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A theory of everything

By Mike Ruffin

Some scientists dream of and work on developing a theory of everything. According to Space.com,

A theory of everything (TOE) is a hypothetical framework explaining all known physical phenomena in the universe. Researchers have searched for such a model ever since the development of quantum mechanics and Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity in the early 20th century.

Each of these pillars of modern physics describes its respective area of inquiry — the very smallest and the most massive things in the cosmos — with astounding accuracy, but both quantum mechanics and relativity fail when applied to each other’s subject matter. So far, an overarching theory of everything has eluded scientists, and some believe the ultimate goal is unrealistic.

Now, I readily admit that I don’t understand what most of that means. But I appreciate and admire the goal. It would be great to have a theory that explains everything that exists—from the tiniest to the largest—in the created world. I also appreciate and admire both the persistence of those scientists who keep pushing toward developing such a theory and the humility of those who don’t think it possible to find one.

I write about the Bible rather than about science. And while I am not claiming that the Scripture passage I’m writing about here—Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12—is trying to offer a theory of everything, I am saying that it pulls together and presents some of the central elements of God’s plan of salvation. We can look at what the author of Hebrews says and think, “Well, that doesn’t say everything we need to know, but it sure says a lot of it.”

For one thing, the writer of the book of Hebrews says that God created the universe through God’s Son (1:2). So, God’s Son has been involved in God’s creative work from the beginning. This means that he has always been involved in God’s purposes, plans, and actions. And since the Son also “sustains all things” (v. 3), he continues to be involved in the ongoing work of creation.

The writer also says that Jesus is the culmination of what God wants us to know. God had previously spoken through the prophets—and people needed to hear and heed the prophets’ words, which came from God (1:1)—“but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son…” (v. 2a). The prophets spoke and lived the word of God. Their words and actions helped bring about God’s will and purposes in the world. The preaching of the prophets paved the way for the coming of God’s Son into the world. But the Son of God is the Word of God who was with God and was God (Jn 1:1). He is the Word of God who was made flesh and dwelled among us. He was filled with God’s grace and truth (Jn 1:14). The Son shows us everything we need to know about who God is (Heb 1:3a).

The writer also says that God’s Son has accomplished the work of salvation (1:3). He “made purification for sins” (1:3b) by dying on the cross. He suffered and died to make God’s grace available to everyone (2:9). Having perfectly accomplished his saving work through his suffering and death, God’s Son entered his glory (2:9) and took his place at God’s right hand (1:3). And because of what the Son has accomplished, we too will enter glory (2:10).

So, perhaps you can see why I suggest thinking about Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12 as a Christian theory of everything. Our writer covers the sweep of God’s plan of salvation from creation to glorification, with the cross of Christ standing at the center of it all.

But it isn’t just a theory.

It’s the Gospel truth.

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