Have you ever noticed that world history is divided by one event? That event was not the rise or fall of some major empire, as one would expect. Nor was it the discovery of a new continent. Instead, world history has been divided by the birth of a single itinerant rabbi living in a relatively obscure part of the vast Roman Empire. Considering the vast number of Jews born at this time, it’s even more revealing that this one birth, among so many, should be the marker that has divided world history into its two largest epochs.1
That birth, of course, is of Jesus.
In the context of God and history, we can better appreciate the significance of salvation. For here, at the Cross—with the obvious failure of all humans and thus human history—is where the background and also the deepest meaning of world history unfold. The Cross tells us that, by forgiving us and making us His children, God has opened up a new future for us, a future in which we no longer need to drag along with us the enormous guilt of our past or of our personal history. This guilt has been taken away by One who “has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Isa. 53:4, NKJV).
The whole doctrine of salvation can be expressed in this one sentence: God cancels our hopelessly stranded history and in its place put His history. Through Him, the history of slavery to sin is ended in our life. Through Him, the stains of the past should not rise up to accuse, torment, and mock us. Our personal history, which would condemn each one of us, is replaced with Jesus’ perfect history. Thus, in Him we find not only liberation from our past but the promise of a wonderful future. At the Cross, the Lord guaranteed that, whatever our history or whatever happened in world history, a new and glorious future awaits us and the world.
Read 2 Corinthians 5:17–19. What are these verses saying that Jesus did for all humanity? How has this event changed human history?
Our sins have been laid upon the shoulders of a Lord who willingly died beneath a load of human guilt and who, in its place, gave us salvation. And His promised climax of history will grant us eternal history with the Author of history. The destiny of every person is involved. The second coming of Christ will be decisive. Both the Old and New Testaments promise a “new heaven and a new earth.”
If you have accepted Christ, how should your future be different, now that your past history won’t be used to condemn you, no matter how much you deserve to be condemned?