
experiences a beginning of the "honor" when begotten of God to spiritual nature
through the word of truth (James 1:18), and will be fully ushered into the honor when born
of the Spirit, spiritual beings--in the image of the glorified Head.
whom God would thus honor must be perfect and pure; and since we were by inheritance
sinners, he not only called or invited us to the honor, but also provided justification
from sin through the death of his Son, to enable us to receive the honor to which he calls
In selecting the little flock, God makes a very general call--"many are called."
All are not called. The call was confined at first, during our Lord's ministry, to Israel
after the flesh; but now, as many as the servants of God meet (Luke 14:23) are to be urged
or constrained (not compelled) to come to this special feast of favor.
But even of those
who hear and come, all are not worthy. Wedding garments (the imputed righteousness of
Christ) are provided, but some will not wear them, and must be rejected; and of those who
do put on the robes of justification, and who receive the honor of being begotten to a new
nature, some fail to make their calling and election sure by faithfulness to their
worthy to appear with the Lamb in glory, it is declared, "They are called and chosen
and faithful." Revelation 14:1; 17:14
The call is true; the determination of God to select and exalt a Church is unchangeable;
but who will be of this chosen class is conditional. All who would share the predestined
honors must fulfil the conditions of the call.
"Let us therefore fear, lest,
a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of
it." Hebrews 4:1
While the great
favor is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, it is to him that willeth and
to him that runneth, when called.
Having thus, we trust, clearly vindicated God's absolute right and purpose to do what he
will with his own, we call attention to the fact that the principle which characterizes
the bestowment of all God's favors is the general good of all.
|There is no
While, then, on the authority of the Scriptures, we reckon it an established fact that the
human and spiritual natures are separate and distinct--that the blending of the two
natures is no part of God's design, but would be an imperfection, and that the change from
one nature to another is not the rule, but the exception, in the single instance of the
Christ--it becomes a matter of deep interest to learn how the change is to be
accomplished, upon what conditions it may be attained and in what manner it will be
is a reward.
"He is risen."
The conditions on which the Church may be exalted with her Lord to the divine nature (2
Peter 1:4) are precisely the same as the conditions on which he received it; even by
following in his footprints (1 Peter 2:21), presenting herself a living sacrifice, as he
did, and then faithfully carrying out that consecration vow until the sacrifice terminates
This change of nature from human to divine is given as a reward to those who, within the
Gospel age, sacrifice the human nature, as did our Lord, with all its interests, hopes and
aims, present and future--even unto death.
resurrection such will awake, not to share with the rest of mankind in the blessed
restitution to human perfection and all its accompanying blessings, but to share the
likeness and glory and joy of the Lord, as partakers with him of the divine nature. Romans
8:17; 2 Timothy 2:12
The beginning and development of the new nature is likened to the beginning and
development of human life. As in the one case there is a begetting and then a birth, so
also in the other. The saints are said to be begotten of God through the Word of truth. 1
Peter 1:3; 1 John 5:18; James 1:18 That is, they receive the first impulse in the divine
life from God through his Word.
When, having been justified freely by
faith in the ransom, they hear the call,
"Present your bodies a living
sacrifice, holy, [ransomed, justified --and therefore] acceptable unto God, which is your
and when, in obedience to that
call, they fully consecrate their justified humanity to God, a living sacrifice, side by
side with that of Jesus, it is accepted of God; and in that very act the spiritual life is
themselves at once thinking and acting as the new [transformed] mind prompts, even to the
crucifixion of the human desires. From the moment of consecration these are reckoned of
God as "new creatures."
"New Creature" development
Thus to these embryo "new creatures" old things [human desires, hopes, plans,
etc.] pass away, and all things become new. The embryo "new creature" continues
to grow and develop, as the old human nature, with its hopes, aims, desires, etc., is
crucified. These two processes progress simultaneously, from the time consecration begins
until the death of the human and the birth of the spiritual result.
As the Spirit of
God continues to unfold, through his Word, more and more of his plans, he thus quickens
even our mortal bodies (Romans 8:11), enabling these mortal bodies to render him service;
but in due time we will have new bodies spiritual, heavenly, adapted in all respects
to the new, divine mind.
The birth of the "new creature" is in the resurrection (Colossians 1:18); and
the resurrection of this class is designated the first (or choice) resurrection.
Revelation 20:6 It should be remembered that we are not actually spirit beings
until the resurrection, though from the time we receive the spirit of adoption we are
reckoned as such. Romans 8:23-25; Ephesians 1:13,14; Romans 6:10,11 When we become spirit
beings actually, that is, when we are born of the Spirit, we will no longer be fleshly
beings; for "that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."
This birth to the spiritual nature in the resurrection must be preceded by a begetting of
the Spirit at consecration, just as surely as the birth of the flesh is preceded by a
begetting of the flesh. All that are born of the flesh in the likeness of the first Adam,
the earthly, were first begotten of the flesh; and some have been begotten again, by the
Spirit of God through the word of truth, that in due time they may be born of the Spirit
into the heavenly likeness, in the first resurrection:
"As we have
borne the image of the earthly, we [the Church] shall also bear the image of the
heavenly"--unless there be a falling away. 1 Corinthians 15:49; Hebrews 6:6
minds a transforming work
|"I beseech you
by the mercies
that ye present your bodies
a living sacrifice, holy acceptable unto God,
which is your reasonable service."
Though the acceptance of the heavenly call and our consecration in obedience to it be
decided at one particular moment, the bringing of every thought into harmony with the mind
of God is a gradual work; it is a gradual bending heavenward of that which naturally bends
earthward. The Apostle terms this process a transforming work, saying,
"Be not conformed to this
world; but be ye transformed [to the heavenly nature] by the renewing of your minds,
that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Romans
be noticed that these words of the Apostle are not addressed to the unbelieving world, but
to those whom he recognizes as brethren, as shown by the preceding verse--"I beseech
you, therefore, brethren,...that ye present your bodies living sacrifices, holy and
acceptable unto God."
Altar of Sacrifice
It is commonly believed that when a man is converted or turned from sin to righteousness,
and from unbelief and opposition to God to reliance upon him, that is the transforming
which Paul meant. Truly that is a great change--a transformation, but not the
transformation that Paul here refers to. That is a transformation of character; but Paul
refers to a transformation of nature promised to believers during the Gospel age, on
certain conditions, and he was urging believers to fulfil those conditions.
Had not such a
transformation of character already taken place in those whom he addressed, he could not
have termed them brethren --brethren, too, who had something "holy and acceptable
unto God" to offer in sacrifice; for only those who are justified by faith in the
ransom are reckoned of God as holy and acceptable. Transformation of nature results to
those who, during the Gospel age, present their justified humanity a living sacrifice, as
Jesus presented his perfect humanity a sacrifice, laying down all right and claim to
future human existence, as well as ignoring present human gratification, privileges,
thing sacrificed is the human will; and thenceforth we may not be guided either by our own
or by any other human will, but only by the divine will. The divine will becomes our will,
and we reckon the human will as not ours, but as the will of another, to be ignored and
sacrificed. The divine will having become our will, we begin to think, to reason and to
judge from the divine standpoint: God's plan becomes our plan, and God's ways become our
fully understand this transformation who have not in good faith presented themselves as
sacrifices, and in consequence come to experience it. Previously we might enjoy anything
that was not actually sinful; for the world and all its good things were made for man's
enjoyment, the only difficulty being to subdue the sinful propensities.
consecrated, the transformed, in addition to the effort to subdue sin, must sacrifice the
present good things and devote all their energies to the service of God. And those
faithful in service and sacrifice will indeed realize daily that this world is not their
resting place, and that here they have no continuing city. But their hearts and hopes will
be turned to that "rest that remaineth for the people of God." And that blessed
hope in turn will quicken and inspire to continued sacrifice.
|"And be not
to this world;
but be ye transformed
by the renewing
of your mind,
that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will
of our inheritance
Thus, through consecration, the mind is renewed or transformed, and the desires, hopes and
aims begin to rise toward the spiritual and unseen things promised, while the human hopes,
etc., die. Those thus transformed, or in process of change, are reckoned "new
creatures," begotten of God, and partakers to that extent of the divine nature. Mark
well the difference between these "new creatures" and those believers and
"brethren" who are only justified.
Those of the
latter class are still of the earth, earthy, and, aside from sinful desires, their hopes,
ambitions, and aims are such as will be fully gratified in the promised restitution of all
things. But those of the former class are not of this world, even as Christ is not of this
world, and their hopes center in the things unseen, where Christ sitteth at the right hand
prospect of earthly glory, so enchanting to the natural man, would no longer be a
satisfying portion to those begotten of this heavenly hope, to those who see the glories
of the heavenly promises, and who appreciate the part assigned them in the divine plan.
This new, divine mind is the earnest of our inheritance of the complete divine
nature--mind and body.
be a little startled by this expression, a divine body; but we are told that Jesus is now
the express image of his Father's person, and that the overcomers will "be like
him and see him as he is." 1 John 3:2 "There is a natural [human] body,
and there is a spiritual body." 1 Corinthians 15:44
We could not
imagine either our divine Father or our Lord Jesus as merely great minds without bodies.
Theirs are glorious spiritual bodies, though it doth not yet appear how great is the
glory, and it shall not, until we also shall share the divine nature.
of the mind
Change of the body
While this transforming of the mind from human to spiritual is a gradual work, the change
from a human to a spiritual body will not be gradual, but instantaneous. 1 Corinthians
15:52 Now, as Paul says, we have this treasure (the divine mind) in earthen vessels, but
in due time the treasure will be in a glorious vessel appropriate to it--the spiritual
natures have a wider range of faculties
than the human.
We have seen that the human nature is a likeness of the spiritual. Genesis 5:1 For
instance, God has a will, so have men and angels; God has reason and memory, so have his
intelligent creatures--angels and men. The character of the mental operations of each is
the same. With the same data for reasoning, and under similar conditions, these different
natures are able to arrive at the same conclusions.
Though the mental
faculties of the divine, the angelic and the human natures are similar, yet we know that
the spiritual natures have powers beyond and above the human powers which result, we
think, not from different faculties, but from the wider range of the same faculties and
the different circumstances under which they operate.
nature is a perfect earthly image of the spiritual nature, having the same faculties, but
confined to the earthly sphere, and with ability and disposition to discern only so much
beyond it as God sees fit to reveal for man's benefit and happiness.
of the divine
The divine is the highest order of the spiritual nature; and how immeasurable is the
distance between God and his creatures! We are able to catch only glimpses of the glory of
the divine wisdom, power and goodness as in panoramic view he causes some of his mighty
works to pass before us. But we may measure and comprehend the glory of perfect humanity.
thoughts clearly in mind, we are able to appreciate how the change from the human to the
spiritual nature is effected, viz., by carrying the same mental powers over to higher
conditions. When clothed with the heavenly body, we shall have the heavenly powers which
belong to that glorious body; and we shall have the range of thought and scope of power
which belong to it.
The change or
transformation of mind, from earthly to heavenly, which the consecrated experience here,
is the beginning of that change of nature. It is not a change of brain, nor a miracle in
its changed operation, but it is the will and the bent of mind that are changed.
and sentiments represent our individuality; hence we are transformed, and reckoned as
actually belonging to the heavenly nature, when our wills and sentiments are thus changed.
True, this is but a very small beginning; but a begetting, as this is termed, is always
but a small beginning; yet it is the earnest or assurance of the finished work. Ephesians
|A change of
nature does not cause
a loss of identity.
Some have asked, How shall we know ourselves when changed? How shall we then know that we
are the same beings that lived and suffered and sacrificed that we might be partakers of
this glory? Will we be the same conscious beings? Most assuredly, yes. If we be dead with
Christ, we shall also live with him. Romans 6:8 Changes which daily occur to our human
bodies do not cause us to forget the past, or to lose our identity.*
*Our human bodies are constantly changing. Science declares that each seven years
witnesses a complete change in our component atoms. So the promised change from human to
spiritual bodies will not destroy either memory or identity, but will increase their power
The same divine mind that now is ours, with the same
memory, the same reasoning powers, etc., will then find its powers expanded to
immeasurable heights and depths, in harmony with its new spiritual body; and memory will
trace all our career from earliest human infancy, and we will be able, by contrast, fully
to realize the glorious reward of our sacrifice. But this could not be the case if the
human were not an image of the spiritual.
These thoughts may help us to understand also how the Son, when
changed from spiritual to human conditions--to human nature and earthly limitations--was a
man; and though it was the same being in both cases, under the first conditions he was
spiritual and under the second conditions he was human.
two natures are separate and distinct, and yet the one a likeness of the other, therefore,
the same mental faculties (memory, etc.) being common to both, Jesus could realize his
former glory which he had before becoming a man, but which he had not when he had become a
man, as his words prove--"Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory
which I had with thee before the world was" (John 17:5)--the glory of the
spiritual nature. And that prayer is more than answered in his present exaltation to the
highest form of spirit being, the divine nature.
|You who are
to which influences are you submitting?
"...Be ye transformed."
Referring again to Paul's words, we notice that he does not say, Do not conform yourselves
to this world, but transform yourselves into the divine likeness; but he says, "Be
not conformed,...but be ye transformed." This is well expressed; for we do not
either conform or transform ourselves; but we do either submit ourselves to be conformed
to the world by the worldly influences, the spirit of the world around us, or submit
ourselves to the will of God, the holy will or Spirit, to be transformed by heavenly
influences exercised through the Word of God.
You that are
consecrated, to which influences are you submitting? The transforming influences lead to
present sacrifice and suffering, but the end is glorious. If you are developing under
these transforming influences, you are proving daily what is that good and acceptable and
perfect will of God.
as have laid their all upon the altar of sacrifice continually bear in mind that, while
the Word of God contains both earthly and heavenly promises, only the latter belong to us.
Our treasure is in heaven: let our hearts continually be there. Our calling is not only to
the spiritual nature, but to the highest order of the spiritual, the divine nature
--"so much better than the angels." 2 Peter 1:4; Hebrews 1:4
This heavenly calling is confined to the Gospel age: it was never made before it, and it
will cease with its close. An earthly calling was made, though imperfectly understood,
before the heavenly calling, and we are told that it will be continued after the Gospel
age. Life [for those restored as human beings] and immortality [the prize for which the
body of Christ is running] have both been brought to light during this age. 2 Timothy 1:10
Both the human and spiritual natures will be glorious in their perfection, yet distinct
and separate. No insignificant feature of the glory of God's finished work will be the
beautiful variety, yet wonderful harmony, of all things, animate and inanimate--harmony
with each other and harmony with God.
Zion, arise, break forth in songs
Of everlasting joy;
To God eternal praise belongs,
Who doth thy foes destroy.
Thou Church of God,
For light beams from on high;
From earth and dust
Thy garments shake.
Thy glory's drawing nigh.
To raise thee high above the earth,
God will his power employ;
He'll turn thy mourning into mirth,
Thy sorrow into joy.
In shining robes thyself array,
Put on thy garments pure;
Thy King shall lead thee in the way
That's holy, safe and sure.
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