Saturday, 8 October 2011

The greatest news in one sentence

On his excellent blog "Between Two Worlds", Justin Taylor offers us these two attempts at "The Greatest News in One Sentence":
“That the greatest good (God) offers the greatest action (love) to the greatest need (wrath-owed sinners) by sending the greatest treasure (Jesus) in the greatest invitation (to everyone) into the greatest life (everlasting).”

—Jared Wilson

“The death of Christ is the wisdom of God by which the love of God saves sinners from the wrath of God, all the while upholding and
demonstrating the righteousness of God in Christ.”

—John Piper, Desiring God, pp. 61-62.
That's certainly great news. If we even got he smallest extra grip upon those things, then it would be wonderful.

But as I'm presently teaching a course in Biblical Theology at a nearby Bible college, I can't help noticing what's missing. The vision in these two quotes - even though a glorious one - is not the full vision.

Both of those quotes present a vision which stops with the individual's salvation and the glory of God in that. They both jump from that individual salvation to the eternal outcome (eternal life, safety from final wrath).

Is that the fulness of the Biblical vision? No. God's vision when he made man was a beautified, subdued, fruitful and flourishing Creation, through which he would reveal his glory. The gospel is not simply a scheme for individual salvation, but for God to reveal the fulness of his wonderful image through man and his work in creation.

Adam aborted that task, through sin. After God "remade the world" through the Flood, Noah was recommissioned; but the watching angels learnt the lesson that it was not a washed world, but washed hearts that were needed - because there was a new "Fall" at the Babel and the darkness afterwards seemed worse than before.

God's plan, which he announced to Abraham, was that through his seed - the same seed as promised to Eve - the effects of the curse would be overcome. The gospel is not "mission aborted" (Jesus saves us and gets us to heaven); the gospel is going to be "mission completed": the last Adam by the power of his Spirit complete the task that the first Adam abandonned. The gospel is cosmic, and is about Jesus overcoming, not just working around, the forces of evil.

Therefore, I much prefer the one-liner given by Doug Wilson that Taylor linked to on another occasion:
"Scripture tells us the story of how a Garden is transformed into a Garden City, but only after a dragon had turned that Garden into a howling wilderness, a haunt of owls and jackals, which lasted until an appointed warrior came to slay the dragon, giving up his life in the process, but with his blood effecting the transformation of the wilderness into the Garden City."
Or, if you prefer something more systematic, just borrow from Isaac Watts: "In Christ the tribes of Adam boast more blessings than their father lost". Or, borrowing from Watts again and from 1 Corinthians 15 but giving a fuller answer:
"Because of his obedience even up to the dreadful, wrath-enduring death of the cross, Jesus as our 'last Adam' has atoned for the sins of his people and risen from the dead and thus been appointed to reign and to reveal the glory of God wherever the sun does shine; his kingdom shall grow until he has put down all opposition and he delivers all things up to the Father, ushering in the final glory which our first father lost the opportunity of."

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