“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death...Death is swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:26, 54
"The greater the sin, the greater the mercy, the deeper the death and the brighter the rebirth.” - C. S. Lewis
"This story...has the very taste of primary truth." - J. R. R. Tolkien

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Death and Resurrection, Part III

…This passage also shows how the redemption made possible by Christ is not limited to people, but in fact covers all of creation. The whole of creation is freed from bondage and decay through Christ’s death. Paul writes in Colossians 1:20 that through Christ God “reconcile[d] to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” Here we see the redeeming power of God in Christ. As a human being God invaded a fallen and decaying world, penetrating enemy territory, and with the resurrection God turned the tide 180 degrees.

Just as the prophets spoke to Israel of God gathering his scattered people to himself (Deuteronomy 30:3, Isaiah 11:12, 56:8; Micah 2:12, Zechariah 10:8-10), so he is in fact gathering all of this broken and scattered world to himself once more, and bringing in the harvest of the redeemed (Matthew 12:30, Luke 10:2, 2 Thessalonians 2:1, Revelation 14:15). A fallen world lost in sin and full of the discordant, opposing voices of individuals is being brought together in the unity of love – a sacrificial love for others (see my posts on “The Love of God”). A broken world is healed by the Great Healer, and corrupted and depraved creatures are transformed from the inside out into the children of God they were made to be. With Adam, the first man, sin and death entered the whole world, but with Christ, the new man, death was reversed (Romans 5:12-19, 1 Corinthians 15:21). Jonathan Edwards writes, “the work of redemption is that by which good men are, as it were, brought into being, as good men, or as restored to holiness and happiness. The word of redemption is a new creation, according to Scripture, whereby men are brought into a new existence.” The old passes away like a shadow and all things are made new (Isaiah 42:9, 48:6, 65:17; 1 Corinthians 7:31; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Revelation 21:4-5) with the restoration of a still older and deeper beauty. Creation is regathered, reunited, restored, renewed, redeemed, and resurrected.

There are many ways to describe this enormous event, but perhaps the best way is in terms of death and resurrection. This is the extent of the resurrection – a whole dying world is raised to life. God’s victory over death is so powerful and so complete that it spreads over all of redemptive history, raising millions of fallen people from death and resurrecting this fallen world itself, all in the wake of the cross. It’s really quite a cosmic event. The kingdom of heaven will come to this earth – indeed it is already begun through the work of the Spirit…

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