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The first two chapters of the book of Hebrews present to us Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Son of Man. In our previous presentation we learnt that Christ walked upon this earth and was tempted as a real man. We also learnt that his divine and his human natures were kept completely separate, without giving him any advantages over the rest of humanity. Christ overcame through faith while in his human nature.

In the second chapter of Hebrews, we find a passage which gives us details as to why Christ was given the title Son of Man. What humanity was He part of? Are there two distinct kinds of humanity upon birth or do we see a difference among people not because of how they were made (or born), but rather because of the choices they have made in life? We’ll now read from Hebrews chapter two and see what the bible teaches in regard to Christ and the brethren he was made like unto:

“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily 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, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.” Hebrews 2:9-18

The passage speaks for itself, but as it is with everything else in scripture we are not to take certain sections and verses out of context in order to arrive at our own conclusions. It is unfortunate to say this, but the verses above have been misinterpreted by various people, particularly within Adventism, who have created an understanding that is contrary to what the Bible says. This misinterpretation began back in the 1900s by a group that was labeled as the Holy Flesh movement. Here is what they taught with respect to who Christ calls His brethren. We are quoting R.S. Donnell who was one of the main proponents of the movement in Indiana:

“Now Christ stood where Adam stood, and Adam stood there without a taint of sin. So Christ must have stood where Adam stood before his fall – that is, without a taint of sin. This must be so, for Paul continues the subject, and in verse 11 he says: “For both He that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified (not those he is going to sanctify, but they who are sanctified) are all of one; for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren.” Notice it is the sanctified ones who (sic) He is not ashamed to call brethren. Further it is the sanctified ones of whose flesh He partakes. “Forasmuch, then, as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise (just as the sanctified ones are partakers) took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil. {R.S. Donnell, What I Taught in Indiana, pg. 4-5}

He then continues:

“In taking up this subject we will begin just where we left off in our last [above] article. In that, when we closed we were considering the fact that Christ Himself took part of the flesh and blood, just as the children did. That is, He took part of the same flesh the children possessed. We found, also, that the children are the sanctified ones. Now the sanctified ones are surely those upon whom the truth of God and the power of the Holy Spirit has wrought — the ones who are new creatures in Christ Jesus, those who have been created unto good works, the same which God hath before ordained that they should walk in.
Men can continually do righteous acts only as God is incarnate in them; and it was God’s purpose from the beginning to dwell in every created being, so that good works, or He Himself, might always appear in them. But in sinful man Satan is incarnate, and God and Satan cannot dwell together. The only reason why God does not dwell in man is because sin is there, and in order for God to again dwell in man sin must be eradicated. The body of Christ was a body in which God was incarnate, and as God and Satan cannot dwell together, the body of Christ must have been a body from which even every tendency to sin must have been wholly eradicated. ’” {R.S. Donnell, What I Taught in Indiana, pg. 4-5}

According to the proponents of the Holy Flesh movement, Christ was made like unto his sanctified brethren. He was born different from everyone else who was part of the fallen human family. These brethren could not put Christ in the same category as every other human being, because to them our nature was sin in and of itself and was the habitation of Satan. As we can see from the statement above, they believed and taught that we are all born children of Satan.

Stephen Haskell visited and spoke with them in reference to this and then wrote a letter to Ellen White stating the following:

“When we stated that we believed that Christ was born in fallen humanity, they would represent us as believing that Christ sinned, notwithstanding the fact that we would state our position so clearly that it would seem as though no one could misunderstand us.” {S.N. Haskell, letter to Ellen White, Sept. 25, 1900}

The brethren from the Holy Flesh movement taught that all of us are born sinners because of our nature and the fact that Satan dwelt in it and thus Christ could not partake of the same, because He himself would be born a sinner.

Ellen White was inspired to respond to the crisis, for God had shown her that the teachings coming from Indiana were inspired by the enemy of souls.

“During the General Conference of 1901, instruction was given me in regard to the experience of some of the brethren in Indiana, and regarding the doctrines they had been teaching in the churches. I was shown that through this experience and the doctrines taught, the enemy has been working to lead souls astray. {Ellen White, Ms. 39, 1907}

God clearly told the church that the teachings coming from the Holy Flesh movement are inspired by the enemy. They were in direct opposition to the gospel of choice and probation that the Bible and the Adventist church at that time was introducing to the world. Unfortunately, despite the fact that this movement came quickly to an end, the same erroneous teachings came back to Adventism years later. Many are aware of what happened in the 1950s with the publishing of the book Questions on Doctrines. Since that period, Adventists in general understand sin to be a state, speaking in regard to our human nature, and outright reject the perfection of Christian character for as long as we possess this fallen human nature. Some teach that Christ took the entire nature of Adam before the fall, while others create something like a hybrid human nature where Jesus took the body of a fallen man while having the unfallen spiritual mind of Adam. The doctrines promoted by some preachers are at times almost identical to those that came forth from Indiana and one might wonder how such teachings could be so heavily embraced by multitudes of people. A prime example of this is the following statements from Adventist elders and leaders from the late 1900s, whose teachings were heavily endorsed and promoted within Adventism:

“[Christ’s] human nature was common only with those who have experienced a spiritual rebirth… Let us express this another way: Of Mary, Jesus was born ‘born again'”{T. A. Davis, Was Jesus Really Like Us? p. 30, 1986}

“Did Christ really have an advantage over me? – Yes, Christ had an advantage in one sense: He had a sanctified will from birth to the cross…
[Christ came with] the same nature that becomes ours when we are born again…”In other words, Christ came born, ‘born again.’” {R. Spear, Waymarks of Adventism p. 41, 1981}

“A divine, creative miracle brought to pass this new union of Godhead and humanity, begun in the womb of Mary, which secured freedom from the slightest taint of sin…Jesus’ humanity was a new – creation, thus divorced from the Adamic lineage. It was a different humanity and could at birth have a ‘sanctified human will.’” {Leroy Froom, The Virgin Birth, p.15}

These, among other statements, present the same ideas as the brethren in Indiana. The goal here, as it is with the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, is to separate Christ from the rest of humanity. He could not be made like unto all of humanity for He himself will be born a sinner as per the doctrine of original sin. He must be different in one way or another. It is true that Christ passed through life with a sanctified human will, but this was not because of his makeup at birth, but because he chose to surrender to His Father’s will at every step of the way:

“…nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” Luke 22:42

You will not find any such statements by the 1888 messengers. They rightfully understood what the Bible teaches and presented a Saviour who was truly touched with the feeling of our infirmities. The verses in Hebrews chapter two are so beautiful, and yet people use them to take away from what Jesus did. Christ humbled himself to become one of us, one with humanity. Christ was made like unto ALL of us so that we can become heirs together with Him. Yes, the Bible says: “For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” Matthew 12:50
But, this would have not been possible unless Jesus was made like unto ALL of us, unless He was made in the likeness of sinful flesh. And because He condemned sin in the flesh, we can do the same and be spiritually minded and heirs together with him. This was clearly understood and preached by White, Jones and Waggoner and we will now see it coming from their lips:

“But not to any class is Christ’s love restricted. He identifies Himself with every child of humanity. That we might become members of the heavenly family, He became a member of the earthly family. He is the Son of man, and thus a brother to every son and daughter of Adam. His followers are not to feel themselves detached from the perishing world around them. They are a part of the great web of humanity; and Heaven looks upon them as brothers to sinners as well as to saints. The fallen, the erring, and the sinful, Christ’s love embraces; and every deed of kindness done to uplift a fallen soul, every act of mercy, is accepted as done to Him. {Ellen White, DA 638.4}

“The Son of God stooped to uplift the fallen. For this He left the sinless worlds on high, the ninety and nine that loved Him, and came to this earth to be “wounded for our transgressions” and “bruised for our iniquities.” Isaiah 53:5. He was in all things made like unto His brethren. He became flesh, even as we are. He knew what it meant to be hungry and thirsty and weary. He was sustained by food and refreshed by sleep. He was a stranger and a sojourner on the earth–in the world, but not of the world; tempted and tried as men and women of today are tempted and tried, yet living a life free from sin. Tender, compassionate, sympathetic, ever considerate of others, He represented the character of God. “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, . . . full of grace and truth.” John 1:14. {Ellen White, AA 472.1}

“What a contrast the second Adam presented as He entered the gloomy wilderness to cope with Satan single-handed. Since the fall, the race had been decreasing in size and physical strength, and sinking lower in the scale of moral worth, up to the period of Christ’s advent to the earth. In order to elevate fallen man, Christ must reach him where he was. He took human nature, and bore the infirmities and degeneracy of the race. He who knew no sin became sin for us. He humiliated Himself to the lowest depths of human woe, that He might be qualified to reach man and bring him up from the degradation in which sin had plunged him. {Con 32.3} “For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him. Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.” {Ellen White, Con 31-33.3}

“Sunday afternoon I spoke in the same hall on the subject of temperance to a good congregation, who listened with the deepest interest. I had freedom and power in presenting Jesus, who took upon himself the infirmities and bore the griefs and sorrows of humanity, and conquered in our behalf. He was made like unto his brethren, with the same susceptibilities, mental and physical. He was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin; and he knows how to succor those who are tempted. Are you harassed and perplexed? So was Jesus. Do you feel the need of encouragement? So did Jesus. As Satan tempts you, so he tempted the Majesty of heaven. Jesus, as your representative and substitute, did not yield on the field of conflict; and in his strength you may resist and conquer. Every fallen son and daughter of Adam may rejoice that they are prisoners of hope, and that Satan can be vanquished. {Ellen White, RH, February 10, 1885 par. 7}

“In Ruth, you remember Naomi’s husband had died, the inheritance had fallen into the hands of others, and when she came back from Moab, it had to be redeemed. No one but the nearest of kin could do it. This is the story also in the second of Hebrews. Here is the man Adam, who had an inheritance—the earth—and he lost it and he himself was brought into bondage. In the gospel in Leviticus it is preached that if one had lost his inheritance, himself and his inheritance could be redeemed, but only the nearest of kin could redeem. Leviticus 25:25, 26, 47-49. Upon earth here is a man, Adam, who lost his inheritance and himself, and you and I were in it all, and we need a redeemer. But only he who is nearest in blood relationship can perform the office of redeemer. Jesus Christ is nearer than a brother, nearer than anyone. He is a brother, but he is nearest among the brethren, nearest of kin, actually. Not only one with us but He is one of us and one with us by being one of us.” {A. T. Jones, GCB/GCDB 1895, p. 265.3}

“He is so near to us that he is actually one of us. For so it is written: “Both he which sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one.” Hebrews 2:11. And he and we being one, he being one with mankind, it is impossible to have a mediator between him and men, because he and mankind are one and “a mediator is not a mediator of one.” Galatians 3:20. And as certainly as Jesus Christ is one with mankind and “a mediator is not a mediator of one,” so certainly this truth at once annihilates the “intercessions” of all the Catholic saints in the calendar, even though they were all alive and in heaven instead of being all dead. He is so near to us that there is no room for anybody and much less for from one to eleven hundred and fifty people to come between him and us. He is so entirely one with us and of us—of our very selves, our very flesh and blood—that it would be impossible to get the Virgin or a single one of the other saints between us, even though they were alive. No, he is on of us; and as a mediator is not a mediator of one, it is impossible that there could be a mediator between Christ and men—even sinful men.” {A.T. Jones, The Immaculate Conception ICM 1.3, 1894}

“Christ and His Brethren .- Jesus Christ is not ashamed of His poor relations. “He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of One; for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren.” Someone says, “Ah, but He doesn’t call any people brethren, except those who are sanctified.” Stop and consider the text. The proof that He is not ashamed to call them brethren is found in His declaration: “I will declare Thy name unto My brethren.” Now it is evident that there would be no need to declare the name of God to those who knew it; but those who do not know it are heathen. Thus the heathen are regarded by Christ as His brethren. Again, think of the time when the Son must first have made this declaration. It must have been when He was yet “in the form of God;” for He came to earth for no other purpose than to declare God to men. So Jesus in heaven, the brightness of the Father’s glory, and receiving the adoration of the angels, looked down to earth and saw the children of men doomed to death in their ignorance of God, and said to the Father, “I will declare Thy name unto My brethren.” Thus He set the pattern for all missionary work. “Not to any class is Christ’s love restricted. He identifies Himself with every child of humanity. That we might become members of the heavenly family, He became a member of the earthly family. He is the Son of man, and thus a Brother to every son and daughter of Adam. His followers are not to feel themselves detached from the perishing world around them. They are a part of the great web of humanity, and heaven looks upon them as brothers to sinners as well as to saints.” The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is the One “of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.” Eph. iii. 14, 15. {E.J. Waggoner, PTUK 101.6, February 12, 1903}”

As we can see from the statements above, the 1888 message was based on the fact that Christ became one with humanity. He was made like unto every son and daughter of Adam and rightfully so, for it is the posterity of fallen Adam that needed help against sin. His nature was the same as ours and we will explore this in detail in the next presentation so it becomes very clear.

Christ never sinned, because He remained faithful, not because He was born with an advantage over the rest of humanity. He was a little babe in Bethlehem and He himself went through infancy not knowing the difference between good and evil. He was not made like unto his sanctified or born again brethren, because to be born of God, to be surrendered to God, is a personal choice that comes as the result of our free will. It requires faith and submission. We can’t choose our flesh, but we can choose whether to live according to the flesh or according to the Spirit. Again, it all comes back to the fact that the Bible teaches a gospel of choice, a gospel of personal accountability and probation. May God help us to see the beauty and humility of His Son in taking upon himself our sinful human nature for this was a pillar in the 1888 message and was crucial in the fight against sin.

“Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:2