All themes in the Bible connect to the gospel. Since the last few posts have been on the ground, it is worth asking the question: how does the ground relate to the gospel? The gospel is the good news of God becoming man, dying our death, and conquering the grave—all to rescue us from the threat of condemnation. The gospel encompasses the entire career of the Lord Jesus. The life and work of Jesus overlaps with the theme of the ground at a few key junctures. These junctures can be grouped into three themes.The Gospel Affirms our Creatureliness
Being created from the dust links us inviolably to the earth. God fashioned us to live here and he placed his stamp of approval upon our earthly existence (Gen 1:31). The incarnation is a further affirmation that our creatureliness is good. God becomes a creature. The one from above assumes an existence from below. The one who makes men from dirt becomes a man of the dirt. The simple fact that God comes as one of us communicates volumes. The resurrection is yet another affirmation of God’s high opinion of the way he fashioned human beings. Jesus is the first man to be raised from the dust of the ground. He alone has taken the journey through death to a perfected human life. Resurrection is about restoring our humanity. It is about remaking us into the earthly creatures of his original intention. The Gospel Restores our Creatureliness
The sin of Adam is properly defined as a transgression of creaturely boundaries. Adam grasped for divinity. He reached for knowledge and abilities that were beyond his human capacity. It is sin to reject what you are and reach for what you cannot be. Gerhard Forde does a brilliant job of explaining the connection between our creatureliness and the gospel. The following excerpts are from his book, Where God Meets Man: Luther’s Down To-Earth Approach To The Gospel.
“The temptation is for man to refuse his creaturehood, to refuse his humanity, to refuse to take care of the earth and to become a god…the fundamental point to begin with, is that man is man and not God. Man is a creature and is to remain a creature. If he attempts to step beyond the limits of his creaturehood, as did Adam, he commits the prime sin…the fall of man is therefore a fall from faith. What happens is that man succumbs to the temptation to overreach himself. He denies his creaturehood and his humanity and attempts to take up the mantle of God.” “The purpose of the cross is not to pay a debt which man owes for not making it to heaven, not to assist man in his aspirations toward some kind of religious perfectionism. The purpose of the cross is to create that faith which man has lost, that faith that enables him to live as a creature on this earth. The cross and resurrection therefore is that power which makes new creatures; it makes anew the kind of person intended for this earth. “The gospel is strong enough to make and to keep us human, to enable us to live as we were intended to live–as creatures of God…grace is the power of God revealed in Christ which destroys the unnatural, destroys man’s refusal to be natural. Grace thus makes nature what it was intended to be. In that sense grace perfects nature–not because it adds what was lacking, but precisely because it makes nature to be nature once again. The grace of God is a power strong enough to make and keep us human. It does this because it makes us give up our attempts to be gods, our attempts to control our own fate and enables us to wait as creatures of this earth in faith and hope for what God has in mind in the future.”The Gospel Restores the Earth
The gospel is about renewal. The envisioned restoration is cosmic in scope. The death of Christ was accompanied by a quaking earth (Matt 27:51). On his brow was a crown of thorns, a symbol of the curse of the ground (Matt 27:29). He did not just come for the creatures of the ground, but the ground itself. He came to restore the entire world he had fashioned in the beginning. His coming was a response to the groaning earth (Rom 8:22-28). His death and resurrection touched the outermost parts of the universe. His saving work accomplishes a universal reconciliation (Col 1:19-20). The new heavens and the new earth are the fruit of Christ’s redeeming work (Rev 21:1). God’s plan and promise to restore the world is another window into God’s attitude toward our lives on this planet. Our final destination is not heaven, it is a renewed earth. The story of humanity begins and ends on the soil of this planet. We were made to be here. God could not make that more clear.