Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Hello TTP family!! All too soon we’re drawing the curtain on our Imago Dei series. For those of you who are just joining us, here’s a quick recap. In the first episode, Walking Talking Idols, we explored what it means for humanity to be made in the image of God. We demonstrated from scripture that at our core, humans were made to represent God in His creation. We are delegated rulers in God’s world. In the second installment, Rogue Images, we explored how humanity in a bid to be independent of God, lost our true essence and brought chaos and pain into God’s perfect world. In the third episode, Christ the perfect Image, we demonstrate from scripture the role of Jesus Christ as God’s perfect image and how He comes to restore humanity to our once glorious occupation as the image of God. For more details on the previous episodes, do well to follow the links above. In today’s episode, we look to explore the role of the Christian as God’s image in His kingdom plan for the ages. Join us on this journey in our final episode dubbed; New Images Awaiting New Creation.
In our previous episode we concluded that not only had Jesus come to model for us humans what it means to be made in the image of God, He also came to launch a new breed of humanity. He came to make us sons of God (John 1:12). And just as He fully represented the Father, we also have been invited into this new role. Jesus’ ministry however extended beyond creating a new breed of God images, He had come to restore the Kingdom of God. This was the heart of His message. In Mark 1:15 we read the core message of Jesus’ preaching;…“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
When Adam and Eve and in extension humanity rebelled against God, the effects of their rebellion not only affected humans but the entire created order as well. At the pronouncement of Judgement in Genesis 3, we see that the ground was cursed as a result of man’s rebellion. As such if there was ever going to be total redemption, the entire created order would need to be redeemed as well. And this is exactly what the prophets of Israel foresaw in the reign of the promised messiah. In Isaiah 11, the prophet begins his oracle by giving us some details about the messiah and the “Spirits” with which He will usher in the reign of God. Right after, the prophet gives us a glimpse of what the new creation will look like.
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze;
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra,
and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.
They shall not hurt or destroy
in all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD
as the waters cover the sea.
The new creation will be one of peace and harmony, civility and tranquility. No wars, no pain, and no hurt. And whereas the first images filled the first creation with the knowledge of good and evil, the new creation under the reign of Jesus shall be full of the knowledge of God as the waters cover the sea.
One may ask; how do Christians fit into all this? In 2 Corinthians 5:17 we read;
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
The language the apostle uses in this verse is quite telling. When a person surrenders their life to Jesus, he is not just an individual living by a moral code. He is a NEW CREATION. To Paul, when Christ rose from the dead and invited us into sonship, He was inaugurating the kingdom and the new creation. This new creation however takes an inverted order as compared to the first. In the first order of creation, the spheres of life and animals came first and then humanity, God’s image, appeared last as the crown of creation. In the new creation, the sons of God appear first. The believer in Christ is the first fruit of the new creation. We are living proof that the earth and all creation itself will be redeemed. In Romans chapter 8 when the apostle Paul encourages believers to live a victorious life led by the Holy Spirit in the midst of persecution and distress, he reminds us of what we have to look forward to.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
The entire created order waits with joyful expectation for the final chapter in our story. Paul calls that event the adoption of sons; where believers will assume our full stature as the glorified sons of God. For an in-depth study on the adoption you can follow this link to our post on the ADOPTION.
What then are we supposed to do as new images, as we await the consummation of all things in the New creation?
First, we are to yield to the Holy Spirit as He works in us to bring us to perfection. God through His Spirit is molding and preparing us to be worthy recipients of the new creation. We do this by transforming our minds with God’s word on a day to day basis (Romans 12:1-2). We are to live and walk as those whose citizenship is from heaven from where we await our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to himself (Philippians 3:20-21). This is what the Bible means when it says we are to walk in a manner worthy of our calling.
Secondly we are to be fruitful and multiply. Just as God gave this charge to Adam and Eve to multiply God’s image in them through procreation, we also have been given the charge to declare the good news of the Gospel to all and invite them into the glorious relationship of sonship in Jesus. We are to preach and disciple others to walk in a manner worthy of this glorious calling. And together, we are to fill the earth with the knowledge of God as the waters cover the seas.
As new images awaiting new creation, this is our calling. This is our mandate.
It is our prayer here at The Timothy project that as you read and re-read this entire series a new hope will be rekindled in your hearts. And that this hope will provide the impetus for us to live lives worthy of our role as God’s images and to also go out and invite others into this relationship as well.