The Savior of the World (and DMB)

“We have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world” 1 John 4:14

Do you believe that Jesus is the Savior of the world? This is what the Apostle John claimed in both his gospel and his first epistle. But do you believe it? Do you really believe that Jesus is the savior of the world?

You know how the famous verse goes…For God so loved the world, etc. And then the next verse: For God did not send his Son into the the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.

Then in the next chapter the Samaritans in Sychar declare that they have come to believe that Jesus is the savior of the world.

(And I suspect they believed this because they saw how Jesus was capable of mending the breach of historic hostility which separated Jews and Samaritans.)

But do you believe it? Do you believe that Jesus is the savior of the world? I’m not asking if you believe if Jesus saves individuals who are in the world, but whether you believe Jesus is the savior of the world. Is Jesus the savior of God’s creation and God’s dream of human society living in harmony and exercising dominion as creation’s caretakers? Do you believe that what was lost by the First Adam can be recovered by the Last Adam? Do you believe that the one Mary Magdalene thought was the gardener can restore the Garden?

Here’s what I’m getting at. Christians believe that Jesus is the Savior. That those who believe in Jesus are saved. Amen. But it tends to be believed in a way that is highly dualistic and individualistic. As if Jesus is saving parts of people (souls) for another place (heaven). But the gospel truly told cannot be reduced to saving parts of people for another place. The gospel truly told is that Jesus is the savior of the world.

When we shrink the gospel into heaven and hell minimalism, it comes out something like this: This world is a lost cause, but Jesus will save you from it. And when time is up God will throw the world into the garbage can and we’ll fly away. There’s only one problem with that: It’s not the story the Bible tells! Plato might like it, but Paul didn’t preach it.

The Bible tells the story of God saving humanity and his good creation. The bible tells us that God has a plan to redeem the idea of human society and that this plan is culminated in Christ.

All that can be saved, will be saved. Some humans will set their will against Jesus Christ and God’s salvation and they will be eternally lost. Hell. But though some of the angels and some of God’s image bearing humans exercise their sovereignty to their destruction, it does not mean that fallen angels and fallen humanity will be able to take God’s good creation to hell with them.

No! Jesus is the savior of the world! Not the corrupt fallen system which can best be labeled Babylon. Babylon, with its lusts, wars, violence, greed and idolatry is doomed. But God’s idea of human society as caretakers of his good creation will be saved!

Is this a paradigm shift for you? Well, then get busy and shift your paradigm before you waste another moment confusing Gnostic nonsense with the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ! Because we are in danger of a tragic irony: Non-believers caring more about the well-being of the world than the followers of the Savior of the World!

(See how dualism and dispensationalism will goof us up!)

Is our hope one of dualistic escapism or is it one of redemption and restoration?

What is the blessed hope? I’ll give you a hint. It starts with “R” — and it is the central event of Christianity.

I sure hope you got it right…Resurrection!

A hope-oriented, resurrection-based eschatology is so much better than a doom-oriented, destruction-based eschatology!

(Not to mention that it’s actually the eschatalogical story told in Scripture!)

Here’s what brought this blog on. I was listening to the new Dave Matthews Band album, Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King. In the song Dive In, Dave Matthews is lamenting some of the ills of our world and then he asks this question:

One day, do you think we’ll wake up in a world
On its way to getting better?
And if so can you tell me

Well, if Dave Matthews asked you that question, what would you tell him? Would you say, “No, Dave, it’s never going to get any better. It’s doomed. But you can fly away with us to a spiritual place.” Is that what you would say? Is that the gospel? No, it is not. Yet it’s what is routinely passed off as the gospel. And if this anemic and Gnostic distortion of the the gospel is what is presented to Dave Matthews, and the millions like him, don’t be surprised if they’re not too interested.

Dualistic escapism and doomed fatalism is not the vision of the prophets and it’s not the message of the apostles. The prophet Isaiah spoke of a day when swords would become plowshares and the prophet Ezekiel saw a Temple that would bring healing to the world. The Apostle Peter spoke of a time when through Jesus Christ all things would be restored and the Apostle Paul spoke of creation groaning for a future liberation to be accomplished through the cosmic redemption of Christ.

I would like to talk to Dave Matthews about the hope I have for this world. About Jesus as the savior of the world. About Incarnation and Resurrection. About how the Incarnation is the demonstration of God’s indescribable love for the world. About how the Resurrection is God’s guarantee of the restoration of all things. I would like to tell him that because of the resurrection our present labor is not in vain. How every good work done to bring healing to the world carries over into the resurrection. I would like to tell Dave Matthews that his longing for the world to be a better place lies at the heart of John 3:16 and is shared by the One who can do something about it and has done something about it! I would like to invite him to believe that Jesus is the savior of the world.

I would like to invite you to believe that Jesus is the savior of the world.