Comprehensively, the Spirit of God Who "brooded upon the face of the waters" (Genesis 1:2) is now at work upon a "new creation in Christ." But with a profound and significant difference. In the old creation everything began and proceeded from the outside toward the center - Man. In the new creation everything begins and proceeds from the inside, and the "outer man", the body, is the final phase of redemption and new creation: "The redemption of our body" (Romans 8:23; 1 Cor.15, etc.).
The work of the Spirit of God has four aspects in this dispensation.
1. The securing of the new man. This is the evangelizing and apprehending of the individuals. In evangelism the ultimate purpose should ever be kept in mind, otherwise there will be weakness in the "converts" due to an inadequate motive.
2. Through the securing, the rebuilding of the new man. In the old creation God built up the man - "formed out of the dust of the earth." ("The first ... is of the earth, earthy" - 1 Corinthians 15:47). In the new creation God begins with the spirit of man, proceeds to the soul and completes with the body. Everything in the new creation is basically and essentially spiritual. See First Corinthians, chapter two. The "inward man" is renewed day by day." Here enters all the teaching on the Holy Spirit and the believer's life in the Spirit, as having been "born of the Spirit," and "is spirit" (John 3:6).
3. Then follows all the discipline, training and growth of the new man. The Spirit of God works to a Pattern - "the image of His Son"; "until Christ be (fully) formed in you" (Galatians 4:19); "God dealeth with you as with sons" (Hebrews 12:7). It is a long and hard transition from the "old man" to the "new", but the end governs all God's dealings and ways with His own, namely the "image" or "likeness" which was the primal concept in man's creation. "Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness" (Genesis 1:26); "I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness" (Psalm 17:15).
4. Then, finally and fully, the Spirit of God is working to constitute the "one new man," Christ corporately expressed; "the body of Christ," "the fullness of Him"; "the measure of the stature of Christ," "the full grown man."
All this comes out at last in full and clear revelation in that Letter of finality, "Ephesians." It is the Man concept from eternity to eternity, and that concept has, like a shadow, been over all God's history with man and man's history with God. Hidden from their eyes in all the strange, inexplicable and mysterious ways of God in individual men of faith and a peculiar people and nation, it has now been revealed to the sons of men, in Christ, that:
"God having foreseen some better thing concerning us ... apart from us they should not be made perfect (complete)" (Hebrews 11:40).
(continued with # 1 - "The Church Local")