Salvation is much more than its common, popular representation. It is not simply a transaction that makes it possible to go to heaven. When we repent and enter into a right relationship with Christ, we do have assurance of eternal life in the presence of God (heaven) but there is also a transformation that begins in the present that continues throughout one’s life as God’s works to conform us to the image of Christ. Due to our obsession with individualism, we have often limited our view of salvation to the private, personal, individual level. Sadly, even this level has not been handled well.
There is, however, a corporate aspect to the transformation (salvation) God is encouraging. He is laboring to salvage all aspects and elements of creation and life (personal and social) on earth. This, more comprehensive, view relates to the idea of God’s kingdom coming on earth as it is in heaven. Human beings are central to this transformation as we were designed to be the rulers (with and under God) over all the earth. For those who have begun a new life in Christ, we are to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.” This is not just a call to quote the verse but to begin a new approach toward life that makes the advancement of His kingdom, and the understanding and practice of His will first priority (Ep.4:24; 5:10, 17; 2 Co.5:17; Col.3:10). If fact, all creation is to be effected by the transformation associated with salvation (Ro.8:19-22). It begins with an internal transformation that works its way out to affect all areas of individual and corporate life (Pr.4:23).
This is a holistic view of salvation / redemption that affects all aspects of individual, social, corporate and institutional life on earth. We must not ignore nor neglect the importance of the individual, as healthy individuals with clear vision for the kingdom of God are necessary for promoting the kingdom of God, but we must make the connection between the activities of the individual and other aspects of the kingdom. Many (possibly most) have been conditioned to think of salvation only on the level of individual people. Most people (Christian and, definitely, non-Christian) do not see the institutions of society as having a direct connection to Christianity or to the kingdom of God. Most of the “mechanisms” and institutions of society have been thought of as “secular” while religion is merely a little slither of life that some people seem to need. This thinking has allowed people who do not have a Biblical worldview to take control of many areas of society.
The corporate emphasis I am encouraging is a strong theme throughout God’s entire revelation to the human race. As God set His redemptive plan into motion He stated to Abram, “…I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Ge.12:2-3). Paul, referring to this passages states, “The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU” (Gal.3:8). Further, we read, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people. The king’s favor is toward a servant who acts wisely, But his anger is toward him who acts shamefully.” (Pr.14:34-35)
People commonly assume a business, institution or nation cannot be “saved,” cannot be Christian. This is due to our narrow, limited presupposition about the concept of salvation as relating to only individual souls. It is beneficial to think of this process as redemption. All aspects of society can be redeemed and become “Christian” as they function on Biblical principles in the same way an economy, government or nation can be Marxist, communist or Islamic. Some believe that all the individuals within an institution (educational, governmental, economic, business, etc.) must be Christian, in order for it to be identified as “Christian.” We should likely employ different terminology to avoid confusion. An institution or nation can be founded and operate upon Biblical principles without each member having experienced personal conversion. Every nation and institution will function on some philosophy, ideology or set of principles. God’s design, His principles will always produce the best results!
Christians need to know and represent Biblical principle in the marketplace of ideas. Psalms 1 says we are not to let the wicked, the sinner and the scoffer run things.
God, the Designer, created and designed things to fulfill a certain function and operate a particular way. We have, essentially, two options when it comes to this issue. We either honor / adhere to / obey the design and the Designer or dishonor the design and the Designer. This is not simply a matter of what we believe or what we say we believe, but how we order and structure our lives.
With this introductory view in mind, consider Paul’s words and how they apply to the comprehensive role Christ and those in Christ play in this redemptive drama taking place on earth.
“For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Col.1:13-17)