The Meta-Narrative BC

14 05 2012
  • The Everlasting God
  • The Plan: before the Foundation of the World
  • The Beginning: Creation
  • Galaxies, planets, suns, moons, stars
Image
  • The Earth as Home: plants, animals, oceans
  • Adam and Eve, Created in God’s Image
  • Marriage – Centrality and Prototype
  • The Mandate for Humanity
  • The Great Tragedy
  • Great Grace
  • Anger, Mayhem, Murder
  • Noah and the Rainbow
  • The Nations
  • Abraham: Call, Faith, Blessing
  • Isaac
  • Jacob and Esau
  • Joseph and his Brothers
  • Egypt, Power and Slavery
  • Moses
  • Community Life of Israel: Law, Culture, Worship, Wisdom
  • Joshua, Judges, Prophets
  • David: The defeat of Goliath and Charter for humanity
  • Kings, Prophets and a Recalcitrant Nation
  • 587 BC     Babylonian Captivity
  • Daniel
  • 400 BC     Malachi
  • No Prophets
  • The Rise and Fall of Empires
  • The Roman Empire
  • Alexander the Great




Edenising the Whole World

25 06 2011

The term ‘Edenising’ is seldom used by theologians and preachers alike—and hardly at all, by the general public.  That is a pity really.

‘Edenising the whole world… that is God’s plan’.  It always has been his plan.

Edensing is a term which encapsulates the story of God, humanity and creation, and the purpose for which all has been created.  It is the whole story and counsel of God from Creation to the New Creation.  From the Garden of Eden, and the tragic event therein, to the “river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing … on either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, … and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations’ (Revelation 22:1, 3)

Some may be familiar with Jonathan Edward’s essay: ‘A History of the Work of Redemption (See The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 1, 1834 (1990), Banner of Truth Trust, p. 533-619). He picks up the details of the biblical story and tells them as a continual flow of events, one story.  This is the story of the Edenising of the world.

The mandate of fruitfulness given to the man, Adam, and his wife Eve, was a word of blessing which forwarded that work. It continued though failure appeared to thwart the whole plan, and it continued through Noah, Abraham, Moses and the whole nation of Israel. It continued through to the coming of Jesus Christ, the most frutiful person who ever lived. His fruitful life, is flowing out into the world now, as he is Lord of creation, and Lord of all fruitfulness.

He will speak his Word and bring forth true action, love and service in that great lan of the Triune God, until that day when he makes all things new, pristine, and full of glory. The glorification, of God, man and creation will be the Edenising of the whole world.

Israel has had a unique role in all this, being elected by God to be the focal point for the revelation of his grace ad love towards all nations.

Edenising the world, how wonderful. In Paradise again, only more fully assured. What a plan. This is the work of the Word of God, as it goes out to turn the peoples of the earth towards the central focus of the people of God – Jerusalem, outside of which Jesus was crucified, so that all through his merit, may enter the New Jerusalem, holy, sanctified, justified ad glorified.

No wonder we like to enjoy a garden and take delight in fixing and tidying it up ready for enjoyment.  No wonder blessing people with love and community in Jesus Christ, is like planting a good rich, vibrant, colourful and varied garden.

Well, by faith, come home to the Gardener, who first planted Eden and placed the man, and the woman, in it. Come home to the Gardener, and share in the work of gardening.

Responsibility and freedom were given to the first couple, with one note of caution. Sadly this warning was not heeded, and so the long saga of human history, battling with sin and death began. But it began in hope, and the flow of the rivier of life continued until it flowed fully from the belly of Jesus Christ – rivers of living water (John 7:38).

As Geoffrey Bingham said of Adam and Eve ‘they are to take what is the special life of Eden and take it to the whole world.’ (G. C. Bingham, Searching For God, RBP, 2000, p. 109)

Edenising the World. That’s the go.

 

 





Why God Created:

26 03 2010

Karl Barth wrote:

. . . God did not remain satisfied with His own being in Himself. He reached out to something beyond, willing something more than His own being. He willed and posited the beginning of all things with Himself. But this decision can mean only an overflowing of His glory. It can consist only in a revelation and communication of the good which God has and also is in Himself.

(Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, vol. 2, pt 2, T. & T. Clark, Edinburgh,1957, p. 168).






Losing Open Space in Adelaide!

28 11 2009

O what a sad state of affairs it is, when modern leaders fail to recognise the value and importance of Open Space for human beings. It is sooooo…. necessary for our physical and mental health and well being.

This is a semi-political piece, in a way. But it is theological, too. Lord help us!

* A Psalm of David. The earth is the LORD’s and the fulness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein; (Psalm 24:1)

In South Australia, the ruling (often dominating) Mike Rann Labor Government has been behaving in a reprehensible manner concerning our open space – our public open space.  They are up for selling it off.  They are being most unwise. Why? Real Estate concerns!  Valuable public real estate is being sold off. Why? Why? In a word, money!  In words: Greed. Money. Power. Thoughtlessness.

Lack of consultation with the public, is unacceptable these days. Refusal to hear the public. Refusal to see the state of our society. Refusal to listen – to the Spirit.  People feel their leaders are arrogant and remote. Sad indeed. Sure people need housing, but not jam packed housing areas.

In recent days we have seen this government “trimming back”, imposing upon, and reducing open space. This will not help our society.  I hope we may react sooner, rather than later.

Some, (just a few) of many areas being restricted and ruined, include:

1. St. Claire Recreation Park, at Woodville. (For years a great blessing).

2. Glenside – hospital grounds for mental illness. (Lord knows they need space!)

3. Cheltenham  Race Course, Torrens Road – ideal for water catchment and birds.

4. Port River surrounds, including Pelican Point, ideal for fishing, and recreation.

Add to this, … some people want it to be illegal to jump off the local jetty, and others want it to be illegal to drive onto Sellicks Beach, for recreation. (this is why we are called ‘the nanny State’).

Human beings are made to relate to the creation around them. This is essential to our humanity. Flora and Fauna – lovely friends of humanity. Birds and bees. Places to run and play. Dogs, prams, walkers, runners, bike riders, people talking, praying, thinking, getting some space.  O Australia.

Sadly the back yards of homes are getting smaller. Sadly, parents feel their children are unsafe without supervision. Sadly, we have embraced the TV stations, and internalised our life; fine, fun it may be, it is, it can be, sure.

But we need outside life.  Yea… wealthy people can buy a hobby farm in the hills. Wealthy people can have a block of land for a motorcycle, and a dam, a creek and a horse. But the majority of Adelaide residents need accessible space – here in Adelaide.

No wonder the whole creation groans, as it waits for the liberty to come…

Praying for a profound change of heart and policy at local leadership level, and within our minds and hearts, generally. Lord have mercy!

http://portside-messenger.whereilive.com.au/news/story/anglers-left-high-and-dry-on-port-river/





A Distinct Bugle Sound

28 11 2009

As a kid, I used to really enjoy the cowboy movies, we were shown on TV; especially the ones where the US cavalry, heard of the impending problems on the frontier, and to the sound of music … came charging over the hill, to the rescue – just in time! US flag held aloft, bayonets at the ready, and a fine stream of horses and riders… (back in the days before it was politically correct, to hate all things US).

Like the urgent call of the fire siren, to the CFS volunteers in a country town, so the call of a bugle was once used to awaken the troops – to do battle.

In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he asks the question: “..if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle?” (1Cor. 14:8). Speaking in tongues, a lovely, yet somewhat minor matter, had become the big focus for some, rather than the clear Word of the Gospel, proclaimed to the nations. The Gospel is a bugle blast!  It is a clarion call. It is a trumpeted song of resurrection joy!  It makes great, grand sense of the seemingly sad and sombre notes, that cry forth, in the crucifixion.

The bugle. Yes. For what reason?

Ah, the battle!  The life of faith is undoubtedly, a battle. There is a clash of two kingdoms. The kingdom of the Son of God’s love, and the kingdom of the deceptive, evil one.

We usually nominate the enemies, in our battle, as 1. the world, 2. the flesh, and 3. the devil.  However, a more complete list really comprises of: 1. sin, 2. death, 3. the wrath of God, 4. the law, 5. the conscience, 6. satan, 7. world powers, 8. the world, 9. the flesh, and 10. the idols (see G.C. Bingham, The Things We Firmly Believe, NCPI, p. 115).

People of faith are engaged in a battle, a battle to stand firm in the freedom we have already received. Human beings are being called into freedom, through the gospel, or good news of Christ Jesus. Christians are kept in freedom by that same gospel. However, it really needs to be a clear gospel, a distinct sound. And this needs to be the case, even as we are engaged in the great mysteries, revealed to us.

Clarity. Clarity. Clarity. These three are needed amidst the information overload of our age. Especially, we need gospel clarity. To this end, many rightly turn to modern day teacher, John Piper. I do too.

Recently, however, I reviewed one of John Piper’s small talks: What is the Gospel? I appreciated his words, and work, but felt that they lacked something. I would like to make an important point, therefore. Here is his summary:

The Gospel is

  1. A Plan From Eternity
  2. An Event in History
  3. An Achievement between the Son and Father
  4. A Free offer to the world of these things
  5. Application of this Achievement – Forgiven, Justified (do not stop here, he adds, for many do!)
  6. To Bring us to God (Reconciliation for Fellowship)  (What-Is-The-Gospel—John-Piper).               The wonderful point he makes, is that we are to know, love and enjoy the Triune God. So true. But here in point 7, is a further addition, which connects the benefits of the Gospel, to the setting in which we will always find ourselves, namely – the Creation!
  7. To equip us to participate in running the Universe, together with God, eternally.

In all his writings, and especially in his stories, Geoffrey Bingham taught the significance of Salvation in relation to the Creation, and to the New [renewed] Creation. Only recently, theologians were discussing what was, or is, the priority of God – the story of salvation, or the work of creation, in order to bring humanity into fellowship, eternally.  I think the confusion comes, or the question arises, because we seldom ever glimpse the wonder of creation, from the outset, when all the angels sang and shouted for joy (Job 38:7). As a result, we fail to anticipate the role of humanity in relation to creation, into the future. We, as it were, stop short at fellowship and communion.

The real goal of the plan, is to form ‘a peer community’, together with Jesus the Son, Redeemer, who enjoy one another, in relationship, and in the ongoing action of the creation.

One of the Lord’s dear servants, Geoffrey Bingham, has put it like this: ‘God’s purpose in having a church is to train people up to be able to run the universe, with him, for eternity’.

Now, I believe, this is …. A Distinct Bugle Sound.





Adelaide to Darwin

18 07 2009

Arrived home this week from a driving trip (on annual leave) to Darwin, in the Northern Territory (NT). What beautiful territory!  From the flat city named after Queen Adelaide, to the Modern City named after Charles Darwin – it was mostly dirt, termite mounds, blue sky, green pick and long grass for cattle, lots of bitumen, and … I like our term: “the bush!”

It is staggering how much wide open space there is in Australia. And some strange, odd, stunning, and interesting places there are!  Alice Springs is a very lovely looking town. Standley Chasm is always a favorite.

But that Big Rock is still a stand out: Uluru – or Ayers Rock as we said for a while. (And of course Kata Juta – the Olgas). Always reminds me of this Blog Spot – ‘And the Rock Was Christ’… provision of water springing up in the dry land, the law for aboriginal children ‘rustling in the leaves of the trees’ (innate in creation, we might say), and the sheer mystery of it.  Ha. …. I rather like the Aboriginal explanation as to how it all came to be… ahead of the one by the geologists (still plenty of room for mystery when both have had their say!)

To the west of Elliott, (half way between Darwin and Alice) there is a great Waterhole with more pelicans and other birds catching fish in a big expanse of water – the Longreach Waterhole. It is near to Newcastle Waters, and so worth a look.

Then, to the top end…. Wow! The salty crocodile, is a fearsome creature! The fresh water crocodile, is mostly, rather like a very sleepy lizard. Ha.

Mindil Beach sunset markets, on Thursday and Sunday nights is quite an event. Food and people from all over the place, but with a distinctive Darwin feel.

And winter in Darwin 32 degrees! Can you believe it? Quite nice to get about in shorts for 3 weeks.

Then, there are the water holes… Douglas Daly, hot springs, cooler pools and cold rivers. Very refreshing. Litchfield National Park – what excellent Falls into the waterholes. And the lovely open wet country on the road to Jabiru.

Speaking of Jabiru – what a colouful masterpiece is the bird they call the Jabiru. And then there are the hawks and raptors – birds everywhere…. Enough of all this.

Psalm 150:6 is a good summary:

“Let everything that breathes praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!”





Geoffrey C. Bingham dies – (goes home!)

3 06 2009

Geoffrey Bingham – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Today Geoff Bingham died. He is one of the dearest of men, that I know. He has been a friend, a mentor, a joyful preacher and teacher of the Christian faith, a doctor of theology, a missionary to Pakistan, a former POW in Changi in WW2, and a prolific and notable Australian author – and one to whom many, many people are grateful for his help and encouragement.

In particular Geoffrey has taught the heart of the Cross of Jesus Christ, and the grace of God known there, he has taught the hope and joy of creation redeemed through Jesus resurrection, and he has – perhaps as well as any – taught the Fatherhood of God.

Geoffrey has been a theologian and preacher of the heart! He has left a rich legacy in New Creation Teaching Ministries. 

May the Lord comfort Laurel—his dear wife, and his family, and the many, many people who will miss him. Much will be written about him. As the years roll on, many will undoubtedly discover his writings, and do so with great joy.

That is my small comment, for now.  … thanks dear Geoff, thank you!





Creation and Redemption

2 03 2009

Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth (Psalm 66:1).

Trumpeting elephants. Screeching seagulls. Busy blue tongue lizards. Crunchy Fuji apples. Do you enjoy the world? If we observe the creation around us– of which we are a unique part – we will discover what a marvellous place it really is. It has such a rich, riotous variety.

Did you know there are some 380,000 different species of plant life known to botanists? There are 21,000 species of fish, 4,000 of amphibians, 5,200 of reptiles, 8,700 species of birds, and 4,000 of animals. Not to mention protozoa, sponges, jellyfish, worms, snails, insects, spiders and more. Earth alone is made up of 100 known elements, like carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, calcium and zinc. There are rocks, metals, liquids, gases – and so it goes on. And think – 10,000 million galaxies of stars, beyond this planet. The atmosphere changes continually, with rain, wind, light and heat. There is the moon and the sun, day and night, mountains, plains and valleys, high tide and low, electrical storms and swirling hurricanes. Seasons. Yet so much of creation is unseen, microscopic, or hidden in the depths of caves and oceans.

What about all the people? – 6 billion of us. Contemplate that! There are 5000 different languages. Noise – soft and loud, and silence. Music – with rhythm, melody and harmony – played on percussion, wind, strings and keyboard instruments. We have fabulous foods to delight in – sweet or bitter, soft, medium and hard. There are aromas that please, and smells that don’t!

What about human inventions? Levers, wheels, boats, planes, cars, gadgets, homes, beds, radio, TV, DVD, MP3, power stations. There are hundreds of sports, games and vocations – jobs to do. There is art, writing, reading, research, joke telling, stories, notes, sermons and speeches, books, films, and computers. There is medicine, poison, and pain killing. There is surgery, massage and makeup. There are crafts to do, academic learning, ABC’s for babies, thinking, and pondering. All sorts of feelings: loving and longing, hoping and waiting, disappointment and fulfilment, healing. Disease, deformity and injury we know all too well! Birth, childhood, growth, romance, marriage, friendship, maturity, aging, and death are all different. Eternal life. Prayer. Purpose.

Being “at home” within the creation is what life is all about. How could we ever be bored? Well, there is sin and its terrible, shocking effects! But there is also Redemption.

It is so lovely to come home to the Father, through His Son, in forgiveness. Worship is due to our Creator, and our Redeemer, for both creation and redemption. Jesus Christ our saving Lord, is risen from death, for all creation – life is forever wonderful. Come Holy Spirit.

Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth.





The Future of Creation

16 01 2009

I received an email, from the “Citizen’s Electoral Council” this week. The article which they drew my attention to, begins, thus:

“Is Nature Warning Us of a New Ice Age?, by Laurence Hecht Editor-in-chief, 21st Century Science & Technology. January 14, 2009 (LPAC)–Global warming fears aside, all students of climate science know that the Earth is presently in an Ice Age and has been for approximately the past 2 to 2.5 million years. “

The articles continues with some interesting information.  

Too hot, too cold… or just right? Who knows?  

Granted, the question sounds like one from ‘Goldilocks and the 3 Bears’?

They say that news of impending doom, sells well to the human race. (eg. ‘Henny Penny, saying The sky is falling, and the great poem … ‘We’ll all be rooned, said Hanrahan’). But what of news of the certain goal of creation?  We need to reaffirm, what Scripture teaches us: The Future of Creation is firmly in God, the Father’s gracious hands. The Apostle Peter, in the light of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, could urge his fellow hearers, and those with a fresh, new trust in God—who were suffering for it— to entrust themselves to a faithful creator.

1Peter 4:19, says: Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will do right and entrust their souls to a faithful Creator.

It needs to be repeated, often. What God is about is the redemption of the creation, this one!  His plan is a good one.

As my friend Geoffrey Bingham has put it so beautifully, ‘Creation is Primary’. And ‘If creation fails, then God fails’, in which case He does not prove to be a faithful Creator. (See page 73 of his book “Creation and the Liberating Glory”). Indeed, download it for free. Creation and the Liberating Glory

No, creation will not fail. It is not planned to be ending, either in ‘a bang, or a whimper’, but rather, it is gaining momentum towards it’s great goal—a redeemed home, for all who long to be part of it.  It is wonderful to know the perfect love of Christ, risen and ruling, which casts out fear. It is excellent to know the Father, who is forming a home suitable for an eternal family.

Yes folks…. The Future of Creation is secure in Jesus Christ. Did you know that? It is a faith insight. It is a matter of genuine revelation, made known to faith. Have faith. Cheers!





Pateriology: Study 8

4 12 2008

Pateriology: The Person and Work of the Father

Prayer: ‘I ask… that they may all be one. As you Father are in me, and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me’. (John 17:20a, 21) Jesus

The Father—His Person and His Work—is a vast subject, which is indeed at the heart of the universe, and so of Trinitarian theology. It surely deserves to be given a higher priority in our churches, and—I believe—far more attention within our theological and bible colleges. This may yet happen. Last century, Barth, (and since the Reformation, Luther) and others have laboured to show that Christian theology is Christocentric. This has had a beneficial effect on the church. While at times subject to experimental overkill, and in some quarters, a play-off between doctrine and experience, the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements have nevertheless in recent decades been a positive factor in the renewal of the church. As can happen with a good crop, at the end of a season, some have suggested—with good cause—that these movements have in some respect ‘gone to seed’.  As Tom Smail once said: ‘Your Renewal is too small’.  For this reason, a rediscovery of the treasures of knowing the Father also, may indeed awaken the church to fresh waves of renewal, rich theology and worship.

 

Since this is the final study (in the current series of 8 studies, in 2008), for those attending the New Creation Teaching Ministry Thursday morning classes, there are a number of important points that should yet be clarified, or underscored.

1.     ‘Abba Father’ is Not a Metaphor but a revelation of what is essentially so. It is a revelation given by the Holy Spirit, where faith is present. Ian Pennicook writes:

“the cry ‘Abba! Father!’ is actually the cry of the Spirit himself. Christ came to effect adoption and because his work of redemption was accomplished, the Spirit of his own sonship was given to us. So I am suggesting that Pentecost brought in an amazing realisation of who God is and what redemption has accomplished. That does not mean that explanation and teaching was not required but it does mean that here was no ‘appropriate’ picture language constructed for the hearers. Instead a powerful revelation came to the church, which was born that day: God is Father! Ephesians 3:14-15 introduces Paul’s prayer: For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. Far from ‘Father’ being a metaphor, the ‘Application of a name or descriptive term to an object to which it is not literally applicable’, quite the opposite is true. ‘Father’ is literally applicable to God alone, and then only to others by virtue of their being the image or reflection of the true Father”. 

2.     The Trinity is a Love Hierarchy (See John 14:28; 14:10, 10:30, 5:17-18; 7:29) The Father is the Divine Fountainhead (Fons Divinitatis), “in which the being of the Son has its source; the Father is God sending and commanding, the Son is God sent and obedient”  (C. K. Barrett) Over and against the heresies of tri-theism and of subordinationism, we need to assert that—rightly understood—the Triune God is hierarchical! This has implications for all of life, for humanity is created in the image and likeness of God. Consider the following paragraph, by Geoffrey C. Bingham:

“Some years ago a theologian in our city said he had ceased to read my books because my theology was hierthere was—and is—truth in the comment. I asked whether he or others had researched the idea of hierarchy—especially biblical hierarchy—and the frank answer was, ‘No. I don’t really understand hierarchy; and no, I don’t know of any material done on it’. I suggested that we might be missing out on an essential dimension of the truth if we did not at least inquire into hierarchy.”           

This is a large subject, unable to be dealt with at depth in these brief notes. However, we need to open things a little. If we first see that within the love-creation, there is hierarchy, then we may be open to consider the whole matter. In Genesis 1:16 we read:

God made the two great lights–the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night–and the stars.

 The sun and moon—prior to the entry of sin into the cosmos—exercise ruling authority. The term ‘hierarchy’ usually evokes thoughts of an oppressive regime, where authorities are arrayed in steps and stairs, and the worst location, is at the bottom—eg. it is not good to be the family dog, or cat, on a ‘bad hair day’. This is not, however what is in mind. Rather, the ideas of flow and offunctionality and service are paramount, together with mutual indwelling—a combination of Jesus’ statements in John.

 

Superordination does not mean superiority

This oft-repeated statement of Geoffrey Bingham’s is hard for sinners and rebels to hear. It indicates the heart of the matter: Superordination does not mean superiority, and subordination does not mean inferiority. Further, Bingham says: One of the keys to understanding hierarchy is to see that the most prior within its order is the person who takes the highest responsibility and who must serve the most. Another key is the fact that each member of the hierarchy is in another. For example, in 1 Corinthians 11:3 the Father is in the Son, and the Son in the Father. The Son is in the husband, and the husband in him.  The husband is in the wife and the wife in the husband, and in fact every member of the hierarchy is in every other member. This inter-dwelling of the members ensures unity, and works against the principle of oppression. 

                                                    

3.     Sonship and Inheritance: The Cosmic Dimension

The Father is creator—together with the Son who is co-creator. The family, the community of God, are placed in their home within creation. The entrance of sin however, outworks itself in alienation (due to guilt), anger, denial and disorientation concerning the whole plan of God. Many today live as if there were no plan, no future, and no point to life, except what we make of it ourselves. Not so for those who have faith. In Jesus Christ, they are redeemed and sanctified in order to participate within the new (regenerated) creation, including a profound homecoming and a grand inheritance—namely all things! (Romans 8:15-25;) Assurance from the giving Father who did not withhold his own Son, and has not abandoned us to our own miserable, little agendas, gives a person real confidence in God as Father, and as Love. The substantial nature of life, to come makes sense of creation, at last! For the creation itself anticipates glorious freedom. Bingham notes: ‘In almost every reference to sonship there is a forward looking to the end-time.  This end-time we call the eschaton, and so we say the sonship is eschatological.’  See for example, Ephesians 1:5 which speaks of adoption. And at the end of this great passage Ephesians 1:11, 1:14 and later 1:18 speaks of inheritance, as co-heirs with Christ.

The reality of adoption, sonship and inheritance refers to those who have come to maturity. A mature son is no longer a minor, under bondage to the slavery of sin. The new experience is of great freedom, even of embracing necessary suffering. The destiny is co-inheritance of the regenerate cosmos (Rom. 4:13).


   

 Thomas A. Smail, The Forgotten Father, Paternoster Press, 1980, p. 202

 Ian Pennicook, The Father and his sons, PDF File, February, 2004, p. 6

 D.A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, Eerdmans, 1991, p. 508.

 G.C. Bingham, All Things Are Yours, NCPI, Blackwood, 1996, p. xiii

 G.C. Bingham, All Things Are Yours, NCPI, Blackwood, 1996, p. 55

 Thomas A. Smail, The Forgotten Father, Paternoster Press, 1980, p. 156

 G.C. Bingham, I love the Father, NCPI, Blackwood, 1974, 1990, p. 116





Things that matter

21 11 2008

It seems to me that there are lots of things that matter in life. But, sometimes one is faced – or confronted, with the brevity of life. Like when someone you know is suddenly taken from this life. Death, can come so quickly. It catches us, it takes by surprise. It leaves its deep shock in our spirit.

So then, what matters? Just having fun? Doing lots of good things? Having lots of friends? Laughter? Joy? Or, as the cynics, might say… nothing. 

No. There are things that matter.

In the end it comes down to relationships. Many will agree. But sort of beyond that, is the matter of purpose. And that can be summed up in two things:

(1) Participating in the “mandate”, the great agenda, for creation. Which is, having been blessed, to then…: ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth’ (see Genesis 1:28) 

(2) Participating in the “gospel”, the great hope, and certainty, for the future of creation. That is, pausing long enough for the resurrection and crucifixion, to have their full effect upon one’s life, causing a great change of mind… for the better.

So then, may you be in the things that matter. Mowing a lawn, or catching a fish, or studying the galaxies, or nursing a sick child – these are creational things.

And, unfolding the mystery of life – Christ Jesus – that is a gospel thing.

Both are good to do. Both need each other, not just for balance, but for fulness of life, and for exercising our true humanity; and for joy – ah yes, joy, and for – well, making true sense of it all.  Cheers!





Music and the Gospel

14 10 2008

MUSIC AND THE GOSPEL

The following quote is from P. T. Forsyth [numbers added]: 

(1) There is at once a compelling grasp and a pervasive idea in great music, which lifts us, if we seek something more than mere amusement, into the vision which sees all things as working together for glory, good, and God

(2) Music is a universal speech, not only in the sense of coming home to almost all hearts. In that sense it is true only of simple and homely music. But great music is universal in a deeper sense than the simple, as Christianity itself is. Its nature and destiny is universal. It sweeps over us with a wave of emotion, which is humane, universal, and submersive of our own petty egoism. 

(3) It exists to purify and organise the selfish emotions, not simply to soothe them, excite them, or indulge them. It lifts us into a world of things which includes our little aches and joys, laps them in a diviner air, and resolves them into the tides and pulses of an eternal life. 

(4) It raises us to our place, if but for an hour, in the universal order of things, and makes our years seem but moments in the eternal process. It is not then our personal welfare we think of, or our private enjoyment. 

(5) Music, like Scripture and Nature, is of no private interpretation. We feel then that our passions and affections, however real, are but rills and streams in an infinite world of love, sympathy, and consummation. (Forsyth, Christ On Parnassus, p. 209-210). 

(6) ‘…we have in a piece of great music the world’s order in miniature.’

(P. T. Forsyth, Christ on Parnassus, p. 212)

Ah, music, blessed, wonderful music.
It was Jonathan Edwards, who said, ultimately, ‘everything will be music‘, rightly understood.
What a symphony the creation is, when tuned by the Risen Lord, to participate in his redemptive love, through the ages.

Thanks to the Lord, for saxophones, piano’s, drum kits, guitars, flutes, violins, trumpets, clarinets, and ’76 trombones’, and the sheer joy of it all.

I might just go, and put some music on.





The Redemption of Creation

14 10 2008

THE REDEMPTION OF CREATION

 

Study 4

 

Trevor Faggotter

 

INTRODUCTION

 

In Christ Jesus, God has spoken, and is speaking. This speaking awakens hope. Some people prefer perpetual silence, and a lifetime of distractions, or even years of pessimistic mumbling and commentary, to a word, which breaks that silence, brings comfort – yet probingly so – and so, demands much more of us.

 

We saw in Study 2 that a tragic guilt has come to the human race. Sin enters the world. Communion has been broken on a large scale, with huge ramifications. Wholeness, unity and peace on a personal, and global scale have been shattered.  However, as Christians we have, by faith, experienced the healing of our broken lives in Jesus Christ.

 

SELF-HEALING AND REPAIR

 

A marvel occurs when we cut our hand: immediately the body goes to work. An anaesthetic, and the great healing power of our own blood flows forth – spreading, congealing and eventually bridging and plugging the gaping gash in our skin, and finally healing over, with what can surely be described as – a remarkable repair job!  Similarly, some months after a scorching bushfire blackens the Australian scrub, we see small, power-filled green shoots emerging from charred stumps.  What then of the whole world?

 

Is there a moral order a self-healing power, as nature overgrows in course of time catastrophes volcanic in violence and in area continental? Has it a Vis medicatrix, a power of innate self-recuperation, corresponding to what we find in physical organisms? Is there in it an indwelling tendency, which moves to repair all damage at last, and a power to overbear those elements, which arrest its development?

 

Creation does appear to have inbuilt dynamic powers of its own. Let the earth bring forth living creatures (Genesis 1:24), and it does; creatures themselves are blessed, commanded and equipped to be fruitful, and they are. Powers of procreation, medicines and powers of healing lie within creation.  As we look to Scripture, and our hear Christ speaking in it, we see that creation has a future. This future is however, always integrally bound up with the person – Jesus Christ.  Scripture records that the earth shook at Christ’s crucifixion and the whole creation now waits with eager longing for the unveiling of the future, the sons of God participating in the life of total liberty, where death and decay are no more; this future is that which God has planned.  But there is not merely, an inbuilt self-directing powerful pressure for good that brings new life to the world.  There is a Person! That person is the Redeemer.

 

THE PERSON

 

It is the personality and deeds of Jesus Christ, as Lord of creation, Lord of life, and Lord over death, which brings the future into being. Firstly, together with the eternal Father, as the eternal Son, he freely selects and sets out what the future goal of creation will be. And he brings this future into being in a way, which is truly moral (not moralistic), where moral actions matter. Forsyth says:

 

…we construe the universe in terms of its crowning product, soul, conscience, and society.  It exists for the growing of personality, which is an end in itself, and, in so far as it serves, it serves only another personality, and grows men of God, who is the end for all ends.

 

In Christ, God is:

 

…that One who has His universal end completely in Himself, who is identical with the end of the disordered universe – with its redemption. He is the Redeemer because He is identical with His own redemption. 

 

What does this mean for our lives?  How does it affect our living?

The following points outline the matter in brief:

  1. There is a Person – Christ –unifying all things, himself the guarantor of the goal.
  2. We are called to participate with Christ, as he takes us towards, and to the goal.
  3. As participants, we nevertheless, of ourselves, have severe limitations.
  4. Creation appears to have innate qualities of self-repair and healing, but in fact, all of these are contingent upon the Living Redeemer.
  5. Evil also has an inbuilt tendency to disorganise itself – to self-destruct.
  6. The atonement of the cross, flowing from a Holy God, however, is the only way of dealing fully with the moral situation of the human race. It is a moral Act that is required, and marks a new beginning for the human race. There is no other.

 

WE DON’T JUST FIND A SPOT TO PARK OUR CARAVAN

 

Christian faith is about willing participation in the workings of Christ. It is a moral struggle to do so (Ephesians 6:12). Many miss this fact. As such, some believers are virtually ‘still-born’, upon their new birth into God’s kingdom. Our lives, our actions have a direct bearing upon what shall be, in eternity. Moral or immoral action has significant bearing on the way in which history unfolds. 

 

Faith in the Living Christ excludes the idea of fate, but includes the realisation of destiny:

 

We do not find our freedom and peace merely by finding ourselves, but by finding ourselves in a world Saviour. We do not reach rest merely by finding our place in an objective order, and reconciling ourselves to it.  For that is rather resignation than reconciliation.  What we find is a power rather than a place, a power working congenially in us both to will and to do.  We do not merely win a fortitude, which accepts our niche in the universe, or takes the room assigned in the caravanserai of life.  We recognise … our own Master’s voice, the voice of One whose mastery of us is our own true self, true power, and true freedom.

 

Hearing God, we begin to participate in his will – at first, and ever anew: 

 

Moral power is, at the last, personality. That is the only form in which we know what power really is – our own sense of acting as persons, or of being acted on by persons.

 

Our destiny, however, is always a gift, a grace, redemptive. It is only possible because there is a Living Redeemer. And this Redeemer carries out many repairs.

 

THE LIMITATIONS OF CREATURE AND CREATION

 

In answer to his own questions, (see the start of this paper), Forsyth thus reminds us:

 

The moral order is self-repairing only in the sense that it is repaired continuously and creatively by the Holy One whose end is in Himself, and who is its true self and more. (So that to love God is to love ourselves in the truest way).

 

For the human race the fact of our mortality, limits any self-repair we may be given:

 

There comes a point when the power of physical self-repair ceases – in death.

 

As to the renewal of this creation; we are not to expect evil to be a self-solvent. Nor does the good make its slow and ebbless way through creation. The wicked are often caught in their own net (Psalm 141:10), and their evil deeds are turned to work together for God’s purposive good, as in Joseph’s life (Gen. 50:20). However, it is in the cross of Christ, (Acts 2:23) that God works Redemption – and in no other way, does history come to its appointed goal. The creature and creation need the Creator for Redemption! Paul teaches that in the new creation, the old things have become new (1Corinthians 5:17). Revelation 21:1 shows the new heaven and new earth is the same heaven and earth, “but gloriously rejuvenated, with no weeds, thorns or thistles, and so on”.

 

The following comment by Forsyth regarding the new creation is consistent with this:

 

The new creation must, of course, arise out of the first, for, though it is an absolute Act, it does not take place in an absolute way.  But it is a more grave matter to regenerate the first creation into the second that it was to organise chaos into the first.  The opposition of chaos, void and formless, was passive, but the opposition of the creature is active. It is a family quarrel, and they are the worst. It is not matter against force but will against will.  It has behind it all the power of the freedom, which makes the first creation what it chiefly is.  So that it is really more true ethically to speak of God’s goal as a New Humanity than as two stages or states of the old Humanity – so long as we do not put the old and the new out of all organic connection whatever…. The Redeemer was not the mere agent of a process. He was the New Creator. 

 

WHAT IS REDEMPTION?

 

It is an Act, with a capital ‘A’. Redemption is not a process. Rather, it is a concentrated Act, with an eternal and universal bearing.

 

Forsyth takes us on, into the cross, as that necessary and crucial Act of God:

 

Nothing offers a future for such a world as this but its redemption.  But by redemption what do we mean? We mean that the last things shall crown the first things, and that the end will justify the means, and the goal glorify a Holy God. We mean (if we will allow ourselves theological language) an eschatology and a theodicy in it – a divine Heaven, a divine Salvation, and a divine Vindication in the result of history. But more. We mean a consummation, which can only come by way of rescue and not mere growth. We mean rescue from evil by a God whose manner of it is moral, which is the act of a moral absolute, the act of a holy God doing justice to righteousness at any cost to Himself. We mean rectification of the present state of things on His own principles; that is, not mere rectification, mere straightening of a tangle, but justification on a transcendent plane of righteousness, the moral adjustment of man and God in one holy, loving, mighty, final, and eternal act.  We mean something more crucial than Meliorism.

 

We will continue to explore and expound these things in the next study.


Mark 8:34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me..”

     John Piper has a thoughtful book title: What Jesus Demands From the World, Crossway Books, 2006.

Vis Medicatrix naturae means: the healing power of nature.

, NCPI, 1988, p. 59

Matthew 27:51, 54 ‘The earth shook, and the rocks were split’ ‘… the centurion saw the earthquake…’

Romans 8:19 For ‘the creation wais with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God;’

Forsyth, p. 63

Ibid.

Caravanserai: an inn in some eastern countries with a large courtyard that provides accommodation for caravans

Forsyth, p. 64

Ibid. p. 65

Ibid.

Ibid.

Ibid. p. 66

Geoffrey C. Bingham, Creation and the Liberating Glory, NCPI, 2004, p. 144

William Hendriksen, More Than Conquerors, Tyndale Press, 1940, p. 198 says: ‘The word used in the original implies that it was a ‘new’ but not an ‘other’ world. Fn: The original has kainos, not neos.’

See also Geoffrey C. Bingham, Creation and the Liberating Glory, p. 73, 121

Forsyth, p. 68

Forsyth, p. 74

Meliorism: the belief that the world tends to improve and that humans can aid its betterment. 








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