And they will reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:5)
The good news of the gospel is not just that I get to go to heaven when I die but that I get to partner with God in revealing heaven on earth until I die. But make no mistake: God alone will finish that work when he permanently rips the veil between his dimension of heaven and our dimension of earth in the fifth and final act of history (see Revelation 21).
And contrary to the caricature of heaven as an immaterial gathering of disembodied souls, Scripture makes crystal clear that God’s final creation—just like the first one—is spiritual and material. God never intended to “fit us for heaven, to live with [him] there.” He promised heaven on earth and to dwell with us here (see Revelation 21:1-5).
And what will we be doing on earth for eternity? Not reclining in hammocks. Not strumming harps. We “will reign for ever and ever” with God. Which is exactly how the biblical narrative began!
The dominant version of the gospel preached today goes something like this:
The Abridged Gospel: Jesus came to save people from their sins.
But that gloriously true news is a mere fraction of God’s good news that we’ve seen from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22. Here’s a summary of The Unabridged Gospel:
The Unabridged Gospel: God created a perfect world and invited his children to rule over it with him and for him (see Act 1: Creation). We sinned, ushering in the curse that broke every part of that perfect creation, ensuring our need for a Savior (see Act 2: Fall). Jesus’s resurrection proved emphatically that he is that Savior who saves us by grace through faith (see Act 3: Redemption). And while we’re not saved by our works, we have been saved for the good works he prepared for us to do all along: partnering with him to cultivate heaven on earth until he returns to finish the job (see Act 4: Renewal). Then the triune God will finally dwell with us again on a New Earth, where we will rule with him for ever and ever (see Act 5: Consummation).
As I hope you now see, the way we articulate “the gospel” is directly tied to our view of what work matters for eternity. If The Abridged Gospel is the whole of God’s good news, then the Great Commission is the only commission and the only way your work is not in vain is if you leverage your job as an athlete, hairdresser, or photographer to the instrumental end of “saving souls.”
But with The Unabridged Gospel in view, we can start to understand and embrace our dual vocation: the Great Commission to make disciples and the First Commission to make an entire world for God’s greater glory. And so, our work has instrumental and intrinsic value because it’s what God created us to do, what he saved us to do, and what we will be doing for all eternity.
P.S. To see the full extent of how your work matters to God, you need more than just an unabridged understanding of “the gospel.” You also need an unabridged understanding of heaven. In my new book, The Sacredness of Secular Work, I’m going deep here to show you:
Pre-order The Sacredness of Secular Work today and you could win an epic trip for two to France to celebrate the sacredness of your “secular” work in a castle, vineyard, cathedral, and more! Entering to win is simple:
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