Friday, August 28, 2015

Pastoral Pings (Plus) ~ The Patterns of God That Build Our Faith

          There is a pattern in Scripture in which God reveals himself so clearly in material ways we can see, in order to build our trust that he can also do all the spiritual things we cannot see. While life is primarily about how we relate to God in the spiritual realm, God has graciously filled our material home with pictures of who he is, what he is like, and how he works, so we can trust him just as much in one world as the other.
          The creation account in God’s book gives such a detailed account of how God brought everything into existence, including forming man from the dust of the earth.[1] Science confirms the layer upon layer of design, of systems that must have all their parts in order for the whole to work,[2] that believing God’s book is encouraged by far more evidences of creation than honest hearts could ever need.[3] The creation of the heavens and the earth is revealed in the Bible, and revealed to our material senses in all the works of God that surround us, so that there is no doubt we have a Creator.
          All the evidences of the material creation, including the reality that God created human life from the dust of the earth,[4] surrounds us as a great cloud of witnesses that God is just as able to give us new life even out of our dead condition in sin.[5] What he did through Jesus Christ in creation,[6] he will completely do through Jesus Christ in salvation.[7]
          When God’s book tells us that he judged the world with a worldwide flood,[8] his description of how he did this, and the earth’s testimony to this event, give us ample reason to believe everything he says about his coming judgment. When we see the evidence of the flood so well documented in the sedimentary layers that surround the planet, in the vast supply of fossil fuels, in the huge finds of fossils showing rapid burial, our eyes are given so much evidence that God did what his book says he did so we will have faith that he will also do what his book says he will do.
          There is another judgment coming upon the whole earth,[9] and it will take place just as surely as the first has already come and gone. And, of course, the rainbow that follows the rain is a beautiful visible testimony to God’s grace and mercy reminding us of the flood, in order to save us from the coming judgment.[10] It is one more way that a physical, material, revelation, speaks of spiritual things more awesome, wonderful, and amazing, than we can imagine.[11]
          What God’s book calls the “First Covenant,”[12] which came to be associated with Israel and its covenant given through Moses,[13] was presented in terms of material blessings related to Israel’s faithfulness.[14] When Israel walked in faithfulness to this covenant, seeking God instead of the idols of the pagan nations, there were material blessings and prosperity. When Israel rejected its covenant with God, and turned to idols like an unfaithful husband turning to a prostitute, there were material curses and poverty to correspond to their choices. This is well documented. God fulfilled his side of the covenant, relating to Israel based on whatever way Israel was relating to him.[15]
          All the testimony of God’s covenant relationship to Israel, fulfilling both the blessings and curses associated with this covenant, give us all the witness we need that he is just as faithful to his spiritual covenant with his Church.[16] All the spiritual blessings we have in Jesus Christ are ours now,[17] and everything promised for our eternal joy in God’s presence is just as much ours as well.[18]
          The same is true when we speak of the first and second comings of Jesus Christ. In his first coming, there was such a complex array of prophecies completely fulfilled in his birth, life, death, burial, and resurrection, that we have complete assurance God will also accomplish everything he says about Jesus’ return. In his first coming, he presented to the world the gift of love provided in salvation.[19] In his second coming, he will gather to himself all those who received his gift, and judge all those who decided he was unworthy of their love.[20]  What is yet to come is just as certain as all that has already come. What Jesus did for us through his death and resurrection, continues to provide salvation today, both in our return to the image and likeness of Jesus Christ,[21] and our freedom from the coming judgment against sin.[22]
          When people tell me that my faith is blind, I think, “Are you kidding me?” When I look at all the wonders of creation that still work together so amazingly, even though everything is in a thermodynamic state of deterioration, I have a constant display of reasons why I can trust God for unseen things. DNA used to be an unseen thing to us. All the discoveries of nutrients and micronutrients our bodies need, that are not-so-surprisingly supplied in plants, were not seen until recently in history, and yet these fascinating provisions for life are a material testimony to God’s capabilities in spiritual provisions as well. In the same way as people continuously discover new and amazing wonders even in the material realm, we will discover that everything God describes in the spiritual realm will be every bit what he said, and beyond anything we can imagine.
          When I add to this the experience of a daily walk with God, and the Bible’s supremacy in explaining everything to do with life, I have no doubt that God will fulfill all he has promised for this life and the next. The only question for you, the reader, is whether this fulfillment of his whole word will be one of horrifying judgment,[23] or the “joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,” because you are “obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”[24]

© 2015 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Genesis 1-2.
[2] A wonderful thing aptly named, Irreducible Complexity.
[3] Psalm 19:1; Romans 1:20; Revelation 14:7
[4] Genesis 2:7. For those who doubt God did this, consider what our bodies return to when we die.
[5] Ephesians 2:1-3 identifies our deadness in sin; Ephesians 2:4-10 describes God’s work of raising us from the dead, making us alive in Christ, and restoring us to fellowship with him in his work and his ways.
[6] John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:15-17
[7] Romans 3:24; I Thessalonians 5:9; II Timothy 2:10; II Timothy 3:15; Revelation 12:10
[8] Genesis 6:1-8:22; II Peter 2:4-10
[9] Acts 24:25; II Thessalonians 1:5-12
[10] Genesis 9:8-17 speaks of God’s presentation of the rainbow (his bow).
[11] Revelation 4:3 speaks of the original rainbow surrounding God’s throne.
[12] Hebrews 8:7; 8:13; 9:1, 15, 18.
[13] The books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy detail the giving of the Law through Moses.
[14] Deuteronomy 30:19; Malachi 2:2
[15] The whole book of Judges shows the cycle of discipline and judgment when God’s people “did what was right in their own eyes,” and God’s blessing and provision when they returned to their God in repentance and faith.
[16] Jeremiah 31:31; Luke 22:20; II Corinthians 3:6; Hebrews 12:24
[17] Ephesians 1:1-14 gives a very condensed example of these spiritual blessings.
[18] Romans 8:28-30 shows the beautiful connection between God working all things for our good now, and declaring the finished work of glorification as good as completed.
[19] John 3:16-18 show how Jesus came to save, not condemn. Romans 5:6-8 shows that Jesus’ death was the glorious demonstration of God’s love to sinners.
[20] Matthew 24:29-31
[21] Ephesians 4:21-24; II Corinthians 3:18; I John 3:2
[22] I Thessalonians 1:10
[23] Revelation 6:15-17
[24] I Peter 1:8-9; I Peter 1:3-9 is a beautiful summary of the salvation we have already received through faith in Jesus Christ, and the reason we have hope of the “inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (vs 4). 

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