(from In Christ–the Church at Ephesus, forthcoming.)
God is in the process of bringing heaven here, not abandoning this world to Satan. God’s intention is to destroy Satan and his works, but not the world. God’s intention is the destruction of evil and the maintenance of good, according to His definitions of good and evil (Genesis 2:9). God’s plan is not to destroy the dirt and the stars of this world and replace them with new dirt and new stars. Rather, God’s intention is renewal. Sin will be destroyed, not life. It is Satan’s understanding of the world that God will destroy. And He will destroy it by replacing it with His understanding of the world.
It is God’s will, God’s power, God’s plan, God’s way, God’s provision and God’s idea—not ours. And that is why Paul can say that Christian salvation is “not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 1:9). Salvation is not of us, but of Christ alone. It is not the result of believing the right things, or belonging to the right church, or teaching the right doctrine, or doing the right liturgy, or making the right decisions. None of that! All of that produces grounds for boasting. If we are saved because we believe the right things, then our salvation is the result of our beliefs—and we can boast in that. If we are saved because we belong to the right church, then our salvation is the result of our church membership—and we can boast in that. If we are saved because we have been taught the right doctrine, then our salvation is the result of our excellent teachers—and we can boast in that. If we are saved by doing the right liturgy, then our salvation is the result of our liturgical observance—and we can boast in that. If we are saved because we have made a decision for Christ, then our salvation is the result of our decision—and we can boast in that. If we are saved by our care for the poor, then our salvation is the result of our charity—and we can boast in that. But Paul said that no one may boast of their salvation because it is a gift of God.
We cannot boast about our salvation in Christ because “we are his workmanship (ποίημα)” (Ehpesians 1:10). We are God’s pottery, we are not the potter (Jeremiah 18:6). We are fashioned, we do not do the fashioning. We are made, we are not the Maker. We are the result, not the cause.
And our salvation is not the end of the story, it is the beginning of a new story! The beginning of our story in Christ involves the end of our story in Adam. In order for the new story to begin, the old story must end.1 The period of time in which we currently live is the time between the end of the old story in Adam and the fulfillment of the new story in Christ. The new story has begun in history, and is in the process of taking dominion in Christ of the earth.
This dominion is not like any sort of one world government that humanity can imagine because it is not of humanity. It is of Christ. And in Christ it is not a one world government, but a one government world. It is not a matter of the Christian establishment of government in every nation, but is a matter of God’s establishment of trinitarian Christianity in every heart. It is not that Christianity is to dominate the world, but that Christ is to inhabit every soul. And while those who don’t know Christ will not see any difference between these two things, those who know Christ best know the difference between domination, which is not Christ’s way (Matthew 20:25-26), and dominion (or lordship), which is.