Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Word of Life

"You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore."

- Psalm 16:11

Monday, November 29, 2010

Glorious Grace

The last paragraph from a sermon by Jonathan Edwards,

Let those who have been made partakers of this free and glorious grace of God, spend their lives much in praises and hallelujahs to God, for the wonders of his mercy in their redemption. To you, O redeemed of the Lord, cloth this doctrine most directly apply itself; you are those who have been made partakers of all this glorious grace of which you have now heard. 'Tis you that God entertained thoughts of restoring after your miserable fall into dreadful depravity and corruption, and into danger of the dreadful misery that unavoidably follows upon it; 'tis for you in particular that God gave his Son, yea, his only Son, and sent him into the world; 'tis for you that the Son of God so freely gave himself; 'tis for you that he was born, died, rose again and ascended, and intercedes; 'tis to you that there the free application of the fruit of these things is made: all this is done perfectly and altogether freely, without any of your desert, without any of your righteousness or strength; wherefore, let your life be spent in praises to God. When you praise him in prayer, let it not be with coldness and indifferency; when you praise him in your closet, let your whole soul be active therein; when you praise him in singing, don't barely make a noise, without any stirring of affection in the heart, without any internal melody. Surely, you have reason to shout, cry, "Grace, grace, be the topstone of the temple!" Certainly, you don't want mercy and bounty to praise God; you only want a heart and lively affections to praise him with.

Run John Run

A poem by John Bunyan (author of Pilgrim's Progress and Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners)

"Run, John, run, the law commands
But gives us neither feet nor hands,
Far better news the Gospel brings;
It bids us fly and gives us wings"

Friday, November 26, 2010

Genesis 4:1-16 PART 2

One of the main purposes of Genesis 4:1-16 is that is develops the conceptual reality of sin. Up to this point in the book of Genesis, the Israelites have learned that God is the universal creator of everything and everyone. Further, God created Adam and Eve as His image bearers, and for the specific purpose of cultivating His good creation. They are to be fruitful, multiply, have dominion over God's creation. However, in Genesis 3, we all know how that goes. Adam and Eve wanted to be their own God and ate the forbidden fruit. They are kicked out of the Garden of Eden. The account of Adam and Eve depicts the fall of mankind. However, up to the story of Cain and Abel, the fall is seen as only really effecting Adam and Eve. The story of Cain and Abel reiterates the universality and depth of the fall.
Let's take a look at the first family in human history. We've got Adam and Eve, who we already know blew it. Then they have two sons (another clear sign of God's grace). The first son, Cain, murders his younger brother Abel out of jealousness and anger. As a result, Cain is banished as a wandering fugitive. Talk about a broken home. Of Adam and Eve's first children, one is dead and the other one is a criminal banished from their land. But what does this say about sin?
First, it uncovers the universality of sin. Sin can no longer be seen as just a bad decision Adam and Eve made. Rather, it has universally spread to everyone. It effects the entire community, as seen with the first family. Not only does it effect everyone, but it effects everything. In Genesis 3, God mentions the effects that Adam's fall has on our relation with nature. In Genesis 4, He highlights it again stating, "Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground......When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you" (Genesis 4:11-12). As seen with the first family, sin effects everyone and everything.
This story also uncovers the depth of the sin problem. Think about it. Cain straight up murders his younger brother. Worse, it was premeditated. He led Abel out to the field for the specific purpose of homocide. Even before that, we sin the depth of Cain's wicked heart in his sacrifice to God. We know that Cain's offering was not accepted by God. The text doesn't exactly say why, but it is most likely that it had to do with his heart. Cain did not offer his sacrifice in the right spirit. He held something back. He wanted something of what God rightly deserved (hmmm sounds a lot like his dad). Plunging further into sin, Cain has the audacity to lie directly to God about his actions. There are many other places in this story where the widespread problem of sin is seen. Another quick example, when Eve gives birth to Cain, she responds by saying, "I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord." Now, this doesn't seem so bad. But, the language used here signifies that Eve is implying that she played an equal part in bringing forth her son. In essence, she is saying that she created a man......with God's help. She wants a 50/50 split on credit for this one.

Moving on, What does this story tell the Israelites? Why would Moses want the Israelites to know the true universality and depth of sin. I think because he wanted the exodus community to know that true religion must be redemptive. They are all effected by the curse. They are all sinful. Because of this, they need redemption, a redemption that only comes from God. The only response to this depth of sin is trusting in their Creator and the covenant He has made with them.
After Cain's disregarded sacrifice, God challenges Cain to not let sin master him. That didn't go so well. But, Moses is telling this story that Israel might not let sin master it. They are all sinners, yes. Letting sin master them would be them turning from God. However, mastering sin would look like them trusting in God and His covenant. Moses is urging the Israelites to recognize their sin, and to trust in God.
Despite all the disobedience, God remains faithful to His purpose and His people. When Cain cries out that his punishment is too much for him to bear, God mercifully puts a mark of protection on Cain's life. Also, as we'll see in next post, God graciously provides Adam and Eve with another son to replace Abel. If anything, this story shows God's relentless pursuit of sinners. His desire is not for us to perish, but to live in our intended purpose, which is fellowship with Him. He desires for us to know Him and to turn to Him. Despite our disobedience, God is faithful.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Genesis 4:1-16 PART 1

Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten [1] a man with the help of theLord.” 2 And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. 3 In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4 and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, 5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. 6 The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? [2] And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for [3] you, but you must rule over it.”

8 Cain spoke to Abel his brother. [4] And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. 9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?” 10 And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground. 11 And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” 13 Cain said to theLord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. [5] 14 Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” 15 Then theLord said to him, “Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him. 16 Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, [6] east of Eden.

Genesis 4:1-16

Over the past week, I've had the pleasure of studying this passage as part of a research paper for my covenant theology class. I am thankful for this opportunity because through it, I am starting to realize how amazing God's Word is in its complete coherence and inexhaustibility. In this post, I want to highlight some summarizing thoughts on the passage. I am going to start by talking about the context of the passage. Next, I want to focus on a few of the main purposes behind the passage. Lastly, I want to show how it relates to Christ.

In order to rightly understand any passage of Scripture, it is imperative to have a solid grasp on the context in which it was written. A few helpful questions to uncover a texts proper context include, 'who wrote it' 'who was it written to' 'why did they write it'. In other words, what is the situation.
Briefly, Genesis was written by Moses. It was written after the Israelites had fled Egypt. They have crossed the Red Sea and were now wandering in the wilderness. It was then that Moses wrote the book of Genesis. Therefore, the original audience of this book would have been the exodus community. To read this passage correctly, we must interpret it through this contextual lens. Moses is writing to the exodus community of Israel.
Moreover, why would Moses write this book. Wandering in the wilderness, the Israelites are left with several questions. What is God's purpose in this? Who are we as a nation? Who is YHWH? What is next? Can we trust this God? Moses is recalling to the Israelites the story of their origin. He is retelling them their history in order to highlight the nature of their God and the covenant that He has made with them. By recalling their history, he is making sense of the Israelites present situation. In doing this, Moses is challenging the exodus community to respond in faith to what God has done. Moses is reminding the Israelites of who they are, where the came from and what God has promised them.
In creation, God is reminding the Israelites that He is the sovereign creator, ruler of all things. More so, it reminds the Israelites the purpose as God's creatures; to have dominion over the earth and to bless creation as God's treasured people. In the fall, the exodus community is made aware of their deep-rooted problem of sin. In the flood, the Israelites see God's judgment on sin, but also His desire to restore all things to their intended, original, good purpose. In the calling of Abraham, the Israelites are reminded of their election as God's chosen people, beloved for His sake.

So, this leaves us at the story of Cain and Abel. What is this stories purpose in the context of the exodus community? Generally, the book is written that the exodus community would trust in God and be faithful to the covenant. This purpose is uncovered in two ways. First, the book shows the deep-seeded problem of sin. Also, the story shows God's unwavering commitment to the promised Seed. I will elaborate on these two ideas in a later post.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Where Sin is Hidden, There is No Healing

Gospel community: The type of community where you can bring the full weight of who you are (sins, struggles, burdens, joys, failures, brokenness, issues, addictions, hidden sin, etc...) and be loved unconditionally

Now, I'm not one to quote secular rappers, but listening to this song by Kid Cudi reminded me of the universal nature of shame and our tendency to hide the darkest part of our souls by putting on a mask or putting up a persona. But in the end, we all know that deep down we are messed up.

"But they all didn't see, the little bit of sadness in me,
I've got some issues that nobody can see,
And all of these emotions are pouring out of me
I bring them to the light for you,
it's only right" ---Kid Cudi

Where sin is hidden, there is no healing. In Christ, we are unconditionally loved. He knows our deepest darkest thoughts, he knows our hidden sin, He knows who we are underneath our coverup. The more we realize this on an individual level, the more Gospel community will be cultivated. When we know we are jacked up sinners, it frees us from having to go out into the world and prove ourselves. More so, it allows those around us to take their masks off as well. It frees us to be open. It frees us to be real with sin. And when we are open with each other about our sin, when we are real with our brokenness, the grace, mercy and restoration will start to pour out. We will taste redemption in a whole new way. Healing happens where sin is fully disclosed.

In the end, I think it's what we all long for. For someone to see us for who we really are (sin, failures, struggles, issues and all) and love us. The Gospel says Jesus fulfills that. Gospel community calls us to live this out by being real with each other and to love each other unconditionally in a way that reflects God's unconditional love for messed up sinners. Let's bring the full weight of who we are to Christ, and experience the marvelous healing that is in Christ. Let's cultivate a community of grace that encourages each other as fellow sinners to fully disclose our sin to the Light of the World.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Through our Union with Christ

Through our Union with Him, Christ is our:

Head (Colossians 1:18, 2:19)
Source of Life (John 14:6)
Light (John 8:12)
Fullness (Colossians 2:9-10)
Goal (Romans 10:4)
Source of growth and unity (Colossians 2:19)
Sanctification and
Redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30, Colossians 2:3, Ephesians 1:17)

Monday, November 15, 2010

In Christ

In Christ, we are:

Sons of God (Galatians 3:26)
Justified (Galatians 2:17)
Counted Righteous (Romans 4:5)
Reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:19)
A new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Sanctified (1 Corinthians 4:10)
Redeemed from curse (Galatians 3:13)
Blessed (Ephesians 1:3)
Seated with Christ in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6)
Created for good works (Ephesians 2:10)
Forgiven (Ephesians 4:32)
Encouraged (Philippians 2:1)
Set free from sin (Romans 8:2)
Dead to Sin (Romans 6:11)
Alive to God (Romans 6:11)

Further Thoughts on Sanctification and Union with Christ

From Richard Lovelace's Dynamics of Spiritual Life

"Believers should first be assured that sanctification, like justification, is grounded in union with Christ. The power of sin to rule their lives has been destroyed in the Cross of Christ; we have died with Christ, and have been raised up together with Him in newness of life. Therefore we are not to set the estimates of our power to conquer sin according to past experience of our will power, but are to fix our attention on Christ and the power of His risen life in which we participate; for we have died and our life is hidden with Christ in God. This power is accessible in our experience through faith, not through simple striving of the will."

Therefore, we grow in holiness by tapping into the grace and power of Christ made available to us through our union with Him, which we have by faith.

Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners

Just listened to this hymn this morning......very powerful.

"Jesus! What a Friend for Sinners"

Jesus! what a Friend for sinners!
Jesus! Lover of my soul;
Friends may fail me, foes assail me,
He, my Savior, makes me whole.


Hallelujah! what a Savior!
Hallelujah! what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.

Jesus! what a Strength in weakness!
Let me hide myself in Him.
Tempted, tried, and sometimes failing,
He, my Strength, my victory wins.

Jesus! what a Help in sorrow!

While the billows over me roll,

Even when my heart is breaking,
He, my Comfort, helps my soul.

Jesus! what a Guide and Keeper!
While the tempest still is high,
Storms about me, night overtakes me,
He, my Pilot, hears my cry.

Jesus! I do now receive Him,
More than all in Him I find.
He hath granted me forgiveness,
I am His, and He is mine.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Only Adequate Resource

"There, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith"

What does it mean for us to run the race set before us, the Christian faith, by looking to Jesus. I think our temptation is to attempt to run the race on an endurance produced by our own spiritual acumen. Our temptation is to run the race in our own strength. We depend on our gifts to help us complete this task. We depend on our own ability to cast of entangling sin and to produce the endurance necessary to continue.

This seems right. I mean, the writer of Hebrews tells us to run with endurance and to run by casting off the sin the clings closely. But, will this last? The answer is no. The writer of Hebrews knows this, and after telling us to run with endurance and by casting off sin, he tells us that we are only able to do this by looking to Jesus who is the author and perfecter of our faith.

In our everyday moments, in this everyday race, there are going to be times when we are overwhelmed, when the race seems to be an impossibility. Whether school seems overbearing, the ministry is wearing us out, or we feel like failures in our roles as husbands, fathers, friends, churchmen, Jesus followers. It is in these times that we are tempted the most to try to dig ourselves out of this hole, to muster up more strength, and to keep running the race in our own endurance.

It is for this reason that we are told to direct our eyes to Jesus. We are pointed to Jesus for two reasons. He is the author of our faith, and He is the perfecter. At our points of failure, when we are overwhelmed, we must look to Jesus as author. He has started us on this race. He has brought us this far. His grace has carried us to this point. He has provided in the past. Moreover, He will perfect us. He not only has brought us this far, but his faithfulness in the past proves that He will be faithful in the future. He has brought us this far and He will bring us to the end. Some practical evidence of this is the great cloud of witnesses that surrounds us. We should look to Jesus because He has brought everyone from this great cloud of witnesses unto the glorious finish. We should trust Him to bring us to the end because He has been faithful in the past.

Moreover, Jesus is the only adequate resource for us to run the race. The only way to stay on the race is to look to Jesus as author and perfecter. As source and provider. His fountain of living water is the limitless source of all necessary grace. In our moments of weakness, when we feel overwhelmed with entangling sin, with the over bearing weight of this life, we can't look to ourselves, but must look to Jesus who is the only adequate resource to keep us on pace.

Lastly, Jesus is only adequate resource because He has gone before us. He is the only one qualified to bring us unto completion. Jesus completed the ultimate race that His Father set before him. We must look to Jesus who joyfully endured the course of Calvary in order to clear the way for us. We must look to Him who bore the obstacles and weight of sin so that we may be free from its entanglement. We look to him who took on weakness, so that we may be strong in the race. We must look to Him who experienced overwhelming weariness so that we may not grow faint of heart. We must look to Christ, who has strengthened and sustained prior saints unto the glorious finish, who gives grace to both start and finish the race.

Morality and the Gospel

"Morality is healthy only when it is trying to abolish itself"

- William Tyndale, Puritan

Following is a link to a five minute sermon (video) by John Piper on Morality and Sanctification

Friday, November 12, 2010

random journal thoughts on sanctification

First, I think of spiritual formation and the process of sanctification as synonymous. I believe process is the right word for sanctification. Catholics would say that justification and sanctification are fused as one, and together we would progress in our justification and sanctification through God's INHERENT grace in us. The Protestant gospel says, the event of justification was a one-time deal 2000 some odd years ago, where Christ IMPUTED his righteousness to us in justification on the cross, and sanctification is occurring in and through us currently by the work of the spirit. Due to my plagued nature and Satan's temptation, it's very easy to convince myself that 'God was the actor in justification, and we are the actors in our sanctification'. I think that is a very prevalent misconception, and heresy, because it does not fully encapsulate the incredible grace of Christ, who rescued us, and has sent his spirit to work in and through us now as his children. Bottom line, I believe God was the actor in justification, and to the same extent, is the actor in sanctification, as it is a complete result of His grace we can make choices to change and pursue holiness. Here is quote by Bryan Chappel, President of Covenant Seminary in St. Louis from his book "Holiness by Grace"...

"Grace overwhelms us with God's love, and as a result our heart resonates with the desires of God. His purposes become our own. Our soul delights in his service as love for him and thanksgiving for his mercy make us long to honor him. True grace produces joy and promotes godliness."


In short, it's not about doing stuff that makes us more holy. The wonderful gospel story of our justification in essence should fuel our sanctification. It is out of complete thankfulness and joy due to grace of Christ's finished work that we should move one ounce of flesh to godliness. It is still the working of the spirit that leads us to these actions. As we are now in Christ, if we truly are, our actions, our labor, our fruit, should point to the root of what Christ has done. It will always be about that, and never about our what we are doing.

One more thing, is that I do believe sanctification is cooperative. You have all know these verse, but as Paul writes in Philippians 2: 12-13...

"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure."

...As it states, Paul commands us to work it out. It's not easy, and it does take something on our part. But I don't believe goal #1 is eliminating sin, as I know I often think. It's impossible, and discouraging to have it that way. That cannot be the standard by which we measure our sanctification, because it is an inconceivable scale. It is dealing with sin that is on the scale of infinity, and playing a game of balance in our minds and functionally in our actions only promotes pervasive, but well hidden pride. I believe our goal in pursuing holiness should be to align our affections with those of Christ Jesus. Eliminating sin is an obvious result of becoming more holy, but it can't be the focus. Practically, we should be moved to dive into scripture to learn it, as we are now in Christ, we are one of his people, and should know what our King commands. If we are going to identify with him in our rescue, we should also identify with him in everything else...we should come eager to the Lord in prayer and ask for his grace and forgiveness and strength...we should seek actively to serve our brothers. However, I know this stuff is not easy to want to do. Many times I don't want to do it and choose not to. I think as we go through those periods in our lives, probably daily, we should constantly be preaching the gospel to ourselves and asking God to reveal to us more fully the beauty of his grace and the power of his work on the cross. I truly believe it is through hearing the word of God, the gospel more, we will become so much more moved to action.

As we seek to grow in our faith, may we not look inwardly to ourselves, but outwardly to Jesus, and what he has done for us all by grace. May we refocus our vision from trying to improve our faith, to the object of our faith itself, Jesus Christ.

These are jumbled thoughts I wanted to get down before going back to class. I love you guys all so much, and am so thankful I have friends who want to talk about these things. I look up to you all (not just in the physical dimension..pun) and need your prayers. Can not wait to see you all next week, and to hear more about your thoughts on this topic. It is multifaceted, but I'm sure scripture is deep with wisdom.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Only Way to Qualify

An amazing article written by my friend Dane Ortlund on the Resurgence blog. I admire the way Dane gets grace.

In the upside-down Gospel of Grace, the one thing that qualifies us before God is knowing we don't qualify, and the one thing that disqualifies us is thinking we do.

Four consecutive accounts in Matthew 19 and 20 drive home this counterintuitive truth.

Addicted to Self-Qualification

First, some little kids run up to Jesus but are restrained by the Secret Security-like disciples (Matt. 19:13–15). Next, the rich young man approaches Jesus, trumpeting his moral resume (“All these I have kept”) but refusing to leave his riches behind (Matt. 19:16–22). Then Peter, reminding Jesus that he has lived out the very sacrifice the rich young man refused, wonders what his reward will be (Matt. 19:23–30). Finally, Jesus tells a parable in which workers are hired at different points throughout the day but all paid the same wage, to the dismay of the early-hired workers who have “borne the burden of the day” (Matt. 20:1–16).

In each passage we can detect the assumption that we have to “qualify” to gain corresponding approval.

  • The disciples thought little children needed to qualify with age in order to receive Jesus’ attention.
  • The rich young man thought he needed to qualify with obedience in order to receive eternal life.
  • Peter thought he had to qualify with sacrifice in order to receive a reward.
  • The early hired workers thought all employees had to qualify with sufficient work in order to receive a day’s wage.

Upside-Down Grace

Things haven’t changed much.

We roll out of bed every day with a bent to strengthen our qualification before God with some kind of self-generated contribution. Like those in Matthew 19 and 20, we deeply resist free grace.

After all, free grace is perplexing. Dangerous, even. How do we retain any moral compass at all if the only requirement is to stop trying to meet the requirement? Doesn’t this destroy the moral fabric of the universe? Isn’t this a moral free-for-all?

No. The reason why is the very next paragraph in Matthew after the parable of the workers:

    And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.’ (Matt. 20:17–19)

You Don’t Qualify. Jesus Does.

On the cross, the one person who ever truly qualified allowed himself to be disqualified, so that you and I, naturally disqualified, can qualify. For free. All it takes to qualify is to acknowledge we don’t, and look to Christ.

To use the categories of Matthew 19–20:

  • We can have God’s undivided attention without qualifying with age or other social prerequisites, because on the cross Jesus was rejected not ultimately by his disciples or even the religious authorities but by his own Father.
  • We can have eternal life without qualifying with a moral resume, because on the cross Jesus experienced hell despite living the only life that deserved heaven, being the only person who can truly say “All these have I kept.”
  • We can have a reward without qualifying with sacrifice, because on the cross Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice that means we freely receive the ultimate reward.
  • We can have a full day’s wage without qualifying with comparatively more work than others, because Jesus worked the whole day, “bearing the burden of the day,” and then went to the cross, waiving the wage he deserved.

That’s why qualifying before God is so scandalously free.

In the gospel, the one thing that qualifies you is knowing you don’t, looking instead to Christ, and the one thing that disqualifies you is thinking you do. As Dad put it in a recent sermon, “Hell is full of people who believe they deserve to be in heaven. Heaven is full of people who believe they deserve to be in hell.”

Receive it. Humble yourself. Be free.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Need to Repeatedly Die

Per a wonderful blog by a close friend titled It's a Beautiful Gospel


The following idea was highlighted in a DVD series by Rev. Paul Zahl:

It is a pervasive idea in Christianity that once someone is saved, they are then able to master life (with the Spirit’s help). Put more bluntly, Christians often think they have control.

This is why Christians need to continually die to self. God is in control.


Thanks Rev. Zahl for the reminder, and Dan for posting this.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Religion vs. Redemption

A great overview getting at the heart of the Christian faith by Mark Driscoll.

All the Acceptance

"All the love and the acceptance which a perfectly obedient Being could have obtained from God, belong to you, because Christ was perfectly obedient on your behalf"

Charles Spurgeon

Monday, November 1, 2010

Thoughts on the Last Two Chapters of the Bible

An great post from my friend Dane Ortlund. I encourage everyone to check out his blog, it's remarkable

HT: Dane Ortlund

The Bible is incredible.

One place that has been opening up to me in recent weeks is Revelation 21-22, John's vision of the new heavens and new earth. In particular I'm seeing how the last two chapters of the Bible envision a recapitulating (summing up) restoration of the world created and diseased in the first three chapters of the Bible.

Gen 1:1 speaks of heaven and earth, Rev 21:1 of a new heaven and a new earth.

In Gen 3:8 God walks in the garden, in Rev 21:3 speaks of God once again dwelling with man.

In Gen 2:18 the Lord sees that man has no helper suitable for him, and gives him a bride; in Rev 21:9 we hear of 'the Bride, the wife of the Lamb,' culminating a recurring theme throughout the Bible of the people of God as God's wife.

In Gen 1:16 God makes the greater light and the lesser light; in Rev 21:23 'the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it . . .'

In Gen 2:10 a river flows out of Eden; in Rev 22:1 the angel shows John 'the river of the water of life . . .'

In Gen 2:9 we hear of a tree of life--so also in Rev 22:2, 14, 19.

In Gen 3:14, 17 the serpent and the ground beneath man is cursed; in Rev 22:3 we hear that nothing will be cursed any longer.

In Gen 1:28 God told mankind to rule and exercise dominion over the earth; in Rev 22:5 we learn that the saints will indeed reign forever and ever in the new earth.
What a hope. The world will one day be what it was meant to be.

And it is through Jesus, is it not, that each of these categories of Genesis winds its way to Revelation?
Through Jesus the heavens and earth were made, and through him they are being remade (Col 1:16, 20).

In Jesus God dwells with man (John 14:23).

Jesus is the true Bridegroom (Mark 2:19).

Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12).

Jesus is the source of true living water (John 4:10).

Jesus is the real, life-giving tree (John 15:1).

Jesus is the source of all blessing, because he submitted to the greatest curse (Matt. 27:46).

Jesus is the King, the permanently-reigning Son of David (Luke 18:38).