Redemption Versus The Fall
The impact of Adam and Eve’s rebellion had universal consequences, bringing death, destruction and suffering to every aspect of life in this world—nothing was unaffected by the fall. Every part of man’s being was polluted and corrupted, though this doesn’t mean that all people are as depraved as they could possibly become or that they will follow after and commit every possible sin. God in His Sovereign goodness prevents this from happening so that life can be sustained and His work in the world can go forward. Nevertheless, Scripture tells us that not just mankind, but the whole of the created realm was affected by the fall and the effects of this are clearly visible both within us and around us (Gen.3:17-19; Rom.8:20-22). Rather than changing His purpose for creation or mankind’s role in it after the fall, God continued right on with the same plan (Gen.1:28; 8:17; 9:1,7; Ps.8; Heb.2:5-8). It is obvious that God has always been concerned about the whole of His creation. For example, God didn’t just protect people from destruction in the world-wide flood in Noah’s time, but animals too and His commands show His consideration for the whole of creation, including animals and vegetation (Gen.33:13,14; Deut.20:19; 22:6,7; 25:4; Prov.12:10). God doesn’t deal with mankind in isolation from the rest of creation—ever!
The Scope of Redemption
All that God created had one original purpose—to glorify Him and the reason why God continues to love our broken world is because His intentions for it have never changed. Reconciliation with God, through Christ, has never been restricted to only certain areas, but has always included the whole of life—all is to glorify Him, for this is why everything was created in the first place (Prov.16:4; Isa.43:7; Rom.11:36; Col.1:16; Heb.2:10). We are told that God so loved the world, that He sent His Son to pay the price of redemption for the whole world (John 3:16,17,19). The word ‘world’ in Scripture has a number of meanings and can refer to: people, the earth, that which is hostile to God, the universe (i.e., everything that has been created, as well as the ordered system existing within the universe), the sum total of something as well as life with its joys and sufferings. It is the context that enables us to determine how a word is being used in a particular verse.
God created a world with order and structure and He put humans in charge of it to govern it for His glory (Gen.1:26: 2:15,19). It was due to the then still future sacrifice of Christ that the world, together with mankind, were not destroyed when Adam and Eve rebelled (Gen.3:14,15). God’s plan was that Christ’s sacrifice would not only deal with the consequences of moral pollution in humans, but make possible the correct ordering of the whole of creation through His redeemed servants. It was the world and its whole system that God originally created for His glory (Col.1:16), and it is the world and its whole system that is expected to glorify God as a result of Christ’s completed work on Calvary. This is confirmed by the fact that Christ told His followers to make disciples of the nations and teach the nations everything He had commanded (Matt.28:19,20). While this includes individuals, its focus, however, is upon groups of people united by a bond and structure that makes them into an identifiable people group or nation. The structure includes everything that is necessary for making a nation a nation, i.e., family life, law, justice, courts, economic system, business, education, the arts, police, military, politics, etc—all of these aspects are to be included in the Great Discipling Commission given in Matthew 28 (c.f., Isa.2:1-3 where ‘peoples’ or ‘nations’ desire to learn the Lord’s ways). Christ is concerned with nothing less than the restoration of people within the whole ordered structure of their existence—He doesn’t redeem only some aspects within their existence or life. It is man within the whole created world structure that Christ came to redeem and restore, which includes every aspect of life that contributes towards shaping individuals into nations or people groups—i.e., the whole world is in view (John 1:29; 3:16,17; 4:42; 2 Cor.5:19; 1 John 4:14). An important meaning of the verbal form of the word ‘world’ is, “put in order or adorn” (Lk.11:25; Rev.21:2). God’s redeemed children are still expected to exercise authority, under God, over the whole of creation and to put it in order, i.e., rule it for His glory. It is God who applies Christ’s work of redemption to the elect, but it is also God who applies these benefits to creation in general and He does this when His servants live in faithful submission to His every word (Deut.28)—this is how they adorn the world. Sin and its effects in the rest of creation are eradicated by obedience to God’s every word—the obedience of Christ and of His redeemed servants, who walk in the power of the Spirit by His grace. Why then are we to instruct the nations to observe everything that Christ has commanded? Because God has given to Christ all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt.28:18-20) and a dominion and kingdom that all nations should serve Him by walking in His ways (Ps.2; Dan.7:14; Micah 4:2).
All things in this world belong to God’s children, i.e., Christians (1 Cor.3:21,22) and thus are to be used by them in a way that glorifies the Lord, who is the ultimate owner and ruler (Deut.10:14; Ps.22:28; 24:1; 50:12; Acts 17:26; 1 Cor.10:26). Everything that exists should manifest and exude godliness (2 Cor.2:14). If it doesn’t, it is because it’s not subject to the will of the Lord (Matt.4:4; Eph.1:22,23; 2 Cor.10:5). God’s goal is to bring everything into complete subjection to His word, for His glory—it was for this objective that Christ took upon Himself human flesh (John 1:14; 1 John 3:8). The only way any aspect of God’s creation glorifies Him, is when it functions or is used in the way He commands and sufficient instruction has been given so that we might know what does and what doesn’t glorify Him (2 Tim.3:16,17). The starting place for glorifying the Lord is redemption, and the only basis for redemption is Christ’s one sacrifice (Heb.10:12,13). The effects of Christ’s redemption reach as far as the effects of Adam’s rebellion (Rom.5:16,17)—this is a vital pillar in the Christian’s world and life view.
Adam’s rebellion affected everything in the world and thus Christ came into the world to deal with the effects of rebellion in every area. In principle, Christ’s work has destroyed the dominion of sin and rebellion in all of life, however, it is God’s plan to apply this victory gradually to all of life (Ex.23:29,30; Deut.7:22; Dan.2:31-35; Matt.13:31-33; Mk.4:26-29), through His redeemed servants when they live by every word from His mouth. Kingdom influence grows together with the sanctification (i.e., obedience) of Christ’s followers. As those who have been born from above apply God’s truth, in the power of the Spirit, to their own lives and all of life around themselves, God’s Kingdom advances and His name is glorified. God is glorified when His followers faithfully do all that He has said, in contrast to Adam who refused to live by God’s word in this world, but sought to live according to his own word and wisdom. Just as Adam’s rebellion affected all of life, so too, Christ’s obedience affects all of life, making possible the fulfilment of God’s original plan for His creation. This plan is to be carried out by God’s faithful servants living in total dependence upon and in complete submission to Christ. True faith is not demonstrated by our professions of love or professions of faithfulness (Prov.20:6), but by us obeying God’s every word as we serve Him in His world (Matt.4:4; John 14:15; 1 John 5:2,3). The single purpose behind God’s words is so that the whole of His creation will glorify Him (Rom.11:36)—which is achieved when every part functions in accordance with His revealed will for it (John 15:7-11; 1 Cor.10:31; 2 Tim.3:16,17; Heb.13:21).
Many other passages in Scripture also lead us to the conclusion that Christ’s redemptive work touches every aspect of life in this world rather than just people’s “souls”. While the redeemed continue to live in a world that is fallen, they are told not to succumb to the way the unredeemed think and behave (Rom.12:1,2), and the renewing of their minds includes reshaping the way they think about everything (2 Cor.10:4,5). In the light of verses that tell us how we ought to think about all things, when we are told that Christ is the ruler of the kings of the earth (Ps.2:10-12; 72:11; Prov.8:15,16; Dan.7:14; Rev.1:5; 11:15), what does this mean for rulers? How ought they to rule—according to their own whims or according to the wishes of the Creator, Redeemer and Lord? Christ addresses every area of life so that we can glorify Him in all areas (2 Tim.3:16,17), for example: we are told what responsibilities God has delegated to the state and what duties citizens have towards their leaders (Deut.4:8; 1 Kings 10:9; Ps.82:1-4; Jer.5:28; 22:3; Dan.4:27; Rom.13:1-4; 1 Tim.1:8-10; Titus 3:1; 1 Pet.2:13-17); we are told about our family and broader social responsibilities (Ps.82:3,4; 146:3; Prov.14:21; Isa.1:17; Micah 6:8; Zech.7:9,10; 8:16,17; Matt.5:13-16,43,44; 25:38-40; Lk.14:13; Rom.13:8; 15:26; 2 Cor.12:14; Gal.6:10; Eph.5:22-33; 6:1-9; Col.3:18-21; 1 Tim.5:8; 6:17,18); we are told about righteous economic/business dealings and the justness of individuals owning property (Ex.20:15; Lev.19:13-15,35,36; Deut.25:13-15; Prov.11:1; Isa.1:22; Ezk.22:12,13; Amos 8:4-6; Matt.20:15; Acts 5:4; 1 Tim.5:18), etc. Living in obedience to God’s word in all the different areas of life results in God’s blessings upon these areas, whereas disobedience results in further judgement upon these same areas (Deut.8 and 28). The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it and He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth, for all things were made through Him and for Him (Ps.24:1; 72:8; Col.1:16).
God’s opinion about His completed work of creation was, “indeed, it was very good” (Gen.1:31). This statement of extreme satisfaction applied to everything—the visible as well as the invisible aspects of His work (Col.1:16). A great obstacle in the thinking of many people arises from their misunderstanding about sin and thus they fail to distinguish between the evil that they see in the world and God’s original creation, which was very good. The mistake is that instead of seeing sin and corruption as something alien to God’s original work, they identify it with some aspect of His creation. Wrong thinking here, then affects the way these believers behave. When people equate some aspect of the created order with sin, they tend to think that that aspect of life is the source of sin. This false perception causes them to separate themselves and their Christian witness from that area or aspect of life. In doing this they believe they are separating themselves from sin. However, such behaviour breeds more sin and a greater manifestation of evil in that particular area from where the light and salt have been withdrawn.
When we identify something that is part of God’s original creation as the source of sin, rather than as something good that has been contaminated by the effects of sin, we will have a perverted view of the Kingdom and what our responsibilities are in the Kingdom. Sin flows from the human heart (Mk.7:18-23) and is a wilful act of rebellion against God’s law (1 John 3:4). The Westminster Shorter Catechism answers question 14 by saying, “Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God”. We are not polluted by something outside of ourselves, but when our heart desires to act in a way that is against God’s truth. Sin is exalting your own wishes and will by functioning within God’s creation according to your own wisdom, rather than in submission to God’s revelation. The consequences of refusing to live by every word from God’s mouth (Matt.4:4), will be corruption and evil dominating the different areas of life. God created each area of life to function in an ordered way that brings blessings upon His servants and glory to His name. When people refuse to bow to God’s revelation with respect to how a particular area of life should function, corruption will prevail. It is madness for people to then look at the corruption in a particular area and say that aspect of God’s creation is the source of evil and so we must withdraw ourselves and our influence from that area of life if we want to be holy unto the Lord. Yet this is what many who call on the Lord’s name have been doing and continue to do. For example, they say, “As Christians we mustn’t be involved in politics, because politics is so corrupt”. Yet politics is one of the areas of government that has been ordained by God (Rom.13:1) and thus ought to glorify Him. The corruption that is so prevalent in politics today is as a result of man’s wilful rebellion against doing what God has revealed about that area. The situation is made worse when the light of God’s truth is withdrawn even more from that realm in the name of “spirituality” or “holy living”. Not only do you have Christians refusing to get personally involved in the political realm, but they also refuse to even shine light into that realm.Holiness is not separating ourselves from life in this world, but separating ourselves from sin and sin is any action that is not in submission to God’s word—this means we are expected to do everything in the way God has said. Remember, God has spoken about all of life so that we might do good works for His glory in every area of life (2 Tim.3:16,17, see article Kingdom Living and God’s Law). To turn this on its head and deny that God has spoken about all of life and insist that holiness means separating ourselves from some aspect of God’s original creation, is to take sides with the devil. To refuse to be involved with Christ in the work of re-creation, is to oppose His purposes in this world—which is rebellion and rebellion is no different to witchcraft or the occult (1 Sam.15:23). Christ did not come to remove people from the created world, but to deliver them from sin so that they could glorify Him in this world by obediently labouring with Him for the re-creation of all things. Christ’s atonement frees us from the bondage of sin so that we can do His will in this world, for His glory (John 8:31,32; Rom.8:21; Jam.1:25). Christ became flesh so that He could redeem the whole of our being in order for us to be able to faithfully serve Him in the whole of His creation—for the whole of His creation is meant to glorify Him. Our call to rule under God cannot be separated from the responsibility to work for the advancing of life in this world. Such work is used by the Lord to prepare His children for eternity and is integral to what it means to be holy in all manner of our conduct (1 Pet.1:13-15).
Sin (which is an act of wilful rebellion against God’s law), is an intrusion into and not a part of God’s original creation order. If we don’t keep a clear distinction between God’s good, original creation and sin (the alien that has intruded into and perverted God’s good creation), then we will relinquish God’s creation to the devil (by withdrawing our influence from certain or all areas of life) and refuse to be involved with Christ in His work of re-creation. The purpose of Christ’s coming was to deal with this alien so that Christ’s name might be glorified in the whole world and He is glorified when His will is done in all areas of life (Matt.6:10; 28:19,20).
Christ calls us to be involved in His work, but sin directs man to focus upon work that is defined by man’s own word (Gen.3:5,6). Many Christians have been deceived into believing that it is sinful to be involved in re-creation because they think holiness means separating oneself from the contamination in this world by separating from many of the affairs of life. “Holiness”, according to this wrong thinking, is striving to have as little as possible to do with certain structures and functions in this world. However, it is sin and not any aspect of God’s creation order that is bad. Adam and Eve introduced sin into the human race when they refused to function within God’s creation in accordance with His revelation. They didn’t regard creation as something made to glorify God alone—by every aspect of life functioning in obedience to His will. They felt they had just as much right as God had to determine how things should be ordered in the world and so they decided to operate in accordance with their wisdom and for their own exaltation. The result of this was corruption and bondage bursting forth in all of life. Nothing about God and His purposes have changed since then—all of life is still meant to glorify Him and this still requires that His servants obediently do all things in this world in submission to His revelation, for this alone is the source of blessing and liberty (Ps.19:10,11; 106:3; 119:2,3). The Scriptures tell us that liberty is being conformed into the image of Christ (2 Cor.3:17,18). To be like Christ means doing everything in obedience to God’s revelation (John 5:19,30; 6:38; 8:28; 12:49; 14:10,24; 2 Cor.4:6; Col.3:10). Corruption is a result of sin and sin is any act of rebellion against the law-word of God. Rebellion is living in this world, in any area of life, according to principles other than God’s clear and specific instructions.
We must not think God’s purpose for creating changed when sin entered His creation. Mankind’s authority over all things (though under God) was not cancelled after the fall (Gen.1:26-28; 9:1-3). The clear testimony of Scripture shows that those who obey the Lord are blessed and those who rebel against His ways are cursed. Every aspect of this world was created for man’s benefit and for God’s glory, thus we must never separate our glorifying the Lord from the whole of creation glorifying Him. This means we must not restrict Kingdom work to only isolated aspects of life and think God is truly glorified if we just focus all our attention upon these. The reason God created people in His own image (distinguishing them from the rest of His creation) was so that they would have the ability to fulfil their responsibility to rule, as God’s vice-regents, over every part of creation. We are not only to live in submission to the Lord in every area of our own personal lives, but we have a responsibility to bring every area of life into submission to the Lord’s will, for this is what glorifies Him. Adam and Eve were created as mature adults and capable of exercising God-glorifying dominion over the whole earth. This means that mankind, from the beginning, had the capacity and knowledge, under God, to make every aspect of life and culture reflect God’s wisdom and receive His blessing. Primitiveness, on the other hand, is a consequence of sin and rebellion against God—it is a consequence of God’s curse. Every people-group descends directly from Noah, a preacher of righteousness (2 Pet.2:5) It is from wilfully suppressing the truth in unrighteousness that people-groups end up living in darkness and oppression. It is/was their refusal to glorify the Lord by the way they live on the earth that makes them reap the consequences of rebellion in their personal, cultural and national lives—they knew the truth and rebelled against it, choosing rather to live according to human wisdom in all the different aspects of life. Our evangelism, missions and acts of mercy must acknowledge that different societies are in various stages of coming out of or going back into primitiveness due to either their obedience to or wilful rebellion against the Creator and Lord of the universe (Deut.28).
Making things new
The words in the Scriptures that talk about the free gift of salvation found in Christ, all have the sense of restoring and renovating. The heart of the Gospel is repentance (Lk.24:47), which means a comprehensive change in one’s mind, motives and behaviour, in every area. The Hebrew word for repentance means ‘return’. The emphasis is upon being made new, or renewed, thus, Jesus talked with Nicodemus about being born again (John 3:3-5); the prophets about having a new heart (Ezk.36:26); Paul about having a renewed mind (Rom.12:2) and being made alive (1 Cor.15:22). All of these emphasise a regaining of health and returning to vitality. Hebrews tells us that Christ’s coming will be a time of reformation (Heb.9:8-10). On the word ‘reformation’ in vs. 10, B.F. Westcott said, “The word is not found elsewhere in biblical Greek. It is used in late Greek writers for the reformation of laws, institutions, states [emphasis added]… Under different aspects this ‘reformation’ is spoken of as a ‘restitution’ (Acts 3:21)…. and a ‘regeneration’ (Matt.19:28).”1 Only by suppressing the truth is it possible to restrict this ‘restoration’ to the hearts or souls of individuals (whatever that means). There will be no end to the increase of Christ ordering His governmental rule over all things and His zeal assures the victory (Isa.9:7).
Why do so many people accept that the fall had consequences for all of life, however, reject the possibility that man’s redemption from the bondage of sin touches all of life? I believe it was Jay Adams who asked whether we thought the effects of Adam’s disobedience were more comprehensive than the effects of Christ’s prefect obedience and sacrifice? How can the first Adam’s rebellion be more powerful than the last Adam’s obedience? (Rom.5:14,15; 1 Cor.15:45-49). In other words, when placed opposite one another, how can the rebellion of a man have greater influence than the obedience of the God-Man? There is no Biblical basis for limiting the second Adam’s work of restoration to only some areas of life in this world, but claim that the first Adam’s sin impacted every area! God created all that exists for the sole purpose of glorifying Himself. The whole reason Christ came to earth, took upon Himself human flesh (John 1:14) and died for the whole world (John 3:16), was to “make new again”, that is, restore the whole world to health and wholeness. Jesus said He came so that we might have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10).
Those who say Christ does not want to renew all things, have to tell us which areas of life in this world He does not want to renew. Where is the justification for claiming that some aspects within Christ’s creation shouldn’t bring glory to Him and that He has therefore cut them off from His renewing power? Was the death of God’s Son only able to redeem some parts of God’s creation and structure? If so, what is it going to cost Him to redeem all of life? When the pollution of sin touched all things because of Adam’s sin, did God then give up, as a lost cause, the most fundamental reason for His creative work—that all things glorify Him? No, He immediately implemented His eternal plan of sending His Son into the world to bring about the reconciliation of all things (2 Cor.5:18,19). It was right after the fall that we learn of the promised Seed who would crush the head (authority and dominion) of the evil one (Gen.3:15). The truth is, because of what Christ has already accomplished, He expects everything in all of creation to be salvaged, redeemed, restored and renovated by His power and for His glory. We are told that those who receive abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness, will reign in life through Christ (Rom.5:17). The extent of God’s reconciliation in Christ is with “all things” (Col.1:19,20) and Christ completed the work His Father sent Him to do and that is why He said, as He died, “It is finished” (John 19:30).
The Victorious Messiah
The advancing of the Kingdom in this world has nothing to do with man’s ability or power and everything to do with the Messiah’s righteousness and power. Psalm 1 is an introduction to the whole book of Psalms and it contrasts the blessing of the righteous with the utter destruction and blowing away of the wicked. Psalm 2 then shows this contrast much more distinctly and reveals who the source is of both the blessing and cursing. It is the Anointed One, the Christ! Psalm 2 was universally regarded by the ancient Jews as foretelling the Messiah’s work. In Acts 4:25,26 the whole company of apostles quote from the first 2 verses of this Psalm and apply them to Jesus, believing this to be a direct prediction of Him. Paul in Acts 13:33 and the writer to the Hebrews (1:5; 5:5) used this Psalm to prove that Jesus was the Messiah, saying this is the Christ whom we preach to you—He is the nation conquering King!
Psalm 110 talks about an illustrious King who is exalted to sit on the throne with God and who reigns over all His enemies and puts down all their resistance. Jesus took it for granted that Psalm 110 referred to the Messiah and the Pharisees didn’t challenge His interpretation (c.f., Matt.22:41-46). The New Testament quotes from this Psalm more than from any other passage in the Older Testament. It is said that the Christian writers, in the 1st Century after Christ, also quoted from this Psalm more than any other passage. J.A. Alexander says, Psalm 110 is the counterpart to Psalm 2 and completes the prophetic picture of the conquering Messiah.2 The Psalm begins with the Kingship of the Messiah, but the heart and focus is found in vs.4, showing that His Priesthood is inseparable from His Kingship. Melchizedek is the great prophetic character that is both king and priest at the same time—Sacrificial Lamb and Reigning King (people usually can’t include both in their thinking). The prophet Zechariah says that the Messiah “shall be a priest on his throne” (Zech.6:13). The Messiah is clearly both King and High Priest on one and the same throne—His atonement and rule are inseparable. If He makes atonement, then He also rules! To deny one is to cancel the other.
Daniel, in a vision, actually foresaw Christ’s enthronement as the promised King (Dan.7:13,14). What Daniel saw was not a vision of the second coming, for Christ was seen going up to the Ancient of Days, not coming from Him. This is a prediction by Daniel of the climax of the first advent, in which, after atoning for sins and defeating death and Satan, the Lord ascended on the clouds of heaven to be seated on His glorious throne at His Father’s right hand. This was a prophecy teaching that at Christ’s ascension He would be exalted to the place of supreme power—Christ is reigning now!
Peter in Acts 2 says Christ is already at the right hand of God’s power. He has already attained this supreme position. Peter then tells us through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that Pentecost was God’s sign or proof that Christ has all power now. In Acts 2:33 Peter says, “Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God…. He poured out this which you now see and hear”. Peter says that Christ is Lord of Lords and King of kings now, that He is on the throne already, that He is at the place of supreme authority and power in the universe from where He already rules, and that the proof for all of this, is Pentecost. Christ is reigning over everything now. His rule and His Kingdom are sovereign. Satan is still alive, but he is not well. This is what the Scriptures clearly tell us.
Destroying Satan’s Kingdom
From the very beginning of His ministry Christ set about destroying Satan’s kingdom and building His Kingdom on its ruins. Satan had tried to destroy Christ as a child (Matt.2:13) and he had tried to overthrow Him through the temptations in the wilderness (Matt.4:1-11), but he had failed every time. At the beginning of Christ’s ministry He began plundering Satan’s kingdom and even Christ’s disciples were trampling upon the powers of darkness. In Lk.10:17 the ‘seventy’ said to Jesus, “Even the demons are subject to us in Your name”. Jesus explained that Satan’s power, kingdom and ascendancy had been broken—there was a new Master on the block. He also said that there had been a dramatic fall in the power of Satan—like a flash of lightening—such was his rapid decline. Satan’s kingdom had been served a fatal blow by the incarnation, unsuccessful temptations and exorcising power of Christ.3 When Jesus was plundering Satan’s kingdom, He explained to His audience that He was able to do this because the Kingdom of God had come upon them. He went on to tell them that it would be impossible for Him to do this if He had not already bound the strong man—Satan (Matt.12:29). Satan’s dominance has been destroyed. Not his influence, but his dominance. Jesus said in John 12:31, “Now is the judgement of this rebellious world order. Now the prince of the sinful world will be cast out.” Paul used military imagery to explain this in Col.2:15, saying, “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it”. Heb.2:14 teaches that through Christ’s bursting the bonds of death, Satan was rendered powerless. In 1 John 3:8 we are told that “the Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the Devil”. Gen.3:15 prophesied that the Messiah would be wounded, however, this wound would be from a battle in which He crushed the serpent’s head. This happened at Calvary. Satan’s most powerful weapon (death) was used by Christ as an instrument to destroy Satan and his dominion. Satan has already been judged (John 16:11) and believers are reminded that Christ who dwells in them is far greater than the devil (1 John 4:4), thus they must expect Satan to be bruised under their feet (Rom.16:20) and that he will flee from them when they resist him (James 4:7). Christ said that the gates (i.e., the authority and power) of hell would not be able to hold back the victorious onslaught of Christ’s church (Matt.16:18)—this is reality whether Satan likes it or not. The just must live by faith, faithfully serving the King in accordance with this reality by exposing and pushing back the works of darkness wherever they are found (Prov.28:4; Mk.6:17,18; Lk.3:19; Eph.5:11).
It is wrong to underestimate the universal impact that sin had upon all of life, but it is even worse to underestimate the universal impact that Christ’s redemption has upon all of life. The extent of redemption is as wide as the extent of the fall. As the great hymn writer Isaac Watts expressed in his hymn, Joy to the World: “He comes to make His blessings flow, far as the curse is found”. The effects of the fall, in every aspect of reality, have in principle, been dealt with by the death and resurrection of Christ. Legally, there is nothing more to do to break the grasp sin had upon all things—Christ has fully accomplished everything that was required to break its dominion in every area of life.
It was through one man’s disobedience that sin entered into the whole world and contaminated every aspect of it. This rebellion against God is continued by every sinner. Satan seeks to rule through those who serve him and therefore he is called “the god of this world” (i.e., he is the ruler (god) of all those who are living in rebellion against the true God). Remember, anyone who is not self-consciously serving Christ, is serving Satan—nothing remains undisputed because there is no such thing as neutrality in any area of life (see the article The Myth of Neutrality). The Scriptures tell us, however, that through one Man’s obedience (Christ’s), righteousness has been re-established in the world (Rom.5:19). Christ’s reign, though, is manifested through the lives of His faithful servants. As the fruit of sin is advanced through the efforts of Satan’s servants, so too, the fruit of righteousness is advanced through the efforts of Christ’s servants. How do we know whom someone is serving? They are serving whomever they are obeying (Rom.6:13,16; 2 Pet.2:19). Christ has shown us what good works are in every area of life (2 Tim.3:16,17). The devil’s servants oppose Christ’s instructions in all these areas, living by and promoting whatever word is contrary to God’s word. As sinners seek to pervert and destroy all things, so God’s children work for the restoration of all things—this is the great distinction between the Kingdom of life and the kingdom of death. Christ came to restore abundant life (John 10:10). Christ is the King and His Kingdom refers to Him exercising His rule over everything in His Kingdom (it all belongs to Him, Ex.19:5; Deut.10:14; Ps.24:1; 1 Cor.10:26). Those who deny Christ’s rule in some area of life are no different to the servants in Christ’s parable who said, “We will not have this man to reign over us” (Lk.19:14).
The whole conflict that exists in history has to do with the creature resisting God’s purposes for His creation—people want to run the affairs of this world according to their principles, not God’s. The reason the Father sent Christ to die for the sins of the world, was so that the whole of creation would glorify Him. When a child of God refuses to bring God’s light and truth to bear upon some aspect of life in God’s creation, whose glory are they seeking? Is God glorified by darkness and the reign of evil, or by the bringing in of light, liberty and life where there was darkness, bondage and death? (Matt.4:16; 5:13-16; Lk.1:77-79; 4:18,19; Acts 26:18; Eph.5:11,13). The all-inclusive fall (touching every aspect of life) has been surmounted by the completed work of Christ (Rom.5:15-21), the giver of life (1 Cor.15:45). As well as making atonement, Christ poured out an abundance of the Holy Spirit upon His church so that His redeemed servants can be co-labourers with Him in the work of bringing every aspect of life into submission to Him (Matt.28:18-20; Lk.24:46-49; Acts 1:8). We overcome the rebellion in the world by our faith (1 John 5:3-5)—faith that Christ’s work of redemption applies to all of life, and faith to live by His word alone in every area of life, not fearing those who hate and oppose the light (Rev.12:11).
It is a sign of faithlessness when those who call on the name of the Lord continue to act as though the effects of the fall are greater than the effects of Christ’s Redemption and thus do not press the crown rights of King Jesus into every area of life. “For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ” (Rom.5:17). The victory is Christ’s, both in time and eternity. Christ’s obedience is more powerful than Adam’s disobedience. Redemption trumps the fall, not only in eternity, but in history too.
1. Westcott, B.F. The Epistle to the Hebrews, Macmillan and Co, London, 1920, pg.256
2. Alexander, J.A. Commentary on Psalms, Kregel Publications, Michigan, 1991, pg.464.
3. Bahnsen, Greg. The Journal of Christian Reconstruction, 1:2, 1974, pg.35.