“In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation …”
The big message today is monumentally important: Christ’s death and resurrection not only save people from something, but also restore people to something. Christ’s redemptive work is neither the end nor the goal of the Christian life. Rather, redemption is the beginning of our participation in God’s work of restoration and transformation in our lives and in the world.
Here is an essential truth I have written about several times before. There are four great themes that describe the unfolding of God’s plan on planet earth. We might call this “the whole story of salvation.”
One of the challenges of our time is that the church emphasizes #2 and #3, but tends to neglect #1 and #4. The church has traditionally focused on the fall and redemption, but has largely ignored creation and transformation.
The “helmet of salvation” that Paul refers to in Ephesians 6 is a right understanding of salvation, and it is also an understanding of how salvation should guide the way we live and work. If we emphasize the Fall and Redemption, but fail to fully embrace and understand Creation and Transformation, we will have a weakened view of salvation which will limit and impair the way we live and work.
Many Christians in our time love the notion of being redeemed from the Fall, but are not nearly as committed to managing creation (the command to “have dominion”) and being agents of transformation (being salt and light). Limiting salvation to the Fall and Redemption is a limited and abridged view of what God has done in Christ, and it is dangerous.
We must fully embrace the reality that salvation is more than Redemption. Creation and Transformation are essential elements of Christ’s work on earth, and they are a fundamental part of the gospel message. Being saved from sin is incredible and wonderful, but it is not the whole story. We must not proclaim a half-gospel. We must not operate from a limited view. We must not be directed by a half-story. We must not follow an abridged version.
We must be faithful to declare and live out the whole story of God’s plan for planet earth.
As followers of Christ, we are created, redeemed, and called to co-labor with God in the process of transformation. We are called to do the faithful work of mending earth’s brokenness. Every day.
The world will not be completely healed and restored until Christ’s return, but until then we are called to bring the grace, love, and the power of God’s kingdom to bear on the people and situations we deal with every day. The world has suffered under the rule of Satan and self, but now God’s kingdom has come. Transformation has begun, and through our every day work we are agents of the process of rest
This is the gospel. This is the good news that in the person of Jesus Christ, the loving rule of God has come to earth, and through Christ, God is at work restoring what was lost at the Fall. And the amazing thing is that the Lord calls us to participate with Him in that work.
This is the whole story of salvation.