Thursday, June 17

Purposes of Christ's Death, No. 17

These are the last texts we are going to consider. There's a reason I saved them for last, and I think you'll understand when you read them.
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 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 1:7-10 NKJV)
Yep, this is a bit of a summary statement of what the purpose of Christ's death was. The purpose statement is this:
that....He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth--in Him.
God intended for Christ's death to restore everything that was lost in the fall. All the nasty results of the presence of sin in the world are put back into good order through the work of Christ on the cross. Colossians 1 has a couple of verses that say something similar, a parallel text that we can use to help us understand this one.
For it was the {Father's} good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, {I say,} whether things on earth or things in heaven. (vs. 19-20 NASB)
The phrase good pleasure is really equivalent to the word "purpose". It refers to what God wanted to accomplish. It was the Father's good pleasure (or purpose) to reconcile all things to Himself through Christ, and so that's what He did. The peace that comes through the sacrificial death of Christ accomplishes the reconciliation of all things to God. All was lost for us through Adam's disobedience, and all is recovered--and then some--through Christ.

Condemnation for all of us came through Adam, but our justification comes through Christ. Death for all of us came through Adam, but life comes again through Christ. Adam's disobedience makes us all sinners, but Christ's obedience makes us righteous. (Romans 5)

Christ's death is the start of a whole new creation. First of all, there's the new creation within the lives of those who are united with Christ, so that every effect of sin in them eventually will be banished. They are reconciled and adopted sons and daughers, restored to the inheritance lost in the fall.

A new sort of people has been born, a nation in which every person is a priest--they all have the direct access to their Father that Adam once had before it was lost when he disobeyed; and every one is a ruler--they are restored to the state of dominion over the earth that was lost in Adam.

All the animosity between groups of people is also done away with through Christ's reconciling work. Jew and Gentile, male and female, slave and free, rich and poor all are brought together into this one new people--the redeemed out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.

But "all things" being summed up in Christ reaches beyond just the human realm. His death means that He has "disarmed the rulers and authorities", and "made a public display of them, having triumphed over them...." (Colossians 2) The forces of evil that hold creation captive to the corruption that came with the fall have lost the war because of Christ's death on the cross. The forces of the dark side are put in their right place and all power is stripped from them. These "things in heaven" are restored to through Him.

And the creation itself, with all its groaning and struggling, and eager waiting and longing to be made whole again, will get its wish for restoration when the sons and daughters of God are glorified (Romans 8). It will mean there is no more death and decay, famine or natural disasters, no more diseases of the body and mind, no more dog eat dog in the animal world. All is made right; all is restored.

It will be a completely renewed sort of creation: no more cancer, no more mental illness, no more disabilities, no more bodies that grow old and infirm, no more chickweed and dandelions in the vegie garden. All the chickweed I pulled this afternoon has already lost the battle, it just doesn't know it yet. Cancer cells are history in the death and resurrection of Christ; their writing is already on the wall. We will no longer chase our coyote-bait cat back into the safety of the house several times a day, for coyote and kitty will lie down together when creation is made whole again.

All is coming right, for creation has been "set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God". The tide is turned, the battle is won. He is taking it back. The fullness of times has begun with Christ's death, and the fullness will be completely realized when we bring creation into freedom with us when we are fully and finally freed into our glory as children of God. Our glory becomes the glory of all of creation, and all of this exalts the One in whom it is all restored.

Summing everything up, gathering it all together, making things right again--this is the overarching purpose of Christ's death.

And this is what that gloriously renewed, summed up, gathered together, made exactly right creation will look like:

An exalted Christ,
given "the name that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus
every knee will bow
--in heaven and on earth and under the earth--
and every tongue confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord
to the glory of God the Father."

--(Phil. 2:9-11, NET)

It makes you want to sing with joy and bow down at the same time, doesn't it?

Worthy is the Lamb, that was slain...