The Bible begins by telling us that God made everything and He made it good (Genesis 1:31). The New Testament underlines that anything visible or invisible is the result of Christ's purposeful creation (Colossians 1:16, Romans 11:36). He is directly involved in everything we study. All things have a beginning and a direction. Because He made everything "for" Himself, everything has meaning and value to Him. Although we may not yet understand His purpose, the conviction that all things are more than the result of random, meaningless processes, over incomprehensible periods of time, gives purpose and direction to teaching and learning.
We do know that one of His purposes in creation was to reveal Himself and His nature. Paul assures us that "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" since "God has made it plain" (Romans 1:19-20). Even without words His creation fulfills His purpose of revealing Him in all His glory (Psalm 19:1-4).
Since everything is "through Him" (Romans 11:36) and "in Him all things hold together" (Colossians 1:17), Christ is not only involved with the origin of everything, He is also intimately involved with everything's current state. If He were not continuously sustaining "all things by His powerful word" (Hebrews 1:3), all of creation would cease to exist. The material universe does not have an existence independent from God any more than the worlds of our dreams have existence independent of the dreamer. God continually "daydreams" all of created reality, so He is at all times involved with all things.
Although we commonly subdivide reality into the natural and the supernatural, it is much more appropriate to speak of the Creator and creation. In this way, we can avoid classifying angels and demons with God in the supernatural. Instead of separating all of the "supernatural" from the natural world of non-living objects, living creatures, and people, we must see the Creator as having priority over any and all of creation which is totally dependent on Him.
Without this God-centered perspective, the value of studying any subject depends entirely on what an individual and/or society deems interesting or useful. Without a common agreement, teaching and learning becomes a very individualistic affair with no basis for evaluation of any kind.
An appreciation of creation with an understanding of the Fall is the only way to make sense of both the nobility and cruelty of people, the beauty and the squalor, the harmony and the conflict. The profound consequences of man's deliberate rejection of God's purposes and his attempt to be independent of his Creator cannot be ignored. Everything is no longer good as it was when God created it. Pretending it is still good inevitably leads to disappointment and the loss of all standards of goodness. If the world as we know it is good, then who wants goodness? On the other hand, a one-sided focus on all that is wrong with creation can quickly and logically lead to total despair.
The nature of some things has been changed, including people's hearts (Romans 3:10-18), human bodies (Genesis 3:16, 19) and plants (Genesis 3:17-19). The Fall also brought the misuse and misunderstanding of all things. Because God's presence and purposes in creation have been rejected (Romans 1:21), people are no able to understand what He has made. Instead of everything glorifying God by fulfilling its God-given purpose in dependence on Him, independent spirits chose to use creation for their own purposes. When misused, things fail and conflict. The harmony and beauty of the universe has been lost because of sin, and now all of creation "groans" because of its unnatural state (Romans 8:22). Not only has our personal relationship to God been severed, but our relationship with the spirit world, the inanimate universe, the animate world, others and even ourselves has been corrupted, although not totally destroyed.
Nothing is as it was, and as fallen creatures we have neither the desire nor the power to do anything about our hopeless condition. We are going "our own way" (Isaiah 53:6) and that continually leads us further and further from God's ways and purposes.
The good news is that God has continually been involved with His fallen creation to bring it back to Himself. He is not "willing that any should perish" (2 Peter 3:9) and has therefore been active since the Garden of Eden in drawing people back to Himself (John 6:44). The entire Bible testifies to the reality of God seeking fallen people, rather than people seeking God. He has done everything to demonstrate the futility of our chosen way. His love and patience, as well as His holiness and justice, have all been graphically portrayed in the lives of real historical people as they interacted with the Redeemer who seeks to bring His Creation back to Himself.
God used all kinds of methods to communicate with fallen people including dreams and prophets, but the form of communication He preserved for us is His written word, the Bible. All that God did to make it possible for sinful people to once again enter into His holy presence culminated in Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:1-2, Hebrews 10:19-22). Jesus' life, death, resurrection and ascension confirm the love of the Father (John 3:16) as well as His complete provision for our restoration to Himself and His purposes for our lives (John 14:6). He came to free us from the bondage of sin so that we could do God's will (Romans 8:7-9) and from the blindness of sin (2 Corinthians 3:14, 16, Luke 4:18-19) so we could once again see God in His creation and in His Son (John 14:9).
Though some discussions of a Biblical worldview mention all four elements of our framework, others mention only three. Those that do not mention fulfillment usually include the basic ideas within redemption and creation. Discussing fulfillment separately, however, has the distinct advantage of clearly addressing what happens after a person becomes a Christian. There is a danger in not considering what God’s intentions are for His children after He has dealt with the problem of sin. Without considering what God wants, it is easy to fall into a man-centered way of thinking in which solving man’s sin problem is God’s only role in the universe. In fact, sin can seem inevitable instead of an unwelcome intruder, because God’s grace and mercy would have no expression without it. By focusing on God’s eternal intentions, which began before creation and continues through eternity, it is easier to avoid a man-centered perspective and develop a God-centered perspective. Thus fulfillment is included as a separate element of our framework, with the arrow reminding the user that the process continues through eternity.
Three pictures, each related to a person of the Trinity, help us to remember some key truths about God’s intentions and what He wants us to fulfill.
- Holy Spirit—temple
The Bible teaches that God the Father made us to be His children, living in intimate relationship with Him. He placed us in a universe created and sustained by Him. Every element therein was to be a reminder of Himself, including people who are made in His image (Genesis 1:27). We not only live within a great "museum" filled with countless artifacts of God's past handiwork, but also a "workshop" where He is continually active. He is not a distant, unknowable God. On the contrary, He desires to meet us every day in the midst of His creation, just as He did in the beginning (Genesis 3:8).
As the Body of Christ we are to be used by Him to accomplish His purposes. We use our bodies to do what we need to do. In like manner, the Body of Christ is what He uses to do His will. The New Testament speaks repeatedly about the individual's relationship to others in the body and each one's unique contribution to the whole (Romans 12:4-6, 1 Corinthians 12:12-27). His purposes include ministry within the body, but also ministry to those who are not yet part of the body.
Being a temple reminds us that worship is central to our created nature. Even if we refuse to worship God, we cannot stop worshipping. So we begin worshipping something in creation instead of the Creator (Romans 1:25). His plan is for us to be wholly dedicated to Him, to worship Him in all we do, and to be a visible presence of God wherever we are in order to draw others to worship Him as well (Matthew 5:16). The indwelling Holy Spirit also reminds us that we are totally dependent on God to accomplish any of His purposes. It is His life and power that enables us to think, live and teach in a distinctively Christ-like way. Without His work in our lives we have neither the desire nor the power to do God's will (Philippians 2:13).
Scripture repeatedly reminds us that everyone and everything was made to reveal God, to be used by Him, and to worship Him. It really is all about Him, not about us or any other part of His creation. These purposes of God are eternal, but we are to begin deliberately fulfilling these purposes as soon as we become new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:15-17). However, without an eternal perspective, none of what we experience here makes any sense (1 Corinthians 15:19, 32).
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