Well, it’s done. This is the end of the Beauty series. I won’t say too much, because this part is long enough already. I would just remind all of you of two things. Firstly, this whole piece began with the story of the most beautiful thing I have ever seen: the city of Edinburgh as I stood above it on top of a hill in the city. Secondly, our definition of Beauty: Beauty is the attribute of something that expresses complexity, simply. It what takes the complex strands of the world, reality, experience, or God and weaves those complexities into a simpler tapestry which we can perceive with our physical and spiritual senses. The more complexity expressed more simply, the more beautiful something is. And with that, let’s finish this thing out. What’s coming next? I have a post ready for that that I’ll post up in a couple of days. We pick up right where we left off…
In conclusion, I want to talk about the thing that ties every one of these things together. The thing in which there exists in a glorious and beautiful harmony between all the different things we’ve talked about tonight. The last part of our text tonight, Ecclesiastes 3:15 says “That which is, already has been; and that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away.” “God seeks what has been driven away.” In conclusion, the Gospel is Beautiful. The Gospel, in short, is the story and message of Christianity. It comes from the Greek word meaning “good news”. So what is this good news for us? The news that God did the ultimate act of beauty. The ultimate act of condescension of filling this finite world with the most Infinite of Beings for the sake of knitting it together again, and actually ultimately filling it with Himself. You see, God began History and ordered it in such a way that it was beautiful. He filled this simplicity with the marks of Himself, so all things pointed to Him and reflected Him perfectly. Humans came on the scene and were made in His image so that they as well truly and purely reflected, represented, and “Imaged” (that would be the theological term) this God on earth. But sin entered into the world, and made this world fallen from its original place of beauty. And we have followed suit. You see, sin is not finding certain things, people, or places beautiful. It’s that we find them more beautiful than God and these responses that are due God, we give to other things. We worship and “image” and express fallen simple things rather than the Holy complex God. We all have done this. I have done this. You have done this. You have soiled your beauty and abandoned it to your lusts! You no longer represent the One whom you were meant to mirror and reflect and therein find your beauty! You merely represent the world. The lowly fallen world. Fallen people imaging fallen things. There’s no beauty in that.
But God, being rich in mercy. Though we have abandoned God’s beauty and our own true beauty, God has not abandoned them. He loves His Beauty. And He loves the Beauty of His creation. So this God, for the sake of the worship His own beauty, and our own own joy in His Beauty, comes. The most perfectly knit together tapestry in the universe chooses to come and express the most Holy Complexity in the most intimate simplicity. This perfectly woven tapestry walks the earth, lives the perfectly woven life, and then stares into the cup of God’s perfectly woven wrath reserved for all things and people that are not beautiful in this world. And he drinks it. This perfect tapestry of complexity expressed simply goes to the cross willingly and allows the tapestry of His soul to be torn apart strand by strand by strand as the wrath of God that hung over everyone who would believe was gathered by God and poured it on Himself. That wrath that hung over many of us in here. That wrath that hangs above some of us tonight, that will be poured out on something. Either on Christ at the cross, or in you in Hell. Did you know that Hell is beautiful? Not for those that are there, but it is. It is pure, white, Justice and Wrath poured out on all that was wrong in the world. So God’s wrath will be poured out either in Hell or the Cross.
And history revolves around this cross. Because at the same time that Christ, Beauty Itself, was literally being torn apart, he was reconciling all things to Himself. In other words, he was taking every stray strand in the universe – every bit of evil, suffering fallenness there will ever be in history - and reserving its proper place in the final tapestry of History that we call heaven. He was making Himself the common glorifying thread that would reknit the broken fabric of a broken creation. And so we live now in the process and story of God putting all those strands in their proper place. As more and more beauty floods the earth He is still inviting his people to join Him in this epic story. He is calling his people to praise Him and draw near to Him, and out of the overflow of that to proclaim His Beauty to others and make more beauty, so as to usher in this new creation – or to put it in our terms tonight – the New Tapestry of Creation. Better than before. It is the one that has woven in it the purpose for all pain, sickness, death, and dying that God has ordained and allowed to take place so that this tapestry might make good on it all to the praise of the Beauty of God’s name.
And we, His people, His Bride, those that are “in Christ”, that are simple people Imaging and expressing the most complex of Beings, are woven into that tapestry that is Heaven and the New Creation. We’re not just going to live in it, we are part of it. Second Corinthians 5:17, in most Bibles reads: “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” But that’s not what it says in the Greek. It doesn’t say “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation”. There is no “he is”. The Greek literally says “If anyone is in Christ: new creation!” More accurately, I think it should be translated “If anyone if in Christ, this is the new creation. he old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” I remember an old professor at Westminster named Richard Gaffin. He used to go up to students, stop them, and just say to them “you are just as resurrected now as you will ever be”. We often forget that. Yes, we will get new bodies and the penalty, power, and presence of sin will be done away with, but as far as our souls go, we are as resurrected now as we will ever be.
We are the new creation. The new tapestry. We have been woven into the fabric of this ever-increasingly redeemed world that is being flooded with the Beauty of God. The new has come in Christ. Through the Gospel. The good news of our salvation is that all that has been ugly with the world and in ourselves has been conquered. Beauty is here, and Beauty is ever increasingly filling the earth, and this Beauty is our salvation from ugliness and sin. George Marsden in his incredible biography of Jonathan Ecdwards ends the whole book with this summary of Edwards’ view of all of life and salvation. He says that
“[Edwards believed that] God’s trinitarian essence is love. God’s purpose in creating a universe in which sin is permitted must be to communicate that love to creatures. The highest or most beautiful love is sacrificial love for the undeserving. Those. . . who are given eyes to see that ineffable beauty will be enthralled by it. . . They will not be able to view Christ’s love dispassionately but rather will respond to it with their deepest affections. Truly seeing such good, they will have no choice but to love it. Glimpsing such love . . . they will be drawn from their self-centered universes. Seeing the beauty of the redemptive love of Christ as the true reality, they will love God and all that he has created.”
The Gospel, this salvation, is beautiful.
And we receive this salvation by seeing its Beauty, turning our stirred affections toward this God, and trusting that we cannot reknit our own souls but Christ has reknit them for us. And as our affections are further stirred we press into Him ever increasingly as He draws ever-nearer to us. I pray, I plead, that those in here tonight that have not done so, would trust this beautiful God to have accomplished for them what they could not do for themselves. Please, consider this story, this message. See if it is not the most beautiful thing you could ever conceive. Just for a moment, see if something in you is stirred for this God. Even if you don’t believe He exists, or that He is this particular God that I have spoken of tonight, is there something in you that at least wishes it were true? Wishes it were this way? Wishes that God did in fact arrange everything to make it all beautiful in its time? Even if you won’t admit it, if that’s true, if you did wish this were the case, don’t ignore that. You have been designed to long for the Beauty of this Gospel, this story. Don’t ignore it. Sovereign, Beautiful Father, Lover, and Lord, save people that read this.
In conclusion, I’m going to break every rule I learned in my preaching class this last semester about how to end a message and end mine tonight with a poem. But not someone else’s poem. This is a poem I wrote in one take one particular afternoon through broken tears standing on top of a hill looking out over the city of Edinburgh as I was taken over by the most beauty I’ve ever seen. Let this encourage the weary saints reading this blog post, and let it perhaps woo those that have yet taste what these words are about. You can find the poem here, or just click in the section above entitled “The Site”.
Here are the links to the full manuscript and the full audio of my presentation of this material: