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The Lord by wisdom founded the earth;
By understanding He established the heavens.
Prov. 3:19

Part 2 - The Sanctifying Work of Christ


Scripture shows how God's plan of salvation was in place from the beginning of creation. Ephesians 1:4-5 says of God the Father that, "He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will." Before "the foundation of the world" God's way for one to become His child was through Jesus Christ. That God decided beforehand that this would involve the death and resurrection of Christ is shown in Revelation 13:8: "All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."

Jesus is "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." The fall of Adam and Eve did not create a sudden crisis for God. He did not have to improvise a plan of salvation for mankind. God's plan of salvation was in place before He created anything. When God created the heavens and the earth, Jesus was already considered to be the Passover lamb that was to bring redemption.

Although God knew that mankind would be lost in sin before He created him, He determined that man would be "holy and without blame" before Him. To be holy is the state of being set apart and consecrated. To be sanctified is the act of being made holy from an unholy state. The sign that it is Yahweh who sanctifies is the work of creation, God's ensuing rest, and Israel's Sabbath rest (Exodus 31). "Before the foundation of the world," God formulated His plan of redemption, justification, and sanctification through Christ. God said regarding the use of creationism to teach about His sanctifying work, "It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed" (Ex. 31:17), and again, "it is a sign ... that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you" (Ex. 31:13). Israel's Sabbath rest testified that God did the work of sanctification.

A model of sanctification

Therefore, in the opening chapter of the Bible, God uses Christ's work of creation as a model of Christ's sanctifying and redeeming work which He already had planned. As Hebrews states, "we who have believed do enter that rest" for "the works were finished from the foundation of the world," and, "God rested on the seventh day from all His works."

Because the Sabbath day is a shadow of things to come, and it is based on the work and rest of God in creation, the creation week provides a shadow or outline in which to arrange and structure the sanctification aspect of Jesus' saving work. The purpose of types and models in the Old Testament books of the Bible is to help understand the doctrines of the New Testament scriptures. This section will present the Genesis creation account as a model of Christ's sanctifying work. Here, a study of the first chapter of Genesis will not be one of exegesis, where teaching and doctrine is extracted from the text, but one of comparison of Old Testament types with New Testament doctrines. This will be application, not interpretation. As a model, the creation week provides an outline useful for organization. As such, the doctrine of sanctification is outlined and organized to a remarkable extent.

As a model and a shadow of things to come, the creation account must be real and literal. Hebrews 8:5 states concerning the Hebrew priests and their service: "who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, 'See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.' " God gave Moses strict orders to make the tabernacle and the things in it exactly as He described. Exodus 25:9 states, "According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it." God demanded that these models be exact for they were shadows of heavenly things. The creation model too is a shadow of heavenly things. The Sabbath day, said to be a "shadow of things to come" (Col. 2:16-17), is based on the work of creation. The creation account must be real, literal, and exact for the message conveyed by it not to be distorted.

The interpretation of Genesis chapter one is that of the literal creation of the heavens and earth. This shows the glory of the Creator of the physical universe. But the scriptures also make an application of the creation account to show another glory: the glory of God in making a new creation. This is the "new man," a spiritual people in Christ with whom God will spend eternity. The sanctifying and redemptive work of Christ is that new creation.

Regarding this the Scripture says of the death and resurrection of Christ, "There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 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. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man" (1 Cor. 15:44b-49). In the resurrected Christ there is a new spiritual creation, born out of the natural creation. The first creation concerns natural mankind, of whom Adam was the head. The second creation concerns the spiritual, of which Jesus Christ is the head.

In biblical numerology the number six represents natural man. When the creation account is divided into six parts we get a picture of the creation of natural man. The number eight is the number of new beginnings, especially a new beginning in the resurrected Christ. When the creation account is divided into eight parts we get a picture of the creation of the new man in Christ. When divided into six parts, the creation account shows the creation of three realms with a corresponding three purposes given to those realms. This ends with the dominion of mankind over that creation. When divided into eight parts, the creation account points to the new creation in Christ. This shows fours realms in which the "new man" is separated in Christ with a corresponding four purposes to which this new creation is consecrated to. This ends with the dominion of Christ over His new creation. "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."

Sanctification: separation and consecration

The first four days of creation show the separation aspect of sanctification. Separation is the main theme. Seven times division is mentioned. Five of these use the words "divide" or "divided," and two use the phrase "gathered together" or "gathering together." All are used in a way to show a separation that God wrought.

Days five and six of creation show the purpose God gave to that which He separated. There are four ways in which separation is shown, and likewise there are four aspects of consecration. The latter however are compressed into only two days, but there is a good reason for this as will be seen.

In the beginning

The creation account opens with these two verses: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters" (Gen. 1:1-2). This situation is the state of creation at the beginning of day one. It parallels the state of the world prior to the saving work of Christ. Because God made the creation of the heavens and earth to be a model of the redemptive work of Christ, He began the six-day work of creation with an earth that was "without form, and void." This models the state of humanity which necessitated redemption.

Verse two says that the earth was without form and void. "Without form" means "to lie waste." "Void" means "to be empty." The earth lay wasted and was empty. Such happened to the human race in its rebellion against the Creator. This brought desolation and emptiness to mankind. Mankind was originally created in a state of perfect fellowship with God, but Adam and Eve became separated from God. They lost the fellowship and union they had with their Creator. The result was a human state which God did not design mankind to be in. The consciousness of His presence and the light of knowing Him were lost. And so verse two continues: "and darkness was on the face of the deep." In Scripture, "darkness" is a type of the absence of the light of God.

The phrase "without form and void" to describe the earth is also used by God to represent the fallen and lost condition of Israel in His word through Jeremiah the prophet. The people had forsaken Yahweh and followed after false gods. God speaks through Jeremiah: "For My people are foolish, They have not known Me. . . . They are wise to do evil, But to do good they have no knowledge. I beheld the earth, and indeed it was without form, and void; And the heavens, they had no light. . . . I beheld, and indeed there was no man, And all the birds of the heavens had fled. I beheld, and indeed the fruitful land was a wilderness, And all its cities were broken down At the presence of the Lord, By His fierce anger" (Jer. 4:22-26) (emphasis added). As Israel was described spiritually as being like the earth "without form and void," and the darkness they were in is described by the phrase "and the heavens, they had no light," so too is the fallen world that does not know God. God used the phrase "without form, and void" to describe Israel that had fallen away from Him. In the same way, the creation account begins with a model of the fallen state of humanity.

Set apart

It is at this point that the blood of Jesus redeemed the world to make possible salvation. 1 John 2:2 states: "And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world." Jesus' death on the cross paid in full the penalty of sin for the whole world. Yet the whole world will not be saved. Many will remain as "raging waves of the sea" and in "the blackness of darkness forever." Redemption and justification are fully provided for all the world, but it is sanctification in Jesus that separates those who perish from those who come into a union with God. Jesus sets apart those who believe in Him. He takes each believer out from among the lost and puts them into His kingdom. Thus Jesus said, "that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." In this is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to a fallen race. He moves upon the hearts of the lost to direct them to Christ. Verse two finishes: "And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters."

Next is modeled the work of Christ in separating a people from a dark and lost position and His work in restoring God's purpose for them. Although it is stretched out over six days, the emphasis of the type is a rest in a finished work. As such, the six-day work does not represent a progressive work but rather distinct aspects of a finished work. One does not enter God's kingdom in progressive stages, but immediately by faith in Christ. His entire work is attributed to the believer at once. Only by this is rest possible "today" (Heb. 4:7) to those who believe.