Upon attending St. Andrews Anglican Church, I have become very familiar with the 1928 Book of Common Prayer. One of my favorite passages is the Prayer of General Thanksgiving which states:
Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we thine unworthy servants do give thee most humble and hearty thanks for all thy goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all men. We bless thee for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all for thine inestimable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And, we beseech thee, give us that due sense of all thy mercies, that our hearts may be unfeignedly thankful; and that we show forth thy praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up our selves to thy service, and by walking before thee in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Spirit, be all honor and glory, world without end. Amen.
During this Advent season, I would like to focus on God’s redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. There is a lot to unpack theologically speaking in the prayer of General Thanksgiving. But this section does seem to be particularly important as we pray, “but above all,” and sum up the gospel in a few short, but powerful words. This cry for redemption acknowledges that God’s original creation was good, but His restored creation will be so much better.
When I think about redemption, I often struggle with the age-old question:
Why did God allow The Fall?
Of course, no one really knows the answer to this puzzling question in its fullness. So instead, let’s start with a broader idea.
What is God’s motivation to do anything?
We know from the Bible that God desires His own glory. Isaiah 48:11 states:
For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it,
for how should my name be profaned?
My glory I will not give to another.
I invite you to reference this Desiring God article for additional examples from Scripture. So, what does that tell us about why God allowed the fall? It seems then, that God’s primary purpose for allowing Adam and Eve to sin is to showcase His glory. Without a fallen creation, there could be no redeemed creation.
Then, the question becomes:
But, was redemption really necessary for God to be glorified?
Here is where it gets really good. To clarify, God was surely glorified in the Garden, before there was ever sin and a need for redemption. But, a world with no sin and therefore no salvation is altogether less glorifying to God. The world we live in is not just a fallen creation. It’s a fallen creation into which the eternal Son of God was born, taking on human likeness, living a perfect life, paying the penalty of our sins through death on a cross, victoriously resurrecting from the grave, ascending into heaven, where he sits at the right hand of God the Father and intercedes on our behalf, securing eternal life for us by grace through faith.
God’s ultimate plan for redemption is necessary because it exalts the Redeemer. Without sin, we would not know the sweetness of grace. Without evil, we would not understand the virtue of goodness. Without oppression we would not be compelled to exercise justice. And so on and so forth. God could have created a world where there was no need for redemption. But, how much more wonderful is it to live in the midst of a God who will one day right every wrong? How satisfying is it to know that one day everything that is broken will be restored? As author of The Reason for God, Tim Keller, says:
When we look at the whole scope of this storyline, we see clearly that Christianity is not only about getting one’s individual sins forgiven so we can go to heaven. That is an important means of God’s salvation, but not the final end or purpose of it. The purpose of Jesus’s coming is to put the whole world right, to renew and restore the creation, not to escape it.
For more on this topic:
- Gospel Coalition article: Why Did God Allow the Fall?
- Ligonier Ministries article: The Goal of Redemption