Monday, May 9, 2011

Reconciling Heaven and Earth

For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. (Colossians 1:19-20)

It pleased the Father that all the divine essence, power and attributes reside in the Son. But it also pleased God that all things in heaven and earth be reconciled by the Son. These are not two unrelated statements but belong together in a very important way. It was necessary that the fullness of God abide in the Son in order for all things in heaven and earth to be reconciled by Him. Because all things in heaven and earth were created by Him and for Him, and in Him all things hold together. This is, indeed, what makes it even possible for all things in heaven and earth to be reconciled.

Paul speaks about this reconciliation in his other letters, although a bit differently. God’s plan, he says, is that “in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth — in Him” (Ephesians 1:10).
Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11)
Let’s go back to the beginning for a moment, when God made the heavens and the earth in Genesis 1. At the end of that chapter we read, “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). The physical creation was not evil, as the Gnostics supposed, but was very good. However, it fell away from the blessing of God because Adam, who was made from the dust of the earth (as well as the breath of God) and given dominion over it, rebelled against God.

This is why Jesus came — to set things right in the world. For the Gnostics, this simply was not possible because of their belief that the material world is not merely fallen but inherently evil. The amazing thing, though, is that Jesus has not only reconciled heaven and earth, but He did it in a very physical way: through the blood of His cross. The wood of the cross and the nails that pierced Him were real and tangible. So was the flesh of His body and the blood that He shed there. By these material realities, He has reconciled heaven and earth and made peace between God and humankind.

The emphasis here is on the Son. It is in Him, not through angelic intermediaries, that God has done this. It was through the shedding of His blood. Angels could not bring about reconciliation because they are not of earth. But the Son of God is of both heaven and earth, being fully divine and fully human. He is of heaven because He is the creator of all; He is of earth because He “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Jesus is the only one in the universe able to bring heaven and earth together — and He has done it through His own body and blood, and the crudeness of the cross.

The work necessary for reconciliation has already been accomplished. We live now in the time when the benefits of that work are being increasingly revealed in the world, especially in humankind.
For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. (Romans 8:19-22)
In the end, heaven and earth will be joined together, with the kingdom of God fully come and the will of God done on earth exactly as it is in heaven. We read about this in Revelation 21. In the meantime, “the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining” (1 John 2:8).

The Focus of Our Faith
The Focus of Our Faith
Paul’s Letters to the Jesus Believers at Colosse
Bite-Size Studies Through Colossians
by Jeff Doles

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