For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
– John 3:16-17
In a previous post we looked at the Fall as it is described in the opening verses of Genesis 3. We discussed the effect it had on the whole of creation. Yet there is still a glimmer of hope, even in this dark chapter of redemptive history.
In Genesis 3:16 God says to the serpent in the presence of Adam and Eve:
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.
Theologians call Genesis 3:16 Protoevangelium, the first time the “good news” is preached – proclaimed by God himself.
This verse proclaims “the promise,” a message of hope for mankind. God initiates a plan to rescue humanity and the material universe through the work of the second Adam, Jesus Christ. The details of Redemption, the third chapter of the Four-Chapter Gospel, are developed in the Bible from Genesis 3:15 through Revelation 20.
Redemption gives us a picture of the way things could be:
- The objective of God’s work in redemption is to free people to be what they were created to be.
- Redemption is deliverance of the physical world.
- Redemption restores the life-giving potential of all aspects of the created order, making a degree of flourishing possible in this age.
We must understand the full meaning of redemption. Christ died on the cross not only to save us but also to restore all things. Grasping the full implication of the gospel should make Christians interested in evangelism as well as serving their neighbor and working for peace and justice in the world.
In his book Engaging God’s World, Cornelius Plantinga exhorts Christians to:
…prepare to add one’s own contribution to the supreme reformation project, which is God’s restoration of all things that have been corrupted by evil…According to Scripture, God plans to accomplish this project through Jesus Christ, who started to make “all things new,” and who will come again to finish what he started. In the meantime, God’s Spirit inspires a worldwide body of people to join this mission of God.
God calls his people to be redemptive agents in the world today. Albert Wolters writes in his book Creation Regained,
What was formed in creation has been historically deformed by sin and must be reformed in Christ.
The Bible tells us the scope of God’s redemption in Christ is as big as the scope of God’s creative work. God not only sent his son to die for us, “His redemptive goal is nothing less than to push sin out of every inch and aspect of His creation,” as Mike Williams explains in his book Far as the Curse is Found.
Williams goes on to say that we have been redeemed in Christ for a purpose. That purpose is
…to be redemptive again the reclamation of “all things.” We should not miss what is at stake here. God is jealous for his works. He surrenders nothing to the forces of sin and death. If the Kingdom of God stands for the realization of God’s good will in the world (an affirmation and living out of the way things ought to be) then the loving grace of God lays claim to all things, destroying the Devil’s work and returning every bit of God’s world – every aspect, place, and thought – to its rightful Lord.
We are called to play a part in God’s plan of redemption. This gives us a broader understanding of our calling to work in the world. In my next post I’ll explore how this helps us answer our original questions about markets and morality.