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18 October 2019

Future Hope - Resurrection and New Creation


Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus
In the conclusion of the first half of his letter to the Romans, Paul wrote that for those who are in Jesus, “there is now no condemnation” (Romans 8:1-25). This is because the “law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set them free from the law of sin and of death.” What the Law of Moses, the Torah, could not achieve because of human bondage to sin, “God, by sending his own Son,…condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us who walk according to spirit and not according to the flesh.”
The flesh, it seems, “prefers death, whereas the Spirit prefers life and peace.” The carnal man produced by Adam’s sin is “hostile towards God for it cannot submit to the Law of God… and they who have their being in flesh cannot please God.”
Paul’s talk of “flesh” and “spirit” is his way of contrasting the old Adamic life in bondage to sin with the new life free from servitude to it that is now found in Christ Jesus. The Apostle is not speaking of two “natures” locked in mortal combat within an individual, the “old man” versus the “new man,” but of the past life of the “flesh” of the Adamic man versus the new life of the “spirit” in Jesus Christ.
Believers do not have “their being in flesh, but in spirit, if at least God’s Spirit dwells in” them. If anyone has not Christ’s Spirit, "the same is not his” (verse 9). It is God’s Spirit that enables the believer to walk righteously (cp. Galatians 5:13-18).
Though our present physical bodies may be “dead by reason of sin,” if the Spirit of Him that raised Jesus from the dead dwells in us, “He that raised from among the dead Christ Jesus will make alive, even our death-doomed bodies through means of his indwelling Spirit” (verses 10-11).
Once again, Paul brings in the future resurrection, and integral to his concept is the bodily resurrection. Final salvation is realized at the time of the resurrection and includes the redemption of the individual’s body.
Though believers have been declared righteous through Jesus Christ, receipt of final salvation is not a foregone conclusion. Believers are obligated to live “not according to flesh.” If they do, they will “die, whereas, if by the Spirit they put to death the practices of the flesh, they will attain life.” It is men and women who are “led by God’s Spirit that are God’s sons.”
God’s Spirit within believers “bears witness together with their spirit that they are children of God.” This means they are “heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.” But to be co-heirs with Christ necessitates suffering in this life so that “they may also be glorified,” though the sufferings of “this present season cannot be compared with the glory about to be revealed.”
Even the creation itself has been subjected “to vanity” because of Adam’s sin. All creation is sighing and travailing-in-birth-throes until the present; the old creation is “ardently awaiting the revelation of the sons of God.” At that time, “creation itself also shall be freed from the bondage of decay into the freedom of the glory of the sons of God” (Romans 8:20-21). That will mean nothing less than the New Creation.
At that time, not only creation but, also, “we ourselves who have the firstfruit of the Spirit, and sigh within ourselves ardently awaiting the adoption, the redemption of our body” (verse 23). Paul connects the future New Creation to the bodily resurrection of the saints. This is the hope “by which we were saved.” But “hope beheld is not hope, for who hopes for what he sees? If, however, what we do not behold we hope for, with endurance are we ardently awaiting it” (verses 24-25).
The New Testament presents a consistent forward-looking faith.  Everlasting life is a future inheritance that will be received at the time of the bodily resurrection, an event that coincides with the New Creation (cp. 1 Corinthians 15:51-57).
Throughout this section of Romans, the focus is on the future salvation that Paul connects with both the New Creation and the Resurrection. Put another way, New Creation and bodily resurrection are two sides of the same coin. Believers who have been declared righteous in Christ, who have received the Spirit of God, and who continue to live accordingly, will receive final salvation at the time of New Creation and the Resurrection; both events occur at the same time when Jesus arrives in glory at his ‘parousia’ (1 Corinthians 15:20-28).

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