Our Second Adam and the New Creation
Though sin deprived Adam of his crown of glory, the Council of the Trinity determined that a new and superior order should be constructed out of our ruined race. Thus Jesus Christ, our Second Adam, appeared on earth as the founder of this new order and as the model of this new creation. All of us who will yield to the transforming power of His grace are to be part of this brotherhood, made like Him in essential character.
There is one word in the Greek New Testament that exactly describes this relation of Jesus to the development of the sons—and, of course, the daughters—of God. The term archegos is compounded of two Greek words, signifying beginning and leading. The best English rendering is file-leader.
“For it became Him for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the file-leader of their salvation perfect through sufferings” (Heb. 2:10).
Here we see Jesus Christ marching at the head of a long column, leading those who follow Him into the open portals of heaven until they stand at last in the blaze of its glory.
These two orders of human beings live beside each other in this world, the one like the second Adam, and the other like the first. The sons of God have spiritual life, while the sons of Adam are spiritually dead. The first are God-centered, drawn by the magnetism of His love; the second are self-centered, drawn by evil desire. The one acts with a single eye to the glory of God; the other is actuated by selfishness.
So the sons of Adam reflect his marred image, while the sons of God are in degree what their glorious file-leader is in perfection. For they are called to be “partakers of the divine nature”—not, indeed, to have the identity of God’s nature but its characteristics. Since holiness is His all-comprehending moral attribute, it is reasonable, then, that His sons should also be holy. Since sin has no place in Christ our fileleader, neither has it any place in those who belong to Him.
Thus a God-born soul is not in a sinning state, because he has a new and dominant motive antagonistic to sin. Granted, in an unwary moment he may be surprised by some single act of sin, for which there is a merciful resort to our great High Priest.
But as John stoutly affirms, life in Christ and life in sin is an impossible contradiction. There may be innumerable defects, infirmities, and errors; but these do not bring guilt since there is no consent of the will, though they do need Christ’s atonement.
Yes, those who are Christ’s are like Him. He was begotten of the Holy Spirit; they also are born of Him. He was circumcised the eighth day; His followers are circumcised, not in the flesh, but in the spirit, being cleansed from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit. He was baptized with the Spirit; so are those children of God who tarry in Jerusalem with persevering faith. He was tempted in all points; so are we. He was victorious over sin, and so will we be as we trust in Him. He was crucified; so are all who count not the self-life dear to them. He arose from the dead; the sons of God also arise to newness of life by spiritual resurrection, and hereafter their mortal bodies will be raised from the dead. He ascended; so shall we be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. Our file-leader was glorified; so shall we be, for all who have born the image of the earth shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
Dr. Daniel Steele (1824-1914) was a prominent scholar and writer in 19th-century Methodism. This selection from his Milestone Papers is abridged by Larry D. Smith.
Dr. Daniel Steele was a well-known writer, educator, and holiness advocate in late 19th-century Methodism.