“If it is for this life only that we have hoped we are the most to be pitied.”

This world is terrific!      This world stinks!

It is both, is it not?

Well, let’s clean it up and make it into what it ought to be!  The way it used to be until mankind messed it up.  

This world and everything in it is passing away.  This world and everything in it is caught in sin and death.  God’s judgment is upon this world and everything in it.  We (believers) know that we cannot save it.  Well, some of us know that.

So we throw all our eggs into the next world, right?

Wrong. 

We still have to live here.  This world is a gift from God.  We ought take care of it, and everything in it (including those scummy neighbors of ours).

We have a duty to do so.  But that duty does not supplant our knowledge (obtained from scripture and common reason) that this world is not the be all and end all of God’s Kingdom.

There is another world, a new one, that our Lord intends on bringing. We are a part of that New Kingdom already. Living within us is the Lord and Ruler of that New Kingdom.

So we are free to do whatever we can for His New Kingdom.We can announce the One who died for us and forgives us, and who bring His New Kingdom. We can attempt to spread the Good News of His gospel!

And we are free to work for justice and peace in this world. We are free to protect our families and neighbors from the tyranny of evil, knowing full well that only when the Son of Man returns with His Holy angels will there be everlasting peace and justice. 

 Or, maybe you think I’m  wrong. Do you think that this world can be salvaged?

Advertisements

35 Responses

  1. 1 Corinthians 15:19 (New International Version)

    19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.

    I’m with Paul…If I were to go to heaven and find out I was the one and only queen of everything…I would be devastated! If I get to heaven to find Jesus still waiting to take over rule of my life…also totally devastated!

    Sovereign God of all creation, thank you for sending Jesus to mercifully reveal You…that I might know there is Someone greater…Someone wiser…Someone apart from me that has a plan of glorious deliverance that I may rest in for eternity…

  2. Nancy,

    Thanks for the accurate Scripture quote (I was winging it)

    Your prayer is right on!

    Thanks you Jesus for Your Glorious deliverace!!!

  3. Steve wrote:
    “This world is terrific! This world stinks!”

    That’s the fruit of the fall -duality. Both are now (currently) true.

    “So we throw all our eggs into the next world, right?
    Wrong” .

    Isn’t that what the last week is really all about?
    God isn’t promising us an eternity defined by some esoteric state of “spirit” existence. The New Testament is pretty clear about what’s approaching, and you’ll find that the whole context of ‘creation’ and ‘earth’ is MARRIED to heaven – that is at the core of what we’re so mercifully invited to partake in.

    “Do you think that this world can be salvaged?”

    That term really doesn’t cover it – it defines recovering damaged goods from a shipwreck or similar event (I guess we fit that description!), but it’s a limited recovery and use of waste material. The Scriptures speak of Christ’s work of RECONCILIATION and REDEMPTION with regards to the lost and the earth, which is something far more profound and comprehensive. Yes, the ‘world’ (kosmos) of powers rallied against the Lord and His anointed will fall, be judged and punished, but once this has passed, along with sin and death, to quote from Handel’s Hallelujah chorus:

    The kingdom of this world
    Is become the kingdom of our Lord,
    And of His Christ, and of His Christ;
    And He shall reign for ever and ever,
    For ever and ever, forever and ever

    (no wonder the King of England stood when he first heard this piece!)

    “This world is a gift from God. We ought take care of it, and everything in it”.

    We need to understand -as Paul teaches us in Romans 8- that it is only when the work of Creation has become entirely ‘furnished’ (under girded) by the work of Christ on the day that is coming, that the true ‘liberty’ of God’s children on earth will be known, and that our role will properly begin to express the ‘glory’ (the weight of the significance of God’s gift of love and life) to all that He has made.
    That, I believe, is the essence of the life He has given – knowing (abiding in) Him, and savoring all of life with the beauty of that rightness (holiness).

    As the Psalmist noted:
    “The Lord Reigns,
    robed in Majesty,
    and by His rule,
    the world is established and shall not be moved”.

    (Psalm 93).

    The floods of evil and severance, as the Psalm notes, have indeed lifted up, but the Lord and His ways have not changed – the earth is indeed His, and it’s fullness, whatever men and demons boast. The realm is filled with giants and strongholds set against Him, but because His promises cannot fail, we know His arm will lead us into the day when all is made new.

    That, I believe, is the true hope and calling of our faith, not a Gnosis that amounts to no more than a wholesale escape from Creation, but a COMPLETE saving of the good work of God, which He delights in and will make entirely His own.

  4. I think our view of both this world and the world to come is skewed by a lot of things, for one our general Gnostic view of the world to come and our Gnostic association that things earthly are what we need to be freed from.

    But more so it is skewed because MOST of our vocations in life are geared at staving off death in some degree or another, the salary for sin. Have you ever thought about just how many vocations would NOT BE once death and sickness or the potential for thereof is taken out of the equation? Doctors, nurses, power plants, waste disposal, scientist working on a cure for this or that, energy research, assembly lines for this or that, nutrition experts, emergency responders, weatherman to warn, geologist to study and look out for earthquakes, engineers, pharmaceutacils, police, fireman, military, health clubs, government care agencies, dentist and that doesn’t even TOUCH the surface. Most if not all are employed in a calling that temporarily staves off the curses imminent and looming reality.

    What creative non death and sickness staving off vocations will be like then? Art, music, a grower and vintner of fine wine for the Lord and the neighbor, a feast making chef, etc…What it would be like to actually do a vocation you love rather than for money which is just to stave off death and sickness? To do it for the pure enjoyment of another and the joy of the vocation itself? It’s hard if not impossible to imagine such! What it would be like to actually tend the garden without sweat (part of the curse), what it would be like that the ground would once again, even greater “yield itself to you” (we forget that seemingly side curse, “…the ground will no longer yield itself to you…”). What it will be like to actually love God through the neighbor by altruistically loving them, and not have some inward curving to the self or religious sanctification proving my faith scheme behind it all or some other self interest? Who can even imagine such an existence, one can only believe it – it is an article of faith and thus can only be apprehended by trust without possession (the tension of faith). It’s like trying to imagine a brand new color, not a mixture of what we have or variation thereof, but an “out of nothing” new color – how do you describe it before it comes to be?

    L

  5. “. . . so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 5:21

    In Romans 5:12-21, Paul “is not saying merely that we have life for a time, after which life ends in death; nor is he aiming to explain the fact of such death. . . . What he is saying is rather that all that we call life . . . lies under the dominion of death. . . . Death rules supreme in this world. . . .” But since the resurrection of Christ “the new aeon has become actual fact in our world. Christ stands at the frontier between the two ages, outdating the old and blazing the way for the new. . . . In the new aeon, which burst upon man with the resurrection of Christ, life has come to dominion still more mightily.”

    Anders Nygren, Commentary on Romans, pages 22-23.

    This life we live is not life. This life is a living death. This whole world is ruins brilliantly disguised as elegance. Christ alone is life. Christ has come, bringing his life into the wreckage called us. He has opened up, even in these ruins, the frontier of a new world where grace reigns. He is not on a mission to help us improve our lives here. He is on a mission to create a new universe, where grace reigns in life. He is that massive, that majestic, that decisive, that critical and towering and triumphant.

    We don’t “apply this to our lives.” It’s too big for that. But we worship him. And we boast in the hope of living forever with him in his new death-free world of grace.

    “R. O.”

  6. “It’s like trying to imagine a brand new color, not a mixture of what we have or variation thereof, but an “out of nothing” new color – how do you describe it before it comes to be?”

    Superb comments, Larry.
    It really brings home, I think, the so far hidden aspects of what Paul is touching upon when he speaks of how eye has not seen nor ear heard the things which God has in store for His redeemed, but the foretaste allows us to glance, to gain some small part of the longing He wishes to make ours – ‘even so, come quickly Lord!’.

  7. Interesting thoughts to ponder Larry… thanks!

  8. In response to Larry’s comment: I was just discussing this very concept the other night!! It is interesting to contemplate that if our life in the now is preparation for life eternal, where does that leave those who have spent their lives tending to illness and death? What is an undertaker going to do in life eternal?!

    That aside, I believe that we should not be so heavenly minded as to ignore, abuse, or disregard the state of Earth in the present (or the future). What little we have been given, we are responsible for and accountable to God. Even though, these days, the mess we have created seems overwhelming, it does not mean we give up, but rather, work bit by bit individually and collectively to restore what was damaged – doing it all to God’s Glory. God will ultimately engage in final rounds, until then….may we not be found with our head in the clouds!
    ~mp:)

  9. MP…at least some of us need to keep our hearts and heads in the sky….lest we be overwhelmed with grief! I fear for the most part we are too occupied with things of this world…That certainly doesn’t give us license to neglect our neighbors or our world! We should be to them living examples of hope and strength in times of trouble…carriers of a peace that passes understanding. Being caught with our heads in the clouds…maybe, just maybe like being caught sitting at the feet of Jesus while Martha is afixing things…

  10. “Or, maybe you think I’m wrong. Do you think that this world can be salvaged?” (Steve)

    Maybe the work done now is part of the ushering in of the new kingdom? Maybe the new kingdom is going to be ‘earth’…and we are stepping closer to what God wants and desires for earth all the time? It’s possible.

    In the last 40 years some things have gone wrong – but even with the wrong we have come to new understandings for humanity…from medicine to environmentalness. Humans seem to be moving towards a greater understanding of one another with this whole ‘shared knowledge’ thing we now have at our fingertips. Life is a progression and maybe this generation and the next will push us into greater possibilities (or maybe not).

    But we do have hope of the next life – the idea of the resurrection is what we look for. I see both existing in our real time lives.

  11. “Maybe the new kingdom is going to be ‘earth’…and we are stepping closer to what God wants and desires for earth all the time? It’s possible”

    Creation is certainly woven into the wonder which is coming, but as Larry noted, it’s pretty hard for us to really do more than affirm the promise – the reality of glorification of the created order by the merger of heaven and earth is truly going to be something beyond what we can ask for or think. Fiction sometimes us allows to open a window here – Lewis ‘The Great Divorce’ is staggering on the subject, and Stephen Lawhead’s ‘Empyrion’ is well worth a read.

    Human culture often reflects the need for true community, but we are constantly trapped by the reality of frailty and the shackles of futility – the bondage that will be broken at the beginning of the new day. The wonders which will then follow – of a redeemed people working in concert with the will of their redeemer – will be truly staggering.

  12. 1 Cor 7:31 For the present form of this world is passing away. Titus 3:7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

  13. Steve,

    Good use of the First Article here! I know we’ve been dormant for a while, but this week I plan on posting something up. By the way, do you still have a copy of the sermon from your pastor where the text was on John 3 and he talked about how there is no ladder to climb for Christ because Christ has come down to us?

  14. We save the world, or at least make the attempt to do so, to not is to give up on God’s creation.

  15. Nothing wrong with trying to make this place a better place to live. We ought do so (try)…knowing full well that this world and everything in it is perishing.

    We ought never give up. But He will end it one Day.

  16. Howard wrote: Human culture often reflects the need for true community, but we are constantly trapped by the reality of frailty and the shackles of futility – the bondage that will be broken at the beginning of the new day. The wonders which will then follow – of a redeemed people working in concert with the will of their redeemer – will be truly staggering.

    All human efforts to enforce justice and bring a utopian future in this world end in tyranny precisely for the reason Howard stated. We are caught, trapped – and willingly so – in our pretensions to self-will and it’s designs. Jesus resolutely resisted the temptation to force a just world upon us but human governance can be counted on to do so. The core of the Christian witness is eschatological and that witness is to a new creation that will replace the old. This creation is not headed for the repair shop. It will be scrapped and replaced.

  17. Cat95,

    Glad you guys are still around!

    Nice to hear from you!

    Do you have an approximate date (month) on that sermon you are interested in?

    I’ll try and dig it up for you.

  18. Pastor Mark wrote:
    “This creation is not headed for the repair shop. It will be scrapped and replaced”.

    “Earth, I think, will not be found by anyone to be in the end a very distinct place. If chosen instead of heaven, it will turn out to have been all along, only a region of hell, but if put second to heaven, to have been from the beginning a part of heaven itself”

    C S Lewis

    “It is the mortal which ‘puts on’ immortality in the day of Christ…thus the fulfillment of the works of Creation and Redemption will be fully realized, and life, with it source only within the Union Father, Son and Spirit, will become all in all”.

    Gustaf Wingren

  19. “Pastor Mark wrote:
    “This creation is not headed for the repair shop. It will be scrapped and replaced”.” (Howard)

    That’s an ideology I will never subscribe to. Because nowehere in the bible are we taught to hold such an attitude. Even if Revelations determines this is the outcome – then so what – at what point do we become part of the problem for this planet and not part of the solution anymore? I can’t find any directive to not care for earth and society anywhere – this mundane attitude about the ‘end’ has no real place in good working religion.

    I do like CS’ comment though – because it is all about perspective and viewpoint concerning planet earth. Where do we put it beside – heaven or hell? I hope heaven (since it a creation) – but maybe some Christian viewpoints place it as low as hell?

  20. Jason,

    I don’t think anyone here is sdvocating that we stop caring or trying (to preserve and enhance the earth and it’s inhabitants).

    What many of us are saying, and we believe the Bible says also, is that we do not have any illusuions about where this world is headed.

    And therefore we preach Christ, the only One who will fix this place and those in it, for the long haul (eternity).

  21. i wonder why god would make a world and not redeem it…

  22. He did.

    ‘Jesus Christ’

    When He brings in the New Kingdom, the work on the cross will be brought to fruition.

    That’s if we want to trust what the Good Book says.

  23. “This creation is not headed for the repair shop. It will be scrapped and replaced”.”

    Pastor Mark’s quote is appropriate to the temporary character of this world which is passing away…It sets it’s priority not it’s value…Sort of like setting priority with “Hows that going to affect eternity?” Not that we shouldn’t care for God’s gift…it is a wondrous one, but a temporary one…The true gift is eternal life: Knowing God and His Son Jesus Christ and this is where our priority should be placed. This WORLD will be scrapped not the people on it…

  24. “This WORLD will be scrapped not the people on it…”

    Care is needed to define exactly what the ‘world’ is here – what exactly is being ‘scrapped’ (judged and destroyed) and what is being redeemed?
    Paul clearly teaches us that creation has a future beyond this current futility which is crucially entwined with our own resurrection (Romans 8:20 – I am constantly amazed at how many Christians simply do not believe this). In the light of this, we have to carefully unpack the passages which speak of destruction ( i.e. 2 Peter 3:12). Chapter 20 of Anthony Hoekema’s ‘The Bible and the Future’ provides very welcome assistance here.

    Lewis (in my previous quote)is spot on – the ‘day’ God inhabited and made holy in the first week of creation speaks deeply of the future of this world – that is the vision we need to make our own.

  25. Glad to see my comments stirred up some dust! Nancy got at what I believe regarding the creation with her comment above:
    “it sets it’s priority not it’s value.” There, of course, ample texts to send us in different directions regarding the future of the old creation. I am no gnostic regarding creation, however. The earth is our home – at least for now – and we are obligated by our creaturely role to care for this place. The world is meant to be lived in, cared for and prayed for. At the same time, as a theologian of the cross (a la Gerhard Forde), I tend to stress discontinuity in these matters rather than continuity but am perfectly willing to have God prove me wrong!

  26. Pastor Mark wrote: “We are obligated by our creaturely role to care for this place”.

    This is a very interesting conversation!

    Is it not true to say:
    1, We were created ‘creaturely’ when we were formed to live (firstly) in the garden and (then) to populate the earth.

    2. That we remain “creaturely” (beings that live in a body) following the resurrection, and will therefore continue to live in the physical domain required for this – the earth?

    The fall inherently alienated us at all levels, including our right relationship to the created order (which was originally made “very good”, but was subject to futility until Christ ‘glorifies’ this order, thus, this (present) state of decay is undone at the return of Christ).
    Redemption involves the inclusion of all that was (originally) made good – yes, all that is sinful will perish, but the joys and wonders made by God’s hand are not part of that domain which will pass away – they, like us, will be made anew.

  27. Howard wrote: “The fall inherently alienated us at all levels, including our right relationship to the created order (which was originally made “very good”, but was subject to futility until Christ ‘glorifies’ this order, thus, this (present) state of decay is undone at the return of Christ).” Amen!

    The gnostic tendency has always reflected the human desire to escape the created order. And let’s be honest. Who at times doesn’t want to?! In spite of all the destabilizing ambiguity, even evil that characterizes our existence, however, life remains a good and gracious gift. Christ Jesus takes us off all our gnostic escapist projects and restores us to our rightful place as creatures meant for this world, even as we wait longingly for the revealing of what is to come. To be a Christian, therefore, is to be utterly for this world even though we are not of the world.

  28. After hearing all the explanations I can dig it – the earth that is. I am on the same page more or less – I think we need to care about what happens here – or to use a slogan I heard a billion times in churches:

    ‘don’t be so heavenly mided to be no earthly good’

  29. It’s helpful to keep in mind just what the corruption or evil is, our pastor was just talking about this. He described it as this kind of “nothing” that’s not absolute nothing but a nothing that is a kind of parasitic on the good creation. God alone creates as creator and the devil can only destroy. But the devil’s evil and the corruption is a kind of “uncreated nothing that is a thing – a parasitic thing. Thus, it leaches off of and in doing so it doesn’t “positively add too” creation but seeks to destroy the very good Creation. Another limited analogy is like the rotting apple, the apple is good and the rotting is “nothing” but a parasitic destruction of the good thing that IS.

    And we see this in every aspect of the cosmos, the effects of the fall of man, this parasitic evil destruction wrought by the devil. From my aching back and aging eyes, to death and general every day earthly decay, to what we normally learn and think are the “natural laws” of modern science such as entropy. To a modern scientist, such as my self, we study this phenomena of entropy and think, “this is nature” and thus natural, the way things are and always have been and so we chalk it up to part of the universe (the cosmos) but it’s not it too is the parasitic evil that is not only NOT natural but utterly unnatural. Thus entropy is no more “natural” than is “death a part of life” as pagan religions speaks. It’s the result of a great catastrophe (the fall). We might even by analogy picture the entire cosmos in our mind’s eye like this great shiny perfect fruit that was “very good”. Then one day the parasitic catastrophe occurred and we immediately, from our high vantage point begin to see the decay take place in all realms. Picture a time lapse movie real of a decaying fruit. Something catastrophic and very unnatural has occurred as we see it rot more and more. But it will be raised incorruptible and very very good for ever and ever, and it will have the very good earthy qualities PLUS, but no this high flying wispy Gnosticism that many picture. There will be no more decay, entropy, aches and pains, death, mental decay, etc… etc… We have hardly a vague idea of the wholesale corruption of all things in the cosmos. In fact the wholesale corruption is so pervasive that we cannot “conceive” anymore that “it is not natural”. It’s so “natural” to the unnatural catastrophic fall that we have to be TOLD, revealed, it’s “not the way it is suppose to be”. It like all things Christian is an article of faith and cannot be measured or weighed or perceived but BELIEVED.

    To the theology of the cross that views all through the Cross by faith, the new heaven and earth is like a rumor to this faith which clings to it. And to the theologian of glory who measure time and space and “the way things are”, that is to the perishing, this same “rumor” is little more than false fantasy. This incorruptible kingdom was revealed to us in part at the coming of its King, Christ. And in the train of His robe, His incarnation we “tasted” of that kingdom – like a king on parade and the riches of His kingdom flow from His very being and the train of His robe as He enters the conquered land. Where He, Jesus went as a dawning “taste of this”, healing was made, blind saw, the deaf heard, the dead were raised, etc… wafting “odors” of the kingdom entertained us and dawned upon us. Ultimately He Himself rose from the dead as the real head of the kingdom coming.

    Larry

  30. Excellent, Larry – this is at the heart of what Paul unpacks in Romans 8.

  31. Happy Earth Day

  32. “Happy Earth Day”

    Wise guy!!! 😀

  33. “Grace saves nature not by adding something to it,
    not by raising it to a supposedly higher level,
    but by allowing it to be, once again,
    what it was intended to be –
    God’s good creation”

    Gerhard Forde – Treasure in Earthen Vessels.

    “The world…is the beautiful frontispiece to eternity”.

    Thomas Traherne – Centuries of meditations.

  34. Steve,

    I don’t have a specific date, but I do remember that you linked it in your blog sometime in 08 (maybe early spring?)

  35. Cat 95,

    That helps. I’ll see if I can find it for you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: