Monday, July 17, 2006

The Big Picture of Redemption

The Gospel, God’s plan of redemption, is more than about just providing us with a fire escape from hell. We have not fully completed our Christian duty by telling our neighbor or co-worker about Christ, as important and wonderful as that is. Paul said,
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:4)
We are in a warfare, and God’s plan is to, through us, pull down strongholds, cast down arguments and everything that exalts itself against Him. Everything would include the governments, industries and culture systems of the world. All of these are to be brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

God desires the nations, not to judge them, but to bring them into obedience of Christ. That is what Psalm 2:8 portrays, where God says to the Son:
Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance,
and the ends of the earth for Your possession.
That is not the intent to destroy but to save, for the Father is not giving the Son an inheritance that is going to be destroyed, but one that is going to glorify Him.

All those who have been born again through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are joint-heirs with Christ. That is, we have just as much a share in this inheritance as He does. God is going after the nations and all their systems to redeem them. For the rule and reign of the Lord Jesus Christ entails more than the people — it covers everything.

What is more, God is doing it through His people. The manifold wisdom of God is to be made known by the Church (Ephesians 3:10). This rule and reign belongs to us, too, because we are seated in Christ Jesus at the right hand of the Father (the place of ruling and reigning).

Jesus reigns on the throne, not only over heaven but over all. He is Lord of all. He is not waiting to begin His reign anywhere; He is already sovereign everywhere. Further, His Body is present on earth in tangible form; He just needs for His Body to begin exercising His authority on earth.

The kingdom of God is not all present and not all future. It has already been breaking into this present age, though it has not fully manifested yet. Ever since John the Baptist, the kingdom of God has been forcefully advancing and forceful men lay hold of it. Jesus taught us to pray, “Kingdom of God, keep coming!” (that is the sense of the Greek text). It has already begun to come, but we pray for it to keep coming more and more until it is here in all its fullness.

The enemies of Jesus are already under His feet in the spiritual realm. But He is waiting for God to bring that spiritual reality forth into the natural realm (for all natural reality is based on spiritual reality). When God wants to do something on earth, He does it through His people, to whom He has given authority to have dominion.

When the disciples asked, “Lord will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” Jesus gave a two-part reply. First, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.” Notice that He did not say, “Not now.” The timing of it is for God to know.

But what else did Jesus say in answer to that question? “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses, etc.” This is how Luke writes about the Great Commission, given just before Jesus ascended to His eternal throne to rule and reign over His kingdom. The kingdom advances by the authority Jesus has given us and by the power the Holy Spirit to bring evidence about who Jesus is and what He has come to do.

The death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ changes everything.