It’s not uncommon for the gospel to be understood in very personal and other-worldly terms. In other words, the gospel is viewed as a message given to individuals so that they would respond in faith and have assurance of heaven when they die.
The message typically goes something like this. . . Jesus came, died, and was raised again for your sins. Repent and believe and you will be forgiven of your sins, and experience everlasting life in glory when your days on earth are over.
This message is true enough, as far as it goes. The problem with it, though, is that it often leaves those who believe it living little differently than they were beforehand. Yes, they have the hope of heaven in their hearts, but they don’t have a clear idea in their heads of what they are to be doing until they get there.
It’s because of this we need the full picture of what the gospel is all about. Yes, Jesus came to save individuals from hell and bring them to heaven. But there’s more.
In the gospel, Jesus Christ is declared the Lord of all things in heaven and on earth. As Lord he is making all things new. The message of the gospel, then, is about more than simply the salvation of individual souls. It is about nothing less than the renewal of all of creation.
This new creation was initiated and secured at the time of Christ’s resurrection. When Christ was raised from the dead, he was the “first fruits” of what is to come. And what is to come? The subjection of all things to Christ so that God would be “all in all” (1 Cor.15:20-28).
Individuals become an active part in this new world as they are joined to Christ by faith. The Bible tells us “if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things have past away, behold new things have come” (2 Cor.5:17). As a result, individuals who trust in Christ are not simply waiting for heaven, but are participants in the redemptive work God is doing now.