In a recent post I wrote about the dawn of Jesus’ first coming, the new day into which we’ve been transferred (Colossians 1:12-14). “The darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining” (1 John 2:8; cf. 2:17). The tricky thing is that the darkness is not yet gone; the sun of righteousness (Malachi 4:2) has not yet reached its zenith. We still live in “this present evil age [aeon; also translated frequently as world]” (Galatians 1:4). The new age of God’s kingdom, the age of the Second Adam has begun, and its brightness shall surely reign (Revelation 11:15 ff.), but the age of the First Adam has not yet disappeared.
I feel this tension in my own life.
As a friend keenly observed, Christ’s Resurrection put an end to all powers and authorities of this age, including death, sin, and all personal and systematic evil. They no longer have mastery over the Messiah-King and those who belong to him (1 Corinthians 15:24-27; cf. Romans 6:9; 2 Timothy 1:10). For us, to hear and trustingly receiving the message of Jesus, of the manger and
In baptism and through faith, we have had the Holy Spirit poured out on us and have been joined to this New Man. We are made partakers of and participants in “the powers of the age to come” (Hebrews 6:5; cf. Romans 6:3-11). “Now to be baptized and so buried with Christ into His death is, in union with Him,” writes Richard Jungkuntz, “to have received and accepted God’s verdict of guilty and His cataclysmic judgment of death on the whole old aeon to which a sinful man belongs. Baptism therefore means the end of the old aeon” (The Gospel of Baptism, 2nd ed., p. 62). And this death—of the old age and of the power and guilt of sin in our lives—happens nowhere else than at the Cross.
It is precisely because of the Cross that our lives look so sin-plagued and lackluster: the victory is a hidden one. Sinful men, following the reign of Satan and Religion and
We who are baptized, who trust in the Rescuer, live between two worlds; both are present inside us as long as we live in “this body of death” (Romans 7:24). The question is, Which reality will we choose to live in? Will we continue to believe in the powers of the old world, or will we believe that Christ as Lord has effected a radically different order, one that lasts eternally (1 John 2:17)? Now the kingdom lies hidden, and we must go to it where it is found: in dying to ourselves, embracing God’s judgment on our sinful nature, and taking those painful yet liberating steps to walk in newness of life. As Jesus died and triumphed through a shameful public death, we participate in the Cross by confession, bringing our shameful sins to the light before God and others. And so, one day soon, though our eternal life and righteousness are hidden with our Savior, “when Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:3-4).
“Being dipped under the water and emerging from it indicate the power and effect of Baptism, which is simply the slaying of the old Adam and the resurrection of the new man, both of which actions must continue in us our whole life long. Thus a Christian life is nothing else than a daily baptism, once begun and ever continued.” (Luther’s Large Catechism, IV, 65)