Christianity 201

April 21, 2016

Our Sin and the State of Creation

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:34 pm
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Today we pay a return visit to the devotional blog Get Along With God. Choosing a selection from this blog is never easy, but I found the idea in this one something I hadn’t truly considered before. This time around the writer is John. Click the title below, then click on ‘home’ to visit other articles at the site. You’ll also see some nice graphics that go with this article. (This article also contains links to others at the same blog.)

All Creation is Calling

All Creation

God created the heavens and the earth and everything that lives. At the end of His creating He said, “It is VERY good!” He made a masterpiece of the world and universe we live in. It was blessed!

Then came man, made in God’s image. We roamed the earth and were given preeminence over all Creation. We were able to walk in the cool of the day with God, our Father, in unbroken fellowship. It was beautiful! But then came the day that we fell.

As a result of our choice and fall, all of creation was cursed along with us. Its fruitfulness and flourishing gave way to thorns and thistles. On that day, death and decay permeated everything created. That which was blessed and VERY good, bore the scars of our choice against God. Yet did Creation turn against us in revolt and bitterness? No, the Word says that all Creation longs for the sons of God to come into glory. Creation literally groans as it waits to see us reunited with God in perfection.

For the creation eagerly waits with anticipation for God’s sons to be revealed.
Romans 8:19 HCSB

Everything on earth is subject to our fall. Nature itself was subjected to our evil choice and yet lives in hope and anticipation. Imagine, hope reigns supreme throughout all creation even in the face of our evil. The earth didn’t swallow us whole in a vengeful act for mangling its form; no, it teems with expectation for the day that we and it will be liberated in newness.

For the creation was subjected to futility—not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it—in the hope that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of corruption into the glorious freedom of God’s children. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now.
Romans 8:20-22 HCSB

The Story of All Creation and Our Today

So, how does this relate to us today? Because “The Story” is the same in the microcosm as it is in the macrocosm. The Creation Story is reflected in our personal lives as well. In the same way that Creation was hurt by our choices, other people’s choices have and do hurt us deeply.

Whether through ignorance, or in willfulness, or with malice, we are wounded, scarred, and crippled by the choices of those around us. Be it parents or siblings, spouses or children, authorities or friends, we are wounded and sometimes irrevocably. And this happens in both directions. We wound as much as others wound us. But here is Creation standing as an ever-present sentinel, a beacon for hope. Creation bowed to the Sovereign Hand who subjected it to man, and now it groans and waits for the redemption we all seek. Which one of us hasn’t also had to personally twist in the wind of adversity, waiting for our Redeemer in Glory to come?

This fact could sink us emotionally if we didn’t have the sustaining power of the Spirit of God. It’s too much to bear on our own. But the good news is we were never intended to. Our Savior came to heal the breach, and He left the Spirit to be our Life. It’s true, without Him it is impossible, unsustainable, and devastating. But the story of His Redeeming Love is sung throughout Creation—all Creation calls, waiting patiently without bitterness, malice, or scorn.

This is our lesson and our life. We are each called to receive our bruising, accept our crippling and groan with all Creation for the end of the age.

Am I a pessimist? A gloomy Gus toting a “Life’s a bummer and then you die!” bumper sticker? No, on the contrary, I know that God has subjected me and I have been maligned by the choices of others, but I am called to embrace His sovereign choices and not take up bitterness against those who have sinned. Others are also the recipients of my sinful choosing – may they have the grace to embrace our Sovereign God.

All Creation has a lesson to teach us. It has a vital call for us all. Surrender to the Hand of our Sovereign God and eagerly wait and groan for His Sovereign Hand to liberate us all. Oh, how often I have taken up an offense and become bitter, writhing with resistance rather than groaning with anticipation. It’s a life or death choice—one we each have the grace to face.

In my opinion whatever we may have to go through now is less than nothing compared with the magnificent future God has planned for us. The whole creation is on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the sons of God coming into their own. The world of creation cannot as yet see reality, not because it chooses to be blind, but because in God’s purpose it has been so limited—yet it has been given hope. And the hope is that in the end the whole of created life will be rescued from the tyranny of change and decay, and have its share in that magnificent liberty which can only belong to the children of God!
Romans 8:18-21 Phillips

April 19, 2013

Six Days Shalt Thou Labor

Exodus 20:9 (NIV)

Six days you shall labor and do all your work

I couldn’t help but notice this passage a few weeks ago. As I read it, I thought about the number of families that are faced with massive household consumer debt, and wondered if perhaps this offers a solution. Even if one of the income earners in a house picked up something on Saturday, that could mean an extra 20% income, provided such jobs were available.

But the note in my NIV Study Bible was somewhat dismissive, saying something to this effect, ‘A shorter work week in an a modern industrialized culture is not in view here.’

Furthermore, we focus on the distraction of the six-day work week here at our peril, because our entire attention in this commandment should be devoted to the practical and spiritual implications of the concept of cessation from labor for the purposes of sabbath rest (i.e. to rest as God rested, to give God worship, etc.).  The Voice Bible says in essence that you’ve got six days to get everything else done, the seventh is a day of rest.

You have six days to do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is to be different; it is the Sabbath of the Eternal your God…

Still, I believe we skip a possible secondary takeaway from verse nine too easily, especially in western society where ‘long weekends’ and ‘casual Fridays’ push us further and further toward a four day work week.  It’s said that we live in a culture of entitlement, and certainly we feel we are entitled to enjoy a certain degree of comfort and a certain number of consumer goods; so we amass great levels of personal debt to obtain those things.

While we should be pleased if our employer offers us extra work that will help reduce that debt, our labor laws insist that we be paid overtime, which means the employer thinks twice before offering us extra hours. And I do wonder what the agriculturally-based readers of the Decalogue in Moses’ time would think of our modern concept of vacation.

The website Theology of Work Project looks at different areas where the Bible addresses this topic.

John MacArthur notes the erosion of the work ethic in a sermon devoted to this topic that you can either read or listen to online.

When God doesn’t matter anymore, then there is no universal, transcendent standard for behavior. And natural human corruption runs rampant to the degree that any individual person chooses to live. And one of the basic moral virtues that disappears in a culture is work…work. People once worked hard because of the influence of Scripture and because Scripture is a reflection of the will of God. God is the authority and the Bible is the revelation of His will as that authority. Work, you see, is a virtue, work is a moral behavior.

People worked hard because they believed they were accountable to God and they were accountable to the revelation of God in Scripture. They had reverence for biblical authority and they had a basic fear of God. Even those who weren’t particularly evangelical Christians understood the place of God in society, understood the place of Scripture in society that it was the will of God and understood they had a transcendent responsibility before God to behave in a certain way. Now that God doesn’t matter, and the Bible is ridiculed and removed, if not banned from speaking authoritatively on any subject, there is a kind of fearless immorality. And one of the things that’s going to disappear is the virtue of work…the virtue of work. Sinners are happy to think that they answer to no one, but to themselves.

And later

Somebody made the suggestion that originally man was a gardener and the curse turned him into a farmer. Originally man was a flower arranger, and the curse turned him into a plow horse. The Fall did not introduce work, it changed its nature. And as the nature of work that is the punishment, but not work itself. Work neither began nor ceased with the Fall, it just took a different shape. It went from being a righteous blessing solely to being a righteous blessing with a curse on top.

And so, man seeks to restore the glory of work with the sweat of his brow, and all of his ingenuity he goes after this cursed earth, using the wonderful creative gifts that he’s been given because he’s in the image of God to abstract out of the richness of this planet everything that he can possibly extract, to provide value to his life, to provide meaning to his life, to provide provision for his life and those in his family, to provide for the needs of others and most importantly to bring dignity upon himself as one made in the image of God who demonstrates God-like creativity…

…In Psalm 104 we read, “He made the moon for the seasons, the sun knows the place of its setting. You appoint darkness and it becomes night in which all the beasts of the forest prowl about. The young lions roar after their prey and seek their food from God. When the sun rises, they withdraw and lie down in their dens. Man goes forth to his work and to his labor until evening.” God has ordained that men work originally six days a week here. You go to work in the morning and you finish in the evening. Work is designed by God to redeem the curse in a measure. You look at the civilized world, you look at the world that has flourished, you look at the western world in particular, and now, of course, many ascending nations in Asia and other parts of the world, and you see the magnificence that is extracted out of the creation by work. Go to Africa, and you see parched lands, starving people, murderous tribal warfare…people don’t work. It’s a tragic reality.

Work was always God’s design for us to be able to draw out all that is in this creation for the demonstration of our nobility being created in the image of God and for the glory of God and for the benefit of all man. It can be redeemed. It must be redeemed and that’s why we work. You know how that works. You redeem your yard every week. And if you went away for six months and came back, you would find out what the curse would do…just no water for six months, that will do it. Or just open all the windows and doors in your house and leave for six months and come back and see what’s inside. See what lives there. It’s a battle and we all understand that battle. We extract goodness out of His creation. That was Adam’s job and now we have to fight against the curse to extract that goodness. We are called to that work because it is noble and because it is God-glorifying.

This is a sermon/article rich with commentary on this topic, and I encourage you to click the above link to get into more of it.

I offer this today not to try to bring back the six-day work week, but rather to allow us to reconsider our attitude and our approach to the five-day work we do.


The Reformation Study Bible offers a theology of work:

God’s purposes in ordaining work

That people should be self-supporting Ge 3:19 See also Ps 128:2; 1Th 4:12

That people should find self-fulfilment Ecc 2:24 See also Pr 14:23; Ecc 3:22; Ecc 5:19

That people should serve others Eph 4:28 See also Pr 31:15; 1Th 2:9; 1Ti 5:8

That people should glorify God Col 3:17 See also 1Co 10:31; Eph 6:5-8 pp Col 3:22-24

Consequences of viewing work as God’s ordinance

Work is seen as a moral duty Tit 3:14 See also Pr 6:6; Ecc 9:10; 1Th 4:11; 2Th 3:7-12

Any legitimate work may be seen as God’s calling Ge 2:15 See also Ex 31:1-6; Ex 35:30-35; Ps 78:70-71; Mt 13:55 pp Mk 6:3; Ro 13:6; 1Co 7:17,20-24

Work is seen as a stewardship from God himself Col 3:23-24 See also Mt 25:14-30 pp Lk 19:12-27; Eph 6:5-8