Monday, February 18, 2019

Creation: Why you Should Get a Haircut and get a Real Job

You can, if you were to be so silly, write an entire english paper in a Spreadsheet program.  It’s doable, but it will be a difficult, awkward affair to say the least. 
Christians are often in a similar situation with regard to how we think we’re supposed to live our lives in this world.  A substantial source of the problem is that we’re trying to fit our lives into the wrong software: a mistaken understanding of why the world exists and what we are created to do in it. To a degree, we understand that people need saving so we don’t go to hell but dwell with God forever...but where that fits into the larger picture is almost completely lost on us. .
First though consider again the reality that you don’t need to exist.  Our existence is contingent, unnecessary, unneeded.  We might not have been at all.  God didn’t need us, and he is not served by us “as though he needed anything.”  Logically starting here is truly crucial if you are to have a truthful and moral life.  Because, as we touched on last week, the whole of created reality exists for one ultimate purpose: to make much of God.  He wanted to display himself, to show his power, to make known his that his glory might shine brightest through His Mercy - Rom 9:22–23 “What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, [23] in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—.”  So all things exist to display God in all his fullness.  But, we aren’t left in the dark regarding how that happens and what our role in that is supposed to be.  We have a written record. As  Genesis 1:1; 26-31 records,
“[1] In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  [26] Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
[27] So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. [28] And God blessed them. And God said to them, “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 heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” [29] And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. [30] And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. [31] And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.”  So let’s break this down a bit.
Sin-free Goodness
First of all, to start where the text ends, God declares everything he made “very good”.   For starters, it means that whatever plans and purposes God had for the glorification of his name, those purposes were prior to sin.  This means that mission or evangelism is not primary: missions are not the ultimate goal and purpose of our lives.  The world was full of potential, and God gave instruction about this world prior for any need of mission/evangelism.  This doesn’t mean mission/evangelism is unimportant: a sinner’s most urgent need is to hear that Jesus died to forgive their sins before a righteous God of judgement.  But God declaring his created purposes “very good” prior to sin does mean that there is purpose for absolutely everything else that doesn’t fall under the category of mission/evangelism...which is a lot.  This really matters, since both in creation and in the “new heavens and new earth” there will be no mission, no outreach.  Both the beginning & end of history there will be no evangelistic activity.  So, what was the idea at the beginning, and how does that influence us now?  Let’s consider the text a bit and see...
He’s a “Yes God”, so it’s a “Yes World”  
Notice that the first commandment God gives is not a prohibition but provision: Gen 1:29  “And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.”  The same in Genesis 2:16  “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden…”.  You’ll notice the ellipsis there because the next phrase is “but, you may not eat…”.  What comes before the “but” is lost on us: the first commandments are blessings and provisions: “Behold, I’ve given you food…” “Here’s some deliciousness to eat...”.  He is, in short, a “Yes God”, not a stingy God; not a hands-off-the-fine-china God.  This is who God is, it’s what he is like: it pleased him to give, and to lavish in abundance.  Since this is what God is like, it is the reason why it’s “more blessed to give than to receive”.  Why? Because we are like God, and it is his nature to be pleased to give & provide: He gets glory as the giver.  Adam had only two things to say in response: 1) “thanks!” and 2) “mmmmm”.  Both of which glorify the giver: Adam’s “mmmm” was the first ever “compliments to the chef”.  A chef & his restaurant patrons - patrons get pleasure, and the Chef gets glory.                
Paul picks up this creation truth, in 1 Tim 4:1–4  “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons…[what’s the demonic teaching?} [3] who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. [4] For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving…”.  He says later in chp 6:17 “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.”  Richly Provides...for what purpose? A: enjoyment.  NOW...the enjoyment God intends is not intended to terminate merely in the enjoyment of the enjoyer.  Like God, the joy spills over again toward others: 1T6:18 “They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share…”  More on that to follow.

Stewards, Workers & Families
The creation pattern can be broken down into at least roles or callings for mankind: stewards, workers and family makers. We’ll consider mostly the second two for times’ sake.
Stewards - responsibility to care for and protect our world.  In short, Dominion & Subdue ≠ “do what I want”, but do what I must to care for God’s world.  We are to make it beautiful, cultivating, creating and crafting a world to it’s limitless potential. 
Workers - To be a worker is to have the joy of being “fruitful”.  If I had a nickel for every time I heard “I don’t know how my faith informs my job”.  This struggle to know how to push our faith into all corners of our lives is because we have a very limited understanding of the creation mandate found in Genesis 1-2.  When it says “be fruitful and multiply”, it is not repetition, “multiply and multiply”.  Adam was instructed to be fruitful with his live and his wife.  V28 “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion…”.  We might say, rather than “God instructs us to be fruitful with our lives”,  that the very definition of what it means to “have a life” is “fruitfulness”.  Or to put it negatively, you don’t have a life unless you’re fruitful.  That was certainly presumed in the first instructions from God to Man: Be full of fruit.  And as it this regards the enjoyment mention, it is not the kind of enjoyment that is passive.  It is not the kind of enjoyment of sitting on a beach, sipping rum in retirement, “enjoying” the sunset every day, being waited on hand and foot.  The enjoyment is enjoined with travel plans: “fill the earth, subdue it”.    
Families - “multiply”. As God created in an overflow of his joy and love, so we are instructed to create as an overflow of our love of wife/husband.  Here, again, is a built-in fruitfulness: the sexual union between humans that God blesses is a union that produces (it is, in fact, the only one).  The fruit of the marriage bed is children.  With children comes responsibility and more opportunities to be fruitful for the sake of others, for the good/joy of others.  As my wife recently commented, children are among the best gifts that God teaches us what life is all about: namely, for the sake of others, since children require this of us.  This is why the presumption of “birth-control” is so terrible: because Divorce is terrible.   We divorce the fruit from the tree - the marriage bed is designed to produce fruit, and offspring are wedded to the nature of marriage.  So, when we presume “the pill”, we presume a new order to things: marriage w/out children, like an apple tree with no apples (or at least, only apples until we are darn good and ready).   [[pseudo-caveat: we know, now, that singleness is a gift; and while the presumption of “the pill”l is ungodly, the mere use of contraception is not necessarily a problem.  It’s simply that the passage in Genesis 1-2 has nothing about this caveat...hence it’s brevity.]
Closing Applications:
What ought a proper and growing grasp of these truths produce (pun intended) in you?  
  1. An eagerness to Work - a proper and growing grasp of God’s creational designs should produce eagerness to produce: to be fruitful.  Yes, share the gospel at work; yes use your income in culturally defying ways (give a lot) for missions, for service; yes start a Bible study at your workplace, pray for open doors with co-workers: yes and amen to all of that!  But first know the purpose of work: gain eyes to see the great enjoyment of creating, producing, molding, writing, building...because God created us to, and like God, we take joy in creating, in being fruitful and subduing the earth.
  2. Eagerness to make your life about something other than yourself - your life is for purposes beyond you: tending and keeping (being a steward); fruit is consumed by others, and is meant to be produced with that in mind.
  3. Eagerness to marry and raise children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord - not just marry, but marry without principally divorcing the fruit of that marriage: children.  Marriage is more than this, but I highlight it here because the Genesis account highlights it, and the role of men, women and purpose of marriage is so terribly confused and rejected in our modern era.
All of this, of course, is very good...but all of it is broken.  It is hard.  And we are ourselves broken and don’t desire as we ought.  We call this “The Fall”, and we’ll turn to it next week.  But for now, the first and consistent answer to obedience to this is repentance of sin and salvation from our saviour, Jesus Christ.  Only through Jesus are we able to reclaim God’s designs for us.

Monday, January 21, 2019


I recently read an article by Challies, Why You Shouldn’t Stop Blogging (or Why You Should Consider Starting).

It was good, and kinda motivated me to get back at the blog, with perhaps some added content from time to time.  

This entry may perhaps be merely a prayer request to pray for wisdom for me.  I'm thinking that creating "blog versions" of my messages (or some of them) might be of some value and interest to at least some of you.  You'd get an insight into what we're talking about on a regular basis at Equip on Wednesday nights, and it would do all the things that Challies talks about in that article.  

So, perhaps!  How's that for vague and non-commital?  But fear not, I'll at least fulfill the desire with a single entry, forthcoming, a summary/blog-version of last week's Equip message: "Creation: Why You Should Get a Haircut and Get a Real Job".