THE GRAND PURPOSE OF
THE ETERNAL SPIRIT (2)
BRINGING LIFE OUT OF DEATH
In our last study, we saw how that the salvation of men and women is not an end in itself, but is the means by which our Creator will further His Greater Purpose. Hence, we are “saved according to his own purpose and grace” (2 Tim. 1:9; Eph. 3:11)), to the end that we will “shew forth the virtues of him who hath called [us] out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Pet. 2:9). We are called to be “imitators of God” (Eph. 5:1) to display His glorious array of attributes, to the end that ultimately the earth will be filled with His Righteousness and Glory. In that day, “the meek” shall “inherit the earth” (Mat. 5:5), and “the righteous shall never be removed: but the wicked shall not inhabit the earth” (Prov. 10:30). Then, the earth shall fulfil it’s original purpose of being “inhabited” (Isa. 45:18), and “filled” (Num. 14:21) with a glorified people “world without end”.
When the first sinful pair fell from a position of favour and grace before the Elohim, it was the intent of Yahweh to provide a means by which, despite the failure of man, His Purpose could still be accomplished. That Purpose is developed out of the evil that had entered into the world, with the abolition of that evil being the end result. Whereas Eve was the first in transgression, it so pleased the Creator to raise up a victor out of the woman’s own descendants. So, He pronounced a curse upon the serpent:
“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15).
There are a number of important points that come out of this description, including:
- The promise was part of the condemnation of the serpent as the originator of sin..
- The promised victor would emerge from the now sinful woman’s own seed
- There is a Divinely placed enmity between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent.
- The Serpent would be fatally wounded in the head
- The Seed of the woman would be wounded in the heel.
The fact that the promise took the form of a condemnation of the serpent (and all that it represents), and not to the glory of man is very significant. True, the salvation of men and women is involved as part of the process, but the entire system of redemption was not for the glory and elevation of man. It was rather for the condemnation of sin at its source, and the consequent declaration of the Creator’s Righteousness. This reiterates what we have demonstrated above: the salvation of sinners was not the end in view, but was a means to achieving a greater purpose.
As we say, the victor was to be emerge out of the woman, who was now sinful. So it is written: “… But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Gal. 4:4-5). The deliverer was intended to come out from the woman by the process of childbearing, as it is written: “Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding, she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and love and holiness with self control” (1 Tim. 2:15). Salvation comes from childbearing, because it was through bearing a child that a deliverer would come.
Notice also, that the seed of the Woman was also to be the Son of the Deity. Such an one was to emerge as a member of the human race which was cursed by sin—but also be the Son of the Most High. In him, we have both elements coming together, summarised in the expression “God was manifest in the flesh” (1 Tim. 3:16). If the Lord permit, we shall return to this vital aspect in our future studies.
NOAH—A PREACHER OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
Following the transgression of the first sinful pair and their subsequent expulsion from the Edenic Paradise, time went on, and the Way of Yahweh became corrupted by their descendants (Gen. 6:12). Contrary to the Divine Purpose, the earth became populated not by faithful men and women, but unrepentant sinners: a race of beings who were dead in their trespasses and sins, and who disregarded the moral attributes of their Creator. But even out of this seemingly futile situation, there was hope. Yahweh purposed to bring good out of the evil, through the personage of a single man and his family: Noah. Through him, the world was going to be condemned, and the human race was going to perpetuated through the channel of his seed.
Whilst the world at large had corrupted itself, Noah was different: “… it repented Yahweh that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart … But Noah found grace in the eyes of Yahweh” (Gen. 6:6, 8). Again, it is written that Yahweh “spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly” (2 Pet. 2:5). Death and destruction was going to come upon the earth, yet one man and his family were to be survivors to perpetuate the human race after the waters of death had subsided.
The Apostle describes how that “God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is eight persons, were saved by water” (1 Pet. 3:20). Notice how that the waters brought death to the ungodly, yet salvation to Noah and his family: they “were saved by water”. That is, the waters lifted them up above the destruction and misery that was happening below them, that they might survive the flood and be brought through into a cleansed new world. In the case of Noah, then, we find life out of death: the survival of Noah’s family from the judgments of God, and the human race being perpetuated through his family. We observe the following points:
- The world at large perished by water
- But the same water that drowned the earth lifted the Ark up into safety (i.e. “saved by water”)
- Only Noah and his family were saved, after safely passing though the waters in the Ark
- The single family emerged out of the Ark to a new life, and a new start.
THE EXAMPLE OF ABRAHAM
Acts chapter 7 describes the defence of Stephen, stating how that “… The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran, And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew thee. Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans, and dwelt in Charran: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell. And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child” (Acts 7:2-5).
From this record, a number of points emerge, including:
- Abraham was called out from the then known world
- He was given the promise of inheritance
- He would inherit the land with his “seed”
- The Promise has not yet been fulfilled.
Abraham, as the “father of the faithful” responded to the promises in faith. He was “fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised” (Rom. 4:21), and so gave glory to God. But his faith, interestingly enough, was concerning life out of death:
“… being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief: but was strong in faith, giving glory to God” (Rom. 4:19-20).
His own body (and that of his wife), was dead in terms of it’s impotence to bring forth life. His faith was that out of their dead bodies, life would come, according to the promise of Yahweh. In this way, Isaac, his son, would be a child born out of death. He would be a child of promise (Rom. 9:8), but also representatively a child of the resurrection. This is so in two particulars: firstly emerging out of his parent’s deadness, and secondly being offered upon the Altar as a test of Abraham’s faith, who “accounted that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure” (Heb. 11:19). The example of Abram therefore, is that he was called out from a world of corruption, to bear life out of death, by which means the promise of God would be ultimately fulfilled in him. We also must share that same faith, for the fact of his being counted righteous through faith “was not written for his sake alone … But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead: who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification” (Rom. 4:23-25). Our faith then, is in life out of death, as exemplified in the life and faith of Abraham.
ISRAEL— A PATTERN REPEATED
We find that the same pattern is repeated in Abraham’s natural seed, the nation of Israel. So, Yahweh spoke by his servant, the prophet Hosea:
“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son” (Hos. 11:1).
And again, to the nation as a whole:
“has any God ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders and by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great deeds of terror, all of which Yahweh your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?” (Deut. 4:34)
Just as Abraham was called out of Ur of the Chaldees, so Israel were taken out of of Egypt, as a nation out of the midst of another nation. And the reason for this, was not simply to save Israel, it was to further the purpose of Yahweh with the nation: “This people have I formed for myself: they shall show forth my praise” (Isa. 43:12, see 1 Pet. 2:9). The formation and preservation of Israel is in order that Yahweh will be glorified through them. As the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: “… I am with you to save you, declares Yahweh: I will make an end of all the nations among whom I scattered you, but of you I will not make a full end …” (Jer. 30:11). The nations will be made a full end of, but not Israel: the remnant of Israel will be preserved, as it is written: “Israel is saved by Yahweh with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end” (Isa. 45:17). As we shall see in a later study, if Yahweh permits, if the nations are to be ultimately destroyed, and Israel only is to remain, then the only hope of salvation is to become joined to, and be part of Israel. That, is indeed what the Apostle referred to when he said, “for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain” (Acts 28:20). And significantly, for Israel to be saved, they need to be brought back out of the nations, into the land promised to the fathers of old, and be restored to their God.
THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
Interestingly, the citation from Hosea to do with Israel (referred above) is applied to Messiah in Matthew 2:15: “Out of Egypt have I called my Son”. The same pattern therefore, is applied to the Son of the Highest: he was called out from the world that he came into (Heb. 10:5, see Jno. 16:28)). Hence he declared “I am not of the world” (Jno. 17:14). Again, we read of Messiah’s position thus:
“… Jesus also suffered without the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come” (Heb. 13:12-14).
Jesus then, suffered outside of the established system of things, and we too must go out to bear his reproach “outside the camp”. Notice there, that the followers of Christ are to share the position of their Lord. This theme runs throughout the New Testament:
“If you were of the world, the world would love you as it’s own: but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you ….” (Jno. 15:19)
“ … God first visited the Gentiles, to take out from them a people for his Name” (Acts 15:14).
And again, in the passage from 1 Peter that we referred to earlier:
“you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that ye should show forth the virtues of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Pet. 2:9).
ABRAHAM, ISRAEL, AND THE BELIEVERS
Returning to the example of Abraham and Israel, we can begin to tie some of these threads together. The promises made to Abraham and his seed, comprised the Gospel: “the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith preached the Gospel beforehand to Abraham” (Gal. 3:8). Accordingly, the promises are made also to us who believe and obey the Gospel: “… if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:29). Again: “… he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Pet. 1:4).
We saw earlier the importance of Israel being called out from the nations, to become a separate people, and to be perpetuated “world without end” when the other nations are made a full end of. So Paul described his situation thus: “for the Hope of Israel I am bound with this chain” (Acts 28:20). The disciples asked their Master “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel” (Acts 1:6). And Jesus himself said, “Salvation is of the Jews” (Jno. 4:22). The believers therefore follow the same pattern as Abraham and Israel, of being called out to become a holy nation for Yahweh.
SALVATION OUT OF DEATH
We began by demonstrating that the purpose of Yahweh involved bringing good out of the evil that had entered into the world. We come now to consider the way in which the salvation for mortal death-stricken men and women involves bringing life out of death. Of Messiah it is written that:
“in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered” (Heb. 4:7-8).
Here, the text reads that Yahweh would “save him from death”, but it should more accurately be rendered “save him out of death”. The difference is this: if he was saved from death, he would not die—he would be spared death. But if he was saved out of death, then he did die, and was raised up out of the grave.
Here we have a fundamental principle that is often not perceived. The sentence of death has been passed upon sinners who inherit the condemnation of sinful flesh. The Lord Jesus Christ recognised that fact, and therefore voluntarily brought his own body into death, and destroyed sin by the sacrifice of himself (Heb. 2:14). Yet because he was morally without sin, he was raised out of the grave:- it could not hold him (Acts 2:24). Men and women are under an irrevocable sentence of death, and they must also recognise that fact, and demonstrate it by crucifying the flesh of sin with Jesus Christ:
“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptised into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?” (Rom. 6:3).
“… if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We now that the old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin be brought to nothing” (Rom. 6:5-6).
And again, the Apostle described his own position:
“I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:19-20).
The means of our salvation therefore, involves bringing good out of evil, life out of death. We are called out from the world at large, to be come a holy people to Yahweh—becoming joined to the Israel of God, that when the nations are made a full end of, we might be part of that “world without end” which will follow. The importance of Baptism is that in it we voluntarily demonstrate that we are rightly related to the grave, and also it demonstrates our willingness to accept and endorse the sentence of death that has been passed. In Baptism, we align ourselves with the death of Messiah, who was crucified as our representative, and “crucify the flesh” (Gal. 5:24), being “crucified with Christ (Gal. 2:19).” We are saved, not from death, but out of death. We put the old man of the flesh to death, and begin a new existence. The “righteousness of the law” is “fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit” (Rom. 8:4), in that we purposefully endorse it’s requirements though dying in baptism. Then, being raised after the pattern of Messiah, we shall be made incorruptible, and partakers of his Divine nature.