Even before Jesus was born, God intended the scope of all He determined to do in Jesus to be no less than all people, all nations (as an example, consider Isaiah 49:6). One objective of the resurrected Jesus was to defeat every enemy of God. That objective would conclude in this: the subjection of all things to God, including God’s son, so that God may be the all in all (see 1 Corinthians 15:23-28). Jesus defeated the alienation of people from God when he surrendered his life on the cross (see 2 Corinthians 5:18-21). The final enemy the resurrected Jesus will defeat will be the death of people (see 1 Corinthians 15:26, 54-58).
The objective is to restore God to the position of “all in all”—the Absolute One who controls everything. Question: Was there ever a situation when God was the “all in all?” Answer: Yes! When was that? That was the circumstance when God through His son created. Interestingly, God’s agent of creation is also God’s agent of reconciliation. When God authorized creation, there was no human sin, death, or rebellion. Because of human rebellion, there was (is) sin in humanity. Because of sin in humanity, there is death in humanity. Unthinkably, God’s own creation rebelled against Him. Because of human rebellion, that which God made was in opposition to Him (consider Romans 8:18-25).
God created as the “all in all.” God reigned as the “all in all” until sin occurred. Through the defeat of all that opposes God, God shall again be restored to His rightful position as the “all in all.” There is much more involved in God’s work in human redemption than the salvation of people! In a fundamental way, the salvation of people is merely a step in the restoration of God to His rightful place as the “all in all!” It could be correctly said that human salvation is as much about restoring God’s holiness over creation as it is about sinful people. That has nothing to do with His great love for us and His willingness to forgive, redeem us! It has to do with the “why” of His incredible feelings for us that resulted in His incredible acts in our behalf!
The problems in our human community (all nations) are beyond humanity (us) to correct. People in past ages have made numerous attempts in a conviction “we know how to fix human problems.” We now laugh at past efforts, former people’s optimism, and former people’s woeful failure—as will future generations laugh at today’s people in the arrogant confidence that they also can do better than we did. That cycle never ends as long as humanity thinks the solution to our perpetual problems lies in humanity itself.
If you think there is nothing to understand in salvation issues, consider this. The key to salvation does not rest in people accepting American cultures, or Nigerian cultures, or Indian cultures, or British cultures. It does not rest in being from a European nation, or a South American nation, or a Far (or Near) East nation. Salvation has nothing to do with being from Australia, or Russia, or Canada. It was difficult almost 2,000 years ago to promote the correct understanding that salvation did not rest on the foundation of Judaism or a foundation of a particular form of idolatry. That understanding is still difficult to promote today—don’t you think (deep down) an American has at least a little advantage in being loved and forgiven by God?
Neither is the salvation issue founded on human knowledge, or human power, or human prosperity, or human aggressiveness. While such things can serve a role if used properly, they—at best—can only serve a role. Salvation is not founded on any one of them or any collection of them. Consider, in context, 1 Corinthians 3:1-11. Even the finest and most sacrificial of men served roles, but all anyone could do was build on the foundation God—through His grace—made possible. What was that foundation? Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ is presented in scripture as God’s foundation or as God’s cornerstone (consider Ephesians 2:19-22 and 1 Peter 2:4-10).
The key to God’s salvation (which includes our forgiveness and other elements of redemption) is having trust and confidence in what God did through Jesus Christ. In context, consider Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1:19-23 and Peter’s statement in Acts 10:34-43.
The issue is not a faith in American Christians, or Nigerian Christians, or Christians in India, or British and European Christians. The issue is what God did in Jesus Christ. It is not faith in Christians anywhere that saves from sin. It is faith in Jesus Christ that saves from sin. Christian focus is on an act of God. Christian focus is not on humanity. Salvation from sin transcends any nation, people, or culture. It rests on what God did in Jesus Christ. It is faith in what God accomplished through Jesus Christ that saves, not faith in a nationality or culture. Christians respond to God’s Savior through obedience, not to humanity’s accomplishments.
Consider the statement made in 1 Peter 1:10-12. Just as in Jesus Christ first there was suffering then glory, so it is with those in Christ. We endure his sufferings with him that we might partake of his glory when all that opposes God is defeated.
FOR THOUGHT AND DISCUSSION
1. Before Jesus was born, God intended what?
2. What was one objective of Jesus in resurrection? That objective included what?
3. How did Jesus Christ defeat people’s alienation from God? What will be the final enemy?
4. What is the “all in all?”
5. When was God first the “all in all?”
6. God’s son was the agent of creation and the agent of what?
7. Because of human rebellion, what occurred?
8. Much more is involved in God’s work of redemption than what?
9. The problems in the universal human community are beyond what?
10. What cycle never ends? Why?
11. The key to salvation (from sin) does NOT rest in people accepting what?
12. Neither is the salvation issue founded on what?
13. What is the key to God’s salvation? Discuss the focus of Ephesians 1:19-23 and that of Acts 10:34-43.
14. Just as Jesus suffered and was glorified, what is also true of us?
Link to Teacher's Guide Lesson 9
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