All the Way Back Home to Shalom

To read the whole essay click here: All the way Back Home to Shalom by Stephen HagueMarch snow 2018


For Julian and Marcus upon their return home March 10[really the 7th], 2018 in hopes that home will always be with, behind, and before them.
And for Lucas who made traveling to Mexico and back home a joy I will never forget.
♥   ♥
In memory of the Contes’ family home (which burned down the day I finished this essay), and which did not destroy their home nor their memories of it.


“Homemaking, like world-building, is a world-ordering enterprise. To turn space into place is to establish normative boundaries that bring a certain kind of order to the life lived within those boundaries.[1]

What if I was to ask you what is the word that most warms your heart, touches on your deepest longings, evokes your riches memories? For me, that word would be HOME. Home to me is the essence of our earthly life, the center, the focus, the foundation of life in this world. And, this is coming from one who loves to travel, and often “get away” from home! “Home” may not be the word that comes to your mind, especially if you had a painful or tragic home-life as a child, or do at present. There is also the feeling, or reality, of homelessness and displacement prevalent in our times. Yet, if you have painful associations with the concept of home, let me suggest for the moment that you put aside those pains and fears and allow yourself to consider the beauty of this word “home.” That is, I suggest, the pain of those who have suffered through childhood is in fact particularly acute because we have an intrinsic understanding of, and longing for, what home should be, for as we are made in God’s image he has made us for home. Therefore, I believe all humans that have ever lived can understand and relate to the pictures I am going to present here on this theme.

To read the whole essay click here: All the way Back Home to Shalom by Stephen Hague

[1] Prediger and Walsh, Beyond Homelessness, p. 53.

COTTAGE1

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The Quest for Spiritual Experience [through asceticism]

For pdf file click here: Quest for Spiritual Experience [through Asceticism]

The linguistic root of “asceticism” is the word askēsis which means practice, training, or exercise and came to be used in reference to spiritual disciplines and self-denials. There have been various forms of asceticism in the major world religions, including “pagan” forms that similarly involve escaping the corrupting world, but as a non-religious salvation or secular “self-improvement.” In ascetic systems, it is typically understood that the things of the world, and even enjoyment of them, are not in themselves simply rejected but are considered a hindrance and obstacle to some perceived higher religious and spiritual objective. The common idea is that self-denials and restraints will give greater freedom and detachment from those obstacles to one’s spiritual and moral health or growth.

  • Christian Asceticism & the Quest for Spiritual Experience

Since asceticism has played such a large role in Judeo-Christian history, we must ask if it has biblical grounds. It might be argued that there are two definitions of asceticism. To simplify these two, we could say that the one definition is life/world-affirming and sin denying, while the other is life/world-denying and sin-denying. The biblical gospel through both the Old and New Testaments is clearly life-affirming wherever it might be argued that it has some kind of ascetical aspects (e.g., Nazarites), and it is never life-denying. If there is a biblical ascetic, it never flows from the presupposition that the created world or human body is essentially bad or evil and thus demands escape. The biblical view is that self-denial of some earthly good is not because that earthly good is in fact bad, but rather that some higher good is needed (as in intensive fasting and praying for a season). That is, the motivation of such denials is not to escape some evil in order to achieve some higher good. Although, there are evils in this world that are necessary for all believers to avoid and escape for their own spiritual good, but it is not for self-justification or self-sanctification. The biblical view is always sin-denying and holiness and life affirming in its totality, or wholeness. Anything we might call a “spiritual discipline” that involves some form of concentrated self-denial or focus, is to be understood in the context of the whole life, and not separate from it, as an escape from it, nor a diversion from it, out of fear of some obstacle to the higher spiritual life. “Praying without ceasing” does not mean that we leave the world and sit forever in church or on a pole, as discussed next.

The other definition, wherever it is found, rests on assumptions of the evil of the world and the body and the consequent necessity of denying and escaping such earthly things for higher (spiritual) purposes (usually related to self-justification in terms of works-righteousness). There were ancient “pole-sitters” (stylitēs) who would sit on platforms on tops of high poles (see illustrations above), and those who spent their lives hiding in caves or monasteries, to escape the corruptions of the world. Underlying much of this form of asceticism is a dualistic view of the universe. Even if the ascetic impulse is not combined with this view of the intrinsic evil of the world and its pleasures, this world is typically perceived as a hindrance to spiritual pursuits and advancement. Thus, in either case, the means of such denials include abstinence and austere disciplines of denial and even self-inflicted deprivations, pains, and various flagellations. Such unbiblical views of human nature, the image of God, the creation of God, human life in this world, and justification and sanctification, make much of these ascetic traditions untenable and counter-productive for Christians.

Super-spirituality and self-righteousness are dangers we always will face in our prideful state, but it can be that such asceticism, ironically, can swiftly open those doors. This is not to say that humility and self-abasement can not come from self-denials (such as intensive prayer and fasting), but the goal is knowing and glorifying God in Christ in order to live in the world, not self-justification by seeking spiritual perfections (to become “spiritual athletes”) or experiences or escape out of the world from corrupting threats. The goal of the Christian life is Christ-likeness, living fully in this world in service to others.

In Christian asceticism, for example, the idea that God is unquestionably prior to one’s family, or other human responsibilities, in terms of one’s life, vocations, and service, leads to the view that it is more spiritual to do missions or evangelism or some other obviously Christian activity than to serve one’s family or “secular” vocation in some capacity. This is perhaps based on Jesus statement recorded in the Gospel of Matthew:

Mtt 10 37 “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.

Nevertheless, I believe this is a serious misunderstanding of the nature of Christian service and love, since serving one’s family, or fulfilling some rather “ordinary” vocation or task, may be the very “highest” calling we will ever have, and by loving and serving our families, doing our work well, and serving a vocation, we are indeed fulfilling God’s calling and vocation for us. (In this text in Matt 10, Jesus was addressing those who would forsake or reject him for others, or for something else.) That is, it is not less spiritual to peel the potatoes at home than to do a short-term missions trip. There is also the commonly used phrase, “full-time Christian ministry” that indicates we have not moved past the medieval notions of the separation of sacred and secular. That doing “full-time ministry” is somehow a higher calling than everything else, and that it can even justify abandoning other human, familial, and vocational responsibilities has (inadvertently) caused much heart-ache in people’s lives in the history of the church.

In light of these matters, is such a thing as Christian asceticism possible, and is the idea truly oxymoronic? Historically, Christian’s have attempted to develop and practice various forms of asceticism, and they often drew on both pagan and Jewish forms, but today they draw most readily from Greek and Gnostic traditions.

“The prevalence of asceticism cannot be traced to a single source or motivation. Selective use of the canonical Gospels and Paul, the Stoic ideal of apatheia (“passionlessness”), Platonic dualism, the influence of Essene and other Jewish communal practices and the widespread ascetic impulse in serious circles in the Greco-Roman world all contributed. From no later than the mid-second century, the Protevangelium of James propagated reverence for Mary’s perpetual virginity.”[1]

The important question is, can asceticism contribute to the sufficiency of Christ?

Our sufficiency is in Christ alone; there is nothing we can add to that sufficiency. Spiritual exercises and religious observations may be helpful in some practical ways (concentration and focus in prayer and worship), but ironically they become a serious hindrance to godliness whenever thought to be the path to a “higher spirituality” or spiritual qualifications before God. Very seriously, asceticism can also threaten a believer’s subjective assurance of the objective assurance they have in Christ’s sufficient grace. Works for righteousness always undermine our confidence in the all-sufficiency of Christ Jesus.

Indeed, there are so many movements and people and ideas that would take away from the full sufficiency of Christ, or that would add to the full sufficiency of Christ. These are probably the two most common temptations we sinners often fall for, being frequently restless and discontent and failing to grasp that Christ is absolutely sufficient in himself for us and our redemption, body and soul. There is nothing we can add to his all-sufficiency, but there are so many voices that call us to either diminish his sufficiency (unbelief, Liberalism, many world religions, etc.), or to add to his sufficiency by our own efforts (moralism, legalism, works, higher spirituality, super spirituality, etc.). This is what Paul was addressing at the church at Colossae:

Col 2:8-10 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. 9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority . .

In conclusion, all such unbiblical notions that diminish or add to the all-sufficiency of Christ in asceticism are completed contradicted and vanquished by the Incarnation and the Resurrection of Jesus, since in both God affirms the goodness of his creation and his purposes to resurrect the body of those he claims as his own people. This is why Paul condemns all those who say “do not handle, do not touch, do not taste” (Col 2:20-23), in order to curb one’s sinful heart, or to sanctify oneself, since these deprivations in themselves have no advantage, power, or value against sinful indulgence. In response to the various deprivations and denials for the higher spiritual life, Jesus said that it is not what goes into our mouths that is a danger, but what comes out of our hearts . . . (Mtt 15:11).

Jesus lived the perfect life for us, though tested and tempted, in the created world, in the flesh, and thus fulfilled in his life the Edenic ideals that Adam failed to accomplish. His power and Spirit alone can sanctify us in heart. Christ’s incarnation and resurrection are the proof that the new creation will be a glorious renewal of all that he has made and all that he has redeemed. And then we will come to fully understand that to be human in itself is to be fully “spiritual,” and it is in being human that we glorify him.

[1]Ralph P. Martin and Peter H. Davids, Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its Developments, electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000, c1997).

For pdf file click here: Quest for Spiritual Experience [through Asceticism]

peanuts and happiness

The Religious Triad of the Modern World: Marx, Freud, Darwin

 Three authors who largely determine how modern folk view the important stuff of life:

The men Their orthodoxies Their meaning Their means Their process Their goal
Marx Money and Power Money (economics) and human power are what define human life Through revolution Disruption, destruction, displacement of the old order of economics and social and religious structures to create in a new world order of total economic equality
Freud Mind and Personhood Mind and the self-actualized person are what define human life Through liberation Rejection and redefinition of the old order of the human person as fundamentally religious and moral, as made in the image of God to create a new person through total freedom for the person morally and psychologically
Darwin Matter and Progress Matter and its progress towards perfection are what define human life Through evolution Rejection and redefinition of all religious interpretations of the origins of the universe and humanity to create through any possible enhancements the perfection of the species/”race”

The question is whether this godless trinity of ideologues ever delivered on their promises?

Marx’s revolution: an estimated 200-300 million people died in the twentieth century as a result of Marxist-Stalinist-Maoist-Pol-Pot, etc., Communist and Socialist revolutions to create the perfect society of equality.
Freud’s liberation:  an estimated several billions of people who experienced liberation from moral and psychological restraints to love themselves above all else have created a generation of narcissists, murderers, criminals of all kinds, exploiters, and divorce rates to match their self-love in the quest to create a perfect society without any restraints.
Darwin’s evolution: an inestimable number of people have died in modern holocausts, genocides, abortions (infanticides), pogroms, and ethnic cleansings, as a result of the views of the evolutionary hypothesis that reduces humans to nothing more than the sum total of chemical processes in the evolution of the human species towards some imagined perfection and world.

To see pdf, click here: The Triad of the modern world by Stephen Hague

Is Work Working For You? A Biblical Theology of Work & Vocation

Stephen Hague, Christ and Culture Seminar at Faith Theological Seminary, Nov 11, 2017
(To see the whole essay, click here A Biblical Theology of Work by Stephen T. Hague)

  • For a vast number of people today, Christians included, work is “not working” for them since they have never been taught a biblical theology of vocation. Indeed, work is often seen as the obstacle to life, the antonym for fun and enjoyment. Many people think and speak as if work itself is their curse in life, or God’s curse on them. (Hopefully you have never had employment that led you to feel this way! I certainly have).

  • Think of all the work related bumper stickers these days (above).
  • In fact, there has frequently been in modern European (and some American) literature and film the theme that work crushes the soul. (This is remarkable in light of the truly crushing load of pre-modern labor and slavery in the world in contrast to the relative ease and comforts of much labor in “developed” countries.) Yet, the main thrust of this theme is typically that work has no purpose, significance, or meaning. It is even sometimes seen to be what will destroy our person.
  • Or, as in many cultures, work was only for the lower classes, since to dirty one’s hands was beneath the elite. Ancient Greek views led to a diminished understanding of the material world, in which work was for servants and slaves; to the elite work was a degrading curse, so they sought a life of philosophy, politics, and art. Aristotle and Socrates considered leisure the goal of life. This attitude led to the pursuit of freedom, freedom especially from the necessity of labor.
  • Consider the ascetic views historically in the church: dividing secular/sacred, mundane/spiritual, body/soul(as of higher concern);  in the Middle Ages there was the widespread assumption of life divided  into sacred (spiritual workers) and secular (ordinary workers). Consider the history of asceticism in the church and its cultural separatism  –  UNTIL THE REFORMATION redressed it.
  • Consider, for example, the phrase “full-time Christian service/ or ministry” that we often hear today; this indicates we have not completely moved beyond the medieval notions of sacred and secular work.
  • Negative attitudes really blossomed in the 1960’s in the USA and Europe with the Marxist revolution that shook our world, and in large measure as a reaction against broadly biblical conceptions of work, property, and profit we have shared in the U.S. since Colonial times. In total ignorance, our generation revolted against the fruits of the free-markets and labor that have produced so much prosperity and affluence. This led to the very destructive view that work itself is exploitation and denigration of the person and the poor, and that profit and prosperity are usually the fruits of that exploitation.
  • The result: hippie communes (lame experiments in pseudo-communism where food, money, drugs, property, and men and women were shared “freely” with so-called “unconditional love.” The reality: exploitation and denigration of all those involved, since greed and laziness are the best fruits of that ideology).
  • No matter what form they take, unbiblical conceptions of work result in the institutionalization of envy, covetousness, cruelty, theft, power-mongering, and greed.
  • I believe in many ways this is the most important topic we have yet considered in our seminars at the Seminary, since I am convinced that unbiblical views of work, labor, vocation, calling, money, and economics, are at the heart of the vast majority of our troubles today, whether  personal, national, or international; whether related to meaning and purpose, or to personal finances and careers, or to psychological and social realities of marriage and family, church life, as of course in all of the workplace. The issues of poverty, drug proliferation and addictions, crime, and violence in the cities, human trafficking, and especially the enormous ideological divide in America, are all products to some degree of unbiblical views of work, money, property, vocation, and economics.
  • To see the whole essay, click here: A Biblical Theology of Work by Stephen T. Hague

Is being a [ordinary] human-being itself [extraordinarily] spiritual?

Ranald Macaulay and Jerram Barrs write that even peeling potatoes is as “spiritual” as worship and witnessing:
potatoThe “world” in the New Testament is the sphere of life in which God’s lordship is rejected, where the things of this life become ends in themselves or even are worshiped. The world in this sense is most certainly to be rejected, but this does not mean that we are to hate life, culture, nature, sex and other material things.

“Everything created by God is good,
and nothing is to be rejected if it is
received with thanksgiving.” 1 Timothy 4:4

Paul even asserts that the teaching that the material world is not to be enjoyed is a doctrine of demons (v. 1). We have been created to enjoy God’s world in all its richness. Human culture is also to be enjoyed.

Spirituality involves the whole of human life; nothing is nonspiritual. But wherever Platonism has affected Christian teaching there has been a separation of the sacred and secular. Thus, prayer, worship, evangelism and “the ministry” are thought to be sacred. All other activities are secular. The sacred is said to be more spiritual.

Even where a necessary involvement in everyday tasks is acknowledged to be a Christian duty, the work, it is said, has to be done only physically. The spirit within has to be involved in silent communion with God, practicing his presence. This is similar to the command of the BhagavadGita to act as if we were not acting, love as if we were not loving. The necessity of involvement in the world of people and things is accepted, but the action must be done with the spirit withdrawn into the secret place of union with God, where the “real” business of life is said to be carried on.

This mentality subtly affects Christian thinking in numerous ways. For example, someone might say, “If only I could be involved in something really spiritual like witnessing rather than peeling these potatoes.” The New Testament stands absolutely against this division of life into more and less spiritual sections. Consider Ephesians 5:18. We are commanded to be filled with the Spirit continuously. How is this to be expressed? In singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs; in giving thanks in all things; and also in thinking of others’ needs as we submit to one another in the ordinary everyday relationships of husband and wife, parent and child, employer and employee. We are to obey God’s Word in all these areas, living before him in dependence on his Spirit. This is what it means to be filled with the Spirit.

Paul says elsewhere that we are to do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Col. 3:17). All we do is to be done under the lordship of Christ–even washing floors. Everything we do as human beings is spiritually important. There is no sacred and secular. This does not mean merely that we see practical value in “secular” tasks like peeling potatoes and washing the floor. It means far more: God himself delights in them because he has created the realm of the physical. Therefore, we are to value every part of our lives just as he does. In fact, spirituality is to be expressed primarily in the ordinary everyday affairs and relationships of our lives. God will reward his servants both for their work in everyday tasks (even if in slavery-Col. 3:22-24), and for their work in proclaiming the gospel (1 Thess. 2:19). Anything done well on the foundation of Christ will be approved by God on the day of the believer’s judgment.

From Ranald Macaulay & Jerram Barrs, Being Human: the Nature of Spiritual Experience, pp. 54-55.  

Despair and Hope

Despair                                  Hope
don’t hope                              don’t despair
don’t wait                               don’t let
for hope                                  despair arrive
to arrive                                  to bind you
with its                                    hand and foot
hands tied                               don’t run
behind                                     to hide behind
its back                                    its back
don’t wait                                wait
for waiting                               for hoping
is conceding                            consigns death
to hope                                    to despair,
that is                                      that is,
already                                    before it’s
too late.                                   too late.

Creation and New Creation: “. . . the time is coming and has now come”

For a printable file with the formatting and biblical languages copied correctly: Creation and New Creation . . the time is coming and has now come by S.Hague

Creation and New Creation: “. . . the time is coming and has now come”
(FTS chapel presentation by Stephen Hague)

  • We so often begin the gospel with God as judge – since we start with sin – yet the scripture begins the gospel with creation –

Gen 1:1- In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth

  • The gospel is the good news that God the Creator is restoring his people and his creation through his Son, our Redeemer.
  • The good news is also that “the time is coming and has now come” — He is now making all things new . . .

Jn 4:23 . . . a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.

Jn 5:25 I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.

Jn 16:32 “But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.

The new creation

The redemption of God’s people includes the restoration of the creation:

Isa 65:17 “Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.

Isa 66:22 “As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,” declares the LORD, “so will your name and descendants endure.

Ezek 11:19 I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.

Ezek 36:23-26 I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes. 24 “ ‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Psalm 104:30  When you send your Spirit, they are created,  and you renew the face of the earth.

Rom 8:19-21 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 thata the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

Eph 2:10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Eph 4:22-24 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds;24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Col 1:15-20 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Col 3:10  and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

2 Cor 4:16  Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

2 Cor 5:17  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

2 Pet 3:13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

Rev 21:1 ¶ Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.

Mat 19:28 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

The wondrous thing about the gospel is that WE are now a new creation:

  • As God’s new people: we are the first fruits of the new creation, his workmanship in Christ, who will dwell together in his renewed earth forever.
  • As a new creation in Christ we have now been given a new heart by Christ.
  • As a new creation in Christ , we are promised a new body. The resurrection of Christ is the objective assurance that our bodies will be resurrected incorruptible.
  • As a new creation in Christ, we now serve the renewed kingdom of God presently through Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. He has accomplished Adam’s entire calling necessary to establish and extend God’s kingdom in the world.
  • As a new creation in Christ, we long and wait for the restoration of the creation in the new heavens and new earth when Christ returns
  • As a new creation in Christ, we presently enjoy renewed, restored relations (marriage, church, etc) that prefigure and prepare us for our eternally restored relations, since we are presently the new community of the people of God bearing witness to the world of the wonders of God in Christ. .
  • As a new creation in Christ, we are all one people of God, regenerated by the one Spirit of God, Jews and Gentiles equal in the faith and salvation: Gal 6:15 Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.
  • As a new creation in Christ, we will see the new order and enjoy the renewal of all things when Christ returns:

 Mat 19:28 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

What Jesus has accomplished towards the new creation (adapted from G.Beal, The Temple)

  • Jesus is the end-time Adam, the True son of God .
  • Jesus passes all the tests and temptations of Adam/Israel.
  • Jesus defeats the Devil (analogously to Adam who failed to do so). Who resists all temptations, casts out Satan, as Adam should have done.
  • Jesus defeats the forces of unbelieving paganism of the Canaanites (whom Israel failed to defeat).
  • Luke identifies Jesus as the last Adam. (p. 172)
  • Jesus fulfills the promise of Israel’s restoration. Mtt 4:12-16
  • Jesus heals the spiritual and physical results of the curse, thus restoration of the creation begins. In the new temple, Jesus heals (also in the physical temple). Jesus is mocked about the temple (Mtt 27:40). The new temple replaces the old, fulfilling Zech 6:12-13)[1]
  • Jesus rises from the dead, new creation is assured.
  • Jesus begins the destruction of the earthly temple and creation of the new temple and the restoration of the Presence through atonement. Jesus’ death – temple is destroyed in part and the curtain is torn, and earthquake foreshadows complete destruction of the earthly temple.
  • Jesus’ procures forgiveness of sins at the new temple which is now localized in Jesus – the new temple of God’s Glorious Presence on earth.
  • Jesus provides the promised eschatological rest for God’s people (Mtt 11:28-30), for all who are weary and need rest.
  • Jesus is both Son of God (Israel) and Son on man (Adam) who accomplishes what Adam as son failed to accomplish, and what Israel as son failed to accomplish.
  • Jesus links heaven and earth: John 1:51

He then added, “I tell youb the truth, youc shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” and Gen 28:12 He had a dream in which he saw a stairwaya resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 There above itb stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you  will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.

  • Jesus breathed into his disciples (echoes Gen 2:7), incorporating them into the new creation and new temple. They become the vehicle for life-giving forgiveness that comes only from Christ. John 20:22 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
  • Pentecost (may have been in the temple) fulfills Jesus’ prophecies of the new temple. The new temple is Jesus himself, the locus of forgiveness. Tongues of fire represent the theophany of the heavenly temple and they correspond to Babel (linking with Gen 10-11). The reversal of the judgment at Babel – “God causes representatives from the same scattered nations to unite in Jerusalem in order that they might receive the blessing of understanding different languages as if all these languages were one.”[2]  Pentecost signals the destruction of the old creation and the beginning of the new creation in Christ. Christ is the Cornerstone of the new creation!

Outline of new creation theology of Scripture

Creation-Covenant: kingship, priestly, and prophetic dominion

Creation-kingdom is established in the Garden of Eden

  • Access to the tree of life in the garden of God
  • Prohibition on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil
  • Cycles of creation/rest established

Rebellion fall into alienation, disarray, anarchy, and spiritual battle (the curse on the ground and body): EXILE

Redemption-Covenant initiated ~ new covenant

Kingdom promised & chosen: EXODUS

  • The king prefigures the King of Kings: will vanquish the Serpent
  • The high priest prefigures the True High Priest: will ransom the creation, overcome death’s curse
  • The prophets prefigure the True Prophet: will be the Word of God
  • Judges prefigure the Judgment on sin: will fufill the law perfectly and reverse the curse

New Covenant blessings

  • Human king         Law/Judges/Prophets/Wisdom
  • Progeny                 Land/nation: CONQUEST
  • Presence                Sanctuary

King of Kings, Priest of priests, Prophet of prophets is promised/awaited

  • Davidic kingdom ends in exile & temple destroyed: EXILE
  • Return from exile: REMNANT RETURNS
  • Reversal of the curse  expands

Redeemer-King of kings comes:

  • Redemption accomplished
  • Evil one is vanquished
  • Church proclaims the gospel of redemption and the return of the King
  • Curse removed in Christ

Redemption complete: REDEEMER RETURNS

  • Redeemer-King of kings returns
  • Last Judgment and REDEEMED REMNANT preserved
  • New creation & tree of life in Paradise restored

The covenant-sign of circumcision in the church has been continued by baptism as the sign of God’s covenant-promise to restore his people  through the Messianic line of the see of Adam and Eve.


“John is shown (and shows us in turn) that salvation is the restoration of God’s creation on a new earth. In this restored world, the redeemed of God will live in resurrected bodies within a renewed creation, from which sin and its effects have been expunged. This is the kingdom that Christ’s followers have already begun to foretaste.”  Bartholomew, The Drama, 211

“This restoration of the creation will be comprehensive: the whole of human life in the context of the whole creation will be restored.” Bartholomew, The Drama, p. 212

“This comprehensive scope of God’s redemptive work means, for example, that the nonhuman creation forming the context for human life will be restored to what God has intended for it all along.” Bartholomew, The Drama, p. 212

Continuity and discontinuity: in the new creation, there will be total transformation of the things we already know: the environment (ecology), human relations (social), the body (resurrection), aesthetics (beauty, order), philosophy (true knowledge of God and creation), work (pain-free vocation), love, worship, etc., etc….

Some object to these ideas with reference to 2 Peter 3:[3]

2 Pet 3:10 {GR} NIV 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.

NASB10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

eu`reqh,setai verb indicative future passive 3rd person singular from eu`ri,skw

[GING] eu`ri,skw find, discover, come upon Mt 7:7f; Mk 14:55; Lk 6:7; 11:24; J 7:34, 36; Ac 13:6, 28; 27:6; Ro 7:21; 2 Cor 12:20; Rv 20:15. Find, obtain Lk 1:30; 2 Ti 1:18; Hb 4:16; 9:12. Pass. be found, find oneself, be Ac 8:40; Phil 3:9; 1 Pt 2:22; prove to be Ro 7:10; be judged 2 Pt 3:10. [eureka, Archimedes’ exclamation; heuristic] [pg 81]

Primarily because of more ancient text traditions that suggest eu`reqh,setai is more ancient, it is not universally agreed that the destruction of the earth is in view. Indeed, it the NIV is based on the more ancient text tradition of the word for “establish” or “find.” Metzger discusses the textual history below:  From B. Metzger, Textual Commentary, pp. 705-706.

3.10 eu`reqh,setai {D} At the close of ver. 10 the extant witnesses present a wide variety of readings, none of which seems to be original. The oldest reading, and the one which best explains the origin of the others that have been preserved, is eu`reqh,setai, which is attested by a B K P 424c 1175 1739txt 1852 syrph, hmg arm Origen. In view of the difficulty of extracting any acceptable sense from the passage, it is not strange that copyists and translators introduced a variety of modifications. Thus, several witnesses retain eu`reqh,setai but qualify it with other words: (a) the Sahidic version and one manuscript of the Harclean Syriac version insert the negative, and (b) the Bodmer Papyrus (î72) adds luo,mena (“the earth and the things in it will be found dissolved”) – an expedient, however, that overloads the context with three instances of the same verb. Other witnesses either (c) omit eu`reqh,setai and the accompanying clause (so Y vg Pelagius al), or substitute another verb that gives more or less good sense. Thus (d) C reads avfanisqh,sontai (“will disappear”), and (e) A 048 049 056 0142 33 614 Byz Lect syrh copbo eth al read katakah,setai (“will be burned up”). Because eu`reqh,setai, though the oldest of the extant readings, seems to be devoid of meaning in the context (even the expedient of punctuating as a question, “Will the earth and the things in it be found?” fails to commend itself), various conjectural emendations have been proposed: (a) after e;rga the word a;rga has fallen out (Bradshaw), “the earth and the things in it will be found useless”; (b) eu`reqh,setai is a scribal corruption of r`uh,setai or r`eu,setai (Hort),2 “the earth and the things in it will flow”; (c) surruh,setai (Naber), “… will flow together”; (d) evkpurwqh,setai (Olivier), “… will be burnt to ashes”; (e) avrqh,setai (J. B. Mayor), “… will be taken away”; (f) kriqh,setai (Eb. Nestle), “… will be judged”; (g) ivaqh,setai (or evxiaqh,setai) (Chase), “… will be healed (thoroughly)”; (h) purwqh,setai (Vansittart), “… will be burned.”

Relevant words:

bWv (shûb) (re)turn, can be used to mean restore – this word is used many times in the OT in regards to the call from God to return to him: the call to repentance and restoration of relationship.

 avpokata,stasij avpokatasta,sewj, h` (avpokaqi,sthmi, which see), restoration: tw/n pa,ntwn, the restoration not only of the true theocracy but also of that more perfect state of (even physical) things which existed before the fall, Acts 3:21; cf. Meyer at the passage (Often in Polybius, Diodorus, Plutarch, others.)

 NIV Mtt 17:11 Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things.

Louw and Nida: 3.65  avpokaqi,sthmi ; avpokata,stasij, ewj f ; evgei,rw: to change to a previous good state – ‘to restore, to cause again to be, restoration.’ avpokaqi,sthmi: evxe,teinen, kai. avpekatesta,qh h` cei.r auvtou/ ‘he stretched out his hand and it was restored’ or ‘… it was healed’ Mk 3.5. A rendering of avpokaqi,sthmi in Mk 3.5 as ‘was healed’ is justified on the basis that at a previous time the hand was crippled, but avpokaqi,sthmi in and of itself does not mean ‘to be healed.’ Note, however, a contrasting situation in iva,omai (13.66). avpokata,stasij: a;cri cro,nwn avpokatasta,sewj pa,ntwn w-n evla,lhsen o` qeo,j ’till the times of restoring all things of which God spoke’ or ‘until the time of making all things new of which God spoke’ Ac 3.21. evgei,rw: kai. evn trisi.n h`me,raij evgerw/ auvto,n ‘and in three days I will restore it’ (a reference to the Temple) Jn 2.19.

 See also 2 Peter 3:13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness

Robertson writes, “The noun apokatastaseōs, which in Acts 3:21 refers to the restoration of all things as promised by the prophets, should be compared with the verb apokathistaneis in 1:6. Because of this connection between the two verses, the restoration of all things in 3:21 may be regarded as providing an explanation for the restoration of the kingdom to Israel in 1:6. The restoration of Israel in the prophets is equivalent in its new covenant context to the renewal of the whole earth, not merely the reestablishment of the state of Israel.” [4]

Paligensis

NAS Matthew 19:28 And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

NIV Matthew 19:28 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

WHO Matthew 19:28 o` de. VIhsou/j ei=pen auvtoi/j VAmh.n le,gw u`mi/n o[ti u`mei/j oi` avkolouqh,sante,j moi evn th/| paliggenesi,a| o[tan kaqi,sh| o` ui`o.j tou/ avnqrw,pou evpi. qro,nou do,xhj auvtou/ kaqh,sesqe kai. u`mei/j evpi. dw,deka qro,nouj kri,nontej ta.j dw,deka fula.j tou/ VIsrah,l

NAS Titus 3:5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,

NIV Titus 3:5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,

WHO Titus 3:5 ouvk evx e;rgwn tw/n evn dikaiosu,nh| a] evpoih,samen h`mei/j avlla. kata. to. auvtou/ e;leoj e;swsen h`ma/j dia. loutrou/ paliggenesi,aj kai. avnakainw,sewj pneu,matoj a`gi,ou

 Restoration and Renewal:

13.67 ἀνακαινίζω; ἀνακαινόωb: to cause a change to a previous, preferable state—‘to renew, to restore, to bring back.’ἀνακαινίζω: ἀδύνατον … πάλιν ἀνακαινίζειν εἰς μετάνοιαν ‘it is impossible … to bring them back to repent again’ He 6.4–6. ἀνακαινόωb: ἀλλ’ ὁ ἔσω ἡμῶν ἀνακαινοῦται ἡμέρᾳ καὶ ἡμέρᾳ ‘yet our spiritual being is renewed day after day’ 2 Cor 4.16.[5]

Acts 3:21-22 He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.

 13.66 ἰάομαιb: (a figurative extension of meaning of ἰάομαιa ‘to heal,’ 23.136) to cause something to change to an earlier, correct, or appropriate state—‘to renew, to heal.’ καὶ ἐπιστρέψωσιν, καὶ ἰάσομαι αὐτούς ‘and they might turn to me, and I would renew them’ Mt 13.15.[6]

Job 14:14 If a man dies, will he live again?
All the days of my hard service
I will wait for my renewalf to come.
Job 33:25  then his flesh is renewed like a child’s;
it is restored as in the days of his youth.
Ps 51:10   Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Ps103:5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Ps 104:30 When you send your Spirit,
they are created,
and you renew the face of the earth.
Isa 40:31 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Isa 41:1 “Be silent before me, you islands!
Let the nations renew their strength!
Let them come forward and speak;
let us meet together at the place of judgment.
Isa 57:10 You were wearied by all your ways,
but you would not say, ‘It is hopeless.’
You found renewal of your strength,
and so you did not faint.
Isa 61:4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.
Lam 5:21 Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may return;
renew our days as of old
Hab 3:2  Lord, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord.
Renew them in our day,
in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy.
Matt 19:28  Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Rom 8  18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. 23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. 24 For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.
Rom 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
2 Cor 4:16  Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
Col 3:10  and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
Titus 3:5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,

a  Or subjected it in hope. For

[1] 12 Tell him this is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the Lord. 13 It is he who will build the temple of the Lord, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two.’

b The Greek is plural.

c The Greek is plural.

a Or ladder

b Or There beside him

[2] Beal, The Temple, p. 202.

[3] C.Wright says on this, “I prefer the textual reading that the earth ‘will be found’ to the emendation reflected in several English translations ‘will be burned up.’ I also find Bauckham’s interpretation of this convincing; namely, that the earth will be ‘found out’: i.e. be exposed and laid bare (cf. NIV) before God’s judgment so that the wicked and all their works will no longer be able to hide or find any protection (Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, pp. 316-322. The purpose of the conflagration described  in these verses is not the destruction of the cosmos per se, but rather its purging and new creation” (OT Ethics, p 141, f.n. 55).

[4] Robertson, Christ of the the Prophets, p. 64, fn. 19. See Robertson, Israel of God, pp. 141-42.

[5]Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament : Based on Semantic Domains, electronic ed. of the 2nd edition. (New York: United Bible societies, 1996, c1989), 1:156.

[6]Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament : Based on Semantic Domains, electronic ed. of the 2nd edition. (New York: United Bible societies, 1996, c1989), 1:156.

f  Or release