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"For the scripture says, 'The first man, Adam, was created a living being'; but the last Adam is the life-giving Spirit" 1 Corinthians 15:45 (Good News Bible).
As the soldiers hammered the nails into the hands and feet of Jesus, and the spectators watched the execution, they did not realise that a transaction was taking place between heaven and earth through that one man's death.
It was not just the case of another good man, misunderstood by a cruel world, being killed for his beliefs. No, a marvellous act of God was in process. An eternal event was happening. A legal exchange was taking place in the courts of heaven. Jesus was representing mankind! Just as the shepherd boy, David, wasn't facing Goliath for himself but for the whole of the Israeli nation, so Jesus was not dying for himself, but for the whole of mankind.
In the monarchies of Europe, the continuance of the line has always been very important. Every king, duke or earl hoped for a son to carry on his line of rulership. It was considered a tragedy, especially in the older days, for a monarch not to have an heir, for if he died sonless the line of inheritance would come to an end.
God was putting an end to the line of inheritance from the first Adam, in Jesus Christ. He stopped the tide of contamination and on the Cross Jesus became the last of the Adamic race.
The Bible gives two terms to Jesus. He is not only called 'The Last Adam', he is also called 'The Second Man'. This is because God accomplished two feats in sending Jesus to represent us. The first was in his death, as we have just seen. The second was when God brought him back to life again.
"But the glorious fact is that Christ did rise from the dead: he has become the very first to rise of all who sleep the sleep of death. As death entered the world through a man, so has rising from the dead come to us through a man! As members of a sinful race all men die; as members of the Christ of God all men shall be raised to life..." 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 (J.B.Phillips).
They buried Jesus in a cave-tomb, rolling a huge boulder across the mouth of the cave to seal it. Three days later, when some of his followers came to visit the grave they found the boulder rolled to the side and the tomb empty. Instead, two angels were there. They told them that Jesus was alive again.
This was all according to God's plan. For just as in his death God put an end to the race of sinful men, so in his coming back to life again God was making possible a whole new beginning for us.
When making a piece of pottery, a potter may find that his work has flaws in it. If the reason is because the clay he is using is of poor quality, he will throw that clay away and start all over again, this time using clay of good quality.
That was what God did. The race coming from Adam was full of flaws. He didn't try to patch it up. He got rid of it through Jesus dying on the Cross. Then he started all over again with the best material available...again Jesus. He raised him from the dead and made him the beginning of a whole new race of people. That is why the Bible calls Jesus 'The Second Man'. Adam, the first man passed on to his descendents all his faults. Jesus came alive again to be the second man, to pass on to all those who believe in him all his goodness. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 15:47-49...
"The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven" (NIV).
How does all this wonderful work of God become yours in experience? He has made it so simple. It's a gift, so all you have to do is believe he has done it, and receive it for yourself. That makes it yours! Then, what the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 really is true of you...
"...If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new" (NKJV).
You see, when you receive Jesus into your life a miracle takes place. Just as to be part of Adam's race you had to be born into the world, so to be part of God's new race of people you have to be born. This time it is not a physical birth, but a spiritual one. You are born into the family of God by a miracle.
Now it's a totally different story. This new race of people has a new Father - God himself. Now we take after him!
We have a new nature. We inherit his nature and grow according to his character. Our roots and ancestry are now in God. Just as the dead leaves of a tree automatically drop off because of the new life surging through the branches from the roots, so the characteristics of our old life will automatically drop off as we experience God's life in us day by day. It brings us into a whole new life-style.
We are under new ownership. Our life now belongs to God, and our delight now is to do his will because his plans are perfect for us. The Bible says that God has...
"...rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves" Colossians 1:13 (NIV).
Before, we were under the control of the unseen influence of Satan. Now we are to respond to God's rulership and control. By doing this gladly we embark on the true fulfilment of our whole life. It's not difficult for a person who is surrendered to God to obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit. To walk with him day by day is a genuine privilege and delight. Never again do we have to walk alone. God has said...
"Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you" Hebrews 13:5 (NIV).
...and Jesus said...
"...surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age" Matthew 28:20 (NIV).
We have new resources to meet life's challenges. We can now draw upon his resources, his wisdom, his provision, and his power. Because we've been born into the royal family of God we can come to him freely at any time to share our life's experiences with him and ask his help and direction. The Bible encourages us:
"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" Hebrews 4:16 (NIV).
"...How very great is his power at work in us who believe. This power working in us is the same as the mighty strength which he used when he raised Christ from death..." Ephesians 1:19-20 (Good News Bible).
We are part of the family. Before, we were cut off from God. Now we are linked to him in a close family bond, and are entitled to enjoy all the realms of God's universal kingdom. The angels are God's special messengers sent by God to encourage and help us in life's task upon the earth for him. We may not be able to see them but they are there helping us all the time.
"Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?" Hebrews 1:14 (NIV).
So there it is. The most important fact you could ever know. The great exchange!
Some aspects of the exchange Jesus made is described for us in Isaiah 61:3. He came to...
"...bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair" (NIV).
But nothing could describe it more than what the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:22:
"For God took the sinless Christ and poured into him our sins. Then, in exchange, he poured God's goodness into us" (Living Bible).
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Copyright © 1983, 1996 Paul Collins. All rights reserved. This study may be freely used and reproduced, wholly or in part, by the Christian Church for the non-profit purposes of study and training only, provided copyright and contact information is included.
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