The fact that we are able to express the faith that justifies is only a consequence of the fact that we have been regenerated from spiritual death. The ordo salutis needs to shape our theological understanding of salvation. The emphasis on creation-new creation also highlights the sovereignty of God in salvation. It anchors and grounds the doctrine of predestination in Ephesians.
One of the things I had not noticed before in Ephesians is the importance of the creation-new creation dynamic. It comes at significant points in the letter.
1v4 – God’s election of his people before the creation of the world
2v9 – salvation (=from spiritual death to resurrection life) is new creation in Christ Jesus
2v15 – unity of Jews and Gentiles in the church is the creation of a new humanity in Christ
3v9 – God’s eternal plan to unite Jesus and Gentiles in Christ was from eternity before he created all things
4v24 – the Christian life is a process of putting on the new self re-created to be in the image of God in true righteousness and holiness
5v30 – the pattern for submission between husbands and wives is rooted in the original good creation and reflects God’s eternal purpose that the church as wife of Christ will submit to her loving husband
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By Leland Ryken — 2 years ago
Affections is an old word that overlaps with our word emotions. Poetry tends to be an affective form of writing that awakens proper feelings. The kind of poetry I am commending enables us not only to see an aspect of experience clearly but also to feel the right way about that experience. Reading good poetry can help us to feel rightly about reality.
From the early days of my teaching, I have enacted a ritual to introduce poetry into a course. I ask the class, “How do you know that God intends for you to understand and enjoy poetry?” Inevitably, the class stares at me as though I had just arrived from Mars. Then I ask in a slightly more menacing tone, “How do you know that God intends for you to understand and enjoy poetry?”
It is gratifying to see how quickly someone comes up with the correct answer. That answer is that approximately one-third of the Bible comes to us in poetic form.
My purpose is to convince you that your life will be enriched if you set aside just a little time for poetry. For some, this will be an encouragement to keep a current practice going; for others, it will be a resolve to give poetry a try.
World of Poetry
Poetry already has a place in our lives, though we may be unaware of this fact. In addition to the poetry of the Bible, let me introduce hymns into the discussion. Hymns and songs are a form of poetry, possessing all the qualities of the poems I teach in my literature courses. Whereas much of the poetry in the Bible is relatively complex and difficult, the poetry of hymns and songs is poetry for the average person.
Additionally, we all speak an incipient poetry during the course of a typical day. We speak of the sun rising and of game-changers, of killing time and juggling our schedules. Each of these is a metaphor. Why do we resort to poetic language like this? Because we intuitively realize that poetic speech often conveys truth more effectively than literal prose.
People who do not find a place for poetry in their lives incorrectly believe that poetry is beyond the reach of the common person. Some claim that although people living before the modern era knew how to handle poetry, people living today are different. I regret to say that I even hear stories of Sunday school teachers and preachers being pressured by congregants to leave the poetry of the Bible untouched because of its alleged inaccessibility.
There is no chronological factor in regard to the accessibility of poetry. People are not less educated today than they were in previous centuries, but the reverse. Furthermore, poetry is compressed and makes use of images (words naming concrete objects and actions) as its basic language. What is more characteristic of our day than its preference for brief units of communication and its reliance on visual images?
Another misconception is that poetry is unrelated to everyday life. This is false in two ways. First, the actual language of poetry stays close to the everyday experiences of life. For example, biblical poets keep us rooted in a world of water and sheep and light and pathways. Second, the subject of poetry is universal human experience. Stories are a window to the world of human life, and so is poetry. One title of a book about poetry captures the essence of both poetic language and poetic content: Poetry and the Common Life.
Helps for Reading Poetry
In the remainder of this article, I have organized my pep talk for giving poetry a try (or continuing to keep a good thing going) under the rubric of what you need to know about poetry in order to succeed with it.
First, while poetry is accessible to anyone who gives it a genuine try, this does not mean that poetry is anything less than a unique form of discourse.
By Christopher Neiswonger — 1 year ago
This earth, this world is our Father’s world. Jesus has bought it with his blood and has taken up the mantle of Adam. He has fulfilled the covenant of obedience in perfect detail. He will continue to rule and to reign until all things are beneath his feet. He is ruling and reigning right now. And when they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted.
Augustine’s two kingdoms were the city of God and the city of man. They overlap but both are under God in the juridical sense. There is no God free zone in the Christian religion. Nor in the world of men.
The Bible’s two kingdoms are the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the devil. Neither is equated with the state or any earthly institution.
In any case, they are certainly not the church and the state. The church is God’s church and every state is God’s state.
And this does touch on “Christian Nationalism”, which is intended as a trap made of words but there is some unavoidable Christian truth in there. Which is the nation that the Christian would not have a “Christian Nation”? One in which Christ is respected and exercises cultural authority? One in which the streets are safe and the children can play outside? Where the women can go about unmolested and the police do their duty. Where the courts convict the guilty and set free the innocent? Where true religion flourishes and evil is blunted by the freedom of the preached word?
That the United States be a Christian nation is small potatoes in the context of our God’s eternal plan and Jesus is a very intentional monarch. Nothing less than all will satisfy his global ambition.
In one sense, all of the nations are Christian nations because Christ owns them all. In another sense none of them are because they drown themselves in ungodliness without correction or repentance.
By John Beeson — 1 year ago
There is a shocking truth that escapes the notice of most Christians: when we go to heaven, we won’t stop working. We were made for work and in heaven we will get to experience work in the fulfilling and meaningful way God intended. Heaven isn’t (just!) a picnic, either. We don’t know exactly what this work will look like.
The Garden of Eden was no picnic. When God created Adam and Eve, he placed them in the Garden, not to vacation but to work. Before sin ever entered the picture, God formed Adan and Eve in his image and called them to exercise dominion in the Garden of Eve.
We are called to create order from disorder, to cultivate, and till, and build. Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden not just to sip Mai Tais and binge on Netflix (not that there is anything wrong with that!); they were put there for the sake of dominion. God wanted caretakers who would craft, build, and create order.
We were made for work. We were made for dominion.
There are some interesting studies that reveal the impact of not working. It has been well documented that there are significant negative mental and emotional outcomes for those who are unemployed.[i] Anxiety rises and self-confidence drops which leads to an increase in substance abuse and violence against self and others.[ii] Consider, for instance, the unhealthy of the lives of those whose profession is to be famous, like the Kardashians.
We were made to work.
There is a 75-year longitudinal Harvard study that followed people to discover what factors made adults successful and healthy.[iii] When they looked back at the lives of these several hundred adults, they determined that one of the most significant determining factors for those who were successful was whether their parents had them do chores as kids.