The Cosmic Gospel and the Cross Gospel

I love this from Kevin DeYoung:

Both Ephesians 1:10 and Colossians 1:20 speak of God’s work to unite all things, or reconcile all things, in Christ. And both epistles link this final work of cosmic restoration to the “blood of his cross.” In other words, the re-creation of all things is made possible by the atoning work of Christ.

But how? What does the blood have to do with the uniting of all things?

Consider the logic of the gospel. It’s because Jesus’ death on the cross was a means of expiating our sin and propitiating the wrath of God that we can be adopted into God’s family and have fellowship with him. And it’s because sin has been conquered that Christ can be appointed head over all things and the devil, a liar and an accuser, can have no hold over us. And because sin and the devil have been vanquished death has no sting. And because sin, death, and the devil have been defeated all things can now be brought under the Lordship of Christ, and one day everything can be brought back together in Christ.

Do not think that salvation comes to sinners because God has a cosmic purpose for the universe and individual sinners happen to be a part of that universe. The movement of salvation is not from everything to individuals, but from individuals to everything. Don’t mistake regeneration, redemption, and adoption as byproducts of the larger work God is doing to restore creation. That logic is backwards. Biblically, it’s the renewal of all things that rides in on the coattails of the salvation of sinners. “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Rom. 8:19-21). The creation is waiting to experience the freedom and glory we already experience as the children of God. The next time you are tempted to feel sorry for yourself, or feel unappreciated, or imagine yourself ignored by God, remember: In Christ, you have what the universe is after.

So yes, the good news of the gospel involves more than the forgiveness of sin and the turning away of the wrath of God. Praise God for the grand scope of his glorious purposes. Sometimes “soul winners” and “disciplemakers” neglect this final chapter of the story. But make no mistake: every bit of good news in the gospel flows from the work Jesus accomplished to save his people from their sins. No propitiation, no restoration. This gospel of atonement and forgiveness of sins must never be derided as a half gospel, an incomplete gospel, or a stepping-stone-to-bigger-and-better-things gospel. Everything about the “cosmic gospel” is made possible because of the “cross gospel.”

Peter serves as a pastor-teacher, at home and abroad, resourcing gospel-centred communities.

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