Christ's Work of Redemption
We thank God that the Biblical story did not end in the fall of man. The Scripture went on to unfold the mystery of God's redemption plan which was first hinted in Genesis 3:15.
In His appointed time, God has reversed the Fall's effect and started to re-create a new humanity who truly reflects His divine image. That time has come when God sent His own Son Jesus Christ to the world to redeem man from sin, and the whole cosmos from its curse, by His life and death and subsequent resurrection.
The Biblical writers identify Jesus Christ as the image of God (2 Cor. 4:4). “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Heb 1:3). He is full of glory, grace, and truth from God (John 1:14-18). He speaks the Word of God that sanctifies those who are His (John 17:17).
Therefore if we were to truly understand God's blueprint of holiness, Christ is the perfect image. And to be genuinely holy is to conform to the likeness of Christ.
Jesus came to the world as the Second Adam (1 Cor .15:45-49) to reclaim by His life and death what the first Adam has lost in his sin and disobedience (Rom 5.12-21).
So one way of viewing Christ's redemptive act is to look at it as a recovery or restoration, even perfection, of the image of God in man. In Christ alone, through union with Him, can man truly reflect the image of God. This is so because Christ Himself is the image of the invisible God. Christ brought back personal order and integrity to man as He unites Himself with the redeemed man through faith.
In redemption, the three areas of man's relationship have been restored in Christ. First, Christ restored man to a harmonious relationship with God (Rom. 5:1-12). The enmity between God and man was replaced by peace and reconciliation by the shed blood of Christ. Instead of guilt and condemnation, by faith man is now justified before God (Rom. 5:1; 8:1).
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself....” (2 Cor 5:17-18). In Christ, redeemed humanity can truly love God again (1 John 4:19).
To live by faith in Christ means to live in complete obedience to God and in utter dependence to Him alone for everything, even our salvation.
Through our union with Christ, order was restored and holiness was given to us. In Christ, and by the work of His Spirit, we can commune with God again through worship, reading the Scripture, listening to His Word preached, the sacraments, prayer, and fasting.
Second, our relationship with each other was also healed. We learn to forgive others as God forgave us in Christ. We treat other believers as brothers and sister and we love them with the love the Lord has shown to us.
Even our relationship with unbelievers must be characterized with respect for they too are God's image-bearer. We share to them the love of Christ in word and in deed. We learn to love our fellowmen as our expression of gratitude to God's love in Christ. We learn to bless those who persecute us (Rom 12.14-21).
Third, our relationship with creation was also restored as we work and enjoy the benefits of responsible cultivation and preservation of the created order.
Even in the face of hardship and pain in our daily toil, we endure. We overcome sloth and laziness by getting our hands dirty and our clothes soaked with sweat. We participate in building a just and orderly society as we live in peace and obedience to the civil law, respecting and praying for those in authority (1 Pet 2:13-17).
However, in spite of the new life we have now in Christ, we continue to struggle against the remaining effects of sin and temptation. As we pursue holiness by the power of God, we are also constantly battling against the three potent enemies of our soul, that is, the world, the flesh and the devil.
Repentance, then, must characterize our life in Christ as we put off the works of the old nature and put on the new self. As Calvin puts it, our repentance as a ‘rule for holy living’ consists of “three continuous exercises: self-denial, the mortification of the flesh, and meditating upon the heavenly life” (Ronald Wallace, Calvin's Doctrine of the Christian Life, p. 94).
These three disciplines identified by Calvin that constitute “a rule for holy living” are important practices in fostering a healthy personal and corporate piety.
Posted with permission from Ptr Vic Bernales, Pastor, Davao Covenant Reformed Church
Original from a Facebook post here.