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From the Garden to the City

January 20 2014
January 20 2014


From the Garden to the City! (starting Sunday, February 2nd)

In preparation for moving into Redeemer’s new home downtown, our sermon series this spring will be devoted to understanding God’s purpose for the city and the Christians who live in them.

It has long been noted that God began history in a Garden, but his purposes conclude in a city. The story of humanity begins with Adam and Eve carefully placed in the garden, which is watered by a beautiful river, abounding with food and is centered on two trees: the Tree of Life, which symbolized their dependence on the Lord, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which symbolized their obedience and trust in the Lord as essential to their maturity. In this story of beginnings, Adam and Eve were not to rest content with the garden, but were to exercise their God-given potentialities as image bearers. They were to cultivate the garden and bear children to populate the world, resulting in a civilization and culture that would glorify God (Gen. 1). In other words, Genesis envisions the emergence of the city.

As we know, Adam and Eve failed in their purpose. The world is now broken. The city of the world touches each and every one of us. Nevertheless, God’s original, urban vision did not end with Adam's failure. Through the Lord Jesus Christ, the second Adam (1 Cor. 15:22), God secures a new world to serve and glorify him. The glorious vision of this new world is, according to Hebrews and Revelation, a new city (Heb. 11:10, Rev. 21:2).

Interestingly, when the Revelation paints the picture of this glorious new city it is revealed to contain a “river of the water of life, bright as crystal” (Rev. 22:1) and the Tree of Life with its twelve kinds of fruit” for the healing of the nations (Rev. 22:2), both prominent symbols in Eden. This clearly indicates that God’s glorious vision for the Garden of Eden will be fulfilled in the Holy City. According to late Harvie Conn, “The city is the fulfiller of the paradise of God...This eschatological strand repeatedly ties the future of the city with the original, sinless past of Eden and its restoration in Christ.”

According to the New Testament, Christians today live between the Garden and the Holy City, taking up residence in both. Understanding this is essential to our flourishing in this world. As citizens of the heavenly city that is yet to come (Phil. 3:20), our fundamental identity is tied to the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet because we temporarily dwell in the city of the world, we are strangers and exiles in this world (1 Pet. 2:11). It is this dual residence and the tension it creates that informs the Christian’s mission in this world. As having membership in the Two Cities, we are to bring the blessedness of the future city to enrich and serve our earthly cities. Though we are exiled from heavenly Jeru-Shalom, we can still be ministers of its shalom. This is our mission on earth until the fullness of the Holy City descends.

Beginning Sunday, Feb. 2nd, and continuing up until Holy Week, Redeemer will trace the storyline of the Scriptures from the Garden to the Holy City. Along the way, we will learn how we ought to live as citizens of the heavenly city in the city of this world, holding forth the hope of the Gospel!


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January 23, 2014 9:17 PM
Looking forward to this new series.