What is salvation?
In my first post in this series I proposed the below chart as a way of answering that important question. In this post I will comment on the seventh sector (7).
|Personal||Forgiveness of Sins and Relationship with God (1)||Moral (Inner and Outer) Transformation (2)||Resurrection of the Body (3)|
|Communal||One Body of Christ: One New Society (4)||Reconciliation and Social Transformation (5)||The Fullness of the Kingdom of God (6)|
|Cosmic||Resurrection and Exaltation of Jesus (7)||Redemptive Emergence of New Creation (8)||New Heaven and New Earth (9)|
Sector 7 identifies salvation as the beginning of the new creation in the new humanity of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus, resurrected from the dead and exalted to the right hand of the Father, is the fountainhead of new humanity. He is new humanity and thus the ground of new creation.
Jesus was not resuscitated from the dead, but transformed from an Adamic to a glorious humanity. Born within the Adamic world and thus bound over to death, he was raised from the dead to live in a new world. His resurrection is the beginning of the triumphant renewal of creation–it is new creation.
The body of Jesus, just as our bodies, is deeply entangled with the creation. Our bodies are from the dust of the earth. We, as flesh and bones, are part of the creation. We are the material imagers of God within the material creation. But within the present age–this present evil age, as Paul calls–our bodies are degenerating, declining and dying.
The resurrection of Jesus, however, is the reversal of this decay. It is a new creation through the transformation of that broken, dying body into a glorious body. It is not the creation of something new, however. Rather, it is the renewal of something old. Through the resurrection, the Father by the power of the Spirit made the body of Jesus new. It is regenerated, renewed and living–never to die again.
The resurrection of Jesus has injected a regenerating virus into the comos. The newness and glory of the resurrected body of Jesus is the beginning of the newness and glory of the new creation which will remake, renew and regenerate the cosmos itself. Jesus is “firstborn from the dead” not only in the sense that he is the first, but he is “firstborn” because he has the preeminence as the one who sustains, grounds and empowers the new creation itself.
Just as resurrection is new creation, so also the exaltation of Jesus to the right hand of the Father is the reign of Christ over the old creation until all things become new again. Jesus will reign until the last enemy–which is death–is destroyed, and the death Jesus will destroy is that power of death that reigns not only over humanity but over the creation itself.
The exaltation of Jesus is the assured word of God that death will be defeated, the creation will be redeemed, and humanity will be restored to its co-regency with God in the cosmos. Humanity will sit on the throne with Jesus to reign over the new creation as humanity, along with Jesus, shares in the materiality of that new creation with resurrected bodies.
Eden–with all the symbolism attached to that name–will be restored, but more than that….Eden will be glorified as new creation just as the body of Jesus was glorified.
The resurrection and exaltation of Jesus are the “already” of our “not yet” future and the future of the creation. God has accomplished redemption in Jesus. The act of God in Jesus, this eschatological act of resurrection within history, is the assurance of the future. And the Spirit of God bears witness to this assurance as the eschatological gift that is the presence of the future in our hearts.