Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas in the Epistles - 1 Corinthians

1 Corinthians 15:47 The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven.

As we continue on in our study of Christmas in the Epistles, we discover ever more the glorious ways in which the Epistles explain the significance of Christmas truth.  Yesterday in Romans we saw how Jesus Christ came as the seed and offspring of David.  Romans reveals Christ as fully God who came to take unto Himself a fully human nature.  In today's blog we will look at 1 Corinthians to discover another vital truth of Christ's incarnation: how He came to be the "New Adam"

The First Adam and The Second Adam
The Greek of the above verse really aims to precisely explain to us the comparison between the first man (Adam) and the second man (Jesus Christ).  Quite literally the first man came "out from within" the earth.  According to Genesis 1:26-28 and 2:7, God fashioned the first man from the dust of the ground, breathed into his nostrils and he became a living soul.  The second Adam, Jesus Christ, is the man who came "out from within Heaven" - meaning that He as God came from heaven, entered into Mary's womb, and had his humanity formed miraculously by the Holy Spirit who conceived it inside her virgin womb. (Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:35)  All over the New Testament we find Jesus Christ and Adam compared and contrasted. (Romans 5:11-21 and here in 1 Corinthians 15:47-49)  History is determined by two men: Adam and Christ.

The connection made between Christ's miraculous birth and the Christian's new birth
Christ's virgin birth was one of the fundamental miracles that would come to define biblical faith.  Without it, prophecies such as Isaiah 7:14 would had been proven false and the doctrines of Christ's sinlessness and fitness to be the sinner's substitute would had been nullified.  

The Christian's entry into salvation is defined as being "born-again" or the "New birth" (John 3:3; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23)  The salvation of sinners is a miracle that supplies Grace to the sinner who believes to be saved.  Both the new birth and the faith and repentance of human beings are logically connected but in reality simultaneous.  It is this Divine work of the New Birth that functions as the beginning point of salvation, includes faith and repentance and results in the salvation of the soul.  

Paul seems to connect both here in 1 Corinthians 15:48-49 "As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. 49Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly." 

Though the virgin birth of Jesus in his humanity is a different miracle than the New Birth unto salvation, there are some striking parallels. 

1. Both are wrought by the Holy Spirit of God. (Matthew 1:20 and 1 Peter 1:23)

2. Both are miraculous and bring about new life.

3. The Virgin birth enabled the Person of God the Son to partake of humanity and have something in common with those He came to redeem. (Hebrews 2:14ff)  Conversely,  The New Birth brings sinful human beings who believe into having something in common with Christ's humanity. (Romans 6:4-11)

How the Christmas truth of Christ's first coming connects you to other truths pertinent to your Christian identity in Jesus Christ
Quite literally, as a Christian, I can say that I had a miraculous birth just as my Savior, touching His humanity, experienced The Miraculous birth.  Truly the Holy Spirit was the chief agent of the virgin birth, uniting fully humanity to the person of God the Son. (Matthew 1:20, 23, Luke 1:35) Likewise the Holy Spirit unites all whom he convicts and who believe on Jesus into the living experience and Person of Jesus Himself. (1 Corinthians 12:12-13) Consider briefly how we are united to Jesus Christ:

1. He had a miraculous birth, as a Christian, I too have a miraculous birth  (1 Corinthians 15:47-49)

2. He lived a life of overcoming temptation.  The Holy Spirit credits me with His life, and I too have a power base from which to conquer sin in my life. (Romans 6:4-11; 8:1-14)

3. He was crucified.  I am to reckon myself daily dead to the power of sin in my life, to the world's influence tugging on my soul and the temptations of the evil one, for I too have been crucified with Jesus. (Galatians 2:20; Romans 6:4-5, 12; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20).  I must remind myself by scripture who I am and Whose I am in Jesus.

4. He was buried.  So was I.  My former life is no more.  I testified of this fact by following through in obedience by believer's baptism, which pictures me having buried my former identity in a watery grave and being raised to walk forth in newness of life. (Romans 6:4-11; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Colossians 2:11-12)

5. He was raised from the dead.  As Christian, I too can claim a resurrection in my spirit that occured at the moment of saving faith.  I am a new creation in Jesus Christ, having been quickened by the resurrection power that raised Jesus from the dead. I look forwar dto the day when my physical body will be transformed into a glorified resurrection body like His (Romans 6:4-11; 1 Peter 1:3, 23; 1 John 3:1-3)

6. He ascended and is seated at the right hand of God the Father.  As a Christian, I too was positionally seated with Him in the heavenly realms by grace through faith. (Ephsians 2:6-10)

As we close out today's blog, I'm reminded of the lyircs of a more recent Christian song: "He came from Heaven to earth, to show the way.  From the earth to the cross, my debt to pay.  From the cross to the grave, from the grave to the sky, Lord I lift your name on high." 


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