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Biblical Worldview: Restoration

Living at the Crossroads

Chapter 4


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God’s Response to Sin

While justly angry, God did not turn away from a world bent on destruction but turned to face it in love. With patience and tender care the Lord set out on the long road of redemption to reclaim the lost as his people and the world as his kingdom (Our World Belongs to God, 18).


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Salvation is . . .

  • Progressive

  • Restorative

  • Comprehensive


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Redemption is progressive

  • Gradual unfolding of salvation

  • God’s mission

  • Through Israel, Jesus, church

  • Consummation of history

    “The Bible renders to us the story of God’s mission through God’s people in their engagement with God’s world for the sake of the whole of God’s creation.” (C. Wright)


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Salvation is Restorative: Contrasting Plato with the Bible

  • Plato’s view of salvation:

    • vertical (our destiny is upward in heaven)

    • otherworldly (our souls are saved into another spiritual world)

    • an escape (we are saved not as part of this world but rather from this world)


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Salvation is Restorative: Contrasting Plato with the Bible

  • Biblical view of salvation:

    • horizontal (we look forward in history to the renewal of creation)

    • of this world (the creation is to be renewed)

    • integral to God’s ultimate plan for this world (no escape necessary)


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Salvation is Restorative

  • The creation is very good, the way God intended it.

  • Human beings are created to live in the context of the creation.

  • The materiality of creation is not what is wrong with it; the problem

  • is sin.

  • In the Old Testament the future kingdom is described as restored life within a new creation

  • Jesus proclaims the gospel of the kingdom.


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Salvation is Restorative (cont’d)

  • The creation is very good, the way God intended it.

  • Human beings are created to live in the context of the creation.

  • The materiality of creation is not what is wrong with it; the problem is sin.

  • In the Old Testament the future kingdom is described as restored life within a new creation.

  • Jesus proclaims the gospel of the kingdom.


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Two Caveats

  • Restoration does not mean a return to Eden

  • Restoration does not mean there is no discontinuity


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Redemption is Comprehensive

Heaven must receive [Jesus] until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. (Acts 3:21)

And he made known to us the mystery of his will . . . to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. (Eph. 1:9–10)

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in [Christ], and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. (Col. 1:19–20)


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Progressive Unfolding of God’s Comprehensive Restoration

  • Israel called to embody comprehensive restoration

  • Comprehensive restoration inaugurated in Jesus

  • Comprehensive restoration accomplished in death and resurrection of Jesus

  • Comprehensive restoration given by exalted Christ through the Spirit

  • Mission of church is to make known comprehensive restoration

  • Comprehensive restoration completed at Jesus’ return


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Israel called to embody comprehensive restoration

  • Israel called to be picture of shalom God intends for all

  • Whole life shaped by:

    • Torah

    • Wisdom literature

    • Prophets


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Kingdom of God as Comprehensive Restoration

  • Jesus announces kingdom of God

  • Power of God to defeat all opposition to shalom


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The kingdom of God is . . .

. . . the dynamic reassertion of God’s rightful kingly rule over the whole of his creation (J. Chaplin).


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Comprehensive scope of kingdom

Jesus’ kingdom ministry launches an all-out attack on evil in all its manifestations. God’s reign arrives wherever Jesus overcomes the power of evil. Then, as it does now, evil took many forms: pain, sickness, death, demon-possession, personal sin and immorality, the loveless self-righteousness of those who claim to know God, the maintaining of special class privileges, the brokenness of human relationships. Jesus is, however, saying: If human distress takes many forms, the power of God does likewise (David Bosch).


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Jesus and the kingdom of God

Everything he said and did was directly related to the coming of the kingdom. He reversed all the consequences of evil in the world: disease, possession by inhuman spirits, guilt, ritualistic and empty religion, a caste system of purity and impurity, scarcity of food, a hostile nature, commercial exploitation and death (Andrew Kirk).


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Kingdom of God as Comprehensive Restoration

  • Jesus announces kingdom of God

  • Power of God to defeat all opposition to shalom

  • Salvation of kingdom in Luke: Includes physical, spiritual, political, economic, and social


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Comprehensive restoration accomplished in Jesus’ death

  • Cross is victory over sin and evil

  • John 12:31–33; Col. 2:15; Rev. 7:7–12

  • Defeats evil powers that enslave social and cultural life as well as individual


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Comprehensive restoration inaugurated in Jesus’ resurrection

  • Resurrection in first century: Restoration of creation

  • Jesus is firstfruits and firstborn of this cosmic renewal


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Comprehensive restoration given by exalted Christ through the Spirit

  • Christ at right hand of God: All authority over all creation

  • Spirit gift of end-time cosmic salvation:

    • Deposit

    • Firstfruits


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Mission of church: To make known cosmic restoration the Spirit

  • Commissioned by Jesus (John 20:21; Matt. 28:18-20)

  • Take up Israel’s call to make known all-embracing salvation (Ex. 19:3-6; 1 Pet. 2:5-9)


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Comprehensive Scope of Church’s Mission the Spirit

The Spirit thrusts God’s people into worldwide mission. He impels young and old, men and women, to go next door and far away into science and art, media and marketplace with the good news of God’s grace. . . .

The rule of Jesus Christ covers the whole world. To follow this Lord is to serve him everywhere, without fitting in, as light in the darkness, as salt in a spoiling world (Our World Belongs to God).


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Kingdom and Church the Spirit

  • Church is firstfruits of the kingdom

  • Church is instrument of the kingdom

  • Church is sign of the kingdom


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Mission and Already-Not Yet the Spirit

  • Mission of church is make known all-encompassing salvation of kingdom

  • Meaning of already-not yet era of kingdom


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Mission as meaning of this era the Spirit

The meaning of this “overlap of the ages” in which we live, the time between the coming of Christ and his coming again, is that it is the time given for the witness of the apostolic Church to the ends of the earth. The end of all things, which has been revealed in Christ, is—so to say—held back until the witness has been borne to the whole world concerning the judgment and salvation revealed in Christ. The implication of a true eschatological perspective will be missionary obedience, and the eschatology which does not issue in such obedience is a false eschatology (Lesslie Newbigin).


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Meaning of mission the Spirit

  • More than evangelism

  • Embodying salvation as wide as creation

  • Encounter with evil powers

  • Witness to kingdom


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‘Every square inch, every thumb-width the Spirit

‘There is no neutral ground in the universe every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan’ (C.S. Lewis).

‘There is no thumb-width of the entire domain of our human life of which the Christ, the Sovereign over everything, does not proclaim: “It is Mine!” ’ (Abraham Kuyper).


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Witness to the Kingdom the Spirit

We know that our mission will not usher in God’s reign. Neither did Jesus’ mission. He inaugurated it but did not bring it to its consummation. Like him, we are called to erect signs of God’s ultimate reign—not more, but certainly not less either. . . . As we pray ‘your kingdom come!’ we also commit ourselves to initiate, here and now, approximations and anticipations of God’s reign (David Bosch).


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Faithful mission needs . . . the Spirit

  • Healthy community

  • Vibrant spirituality

  • Acts 2:42: Life of kingdom flows to his people in community through prayer, word, fellowship, Lord’s Supper


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Spring of new life the Spirit

If there is a committed people as the sign and agent and foretaste of what God intends, it can only be insofar as their life is continually renewed through contact with God himself.’ ‘All true vitality in the work of missions depends in the last analysis upon the secret springs of supernatural life which they know who give time to communion with God. All true witness . . . has its source in a life of adoration and intercession . . . (Newbigin).


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Abiding in the Vine: John 15 the Spirit

Like branches of the vine, we receive the life-giving sap of Christ’s life “through a million tiny channels hidden behind the hard bark of the trunk and branches” (Newbigin).


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Differing understandings of nature and grace the Spirit

  • Nature: creation messed up by sin

  • Grace: God’s redemptive work

  • Grace against nature

  • Grace above nature

  • Grace alongside of nature

  • Grace infuses and restores nature


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Grace against nature—problems the Spirit

  • Diminishes goodness of all of creation

  • Does not see salvation as comprehensive restoration


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Grace above nature and grace alongside of nature—problems the Spirit

  • Do not sufficiently recognize the comprehensive and twisting power of sin on all creation

  • Do not see cultural mission of church as life-and-death antithetical battle


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Grace infuses and restores nature the Spirit

  • Most in line with gospel

  • Three illustrations:

    • Battle of kingdoms


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Clash of Kingdoms the Spirit

Antithesis


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Grace infuses and restores nature the Spirit

  • Most in line with gospel

  • Three illustrations:

    • Battle of kingdoms

    • Child: Healthy, sick, cured


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Healthy child the Spirit

Deformed by disease

Process of healing

Struggle between disease and healing power

Good creation

Deformed by human sin

Restoration

Struggle between evil and God’s healing power

Illustration of child


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Grace infuses and restores nature the Spirit

  • Most in line with gospel

  • Three illustrations:

    • Battle of kingdoms

    • Child: Healthy, sick, cured

    • Structure/direction (Wolters)




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Problems with dualism: the Spirit

  • Activities in ‘secular’ realm belong to God by virtue of creation and redemption

  • Activities in ‘sacred’ realm are just as twisted by sin

    Turn your eyes upon Jesus;

    Look full in his wonderful face;

    And the things of earth

    take their rightful place

    in the light of his glory and grace


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Right relationship: Creation, fall, restoration the Spirit

  • Every part of creation is part of very good of creation

  • Every part of creation has been soiled by sin

  • Every part of creation is being restored


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Final Consummation: Comprehensive Restoration Complete the Spirit

The whole Bible leads us to expect a glorious renewal of life on earth, so that the age to come will be an endlessly thrilling adventure of living with God on the new earth. With his presence pervading every act, we shall be more fully human than we have ever been, liberated from sin, death, and all that hurts or harms (David Lawrence).


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Consummation and mission the Spirit

  • Kingdom: Restoration of whole creation

    . . . it is precisely ordinary earthly existence that is redeemed (G.C. Berkouwer).


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Mistaken Notion the Spirit

  • Annihilistic: Earth will be destroyed

  • Future: Kingdom comes in future

  • Individualistic: Salvation is flight of individual person to God

  • Spiritualistic: Kingdom is ethereal, spiritual heaven

  • Vertical: Kingdom is “up there”


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Biblical Counterpoint the Spirit

  • Restoration; not annihilation

  • Present and future; not simply future

  • Cosmic; not individualistic

  • Creational; not spiritual

  • Historical; not vertical


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Consummation and mission the Spirit

  • Kingdom: Restoration of whole creation

  • Significance for mission:

    • If kingdom is otherworldly, then mission is evangelism

    • If kingdom is restoration of this world, then mission is embodying salvation as wide as creation


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