Monthly Archives: November 2018

Storing Sand & Letting Gold Go Free

Paul was raging his way northward to find followers of Jesus Christ when he met Jesus Christ Himself on the road. The Lord had a brief but far-ranging talk with the now blind man and led him by the hand to the baptistery where Paul took on him the name of the Lord Jesus. He lived in a new world from that moment on and with the eyes of his heart wide open he found it astonishing, thrilling, demanding, painful and pleasing, confusing and assuring and the name of Jesus was never away from his lips.
He was happy to debate when he had to, he suffered when he couldn’t avoid it, he was sad when the occasion warranted it and he rejoiced like Snoopy in those hours of reflection when he heard within the gospel music of God. He was Lazarus unbound (Keck), free to live and proclaim good news about a God who said to the weary world through the prophets, “I’m coming to be with you in your trouble,” and kept His word. And when He arrived He took on Him the name: “Jesus of Nazareth”.

Paul was well schooled in the hot topics of his day and like Chesterton’s Lazarus, back from the dead, he’d stop and listen to the wise ones prove this and that and prove there is no life after death, not now or ever—all there is is this gloomy world of death now and death later. Then he’d stride off in the name of his Lord Jesus and murmuring to himself,

The sages have a hundred maps to give
That trace their crawling cosmos like a tree,
They rattle reason out through many a sieve
That stores the sand and lets the gold go free:
And all these things are less than dust to me
Because my name is Lazarus and I live.

We can barely keep up with him as he goes in the name of his Lord Jesus raising the dead by the power of that name and establishing little congregations of life all over the place. They were congregations of living people who served their course and left this world but not before the resurrection life had become contagious and remains contagious to this day after nearly 2,000 years bringing wide-eyed people out of tombs into a new creation. And the life that Paul carried within him was indeed resurrection life (Ephesians 2:1-6; Colossians 2:10-12 and 3:1-4). It didn’t and doesn’t apologize for existing. It doesn’t beg Sin or Death’s permission to be alive. This is resurrection life that’s generated and guaranteed by the resurrection life of the resurrected Lord Jesus; that’s what Paul preached and embodied as he went about transforming the world while others ran behind him jeering and showing their letters of recommendation written on paper with ink! (2 Corinthians 3:I-3) I like now and then to imagine Paul and His Lord spending some time looking at the deathless life that continues to spring up all over this planet (even now) as fruit of Paul’s ministry and the Lord looking at him and saying, “I trusted you and you served me wondrously well. Look again at all that and be happy!”

(Holy Father, thank you for Paul and for all those people you provided to keep him on his feet in good faith! And thank you for all those who in faith and proclamation even now in their own unheralded ways image Paul as he imaged you and your indwelling Son (Ephesians 5:1-2) in whose name, this payer.)

 

Yes, Yes, But What Was His response?

“God allowed the nations to go their own way.” Paul said that in Acts 14:15-16. “Allowed!” he said. God didn’t desire it and much less did He ordain it! And He allowed the nations to walk in “their own way!” We can argue about how the entire sinning business got started—we can to that until the cows come home but we can’t deny the awful mess the sinful human family is in.

If Paul’s teaching matters to us we can’t argue about this: “God allowed it!” And then there’s this truth: God chooses to allow what He allows! He knows what He is doing and takes responsibility for His choices. And there’s this, the nations are capable of choosing a direction and living in it. (That sentence needs developed and the dynamics of “national choice” need to be taken into account.)
God “allowed” the nations to go in “their own way.” And the result was what? Here it is spelled out in Romans 1:18-32 & 3:1-20.

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. 26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”

And God’s response to that? The Holy God’s response to that? The Sin-hating God’s response to that? The righteous God’s response to all that degeneration, cruelty, heartlessness? The forsaken God’s response to that swaggering insolence, that slanderous self-righteousness, that voracious greed and lust for power? He comes walking down the steps of heaven with an innocent baby in His arms to give to the world, to live in the midst of moral insanity, to experience and bear the sins of such a world and in that child who would become a man to redeem it.

And if people asked Paul where can we see God’s righteousness? He points to the young man hanging on a cross (3:21-26). Where can we see that God cares what the malevolent powers are doing to us? Paul points to a young man called Jesus of Nazareth hanging on a tree, like so many voiceless and powerless men and women that were dragged out and lynched (Acts 5:30; Hebrews 2:10-11). And if people asked Paul in light of our awful record of malicious warfare and the starving and robbing of little nations –asked him if forgiveness could ever be possible he would point at a young man called Jesus of Nazareth hanging on a public gallows (1 Corinthians 15:3; Ephesians 1:7; Galatians 1:4: 6:14). And if the dying asked Paul if they could be sure that Sin & Death did not have the last word Paul would say he had met the once dead and now living forevermore Jesus of Nazareth (Acts 9, 22 & 26; 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, 50-55; Romans 8:11) and His immortal LIFE was gained for all who want it!.

That’s God’s response to Romans 1:18—3:20 and it’s what Christmas is all about.

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A Woman Is Not Man’s…….

Look, a woman isn’t a man’s idea!
A woman isn’t even a woman’s idea.
A woman is God’s idea!

She is no less God’s idea than a man is. It’s hateful to have to say such things but in a world as wicked as ours we’re required to proclaim it loud and clear. Women exist as women because God who is our Father and creator lovingly wanted it so. If we ask a wise devoted Christian woman why she is a woman she would happily tell you that she is a woman because God loved the thought of her! He thought of her as a woman, loved the vision of her as a woman and so He created her as a woman! She would tell you more than that but not less than that. You know that, I know that and Paul knew that and it was from Paul and others like him that we learned that.

It wouldn’t matter to that woman what some men thought and think of her for she’d be well aware that she was equal in the eyes of her Heavenly Father with any man. It wouldn’t matter to her how God had created her. Following the Genesis narrative she’d take no offense at God making her 2nd (though that’s the wrong way to put it—or the wrong way to leave it. In the creative act of God she was 2nd but she was also the last, the completing act of God in creating humankind—more later on that). God has His loving and wise purposes. It’s His world and she’s just glad to be in it because He wanted her in it and wanted her in it as a woman!

She knows that God didn’t make women to be beaten, humiliated, robbed walked on or “kept down” by men. If and when men do that they don’t have God’s approval; they have His condemnation. She’s well aware that God did not create her just to exist as a mortal but that He purposes to bring her to glory and immortality, to wild adventure, joy and unending life that is brimful of life! He created her to shape the world, to be an agent for change now and not only as a woman who has political, financial, literary or artistic power but as a woman. Yes, a woman of power if and when she gains it, if she wants to gain it. Such a woman knows her God, knows who she is and knows the power exercised by Jesus of Nazareth who imaged God and knows that it wasn’t His miraculous power that changed the face of the earth. She knows that Jesus Himself subjected Himself to the will of His Redeeming Father and if it’s the case that the Holy Father asks her in some way to live within the Chosen People in some place of subjection that He most have a good reason. And since her Lord and Savior did it she is in good company if she does it.
For such a woman it isn’t a matter of men robbing them or humiliating them; like her Lord she chooses her form of service. Stupid and selfish men may think they are stealing but they can’t steal what she, like her Lord, freely gives. And there’s this: those unrepentant overlords will answer to God when they meet Him.
She doesn’t mind at all, then, if God calls on her to function in some specific ways that suit His purpose to gain what He has in mind not only for her but for numberless humans like herself as He moves through long ages of sinful human history. If He had come to her just after He made her and she, filled with joy at her Father and His limitless love for her, heard Him say, “My love, I want you to work with Me in ways that I will ask of you as I bring you and the human family to unimaginable glory. You willing to do that?” You know what she’d say. She would say what real lovers say to one another even to this very day even in this tired and sinful old world. “Well of course! I’d be more than happy to work with you in any way you choose.”
So if He asked the woman (in company with and not apart from) the male to live and function as His image in some way and some place of “subjection” to the male she’d do it in a heartbeat. She would do it because she knows who is asking for this. She would do it because He would not for a moment think of her as a doormat or as less than equal to the man. She would do it because she would feel that it’s a glorious thing to be commissioned to something that must be of great significance. And if she knew the Story as we have been privileged to know it she would reflect on the truth that the Lord Jesus laid aside privileges and aspects of His own glory to glorify the Holy Father. And if she knew the Truth about God’s overarching purpose (as Paul did) she would know that her presence in the world as a woman alongside a male, would be a visible witness for the Lord Jesus and His redemptive relationship with eschatological People the Church (Ephesians 5:25-32 with the Genesis references.)
She might even wonder how it is that some women currently aren’t happily astonished at their God-gifted glory as womankind. She might ask herself, “Do they think because God has asked something special of them that that destroys the glory of womanhood? And do they think if they get the ‘freedom’ of X that will make their womanhood glorious? Do they not realize that they have inexpressible glory by virtue of creation by their Holy Father?”
So yes, women too are sinners as was their Mother Eve. And maybe Paul thought women in Ephesus were being deceived, cheated out of their glory, and that’s why he wants them to remember how the serpent cheated her. She had glory unimaginable and the Serpent conned her into wanting to be something else that would result in her losing what God didn’t want her to lose. She was a beautiful woman in the image of God and the sly serpent with pleasing words sweet-talked her into turning from her Father who created her glorious.
And knowing the above is true, knowing it is true and rejoicing in it, what if such a woman read 1 Timothy 2:8-15 and took it at face value and believed it to be God’s word? What if such a woman gladly chose to live by that believing it pleased her Holy Father? What would she say if we said she was being humiliated and robbed if she lived a full and glorious life as God’s daughter and humanity’s mother but happily took 1Timothy 2:8-15 as one more way to please her Father?

How Shall We Read 1 Timothy 2:8-15? (3)

Words! Somebody said, and I don’t remember who, “There are earthquakes, nuclear bombs, hurricanes, tornados, volcanos and then there are words!” James said something about words, speech—he said the tongue can set a world on fire! Someone else reminded us that there are parts of the world where if we said, “God is love! No one would bat an eye but if you said, “God is Just” you could lose your life.

Context and intention are everything!

In some areas the N word is a word of defiance and defiant brother and sisterhood in the face of unjust opposition. In other settings and from different mouths it is a vicious insult that expresses a heart that knows no shame and raises images of a history saturated with shame—the word is used deliberately to feed division, humiliate and to provoke resentment, hatred and a hunger for violent physical response when other forms of protest “don’t work.”
Words cheapen realities that can be viewed with wonder if we have the right vision. Sexual engagement between a man and a woman is commonly spoken of in well-known terms that brutally reduce two people to heated “users” of each other. The words used as a description of what feverishly happens express the already existing mind-set—”this is what he or she is good for.” But there’s something about expressing our low views that embeds them. Where it can be avoided some things should not be uttered.

Sometimes we Christians are too saintly and speak of sexual engagement between a man and woman as if it we thought it should be a quiet prayer-meeting or that marriage is nothing other than another opportunity to be religious. For Christians who fail in the area (and many of us do) it remains true that Hebrews 13:4 is not up for debate. Still, was it Bonhoeffer who said something to the effect that when husbands and wives wish to love one another that God steps out of the bedroom? Construe his remark in the finest possible way. Bearing in mind that context is king, I take seriously Kipling’s “advice” in his poem, “IF” (and Ecclesiastes 7:16):

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

Here I’m centrally interested in the words, submit, submission, submissive! Context and intention are paramount! Say any of them in the right quarter and hair rises along with the temper. Say anything where the word “submission” could easily fit in, even if it isn’t used, and you might get a lecture. (It happened to me on a flight back from the west coast a year or so ago. I hadn’t been promoting any agenda—truly I hadn’t. We were speaking about children. I thought this fine woman was a bit overly sensitive, hair-triggered; but then I didn’t know her and her life’s experience might have been horrendous. With such people it isn’t a word that sets them alight—it generates images of prolonged injustice—their own experience and the experience of countless people like them. She understandably becomes part of a world-wide “sisterhood of suffering” and that adds depth and intensity to her feelings and tends to shape her (us!) to hear more than is being said or to think that something is being dismissed without due consideration. (My mother bore thirteen of us and some of my most vivid childhood memories are the seemingly unceasing arrivals of policemen at our house to deal with severe domestic violence. My father wasn’t a fine man—drunk or sober–and my mother was the usual victim. This experience (known by multiplied millions) doesn’t make me an “expert” in anything! I mention it I suppose hoping to gain a better hearing from some of the host of women who have good reason to love not the word “submission” and see it only as a religious word that especially supports a male form of ungodliness that doesn’t always express itself in physical violence but in unending scorn and humiliation.

In the light of global injustice that is particularly obvious (name the country) where this is perpetrated and almost always by the powerful who are males. People are tired of it and those who can do anything about it, even if it is no more than protest and march, are in the mood to do it and to do more at any opportunity. God bless them in it for God has no love for injustice! We need to believe and remember that. I mean to come back to that truth. GOD has no love for injustice—never did! Just glance through the prophets and see for yourself. Some Christians (it appears) think that the condemnation of injustice began with us. This is Christian imperialism! One hears a lot about “progressive revelation” (and I accept PR as a truth within limits). But there is so much nonsense attached to it by the thoughtless. Is it true that we only learned that cruelty was cruel or abuse was abuse when Christianity entered the world? Is it the case that we only learned that Love was at the heart of all that is right and best in the world—we only learned that when Jesus of Nazareth arrived on the scene? Bless me, it was Jesus of Nazareth who taught us that the heart of the Old Testament Law & Prophets was Love (Matthew 22:36-40) and that Shema was centuries before He entered the world.

Moving on. Lexical work is dangerous even in the hands of grammarians and lexicographers who nevertheless are a great blessing to us. We come to know what a writer or a speaker intends to do with his or her words by listening to/reading what he says on this occasion or in this textual setting. We need more than a dictionary that will list the various uses of a word that are current in daily life because what we’re after is an answer to this: “How is this writer/speaker using the word here?” Bless me, the word mean or “means” functions in many different ways. Though there are times when it isn’t easy to decide precisely how a writer is using a word—context is still king. But though that’s true, “context” is like a Russian doll; there are contexts within larger contexts within the glorious overarching context. So millions of us rightly hold.

Christian people are glad to hear that God has subjected all the principalities and powers to Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:27-28 and elsewhere) and they’re happy to read that demons were subjected to the disciples empowered by the name of Jesus (Luke 10:17). The same word is (often) rendered “obedience” as in 2 Corinthians 9:13. In Luke 2:51 it’s rendered “obedient” in reference to Jesus placing himself under the authority of His parents. It’s used in Romans 13:1 and 1 Peter 2:13 relative to government structures and in Ephesians 5:21 it is used of Christians in general “submitting” to one another in light of the Lord Jesus and as illustrations of that Paul speaks of numerous life relationships (5:22—6:9). In these and other places the same word is used in its various forms. But fuller understanding is not gained simply by noting that the same word is being used, we need to determine the force of the word in this text or another. Imperatives don’t all have the same strength! When Peter urges young men to “be submissive” to older people (5:5) or Paul to wives to husbands (Ephesians 5:24) or children to parents (6:1) and slaves to masters (6:5) these are not to be construed as “barked commands” or as someone lording it over others (see 1 Peter 5:3; Matthew 20:25-28 and 2 Corinthians 10:8; 12:14-15, 19; 13:10 where Paul gives his understanding of his apostolic authority–these Corinthian texts are written by a loving apostle of the Lord Jesus whose heart is nearly broken). In Philippians 2:12 Paul uses the same root word as obeyed and with happy assurance. All this makes the point that “submission” or a call to “submit” need not be and should not be construed as a “lording over” or being “lorded over” situation. There is “obedience” and obedience. To obey loving and wise parents, loving and wise apostles and the Loving Lord is one thing and to obey a Pharaoh is another kind of “obedience.”

When we come to 1 Timothy 2:8-15 we’ll hear Paul calling women to be submissive in a particular setting and it isn’t fair to Paul or to the text we have before us if we read and interpret it as if a lover didn’t write it; it isn’t right to read it as if he were enslaving and robbing women (I’ve heard both words used of what he taught). It isn’t right to parallel such a text by such a man with the work of heartless white-sheeted and hooded God-dishonoring and people-abusing men. Caucasian people hate it when African-Americans think all Caucasians hate them and can’t be trusted despite their heartfelt courtesy and respect. Men kept women from education and the right to vote and all that goes with those deprivations but that isn’t Paul and it isn’t the will of God who in and as Jesus became obedient (same word) unto death (Philippians 2:8)!
To place oneself or to be content to be placed under obligation to function in a given way in pursuit of God’s glorious purpose is to live [even now] in a new creation. To seek what I construe (and perhaps rightly) to be “my rights” need not be a bad thing and under some circumstances it might be a bad thing NOT to seek them! But even those “rights” need to be pursued wisely in a nation or a world where everyone simply cannot get all that would be fair. The “already haves” (the powerful) that fiercely pursue more and more “rights” are acting out of a spirit and promoting a spirit that is contagious, divisive and breeds resentment and prolonged bitterness. If it isn’t done in the name of the Lord Jesus and in His Spirit it is in the wrong spirit and if it is the followers of Christ who are pursuing “more” and are not at all willing to live in “submission” in some settings they too are teaching the world something. Maybe Jesus is right; it’s possible to gain the entire world and lose oneself. (Balance the above as you think it should be balanced and pursue me if you wish: holywoodjk@aol.com)

Charles Clayton Morrison, a truly prolific writer with a no-nonsense style died in 1966 but not before he famously said, “Christianity can repent but it must not whimper.”

The Holy Scriptures seem clear to me. James D.G. Dunn in his tiny commentary on 1 Corinthians (p. 70) said, “…the impression that Paul basically reaffirmed female subordination to male is hard to avoid.” I’m certain he’s right but there’s more to be said from 1 Corinthians 11 which I purpose to get to.
Some are happy to have Brueggemann, Terrien, Fiorenza and others by their side. I find it more comforting to have Paul. The Church must not whimper and with Paul beside us who needs to?
Finally for  now:
Precisely why Miriam and Aaron took issue with Moses about his wife will leave us guessing but what seems clear enough is this: they thought Moses was taking himself too seriously and was acting like he alone had the right to “call the shots.” That’s how they saw it and that’s Numbers 12:1-9. God ended the dispute and vindicated Moses.

There’s this in Numbers 16. Spokesmen for a large number of Israelites call Moses out. The deputation was 250 leaders headed up by Korah, Dathan and Abihu. Again, what precisely led to this deputation challenging Moses is not clear but their gripe is clear: “You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the LORD’s assembly?”

Korah son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and certain Reubenites—Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth—became insolent. and rose up against Moses. With them were 250 Israelite men, well-known community leaders who had been appointed members of the council.
They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the LORD’s assembly?”  When Moses heard this, he fell facedown. Then he said to Korah and all his followers: “In the morning the LORD will show who belongs to him and who is holy, and he will have that person come near him. The man he chooses he will cause to come near him.
You, Korah, and all your followers are to do this: Take censers and tomorrow put burning coals and incense in them before the LORD. The man the LORD chooses will be the one who is holy. You Levites have gone too far!”
Moses also said to Korah, “Now listen, you Levites! Isn’t it enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the Israelite community and brought you near himself to do the work at the LORD’s tabernacle and to stand before the community and minister to them?
He has brought you and all your fellow Levites near himself, but now you are trying to get the priesthood too.

Many of them were well acquainted with the names Korah, Dathan and Abiram in Numbers 16. These three men (!) led two hundred and fifty other men in protest against leadership restrictions! Here’s how these men put their complaint [16:3]: “You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them… Why then do you set yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?”

The answer, of course, is that Moses and Aaron didn’t! God did!

THE “N” WORD         PROGRESSIVE REVELATION

If God Committed a Crime It Was What?

Because we’re humans and hurt ourselves and others, because we long for peace rather than war, for comfort rather than severe affliction, for life rather than death and love rather than hate—because all this is true, in a hard and harsh world, a world we have helped to create, maintain and in which we suffer and make others suffer, a place where, precisely because we love deeply we suffer deeply when our beloved ones suffer—because all this is true we want someone to fix everything and fix it now with or without explanation.
Whatever His reasons God has called us to trust Him and the “call” is grounded in the incarnation of God in the human we have come to know as Jesus of Nazareth. That is how God goes about reconciling the world to Himself. He shows Himself and draws us to Himself by revealing Himself. He uses no other means but Himself! This is the God who makes Himself known to us and this is the incarnational way He has done it and these are the stories that tell us of the deeds and the words of the righteous God who looks for friendship.
But as He seeks us to return to Him in friendship He is dealing with a human family that engages in hatred of one another and cruelty against one another.

The means of dealing with the evil of our sinful state has two faces that are inseparable though distinguishable from one another.

In fathering us by creating us as He willed to do God determined that life, fullness of life could only be experienced and enjoyed in fellowship with Him and in His image.

To sever ourselves from Him and to reject Him as the source of the only kind of life that He purposed to bring us to (“eschatological life”) meant that rejecting Him is to reject “eschatological” life, that is, post-resurrection life which is immortal, a life free of creaturely limits.
Since He purposed immortality and glory and would not renege on His purpose His aim in coming in Jesus Christ was to bring that to consummation. In order for God to accomplish that purpose humanity had to return to God, the source of that blessed state.

Righteousness is relational fidelity; it is being true to the commitment to the relationship or relationships into which we have entered. Sin is relational infidelity. God is righteous because He keeps His word, His commitment to bless the human family with life eternal.
Forgiveness and sanctification are both part of a salvation purpose that requires these but they are not the consummation of God’s loving purpose which is Life, Everlasting life, Immortal life experienced by glorified humans who are in the renewed image of God which He always purposed in Jesus of Nazareth, the now glorified Lord of All (Colossians 1:16-17; 1 Timothy 3:16-17).
But as God works in faithfulness to consummate His loving purpose He deals with a humanity that chose to reject Him and so not only dishonored Him but by their choices have become obstacles to God’s purpose.
The vertical aspect is humans against God and its horizontal aspect is humans against humans. Cruelty in all its forms spread like wildfire and the powerful class created an oppressed class; it created the vulnerable and voiceless and impoverished and the arrogance grew with its power. Suffering and resentment triggers retaliation and so here we are as we are today. The works of the “flesh” include hatred, contentions, jealousies, outburst of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, envy and heresies (Galatians :5:20-21). These are all divisive and retaliatory.

God’s unending hatred of Sin that made its home in humans (Romans 8:3) is seen in His willingness to allow us humans to choose self-destructive ways even though that meant the innocent and righteous (babies & His trusting followers) suffered (not punished)along with the guilty. This permitted chaos and cruelty exposed Sin and satanic behavior for what it was, is and always would be—the way only to Death & Destruction. Sin plunged humans to their lunatic depths when they hung God on a tree (John 12:31; Acts 5:30). Blinded by Sin (and blinded to this day by it) humans saw goodness, genuineness, truthfulness, helpfulness, justice and compassion embodied in Jesus of Nazareth who offered “credentials” by means of miracles and glorious teaching (John 15:22-24) and they hurried Him to a gallows. They meant the cross for evil and God meant it for good (see Genesis 39:21; 50:17-20; Galatians 1:3-5). And we continue to do it as we corrupt innocence in children, rape and pillage the voiceless and vulnerable and wallow in greed for “more” while countless people have less than nothing.

Since it was humanity that brought Sin (in all its forms—Romans 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22) into the human experience we’re not to suppose that God in some arbitrary and sovereign decision saw fit to hurt humankind. But He nevertheless allows humans to make evil choices and hurt one another (see Acts 14:15-16). The innocent and righteous were and are suffering at the hands of evil and God takes responsibility for allowing it but He has assured them by the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Acts 17:31) that He will indeed right ALL the wrongs and for all those embraced in His redeeming work in Jesus Christ there will be glory, honor, immortality, all gathered up in what the Holy Scriptures call “eternal life”.

Paul took the view (Romans 8:18-22) that the non-human creation was “subjected to futility not of its own will.” Humanity to whom God gave dominion was faithless and the glory was missed but not forgotten by God. The Hebrew writer (2:5-9) concedes that Genesis 1& Psalm 8 had not yet been experienced but that seeing Jesus was the assurance of its coming fulfillment. But due to the will of Him who by choosing to permit humans their way God has subjected creation  to the effects of the Fall.
The glorious purpose to glorify the creation wasn’t jettisoned but was it is to embraced in a future that accompanies the re-creation of the glorified human family (Romans 8:17-24, and 29). That makes the point that the human family would come through suffering to glory and so be conformed to the image of God’s Son (again, Romans 8:29) who shared with us the pain and loss that we suffered as a consequence of our forsaking God.

Since the re-creation of humans involves a rising beyond the mere physical (now by faith and in hope–Ephesians 2:5-6; Colossians 2:10-12; 3:1-4; Romans 5:1-4; 8:23-25) and creaturely weakness into a new and glorious mode of being as humans it should be no surprise that the non-human creation will also experience a re-creation as a new creation for newly created (resurrected) beings. The consistent and sustained message of the OT is that the material creation was suited to mortal humanity as it lived in that setting why would it be surprising that the re-creation of the Genesis 1 creation would be suited to the new state of humans in post-resurrection life? Humans still—but glorified humans!
1 Corinthians 15:42-49 has humans bearing the “soul” image of the first Adam who because he was of the earth “earthy” could not father humans fitted for a new mode of being called “heavenly”. The new mode of humans (spiritual or heavenly—phrases used to contrast fleshly and earthy) was made possible only by Jesus the last Adam, who has become “life-giving spirit” because He resurrected beyond the old creation, being a son of Adam (Luke 3 and subject to mortality) and so He is no longer “flesh and blood” (which can’t inherit the consummated expression of the kingdom of God which involves incorruptibility. The first Adam was a mortal being created in keeping with the home God created for a mortal being but of Jesus (the last Adam) we’re taught that He became a life-giving spirit (1 Corinthians 15:45-49; 1 Peter 3:18; 2 and see 2 Corinthians 13:4 which entails the power that glorified humans will experience).

That human, Jesus, now fully experiences a new mode of being and exists not in a spatial location somewhere in the sky but in a state that transcends mortal weakness and limitations in “heaven”, a new creation (all things reconciled that He created—Colossians 1:15, 19).

Jesus’ suffering and glorification is the concrete, historical witness that God had not jettisoned His eternal purpose or the promise He had made that embraced both the human and non-human creation (Romans (1:1; 4:13; Galatians 3:16-18; Hebrews 6:13-20). And in bringing His unchanging purpose to an unending climax and fulfillment He sent His Son to share our self-sustained hurt that culminates in death and by Him God tells us that despite our Sin He wants to bless us with glory & honor (see Hebrews 2:5-12). In this very move in the person of Jesus of Nazareth (the Incarnation, life, death and resurrection in glory) God renders an everlasting judgment on Sin and Death. But this judgment was/is the expression of a God who before He began the world loved the humanity He purposed to being into being, first as mortal and then as gloriously immortal. As far as God was concerned Sin would not have the last word. Before the arrival of Jesus He already sought renewed friendship with humanity and the incarnation, life, death and glorification in the resurrection is the witness to that.

If we had asked “What is God doing in Jesus?” the correct answer would be, “He is reconciling the world to Himself! He is telling the world that Sin has not and cannot put an end to His everlasting purpose to re-create and glorify in keeping with His character and to bless us with the only life that is possible if we are to have life with Him!”

GOD’S work of accomplishing all that—which was always more than forgiving us—will be unendingly completed when all those embraced in God’s righteous/faithful redeeming work will experience the glory now experienced by the Lord Jesus (Philippians 3:21) who is the author/pioneer (Hebrews 2:10; 6:20) and finisher/completer of our salvation (Hebrews 12:2). Human salvation has not yet been completed—by faith in Him we live and rejoice and hope even now in a world of tribulation (John 16:33) and we live in assured hope of the glory to come (Romans 5:2, 10; 8:24-25 and context from 8:17-39; Titus 1:2; 1 Peter 1:3-6).

How then will the old creation be glorified if not by simple renewal to what it was in the beginning? I haven’t the foggiest! But that was the kind of question that Corinthians skeptics asked about the glorification of the human body. Paul responded by telling them to look around and to the sky. God is not short of ideas and He suits out reality in all kinds of ways, he said. No doubt He can do the same with non-human creation.

If God committed a crime it was in creating humans and allowing them to be humans. But in light of the truth that that indescribable glory and joy and adventure is where He is taking ALL who are embraced in His saving work in Jesus it was no “crime”. All the exultingly impenitent who plundered and raped the earth will what they worked for: PERMANENT DEATH and missing the glory that God offered. The ceaselessly plundered poor at Judgment will not be met by a TYRANT but a Father. 

This we know: We may not know what is coming but we know Who is coming and He does everything well and according to His omnipotent love. THINK NOBLE THINGS OF GOD AND DON’T APOLOGIZE FOR DOING SO. HE WON’T embarrass YOU BY FAILING YOU.