The Agora
Who Are the Christadelphians?

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God, Jesus, And Sacrifice

Given the Bible doctrine of human nature as inherently sinful -- and unquestionably mortal -- it follows that we should believe that God can both save us from sin, and deliver us from death. Reaching these conclusions we are led from Eden to the New Testament, and our path of discovery is brightened by the many precious promises which point the way. In God's message to the Serpent that the woman's Child should "bruise thy head" (Gen 3:15), we see as others do the promise of the coming conquest of sin by the Savior. Unlike almost any other group, however, we also attach great significance to the promises God gave to Abraham: that his Seed (whom Paul identifies as Christ and secondly those "in Christ" -- Gal 3:16,26-29) would be victorious over all enemies (Gen 22:17), would be a source of blessing to all nations (Gen 12:3), would inherit the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession (Gen 13:14-17), and would be multiplied as the stars of heaven and as the sand of the seashore (Gen 15:5).

We believe the nation of Israel played an important part in keeping alive the promises of God (Rom 3:1), receiving the Law and providing the mother of the Messiah. Guided by many Scripture prophecies, we look forward to the completion of the restoration of Israel to the land of Palestine, and to the final repentance and conversion of the Jews. We also look to that time to see the promised King of David's house (Christ, of course) ruling over the nations from Jerusalem (2Sa 7:12-16).

When the time spoken of in the promises was fulfilled, the Son of God came. The New Testament records leave us in no doubt that Jesus is called "Son of God" because he had no other Father than God Himself (Luk 1:35); this is our firm belief as Christadelphians, but other quite different views are found among other church bodies. The Unitarian church, for example, believes Jesus was begotten and born in the same natural way as other children, and was "Son of God" only in a special, spiritual sense which had nothing to do with the way in which he was conceived. We contend that it is impossible to accept both this Unitarian view and the first chapter of Luke; but while the modern Unitarian prefers to reject Luke, we reject the Unitarian view.

A different view, the Doctrine of the Trinity, as stated in the Athanasian Creed, claims Jesus was Son of God after his birth because he had been Son of God before it; that is, Jesus' birth made him "Son of man", but had no bearing on his relationship to God, which (so the doctrine says) has remained the same since time eternal. We have rejected utterly the Unitarian or humanist view of Christ, for it is contrary to all the Bible says about the divine origin of Jesus (Joh 1:14; Gal 4:4). But the Trinitarian view of Jesus is just as unacceptable to us, for the same reason: it is contrary to Bible teaching (see Lesson, Trinity, history). Not only is it inconsistent with the birth records, but it contradicts the Bible teaching that Jesus was highly exalted by his Father because of his conquest of sin (Phi 2:9); whereas, according to the Trinitarian view, the resurrected Jesus was simply taking up the power he formerly had laid down. If this were so, where then is the "conquest"?

In attributing such power to Jesus before he "became" a man, the Trinitarian view not only detracts from his "conquest", but also casts doubt on the very nature of the temptations he endured. The absolute reality of Jesus' temptations is very important, and very clearly established by Scripture: "He was tempted in all points like as we, yet without sin" (Heb 4:15); he "learned obedience by the things which he suffered" (Heb 5:8). Could Jesus have been, before his "birth", an "eternal God" and still be "tempted" or "suffer"? No; God who "cannot be tempted with evil" (Jam 1:13) must from the start have been beyond our human infirmities. Jesus could never have been "God" in that sense, and still fulfill his role as Savior.

For Christadelphians, as for all true believers, the value of Christ's defeat of sin and the meaning of his priesthood depend upon the reality of the battle. We see the Lord conquering as Son of Man, by the strength which comes from the Word of God, and the power of God through prayer. We see him providing forgiveness as Son of God, offering a salvation which could never have come merely by the will of man. All his life, Jesus fought the temptations which came to him as a man, and he conquered them, in spite of their deep appeal to every human heart, his included. Then, in his willing death, he subdued forever the human disposition shared with us all. And he voluntarily laid down his life as a means of declaring the righteousness of God (Rom 3:19-26), and as the means whereby sinners may find forgiveness by faith.

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