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#6 The "Pre-Advent" Incarnation of Christ

Go to #1 - Start of Study

"Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. . . . the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Jn. 1:29; Rev. 13:18).

In the last study we saw that Christ existed in a form that resembled that of the Angels - even before the Fall - and that His likeness to them was partially responsible for Lucifer's mistakenly thinking that he was equal to Christ and for his thinking that he should have been included in all of the councils of God. We also saw that Christ's likeness to the angels at this time was one of the reasons that the Father had to clarify Christ's relationship to them (and to all creation). We saw that the Father bestowed special honor to Christ at this time and that He was given the authority to speak for the Father. We noticed that Christ's powers were limited while He existed in this form but that:

"Christ was still [yet] to exercise divine power, in the creation of the earth and its inhabitants" (PP; p. 36, par 2). - but that in it all he was not to exercise His own divine power for His own glory but to fulfill the will of the Father and to bring glory to Him. This point is extremely relevant to this study and to the creation of this world. There is much more revealed in this quotation than the casual reader might discern! Even the serious student might miss an important aspect of this statement if he or she does not consider it within the context of the Great Controversy. We will discover what this quote reveals as this study progresses - perhaps some of you are already getting a glimpse into its meaning.

We must be ever mindful of the fact that the plan of Redemption was conceived (and even implemented) prior to the creation of all intelligent life. At the very heart of the plan of Redemption lies the incarnation. The "incarnation" of the Son of God would be absolutely essential for "man" to be brought back into a proper relationship with God - for man to be forgiven - and for the claims of God's law to be justly upheld and applied. The incarnation was essential if God were to prove Himself as both Just and Merciful. But even before the Fall of man the incarnation was essential for God and for His creations. God had to have a means by which He could communicate and interact with His "free-willed" created beings that would allow for the possibility of their separating from His Love - and allowing those who would separate from Him to not be immediately consumed. Christ was the mediator between God and His creation from eternity - long before the Fall ("From everlasting he was the Mediator of the covenant" (RH April 5, 1906). ". . . the order of unseen worlds is also preserved by His mediatorial work" (MYP, p. 254). "It was for them [unfallen worlds and angels] as well as for us that the great work of redemption had been accomplished. They with us share the fruits of Christ's victory" (DA p. 758). "Christ was appointed to the office of Mediator from the creation of God, set up from everlasting to be our substitute and surety." (1SM p. 250)).

Some will take exception with me on this point. They will argue that Jesus was still in a "spiritual form" (and therefore not in a different form than that which He had when He existed with the Father prior to the creation) since even Angels are "spiritual beings". But this argument becomes moot (has no practical effect on the existing argument) in light of the Biblical revelation that Jesus was "Brought-Forth" from the Father prior to the creation (that a "change" had taken place), and in light of the statements revealing that there existed a much different relationship between the Father and the Son after the creation of intelligent life. This argument is also rendered moot as we are forced to acknowledge that the Angels (spiritual beings or not) were created beings having physical attributes and Christ obviously had taken on a form resembling that of these created beings. As has been pointed out, God (Father) needed a mediator (or go-between) between Himself and His absolute purity and the free willed beings He wished to create. Jesus was that mediator. In His role as such, it was necessary for Him to take on the form (or nature) of His created beings. This incarnation (being "Brought-Forth" from the Father) involved Jesus depriving Himself of many of the powers and attributes that He had shared with the Father prior to this event. A drastic change in Christ's nature took place at this time.

Christ was still of "Divine" origin (not created) and He was still invested with supremacy and authority over ALL created beings, but there existed a huge change in His "being" from that which He had enjoyed when He was purely God. This "change" in His "being" resulted in the loss of many of the attributes that had made Him fully God. The change, or incarnation, through which He passed involved the giving up of certain attributes of His "God Nature" (Omnipresence being one of these) and helps us better understand what is meant by Christ's being "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."

The word "slain" implies "death" (Note: The word "slain" also implies that someone else was involved with the death. We usually do not describe a person's regular death in terms of their being slain, but we do use this word when describing a person's death when it has been facilitated by another. We are told that Christ was brought-forth from the Father. Jesus Himself said that He had come forth (been brought-forth) from the Father and that He had been sent by the Father (John 8:42; 17:8). This shows that the Father was an active participant in Christ's incarnation ["a body thou has prepared me" Heb. 10:5] and enables us to better understand the reference to Christ's being "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" and His title of the "Son of God."). Being "Slain" can imply being "struck" or injured ("Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." (Isa. 53:4,5 KJV)). Whichever way we may choose to define the word "slain" we know, that in the case of Christ, it meant that He would die as a result. Did Christ "die" from the foundation of the world? If so, in what sense did He "die"? Can God die? How did Christ "die" - How are we to understand that He was "slain from the foundation of (prior to the creation of) the world"?

I would suggest that part of this "death" was fact and part of it was promise. The "Brought-Forth" Jesus certainly did not "die" until He was fully incarnated as a man and died on the cross. But the pre Brought-Forth nature of Christ actually died, to the person of the Brought-Forth Christ. He was no longer totally and completely God in the person of one being. It is in this sense that Christ, as God, "died" - or was "slain". Christ literally died to "self" - the "self" that He had once personally commanded when He existed in His fully "God" nature. Christ's "death to self" held infinite consequences for the Godhead, for Himself, and for us. It most certainly involved "an infinite cost to the Father and the Son" (RH March 10, 1891; par. 2).

At the time of Christ's being "Brought-Forth" there came into existence a dual nature to His "being" - in form. In character Christ still exhibited all the attributes of God. He was still very much God in this regard, even though His form had undergone a change. It is in the change in Christ's form that we find Christ exhibiting a "dual nature". God is Spirit. We know that Christ existed with God and as God in eternity past. God, by virtue of His being Infinite and Eternal, absolutely cannot die. So when Christ gave up His "Spirit nature" for that of His "Brought-Forth nature - His "Spirit" nature lived on. Christ now existed as a being that was limited by His form and as a being who maintained all of the attributes of God including Omnipresence, Omnipotence, and Omniscience. In truth, Christ now existed as two personages - one His original "Spirit" nature, and one His "incarnate" nature. I suppose one might say that Jesus now had a "split personality" -- Split, not in character but in nature or form. They were (Christ's "Spirit" and His "Brought Forth" being) now two individuals, albeit two individuals of the same being - much like Christ and the Father were two individuals of the same God.

Some of you are probably thinking that this is an awfully large intellectual "stretch" to be making; but as we will see later, after Christ was incarnated fully as a "man" it can be clearly shown that this dual and separate existence of Christ is, in fact, true. We will see that Christ's relationship with His Spirit is not merely interpersonal (intercollegiate) it is existential ("A specific being or entity": Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary [G. & C. Merriam Co., Publishers; Springfield, Mass., 1961]. The term "existential" as used in this study should not be confused with the modern concept of existentialism. The two concepts are not even remotely related.).

Was Christ a "man" when He was "brought-forth"?

We have seen that both the Bible and the SOP describe "men" and "angels" as similar in form - they have similar attributes such as faces, hands, feet, mouth, eyes, etc. I do not believe that it is any real stretch at all to conclude that Christ would choose to be "brought forth" in the nature of man for the following reasons:

  1. Men and angels share common attributes.

  2. Man was to be "the crowning work of the Creator" (PP; p. 44).

  3. Man was "made in the image of God." (Healthful Living; p. 10).

  4. The plan of Redemption was not an afterthought. It was conceived and implemented prior to the creation. Christ was "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:18). Christ was "brought-forth", in large measure, for the purpose of redeeming the created beings that would become embroiled in the Great Controversy through their fall into Sin. It seems perfectly logical that Christ would take on the form of the beings He would eventually Redeem and the attributes of the creatures with whom He would eternally associate Himself through the incarnation. While Christ was not fully human (or fully incarnated) prior to the creation of man - He had begun the process and exhibited many of the attributes of man.

Let's examine these points for a moment. We have already established that men and angels exhibit similar physical attributes. Although angels are distinct creatures (not identical to man) and exist as spiritual beings they still exhibit these attributes. It is not necessary to define all of the differences between men and angels for us to understand that there are striking similarities to their beings, and their appearance also.

Adam was a noble and majestic being when he came forth from the hands of the Creator! Man was indeed "the crowning work" of the Creator. "Above all lower orders of being, God designed that man, the crowning work of His creation, should express His thought and reveal His glory." (8T; p. 264, par. 3). "He desires that man, the crowning work of His creative power, shall reach the highest possible development. . . . to share the glorious liberty of the sons of God." (SC p. 43, par. 4)).

"Man was the crowning act of the creation of God, made in the image of God, and designed to be a counterpart of God. . . . Man is very dear to God, because he was formed in his own image." (Healthful Living, p. 10, par. 2). Dr. Waterhouse, a professor of mine in college, used to say: "in order to understand the future we must look to the past." This is true when we consider the creation of man. In order to understand man's true nature when he was brought forth from the hand of the Creator, we need to extrapolate from the existence of Christ prior to the creation. Man was made in God's image, not the other way around! "What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty! (Ps. 8:4-5).

"In the beginning. . . . God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. . ." (Genesis 1:1,26). It is very illuminating to consider what Mrs. White says regarding this statement: "After the earth was created, and the beasts upon it, the Father and Son carried out their purpose, which was designed before the fall of Satan, to make man in their own image. They had wrought together in the creation of the earth and every living thing upon it. And now God says to his Son, "Let us make man in our image." (ST Jan. 9, 1879; par. 13). Notice that it is "the Father and the Son" who are carrying out their purpose in creating man in their image - and that this was "designed before the fall of Satan." The Father now says to Christ; "Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness." Who's "likeness" was man created in? It had to be in the "likeness" of both the Father and the Son for He says: "Let us make man in our image." But this statement has greater significance than we have traditionally given it. Exactly "How" was man to resemble God's "likeness" - the "likeness" of both the Father and the Son?

"Man was to bear God's image, both in outward resemblance and in character." (PP p. 45, par. 2). I think most of us can accept the idea of Adam bearing God's image in "character" - but did Adam really look like God in "outward resemblance"? "When Adam came from the Creator's hand, he bore, in his physical, mental, and spiritual nature, a likeness to his Maker. 'God created man in His own image' (Genesis 1:27), and it was His purpose that the longer man lived the more fully he should reveal this image--the more fully reflect the glory of the Creator." (ED p. 15, par. 1). "Created to be 'the image and glory of God' (1 Corinthians 11:7), Adam and Eve had received endowments not unworthy of their high destiny. Graceful and symmetrical in form, regular and beautiful in feature, their countenances glowing with the tint of health and the light of joy and hope, they bore in outward resemblance the likeness of their Maker. Nor was this likeness manifest in the physical nature only. Every faculty of mind and soul reflected the Creator's glory." (ED p. 20, par. 2). How could this be?

The only way that this could be is if Christ bore this likeness prior to the creation and then "formed man in His image"! Since God intended to create man prior to the creation of all intelligent life; since man was to be created just "a little lower than God" and would be God's "Crowning" creation; and since man was the object of the plan of Redemption - it makes perfect sense that Christ would take on mankind's form when He was "brought-forth" from the Father. We cannot forget that it was Christ who created all things - that the Father has "appointed Him heir of all things" and that it was through Christ that "He made the world" (Heb. 1:2). We cannot escape the fact that man was to be created in the image of God and that this would include the image of the brought-forth Christ as their Creator. "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together" [Col. 1:15-17] (Note: Christ was the "firstborn of all creation" in the sense that He was "brought forth" in a visible form for the purpose of revealing the invisible and infinite God to His visible and finite created beings.).

When Adam (man) was created, he bore the physical likeness of his Creator (who was the brought-forth Christ) as well as the characterr likenesses of God (Father and Son). Man resembled His maker in very many remarkable ways, yet "Man" was made "a little lower than God" (Ps. 8:5) and did not bear all the attributes of God for he was not Omniscient, Omnipotent, or Omnipresent. Could it be that the "brought-forth" Christ also lacked these qualities? I believe that He did. This is a rather remarkable consideration.

We have already seen that Christ lacked at least one of these "fully God" qualities - Omnipresence - even when He existed in His brought forth form prior to Lucifer's fall from grace. But how could Christ also lack such qualities as Omniscience and Omnipotence if HE was the One who created all things? Wouldn't Christ need to use His omniscience and omnipotence to accomplish the creation? For this we need to go back and remember the Father's statement to the heavenly host when He "set forth the true position of His Son" and showed "the relation He [Christ] sustained to all created beings." (PP; p. 36, par. 2). In the Father's proclamation He indicated that Christ; "The Son of God had wrought the Father's will in the creation of all the hosts of heaven; and to Him, as well as to God, their homage and allegiance were due." (Ibid). But the Father went still further in revealing the part and the power that Christ was yet to exercise in the creation of the Earth: "Christ was still to exercise divine power, in the creation of the earth and its inhabitants. But in all this He would not seek power or exaltation for Himself contrary to God's plan, but would exalt the Father's glory and execute His purposes of beneficence and love." (Ibid).

When Christ sat on His Father's Throne at this time, it was the Father's Glory that "encircled both." Christ's Own Glory was apparently not abiding in Himself -- in His "brought-forth form" -- else there would have been no confusion on the part of the angels as to Christ's "true position" or "the "relation He sustained to all created beings." Also, had Christ's own glory been abiding in Him at this time, the angels who had "sinned" would have been consumed. Part of Christ's own original glory was His Omnipotence and He had apparently laid this power aside in order that He might accomplish being "brought-forth" in a form that would not consume His finite beings. "Christ, the Light of the world, veiled the dazzling splendor of His divinity and came to live as a man among men, that they might, without being consumed, become acquainted with their Creator. No man has seen God at any time except as He is revealed through Christ" (8T p. 265, par. 2).

When Christ walked among the angels in heaven (and later among men), important aspects of His "Divinity" were "veiled." When you "veil" something you conceal it - or hide it from view. How did Christ "hide" these important attributes of His Divinity that effectively hid His Divine Origin? How did He keep something that was the very essence of His being from the view and understanding of His Created beings? Did He simply not use or reveal them - making them unapparent to His created beings? This could not be the case. The Father Himself clearly showed that Christ was not Omnipresent in His brought-forth form -- The Father stated that Christ was the only One who could enter into His counsel and that ">wherever was the presence of his Son, it was as his own presence (see SOP vol. 1, p. 17, par. 1-2). This clearly indicates that Christ was not ever-present (Omnipresent) with the Father while He (Christ) was interacting with the angels. If Christ was not Omnipresent with the Father but would enter into His counsels (go to meet with Him), then it is ridiculous for us to conclude that Christ was Omnipresent with the rest of His creation. Surely, had Christ been ever-present with Lucifer and his angels, Lucifer would not have been so bold. Christ interacted with them on a one-to-one basis and in their assemblies, but He was not ever-present with them. Since this is the case, we have no reason to assume or conclude that Christ was merely "not using" or "not revealing" His Omnipotence and Omniscience in order to "veil" these aspects of His Divinity from His creations. The "veiling" of His divinity involved much more than simply "hiding" it from them. And all of this is inseparably linked to the change that took place in Christ's nature at the beginning of His incarnation into a man - when He was "brought-forth" from the Father. This change in Christ's nature resulted in a change in the nature of the Godhead itself.

The Father veiled His glory - His absolute purity - by not interacting on a personal one-to-one basis with created beings. Even the Covering Cherubs did not look directly upon the Fathers person for it was covered (veiled) with a dazzling light. In one of Ellen White's early visions she beheld the Father and the Son on the Throne but could not see the Father's "person" - she states, "a cloud of glorious light covered Him." She was told by Christ that the Father's person could not be seen by her: "[you] could not behold it, for said He, 'If you should once behold the glory of His person, you would cease to exist.'" (Early Writings; p. 54, par. 2). The Father used another medium through which to reveal Himself and His Glory in a way that would not overwhelm and destroy His creations. The Father revealed Himself in a muted form - in the person of the brought-forth Christ. I believe that it was necessary for Christ to do the same thing with Himself.

Since Christ was equal with the Father in every respect prior to His being "brought forth", Christ would have to "veil" His own glory in order to interact with His Creation. Had Christ come in the totality of His divinity, we (and the angels) would have been consumed. Christ "veiled" His divinity by separating part of it from Himself. When Christ took on the form of man we could behold Him. And in "beholding" Him we are beholding a divine person. We cannot afford to forget that Christ, even in His "brought-forth" form, was of Divine origin! So when we, or the angels, are beholding Him, we are beholding "Divinity." But part of His divinity we cannot behold - it would consume us. How was Christ to "veil" that part from us? Remember, He could not be walking around with this aspect of Himself residing in Him. He had to separate this part of Himself from His brought forth self.

In separating or dividing Himself, He effectively became two persons. His "brought forth" self we know and behold as the "Son of Man." The part of Himself that was not brought forth with Him became what we refer to as the "Holy Spirit." Christ effectively "laid aside" that part of His divinity, which included His Omnipotence, Omnipresence, and Omniscience and this part of Christ's divinity became the person of the Holy Spirit. Christ would still (yet) use His own divinity (His Holy Spirit) in the creation of the Earth and of man, but He would exercise His own divinity only in submission to the will of His Father. This is why we seem to see three individuals at work in the creation of the Earth and Man. When the Father said to His Son: "Let us make man in our image" it was the work of the Father and the Son alone. But the Holy Spirit is there, a part of the person of Christ and is active in the formation of the Earth and in the giving of life to man (see Gen. 1:2 & 2:7). The reason why we see only two persons spoken of in connection with God's Throne, the councils of Heaven, the work of creation, etc.; is because the "Holy Spirit" is inclusively reckoned in the person of Jesus Christ!

The concept of Inclusive reckoning is important for us to understand. It is used in the Bible in such verses as Matthew 12:40 where Christ states that: "so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." In Hebrew thought, any part of a day was considered to be a whole day (night and day). Therefore, when Christ died on Friday afternoon, it was understood that this would include both the "evening and the morning" of that day. Likewise, when Christ rose on Sunday morning it was understood that He had been in "the heart of the earth" for the entire day of Sunday (evening and morning). Therefore, we understand that Christ was indeed in the tomb for three days and three nights. If we do not understand inclusive reckoning we will draw the wrong conclusions and arrive at an understanding of the Scriptures that is not "Truth." This is why some people are confused as to the day on which Christ died and/or arose. Inclusive reckoning is also used in statements concerning Adam, Christ, and Levi: "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive" (1 Cor. 15:22). "And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him" (Heb. 7:9-10). The use of inclusive reckoning concerning the relationship of Christ and the Holy Spirit will become abundantly clear and evident when we consider the Bible and SOP statements about the Holy Spirit and his role in the plan of redemption later in this study.

After the Fall of man, when the brought-forth Christ promised to take man's place and suffer the penalty for man's transgression, this separation in Christ's person widened. "Man is the crowning glory of the Creator's works, and he has been redeemed at an inconceivable cost to the Son of God. None but he could restore to man the moral image of God, which had been lost through transgression." (ST January 6, 1887; par. 3). When Christ actually became fully incarnated as a man through His birth to Mary - the separation was complete (but not yet final). When Christ died on the Cross, the separation was final - the brought-forth (incarnate) Christ would forever exist as a man. We will explore this in more detail later. Right now we need to take a look at "Who" the God of the Old Testament actually is, for this will tell us much about the "promise" of "the Spirit" and will reveal a great deal more about the role Christ's "Spirit" plays in the plan of Salvation.

What We've Learned Here

  1. The "Incarnation" began at the time that Christ was "brought forth" from the Father prior to the creation. Christ was in fact "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8). Christ could not have been "sent" by the Father until He had first been "brought forth" from the Father (Prov. 8:22-31; John 8:42; 17:8; Gal. 4:4).

  2. The incarnation (Christ's being "brought forth" from His original existence with the Father) was absolutely necessary in order for God to provide and accomplish the Plan of Salvation! Jesus had to be "brought forth" from the Father as a mediator in a form that was capable of existing in the presence of those who would choose to separate from God without consuming them instantly.

  3. When Christ was "brought forth" He was most likely brought forth as a "Man" - that is in a glorified human form - which very closely resembled that of the Angel's. In this form He existed as the Head of the heavenly host (the Archangel Michael). It was from this form that He "created man in [His] image" - with His characteristics physically, mentally and spiritually.

  4. When Christ was "brought forth" in a different form than He had when He existed with the Father prior to the creation, Christ had to separate from His original divine nature. This effectively resulted in Christ existing as two persons - one Spirit, and one His brought forth form (human?). His "Spirit" form retained the characteristics of His divinity including His Omnipresence, Omnipotence, and Omniscience. His "brought forth" form would still have access to - or be able to use these "Spirit" attributes (e.g. in the Creation of the world) but would not have them abiding within His brought forth (incarnated) form.

  5. Both His Spirit form and His brought forth form would now be in total subjection to the Father and would be dedicated to performing the Father's Will.

  6. Because His Spirit and His brought forth self are effectively both Christ, they are inclusively reckoned as such. This is the reason that the "Holy Spirit" is not specifically mentioned in the councils of God or the throne of God, etc. He is included in the person of the "Son" - Jesus Christ.

  7. The incarnation, the separating of Himself from His divine Spirit nature was a progressive act. It did not happen all at once, but was an ongoing and ever expanding process. The "gap" between His original self-existence with the Father and His completely incarnated existence as the Son of man was a gap that widened over the period of time.

  8. The incarnation was not complete until Christ was born as a human being here on this earth AND the incarnation was not irrevocable until Christ's death on the Cross. That is: the separation of the incarnated Christ and His Spirit was not complete until He was born as a human being when He completely relinquished any personal use of His own divine Spirit to accomplish His mission and became completely dependent upon His Father for wisdom, strength, and power. The separation from His divine Spirit form was not irrevocable until He died on the Cross (up until that moment He could have taken it back - but had He done this we would have been lost). The incarnated Jesus would now forever exist as a man. His "Spirit" was sacrificed and would become the agency through which we could become partakers of Christ's divine nature. We will examine this more fully in subsequent chapters.

Next -- #7 "Jesus Is the God of the Old Testament"

Back - #5 "The Change in Christ Before and After Creation"

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