Jesus Christ: Savior of the world – Part One

Jesus Christ is not just savior of the human soul; He’s the savior of the world. He’s not just a personal savior; He’s the savior of the kosmos. But what does the New Testament mean by “world?” And that’s the only problem with the English language. It’s the words we use!

As Easter approaches and we naturally focus on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, I want to take this opportunity to pull back the curtain on some of our assumptions and find out if we can discover something wonderful.

In this series of posts, I would like to look at these three questions:

  • What does the New Testament mean by “world?”
  • What does it mean that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the World?
  • Why should this matter to us?

What does the New Testament mean by “world?”

The Greek word for “world” is kosmos (κόσμος). Classically, it means “the universe, creation, humanity, the planet earth, the theater of history, etc.” The New Testament uniquely adds another layer to this word: “the human sociological realm that exists in estrangement from God.” **

We see “world” used in all of these ways in the New Testament, which is where the confusion comes in. It’s not how we normally understand the word, so we run the risk of missing what’s actually being exposed and can even end up hating what God loves.

The human sociological realm

In 1975, Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade, and Loren Cunningham, founder of Youth With a Mission, had lunch together in Colorado. God had simultaneously given each of these men a vision of seven mountains, or spheres of influence, in world culture(“mountains” symbolize kingdoms or realms of authority in Scripture). These seven “mountains” are as follows:

  • Government
  • Business
  • Education
  • Family
  • Communication (media)
  • Arts and Entertainment
  • Religion

We need to make a critically important distinction here. Neither the creation, the people, nor these seven spheres of cultural influence are inherently evil. They are FALLEN…and God intends to redeem them all!

The world is not evil, it’s fallen…but it will be redeemed!

This is critical to understanding what and who Jesus came to save, and how we are to know which “world” we are to live in but not be of (John 15:17). Here are three passages that can help us here:

God called everything He created very good.

31 Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good (Gen.1:31 * – see also vs. 4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25)

God’s creation was corrupted at the fall but will be redeemed:

19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.  (Rom.8:19-21 *)

Furthermore, God declares that the kingdoms of this world (“seven mountains,” Mystery Babylon…) have become the kingdoms of Christ:

15 Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Rev. 11:15 *)

“Have become” here is a proleptic declaration. These two “worlds” have co-existed since Jesus inaugurated His kingdom on the earth (Mark 1:15), and will continue to co-exist for a time, even though the estranged “world” is already defeated (see also Heb.2:8-9).

The point is, Jesus did not come to take us out of the world but to first deliver us from its insidious prison, and then deliver all of creation and the seven mountains. In other words, it’s not this earth, or the people, or the societal structure that’s evil, it’s this ubiquitous counterfeit overlay. I say “overlay” because of how it insinuates itself on God’s legitimate world-structure.

By way of analogy, here’s where Morpheus can help us (watch up to 3:26):

MORPHEUS: “It is the world that’s been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth”
NEO: “What truth?”
MORPHEUS: “That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage, born into a prison you cannot smell, or taste, or touch…” ***

What Morpheus is trying to tell Neo (and us) is that God’s good world, including His societal structure, has been high-jacked by a counterfeit world that’s been pulled over our eyes. This is how Paul put it:

in whose case the god of this world [age] has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Cor.4:4 NASB *)

First, by saying the god of this world-age (aion), Paul means that this counterfeit construct is only for a finite period of time.

Second, even though everything has been placed in Christ (Col.1:16-17), like a person born blind, we do not see the light of the glory of Christ shining in our hearts until our eyes of faith have been opened.

But, like Neo, even if our eyes are not yet opened, we sense that there’s something wrong with the world…we don’t know what it is, but we’ve felt it our entire life…something we cannot smell, taste, or touch…yet it’s everywhere….when we turn on our television…when we go to work…when we go to church….

We will continue this next time.

FOOTNOTES:
* New King James Version translation unless otherwise noted. All emphasis mine
** Walter Wink, Engaging The Powers: Discernment and Resistance in a World of Domination, Kindle loc. 771.
*** The Matrix, Warner Bros. (1999).

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 41 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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12 Responses to Jesus Christ: Savior of the world – Part One

  1. Cindy Powell says:

    “The world is not evil, it’s fallen…but it will be redeemed!” Amen. I think Sleeping Beauty is beginning to wake up, slowly but surely, to our glorious reality in Christ. Still learning to live from that reality myself, but once you’ve tasted it, the matrix really does lose its appeal! Looking forward to the rest of the series 🙂

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks Cindy. Yes, we’re waking up! The “Evil Witch” has been exposed and now we’re getting in sync with Jesus and His Kingdom. 🙂
      Blessings.

  2. Very interesting post, my friend. You gave insight that made me say hmmmmm.

  3. AfroScot says:

    Hi Mel

    I have been pondering on your words, “The world is not evil, it’s fallen”! However, I was reading the book of John this morning and John 3:19b says, “but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” Does this mean the deeds of people could be evil but that does not mean they are inherently evil?

    Could this be akin to when a Believer falls into sin, this does not change their identity as Saints but they can repent and continue as Saints? It’s also like when one’s child steals. You do not refer to your child as a thief because of this but lovingly correct them. I guess I am rambling here. Could you please throw more light on this?

    God bless

    • Mel Wild says:

      I think you’ve got the idea, AfroScot. The people loved darkness because their deeds were evil simply means that they don’t want exposure. Why? Because we inherently know when we’re doing is wrong (unless we’re a sociopath), so like Adam and Eve, we hide. We weren’t born in sin, we were born into a world of sin….into the “Matrix,” if you will. We live as though separated from God. Our minds have been corrupted but we ourselves are not inherently evil.

      I don’t want to get too technical but the idea of people being inherently evil came from Augustine with his doctrine of original sin. Interestingly, his conclusion came from a mistranslation of Romans 5:12. Augustine could not read Greek, only Latin, so he took the Vulgate version that reads in English (I’ve capitalized the phrase in question)…
      12 Wherefore as by one man sin entered into this world, and by sin death; and so death passed upon all men, IN WHOM all have sinned.” (from Vulgate)

      The Latin has more latitude, so it can be translated that way. But the Greek does not have this latitude. It must be translated, “BECAUSE all have sinned,” which most, if not all, English translations based on the Greek manuscripts render it this way.

      But because the Latin was rendered, “IN whom all have sinned,” Augustine concluded that we are all born in sin, thus, babies should be baptized. But this is not what it means. It simply means that we are sinners because we have a propensity to sin. As soon as we sin, we prove that we need a savior. Of course, Jesus was the only exception to this rule. He was born with the same body (with the same propensity to sin) like ours but did not sin (Rom.8:3). He didn’t sin because He wasn’t a spiritual orphan. He had the Holy Spirit from birth. We must be transformed by the Spirit and our minds must be renewed.

      As far as identity, you’re right, we’re called sons and daughters of God because of what Jesus has done, not by what we do. Just like I don’t stop belonging to my family when I’ve done something wrong. I might need correction, but my identity does not change.

      I hope this long answer helps! Blessings.

  4. Pingback: Jesus Christ: Savior of the world – Part Two | In My Father's House

  5. Neil Vincent says:

    Reblogged this on Neil Vincent.

  6. Pingback: Jesus’ Subversive Kingdom – Part Three | In My Father's House

  7. Pingback: The Tragic Flaw | In My Father's House

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