As Christians, we talk regularly of Jesus as Lord and Savior. What we don’t talk about as much is what that actually means. We must ask ourselves, “What is Jesus actually Lord of? To what is His lordship and salvation directed?”
Many Christians would answer “He is Lord of my life and He has saved my soul.” The rest of us shout a hearty “Amen!” and don’t think too much beyond this. Is there anything wrong with this?
Well, such an assertion is certainly not wrong. But is it right?
It is not right because it is too limited.
Limiting Christ’s lordship and salvific interests are never good. Such a limited view is not biblical and it doesn’t align with what some of the greatest teachers of the Church taught throughout history.
Let us first look at scripture.
And He who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true” (ESV).
Scripture tells us it is trustworthy and true that Jesus is certainly not just saving individual souls but is making all things new.
What does that mean? It means exactly what it says.
God is redeeming all of His creation, restoring it to what He originally intended. And we must note that “all” is a definitive fully-encompassing word. All is all. There is no part of creation left out.
The first and central truth of Christianity is that Jesus, who is God incarnate, is Lord of ALL creation and is redeeming ALL things. Christian philosopher Francis A. Schaeffer used to explain it directly as follows: “The Lordship of Jesus applies to all of life and the cosmos, and all of it equally.”
And why is Jesus redeeming everything?
Because He is the Lord and Creator of everything. Colossians 1:15-17 tells us,
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
David Mathis, pastor and executive editor of Desiring God Ministries, helps us see the biblical explanation for the utter vastness of Christ’s lordship explained here in Colossians.
“Note the alls — five in the first three verses:
- Jesus is the firstborn of all
- In Him all things were created.
- All things were created through Him and for Him.
- He is before all things.
- In Him all things hold together.” [emphasis in original]
Christ’s Lordship Applies to Everything, Literally
Jesus is not just Lord of our personal lives and salvation, but ALL of creation. John 1:3 makes this clear, “All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made.”
Everything in the vastness of the cosmos was created by Jesus, the Word made flesh. Everything that you can see, touch, think about, experience, even those things which are beyond our own experience, are created by Jesus, for Jesus, are loved by Jesus (For He creates nothing out of indifference!) and sustained by Jesus. This is what Scripture teaches.
And Scripture tell us it is all being redeemed by Jesus as He is making all things new.
So yes, Christ’s lordship and salvation applies to the fullness of creation and the cosmos, and not just our personal lives and salvation. Our view of Jesus’ salvific work must be as large as the Savior Himself.
Thus, we must regularly ask ourselves, are we John 3:16 and Revelation 21:5 Christians as we consider the largeness of the Gospel of Christ?
Faithful Christians Have Always Taught This
Christians have understood and taught this larger view since the earliest days of the church. The Christian church has many important creeds that proclaim what orthodox Christianity has always believed, but the first creed of the Church was a mere three words long, and it said everything. What is that creed? Romans 10:9 and I Corinthians 12:3 tell us: Jesus is Lord.
Lord of what? Christians from earliest days knew whatever you could add to that statement was true. Jesus is supreme Lord over every square inch of the cosmos.
Saint Athanasius of Alexandria, one of the leading teachers of the early church writes throughout his Against the Heathen (335 A.D.) things like,
For if they [unbelievers] had really applied their minds to His divinity they would have not mocked at so great a thing, but would rather have recognized that He was the Savior of the universe and the cross was not the ruin, but the healing of creation.
A few lines later, Athanasius explains,
“…and should one not confess that He who ascended the cross is the Word of God and the Savior of the universe?”
Toward the end of this work, this great teacher tells us Jesus who made “all created things and all creation is the Father’s own and only Word, who ordered all this universe and illuminates it and gives movement to all by His providence.”
Yes, Jesus’ lordship and sustaining, redemptive hand are as vast as creation.
God’s lordship over every part of creation is what has kept Christians historically from creating a false divide between sacred and secular life, between the religious and the every day, from limiting the Gospel to personal salvation.
That is why Martin Luther in his 1520 The Babylonian Captivity of the Church states, “The works of monks and priests, however holy and arduous they be, do not differ one whit in the sight of God from the work of the rustic laborer in the field or the woman going about her household tasks, but all works are measured before God by faith alone…” This is because all these labor in the fullness of God’s creation, participating in that over which He is supreme Lord.
Puritan William Perkins states in his A Treatise on Vocations what was typical in reformational thought, “The action of a shepherd in keeping sheep, performed as I have said in his kind, is as a good a work before God as is the action of a judge in giving sentence, or a magistrate a ruling, or a minister in preaching” because he is participating in the rule, care and eventual redemption of God’s full creation if he does so in obedience to Christ’s full lordship.
And finally, we have that most famous of lines from Dutch Prime Minister Abraham Kuyper who proclaimed on October 20, 1880 at the dedication of Amsterdam’s new Free University, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!” [emphasis in original]
Every Christian must admit as readily as they say “Jesus is my personal Lord and Savior” that that same Jesus is also Lord, Creator, and Sustainer of every square inch of His boundless cosmos. That He is indeed engaged in redeeming every last bit of it.
And so, when we speak of preaching the Gospel, it is about far more than winning individual souls to heaven. It is about proclaiming the full Lordship of Him who sits on the throne over the entire cosmos and participating in His salvific work of making all things new.
The primary question that all Christians must ask is “Is my understanding of the Gospel smaller than or true to that which our Lord, Scripture, and Christian tradition teach?”
Are we John 3:16 and Revelation 21:5 Christians? Our fidelity to the Gospel and what God is doing in divine history demands that we be.
Image from Shutterstock.