The Spirit and Resurrection
In Romans, Paul presents Abraham as the great exemplar of faith. God counted his faith as “righteousness” when he was yet uncircumcised. This means that He justified the Patriarch apart from the “works of the Law,” and so, he became the father of all men who are also “from faith,” the “faith of Jesus Christ.” Circumcision was added after the promise as the “seal” of Abraham’s justifying faith and the “sign” of the Covenant.
Due to his faith, he became the “heir of the WORLD,” a promise that envisioned something greater than the tiny territory of Palestine or the nation of Israel, and every man who now exercises the same faith as Abraham becomes an heir of the promises - “For not through the Law does the promise belong to Abraham or to his seed, but through a righteousness FROM FAITH” - (Romans 4:13-18).
|[Rain Photo by Malcolm Lightbody on Unsplash]|
References to “promise” and “heir” in Paul’s letters point to future realities - THINGS NOT YET RECEIVED, and the inheritance will be nothing less than the entire kosmos, the world if not the Universe.
God appointed Abraham as the “father of many nations” since he believed the word of the One who raises the dead. Therefore, He granted him “seed” though Sarah’s womb was “dead.”
Paul’s terms - “heir,” “seed,” “children,” the “raising of the dead” – all anticipate his discussions in the Letter to the Romans about the “first fruits of the Spirit,” the resurrection, and the redemption of the creation.
Believers are “heirs” since through faith they became “coheirs” with Jesus. Moreover, because they now have “the Spirit of him that raised Jesus from the dead, he that raised Christ Jesus from the dead will quicken their death-doomed bodies through his indwelling Spirit” - (Romans 8:10-11).
Our present mortal bodies are “dead because of sin,” and all men remain subject to death. But that is NOT THE END OF THE STORY. The Spirit that now dwells in believers is the same Spirit that raised Jesus of Nazareth from the dead, therefore it will also resurrect those who have the “faith of Jesus.”
Thus, Paul connects the Gift of the Spirit to the resurrection of the saints and the past resurrection of the Nazarene. His bodily resurrection, the Gift of the Spirit, and the future raising of righteous men and women from the dead are all inextricably linked. His resurrection is the model and the legal grounds of our own resurrection.
If God is to redeem humanity and recover all that was lost to sin and death, redemption must include the physical body and the creation itself - (Romans 8:15-20).
Because of Adam’s transgression, all things were subjected to death and decay. This terrible condition continues until the present hour while we “await the revelation of the sons of God.” On that day, the “Creation itself also shall be freed from the bondage of decay into the freedom of the glory of the sons of God.”
Nevertheless, believers can rest assured they will obtain the inheritance. Already they enjoy a foretaste of everlasting life in the Gift of the Spirit, the “first fruits” of the coming inheritance in the age to come - (Romans 8:21-23).
In agriculture, the “first fruits” represent the coming full harvest. In the case of believers, the same “Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead” is the “first fruits,” the foretaste of the “redemption of our bodies” in the coming “New Heavens and New Earth.”
Paul connects the Gift of the Spirit, the New Creation, and the bodily resurrection. Like Abraham and the promise of land for his descendants, the followers of Jesus will inherit the New Heavens and Earth though their inheritance will be infinitely grander than anything even imagined in Canaan.
This glorious vision will become reality when they are raised from the dead at the “arrival” or ‘Parousia’ of Jesus when he consummates the Kingdom of God and overthrows the “last enemy, death” – (1 Corinthians 15:24-28).
The Gift of the Spirit is not simply or primarily a means for performing miraculous deeds or undergoing mystical experiences. It is the guarantee and foretaste of our inheritance, namely, the everlasting resurrection life we will enjoy forevermore in the New Creation.