Thursday, March 31, 2016
In the Bible class I teach we are discussing how to develop and defend our Christian worldview. This week we are investigating the creation narrative and what it tells us about being made in the image of God. Along with that we are discussing the position God has given mankind in subduing and having dominion over the creation.
What does it mean to be made in the image of God? We know that God does not have a physical body like we have. He is a spirit being. So that can’t be what the Bible means. There are certain characteristics that God has given us that he also possesses. For example, he is able to think and we are able to think. God is creative and he has given us the ability to create. God can communicate and we have the ability to communicate. I’m sure you can think of others. Internally we are a spirit as well. God says that his spirit bears witness with our spirit. So we are spirit beings inside of a physical body.
God has given us the dominion over his creation and has told us we are to subdue it. To subdue means to bring it under control. We are God’s representatives to be the stewards or care-takers of his creation. One of the first things that Adam did was to name the animals. Naming things is one way we make sense of and gain control over our environment. After Adam’s fall, this stewardship responsibility became much more difficult. Work was harder and more laborious.
As God’s managers we have the responsibility to take good care of the created world, the environment we live in. But we are to remember that God has created this world with resources for us to use. Some of the creation has been given to us for food and so we should not be afraid to take plants from the ground or kill animals for our nourishment. On the other hand, having dominion doesn’t mean we should wantonly waste resources or pollute them so that they are unusable by others. There’s an important balance that we must maintain as we serve God by managing his creation.
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Take some time and read Psalm 104 thoroughly and carefully. It will help you in your appreciation of God and his might power and creative design. I’m not going to discuss every verse but just reflect on some of the things that stood out to me.
Verse 1 “Bless the Lord, O my soul!” Take time to talk to yourself. Encourage yourself to be focused on the praise that God deserves. Acknowledge God’s greatness to him. Don’t just rest on the fact that you know it in your mind. Tell him, “O Lord, you are very great!”
Verse 5 “You laid the foundations of the earth…” We realize that the Bible is not a science book per se. We recognize that the earth does not have foundations or pillars to rest on. But its stability is amazing when we think about the fact that it is just floating in space obeying the laws of gravity which God designed for it.
Verses 6-9 speak of God’s control over the waters. This could be a description of creative action at the beginning or of the great flood of Noah’s day. All of this is attributed to God’s active involvement.
Verses 10 and 11 give evidence of God’s active involvement and design and planning to give water and nourishment to the animals. God is not just far away in some corner of heaven. He is involved and aware and observant of all of his creation. Jesus encouraged us not to worry but to trust God because he takes care of the birds and clothes the field with splendor, Matthew 6:28-31.
Verses 13 and 14: He waters the hills and causes the grass to grow. The earth is satisfied with God’s provision and care. His provision for mankind is included since man is able to bring forth food from the earth with which he can provide himself with bread and wine for his sustenance.
Verse 18 : God provided specific habitats for the creatures he had made.
Verse 19: He uses the sun and moon to mark off the days and seasons and to allow the various animals to follow their instincts for hunting and sleeping. Some sleep during the day and hunt at night. God has created, designed and provided for all of these differences.
Verse 23 shows us that his provision includes man and the provision for him to go out to work and return for a night’s rest. Psalm 127:2 tells us that God provides his beloved sleep.
Verses 24-26: How manifold are God’s works. He created innumerable creatures for the sea as well as the earth. Many of these man has never seen. And yet they are there, playing. I believe God enjoys watching what he has made, even when we can’t see it.
Verses 27-30 explain how all creation waits upon God for their food. Just as in Jesus’ parable, God provides for every sparrow and every other creature as well. We need to learn to trust him. I’m also impressed to see God’s continuous creative process at work. He takes away their breath and they return to dust. He sends his spirit and new ones are born renewing the face of the earth.
Verse 33: The response is one of rejoicing and praise demonstrated by the outburst of song.
Do we pay enough attention to all that God s created? Do we meditate on the amazing wonder of his works displayed throughout the earth and sky? Perhaps if we did, we would be more prone to praise and magnify his name and be thankful for all he is and does.
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
All of the things we have looked at picture what things were like before time began. It seems to me that if we take a look at what things will be like after time is over, we might get a better idea of The Point. In the whole scheme of things from the biblical point of view, the period of time from the beginning until the end is very short compared to all of eternity before and after. So if we can see what is taking place at the end, we will be able to see what God accomplished during time. That will give us insight into the purpose of it all.
If we could “visit” the end, what would we “see”? First we would find that the Triune God was still there. But we would notice that God the Son now has a glorified human body and further we would notice that that body has been wounded. What Christianity pictures for us at this point is astounding! The Spirit-God of the universe has somehow taken on a human body that had lived a life on earth, died a gruesome death and is now back in heaven with a wounded human, but glorified, body.
Along with the trinity we will see countless other glorified human beings. As we watch and listen we learn that these are one spirit with the Son and of His flesh and bones. We learn that they share in the divine nature, are variously called brothers or the bride of the Son. They are called joint-heirs with the Son putting them basically into the family of God. And furthermore we see that they share in ruling and reigning along with the Son of God. (see Hebrews 2:11; Eph 5:30-33; 1 Cor 6:16-17; Romans 8:17;2 Peter 1:4; Rev 20:4)
We hear countless groups giving praise to God with sayings such as these:
Holy, holy holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!
You are worthy, O Lord to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.
You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!
Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!
In addition to these glorified human beings we see other created beings that we would call angels who are serving and ministering. But the sad thing we see is that there is a terrible place of torment where both humans and demons are being punished eternally for crimes they have committed against God.
What do we learn from this picture of what is taking place at the end? 1) God created all things for His pleasure, glory and honor. 2) We learn that God is just and must punish evil and rebellion. He doesn’t just sweep everybody in and wink at sin. 3) We learn that God was willing to sacrifice Himself to redeem a people for Himself. 4) We learn that there will be people of every tribe and nation participating. God does not discriminate. 5) His people will rule and reign with Him. 6) Finally, we learn that there will be enduring praise forever and ever for God and the glory He demonstrates in all His ways.
So what this tells us is the same thing all of the Bible is telling us. God created and then sent Jesus to redeem a people for Himself for the eternal praise of His glory. That’s why we’re here! As John Piper puts it, “The purpose of God is the ingathering of the nations to worship His Son. The magnifying of Christ in the white-hot worship of all nations is the reason the world exists.”