Born again – or – Universal Salvation
Maybe about 14 years ago I had my eyes opened to a truth in the Bible that I had never even considered or had come within a country mile of considering. It changed my whole perspective of the place of the Cross of Jesus Christ within the universe and eternity. The grandeur of the Cross, for me, exploded from being something that happened within this world for the sake of man to something that happened to the world – and all of creation – for the sake of all of creation, including mankind.
Remember Romans 8 tells us that all of creation is groaning – being affected by the fall – waiting for the revealing of the sons of God. Creation will not be freed from a bondage to corruption until mankind is fully redeemed.
What did I see?
Well before we consider what happened at the Cross we need to realise who was on it. He was of course Jesus of Nazareth. He was of the line of Judah, the line of David, a Jewish man. But he was also not born of human conception. He was conceived by God in the womb of a young girl. Jesus said at one time, “Before Abraham, I am”. In this statement he was saying that he was consciously alive and living over 1800 years before. He was saying in effect, I was with God in eternity past, I am God.
But within this complete union of Father, Son and Holy Spirit there are different roles that they each take. The Father’s role is the initiator, the one who gives birth, the ultimate authority over all. Without the Father nothing happens!
The Holy Spirit is where the deep things of God dwell. His personality, His nature, His love and the power of His being to act. The Holy Spirit is the source of the spiritual personality of God within the Godhead. (1 Peter 1:4) And at the same time the Holy Spirit is the ‘dunamis’ power of God.
But now to understand who Jesus the Son of God was in eternity past, before the universe was created, we need to look at a simple few verses that can be easily overlooked or interpreted in a minor way.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth …… and God SAID …
In these early verses at the beginning before anything was created we see that the creation was bought about by the Word of God. God spoke and creation was created and Jesus is known as the Word of God.
For by Him (the context clearly shows this word ‘Him’ means Jesus Christ) all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth.
To define God, or any of the three persons of the trinity is beyond our ability just as anything we might make couldn’t define us. Jesus is a person but is also the Word of the Father. (Logos – total perspective of God the Father in expression) It is in this latter expression that we see that the person of Jesus, the third person of the trinity, was actually the One who created creation!
The Father initiated creation, the Son was the agent of creation and the Holy Spirit was the power to perform it, but the Son was the selected substance from which creation was created within. There was no other substance available before the day of creation!
We see the truth of this in the next verse Colossians 1:17.
All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. ‘In Him all things consist’, or as some versions state it, ‘in Him all things hold together’.
The very atoms of all of creation are held together in Christ, through Christ, for Christ and by Christ. We need to understand this because as we look at the whole earthly life of Jesus of Nazareth in His few years on this planet we get to see what His disciples finally realised. This man is God incarnate. The creator and sustainer of all life.
So now we know who Jesus was chosen to be in eternity past and His role within the trinity concerning creation. It was all by Him, in Him, through Him, everything was created and even yet still exists, only because He lives. But what ramifications this realisation has when we think of the Cross. Who it was who died on it and who it was who was raised from the dead. The simple truth is this:
When Jesus died on the Cross every atom of the universe was taken into that death with Him. Every single physical part of creation! Note that I say every PHYSICAL part of creation. Also when He was raised from the dead (by the Father) every physical part of creation also came into a new life situation. Creation was transformed within itself. It had to be because it was one with the substance of the One in whom it all was created and who holds it all together and who took it to the Cross in Him. He also bought it through the resurrection within Himself too. In this physical way every atom of creation is infused with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a part of the whole universe now – including our physical bodies!!! The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is now a part of all of the human race and the creation that still groans awaiting for us to come to perfection as the sons of God so that it’s fullness as redeemed creation will be actualised.
A Confusing Factor
Some erroneously consider that because of this truth then all of mankind, being affected by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ within our physical being means that all of the souls in the human race are saved and will live with God forever in eternity: that the whole human race is born again. Thus the doctrines of Universal Salvation and like doctrine all around the edges of that have formed.
But this is making the erroneous jump from the effect of the Cross over all physical things to it also effecting the realm of the spirits and souls of humans. The Cross did bring all of the creation through a new death into a new life but the spirits and souls of mankind would not be affected until they individually aligned themselves by faith to that fact.
All theology is bound to human experience. Biblical theology without corresponding experience is dead religion. Experience without Biblical theology is blind fanaticism. So I want to tell a simple story of my conversion and Christian life.
47 years ago I was 21 and out in a paddock one day while working. I was a depressed, empty, purposeless, baseless, wanderer in a life with no meaning I could find, kind of person. I had no goals in life, no path ahead of me that held any promise and no way of finding one. I lived from moment to moment grasping any fragments of fun or excitement that happened to appear in front of my mindless groping in the dark as I was compelled to live another and another and another day, on and on.
Suddenly, in a moment of time that all changed. My heart got filled with a presence of peace, joy, knowledge of purpose, assurance of justice and an ability to relate to the person Jesus Christ who became real to me right there in the paddock right then. This undeniable, unarguable and instant change in my life transformed me from that moment till today. 47 years of living till today, through many hardships, trials and at times near overwhelming catastrophes have not moved me from the new life I discovered that moment of that day. I can only say I was born again! And I would say everyone needs to be born again like that or at least with the same effect it had on me. I was not born again before that moment; I was truly as lost as any person can be.
I have lived alone in the mountains and wide bush covered expanses of New Zealand over many years and never been lost. I always knew where I was. It’s extraordinarily nice when you know where you are. To be in the same place and be lost is a totally different thing. It is a place of despair, fear and mind altering panic. Before that moment in the paddock where I was born again I was LOST! A moment later I wasn’t. This is my experience and I see it clearly explained through Jesus teaching and through the New Testament of the Bible. My theology and my experience concerning being born again are one.
I have been taught many things over the years of my life as I have travelled the roads of Christianity. All of what I have been taught has been from sincere, loving and sacrificial teachers who have offered their lives to build the Kingdom of God. Most of what I have been taught has been good. Some critical things have confused me. A few things I have learnt directly from God. How I see the undeniable reality of the born again experience now is like this. When you believe nothing or false things you are out of sync with the universe at heart. Like in maths, if you believe that 1 plus 1 equals 3 or that 1 plus 1 is an interesting problem that everyone has differing opinions on and none are probably right, then you are going to be lost to the word of mathematics. It will all be a quandary to you. You will be in a panic in the classroom. But if you can believe that 1 plus 1 equals 2 the door to the mathematics world opens to great wonders.
If you don’t or won’t believe that Jesus Christ is God then the personal meaning of your life, your place in the world, the purpose of your life and any sense of fulfilment of your life is simply outside of your grasp. Because you are out of sync with the One who made it and seeing that He is the One from whom all things have come into being, you are out of sync with the universe too. You are out of sync with His purpose for making it, His direction and for it’s existence (and there is no other purpose for it’s existence than His – He made it and second by second holds it all together. It is Him!) This being out of sync with God and the universe is a total lost ness and brings with it all of it’s fears, despairs, emptiness, purposelessness, drudgery and hollowness etc.
But, when you believe in Jesus Christ you suddenly come into harmony with God and the universe He holds together. By believing the truth; Jesus Christ is the Son of God and all of His life on earth was to show us who and what God is and is like, we sync with God. By believing!!! And when we believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God we meet Him – He can reveal Himself to us because we believe what He knows is true. This believing is the door to being born again.
So what happens to those who don’t or won’t believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? Well, so long as they stay that way then they will continue to live lost. They will stay out of sync with God and the basis of all of creation. They cannot but live lost unless they come to believe in the basis of absolute reality. If they do come to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God then life will change completely. They will experience a new life beginning. They will be born again!
Eternally what will it mean for them if they don’t or won’t come to believe? I can’t understand eternity – just as I can’t understand infinity – but it’s obvious that as long as any one can’t or won’t believe, they will stay outside of any sense of God. I know that is a hellish place to live in this world. If it goes on into the next I can’t imagine it could get better.
I now see the process and agent of salvation, the Cross of Jesus Christ, in a way far and beyond what was taught to me in my earlier years. But then some of my teachers on those days did tell us to stand on their shoulders and go on from where they climbed to to even greater heights. At least the best of them did. The key word is ‘believing’. Ask people to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. It is the door to God becoming real to them. It is the door to the new life of being Born Again.