Perhaps the most catastrophic effects of the fall was that we lost the indwelling life and glory of God, for Paul says that all have sinned and lack the glory of God (Rom 3:23). It is not that we merely fall short of God’s glory, as if human beings by themselves could ever live up to such an impossibly divine standard, but that human beings lack the presence and life of God dwelling within them. Without that life we are as good as dead (see Eph 2:1). God had warned Adam that in the day he ate from the tree of knowledge he would surely die (Gen 2:17). Now God was not primarily warning them about mere physical death, though the mortality of the body was certainly among the effects of Adam’s sin. No, the death that Adam and humanity experienced as a result of his sin was spiritual and eternal death, the curse of being cut off from the very life of God. It is God’s own glory dwelling in us which is eternal life, as the apostle John proclaims in his letter: “and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us” (see 5:20). Life is a person, namely God Himself, and one can only experience spiritual and eternal life by having Jesus living within us, since He himself is eternal life.
But Jesus is also the glory of God manifested in human form, as John said: “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt (or tabernacled) among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Jesus manifests what Adam and all humanity were meant to be: He was the the visible image of the divine glory, the one in whom the divine glory dwelt, just as he dwelt in the tabernacle and the Holy of Holies in the temple in the old covenant. Human beings were meant to be temples of the divine glory! We cannot even being to imagine what we lost in the garden of Eden; we think the life we have is normal. We settle for the crumbs or earthly pleasure, not knowing the complete and perfect joy of God’s presence, as the psalmist writes: “You lead me in the path of life; I experience absolute joy in your presence; you always give me sheer delight” (Psa 16:11). But Adam turned away from the one true joy – knowing and experiencing the divine glory within him, and we have all suffered the consequences. But not only Adam, but all humanity exchanged the glory of God for idols (Rom 1:23), whether ones made of wood, stone or precious metals, or more subtle idols such as pleasure, security and power. We have lost the glory, as when the daughter of Phineas said when the ark was captured by the Philistines and named her son Ichabod: “the glory has departed from Israel (1 Sam 4:21). Later on, the glory of God would depart permanently from the earthly temple (Ezek 11:23), and would not return until Jesus came as the true and living tabernacle of God’s glorious presence.
But now that God has executed his righteous judgment against sin upon the body of Jesus through His obedient faithfulness unto death (3:21-22), a way is opened for the glory to be restored to us. Now we have been set right with God or “justified” freely by His grace, that is as a free gift without any contribution from us. Paul has already established that none of us has the works the set ourselves right with God, and also that it was beyond the capacity of the old covenant to restore even Israel (since the glory had departed from Israel as well as from humanity). So everything depends upon God’s unilateral, one-sided action to restore and redeem us. If we were going to be saved, then God and God alone had to take the initiative. Sentenced to and imprisoned by death, we had nothing, no resources to draw upon by which we could possibly save ourselves. The only thing we can do is to freely receive what has been freely given to us, and we can only receive by trusting the Giver. Our redemption and the restoration of the divine glory within the tabernacle of human hearts could only come as a free gift, and only because Christ reversed by his obedience the catastrophic choice which Adam had made in the garden.
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Explorations in Biblical Theology from J. Richard Middleton
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Biblical and Systematic Theology According to the Scriptures
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A Cross-Shaped Worldview
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Wisdom from Tim Keller 365 Days a Year
Exploring God's Unfolding Revelation in Scripture
THE GLORY OF RECONCILIATION IN CHRIST!
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