In his work Paradise Restored David Chilton cites Cornelius Van Til’s An Introduction to Systematic Theology. Before citing Van Til Chilton is making a case for seeing the scope of redemption as encompassing all of creation. Here’s what he cites from Van Til:
Redemptive revelation of God had to be as comprehensive as the seep of sin. Redemption must, in the nature of the case, be for the whole world. This does not mean that it must save every individual sinner in the world. It does mean, however, that the created universe which has been created as a unit must also be saved as a unit. (An Introduction to Systematic Theology, pg. 133, cited in Chilton pg. 25)
All to often we treat salvation as some kind of substance that we are trying to get a hold of. The story of the Bible, as Chilton and Van Til highlight, speaks of salvation as a state of being. Moreover, salvation is a state of being that will be as expansive as the pervasiveness of sin.
Paul teaches in Romans 8 that all of creation is “groaning” under the weight of Adam’s sin (8:22). What this teaches is that the sin of Adam did not merely affect him, his family, and his offspring after him (even though it certainly did do that.). Adam’s rebellion against God stretch itself out toward every corner of the created order; it stretch itself out to every corner over which God had given to Adam. In other words, whatever Adam could rightfully claim as his own (the whole of creation), because God gave it to him, was affected by his sin.
Again in Romans Paul teaches that in the same way death entered the world through Adam’s sin so too life has now entered the world through Jesus’ (the second Adam) righteousness (Romans 5). If you notice, Romans 5 says “the same way”. We should therefore look at the way sin has affected the whole of creation and understand that life and righteousness serve in an antithetical way.
If Adam’s sin affected the whole of creation then in the same way Christ’s righteousness will cover the whole of creation.
We are not to abandon our efforts in the world by buying in to some defeatist mentality as Christians. Instead we are to understand that the life and righteousness of Christ is to spread toward every corner of this creation that sin has infected (i.e. – all of it). We must understand that, as the Church, we are the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12) and we are to fill up that which is lacking in the affliction of Christ (Colossians 1:24).
Food for thought.