The Spirit of the Lord, §10.2: Universality

Second, the vision of the New Jerusalem is universal. According to Micah, the eschatological
community includes people from “many nations” who are all gathered together in solidarity around the mountain of Zion (Mic. 4:2). God’s covenant of grace forms the center around which all humanity gathers in worship. No longer does the covenant define one people and one nation; in the eschatological vision of Micah, the covenant defines all people and all nations. The covenant is given to Israel that it may extend to all people. All peoples stream to the mountain of Zion to hear the word of the Lord—a word of grace which includes the “many nations” before they even arrive at the “highest of the mountains” (Mic. 4:1). What is historically particular becomes cosmic and universal. Or, rather, the covenant of grace is both a particular historical reality and a universal cosmic reality: the covenant is given to a particular people for the sake of all people; established at a particular time for all time; located within a particular space yet extending throughout the cosmos.

The dialectic between particularity and universality is not limited to the covenantal relation with Israel. In fact, this dialectic finds its fulfillment and center in the perfect embodiment of the covenant, Jesus Christ, who is the historical and particular representative not only of Israel but of all humanity—and he is this in virtue of the fact that he unites in himself deity and humanity, the eternal assuming Logos and finite assumed humanity, the Creator and the cosmos. Jesus Christ is simultaneously and for all eternity the giver of the covenant as the electing Son of God, the receiver of the covenant as elected humanity, and the covenant itself as the locus of reconciliation between God and the world. As the one mediator between God and humanity (1 Tim. 2:5), Christ is both entirely particular, exclusive, and unique and for this very reason also universal, inclusive, and encompassing of all created reality. His exclusiveness is the basis for his radical inclusiveness. As the uniquely exclusive Savior, he is the uniquely inclusive Mediator. When we confess that are saved solus Christus, in Christ alone, we confess precisely that this dialectic between particularity and universality, between exclusivity and inclusivity, is located in Jesus Christ alone as our Lord and Savior.
Faith in Jesus Christ implies that only he can stand and has stood in the place of all people. Only he and he alone! But this one alone takes the place of all others and so represents all others. That is the inclusiveness, which is the goal of Jesus’ exclusiveness. Both are fundamentally linked to each other in the concept of substitution. This concept links the element of Jesus’ exclusiveness to that of inclusiveness. It says that this one single person died for all (2 Cor. 5:14f.). Therefore in him all are made alive (1 Cor. 15:22). Thus the aim of confessing the exclusiveness of Christ is to decide the status of all people. In him alone all people are included. His exclusiveness consists in the universal inclusion of all people. The possibility of such an exclusive inclusiveness consists in Jesus Christ being at the same time true man and true God. (Eberhard Jüngel, Justification, 150-51)
Jesus Christ himself is the covenant of grace, and since we are united with him in his assumptio carnis, the covenant of grace extends to us as the covenant people of God. Jesus Christ is the substitute, the mediator, the one who exists pro nobis and pro omnibus, in our place and on our behalf. The mission of God in Jesus Christ is unique and exclusive, definitive for all human existence and encompassing the whole realm of created reality. The ecclesial community is thus called into a new existence shaped by this christological event—a new existence which God does not limit to the life of the individual believer or to the church community, but rather seeks to extend to all humanity. The peace of the gospel must radiate from a center in Jesus Christ—through the witness of Holy Scripture and the proclamation of the gospel by the ekklesia—out into the wider realm of culture, politics, and economics, as well as into the realm of the mundane and ordinary affairs of human existence. “God with us” must imply “God with all,” and not merely with one particular religious community or one particular ethnic group. “God with us” means God with our neighbor. “For God so loved the world …”