- God created Man with a certain design for a certain function. Man was created as “image-bearer” (image-son) to be in intimate communion with his “Father/Creator” while “tending the Garden” (cultivating the earth) as God’s vice-regent, ruling over the works of His hands. Man’s “image-bearing” quality was his “humanness”. Adam was a “perfect” human-being in his typological role and he was expected by God to live into the authenticity of his created nature.
- But Man rebelled against God and took it upon himself to redefine what it means to be “image-son”. In the process, sin entered God’s “good” creation bringing with it God’s curse upon all of creation—including Man. The estrangement that the Bible calls “death” now marks all of creation and Man’s “humanness” has been “vandalized”; Man has become less than what he was created to be (what I’ve previously called “sub-human” or “less than human”). All of creation, including Man, needs to be Redeemed (recovered to its original design and purpose).
- And God has provided this Redemption through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. This Redemption was not an after-thought brought about as a result of Adam’s sin, but was purposed “from the foundation of the world” as the means by which all of creation, including Man, would reach its destiny and purpose. Adam, like the Garden itself, was typological pointing to Christ and His consummative work.
As an aside, in the above point two I referred to my previous use of the term “sub-human” (and also “less than human”) in reference to the effect of The Fall on Man, specifically in regard to his “humanness”. For the sake of clarity and continuity I will continue using the same terms as I close out this series, but please see my friend Russ’ aversion to and caution with regard to my use of these terms in his comments on my previous post here. I appreciate his comments and generally agree with his points on the matter, but I believe that the phrase “less than human” speaks to the reality of what the Bible portrays as the predicament that faces Man still in his unredeemed “sinful” nature apart from Christ (for all the reasons previously mentioned in this series).
My point in using such terminology is to stress that the Bible speaks of the New Birth as more than simply a forensic change that takes place with regard to our standing with God—it speaks of transformation. There is an ontological change associated with the New Birth and our transformation in Christ. And there must be because there was an ontological change that occurred at The Fall. "Original sin" is not simply a legal pronouncement on the human race--it's not just words that speak to our standing condemned before God. Original sin speaks to a change that has taken place in our very nature as human beings. The “sin nature” has infected all of humanity so that we’re “not the way we’re supposed to be” (see previous posts). We recover our full humanity only in Christ as we are joined to Him by the Spirit in the New Birth. We are transformed back into our created design and purpose as “image-bearers” (image-sons) through the continuing work of the Spirit in us as He conforms us to Christ-likeness. And when Christ returns, this transformation will be complete as we enter into the eternal state in our resurrected physical nature. Christ has ushered in the New Creation and we are a part of it now—all we (and the rest of Creation) await is the final fruit of this New Creation in the consummation to come at Christ's return.
The “natural man” (the person that is not joined to Christ by the Spirit in the New Birth) is simply not the same kind of Man as the “spiritual man” (the person who partakes of the Spirit by being joined to Christ in the New Birth). The Bible is clear on this. One kind of human being is incomplete because he lacks the Spirit; the other kind of human being is being made complete because he has the Spirit. This isn’t a “state of mind” or simply a “positional” reality. This is an ontological change as the “sin nature” is replaced by, as Peter calls it, the “divine nature”. This is not to say that the person joined to Christ has become divine; just that in regeneration a fundamental change has taken place within a person such that he has now become in essence what he was originally created to be—fully (truly) human! Of course, this is a process…a work of the indwelling Spirit in a person that will culminate with his resurrected body. But the truth of what God has done is always spoken of as a present reality even when aspects of its completion in time/space have not yet been realized; just as we can speak of the present reality of the Kingdom of God, yet we await its consummation at Christ’s return.
And this brings us to The Consummation! As I’ve already mentioned, what God has accomplished in the Person and Work of Christ is complete—in a sense. We live in the paradigm of the already/not yet aspect of the fulfillment of all things in Christ. When on the cross our Lord said, “It is finished”…He meant it! All of God’s promises are fulfilled in Christ. There is nothing left for Him to do to accomplish His purpose in redemptive history. The curse is broken and Christ’s redemption is complete. In the mind of God, His goal has been realized…we just see this realization being worked out in time/space (as we must being dimensional creatures) as Christ’s redemption is applied to all those who are called. And at His return, this already completed work of God will be finalized in time/space with the ushering in of the consummative state—the Eternal Sabbath of God’s rest in the New Heavens and New Earth.
Much can be said and volumes written about The Consummation, but for my purposes it is enough to say that at Christ’s return, the New Creation that has already dawned with His first coming will set for eternity with the “fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth.” In The Consummation, all things will be as they were originally purposed from the beginning. To Paraphrase Plantinga again, “Things will finally be as they are supposed to be”. What “Eden” as a type spoke of or foreshadowed, will be realized in the consummation that God promised through the prophets—the New Heavens and New Earth. The Creation itself will finally realize its own redemption upon the revealing of the “sons of God” at the return of the Son of God! The curse is (even now) overthrown and the Shalom that reigns even now in our hearts through the Spirit (Jesus is our “shalom”) will reign over all of Creation as we enter into the eternal Shabbat of God’s Rest!
So how does all of this answer the question, “How are we to live”? Stay tuned for the conclusion….