The Restoration of All Things: Part 6
Sep 16, 2006
When God created all things, He pronounced it "good" at each stage of creation and then "very good" at the end (Gen.1:31). Sin was not built into creation but was a later invasion, so to speak. But as time passed, men began to think that evil was inherent in creation and that matter itself was evil.
Soon they constructed theologies around that misunderstanding, wherein good and evil, light and darkness, spirit and matter, were opposed to each other eternally. The fall of man was said to be a matter of light mingling with darkness and good mingling with evil. Thus, the logical goal of history, they said, was to separate these two opposing "kingdoms" into their respective domains.
This dualistic theology presumed that good and evil were eternal kingdoms. The final goal of history was to separate men into heaven or hell, and all the evil and darkness would continue forever as one dark blot in God's creation.
By the fifth century A.D. the Church had drunk deeply from this non-biblical theology and had begun to adopt it officially in its own teaching and persecute those who denied it. This was one of the greatest tragedies of all time in the history of Christian thought.
In my view, sin is temporary, simply because it had a beginning. Therefore, it also has an end. The whole idea of "restoration" implies that history is the process by which God is showing us the results of sin before finally restoring all things under His feet as it was at the beginning. Through this process, we will gain more at our maturity than we had in our naive beginnings. In Gen. 1: 26 we read,
"Then God said, Let us make man in our own image, according to our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth."
This was the dominion mandate given to man, and it was the point where man's authority began, operating under the sovereignty of God. Sin, of course, made man a debtor in the eyes of the law, and so he was "sold" into bondage as "slaves of sin" (Rom. 6:17). With him was sold his wife, his children (descendants), and his entire estate, which was the whole earth.
Technically, he was sold to the earth itself, legally making him an earthly man with a carnal mind. This is why Gen. 3:17 says, "cursed is the ground because of you." Verse 19 says, "by the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground." In the divine law (Ex. 22:1-4), a thief was to be "sold for his theft" if he could not pay the restitution required. He who bought the thief actually bought the thief's labor for a specified amount of time, and for this he was also required to pay the debt which the thief owed the victim.
The fact that Adam was required to labor for the earth until he died--and even then, the earth was to reclaim him--shows that the earth was the legal redeemer in this case. The earth, of course, was incapable of fulfilling its obligation to pay the debt for Adam's sin. And so the earth came under a "curse" as well. Cursed Time is always in terms of 414-year cycles. In this case, the flood came upon the earth (for non-payment of debt) after 4 x 414 years.
This law also reveals the principle of redemption, because the one purchasing the sinner was known as a redeemer. Jesus, of course, was the great Redeemer, who paid for the sin of Adam and for the sin of the whole world (1 John 2:2). What the earth could not do, Jesus did. Paul expounds upon this in Romans 6, where he reminds believers that by the law of redemption, they were now free to stop sinning, that they were purchased with a price, and they were now to serve their new Master.
The law of redemption makes this clear in Lev. 25:53, saying of the redeemed debtor, "Like a man hired year by year shall he be with him," that is, the redeemer. In other words, because Jesus has redeemed us, we are now to serve Him and have no right to continue in sin that grace may abound. We have simply changed masters. We have not been set free to do as we please. We have only been set free from the dictates, or laws, of Sin, which is here personified as our former master.
Getting back to our original subject, Adam lost his authority over the earth through sin, at which point the earth was given authority over him. But the law of redemption made provision for the debtor paying his own way out of slavery in Lev. 25:49, "or if he prospers, he may redeem himself." In this case, "he" is not only Adam as a person, but any descendant of his. For this reason Jesus came as the "Son of man," or Son of Adam, to pay the debt and redeem "himself" (i.e., His body, ultimately all the sons of men). He was the only One capable of doing so.
Based upon the law of redemption, then, the whole creation became His servant, for He purchased it and obtained the divine right to receive the dominion that Adam had lost. So we read in Heb. 2:7-9,
" (7) Thou has made Him for a little while lower than the angels; Thou hast crowned Him with glory and honor, and hast appointed Him over the works of Thy hands; (8) Thou hast put all things [panta] in subjection under His feet. For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to Him. But now we do not YET see all things subjected to Him. (9) But we do so see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone."
The first half is a quotation from Psalm 8:4-6, which is, in turn, a reference to Adam's dominion mandate over the earth. The book of Hebrews applies this to Jesus Himself, telling us that all of creation, (panta) has been subjected to Him. The "all" is further defined for our benefit so that we do not misunderstand: "For in subjecting all things to Him, He left NOTHING that is NOT subject to Him."
Yet at the present time, we do not YET see all things subjected to Him. There is still much sin and rebellion in the earth. However, this does not mean that He has not purchased them already. It does not mean that they will be lost in the end, for that would indicate that in fact they were not really subjected to Him in the first place. But yet the FACT of universal reconciliation has already been established at the cross. It is only a matter of time before this emerges as a reality.
Paul speaks of Christ's dominion also in Eph. 1:21-23,
" (21) far about all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. (22) And He put all things [panta] in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as Head over all things to the Church, (23) which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all."
There is no question, then, that He has been given dominion over the entire creation, based upon His ability to purchase Adam's debt note by His life and by His blood. The concept of the Restoration of All Things does not negate the blood of Christ; it is based upon the cross, for without the cross, all of this would be just hot air.
On the other hand, to say that Christ's blood was insufficient to pay for the sin of the whole world--or that most of what Christ paid for was not deliverable--tends to diminish the cross and the authority that He has purchased according to the law.
This is the sixth part of a series titled "The Restoration of All Things." To view all parts, click the link below.