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A New Man

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
December 24, 2023 12:01 am

A New Man

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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December 24, 2023 12:01 am

Since the fall of Adam, every person has been born in sin--that is, until the miraculous birth of the Second Adam. Today, R.C. Sproul explains how Christ has come to deliver His people and to restore what Adam had lost.

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The first Adam brought shadow and darkness and death.

He failed in his task to mirror and reflect the holiness of God. The second Adam, perfect, obedient, God incarnate, the express image of His person, revealed to us not only what it means to be human, but He revealed in His person the very glory of God. In pulpits, in pageants with the children of your church, and in Christmas hymns, but even with these annual reminders, we can forget the theology of Christmas, the significance and wonder and glory of the Incarnation. Today, from a special Christmas address that R.C. Sproul gave to friends and supporters of Ligonier Ministries back in 2013, you'll hear about the mission of Jesus and why the author of Hebrews describes Jesus as the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint or express image of His nature.

Here's Dr. Sproul. Let us recall that in God's creation of the first man, the first human being, Adam, that Adam as well as his wife were created in the image and the likeness of God. Now again, we enter into a realm of tremendous debate historically as to the question, what constituted then and now the image of God in man?

The Roman Catholic Church took the position that when Genesis says that Adam was created in the image and likeness of God, that image referred to one thing and likeness to something else, but historic Protestantism has rejected that view in saying that the reference to image and likeness refer to the same thing that is found in Adam. That sense in which the creature made by God was in some way like God. Of course, this was not to obscure that vast difference and distinction between the Creator and the creature. Whatever else Adam was, he was from the day of his creation a creature, not a deity. But there was something about him that was like his Creator, and that we call the Imago Dei, or the image of God in man. Now again, the traditional view is that the basic way in which Adam was like God was that God is a conscious, intelligent being, and He created a creature with a capacity for thought. He created a creature with intelligence, that this was an attribute that was possessed by God that could be communicated to one of His creatures. There are many attributes of God that are not communicable to creatures. God is self-existent. No creature is self-existent by definition. God is eternal.

Creatures are temporal. God is omnipotent. We are not. He's omniscient.

We are not, and so on. Many differences between us, but God thinks, and we can think. God makes decisions. God chooses to do certain things. God is what we would call a volitional being, a being who has a will. Throughout sacred Scriptures, we hear again and again of the will of God and the creature that He made in His image. He communicated to that creature the capacity to make choices, to make decisions. Adam was a volitional creature, a creature with a will. And so on we go that God is a being who has the capacity to love and to care, an effective aspect to His being that He communicates in some way to Adam so that Adam was not in his thinking and in his willing and indifferent creature. He had the ability to love.

He had the ability to not love. And so we see all these things, and then we read in the early chapters of Genesis of the greatest disaster in human history, the most catastrophic event that has ever taken place on this planet when our first parents fell into sin and with their sin brought ruination. As the Scriptures tell us, because of Adam's sin, the whole rest of the human race has since that time suffered from the ravages of what we call original sin.

Now there's confusion about that concept. Many people think that original sin refers to the first sin by Adam and Eve. No, original sin is not a description of the original sin.

Rather, original sin refers to the results of the first sin, the consequences of that first sin by which in God's judgment on that sin the whole human race suffers a corrupt nature, a nature with which we are born. That's what we're talking about with respect to original sin, that no one is born righteous. No one is born in a state of innocence.

Now we speak of innocent babies. They're innocent of actual sin. They haven't committed any actual sin yet, but they have a sin nature. In sin did my mother conceive me, David remarked. I was born in sin, and so are we.

By nature, born in sin. Again, controversy rages over the extent of that consequence. How far has that image been damaged? To what degree has our being made in the image of God been marred? In the Reformed faith, when we describe the extent of sinfulness in our natural condition, we often use the phrase total depravity. I trust that most of you are at least familiar with that term.

You've heard it. You may be loath to have to define it, but you're familiar with it. And we often make the distinction between total depravity and other depravity, which also provokes more controversy. But there is a reason why that distinction is made.

Principally, it's this. When we define the image of God by which Adam was created, we talk about the image of God in the narrow sense and in the wider sense. The image of God in the narrow sense refers to our ability in creation, Adam's ability in creation to mirror and to reflect the holiness of God, his capacity for righteousness, his capacity for obedience to God, his capacity to have a will that is inclined and disposed towards the things of God. That's the narrow sense of the image of God. The wider or the broader sense of the image of God refers to our faculties as human beings, the things that I mentioned earlier, our thinking, our willing, and our affections. Now, we still are people who John Calvin said have the capacity for civil righteousness, unbelieving mothers still will sacrifice even their own lives to save their children.

They still have affection for their husbands. And so even though the image of God has been radically tarnished, our humanity remains intact. We know that from these later chapters in Genesis in the days of Noah where God institutes capital punishment.

Why? Because he decrees that by those who kill people by man shall they be killed because the murderer kills a person who is in the image of God and so that the image of God is still there in some capacity. Now I labor all of this to understand the significance of Christmas. On Christmas Day, the babe was born in Bethlehem with a navel but without original sin. This was a new Adam where the image of God was perfectly intact. He was like us in all ways except without sin. He was born of a virgin but without original sin.

Now, the contrast between the first Adam and the second Adam is what Paul labors here in Romans 5 and elsewhere in 1 Corinthians. By one man's sin, death, destruction came into the world. By the second Adam's obedience and righteousness comes life and justification for his people. Without the life of Jesus, the death of Jesus would have been meaningless for us. For him to atone for our sins, he had to come to that task after being perfectly obedient to the law of God.

Only a lamb without blemish could offer an atoning sacrifice for his people so that it's not just the death of Christ that saves us, it is his life. And it is his life of perfect obedience, what we call his perfect active obedience. We distinguish, as I've mentioned in the past, between the passive obedience of Christ and the active obedience of Christ. And that distinction has to do with this, the passive obedience. Passiveness is when something acts upon you.

It's not something that you initiate or that you act out on your own. But often we will say, when we think of friends that we went to grade school with and haven't heard from in years, we will say something like this, I wonder whatever happened to Linda Huffington? Because we assume that things happen to people.

We don't say that we wonder what Linda Huffington has done, but we worry about what has been done to her and in what ways she perhaps has suffered. That's what we mean by passiveness. And Christ was sent to the cross by the Father, and He obeyed passively. He was a victim, and by His death comes life for His people. But His active obedience has to do with His perfect life under the law. Again, the apostles tell us as part of the gospel that Jesus Christ was born under the law, but not under sin. Unlike Adam who disobeyed, the Son of God never once turned away from the vocation that the Father had given. He was born to save, born for righteousness, born to be our Redeemer. And without that righteousness, He could not qualify. Through Adam's sin, I fall. Through Jesus' obedience, I am made alive.

What a huge difference. You know, when we look at the apostles' creed, there's some strange elements in that. If you were in the apostolic community or in the first century church or early second century, we don't know exactly when the creed was written. It was called the apostles' creed because it was an attempt to be a brief summary of apostolic teaching. And there's so much in the New Testament about the person and work of Christ. So whoever wrote the apostles' creed had to be selective.

And you can see why they would select certain elements. I believe in God the Father Almighty. How basic is that to our Christian confession? Maker of heaven and earth and Jesus Christ is only Son and our Lord. Of course that would be in the creed. But why would you put in there 700 Pontius Pilate? Of all the personages that encountered Jesus during earthly ministry, why does Pilate get singled out to be included in the apostles' creed? There is one theory that has been offered from the earliest days of the Christian faith that Pilate was not acting at the trial of Jesus as an isolated individual, but rather a persona publica, a public person who was appointed to render a judicial conclusion, an official judgment about Jesus. And this, like Balaam prophesied in spite of himself, so in the providence of God a judgment was made by Pilate that transcended his own intention. And that's why people find so much wealth and richness when, after declaring, I find no fault in the man, he presented Jesus before the clamoring multitude with the words, echa homo, behold the man.

I don't think Pontius Pilate had the vaguest idea of what he had just said, because that pronouncement, echa homo, behold the man, he was asking the people to see what true humanity looked like. When the author of Hebrews with its high Christology waxes eloquent about Jesus, how does he describe Him? It says of Jesus that Jesus was the express image of His person, referring to God, the brightness of His glory.

That concept that I've just mentioned to you is something that could occupy your thinking and your contemplation for the rest of your lives, and you would never plummet's depths. The express image of His person, the author of Hebrews is saying that the full image of God is manifest in Jesus, not just in the wider sense, but in the narrow sense. Everything that God intended humanity to be is revealed and shown in the life of the new Adam, of this perfect One, who is the God-man. Not only is He the perfect man, but in addition to be the perfect man, the author of Hebrews calls Him the brightness of His glory.

Now you think about the Christmas story that you've heard every year for as long as you've been able to hear of the story of what happened in the plains of Bethlehem after Mary and Joseph made that arduous journey, dangerous journey from their home to Bethlehem in obedience to the decree of Caesar Augustus. And what happened just a short distance away from the place of the birth of Jesus when the angels announced this event to the shepherds who were watching their flocks by night, and the glory of God shone around. And you go through the Old Testament, and you see those moments when the divine glory is made manifest.

The refulgence, the brilliance, the brightness that is more intense than the noonday sun. Come to the New Testament where the Apostle Paul on the road to Damascus was thrown to the ground, blinded, not by the desert sun, but by the glory of God. And the author of Hebrews tells us that that glory that shines so intensely is illumined by the second person of the Trinity, that God the Son supplies the brightness to the glory of God. The first Adam brought shadow and darkness and death.

He failed in his task to mirror and reflect the holiness of God. The second Adam, perfect, obedient, God incarnate, the express image of his person revealed to us not only what it means to be human, but he revealed in his person the very glory of God. That's the mystery of Christmas, that the new Adam has come to give us new life, to promise us a human existence that will be perfect and glorified and will last forever and ever and ever. He wasn't created. He was born. And that's what we celebrate at Christmas.

And what a celebration it is. And may what you just heard on Renewing Your Mind be a help to you as you gather today with your local congregation and as you celebrate Christmas tomorrow. It's likely that during this Advent season you read from Luke chapter 2 as Luke recounts the birth of Christ. Today only you can request R.C. Sproul's commentary on Luke for a donation of any amount at

Dr. Sproul will walk you through the Christmas story and every verse of Luke in this expositional commentary. Request the hardcover edition today only when you give a year-end gift of any amount at This offer is only available until midnight and will not be repeated next Sunday. So respond today while there's still time. Next Sunday you'll hear a passionate sermon from R.C. Sproul and his plea that none of us would neglect this great salvation that is found only in Christ. Join us next Sunday here on Renewing Your Mind. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-24 02:41:33 / 2023-12-24 02:48:21 / 7

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