Ian K. Smith calls for a bigger view of the Gospel.
The Gospel is “Good News,” but only when the Gospel is lived and proclaimed as Jesus and the apostles taught. This is the Gospel of the Kingdom, not the truncated, “near Christianity” that we hear so often today – forgiveness of sins and assurance of going to heaven when we die. The Gospel of the Kingdom is what Ian K. Smith is at pains to outline in his excellent little book, Not Home Yet.
Smith points out that the goodness of God has always been intended for the whole of His creation, that in fact, Biblical religion is more about God coming to earth with blessing than of the blessed going to heaven to be with God. The temple, as a refashioning of the garden of Eden and foretaste of the work of Christ and the new creation, reminds us that God has a plan for redeeming the whole of creation by fitting His servants to know and serve Him according to His wise and good plan.
What Jesus accomplished in His resurrection is to refocus the dwelling of God on Himself, and to create in Himself “many rooms” for those who believe in Him to abide, grow, and work for the redemption of all things. In the Kingdom of God, everything matters. All of life is affected by the Good News of Jesus’ resurrection, and so every vocation and every task have the potential of being holy offerings unto the Lord and of bringing Him glory. This means that every day, and every moment of every day, is the day of redemption, the day for the redeemed of the Lord to carry out their original calling to exercise dominion for good over all the earth.
Practically, what this means is that making disciples is a much larger, much more exciting, and potentially much more fruitful and transforming endeavor. We are the recipients of a great salvation, an experience of grace and truth that brings the reality of heaven into every nook and niche of everyday life. Through His resurrection, Jesus is making all things new, and His people are the instruments through whom His Kingdom is spreading to all peoples and all the earth. The Good News is that Jesus has made everything matter, and we can endow all of life with eternal significance and temporal glory by learning to be disciples who, in all our daily activities, are working to realize the Kingdom of God on earth, as it is in heaven.
Ian K. Smith offers what we might call a Biblical theology of salvation, as he leads us from Genesis through Revelation to consider the broad scope and great depth of the work of our Lord Jesus Christ. Not Home Yet should be read by everyone in leadership in local churches. We have Good News for the world – the news of Christ’s resurrection, that brings the goodness of God to all of life and the whole of creation. The sooner we learn this, and begin living and proclaiming it, the sooner we will see the promise of that resurrection renewing all of creation and all of life in the goodness and blessedness of God.
By His common grace, God has sown beauty, goodness, and truth into the world. It is planted and grows there, waiting for the liberating work of the sons and daughters of God, to bring forth that which now lies concealed to the eyes of men, and to declare the glory of God in it (Rom. 8.19-22; Prov. 25.2). The common grace of God means that we are never far from being able to remark the goodness, beauty, and truth of God to people who are ignorant or indifferent to it, and therefore ignorant or indifferent to God.