Follower of The Way


Around a couple of Blogs

Posted in Miscellaneous by sosipater on June 5, 2007

Hello readers.  Instead of your eagerly anticipated “Around the Blogosphere”, I bring you a more narrowly focused version, “Around a couple of Blogs”.  Enjoy!

From Justin Taylors site:

  • “This month (June 2007) PBS will air a documentary by Brian Godawa on the topic of the separation of church and state.”  Check out the whole post here.
  • The complete Christopher Hitchens / Douglas Wilson debate has been edited together at PhilGons.com.  You can find it here and the Tar Heel finger point belongs to Justin here.
  • Lastly, I want to recommend an excellent post called “What is Heaven Like” over at Road to Emmaus.  This is a healthy quote but needs to be read.
    • 3.) Heaven on Earth.  Most Christians believe that the church will be raptured followed by a seven-year tribulation, a literal thousand-year reign of Christ and then God will blow the earth up and make a new one.  The consequences of such thinking are dangerous.  The common thing I hear is that we shouldn’t care for our present world because we’ll be raptured out of this horrible place and God is going to blow it all up anyway.  The popular position by most Christians about the earth tends to resemble something out of StarWars rather than Scripture; with planet earth being blown up and destroyed, like the Death Star blowing up Alderaan.  However, this notion of new heavens and new earth is grossly inconsistent with what Scripture actually teaches. When God created the world he declared all of it good (Gen 1:1ff).  The problem never resided with God’s good creation, but with the sin that entered the world and tarnished his good creation.  Due to sin the creature and the creation are now stained with sin.  The principle of redemption we find in our own lives must also be applied to creation.  When we became believers God did not obliterate us and then make a whole new person, rather we maintained our identity, but now our identity is redeemed and slowly conformed to the image of Christ (Col 3:10).  We will keep our bodies in the future age, but those bodies will be redeemed.  Just as Christ died, was raised again in an incorruptible body, and maintained his identity; so we will be physically raised from the dead with an incorruptible body in which we will maintain our identity.  The same principle applies to the new heavens and new earth.  This present earth is our future dwelling place.  The only problem is that creation still awaits its redemption.  Creation’s redemption is dependant on our future resurrection (Rom 8:18-25).  We are at home now; however, we are resident aliens awaiting the removal of sin from the earth and our bodies. 

      When God flooded the earth, rescuing only Noah and his family, he did not annihilate the earth, but removed the ungodly from the earth (Gen 6-9).  It was the righteous who remained on the earth not the unrighteous.  Jesus states that at his coming it will be like it was in the days of Noah (Matt 25:36-41).  The dispensationalist understands this passage as speaking about the rapture, but if we compare the coming of Christ with the days of Noah, which Jesus tells us we should, then it is the wicked that are removed and righteous who are left to dwell on the earth.  Jesus teaches that those who are gentle will inherit the earth (Matt 5:5) and the promise given to Abraham of a place to dwell for him and his descendants (Gen 12:1-3) is transformed through Christ to now encompass the whole world, rather than a parcel of land in the Middle East (Rom 4:13). 

      A passage typically used to advocate this notion of a destroyed and re-created earth idea is 2 Peter 3:1-13.  Peter views history in three stages: creation to flood (3:5-6), present heavens and earth until Jesus’ return (3:7-9), and new heavens and new earth where righteousness dwells (3:10-13).  Peter describes that the presence of righteousness in the new heavens and new earth is not without purification.  Peter states that the heavens will be destroyed by fire and the elements will melt with intense heat.  The idea is not that God will blow up the earth, but that fire will be the means of purifying the earth.  The idea is that the present heavens and earth will be set free or loosed from its present bondage of decay and sin.  This principle of purifying with fire is observed in our own day.  If we want to purify something we burn it with intense heat.  The writer of Hebrews adds clarification to this idea by stating that God will shake both heaven and earth and only those things that belong to his kingdom will remain (Heb 13:25-29).  Creation was never intended to be a place for unrighteousness and sin. Earth was the dwelling place of man where he would forever enjoy fellowship with God.  One day God will give us resurrected bodies and purify his creation.  In that day God will come to dwell with his people forever in righteousness and holiness.  In the future day it will literally be heaven on earth. 

      Heaven is not a cloudy place up in space where we have wings, harps, and eat Philadelphia cream cheese, nor is heaven a place where I get a big house and walk on streets of gold.  Heaven is presence with our God and that future presence in on this present earth.  Just as God will redeem our lowly bodies and make them righteous, so he will purge creation of sin and make itsuitable for his presence.  In other words, he will restore what was lost in the Garden of Eden, intimate fellowship between God and his people.  Thus, we should have a healthy view of creation now.  We should have a biblical concern for the environment and seek to bring all things in this world (e.g., humanity, creatures, creation, culture, politics, etc.) under the Lordship of Jesus Christ (2 Cor 10:5).  It is through the church that Christ is bringing all things in subjection to himself (Eph 1:22-23).  Therefore, if all of creation finds its meaning and purpose in Christ, then our obligation as the church is to proclaim this message of reconciliation and restoration, which is the gospel itself (Col 1:15-20).   

         This is an important topic and has not only eschatological implications, but also has to do with what is our hope as Christians.  Is it heaven, or the Kingdom?  Are they one in the same or different.  What is our cocept of heaven?  I hope this post shed some light on that.  I am reading a book right now that has these topics included and may share some thoughts on that soon.  Stay tuned.

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