The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? – Jeremiah 17:9
When Plato expressed the ultimate purpose and great imperative of philosophy with this command, “know yourself,” he had struck upon a valuable insight. If we would know our purpose in life, how we should relate to the world and to others around us, what our goals and dreams and desires should consist of, how we should spend our time, then we must know who we are. We must know how we were made and for what purpose, and we must know whether or not we are fulfilling that purpose, and if not, how we might do so. If we desire to order our lives according to wise and reasonable principles, then first a thoroughgoing self-knowledge is indispensable.
However, this command is not so easy to put into practice. Who really knows what he is like, deep down inside? Who can say from what mysterious inner workings of our minds come bizarre dreams, unexpected, random thoughts that defy all reason, moments of insight and creativity, moments of foolishness and lapses of judgment? Do we really know how our minds function? Do we really know what we actually want or need? If so, then why is it that, when we have finally accomplished or acquired something that we thought we wanted, we suddenly feel so empty and let down? Who has not felt the deep and inexplicable yearning for something more, and not knowing quite what it was or how to pursue it, tried to bury the yearning in a busy pursuit of professional advancement or entertainment or any of those other things that have always let us down before? If we are ever to rise above this condition, we must know who we are, what we were made to do and enjoy, why we are not doing and enjoying what we were made for, and how to pursue a soul-deep change.
But even here we must take another step back: for we cannot know ourselves until we know the One who made us. We cannot find out about our purpose or that in which lies our highest and eternal joy, unless we hear it from the very lips of our Creator. We cannot understand the miserable extent to which we have failed, unless we measure ourselves against his perfection. And neither can we encounter the only hope of a lasting solution, unless we measure our failure against his proffered grace. In our last study, “Knowing Our God,” we spent some time examining who the Trinitarian God is, and how he has revealed his character to mankind. Now, we are ready to take up this daunting question, “Who are we?”. But since our hearts are “desperately wicked and deceitful above all things,” we stand in dire need of grace, as we search the scriptures in pursuit of an answer to this perplexing question. Spirit of God, uncover before us the truths of your word, show us who we were meant to be, and how we can find true joy and fulfillment!
Let us now examine the nature of mankind in four different conditions: Man Innocent, the estate into which he was first created; Man Depraved, the estate into which he was plunged in consequence of his rebellion against God; Man Regenerated, the estate into which God’s grace brings him in this life, giving him a new, spiritual nature, co-existent with his old, depraved nature; and Man Glorified, the estate into which God’s grace will bring him in eternity, causing his new, spiritual nature to triumph and destroying his old, sinful nature forevermore.
The nature of man as the image-bearer of God is what sets him apart from the rest of creation, and gives him a unique and dignified role among all God’s creatures. It is a difficult task to define concisely what is meant by the “image of God” in man, but it is at least possible to observe several characteristics or predicates of that divine image. For example, man possesses moral agency, that is, his decisions and actions are directed to some end, either positively good or negatively evil, and are motivated by a heart attitude that is likewise either good or bad; hence, he is justly responsible for the reward or punishment due to all of his actions. Man is likewise characterized by perpetuity, so that, once created, he will exist in some state forevermore; by creativity, so that, just as God brought all things into existence according to the idea of his own mind, so man is able to shape existing material intelligently and artfully according to his fruitful imagination; by speech-capability, so that, just as God through his Word brought his intentions into being, so man through his word is able to express his thoughts and ideas; by rationality, so that, man’s actions are not the mere product of brute instinct, but vested with the qualities of deliberation, desire for the highest good, and wisdom in how to pursue that desire; by dominion, so that, just as God rules over all his creation, man rules over all that is under him, subduing all kinds of animals and putting the earth to fruitful use; and by society, so that, just as God is in ceaseless and joyful fellowship with the members of the blessed Trinity, so man is ever in society with others of his kind, and is not complete without this fellowship.
The Image of God
Gen 1:26-27; Gen 9:6; 1Cor 11:7; Jam 3:9
Gen 2:16-17; Gen 4:7; Deu 11:26-28; Deu 30:15-16; Eze 33:14-16; Mat 23:33; Rom 3:5-8; Heb 2:1-3; Heb 10:28-29
Dan 12:2; Mat 25:46; Luke 20:34-38; John 5:25-29; 1Cor 15:50-55; 2Cor 5:1-4; 2The 1:5-10; Rev 20:11-15
Gen 4:20-22; Exo 31:1-6; 2Chr 26:14-15; Ecc 7:29; Amos 6:5
Its Uses, Good and Bad
Job 16:5; Psa 12:2-4; Psa 141:3; Pro 10:11; Pro 15:26; Pro 15:28; Pro 18:4; Mat 12:34-37; Jam 1:19; Jam 3:1-10
Its Analogy to the Divine Word
Gen 1:1-3; Psa 29:3-9; Isa 40:5-8; Isa 55:8-11; John 1:1-3; Heb 1:1-3
Pro 25:2; Isa 1:18; Isa 43:25-26; Dan 4:36; Acts 17:2-3; 1Pet 3:15
Gen 1:26-28; Gen 9:1-2; Psa 8:5-8; Heb 2:6-10
Psa 127:3-5; Ecc 9:7-10
Its Spiritual Aspect
Son 2:1-4 [See the rest of the Song of Solomon as well.]; John 1:12; Rom 8:14-17; Eph 5:22-32; 1John 3:1-2; Rev 19:6-9
Its Analogy to Inter-Triune Relationships
Psa 2:7; John 5:17-23; John 11:27; Rom 1:1-4
Man was originally created good, and not just neutral or morally undetermined. He had a nature that delighted in fellowship with God, and that was drawn to do the very works that God had commanded. He was not finally confirmed in his state of moral uprightness; but he was, nevertheless, positively righteous, and not just a “blank slate,” a being with an unwritten character, whose nature would be determined by his own, self-shaping decisions and actions.
Gen 1:27-31; Gen 3:8a; Gen 5:1-2; Ecc 7:29
Although God created man in his own image, and morally good, he did not give him such a strong character that he could not be tempted to do evil. He was not as the good angels are today, and as glorified man will be in the future, that is, unable even to be tempted with sin. He was good, but he was still susceptible to temptation. While he was in this state, God designed a test to see if he would obey, and thus be confirmed in his state of holiness; and so he placed in the middle of the Garden of Eden the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (that is, a tree designed to show, or give the knowledge of, whether man would remain good or be plunged into evil); and he commanded Adam not to eat of its fruit.
Ecc 7:29; Gen 2:16-17; Gen 3:1-6; 2Cor 11:3; 1Tim 2:13-14
When God created man in his own image, he created him as a being that was ultimately responsible to obey him alone, and in the case of disobedience to undergo the severest penalty of eternal death and punishment away from the presence of his Creator, whose fellowship he had been made to enjoy. Even before the Fall, man was given responsibilities that he was obligated to fulfill, including the exercise of dominion over the earth, the multiplication of the human race, and obedience to God’s prohibitions; but there was no curse, no wearisome labor, and no dissatisfaction involved in fulfilling them. God created him to enjoy what he had commanded him to do.
To his Creator
Isa 29:16; Isa 45:9-12; Isa 64:8; Mal 2:10; Rom 9:20-21
To exercise dominion
The Source of Dominion
Gen 1:26; Gen 2:19-20; Gen 9:2-3; Psa 8:3-9
The Responsibility to Rule Well
Exo 23:11-12; Deu 22:6-7; Deu 22:10; Deu 25:4; Pro 12:10; Isa 32:20; Jam 3:7
The Dominion of Man Ultimately Realized in Christ and his Kingdom
Isa 65:25; Heb 2:5-9
Gen 1:27-28; Gen 9:1
Gen 2:21-25; Gen 3:20; Gen 4:1; Gen 5:1-3; Psa 127:3-5
The Necessity to Do So According to God’s Commands
Pro 5:15-21; Mat 19:3-8; Eph 5:22-33
The Spiritual Aspect of the Command
Rom 4:16-18; Gal 3:7; Philemon 1:10-11; Heb 2:9-13
The Threat of Death Contingent Upon Disobedience
Gen 2:15-17; Deu 28:15-16; Deu 28:45-48; Deu 28:58-61; Psa 119:21; Psa 119:155
The Blessings Contingent Upon Obedience
Lev 18:5; Deu 28:1-14; Psa 19:7-11; Psa 119:1-8; Psa 119:97; Psa 119:46-48; Psa 119:156-158; Psa 119:176
The Need for Divine Enablement
Psa 119:10; Psa 119:12
Perfect Obedience Found Only in Christ
Mat 3:13-17; Mat 4:1-11; Heb 4:14-16; Heb 5:8-10; 1Pet 2:21-25
Christ’s Perfect Obedience Imputed to the Believer
Rom 4:22-25; 1Cor 1:30-31; 2Cor 5:20-21
The responsibilities that God enjoined upon innocent man were joined with the greatest of privileges. Man’s responsibility to exercise dominion over the earth was characterized by the great privilege of ruling beneath and in analogy to God’s own universal rule; his responsibility to multiply and fill the earth held forth the immense privilege and joy of society with others of his own kind, in the likeness of the blessed relationships within the eternal Trinity; his responsibility to obey God was attached to the unspeakable privilege of walking in fellowship with him, and enjoying the good fruits of the Garden that he had placed him in. Man, when he was first created, was the most blessed of all creatures, given great responsibility and filled with unspeakable joys and privileges, all of which derived from his unique relationship to God, as the one being formed in the image of the Divine.
[See verses under the previous point, “Responsible”]
Summative description: Man innocent was able to sin and able not to sin.
Although God created man innocent, upright, good, and in his very image, yet man rebelled against the Word of God in the Garden of Eden, and plunged himself and all his race into a state of misery and hopelessness. The effects of this fall were catastrophic and widespread: the image of God in man was marred (but not completely obliterated); man was placed under a curse of immense proportions, changing the delightful responsibilities and privileges that he had enjoyed into a sorrowful and exhausting toil; all of creation was plunged into a curse and made to exist in vanity; mankind came under the sentence of the eternal punishment of death; and all the descendants of that first man and woman were made the heirs of the sinful nature, curse, and punishment into which their first parents had plunged themselves.
Misconception of God
Gen 3:1-3; Psa 10:2-14; Psa 78:19-20; Psa 94:3-11; Mal 1:2-3; Mal 2:17; 1Cor 2:6-10
Misconception of Self
Gen 3:4-5; 2Chr 26:16; Isa 14:12-17; Eze 28:2-9; Eze 28:12-19; Dan 5:20-21; Rev 18:7-8
Gen 3:6; 2Ki 7:1-2; Psa 78:21-22; Psa 78:32-33; Rom 14:22-23; Heb 3:7-13; Heb 11:6
Gen 3:6; Deu 18:18-19; 1Sam 15:22; Ecc 5:1; Jer 7:22-24; Amos 5:21-24; John 14:23-24
Gen 3:9-24; Gen 4:10-12; Gen 9:24-25; Deu 27:26; Deu 30:15-20
Distortion of all previous responsibilities
1.) The Responsibility to Obey
Gen 4:6-10; Gen 4:23; Gen 6:11-13; Gen 11:1-9; Num 14:21-23
2.) The Responsibility to Exercise Dominion
Gen 6:1-4 [According to one interpretation, this passage is speaking of mighty rulers who perverted their authority, engaged in unbridled polygamy, and bore children who ruled oppressively and unjustly in the earth.]; Exo 5:6-18; Jdg 1:7; Jdg 9:1-6; Jdg 17:6; Isa 10:1-2; Jer 23:1-2; Eze 34:1-10; Eze 45:8-9
3.) The Responsibility to Multiply
Gen 4:19; Gen 6:1-2; Gen 19:4-9; Gen 19:30-38; Gen 38:7-10; Gen 38:13-17; 2Sam 11:1-4; 2Sam 13:1-17; Lev 18:3-25; Rom 1:24-28
Gen 3:17-18; Gen 6:6-7; Gen 6:17; Ecc 1:2-8; Jer 9:10-13; Rom 8:19-23
Gen 2:17; Rom 5:12; 1Cor 15:21-22
1.) Physical Death
Gen 4:8; Gen 5:3-8; Eze 18:20; Heb 9:27
2.) Separation from God (Spiritual Death)
Gen 3:23-24; Psa 15:1-5; Isa 6:1-5; Hab 1:13; Luke 5:8; John 3:5-7; Eph 2:1-3; Col 2:13; 2The 1:9
Psa 51:5; Psa 58:3; Rom 5:18-19
Distortion of God’s Image
Gen 5:1-3; Rom 5:19; 1Cor 15:48-49
After Adam’s fall, all mankind was plunged into a state of total depravity. Adam gained a sinful nature by his rebellion, so that he was no longer able to do good; and all of his offspring inherited that same evil nature. Even man’s best acts, after the catastrophe in the Garden of Eden, are as filthy rags before God, for they are shot through with many imperfect and God-dishonoring motives. Every responsibility that man had in the Garden was perverted and corrupted by fallen humanity, and every individual came under God’s death sentence. And man was hopeless to find a remedy: he was the slave of sin and of the Serpent who had first deceived him, and blinded and unable to understand God, let alone come to him in faith, or follow him. In short, man’s fall brought utter catastrophe, and it would take a divine and sovereign act of mercy ever to restore him to his lost estate of righteousness and fellowship with God.
Gen 6:5; Job 15:14-16; Psa 130:3; Psa 143:2; Pro 20:9; Ecc 7:20; Isa 64:6; Jer 13:23; John 3:19; Rom 3:9-12; Jam 3:8; 1John 1:8
John 3:19-21; Eph 4:17-19; Eph 5:8
His bondage to sin and Satan
John 8:34; John 8:44; Rom 6:20; 2Tim 2:25-26; Tit 3:3; 1John 5:19
His Evil Nature
Gen 6:5; Gen 8:21; Job 14:4; Ecc 9:3; Jer 17:9; Mark 7:21-23; Mat 7:16-18; Mat 12:33; Mark 7:21-23; Rom 8:7-8; Jam 1:13-14
His Inability (to believe in God, come to him, seek him, etc.)
Isa 64:7; John 6:44; John 6:65; John 8:43-45; John 10:26; John 12:37-41; John 14:17; 1Cor 2:14; Rom 3:10-11
So great a fall brought equally great consequences: God is utterly holy, and the sinful state into which man had plunged himself could not be overlooked by the righteous Judge of all the earth.
God had promised that if Adam disobeyed he would be punished with death: this punishment came, and all men now die physically; but more horrible yet is the fact that all die spiritually, and are no longer able to be found in the presence of the Holy God, the knowledge of whom is eternal life. If no salvation is found from this desperate plight, then Adam’s seed is justly doomed to spend eternity in hell, away from the presence of the Lord of Glory. The negative side of baptism is a fitting symbol of this final judgment: when God brought Noah through the waters of judgment in the ark (a type of Christ), the world was destroyed in that baptism; when God delivered his people from Egypt through the Red Sea, Pharaoh was destroyed in that baptism; and when John came proclaiming the baptism of repentance, he told the people that the Messiah would judge the world in a baptism of fire.
Hardening and Reprobation
Exo 4:21; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 9:13; Rom 9:17-18; Rom 9:21-22; 1Pet 2:8
Examples of God’s Wrath
Gen 7:17-24; Gen 11:5-9; Gen 19:14-29; Exo 14:23-31; Jude 1:4-11
The Baptism of Judgment
Mat 3:7-12; Luke 12:49-51
[See also the examples of the flood and the destruction of Pharoah in the Red Sea, under “Examples of God’s Wrath”]
Final Punishment in Hell
Isa 66:24; Mat 10:28; Mat 11:20-24; Mat 23:33-36; Mark 9:42-48; Luke 16:19-31; Rom 2:5-12; 2The 1:6-10; Rev 20:10-15
Summative description: Man depraved is not able not to sin.
When God purposed to redeem a people from the mass of fallen humanity, the sole and inexhaustible source of this surprising and undeserved grace was God’s free, unconditional love. We were not lovable in any way; but God, who is love itself, chose to show his amazing love in the vessels which he had formed to showcase his mercy. God’s love for his people is eternal, determined before the foundation of the earth. And it is special and individual. His redemptive love is not given to every person alike, but is prepared only for those whom he has chosen, not for any good in them, but to demonstrate the freeness of his favor.
Jer 31:3; Rom 1:7; Eph 2:4-7; 1The 1:2-5; 2The 2:16-17; 1John 4:7-12; 1John 4:16; 1John 4:19
Deu 4:35-38; Deu 7:7-8; Deu 10:14-15; Deu 23:3-6; Deu 33:1-3; 2Sam 12:24; Psa 78:67-68; Psa 89:20-33; Isa 38:17; Isa 43:3-4; Hos 11:1; Mal 1:2-3; John 16:26-27; John 17:22-26; Rom 5:7-8; Rom 9:13-15
God’s eternal love for his people flows naturally into his eternal choice to redeem them. This unconditional, sovereign election is the product and proof of his eternal love. Although fallen men like to cling to the idea of some vestige of remaining good in themselves, and are ready to suppose that God saved them, and not others, because they were more willing to believe or more ready to seek, the bible is clear that election is all about God’s glory: he saw nothing good in us, not even the slightest modicum of desire to return to him, but he chose us anyway, to glorify the freeness of his mercy and lovingkindness.
The fact of election
Exo 6:7; Deu 7:6; Deu 10:14-15; Psa 33:12; Isa 43:20-21; Psa 65:4; Mat 24:24; John 6:37; John 15:16; Acts 13:48; Rom 8:28-30; Rom 9:10-24; Rom 11:5-7; Eph 1:3-6; Eph 1:11-12; 1The 1:4; 1The 5:9; 2The 2:13-14
The motivation of election
His own good pleasure
Eph 1:5; 2Tim 1:9
The display of his glory
Isa 43:6-7; Rom 9:22-24; Eph 2:4-7; 1Cor 1:27-31
His special love
Deu 7:6-8; 2The 2:13
[See the previous point,“Loved”]
Rom 8:29; 1Pet 1:1-2
Which means his relational love or causative purpose
Jer 1:5; Amos 3:2; Mat 7:22-23; 1Cor 8:3; 2Tim 2:19; 1Pet 1:20
But not any good [nobility, wisdom, power, choice, seeking] he foresees in anyone
Deu 7:7; Rom 9:11-13; Rom 9:16; Rom 10:20; 1Cor 1:27-29; 1Cor 4:7; 2Tim 1:9
In eternity, God loved us and chose to redeem us; and then, in time, he brought that eternal will to fruition, and called us into his kingdom. God calls sinners in two ways: outwardly, he proclaims the truth of his free grace to all alike, through his gospel messengers; free pardon is offered without exception, and all who desire to embrace it are invited to do so. However, no man in his natural, fallen condition is willing to accept so gracious a call, because his deeds are evil. Therefore, in those whom he has chosen, God joins the outward call of the gospel with an inward, effectual call of his Spirit, who overcomes native resistance, so that the one thus called will respond indeed.
Isa 55:1-3; Mat 22:2-14; John 3:14-17; John 7:37-38; Rom 10:11-18; Col 1:23; Rev 22:17
Luke 8:52-55; John 6:44-45; John 10:1-5; John 10:16; John 10:25-28; John 11:43-44; Rom 1:5-7; Rom 8:28-30; Rom 9:23-26; 1Cor 1:1-2; 1Cor 1:9; 1Cor 1:23-24; 1Cor 7:20-24; 2Cor 4:4-6; Gal 1:6; Gal 1:15-16; Eph 1:18; 2The 2:13-14; 1Tim 6:12; 2Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:15; Jam 2:7; 1Pet 2:9; 1Pet 5:10-11; 2Pet 1:3-4; Jude 1:1; Rev 17:14
When God first gave his commandment to man in the Garden, he warned him that disobedience would result in death. That promise in fact came true when Adam disobeyed; and since that first sin, all men have been born into a state of spiritual death. If they would regain what was lost, therefore, their first need is that they be given true life again. This is what regeneration is all about: it is a new birth, God’s implantation of a spiritual life into a heart that had been dead, thereby causing it to beat again with love, obedience, faith, and repentance, realities to which it had before been insensible.
Its origin: divine choice
Eze 37:1-14; John 1:12-13; John 3:7-8
A new nature
1John 2:29; 1John 3:1-3; 1John 3:9-10; 1John 5:1-4; 1John 5:18
A new heart
Deu 30:6; Eze 11:19-20; Eze 36:25-27
John 3:27; Phi 1:29; 2Pet 1:1; Acts 16:14; Acts 18:27; Eph 2:8-10
Acts 5:31; Acts 11:18; 2Tim 2:25-26; 1Cor 4:7
Ever since God established his gracious covenant with mankind, he was pleased to seal and signify his promise of favor with visible signs of confirmation. In the Abrahamic covenant, the sign and seal was circumcision, which looked ahead to when Christ would be cut off for the sins of the people, and signified the removal of the sinful flesh and the new life to which believers in him would be raised. But when Christ came and was actually cut off, the covenant sign changed to baptism, through which a believer symbolically passes through the waters of judgment and is washed clean from all sin, and preserved safe in Christ. The reality to which this sign points is the baptism with the Spirit, by which believers receive true, spiritual life indeed, by means of the Spirit of God poured out upon them.
The significance of circumcision
Deu 10:16; Deu 30:6; Jer 4:4; Rom 4:11-12
The correlation of circumcision and baptism
Old Testament examples of baptism
Gen 7:17-24/1Pet 3:18-21; Exo 14:23-31/1Cor 10:1-2
Baptism with water
Mat 28:18-20; Acts 2:38; Acts 10:46-48; Acts 22:16; Rom 6:3-5; Eph 5:26
Baptism with the Spirit
Joel 2:28-29; Acts 1:4-5; Acts 2:1-4; Acts 11:15-17; 1Cor 12:13; Tit 3:4-6
There is no more precious term in the believer’s vocabulary than “justification,” nor is there any other s
ingle word which conveys more of the truth of the gospel than this. The heart of the gospel is that man’s fundamental problem is sin, and if the sickness, death, punishment, wrath, and despair which are its fruits will ever be overcome, then his sin problem must first be taken care of. If man would ever be happy again, ever enjoy the presence of the holy God, ever regain what he lost in the Garden, and so pass into the joy of eternal life, his sin must be traded for a spotless righteousness. Justification is the unalterable verdict of the righteous Judge that this has indeed happened: the sinner who had been stained by transgression is legally declared to be wholly righteous, by faith alone. Of course, the God who cannot lie would not pass a verdict that is not true; and so the principle by which justification thrives is that of imputation. Jesus was pleased to give (or impute) to me his flawless righteousness, and to take in its place my putrid mass of stinking iniquity. The Father then treated him, on the cross, as justice demanded that I be treated; but when he raised him from the dead, he confirmed before all that his wrath had been satisfied, and that the substitutionary sacrifice of his Son had been acceptable. In this way, God was able to be just in his verdict and still declare me just, although my past had been stained with immense sin, and his court demands impeccable righteousness.
Jer 23:6; Zec 3:3-5; Rom 9:30-32; Rom 10:3-4; 1Cor 1:30-31; 2Cor 5:21; Phi 3:8-9
Gen 15:6; Psa 32:1-2; Isa 45:21-25; Isa 53:11; Hab 2:4; Rom 1:16-17; Rom 3:20-28; Rom 4:1-13; Rom 4:20-5:2; Rom 5:17-19; Rom 8:29-34; Gal 2:15-16; Gal 3:5-14; Gal 3:21-24; Gal 5:4-6
Our basic problem consists of this, first, that by our sin we have become indebted to the one we have wronged; and second, that since the one we have wronged is our Creator, the Almighty God of the universe, our sin debt is therefore infinite, and can never adequately be repaid. We are as dishonest employees who have embezzled and wasted millions of dollars from our employers; and now, although we have not the wherewithal to pay them back, we are still under the obligation of justice to do so. Being so helplessly burdened with a debt we could never repay, how sweet must the sound of our Savior’s words fall upon our ears, “Your sins are forgiven; go in peace”?
Exo 34:6-7; Lev 4:25-26; Psa 103:12; Psa 130:3-4; Isa 1:18; Jer 31:33-34; Mic 7:18-19; Mat 6:12-15; Mat 9:2-7; Mat 18:21-35; Mat 26:27-28; Mark 11:25; Luke 23:33-34; Luke 24:46-47; Acts 2:37-38; Eph 4:32; Col 3:13; Heb 10:11-18; 1John 1:9
Before we could have been brought back to God, there was a price that had to be paid. The righteous law of God was hanging over our heads, with all its unfulfilled demands and broken regulations; and the payment that it required stood in the way of our pardon. So infinite was our debt and obligation, that the only redemption price that could ever have been valuable enough was the precious blood of Christ, the Lamb without spot and without blemish.
Types of Redemption
Exo 13:12-13; Num 3:40-51; Num 18:15-17; Ruth 4:1-10
The True Redemption of Christ
Psa 49:7-8, 15; Psa 130:7-8; Isa 35:10; Mark 10:45; Acts 20:28; 1Cor 6:19-20; Gal 3:13-14; Gal 4:1-5; Eph 1:7-8; Tit 2:13-14; Heb 9:11-15; 1Pet 1:17-19; Rev 5:9-10
The work of Christ in overturning the effects of sin and the curse was manifold: through Adam’s fall we became legally guilty, and therefore needed both acquittal and a positive righteousness; this Christ gave us in justification. But we also became impure and defiled, and hence needed washing and sanctification, which he also bestowed upon us. The wound in Christ’s side thus flowed with blood, for our absolution from guilt, and water, for our purification from sin – and the purification is just as necessary as the absolution, if we are ever to come before the righteous and holy God. Our sanctification is therefore as necessary as our justification. It is not just a means to an end, but an end in itself. This sanctification may be viewed in different ways: positionally, we have been perfectly and fully sanctified already, and endowed with a perfect holiness; progressively, we are being more sanctified every day – the holiness we have been given is being worked into our lives by the agency of the Triune persons, through the means of the Word of God, by which we are being conformed to the image of Christ; and finally, our practical sanctification will be fully accomplished in glory, when we see the Son of God as he truly is.
Old Testament Examples
Exo 13:2/Heb 12:22-23; Exo 19:6/1Pet 2:9; Exo 19:10-11/Rev 19:7-8; Exo 40:9-11; Lev 10:10-11; Lev 21:17-23
1Cor 1:2; 1Cor 1:30; 1Cor 3:16-17; 1Cor 6:11; Eph 5:25-7; Col 1:21-22; Heb 10:10; 1John 2:29
Isa 52:11; Rom 6:4-18; Rom 12:1-2; 1The 4:3-5; 2Tim 2:21-22; Tit 2:11-12; Heb 9:13-14; Heb 10:14; 1Pet 1:14-16; 2Pet 3:11-12; 1John 3:3
By the Father
Exo 31:13; Lev 20:7-8; Eze 37:27-28; 1The 5:23; Heb 12:10
By the Son
John 17:18-19; Heb 2:10-11; Heb 13:12
By the Holy Spirit
Rom 15:16; 2The 2:13; 1Pet 1:2
Through the Word of God
John 17:17; 2Tim 3:14-17; Jam 1:21-25
Toward the image of Christ
Rom 8:29; 2Cor 3:15-18; Eph 4:20-24; 1John 3:2; 1Cor 15:49
Of all the promised blessings connected with the coming of the Messiah, some of the greatest involved the pouring out of the Spirit upon all God’s people, who would dwell within them, teach them God’s law in their inner beings, intercede for them with unspeakable groanings, and guarantee their final salvation. What greater and more astonishing privilege could be imagined than that the very God of creation would dwell in our hearts through faith, in spite of all our remaining corruption?
Eze 36:25-27; Joel 2:28-32; John 14:16-17; Acts 2:14-21; Rom 8:8-9; Eph 3:14-19
Eph 1:13-14; Eph 4:30
John 14:25-26; John 15:26; John 16:7-14; 2Cor 3:15-18; 1John 2:20-27
Rom 8:2-6; Rom 8:10-14; 1Cor 12:1-11; Gal 5:16-25
Rom 8:15-17; Rom 8:26-27
The first and great consequence of man’s sin was that he was separated from his God; the last and great accomplishment of Jesus’ work was to bring us back to God. The final goal of the mighty work of redemption, therefore, is reconciliation, the calling out of a people who would dwell in the very presence of God, with a restored and blessed relationship with him.
Gen 17:1-8; Isa 2:1-3; Isa 7:14; Jer 31:33-34; Mat 1:22-23; Rom 5:10-11; 2Cor 5:18-20; Eph 2:13-18; Col 1:19-23; 1Pet 2:24-25; 1Pet 3:18; Rev 21:1-4
The great goal of Christ’s work of redemption is our reconciliation to the God from whom our sins had separated us; but we can only glimpse to what unspeakable degree of intimate love and fellowship with him we have now been brought in the doctrine of adoption. God is not just our God in a distant or unemotional way; he is our Father, and loves us as he loves his own eternal Son, Jesus Christ. The fullness of every blessing we have received flows from this personal relationship into which we have been brought. Oh, what unspeakable love this is, that we, who were alienated sinners, should be called the sons of God! But so we are indeed, thanks to the unfathomable depths of Christ’s work of love.
Exo 4:22-23; Isa 43:5-7; Isa 63:16; Hos 1:10; Mat 5:44-45; Mat 6:8-9; John 1:11-13; John 17:20-23; John 20:17; Rom 8:14-17; Rom 8:22-23; Rom 8:29-30; 2Cor 6:17-18; Gal
3:25-26; Gal 4:4-7; Eph 1:2-6; 2The 2:16-17; Heb 2:9-14; Heb 12:5-11; 1John 3:1-2; Rev 21:6-7
The fact that Christ came to save us implies that we were in some desperate plight, and needed deliverance. Of course this is true: we were in a manifold and inescapable sin-caused calamity, and helpless to rescue ourselves. We needed to be saved first of all from our sins, and from the wrath of God which those sins were about to bring down upon our heads; but even after that, we remain hard-pressed by many ferocious enemies, such as the world system, the devil and his angels, and our own sinful nature; and we need a constant salvation from their snares, as we press on to our eternal reward. Ultimately, our salvation will come when Christ our Lord returns in glory to judge the world and bring us into his eternal kingdom.
John 3:16-17; Acts 2:16-21; Acts 4:11-12; Acts 16:30-31; Rom 10:9-13; 1Cor 1:18; Eph 2:4-9; Tit 3:4-7
Mat 1:20-21; Mat 9:2-7; Luke 7:44-50; 1Cor 15:1-4
From God’s wrath
Psa 85:1-7; Isa 12:1-2; Rom 5:9-10; 1The 1:9-10
From our enemies
Exo 15:1-19; Psa 27:1-9; Psa 35:1-10; Isa 63:1-9; Luke 1:68-75; 2Cor 2:14-16; 1Pet 4:16-19; Rev 12:10-11
Unto the eternal kingdom
Mat 10:21-22; Mat 19:21-26; Rom 8:22-24; 2The 1:5-10; 2Tim 4:18
[The work of redemption is spoken of in other terms as well, which have not been included because of space. For example, the sins of redeemed man are atoned for, that is, covered by the blood of Christ; and they are propitiated, that is, God’s wrath against them has been appeased.]
Summative description: man redeemed is able to sin and able not to sin, but with the guarantee of final victory.
A Glorious Victory
The future that the hard-pressed and struggling saints have to look forward to is one characterized in every way by victory. On this earth, redeemed man is assaulted on every side: by persecution from without the Church, heresies springing up from within, the temptations and lies of the devil whispered in his ear, the remaining corruption in his own soul ever dragging him down; but at the end of the race, he will be vindicated against all his enemies; his triumph, through Christ, over sin, the world, the devil, and even death itself will be secured; he will be brought into a final and glorious rest from all his struggles, and will enjoy eternal rewards and unswayed dominion over the earth. Just as Christ suffered in his life on earth, but then ascended in victory to reign over all the universe, so Christians are following in his victory train, partaking of his sufferings now, so that they might be assured a share in his glory later.
Vindication from his Enemies
Psa 17:1-15; Psa 35:1-9; Psa 35:19-28; Isa 54:15-17; Jer 51:7-10; Rom 12:19; 2Tim 4:14; 2The 1:5-10; Rev 6:9-17; Rev 18:2-6; Rev 19:1-4
Isa 25:8-9; 1Cor 15:55-58; 2Cor 2:14; 1John 5:4-5
Gen 2:1-3; Exo 20:8-11; Lev 25:2-13; Isa 66:22-23; Mat 11:28-30; Heb 3:7-4:11; Rev 14:13
Isa 40:9-11; Mat 5:3-12; Mat 6:1-6; Mat 6:17-21; Mat 25:14-46; 1Cor 3:8-15; 1Cor 15:58; 2Cor 5:10; 2Tim 4:7-8; Heb 11:6; Heb 11:26; Rev 22:12-14
Isa 32:1; Mat 19:27-30; Luke 19:12-27; 2Tim 2:12; 1Pet 2:9; Rev 1:5-6; Rev 5:9-10
A Glorious Spirit
The final goal of redemption is nothing short of a recreation into the very image of Christ, the perfect man. When our redemption is complete, we will partake of Christ’s glory, share in his righteousness, partake of his sinlessness, and reflect him perfectly.
Recreated in the Image of Christ
Rom 8:28-32; 2Cor 3:17-18; 1Cor 15:49; 2Cor 4:4-11; 2Cor 5:17; Eph 4:20-24; Col 3:9-10; 1John 3:2
Robed in the Righteousness of Christ
Psa 132:8-9; Isa 61:10; Zec 3:3-5; Rom 13:13-14; Gal 3:27; Col 3:12-14; Rev 3:5; Rev 6:11; Rev 7:9-10; Rev 19:7-8
Free from All Sin
Eph 5:25-27; Heb 12:22-23; 2Pet 1:2-4; Jude 1:24-25; Rev 14:1-5; Rev 21:7-8; Rev 21:27; Rev 22:14-15
A Glorious Body
The effects of redemption do not stop with the immaterial aspect of man. Man was created as a physical being, and the consequences of sin had a devastating effect on his body; but the glorious result of Christ’s work will be a new, resurrection body that can never decay or grow old. The firstfruits and guarantee of this glorified body that we will one day possess is Jesus’ own resurrection body. Just as God raised Jesus from the dead, so he will one day raise the bodies of all his saints, and clothe them with incorruptible flesh, that can never be oppressed by sickness or pain. In their glorified state, the saints will be like the angels in this respect, that they will no longer be marrying or reproducing, but will have all their deepest emotional and social needs satisfied by their marriage union with Christ.
Isa 26:19; John 5:25-29; John 11:23-27; Rom 8:23
Like Christ’s Resurrection Body
Job 19:25-26; Psa 16:9-10; Acts 4:1-2; Rom 8:11; 1Cor 6:13-14; 1Cor 15:12-26; 2Cor 4:13-14; Phi 3:10-12; Col 1:18; 1The 4:13-18
Dan 12:2-3; 2Cor 5:1-4
A Glorious Environment
When man first sinned, the consequences of his rebellion extended to his environment, and creation itself was put under a terrible curse; but Christ’s work of redemption likewise extends to all of creation. Just as man himself will be recreated perfectly, in his spirit and his body, so all of creation will be created anew, and become a fitting environment for glorified mankind to dwell with Immanuel, God in the flesh, our Redeemer Jesus Christ. For all eternity, the saints will dwell in peace and unity, joyfully working in their perfect environment, feasting together with gladness, never again to experience pain, sickness, sorrow, or the toilsome travail that characterizes this life. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
A New Earth
Isa 35:1-10; Isa 65:17; Rom 8:18-25; 2Pet 3:5-14; Rev 21:1-2; Rev 21:10-21
Dwelling in the Presence of God
2Cor 5:6-8; Rev 21:3; Rev 21:22-23; Rev 22:1-5
Living in Peace and Unity
Isa 2:2-5; Isa 65:25
With no Tears or Sorrow
Isa 25:7-9; Isa 65:18-20; Rev 21:4-6
Isa 25:6; Joel 3:17-18; Mat 8:11; Mat 26:29; Rev 19:6-9
Isa 65:21-22; Rev 21:24-26
Summative Description: Man Glorified is not able to sin.
(HAT TIP: Reformation Theology)