THE NEW CREATION
THE work of redemption being completed, all rebellion suppressed, and all things subjected to the Father, then shall the Son also be subject unto Him, "that God may be all in all" (1 Cor. 15 : 28). That a change then takes place in the economic relation of God to His Incarnate Son, and so to men, seems to be affirmed; but the nature of that change is not clear. The most obvious and generally accepted interpretation is, that it refers to the giving up of the mediatorial or redemptive Kingdom. Some have said that the words teach us that the office of the Son, as the Image of God, and His Revealer, will be no more needed, or, in other words, that the Incarnation will come to an end. No mediation will be longer necessary; God and man are now brought into immediate communion. But this interpretation has always been regarded by the Church as conflicting with the teachings of the Scriptures respecting the relations of the Infinite Creator to His finite creatures. As Incarnate Son, He is God's Revealer, and Visible Image, and Supreme Ruler, during all ages. His words ever remain true: "No man cometh unto the Father, but by Me."
But we turn from this to the Son's work in the New Creation.
The foundation of the New Creation was laid in the Resurrection of the Lord. As the first creation was to correspond to the conditions of the natural life, so the new to the conditions of the supernatural life. Always and everywhere in God's realms, the external is fitted to the internal, the body to the spirit, the dwellingplace to the body. The new life demands a new earth. It is not necessary to suppose any new material elements, but only a rearrangement of the old. As has been already said, in the worlds as made, such properties were given to matter as would serve to the full execution of the Divine purpose; and hidden forces, which would come into play as that purpose went on. Some of these forces have been discovered, especially in the later centuries—gravitation, electricity, magnetism, the luminiferous ether,—but doubtless many remain hidden.
We have not, then, to believe in the creation of any new matter or new forces. The process of the New Creation involves only new combinations of the existing elements, resulting in new substances with new qualities; and in the unloosing of the hidden forces. What power man has through artificial combinations, we see in the terrible explosives of modern science. What power then, has the Son of God to make all things new.1 Several questions meet us. First, when did the new creation begin? We may note the five successive stages of its progress.
a. Its foundation laid in the resurrection of the
Lord, "the heavenly Man."
b. The new, supernatural life given to His
members. The Church as His body.
c. Their fife completed and perfected in the
d. The place prepared by the Lord for His risen
and glorified saints.
e. The new earth and heaven.
The new creation began with the supernatural or resurrection life, as existing in the risen Lord. He was the Adam of the new creation, and this life is in all His members. "If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature [or a new creation]; the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new" (2 Cor. 5: 17). We see thus that the new creation began in the Head of the Church, and that it is continued in all that are in Him.
1 The important part which heat plays in dissolving existing combinations of the chemical elements and in the formation of new, all know. We see in St. Peter's words that fire is to play a great part in the new creation: "The elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat" (2 Peter 3: 10). Through the dissolution of the old and formation of new combinations, will the new heavens and earth be made. Apparently nothing is annihilated and nothing created.
It is not yet manifested, but hidden in Christ. This manifestation will be made with them, as with the Lord, in the resurrection. Then the world will see in the persons of the risen ones what the new creation is in its highest form. But a further stage remains. The heavens and earth are to be made new. The supernatural life will have its corresponding environment. We cannot say how far the process of the material new creation may be carried on in the earth during the Kingdom period, but it will not be perfected till redemption has been completed, all men have been judged, and all things brought under subjection to the Father.
Another question meets us: Will the process of new creation be confined to the earth, or extend to all worlds? This is one that must be left unanswered. But if, as has been said, angels and men are the only reasonable beings as yet created and all worlds but the earth are yet unpeopled, we must ask as to the nature of the life of their future inhabitants. It is morally certain that if these worlds are hereafter peopled, the life of their inhabitants will be of the highest type—the perfect; for this is most in accord with the Divine perfections, and with the place held by the Incarnate Son as the heavenly Man. To bring men into communion with Himself is the end of all God's creative acts, old and new.
Another question, Does the new creation embrace the angels? must also be left unanswered. As not subject to death, they cannot receive the new life through resurrection. Yet a change may come on them through Divine power, not setting aside their distinctive characteristics, but exalting them into a higher region of being, and bringing them into new relations to the glorified saints.
Regarding the old creation in the light of the new, we see how they stand related to one another. The old in the Divine purpose looked forward to man's trial, and was constituted accordingly. That trial being ended, and in the risen Son the source of a new and heavenly life being found, the new creation can begin. The Redeemer of the old is also the Creator of the new. What a wide and glorious vista now opens to our wondering eyes. We enter into the realm of immortal life. Now we can behold the full manifestation of the love of God to His children, the full fruition of that communion with Him which is given them through the Incarnate Son. Forever abiding in resplendent majesty, the visible Image of the invisible God, Supreme Ruler over all, the heavens shine with His glory. Now from Him through the Holy Spirit goes forth that new and Divine life which we may believe will in due time fill all habitable worlds with its holy and heavenly fruits. Countless orbs peopled with happy and sinless children, the highest possible types of creature being, testify to the love of the Father, who knew the end from the beginning; and to the love of the Son, who, through the weakness and pain of mortal flesh, and the agony of Calvary, became the Heir and Lord of all. Is not such a Universe worthy of a God of all perfection?
If this be so, then the immensity of the Universe, that now bewilders and appalls us, will be the highest testimony to the goodness of God, and fill our hearts with thanksgiving and praise.
We thus see that the purpose of God in His universe, as it has been made known to us in the Scriptures, has the following stages: 1, creation of material worlds and reasonable beings; 2, the moral trial in Adam of these beings and their failure; 3, the work of redemption; 4, at its completion, the new creation. In carrying on the Divine purpose, the Son is the Father's agent. In the beginning, as the Word, He creates. When the creature has fallen through disobedience, He redeems him, giving Himself unto death. As the risen and supernatural Man, He creates anew. In all His work, creative and redemptive, He is the Revealer, the Representative of the Godhead, but redemption is an episode of comparatively brief duration, lying between creation and new creation.
We have now traced in outline the place of man in the universe as determined by the Incarnation. We have seen that human nature is the highest form of creature being because it was the nature assumed by the Son of God. Will man rise to the dignity, the holiness, the blessedness of the place into which he is brought through the Incarnate Son?