New Creation

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

Redemption-Covenant initiated ~ new covenant

Kingdom promised & chosen:  The king prepares for the King of Kings

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

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

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

Redeemer-King of kings comes

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

Redemption complete

  • Redeemer-King of kings returns
  • new creation & tree of life

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

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Pessimist or optimist?

Why I am not an optimist: the world is not as it ought to be, as seen in the cursed nature of the creation and the corrupt state of human nature and the eventual judgment on the godless world of unbelief for all who reject Christ as Lord and Savior.

Why I am not a pessimist: the world is not as it shall be, as seen in the glorious nature of the creation and the image of God in all humans and the eventual renewal of the earth and the resurrection of the body to life eternal for all who belong to Christ who is Lord of lords and King of all kings.


Pascal captures this Gospel sentiment so beautifully:

  • Knowing God without knowing our own wretchedness makes for pride.
  • Knowing our own wretchedness without knowing God makes for despair.
  • Knowing Jesus Christ strikes the balance because he shows us both God and our own wretchedness. Pascal, Pensées, 192

“Jesus is a God whom we can approach without pride and before whom we can humble ourselves without despair.” Pascal, Pensées, 212

paradigms and poems for pilgrims

“Without memory we don’t know who we are or where home is or what home looks like.” (Steven Bouma-Prediger & Brian Walsh in Beyond Homelessness, p. 297-298)

Paradigms for Pilgrims[1]:

  1. The Plowman-farmer is a deeply rooted and settled dweller who clings to his place as  eternal home.
  2. The Pilgrim-dweller is a wayfaring dweller who dreams always of a homeland, yet while dwelling in a place they are not yet home.
  3. The Passing (wayfaring) stranger is a traveler who is an eternal nomad never at home and seeks no place as home, since indifferent to all places.
  4. The Sojourner is a provisional dweller whose home is incomplete, though rooted in a place, a home that is loved, it is not final since sojourning is toward a final eternal homecoming.

To build a home as a sojourner, there must be memory, community, and love. As Christian sojourners, “we are not immigrants or refugees, exiles or migrants, tourists or postmodern nomads. If we understand ourselves properly, then in contrast to all of them we are, in a real sense, at home. But this being at home is a posture, a way of being in the world. It is a journeying homemaking characterized by all the things revealed by that phenomenology: permanence, dwelling, memory, rest, hospitality, inhabitation, orientation, and belonging.”[2]

Poem for sojourners and exiles

Home is permanence,
dwelling, memory, homemaking, boundaries,
rest, habitation, orientation, hospitable,
belonging, a space, sojourn, community,
homecoming, a place of return, an axis,
homeland.

Homeless is deprivation,
alienation, estrangement, transience, borderless,
displacement, uprooted wandering, unknown, dislocation,
nomadic migrancy, disorientation, restless,
inhospitable, vagabond mobility, no place,
exile and impermanence.

[1] Based on Steven Bouma-Prediger & Brian Walsh in Beyond Homelessness, p. 294-297.

[2] Bouma-Prediger & Brian Walsh, Beyond Homelessness, p. 297.

Christian Responsibility Towards the World: Withdrawal or Involvement?

_DSC0430Oftentimes, I have been blindsided by attitudes in the Christian community that react to Christian efforts to seek justice, or to right wrongs in this world; it is an attitude opposed to those who work for righteousness and truth and love in the various avenues of social, political, educational, artistic, medical, and economic concerns of people in the world. On one hand, it may be from an understandable fear of diluting the gospel of Jesus to a “social gospel,” and on the other hand from a culturally separatist (otherworldly) attitude that believes we are only supposed to “preach the gospel” and get people on the bus to heaven. In both cases, I think there is a failure to understand the nature of the gospel-promise along with the gospel-responsibility: the promise of a new creation shows God’s love for his creation, that Christ is presently Lord of every atom, every grain of sand, and every galaxy in his creation, and that he is going to restore his entire creation at his return. Thus, all our activities and responsibilities in this world have spiritual significance; we are not just preparing people to get on and off the bus! We are to make disciples (of all the nations); that is, people who live in this world as the light and salt of this world, bearing good and lasting fruit, preparing us to live on the earth renewed forever. There is no such dichotomy between do we “preach” the gospel and/or rescue people from trafficking/slavery, brutality, or injustice in the courts . . . , etc. Rather, the gospel rescues us from both spiritual darkness and the darkness of human injustice and cruelty. Christ is deeply concerned with both the salvation of the soul and the body, he redeems the whole person within the entirety of his creation. “God so loved the cosmos . . .” (Jn 3.16). As Paul tells us, “The whole creation groans in travail . . .” and yet, “the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God” (Rom 8.21-22).

In regards to this question of the relationship of Christ to the world, Christ and culture, John Stott summarizes most beautifully and profoundly the confusing tendencies in the Christian community to “withdraw from the world,” in what he calls various forms of modern Pharisaism.


CHRIST THE CONTROVERSIALIST. Responsibility: Withdrawal or Involvement? John Stott, IVP, pp. 182-188. To read the whole selection go to Stott, John.CHRIST THE CONTROVERSIALIST.
Christ’s fraternization with outcasts was interpreted by the Pharisees as an inexcusable compromise with sin; they did not see it for what it really was, an expression of the divine compassion towards sinners.

The attitude of Christian church
Leaving the first century and entering the middle of the twentieth, it is necessary to ask what the attitude of the contemporary church is towards outsiders, outcasts. Is it Pharisaic, or is it Christian? I fear that it is often Pharisaic. That is, the church tends (has always tended) to withdraw from the world and leave it to its own devices. Evangelical churchmen have by no means been free of this tendency, although indeed it is a denial of their true character. Many examples could be given, illustrating different causes of the same general attitude. Let me try to enlarge on what I think are the four commonest.

  1. “plain, unvarnished, Pharisaic self-righteousness”
  2. “the withdrawal of the church from the world is a genuine if mistaken fear of contamination”(a monastic type of self-absorbed isolationism)
  3. an unbalanced understanding of the relation between evangelism and social concern that can go in to both extremes: “The ‘evangelical’ thesis in its extremist form is that God’s chief concern is the salvation of individual souls; that the church’s sole responsibility is the proclamation of the gospel; and that therefore social action being the first cousin of the ‘social gospel’ must be firmly eschewed.”
  4. that “we stand aloof from the world is plain laziness and selfishness. We do not want to get involved in its hurt or dirt”

“Underlying these four causes of withdrawal there lurks a false view of God. The God revealed by Jesus Christ is a God who cares. He loves people who do not deserve to be loved. He makes His sun rise on the evil as well as the good, and sends rain on the unjust as well as the just. He made us body-souls and cares for us as body-souls. And He has taken action — sacrificial action — to supply a remedy for our sin. He has got Himself deeply involved in our predicament. So Jesus Christ Himself did not remain aloof, or refuse to get involved, or hide away in the safe immunity of heaven. He entered our world. He assumed our nature. He identified Himself our humanity. He exposed Himself to our temptations, sorrows and pains. He made friends with outcasts and was nicknamed ‘a friend of tax collectors and sinners’?13 He humbled Himself to serve people in their need. He washed His disciples’ feet. He never drew back from any demanding situation.”

To read the whole selection go to Stott, John.CHRIST THE CONTROVERSIALIST

Who is This Man? Reading Biblical Narratives

See the whole essay at Who is this Man and the Whole Story of Redemption

 Who is This Man?
How To Read Biblical Narratives

Stephen Hague
June, 2016

Table of contents

I.___ The fragmentation of the biblical text by liberals and conservatives 2

II.__ The antidote to fragmentation: Biblical Theology_ 2

  1. To illustrate this definition of Biblical Theology, consider an analogy in music 3
  2. To illustrate our definition of Biblical Theology, consider the analogies found in art 5
  3. To illustrate our definition of Biblical Theology, consider the analogies found in  literature_ 8
  4. To illustrate our definition of Biblical Theology, consider the story of Elijah, a prophet of God: 1 Ki 17:1-24_ 9
  5. To illustrate our definition of Biblical Theology, consider the story the Storm on the Sea of Galilee:  “What kind of man is this?_ 14

III.                   In conclusion, some of the problems with exemplorizing and spiritualizing biblical narratives: 15

IV.___ Biblical Theology bibliography_ 16

V.__ Illustrations 18

See the whole essay at Who is this Man and the Whole Story of Redemption

 

For the [ordinary] beauty [of our old screen door]

For the beauty of the world
is unparalleled in anyone’s imagination
as the old screen door slammed behind us
and we raced madly to the sea
and the brown-bread baked
and the worn, straw broom
and its smooth, wood handle
kept watch along with the water-urn
for brewing our coffee
continued to wait
as we rushed head-long into the breakers
and the paint-palette began to dry
in the sun beside the cats
sleeping out their afternoon
until the clock ticks to gong
at three and they stretch
and yawn awhile in peace
and the yarn on the pine loom
is thick in blues, browns, yellows,
greens, and vermillion
while the tide rising pushes forward
the gulls and shells
ticking as the clock does
and we dry our feet
and faces in thick towels
made of Egyptian cotton
when the whole earth seems at rest
and the dust settles on the mantle
above the stone fireplace
where we so often sat together
and sang of worlds we once knew
or wanted to know
with a glance of shared hope
and put down the book
to whisper in awe
that ‘all shall truly be amen . . .’

f943ddd0faba92f6d74b6de465e0fc19

“The time has now come, and is coming”: who we [are] we [are] becoming


DSC1460“The time has now come, and is coming”: who we [are] we [are] becoming
Stephen Hague (thoughts shared in the FTS chapel, Spring 2015)

What do you want to become? Who do you want to be?

I now am old enough to know that many people we meet in life have very definite ideas about who and what we should, or should not, be. That is, who and what they want us to be! Do we try to be or become this person or that person, this rock star or that actor, this philosopher, or the latest sport’s phenomenon? Do we try out this idea or that idea?

Listening to these many voices that mold us, may seem incidental and insignificant, as though they may even be the path to acceptance by others, and success in this world. But these voices and forces are of no small importance, because their cumulative effect can change, or impact, the course of our lives . . .  forever. Even the smallest of such voices can eternally redirect a person’s life.

  • The question is, whose voice are we listening to?
  • The question is, who are we presently becoming?
  • The question I want to consider is simply do we really want to be disciples of Jesus? If we do, then do we really want to become what he desires us to become?

To consider that we must ask:

  • Is it possible to be a Christian without being a disciple of Jesus?
  • Is it possible to be a Christian without being like Christ?
  • Is it possible to become like Christ if we are not his disciples?

We all know the expression, “What would Jesus do?” Dallas Willard thinks that this is an inadequate, and even fatal, guiding principle since it is “not an adequate discipline or preparation to enable one to live as he lived.”[1] Indeed, as it stands it can become nothing more than another burden to our success. Jesus told his disciples that his burden is easy and his yoke is light. According to Willard, the secret of the easy yoke, then is to learn from Christ how to live our total lives, how to invest all our time and energies of mind and body, as he did. [2]“What would Jesus do” can make our “spiritual life” just a series of “special deeds.” That is, we try to be loving by acting loving, but we fail! We try to act like we think Jesus would, but we widely miss the mark.


As Dallas Willard writes with remarkable clarity of insight on this:

 “Spiritual formation is, in practice, the way of rest for the weary and over-loaded, of the easy yoke and the light burden (Matthew 1 1:28-30), of cleaning the inside of the cup and the dish (Matthew 23:26), of the good tree that cannot bear bad fruit (Luke 6:43). And it is the path along which God’s commandments are found to be not “heavy,” not “burdensome (1 John 5:3).
     It is the way of those learning as disciples or apprentices of Jesus “to do all things that I have commanded you,” within the context of his “I have been given say over everything in heaven and earth” and “Look, I am with you every minute’ (see Matthew 28:18, 20).}
      But—I reemphasize, because it is so important—the primary “learning” here is not about how to act, just as the primary wrongness or problem in human life is not what we do. Often what human beings do is so horrible that we can be excused, perhaps, for thinking that all that matters is stopping it.  But this is an evasion of the real horror: the heart from which the terrible actions come. In both cases, it is who we are in our thoughts, feelings, dispositions, and choices—in the inner life—that counts. Profound transformation there is the only thing that can definitively conquer outward evil.
      It is very hard to keep this straight. Failure to do so is a primary cause of failure to grow spiritually. Love, we hear, is patient and kind (1 Corinthians  13:4). Then we mistakenly try to be loving by acting patiently and kindly— and quickly fail. We should always do the best we can in action, of course; but little progress is to be made in that arena until we advance in love itself— the genuine inner readiness and longing to secure the good of others. Until we make significant progress there, our patience and kindness will be shallow and short-lived at best.
    It is love itself—not loving behavior, or even the wish or intent to love—that has the power to ‘always protect, always trust, always hope, put up with anything, and never quit” (1 Corinthians 13:7-8, PAR). Merely trying to act lovingly will lead to despair and to the defeat of love. It will make us angry and hopeless.
      But taking love itself—God’s kind of love—into the depths of our being through spiritual formation will, by contrast, enable us to act lovingly to an  extent that will he surprising even to ourselves, at first. And this love will then become a constant source of joy and refreshment to ourselves and others.  Indeed it will be, according to the promise, “a well of water springing up to eternal life” (John 4:14)—not an additional burden to carry through life, as  acting loving” surely would be.[3]


Do we believe that being a Christian is first and foremost about being forgiven for our sins? Do we believe that the primary reason we become a Christian is to get to heaven? Do we believe that human beings are fundamentally spiritual and that our life in the body is just a temporary, necessary evil? Perhaps if we do believe these things, it might explain why we prefer to be saved and born-again Christians, struggling to do what Jesus would do, but just not as his disciples living in this world as he taught us to live and love.

We thus sometimes tell the world through our bumper stickers that “we are not perfect, only forgiven.” But is this to be true of us; that we are only forgiven? Can we imagine the apostles saying such a thing as part of their message? Rather, they insisted, as did Jesus, that if we love him, we will do as he commanded. That means we will not just be people who are only forgiven; we are people who are new creations, and living as such (not just in actions, but in heart, mind, soul). 

Who we [are] we [are] becoming in Christ 

Someone (Woody Allen?) humorously once quipped that “by the time we are forty, we have the face we deserve.” I think the element of truth here is that our hearts and persons are becoming what they are going to be forever . . . (and that perhaps our face may reflect that). Dallas Willard also writes that “We are becoming who we will be forever.” Do we want to become like Christ? Do we really think that we can be Christians without being disciples? We are very adept at being “Christian” without being “Christ-like.” But, is it possible, if we are new creations, to be anything but his disciples? Do we suppose that we could ever do what Jesus did, or would do, without actually being as Jesus is?

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

But what does it mean to be a new creation? Is it a passive, “Let go and let God” as some might say? Rather, Paul writes in 1 Jn 3:2 — Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears,a we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.

Sometimes people watch a great baseball player or musician and say, I can do that, but how often they fail because they are not prepared to do what it takes! How often we say, I am going to do as Jesus would do but we fail! Rather, is not being a disciple more like being an apprentice to a master builder or carpenter? This is the life of the disciple of Jesus; it is training to become like him in every way possible.

Jesus’ often said that “the time is coming and now has come.” What do such expressions mean? In part, they mean that we do not need to, and must not be , conformed to all the many things people in this world expect us to be. We do not have to be burdened to be what we are not now becoming, nor ever will be. Rather, in Christ. we know this in our new birth as disciples of Jesus:

  • We have NOW been rescued from the darkness and brought into his glorious light (Eph 5:8; 1 Pet 2:9).
  • We are NOW a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Cor 5:17).
  • We have NOW been “made new in the attitude of our minds, and have put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:22-24).

This has begun now. As Jesus said, “The time has now come . . .” We see this in the church of all true believers. You and I together have already become “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that we may declare the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Pet 2:9)  for “The time has now come . . .”

  • We ARE NOW tasting of the tree of LIFE: “like living stones being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Pet 1:5). “The time has now come . . .”
  • The new creation is seen in us, the body of the church who are in Christ, a present spiritual reality, a spiritual house, our present home in this world: we are a holy people of God who form a new priesthood that offers spiritual sacrifices to God.
  • We are now the one people of God in the world who together wait that great Day of the Lord. Most importantly, we are those who love one another in such a way that we ‘live in harmony with one another, are sympathetic, loving each other as brothers, compassionate and humble. We do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing . . .’ (1 Pet 3:8-99). Are we living this way? As his disciples, we are expected to, since “The time has now come . . .” And Jesus is calling us to be who we are becoming in Him.

Why would we ever want to be, or become, anything less? As Paul wrote to the Galatian church:

My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you . . . Gal 4:19 (NIV)

Willard adds, “A fundamental mistake of the conservative side of the American church, and today much of the Western church, is that takes as its basic goal to get as many people as possible ready to die and go to heaven. It aims to get people into heaven rather than to get heaven into people.”[4] Such a project is self-defeating, since it creates people who may be ready to die, but are not ready to live. Rather, presently, now and increasing to fullness in time, as new creations, we live because . . .

  • To conclude: we have certain eschatological hopes that what we are and are becoming is and will be glorious:
    • As Jesus repeatedly said, “the time is coming and now has come.” What do such expressions mean for us?
    • Jesus taught a great deal on the kingdom of God, and he is telling us that in his coming the kingdom of God had come in a new way, and yet was also going to continue to come. Indeed, his parables often illustrate the progressive and expansive nature of the kingdom come and coming. But, what does it mean to say that the kingdom of God has come, and that the new creation has begun?
    • We presently have hopes of the kingdom that are rooted in the promises of God to the patriarchs. We have hope because we know the promises have already begun to be fulfilled. We have a clear testimony in the scripture to this fact. (This is one reason we so treasure the scriptures.)
    • We also presently have hope of the kingdom, since with Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection we have greatly escalated eschatological realities of the kingdom of God advancing in our midst. Yet, we also have hope because, as new creations, we presently see and experience the eschatological realities of the kingdom coming:
      • We see these in our new birth; we have been rescued from the darkness and brought into his glorious light. We are a new creation in Christ Jesus. We have been “made new in the attitude of our minds, and have put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:22-24). This has begun now! “The time has now come . . .”
      • We see this in the church of all true believers. You and I together have already become ‘a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that we may declare the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light’ (1 Pet 2:9). Are we declaring his praises?, for “The time has now come . . .”
      • The new creation has certainly begun and we are now tasting its fruits, though we have yet to sit at the table of the great Banquet Feast of the Lamb. We have foretastes, but they are real tastes of true life in God through Christ. We are now tasting of the tree of LIFE: “like living stones being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Pet 1:5). “The time has now come . . .”
      • The new creation is seen in us, the body of the church who are in Christ, a present spiritual reality, a spiritual house, our present home in this world: we are a holy people of God who form a new priesthood that offers spiritual sacrifices to God. We are the one people of God in the world who together wait that great Day of the Lord. Most importantly, we are those who love one another in such a way that we (as we read in 1 Pet 3:8-99): ‘live in harmony with one another, are sympathetic, loving each other as brothers, compassionate and humble. We do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing . . .’ Are we living this way? We are expected to, since “The time has now come . . .”

In sum, our eschatological hopes and our eschatological realities enable us to walk by faith through the battles of this life. Because we have no doubt, we believe that the One who rescued us from darkness will also one day raise us up bodily. The One who has given us a new ‘heart of flesh’ is going to prepare a new body for us, an undying one, when “the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God” (Rom 8:19-21). Are we embracing this hope as we should?, since “The time has now come, and is coming.”

“In keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness (2 Pet 3:13) at the “renewal of all things” that Jesus promised (in Mt 19:28). “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 Jn 3:1).

We pray to live with these eschatological hopes and to have these eschatological realities in our lives and among us, for
“The time has now come, and is coming . . .”

Maranatha. Come Lord Jesus. Come.

DSC01407

[1] Willard, Spirit of the Disciplines, p. 9

[2] Willard, Spirit of the Disciplines, p. 9.

[3] Willard, Renovation of the Heart, p. 24.

a Or when it is made known

[4] Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart, pp. 238-239