Moving Toward Full Restoration
At the end of the previous session we discussed “Becoming New.” It is important to complete this study by sharing how the First Testament moves toward fulfillment of restoration and the Second Testament confirms the fulfillment of restoration in the Salvation History of God. In addition, we will give you a quick overview of the metaphors of salvation that are used in the Second Testament which give us a different flavor for the one event of becoming a new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5.17).
The First Testament looks forward toward full restoration while the Second Testament confirms that Jesus has brought restoration. The central target to which God pointed was the defeat of Satan. Even as early as the story of the fall (Gen. 3), the First Testament has a forward look toward ultimate restoration. The story of the deceitful serpent depicts the conflict produced by the fall. The fall was completely overturned by Jesus in his decisive victory over Satan by his life and death.
What the First Testament points toward, the Second Testament confirms in the story of Jesus. The stories of Jesus in the Gospels demonstrated the fulfillment: a promised redeemer to die as a sacrifice once-and-for-all for the sins of mankind. The overwhelming consensus of the Second Testament was that Jesus had brought restoration in the kingdom. The restoration of the end began with Jesus’ invasion of this present evil age. While we live between the times, the new age has broken in. The future has invaded the present. Restoration is here, but not yet.
Here are some of the metaphors that are used in the Second Testament to give us a different flavor for the one event of becoming a new creature in Christ.
The Metaphors Of Salvation
Salvation in Scripture is presented to us by the use of many metaphors that different authors employ to help readers comprehend that God has and is healing them from their sins again him. The list of words below and a brief explanation are offered to help the reader understand a broad view of healing, i.e., healing is not just about getting one’s stubbed toe free from pain.
Adoption was a Roman law in which the father had absolute power over his children, even life and death, as long as they were alive. The children never possessed anything because all possessions belonged to the father. To be transferred from one family to another meant that all the rights and privileges of the old family were lost and all the rights and privileges of the new family were gained. This new position of being an adopted child came by grace, not by right.
Conversion means to turn around (Matt. 18.3). It is an event and a process. First, it signifies the action of the Spirit on us that moves us to respond to Jesus in faith. Second, conversion includes the continuing work of the Spirit in us that purifies us of discord and rebellion, remaking us into the image of Jesus. Conversion indicates an alteration of our attitudes toward God and others.
Eternal life is a favorite phrase of John. It is the life of the age to come which is a present experience in the believer’s life. “The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life (John 12.25). In this passage, John spoke about eternal life and the two ages. The person who hates life in this world (this present evil age) will keep it (life) as he/she enters into eternal life (the life of the age to come, now). Eternal life is a foretaste of the future life to be completely received in the future at the second coming of Jesus.
Filled With The Spirit/Baptism In The Spirit
Often believed to be the second aspect of a Jesus follower’s life that comes after salvation, these two phrases often carry more heat than light. However, conversion is the first baptism in the Spirit and many fillings will follow. All of these continuing experiences are only an actualization of what was completely given at conversion. This understanding provides us with liberating knowledge: there are no second-class followers of Jesus, some who have and some who have-not.
Sounds like a huge, scary, rather dry, theological term, huh? It doesn’t have to be! Try this thought on for size: When God entered into a covenant with Abraham, the purpose was, and remains, to put the whole world to rights, to deal with sin and death. [ref]Tom Wright. The Shape of Justification. https://ntwrightpage.com/2016/04/05/the-shape-of-justification/ [/ref] Paul delivered the penetrating message in Romans that God had justified them by his grace through faith for the sake of Jesus. Justification means to declare or pronounce righteous. It does not mean to make righteous. It is a declarative act of God. By grace, he declares sinners free from the guilt and eternal consequences of their sin because of their faith in Christ. You read that right! We are free from guilt and sin’s eternal consequences. Great news, huh?
Mark wrote in his Gospel that Jesus died as a ransom (lutron, Mark 10.45). In the Roman world, slavery was a well-known fact. Lutron was the price paid to set free a captive or slave. It was often the case that the slave owner would come to the slave market and buy a slave and then give the slave freedom. The slave would often turn and serve the owner with much gratitude because the purchase price had been paid. It is in servitude that true freedom lies.
Reconciliation can be defined as bringing into harmony. In 2 Corinthians 5.16-20, Paul taught that the death of Jesus brought humanity to a place where they were in harmony with God. God did everything that was needed in Christ to bring us into harmony with himself. Normally, the one who is offended is the one who would be expected to make a move toward reconciliation. But, in this case, God made the first move in Jesus to bring us to reconciliation with him. It was God, the one who was offended, who extended his hand of reconciliation to the offender. The image of reconciliation suggests that we turned and betrayed a dear and influential relative. But, instead of going back to him on our knees, begging for forgiveness, he came to us to embrace us in his love.
The death of Jesus on the cross benefited humankind with redemption. From the beginning fall in the garden, God has been seeking out humankind to redeem. The sacrificial system in the First Testament is a foreshadowing of the work of Jesus on the cross in the Second Testament.
Regeneration is the transformation of human life by the impregnation of God’s seed into it. The process of regeneration can be seen in the story of Nicodemus.
Repentance is turning to God in total obedience. Repentance demands complete commitment and seeks forgiveness in full trust and surrender. Repentance involves faith (…repent and believe…). It leads to God’s gift of conversion. In the conversion experience, Jesus imparted power to those who are subject to his divine rule. The message of repentance is not severe, harsh, or law. Its message is one of joy, which is the foundation of the gospel. The process of repentance has two phases. First, the initiation of God in calling a person back to himself. Second, the action of the person to move toward in their life with what God is doing, which involves a change of mind and a change of conduct. It is to turn around and go back to the face of God.
Saving Faith, Saved, Salvation
It is possible in life to be saved from many things: drowning, burning house, car wreck, etc. From a biblical point of view, we are saved from the power of sin. Salvation means to be free from the curse of the law (Gal. 3.13) and to have freedom from wrath (1 Thes. 5.9).
Paul uses this term as yet another figure of speech for conversion. For him, it is not a reference to a work of grace that follows salvation. In 2 Thessalonians 2.13 Paul says, “But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.” Paul seems to use the word when he has a concern with the sinful behavior of Jesus followers. He has a repeated emphasis on sanctification in 1 Corinthians (1.2, 30; 6.11). In 1 Corinthians 6.11, sanctification appears with two other metaphors and speaks about the conversion of the Corinthians. Sanctification is being set apart by God for holy, godly living, which stands in stark contrast to one’s former way of life.
Community Discussion Questions
➡ |CDQ Info|
- How does understanding the different metaphors for the salvation event help you understand what God has really done for you in the sacrifice of Jesus?