Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life.
James 1:12 (MSG)
It all began in Eden, in the Garden. God created Life (Genesis 3). It will all begin again in the Garden restored (Revelation 22). Life.
Yes the whole story, our story, is a story of Life! Between the comings of Christ, the whole creation is still suffering from a lack of Life. In these fallen chapters, sin has taken its toll.
When our hero arrives for the first time, Jesus of Nazareth comes incognito. Disguised as a carpenter He comes, and He declares and offers why He has arrived, what His mission is all about… Life.
I came that you might have Life and have it to the full.
John 10:10 (NIV)
This word Jesus announces for Life in the Greek is the word zoé...
Life real and genuine, a life active and vigorous, devoted to God, blessed, in the portion even in this world of those who put their trust in Christ, but after the resurrection to be consummated by new accessions (among them a more perfect body), and to last for ever.
(New Testament Greek Lexicon for more on zoé)
Now, to receive this Life, all that is needed from us is to take God up on His offer. If Jesus is Life then it only makes sense that to get Life we must receive Him. This, receiving Christ, is the glorious beginning, but to truly enjoy the Life he offers is another journey, altogether. We are and will be restored... made over and into our truest selves. This is also part of the Larger Gospel—not only a transaction but a transformation. For we know that the full work of Christ—Cross, Resurrection, and Ascension—accomplished what we needed to come alive… to move from being dead in sin to alive in Christ (Romans 6) is a mystery so great that it can only be enjoyed, not fully understood; and then the journey of newness begins. God initiates, again, and removes our infection; takes away that which encumbered us, and the breath of life enters our hearts and souls, again, and we are “born again” (John 3:3,7) so that we can become more.
Pause for a moment... This is no small matter. We are resurrected in the spiritual realm?
Really?… Brought back to Life?... Astonishing!
And all motivated and fueled by Love. He loves His image bearers so much… He loves all of His creation so much that he pays for it, winning it back from its fallen state and evil landlords. And at His coming back, his second coming, He will bring His claim to it all. The oppressive war for Life will end, and the beginning of the celebration of Life eternal will begin.
Forgiveness is a grand thing to be sure. Who can in any way diminish the work of the cross? But that is not the Gospel—at least not the Larger Gospel. The Larger Gospel declares that we are forgiven through the amazing and awful Cross so that we may have Life and have it more abundantly. The cross digs us from the grave; the resurrection catapults us into Life—Life from God, through God, by God, and for God! He ransoms, redeems, and is now restoring us to our former glory!
Whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:16-18
And now, for those with Christ and in Christ, it can best be described that the Life of His apprentices is all about learning through healing and training how to live like He does. The King of kings is, no less, entrusting Life to us, again. He has loved us back to Life; and now, Father, Son, and Spirit are loving us to Freedom. For that is the Kingdom way to live… Free. We are Free in Christ, and we are learning how to live Free. We are most alive when we are being loved. The more we are experiencing His Love, the more alive we become…