1 Corinthians 15:22 ff.
The meaning of the resurrection as Paul presents it is God’s final and
decisive word on the life of His creature, Adam. It is in the first place
God’s reversal of Adam’s choice of sin and death (1 Cor. 15:22). In the
second place, the resurrection of Christ is a new affirmation of God’s first decision that Adam should live, i.e. an affirmation that goes beyond and transforms the initial gift of life (1 Cor. 15:45).
The work of the Creator, who made Adam, and who brought into being an order of things in which humanity has its place is affirmed once and for all by the resurrection. It would not be inconceivable before the resurrection of Christ for one to wonder if creation was a lost cause. If the creature consistently acted to destroy itself, and with itself the rest of creation, could this mean that God’s handiwork was flawed beyond repair, totaled as it were? The Gnostic hope was redemption from creation rather than redemption of creation. Christianity affirms redemption of the whole, i.e. cosmic redemption (1 Cor. 15:20).
In 1 Corinthians 15:22 Paul affirms that in the resurrection all shall be made alive. The raising of Christ is representative for what God will do for creatures and for the creation. The whole created order is taken up into the representative Man, the Lord Jesus Christ, at this particular moment in history. In proclaiming the resurrection of Christ, the apostle proclaims the resurrection of mankind in Christ and the renewal of all creation with it. Therefore, the Gospel is not world denying (in terms of its being) but incredibly world affirming. This is a broken world. Instead of order we have chaos, a groaning mess. The resurrection is a breaking in, a perforation into history of the firstfruits of the Kingdom of God. The healing, restoring, renewing powers of the Gospel of the Kingdom are here now in part but not yet in fullness.
The incarnation of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:23) is a sign that signifies that God has not given up on humanity and the created order. He stands by it to totally restore it at the last, the consummation. The very act of God which ushers in the Kingdom is the resurrection of Christ from the dead which is a reaffirmation of creation. In the resurrection of Christ creation is restored and the Kingdom of God dawns. The idea of redemption suggests the recovery of something given and lost. Romans 8:19ff affirms that what was given and lost to humanity and the created order will be recovered and transformed.
In the final analysis, redemption is far more that a return to the “status quo.” We are not merely returning to the Garden of Eden but to a city, the new Jerusalem. The transformation of the cosmos is neither a repetition of Eden or the negation of the created order, it is its telos, i.e. its fulfillment. The resurrection of Christ vindicates creation in a twofold way. It redeems it and transforms it. In the glorified, physical humanity of the risen Christ the humanity of Adam is elevated to its supernatural destiny as it is rescued from its subnatural enslavement to sin and death. So the resurrection of Christ is the foundation of our hope (that ache in our souls) for a better world, a world that is the way it is supposed to be. Amen!
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