Before I went to Colombia South America this past summer, I was informed that there was a strong possibility that I would get the opportunity to preach at one of the local churches during their Sunday service.
I was thrilled.
So, several months before the trip, I wrote down ideas for sermons, starting studying passages, and finally wrote out an entire manuscript for a finished sermon that I entitled “The Restoration of All Things.” I ended up preaching it at two different churches–I loved this particular sermon so much, I wanted to preach it again, rather than share something else I had prepared.
Now I want to share with you what I shared with some of the Christians in Colombia. I hope it fills you with hope and opens your eyes to the beauty and magnificence of God.
Let me tell you a quick little story. Perhaps you’ve heard this story before: There once was a man who was walking down the road, when he came across someone who was busy laying bricks down on a foundation. The man looked at the bricklayer and noticed that the worker seemed irritated and grumpy.
“What are you doing?” the man asked. The bricklayer grumbled and said, “I’m laying bricks”.
The man decided to continue walking down the road, and not far off, he came across another brick layer who was busy laying bricks on a foundation. But this worker seemed happy, and had a joyful, excited look on his face.
So the man asked this bricklayer the same question as before: “What are you doing?” Interestingly, the second bricklayer replied, “I’m building a wall which will go around a city and provide safety and security to many families!”
You may have heard this story before, but it illustrates a point–it’s possible to miss the big picture of something by getting too focused on the details.
That’s what I want us to look at today: The Big Picture. Specifically, the Big Picture of Christianity.
But first, let me ask you a question. What would YOU say is the big picture of Christianity?
- Is it knowing His Truth?
- Is it receiving forgiveness of sins?
- Is it experiencing His love and telling others about that love?
Those are all good things, important things. But they’re not the big picture. They’re part of the big picture, but they themselves are not the main point.
If you’re going to understand something, you need to understand what it does, what it’s for. If we really want to know God, to follow Him, and to accomplish His purposes in the world, then we need to know the Big Picture, and how we fit into it. Otherwise, we’ll constantly be missing the point because we’ll get too focused on the details.
So…what is the big picture of Christianity?
Simply put, we could define the big picture with one word–Restoration. Christianity is about God restoring all things, specifically in 3 ways: restoring us, restoring relationships, and restoring creation. Those 3 things are what He’s restoring, but we need to ask the question of “how”. How exactly is God doing this restoration? If God is on a mission, how is He accomplishing that mission?
Christ is the medium of restoration
When you take a picture with a camera, there’s a spot in the picture where the image is the clearest and sharpest, where it’s most in focus. This is known as the focal point, the point at which the camera is focusing the most intently. Similarly, in God’s plan of restoration, there is a focal point, a point where this plan is most visibly seen–and that is in the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Let’s take a look:
“For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”~ Colossians 1:19-20
The cross is the point of reconciliation, where the gap between us and God was bridged. But notice how it says “all things”. Not just us. Everything. Everything is being restored to God, through the Person of Jesus: “making peace by the blood of his cross”.
So, Jesus is the “how” of God’s plan of restoration. It’s coming about through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. All of that makes this restoration even possible. If the universe were like an old, decaying house, Jesus is the builder who would come and perform the renovations: take down some walls, strip some things out, start over on the foundation, and then build it back up until the end result is a structure that is gloriously beautiful.
Christ is the “how”, now let’s look more closely at the “what”–the specific things that God is restoring.
I. Restored us
When Adam and Eve sinned those many, many years ago, sin was introduced into the world, and the human race became corrupt. Our very nature on the inside has become selfish, evil, loving everything else under the sun except God, refusing to trust Him. Things like rebellion, stubbornness, and self-centeredness are natural to us now. I have a 2-year old son, so I get a front row seat to watch fallen human nature play out all the time. It’s amazing to me how early on, stuff would just come out of him. No one had to teach him to be selfish, it just came out of him. If you’re a parent, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
I don’t have the power to change my son though. I wish I did, honestly. God is much much stronger than me, and though can’t change myself, my children, or anyone else, He can. From the beginning, God’s plan was about restoring a lost and fallen humanity. It’s a rescue mission.
But this isn’t God simply setting an example for us to follow, or giving us a nice pep talk. God sent His son Jesus into the world to transform us on the inside:
“4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
~ Titus 3:4-7
Notice the word “by”. The Apostle Paul emphasizes that we were saved by God’s mercy alone, not by us trying really hard to be a good person. Then at the end of verse 5, Paul uses the word “by”. God saved us through Christ. How? BY “the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit”. So a dramatic, freeing inner change happened in us that God did through Christ according to His own love and mercy, not our works. And this change–this “regeneration” and “renewal”–was brought about in us by the Holy Spirit, who now dwells inside us. Those are 2 important and intentional words. They’re words of restoration. We’re brought to life, and made new on the inside, set free from slavery to our sinful nature. It’s a work of the Spirit, but it is God restoring a fallen humanity.
What we can’t do for ourselves, God does by His mercy and power, through His Son Jesus.
II. Restored relationships
The byproduct of restoring us is that God will restore all relationships–both our relationship with Him, and our relationships with each other. Both of these things are in process. We’re all too aware of that reality. We long to love Jesus more, and struggle with our sin nature. We yearn to love and serve others better, but we fight with that selfishness that wants to put others last instead of first.
But God is in the process of changing all of that, or restoring all that. He sacrificed His son to make it so:
“For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.”
~ Ephesians 2:14-16
The “both” there refers to Jewish people, and non-Jews (Gentiles). Under the old Covenant, Gentiles were considered to be cut off from God and alienated from the promises and blessings of the Covenant. They were considered “unclean”.
But on the cross when Christ died, he took that dividing wall between Jew and Gentile with Him. Do you see there at end of verse 5 how He made “peace”? Through Christ, we enjoy restored relationships with each other, because in Christ we’re family. We’re brothers and sisters! And one day, we’ll perfectly love one another. God will abolish all hatred, hostility, discord, and conflict.
III. Restored world
The final piece of the puzzle is God restoring the world itself. This sinful, broken, fallen world will cease to exist, and be replaced by a new age of righteousness and peace. Let me read for you the end of the story–our story:
“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
~ Revelation 21:1-4
Beautiful, isn’t it? That’s our future, our hope. That’s the inheritance God has prepared for us. He will heal the earth of the effects of sin that we see in verse 4–death, sorrow, mourning, and pain. And if that’s not amazing enough, He will dwell with us in this new earth forever. We will see Him face to face and be able to gaze upon His beauty and majesty for all eternity.
And God Himself is going to do all this. Notice how in verse 3 we’re told a voice announces this news–a voice from the throne. It’s almost as if God Himself is making this joyful proclamation. God wants to restore the world, and He wants to dwell with us forever. Why else would He bother sacrificing His Son to make all of this possible? God’s heart IS restoration, something very close to Him. This is not wishful thinking on our part, this is the very heartbeat of God.
Set your hope on this, because if you truly belong to Jesus, then this future is your future. I hope that fills your heart with joy and wonder.
I want to share one more verse from that passage in Revelation, verse 5, and it’s a beautiful one: “And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” That’s God Himself saying that. Isn’t that amazing? I am making ALL things new. He’s in the process of restoring us, our relationship to Him and others, and the world itself. One day, this process will come to completion, and we will live with the Father and the Son on a brand new planet earth for all eternity.
I’d like for you to take a moment and get real honest with yourself. Because if all of this is true, then surely it demands something of us right? Some kind of change or adjustment in our lives.Think about the following questions:
- Are you living in the reality of this big picture of restoration?
- How does the hope of this future affect how you’re living now? How should it?
- How does this idea of restoration affect your view of God?
- What areas in your life need to be restoration?
God the Father loves you. He gave up His only Son for you, to die a death that you and I deserved, to pay the penalty for our sin, and to bridge the gap between us and God, so the wrath aimed at us could be exhausted instead on Christ. In Christ, God forgives you, and accepts you as His children. And He has a glorious inheritance waiting for you, that Jesus purchased for you with His own blood–an inheritance of living with Him for all eternity in a restored world as restored people.