God the Father Welcomes Us Home and Becomes All in All!
(1 Corinthians 15:20-28)
Many of us can remember the experience as small children of going with our parents on a trip to somewhere for the first time. It may have been the mountains, the ocean or just to town or downtown for an appointment. As young children, we often didnít know where we were going because weíd never been there before. We trusted our parents to know where to go and to get us there safely. In the big picture, we didnít even know we were going to be born, to arrive on earth, but our parents did. They wanted us. They knew we were coming in advance and made plans for us. There are some of us from homes for which this picture is too idyllic, the journeys were too painful. I hope the heart of the thoughts from our Heavenly Father that follow will bring hope for you.
Sometimes, the Corinthian church was like a group of young children from a dysfunctional home on a journey, children who didnít know where they were going or even where they were coming from. Many of them didnít trust their father in the gospel to lead them. Thanks to the twists and turns in their journey we have some of the most beautiful teachings about what God the Father is up to for us.
God the Father and Jesus send their grace and peace to the Corinthians in the midst of their turmoil (1:3-10ff). Paul invests fourteen chapters addressing the importance of the grace and the wisdom of God in Christ crucified as they illuminate life's daily problems in the Corinthian streets and homes. In chapter 15, Paul gets to the heart of the matter about what God the Father has done for them in Christ to guide them on their journey home, to get from not knowing to knowing where they are going. God erased the distance of separation from Him that sin caused through Jesus' death and resurrection.
Despite the power of this, "some among" the Corinthians still didn't believe in the resurrection or know where they were headed spiritually in time or eternity. Where did the gospel take them with God? Paul answers the doubters by making an amazing connection between the resurrection and God the Father's revelation of where they are headed in 15:20-28: "But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. For He has put all things in subjection under His feet. But when He says, 'All things are put in subjection,' it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all."
Jesus died and rose so that after his people die they may rise. God the Father delegated to Jesus the task of bringing His people together into His kingdom, His community. In order to accomplish this God the Father subjected everything to Jesus: life, the power to give it, and judgment. God the Father is not subjected. He is over all, watching Jesus from His conception to His baptism to His crucifixion and resurrection. Jesus is accomplishing the Father's task "as we speak" and preparing to deliver His kingdom home to God the Father. We can understand kingdom to be the reign of the King, the community of His people, and the reach of His realm. The last thing Jesus will subject to God's reign is death itself, the worst consequence of the Fall so long ago is finished. With this final enemy conquered, Jesus delivers God's kingdom to Him and is subjected to God the Father, as in life, so in eternity; yet one with Him.
There is a beautiful vision of this transformation that Paul and John connect for us. Later in chapter 15:52 Paul says this will happen "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed." In Revelation, John paints this awesome picture with sound of this moment: "Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, 'The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever' (Revelation 11:15). Right up front in his book John said that "He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father - to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen" (Revelation 1:6).
At the zenith of Revelation John describes the reunion of God the Father and Jesus with His people in the kingdom: "And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them'"I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb" (Revelation 21:3, 22, 23).
So both Paul and John reveal an awesome picture of God the Father welcoming His people home at the end of time and showing them how much He cares. Paul also draws our attention across the vast panorama of time and eternity through Scripture to show that God the Father's love and care were always there before time began. As our eternal Father, He wanted us before we were born. He conceived of us and deeply desires us to be with Him in His holiness: "He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him" (Ephesians 1:4).
In the beginning of time, God the Father through Jesus and His Spirit prepared a place for us to dwell, an incredibly beautiful jewel of a planet in an awesome universe. When people became anything but holy and blameless He acted to clothe Adam and Eve to cover their shame. He worked tirelessly toward His goal of redeeming us through centuries, patiently working through people He chose and covenants He made with them to prepare the way for Jesus to come at just the right time. The Father sent Jesus into the world. When He came, Jesus said, "My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working," and "the Father abiding in Me does His works" (John 5:17; 14:10). God the Father subjects everything to Jesus while the earth remains, atonement, judgment, and the preparation of the kingdom. God the Father is guiding the events of history toward a conclusion, a consummation. Jesus draws together His people, defeats death, and will deliver the kingdom to His Father. God the Father welcomes us home and fills us all, infusing us with His very nature: love. We see God the Father on His throne receiving glory forever as we walk in His light and the light of the Lamb.
God the Father has unqualified power and sovereignty as Lord of our lives eternally.It is so good to know that He is love. He is worthy of our trust. To all who die and are made alive in Christ, God the Father becomes all in all. Paul echoes this truth in Ephesians 4:6; there is "one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all." The power and love of the all powerful One will be in all of His people all the time. Unity will be possible because God the Father binds His people together in Himself. In life Christians are filled with Godís Holy Spirit. In eternity, God the Father Himself fills all in an especially intimate way. As Paul said earlier in 1 Corinthians 13:12, "then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known."
Life with God the Father may sometimes seem like those childhood excursions. As spiritual children growing up in Christ, we're not always sure where He's taking us. The global scene can seem chaotic and frightening. Our personal lives can be filled with uncertainty and disappointment. From there He wants us to turn to Him (Romans 8:18-25). Through all this we have reason to trust Him. God the Father is in fact taking us places we've never been before but His assurance through the gospel is that He knows what He is doing and where He is going. God the Father assures us that He is in control. He has a purpose and He's always working on it: He sends us into His world to spread the good news of Jesus. With Jesus and His Spirit, He has prepared a place for us. When we get there we'll know we're back where we belong. We're home! As Luke 15 and Richard's article so profoundly show us, God the Father welcomes us home with open arms. We're there with Him, a kingdom of priests to serve our God forever. Like Jesus, we are one with God the Father who is all in all!