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The Signs of the Times, vol. 13

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    “The Excellency of Christ” The Signs of the Times 13, 28, p. 441.

    IN the first chapter of Hebrews the great apostle treats of Christ in his exaltation before he came to the world. In the second chapter of the same book he treats of his humiliation in this world. In the first chapter he shows a contrast between Christ and the angels, as also he does in the second; but in the first chapter he shows Christ higher than the angels, while in the second he shows him lower than the angels. Hebrews 1:4 says of him, “Being made so much better [Kreisson, superior, more excellent, of a higher nature—Greenfield] than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they;” while chapter 2:9 says, “We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels.” In the first chapter he is presented to us as equal with God; in the second he is presented to us as equal with man. Than in the first chapter of Hebrews we know of no place in all the Bible where a greater effort has been made to set forth the excellency of Christ, as he was with the Father before the world was; and than in the second chapter we know of no place in all the Bible where a greater effort has been made to set forth his excellency as he was in the nature of man in the world.SITI July 21, 1887, page 441.1

    First, it is said, “Unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honor, and didst set him over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him.” Although man was made a little lower than the angels, yet he was crowned with glory and honor, and was given dominion over all the earth and every living thing upon it. But now we see it is not so. Man has lost his dominion, his glory, and his honor. Instead of retaining his dominion free under God, he yielded himself to obey Satan and so became subject to him. Instead of retaining the dominion over the world and himself he surrendered himself a servant to Satan, a slave to sin, and a victim of death, and entailed it all upon all his. Thus it is “now we see not yet all things put under him.” And if left to himself we nevermore should see all things put under him.SITI July 21, 1887, page 441.2

    But thanks be to God, although we see not yet all things put under man, we do “see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” Thus he stepped right into the place that man occupies, took upon him man’s nature, and became subject to all the conditions of that nature and of the world in which man dwells—all the conditions except that of sin. “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.” Christ put himself in man’s place, and lived there, and acted there, without sin, that through him man might reach a place and condition where he can live and act without sin.SITI July 21, 1887, page 441.3

    Secondly, he came not simply as a man amongst men but he became subject to the temptations, the trials, and the sufferings of men, that he might be not only a man among men but a friend and brother to all the race. “For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” There is nothing that will bind hearts together as will the experience of suffering together. It is this that makes Christ and his people one. We are “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” For “it is a faithful saying, If we be dead with him, we shall also live with him; if we suffer, we shall also reign with him.” And thus “both he which sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one; for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.”SITI July 21, 1887, page 441.4

    Thirdly, nor was it only that he might be a man amongst men, and a friend and brother of all through suffering, that he came, but also that he might destroy the devil and deliver all who will be delivered from the ruin which the devil brought. “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” The devil brought death into the world and into the universe of God, and by that evil which he brought he shall be destroyed forever; and all who desire to be freed from the bondage of sin and the consequent fear of death shall be forever delivered. Death is the consequence of sin, for “the wages of sin is death.” And that it is sin that brings man into bondage and the fear of death is clear. Said Jesus to certain Jews, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant [bond-servant, Revised Version, slave, Greek] of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever; but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” And “as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” “Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” And the son abideth forever. Thus Christ delivers from the bondage of sin and the fear of death.SITI July 21, 1887, page 441.5

    Fourthly, “Verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.” Thus we see that he did not take on him the nature of the Gentile alone to the exclusion of the Jew; nor did he take on him the seed of Abraham alone to the exclusion of the Gentile; nor yet did he take on him the nature of his brethren alone, elected to be so, to the exclusion of the non-elect. He took upon him the nature of man, whether he be Jew or Gentile, bond or free; he made himself the brother of the race, and all the race may become his brethren if they will.SITI July 21, 1887, page 441.6

    “Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.”SITI July 21, 1887, page 441.7