Part 2 - The Sanctifying Work of Christ
Consecrated to Christ as His Bride
The Genesis account of day six continues: "Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them" (Gen. 1:26-27).
Day four of the creation week points to that separation out from under the rule of the law unto the rule of Christ. Now a corresponding consecration is modeled in the second part of day six. Those separated unto the rule of Christ are consecrated to be the bride of Christ. Christ as the antitype of Adam took sin upon Himself and died on the cross. This ended the rule of the law. In His resurrection, as the last Adam, Christ rules over His bride, the church.
This is spoken of by Paul to the Romans: "Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? . . . Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another; to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God" (Rom. 7:1,4).
The Head of the church
In writing to the Ephesians, Paul correlates the relationship of a husband and wife to that of the relationship of Christ and the church. He says, "For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body" (Eph. 5:23). He goes on to say, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her" (Eph. 5:25). Christ as head is "Savior of the body." Christ loved the church so much that He "gave Himself for her." Adam foreshadowed this.
Then Paul directly ties this relationship of Christ and the church to the creation account of Adam and Eve: "So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church" (Eph. 5:28-32). Paul quoted Genesis 2:24 in this passage, a verse which Moses wrote concerning the creation of Adam and Eve. He then says that "this is a great mystery."
As a "mystery" there is a hidden meaning behind it. Paul then explains it by saying, "but I speak concerning Christ and the church." The relationship of the first two humans where "the two shall become one flesh" points to the oneness in the relationship of Christ and the church.
All of one
Thus the writer to the Hebrews says of Christ: "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying: 'I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.' And again: 'I will put My trust in Him.' And again: 'Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.' " (Heb. 2:9-13).
"He who sanctifies" is Christ. "Those who are being sanctified" are those being brought into this relationship with Christ; these are those in the church age being brought into a living relationship with Christ and added to His body, the church. They "are all of one" with Christ. As such, the church is called the bride of Christ. The creation account points to this sanctifying work of Christ.
The image of the invisible God
God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness." In the history of the human race, Jesus Christ is the one man who most reflects the image and likeness of God. When God created mankind, He created a single man first, and then out of his side created the woman. Scripture shows that the man, Adam, is a type of Christ. Romans 5:14 says that Adam "is a type of Him (Christ) who was to come." With the creation account being a model and outline of the saving work of Christ, here is the central theme of the gospel: God becoming man in order to deliver mankind out of sin and death.
Hebrews 1:3 says that Christ is "the brightness of His (God's) glory and the express image of His person." Again in Colossians it is said of Christ that "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation" (Col. 1:15). The incarnation of Christ, where man truly reflected the image and likeness of God, is spoken of by John: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).
Made to be sin for us
Adam as a type of Christ does not just reflect the incarnation of Christ; he reflects the role of God becoming man: that of the Head of mankind, Redeemer, and Priest. The writer to the Hebrews talks of the incarnation relating to redemption: "Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage" (Heb. 2:14-15). Christ took upon Himself the sins of the world, was put to death for them, and so brings liberty to those who are joined to Him.
There is a parallel to this in Adam, for it was Eve who was deceived and disobeyed God. "For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression" (1 Tim. 2:13-14). Adam was not deceived. First Eve ate of the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden, being deceived by the serpent, but then when Adam ate of it, he did so knowingly and willingly. This models the action of Christ. The world fell into transgression, but "God so loved the world" that Christ came and willingly took upon Himself sin and death. "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor. 5:21).
Christ was made sin for us, taking upon Himself the shame and reproach of it. Isaiah says, "Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:4-5). The first Adam who took death upon himself to identify with Eve represents Christ who took sin upon Himself and suffered death for it.
A big difference however is that Jesus was sinless, "a lamb without blemish and without spot," while Adam actually transgressed. Because of Adam's transgression and fall, all his descendants are born with a fallen sin nature. This required that Jesus, the "express image" of God, be born of a virgin. Jesus did not inherit Adam's nature and thus was "without blemish and without spot."
Christ the firstfruits
In Jesus' death and resurrection He destroyed death and the power of it. Paul tells the Corinthians, "But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming" (1 Cor. 15:20-23).
Further on in the chapter we are told: "And so it is written, 'The first man Adam became a living being.' The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven" (1 Cor. 15:45-47). Adam was a type of Christ in that he took sin upon himself and suffered death for it. As head, Adam gets the blame for the fall of the human race. Eve was deceived and fell, but Adam is said to be at fault. Likewise, it is Christ who took the blame for the sins of the world.
This type however ends with death. The death of Christ is the death of the natural man of those joined to Christ. This is the man descended from Adam, lost in sin. Christ brought this to an end on the cross. "However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual." It is in the resurrection that Christ is then called "the last Adam." He is the "firstfruits" of those who come into life. As the "last Adam" He is Head of the human race, Lord and King. When God created Adam saying "let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness," He was pointing past the first Adam to the last Adam, Jesus Christ.
"So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them" (Gen. 1:27). We read of how the woman was created in chapter two of Genesis: "And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: 'This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.' Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (Gen. 2:21-24).
It is through the death of Christ that a bride is made for Him, for the church is called the bride of Christ. As Adam slept and Eve was created out of his side, so too Christ "slept" in that He was buried after His crucifixion and through this the church was created. When Jesus died His side was pierced and blood and water came forth. Water represents baptism into new life through the death and resurrection of Christ, and the blood is the atonement for sin that makes possible that new life.
The account of day six continues: "Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth" (Gen. 1:28). God said to the man and woman that he created, "Be fruitful and multiply." This type of the relationship of Christ and the church shows that to abide in Christ is the setting in which fruitfulness is to occur.
Jesus said, "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing" (John 15:4-5). Christ has separated the believer unto Himself in various ways and consecrated him to good works. Christ's work also has provided the Holy Spirit that these works could be accomplished. The end result among those who abide in Jesus is a fruitful and multiplying church.
"Fill the earth and subdue it" means to bring the earth into its fullness and into subjection. The earth in this Genesis passage is a type of the church, the place where Christ and all believers dwell. Christ as Head, along with the cooperation of His bride, is bringing His church to fullness and completion, and bringing it into subjection to Himself and to God.
God said, "have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth". A part of the sanctifying work of Christ was for Him to become a man. The dominion that God gave mankind in this passage is foremost a dominion given to Christ as the "last Adam" and head of the human race.
Paul wrote of the exceeding greatness of God's power, "which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all" (Eph. 1:20-23). "All principality and power and might and dominion" has been put under the rule and reign of Christ. God has also made Christ "to be head over all things to the church, which is His body."
Jesus as Creator has dominion over all things, and likewise as the preeminent man, He is head and ruler. Colossians speaks of this: "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence" (Col. 1:15-18).
We shall reign with Him
Now it was to both the man and woman that God said, "let them have dominion." As head of the body, Christ has the preeminence. But to His body, the church, He gives authority, power, and dominion also. This is an extension of His rule, one that He shares with His people. The church does not have this separate from Christ, but only because she is joined to Christ. The rule that the church has is one that is under the rule of Christ. He is head and so the rule that the church exercises is one done in the name of Christ. As Paul said to the Ephesians concerning the church, it "is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all." (Eph. 1:23). The church, Christ's body, is representing Him. Thus the rule and dominion given to the church is actually Christ's, and it is being exercised in Christ's name. Paul said to Timothy, "This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him. If we endure, We shall also reign with Him . . ." (2 Tim. 2:11-12).
The dominion is one over the earth and the creatures in it. It is given to both the man and the woman. God said, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth" (Gen. 1:28). The earth represents the body of Christ. The fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the creatures on the earth represent the various aspects of life in the Spirit.
Those added to the church are consecrated to a life in the Spirit, called to witness to the world, live before the throne of God, and minister to the members of the church, all by and through the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit. It is to these areas that God gives the church dominion. The purpose is to add to and build up the body of Christ that it would glorify God. Christ is head over this and His members are given rule with Him. It is Jesus who directs His church, and the members are to take His direction and the authority given by Him and go forth in His name. The gifts given to the church do not rule the church, but rather the church rules them, and are tools for accomplishing the purpose of God.
This is taught by Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians where he is speaking on the gifts of the Spirit. He is addressing the subject of tongues and prophesy in the fourteenth chapter. The teaching here is directed toward the goal of building up the body of Christ with the gifts of the individual members. These gifts are under the control of those who have them, rather than the gifts controlling the members. Paul says, "For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged" (1 Cor. 14:31). By self-restraint, the gift can be ministered "one by one."
Next he writes, "And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints" (1 Cor. 14:32-33). The "spirits of the prophets" are "subject" to the prophets. The gift is "subject" to, or under the rule or dominion of, those who exercise it. "God is not the author of confusion but of peace." The goal is the edification of the church that it may grow "to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ," that the head, Christ, would be glorified, and that love would abound. "As in all the churches of the saints" shows that this proper use of a gift is an example for all gifts in every congregation.
The account of day six is concluded: "And God said, 'See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food'; and it was so" (Gen. 1:29-30). Food speaks of sustenance and satisfaction. It enables one to continue. In this chapter as a type of Christ's work in separating and consecrating a people for God, here is that which provides satisfaction: fruitfulness. This is the fruitfulness of abiding in Christ which manifests itself in the good works of the Spirit in the realms of witnessing to the lost, worshipping God and communing with Him, and edifying the body of Christ.
An example of this is the time that Jesus and His disciples came to a city of Samaria. His disciples went into the city to buy food, leaving Jesus by a well. It was here that Jesus met and spoke to the Samaritan woman about living water. When the disciples returned and urged Jesus to eat, the account records: "But He said to them, 'I have food to eat of which you do not know.' Therefore the disciples said to one another, 'Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?' Jesus said to them, 'My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work' " (John 4:32-34). The fulfilling of God's will and doing His work was like food to Jesus.
Likewise, living a life that is in accord with the calling of God, where there is an abiding in Christ and the fruitfulness of the Spirit, is God's provision for the satisfaction and sustenance of His people. Accomplishing the good works to which one is called, and this by the Holy Spirit, is food for the spirit of the believer. Good works done in Christ and by His Spirit do not make one spiritually weary. Rather they uplift, sustain, and satisfy.
The sanctifying work of Christ
"Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.
So the evening and the morning were the sixth day" (Gen. 1:31). It is Christ who has sanctified a people for God. The church as the bride
of Christ is His work, for He "gave Himself for her, that He might
sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He
might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle
or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish" (Eph.
5:25-27). The work is totally Christ's, and it is complete and finished. In
God's sight, it is "very good."