(from previous post)…so what’s the point?
The point is that the “death” that we’re delivered from is estrangement. And this “death” that is estrangement has occurred because we’ve become less than human (sub-human) through The Fall. Remember, our nature as “image-bearers” is due to the fact that we were created as human beings. No other creature or aspect of Creation is said to bear the image of God. We are uniquely qualified as “image-bearers” because we are by nature (created nature) human beings. There are many aspects of what it means to be image-bearers, e.g. our rational capabilities, our creative ability, our moral bent, etc.; but they are all sourced in our humanity. It is our humanity that makes us image-bearers; and it’s in our humanity (not in the things that we do) that we testify of our Creator and enjoy intimacy with Him as our Father. And this is precisely our problem: because of the entrance of sin and death (estrangement), we have become sub-human. Our “humanity” has been “vandalized” by sin so that we don’t bear God’s image as intended and we don’t enjoy communion with Him as Father. We need a new nature—we must be “born again”!
Before the Fall, when Adam and Eve were simply being who they were (as human beings), they testified of God to each other and the rest of Creation by enjoying intimate fellowship with Him and living their lives in the freedom of their created nature; and this was the paradigm that was to mark all of Creation for all time. “Man” lived in intimate communion with God, with each other and with the rest of creation in the state of Shalom. They didn’t have to do anything but live out the reality of who they were. It’s when they decided to exercise autonomy and take upon themselves the definition of who they were created to be that they disobeyed God and brought “death” to themselves and the Cosmos. They became less than they were created to be (they became sub-human) by disbelieving God and taking it upon themselves to (re)define themselves. Like a fish that will only find “death” if it tries to redefine itself (what it means to be a fish) by jumping onto dry land because it thinks that’s where life and meaning is found, so Adam has plunged the entire human race into “death” by trying to redefine what it is to be “human”. Our communion with God is broken because we are not what God has created us to be—truly, fully human. Because of the entrance of sin, we have become “sub-human” and are said to be “dead” in our trespasses and sins. Estrangement (death) has replaced intimate communion (life) because we are not what we were created to be.
Oh, we still bear some marks of our humanity and thus, we haven’t completely destroyed our nature as image-bearers. But to borrow again from Plantinga: our humanity (as well as the entire Cosmos) has been “vandalized” by sin. And with the entrance of sin, Shalom has been broken as “death” has infiltrated the entire created order. Things (all things) are not “The Way They Are Supposed to Be” (Plantinga). We need redemption! The creation needs redemption! And so, Christ has come—Jesus the Christ, the last Adam and True Man! What was typified in the paradigm of the original creation has found its anti-type in the fulfillment that has come in Christ! It’s not simply that He restores all things (including “man”) to its original created design and function; no…Christ fulfills the typology of “Eden” so that all things find their purpose & meaning in Him. As I’ve mentioned before in various contexts, God’s purpose from the beginning was to have all things made complete in Christ. When I speak of “restoration” I’m speaking of the fulfillment of the purpose of God to “sum up all things in the heaven and earth in Christ”. The design and purpose of Creation (“Eden”) is fulfilled or completed in its purpose & meaning in Christ!
I’ve spent a bit of time talking about the concept of “life” out of “death” (see Redemption Part-1) so that we will realize that the Life that we’ve been granted in Christ is the “life” of true authentic humanity. As the True Man, Jesus Christ is the only fully authentic human being that has ever lived (remember, Adam was “perfect” in his humanity as a type of Christ—even Adam finds his true and full humanity in the True Man, Jesus Christ). And as the True Man, only as we are joined to Him by the Spirit through faith, only as we are participants in His life through the indwelling Spirit (new creations), only then are we “redeemed” to our created purpose and function as authentic human-beings who truly and fully (though not always or perfectly until the consummation) bear the image of God. Jesus Christ is the fountainhead of a new humanity because we have become “new creations” in Him. We now truly (though again, imperfectly until the consummation) bear the image of God as the Spirit works to conform us into the likeness of Christ. By God’s grace through faith, we now share in the Life of Christ! Death has been swallowed up in victory because it’s been swallowed up by the Life of Christ, by the Life that is found only in Christ. Christ has overthrown the curse and restored all things to their created design and function in Himself (the “summing up of all things in Christ”).
Redemption is so much more than simply “the forgiveness of sin”. There are many salvific ideas related to redemption (e.g. justification, propitiation, imputation, reconciliation, etc.), but redemption is not confined to any one of these soteriological aspects: Redemption is no less than re-creation! Beginning with Man, the first-fruits so-to-speak, Christ’s redemption is no less than the inauguration of the New Creation (what the Scripture refers to as the Kingdom of God-a concept that deserves its own “series”) in Himself. Eden has not simply been recovered, it’s been redeemed! It’s been fulfilled in Christ!
Of course, there is the already/not yet aspect to the work of Christ in redemption; He has already redeemed and fulfilled all things in Himself, though we still await the not yet of the consummation when His completed work will realize its full fruition. But the reality of what He has accomplished is certain and is even now present as the Kingdom of God continues to grow by taking into its realm people from every tongue, tribe and nation to glory of God our Savior!
So how does all of this speak to the issue of “How Are We To Live”? Stay tuned for the Consummation/Conclusion where I hope to tie it all together and show us that God’s calling upon humanity (all of us!) is the same today as it’s always been: “Be perfect as I Am (your heavenly Father is) perfect”—only the paradigm has changed.