Hear the whole bible in a year
Happy New Year
My wife and I are running a marriage course over the next three Monday nights. What should we cover?
“You need to repent”
“You must put that practice to death”
“You must die”
– more like it
“You have been crucified with Christ, the world is crucified to you and you to the world.”
– now you’re cooking with Holy Ghost power.
Meditating on Galatians 6:14 this morning I reckon we need to be much more radical in our language about ‘sanctification’. Even talking about ‘mortification’ can get us off the hook if we imagine ourselves as some tutting fashionista putting off the old man like a bad suit. It is a bad suit. But it’s also me. Taking it off is like flesh peeling from bones. It’s me that has to die not simply some habit or attitude.
But then I’m reminded – I’m already dead. I’m already crucified with Jesus. From baptism onwards I’ve been united with Him in His death. I’m carrying my cross daily – it’s Christ’s gift to me, releasing me from every worldly claim. I owe this world exactly what a corpse owes it – jack squat.
Realising this again is repentance (change of mind). I am realigned with reality – living is dying; dying is living. But when united with Jesus it’s always a fruitful death – pruned branches bearing fruit for God.
So don’t give up your sin, don’t reorder your priorities, don’t resolve to try harder. Realize, you’re dead already. That’s the very essence of your life.
I’ve just listened to a seminar on hospitality.
And in the midst of my admiration, bemusement and self-condemnation, the penny dropped. Ohhh, I thought, so this is how most people feel sitting through those evangelism courses I lap up!
Christ is “The Beginning”, “The Alpha”, “The First”. His Person is itself the basis for creation. He is the One who is eternally Other from the Father and the foundation for all else that is other than Him. Because of Him, through Him and for Him flows a creation.
Christ is by nature and eternally from the Father in the Spirit.
Creation is by grace and in time from the Father through the Son and in the Spirit.
This shows us
a) the spreading goodness of the triune God, Whose being is outwardly curved. Creation is not necessary to God. But God’s being, like a fountain, by nature overflows. It is a being going out towards the other.
b) creation is not a free floating reality but something beginning in the Son, crafted by Him, cohering in Him and headed towards Him as His inheritance. While God’s being reaches out towards the other it is simultaneously a being that draws the other in bonds of love.
These twin tendencies – the going out and the drawing in – find fulfilment in creation and incarnation.
Let’s think about Genesis 1. The heavens (masculine) and the earth (feminine) – like head and body, husband and wife – set the scene for this theatre of God’s glory. And centre stage is man – Adam made from the Adamah (the ground). He is not spoken into being. This man of dust (Gen 2:7) is made of the very stuff of the earth – drawn up, pinched off like clay and breathed into. The earth-man is strongly united to the earth over which he is placed as head.
a) that particular bloke;
b) ‘a man’ (a true human being) and
c) ‘humanity’ (as a whole).
This central actor – man – is king. He is God’s ruler, through whom He exercises dominion. From the outset God’s rule is a mediated rule – through man.
Now when man is disobedient you may have thought that God would renege on His determination to rule through man. But no. He takes this mediation through man very seriously. It is because of the cosmic kingship of man that man’s fall entails the fall of all creation. The ground (adamah) is cursed because of man (adam). Man remains king. But while man is perverse, so is his world.
But all of this looks towards the Man of Heaven (1 Cor 15:47-49). Flesh and blood could never inherit the kingdom of God. Men of dust were never the intention. The intention was always the union of heavenly Man and earthly man. The intention was always for the Logos to take this flesh and as Man to rule as God’s true king. This rule was not to be a divine rule over and against man. It was to be a heavenly rule in and through man.
And so came the eschatological Adam (1 Cor 15:45). He is
a) that particular bloke, Jesus;
b) ‘a man’ (a true human being) and
c) ‘humanity’ (an eschatological humanity to answer Adam’s)
He sums up the man of dust, his being and life. He takes His very flesh and retraces the steps of his disobedience, hammering out instead a being and life of perfect faithfulness. Then, exalted as the pinnacle of all creation, this eschatological Adam is lifted up between heaven and earth – absorbing the curse of both and reconciling one to the other. As Priest He ministers by the Spirit, offering to God the true worship of earth (Heb 9:14). As Lamb He receives the curse of God on behalf of man (Gal 3:13). As King, He reigns from the tree, manifesting God’s righteous rule to the ends of the earth.
Ascending as Priest, Lamb and King to the Father’s right hand, Jesus has lead captives in His train and sat down as Head over all things for the church. The True Man, our Brother, sits in heaven as ruler of earth, not over against earth. Rather, having taken Adam (and in him, adamah!) to Himself, He rules as and for man for all eternity. When the heavenly Husband (masculine) moves house with His Father to earth (feminine) there will be the Marriage to end all marriages. The manifested union of Bridegroom and bride will be at the same time the manifested union of heaven and earth. Christ and creation will be consummated that day.
As Alpha, Christ has crafted a creation and granted it a gracious otherness.
As Omega, He has entered in and drawn back that creation to a gracious oneness.