09 November, 2006

Predestination: TULIP - The Missing Foundation

And so we come to the "R" in Plenus EMPTOR.

Redemptor is one of the Latin names for Christ. That would make an outstanding "R," but I don't think that even Christ's name says enough. There is a LOT more to be said than just a single Name, even that Name above all names. There's even more to the story of that Name's value.


TULIP stops at a really critical place, and kind of an odd one. Its friends will be quick to explain that this is because the 5 points of the Remonstrance stopped just there, but that's not really of consequence to me. Whether TULIP or Remonstrance, they both stop at the same place.

Man is depraved, so God intervenes by electing some somehow, paying for their sins, converting them, and seeing them safely all the way to heaven. Through "EMPTOR" I have dealt with my thoughts on how God does these 5 things, but there is a massive, gaping hole this picture if it is going to try to explain salvation.

TULIP and Remonstrance both rest on a foundation of sin, and man's need.

The missing foundation is God. All 5 of these points concern man, and only introduce God as in relation to man's needs. That is falacious.

God has works an incredible change upon Himself in the story of salvation, apart from any effect He has on man. The most amazing thing in the redemption story is how I AM that I AM changed Himself in taking captivity captive. As long as we are pinning butterflies to styrofoam, let's catalog the greatest metamorphosis in all history, pre-history, and even non-history.

The Living God became the Resurrected Seed.

Ge 1:12
And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

Much like a seed, this verse contains the full fruit of God's experience, but in a nutshell, waiting to be revealed in the rest of scripture.

All of the living beings in Genesis 1 reproduce after their kind. This is a picture of God. The herbs, the trees, the fish, the fowl, and the beasts all multiply after their kind. The plants, though, are described as bearing seed, and that is a little more careful picture of Him. And the tree, in particular, is described as bearing fruit with its seed within in it, both in verse 12 and in verse 29.

Everything has its picture of the image of God, but the tree yielding fruit is called out in particular.

Ge 3:15
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

Now the idea of "seed" gets transferred to human children. Satan will reproduce after his kind, and Eve will reproduce after her kind. She will bear a Seed that will grow and destroy Satan's seed, though at a cost to Himself.

Ge 12:7
And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.

Paul notes a little later that this Seed is singular, but see that God is talking about His kind on earth. The children of Abraham are a better picture of God than the fruit from a tree.

Ge 15:5
And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.

The seed are not always singular!

Ge 15:13
And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;

Nor will the seed always be comfortable.

In fact, the nation of Israel is identified as the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. You can track their fortune through scripture exclusively by searching for the word, "seed." You will see every time they do well and every time they fail, because God continues to refer to them as the seed over and over.

Ps 22:30
A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.

Even when the kingdom is but a remnant, and only one single seed remains, God still counts that solitary seed as a complete generation.

Ps 89:29
His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven.

But the key meaning of Seed is still the promised One.

Isa 66:22
For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain.

He is the Seed, and His Name will be hallowed.

So, far, I would describe none of this as terribly mysterious. Certainly, none of this involves the metamorphosis of God. This is just standard stuff for a God Who rules everything in Truth and Justice. He stands at the beginning of time, and foreordains that He will come as the Son of a woman some day, and that Abraham will be the father of the great nation from which He will spring.

Then, He says this:

Joh 12:24
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

And in one sentence Jesus turns two thousand years of Jewish interpretation of prophecy on its ear.

They have expected and waited on a Redeemer Who would deliver them from the hands of their enemies. They have, instead, received Jesus, Who has come to lay down His life.

Jesus is teaching His disciples that He must be lifted up, and die, but not to redeem us. Yes, Jesus must die to redeem us. Yes, He must be the sin bearer. But, this verse is about something bigger, something foundational. Jesus must die in order to bear fruit.

Jesus must be planted in the ground.

Suddenly, the seed in Genesis 1 comes rushing back into our minds. The fruit must be planted in the ground, or the tree cannot reproduce. The seed must die, or the tree must abide alone. But, if the seed dies, then kind of its kind is brought forth.

It is not just trees that bear kind after their kind, but fish, fowl and beasts as well. Could it be that God, too, bears kind after His kind? Is this one of the things nature is portraying about God?

Jesus said that unless a man was "born from above," he could not see the kingdom of God. (I know the common translation is "born again," but that is derived from Nicodemus's misunderstanding. The other three times the word is used by John in his gospel, it is translated "from above.")

Unless a man becomes kind of the kind that is "from above," he cannot see the kingdom of God.

And unless the Son of God falls into the earth as a grain of wheat, He must abide alone.

But, am I just stretching things here?

1 Cor 15:35
But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.

Paul doesn't seem to think so.

1 Cor 15:42
So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:

Paul is even ready to consider all our bodies seeds.

1 Cor 15:54
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

And how did our Lord give us this victory? By being the first to overcome death by resurrection.
Joh 12:24
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

CS Lewis refered to a deep magic, magic that was stronger than the law of the land. Here is that magic in plain view.

What was the magic that worked the resurrection?

It was the magic of a corn of wheat that falls into the ground and dies. If the Seed sown is alive, then it must rise again.

Jesus died so that He might not abide alone.

Let that sentence sink into a deep place in your heart.

Jesus died so that He might not abide alone. Yes, Jesus died for your salvation, but He died for something much deeper, much more fundamental than that. Have you ever wondered how to "bless the Lord?" Have you ever wondered what you might bring to God to please Him? Have you ever wondered what gift you might bring that would have meaning to an omnipotent God?

Jesus died so that He might abide with you.

But maybe you have assumed that He only died because things had gone horribly wrong, because Adam rebelled.

Jesus would have had to die had there been no sin and no fall of man.

The Sabbath is a law, but its meaning changed. Thou shalt not kill is a law but it has exceptions. "If it die, it bringeth forth much fruit," is like the law of gravity. It cannot be repealed. This law springs from the very nature of Life, from the nature of God. "Kind after its kind," is a law that exists on earth before even, "but of the tree in the midst of the garden, thou shalt not eat." This law was in full effect in Genesis 1, before there was any law.

"The tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good."

But there is an even deeper, more powerful example. The image bearer bore out this image as well.

Before Adam had sinned, he was found alone in the garden, without a mate, and God Himself declared that it was not good.

Adam could not produce kind after his kind. Adam could not fulfill the basic law of creation, and it was not good. And God declared it not good for a reason. God shared Adam's problem. God could not create kind after His kind. Adam was a tragically perfect picture of the perfect God. Flawless, alive, master of all he surveyed, and in violation of the law of gravity. Neither God nor Adam could produce kind after his kind.

God was ready to change this about Himself. God was ready no longer to abide alone.

First, He showed what He would do for Himself by doing it in Adam.

God caused Adam to sleep. Adam had to die in order no longer to abide alone. Adam had to be cracked open like a seed, and a half of him had to be removed. Maybe it was just a rib, but the Hebrew word would indicate that it was much more than a rib. If there weren't centuries of tradition to the contrary, I don't think modern linguistics would allow us to translate that word as rib. Either way, a piece of Adam was taken away in order that it might be grown into someone who could face him, love him, and receive love from him in return.

We know this is a picture of Christ, but consider that it is a picture from before sin. Sin has no part in this miracle. The only thing being rectified by Adam's death and loss was His loneliness - rather his aloneness. As Kansas Bob has pointed out, the two are indescribably different.

We have then two powerful pictures. The seed must die, or forever abide alone, and Adam must sleep to have his mate.

The unavoidable reality these pictures describe is that God created the earth so that He might Himself brave the same grave metamorphosis.

God in Jesus died for a purpose, and that purpose was not primarily to wipe away our 10,000 year stain of sin. There was eternal work afoot in Christ's passion. If Christ does not die, the Godhead, the Singular with three Persons, abides alone. Even if Adam did not sin, Christ must die. If Adam were without win, and Christ did not die, then man could never become more than Empty Humanity. We might have lived happy human lives on earth, but we could never see the God Who created us - not with spiritual eyes.

Yes, God walked with Adam in the cool of day, but only because He made Himself visible to Adam's naked eye. In this age and time of the revelation of God, we have been blessed more deeply. We see God invisibly in our hearts. We know Him as He knows us, in Spirit and in Truth. Adam would never have reached that glory, any more than my cats might write a sonnet.

Unless we are born from above, we cannot see the kingdom of God.

But, Christ did die.

And He rose again.

Joh 17:2
As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.

In rising again, Christ achieved every goal of the Father. In dying and rising again, Christ broke open the shell of the Seed, and sprouted to become fruitful on a divine scale.

In Him, we rise too.

Re 20:6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

We have in us the new Life in Christ, because He fell into the ground and died.

God has been expanded, in the same manner that Adam was expanded. Adam became Adam and Eve, and the Lord saw that it was God. God has become the Son and His bride, and that is perfect.

The "R" in EMPTOR is for "Resurrected Seed, because on this foundation, God is blessed.


1 comment:

Kansas Bob said...

I thought of you Kevin when I saw this:


Blessings, KB