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Nature of Man, 2

I was intending to get into Matthew Trowell’s (MT) section on the nature of man, having yesterday just provided background information, but today, and after having read the section again, I think I will provide just a bit more background.

I want to make the point clearly, that the "clean flesh" teachers of the past who were contemporary with bre. Thomas and Roberts, had no question, and made no arguments other than that they were advancing a doctrine different than that taught by bre. Thomas and Roberts. Modern "clean flesh" teachers quote them, as if to suggest that their teachings are in harmony with bre. Thomas and Roberts. But lets look at the behavior of Edward Turney.

Yesterday, I quoted from pg 17 of his booklet to say "It is quit untrue to say that sin is fixed in our flesh." In this, he is like our modern "clean flesh" teachers who teach that human nature is not sinful, or physically sin. On the previous page he had taken bro. Thomas to task on this very point.



The Sacrifice of Christ, by Edward Turney pg 16 "Brethren, I shall not be out of place in making this observation that our esteemed Bro. the chairman [Dr. S. G. Hayes] has told me since we have studied this matter together, that for 15 years he had not been able to understand what Dr; Thomas meant by "sin in the flesh." That fixation of sin in the flesh he speaks of in ‘Elpis Israel’ Page 126, that otherwise admirable work, and to which we are all so much indebted, directly or indirectly; and I confess to you without reserve, neither have I been able to understand it.

"But still I have many a time taught it. I have taken the 15th article of the book of common prayer and pulled it to pieces and said that Christ came in flesh full of sin; for said I to the people what can ‘sinful flesh mean,’ but flesh full of sin?

"Well now, since my mind has been more especially directed to the study of this subject, I have arrived at this conviction that there is no such thing as flesh full of sin, and never was, nor can be. I am perfectly aware that this emphatic statement will suggest to you some verse of Paul’s which you imagine will disprove my assertion; but you know, brethren, that when we are arguing with orthodox believers, and tell them there is no such thing as an ‘immortal soul’ they think the Bible glistens with it on almost every page: But on searching they cannot find it at all, so it is with this ‘sinful flesh.’"


Here Edward Turney is renouncing what he knew Dr. Hayes had believed for 15 years, and what he had taught for 15 years. He says in renouncing this, that he knew that his audience (about twenty members of the Birmingham ecclesia) would think of verses which disproved his claim.

His claim is simple enough. He claims there is no physical element in the flesh which makes it sinful. And he knew, in so saying, that he was going directly against the writings of bro. Thomas, the current teaching of bro. Roberts, and the beliefs of those he was addressing. And in saying this, he is in complete agreement with the modern "clean flesh," who, like him, acknowledge the propensities to sin which are in the flesh, but deny that they are sinful.

Having renounced the things he had previously believed and taught, Edward Turney was not yet done with bro. Thomas. He goes on to again make the point that bro. Thomas taught that sinful flesh was physical, and he Edward Turney denied it. Now, remember my point. My point is that those men contemporary with each other, had no question that bre. Thomas and Roberts taught that sinful flesh was physical and sin.



The sacrifice of Christ by Edward Turney pg. 21-22 "I am sorry, however, that some confusion arises by finding statements from the Drs. pen on the other side.

"The nature in Eden had no sin inhering in it. It was corruptible, and relatively imperfect as compared with angelic nature. There was no sin in the ‘nature’ after it had transgressed. No, what was there then? There was mortality. What does that mean? Death. "Of man’s disobedience and the fruit of the forbidden tree, whose ‘mortal’ taste brought death into our world, and all our woes, with loss of Eden till one greater man restored us and regain the blissful seat, sing heavenly muse."

There was mortality. There was man destined to die; but sin was not a fixed principle in the man’s flesh. However inasmuch as I have said that Dr. Thomas has taught this, I cannot do better than refer you to the place. Elpis Israel Page 113, 3 rd Para.

"The word ‘sin’ is used in two principle acceptations in scripture. It signifies in the first place. "The transgression of law." 1 John 3–4. Yes, brethren, and let me tell you that unless you use it in a ‘metonymic’ way it signifies nothing else, unless you use it to signify the propensities. But mark what the Dr. further says:–‘And in the next it represents that physical principle in the animal nature which is the cause of all its disease, death, and resolution into dust.’

"It is that in the flesh which has the power of death, and it is called ‘sin.’ Because the development, or fixation of this evil in the flesh was the result of transgression."

There is the fixation of ‘sin’ in the flesh. The Dr. pushes this matter beyond man; but he gives no proof, and when I have spoken in support of this theory I have given no proof. I have merely asserted it, and it was not until I came to look for proof that I found there was absolutely none."


Having made the case that bro. Thomas taught the fixation of sin in the flesh, and having condemned him for it, he turns now to bro. Roberts. Where does he go? He wants to show bro. Roberts an unstable and double minded man, so he goes to the same place modern "clean flesh" teachers go, the 1869 article by bro. Roberts called "The relation of Jesus to the law of sin and death." Only Edward Turney is perhaps a bit more observant than the moderns, for he recognizes that the way he understands the article, it contradicts itself. Lets go back to Edward Turney’s complaints:



The Sacrifice of Christ by Edward Turney pg. 22 "And now brethren , be kind enough to give me you special attention. I have shown ou that Dr. Thomas affirms positively and clearly the existence of sin in the flesh as a fixed principle, the Bro. from whom for the time being I am unhappily at discord upon this matter, affirms the ‘direct’ contrary. Here are his own words, Page 58 left Col.:--

"‘The phrase sin in the flesh is metonymical. S. Lamb [Slain Lamb] P19.(Pardon me for explaining the term ‘meta’ means to change ‘nomen’ a name. It is that figure of speech which puts one thing for another, and may be exemplified by the very familiar illustration, ‘the kettle boils,’ when we mean the water in the kettle). The editor proceeds ‘Sin in the flesh is metonymical, it is not the expression of a literal element or principle pervading physical organization. (Is not that plain enough). Literally, sin is disobedience or an act of rebellion. The impulses that lead to this reside in the flesh and therefore came to the called by the name of the act to which they gave birth. In defining first principles we must be accurate in our conceptions.’

"I respond to that most heartedly. I wish I had been more accurate in my own ten years ago. The writer proceeds:–‘The impulses which leads to sin existed in Adam before transgression as much as they did afterwards: else disobedience would not have occurred.’ Further down in a compete sentence ‘There is no such thing as essential evil or sin.’

"Now, I think that perfectly clear, and I rejoice to be able to agree with Mr. Roberts, at least when he penned those lines, that there is no sin in the flesh."


Edward Turney then goes on to say "I next call your attention to another part of the article [the 1869 article] where the flesh is said to be sinful." He then goes on to list several areas which contradict the meaning he placed on the section he quoted. I won’t list them all, but only deal with one.



The Sacrifice of Christ by Edward Turney, pg 25 "Now let us take the next statement in hand. The mere fact that Jesus was a man is alone a sufficient foundation for the assertion that He was under sentence of death. Nothing is easier than to demonstrate the incorrectness of this statement. Look at Adam, was he a man before he sinned? Of course he was. Was he under the sentence of death before he sinned? Of course he was not. It is therefore false to teach that because Jesus was ‘a man’ He was under sentence of death. Before this can be taught we should first have to prove that Jesus was a sinner. But that is nowhere found in scripture, on the contrary there are the plainest Statements possible to show that Jesus was not a sinner. What saith John: And know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him is no sin. 1 John 3–5.

"Now if there were no sin in Him, then He could not be under the sentence of death; for death can only come by sin, as it is written, ‘by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin.’ Mr. Roberts expressly affirmed in divers parts of the word that Jesus was under the Adamic sentence of death.’ I should very much like to see ‘one of these express affirmations. Where are they? Well, Mr. Roberts points us to 2 Cor. 5:21.

"It is testified that Jesus was made sin for us. How does Mr. Roberts explain this verse? Please pay attention:–‘As Jesus was not of sinful character, this could only apply to His physical nature, which drawn from the Veins of Mary, was made sin.’

"You have not forgotten, brethren, that in this very article Mr. Roberts has told us distinctly there is no such thing, as sin pervading our physical organization, that there is no such thing as essential evil or sin, that sin is an act of disobedience; and the physical nature of Adam was not changed by transgression, now he tells us that sin ran in the blood of Mary, and from her, in this way was Jesus made sin. There could not be a more palpable condition than this; a gross stultification of himself and therefore a complete proof that he does not understand the subject. His is quite ignorant as to the manner in which Jesus, who knew no sin was made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him."


From these quotations, we can see that bre. Thomas and Roberts opponents had no question as to whether or not they taught that there was a physical quality called sin in the flesh in all men, including Jesus. They were confused, like modern ‘clean flesh" folks, (MT included) are confused by certain statements they made, which they perceived contradicted their general and consistent teachings. It is arguable that older men like Edward Turney had more of an excuse than moderns for that confusion, as the articles in question have been explained, and qualified by bro. Roberts. But as for the general teaching of bre. Roberts and Thomas, they had no doubt whatsoever what they taught. And they knew that they taught a doctrine opposed to their notion that there was nothing physically called sin in Jesus.



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Nature of Man

We now begin to look at what Matthew Trowell (MT) has written as regards the nature of man. He begins by considering man in his novitiate, or his nature prior to the fall. Man was created "very good," and MT agrees with this. He comes to consider the relationship of death to the "very good" state, and he quotes from bro. Thomas:

"While in the state of good unmixed with evil, were Adam and Eve mortal or immortal? This is a question which presents itself to many who study the Mosaic account of the origin of things. It is an interesting question, and worthy of all attention. Some hastily reply, they were mortal; that is, if they had not sinned they would nevertheless have died. It is probable they would, after a long time, if no further change had been operated upon their nature."

This is all correct as far as it goes, and MT does make the necessary step to show that God did not create Adam, only to abandon him. But MT doesn’t come back to what the condition means, for those whom God was not to abandon. He therefore leaves us with the impression that in the "very good" state, Adam might well have died.

When bro. Thomas says that it is ‘probable" that Adam would die if no further change occurred, he means that if it had been God’s intent to abandon creation, and not to bring about a plan whereby his righteousness and justness was manifested through a multitude of beleivers; then yes, the earthy body would probably have returned to the earth.

A large part of the problem Christadelphians have had in dealing with the atonement, deals with the chemical qualities or reactions we assume to exist. The Bible is very clear that sin is necessary to bring death. Rom 5:12 "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin;". This is a true statement according to the plan and purpose of God. But it is not a chemical reaction whereby if a man sins, he must die, or even must begin dying. Death happens to the sinner because God wills it, and for no other reason. It doesn’t happen because of some random universal law of nature. It happens because it is the plan and purpose of God that it should be so. It is a part of His plan that His righteousness and justness should be exhibited.

So had God abandoned His plan, Adam may have died. But according to the plan and purpose of God in creation, man, in the "very good" state, could not die. Because, God would not permit it. Such an action would have confused the exhibition of His righteousness. As bro. Thomas clarified concerning the man in the garden in "Anastasis," man in his novitiate was only going to die, if God determined that they must die, due to sin. Comparing our resurrected body to Adam’s in his novitiate, bro. Thomas wrote:

"We are then as Adam was when he came from the Creator's hand. The life is organic and terminable; and liable to disturbance from any cause operating judicially."

This is the key. According to the plan and purpose of God, Adam would not have died in the Garden, apart from judicial action on the part of God. According to the plan and purpose of God, he couldn’t. "The wages of sin is death." This is God’s law! How then, could God be just, in requiring or even just allowing the death of a sinless one?

It is for this reason that bro. Roberts wrote in "The Visible Hand of God" that Adam would not have died, in the Garden, apart from sin. Bro. Roberts wrote:

The Visible Hand of God, pg. 45  "It is impossible to get any light on this question from geology or any other natural source. Speculation on the subject on scientific premises is only pretentious maundering. There is a short and satisfactory way to the root of the matter. As on many other subjects, so in this, the resurrection of Christ is the key of the whole position. If Christ rose from the dead, Paul, his specially selected apostle, is an inspired declarer of truth. Consequently, his dogmatic assertion that, "by one man (Adam) sin entered into the (human) world and death by sin" is a settlement of the question. Paul's dogmatic assertion does not stand alone. It is founded on and endorses the Mosaic account, which is itself commended to our confidence as divine on separate and independent grounds. However unfashionable it may have become, therefore, and however unscientific and far behind it may seem, the man stands on logically unassailable ground who holds that death did not come into the world with Adam, but by him after he came ; that at first, he was free from the action of death in his organisation ; that though not absolutely immortal in the sense of being indestructible in nature, he was in that state with respect to the working and tendency of his organisation, that death did not wait him in the natural path, but had to be introduced as a law of his being before he could become mortal. His was an animal nature that would not die left to itself—a natural body free from death. The difference between this state and the immortality to which we are invited in Christ, and which Adam would have attained in the event of final obedience, will be discerned in the fact that the latter immortality is the immortality of a spiritual body; the immortality of a higher nature; a body with higher gifts, powers, and relations. An elephant lives a hundred years, and man sometimes lives a hundred years, but the human century is the century of a higher life, higher capacity, higher intelligence, higher enjoyment than the elephantine century; but they are both a century. Extend the century indefinitely; let the elephant live on and the man live on—for ever; then we should have the difference illustrated between the deathlessness of Adam the living soul or natural body, and the immortality he would have attained by change into the likeness of the divine nature.

Bro. Roberts and Thomas do not disagree. Death had to be introduced into the body in Eden. Not technically perhaps, but practically, according to the plan and purpose of God. And death came by sin. Bro. Roberts points out in the above that death was not in the natural path of Adam, but became a law in him, in consequence of his disobedience. This law is styled sin, and it is the reason why all must die.

The concept of death apart from sin, is a foreign idea to the Scriptures. It’s a concept foreign to all Christadelphians, except the modern ‘clean flesh" folks. Their progenitor, Edward Turney, even rejected their teaching. He wrote, as we saw yesterday: "Now if there were no sin in Him, then He could not be under the sentence of death; for death can only come by sin, as it is written, ‘by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin.’"

Edward Turney knew the Scripture’s testimony concerning sin and death, which is why he imagined the race born guilty of Adam’s sin and under the sentence of death, and why he had Christ born outside the race, with free life. But modern "clean flesh" folks are not bothered by this inconsistency, and they simply deny that sin must be present for death to occur, thus challenging the most fundamental principle of the exhibition of God’s righteousness, and establish the impossible condition of death apart from sin.

Now, we see further, this disconnect between sin and death in MT’s exposition concerning the tree of life. Like most "clean flesh" folks, MT has Adam eating of the tree of life continually, thereby sustaining his life, a contradiction to the teaching of both bre. Thomas and Roberts.



"To help develop Adam and Eve’s characters further, Genesis describes two very special trees which were placed in the middle of this garden: "the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil" (Genesis 2:9).

"These trees were not magical trees. They did not have any strange supernatural powers. Rather, they were symbolic trees, representing what Adam and Eve were being offered.

"The first had the ability to lengthen life indefinitely, called the "Tree of Life". Man by himself could not live forever. The Tree of Life, however, offered the eater the possibility of a life which would go on forever."


MT argues that man could not live forever, and therefore needed to be sustained by a constant recourse to the Tree of Life. Bro. Roberts writes about some theories of his day which required Adam to eat daily from the tree. The point the "clean flesh" folks are making is that sin doesn’t bring death. Death, to them, is the natural state of the man. If they didn’t eat of this one specific tree, they would die. Hence men can die without sin. Never mind that "the wages of sin is death."

But what is meant by "these are not magical trees?" Among the definitions of magic from Merriam-Webster: "an extraordinary power or influence seemingly from a supernatural source." That makes them seem pretty magical to me, though supernatural may be a better word when describing the actions taken by God. A tree, the eating from which brings knowledge of good and evil like the angels, and a tree that imparts life, even as MT suggests as indefinite life, let alone the immortal life suggested by bre. Thomas and Roberts; strikes me as supernatural. So I wonder why MT makes this point?


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Nature of Man –11

Matthew Towell (MT) now takes us to the transgression in the garden. It is sort of a backwards discussion. We begin with the temptation by the Serpent, and then move into the character of the man, which allowed for the temptation.

MT never gives what we might call, the basic condition of the man. That is, the basic characteristics of the man in his novitiate. They are referenced in his quote from bro. Thomas concerning the temptation of Eve, but not individually explained. So, just to go over it: Man’s character is defined by three inherent characteristics. The are simply stated:



I. First his propensities, which we might call his basic instincts, those things necessary for the continuing of the specie.

II. Second his intellect, that force by which are the propensities are channeled for the gratification of its senses.

III. Third his sentiments, which allow him to control his intellect for a higher purpose.


All of these characteristics were in the man at his creation. Bro. Thomas called these characteristics as created in Adam, "blind" meaning that of themselves none of them had any moral direction at all. Morality had to be established by God, which was done through the third characteristic, his sentiments, after creation.

When God gave Adam a law, obviously prior to the transgression, the sentiments of the man were then no longer blind, but were able to guide all his actions in the way of God. The propensities and intellect of the man were as blind after the receiving of the law as they had been before, but now they were governed and restrained by Divine precept through the man’s own sentiment.

The serpent was created in a similar way, having propensities and intellect, but it never had sentiment. It was never able to attach a higher, moral perspective to anything it observed. MT tells us the serpent was a "scientist." By this I take it, he means the serpent was only able to observe his creation, and reach conclusions based on his limited, sentiment-less experience.

Thus, MT agrees with the foundation Christadelphian position that the serpent was itself "very good" and, while not intending to lie, nevertheless did lie, not being able to grasp the moral requirement which had been placed on Adam and Eve in the garden.

We now come to the nature of the transgression itself. We are first told that the propensities or desires (which should have said propensities and desires) are not wrong of themselves. This is true. As bro. Roberts points out in the 1869 article he is about to quote, these things are "legitimate enough." They are necessary for the survival of the specie. But they are intended to be guided by the sentiment in such a way so as to bring forth the "thinking of the spirit." But is it correct to say that Eve, using her desires, or intellect to consider the serpent’s argument was not wrong? MT says:

In Genesis 2:9 we learn that there was nothing wrong with desiring something that is "pleasant to the eyes", or "good for food", or to even aspire to be "wise" like the angels and live forever (Genesis 3:6)! Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that God "has put eternity in our hearts" (NKJV). It was part of God’s purpose that man would live ‘for ever’. Adam and Eve had been created with these propensities or desires from the beginning. These desires were not sinful in and of themselves.

When Eve was facing temptation, she already had been given instruction by God, to create a divinely guided sentiment. She was no longer a creature like the serpent, functioning blindly with respect to divine principle and guided only by intellect. Not controlling the intellect or desires, allowing her native intellect to consider a thought in direct contrast to the divine teaching is what brought forth lust.

When we contrast Eve’s temptation with Christ’s, we see this great contrast. The serpent gave Eve a suggestion. She dwelt on it. When the devil gave Jesus a suggestion, he rejected it outright reciting God’s word. Jesus used his learned sentiment to control his intellect. Eve did not.

That actually maybe what MT is intending to say. There was nothing wrong in general in using intellect for life’s decision. But it was wrong to use the intellect in considering the serpent’s reasoning. That wrong led to lust, and lust to sin, and sin to death.

When Eve was tempted, she set aside the divine influence on her sentiment, and accepted the serpent’s (world’s) influence to create a different sentiment, which she found to be akin to the lust of her own native intellect. As bro. Thomas says in Eureka, and as MT quotes,

"He listened to the sophistry of flesh, reasoning under the inspiration of its own instincts. He gave heed to this, "the thinking of the flesh," or carnal mind, which "is enmity against God, is not subject to his law, neither indeed can be." The desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, and the pride of life, which pertain essentially to all living human, or ground, souls, were stirred up by what he saw and heard; and "he was drawn away of his, lust, and enticed." His lust having conceived, it brought forth sin in intention; and this being perfected in action, caused death to ensue—James 1:13." (Eureka Vol 1, pg. 248 Brown)

It is as this point, that MT wishes to make clear that the propensities, while called sinful, are not sin. That point is true enough, but what is called sin?  Here is the departure from foundation Christadelphian thought. Note that right here, where bro. Thomas would introduce us to the two acceptations of the word sin, that there is no such discussion. Instead, what we have is a reference to an article bro. Roberts wrote when he was 29, where he used a term "sin, literally is disobedience" which he never used again over the next 30 years of countless discussions.

*Actually, I have found one other place that it is used, again in battling the idea of moral or legal guilt being the sin which is inherited.  I'm still looking.

We shall continue this discussion tomorrow, Lord willing.


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12–Nature of Man

Coming now to the change in nature, as we said yesterday, this section is more remarkable for what is not stated, than for what is. For instance, if we were to this point in Elpis Israel, where we were discussing the change in man, we would be discussing how man was made sin through the change resulting in death. We would be seeing something like this:

"The word sin is used in two principal acceptations in the scripture. It signifies in the first place, ‘the transgression of the law’"; and in the next, it represents that physical principle of the animal nature, which is the cause of all its diseases, death, and resolution into dust. It is that in the flesh "which has the power of death"; and it is called sin, because the development, or fixation, of this evil in the flesh, was the result of transgression."

But of course the "clean flesh" folks don’t believe this, which is why we don’t’ find words or comments to that effect, here. Sin to them is only moral. There is to them, no such thing as "sin" referring to a physical law in our being. We saw earlier how MT tries to isolate death from sin. They recognize that sin brings death, but they want to carefully isolate sin from death. Here MT brings in a quote from bro. Roberts:

Literally, sin is disobedience, or the act of rebellion. The impulses that lead to this, reside in the flesh, and therefore come to be called by the name of the act to which they give birth. In determining first principles, we must be accurate in our conceptions. The impulses that lead to sin existed in Adam before disobedience, as much as they did afterwards; else disobedience would not have occurred. These impulses are in their own place legitimate enough… The difficulty is to keep the impulses in the legitimate channel.

Now, the reason some "clean flesh" folks quote this (and frankly, I don’t find very many who still quote this for reasons that shall become apparent) is to give the impression that if sin literally, is transgression, then sin by metonymy, or sin as it is applied to the nature must mean sin "figuratively." Bro. Roberts doesn’t say that here, and in fact, never says it at any time in his life. But that is the impression which is desired to be left.

But before going too far into this article, I wish to point out another of the wrong conclusions MT develops, as it is directly involved in this 1869 article. In speaking of the change that occurs as the result of the transgression in Eden,

Understanding the Atonement by Matthew Trowell, pg 35  "When Adam and Eve sinned, not only did they change physiologically, but they changed mentally and emotionally. Physiologically they were now different. They were mortal, dying creatures. But mentally and emotionally they were different as well."

There is no evidence whatsoever of any physiological change. There was a huge change in the mental and emotional condition of Adam and Eve, but there were no changes to the body. There was a change in the way God viewed the body. Before the transgression, they were a body of life, protected in life by God as His great principle in exhibiting His righteousness is that the wages of sin is death. Adam and Eve, while having a body that could die, were not going to die so long as they remained sinless. But after they sinned, God viewed the body of the creation as a body of death. His protection was removed, and the body which was created capable of dying, simply was allowed to die, showing that death is the just and proper reward of sin.

This is what I meant earlier, when I said that so many Christadelphians, especially those who reject the foundation Christadelphian positions, look at the fall as if it were a chemical reaction. In their minds, sin evoked some sort of physiological change, adding some death condition to the body.

The 1869 article that MT quotes, was written to directly attack this idea of a physiological change, albeit, a change more significant than the one MT is arguing for. The quote above that MT uses, ignores the first half of the paragraph, for the very paragraph shows a different explanation, than the one MT suggests. That paragraph begins:

Ambassador 1869, pg 85 "But there is a misapprehension lurking under the proposition which we are combatting. Our friend imagines there was a change in the nature of Adam when he became disobedient. There is no evidence of this whatever, and the presumption and evidence are entirely the contrary way. There was a change in Adam’s relation to his maker, but not in the nature of his organization. What are the facts? He was formed from the dust a "living soul," or natural body. His mental constitution gave him moral relation to God. He was given a law to observe: the law he disobeyed, and sentence was passed that he (the disobedient living soul) should return to mother earth. What was the difference between his position before disobedience and his position after? Simply this; that in the one case he was a living soul or natural body in probation for immortality; and in the other, he was a living soul or natural body under sentence of death. He was a living soul or natural body in both cases..." 

Bro. Roberts’ views are identical to those expressed by bro. Thomas in Eureka:



Eureka Vol 1 pg 248 (Brown) "Seeing that man had become a transgressor of the divine law, there was no need of a miracle for the infliction of death. All that was necessary was to prevent him from eating of the Tree of Lives, and to leave his flesh and blood nature to the operation of the laws peculiar to it. It was not a nature formed for interminable existence. It was ‘very good’ so long as in healthy being, but immortality and incorruptibility were no part of its goodness. These are attributes of a higher and different kind of body. The animal, or natural body, may be transformed into a deathless and incorruptible body, but without that transformation, it must of necessity perish.

"This perishing body is ‘sin,’ and left to perish because of ‘sin.’ Sin, in it application to the body, stands for all its constituents and laws. The power of death is in its very constitution, so that the law of its nature is styled ‘the law of Sin and Death.’ In the combination of the elements of the law, the power of death resides, so that ‘to destroy that having the power of death,’ is to abolish this physical law of sin and death, and instead thereof, to substitute the physical ‘law of the spirit of life,’ by which the same body would be changed in its constitution, and live for ever.


So bre. Roberts and Thomas agrees. The implantation of death in the body, is simply God allowing the natural body of creation to die, because of sin. Death came by sin, not chemically, not mechanically; but because God willed it.

Bro. Roberts tells us at a later point (Oct. 1876) concerning this, that the point he was arguing against in that article was a point very close to the orthodox ideas. This would be the orthodox idea of "original sin." Bro. Roberts writes to correspondent who was advancing some "clean flesh" concepts:

Christadelphian 1876, pg. 618 "...You object to the proposition that our hereditary mortality is a physical law of decay in our nature tending to sin. In defence, you refer to what we wrote in 1869. If you read what we then wrote in its entirety, you will find that we recognised then, as we do now and always have done, that our condemnation is a thing "running in the blood." The "change" against which the remark you quote was directed was a completer change than you associate with the term. It was a change of nature such as orthodoxy understands that I supposed the correspondent in question to have before his mind..."

So bro. Roberts tells his corespondent, the change he was arguing against was not the change in our relationship before God, but the change argued for by orthodox Christians. Well, what is the idea of orthodoxy for the change in nature? We read from an online Christian Apologetics:

"Original sin is known in two senses: the Fall of Adam as the ‘original’ sin and the hereditary fallen nature and moral corruption that is passed down from Adam to his descendants."

Wickepedia says this about the concept of "Original Sin."

"Original sin, also called ancestral sin, is the Christian doctrine of humanity's state of sin resulting from the fall of man, stemming from Adam's rebellion in Eden. This condition has been characterized in many ways, ranging from something as insignificant as a slight deficiency, or a tendency toward sin yet without collective guilt, referred to as a ‘sin nature’, to something as drastic as total depravity or automatic guilt of all humans through collective guilt."

As obvious from the above definitions, Orthodoxy’s concepts of the fall invariably include the passing on of moral guilt to Adam’s descendants. This is the change due to sin bro. Roberts was objecting to. Bro. Roberts says that the change he is arguing against in that article, is a "completer change" than the "proposition that our hereditary mortality is a physical law of decay in our nature tending to sin," or in the blood, as he calls in in the 1869 article.

Now, the term "literally, sin is transgression" does not occur as the opening line of a paragraph, as MT represents it. It occurs in the first quote we gave by bro. Roberts, right where we quit quoting. And so it is easy to see that the term "literally sin is transgression" was meant in opposition to some specific idea bro. Roberts was arguing about. It was meant to oppose the idea that the moral guilt was the "sin" passed on to Adam’s descendants.

Bro. Roberts makes some interesting remarks about his 1869 article. He defends it, suggesting it is the most complete thing he ever wrote on the subject. But he acknowledges that because of the way it is worded, those opposed to his fundamental teaching, and those who have embraced "clean flesh" take a few phrases out of the article to oppose his fundamental and basic teachings on the nature of man. He writes:

Christadelphian 1876, pg. 618 "...My words in opposing this view have been laid hold of to destroy the fact which I contend for in the very same article, viz., that though still "a living soul." Adam condemned was a living soul with condemnation in his nature. Considering the diligence with which our words have been wrested, we are not surprised that you should have been beguiled into this mistake. Nevertheless, your sympathy with this mistake shows there is foundation for the action of those who suspect you of Renunciationism."

And again:

Christadelphian 1877 pg 471-472  "The article in the Christadelphian for March 1869, continues to represent our convictions on the subject of which it treats, viz., the relation of Jesus to the condemnation which we all inherit from Adam. On some details, however, of that general subject, we should, if we were writing it again, express ourselves more explicitly, in view of the searching controversy which has arisen on the subject of sin in the flesh. We should guard ourselves against forms of expression which seem to favour the false ideas that have come to be advocated. In asserting, for instance, that there was no change in the nature of Adam in the crisis of his condemnation, we should add, that though his nature continued of the order expressed in the phrase "living soul," a change occurred in the condition of that nature through the implantation of death, as recognised in the article in question on page 83, col. 2, line 15, in the statement that death ran in the blood of Mary. And on the subject of sin in the flesh, while retaining the declarations on page 83, as regards the operation of our moral powers, we should add that the effect of the curse was as defiling to Adam’s nature as it was to the ground which thenceforth brought forth briars and thorns: and that therefore, after transgression, there was a bias in the wrong direction, which he had not to contend with before transgression. Our mind has not changed on the general subject, but some of itsdetails have been more clearly forced on our recognition by the movements and arguments of heresy."

So as we say, the section by MT is more remarkable for what it doesn’t say, than what it does. It doesn’t take the position of the early "clean flesh" teachers, to attach some sort of inherited moral defilement to the descendants of Adam, due to the transgression in Eden, which is good; but it also doesn’t tell us how the body was physically made sin, (2 Cor. 5:21) that sin might ultimately be condemned in the flesh (Rom. 8:3). He tells us that the man became mortal. Good! But he seems to want to separate sin from death. I would guess that this is due to a belief that sin is only moral, and death is physical. At some point, perhaps, he will tell us how or why mortality can be separated from sin.

Now, following his discussion on the change of the body, he goes on to describe the change of the mind. We shall look at that tomorrow, Lord willing.


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13– Nature of Man

We now come to the effects of transgression on the sentiments of man. Modern "clean flesh" teachers usually do a pretty good job of describing the effects of the transgression in the man. Matthew Trowell (MT) is no different. It would be probably fair to say he is better than most. This in some ways, makes his writing more incredulous than most. The question we ask the moderns when they tell us of their beliefs pertaining to man’s nature, which is usually quite good and accurate; is how do you see these things, but then deny they are sin?

This is the key. Their predecessor, Edward Turney, saw the depravity of man, and said it had to be sin, in the form of moral guilt. Anyone having human nature as described in the Bible, can be not reasonably considered in any other way than having sin. Edward Turney, and frankly most of the Christian world see this as moral defilement. Those with the foundation Christadelphian position see it as physical defilement. But either way, one would think that the fact that it is called sin, and therefore somehow sin, is clear and obvious. That is why Edward Turney had Jesus born outside of the effects of transgression. But modern "clean flesh" folks seem to have no problem looking at the qualities of man’s nature which are only evil, and then creating a barrier between the effects and cause of sin, and sin itself. No barrier exists. One is root, the other fruit; but it is all the same tree.

Now, MT gives us the consequences of Adam and Eve sinnng. As he lists them, they are the consequences of the sin, and the sentence for the sin. Most of his "vocabulary of sin" comes from the sentence, rather than the sin itself. He writes:

The first change or consequence of Adam and Eve sinning was that it brought distance between God and Man, "The LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?" (Genesis 3:9). Disobedience, or the act of sinning, brought about distance between God and man, not only literally as Adam and Eve hid in the bushes, but figuratively as well. Isaiah says: "your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you" (Isaiah 59:2). They were "convicted by their own conscience".l No longer would they be able to enjoy fellowship with God as they had enjoyed it before.

The first change was that it brought Adam and Eve the knowledge of good and evil, and they had to recognize that they were now evil. This recognition gave them the second change, which made them understand their nakedness, and they covered themselves. This shows that the man’s sentiments changed upon gaining a knowledge of good and evil.

Heretofore, the sentiments which started out as blind as the propensities and intellect, had been shaped only by God. The man’s ability to use his life for a higher purpose, or his sentiments, were being carefully guided by God. The higher purpose, of course, was the manifestation of God as righteous and just. But the eating of the tree changed the sentiments. Instead of the training man was receiving shaping his sentiments, now the sentiments were given wholly over to the desires of the man, called his intellect; and the shaping of his higher purpose was entirely the work of his own desires.

The third change caused the man to recognize the new relation between himself and Deity. MT calls it "distance." It is far more than distance. It is a barrier, impossible for man to bridge. MT says this separation is literal and figurative. I don’t get the figurative aspect in his argument at all. He quotes Isaiah: "your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you." That was not figurative. It was quite literal.

The only reason I can see to introduce a thought about the "figurative" here, is that the "figurative" aspect is quite important to modern "clean flesh" thought. They must term the clear statements about Christ’s relationship to sin, away from the physical nature as taught by the foundation Christadelphian position, to an altogether figurative relationship.

But what complicates their teaching, is that they can’t (or at least in the not too distant past couldn’t) come right out and say that "sin in the flesh" or "sin nature" is a figurative expression. This would have been rejected by too many in their assemblies. So they hid their meaning behind the word "metonymy," which I’m sure we’ll spend a lot of time on eventually. But while they couldn’t come right out and describe Christ’s relationship to sin a figurative, they could raise the issue elsewhere, and hope that the reader made the connection they intended.

MT says that Adam and Eve were convicted by their own "conscience." This is of course true. The knowledge of good and evil made them understand that they were now evil. This is a part of the change in our natures as a result of eating of the tree.

"Clean flesh" folks, from the very beginning, want to separate our nature from our conscience. When we have been describing these things, we speak of propensities, intellect, and sentiments, along with our body. Not recognizing that they are not four different entities, but rather four aspects of the same entity, leads to confusion among Christadelphians, and in the Christian world, uit leads to their concept of a soul. Bro. Roberts wrote of the first "clean flesh" fellow in his work "The Slaim Lamb":

"...I will quote from the notes I made. ‘There is nothing evil in the flesh.’ ‘Sin is not in the flesh, but sin is in the character.’ ‘Sinful applies to the character and not to the flesh.’ ‘We have sin in our character but not in our flesh.’ ‘Sinful is not the proper word to qualify flesh, but qualifies character.’ ‘So ignorant was I on this subject,’ he says, ‘that I expected so and so.’ Very well! Now what is character, brothers? Is it not the manifestation of the qualities of the flesh? I could understand an immortal-soulist talking like this; but how you can understand a man talking in this way who recognises that the flesh thinks, and that character is but the outward manifestations of that thinking flesh, is difficult to say. It is a marvellous piece of new-born wisdom to say that ‘sinful’ applies to the character but not to the substance that produces the character.

You could substitute "conscience" for character, and see the same point between the earlier "clean flesh" folks, and the modern. There is no difference between the conscience or character of the man, and the thinking of the flesh. This is obscured in MT’s presentation, as he always calls it the thinking of the mind, rather than the thinking of the flesh.

MT writes:

The ‘carnal mind’ is the thinking of the mind, which produces thoughts and actions that are at enmity, or in opposition to, the will of God when the Word of God is missing. Paul says, "The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God" (Romans 8:8). He further explains what the result of the carnal mind or carnal thinking is upon our conduct: "Whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal" (1 Corinthians 3:3). Again, "The works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like" (Galatians 5:19-21).

This artificial division is seen in the Cooper-Carter Addendum, a document which allowed "clean flesh" teachers from Australia to join the Central assemblies in 1957. There were those from the "clean flesh" groups who objected to clause 5 of the BASF, obviously not believing that the flesh was defiled, or sinful. Clause five was clear enough.

V. That Adam broke this law, and was adjudged unworthy of immortality, and sentenced to return to the ground from whence he was taken--a sentence which defiled and became a physical law of his being, and was transmitted to all his posterity.

When Adam sinned, he was sentenced to death, a sentence which defiled, and became a physical law in his body. This is the foundation Christadelphian position, that the body is defiled, physically, on account of sin. To compromise with the "clean flesh" teachers, a wording was set forward which nullified this, acknowledging the "clean flesh’ teachers distinctions between mind and body.

"We believe that Adam was made of the earth and declared to be very good; because of disobedience to God's law he was sentenced to return to the dust. He fell from his very good state and suffered the consequences of sin--shame, a defiled conscience and mortality. As his descendants, we partake of that mortality that came by sin and inherit a nature prone to sin. By our actions we become sinners and stand in need of forgiveness of sins before we can be acceptable to God."

Note that it is not the body which is defiled, according to Australia’s "clean flesh" teachers, but the conscience. To those of us with the foundation Christadelphian position, who recognize it is the flesh or body which thinks, or has a conscience; we ask, what is the difference? But to them, the difference is that the body is physical, and they don’t recognize a physical defilement. To them, the defilement of the conscience is moral. To them, the defilement of the conscience is the "actions" by which "we become sinners." But the foundation Christadelphian position was by birth, we were constituted sinners, that is, born into a race, defiled due to sin.


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14 --Nature of Christ

We come to the section on the nature of Christ, but there is actually very little written here on the nature of Christ. Matthew Trowell (MT) starts out with a recap of the nature of man, and then jumps into God’s plan for salvation. After dealing with why God chose a certain plan, we go back to the garden, and the nature of man, this time, Eve’s dealings with the serpent. Here we get his first comments on the nature of Christ. This is then taken forward to more discussion on God’s plan of salvation again, as involved the imagery on God’s sentences upon the serpent, followed by more discussion of God’s plan as shown through the imagery of sacrifice.

Finally we come to the last section, and there are just a few sentences which explain in very basic and general terms, Christ’s nature. And these are really more concerned with God’s plan of salvation, than with Christ’s nature.



1. He was "in all points tempted as we are" (Hebrews 4:15) and under the same condemnation of death as we are. But the scriptures are emphatic. He had no earthly father. In 2 Samuel 7:14 we are told that God "will be his father" and in Isaiah 7:14 that "a virgin shall conceive". Luke says that he would be called "The Son of the Highest" (Luke 1:32).

2. God’s method was that one of Adam’s race would be born who was going to share the same nature as the rest of the human race, but who would have the capacity to reflect the characteristics of Himself.

3. It was critical in God’s plan of Redemption that whoever was going to redeem Mankind from sin and death, also shared our nature...He was sent "in the likeness of sinful flesh" and was "tempted in all points as we are" but he never sinned.

4. Not only was he born of a woman, but he was also the Son of God. He was his Father’s son, and had to battle daily with the same impulses that lead to sin, as we do. It was the consummate battle between flesh and the spirit, but it was the spirit that overcame! How? Because, "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself."


So, if this is our total discussion on the nature of Christ, then I think it is safe to conclude that MT really didn’t want to discuss the nature of Christ.  He wants to get into discussion God's plan, and so gives lip service to the nature of Christ.

In explaining God’s plan, MT quotes from bro. Roberts from the "Blood of Christ." This is a very powerful section, and it will be interesting to see, as we continue, if the plan bro. Roberts lays out, is the same plan MT lays out.

MT brings up "the three Rs" of responsibility, retribution, and reconciliation. He presents them here in such a way, that suggests they have been discussed by him before.  I wondered if I had missed their explanation previously. I looked back and couldn’t find what I might have missed. But anyway, they are introduced here as if they are overriding principles, but the principles are not explained. Perhaps we will get to them.

MT writes:

"The serpent, not only represents the fleshly reasoning of a will which is in opposition to the Will of God and, therefore, the first lie spoken by the serpent in the garden, but it also represents the consequences of this lie — sin, suffering and death."

I can see why I would say this, but I struggle to understand it from a "clean flesh" fellow. How does the serpent represent sin? If, as they argue, sin can only be moral, how can the tempter represent that which is moral? I understand how he sees the tempter representing the physical aspects of sin. That is exactly how I would understand it. This would be quite consistent with bro. Thomas, who said in a speech in London in 1865:

"Christ appeared in human nature to take away sin by the sacrifice of himself. In doing this, Paul says he "destroyed him that hath the power of death, that is the devil." "For this purpose was the Son of God manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil." In these testimonies, the figurativeness of the Edenic promise is retained in an altered form. Instead of the serpent, sin is represented by "the devil," in accordance with the scriptural usage of personifying abstract principles involved in the relations of God and man, of which we have illustrations in the words "mammon," "old man," "Belial," &c. Jesus condemned sin in the flesh by suffering in the flesh of Adamic nature, the condemnation due to Adam’s sin. In this way, while himself bruised in the heel by the serpent-principle, he incipiently bruised its head in meeting its claim and escaping its power. But this result was entirely limited to his own person. It accomplished nothing beyond his own individual nature. It did not destroy the power of sin and death throughout the human race at large, who still continue as sinful and mortal as ever. What it did do was to provide a representative of Adam’s race, who in his own person had by a Divine arrangement vanquished the curse under which the race was hopelessly held, and who was prepared by the favour of God to extend the result to all who in the way appointed of God, were prepared to avail themselves of it. The result of his sacrificial accomplishments was therefore only relative."

Here bro. Thomas says that the reference to Christ destroying the devil (Heb 2:14) is the same figure as used in the garden of the seed of the woman bruising the head of the serpent. And he goes on that both symbols represent sin. But how can MT see sin in these figures, if sin is only moral? Sin moral, is not destroyed in the death of Christ. There was no sin moral, in Christ to be destroyed. Jesus did destroy sin in his flesh, but that sin was the suffering in the flesh, the consequence of condemnation due to Adam’s sin. It was nothing moral. These are all physical characteristics.

So MT’s inclusion of the moral as symbolized by the serpent, is curious, to say the least.


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We now come to where the serious differences between the "clean flesh" folks, and those of us who still hold the foundation Christadelphian beliefs, arise. We have already noted how the modern "clean flesh" folks separate sin from death. That will become more apparent in this section. But there will be many differences now. One of the points of which Matthew Trowell (MT) has been hinting around, is the relationship of the obedient life of Jesus to the atonement. And while it is true that the obedient and perfect life of Christ is an essential aspect to our salvation, it is confusion, when introduced as an element in the atonement. That will become apparent at this juncture of our discussion.

Also now, simple words and phrases like "sacrifice" will take on new (to Christadelphians) meanings. They are actually old Christian concepts, which Christadelphians got away from. MT (with most other "clean flesh" writers, old and modern) are trying to bring them back.

But, curiously, MT opens this section called "The Work of God" with a fairly nice and reasonable commentary on the Nature of Christ. The commentary runs four paragraphs, and helps fill the void not covered in the previous section.

In the section named "A Perfect Example" he speaks about forgiveness. He makes what experience has shown to be a very true statement:

"Forgiveness is easy to understand, but the conditions of forgiveness are not so easy to understand."–Understanding the Atonement pg 49

It is clear that MT is not immune from this problem, as it is impossible to make sense out of the conditions for forgiveness as he sets them out. He starts us out to focus on Rom. 3:25-26 as "one of" (I would say "the") most important verses concerning the work of God through Christ. He correctly states that the word "declare" in the KJV really means to exhibit. But he goes back to the error he had made earlier, trying to be too inclusive in the term "atonement." He wishes to include the obedient life of Christ into the atonement. The atonement, as we showed earlier, focuses on the death of Christ. Aspects of his life are involved to be sure, such as his fleshly descent from Adam, by virtue of his mother, Mary. But atonement is the statement made in his death.

We spoke of Lev. 17:11 before. The blood was given upon the altar, to make atonement for the soul. The blood is not the atonement. It was blood upon the altar which covered, or made reconciliation. Blood poured out. The blood represented the life of the offerer, just as the blood poured out upon the altar, represented his death. Bro. Roberts wrote:

"The Israelite desiring to make an offering to the Lord was to bring it "of the cattle, of the herd, and of the flock" (Lev. 1:2). It must be a living creature put to death in the act of offering, with the blood poured out at the altar foot. The explanation was given afterwards: "It is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul"—"for the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls" (Lev. 17:11). The pouring out of the blood was the pouring out of the life, and therefore an acknowledgment on the part of the offerer that he was worthy to die. It was a typical declaration of that righteousness of God which was proclaimed in Christ in the one great offering as the basis of forgiveness (Rom. 3:25–26)." Law of Moses, pg 219

And again from bro. Roberts "Law of Moses"

"The pouring out of the blood was therefore the pouring out of the life—therefore the infliction of death: and therefore an illustration of what was due to sin, and an acknowledgment on the part of the offerer that it was so. But being the blood of an animal which had nothing to do with sin, it was only a typical illustration or declaration of God’s righteousness in the case. It was not a condemnation of sin in its own flesh, but a mere shadow which God was pleased to establish in Israel’s midst, in educational preparation for the actual condemnation which was to be carried out in His own Son, in whom, ‘sent forth in the likeness of sinful flesh’ for (as an offering for) sin, He ‘condemned sin in the flesh.’" Law of Moses pg 176

So it is not by his life, but by his death, through which the great atonement or reconciliation was made. His perfectly obedient life was a condition necessary that resurrection would follow. It is by his resurrected spirit-life that we are saved. But it is in his death that the great atoning statement is made. Bro. Roberts summarizes that great principle this way:

"The crucifixion of Christ as a ‘declaration of the righteousness of God’ and a ‘condemnation of sin in the flesh,’ must exhibit to us the righteous treatment of sin. It was as though it was proclaimed to all the world, when the body was nailed to the cross. ‘This is how condemned human nature should be treated according to the righteousness of God; it is fit only for destruction.’ The shedding of the blood was the ritual symbol of the truth; for the shedding of the blood was the taking away of the life. Such a declaration of the righteousness of God could only be made in the very nature concerned; a body under the dominion of death because of sin." (Chdn 1894:378)

So here are the clear statements from bro. Roberts, quite consistent with bro. Thomas. The crucifixion of Christ...must exhibit to us the righteous treatment of sin. As bro. Thomas said, and we have quoted repeatedly, "sin could not have been condemned in the body of Jesus, had it not existed there." And so the obvious question for MT is that if there was nothing called "sin" actually or literally in Christ, how was it condemned there, and how does the crucifixion show us the righteous treatment of sin?

MT, however, takes an impossible approach. He writes:

"A misconception that sometimes arises is that somehow our sins were literally placed upon Christ or ‘imputed to him’, and magically disappeared when he died! Our sins are moral things. They are intangible. They could not, therefore, have been literally placed upon Christ. Christ’s death did not literally cleanse us from our sins. Rather, by a figure Christ’s death cleanses us from our sins." Understanding the Atonement pg 50

So to MT, sin can only be moral, and modern "clean flesh" folks, and traditional Christadelphians agree there was no moral sin or guilt in Christ. Therefore, if our physical nature is not sin, then MT’s only possible conclusion is there was no sin in Christ. If this is the case, then bro. Thomas was wrong when he said sin had to be in Christ, to be condemned there. And bro. Roberts must have been wrong as well, for how, can the crucifixion be said to be a declaration of God’s righteousness, exhibiting in Christ the righteous treatment of sin, if Christ in fact had no sin making such a requirement as the crucifixion righteous?

This is what it always comes back to. If there were no sin in Christ, how is God exhibited as righteous and just in requiring his death due to sin? Modern "clean flesh" folks say: "well, he had our nature." Good. Yes he did. And in saying this, modern "clean flesh" folks make a great improvement over their predecessors, who denied that Jesus bore our exact nature. But then the modern folks go to great, really impossible lengths, to emphasize that our nature is not sin. And this lands them in an impossible position. Because if our nature is not sin, and if Christ never transgressed; where is the righteousness and justness in God requiring his death? The wages of sin is death. Christ died. Why? How is God proved righteous by requiring the death of a completely sinless man?

MT appears to want to turn this great statement so clearly summarized by bro. Roberts, from a literal reality, to a figure of speech. In doing so, he confuses things that differ. He quotes from the Statement of Faith:

"Jesus was put to death by the Jews and Romans, who were, however, but instruments in the hands of God, for the doing of that which He had determined before to be done, viz., the condemnation of sin in the flesh, through the offering of the body of Jesus once for all, as a propitiation to declare the righteousness of God, as a basis for the re-mission of sins. All who approach God through this crucified, but risen, representative of Adam’s disobedient race, are forgiven. Therefore, by a figure, his blood cleanseth from sin."

Now, the emboldening and the underlining above is MT’s. The Statement of Faith said that "his blood cleanseth us from sin" is a figure of speech. Of course it is. It is a figure of speech for what was literally and actually accomplished in the atonement. But note the subtlety with which MT changes the figure. We observed above that "blood cleansing us from sin" is a figure of speech. But MT writes:

"Rather, by a figure Christ’s death cleanses us from our sins." From paragraph quoted above in Understanding the Atonement pg 50.

Note how he changes the symbolic term "blood," into his perception of a symbolic "death." But his death was real, not a symbol. It was a real putting to death of the body of sin. This was not symbolic, and bro. Roberts fought against this idea that his death was another symbol, in dealing with the old "clean flesh" teachers. In an article Questions and Questions he asked of them:

15. —If you say that our sins were laid on him in the same way as they were laid on the sacrificial animals in the Mosaic system of things (which was a mere ceremonial or artificial imputativeness,) how comes it that those sacrifices never could take away sins? (Heb. 10:2, ) and where then is the substance of the shadow? The ceremonial imposition of sins upon the animals was the type; the real putting of sin on the Lamb of God in the bestowal of a prepared sin-body wherein to die, is the substance.

Bro. Roberts could not be clearer. The real placing of the sin on the body of Christ, in bestowing on him sinful flesh, wherein he was to destroy it on the cross was the substance to all the symbolism of the law. His death was not a figure of speech by which we are cleansed. It was the reality behind all the symbols. His blood poured out, symbolized the out pouring of his life. But the thing symbolized was the actual and literal destruction of the sin-body. His death upon the cross, condemning sin in the flesh which sinned in the garden, was the reality.

MT makes a statement in the paragraph on page 50 already quoted, that sin can only be moral. By any standard, this is an impossible argument to make, which is why he makes this statement, with no proof or argument whatsoever. He simply makes a statement, and one completely contradictory to fact, and traditional Christadelphian teaching. The argument cannot be made lexicographically, nor theologically. To the first, Miriam Webster defines sin:



1 a : an offense against religious or moral law

b : an action that is or is felt to be highly reprehensible <it's a sin to waste food>

c : an often serious shortcoming : fault

2 a : transgression of the law of God

b : a vitiated state of human nature in which the self is estranged from God


So, lexicographically, it is clear that "sin" carries a meaning beyond the moral, as applied to human nature. And theologically, we have already shown from 2 Cor. 5: 21

2 Cor. 5:21 "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."

Lets look at how the pioneer brethren used this verse, and we will see that the sin God made him to be, was sin nature.

The Eternal Spirit-Word was the High Priestly Offerer of His own Flesh, whose character was without spot—"holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners;" "who knew no sin;" yet whose nature was in all points like ours—"sin’s flesh," in which dwells no good thing —Heb. 9:14; 7:26; 2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 8:3; 7:18; Heb. 2:14–17. The Flesh made by the spirit out of Mary’s substance, and rightly claimed therefore in Psalm 16:8; Acts 2:31, as His flesh, is the Spirit’s Anointed Altar, cleansed by the blood of that flesh when poured out unto death "on the tree." This flesh was the victim offered—the sacrifice. Suspended on the tree by the voluntary offering of the Spirit-Word (John 10:18), "sin was condemned in the flesh," when the soul-blood thereof was poured out unto death. Eureka, The Golden Zone

And bro. Roberts wrote similarly:

But, though Son of God, he was flesh and blood. "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same.… He took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren" (Heb. 2:14, 16, 17). He was made sin for us, who knew no sin (II Cor. 5:21). As he was in character sinless, this could only apply to his bodily constitution, which, through Mary, was the sin-nature of Adam. As Paul says elsewhere (Rom. 8:3), "God sent his Son in the likeness of sinful flesh." "He was sent forth made of a woman" (Gal. 4:4), "of the seed of David according to the flesh" (Rom. 1:3).

Now we are all clear that the sin God made him to be, could not be moral sin or guilt. Yet the text is quite clear, and traditional Christadelphian thought supports the text, that God made Jesus to be sin, though morally he is holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinner. So the sin God made him to be, was his physical nature, sin nature.

To clear up MT’s "misconceptions" about how our sins were literally placed on Christ, one needs to look no farther than bro. Thomas:



"WE do not deny the perfect sinlessness of Christ. We believe and teach that he was ‘holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners’ (Heb. 7:26), and that he was ‘in all points tried as we, yet without sin’ (Heb. 4:15). This was his intellectual and moral status.

Yet he was not perfect. This he says of himself, and therefore we may safely affirm it with him. He tells us that he was not perfected till the third day (Lk. 13:32), when he was perfected in recompense for his obedience unto death (Heb. 2:10; 5:9).

That which was imperfect was the nature with which the Logos, that came down from heaven to do the Father's will, clothed himself. That nature was flesh of the stock of Abraham, compared in Zech. 3:3 to "filthy garments," typical of the "infirmity with which he was compassed."

FOR this "infirmity" called "himself" - AND for all of the same infirmity associated with him by faith in the promises made with Abraham and David, and in him as the Mediator thereof - he poured out his blood as a covering for sin.

Upon this principle, "His own self bare our sins IN HIS OWN BODY to the tree" (I Peter 2:24). Sins borne in a body prove that body to be imperfect; and characterize it as "Sin's Flesh" (sarx amartias). Sin's Flesh is imperfect, and well adapted for the condemnation of sin therein.

Sin could not have been condemned in the flesh of angels; and therefore the Logos did not assume it: but clothed Himself with that of the seed of Abraham. Hence ‘The Deity sent His Own Son in the identity of SIN'S FLESH, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; that the righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit’ (Romans 8:3)."


To this statement, that the way in which Jesus bore our sins, was in his being made sin nature, bro. Roberts agrees:



"Iniquities laid on Him"

"This is a figurative description of what was literally done in God sending forth His Son, made of a woman (Adamic), made under the law (Mosaic) to die under the combined curse, that God’s way might be upheld while salvation was given by his resurrection. To give a literal construction to a figure of speech always leads to error."


So it is clear from the traditional Christadelphian teaching, to "bare our sins in his own body," and "the iniquities laid on him," are symbolical expressions of what Jesus literally did, in bearing our condemned nature to the tree. So there are no misconceptions.  It is quite clear that traditional Christadelphian thought has always been that the way our sins were born by Jesus, was by him being made of our nature.  It is foreign thought to foundation Christadelphians that our nature, while called sin, is not really sin; and therefore Christ did not actually bear sin, but only figuratively can be said to have done so.


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16–The Work of God

We will continue with the paragraph on page 50 of "Understanding the Atonement" which we have under consideration. We have already shown that there is no misconception among the traditional Christadelphians, as to how our sins were literally placed upon Christ. It was done in his being made of our nature. But Matthew Trowell goes on to mock atonement, saying that they (our sins) "magically disappeared when he died!" To repeat his paragraph:

"A misconception that sometimes arises is that somehow our sins were literally placed upon Christ or ‘imputed to him’, and magically disappeared when he died! Our sins are moral things. They are intangible. They could not, therefore, have been literally placed upon Christ. Christ’s death did not literally cleanse us from our sins. Rather, by a figure Christ’s death cleanses us from our sins." Understanding the Atonement pg 50

Christ’s death was not a magical removal of sins, but a literal one. It occurred in Jesus, as a result of his death. We do not lack for verses that make this point.



Heb 2:14 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;

Rom 6:6-7 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.

Heb 9:28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

Col 2:10-12 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

Eph 2:14-16 For He is our peace, He making us both one, and breaking down the middle wall of partition, in His flesh causing to cease the enmity, the Law of the commandments in decrees, that He might in Himself create the two into one new man, making peace, and might reconcile both in one body to God through the cross, slaying the enmity in Himself. (Literal Translation of the Bible)


This is the clear testimony of Scripture. Sin was removed in Christ by his death. Not moral sin, as Christ had none. But the sin God made him to be, was removed in consequence of his death. He killed it, destroyed it by dying. There is nothing "magical" about the way Christ’s atoning death purged his body from the sin God made him to be. When he died, death had done to him, all that could be done. When he died, he died unto sin. So that he was now freed from sin. It is all quite literal, and quite real. Its just that this change only occurred in Christ, at that time. The destruction of the devil, or sin in the flesh, is only real in Christ. It is all prospective for us.

In his work "The One Great Offering, bro. Thomas makes this perfectly clear, just when the sin which God literally placed on Jesus was purified or lustrated, or sprinkled with the sacrificial blood of his own offering: He wrote:



8.When was the Jesus-altar purified; the Jesus Mercy-seat sprinkled with sacrificial blood, and the Jesus-Holy of Holies lustrated?

Answer. After the Veil of his flesh was rent, and before he awoke at the early dawn of the third day (Mark 15:37–38; John 19:34).


How would MT answer bro. Thomas’ question? Would he agree that Jesus, as the antitype of the things mentioned from the Mosaic Law, even needed purified, lustrated, and sprinkled with sacrificial blood?

Thus, according to bro. Thomas, when Jesus was raised, he was raised a natural body, like Adam prior to transgression. Adam, you will recall from bro. Thomas and Roberts teaching, as previously quoted was created a natural body on probation for life. When he sinned, he became a natural body, sentenced to die due to sin. Christ inherited Adam’s natural body, sentenced to death. But with his death, Christ destroyed the sentence of death due to sin in himself by reason of his descent from Adam; and he was resurrected, a natural body on probation for life, and very soon thereafter, immortalized.

This is all very orderly and logical. There is nothing mystifying in the process. On the other hand, if MT is correct, we have the very great mystery of, how our sins were condemned in the flesh of Jesus, if there was no sin there. It turns the entire matter into a figure of speech. It becomes just another symbol, in a long line of symbols which could not take away sin. A figure of speech was condemned in the flesh of Jesus, and this supposedly took away sin, while the same figure of speech in animals, could not take away sin. Why? Because one figure of speech is more relevant than the other? OK. But that doesn’t change the fact that we are still just talking about figures, and so where is the substance?

MT brings in how Christ’s death effects us, to mock the concept that our sins are forgiven by Christ’s death. And yes, our transgressions are not mechanically or chemically forgiven by the death of Christ. But if our sins are forgiven, they are forgiven based on what Jesus literally accomplished in his death. In this very real sense, our transgressions are forgiven by the death of Christ.

But there is a sense, in which "our sins" are quite literally blotted out in Christ’s death. The "our sins" which were purged or purified in the death of Christ, were "our sins," born in his body to the tree. The "our sins" was Christ’s nature, the sin filled flesh inherited from Adam. These "our sins" were not forgiven by his death, as they were not a crime, but a misfortune. Jesus was reconciled to God, redeemed from the "our sins" he bore in his body to the tree, through his death and resurrection by which "our sins, born in his body" were destroyed and put away.

The sins you and I commit, immoral acts of unrighteousness, are forgiven when we recognize the righteousness and justness of what God has exhibited or declared in the death of Jesus, then are baptized into his saving name, and continue in prayer on account of our immoral acts.

MT goes on in that paragraph:

"In other words, God laid down a method of reconciliation. That method of reconciliation came with certain terms and conditions. One of those conditions was that a man would need to be born of Adam’s race, who would demonstrate certain facts and truths about life, that would bring honour and glory to God, and declare His righteousness. With God’s help, Christ was able to demonstrate these facts and truths throughout his faithful life of obedience and in his sacrificial death."

Notice how MT changes the declaration of God’s righteousness away from the foundation Christadelphian position. The declaration of God’s righteousness as taught from the beginning of the movement was that Christ’s death demonstrated the right and just treatment of sin. But now MT tells us in includes facts and truths demonstrated through his faithful life of obedience...and in his sacrificial death.

This is wrong. Nowhere in foundation Christadelphian thought, is the obedient life of Christ considered a part of the declaration of God’s righteousness. His life as a descendent of Adam is taken as a part of the declaration, but not his perfect life. To suggest so, takes away from the great statement of the atonement, introducing confusion. Because if we are to consider Christ’s perfect and sinless life in the atonement, then we are apt to only see God requiring the death of a perfect, sinless man. And the immediate question would become, why? Followed by: how is the crucifixion of a perfect, sinless man, righteous and just? It is this confusion which makes it impossible for the overwhelming majority of the world, and an increasing number of Christadelphians to understand the atonement.

The moral sinlessness of Christ does add to the great statement of the atonement, in explaining just how sinful the flesh is. The flesh is so sinful that even the most perfectly obedient man had to die the sacrificial death, to rid himself of it.

MT tells us that God set down certain conditions of reconciliation, and that attached to these considerations were certain terms and consideration. This is true. I have several times quoted from bro. Roberts, as to what the condition of reconciliation was. But, since MT seems to like bro. Roberts booklet, ‘The Blood of Christ," I will take the conditions as he set them forth in that booklet.

"He was born that he might die, as the first necessity in the case; for thus was the righteousness of God to be declared, and sin condemned in its own flesh as the foundation of all the goodness to come afterwards..."

As bro. Roberts said here and elsewhere, the condemnation of sin in its own flesh on the cross is the declaration of the righteousness of God. It says, "this is how human nature should be treated in harmony with the righteousness of God. It is fit only for destruction." Our recognition of this great truth is the first and fundamental condition of reconciliation.

Now, note what bro. Roberts says next, in "The Blood of Christ" and how opposed it is to the ideas of MT.

"...It may be asked, could not such a result have been achieved by the sacrificial immolation [that means to kill a sacrificial victim] of any sinner? So far as the mere condemnation of sin was concerned, no doubt the lesson could have been thus enforced;..."

The condemnation of sin in the flesh could have been achieved by the sacrificial death of any sinner. Why? Because the great declaration of God’s righteousness is made in the death of Christ, not in his life. In fact, every time a descendent of Adam dies, God’s righteousness is declared, because the wages of sin which is death, is exhibited.

And what did bro. Roberts mean that God’s righteousness could be declared in the death of any sinner?  Does he mean Christ was a sinner? Not morally. Bro. Roberts is clear on this. But physically, he was of the same sinful flesh inherited from Adam, so his death was a condemnation of sin, in the nature that sinned in the garden. As MT has previously and accurately stated, his condition by reason of birth is a misfortune, not a crime. But what MT seems to ignore, is that it is a reality none the less. This condition needed to be condemned due to sin, and it was condemned on the cross, quite literally, when Jesus voluntarily put that condition to death, purifying himself from it, as he that is dead is freed from sin.

Now after making a point about needing to understand the conditions required for forgiveness, MT does very little to explain what those conditions are. He tells us in the paragraph previously quoted:

"One of those conditions was that a man would need to be born of Adam’s race, who would demonstrate certain facts and truths about life, that would bring honour and glory to God, and declare His righteousness."

OK. So what are those "certain facts and truths about life?" Bro. Roberts and bro. Thomas were both quite clear as to what they were in his death. Perhaps MT will eventually tell us what he thinks they are. In the mean time, the argument is quite vague. According to MT, there are certain facts and truths about life essential to demonstrate the conditions of reconciliation. What they are, are not yet stated. But, we are told that Christ demonstrated these facts and truths during his obedient life and sacrificial death. Further, these so far undetermined facts and truths form the basis of our reconciliation. And finally, by our acknowledgement of those undetermined facts, and truths and our identification with the Lord Jesus Christ, we can benefit by having access to the Father who, for Christ’s sake, is righteous and merciful to forgive.

MT then quotes from bro. Roberts’ The Blood of Christ, which does give us the proper explanation of the declaration of God’s righteousness as the basis for our forgiveness of sins, without actually clearly stating that that is what this is. Anyone familiar with the work would understand it, so why can MT not come out and state it?

"Christ was himself absolutely sinless as to disobedience, while subject to the impulses and the consequences of sin. The object was to open a way out of this state, both for himself and his brethren, by death and resurrection after trial. It pleased God to require the ceremonial condemnation of this sin-nature in crucifixion in the person of a righteous possessor of it, as the basis of our forgiveness."

The ceremony or ritual was the crucifixion, as it served as the great antitype of the sin offering under the law. What was accomplished as the basis of our forgiveness in this public ceremony, was the condemnation of sin nature, in Jesus, a righteous possessor of it. Now, all are agreed that Jesus was sinless as to disobedience, yet he possessed the flesh of sin. Why would it have pleased God to put Jesus through the ceremony of the crucifixion, to quite publicly condemn sin nature in the person of Jesus, if sin nature was not sin? And where would be the justness and rightness in requiring such a ceremony, if Jesus was not himself a bearer of that sin?

MT clearly struggles with the concept that Jesus bore our sins in his body. That he was in fact, made sin for us. He does all in his power to obscure and confuse these principles from the pen of bre. Thomas and Roberts. He doesn’t seem to be able to visualize it, so he objects to the common modes of the expression of this principle, trying to pretend he is arguing against the moral attribution of sin or guilt to Christ.

But bro. Roberts was not particular about how this concept of Christ bearing our sins in his body was expressed, so long as it was expressed literally, and not figuratively. In a very generous plea to the ‘clean flesh" folks of his day, bro. Roberts asked them in Questions and Questions:



56. As Christ was the antitype of the high priest who "went alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the errors of the people" (Heb. 9:7) is it not required that his sacrifice should comprehend himself as well as his people in the effect of its operation?

57. If you deny this most obvious conclusion, how do you explain the fact that the Messiah Prince in the future age, at the restored feast of the Passover, "shall prepare for himself and for all the people of the land a bullock for a sin offering?" (Ezek. 45:22). Do you deny that the sacrifices in the future age are memorial, like the breaking of bread of what has been, in the same way as the sacrifices under Moses are typical of what was to be? Presuming you are scripturally enough informed to give the right answer to this, let me ask how the Messiah’s offering for himself as well as for the people can be a memorial offering, if Christ in dying for us did not die for himself as well?

58. To put it in a simpler form, in whatever sense our sins were laid on Christ, did they not, for the time being, become his; and if so, did it not require his death that he might be purified from them, and, in this sense, in dying for us, did not he die for himself as well?


Is this not the most simple, and all embracing statement pertaining to the nature of Christ? However you imagine that God laid our sins upon Christ, did they not at that time become his? And since they obviously would have become his when God laid them upon him, did he not then require his sacrificial death to purify himself from them, and to condemn them in his flesh, to destroy them and put them away?

MT says sins are transgressions, intangible things that cannot be literally placed on another. OK. We agree. Our moral transgressions cannot literally be placed on Christ. But God says he did make Christ to bare our sins in his own body. He says he made him to be sin for us. Since it cannot be the moral, what is it? And whatever you answer, did it not become his?  And if his, did it not require his death that he might be freed from it? 


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17-The Work of God

We now come to the concept of sacrifice. Matthew Trowell (MT) begins with some comments which cannot be sustained by Scripture, nor from the writings from the foundation of the Christadelphian movement. His opening thoughts are:

"It is evident, therefore, that the sacrifice of an animal by itself could never remove transgression and sins. But why? Because a man could never identify himself fully and completely with an animal being offered! The animal was an amoral creature and not subject to the moral principles associated with God’s Law. It did not understand the concept of divine righteousness and the difference between right and wrong. Animal sacrifice was, therefore, merely a "shadow institution" and "ritual recognition" because the moral principles of sacrifice could never be worked out completely in it." Understanding the Atonement pg 52 

So, to MT, the sacrifice of animals couldn’t work became man couldn’t make it work though his inability to identify with the animal. Or, maybe MT is blaming God for instituting a system by which it was impossible to work. It hard to tell exactly which idea he means at this point. But either way, the idea is either completely speculative, and is not found in the Scriptures, or it is definitely wrong, as Paul points out, the law was ordained to life.

The Scriptural answer is that the sacrifices had no lasting power, because they were but types and shadows of the substance, or reality (the Christ) God would ultimately bring forward (Heb. 10:1). The Scriptural answer is also that animal sacrifices had no lasting power, because they were merely the prophesy of what God would actually and literally do (Gal. 3: 24) in the sacrifice of Jesus (which was to declare the righteousness of God (Rom. 3:25)). And the sacrifice had no lasting power, because man simply couldn’t live perfectly, that the law with its sacrifices might give the life it was ordained to give (Rom. 7:10), but could not give, due to man’s inability to keep it (Rom. 8:3).

When we read from MT’s favorite booklet (or so he would lead us to believe through the many quotes) "The Blood of Christ" we find that bro. Roberts deals quite extensively with why the animal sacrifices had no power. Bro. Roberts’ answer was that the animal sacrifice did not exhibit the righteousness and justness of God. And the exhibition of the righteousness and justness of God is the first and foremost condition for the forgiveness of our sins. In the abstract, it was wrong to kill an innocent animal, that a guilty one could go free. The following quote from bro. Roberts is long, but so powerful and directly related to the false premise MT has set before us.

"... But now comes the question, why is the death of Christ a sufficient foundation for the forgiveness of sin unto life eternal, when the death of animals was not so? We find the answer in the statement that the death of Christ was "to declare the righteousness of God" as the ground of the exercise of His forbearance. That is to say, God maintains His own righteousness and His own supremacy while forgiving us; and exacts the recognition of them and submission to them, as the condition of the exercise of His forbearance in the remission of our sins. Now as we look at Christ, we find in his death the declaration of that righteousness. When we look at the killing of a lamb or of an animal of any kind, it is not a declaration of the righteousness of God that we see except in shadow, in type, in figure: the animal has done no wrong, and in the abstract, there would be wrong and not righteousness in punishing one for the sin of another. The death of Christ was "that God might be just" while acting the part of justifier or forgiver. The sacrifice of animals did not illustrate this, except typically and preliminarily. It did not exhibit the righteousness of God except in the prophetic sense; it was a type of the true exhibition of God’s righteousness that God would accomplish in the Lamb of His own providing. "God shall provide Himself a lamb, my son", Abraham said to Isaac, not of course meaning this, but he spoke by the Spirit of God, pointing forward; and when Jesus appeared, John said, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world"

This is the most focused, most central reason why the sacrifice of animals couldn’t take away sin, and it is the identical reason why we, who hold the foundation Christadelphian position, object so strongly to the "clean flesh" teachings, old and modern. If Christ was not literally and actually made sin, if he did not physically bare our sins in his own body to the tree; then where is the righteousness and justness of God requiring the ritual of the sacrificial death of him? The wages of sin is death. Christ never sinned, nor did he (or anyone else) inherit moral defilement of any kind from Adam. In a moral sense, he was as white and pure and unblemished as the sacrificial lamb which prophesied of him.

Just as the animal in animal sacrifice had done no wrong, neither had Jesus. If, in the abstract it was wrong to kill the animal for the sins of others, would this also not be true of Christ? Yet there is Jesus on the cross, morally spotless and perfect, dying, the wages of sin. And in this picture we must see God righteous and just. How, if Jesus was not made sin for us?

Note that: It is God which is exhibited as righteous in the death of Christ. Most of the Christian plans, along with the "clean flesh" folks, have Christ exhibited as righteous, with him innocently and voluntarily laying down his perfectly obedient life for us, before a vengeful God. The truth is that Christ, having been made sin, was in need of his sacrifice to redeem himself from the sin God which made him to be; and so it was necessary, righteous, and just for God to have put him through this great and public ceremonial crucifixion. And because he was (physically) made sin, and because he (physically) bore our sins in his body to the tree, he was able to condemn sin in his flesh when he put that flesh to death on the cross. And here we see the great statement bro. Roberts refers to so frequently, including in the above quote. Here we see the righteousness and justness of God exhibited to the world, when Jesus demonstrated the way sin must be treated, when contrasted with the righteousness of God. It is only fit for destruction.

An animal couldn’t demonstrate this. A morally and physically sinless Jesus could not have demonstrated this. Only one bearing sin in his flesh, and thereby condemning sin in his flesh, could truly and actually demonstrate the righteousness and justness of God in requiring this tremendous ordeal and condemnation of sin from Jesus. Again, back to bro. Thomas’ entirely logical statement which gave rise to the "clean flesh" movement. "Sin could not have been condemned in the body of Jesus, had it not existed there."


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18 – The Work of God

We now look with some more detail, though still in a very surface or superficial manner at sacrifice itself. I will back up just a little, to go over his thoughts on the meaning of sacrifice. Matthew Trowell writes:

"Sacrifice can be described as the ceremonial death of an animal to honour a deity, or the loss or giving up of something for the benefit of someone else."

Sounds pretty "churchy" to me, as my dad would say at this sort of a concept. Sacrifice simply means "to slay," or "to slaughter." This is first and foremost. The meanings MT gives us are meanings we might see in modern English language dictionaries, which they derived from their perspective of the process of the sacrificial ceremony or ritual, not from the meaning of the word itself. It must be confessed on all hands, the Christian idea of "vicarious sufferings" has given rise to the dictionary meanings of sacrifice.

A word closely tied to "sacrifice" is "offering" and it means "causing to ascend." It gives the idea of "offering up." It would give us a clearer picture to say that Jesus life (flawless, perfect, obedient) was the offering, while his body slain on the cross was the sacrifice.

The perfection of the life offered up to God upon the cross, emphasized exactly how horrible a thing sin is. Jesus, who fought the sin in his flesh his whole life, and was always victorious over it, still needed to die to condemn it contrasting the righteousness of God with the sinfulness of man. Thus in his death, he exhibited the righteousness and justness of God.

MT then gives us his picture of sacrifice from the Old Testament.

"In the Old Testament sacrifice involved three parties. It involved the offerer, the animal and God. All three were involved in the sacrifice. The offerer was the one making the offering. God was the one being honoured. And the animal was the one being offered."

Really, most sacrifice appeared to entail four parties. The animal, the offerer, a priest (mediator), and God. The animal, whose outward perfection prefigured the moral perfection of Christ. The offerer, the man who chose an animal from his herd, and the best of his herd. The priest who interceded between the man and God. And God, whose righteousness and justness was to be exhibited by the sacrifice.

MT then takes us to his perception of New Testament sacrifice.

"So, too, in the New Testament there are three parties involved in the sacrificial work of Christ. There is ourselves. There is God. And there is the Lord Jesus Christ. In the same way that the offerer in the Old Testament had to follow certain steps and processes to identify himself with the offering in order to find divine acceptance, so, too, do we need to identify ourselves with Christ and the work that he came to do in order that we can find divine acceptance."

Is this really the New Testament concept of the sacrificial work of Christ? I can’t even think of where the New Testament draws on these images as MT has stated them, let alone a verse which explicitly says such a thing. Isn’t the New Testament all about Jesus’ sacrifice?

Now Jesus was the offerer, and he was the sacrificed animal. The Eternal Spirit (or Logos) was the mediator, and God was the one exhibited as righteous and just through that sacrifice. This is the sacrificial aspect of Christ the New Testament is all about, we might say entirely consumed with. It affects us, only so much as we agree with, and identify with the great statement made in that sacrifice.

Surely there is a sense, a highly figurative sense in which MT’s concept of New Testament sacrifice would appear. But the New Testament has our role quite varied, as the offerer, the offering, and even the priest.

But the reality to the figurative aspects of Old Testament sacrifice, and to whatever it is MT is imagining to be New Testament sacrifice to be; the reality in the true New Testament sacrifice is that which Jesus made. That is what gives substance and meaning to everything else.

MT then makes the point that the intent of sacrifice was to teach certain things. He then shows the value of individual understanding, as opposed to not understanding what is done in sacrifice. I think he is correct in his points. And while I agree with him, I also know it is a pretty difficult thing to prove from the Scriptures, that there was inherent in these sacrifices, a knowledge of what God was going to do. We can take the New Testament and reach a lot of conclusions concerning God’s laws as expressed in the Old Testament, that it would be very difficult to reach without these New Testament explanations. So his argument is an assumption, and I believe a valid one. But I understand those who would feel less than comfortable with it.

But as applied to us, it is entirely valid. We must understand the great statement made in Jesus’ actual sacrifice, and this understanding is the first and foremost principle, the most basic and fundamental building block upon which all else stands. It is the cornerstone. That is, in fact, why we stand aside from Central.

If you can’t see the interrelation between sin and death, why they are lumped together in one law, not two; if you can’t see that sin was laid upon Christ in his being made of our nature; if you can’t see that sin’s condemnation in Jesus’ flesh was real; if you can’t see himself cleaned or purified, or redeemed (pick your word) from this sin by his own ceremonial sacrificial death: then you can’t see God exhibited as right and just. That this is MT’s great issue becomes apparent as he now (and finally) outlines for us what those terms and conditions exhibited or declared in Christ’s death are.

But before he outlines his "terms and conditions" he tries another time to remind us how meaningless Christ’s sacrificial death is to him. He writes:

"The sacrificial death of Christ would have been absolutely meaningless had it not been for the perfect life of obedience that he led and his voluntary submission to the will of God." Understanding the Atonement pg 54.

Jesus’ sacrificial death would have said the same thing, with or without his perfect life. His sacrificial death was the condemnation of sin, in the flesh that sinned. As bro. Roberts points out in "The Blood of Christ" this could have been done in any sinner. Now Jesus’ particular death, being perfectly and morally sinless would have made the case stronger, and with unmistakable clarity. The only sin that could be addressed as condemned on the cross in the flesh of Jesus is that which we inherit in consequence of our descent from Adam, our physical nature, or the sin God made Jesus to be. There would be a much muddier picture in any other man. The question would always be, is this a condemnation of sin at its root, or is this man under condemnation for his own moral immoralities. The answer would of course, be both, and sin would have been condemned, and indeed is condemned in the death of any son of Adam. But in the perfect life of Jesus, we are left with no question as to what is condemned on the cross. It couldn’t be his own immoralities as he had none. It could only be that which was "rankling in his flesh." (Chdn 1873, pg 501).

So under no circumstances is the death of Jesus meaningless. His perfect life was essential that the grave could not hold him. His perfect life was essential to his resurrection, ultimately to spirit-life. It is by his spirit-life that we might live. All of this is true, but none of it takes away from, or would be possible apart from, the great statement made in his death, by which God has been willing to save us.

Now, we come to consider the terms and conditions MT has been alluding to. He gives us quite a list. And the first thing we notice is that bro. Roberts’ and bro. Thomas’ principle term and condition is not mentioned. How is this possible? How is it possible that what the foundation Christadelphians regarded as the first and foremost point in the declaration of God’s righteousness and justness is not listed in a list supposedly enumerating these things. And how is it possible that notable elders in Central have endorse such a thing, as we mentioned in our earliest posts? It just seems incredible to me.

I’m not going to go through these one by one, but just the ones where he uses the terms relevant to the declaration of God’s righteous and justness, as that is the key to the great statement made on the cross.



He perfectly reflected his Father’s character and, therefore, demonstrated that God alone is the source of all righteousness, goodness and truth.

In every part of his life he declared that God is supreme and, as a Father, deserving of all honour and glory.

He exhibited God’s righteous character, His mercy and His compassion through his teachings and in his way of life.

He declared God’s plan and purpose with Mankind and with the world and gave people hope.

He showed that God was right as the Creator to demand obedience from His creation and that obedience is only possible through God’s help and strength.

By submitting to the death of the cross, even though he did no sin, Christ demonstrated that all men are rightly related to death as members of Adam’s race.

In his death he demonstrated that God was just to condemn Adam and Eve to death for their disobedience.

He demonsrated that "flesh profits nothing" because he did not sin, but he was still subject to death.

He demonstrated that it was the work of God that brings reconciliation and redemption.

Ultimately he demonstrated that God was right and the serpent was wrong for the serpent had said, "thou shalt not die!"



    It is very simple to read through this list and notice that nowhere is the condemnation of sin in the flesh of Jesus, mentioned as the declaration of God’s righteousness. In fact, quite the opposite. This list is actually a celebration of the accomplishments made during life of Jesus, not an acknowledgment of what was accomplished in his death. And it brings us back to the question that has so befuddled Christianity and "clean flesh" teachers alike. Since Jesus did all these things in his life (declared (preached and spoke of) God’s character and demonstrated that God alone is the source of all righteousness, goodness and truth, and, showed that as our Father, was deserving of all honour and glory, and did all this while never sinning: since Jesus did all these things, why was it right and just on the part of God to require of him the ceremonial or ritual death of the sin offering, upon the cross?

    The wages of sin are death. Jesus never sinned. Why did he have to die? And how was God shown to be right and just in requiring this death of him? It always comes back to this same thing. MT says the flesh profits nothing because Jesus did not sin but still had to die. Then, is this not that what bro. Roberts described, of which I quoted in the last post?

    When we look at the killing of a lamb or of an animal of any kind, it is not a declaration of the righteousness of God that we see except in shadow, in type, in figure: the animal has done no wrong, and in the abstract, there would be wrong and not righteousness in punishing one for the sin of another.

    Isn’t this MT’s description of the sacrifice of Christ? Christ, in his plan, has done no wrong. Yet he is suffering a terrible death, which God required of him. MT says Christ had to die. That is true, and an improvement on previous "clean flesh" teachers, as to the truth, but this improvement introduces confusion into the "clean flesh" teaching. Because now God is clearly requiring the suffering and death of Jesus because of the sin of others, which, as bro. Roberts points out, would make God wrong, not righteous.

    This is why previous "clean flesh" teachers admitted that he didn’t have to die, and only died because he was killed. To admit that he had to die, but then deny that there was anything called sin in Jesus, is to accuse God a huge travesty of justice!

    (Now, we always eventually reach this point, even with the more traditional "clean flesh" folks, but it does take a lot longer to get there. They fight us on the question of "Did God require or command Jesus to die the death he died." "They fight us on the meaning of "propitiation." They fight us on the term "likeness." There are many more steps they fight us on, that MT does not fight on, but it only makes it easier for us to get to the heart of the matter with MT. And that is, that if there is nothing called "sin" in the flesh of Jesus, from which he himself was personally cleansed, purged, or redeemed; then for himself, it was unnecessary for him to be there, and asw bro. Roberts points out, then God would be demonstrated as wrong and unjust in requiring it.)


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    Among the many problems we have with the "clean flesh" folks, is we don’t always understand the subtlety in their discussion, because we don’t accept many of their points. Take the last section. In the next section, Matthew Trowell tells us:

    "We have seen the great significance of Christ’s life, how he honoured God and demonstrated certain important facts and truths about life for our understanding and benefit."

    Did anyone who read that section, realize that it was focused on Christ’s life? I didn’t. Because when someone begins to tell me we are discussing "certain principles and conditions" relevant to the "exhibition of God’s righteousness," I would naturally think we are discussing his death.

    The exhibition of God’s righteousness is made "through faith in his blood." Blood, as we have seen scripturally, is life, but this verse is specifically speaking about his blood upon the propitiation, or Mercy Seat. This is faith in his blood poured out. Blood poured out is death, not life. We have already shown this point from bro. Roberts explaining this several times, so no need to do so again. But this does show the language barriers we come across when discussing things with "clean flesh" folks. They understand virtually every verse differently than how the verse was explained by the foundation Christadelphians. So very basic things we would naturally think are understood by all Christadelphians, are not understood at all by them, but in fact challenged.

    MT gives us a summary:

    "By way of review, we have seen that it was Adam and Eve’s sin or disobedience that brought suffering and death into the world. Christ came to deal with the root of the problem to suffering and death, which was sin. He dealt with sin in his own life by leading a sin-less life, demonstrating for all to see that God is supreme and must be honoured, and that the flesh cannot be allowed to have free reign. God was, therefore, right to condemn Man to death, and Christ openly declared this fact by willingly sacrificing himself on a tree. Thus, it was "through [his] death" that we are reconciled to God and can receive access to the forgiveness of sins.

    On the surface, this is a nice paragraph. If we heard something like this in an exhortation or lecture, delivered from one who accepts the foundation Christadelphian position, we would have little issue with it. But when we see the separation MT makes, carefully isolating death and sin, so that he can have Christ dying, but not made sin; then the paragraph can be seen as consistent with what he has been saying for 50 plus pages, and then we can understand how he can say this, while at the same time denying that there was anything styled "sin" in Christ.

    MT says God was right to condemn Man to death. We agree. By capitalizing "Man," we presume he is using the term "constitutionally." Jesus is included in the sin-constitution of things, is he not? So was it right to condemn Jesus to death? Any regular man who reaches adulthood, can clearly be said to be a sinner in two ways. He is a transgressor of God’s law, and he is constitutionally a sinner, by virtue of his birth. So there can be no question that such a man is under condemnation to die. But our question focus’s on Jesus, and the declaration of God’s righteousness he made in his death. Was God exhibited as right in condemning Jesus to death, because of sin. Sin, not his own, but that which God made him to be?

    We better say a few words about the term "constitutional," as it applies to this argument. We know a great deal of confusion has been interjected, using this term, when it has been used to suggest a moral relationship.

    In the arguments with both the "clean flesh" folks, and those who believed baptism was necessary to be resurrected for judgment, the word "constitutional" was used by some to imply that moral guilt was somehow transmitted to the descendant of Adam. This was a misuse of the term, and had to be explained. Bro. Roberts, in 1895, said it was best explained in the 1875 Chdn on page 375. The following are a few excerpts, and gives the proper meaning of the term as used by foundation Christadelphians in 1875, on page 375.



    Answer.—Sin is the cause of death, and, therefore, "that having the power of death," and, therefore, the devil. And sin is disobedience. But it is not an abstraction that sin has the power of death. That is, it has no power to hurt with death until it obtain admission in some way. So long as it is outside of us it cannot hurt. There are two ways in which its deadly work can be done: "Whosoever committeth sin is the servant (or slave) of sin." This is one way—the personal commission of sin, which brings us under personal condemnation, as Paul in all his epistles teaches, e.g., Rom. 1:32; Eph. 5:6; Col. 3:6. The other way is exemplified in our relation to Adam. He sinned, and death coming on him, was transmitted to all who afterwards inherited his death-stricken nature.—(Rom. 5:14; 7:24; 1 Cor. 15:54.) In this way, sin or the devil obtains access to the innocent, or, as Paul defines them in the chapter, "them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgressions." A child just born, for instance, though innocent of actual sin, has death in itself through Adam.

    He was a sufferer from the effects of sin in all the items of weakness, labour, pain, sorrow, death; and in this sense (as a partaker with us of the effects of sin) has been described as a constitutional sinner, or one subject to a sin-constitution of things. But as this phrase gives occasion to disingenuous cavil, it is well to discard the phrase and look at the meaning, which has been stated. As a sufferer from the effects of sin, he had himself to be delivered from those effects; and as the mode of deliverance was by death on the cross, that death was for himself first, not for sins of his own committing, but for deliverance from the sin of Adam from which he suffered in common with his brethren, and from the sins of his brethren which were laid on him.


    How did sin "obtain admission" in Christ as bro. Roberts says above? Obviously, by birth. Note how he compares an innocent child just born, and can die for the same reason. Sin obtains admission in us due to our descent from Adam. So we all die due to sin. Most of us die due to our own sins. Moral innocents die due to the sin inherited from Adam. But we all die on account of sin.

    This is what is meant by a sin-Constitution. Not that we are guilty of Adam’s sin, but that we suffer the effects of Adam’s sin. It is the effects, which are called sin. MT wants to maintain a barrier between the effects of sin, and sin itself. Such a barrier cannot be maintained, and still have God exhibited as Righteous and Just in requiring the death of Jesus.

    Next we come to a term "inevitable sinners," which MT is using to replace the term "constitutional sinners."

    "We have to remember that when Adam sinned, men and women became inevitable sinners. The simple formula that God had put in place is that if you sin, you die! ‘For the wages of sin is death…’ says the Apostle. The only way that this formula could be overcome is if a member of Adam’s race could beat sin and death, and represent the whole of Mankind in doing so. In other words, he did not go over it, or around it — he went ‘through it’ and experienced death ‘for all men" as one of Adam’s race.’

    MT correctly states "the simple formula that God has put in place...". "If you sin, you die." Also, "the wages of sin is death." Now, in view of that simple formula, can MT explain how God was righteous and just in requiring the death of Christ, who did no sin, but suffered the consequences of sin, death.

    MT suggests the formula was overcome. It was not. If, as a result of Christ’s perfect life, he had not died, then we could say the formula was overcome. But the formula is in perfect place. Christ died, and the only way he could have died, and still have been a declaration of God’s righteousness, is if he died to condemn the sin God made him to be, in harmony with the simple formula MT stated.

    MT introduces us to a new term here. "...when Adam sinned, men and women became inevitable sinners." I am not familiar with any usage of such a term in the past. The foundation Christadelphians teach that when Adam sinned, men and women were constituted sinners. This is a different thing than "inevitable sinners."

    "Inevitable" means "sure to happen" or "incapable of being avoided or evaded." Obviously, then, (and considering the limited definition of sin that MT uses) men were not "inevitable sinners" as Jesus never sinned. And newborn babies who sadly die, never sinned. So the term is simply erroneous.

    What we are born into, is not "inevitable sin" but the constitution of sin. Bro. Thomas explains this in great detail in Elpis Israel.



    "Mankind being born of the flesh, and of the will of man, are born into the world under the constitution of sin. That is, they are the natural born citizens of Satan’s kingdom. By their fleshly birth, they are entitled to all that sin can impart to them. What creates the distinction of bodies politic among the sons of Adam? It is constitution, or covenant. By constitution, then, one man is English, and another American. The former is British because he is born of the flesh under the British constitution. In this case, he is worthy of neither praise nor blame. He was made subject to the constitution, not willingly, but by reason of them who chose that he should be born under it. But when he comes of age, the same man may become an American. He may put off the old man of the political flesh, and put on the new man, which is created by the constitution of the United States; so that by constitution, he becomes an American in every particular but the accident of birth.

    There are two states or kingdoms, in God’s arrangements, which are distinguished by constitution. These are the Kingdom of Satan and the Kingdom of God. The citizens of the former are all sinners; the heirs of the latter are saints. Men cannot be born heirs by the will of the flesh; for natural birth confers no right to God’s Kingdom. Men must be born sinners before they can become saints; even as one must be born a foreigner before he can be an adopted citizen of the States. It is absurd to say that children are born holy, except in the sense of their being legitimate. None are born holy, but such as are born of the Spirit into the Kingdom of God. Children are born sinners or unclean, because they are born of sinful flesh; and "that which is born of the flesh is flesh", or sin. This is a misfortune, not a crime. They did not will to be born sinners. They have no choice in the case; for it is written, "The creature was made subject, ô ìáôáéüôçôé to the evil, not willingly, but by reason of him who subjected it in hope".a Hence, the apostle says, "By Adam’s disobedience the many were made sinners";b that is, they were endowed with a nature like his, which had become unclean, as the result of disobedience; and by the constitution of the economy into which they were introduced by the will of the flesh, they were constituted transgressors before they were able to discern between right and wrong.

    Upon this principle, he that is born of sinful flesh is a sinner; as he that is born of English parents is an English child. Such a sinner is an heir of all that is derivable from sin. Hence, new-born babes suffer all the evil of the peculiar department of Satan, or sin’s kingdom, to which they belong..."


    This is obviously the part of the foundation Christadelphian position MT wishes to rewrite with his new term. When we are born, we are constituted or made sinners. This is not saying anything different than God said through Paul, when he said of Jesus, that he had made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin. To be made sin, and to be constituted sinners, is the same thing. It is not a crime. It is not in any way moral. It is a physical relationship that places a barrier between God and man. That barrier is what is removed in the reconciliation which exhibited God as Righteous.

    Speaking of this in the same section as quoted above from Elpis Israel, bro. Thomas lays out the meaning of sin, when used in reference to the constitution of sin. I know I’ve referenced all this before, but I do it again here because of the attempt MT makes to change the foundation Christadelphian position in regards sin and the constitution of sin.

    "The word sin is used in two principal acceptations in the scripture. It signifies in the first place, ‘the transgression of the law’; and in the next, it represents that physical principle of the animal nature, which is the cause of all its diseases, death, and resolution into dust. It is that in the flesh ‘which has the power of death’; and it is called sin, because the development, or fixation, of this evil in the flesh, was the result of transgression. Inasmuch as this evil principle pervades every part of the flesh, the animal nature is styled ‘sinful flesh,’ that is, ‘flesh full of sin’; so that sin, in the sacred style, came to stand for the substance called man. In human flesh ‘dwells no good thing’; and all the evil a man does is the result of this principle dwelling in him.a Operating upon the brain, it excites the ‘propensities’, and these set the ‘intellect’, and ‘sentiments’ to work."

    So here is the foundation Christadelphian position on the word "sin" and as we can easily see, it is opposed to that set forth by MT. There are two acceptations, or acceptable usages of the term "sin." 1). Transgression. 2). Our physical nature.

    For this reason, bro. Thomas goes on a few paragraphs later and states (as again, I have quoted in this exercise many times, as it so perfectly pits bro. Thomas and the foundation Christadelphian position against the "clean flesh" teachers like MT)

    "Sin, I say, is a synonym for human nature. Hence, the flesh is invariably regarded as unclean...This view of sin in the flesh is enlightening in the things concerning Jesus. The apostle says, ‘God made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin’; and this he explains in another place by saying, that ‘He sent his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh’ in the offering of his body once. Sin could not have been condemned in the body of Jesus, if it had not existed there. His body was as unclean as the bodies of those for whom he died; for he was born of a woman, and ‘not one’ can bring a clean body out of a defiled body; for ‘that’, says Jesus himself, ‘which is born of the flesh is flesh’.

    It would be hard for bro. Thomas to be much clearer. According to the foundation Christadelphians, sin is a synonym (two words with the same meaning) for human nature. And, as he points out in his definition of Rom 8:3, sin had to exist in the flesh of Jesus, to be condemned there.



    "...By Adam’s disobedience the many were made sinners; that is, they were endowed with a nature like his, which had become unclean, as the result of disobedience; and by the constitution of the economy into which they were introduced by the will of the flesh, they were constituted transgressors before they were able to discern between right and wrong.

    "Upon this principle, he that is born of sinful flesh is a sinner; as he that is born of English parents is an English child..."


    That completes the cycle, and explains how the foundation Christadelphians understood what we inherited from Adam. What we became by inheritance was not "inevitable sinners," as made obvious by the fact that Christ did not sin. What we became by inheritance was "constitutional sinners" or born into a sin-constitution of things. The sin-constitution is a physical condition, not a moral one, by which human nature comes to stand for sin, the sin which God made Christ to be, and the sin he condemned in his flesh on the cross. This is the clear foundation Christadelphian position.


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    In continuing this section Matthew Trowell gives us certain verses. He doesn’t do much to help us understand his perspective from these verses as he doesn’t bother to explain his take on them, and his quoting of Rom. 8:3 is quite curious. The section reads:

    "Scripture expresses what was accomplished in Christ’s death this way: ‘God sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and by a sacrifice for sin, condemned sin…’ (Romans 8:3—RV). ‘God hath set forth Jesus to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare His righteousness’ (Romans 3:24). ‘He destroyed him that had the power of death, that is the devil…’ (Hebrews 2:14). ‘We are reconciled to God by the death of His son…" (Romans 5:10; cp. John 3:14) that he might bring us to God’ (1 Peter 3:18).

    Rom. 8:3 in the RV which he appears to prefer reads this:

    Rom 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

    Why does he leave out "in the flesh" which tells us where God condemned sin? This makes no sense to me. Did he think we wouldn’t notice? Even more frightening, did he think the Central folks to who he was writing, wouldn’t notice?

    We are supposed to be discussing the things Jesus accomplished in his death. What was it that the law could not do? Obviously, the law could not give life. Not because it was not so ordained, but because sinful man could not keep it. So what the law could not do, God did, in sending Jesus in the likeness of sinful flesh, and as an offering for sin, condemned sin in the flesh. Why did MT change the text from condemned "sin in the flesh," to condemned sin.

    MT then tells us that, though this section is supposed to deal with the things accomplished in his death, the condemnation of sin was what Jesus did in his life.

    "...Christ ‘condemned sin’ in his own life, which, ‘declared God’s righteousness’. He, thereby, ‘destroyed the devil’ or ‘sin’, which ‘reconciled us to God’ and ‘brought us to God’.

    This makes no sense. He wants to change the translation of Rom. 8:3 (which personally, I think is valid from the Greek "peri hamartias") to focus us on Christ as a sin offering, which would clearly be his death; but then wants the verse to focus on his life.

    But the verse does not discuss the life of Christ. It was not in his life that he condemned sin, at least in the sense discussed by the apostle Paul. It was in his death. The following states this clearly, by bro. Thomas, when establishing the foundation Christadelphian position in Eureka:

    "The Eternal Spirit-Word was the High Priestly Offerer of His own Flesh, whose character was without spot—‘holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners;’ ‘who knew no sin;’ yet whose nature was in all points like ours—‘sin’s flesh,’ in which dwells no good thing—Heb. 9:14; 7:26; 2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 8:3; 7:18; Heb. 2:14–17. The Flesh made by the spirit out of Mary’s substance, and rightly claimed therefore in Psalm 16:8; Acts 2:31, as His flesh, is the Spirit’s Anointed Altar, cleansed by the blood of that flesh when poured out unto death ‘on the tree.’ This flesh was the victim offered—the sacrifice. Suspended on the tree by the voluntary offering of the Spirit-Word (John 10:18), ‘sin was condemned in the flesh,’ when the soul-blood thereof was poured out unto death. The Spirit-Word made his soul thus an offering for sin (Isa. 53:10); and by it sanctified the Altar-Body on the tree. It was now a thusiasterion—an Altar Most Holy; and all that touch it are holy; and without touching it none are holy."

    Bro. Thomas could not be clearer. Sin was condemned in the flesh when the soul-blood thereof was poured out unto death. Now MT gives lip service to the notion of something accomplished in his death in this section. But when we get down to his explanations, it is always something accomplished in his obedient life, with barely a notice of the principles expressed in his death.

    And when he does reach the point where he speaks of putting to death the propensities, he carefully isolates these propensities from sin. We dealt with this in previous posts. The propensities and the intellect were not sinful of themselves, we all agree with that. But after the fall, man did not have the propensities and intellect by themselves, waiting to be shaped. Man had the propensities and intellect guided by the sentiment dominated by intellect. This is evil of itself. The propensities and the intellect when governed by the sentiment motivated only by the intellect was sin’s flesh or the carnal mind. The propensities and intellect when ruled by the sentiment guided by the Spirit-word: this is the spirit mind.

    We have already spent a great deal of time on Rom. 3:25 so no need to go over that again. The declaration of God’s righteousness was made in his death, not in his life. We have shown what the foundation brethren stated it was, and how MT omitted the foundation statement altogether in his list.

    He quotes Heb 2:14 which we have not the material from him to discuss yet, so I have no clue what he means. Perhaps we will get there. This is another example of how different the "clean flesh" folks are from those of us with the foundation Christadelphian position. One might reasonably think that Heb. 2:14 is discussing Christ putting to death his nature, the diabolos. Yet I remember in 1978 (or thereabouts) Richard Stone, another "clean flesh" teacher, turning the term diabolos into a personification of an entirely moral relationship. So we will have to wait and see how MT uses it.

    And lastly, Rom 5:10. We are reconciled to God by the death of his son. That is our point. Atonement or reconciliation is through the death of Christ, not the life of Christ. There are no verses which say that atonement is through the life of Christ. But there are several which speak of atonement through his death. The one way you should always be able to tell that you are on a wrong course, is when you can’t find your ideas plainly stated in Scriptures. And the second way to know you are wrong, is that you have to spiritualize or treat figuratively things which appear to be spoken quite literally, and your only reason for spiritualizing, is that the literal doesn’t fit your preconceived notions. MT must do both. He must satisfy himself with fairly complicated arguments to establish his point, and then he must spiritualize away the obvious, to sustain his point.


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    We now begin the closing out of this section, under the title the significance of the Resurrection. Matthew Trowell (MT) begins with a statement which is simply either false, or understated.

    "So we have seen that it is our sins that ‘separate’ us from God. But Christ’s death has ‘reconciled’ us to God. If we have been reconciled to God by the death of Christ, then what was the significance of his resurrection?"

    Given the limitation that MT has placed on the word "sins" this statement is false. We are separated from God first, as a result of the condemnation placed on the man in the Garden which we inherit by descent from Adam, and second, due to our own sins. While the second is far more significant and important to us personally, the first is there, nevertheless.

    We are then asked, what was the significance of Jesus’ resurrection. We would think the answer obvious. Apart from the resurrection of the dead, we would have had no hope. God’s righteousness and justness were exhibited in Christ’s death. This removed the barrier placed between man and God in the garden, for all (and only for all) those who have faith in the things accomplished in his blood upon that Mercy Seat. But we are sinners in our own right. With one barrier removed, another (our own sins) is instantly set in place.

    Christ did not sin. When he died unto sin to declare God’s righteousness, condemning sin in his flesh where it had plagued him some 32 1/2 years, and having faith in the things he accomplished; he was reconciled to God from the barrier constructed in the Garden. Having died to become free from sin, there was no second barrier to life, such as is common to you and me, immediately reconstructed. Sin had done everything that it could to him, in that it killed him.

    Christ was resurrected to life by the power and glory of God, as a complete submission to God’s plan from the foundation of the world. His resurrection was prophesied through the curse placed on the woman in the Garden. The seed of the serpent was to bruise the heal of the seed of the woman, but the seed of the woman was to crush the head of the seed of the serpent. Here are some Scriptural reasons why Christ was raised:



    Act_2:24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

    Rom_6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

    Col_2:12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

    Php 2:8-9 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

    Rom_1:4 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:

    Php_3:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

    Heb 13:20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant.


    And the purpose of his resurrection as applied to us is:



    Rom_4:25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

    1Pe_1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

    Php_3:21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

    Rom 5:10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.


    Then we are asked a second question:

    God’s Law had said that "the wages of sin is death." But what if a righteous man were to die? What if a man were to die who had led a sin-less life in complete obedience to his Heavenly Father? Could the grave still have power over him? Would God leave him in the ground to "perish"?

    I would think the better question is, that since God declared that the wages of sin is death, how was it possible that a man who at all times walked righteously, could righteously be required to die, if the term "sin" must be limited to immoral acts? Would that not be a conflict to the divine law? Of course it would!

    But to answer the question technically, the law of God promised life to such a man who would live his entire life righteously. That is why Paul tells us that "the law was ordained unto life." But man could not earn life, not because of any imperfection in the law to provide life to the perfect man, but because the flesh was too weak to keep the law perfectly.

    It was therefore necessary for God to provide a man to redeem man outside the law, that we might understand that our salvation is from God. God provided Jesus, who was God manifested in flesh, for the purpose of demonstrating the righteousness and justness of God as a basis for the remission of sin.

    But Jesus was not saved by his own righteousness under the law, or by his own perfect work, as MT’s question suggests, (though his perfect obedience is intimately involved as the blemmishless lamb.) Jesus came voluntarily under the curse of the law in the mode of his death, that he too, might be saved by faith, and not by works.

    Gal 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

    So to answer his second question as whether or not the grave would have power over such an one. Presumably, no, but how can one say? It was not possible that anyone could save themselves. Man born of the will of man was too weak. Jesus, born of the will of God was strong enough, but in the case of Jesus, he could not have entered into life by righteous works, according to the workings of God. He was commanded to go up on the tree. This act brought the curse of the whole law upon him. Had he refused to go up on the tree, he also would have come under the curse of the law, as the law commanded one to do all that God commands them.

    Salvation by works then, was not ever to be a part of the "operation of God" by which resurrection occurred. It would have been the antitheses to God’s plan. The demonstration of God’s righteousness was the great plan of salvation. If a man could be saved by his own demonstration of righteous works, what was God for?

    Jesus was resurrected to life-- immortal life-- through the blood of the everlasting covenant. After having made reconciliation for sin in his death, we are told, then the grave could not hold him. Since he was morally sinless, and having made reconciliation for the sin constitution (as it applied to himself) in his death; no sin had any claim on him and he would not be held in the grave. He had, as a result of his blood sheeding death, cancelled the claim sin had on him by his death, and then, because of his perfect obedience to God, and sinless life, it was impossible for the grave to hold him.

    Here is bro. Roberts explaining this:

    But it was typical of more than death; it was typical of a violent manner of death: for in natural death, the blood is not shed. Violent death includes death, but death does not necessarily include violence. Bloodshedding included both ideas. But why was it necessary that both should be thus prominent in the law? Because death had a double hold upon those for whom Christ was to die. They are hereditarily mortal because they inherit their being from one who was condemned to death because of sin; and their own numerous offences render them liable to the violent death decreed by the law. Christ came under both curses, and discharged them both by the shedding of his blood. He came under the first in being born of the same condemned stock "of this man (David’s) seed." He came under the second in the act of crucifixion; for the law declared the man "accursed of God, " (Deut. 21:23), who hung on a tree; and the spirit in Paul applies this to Jesus.—(Gal. 3:13.) Hence the shedding of his blood comes to be expressive of his whole work, even more completely in a verbal sense than his death; inasmuch as the shedding of his blood tells us he not only died but died violently. The literal shedding of his blood by the nails and spear of Rome was the Spirit’s ritual in the one great offering, connecting the offering with the slain beasts of the Mosaic law, and repeating the symbolism set forth from the beginning in the shedding of their blood; in the same way as the rending of the temple vail coincided with his death.—(Matt. 27:51.) The shedding of his blood would not have availed had he not died; and the crimson fluid would have been of no value to any human being, had it been caught in a bottle and preserved, as it oozed from the lacerated flesh. Its "preciousness" lay in the precious results it effected for us by the favour of God; and its cleansing power lies not in its physical nature, but in our spiritual perception of what God connected with it, and faith in His assurance of what He will do for us, if we submit to this vindication of his way towards men. The washing of us in his own blood is a figurative expression of the forgiveness of our sins we receive on our recognition and submission to God’s whole work in Christ, whom he hath set forth as a propitiation for our sins. God for Christ’s sake forgives us if we believe and obey him. Chdn 1873 pg 553

    Bro. Roberts explains in the previous paragraph what the type was about.

    The prominence of "the blood of Christ" is due to the symbolism of the law which converged and terminated in him.

    As we have seen bro. Roberts point out to Edward Turney in his article "Questions and Questions, a type must have substance, or it is not a type of anything. The type was the blood shedding of animals under the Mosaic law. The substance was shedding of Christ’s blood upon the cross for his redemption from the sin constitution he was born into.

    Born under two curses for the purpose of redeeming mankind, Jesus hung on the tree that he might come under both curses in his manner of death, that he would not be saved by works, but by faith in the operation of God, which raised him from the death.


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    Reply with quote  #29 

    We now come to the section of "Extremes." Matthew Trowell (MT) begins by claiming that the Central position has been consistent over the years. This is simply false. The Central position today, has little to nothing to do with that which I was taught in Central, just 40 years ago. And even at that time, (40 years ago, say, around 1972) the corruption was too much to be corrected, though it would pale in comparison to today. The Central position on the Atonement was changing slowly from the early 1920s, increasing speed in the late 1940s to an explosion of problems with the acceptance of the Australian Clean Flesh folks into fellowship in 1957. By the early 1970s, the problem was becoming impossible to correct, and knowing this gave the "clean flesh" folks a new boldness, which manifested itself in an explosion of open "clean flesh" teaching by the late 1970s. MT is giving us a history of Central, that Central historians (such as bro. Stephen Genusa) would outright reject. I will do more on this shortly.

    MT writes:

    "Central or ‘Amended’ Christadelphian teaching on the subject of the nature and sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ is distinct compared with the teachings of the Churches, and has remained consistent throughout the history of the brotherhood."

    There is nothing that makes this case better, than a comparison of the way Biblical verses related to the sacrifice of Christ are used today in Central, compared to how they were used in the past. MT doesn’t use a lot of verses to prove his point, and doesn’t explain very well, how he uses the verses. I presume at some point he will begin to do so, and if he does, we will exhibit this point. But it is easy to do. Compare the verses which the brethren before the death of bro. Roberts used, and their explanations, to modern expositors from Central and their explanations of the same verses.

    The next false statement made by MT is:

    "This in itself is quite ironic since the very purpose of the work of God through the life, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ was to bring about unity, not to create division."

    This is simply false. The purpose of the divine teaching was to separate. It was first and foremost to separate true believes from the world, but it would work even deeper, to separate loved ones from each other.

    Luk 12:51-53 Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

    Jesus knew that that was what his teaching would do, and MT testifies to the fact that Jesus was, as always, right. It is MT’s ignoring of what Jesus prophesies, which gives him such an opinion.

    MT comes back to his "simplicity" argument, which we have already dealt with at length. Yes, the truth is simple to understand, until foundation principles which are clearly stated, are spiritualized, turned into figures, or outright rejected as impossible. Then the arguments becomes as complex as any you will come across in your lifetime.

    MT then introduces us to the writings of David Handley, and Edward Turney, circa 1873. He tries to tell us where these men went wrong, but does so without stating the fundamental principle of their teachings, which pertains to inherited sin or guilt, and forfeited life by reason of that inherited guilt. I’m not sure that I understand how this is possible.

    The first and foremost error these men make, pertains to their understanding of sin. Like MT, they taught that sin could only be moral. So when they read the apostle Paul speaking of the sentence of death in ourselves, they could only understand it in regards to moral guilt. They understood (what MT does not accept) that the existence of death proved the presence of sin. What they were disputing was: "What sin?" Bro. Thomas taught that inherited sin was physical. These men rejected any notion that sin was a physical characteristic of the flesh. They reasoned that we, who are descendants of Adam by mother and father, inherit the moral sin or guilt directly from Adam, and are therefore liable to the violent death incurred by Adam.

    This is half the Catholic doctrine of "Original Sin" as canonized by Augustine. We are all individually guilty of Adam’s sin, not merely suffering the effects of Adam’s sin; and for that reason our lives are lost, or forfeited.

    To quote directly from Edward Turney, as I have done before, here is his explanation of "what sin:"

    "...To express it as Milton does in his 3rd Book of ‘Paradise Lost’ at the 290th line. ‘His crime makes guilty all his sons.’ And in his Eleventh Book, line 317, he says ‘In me all posterity stands accursed.’ That is our position; we are prospectively dead men...." Sacrifice of Christ, pg. 8.

    How one might try to explain the teachings of Edward Turney without mentioning this as the foundation for his entire argument, is quite a mystery to me. And it is not like this is hidden in his talk. It is in his opening paragraph. Now, because Edward Turney looked at all men who were by mother and father the descendants of Adam as morally guilty of sin, their lives forfeited; he had to have Christ born outside that condemnation, outside of Adam, or he too would have been born in the line of death, guilty of sin, and unable to redeem us. Therefore Christ had to not be under the curse of Adam, and to have "free life" or life not guilty of sin; that he might redeem us. This, he reasoned, was possible due to his divine parentage.

    In this, Edward Turney is much more consistent that MT. In Edward Turney’s plan, all men who are guilty of sinning in Adam, must die. He therefore had Christ born outside of Adam, and not liable to death at all. He clearly states he did not have to die. This is consistent. Bro. Thomas’ exposition says we bear sin in our flesh, a physical characteristic inherited from Adam requiring all who descend from Adam, Christ included, to die. This too, is consistent. MT however, tells us that sin can only be moral. He tells us that sin in the flesh is not sin. Yet he has Christ dying anyway. This is inconsistent with the Divine law that the wages of sin is death.

    Now, MT goes on to explain why this teaching is so false. MT writes:

    "The reason why this false teaching was so wrong was because, as Brother Roberts pointed out, it called into question the righteousness of God. It presented God as being unjust. For if Christ did in fact have ‘free life’ and, therefore, did not share our nature as Bro. Turney was teaching, and was, of course, sinless with regards to personal transgression, then there was no reason for Christ to die. It was, therefore, an act of injustice for God to allow Christ to die and suffer on the cross."

    He is complete correct that it is impossible for the righteousness of God to be exhibited in the death of Christ, if we follow the writings of Edward Turney. Because if we follow his concepts, we have God requiring Jesus to die a death, not being under the condemnation of sin. But is it not equally so with the writings of MT? The wages of sin is death. Christ never sinned. How was God then, exhibited as righteous in requiring his death, if there was no sin in Christ? Paul did not write: "the wages of the inherent tendency to sin, is death." And had he done so, then Adam in his novitiate would have been under condemnation to death, which would be impossible.

    It is the wages of sin is death. If sin can only be moral, then there was no sin in Christ. And how, then, can we explain his death? Edward Turney, who accepted, (one might argue he developed) MT’s explanation that sin can only be moral, reached the logical conclusion that there could be no sin in Christ. Christ therefore, had to be born outside the sin from Adam. For this reason, Edward Turney further concluded that he had free life. MT reaches the completely illogical conclusion that somehow death exists in the body of Christ, apart from sin. He rejects Edward Turney’s notion that inherited sin is moral, and also rejects bro. Thomas’ explanation that sin is a physical constituent of the flesh. Thus, he has Christ dying without any relationship to sin.

    MT has reach other conclusions about David Handley and Edward Turney’s writings, which are quite mystifying. For instance, MT quotes from the specific page, paragraph, and point where Edward Turney renounced the teachings of Christadelphians, but then somehow misses what that teaching was and completely changes Edward Turney’s point! Note this from Edward Turney’s writing:

    "Well now, since my mind has been more especially directed to the study of this subject, I have arrived at this conviction that there is no such thing as flesh full of sin, and never was, nor can be." Edward Turney, Sacrifice of Christ pg 16

    Now, this statement is what is regarded as the "renouncing" of the Christadelphian position by Edward Turney. It is from this statement that the term "Renunciationist" came, which was applied to Edward Turney and his followers. Edward Turney has just specifically told us that he is rejecting the Christadelphian teaching of sin in the flesh, which, as he pointed out in that same paragraph, was what bro. Thomas explained on page 126 of Elpis Israel. Yet MT tells us that it is Clause 5 which he is rejecting. This is simply, and historically wrong (though I suppose it is impossible to accept clause 5, while rejecting bro. Thomas conclusions concerning flesh.) What is being rejected is the Christadelphian teaching that there is such a thing as sin in the flesh, or flesh full of sin, a physical principle residing in the flesh of all men, Christ included. It is on page 126 that bro. Thomas makes this point:

    Elpis Israel by John Thomas, pg 126 "The word sin is used in two principal acceptations in the scripture. It signifies in the first place, "the transgression of the law"; and in the next, it represents that physical principle of the animal nature, which is the cause of all its diseases, death, and resolution into dust. It is that in the flesh "which has the power of death"; and it is called sin, because the development, or fixation, of this evil in the flesh, was the result of transgression.Inasmuch as this evil principle pervades every part of the flesh, the animal nature is styled "sinful flesh," that is, "flesh full of sin"; so that sin, in the sacred style, came to stand for the substance called man.

    Edward Turney is not rejecting the notion that the flesh has an "inherent tendency to sin" as MT suggests. Indeed, he agrees with that, as I shall show, where Edward Turney quotes identically the same sections from the Ambassador Magazine, as MT quotes, to explain his belief. Edward Turney is rejecting the well established Christadelphian teaching that the flesh is (physically) "sin."

    What I would like to show now, is how similar Edward Turney’s teaching is at its foundation, to the teachings of MT. I pointed out earlier, that where bro. Thomas introduced the concept of "two acceptations" of the word sin in his exposition, MT, in his exposition, went silent. That is, of course, because of his oft stated position that sin can only be moral. Obviously, if sin can only be moral, then bro. Thomas’ two acceptations for the word sin, and his statement that "Sin...is a synonym for human nature" must necessarily be rejected. Look what Edward Turney said about this second acceptation for the word sin:

    "The second sense in which the word ‘sin’ as used by the Dr. is quite imaginary. It is what Webster calls the theological sense, that is to say, sin is supposed to mean the native depravity of the human heart. All this is supposition. I repeat that sin is an ‘act’ not a literal element existing in the flesh."

    So MT and Edward Turney agree. Sin is only an act.

    MT also quotes the following from Edward Turney though I am unclear as to why:

    "There was no sin in the ‘nature’ after it had transgressed. There was mortality. There was man destined to die; but sin was not a fixed principle in man’s flesh."

    Remember that MT tells us that sin can only be moral. Remember how in this book, he has carefully isolated sin from death. So how does Edward Turney differ here from what MT has been telling us, that this should be singled out? MT believes that there was mortality, and a tendency to sin in human nature, but denies that any of this is "sin." And that is exactly what Edward Turney believed. So Edward Turney and MT end up in identically the same spot. They both end up with no sin in the flesh of anyone, let alone Christ; and that is why their doctrine is termed "clean flesh."


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    Reply with quote  #30 
    "There was no sin in the ‘nature’ after it had transgressed. There was mortality. There was man destined to die; but sin was not a fixed principle in man’s flesh." -ET

    Even when certain writers quote from Elpis Israel concerning the two principal acceptations of sin - as if they agree with it - they somehow manage to arrive at ET's conclusion.  Some are more clever than others in choice of words and consequently lead more astray,  but at the end of the day the old Romanish error of Clean Flesh is upheld, though they would deny that Rome has anything to do with it.
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