In tracing out some of the predominant themes in the Bible we have seen that throughout history God has been progressively revealing Himself to His creation. He has revealed Himself as the Creator and, consequently, the rightful ruler over all creation. Long ago, beginning with Adam and Eve, mankind rejected the rule of God over his life and set himself up as his own ruler.
That is what sin is about – man doing his own thing regardless of what God’s will for him is. As a consequence of this stubborn, destructive claim to autonomy, man has pretty much messed up, not only his own life, but the creation itself. As a result, humanity suffers and the whole creation suffers. The suffering is on account of man not fulfilling his proper role in creation of tending and caring for creation – including our fellow man.
God alone, in His infinite wisdom, is able to rule over man and creation, providing only what is best. It is for man’s good that God asks us to respect His rule. He gave man law, but in our pride and stubbornness, weakened as we are by sin, we have universally failed to live up to the law (Read Romans 1-3 and Romans 7).
In order to remedy this situation, rescue man from the consequences of his sin and restore the creation, putting it back on track to its intended purpose, God sent his Son, Jesus, into the world (Ephesians 1:10). If we fail to see the breadth of His mission, we will fail to understand what God intends for us in this world.
“God’s goal was to finish his plan when the right time came. He planned that all things in heaven and on earth be joined together with Christ as the head. (Ephesians 1:10 ERV).
“This plan, which God will complete when the time is right, is to bring all creation together, everything in heaven and on earth, with Christ as head.” (Ephesians 1:10 (GNT)
For instance, why did Jesus die? If we think of His death as a rescue mission to snatch men from a doomed planet, then we will focus on heaven and pretty much leave the created world to rock along to a fiery oblivion. On the other hand, if we see it as Paul says, a vital part of God’s plan to unite all things in heaven and earth in Christ, then we will be involved in various aspects of that project of the ages.
Our mission, then, should be to further that project. Jesus began the project of restoration or new creation. People who put their faith in Him are restored, regenerated, made into a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15). As God’s new creation, we were made for good works.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).
Think about this for a moment. In the original creation, mankind was made to rule with God over all of the works of His hands. His good works were to tend and care for God’s creation, which, in the second chapter, is seen to include other human beings, beginning with one’s spouse and offspring (Genesis 1:26-28; 2:15).
Jesus “…is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Colossians 1:15). He is the beginning of the fulfillment of the eternal purpose of God to unite all creation – heaven and earth – under His rule. This is what the kingdom of God is about. Those who make Him king – who recognize His rule – are intended to further and foster that rule over all of creation. We are to work Christ’s works.
In order to do this we must get past the usual idea that our works for the Lord are to be “spiritual” in nature as opposed to “material” or “profane” (common) works. When we look at the nature of creation – ourselves included – holistically we will be able to see that all our works are to be devoted to God and intended to fulfill His purpose for us in this world. The heavens and the earth were made as one creation. Christ’s purpose in coming into the world was to bring these separated parts of God’s good creation together again. It is our work, therefore to be engaged in this project. It will be for God to accomplish that at His own appointed time, but until that time it is for us to be preparing, not only ourselves, but showing the world what that renewed, recreated, restored creation will be like.
Jesus began that work, illustrating by His life, attitudes and actions what that new creation will be like and what we, as His disciples should be doing. At a wedding feast He turned water into wine. What do we see in this event? If we see Jesus as our model, doing the Father’s will, fulfilling the role of ruling, serving and subduing the earth, then this event, though miraculous, provides us a pattern for our lives as Christians in the 21st century.
“But what He did was miraculous,” you say. True, He did perform a miracle. But there was much more to it than that. He was involved in the rhythm of life, participating on a broad spectrum. He attended the celebration of a wedding at Cana. He participated in the joy of a man and a woman as they joined their lives in marriage. When the wine ran low, He was concerned with the possible social embarrassment of the host of the party and consented to do something about it. He turned water into wine. The best wine at the party.
He was concerned for his fellow man. Because of His compassion He fed the hungry, healed the sick, cast out demons, restored sight to the blind and led the faltering, stumbling masses to the knowledge of God’s will for their lives. When He saw a storm threatening life, He spoke peace and calmed the raging sea.
All this showed that He was the Son of God. But for far too long we have looked at the deeds of Jesus only as proof of His divinity. He exercised miraculous control over nature, doing things that only God could do. Therefore He must be God. But it must be remembered that he did these things by the power of the Holy Spirit. In denying the false charge of the Jews that he was casting out demons by Beelzebul, Jesus affirmed that He did miracles by the Spirit of God.
“But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” (Matthew 12:28).
Peter, in speaking to Cornelius, introduced Jesus in this way…
“…God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.” (Acts 10:38).
Jesus promised the Spirit to the apostles and the apostles declared that those who believe in Jesus would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2:38; And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Granted, the apostles and some early Christians were able to perform miracles, but not all who were gifted by the Spirit did so. Others – perhaps all others – were given gifts by which they were enabled to do what might be termed “ordinary” works.
Next we will think more about doing the works of Jesus.
Co-authored with Bill Van Dyke, Ph.D, Give Me Liberty: Restoring the Spirit of Jubilee examines the mission of Christ as viewed from the fulfillment of Jubilee and how legalism robs the church community of the joy Jubilee brings.
A Better Way is an exploration and critique of the traditional method of determining Bible authority and suggestions for a better approach to understanding the Bible.