It seems only right that a blogsite which intends to promote,defend, discuss, and champion the gospel should begin with an article that seeks to place the gospel where it ought to be placed – at the heart of reality.
Apart from the gospel there is nothing. It is the only life source for a world living in death. It is the only light in thick darkness. It is the truth in a universal web of lies. It is vibrant hope where there is only hopelessness. The gospel is everything.
It’s effects are universe wide. The gospel is God’s unveiled plan to renew a sin-corrupted universe. Cosmic recreation is the vision of the gospel. God is big and thinks big. And if we have any inkling of the brokenness of our universe we will realise that only a big God with a big vision could do anything about it. The world was created by God and was created good. Its goodness and lay in its perfect harmony with its Maker. Everything in the world was ‘right’ and so everything was delightful.
But something terrible happened. It seemed at the moment small, almost insignificant. That too was part of the baneful lie. A created being, the highest order of physical creature, a human being made and placed above all creatures, intended to both reflect his Creator and represent creation, decided to infringe this harmony and choose a direction denied by the Creator.
Everything was Adam’s (and Eve’s) to enjoy – everything but one forbidden fruit, yet Adam (against all reason and experience) plucked the fruit and ate. It was an act of wilful folly that plunged Adam and the creation he headed into darkness, destruction and death. It could not be otherwise. For to rebel against harmony can only create chaos. To turn from life is to embrace death. To reject truth is to believe the lie. To despise the good is to cherish evil. Today we live in a creation with chaos, evil, decay and death stamped on its DNA. Sin is a virus that has diseased everything. It is a corruption that places a death-pallor on all life. It is a violence that challenges everything good, even the rights of God himself. Human beings are unable to control the evil within far less the evil without. Creation hurtles like a runaway train to destruction.
And destruction must be its terminus. Again, it cannot be otherwise. A good God cannot sanction an evil world. He cannot be God and good and be indifferent to the monstrous evil of creation rejecting its Creator and worshipping created things. Such corruption is of the worse kind. To despise the Infinitely Good must be the worst of all acts; it is unjust and wicked. God who is just and loves justice cannot tolerate injustice. A God who is holy cannot live with wickedness. The diseased creation must be eradicated. The rebellious Kingdom must be quelled. God can and will do no other. There is a penalty that fallen creation cannot escape and that is cosmic death, everlasting destruction; it is the entail of sin. The outlook, however we look at it, is desperately bleak.
And that is where the gospel comes in. It is God’s rescue package for a hurtling universe and it starts with rescuing the creatures who first caused it all, us, human beings. The good news is that God is good and gracious. He is not by nature vindictive. He is, above all, merciful and compassionate. The good news is the welcome news that he loves us despite our rebellion and has planned our deliverance. The gospel is the inconceivably glorious news that God has personally taken up our cause. He has entered creation, our existence, even our humanity. He has become one of us in order that he may take upon himself the penalty that lawlessness must inevitably bear, the penalty of death; the good cosmic judgement of the good cosmic Judge is borne by the Judge himself.
In concrete terms it is the story of Jesus Christ. In Jesus, God became one of us. He became one that he may die a violent death, a death that revealed the incalculable nature of our wickedness (for we who turned away from God in the beginning now show the full evil of our hearts; we will kill our Creator given the chance) and the incalculable love and grace of God (for he laid upon his Son the iniquity of us all).
In Jesus the cosmic penalty is borne, the cosmic consequence is absorbed, the cosmic end is executed. He dies and a universe is reconciled. He dies and then relives. He dies and in his death the old creation dies too: he relives and in his resurrection a new universe is born, a new creation gives its first bud. As the first of a new creation, the same but profoundly different he is able to enter heaven itself. He is the God-Man enthroned by God as King over all creation ruling the course of history until it comes to its appointed end when every knee will bend in confession that God is indeed God and is so through a crucified Christ.
How do I bring this snapshot of the gospel to an end?
It is just a snapshot. So much more can and should be said. Read the Bible for yourself and fill in the many gaps. For example, we must avoid assuming from the above brief scan of the gospel that all will live happily ever after. That is not how the story works. The old rebellious creation will still be destroyed and all who insist on belonging to it will be destroyed too. Only in Jesus is new creation birthed. God has begun again in him. He is the continuity between the new and the old. In his death he ends the old and in his life he births the new. The good news is that faith placed unreservedly and whole-souled in him rescues us from the dying and soon to be destroyed world and birthed into the now living and coming new world by uniting us with him.
Faith in Jesus transports us from the old to the new, from the realm of death to the realm of life.
But there is a cost. There is always a cost.
The cost is that we die to the old world where self is enthroned and Christ was crucified and give our loyalty to a rejected King. From the world’s perspective this is an act of treason. It will make us outsiders. It will make us misfits. We will be hated and hounded. We will be despised and scorned. We will be treated just like the rejected King whom we serve. And we will be restless in ourselves. We will be longing for the full new creation over the horizon, the New World to Come. The New World is where we belong and is the only place we will feel truly at home. Here we will always be square pegs in round holes. We will always be in a spiritual battle, fighting the world, the flesh and the devil – the spiritually destructive powers of the old creation. Our calling here will be to champion, as loyal soldiers of the rejected King, his cause, his Kingdom concerns, and his glory. We will proclaim to those who live in the kingdom of darkness the gospel of the Kingdom of God, the good news of new creation. We will do so with all our energy so that they may be rescued from a dying Kingdom and creation and become followers of the rejected King, those longing for and hastening the Kingdom of God.
The biblical story of the Cave of Adullam provides the backscape for the imagery of the previous paragraph as those familiar with the story will know.