Reading: Col. 1.
Redemption in its full scope has been fulfilled, and is gathered
up, into the Person of the Lord Jesus. We are definitely told that
in Him, by Him, and unto Him all things were created. All things
were created by and for Jesus Christ; things in heaven and things
in earth. That is the cosmos. Now, inasmuch as the whole creation
(the "all things" created) has been affected by evil, so that even
heavenly things require purging, it was necessary that all things
should be redeemed, and so the Creator, the One for Whom and by
Whom all things were created, became the Redeemer of all things.
And just as all things were gathered up into Him in creation, so
all things were gathered up into Him in redemption.
Take the first part of that statement: "all things were
created... for Him", and Satan set himself so that the
Lord Jesus should not have all that was created for Him. Satan set
himself. I think it is very clearly and quite definitely intimated
that while all things were created by Him, the "for Him"
represents something more than what He possessed at the beginning
in creation. It throws things forward. "All things were created
by Him". There is the created universe in existence, but
when it says that all things were created for Him there is
something beyond that, something yet to be; and it was in relation
to the possessing of that in all its fulness ultimately, that
Satan set himself, that Christ should not have that inheritance -
not only should not have the created universe as it was created,
but have it in its full and ultimate intention unto which it was
created, for a purpose which it never realised. It was that full
purpose of creation lying ahead as something to be realised and
something to be inherited, of which He was the heir. If you are an
heir of all things, that means you have not got it all yet. If you
really have your inheritance you are not the heir in the strict
sense. If you are an heir it means that you are coming into
an inheritance at some time; you are an heir to something, but you
have not got it. The beginning of the letter to the Hebrews
distinctly indicates that while all things were created by Him,
yet He was the Heir of all things, so there was a fulness of the
creation not yet realised, into which He was to come as the
Satan set himself against the inheritance. The whole question was
one of inheritance and heirship, and the history of the cosmos is
the history of the gigantic struggle for the mastery of this
universe, not alone between Satan and God, nor alone between Satan
and Christ, but man involved, having a part and a place. The
struggle is related to man.
It is with those elements constituting our background that we
take up the matter. If we take as our interpreter the apostle
Paul, with certain other fragments from other apostles, and work
backwards, we have material which works out something like this
(and here you can fill in the Scripture):
1. Redemption of the Human Spirit
Firstly, redemption has its first practical outworking in the
individual human spirit when the whole redemption that is in
Christ Jesus is brought down to practical application; that is
when it is applied and begins to operate, to take effect, to start
on its course, the first point of its application is the
individual human spirit. That is where applied redemption begins.
That is quite definitely in view in chapter 8 of Romans: "The
Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the
children of God".
There are two things about that also to be noted:
(a) A Completed Act
It is a thing which is done in an act once and for all. Our
spirits do not come into the value of redemption progressively.
There is no progressive regeneration. Regeneration is as definite
as a birth, and we are not born progressively. Our birth is not
spread over a period; it is an act. Therefore redemption in its
first point of practical application and outworking, being in the
individual human spirit, is an act, and in our spirits we are
able to say, "I am redeemed!"
But that is not the whole of redemption. There is a good deal
more redemption to come, and yet it is so definite and complete
within that essential realm that we can quite confidently and
assuredly say that we are redeemed.
(b) A Resurrection or Renewing
The second thing is that it is a resurrection, a renewing. We
point this out because you will see a difference in a moment as to
redemption in other directions. Here in the human spirit it is an
act, and it is as a resurrection sometimes called a renewing,
newness of spirit (that is, our spirit under the Holy Spirit),
something new by way of resurrection from the dead, the first
outworking of the resurrection that is in Christ Jesus in the
human spirit. The resurrection of the Lord Jesus has a present
definite value, meaning and expression, and that is in the human
Now, that resurrection, that newness of the spirit which is an
act, is taught by Paul to be the receiving of the Spirit of
Sonship. Resurrection union with the Lord Jesus is unto sonship: "Because
we are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our
hearts, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." So that in the
renewed or resurrected spirit by an act the Holy Spirit in that
spirit constitutes sonship. All that that sonship means has yet to
be known, for redemption goes beyond this, but immediately we cry,
Abba! There is a new consciousness of the nature of our
relatedness to God. It is the Spirit of Sonship brought in by a
2. Redemption of the Human Soul
The redemption which has its first practical outworking in the
individual human spirit in that way, then passes to the human
soul. But the two things about this mark the difference.
This is not a resurrection; it is a conquest. Whenever you come
into the realm of the human soul you come into the realm of a
conflict, a warfare, an active state which is opposed to God.
The human spirit unregenerated is dead. It may be in a sense
alive; it does not mean that the unregenerated have no human
spirit, but it is dead in that sense that it is not working in a
relationship to God, and it is submerged, imprisoned in a living
tomb. When resurrection passes into this second realm, the realm
of the soul, it passes into a realm where everything is now, and
always has been, in a state of active, positive antagonism to God.
The mind as a part of the soul is working altogether contrary to
God, not always consciously, but always certainly.
The heart is working contrary to God. Sometimes we believe that
it is in line with God, and quite sympathetic Godward;
nevertheless when really disclosed as to its real nature, it is
found to be altogether contrary to God. The heart, the desires,
the affections, the feelings, when really challenged by Godís will
are discovered to be other than in fellowship.
The will is against God. The more we go on with God the more we
discover how our souls are in opposition to God. It is the most
advanced believer who knows most thoroughly how the human will is
against God. The more utterly God gets down to business with us
the more we discover what we would never have believed, how our
souls are not by any means the will of God.
The soul represents a realm of antagonism, of active opposition.
So that when redemption passes out from the human spirit to the
soul, it is a matter of conquest. It is in the realm of conflict,
and there has to be a conquest.
But here it is not an act; it is a continuous and progressive
thing. These souls are not redeemed in an act; that is, as a
practical thing, through the spirit this redemption has to
overcome the soul as a daily act. The redeemed spirit has to
overcome the natural mind, the natural desires, the natural will.
That is what Paul means by daily dying. "Always bearing about
in the body the putting to death..." but that is in the
realm of the soul. It is a continuous conflict unto conquest, and
it requires patience, for in our patience we shall win our souls.
"Receiving the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls".
That is the end of our faith.
It is here that the answer is found to a good deal of confused
teaching, and to recognise this difference now is, I think, to
solve the problem, to give the answer. Some people believe and
teach that full redemption in the soul is an accomplished thing,
an act. Certain phrases have been used. It is not always fair to
apply these phrases, such as "eradication", and "sinless
perfection", and "a clean heart". Such phrases have become the
representative phrases of a certain kind of teaching, and it is
all based upon Scripture. Now, what is the Scripture, and what
does that Scripture mean which is used to support this? So you are
flung into the confusion of one set of Scriptures seeming to
indicate that truth, and another set of Scriptures indicating that
it is something progressive, not all accomplished in an act. And
from the Scriptures you can argue quite well for that conclusive
thing, and you can argue just as soundly for this progressive. Is
one right and the other wrong? It is the understanding of the
nature of redemption. Very largely that one set of Scriptures
applies to something which is done at the centre of our being as a
completed thing, an act, and we are there a new creation, and in
that new creation there is no evil. But that is not our entire
being. In another part of our creation, that which is complete in
Christ in the Holy Spirit within our renewed spirit, is being
daily applied, progressively wrought out. Unless we recognise
that, we shall get into confusion. If we take this one line, and
then come up against this other thing we shall say, "What is the
matter? Our doctrine is either wrong, or there is something wrong
You see where it begins, and you see what it is in its beginning,
but then you see the next phase of it, what it passes into, the
human soul, and there as a conquest it is a continuous,
progressive thing. Something is going to be worked out
through conflict, and the conflict is in ourselves, and with
ourselves, and, as we have so often pointed out, the nature of
spiritual progress is that in our renewed spirits we are
constantly saying to ourselves either, "No!" or, "Yes!" From within we
are working against our souls in the natural desire, will, and
thought, and bringing these imaginations, these thoughts, and
these desires into subjection and into captivity, and into the
obedience of Christ; and that is an inward thing. That is
governing the soul.
3. Redemption of the Cosmos
The third phase of redemption, which is at a later point; that
is, at a far subsequent point (at a dispensational point, shall we
call it) applies to the cosmos. It begins in the individual
spirit, or in individual spirits. When it has had its practical
beginnings in us, many individual spirits making up the number of
the elect, and when that has been wrought to a certain point of
development or progress in human souls, constituting a moral state
in believers, then at Godís time redemption expands still further
and moves out to the cosmos.
There are three factors of this final state of cosmos redemption.
(a) Manís Body Redeemed
The body of the believer is redeemed. Redemption will then
actually come out into the physical realm of the believer, and
these bodies will be delivered from the bondage of corruption.
That is not sonship instituted, but sonship consummated.
A resurrected body is essential to the fulness of sonship. In the
case of the Lord Jesus, He was marked out as the Son of
God by the resurrection from the dead. Now, if we are to be
conformed to the image of Godís Son, a part of that conformity is
a physical conformity, because that is sonship in its full sense.
Sonship is introduced by the Spirit of sonship with the first
positive application of redemption to the human spirit. Then
sonship is developed by the conquest, conflict, discipline and
suffering in the moral realm between the spirit and the soul.
Let us put that in a more simple form. How is sonship being
developed in you and in me? It is by the conflict which we have in
the spirit that draws us out to dominion, out to ascendancy, out
to power. In the first instance the overcoming of ourselves. You
and I by our redeemed spirits have got to be in a position where
we command our own souls, and that is sonship getting up. You know
that when people are growing, becoming mature, they are not so
easily a prey to their own feelings, their own soulish emotions.
They do not go down so easily under these reasonings and ideas,
thoughts and feelings, and passions of the soul. They are not
swayed by these things as they once were, by all that which
belongs to the soul, which constitutes the variableness of
spiritual life in the immature, in the babes. You know how babes
are swayed by passions, likes and dislikes, feelings, wants, and
their own childish ideas. You make allowances for babes. But when
you are supposed to be more than a babe and still those things
obtain, there is something very wrong. Growth, maturity, is marked
by the bringing of that soul-life into captivity to the spirit, so
that your spirit rises up when your soul says, "Yes!" and says, "No!"
or when your soul would say, "Yes!" in a certain thing and that
thing is not of God, and you know it in your spirit, your spirit
says, "No!" to that. You govern by your spirit within the kingdom of
your own being. Paul says, "I buffet my body, and bring it into
subjection". That is being strong in spirit in the Lord, by
the Lordís energising; that is spiritual growth.
The end of that is the manifesting of the sons. The manifestation
of the sons is, in its first point, the deliverance of the body
from corruption. It is the redemption of the body. "When this
corruptible shall have put on incorruption". "The
redemption that is in Christ Jesus". First of all He was
quickened in the spirit. The final state of His personal embodying
of redemption was His resurrection body. That is our inheritance
(b) Creation Delivered
The second thing in this third phase of redemption is the
deliverance of the creation itself. "The whole creation groans
and travails in pain together until now. And not only so, but
ourselves also...". The whole creation travails in
pain, waiting! And then with the manifestation of the sons as the
centre of the creation, "the creation itself shall also be
delivered from the bondage of corruption". That is cosmic
redemption. The creation is in bondage to corruption. There is a
redemption that is in Christ Jesus for the creation.
I believe this is very largely the meaning of His life here on
the earth. You notice how closely related the earthly life of the
Lord Jesus is with the creation. Nature in the creation took a
certain course, and always does take a certain course, and it is
always in the direction of death. Death always means limitation,
disappointment, dissatisfaction. Now, when the Lord Jesus came
into touch with the creation, He reversed that. The creation
taking its natural course in death was made by His touch to take
the course of life. He turned the course of nature. If it were
failure, limitation, by His touch it was made fruitful and
abundant. The creation came under the impact of Godís Son, and His
relationship to the creation was one always which saw Him as
Master in the realm of the creation Redeemer. When He died the
cosmos was darkened, there was darkness over the whole earth, and
then the earth quaked. There was a convulsion in the whole
creation because creationís Creator and creationís Redeemer had
died. When He rose the grave opened, here is creation responding
to the touch, as it were, of the Creator and the Redeemer in life.
It is cosmic. Christ is a cosmic Person. In that Person the
universe is gathered up, and wherever you touch Christ, you touch
every phase of the universe, and when you see the Lord Jesus after
His cross, through resurrection in glory, you see the personal
embodiment of the universe. Our whole hope and assurance of
complete redemption is Christ there. Body, soul, spirit, creation,
and all redeemed in Christ, but now as we have seen, being
progressively and in parts applied in a practical way.
(c) The Evil Powers Cast Out
In this crisis expression of the redemption that is in Christ
Jesus the evil powers in the cosmos are cast out. The teaching of
Paul is that the cosmos through this age is governed by evil
powers. This world is governed by evil powers, the prince of the
power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of
disobedience, the god of this age, hosts of wicked spirits under
principalities and powers and rulers of darkness. But there is a
redemption for the cosmos from those evil powers, and the last
stage of redemptionís outworking is the ridding of the universe of
the evil powers; they will be cast out of the heavens and then
they will be cast out of the earth.
Now, all that is true of the whole is represented by Paul to be
true in the Person of the Lord Jesus. All this that we have said
is shown as having already been accomplished in Him personally. By
reason of His Spirit being alive unto God - His Spirit never was
dead, it therefore never needed to be quickened, regenerated,
re-born, or raised from the dead, but it was alive unto God and in
living union with God - He could say, not without a meaning (and
it would be meaningless if it were simply words and phrases
without a practical aspect) "Not My will, but Thine". A
statement like that has no value if no two such wills existed,
that is, if the element of choice never came in. If there were no
choice, what is the meaning of saying: Not my will? The element of
choice was there.
The element of determination was there. The element of conflict
was there. Not that His own human will was in conflict with the
Divine will, but there were other forces at work which sought by a
conflict to get in between His will and the Fatherís will. There
was no sin or rebellion in His own will, but there were rebellious
forces trying to come upon Him so as to make for a conflict. But
His attitude was, "No! Not My will, but Thine." It is
deliberate. "I refuse the workings, the suggestions of this other
will in the universe, and bring My will into line with Thy will!"
Thus His soul was delivered, His soul represented the meaning of
the redemption of the soul. It is not that His soul was redeemed.
Do not think His soul was redeemed, it needed not to be redeemed,
but herein is the representation of what the redemption of a soul
is as working in humanity, with the spirit and will towards God.
The third stage must be a body which represents that which
redemption means, a body which can never see death. He was given
that. Our being in Christ means that that is our inheritance, but
then, beyond man, there is the cosmos. The corruption of nature is
sometimes robbed of its prey. Think of Lazarus: "By this time
he stinks." All right, we will see! And out comes Lazarus,
anything but that. What has happened? Nature has been robbed;
corruption has been robbed. Corruption was unable to hold that, to
grip that, to master, to overcome that. He reversed that, and
brought out a perfectly healthy and whole man. Corruption has been
spoiled. It shows what resurrection is in Christ, that the bondage
of corruption, in which the whole creation is, has been overcome
in the Person of the Lord Jesus, and is going to be overcome for
us in Christ. That is, you and I eventually will have an
incorruptible body, simply because He has gained that body for us.
That will be a great day.
Then, in the final realm the powers of evil are dealt with. He
stripped off principalities and powers. He said, "Now is the
prince of this world cast out." He overcame the evil forces
of the cosmos, of the universe. That is the final expression of
redemption for us, that we shall be delivered from all those evil
forces in this universe with the rest of the creation. The
redemption that is in Christ Jesus secures that. Christ in heaven
is the embodiment of that. That is a great ground of confidence to
stand upon, that the issue is not in doubt at all, is not open to
question. It is settled in the very presence of Christ, beyond the
reach of anything that would raise a question about it.
Our being born anew and having the Holy Spirit is the earnest of
all that, and as we go on in the Spirit we shall come to the full
inheritance as sons in the Son.