The Advent season is the anticipation of the coming of our savior Jesus Christ. My personal favorite song during the Christmas season is O Holy Night. The opening lyrics of which are ripe with theological truth:
O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
While these lyrics proclaim clearly that Jesus is our savior, what is sometimes missed, is how important the existence of Jesus is for our very souls here and now. Our salvation is not only a future salvation of our souls at death, but clearly a salvation of our souls today. With His appearance, our existence suddenly makes sense and hope becomes possible. Along with our own hope, weary creation suddenly feels joyful as well (Romans 8:18-30). The incarnation, life, and death of Jesus means far more than our own personal “end of time” salvation. Our soul’s end of time salvation is but one part of the work of Christ. With the birth of Jesus, humanity recognizes its identity as beloved sons and daughters of God and are thus enabled to see the mind of Christ and compelled via gratitude to do good things today.
Yet, as it says in Romans 8:24-25 who hopes for what they already have? As the song says, the thrill of hope washes over us as we recognize our Savior, yet we know not everything is as it should be. The inauguration of God’s Kingdom has come and has had a profound effect on us even without coming to full fruition. This is often called in theology the “already / not yet” of the Kingdom. We must grapple with the idea that: Jesus came and changed everything, and the change is not complete. While sin and death have been conquered, they linger. As we live by the spirit, through Jesus’ fulfillment of the old covenant (Romans 8:12—4), it is not until His second coming that we see the full scope of reconciliation and the complete defeat of sin and death. This characterizes our current age as a hybrid age; one where the sinful/evil age still exists, in a conquered state subordinate to the Spirit and incoming reign of Christ.
- Our fallen nature and introduction of sin and a broken work through Adam (Romans 5:12-19
- God’s covenant with us that, while not sinful itself, caused us to sin (Romans 7:7-10), because...
- We were powerless to live up to it (Romans 5:6), which is why
- God sent Jesus (Romans 8:1-4), which fulfilled the law, conquered death, and (v2) inaugurated the law of the spirit. This changed everything. But not completely
- Just as there were some righteous when sin reigned, so too now that the Spirit reigns there is still sin, but grace abounds in that sin (Romans 5:20-21)
Sin will not be completely abolished until Jesus’ second coming. Until that time, we live in an era in which we strive to uphold the values of the Spirit. We co-labor with the Holy Spirit to create encounters with Jesus in which people can recognize the worth of their souls and recognize that new and glorious morning.