Under the Canopy of Heaven 7. Father in Heaven 09 SEP 2018

Isa 63:15 – Isa 64:8 | Mk 1:4-11

INTRODUCTION

When it comes to living in the revelation of the heavenly Father the contemporary Church is in a very bad way. Having returned to Anglican worship after about 20 years I noticed new liturgies seemed to give less prominence to the Father. And when a diocesan prayer calendar came out I couldn’t ignore the fact that not one modern prayer was addressed to God as “Father”.

The archbishop agreed there was an issue, but there’s no evidence the author of the prayer diary has altered her views on fatherhood. Confusion about God the Father is not limited to Anglican liberals.

Sometimes the formula: “In the Name of God, Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier” is substituted for, “Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

This is functionally heretical because the eternal Persons of the Godhead cannot be reduced to their roles in creation. God is essentially and not nominally “Father”. Human parenthood is but a dim reflection of this divine Fathering.

In prayer gatherings I often hear more petitions to “God”, “Lord”, “Holy Spirit” or “Jesus”   than to the Father; this is a sign that many Christian leaders are struggling to participate in the Spirit (Phil 2:1 ESV) who moved Jesus to teach us to pray, “Our Father in heaven….(Matt 6:9 ESV). Is this the generation more spiritually ignorant of Fatherhood than any other?

Perhaps we have a special problem in this realm because Australians are “cosmic orphans” inhabiting a nation founded on parental abandonment, and a country of absent fathers separated from their children through war, hardship and emotional distance.

I was in a meeting recently where a prominent pastor shared how being in Africa he was approached by a young man who had observed his caring relationship with another local.

He asked, “Can you be my spiritual father?” to which the pastor replied, “Sorry, I can’t.

I have sons of my own in Australia and x is my adopted son here in Africa. But I can be your friend.” In failing to impart to this young man a vision of the unlimited, unconditional, abounding love of the heavenly Father this pastor grieved the heart of God and left his young “friend” abandoned.

Ignorance and fear of intimacy with a heavenly Father is a foundational reason for the discipleship crisis in the Australian Church.

A recent blog examining issues responsible for intermittent Sunday Church attendance attributed this problem to our neo-liberal culture.

Neoliberalism1)Neoliberalism or neo-liberalism refers primarily to the 20th-century resurgence of 19th-century ideas associated with laissez-faire economic liberalism. Those ideas include economic liberalization policies such as privatization, austerity, deregulation, free trade and reductions in government spending in order to increase the role of the private sector in the economy and society. url: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that “the market” delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning.

There is truth in this description of our society, but if neoliberalism has power it’s a consequence of a relational deficit with God as Father, and its individualism, materialism etc. are signs of Fatherlessness.

The providential care of the “heavenly Father” is the exact opposite of such a worldview (Matt 6:25-34 ESV).

See Article: What is the future of ‘gathered’ church? | August 30, 2018 | PDF pages 4 | by Ian Paul | Original Source: psephizo.com

FALLING CHILDREN.

In the genealogy of Jesus we read of “Adam, the son of God.(Luke 3:38 ESV). Paul could preach even to pagans, “we indeed are his offspring(Acts 17:28 ESV). Yet it has been profoundly said, ‘While God is the Father of all people, all people are not the children of God’. (G.C. Bingham). God is the Creator-Father of all but not all freely enter into this relationship.

Worse, the revelation of God as Father in creation is always corrupted into a perverted idolatrous image of fatherhood. The true God laments, vs.26so the house of Israel shall be shamed: vs.27 who say to a tree, ‘You are my father,’ and to a stone, ‘You gave me birth.’ For they have turned their back to me(Jer 2:26-27 ESV). The origin of such dreadful distortions goes back to the Fall. In listening to and obeying the voice of Satan the first couple exchanged a heavenly Father for submission to a mere creature2)Gen 3:1-7 ESV; John 8:44 ESV.

Original sin is an attempt to abolish Fatherhood (John Paul II). It denies God’s benevolent love that originates/fathers all creation. The first sin was patricidal, aimed at killing God’s loving authority in human life.

Through Adam we all became “sons of the evil one3)Matt 13:38 ESV cf. Eph 2:2 ESV; 1 John 3:12 ESV with two immediate consequences; shame in relation to each other4)Gen 3:7 ESV cf. 2:25 ESV and fear in relation to God. ““I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”(Gen 3:10 ESV).

The appearance of God from heaven brought an anticipation of punishment (cf. 1 John 4:18 ESV) because sinful humans are “children of wrath5)Eph 2:3 ESV cf. Rom 1:18 ESV.

Guilty men and women cannot desire intimacy with the heavenly Father but resent a fatherhood they experience as unjustly judgemental.

They refuse to accept the fact that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness….”6)Rom 1:18 ESV cf. Rom 1:32 ESV; 1 Pet 1:17 ESV.

Heaven is a place from which judgement often comes. Fire from heaven consumes God’s adversaries7)Gen 19:24 ESV; Ex 9:23 ESV; 2 Ki 1:10, 12, 14 ESV as a sign of his fearful presence (Deut 4:11, 36 ESV). But it lovingly burns up acceptable sacrifice8)1 Chron 21:26 ESV; 2 Chron 7:1 ESV.

Corruption concerning the likeness of God as Father is multigenerational. The sons of Adam were generated in the likeness of his fallen image (Gen 5:3 ESV); as such Cain “naturally” rebelled against God’s direct command just as his father had done (Gen 4:7 ESV).

Following in the way of parents is seen in scripture as a potent force; “I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me(Ex 20:5 ESV). Even more tragically the powers at work to distort Fatherhood are supernatural.

Romans teaches that before we met Christ we had received “the spirit of slavery to fall…into fear(Rom 8:15 ESV).

This “spirit of slavery” involves demons, “Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods… worthless elementary spirits of the world9)Gal 4:8-9 ESV cf. Deut 32:17 ESV; Ps 106:37 ESV.

Evil spirits induce slavery to sin, fear, control and the idolatry this breeds (cf. Heb 2:15 ESV). All the cost of rejecting God as Father.

Unhealthy paralysing fear continues onwards from Eden. In essentially defining sonship in oppositional terms, vs.14For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. vs.15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear(Rom 8:14-15 ESV), Paul seems to be recapitulating the events of the exodus.

Delivered from slavery in Egypt the people of God were “led” through the dangers of the wilderness by the Lord and his Spirit10)Deut 8:2, 15 ESV; 29:5 ESV; Isa 63:7-14 ESV cf. Luke 4:1 ESV; Rom 2:4 ESV.

Despite God’s presence they repeatedly fell back into an irrational and destructive fear that moved them to long for a return to Egypt11)Ex 14:11-12 ESV; 17:3 ESV; Num 11:5 ESV; Num 14:3 ESV; Num 20:5 ESV; Num 21:5 ESV. These things are overcome for us in Christ.

THE OLD TESTAMENT PROMISE.

The Old Testament openly acknowledges God and his dwelling place “in heaven” from where he acts with power for those who call on him;12)Deut 26:15 ESV; 1 Ki 8:34 ESV; 2 Chron 7:14 ESV; 20:6 ESV; Ezra 5:12 ESV.

In the most intimate expressions of Old Testament Israel is named as God’s “firstborn son” who he liberated from Egypt13)Ex 4:22-23 ESV; Jer 31:20 ESV; Hos 11:1 ESV.

This however only made the repeated idolatry of the nation more grievous14)Deut 32:5 ESV; Jer 3:19 ESV.

Hope for salvation came to focus on the Messiah and his relationship with the Lord ; “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son.(2 Sam 7:14 ESV).

But given the perennial disobedience even of the kings (1 Chron 28:6-7 ESV) a radical separation remained between the Father in heaven and his earthly people.

So Isaiah is moved to call out in anguish, “Look down from heaven and see, from your holy and beautiful habitation. Where are your zeal and your might? The stirring of your inner parts and your compassion are held back from me. For you are our Father, though Abraham does not know us, and Israel does not acknowledge us; you, O Lord, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name…. But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.15)Isa 63:15-16 ESV; Isa 64:8 ESV.

Only the Holy Son of God who is the “man of heaven16)Luke 1:35 ESV; 1 Cor 15:47-49 ESV could bridge the gap between sin-bound people and the heavenly Father.

JESUS AND THE HEAVENLY FATHER

When it comes to the revelation of the heavenly Father Jesus’ life and teaching are revolutionary. In the Sermon on the Mount, for instance, the Father is mentioned 17 times17)e.g. Matt 5:16, 45, 48 ESV; Matt 6:1 ESV etc.

That many people focus on the sermon’s teaching on “the Kingdom of God”, mentioned 8 times, and ignore the emphasis on the Father (mentioned 17 times), illustrates an inbuilt guilt-bias against Fatherhood.

Jesus’ intimate relationship with God as Father derives not from any human tradition but his own revelatory experience.  In this regard the events of his baptism seem particularly catalytic.

In rabbinical Judaism from around New Testament times “Father in Heaven” is nearly always used in the context of fixed and stereotyped linguistic formulae.

Little use is made of the expression to describe a unique relationship between God and Israel.

There are no references to God as “The Father in Heaven.” and when God is related to as heavenly Father he is never portrayed as active. This is the direct opposite to Jesus’ relationship with his heavenly Father who is dynamically working in Christ’s words and works.

WHITE PAPER: God the Father in Rabbinic Judaism and Christianity: Transformed Background or Common Ground? by Goshen-Gottstein, Alon | 01.10.2003 PDF pages 27 Original Source: jcrelations.net

vs.10And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. vs.11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”(Mark 1:10-11 ESV)

The opening of the heavens means that the separation between the realm of God and that of humans has been taken away18)Gen 1:6-7 ESV; Ps 115:16 ESV. The heavenly has broken into the earthly bringing a uniquely intense revelation to Jesus that he is the Son of the Father in heaven.

This is an eschatological and apocalyptic event publically marking, unlike for example the virginal conception, a fundamental shift in the relationship between God and humanity19)cf. John 1:51 ESV; Acts 7:56 ESV; Rev 4:1 ESV; Rev 19:11 ESV.

The opening of the heavens are an answer to the longing prayer in Isaiah, “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down… to make your name known…(Isa 64:1-2 ESV).

From now on the name “Father” will now be fully revealed in Jesus the true Son of God20)cf. John 17:6, 26 ESV. Compared to the unfaithfulness of Adam and Israel.

The descent of the heavenly Spirit (Mark 1:10 ESV) conveys a remarkable dynamism to Christ. Many times in the Old Testament the Spirit of God came mightily on certain people to empower them for a prophetic of kingly task21)Judges 3:10 ESV; 6:34 ESV; 11:29 ESV; 13:25 ESV; 1 Sam 10:6 ESV; 11:6 ESV; 19:20, 23 ESV; Isa 42:1 ESV; 61:1 ESV.

But he did not remain.  Jesus is now mightily anointed with spiritual power to bring in his Father’s kingly rule22)cf. Matt 12:28 ESV; Luke 4:18 ESV; Acts 10:38 ESV.

The communication from heaven, ““You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”(Mark 1:11 ESV) vitalises Jesus’ Sonship.

The language of “beloved Son” communicates to Jesus that he is uniquely related to God, and it will fulfil the Lord’s command to Abraham to take his “beloved son” and sacrifice him (Gen 22:22 ESV Greek O.T.)

This revelation of the Father’s particular love strengthens Jesus for the journey to the cross. “Son” is also a dominant messianic title23)Ps 2:7 ESV cf. Acts 13:33 ESV; Heb 1:5 ESV; 5:5 ESV; 2 Pet 1:17 ESV implying universal dominion24)Ps 2:8 ESV; cf. Gen 49:10 ESV; Matt 28:19 ESV; Acts 1:8 ESV; Phil 2:11 ESV etc.

The heavenly Father will work with power through Jesus to establish his kingdom on earth. The utterance ““well pleased”” signifies the delight of the Father in Jesus and fulfils the covenantal relationship between Yahweh and the Servant of the Lord in Isaiah (Isa 42:1-2 ESV) as the one who will have dominion over the nations.

The Servant Songs in Isaiah25)Isa 42:1-4 ESV; 49:1-6 ESV; 50:4-9 ESV; 52:13 – 53:12 ESV culminate with the humiliating but redemptive death of the Servant. In the Gospels the Servant now identified as Jesus receives the Father’s pleasure, (“with you I am well pleasedLuke 3:22 ESV), because of his obedience to death (cf. Matt 12:18-21 ESV).

The baptismal obedience of Jesus reverses the rebellion and judgement scene of Genesis 3.

He is the true Son through whose submission the heavenly Father will exercise dominion over the earth and fill it with glory26)cf. Matt 28:18 ESV; Heb 2:5-9 ESV.

Jesus’ whole life and ministry is an exposition of the loving, just and merciful character of the heavenly Father. He reveals the Father through manifesting the delivering works of his kingdom27)Matt 12:28 ESV cf. John 14:8-11 ESV.

The meaning of “Our Father in heaven” is expounded in providing the hungry with daily bread, forgiving their sins and delivering them from evil (Matt 6:9-12 ESV).

See, for example,  Jesus feeding miracles28)Matt 14:13-21 ESV; 15:32-39 ESV; Mark 6:32-44 ESV; 8:1–10 ESV; Luke 9:10-17 ESV; John 6:1-14 ESV; his proclaiming forgiveness29)Matt 9:1-8 ESV; 26:28 ESV; Mark 2:3-12 ESV; Luke 7:47-48 ESV; Luke 23:34 ESV and his releasing people from evil spirits30)Matt 4:24 ESV; 8:16 ESV; 9:32-33 ESV; Mark 1:21-28 ESV; Mark 3:11 ESV; Mark 5:1-13 ESV etc..

Since the pattern of the Lord’s Prayer indicates the revelation of the heavenly Father comes via answered petitions it must be the experience of unanswered prayer which is the greatest block to believers receiving the testimony, “Abba! Father!”31)Rom 8:15 ESV; Gal 4:6 ESV.

Contrary to some popular preaching the Aramaic word “Abba” does not mean “Daddy”.

It seems to combine both respect and intimacy, and was commonly used by an adult son in his dialogue with his father. (This is not how the word is used in modern Hebrew, where it does mean “Daddy”.)

The work of the cross exposes to us the origin of Father-confusion in the hearts of believers.

FATHERHOOD GLORIFIED THROUGH THE CROSS

The writer of Hebrews had a profound understanding of the Sonship of Jesus, vs.8For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering…. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. vs.9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him(Heb 2:10 ESV; Heb 5:8-9 ESV).  

The author understood that Jesus was Fathered through the cross. This is what we see forcefully through the prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane.

It is only in approaching death under the divine wrath that Jesus addresses God as “Abba” (Mark 14:36 ESV). Judgement is the significance of the dreaded “cup” in Gethsemane32)Mark 14:36 ESV cf. Ps 75:8 ESV; Isa 51:17, 22 ESV; Jer 25:15 ESV ff; lam 4:21 ESV ; Hab 2:16 ESV; Zech 12:2 ESV.

His impending suffering draws out of Christ the most intense intimacy with his Father. Why then does he cry out on the cross; ““My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”(Mark 15:34 ESV).

Does the Father turn his face away from his Son at the point of his deepest need?

Some preachers and song writers mistakenly teach this, but the Father did hear Jesus when he cried out in anguish.

The messianic psalm which Jesus quoted from at his point of dereliction33)Ps 22:1 ESV = Matt 27:46 ESV; Mark 15:34 ESV goes on to say, “For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him.(Ps 22:24 ESV).

If the Father turned his face away it would mean evil, sin and death are more powerful than his love for his Son. This is impossible.

Or does the loss of his beloved Son place in his heart a grief rendering him speechless34)Rom 8:3 ESV; 2 Cor 5:21 ESV?

Words plainly fail here, but from a Trinitarian perspective the death of Jesus “extends right through to the centre of the Father; for the Son does not cease, even in dying, to be generated by him and to convey his eternal gratitude to him, in a love that expresses its utmost intensity precisely now…. The Father must possess unimaginable power if he can look on, apparently powerless, while his Son moves into suffering” (Adrienne von Speyr).

The Father seemingly emptied himself of the Son’s filial presence committing himself to a form of suffering in the suffering of the Son (Habets). “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them(2 Cor 5:19 ESV).

By revealing the full extent of the love Father and Son have for one another and the world the cross glorifies the Father35)John 12:27-28 ESV; 13:1 ESV.

As the locus of all the saving acts of God in it is the lens of divine forgiveness. If on the cross Jesus endures for us the Last Judgement this is that “perfect love which casts out all fear(1 John 4:18 ESV).

The highest revelation of the perfect Father comes not in witnessing great acts of power (cf. John 2:23-25 ESV) but in witnessing his full and free forgiveness; Christ’s awesome prayer, ““Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”(Luke 23:34 ESV) proceeds to and from the heart of the Father for us all.

Jesus’ own exhortation, vs.44Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, vs.45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven…. vs.48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.(Matt 5:44-45, 48 ESV), illuminates the perfection of heavenly Fatherhood in terms of forgiving enemies, which is the achievement of the cross.

It has been stated that if Jesus hadn’t prayed this prayer his persecutors were in real danger of being consumed by fire from heaven (Bingham). If this is true it’s not because the Farther is mad with anger, but because he is perfectly holy36)Hab 1:13 ESV; John 17:11 ESV.

The complete revelation of the Father to us awaits the final dwelling of humanity with God in heaven.

In seeing Jesus as he is (1 John 3:2 ESV), the Lamb once crucified but now the glorified Son37)Rev 5:6 ESV cf. 1:17-18 ESV, we will know that only a Holy and Righteous Father (John 17:11, 25 ESV) could forgive so totally and at such great personal cost. Before the face of God the cry “Abba! Father!” will be drawn out of the hearts of the children of God forever38)Rev 21:7 ESV, 22:4 ESV.

When all the former troubles wrought by sin, Satan and death are forgotten39)Isa 65:16 – 17 ESV; Rev 21:4 ESV our vision will be filled with the glory of the Lamb (Rev 21:23 ESV). The “forgetfulness” we will enjoy in eternity is a participation in the new covenant, where God declares, “I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”” (Jer 31:34 ESV). For us, “the wrath of God is finished”, as it was in the cross40)Rev 15:1 ESV; John 19:30 ESV.

We will realise in a completely spontaneous way that such a great God can only be named “Father!” This will be the final application of the gospel, that it is “the glory of the Father” that raised Jesus from the dead41)Rom 1:4 ESV; 6:4 ESV cf. Mark 8:38 ESV; John 12:28 ESV; 17:5 ESV; Phil 2:11 ESV.

CONCLUSION

When Jesus said to Mary Magdalene outside the empty tomb, “‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”(John 20:17 ESV), he announced that his glorification (Act 1:6-11 ESV) was reuniting humanity to the Father, in heaven.

In Christ we are united with “the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist(1 Cor 8:6 ESV), united with the One who is the origin and integrating point of all heavenly wisdom and riches.

Which he has placed in Christ (Col 2:3 ESV). In the heart of the heavenly Father (John 1:18 ESV) is found the plan for the creation of all things and its unity in Christ (Eph 1:9-10 ESV), the gift of the Spirit to the sons of God (Acts 2:33 ESV), endless joy (1 Pet 1:8 ESV), infinitely satisfying worship (Heb 12:18-24 ESV), perfect conformity to the will of God (Eph 1:11 ESV) and unlimited communion with the divine life, “The one who conquers will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be my son.(Rev 21:7 ESV).

Cf. “Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.(Rev 14:1 ESV)  The people of God have a seal upon them from an all loving Father of allegiance, protection and deliverance.

Since all these things are so wonderfully ours in Christ we can enjoy in real measure his own spontaneity with his Father through the gift of the baptismal Spirit and the blessing of the heavenly voice (Mark 1:10-11 ESV). By grace God is our “Abba! Father!” to the same degree as is Jesus (1 John 4:17 ESV).

Being in the Son of God all wrath and judgement have been taken away so we can glory in a shame free and guiltless liberty far beyond any natural relationships42)cf. Luke 10:21 ESV; Rom 8:21 ESV. Hallelujah, what a Father!

Years ago I was led to pray facing Uluru (Ayers Rock), a spiritual hub for Indigenous people, occult practitioners etc. in central Australia.

I sensed the Spirit leading me to declare with authority, “Judgement has been taken away!” This was a proclamation to resident evil powers of the completed victory of Christ.

If the conscience of God has been satisfied so should our consciences be. Cf. “I have no wrath(Isa 27:4 ESV)

MESSAGE DELIVERED: 9. September, 2018 Location: Alive@5

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE
YouTube or PODCAST:

9. September, 2018.

References   [ + ]

1. Neoliberalism or neo-liberalism refers primarily to the 20th-century resurgence of 19th-century ideas associated with laissez-faire economic liberalism. Those ideas include economic liberalization policies such as privatization, austerity, deregulation, free trade and reductions in government spending in order to increase the role of the private sector in the economy and society. url: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoliberalism
2. Gen 3:1-7 ESV; John 8:44 ESV
3. Matt 13:38 ESV cf. Eph 2:2 ESV; 1 John 3:12 ESV
4. Gen 3:7 ESV cf. 2:25 ESV
5. Eph 2:3 ESV cf. Rom 1:18 ESV
6. Rom 1:18 ESV cf. Rom 1:32 ESV; 1 Pet 1:17 ESV
7. Gen 19:24 ESV; Ex 9:23 ESV; 2 Ki 1:10, 12, 14 ESV
8. 1 Chron 21:26 ESV; 2 Chron 7:1 ESV
9. Gal 4:8-9 ESV cf. Deut 32:17 ESV; Ps 106:37 ESV
10. Deut 8:2, 15 ESV; 29:5 ESV; Isa 63:7-14 ESV cf. Luke 4:1 ESV; Rom 2:4 ESV
11. Ex 14:11-12 ESV; 17:3 ESV; Num 11:5 ESV; Num 14:3 ESV; Num 20:5 ESV; Num 21:5 ESV
12. Deut 26:15 ESV; 1 Ki 8:34 ESV; 2 Chron 7:14 ESV; 20:6 ESV; Ezra 5:12 ESV
13. Ex 4:22-23 ESV; Jer 31:20 ESV; Hos 11:1 ESV
14. Deut 32:5 ESV; Jer 3:19 ESV
15. Isa 63:15-16 ESV; Isa 64:8 ESV
16. Luke 1:35 ESV; 1 Cor 15:47-49 ESV
17. e.g. Matt 5:16, 45, 48 ESV; Matt 6:1 ESV etc.
18. Gen 1:6-7 ESV; Ps 115:16 ESV
19. cf. John 1:51 ESV; Acts 7:56 ESV; Rev 4:1 ESV; Rev 19:11 ESV
20. cf. John 17:6, 26 ESV
21. Judges 3:10 ESV; 6:34 ESV; 11:29 ESV; 13:25 ESV; 1 Sam 10:6 ESV; 11:6 ESV; 19:20, 23 ESV; Isa 42:1 ESV; 61:1 ESV
22. cf. Matt 12:28 ESV; Luke 4:18 ESV; Acts 10:38 ESV
23. Ps 2:7 ESV cf. Acts 13:33 ESV; Heb 1:5 ESV; 5:5 ESV; 2 Pet 1:17 ESV
24. Ps 2:8 ESV; cf. Gen 49:10 ESV; Matt 28:19 ESV; Acts 1:8 ESV; Phil 2:11 ESV etc
25. Isa 42:1-4 ESV; 49:1-6 ESV; 50:4-9 ESV; 52:13 – 53:12 ESV
26. cf. Matt 28:18 ESV; Heb 2:5-9 ESV
27. Matt 12:28 ESV cf. John 14:8-11 ESV
28. Matt 14:13-21 ESV; 15:32-39 ESV; Mark 6:32-44 ESV; 8:1–10 ESV; Luke 9:10-17 ESV; John 6:1-14 ESV
29. Matt 9:1-8 ESV; 26:28 ESV; Mark 2:3-12 ESV; Luke 7:47-48 ESV; Luke 23:34 ESV
30. Matt 4:24 ESV; 8:16 ESV; 9:32-33 ESV; Mark 1:21-28 ESV; Mark 3:11 ESV; Mark 5:1-13 ESV etc.
31. Rom 8:15 ESV; Gal 4:6 ESV
32. Mark 14:36 ESV cf. Ps 75:8 ESV; Isa 51:17, 22 ESV; Jer 25:15 ESV ff; lam 4:21 ESV ; Hab 2:16 ESV; Zech 12:2 ESV
33. Ps 22:1 ESV = Matt 27:46 ESV; Mark 15:34 ESV
34. Rom 8:3 ESV; 2 Cor 5:21 ESV
35. John 12:27-28 ESV; 13:1 ESV
36. Hab 1:13 ESV; John 17:11 ESV
37. Rev 5:6 ESV cf. 1:17-18 ESV
38. Rev 21:7 ESV, 22:4 ESV
39. Isa 65:16 – 17 ESV; Rev 21:4 ESV
40. Rev 15:1 ESV; John 19:30 ESV
41. Rom 1:4 ESV; 6:4 ESV cf. Mark 8:38 ESV; John 12:28 ESV; 17:5 ESV; Phil 2:11 ESV
42. cf. Luke 10:21 ESV; Rom 8:21 ESV

Adam and Christ 09 SEP 2018

Gen 3:1-19 | Ps 119:81-88 | Rom 5:12-21 | Mark 8:27-38

INTRODUCTION:

Last time I preached I spoke of the power of the gospel to turn Christians into, “The Happiest People on Earth” (Shakarian). This isn’t just a Pentecostal position but is as ancient as the profound words from the Easter Mass; “O truly necessary sin of Adam, destroyed completely by the Death of Christ! O happy fault that earned for us so great, so glorious a Redeemer!

Or, the same excellent truth extolled in the hymn by Isaac Watts, “In Him the tribes of Adam boast More blessings than their father lost.(Lyrics) | (tune) 

By being “only human” we all know the nature of Adamic sin; the need to keep weeding the garden, the crazy egoistic ambitions in Canberra, the constant conflicts from Syria, the latest fight you had with your husband/wife/kids, in the ageing of our own minds and bodies and the inevitability of death, testify to us of Adam’s influence.

And overcoming such afflictions is the great preoccupation of humanity. Paul’s one interest in Adam however is to exult the victorious triumph of grace in Christ1)Rom 5 ESV; 1 Cor 15:22, 45-49 ESV.

Which is why this chapter is dominated by contrasts, whatever power death possess, grace has “much more”, however destructive condemnation may be, the “free gift” of justification/righteousness exceeds it, where sin did “abound” grace did much more/“super-abound”.

The total superiority of Christ over Adam is the source of Christian confidence.

EXPOSITION

Romans 5 vs.12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinnedvs.13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. vs.14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

One of the most famous scriptures is Romans declares, “the wages of sin is death(Rom 6:23 ESV). But this chapter teaches we all must die not because we have sinned like Adam sin but because we are related to Adam in such a way that when he rebelled in Eden we all said, “Amen”.

We have all inherited a sinful nature from the first Man and we share his guilt; in David’s lamentation, “I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.2)Ps 51:5 ESV cf. Eph 2:3 ESV.

This “death” we share “in Adam(1 Cor 15:22 ESV) isn’t just physical, it’s also “spiritual”, the malignant power of sin to separate us from fellowship with God.

Since sinners can never step outside their fallen condition the depths of original sin are incomprehensible.

But Paul’s about the death of Jesus, “one has died for all, therefore all have died(2 Cor 5:14 ESV), proclaims a connection between Jesus and lost humanity that nullifies that between us and Adam.

Through the life of the only person who never rebelled against God the power of the Adamic nature has been broken.

Romans 5 vs.13 – vs.14
From Adam to Moses people didn’t transgress or violate a known commandment as Adam did, so that in the absence of law their sin was not clearly registered.

Law or no law however death kept reigning over human life under the decree of God.

This is an enemy that still defeats even the strongest human attempts to defeat it (1 Cor 15:26 ESV). But it doesn’t have to defeat us. When one of my lecturers said death could never be a good thing I quoted to him from the song of Simeon.

Having seen the coming of “the Lord’s Christ” a jubilant Simeon exclaims, ““Lord, now you are letting your servant die in peace, according to your word;” (Luke 2:26, 29 ESV).

Paul downsizes Adam by explaining he, “was a type of the one who was to come”; (this is messianic deliverer language Mark 11:9 ESV; Luke 7:20 ESV; John 4:25 ESV).

A “type” is a mark made by striking or a mould in which something is shaped; so one commentator remarks, “Adam is like a wax impression in relation to the iron stamp who is Jesus Christ.” (Riches)

A contemporary translation says, “Now Adam is a symbol, a representation of Christ, who was yet to come.(Rom 5:14 NLT).

We must get the order right, Christ is not like Adam but Adam was a “pattern” or “model” of Jesus.

Much as a masterpiece is preceded by a series of rough sketches Adam was called to be what Christ would in fact become.

Adam must be understood only in terms of Christ, and his sin only in terms of the cross.

As Adam headed up a lost humanity, Christ heads up a new humanity whose blessings far exceed what was lost in the first Man.

Adam and Jesus are alike in that the action of each affected many; but whereas Adam brought sin through self-assertion Christ brought grace through self sacrifice. 

The dissimilarity is much greater than the similarity; the “free gift is not like” the sin says Paul (Rom 5 vs.15a).

Romans 5 vs.15 … For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for manyvs.16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. vs.17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

The “much more… by the grace of that one-man Jesus Christ(vs.15) means that in giving his own Son God has released a power much greater than the power of sin.

Adam and Christ are not on the same scale of comparison; Calvin boldly says, “the grace procured by Christ belongs to a greater number than the condemnation contracted by the first man”.

The evidence of God’s sentence of “condemnation” is death (Rom 5:16, 18 ESV); but the effect of God’s grace is life and justification, God the Judge has decreed that through faith we are righteous before him, “justified” in an undo-able way forever.

Death has been a totalitarian power reigning over all since Adam (vs.17), but God’s abundant justifying grace turns us lost sinners into kings who “reign in life” sharing in Christ’s resurrection power (cf. Phil 3:10 ESV).

The victorious life of Jesus begins to triumph over deadly powers from the moment we follow Christ and will come to its glorious conclusion when he raises us from the dead (John 5:27-29 ESV).

Romans 5 vs.18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. vs.19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

When Adam disobeyed God’s law all human beings fell into condemnation but when Jesus obeyed all his Father’s commands a gift of justification with God was opened up for all3)Matt 3:15 ESV; 1 Cor 1:30 ESV; Phil 2:8 ESV.

The “one act of righteousness” that achieved this was the death of Jesus.

Before Christ’s saving death the forces of sin, Satan and death tyrannised human existence – it’s simply “human” to fear sickness, ageing and mortality, but now Christ has triumphed over all.

Having been made righteous before God (Isa 53:11 ESV) in Christ have no reason to fear. 

Hallelujah.

Through Adam’s sin, humanity was made up of a single class of sinners, now through Jesus’ atoning sacrifice by faith we can receive the status of his perfect obedience. 4)Rom 1:17 ESV; Rom 3:10 ESV; Rom 5:7 ESV.

Romans 5 vs.20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, vs.21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

God didn’t give the Law of Moses to reduce sinning, the Law made sinning all the more obvious as wilful flagrant disobedience.

Paul isn’t working to make us feel bad about ourselves, he’s magnifying the triumph of grace, “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more”.

God’s loving grace super-abounded in the self-giving of the cross vastly overwhelming the temporal experience of physical death and giving eternal life to those who believe (Rom 6:23 ESV).

As grace reigns in us we become icons of God’s triumph in Christ. How the world needs Christians walking in victory today.

CONCLUSION

Foolish fallen humanity still believes that by our clever psychotherapies, self-help courses and anti-bullying programmes we can change not only human behaviour but human nature.

But our profound selfishness needs nothing less than an exchanged life (Gal 2:20 ESV), we need to be crucified, dead, buried, and raised again with Christ (Rom 6 ESV)Deep down lost people know that they need something beyond themselves, they need Jesus!

I was at a meeting the other day and Jade Lewis was out our table; Jade was a hard core drug addict who came to Christ, she now pastors a church and has set up a programme for women in prison to lift them out of their hopeless and lost condition.

Or take Peter Lyndon James who was a drug dealer who spent the first half of his life in correctional facilities but has now set up Shalom House, ministering to 100’s of men from broken backgrounds.

Jade and Peter are not perfect people but through Christ they walking in the guilt free zone of justification so that God speaks with power and authority through their lives.

You don’t need to be a reformed drug addict to “reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ(Rom 5:17 ESV).

You can reveal that Jesus is the innermost secret of every human life  by being part of a community whose members are not anxious in the face of sickness, ageing, financial poverty and death5)1 Cor 15:54-58 ESV; Heb 2:14-15 ESV.

The triumph of the life of Christ in us over the suffering Adam brought into the world brings the revelation of the deepest meaning of what it is to be human.

Such an understanding opens up future possibilities exciting beyond description.

Whatever elements of the Adamic tragedy that might confront us, unemployment, sickness, ageing, pain, death, relationship breakdown etc., each of us will be given many opportunities to live out and declare the grace of God in the victory of Christ.

Either the life of Adam will reign in you or the grace-filled life of Jesus will reign.

For Adam to reign you don’t have to do anything- just be your old self.  For Christ to triumph you need to exercise faith and ask in each and every circumstance of life, especially the hardest, that Jesus be your King.

Let us pray. 

MESSAGE DELIVERED: 9. September, 2018 Location: Unknown

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE
YouTube or PODCAST:

9. September, 2018.

References   [ + ]

1. Rom 5 ESV; 1 Cor 15:22, 45-49 ESV
2. Ps 51:5 ESV cf. Eph 2:3 ESV
3. Matt 3:15 ESV; 1 Cor 1:30 ESV; Phil 2:8 ESV
4. Rom 1:17 ESV; Rom 3:10 ESV; Rom 5:7 ESV
5. 1 Cor 15:54-58 ESV; Heb 2:14-15 ESV