God the Redeemer

God created the first Adam in His own image, and appointed him to rule over the works of His hands. He also gave him a commandment. Gen. 2:16, 17: “Of all the trees of the garden you may freely eat. But from the one tree—the tree of the knowledge of good and evil—you may not eat. For in the day you eat from it you will surely die.” Had Adam and Eve obeyed God’s commandment, they would have continued to enjoy the favor and blessing of their Creator-God. But that was not to be. Satan tempted them to disobey God’s command. They took the bait and ate from the one tree that God said they shouldn’t eat from. They ate, and they died, just as God said they would.

The consequences of their disobedience were profound and tragic beyond description. As a result of their disobedience, our first parents plunged themselves and their posterity into inconceivable ruin and misery. Rom. 5:12: “Through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men.” Here was man—the crown of God’s creation, made in His image, and commissioned to rule over all that God had created, for God’s glory—in rebellion to God, enslaved to sin, and under the sentence of death, with his dominion ruined. Humanity is broken. Our domain is in shambles—all because of the sin and rebellion our first parents against the God who made them.

But the Bible speaks of another Adam—the last Adam—Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He succeeds where the first Adam failed. He comes and does what the first Adam failed to do. He comes and rescues and renews our race from the ruin that resulted from the rebellion of the first Adam. The last Adam reclaims the earth and restores it. And He reinstates us to rule over it. This is the work of New Creation, and it begins with the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Wherever you find resurrection, you can be sure that the work of New Creation is going on. The work of New Creation always begins with resurrection. It begins with the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. From there, it continues in various stages. It progresses in at least four ways. In the work of New Creation, God does at least four things.

He redeems our souls.

We read in Ephesians 2:4-6: But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

What does Paul mean when he says that God made us alive? He’s talking about the new birth. He’s talking about being born again. He’s talking about regeneration. He considers the new birth to be nothing less than a spiritual resurrection—a spiritual resurrection from spiritual death to spiritual life. This is something that God does. Dead people can’t raise themselves. No mere human being, alive or dead, can bring anyone else to life. Only God can do this. Only God can raise the dead. This is exactly what He does when He saves those who are dead in trespasses and sins. He raises their souls from the dead in the new birth. Their spiritual resurrection in the new birth is directly connected to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul says God made us alive together with Christ and raised us up with Christ. Peter says God has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Christ (1 Pet. 1:3). This is the first phase of God’s work of New Creation. This is something that God is doing right now, in this age. He redeems our souls. There is a second thing that God does in the work of New Creation.

He redeems our bodies.

We read in Rom. 8:23: And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.” Why does Paul say that believers are eagerly awaiting their adoption as sons? Aren’t they already adopted? Of course they are, but not as they will be. Believers in Christ possess the privilege of adoption, but not in its fullness. There is an aspect of it that we do not yet possess. Paul tells us what that aspect is in v. 23. It is the redemption of our bodies. We wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. What’s that? It’s the resurrection of the righteous at the end of the age when Christ comes again. Paul describes the resurrection of believers as the redemption of their bodies. God will redeem our bodies. There’s a third thing God does in the work of New Creation.

He renews our world.

In Matthew 19:27 Peter asks Jesus a question: Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?” Jesus has just told the rich, young ruler to sell all his possessions, and give the proceeds to the poor, promising that if he did this, he would have treasure in heaven. Peter is thinking about this. This is just what he and the other disciples had done. They’d left everything to follow Christ. So would there be treasure in heaven for them? Jesus gives them a comforting answer in v. 28: Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” What does Jesus mean when He says, “in the regeneration”? He’s talking about the renewal of the world—the restored universe—the resurrected creation. The word He uses to describe the renewal of the world is the very same word the apostle Paul uses to describe the new birth. We read in Titus 3:5: He saved us…by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.”

Jesus describes the future renewal of the world as “the regeneration.” In Rom. 8:21, Paul writes: “The creation itself will be set free from its slavery to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” The whole creation will undergo a great transformation. The resurrection which believers now know spiritually, and later know physically, will come to the whole universe when God makes a new heaven and new earth by His almighty power. He will renew the world. Finally, there’s a fourth thing God does in the work of New Creation.

He reinstates our rule.

In the beginning, when God created man, He created them male and female, and commanded them to exercise dominion on earth. Gen. 1:28: “God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” We read in Psalm 8:4-6: “What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty! You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet.” God made humans to rule on earth. But Adam squandered his rule when he fell into sin. He didn’t lose it altogether, but he definitely ruined it. Now he’s cruel to animals. He abuses and ruins the environment for short-term personal gain. Instead of filling the earth with divine image-bearers who glorify Him, he fills the earth with wickedness and violence.

But the last Adam comes and changes all that. He overcomes and sits down with His Father on His throne. And He promises the same to those who overcome with Him. He promises the church in Laodicea: He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne” (Rev. 3:21). He shares with His followers the authority over the nations which He received from His Father. This is clear from His promise to the church in Thyatira: He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, TO HIM I WILL GIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS; AND HE SHALL RULE THEM WITH A ROD OF IRON, AS THE VESSELS OF THE POTTER ARE BROKEN TO PIECES, as I also have received authority from My Father” (Rev. 2:26, 27[1]).

The last Adam reinstates our rule. He has made us to be a kingdom of priests who will reign on earth forever and ever (Rev. 1:6; 5:10; 22:5). Have you ever wondered what we’ll be doing in heaven? We’ll be ruling and reigning with Christ. What does that mean? At the very least, it means that we will exercise dominion, in righteousness, with Christ, over the works of God’s hands, for God’s glory—just as God intended from the very beginning. The end will actually be far better than the beginning.

Dr. Gregory Beale puts it this way: “Christ is restarting history, which is a new-creational age to be successfully consummated at His final coming.”[2] Dr. Samuel Waldron expresses it like this: “Christ brings the creation train derailed by Adam to its original, glorious destination!”[3]

Jim Domm graduated from Trinity Ministerial Academy and earned the M. Div. Degree from Reformed Baptist Seminary. He has served as an elder at Englewood Baptist Church in Englewood, New Jersey since 1995. Jim and his wife, Brenda, have been married for 38 years. 



[1] This is a quotation from Psalm 2, a Messianic psalm. It Is remarkable that Jesus would take a promise originally made to Him and hold it out to His people.

[2] G. K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2011) p. 465.

[3] Endorsement in ‘Better Than the Beginning: Creation in Biblical Perspective’, Richard C. Barcellos (Palmdale, California: RBAP, 2013).

 


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