The Kingdom of God and Redemption

In the Old Testament, God was at work to show Israel the plight of man.  By sending the nation into exile in Babylon, the Lord taught His people that there was a greater exile at hand – the exile of all mankind from God’s Kingdom.  

Through His prophets, the Lord revealed to His people that though mankind was exiled from God’s Kingdom, His desire to be glorified by and to dwell with His people never changed.  In fact, He was at work executing His eternal Plan to redeem His people back into His Kingdom.

Despite having returned to their promised land, [the Jews] still conceived of themselves as in ‘exile’… Thus, Israel was in a posture of anticipation and longing; they were waiting for God to fulfill his promises to break into the world and redeem his people (for example, Is 49:6; 52:8; Zech 14:9; Amos 9:11-15)… Not only is this heightened expectation of a new redemptive kingdom evident in a number of Second Temple texts (Tob 14:4-7; Bar 3:6-8; 4:36-37; T. Mos. 10:1-10; 2 Macc 1:27-29, 2:18; Wis 3:7; 1QSb 5.23-29; 1QH 14.7-9), but a number of New Testament texts show these same expectations of a new kingdom – people were looking for the Messiah (Jn 1:41; 4:25) who would bring the ‘redemption of Jerusalem’ (Lk 2:38), ‘the consolation of Israel’ (Lk 2:25), and would ‘restore the kingdom to Israel’ (Acts 1:6).

Michael J. Kruger, The Question of Canon

If Adam and Eve’s rebellion corrupted us, both body and soul, then our redemption must involve redeeming us, both body and soul. Therefore, bringing man back into God’s Kingdom involves:

(1) God redeeming our hearts, enabling them to submit to His Kingly Rule; and (2) redeeming our bodies, enabling us to dwell in His Kingdom Realm

However, redemption doesn’t take place all at once.  First, God came to secure our redemption.  This happened in the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. That redemption is then applied to us at a later time over the period of an age. 


Redemption Secured

After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

Mark 1:14-15

Jesus’ message was one of excitement.  He victoriously proclaimed that the time of waiting is over.  In Him, the Kingdom has come, and He – the King – is coming as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (Jhn. 1:29).

In His earthly ministry, Jesus secured the redemption of our soul and body.


Jesus Secured the Redemption of Our Souls

Our souls are guilty of sinning.  Our thoughts have meditated on evil things, our affections have been aroused by sinful lusts, and our wills have hastened after that which God hates. 

Our righteous God will not let the guilty go unpunished (Ex. 34:7; Num. 14:18; Nah. 1:3).  To do so would be to forsake justice.  Therefore, our sins must be dealt with; they must be punished.  And if forgiveness is going to come to us then we need a Redeemer, One who will take our sin and endure God’s wrath in our stead.

This is exactly what the cross is all about.

And when you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, he made you alive with him and forgave us all our trespasses.  He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it away by nailing it to the cross.

Colossians 2:13-14

Jesus bore our sins on the cross (1 Pet. 2:24), and there the Father poured out His righteous anger on His Son, thus satisfying His wrath (Isa. 53:11).  This means that there is no wrath left for those whose sins were on the cross (Rom. 8:1)! 

 

However, this is not all there is to the redemption of our souls.  Taking away our guilt and shame is only half of it.  We also need what the Bible calls “righteousness.”  Righteousness comes from actively obeying God’s perfect Law.  The problem is that we have all broken it and continually break it (Rom. 3:10-12). 

 

But praise be to God Jesus secured for us righteousness as well as forgiveness of our sins!  He did so by living a life in perfect obedience to the Father:

 

He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

1 Peter 2:22-25

Jesus Secured the Redemption of Our Bodies


Jesus also secured for us the redemption of our bodies by His Resurrection.

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
For 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 know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Romans 6:4-11

Christ’s Resurrection was not merely bringing a body back to life; His Resurrection was bringing a mortal human body that had felt the effects of sin to a new kind of existence.

In the Resurrection of His human body, Jesus secured for us the Resurrection of our bodies (1 Cor. 15).  We will unpack this more in the next post.


Redemption Applied

Just because Christ secured the redemption of His people doesn’t mean we are born redeemed.  The Bible teaches that we are born in sin (Ps. 51:5).  The redemption that Jesus secured for us must be applied to us.

This is where the Holy Spirit comes in.


Regeneration – Applying Redemption to Our Souls

Jesus answered, “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again.  The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

John 3:5-8

When the Pharisee, Nicodemus, approached Jesus, he had no idea what he was getting himself into.  But we are all thankful that he approached Christ for the response Jesus gave to him is a clear teaching on the application of redemption.

 

Jesus said that in order to enter into the Kingdom, the “new birth” must take place.  We are all born in sin, “in Adam” (Rom. 5; 1 Cor. 15); however, we must be born again into a new humanity.  Jesus came as the “Second Adam” and established a new human line for us to be spiritually born into.  Those who are born again into this human line are now “in Christ” (1 Cor. 15:22).  Those who are “in Christ” experience all the blessings of Redemption! 

Therefore, the New Birth is very important! It happens, Jesus taught, as a result of God’s Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity.  The Bible is very clear that the Spirit and the Spirit alone is the Agent of bringing about the New Birth (Jhn. 6:63).  But what exactly is the New Birth or “regeneration”? 

My favorite description comes from the prophet Ezekiel:

 

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  I will place my Spirit within you and cause you to follow my statutes and carefully observe my ordinances.

Ezekiel 36:26-27

The Lord, through Ezekiel, is speaking of how His Spirit will be at work in the hearts of His people.

We were born with a heart of stone, a heart with sinful thoughts, affections, and choices.  Before we can do what Jesus commands we do (i.e. repent and believe the gospel, Mark 1:14-15), we need a new heart.

When the Holy Spirit gives us a new heart, we are – for the first time – able to understand the Gospel (1 Cor. 2:12), able to love Christ, and able to obey Him.  Only with a new heart can we repent of our sin and trust Christ.

 

So, the state of redeemed man in the age of redemption (the time between Christ’s first and second coming) can be illustrated as below.

In Regeneration, the Holy Spirit Gives us a New Heart

Therefore the relationship of redeemed man to the Kingdom of God is that we have a new heart by which we can submit to God’s Kingdom rein, and are awaiting a new body by which we will dwell in His Kingdom realm.

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