Earth: the Cosmic Gloryground of God

I use Twitter as my only internet social network (less baggage than the others). Recently I saw as evangelist Ray Comfort tweeted a pro-life statement concerning the personhood of the unborn. In reply, a guy called @JimtheAtheist called Ray a “s***stain” and derided him as a fool. I then began to converse with Jim, touching on a number of different subjects surrounding belief and worldview over the course of at least a week. Jim’s very telling final comment in our exchange is here:

See that? It seems he is not so much an atheist, but more of an anti-theist. Jim seems to interpret the cosmos as a universe which could have been created by someone, but if that someone does not fit his idea of what a good God should be like, if He doesn’t speak as Jim feels He should speak, then Jim, (and in extension what seems to be many anti-theists on the march these days), rejects the God of the Bible as the true and rightful ruler of the cosmos and spends his life trying to get others to do the same.

Now I am not trying to pick on Jim for personal reasons – as a matter of fact I appreciate that he is passionate about his worldview. One thing which stinks like 9-day-dead raccoon on a country road is an apathetic, non-thinking person who blows in the wind of what other people tell them to think and do. So Jim gets the badge of honor for at least having a worldview, and for attempting to persuade others to think like he does.

On the other hand, the anti-theists among us are like passionate gnats beating their heads against Mt Everest. The frantic drive to dethrone the Lord of the cosmos will be as successful as an Eskimo selling ice, or even worse. The never-ending conversation between Christians and anti-Christians in the ultimate sense doesn’t matter: in this conflict, either the Bible is truly God’s Word and to believe otherwise is suicide, or there is no God and we will return to the unfeeling dust of the cosmos in a few years, consciousness eternally ceased.

What you or I believe does not change the reality and truth under which we live, whatever that reality may be.

Yet what each of us believes does matter – and it matters forever.

This is the interpretation of the cosmos as we look through the lens of the Bible. So let’s look through the lens of God’s Word to see how God sees you.

Although you are only a speck of cosmic dust, you’ve been created in the image of God and therefore have profound, magnificent dignity as a person. The implications are far-reaching! That means that the most mentally-disabled child who cannot ever work a day in his little life, who offers nothing to his parents and who can only take from society is as valuable as Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison, or Mother Theresa.

Because of His valuing of each person, we have inherent dignity. Being created in the image of God is an astonishing honor! It is unique to the human race! When the question of life on other planets comes up, I have no problem believing that there are mind-blowing types of plants and animals scattered around the cosmos on gorgeous planets of teal, green, blue, and purple. Yet the Bible seems to show that the earth is the one and only place in all the unfathomable reaches of the universe which has been set apart as special. It is the stage of God’s redemptive history.

It is indeed the stage where God placed the human race who bears His image – the showpiece of the cosmos!

Privileged, unique, wonderful earth...

But above and beyond all of that, the earth is the place where God the Son poured out His eternal, unspeakable glories and willingly became flesh… even to become a peasant baby born in an animal stable. The eternal Jesus became human, was born of the Virgin Mary, grew up, and walked on this planet. But even beyond that honor, this planet had the blood of the God-Man Jesus shed upon it. He willingly became man, and willingly laid down His pure, perfect life on a Roman death cross in order to pay for the sins of His people. To begin to describe this glory, or further, the glory of His rising from the dead 3 days later, would be to pretend that words can capture infinity.

And yet I write. I write for each of us to spiritually feed and be filled upon the glorious truth of the Bible. The Creator of the cosmos has given us the Word which interprets His cosmos, and which reveals His intimate, personal work among humanity to redeem us from our rebellion against Him.

This Word reveals that Jesus is the Creator of the cosmos, and has become the re-creator of the new humanity in Him. The Bible clearly explains how sin has separated us from Him, and darkened the minds of those who have not trusted in Jesus for their reconciliation to God. He has spoken by His Holy Spirit through the pens of men to reveal a perfect record of His creation and redemption of fallen mankind.

For our friends like @Jimtheatheist, there is absolutely nothing about this which makes sense, or which sounds like salvation. It sounds like nonsense and ridiculousness. Yet the wildest thing is that we are all @Jimtheatheist. He is no worse than me – we are equally fallen and wretched at birth. None of us earns the right to enjoy and have fellowship with the Lord of the cosmos, yet we who are in Christ are better off because of the atonement of Christ Jesus on our behalf, and the application of it to our life by His Holy Spirit. The record of my sin is wiped away – I am a friend of God because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

The antitheists would have many contradicting arguments, yet no matter what they say, the Bible is precious because it is God’s Word, and especially because it reveals Jesus. The Bible interprets the cosmos because it was inspired word by word by the Creator of the cosmos. His focus is Jesus, and humanity being gathered together to Him, some for redemption and eternal life, and some for judgment and eternal punishment. If your interpretation of the cosmos leads you away from this central, absolute truth, then I beg you to test your conclusions in the light of God’s truth – His Word the Bible.

If your life does not center on Jesus; His eternal nature as the 2nd Person of the Triune God, His true humanity as the Messiah/Christ of Israel, His perfect atonement for the sin of all who will trust in Him, His resurrection from the dead for our justification, and His eternal place of glory, reigning as King of the cosmos… then it is time to check your heart and life in submission to Him.

In my future posts, I will get into greater detail about the good news in the Bible – its focus on Jesus; His remarkable, unique life, and His historical truth claims which rocked the world down to our day… always with a reminder of how we should then live and interpret the cosmos.

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

Categories: Foundations of ItC blog, The Message of the Bible, The Nature of the Bible | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “Earth: the Cosmic Gloryground of God

  1. Blog Reader

    You alluded to a belief that earth is the only place in the cosmos with beings made in God’s image. Do you categorically rule out the possibility?

    And I would like for you to convince me on the abortion issue. I could personally never be directly involved in aborting a baby. And yet I would classify myself as beyond pro choice.. I am pro abortion. (In the same way one might be very pro death penalty but could never “pull the switch” themself.) It has been discussed on this blog about God actually being merciful in his commandment to kill innocent children. To spare them. I feel this is what abortion does. It is almost a merciful act in my eyes.

    If it is too off topic, I apologize. It was mentioned in the opening of the post, so I thought it might be an appropriate time and place to ask. (There are so few settings in which one could ever bring up this discussion. At least in my life!) And I feel a need to get this abortion quandary sorted out within myself.

  2. On the exclusivity of earth as the stage of divine image-bearers: yes, categorically, but minus an infinitesimal curiosity in the back of my brains that wonders…

    Concerning the abortion issue and your questions: the comparison to the Old Testament where children were killed along with adults is not a valid comparison because 1) Israel had to be preserved from the idolatry of the nations because the Seed of the Messiah was at stake. Satan would have used those children as weapons to wreck the Israelites, thus ruining the Messianic hope. While it was just for God to judge those nations by wiping them out in war, and it turned out to be a mercy to the innocent children who were killed, the threat to a specific people group is no longer a part of the propagation of the Kingdom of God now that people from every tribe are brought to Jesus. By the deaths of those nations, the Seed of Messiah was preserved, Jesus was born and died for our sins, and now many more people are reconciled with God than just tiny Israel. God’s purposes in ordaining catastrophes on earth are never unjust because this is a sinful world which always deserves eternal condemnation, and also His ordaining of catastrophes are always brought about to glorify Him – which is the best good possible in the universe. Seeing God’s wisdom and justice and mercy in how He manages, contains, and uses the evil intentions of men… will be a part of our worship for eternity. To behold the unfolding of His plan which turns evil against itself, and brings perfect good for His redeemed – that’s great stuff!

    The comparative threat to God’s people today is not a tribe to be killed, but the sin that lies within our flesh, the devil who walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, and the world of godlessness around us. As Paul said in Ephesians 6:12 “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (ESV)

    Therefore since the time of the ancient Israelites, there would never again be a just reason to specifically wipe out a tribe and its children. The battle is cosmic, not fleshly.

    When someone commits an abortion, they have to do something which defaces the image of God: the aborting mother has to define her child as a non-human in order to justify his murder. This type of twisting of the law has occurred in history to numerous people groups. Think of African slavery for 400 years, the Jewish holocaust, or the various European pogroms against “outsiders.” In each case, the law of the land was perverted and made to declassify a certain type of human being as non-human and therefore they could be bought and sold, mistreated, and murdered with no fear of legal sanction. Today in North America and other countries, we have classified fully human unborns as non-human because, well, they are in a womb… so that makes them not human! Wrong. Sorry atheists and you other abortion supporters. You have to play by the rules of the cosmic Lawgiver – not by your or my own “truth” that we try to create autonomously.

    So blog reader, while I can sympathize with the fears you have for the children who are born and grow up in this awful sin-messed world, the simple fact is we do not have the right to declassify other human beings so as to eliminate them for our convenience. I’ll leave you with this that I read this morning in a McDonald’s in Montreal, 350 miles from home, hehe…

    Proverbs 1:
    8Hear, my son, your father’s instruction
    And do not forsake your mother’s teaching;

    9Indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head
    And ornaments about your neck.

    10My son, if sinners entice you,
    Do not consent.

    11If they say, “Come with us,
    Let us lie in wait for blood,
    Let us ambush the innocent without cause; (think abortion here)

    12Let us swallow them alive like Sheol,
    Even whole, as those who go down to the pit;

    13We will find all kinds of precious wealth,
    We will fill our houses with spoil; (the main reason for abortions is financial fears – desiring money over our own children)

    14Throw in your lot with us,
    We shall all have one purse,”

    15My son, do not walk in the way with them.
    Keep your feet from their path,

    16For their feet run to evil
    And they hasten to shed blood.

    17Indeed, it is useless to spread the baited net
    In the sight of any bird;

    18But they lie in wait for their own blood;
    They ambush their own lives.

    19So are the ways of everyone who gains by violence;
    It takes away the life of its possessors.

  3. One more snippet to reiterate for your mental bank account:

    Because God values Himself supremely above all else, He therefore jealously guards the worth of His creatures who are made in His image. The Bible shows how He carries out terrible justice upon people and nations who violate the worth of that image in humanity. This justice is one of the “tender spots” for the anti-theists. They generally protest most loudly about the just destruction of entire nations in the Old Testament – as if God is somehow portrayed as evil in carrying out judgment on those who have rebelled against Him, carried out a wicked lifestyle, and trampled that image of God in each other. Yet there is purpose and glory to be revealed in God’s justice – something which is so sadly lost on those who would become His judge.

  4. Blog Reader

    I have read your reply many times, soaking it in and letting it marinate. Reading that section of Proverbs while keeping abortion in mind is pretty profound.

    I think in the end I am almost with you from a moral perspective. But can’t quite get there on a practical, political level. Kind of similar to a Ron Paul point of view that drugs are terrible, but making them illegal actually causes more problems than it solves. (Not saying I agree with that sentiment specifically, just using as an example). That is how I feel about keeping abortion legal. It is actually the lesser of 2 evils so to speak.

    The best angle I’ve heard on your side of things is this idea that it is only a matter of time before someone defines ME as non-human and decides I should be terminated. I get hung up though with comparisons to the Holocaust and such because abortion does not include torture in it’s aim. I strongly feel it is more merciful to take a life in a painless and humane way (not saying abortion does so) than it is to cause prolonged torture, terror, agony, and anguish leading up to death.

    I realize it should be God’s business who lives and dies, but I know there are plenty of people who if given the choice would have opted to be aborted instead of born. Forcing someone into this world seems to me as cruel as murdering them in the womb.

  5. Happy Saturday/weekend to you!

    I like Ron Paul, and I am fairly libertarian colored myself, so I can speak to that comparison there. Who chooses to do drugs? I do – it is not something the government should necessarily be able to restrict, because I am doing something to myself. Who is aborted? An individual who is too young to speak for themselves – it is a fake “right” for one person to exercise the power of death over another.

    I’d rather steer away from the corresponding discussions about war and the death penalty, just for now if you don’t mind… just for brevity sake.

    So, the lesser of 2 evils? The government under the US Constitution has the obligation to secure the rights of the people – and by creating “law” to protect the declassification of a class of people to non-human for the purposes of murder is deeply evil – the worst kind.

    Funny thing about your last sentence. I personally grew up as a very rebellious, angry kid. I didn’t articulate it until years later, but I was angry and resentful to God for having “put me into this world without my permission.” He had chosen my birth, but it pissed me off that I had not been consulted, and now I was forced to endure pain, be subjected to other peoples’ rules, and the rest of life’s uncomfortable thorns. I was so resentful that I know if I could have had the power, I would have reached up into the control room of the cosmos to tear it all down myself. Oh, I believed in God, but to suffer pain and watch others suffer was enraging to me, and by 20 years old I was teetering on the edge of death myself by lifestyle choices, etc.

    Very plainly, upon the season when the Lord opened my eyes to see His beauty, His grace, and especially, His purpose and Sovereignty over my life, it was like waking up from a bad dream. To this day almost 10 years later, I cannot understand how blind I was – to have been given life in this mighty, majestic, mysterious cosmos…. to have been created in the image of God…. to have now, DIRECT access to Him as a son through the blood of Jesus…… blows my face off. I am humbled that He has forgiven me my sins and given me a new, repentant heart which loves Him more than life itself. And none of this is against my free-will, but rather He has freed my will to see reality, and to now assess suffering in this world differently. I understand that God had a purpose and plan in the fall of man into sin, and that God is free and just to allow sin, restrain sin by grace, and especially to punish sin. I understand that He is free also to forgive many rebels who have spent their life fighting Him although we deserve eternal death. I look now and realize that the suffering in the world is nothing like it could be if we got exactly what we deserve, and that by His gracious intervention Jesus suffered the most pain and anguish that anyone ever has, and He was the One who didn’t deserve it. Instead of seeing the sufferings of children and women and men and raising my fist at God, I realize He is even at the moment of most pain redeeming the sufferings of every one who loves Him and is the called according to His purpose, and that the momentary, light sufferings of this life are not to be compared to the glory that is to come (as a gift by His grace).

    I see life as a continual Christmas – presents under every tree. To open my eyes in the morning and see the beautiful white walls in my office is a gracious gift of God which goes infinitely beyond what I have earned, or moreso what my first father Adam earned in the rebellion. Anything good happening now is by His grace – and part of that is that He restrains the full expressions of wickedness latent in the human heart. God has created a world wherein beauty and order are the norm even in the face of human rebellion and the judgment which is falling on man. Wow – grace – Wow.

    In light of this, I cannot justify the act of violence against an unborn child for any reason. I know I can’t understand why God chose to give them life, and that their life may be desperately hard… but what if you, BR, or I can then reach some of those kids who have suffered, and one or a few of them end up becoming the greatest inventors of medicine this world has ever seen? We just do not know the good we are murdering as we lay waste to 10’s of millions of children in the womb. There is no justification for it, ever.

    I hope this helps you and everyone who reads to think more deeply, and ultimately to love God more. Soli Deo Gloria.

  6. Blog Reader

    Justin, your writing is very powerful. I was especially moved by the piece of your personal testimony you shared.

    It is still not clicking for me on a practical / political level (making a federal law against abortion), but you have certainly made a near perfect argument on a moral level.

    Speaking of Ron Paul, (I like him too) if I understand his position accurately, he advocates a constitutional amendment defining human life as starting at conception and then repealing Roe v. Wade and sending the abortion issue to the states. I can get behind that plan.

    I see abstinence and adoption as the answers to the ‘problem’ of unwanted babies. But abortion will always be an option, and I’d rather see that option remain safe and legal rather than go black market.

  7. llamapacker

    I followed your link from my blog and passed along your site to some of my friends. Good words.

  8. Some genuinely select content on this site, saved to bookmarks .

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