The New Creation
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.
We see how extensive this work is when we realize that it involves all that God has made. Currently, the whole creation groans waiting for its redemption to be made complete. And right along with it, we await the day when all creation is set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of glory God will bring (Rom.8:18-25).
Understanding the message of the gospel in this light gives us a new perspective on how we are to live our lives today. We are not to be merely hanging on, wringing our hands about how bad things are getting, while we distract ourselves waiting for His return. We’re to be busy with what He would have us do.
Those who are saved by God’s grace are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works (Eph.2:8-10). Being the case, we are to find out what those good works are, and do them.
These works vary from the smallest gestures – like giving an encouraging word – to the largest endeavors – like starting a business or bringing up a family.
Whatever that work is, do it in faith, remembering that it has its part in the new creation that has already begun.