How Big is Your Gospel?
Most of us know that the Gospel is good-news in the sense that God is reconciling sinners to Himself through the person and work of Jesus Christ. At the very heart of this work is the substitutionary atonement of Jesus. This is to say that, at the very center of God’s reconciling sinful man to Himself is the fact that Jesus suffers the punishment for and accomplishes righteousness on behalf of all who have trusted in Him.
“…God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them … He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
This is, indeed, a critical element of the Gospel message … an element apart from which the Gospel cannot be rightly understood. But, the question remains, “Is this the totality of the Gospel Message?” Or, asked differently, “How big is your Gospel?” It seems that far too often the message of the Gospel has been boiled down to its most basic principles. The Gospel message can be—if we’re not careful—relegated to a message which merely speaks about reconciliation between individual sinners and God. This is, of course, central, but it is not total.
The sin of man did not merely effect man, but it effected the totality of the cosmos. Creation was thrown off kilter when the centerpiece of creation rebelled against the Creator. Man was created in the image of God as a part (the central part) of God’s good creation. All of creation functioned to display the unique glory of this benevolent, personal and majestic God. The created realm was designed by God to declare His glory (Psalm 19:1-6, Romans 1:20) and man’s relation to creation was central to the manner in which creation displayed God’s glory. Creation was meant to facilitate communion between God and man, to be understood by God’s image bearers as a display of God’s goodness and grace. This would, of course, lead to mankind’s perpetual response of praise and thanksgiving. With man rebelling and turning away from God, refusing to acknowledge the glory of God in creation and seeking to formulate his own futile understanding of creation, creation itself was subjected to futility (Romans 8:20). This is why creation groans and suffers in slavery to corruption and awaits the freedom of the glory of the children of God (8:21-22).
To ultimately and finally deal with the sin and rebellion of man is deal with the totality of what is wrong with the cosmos. Sin caused a universal cosmic breakdown. Dealing with sin necessitates a universal cosmic regeneration. This is why, when Peter asked Jesus about what kind of reward they—those who have left everything to follow Jesus—should expect, Jesus answered, “Truly I say to you, that have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matthew 19:28). The return of Christ is called the regeneration—the renewal of all things. Likewise, Paul as he writes to the church in Colossae, states, “For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in [Jesus] and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven” (Colossians 1:19-20).
The Gospel message is a message which proclaims the regeneration of all things, the restoration of all things, the undoing of all that is wrong with … well … everything. It is a message as vast and glorious as the cosmos. Within the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ lies the answer to everything that is wrong with this world. Within the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ lies the fulfillment for every desire of the human heart. The desire for acceptance is fulfilled in the reality of our adoption and acceptance in Christ. The desire ecological harmony and restoration is found in the return of Christ and the total renewal of our cosmos. The pain of guilt is removed in the forgiveness found in the person and work of Jesus Christ. The hardships of injustice and inequality will one day be completely removed as we dwell together in a renewed cosmos in the manifest presence of the God who does not show partiality .
So I ask again, how big is your Gospel? When you think of the Gospel message do you think of the reality that Jesus has overcome everything that is wrong and broken in our world and that one day—according to the perfect will and timing of God—those of us who have trusted in Christ will experience this perfect life of harmony and blessedness? Is this the hope that we are sharing with the world around us? If not, it should be.