Part 2 - The Sanctifying Work of Christ
The Two Great Purposes of God
The main purpose of God in His creation
Days one through four in the Genesis creation account each model one aspect of separation. However on day five, there is a twofold aspect of consecration: that involving the sea and that involving the firmament. These model the call to witness to the world and to worship and glorify God in a relationship with Him. These two things are not unrelated though. The people who are to have a relationship with God are those brought out of the darkness of a lost world. It is the lost that God has reached down to in order to create a people for Himself. "For God so loved the world" is the record. It is to them that He wishes to reveal His glory and to dwell with.
Peter the Apostle ties these two aspects together: "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Pet. 2:9). "A holy nation, His own special people" are those called "out of darkness." The end is that "you may proclaim (His) praises." The calling of God to reach out to the lost is only a temporary calling. The day will come when His people, the church, are complete. John in the book of Revelation records: "Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea" (Rev. 21:1). The sea with its symbolism of the lost will be no more. God's people will be complete in the new heaven and earth and the wicked will have no part in it.
Next John records that eternal relationship of God with His people: "Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God" (Rev. 21:2-3). This is the permanent state: an abiding relationship of God with His people. The call to witness to the lost is temporary, the means to an end; the end, the goal and primary consecration of God's people, is that relationship they are to have with Him. Thus we see the modeling of these two callings combined into a single day: day five of the creation week.
In the sixth day of creation, a twofold consecration is also represented. The first is that of the believer to edification of the body of Christ. The second is that of the church to being the bride of Christ. The building up of the church is only a temporary consecration. The church as the bride (and wife) of Christ is permanent. But it is the purpose of edification, or building up, to complete a body of believers that will be joined to Christ. Therefore these two are represented in only one day in a similar manner as day five.
The temporary purpose of edification is seen in Ephesians: "till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13). This "perfect man" is the completion of the church which is a reflection of Christ, for it is made to "the stature of the fullness of Christ." The ministering of the members one to another to build up the church will come to an end one day, for "the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready" (Rev. 19:7) will be heard one day in heaven.
This "perfect man" is mentioned in First Corinthians where Paul is speaking of how the gifts for the edification of the church will one day cease: "Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away" (1 Cor. 13:8-10). The purpose of the gifts is to build up the church to a "perfect man." This is when "that which is perfect has come." Then there will no longer be a need for the gifts and they will cease. The eternal and abiding result will be a bride joined in a relationship of love to Christ. Day six models this, where the temporary building up of the church leads to the permanent relationship of Christ and His church.
God's purposes accomplished through Christ
The sanctifying work of Christ accomplishes two eternal purposes that God intends for mankind. The first is a personal relationship between God and man as seen in day five. Jesus has delivered a people for God into the heavenly places before His throne. There communion between God and man is possible, a communion in which the overwhelming goodness and grace of God cannot but result in praise and worship of God. "I will be their God, And they shall be My people" (2 Cor. 6:16) is God's glorious plan.
Secondary to this, but a part of it, is God's provision of His Son, Jesus
Christ, through whom this relationship with God is to take place. This is
modeled in day six, where the building up of the church leads to that
perfect and complete bride of Christ. This is an eternal relationship, the
church with the God-become-man, Jesus Christ. As a man, He is the head of
the church, the Last Adam, one who will never fall and one who will ever
keep the church from falling. As King and Priest, Jesus Christ will forever
intercede and be the intermediary between God and man. "But He, because He
continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able
to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always
lives to make intercession for them" (Heb. 7:24-25).