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.
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.
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.
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:
Jesus Secured the Redemption of Our Bodies
Jesus also secured for us the redemption of our bodies by His Resurrection.
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.
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
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:
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.
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.