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18 October 2019

Future Hope - Resurrection and New Creation

Synopsis:  The Apostle Paul links the bodily Resurrection of the saints with the New Creation. The promised redemption includes both.

Sunrise on the Coast - Photo by Bruce Edwards on Unsplash
by Bruce Edwards on Unsplash
In the conclusion of the first half of his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul writes that for them who are in Jesus - “There is now no condemnation.” This happy condition exists because the “law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set them free from the law of sin and of death.”

In the process of explaining this proposition, Paul links the redemption of believers with the redemption of the created order.  The sin of Adam condemned more than just humanity to bondage under sin and death but, also, the entire creation that God originally declared “good” (Genesis 1:31 – “And God saw everything which he had made and, lo! it was very good!”).

Under the Law of Moses, the Torah, humanity could not liberate itself from bondage to sin. That would take something or someone else:

(Romans 8:3-4) - “What was impossible by the law in that it was weak through the flesh, God, by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and concerning sin, condemned sin in the flesh, In order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us — who, not according to flesh do walk, but according to spirit.” – (The Emphasized Bible).

Apparently, the flesh, humanity in its mortal and fallen state, “prefers death, whereas the Spirit prefers life and peace.” The “carnal man” that resulted from the disobedience of Adam is “hostile towards God, for unto the law of God it doth not submit itself, neither, in fact, can it. They, moreover, who in flesh have their being, cannot please God.” To be “in flesh” is to be “in Adam,” so to speak.

(Romans 5:18-19) – “Hence then, as through one fault the sentence was unto all men unto condemnation, so, also, through one recovery of righteousness the decree of favour is unto all men for righteous acquittal unto life; For, just as, through the disobedience of the one man, sinners the many were constituted, so, also, through the obedience of the one, righteous the many shall be constituted” - (The Emphasized Bible).

Paul’s discussion 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 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, instead, of the past life of the “flesh” of the Adamic man versus the new life of the “spirit” provided in Jesus Christ.

(Romans 8:9-11) – “But ye have not your being in flesh, but in spirit — if, at least, God’s Spirit dwelleth in you; and if anyone hath not Christ’s Spirit, the same is not his; — But if Christ is in you, the body, indeed, is dead by reason of sin, whereas, the spirit is life by reason of righteousness; If, moreover, the Spirit of him that raised Jesus from among the dead dwelleth in you, he that raised from among the dead Christ Jesus shall make alive even your death-doomed bodies through means of his indwelling Spirit within you.” – (The Emphasized Bible).

Disciples of Jesus do not have their life in the flesh but in the spirit, if, at least, God’s Spirit dwells in” them. However, if anyone has not Christ’s Spirit, "the same is not his.” It is the Spirit of God that enables the disciple to walk uprightly (Compare - Galatians 5:13-18).

Though our present physical bodies are “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.”

At this point, the Apostle Paul brings in the subject of the resurrection, and integral to his concept is the future bodily resurrection of the saints. Final redemption is realized at the time of the resurrection and this, by necessity and logic, includes the redemption of the body. The entire man that God created was condemned to bondage, not just his soul or inner self. Therefore, if God is to redeem mankind, to recover that which was lost, His redemptive act must include the body. Likewise, by extension, the created order that was also condemned to corruption and death by the sin of Adam must be redeemed.

(Romans 8:12-14) – “Hence, then, brethren — debtors we are not unto the flesh that according to flesh we should live — For if according to flesh ye live, ye are about to die, whereas, if in spirit the practices of the flesh ye are putting to death, ye shall attain unto life; For as many as by God’s Spirit are being led, the same are God’s sons. – (The Emphasized Bible).

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 who are God’s sons.”

(Romans 8:15-20) – “For ye have not received a spirit of servitude leading back into fear, but ye have received a spirit of sonship, whereby we are exclaiming — Abba! Oh Father! The Spirit itself beareth witness together with our spirit that we are children of God; And if children, heirs also — heirs, indeed, of God but co-heirs with Christ — if, at least, we are suffering together in order that we may also be glorified together. For I reckon that unworthy are the sufferings of the present season to be compared with the glory about to be revealed towards us; For the eager outlook of creation ardently awaiteth the revealing of the sons of God — For unto vanity hath creation been made subject — not by choice, but by reason of him that made it subject, in hope – (The Emphasized Bible).

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 means to suffer in this life for his sake, so that “they may also be glorified.” However, the sufferings of “this present season cannot be compared with the glory about to be revealed.”

The creation itself has been subjected “to vanity,” death and decay, because of the disobedience of Adam. All creation is sighing and travailing until the present hour; the old created order is “ardently awaiting the revelation of the sons of God.” At that time, the “creation itself also shall be freed from the bondage of decay into the freedom of the glory of the sons of God.” That day will mean nothing less than the arrival of the New Creation.

(Romans 8:21-23) – “That creation itself also shall be freed — from the bondage of the decay into the freedom of the glory of the sons of God; For we know that all creation is sighing together and travailing-in-birth-throes together until the present, — And not only so, but we ourselves also who have the first-fruit of the Spirit — we even ourselves within our own selves do sigh— sonship ardently awaiting — the redeeming of our body. – (The Emphasized Bible).
In this passage, the Apostle Paul links the future New Creation to the bodily resurrection of the saints. 

The New Testament presents consistently a forward-looking faith.  Everlasting life is a future inheritance to be received in all its fulness at the time of the bodily resurrection, an event that coincides with the New Creation. In fact, the redemption of the entire created order is dependent on the resurrection of the children of God. The promises of bodily resurrection and of the New Creation are inextricably linked (Compare - 1 Corinthians 15:51-57).

Throughout this section of the Book of Romans, the focus remains on the future inheritance of the saints that Paul links to the New Creation and the Resurrection. Put another way, New Creation and bodily resurrection are two sides of the same coin. And, as he wrote elsewhere, on that day the “last enemy, death” will cease.

Believers who have been declared righteous in Christ, who have received the Spirit of God, and who continue to live accordingly will receive their final redemption at the time of the New Creation and the bodily Resurrection; both events occur when Jesus arrives in glory at his ‘parousia’ or “arrival” (1 Corinthians 15:20-28).

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