Lately, I started realizing and paying attention to the apparent fact that we Christians (especially me) have had a sense of anxiousness and frustration regarding “increasing sin” in the world – along with this sense and belief that ‘sin’ is generally worse today, and more today, than it has been in history. This feeling and perspective also comes along with a sort of worldview, eschatology/theology and expectation that the world is going to increase and climax in sin before Christ returns again.
Reading the comments below Christian Youtube videos, among many other places that Christians speak up, would make it clear that most Christians would also seem to have this same sense or perspective.
In this same vein, I have sort of always believed that evil will grow and climax “in the last days” until Christ returns. This has led me to try to be wary and careful ‘in the faith’. This “watchfulness” has led even to being watchful and analytical of social and political developments in the world, through the lens of “making sure I stay in the faith until the end“. Getting well practiced in that endeavour has even led to learning about how to see “what’s really going on behind the scenes to deceive the world.” People who have no touch of this way of thinking or worldview may see the way of thinking that I am describing as “conspiracy theorizing”. Well, if there are conspiracies, it is this type of worldview that will discover them before anyone else will.
However, this mindset is not particularly whole. Although there are some noble aspects about it, such as a sincerity to remain with God, somehow, I don’t think it’s quite what God intended for His followers to have. Yet, I also don’t think the remedy is merely to “relax” and stop being discerning. But yet something needs to be resolved here. So what is it?
The case I just described above, about my own mindset and journey, may be a bit more extreme, but it is nevertheless the same system-of-feelings that I see in a great majority in the body of Christ today. Although we have this mindset, something doesn’t square with the gospel – you know, the one where Jesus came and took all sin and evil upon Himself to die for it and save us. Something doesn’t square when we are anxious and frustrated about today’s backsliding culture. Maybe it has a bit to do with the fact that we in a sense are looking at things from the viewpoint of having lived in a Christianized world – which the early church never had. But this is deeper than that. Why do we feel frustrated or anxious about today’s sinful world?
Do we think that the evils of today just happened to go further than God expected? Do we think that the evils of today just happened to go further or higher than what the cross predicted and covered? Here’s a perplexing question that comes to mind: if evil is going to climax in the last days, then how did the cross in the world of 2000 years ago cover this ‘last days’ measure and thickness of evil? Was the world of Jesus’ time as evil as is the evil of this time? Was the evil that came against and accumulated in Jesus really enough to make propitiation for centuries and millennia of evil – including the days before Noah’s flood, and the days before Jesus’ return? And if so, how so? How can one man’s suffering and death on a cross pay for millions of evil sinners committing millions of evil sins against one another? Wouldn’t one man’s death only cover one other man’s sins? How does one cover billions? How is that an equal trade-off? And if indeed the world of Jesus’ day was more evil than today’s world, then how was it so?
The fact is that Jesus’ death on the cross did cover ALL of the sins of the whole world from Adam and Eve’s first sin all the way through until Jesus’ return. The arms of the cross span all of that history from beginning to end. No sins or accumulation of sins at any time in history past or present will ever pile higher than the arms of the cross. The left arm of the cross reaches all the way to Adam, and the right arm of the cross reaches all the way to Christ’s return. But how so? How did all sin and evil get gathered from all of the future and all of the past to put it to death and bury it in Jesus?
Well, obviously, I can’t pretend to know even 1% of the depths and dimensions and beauties of the cross. You the reader may have, and may gain revelation about this that I don’t have yet myself. But I will share you some initial ideas I’ve had as I pondered and prayed about it.
Here is a way that comes to mind which explain how Christ’s death could cover all evil of the whole world – past, present and future. It may hinge on His worth. To carry out a degrading action against something of high worth is more consequential than to carry out the same action against something of little or no worth. The higher the worth, the greater the evil of the sin against it – or at least the greater the consequences must be for the sin. At least in “kingdom” terms it would seem that to sin against a king who is ruling a country must be treated with more severity than to do the same sinful act against a peasant. Follow where this goes logically.
Everything hinges on God. And everything hinges on His worth. Why? How so? For one, He is the Creator. Everything came from Him. He is the source and reference point of everything. Without Him, nothing that exists would even exist. That makes Him of highest and purest worth. His worth is infinitely pure and high. To agree with the way reality actually is is to rightly ascribe to God the amount of worth that appropriately matches His actual worth. Ascribing worth to God is in fact what “worship” or “worthship” is. Worship is actually coming into proper alignment with God’s worth, and with truth, and with a universe-as-it-should-be. In so doing, the universe is healed – because proper alignment fixes things.
God is also of highest and purest worth because of His good nature. All of creation is designed out of who He is. That means that before the fall, everything in creation appropriately matched His good nature and was perfectly compatible with His nature. Creation is “nature“; God’s nature. We can see God’s nature, in nature. His creation, nature, is still all around us. The fall may have brought corruption into it – but it is still His creation. The fall didn’t bring rocks, trees, oceans, whales, clouds, plant-life, jungles, mountains, deserts, insects, birds, waterfalls and rivers. Those things are purely God’s creation. Corruption has tampered with them and altered ‘those things’, but ‘those things’ are purely God’s invention and creation. ‘Those things’ are corrupted good-things.
The shed blood of Jesus has brought ultimate redemption and restoration to all creation. But until the resurrection, we live in the ‘old world’ where nature is still under bondage to decay, waiting for its liberation. Now, here is my point; here is how this relates to the worth of God. Since all of creation is designed out of God’s good nature, and since He is the source and reference-point and centre of all things, that means that all of the best, purest and most childlike qualities that we see in the world around us come from Him and are in Him. This means that when Jesus came in all His purity, He was goodness and purity in fullness and perfection. Jesus was ‘goodness manifest‘. Anything good and pure and childlike in the world – all light and goodness and richness of life – He was the source of, and He was that in it’s actual essence – in fullness. He was perfect goodness for all that we know about goodness in this world.
So keep following this then: think of the worst evils and atrocities that you have heard about. That is what happened in Jesus; that was collected into Jesus. To kill Jesus is to traffick a child for slavery or sex. How so? Jesus was purest-innocence most-unjustly-treated. When innocent people are tortured by others, it is Jesus being tortured by others. All injustice – to all of it’s furthest extremities and most saturated degrees, was collected and wrought in Jesus. As nothing beats His worth, and nothing beats His goodness and purity, so nothing reaches higher than the injustice that He took on and overcame. When Jesus was killed, that’s when Hitler quartered the Jews and others. When Jesus was killed, that’s when every woman who has been raped, was raped. When Jesus was killed, He made every abortion His own. Perfect purity being killed by perfect evil reached its arms around all atrocities in this age, swallowed all of them up in himself, paid for them, took them down into the grave to bury them, and defeated them by resurrection and it’s new hope.
Now follow this one: Justice and truth all flow upward toward the top, where God is. The top of everything is God. All injustice that happens flows upward to Him. If justice is to be dealt with in His created universe, He is the final end and ceiling of everything: He has to deal with injustice and sin in order to repair the universe. Justice upholds glory.
If everything hinges upon God who created and sustains all things, then to sin against this God is a higher treason; the highest. His own creatures rebelled against the hand and power that made them and sustains them. In so doing they became corrupt. In their corruption they forgot Him and lost their acknowledgment or gratitude of Him. If God is the centre, and God is the reference point and substance of rightness, or what is right, and creatures rebel against Him, then things are out of alignment with the Centre. The Centre, the Creator and sustainer of everything, has total authority and power over everything He made – even all which rebel against Him. His created world still needs Him. They are biting His hand, but if He lets go, they perish.
This is unjust – toward God. God could be just, and let go of them as they bite Him. After the fall, for a great while, God had patience with humanity, forgiving them. God was having mercy on humans. Eventually, in God’s project of redeeming the world, while the world was still biting His hand, He implemented a system of animal-sacrificing to “cover” sins. This was a step that was moving forward from mere mercy and forgiveness toward something that would actually remove the sin – though this implementation didn’t actually remove anything yet. The sacrifices were all a fore-picture of His Son whom He would send to be the sacrifice. Jesus was always the only sacrifice. The animals could not actually remove the sin – they were only a picture of Christ – and so God in His mercy counted this implementation as a covering – until Christ. Jesus was the centre of all time; history actually started with Jesus, and spread backward and forward from Him. Jesus was always ‘the sacrifice’ first – and then came the system of animal-sacrifices before His arrival on earth. The preceding system was only all about prophesying of Jesus’ sacrifice.
In short, and to reach my point, here is a quick synopsis of history: God’s mercy covered the injustice of the world ‘biting Him’ until in Jesus the injustice itself (underneath that covering mercy) was removed. When the ‘justice was satisfied’, as they say, the sins disappeared – all the sins of history, washed out and washed off. When Christ was sacrificed, God finally demonstrated His righteousness. We can have peace and hope now: God does deal with that which destroys His universe – He doesn’t merely forgive or cover: He also removes and restores.
In the book of Hebrews, it talks about how in Christ our sins were remitted: cleansed out; cleansed off of our slate. God’s forgiveness of us preceded His justification of us. Ultimately though, in order to protect the universe by keeping it aligned with Him, He had to deal with the injustice. So when Christ died – being infinitely beautiful, good, pure and valuable – justice was actually satisfied. When justice was satisfied, the prior forgiveness became a sealed deal: God could never go back on it now, because the equilibrium of the universe was now restored back to proper valuation, appropriate corresponding alignment, and wholeness. The injustice logged up against us – which was covered under God’s patient mercy and forgiveness – was now removed. Therefore, in Christ’s death is the restoration of alignment for the world – and in that restoration-of-proper-alignment comes the resulting healing. Healing comes to things when they are rightly aligned. Christ restored the alignment; Christ healed the world.
One Man on one cross did cover all of history’s evil, from Adam to Christ’s return. No evil we see today escapes His all-swallowing cross. The All-knowing One saw it all, and specifically covered everything, as He suffered and died. Every evil we will ever see or hear about has been swallowed up and laid to death in Christ. Killing Him was total-evil fully-collected – and His pre-meditated resurrection was total-victory, scandalously-delivered.
In this beautiful death and resurrection is the hope of the world – because justice is satisfied. In satisfied justice we find forgiveness irrevocably sealed. In satisfied justice is the remission and removal of our sin – not just from us, but out of the universe entirely. In satisfied justice there is thereby our realignment with our life-giving Source and Centre of all things. And in our realignment with Him there then comes realignment of the creation given to us. And in the realignment of all things is the healing of everything.
Christ’s death has sealed 3 things for us:
- Forgiveness of sins
- Satisfied-justice and its removal of sins
- Our alignment and healing – and the healing of all things
“Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance…” – Ephesians 1:9-11a
“For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” – 1 Colossians 1:19-20
“For the earnest expectation of the creature/creation waits for the manifestation of the sons of God…. Because the creature/creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” – Romans 8:19-21