Friday, April 30, 2010

Fesko's "Last Things First" 8

Thus far, Fesko has established that the first Adam, made in the image of God, was a prophet, priest, and king who was set in a primeval temple, Eden, which was the holy of holies in the cosmic tabernacle. This Adam existed in a covenantal relationship with God in which he was commanded to multiply, fill the earth, and extend his domain and rule all things with the help of his mate, the goal being that, as God’s vicegerent, he could extend Paradise and conquer the external chaos like God did in His creative work so that God’s presence and glory would extend to the ends of the earth. Upon fulfilling this dominion mandate, Adam would have, like God did, become indefectibly blessed and rested from his covenantal work; the Sabbath would have become a reality. Because Adam failed to follow the stipulations of the covenant, however, the curse of the covenant was placed on him: the image of God in mankind is thusly corrupted, we have become necessarily mortal, and we are in need of saving from God’s wrath. The subsequent covenants God made with men in the Old Testament each republish the covenant goals for the first Adam, yet they all display the impossibility for man to attain these goals. The law, God’s standard of righteousness has not been compromised. Hence, each of these covenants – especially the [Adamic] covenant of works itself – prefigure the coming Messiah who would be able to set His people right with God, as He would fulfill the requirements for them and the goals with them. It is to the antitypical life and work of this Messiah, the essence of the gospel, to which Fesko now turns.

The context surrounding Christ’s work is highly reminiscent of Genesis 1-3. Like Adam was: Jesus Christ is the image of God, to whom all men must now conform (Colossians 1:15, Romans 8:29); He is God’s Son; He is prophet, priest, and king (Hebrews 1:1-3, 7:23-25, 10:9-14); He was tempted with half-truths for 40 days by the devil (Luke 4:1-13), which some have suggested is meant to parallel the length of time Adam was in the garden before he succumbed to temptation. Unlike Adam: Jesus’ image was never corrupted; He never needed to be adopted by God; He was a perfect in His ability to keep His three-fold office; Adam’s surroundings during his probative period was bountiful whereas Jesus was tempted in wilderness where He fasted.

Moreover, Jesus was baptized prior to His temptation, which signals the beginning of the work of the mediator of a new, better covenant. Christ’s baptism and allusion to the Holy Spirit as a dove in Luke 4:22 should recall one to the hovering Holy Spirit during creation (Genesis 1:2) and subsequent aerial imagery during typological [re]creations (Genesis 8:11, Exodus 13:21-22, Deuteronomy 32:11). The deluge, which was an undoing of creation, enabled Noah and his family to be saved by water (1 Peter 3:20) as were Moses and the Israelites (1 Corinthians 10:1-2) – that is, by waters which could on the occasion of this destruction effect a completely new creation. Baptism puts to death the old by creating the new, which is seen too in soteriological terms as well (Colossians 2:11-15): being dead in sins, God puts to death the old man by the regenerative grace of the always present Holy Spirit, after which the elect individual is immediately raised with Christ unto faith and righteousness (cf. Romans 6:1-4, Galatians 3:27, Ephesians 2:1-6, 1 Peter 3:21-22). In the same way, Christ’s baptism anticipates that He will put to death the old, Adamic means of attaining righteousness, works, by the creation of new means, grace alone (Romans 8:32), which He will purchase for His people by obeying the covenantal stipulations by His own works.

After rebuffing Satan’s temptations, Christ was evidenced as qualified to begin his ministerial work. In consideration of this work, Fesko chooses to utilize Philippians 2:5-11 to clarify more protological connections to Christology. Philippians 2:5 reiterates a point already established: that the image in which man was created has been corrupted such that he must now become transformed to Christ’s in order to recapture the intimate fellowship with God he had in the garden. Why? Because Christ, who is in the image of God, did not, as the first Adam did, regard equality with God as a thing to be grasped (2:6, cf. Genesis 3:4-5); that is, even though the Son is co-equal with the Father (Isaiah 6:1-8, John 12:41), He did not seize upon this fact during His life on earth advantageously in order that we who need to be conformed to Christ’s image could have an appropriate pattern – as persons obviously not equal to God – to follow. Adam, who wasn’t equal to God whatsoever, did try to use his position greedily. Christ, the humble servant, obeyed the will of His Father even to His [necessary] death (2:7-8), which is a point Paul uses as a contextual argument for the privilege of suffering for God’s sake (1:29-30): because it is necessary for renewal of the mind. Because of this active and passive obedience, Christ secured all the conditions necessary for the fulfillment of the covenant of works and its application to us.

Romans 5:19 particularly expresses how those under the respective federal heads are either condemned or made righteous by one man’s work: imputation (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:22, 2 Corinthians 5:21). Christ’s life and death made possible a substitutionary atonement by having paid for the curse of the covenant and obeying its ordinances. Those who are under the Mosaic covenant (who are also under the Adamic covenant) are made clean by Christ’s death (Hebrews 9:15-22), as He who a part of the inauguration of the covenant must bear the antitypical curse of the covenant (Jeremiah 34:17-20, cf. Genesis 15:8-17, Exodus 24:3-8). Just as the Father would have had to bear the oath curse in the Abrahamic covenant if His promises to Abraham were in vain (Hebrews 6:13-19), so too either we must bear the penalty for having transgressed the law covenant – a penalty which we can never erase by works alone – or have Christ bear it for us (Matthew 26:28).

Christ’s capacity to do this for us is the realization of Adam’s and Eve’s coverings and why we shall not revert to nakedness in heaven: Christ’s righteousness clothes us. As high priest, Christ was able to enter the holy of holies by means of His bloody sacrifice and once and for all obtain the eternal redemption of God’s people (Hebrews 8-10:14), thus sending the cherubim who were set to guard the holy of holies after the transgression of the first covenant (Genesis 3:24, cf. 26:31-33) back to the throne of God (Matthew 27:51, Revelation 4:6-8) so that we may once more approach God. His death on the sixth day of the week functioned as the New Testament deluge such that He could pronounce the old covenant’s means of attaining the goal of God’s eternal covenant to be “finished” (John 19:30). He rested on the seventh day as did God (John 19:31, cf. Genesis 2:1-3), then rose on the first day of the week (John 20:1) in signification of the beginning of the new and final creation, which is why Paul associated it with baptism as has been noted. The elements of this new creation is that with which the next half of Fesko’s chapter is concerned.

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