We run our website the way we wished the whole internet worked: we provide high quality original content with no ads. We are funded solely by your direct support. Please consider supporting this project.

unity trees

The Destiny of God’s People

Jesus represents the realization of God’s glorious dream for humanity. In Christ, we see what we who are in Christ are destined to be. As a stick placed in a river is destined to be carried to whatever body of water the river runs to, so all who have allowed themselves to be drawn by the Spirit into Christ are destined to eventually look like Jesus (Rom. 8:28). When he appears at the end of the age, we shall see him as he truly is, John says, for we shall be like him (1 Jn. 3:2).

This is why the New Testament speaks of Christ as “the firstborn among many brothers and sisters”(Rom 8:29). A new family is being brought into being, and we shall all resemble Christ. This is also what Paul means when he refers to Jesus as “the first fruit” of those who now “sleep” (1 Cor. 15:20). The “first fruit” in ancient Israel referred to fruit that was picked before the rest of the crop. These early pickings were, among other things, considered the guarantee that God would be faithful in bringing forth the rest of the crop. Jesus is “the first fruit” of a coming harvest that will look the same as him. Jesus reveals ahead of time the harvest of the humanity that God has always been dreaming of.

Jesus was the Kingdom of God and why all who belong to the Kingdom by definition look like him. The entire creation project is centered on God’s dream of uniting himself with humanity as humanity co-rules with him on the earth. The whole creation is being steered toward a vision of a future in which everything will be harmoniously united under Christ, and thus become a dome in which God is King (Eph 1:9).

While individuals are free to align themselves with this divine vision or not, this glorious vision of humanity and creation becoming a radiant domain of God’s reign, dancing with and in the triune God, has been predestined from before the foundation of the world. It cannot fail to happen. And what we are now discovering is that Jesus incarnates this future in the present. He is the predestined man who embodies the predestined future (1 Pet 1:20).

Jesus manifests the future reign of God in the midst of the present reign of evil powers. He manifests the future union of God with humanity in the midst of a rebellious epoch in which God and humanity continue to be estranged from one another. He manifests humanity restored to their rightful place over the earth in the midst of a humanity that continues to be oppressed. He manifests humanity freed from sin and sickness in the midst of a humanity yet in bondage to sin and yet infected by the devil with sickness.

So too, in the midst of a world that continues to be defined by oppressive powers that incline us toward violence and hatred, Jesus reveals what humanity will look like when we’re exhaustively defined by God’s love. In the midst of a world where death continues to reign, Jesus’ resurrection reveals what humanity will be like when death has finally been overcome. In the midst of a world that continues to be oppressed by the ugly kingdom of Satan, Jesus reveals the beautiful Kingdom of God.

The sheer beauty of this coming kingdom, shining in the midst of the present ugly world, pulls people who are hungry for a different way of doing life into it. We might say it this way: Jesus creates a tribe of the future that God uses to move the oppressed world into its beautiful future.

Photo credit: h.koppdelaney via Visual Hunt / CC BY-ND

Related Reading

Podcast: What Did Jesus Say and Do During the 40 Days After His Resurrection?

Greg talks about Jesus’ strange post-resurrection life.  http://traffic.libsyn.com/askgregboyd/Episode_0439.mp3

The Starting Point for “Knowing God”

While it makes sense that Hellenistic philosophers embraced knowledge of God as the simple, necessary and immutable One in an attempt to explain the ever-changing, composite, contingent world (see post here for what this means), it is misguided for Christian theology to do so. By defining knowledge of God’s essence over-and-against creation, we are defining God’s essence…

What the New Testament Says about Annihilation

Yesterday, we posted a piece on annihilationism and how this view interprets passages that seem to point to eternal punishment in hell. (Click here for yesterday’s post.) Today’s post speaks to teaching in the New Testament that annihilationists say support this view: Consuming fire. John the Baptist proclaimed “every tree … that does not bear…

Are the Gospels Historical Fiction?

Some scholars today argue that the stories recorded in the Gospels are actually intentional fabrication. In essence, they argue that Mark took Paul’s theology and robed the story of Jesus in a fictitious historical narrative. The other Gospels followed suit. The argument is clever and removes the difficulty of explaining how a legend of a…

The Cruciform Trinity

As paradoxical as it sounds, if God is supremely revealed when he stoops to the infinite extremity of becoming his own antithesis on the cross, then we must conclude that stooping to this extremity out of love must, in some sense, be intrinsic to who God eternally is. And rendering this coherent necessitates that we…

Topics:

Quotes to Chew On: Prayer and Finitude

“We pray as we live: in a sea of ambiguity. This is not because we are fallen but because we are finite. And we are inclined to forget we are finite. We ignore the ambiguity that accompanies our finitude, and thus we claim to know what we can’t know. We reduce the unfathomable complexity of…