Jesus, the 2nd Adam (an older sermon)

July 5, 2008

(originally delivered to WDA campus ministry at the University of Georgia)

“Lucky mud?” Is that all we are? Many of you, as college student, have likely encountered the innumerable unbiblical opinions expressed concerning who we are and what we are doing here. Richard Pratt, in his book Designed for Dignity tells the true story of a young woman who had left her husband and two children for another lover. The lover had recently thrown her out of his place, so alone in a hotel room, despairing the events that had led her to where she now was, she shot herself in the head with a .38 caliber pistol. The note she left on the nightstand simply stated, “Don’t cry for me – I’m not even human anymore. Ironically, just two floors down in that very hotel was a New Age convention. The gunshot couldn’t even be heard above the din of the crowd, who were all chanting, “I am God! …I am God! …I am God!

Sometimes we hear such rhetoric from the very same individual, such as when a non-Christian professor pokes fun of traditional religion and proclaims us masters of our own fate, yet at the same time believes that we are no more than the product of chance and law, so called “lucky mud.”

Even as Christians many of us have accepted the subtle lies of the culture around us, rather than the words of the very God who created us. We believe that we are entirely sovereign over our own destiny. We believe that work is merely a chore to be put up with and is only for the sake of sustenance. We believe that sensuality is the end all of everything, and that a marriage relationship that doesn’t bring us happiness is one to be abandoned, for surely our own happiness is God’s highest priority. In some cases, Christians even believe that we can abandon the Biblical story of Adam and Eve altogether, the very story that serves as a corrective of the many things we tempted to believe concerning who we are and what we are here for, and on which Christ’s very work as our redeemer, the second Adam, stands.

I. THE CREATION OF MAN

Genesis 1:26-30

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground–everything that has the breath of life in it–I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

Genesis 2:8-17

Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground–trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.) The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Asshur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”

Central to the whole of Scripture is the idea that human-kind is in some sense “the image of God.” Some speculate that our image-of-God-ness is that as God is three in one, so are we. As God is Father, we have our soul or mind, which is the basis of our intellect, will, feelings and identity. As God is Son, in Jesus Christ, we have a physical body. As God is Spirit, so also we have a spirit, although it is by nature dead because our sin and is cut off from God. As there are three persons making up the one revealed God of the Bible, so also we are three in one as well, and without any one of the three, we cease to be essentially who we are as a human. But more importantly, we are God’s vice-regents, or representatives here on Earth.

Richard Pratt, again in Designed for Dignity, goes into great detail on how the idea of an “image” was understood in ancient thought. In Biblical times Kings marked their territory with images of themselves, often made of precious metals or stone, but sometimes merely clay. By placing these images in important intersections and other high traffic areas they served as a reminder of whose land you were tending, and who you served. In this same sense, God has created US as his images; it should humble us that we are ALL descendants of a man made from dirt, and as any clay image, are in some sense replaceable. However, we should feel great dignity in the fact that it is no mere King we represent, but rather, the one true God – sovereign over the entire Universe. This is why what you do, even to the least, you do unto God — defacing the image of a king is an action against the king himself. There is humility and great dignity in being made in the image of God.

Building on their role as His image on earth, he commands Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it”. This is sometimes translated, “multiply and have dominion.” Understood correctly as Kingdom imagery, this is God’s way of saying, “spread my Kingdom.” We tend to want to think of “be fruitful and multiply” as a command meant only for Adam and Eve ensure our propagation and survival, however the terms “be fruitful, multiply and have dominion” reappear in one form or another at least 17 times in the Old Testament right up through the book of Jeremiah. God tells Adam to multiply and have dominion. God tells Noah to multiply and have dominion. God tells Abraham that he will MAKE him very fruitful. God tells Jacob through Isaac to multiply and have dominion.

A particularly relevant passage to this discussion, however, is Jeremiah 23:1-6;

Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the LORD. Therefore this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people: “Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done,” declares the LORD. “I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number. I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the LORD. “The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness.

Here is prophecy concerning the ushering in of the Kingdom of God by the coming Messiah. Notice what happens as a result of this coming kingdom; the remnant will be fruitful and increase in number – essentially, they multiply and have dominion. The Messiah will begin a movement of God’s people that will further God’s kingdom – His image will be multiplied, and His rule will extend as well.

Before we go too far, however, let’s return to the Garden and continue with Adam and Eve.

II. THE FALL

According to the opening chapters of Genesis, when God made Adam and Eve as His images on Earth, He gave them the maximum freedom, authority, and dominion possible. They were, in a sense, to rule Earth for God. The only restriction they were given was that they were not to eat the fruit of one tree; the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Many have speculated about what kind of fruit it was that they ate, but it is just that — speculation. The important thing is this; God placed this restraint upon them to remind them that in spite of their great freedom, they were nevertheless God’s – it was to remind them that they were not God, but were responsible to him.

Genesis 3:1-7;

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, `You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, `You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'” “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

The temptation of Satan was 1.) To doubt God’s goodness and therefore his word “did God REALLY say?”, and 2.) To be like God)

James Montgomery Boice in his Foundations of the Christian Faith said the following;

“Adam and Eve did eat of the forbidden tree, and they did die. Their spirits, that part of them that had communion with God, died instantly. Their spiritual death is clear from the fact that they ran from God when God came to them in the garden. Men and women have been running and hiding ever since. Further, the soul, the seat of intellect, feelings, and identity, began to die. So men and women began to lose a sense of their own identity, to give vent to bad feelings and to suffer the decay of their intellect. Describing this type of decay, Paul says that, having rejected God, people inevitably ‘became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles’ (Romans 1:21-23). Eventually even the body dies. So it is said of us all, ‘You are dust, and to dust you shall return’ (Genesis 3:19).”

Think for a moment about the woman who had committed suicide in the hotel room; do you see how her darkened mind exchanged the glory of God for that of an animal, seeing herself as no longer even a human being and as therefore disposable? Or those present at the New Age convention – do you see how they doubted the one true God and sought to put themselves in His place? Apart from Biblical Christianity, either one or the other of these, or both, will always be the tendency.

These examples make it very clear – we are no longer God’s perfect images – in Adam we have all fallen and that image has been marred. But in time God did something, and is STILL doing something, to change that.

III. Redemption — Adam and Jesus;

Romans 5:12-19;

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned– for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come. But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

Notice that in the same way the “many” descended from Adam, which is all of humanity, were affected by the one in Adam’s fall, so also the “many” which have become Christ’s, all believers, are affected by His obedience.

Now, all of us are descendants of Adam by natural birth, and are therefore affected by his actions. Those of us who are born-again into Christ and the family of God are now God’s children and reap all of the benefits of Christ’s work on our behalf. 1 Corinthians 15:45-49 address a similar topic, and verses 48-49 say, As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have been born the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven. Because both Adam and Jesus were the “head” of their race, their actions had results for the rest of their kind.

Not only was Jesus, like Adam, created the perfect image of God (see 2 Corinthians 4:4, and Colossians 1:15), and the head of his own people, but Christ came, like Adam and all of his seed, to “multiply and have dominion”. Matthew 28:18-20a says,

Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

The Great Commission, a call to evangelism and discipleship, is a call to multiply and have dominion – to spread God’s image, creating a people who will live like Christ, and submit to God’s rule in this world.

To help you understand this image, I’d like to use an analogy from the C. S. Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles. In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe the evil white witch had turned any who opposed her into stone. After Aslan the Lion has been raised from the dead, the following took place.:

“He had bounded up to the stone lion and breathed on him. Then without waiting a moment he whisked around – almost as if he had been a cat chasing its tail – and breathed also on the stone dwarf, which was standing a few feet from the lion with his back to it. Then he pounced on a tall stone dryad which stood beyond the dwarf, turned rapidly aside to deal with a stone rabbit on his right, and rushed on to two centaurs. But at that moment Lucy said,

“Oh, Susan! Look! Look at the lion.”

I expect you’ve seen someone put a lighted match to a bit of newspaper which is propped up in a grate against an unlit fire. And for a second nothing seems to have happened; and then you notice a tiny streak of flame creeping along the edge of the newspaper. It was like that now. For a second after Aslan had breathed upon him the stone lion looked just the same. Then a tiny streak of gold began to run along his white marble back – then it spread – then the color seemed to lick all over him as the flame licks all over a bit of paper – then, while his hindquarters were still obviously stone, the lion shook his mane and all the heavy, stone folds rippled into living hair. Then he opened a great red mouth, warm and living, and gave a prodigious yawn. And now his hind legs had come to life. He lifted one of them and scratched himself. Then, having caught sight of Aslan, he went bounding after him and frisking round him whimpering with delight and jumping up to lick his face.

Of course the children’s eyes turned to follow the lion; but the sight they saw was so wonderful that they soon forgot about him. Everywhere the statues were coming to life.”

Because of Adam’s fall, we all are like those statues without Christ – we retain something of our form, but we are not REALLY ourselves – we are merely statues of ourselves. But when Christ comes and breathes his Holy Spirit into us, we are born anew, and the image of God again begins to overtake the stone statue that we had become.

Now – how do we APPLY this? I have three applications – 1 very practical, and 2 that are devotional;

1. The first application that I come to is to REMIND our selves of the importance of the great commission and to see how it affects EVERY AREA OF OUR LIVES. It is NOT a new idea – it has been the heart of God for us to multiply his image from the beginning of Creation and it brings Him great glory. For one, be reminded that your children, when and if you have any, are your primary ministry of discipleship – not only should we desire to reproduce physically, but work hard at raising them in the Lord, so God might have dominion in their lives. Also, in the area of Evangelism – sometimes we get tired of looking like “dumb Christians” by evangelizing – I admit, it’s a real struggle for me to be forward about the gospel. But when we realize that the King has summoned us, and given us the special task of making images for him, then also to keep them, protect them, mold them, and make them beautiful so that all can see His glory, evangelism and discipleship take on a different light. Who cares what the world may think when you have the approval of the King? Secondly, the King has summoned us each into his throne room, and he is distributing property and jobs – he says to us, “Take this portion of my kingdom – I am making you my steward over your office, your workbench, your kitchen stove. Put your heart into mastering this part of my world. Get it in order; unearth its treasures; do all you can with it and for it. Then everyone will see what a glorious King I am.

2. My second application is this – be who you ARE! Know that you are of GREAT value to God, for you are not only his fallen image by birth, but you are his redeemed image through rebirth in Christ. No longer are we merely servants of the great King, but we have been adopted into his family as his children. Let us all live as children of the King.

3. And lastly, be confident in your salvation. Notice how tight the correspondence is in Romans and Corinthians between Adam and his descendants in the flesh. In Adam ALL died – not some, not only the one who were REALLY bad, but ALL. Likewise, in Christ, all of his descendants (those who trust in Him) gain the benefits of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. When you encounter the promises of God to his children in the Scriptures, those are written to you. Be encouraged – fight the good fight, for the King we serve has already won the battle, and is ensured to win the war.

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