Friday, March 31, 2017

Why Jesus needed to ascend into Heaven rather than remain here on earth for our sakes

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John 14:16-20 "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; 17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. 18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. 20 In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you."


In our last post we began considering what it means to be united to Jesus Christ. Union with Christ lies at the core of Christian identity. Union is that ministry of the Holy Spirit that connects the Christian to Christ. Such union begins at conversion and continues on into sanctification. In the above opening passage, we see first mention of this concept by the Lord Jesus Christ. This truth is relayed in the context of the devastating announcement that He was going to be leaving His disciples. His promise to the disciples was that upon His ascension into Heaven, He would have the Holy Spirit sent to them in His name (see John 14:26-27; 15:26-37; 16:8-12). Today's post wants to briefly explain why Jesus words here in John 14,15,16 turn out to be better for our sake. In other words: why did Jesus need to ascend into heaven rather than remain here on earth as it relates to our relationship to Him and He with us?

It is far better for Jesus to be "in" us and us to be "in" Him than how He was with His disciples

Now it is at this point I raise this question: which is better? to have the physical, pre-pentecost Jesus here and localized or to have the glorified physical post-pentecost Jesus in Heaven? I raise this question as it pertains to comparing the relationship with Christ experienced by all Christians versus what the disciples had in the four Gospel accounts. 

I'm sure we all have said to ourselves: "how great it must had been to hear Jesus preach, watch Him do miracles and eat meals together with Him". The disciples had certainly come to enjoy the company of their master. However, Jesus' ultimate aim was not merely to be with them. Doubtless He would go to the cross and die for them (and us) and rise from the dead. 

However, even beyond those crucial works, the Lord Jesus Christ was expressing this incredible state whereby He could be "in" His people and He "in them. The only way this amazing state could be achieved was for Jesus to ascend 40 days after His resurrection and for the Holy Spirit to be sent in His name at Pentecost in Acts 2. The Lord Jesus Christ functions currently as the Mediator between believers and God (see 1 Timothy 2:5 and 1 John 2:1-2). In as much as we are saved by Christ's accomplished work at the cross and resurrection (see Ephesians 1:7; Romans 4:25); the Christian is also a recipient of His ongoing work as Prophet (Hebrews 1:1-2); Priest (Hebrews 7:24-25) and King (Romans 9:5; Philippians 3:20). These incredible benefits are possible due to the Holy Spirit's uniting of each Christian to Christ in justification and continuing such connection in sanctification (1 Corinthians 1:30). Thus, these are some of the main reasons why Jesus needed to ascend into Heaven rather than remain here on earth for our sakes.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Thoughts on the relationship between Romans 1:1-3:20 to 3:21-5:21 to 6:1-8:39

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Romans 1:1 "Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God."


In today's brief post, I want us to consider how the introduction and three major sections of Paul's letter to the church of Rome fit together. Paul's letter consists of unfolding to his readers and us God's powerful Gospel as spelled out in Romans 1:16-17. It is undeniable that Paul's thoughts unfold in a logical and ever-escalating fashion as he takes the reader though the foothills and summits of the Gospel. By considering certain major transitional words (such as, although, therefore, because, much more), one can begin to see an overall flow of thought. For the sake of those wanting to study, teach or preach Romans, I offer the following suggested themes of Romans 1:1-3:20; 3:21-5:21 and 6:1:8:39...

1. The Gospel Introduced. Romans 1:1-17

2. The Crises Of Sinful Man In Need Of The Gospel. Romans 1:18-3:20

3. The Cardinal Truth Of The Gospel: Justification By Faith Alone. Romans 3:21-5:21

4. The Christian Life In Sanctification Flowing From Justification In Union With Christ. Romans 6:1-8:39.

Now these headings are by no means meant to be final headings. Instead, they give the reader an idea of Paul's main subject matter in each of these key sections. Certainly, one can consult a standard study Bible, commentary or Bible dictionary to gain a more detailed understanding of each section. It is sometimes helpful though in one's study of scripture to mark down what one sees in reading through a Bible book so as to keep in mind and in heart what is before them. We read the Bible so as to live the Bible for the glory of Christ.  

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

One Sweet Powerful Union - Understanding The Christian's Union With Jesus Christ

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Romans 6:5 "For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection."


Whenever we talk about the Christian life as presented in the New Testament, certain terms are used to describe it. With regards to the beginning of the Christian life, we discover one is regenerated or born again - thus marking the official moment of entry into the Christian life. In this moment of entry, a whole host of graces are experienced simultaneously: regeneration (John 3:3-5); justification or God's legal declaration and accrediting of Christ's righteousness to the sinner (Romans 4:3; Galatians 3:23-24); adoption into God's family (Romans 8:14-16; Galatians 4:4-6); sealing or preserving of one's faith (Ephesians 1:11-14) and of course the beginning of one's sanctification or growth in Christ (Philippians 1:6). 

The second way the New Testament describes the Christian life is by the broad term of sanctification. In conversion (which includes justification, adoption and all the beginning graces of salvation), one is declared positionally right with God in Jesus Christ. In sanctification, one is being made in experience and practice what God declared them to be in position and circumstance at salvation. In conversion, God is the one doing the work of calling, regenerating and justifying the sinner. The faith expressed by the sinner in salvation is a response to the call and facilitating work of the Spirit - apart from whose working there would be no faith to express (see John 16:8-16; Ephesians 2:8-9). Sanctification, or post-conversion Christian living, entails a cooperative effort between the Holy Spirit and the Christian (see Philippians 2:12-13). We can graphically illustrate what we're talking about below:

justification/conversion       Sanctification

point & time work of God(.)        Progressive                                                             cooperative effort 
                                             between us and God

Both ways of the describing the Christian life are distinct and yet related to one another. Conversion or justification by faith is a point and time event (symbolized by the "dot" (.)). Sanctification is, on the other hand, an "onward & upward" progression, signified by an onward and upward series of "ups" and "downs" which gradually and progressively increase one's experience of God. It must be noted that the course of one's sanctification may not be a consistent onward and upward upon close inspection, however, the overall course of the Christian life ought to be characterized by arriving at a closer walk with God and greater Christ-likeness. 

Avoiding extremes

The question is: how is one's conversion connected to their post-conversion or sanctification? This question is important, since many Christians live practically as if their sanctification is totally up to their will-power. Other Christians will go to the other extreme and say: "let go, and let God". The first extreme, called "activism", envisions the Christian doing all the work in sanctification. The second extreme, called "quietism", pictures God doing all the work. Both extremes are in error due to missing one key vital truth that connects God's work of conversion/justification to the cooperative work He and the believer have in sanctification: namely union with Christ. 

One Sweet Powerful Union: Union with Christ

The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology defines "union with Christ" as having to do with identification with Christ. It notes on page 588:

"...the theological concept of identification with Christ relates a Christian to the person and work of Christ by Divine reckoning, by the human experience of faith, and by the spiritual union of the believer with Christ effected by the baptism of the Holy Spirit."

Theologian Michael Horton on page 587 of his volume:"The Christian Faith" describes this union of the believer and Jesus Christ in both salvation and sanctification as follows:

"Nevertheless, our subjective inclusion in Christ occurs when the Spirit calls us effectually to Christ and gives us the faith to cling to him for all of his riches."

To understand this union more concretely, Jesus compares union with Him as a branch to a vine and the vine to the branches (John 15:1-7). In Ephesians 5:22-33, the union of Christ and His people is likened unto the union shared between a husband and the wife. This idea of "union with Christ" is vital, since Christ connects not only our justification and sanctification together, but also connects His Person and current work to us by the ministry of the Holy Spirit that both initially and progressively continue such a connection (see 1 Corinthians 12:12-13). 

In closing

As we have briefly considered the importance and meaning of "union with Christ", I want to leave the reader with a quote from a recent book on sanctification, with particular reference to the topic at hand. Dr. Sinclair Ferguson declares the sweetness of this union on page 59 of his book: "Devoted to God - Blueprints For Sanctification":

"Thus, through the Spirit's uniting us to Christ we have been connected to the source of our salvation. His justification-God's declaration that He was righteous-is our justification; his sanctification-since He sanctified Himself for our sakes-is also ours. Thus, everything Christ did He did for me in obedience to His Father. All that He has done is therefore mine as a gift. He gave Himself for me, in His love to me; and now through the Spirit all that He did is mine."

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A License Not To Sin - Romans 6:1-3

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Romans 6:1-3 "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?"


In my wallet I possess a driver's license. That license is issued by the state in which I live to indicate my competency to drive a motor vehicle. Even though I have a driver's license, it doesn't mean I can drive anyway I please. If I were to be pulled over by a police officer for speeding - that officer would ask for my license and registration. Now it would be absurd for me to say to that officer: "Mr. Officer, as you can see, I have a driver's license here. I'm not sure what the problem is, since this license gives me the freedom to drive anyway I want". I'm sure that officer would remind me that the license does issue its holder freedom - the freedom to drive lawfully. 

Do you realize that the Christian has been issued a license that gives them the freedom to live for God? Romans 3:21-5:12 deals with Paul's treatment on justification by faith alone. Throughout history, critics of justification by faith have accused proponents of giving Christians the "license to sin". Put plainly, they claim that since God justifies the sinner at salvation, all sins are paid for and thus - the Christian is free to live anyway they please. This gross error is what theologians call "antinomianism" - meaning "without law" or "without morals". 

The error of antinominianism is in that it not only perverts the Law of God - but more so the grace of God. The Gospel proclaims we are saved by grace through faith alone apart from the law to a Christian life that is not lawless. In Romans 6:1-3 we are being introduced to the license or freedom the Christian has in Christ - the license not to sin. Three questions are raised by Paul to begin his formal treatment of sanctification. To grasp the fact that Christians have the freedom to live for God or the license not to sin, we can summarize the three questions as follows:

1. Do I have the right to sin? No 

Romans 6:1 "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2 May it never be!" When one becomes a Christian, they are brought into a new life, united to Christ, with new rights. We have the right to live for God. The right to love God. The right to hate sin. Whenever we compare those rights to the one right don't have - the right to sin, we discover that in all reality, nothing is lost. Whenever you think about it, a "right" in the moral and spiritual sense is something granted by God. The sinner's claim on having the "right to sin" is a deception of the fallen nature. So, the Christian has the license to live for God and does not have the right to sin.

2. Do I have to sin? No

Romans 6:2b "How shall we who died to sin still live in it?" This second question deals with the issue of no longer having the necessity to sin. Before Christ, the sinner could say: "I couldn't help my self" because they not only sinner out of willingness, but also necessity. Necessity has to do with the overall disposition of one's moral and spiritual nature. 

What happens when the nature is changed to a new one in Christ? The human will now has options! Fallen man's freedom of the will is limited to only doing what pleases himself. He is free to whatever he wants and yet, no matter how religious or moral he may be, unless the Holy Spirit is acting upon and in the heart - that person will refuse God 100% of the time. At saving faith, the will is "freed" to do the one thing it refused to do - truly and freely love God. 

In post-conversion, Christians will still sin - however, the Christian cannot claim they "had to sin", since the necessity to sin is removed. Even though I may sin post-conversion, I don't have to. One's growth in sanctification ought to see a lessening frequency and severity of sins relative to what they would had been pre-conversion. 

3. Can I have victory over sins? Yes

Romans 6:3 "Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?" Let us suppose one has a dead mouse in a mouse trap. If you were to put a piece of cheese up to his nose - would he grab for it? Clearly not. Why? The mouse is "dead". No amount cheese, even the finest cut, will entice a dead mouse. Paul describes the Christian's relationship to the power of sin as being "dead". By one's union in Christ - sin - in effect - is "dead to them". This is Paul's way of saying that in Christ, grounds is given to the Christian to have victory. Victory over particular sins requires a daily giving of oneself to God's Word, pray and putting on the shield of faith (see Ephesians 6:1-11). Our flesh may very well "flare-up" in such instances - since the "power of sin" is cancelled in sanctification - rather than the presence thereof. 

We must remember that in justification - the penalty of sin is removed. In sanctification - the power of sin is removed. Only when I am in heaven with Jesus - or glorification - will the presence of sin be removed. With that distinction made, since my relationship with Christ is defined - that means my relationship to sin ought to change. The more I grow deeper in love with Jesus, the higher will be my hatred of sin. In sanctification - I am becoming in experience whom God declared me to be by position in justification.

Closing thoughts

Today we considered how Christians possess a "license not to sin" or, stated positively - "license to live for God". We explored this truth by way of the three questions raised by Paul in Romans 6:1-3, and phrased them as follows:

1. Does the Christian have the right to sin? No

2. Does the Christian have to sin? No

3. Can the Christian have victory over sins? Yes

Monday, March 27, 2017

Your Crisis, His Triumph, Your Move - Romans 5:12-21

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Romans 5:18-21 "So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. 19 For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. 20 The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."


As one travels further into Paul's letter to the Romans, it becomes abundantly clear that the richness of this Book of the Bible seems unending. At our church I am currently preaching through this marvelous letter. Anyone who preaches through a Book of the Bible will be stretched and challenged in their mind and heart. God's Word shapes our world and motivates us to reach higher and deeper in Christ. The Book of Romans takes the reader down through the foothills, rolling rivers and highest summits of the Gospel. As a preacher, I am reminded daily that I am the student and God through His Word is the Master-teacher. The preacher of the Word can never hope to master the Word, however joy is found whenever the Word is mastering him. 

To summarize today’s post: we will consider how all of history and your own personal story are defined by two men – Adam and Jesus Christ. How do the actions of either affect you? Your identity, association or union with either one defines who you are as a person and, more importantly, your spiritual status with God. Today we want to look at your crisis, His triumph and your move.

Illustrating Paul's thought by what I once saw on a billboard

In this text, Paul centers his remarks around a remarkable comparison between the historic Adam of Genesis 1-3 and the Lord Jesus Christ. What we see developing is a portrayal of two-humanities, each with its representative head. 

I can recall driving in a particular state years ago. On a billboard a certain Native American Indian Tribe had been awarded a particular award from the state government for its particular contributions. The billboard depicted a man receiving the medal and then wearing it around his neck. When I first saw that billboard, I was confused. According to the picture, even though the award was being given to this particular Native American Indian tribe or "nation", nevertheless, all one could see was an individual receiving the award. 

I learned later on that the man in the picture was the Chief or representative leader of that tribe. Whatever he received was attributed to every member of that tribe throughout the state. Even for those individuals who lived out of the state, it didn't matter. The award could be just as much theirs, since they were associated and united to that chief by the dictates of that particular tribe. This particular Native American tribe operated with a similar concept we see here in Romans 5:12-21 - the idea of a representative or federal headship.

Adam and Jesus: Representative Heads Of Two Classifications Of Humanity

As we noted before, human history can be defined by two men: Adam and Jesus. The first Adam and Jesus the "second Adam" (see 1 Corinthians 15:45-47) are the representative or "federal heads" of two humanities. 

We can first note parallels between both. First, each entered upon by a type of birth (to be in the first Adam, one must be "born"; to enter into the second Adam, Christ, one must be "born again"). Second, each passes along moral and spiritual traits (as well biological) to its members deriving from that respective original head (for Adam's humanity, there is sin, shame and judgment; for Jesus' humanity, justification, forgiveness and eternal hope). Lastly, each representative head is defined by scripture with respect to God, with such relationship defining the category of humanity in union with each representative (thus, "in Adam", human beings are guilty sinners before God, since Adam, post-fall, was guilty and sinful; whereas all who are in Jesus by faith, are declared innocent and righteous, since Jesus is actually innocent and righteous. 

These distinctions weave their way throughout Paul's argument and serve to clarify what Paul is doing in his comparison of Jesus to Adam. Let's explore how Paul unfolds this comparison in Romans 5:12-21. 

1. Your Crisis (Guilt By Association). Romans 5:12-15

I can recall as a child a childhood chum by the name of Roy. Roy was one of those kids who would keep you in stitches. Unfortunately, Roy would be the type of guy that could get anyone in trouble and then sneak off without hardly getting caught. I would often be either a willing or unwitting "partner in crime". When I would get caught, I would sometimes blame Roy. But my parents would always ask: "did you have to follow Roy"? clearly the answer was "no". Although I was guilty by association, my choice to do what Roy did was my responsibility. In Adam, all are born into this world "guilty by association". Just by virtue of the fact that we are related to original Adam means we're already in a moral, spiritual and relational crisis with God. Whenever we consider Paul's remarks in Romans 5:15-18, we can summarize by asking some questions:

What happened? 
Gen 3:17-19 "Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life. 

The outcome? 
Gen 5 (death); Ezekiel 18:4 Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die. Romans 3:23; Ephesians 2:1-4 (wrath, darkness). 

To put the crisis another way: 
1 Cor 15:21-22 For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.  

Thus: All born into this world are united in Adam, as their representative head. Guilty by association. Now thankfully, God did not leave things as there were. He chose to send His Son to taking unto His Person true humanity. His human DNA he got from His mother (Mary), whilst retaining His eternal Divine nature with which He shared with the Father. The crisis of Adam is really our crisis. But now, we need to consider secondly the Triumph of Jesus.

2. His Triumph (Forgiveness By Association). Romans 5:15-17

We can summarize Romans 5:15-17 in the following fashion:

Vs 15 Much more “did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.”

Vs 16 on the other hand “the free gift arose from many transgressions, resulting in justification.”

Vs 17 much more those who receive the abundance of grace…will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

We see here a mighty triumph by what Paul's refers to as "The New Adam", Jesus Christ. All "united to Him" in saving faith are treated in the same fashion as He. 

To illustrate this point, my wife recently posted the following on Facebook:

"I got to thinking .... We've been given the Holy Spirit and named co-heirs to Christ. We are wealthier than the wealthiest man on the Forbes list in position, yet we walk around defeated and beat down. Lets not look at the circumstances around us and lose heart. Lets allow our outer personas to match the gift we have on the inside. We are loved. We are treasured. We are rich. Walk in His confidence. Romans 8:17 " Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory."

All the benefits and glories associated with Christ become every child of God responding to the Gospel call in saving faith. This is the Triumph of the New Adam over the crisis brought about by the first Adam. So then, we come to the final point of today's post in our study of Romans 5:12-21...

Your Move (Remain In Adam or Trust In Jesus). Romans 5:18-21

We can focus our attention here on two verses - Romans 5:12 and 5:18. Romans 5:12 states - "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned." Then, Romans 5:18  "So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men." Whenever we read these two passages, it must be understood that the phrase "all men" refers to all members under each respective representative head. Throughout the New Testament, one's union to each head is described by the prepositions "in", "by" or "through" (ex: "in Adam" 1 Corinthians 15:22; "in Christ" found almost 15x in Romans alone!). This concept of "union with Christ" will be explored in future posts when we reach Romans 6. 

One of the points of the Gospel is that the sinner need not remain "in Adam". To remain in Adam or be in Adam means: Born naturally, living naturally, rejecting the Gospel, thus, dying in your sins and suffering eternally as a result of such rejection. Transferal from "Old Adam" to "New Adam" occurs due to being justified by faith (see Paul's foregoing argument in Romans 4:1-5:11). To be in Christ (New Adam) entails: born again by grace alone through faith alone in the Gospel, living a new life in sanctification, thus: hope for eternity and life with God in Christ.


Today we considered Romans 5:12-21 in terms of what we called: "your crisis, His triumph, your move." We looked at Paul's analogy of Adam and Christ, noting that they represent two heads of two sorts of humanity. Whichever one we are in has profound spiritual and eternal implications. 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Jesus' Cry Of Forgiveness From The Cross - Luke 23:34

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Hebrews 12:3 "For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."


Today's post wants to take to heart the command given in the opening verse above. How can one practically consider what Jesus did on the cross as a means of strengthening their faith? Remarkably, we have seven sayings or statements uttered by Jesus in the six hours He hung on the cross. The following verses from the Gospels summarize these sayings:

1. “But Jesus was saying, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.” Lk 23:34 

2. “And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” Lk 23:43 

3. “When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.” Jn 19:26-27 

4. "About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Mt 27:46. Compare Mk 15:34.
5. “After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, “I am thirsty.” John 19:28

6. “Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” John 19:30 

7. And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” Having said this, He breathed His last.” Luke 23:46 

By meditating on these sayings, we can find a bottomless well from whence to drink and nourish our otherwise barren soul. Today's post will focus on the first saying or what we could call: "The cry of forgiveness".

The cry of forgiveness. Luke 23:34

Andrew W. Blackwood Jr. writes on page 12 of his book: "The Voice From The Cross" - 

"The crucifiers knew well that they were destroying an innocent Man, but each of them had a plausible reason for His act. A soldier, after all, must obey orders. The governor must keep the peace. The High Priest must protect the people from blasphemy. So weak men worked together to destroy the Son of God. They killed Him, but they could not destroy Him. Even in death His love rose above their hatred."

It is in this first saying that Jesus expresses the heart and intent of His atoning work: to provide the basis, the grounds for the forgiveness of sins done by sinners. His addressing God as "Father" would had been shocking to Jewish ears, since no example is found of the Heavenly Father being explicitly referred to on such personal, intimate terms in the Old Testament. Nearly ten times is reference found to the Divine "Father" by name in the O.T. These roughly ten O.T passages speak mainly of the covenant relationship of the Father, Yahweh, to His proverbial adopted son, Israel. Even in spots where the author might address God by the title "Father", it is with the understanding of that person's relationship to the nation of Israel, which was most beloved of God among the nations.
Yet, when Jesus appears on the seen, roughly 140 places refer to the Person of the Father, with nearly all of them addressing Him personally. 

The expression "Father forgive them" denotes Christ's unique relationship to the Father, reminding us that He ever remained the eternal Son in union with the Father in the Godhead. However, as man, He looks up and utters this cry and does so for the sake of those crucifying Him and for those who would had done the same from every generation of sinful men. 

This first "saying" stays the hand of omnipotence from wiping earth off the face of history and interposes between the wrath of the Father and the sinful human race so deserving of such wrath. Christ here gives reason for why the Father ought to forgive such malevolent persons: "for they do not know what they are doing." Ignorance does not necessarily excuse one from responsibility. After all, the Jews and Romans both knew they were executing an innocent man. However, the part they were not privy to was the fact He was not just a man. The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:8 comments - "the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory."
The wonderful 19th century preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon notes on page 19 of his book: "Christ's Words From The Cross" - 

"Remember, if there be nothing good in you, and if there be everything conceivable that is malignant and bad, yet none of these things can be any barrier to prevent Christ's exercising of the office of Intercessor for you." 

The remarkable thing about this first saying from the cross is that it historically depicts Christ's current heavenly activity on behalf of believers. His High-priestly ministry, though assumed following His ascension into heaven 40 days after His resurrection, was nonetheless a part of His Messianic identity. This opening statement gives us a gateway into the width and depth of the courtyard of the crucifixion scene. May the Christian's faith be nourished by this first saying as we contemplate and consider what He achieved over 2,000 years ago. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Life-practical Considerations Of Jesus As The Resurrected, Last Adam

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1 Corinthians 15:42-45 "So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So also it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living soul.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit."


Over the last couple of posts we have been exploring the Biblical revelation of Jesus as "The New Adam" or "The Second Adam". Paul compares Adam and Jesus in both Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15. Today's post is going to consider how this title of Jesus as "the New Adam" provides a valuable resource for better understanding everyday Christian living. We had broached this notion a little bit in previous posts, however, we want to explore the practical ramifications for Christian living as we understand better Jesus as the "Second Adam". We will derive today's post from 1 Corinthians 15:42-58. 

So how does understanding Jesus as the New Adam or Second Adam impact the Christian on a practical level?

1. The Christian's continuing hope in resurrection. 1 Cor. 15:42-49

The whole point of 1 Corinthians 15 is to give an exposition and defense of the most important doctrine of the Christian faith - namely, Jesus' resurrection from the dead. In the latter part of the chapter, Paul brings out the life-practical ramifications. In 1 Corinthians 15:20ff, it is abundantly clear that because Jesus is risen from the dead, the Christ-follower has an abundant source of hope. Furthermore, the Christian learns that their ultimate hope and destiny is to experience their own resurrection and to have this current body transformed in a glorified resurrected one whether by death (1 Corinthians 15:55-57) or rapture (1 Corinthians 15:50-54). 

2. The Christian's comfort in facing death. 1 Corinthians 15:50-57

As Paul carries on his exposition, we find that the promise of resurrection is coupled with promises pertaining to comfort for the Christian when their time comes to leave this world. As the great commentator Warren Wiersbe notes: 

"Christians have victory in death and over death! Why? Because of the victory of Jesus Christ in His own resurrection. Jesus said, “Because I live, ye shall also” (John 14:19)."

3. The Christian's confidence in serving God. 1 Corinthians 15:58

As Paul finishes up 1 Corinthians 15, we find this final verse of the chapter to be most encouraging. 1 Corinthians 15:58 reads - "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord." All of these verses from 1 Corinthians 15:42 and following center around Jesus' resurrection and His revelation as the Second Adam. By being united to Jesus by the Holy Spirit in saving faith, I find that union to be an ongoing, ever-present reality. Serving the Lord is not always easy. In fact, the further along one goes in their Christian life and service in whatever capacity to Him, the so-called "easy times" seem increasingly rare. However, the desire to serve God and to hear those words: "well-done thou good and faithful servant" eclipse the ache for momentary comforts and ease. Its worth serving the Lord because of the fact of whom we are united to - the New Adam, Jesus Christ. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Seeing The Unity Of The Bible Through Jesus The New Adam

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Romans 5:12-14 "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned— 13 for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come."


In our last post we considered the significance of Jesus Christ as the "New Adam" or "Second Adam". We offered some basic reflections upon Paul's comparison of Adam and Jesus in Romans 5:12-21 and 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 and 15:45-48. We discovered that two major doctrines are highlighted by such "two-Adam" theology: justification by faith alone and Christ's resurrection. We also discovered that two Christian-life teachings are made clearer by comparing Adam to Jesus: believer's Baptism and one's growth in sanctification. 

In today's post, we want to consider how original Adam and Jesus as the "Second-Adam" or "New Adam" aids in helping us to wrap our arms around the message of the entire Bible.

How Romans 5:12-21 hints at the "Old Adam" and "New Adam" comparison as grasping the main point of God's written revelation of the Bible

Romans 5:12-21 appears to have in view three particular time-frames that are well-represented in the Old and New Testaments. 

1. Book of Genesis - Noah and Abraham are "Adam-like" representatives who are called by God, fail along the way and were called and empowered to embrace God's saving grace

First, we find reference to the time period from Adam up until the Exodus of Israel from Egypt in Romans 5:14 "Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come." This corresponds to what would be the Book of Genesis and the few opening chapters of the Book of Exodus. Sin and death had already entered into the created order due to the treachery of the original Adam. The genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 bear out the theme of "death" reigning in the world. The corruption of the nations in Genesis 10-11 further testify to the ripple effects of the curse brought on by Adam's sin and the inheritance of such by his descendants. 

Throughout Genesis at least, we find two key figures that function as "Adam-like" individuals: Noah and Abraham. Through Noah, God would once more begin the human race after the flood. However, as already mentioned, the curse of Adam's sin could not be washed away by the water. The shedding of innocent blood by a God-appointed substitute would be the only thing to take care of such matters. 

The second "Adam-like" figure was Abraham. God called Abraham to create forth a people of God and ultimately the nation of Israel in Genesis 12,15,17 and 22. Whether we talk about original Adam, Noah or Abraham, all ultimately failed at certain points with respect to being faithful to God and thus needed His salvation in saving grace through faith alone. The Book of Genesis contains seeds of thought that would blossom in the latter portions of the Old Testament.  

2. Exodus - Malachi: Israel is an "Adam-like" figure that was called by God, failed in its historic temptation and needed God's saving grace

The second major era referenced in Romans 5:12-21 is what follows from the days of Moses and the formation of God people in the nation of Israel. Romans 5:18 states: "For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. 20 The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more." We could summarize the entire remaining 38 books of the Old Testament has being about one nation: Israel, and one God's dealing with that nation. 

Israel, much like Noah and Abraham, functions in an "Adam-like" capacity. Israel came forth biologically from the bloodline of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the book of Genesis. The Hebrew people in Exodus were officially formed into a nation at Mount Sinai in Exodus 19-23. We then find repeatedly throughout the Old Testament Israel being tempted and failing, just like Adam. Israel was to be a blessing to all the nations that could not be so apart from God's elective purpose of grace (Deuteronomy 7:7-8; Amos 3:1-7). She being God's "chosen people" broke covenant with God, thus having God announce the need for a New Covenant in Jeremiah 31:31-34 and other places. 

By the end of the Old Testament, we find Israel having gone through exile, just as Adam and Eve had been exiled from the Garden of Eden. What was needed was another covenant. Just as God killed two innocent substitutes to cover the sin of Adam and Eve, there would need to be an ultimate Substitute that would take the place of Adam's fallen race.  

3. Matthew - Revelation. Jesus is the New Adam that triumphs where Adam and all humanity failed

Paul's remarks in Romans 5:19-21 bear out the contrast between "Old Adam" and Jesus Christ the "Second Adam". Adam of course had failed, having broken God's original covenant with him in Genesis 3:1-7 and resulting in God issuing forth a second covenant, a covenant of grace by way of the slaying of two animals. We know Adam and Eve believed on God's promise and words in Genesis 3:15 by virtue of the fact they had placed upon them coats of skin - signs of God's covenant of grace. Noah and Abraham and Israel, as already seen, functioned as "Adam-like" figures. The entire Old Testament looks forward to the day when humanity would have a representative that would prove perfect in mediating between them and God. 

Jesus of course went through the same pattern as we have already alluded to in Adam, Noah, Abraham and Israel. The Gospel of Matthew, for example, has Jesus virgin born (Adam had been formed out of the "virgin-soil" of the ground with no earthly father) (see Genesis 1:26-28; 2:7 and Matthew 1:20-23). Next, Jesus is later tempted b Satan in the wilderness, just as Adam had been tempted by Satan (Matthew 3). Jesus succeeds in his trial, proving, for the first time ever, that Satan could be completely defeated by a man. Matthew goes on by portraying Jesus' as having authority over the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8); power to defeat the demonic realm (Matthew 12:22-29); authority over the winds and water (Matthew 14:13-36) and renaming one of His disciples (Matthew 16:18). In as much as many of these episodes identify His truly Divine authority, the Gospels also serve to show us not only Jesus' true humanity, but moreso His humanity in the role of being the second Adam. Such glimpses have prompted some New Testament scholars to suggest Matthew is portraying Jesus as a fulfillment of Israel and/or is functioning as a second Adam. 

This idea of Jesus coming into our world to begin a whole new redeemed humanity is expounded at length throughout the rest of the New Testament (see for instance Romans 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 15:20-23; 45-48; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 4:4; Ephesians 4:17-24; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 1:16-18; 3:10; 1 Peter 1:18-19). To paraphrase New Testament scholar Dr. Daniel Wallace in a recent lecture on the New Testament text: "The most important event in all of human history was the crucifixion and resurrection of the God-man, Jesus Christ. Such an event required the writing of further scripture." The New Testament then is all about unfolding for us the triumph and identity of the New Adam, and how it is sinful humanity must united to Him by being born-again in saving faith.  

Closing thoughts

Today's post aimed to take Jesus' designation as "the Second Adam" and use it as a lens for beholding the Bible's unity. We used Romans 5:12-21 as a base text and noted how it unfolds the Bible's unity by way of the Old Adam vs New Adam comparison. We saw three particular historic eras within this text and thus discovered a way in seeing the Bible's unity through the revelation of Jesus as the New Adam. We noted the following:

1. Book of Genesis - Noah and Abraham are "Adam-like" representatives who are called by God, fail along the way and were called and empowered to embrace God's saving grace

2. Exodus - Malachi: Israel is an "Adam-like" figure that was called by God, failed in its historic temptation and needed God's saving grace

3. Matthew - Revelation. Jesus is the New Adam that triumphs where Adam and all humanity failed, henceforth Jesus has provided saving grace to all who respond in faith to Him

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Reflections On Jesus as the Second Adam

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Romans 5:19-21 "For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. 20 The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."


How does the first man created by God - Adam - help shed light on the role and identity of Jesus Christ? Evidently, the Apostle Paul in the New Testament saw fit to use the historic Adam of Genesis 1-3 to compare and point the way to Jesus Christ. Today's post wants to briefly consider Paul's use of the "first Adam" and "Second Adam" comparison to aid in a better understanding of the Person and work of Jesus Christ, as well as key Biblical truths.

Where we find reference to Jesus as the "New Adam" or "Second Adam"

Two places in the New Testament bring out this comparison between the historic Adam or "first Adam" and Jesus Christ - i.e - the "Second Adam" or "New Adam": Romans 5:12-21 and portions within 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 and 1 Corinthians 15:45-48. In the Romans text, Adam is referred to as a "type" or a pre-figured, prophetic imagery of Jesus to come in Romans 5:14. When we arrive in 1 Corinthians 15, Jesus is referred to as the "last Adam" in 15:45 and "second man" or "second Adam" in 15:47. 

Two central doctrines that are explained by the "first Adam" and "Second Adam" comparison

Paul's point in comparing Jesus and Adam is to bring out two significant doctrines that are explained by such a comparison: justification by faith and Christ's resurrection. 

The former truth deals with how Christ's life, work on the cross and resurrection are credited to the sinner at saving faith. Such "crediting" is described by Paul in Romans 4 and Galatians 3-4 as "imputation" - meaning that, the work of another is credited to my account upon reception of it by means of trust in the one who "worked the work" on my behalf. Romans 5:1-11 summarizes all of the blessings flowing from justification by faith: peace with God, access to God, hope in God and love from God. 

When we consider how Adam's sin is passed down from one generation to the next, we find his sin, his shame and his transgression are "credited" or "imputed" to all humanity. The disobedience, guilt and failure of Adam was "imputed" to all of his posterity (see Genesis 3:16-19; Job 31:33; Romans 5:12-21). Many older writers refer to how Christ, in effect, "undid" what the first Adam had done. 

Concerning the second major doctrine illustrated by the Adam and Jesus comparison, we find in 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 and 15:45-48 emphasis upon the resurrection. Perhaps the one verse that brings home the power of this comparison between Adam and Christ, the "first Adam" and "the last or second Adam", is 1 Corinthians 15:22 - "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive." The first Adam's choice, disobedience and breaking of God's original covenant with him resulted in curse, death and separation from God. The second Adam's choices, perfect obedience and completion of that first covenant of obedience and inauguration of the New Covenant of grace in His blood results in blessing, life and reconciliation. Death flows from the spring of the first Adam's bloodline. Resurrected life issues forth from the Second Adam. 

How the Christian life is illustrated by this "two-Adam" comparison

As one dives into this pool of Divine revelation on "the first Adam" and "Second Adam", we quickly find ourselves swimming from the shallow end to the ever deepening side. The central doctrines of justification by faith and resurrection are chief among Christian truths highlighted by this "two-Adam" theology. However, other truths connected to the practical, everyday, Christian life find illumination as well. We will list two of them: believer's baptism and the Christian's growth in sanctification.

1. The meaning of believer's baptism

Once a person has trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, the first major step of Christian obedience involves following through in believer's baptism or immersion into water as replaying the events of Christ's death, burial and resurrection. This important act has as its backdrop the Old Adam/New Adam or Second Adam theology. Romans 6:4-6 states for example: "Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin." The "old-self" refers to who I once was "in Adam". The "new-self" describes who I am in Christ - the second Adam. 

Or again, Colossians 2:13-14  "When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross." Jesus as the New Adam grants to the believer a new identity. Baptism pictures the reality of having been transferred from what we were in the first Adam to who we are called to be in Jesus Christ. All of this, of course, can only occur by grace alone through faith alone, with baptism being a subsequent, post-conversion act of obedience by the Christian convert. 

2. The Christian's need to put off the "old man" and put on the "new man" in the daily exercise of sanctification

Colossians 3 really speaks to the necessity of every Christian to "put off" and "put on". Christians are to forsake "the old, former way of life" from which they were saved and embrace their new found identity in Jesus by way of "putting on the new man". Colossians 3:9-10 "Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, 10 and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him." The parallel of these thoughts is found in Ephesians 4:20-24 But you did not learn Christ in this way, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth."

The Apostle Peter, I would argue, hints at this comparison of Jesus as the second Adam in what he says in 1 Peter 1:17-21 "knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. 20 For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you 21 who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God." Peter's ongoing discussion then of how "all flesh is grass" (quoting from Isaiah 40:6ff) echoes the fact that original Adam was a man created from the dust of the ground (see Genesis 2:7). 

Closing thoughts

Today's post was designed to explore a little bit concerning Jesus as the Second Adam. By reading Paul's comparisons of Jesus and Adam in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15, we come to understand four major truths pertinent to Christian identity.

1. Justification by Faith 

2. Christ's resurrection

These first two truths are foundational to the whole of the Christian faith. The next two truths, illuminated by the "two-Adams" theology, have to do with the fundamentals of Christian living....

3. Believer's Baptism

4. Continuing growth in sanctification