The Nearest of Kin

by A.T. Jones
From 1895 General Conference Bulletin, Study 14 (first part)
(The previous study can be read here: Study 13)

Who was the redeemer in the book of Ruth? The nearest of kin. Boaz could not come in as redeemer until it was found that the one who was nearer than he could not perform the office of redeemer. The redeemer must be not of only one who was near of kin, but he must be the nearest among those who were near; and therefore Boaz could not step into the place of redeemer until by another’s stepping out of the place, he became really the nearest. Now that is the precise point that is made in the second chapter of Hebrews.

In Ruth, you remember Naomi’s husband had died; the inheritance had fallen into the hands of another; 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.

Jesus as the Nearest of Kin

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 nearer than any one. 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.

And the one lesson that we are studying still, and the leading thought, is how entirely Jesus is ourselves. We found in the preceding lesson that he is altogether ourselves. In all points of temptation, wherever we are tempted, he was ourselves right there; in all the points in which it is possible for me to be tempted, he, as I, stood right there, against all the knowledge and ingenuity of Satan to tempt me, Jesus, as myself, stood right there, and met it. Against all the power of Satan put forth in the temptation upon me, Jesus stood as myself, and overcame. So also with you, and so with the other man; and thus comprehending the whole human race, he stands in every point wherever any one of the human race can be tempted as in himself or from himself.

In all this, he is ourselves, and in him we are complete against the power of temptation. In him we are overcomers, because he, as we, overcame.

John 16
33 Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

And in noticing the other evening how he became one of us, we found that it was by birth from the flesh. He is

Romans 1
3 …the seed of David according to the flesh.

He took not the nature of angels, but the nature of the seed of Abraham; and his genealogy goes to Adam.

Now every man is tempted, you know,

James 1
14 …when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

That is the definition of “temptation.” There is not a single drawing toward sin, there is not a single tendency to sin, in you and me that was not in Adam when he stepped out of the garden. All the iniquity and all the sin that have come into the world came from that, and came from him as he was there. It did not all appear in him; it did not all manifest itself in him in open action; but it has manifested itself in open action in those who have come from him.

Thus all the tendencies to sin that have appeared, or that are in me, came to me from Adam; and all that are in you came from Adam; and all that are in the other man came from Adam. So all the tendencies to sin that are in the human race come from Adam.

But Jesus Christ felt all these temptations; he was tempted upon all these point in the flesh which he derived from David, from Abraham, and from Adam. In his genealogy are a number of characters set forth as they were lived in the men; and they were not righteous. Manasseh is there, who did worse than any other king ever in Judah, and caused Judah to do worse than the heathen; Solomon is there, with the description of his character in the Bible just as it is; David is there; Rahab is there; Judah is there; Jacob is there, all are there just as they were.

The Law of Heredity

Now Jesus came according to the flesh at the end of that line of mankind. And there is such a thing as heredity. You and I have traits of character or cut of feature that have come to us from away back, perhaps not from our own father, perhaps not from a grandfather, but from a great grandfather, away back, And this is referred to in the law of God:

Exodus 20
5 Visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
6 And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

That “like produces like,” is a good law, a righteous law, it is a law of God; and though the law be transgressed, it still does the same. Transgression, of the law does not change the law, whether it be moral or physical. The law works when it is transgressed, through the evil that is incurred, just as it would have worked in righteousness always if no evil had ever been incurred.

If man had remained righteous always, as God made him his descent would have been in the right line; when the law was transgressed, the descent followed on the wrong line, and the law worked in the crooked way, by its being perverted.

It is a good law which says that everything shall have a tendency to go toward the center of the earth. We could not get along in the world without that law. It is that which holds us upon the earth, and enables us to walk and move about upon it.

And yet if there be a break between us and the earth, if our feet slip out from under us, or if we be on a high station, a pinnacle, and it breaks, and the straight connection with the earth is broken between us and it, why, the law works, and it brings us down with a terrible jolt.

Well, the same law that enables us to live, and move, and walk around upon the earth as comfortable as we do,—which works so beneficially while we act in harmony with it,—that law continues to work when we get out of harmony with it, and it works as directly as before; but it hurts.

Now that is simply an illustration of this law of human nature. If man had remained where God put him and as he put him, the law would have worked directly and easily; since man has got out of harmony with it, it still works directly; but it hurts.

Now that law of heredity reached from Adam to the flesh of Jesus Christ as certainly as it reaches from Adam to the flesh of any of the rest of us; for he was one of us. In him there were things that reached him from Adam; in him there were things that reached from David, from Manasseh, from the genealogy away back from the beginning until his birth.

Thus in the flesh of Jesus Christ,—not in himself, but in his flesh—our flesh which he took in the human nature,—there were just the same tendencies to sin that are in you and me. And when he was tempted, it was the drawing away of these desires that were in the flesh. These tendencies to sin that were in his flesh, drew upon him, and sought to entice him, to consent to the wrong. But by the love of God and by his trust in God, he received the power, and the strength, and the grace to say “no,” to all of it, and put it all under foot. And thus being in the likeness of sinful flesh, he condemned sin in the flesh.

Tendencies to Sin

All the tendencies to sin that are in me were in him, and not one of them was ever allowed to appear in him. All the tendencies to sin that are in you were in him and not one of them was ever allowed to appear, every one was put under foot, and kept there. All the tendencies to sin that are in the other man were in him and not one of them was ever allowed to appear.

That simply is saying that all the tendencies to sin that are in human flesh and not one of them was ever allowed to appear; he conquered them all. And in him we all have victory over them all.

Many of these tendencies to sin that are in us have appeared in action, and have become sins committed, have become sins in the open. There is a difference between a tendency to sin, and the open appearing of that sin in the actions. There are tendencies to sin in us that have not yet appeared; but multitudes have appeared.

Now all the tendencies that have not appeared, he conquered. What of the sins that have actually appeared?

Isaiah 53
6 The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

1 Peter 2
24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree.

Thus it is plain that all the tendencies to sin that are in us and have not appeared, and all the sins which have appeared, were laid upon him. It is terrible it is true. But, O, joy! in that terrible truth lies the completeness of our salvation.

The Burden of Guilt

Note another view: Those sins which we have committed—we ourselves felt the guilt of them, and were conscious of condemnation because of them. These were all imputed to him; they were all laid upon him.

Now a question: Did he feel the guilt of the sins that were imputed to him? Was he conscious of the condemnation of the sins our sins—that were laid upon him? He never was conscious of sins that he committed, for he did not commit any; that is true. But our sins were laid upon him, and we were guilty. Did he realize the quilt of these sins? Was he conscious of condemnation because of these sins?

We will look at that in such a way that every soul in the house shall say “Yes.” I will say that another way: We will look at it in such a way that every soul in the house will either say “Yes”, or may say “Yes” if he will; because there may be some in the house who have not had the experience that will bring for the illustration, but many have it, and then they can say; “Yes;” all others, who have had the experience, will say, “Yes”, at once.

God imputes righteousness, the righteousness of Christ, unto the believing sinner. Here is a man who has never known anything in his life but sin, never anything but the guilt of sin, never anything but the condemnation of sin. That man believes on Jesus Christ, and God imputes to that man the righteousness of Christ.

Then that man who never committed a particle of righteousness in his life is conscious of righteousness. Something has entered his life that was never there before, he is conscious of it, and he is conscious of the joy of it and the freedom of it.

Now God imputed our sins to Jesus Christ as certainly as he imputes his righteousness to us. But when he imputes righteousness to us who are nothing but sinners, we realize it, and are conscious of it, and conscious of the joy of it.

Therefore, when he imputed our sins to Jesus, he was conscious of the guilt of them and the condemnation of them; just as certainly as the believing sinner is conscious of the righteousness of Christ, and the peace and joy of it, that is imputed to him—that is, that is laid upon him.

In all this also, Jesus was precisely ourselves. Or in all points he was truly made like unto us. In all points of temptation he was ourselves He was one of us in the flesh; he was ourselves; and thus he was ourselves in temptation. And in points in guilt and condemnation he was precisely ourselves; because it was our sins, our guilt, and our condemnation that were laid upon him.

All Our Sins Laid Upon Him

Now another thing upon what we have said: “our sins”—how many of them? All were laid upon him, and he carried the guilt and the condemnation of them all; and also answer for them, paid for them, atoned for them. Then in him we are free from every sin that we have ever committed. That is the truth. Let us be glad of it, and praise God with everlasting joy.

He took all the sins which we have committed; he answered for them, and took them away from us forever; and all the tendencies to sin which have not appeared in actual sins—these he put forever under foot. Thus he sweeps the whole board, and we are free and complete in him.

O, he is a complete Saviour. He is a Saviour from sins committed, and the Conqueror of the tendencies to commit sins. In him we have the victory. We are no more responsible for these tendencies being in us than we are responsible for the sun shining; but every man on the earth is responsible for these things appearing in open action in him; because Jesus Christ has made provision against their ever appearing in open action.

Before we learned of Christ, many of them had appeared in open action. The Lord has laid upon him all these, and he has taken them away.

Since we learned of Christ, these tendencies which have not appeared he condemned as sin in the flesh. And shall he who believes in Jesus allow that which Christ condemned in the flesh, to rule over him in the flesh?

This is the victory that belongs to the believer in Jesus.