Mark Howard is a SDA pastor who is head of the Emmanuel Institute of Evangelism. Today I listened to his 2 sermons on the Human Nature of Christ, and can wholeheartedly recommend them.
I’ve written on the human/divine nature of Christ several times on this blog, and have often lamented the fact that very few of us SDAs understand this issue properly. I admit I was spoiled as a child by being taken to Robert Brinsmead meetings when he was still straight in his theology, and as an elementary school kid grasped the fact that Jesus was 100% divine, and 100% human, that he wasn’t born with propensities to sin like we are, and this his temptations were much stronger than anything we will ever be called on to face.
But very few fellow SDAs believe that way. Most of the Liberals don’t believe that overcoming sin is possible in this life, so whatever position they hold on anything is basically pointless. Sadly, fellow Conservatives in the church run the gamut from saying we are all born sinless (because Jesus was), to saying that Jesus was born a sinner (because we are). Neither of those positions is true – because – Jesus was not exactly like all of us born humans in everything! Jesus was born in the moral position of Adam, not needing a Saviour. He was born that “sinless” thing.
Many people quote Hebrews 2:17 ” Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren… “. Of course. Notice however, it doesn’t say that he was made in all things like fallen brethren. That’s why there is no contradiction with 1Corinthians 15:45-47 ” And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. ”
Jesus was the second Adam (see Testimony for the Church no.14 p.37), whose physical body was degenerated by 4,000 years of sin. But while all of us humans who have ever been born (except Jesus), have been born in sin, needing a Saviour to cleanse us from our sins. Jesus did not need that.
Some say this is a tempest in a teapot, but as Mark Howard rightly quotes from the SOP, Christ’s humanity is everything to us. Wrong theology here can lead to people like David Gates saying it is theoretically possible to earn your way to heaven (!!), and Kevin Paulson saying it is possible to go to heaven without ever needing the cleansing blood of Christ (if we never choose to sin). These positions are basically blasphemy.
Many fellow Conservatives accuse me of saying that if Jesus was born different from us, then it is impossible for us to overcome sin. I really don’t know how they come to that odd conclusion, except that they consider Jesus must have had an advantage over us if he was born sinless. I tell them, as Mark Howard does here too, that it was much more difficult to keep his humanity (in other words – to not use his divinity), as it is for us to rise above our sinful natures and grasp hold of divinity. By way of example, I tell people how it was difficult for me to stay in the crazy, nasty places I’ve been too (especially India), when I know at any moment I can instantly get out of there. Fortunately Jesus chose to fulfill his mission, and be the perfect example for us in everything.
So I’m extremely happy and delighted to see a SDA pastor, even a director of an institute for evangelism, preach the truth on this important subject. I wholeheartedly recommend his 2-part audio sermons:
Mark Howard – Human Nature of Christ part1
Mark Howard – Human Nature of Christ part2