Christianity 201

April 20, 2016

Resurrection: Dead in Adam, Alive in Christ

Wednesday contributor Clarke Dixon continues his Resurrection Facts series, begun last week. Click this link to read at source.

•••by Clarke Dixon

Have you ever had the experience of knowing something is coming and there is not a thing you can do about it? I remember vividly the first time I capsized a sailboat. You might think it would be a sudden thing and that you would find yourself in the water before you knew it. But it wasn’t. It seemed to happen in slow motion. With the boat laid over on its side, the hull slowly sank into the water. I even had time to say to my sailing partner that day “well, here we go.” We knew we were about to get wet and there was not a thing we could do about it.

The apostle Paul speaks of something coming that we can do nothing about: “For as in Adam all die.” (1 Corinthians 15:22) There is much that confirms this fact. History confirms it. Study the history of any era in any place and time and time again you will see the same thing has happened; “In Adam all die.” Look to science and the same thing is confirmed again. Indeed the news there is worse as scientists point out, quite matter of factly, that some day the sun will go out and the earth will be no longer life permitting. “In Adam all die.” Look to the arts, and there you will find many novels, poems, songs, music, paintings, and movies dealing with the theme of mortality and what is the meaning of life when “in Adam all die.”

Of course the Bible itself confirms that “in Adam all die.” We can look to the time death entered our world:

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die. (Genesis 2:15-17)

Adam ate the fruit. The consequence was death: “For the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23). Some may point out that Adam and Eve did not in fact die that day. However, they did start dying that day. When the Bible says “for as in Adam, all die” the word for ‘die’ is in the present tense so could be translated “in Adam all are dying.” We tend to think we grow until we are 20, have a perfect body until we are 60 and then we start the ageing process. Being in my mid 40’s I can attest to this being untrue with the ageing process being quite underway. We actually begin the ageing process at conception. Our bodies are continually changing so that even while we are living, we are also dying.

To continue in the Greek, “in Adam all die” is also in the active voice. This means it is something we do, something we are responsible for. We can speak of this or that disease “taking us,” but in fact it is we who are doing the dying. We are responsible. Now some will deny this. “Put me in the Garden of Eden, I would have done better!” But when we are being honest we will relate to Paul who said:

21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, 23 but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death. (Romans 7:21-24)

“For as in Adam all die.” And there is nothing we can do about it.

Alive in ChristThat is the bad news. Is there any good news? Well yes, because we have only read one half of the verse so far: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:22). Back to the Greek; “All will be made alive” is in the future tense, so even if we feel we are presently dying, hang on, death is not the end of the story. When we are “made alive” we will have a new beginning within God’s grand story.

“All will be made alive” is also in the passive voice, meaning it is not something we do or are responsible for. Someone will do for us something that we could never do. This takes us back to verse 3 of 1st Corinthians 15 where Someone does something for us: “For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures.” All those sins we have committed that show we are no better than Adam and are sharing in the same fruit? Yes, Jesus died for those. The bad news gives way to very good news!

Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 7:24-25)

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

This is very good news indeed but we might be very typical and think it is all about us. We get to enjoy eternal life. But there is more going on here. The resurrection of the dead is not just about us.

Consider that back in the Garden of Eden there seemed to be new rulers in town. The serpent was powerful in temptation. Adam and Eve were powerful in exerting their own will and doing their own thing. Soon Cain was powerful in the ending of his brother’s life. And on it goes down through history with people wielding power and enforcing wills. “Just try to stop me God!” With all that exercise of power let’s read what happens with the resurrection of the dead:

Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is plain that this does not include the one who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:24-28)

That can all sound quite complicated, but it points to something very simple; God’s rule, God’s sovereignty, for God’s glory. While salvation is really good news for what it means for us, it is also about the glory of God. He is “all in all.” The spanner thrown into the works by the evil one, and by Adam and Eve, does not upset God’s apple cart at all. Despite Satan’s best efforts to drive a wedge between humanity and God, despite Adam and Eve’s sin, despite yours and mine, The LORD will be

. . . among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them.
(Revelation 21:3)

God’s purposes will be accomplished, God’s Kingdom will come, God’s glory is intact.

Let us go back to the original question. Have you ever had the experience of knowing something is coming and there is not a thing you can do about it? The resurrection of the dead in Christ to eternal life is something Satan and the powers of evil know is coming  and there is not a thing they can do about it. When we repent and trust in the Lord Jesus, then our resurrection becomes something coming that no one can touch. Not because we are better than Adam, but because God is all in all.

All scripture references are from the NRSV except “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” which is taken from KJV.

Image: Augsburg Fortress Bulletins

January 9, 2011

The People That You Meet

For the past few weeks, I’ve been working my way through a copy of the DVD Curriculum, The Truth Project from Focus on the Family featuring Dr. Del Tackett.   I’m watching some of the episodes out of sequence, so yesterday I watched the conclusion to the series; in which one of the participants in the series paraphrases C. S. Lewis:

Every person you meet is an eternal being.   You have never met a mere mortal.  Everyone you’ve ever come into contact with, argued with, traded with is either an immortal horror or an everlasting splendor.

“You have never met a mere mortal.” Wow. Strong words. But certainly consistent with the idea that God created us as spiritual beings made to respond to Him, or made for eternity.

Something to consider.

But when you think about it, that’s what new life and new birth have bought us and brought us: Transition from being on the road to immortal horror, to the way of being everlasting splendor.

At his blog, Dr. Tackett considers this in greater depth:

I don’t know what it is within the heart of man that loves a new beginning, but we do. Yes, there are times when a new beginning carries some fear because of the unknown that lies ahead or because we don’t like change and are just very comfortable with the old. But, in most cases, we like the fresh beginning.

The new year often stirs within us a motivation to start anew with goals and objectives that, in many cases, have gone unmet in years past. It almost gives us the privilege of “closing the book” on the failures and disappointments of the past and setting out with no bricks in our backpack. We almost feel lighter!

Of course, the reality is that just because the second hand sweeps past the 12 at midnight on December 31st, there isn’t some magical wand that brings fairy dust down upon your life. No genie appears to undo your past or miraculously change your circumstances. If you have a boatload of debt on New Year’s Eve, you will wake up to that same debt on January 1st.

Ugh! The reality of reality!

Wouldn’t it be grand if all things bad went away when the clock struck midnight at the end of the year? Can you imagine what your sleep would be like that night? Can you imagine what it would be like waking up the next morning, knowing that all the debt was gone, all the regrets and failures of the past were gone, all the ugliness and pain and grief and misery…gone!

Wow! Wouldn’t that be something!

But, alas, there are no magic wands and there are no genies.

But there is One who is in the business of making things “new”. For those who are His, there will come a day when we will go to sleep and awake to a true New Beginning.

But even in this life, He makes things new.

Millions have experienced the joy of a new creation, when the sins of the past are truly forgiven.

He creates us anew.

He gives us…
…a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26)
…a new birth (1 Peter 1:3)
…a new spirit (Ezekiel 11:19)
…a new song (Psalm 40:3)
…a new name (Isaiah 62:2; Revelation 2:17)
…a new life (Acts 5:20)
…a new self (Ephesians 4:24)
…a new way into the holy place (Hebrews 10:20)
…a new covenant. (Hebrews 9:15)
…and He creates a new heaven and earth (Isaiah 65:17; 2 Peter 3:13)

The Scriptures close out with the great declaration from Jesus, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

That is a New Years Day that will make all our new years pale in comparison!

But there is a continual “newness” that God gives to us:

“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

Every day, there is a newness for those who are in Christ. If that reality were understood by our faint hearts, we would arise each morning with the joy and “freshness” that befits the child of the King who is in the business of taking old things and making them new.

May your New Year truly be a New Day every day.