Category Archives: Restoration

Reclaiming Fallen Creation – Create God-Honoring Culture

Before God asked us to do anything else in Genesis 1-2, He gave us a job to do and basically said “Take care of my stuff.”

We are to exercise a responsible stewardship. We can never create what God created, but we are called to extend it, shape it and form it and organize it and research it and use it in such a God-glorifying way that we thus extend his creative work in our world.

We are to plant and manage fields and food supplies. We are to construct cities and communities and restore old ones. We are to make music and works of art. We are to breakdown diseases and sicknesses and endeavor to find a cure. We are to utilize all of science to find answers to as many questions as we can. We are to adventure into outer space. We are to dedicate ourselves to the laboratory. We are to study law and economics. We are to engage in education and politics. We are to build databases and information systems to give people greater control over the information in their lives.

Why? All of this is to massage the potential of the created order. By penetrating our society and letting God’s values come to bear in all of the areas, we speak a “Genesis”, a new creation, into the lives of people and our world.

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Filed under Atheism, Christian Worldview, Cultural Commission, Cultural Mandate, Genesis 1-3, Imago Dei, Larger Story, Life Purpose, Restoration

Why do we have a Bible?

The Bible is an anthology – it is a collection of 66 books into one book. The Bible is given to us for three primary reasons: to record the facts of history, to help us re-experience story, and to teach us theology.

First, the Bible records the facts of history. What we read in the Bible really happened. It’s not a book of fiction. It is not an attempt to fabricate the truth. Its purpose is not to deceive. When the Bible talks about places and peoples, these are confirmed from extra-biblical sources through archeology and other discoveries. There are ancient manuscripts that have survived the centuries and they are consistent with what we have in our Bibles today. There really was a guy named Jesus who lived, died, and rose again. It is an accurate representation of what happened and of what happens over and over again in human history. We don’t just read the Bible; it reads us. It tells us who we are and what we do.

Second, the Bible helps us to re-experience story. It is full of settings, and characters, and actions. Some characters, we want to be like. Others we want to avoid. But all of them speak to our stories and the Bible never airbrushes out the flaws of its characters (you read about King David’s adultery and the flaws of the apostles; this lends to its credibility). By the way, you are writing a story with your life; Someone out there is bringing the pieces of that story together. And you can bet, if there is a larger story in our lives, there is a Story-Teller. God is writing a story and it hangs together. All of these 66 books move the story along a bit, pushing the plot toward its final completion. For all its peculiarities and unevenness, the Bible has a simple story, among what appears to be several disconnected stories. It was written over a 1500 year period by forty people in three different languages and yet there is a consistency to the overarching story. God made man. Man rejected God at Satan’s prompting. God won’t give up until He wins man back through Jesus. God returns man to his original plan. That is the larger story. “The dogma is the drama,” said Dorothy Sayers. The Gospel has all the elements of a great story. The Bible begins with the creation of all things, it takes a plunge into evil (Genesis 3), it meanders through fallen human history, and tells of one who disguised himself (Jesus) in order to win the love of a girl (the Church). By the time we get to the end, we have a king on a white horse who rides in to rescue the girl just in the nick of time. He conquers all evil, gets the bride (the Bride of Christ) and lives happily ever after in a new city with a new garden in a palace decorated with jewels. What is there that is boring about this story! If we lose the dogma of solid biblical teaching, we lose the drama. Instead of being confronted and changed by the truth, we wallow in therapy with no larger story to live for. Salvation is essentially a story of restoration. You’re invited up into it. It answers our deepest God-Questions: where we came from, what went wrong in the world, what God is doing to fix it, and how we factor into that plan. The Bible reveals a sacred story. In the beginning, God created us good. Something went drastically wrong and we sinned. But God has sent a Rescuer to deliver us from ourselves. The Bible is a love story, a sacred romance, where Jesus gets the girl.

Third, the Bible teaches us theology; it teaches us about God and truth. When we say that God is personal, we mean that He communicates with us. He has spoken to us, revealing Himself and how He wants us to live. There are two things that stand out about God. He is a self-concealer as well as a self-revealer. God is a self-concealer. He hides – and seems at times – shy to intervene in our world. God must hide in order for a free-will world to be possible. The direct presence of God would inevitably overwhelm our freedom. God gives everyone the room to either choose or reject. He’s a hidden God and He will not force love. Those who want to find Him or be found by Him can, and those who want to reject Him can do that as well. But God wants you to see Him and know him. That’s why we can say that God is not only a self-concealer… God is also a self-revealer God communicates who He is and how He wants us to live. There are two primary books that God uses to communicate and self-disclose or reveal Himself. One is the book of nature. God reveals Himself through His world and what He has made. The other is the book of His Word – the Bible. Looking at God’s world is like looking at a painting that the Artist has painted. Looking into the Bible is like an actual conversation with the Artist Himself. God loves to communicate. He talks through burning bushes and braying donkeys. He sends messages through storms and rainbows and earthquakes and dreams. He whispers in a still small voice. And he also speaks to human authors who then under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote God’s message to us. The Bible is a book of ancient, proven, trustworthy words. Jesus quoted from the Old Testament and endorsed the writers of the New Testament. Prophets predicted things years before they happened and they came to pass. Archeological discoveries have confirmed its accuracy. There are ancient manuscripts to verify their reliability. More than anything else, the Bible is about a Person. In the Old Testament – someone is coming. In the Gospels – He is here. In the Epistles – He is coming again! The Bible is held together by a Person. God creates the world, the world gets lost, and God seeks to restore it in Jesus. That means the Bible is about you and me, whom God also made and lost and seeks. We are not alone on this planet. Someone is out there and He reveals what kind of story we’ve fallen into. And he graciously seeks us out. I guess you could also say that this story holds us together – this Person holds us together. You must have two things in life: a person and a story, and even the story must be about a Person, said one author. God packages theology in story, rather than just raw facts. Don’t make theology into a religion of facts and miss the romance. Stop reducing the text to formulas for personal growth and how I can get rich.

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Filed under Atheism, Bible, Christianity, Church, God, Hidden God, Jesus Christ, Larger Story, Restoration, The Fall, Uncategorized

Sex and Restoration

J Budziszewski

J Budziszewski

Sexual immorality is one of the greatest enemies to our restoration. I didn’t say “Sex.” God said that was good in Genesis and the Song of Solomon celebrates it! But our God-given sexual instinct has gone wrong. It is broken. We are driven to gratify it in destructive ways, leaving us with guilt, shame, regret, despair and emptiness. You are going to have a very difficult time becoming a restored person if you are sexually immoral. God is the one who created sex. God made this act a pleasurable thing and He placed within us a curiosity about it and a desire to experience it. However, like all good things that God has created, it can and has been perverted, and twisted and used in a way that God has not intended. Sex is a passionate celebration of a whole life commitment and it should happen on a regular basis in a marriage relationship. Redemption does not turn us from sex, rather it restores the sacredness and goodness of it. “Sexual immorality should be opposed not to repress sex but to show forth its true glory (Wolters).” There is a mysterious unity that happens when two individuals share in sexual intimacy. Two become one according to Genesis. It’s a unity of body and spirit. It cements people together. Sex is a physical act that sets up emotional and mental intimacy. One author says it this way: “You’ve used sticky tape, right? It’s great for sealing boxes and gluing things together. But you know, you have to be careful when you use it. A fresh piece of tape sticks to whatever it touches, whether you want it to or not. Tape can’t help it; that’s what it’s for. But if you don’t like where the tape is sticking and you try to rip it loose, there’s going to be damage. The package will tear. And when you do get the tape loose it isn’t as sticky as it was before. Press it on and pull it loose from one thing after another, and eventually it won’t stick to anything at all. Your sexuality is like that, but emotionally and spiritually rather than just physically. Just as a fresh piece of tape sticks to whatever it touches, the first time in your life you use your sexuality you’re going to stick to whoever it touches. Sex can’t help it; that’s what it’s for. But if you don’t like who you’re sticking to and you try to rip yourself loose, there’s going to be damage. Something in your heart will tear, and something will tear in the other person too. And when you do get yourself loose, your sexuality won’t be as sticky as it was before. Press it on and pull it loose from one person after another, and eventually it won’t stick to anyone at all. You’ll sleep with various partners as you have before, but they’ll seem like strangers to you. You just won’t feel anything. You’ll have destroyed your capacity for intimacy (Budziszewski, Ask Me Anything: Provocative Answers for College Students).”

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Restoration Refused – Hell

Clives Staples LewisWhile we are all broken people and need restored, there are some who persist in their brokenness. Wickedness and rebellion become their life-path. As it turns out, God’s wrath comes to rest on those who rebelliously persist in their brokenness. And according to Romans 1, when God’s anger reaches a level of wrath, it turns out that he doesn’t start punishing us. Rather, He stops. This is the ultimate wrath of God. He shows his wrath, but not by thrashing the persistently wicked. It’s worse. He shows it by abandoning us, leaving us all to ourselves. He let’s us have what we’ve always wanted – life totally separated from Him. Hell is something we choose; it’s not a place we are sent. C. S. Lewis has defined hell as a place where people have barricaded themselves in to keep God out. It’s locked on the inside by people who would rather reign in a hell of brokenness than reign in a restorative heaven. There are two kinds of people in the world: those who say to God “Thy will be done” and those to whom God will finally say “Thy will be done.” You can have utter and final brokenness in hell if you want it.

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Dramatic Scenes of the Larger Story

Chuck Colson

Chuck Colson

For all its peculiarities and unevenness, the Bible has a simple story. God made man. Man rejected God. God won’t give up until He wins man back. God returns man to his original plan. Here is the larger story in four words – Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration. Colson, Walters, and others argue this point so well and the Bible demonstrates it. When you encompass the mass of biblical material, even though there are several smaller stories, the larger story line that emerges is Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration – four dramatic scenes.

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Restoration – Paradise Regained!

Albert Wolters

Albert Wolters

When Jesus came, He inaugurated the greatest restoration project imaginable. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 we read: “So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away – look, what is new has come!” Christ represents a radical shift. In Christ a new age has been inaugurated, a kingdom that gets bigger and better all the time. In new creation, it is not that everything around us has changed. It doesn’t mean “happily ever-after or trouble-free existence”, but rather that we have a new perspective. The old way of looking at things is gone. It is not that there are no more disappointments but that we look at them differently. It is not that there are no more temptations but that we respond to them differently. Salvation is renewal on the inside; it’s not just avoiding evil, but it’s desiring what is right. It’s not just a return to original beauty; it is also forward to something greater than ever before! One of the remarkable things about being a human being is that we can be restored – and that somehow life becomes even more magnificent because what was previously ruined has been reclaimed, recreated, and set free through forgiveness offered by Christ. Jesus plunged himself into the guts of our ruin: raging anger, contempt, hatred, obsessive lust, bitter divorce, verbal manipulation, revenge, slapping, suing, coercing, and begging. In a phrase, He plunged into “our broken relationships!” He plunged into all of this so that he could make us new. Every miracle that Jesus performed pointed toward restoration for the broken. The blind see. The deaf hear. The lame walk. The dead are raised. He restored broken humanity. This is what God is offering to mankind in Jesus; it is renewal and restoration. This also tells me that we are worth redeeming to God.Sin has not made us worthless, but only lost and ruined. Yet, God has refused to scrap us. In Jesus, He hangs on to his original fallen creation and begins to work to salvage it. “God doesn’t make junk and He will not junk what He has made (Creation Regained: Biblical Basics for a Reformational Worldview Albert Wolters).” He never walked off and left us. He cares about more than just redeeming your soul for eternity. He wants to restore you, beginning now. It has always been God’s plan, not just to forgive you, but to restore you – to make you like Jesus. Paradise has been regained!

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Filed under Eden, Jesus Christ, Larger Story, New Creation, Restoration

In Search of Eden

Dallas Willard

Dallas Willard

I believe there was a time in an Eden garden when we were all that we were intended to be. Our life was pristine. It was once good for all of us. Perfect intimacy with God and one another. Total vulnerability. Nothing to hide or fear. No need for escape was present. No addictions to contend with. No large ego to navigate around. No secret lusts to sever us from our lover. No need to lie or hide. No jealousy when good things happened to others. No abuse or harm inflicted. No bad attitudes and no broken promises. There was an exciting energy that we brought to each day. Every task was done with grace and beauty. There were no hindrances to our work or creativity and Creation was perfect. Our minds were focused, able to comprehend and process new information with perfect recall. A solid purpose filled our days and there was never a lonely moment Sunsets. Sunrises. Lush gardens. Exotic animals. Romance. Beauty. Adventure. Eden, Adam and Eve had it all. Sin didn’t belong here. But thousands of years of human history are proof enough that paradise has been lost. We have taken our lives into our own hands; we have been crushed and we have crushed one another. We’ve flunked-out, dropped-out, and burned-out. We’re broke and we’ve broken. We’ve drugged ourselves into oblivion. We’ve shattered our families. We’ve contracted diseases and illness because of our illicit affairs. We’ve submersed ourselves into immorality. We are the broken ones who live in a broken world. In the words of Dallas Willard (Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ): “The HIV positives and the herpes-ridden. The overemployed, the underemployed, the unemployed. The unemployable. The swindled, the shoved-aside, the replaced. The lonely, the incompetent. The emotionally starved and the emotionally dead.” We are the broken ones. We cannot deny it. The brutal and the bigoted. Drug lords and pornographers. War criminals and sadist. Terrorists. The perverted and the filthy and the filthy rich. We are a wreck. We are so messed up! Even those in the church are broken: easily offended, given to jealousy, loose lips that assassinate reputations, pride of position. We try to lose ourselves in our work. We get addicted. We have affairs. We develop colorful fantasies fed by dime-store romances or pornography. We learn to enjoy the juicy intrigues and secrets of gossip. We don’t parent right. We distance ourselves from others to hide beyond the agnosticism we feel in our own heart. We are all in danger of missing the life God intended for us. We are searching for Eden.

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Filed under Eden, Larger Story, Restoration, Spiritual Life