Tom Gilson

What Christ Does For Us, Part 4: Restorations

Earlier in this series (see below) I described what Scripture says about God’s original intent and purpose for humankind, and how we fell away from it. God in His love intended that we live in close, intimate fellowship with Him. He gave humans their start in conditions of harmony with the world, with genuine intellectual and moral significance, and in real, closely connected relationships with God, the environment, and each other. They were rightly dependent on God, their Creator, and they acknowledged Him as their loving Master.

We are still dependent on God for every breath, for He still holds everything in His hands. We still experience God in every joy of nature and in every relationship of love. But ever since the first humans chose independence from God, we’ve lost sight of Him in these things, and we’ve especially turned away from Him as the one in charge of His own world.

The loss is ours. God in His love expresses grief over our rebellion, and in His justice expresses what the Bible calls righteous anger over it. But we experience death, distance, alienation, sweat, struggle, all the misfortunes and tragedies that we can never seem to grow accustomed to in spite of centuries of living them them.

God’s purpose since then has been to restore us to the original plan: that we would rightly bow to Him in worship as our Master and God, that we would experience the fullness of love in relationship to Him and to one another, and that our alienation from the rest of the world would be repaired. This is what Christ came to do for us. In very brief outline form:

  1. It is through His sacrifice for us, His death on the cross, that we can be brought back into relationship with God, reconciled to Him, forgiven for our sins, made right again in God’s eyes.
  2. It is again through that sacrifice that we can recognize God’s glory, know Him as worthy of our worship, and acknowledge Him as Lord (Master, Chief, King).
  3. It is also through the work of Christ and the Holy Spirit that we can live according to God’s plan.
  4. And it is through Christ’s sufferings that the world will be repaired of the curse of sin.

I’m not able this evening to take time to flesh this out fully as it should be. (My daughter is playing trombone in a school concert not long from now.) It seems to me anyway that, since I’ve been taking a narrative approach in the first posts in this series, I ought not stray too far away from that yet. Better to view this list of four restorations as a preview of what we’ll encounter as we continue to walk through the story of what God has done for us through Christ.

Part of a Series: What Christ Does For Us

Related: How To Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions — a post that elicited a short question, to which I’m writing a long answer

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24 thoughts on “What Christ Does For Us, Part 4: Restorations

  1. Great comments, but don’t forget that God’s ultimate plan is not redemption. God’s ultimate plan is the glory of Christ, which He will be bring about not only through the work of redemption, but through all the aspects of Christ’a being. His work in redemption is a major part of that glory, but not the sole purpose.

  2. But we experience death, distance, alienation, sweat, struggle, all the misfortunes and tragedies that we can never seem to grow accustomed to in spite of centuries of living them them.

    This is the human condition, Tom, and also the condition of other living beings on earth (okay, maybe plants don’t experience alienation, but I think I can still make my point.) It seems to me so much easier and rational to simply believe that humans are living what other creatures live, only experiencing it more so because of our higher intelligence.

  3. Aesthetically, I still don’t get it. I think that if I were living a few thousand years ago, when death were ever-present, it would have more aesthetic appeal. Hail to the chief of my tribe, victory over the other tribes, and a cry for an end to the daily Hell that is life on Earth.

    Yes, death is still here today, but I don’t think about it every day. I don’t want my life to be wasted with thoughts about death. And thanks to science, economics and technology, we spend most of our lives in safety and comfort. Today, the things that are important are what we do with our lives. And bowing down to chiefs is a total waste of time. What kind of a god wants to be bowed down to (apart from introductions) anyway?

    Centuries ago, human leaders wanted people to continuously bow before them, and given the state of life at the time, that had a purpose beyond the stoking of the king’s ego. It was a sign of loyalty necessary for group cohesion in battle. But bowing before and worshiping God is pointless, unless God is so insecure, so petty.

    And, Tom, in the afterlife, what else are we going to do apart from worship? Are we omniscient? The more I think about it, the more expulsion seems like a good thing, and rescue a bad idea.

  4. DL:

    What kind of a god wants to be bowed down to (apart from introductions) anyway?

    The kind of God that is deserving of it.

    I thought hierarchies were OK with you? You’re saying once you are introduced, the hierarchy should go away? Once you’re introduced, God should become your equal? That makes no sense at all.

  5. I think doctor logic uses such odd characterizations of God because he envisions Him as a finite creature. Oh, he’ll allow us to give him power but hardly the dignity that belongs to the origin of all logic, morality and existence.

    It is perfectly natural that we should be enraptured in the wonder of God for eternity.

    No one tells a hiker at the Grand Canyon to not gaze in wonder and joy. How much more wondrous is the Creator of all the wonders we see?

    We could gaze on him for eternity without losing a bit of awe or joy. It’s quite gracious that God offers us the opportunity to spend even a moment with him. What’s so merciful is that he’s done so much to make sure that we have an opportunity for ultimate joy when we’ve rejected it to live in tiny worlds of our own depraved smallness.

  6. It is perfectly natural that we should be enraptured in the wonder of God for eternity.

    No one tells a hiker at the Grand Canyon to not gaze in wonder and joy. How much more wondrous is the Creator of all the wonders we see?

    I like the way you stated this. Worship isn’t forced or undeserving anymore than being in awe of natural beauty is forced or undeserving. The person who is transformed by the renewing of their mind will see God for who he is.

  7. Hi DL and OS,

    I understand and appreciate that your contrary comments give Tom an opportunity to respond and further flesh out for all listeners what Christianity is about, but from your personal stand-points it reveals that you haven’t any idea what it is you are rejecting.
    Perhaps this blog is your way of finding out what that thing is, but as such is the case it would make much more sense that you dial back your confidence in your positions and approach the subject with the respect it deserves and engage what is being said rather than your opinions about what is being said.

    For instance:
    The condition humanity finds itself in is not natural. Death is not natural, it is abhorrent.
    Whether it is easier or not to say “that’s the way things are” is not the point. You are discussing Christianity, and Christianity says there is a reason we suffer death and a reason we do not go gently into that good night. And it provides the solution. Tom is showing what that solution is. What point is it for you to say that there is no problem, let alone a solution? You are not talking then about Christianity at all. And will you remember this position the next time the opportunity comes up to rail against Christianity in the face of the problem of evil?

    Econ and Steve make a great response to the patronizing “hail to the chief” ideas. To add to that, God does not require our worship for His sake, but for ours. That is the kind of creature we are and how we realize that. When adoration is warranted some of us refuse to give it. This is part of our fallen condition, and what could be more obvious a sign of that brokenness?

    Adoration is a psychological necessity. Modern man is bored, depressed, neurotic, and suicidal because he does not worship. Worship and adoration are the purest self-forgetfulness. Self-forgetfulness is the purest ecstasy … of a quality different in kind, not just degree, from pleasure, contentment, or even happiness.

    Peter Kreeft, Fundamentals of The Faith, 199

    The only place there is no praise is in hell.
    The motive for our praise and adoration must be objective, not subjective: because God deserves it, not because we feel like it. We wroship not to play a good little psychological trick on ourselves but to make an honest respnse to reality, to God’s real praiseworthiness. Paradoxically, when we forget ourselves and do this , only then do we find joy. We find ourselves by losing ourselves.

    201

    DL,

    And, Tom, in the afterlife, what else are we going to do apart from worship? Are we omniscient? The more I think about it, the more expulsion seems like a good thing, and rescue a bad idea.

    The evidence is you haven’t really thought about Christianity at all but merely choose to disbelieve and attack every aspect of it.. This is further evidenced by this statement.
    If this really is your honest response to thinking about it and examining your own heart then perhaps you can now see what we mean when we tell you what hell is and why some go to it. They choose to. Don’t blame your despotic vision of God when you exercise your own gift of free-will.

  8. Econ,

    No one tells a hiker at the Grand Canyon to not gaze in wonder and joy. How much more wondrous is the Creator of all the wonders we see?

    We could gaze on him for eternity without losing a bit of awe or joy.

    So you think that our great purpose is to go “Wow!” for eternity? BTW, “yes” is a perfectly acceptable answer for me.

    It’s quite gracious that God offers us the opportunity to spend even a moment with him.

    Really? What do you think is the very least an infinite (and infinitely good) being could do for us?

  9. If this really is your honest response to thinking about it and examining your own heart then perhaps you can now see what we mean when we tell you what hell is and why some go to it. They choose to. Don’t blame your despotic vision of God when you exercise your own gift of free-will.

    Good words, Charlie. The popular rejoinder is that it’s God’s fault for not making everything clear enough to begin with. We hear it with Adam and Eve – they were punished for something they had no knowledge of. While it’s logically possible that it really is God’s fault, most people don’t believe this – just the hyper skeptical – and I’m not sure they really, truly believe it. I’m happy to let God settle the score. Anyway….we’ve been through the topic of Divine Hiddenness before.

  10. Charlie,

    And will you remember this position the next time the opportunity comes up to rail against Christianity in the face of the problem of evil?

    It’s irrelevant. There’s no problem of evil if there’s no good God. If death is natural in a natural world, there’s no contradiction. Unnatural death in your God’s world is a contradiction with goodness as we know it.

    To add to that, God does not require our worship for His sake, but for ours. That is the kind of creature we are and how we realize that.

    So you agree with Econ that the function for which we were created is to go “wow!”?

    If this really is your honest response to thinking about it and examining your own heart then perhaps you can now see what we mean when we tell you what hell is and why some go to it. They choose to. Don’t blame your despotic vision of God when you exercise your own gift of free-will.

    Imagining rebellion from an evil god is pretty simple, and it always has been. What I am trying to understand is why you think your god is a good one. So far, you paint a picture of a God who made us to be impressed with God’s creation, and nothing more. And he made us, not for his benefit, but our own?

    It just makes no sense, Charlie. You cannot create a being for that being’s benefit, because you cannot compare how well off a being is in actuality with how well off it would have been if it had never existed. If we were created for a purpose, then that purpose must serve God, not us.

  11. doctor(logic),

    “It’s irrelevant. There’s no problem of evil if there’s no good God.”

    That’s because evil is undefined if there is no good God. Something to bear in mind next time you think something is seriously wrong with the world.

  12. DL:

    What I am trying to understand is why you think your god is a good one. So far, you paint a picture of a God who made us to be impressed with God’s creation, and nothing more. And he made us, not for his benefit, but our own?

    It just makes no sense, Charlie.

    *Rummaging through my mental archives*

    Given your thoughts about good and evil, I’m trying to understand why you would expect to reason your way to an understanding about good and evil. You’ve said many times that it’s subjective and emotional. What’s there to understand when, according to what I’ve heard you say, it doesn’t need to make sense?

    As always, if I have inaccurately portrayed your belief then please correct me.

  13. Hi DL,
    You didn’t bother to try to take anything I said to heart, did you?
    Oh well …
    Ignoring your condescension of presuming and casting aspersions upon Econ’s answer …
    Yes, we’ll be saying “wow!!!”
    What will we be doing in heaven? What are you doing on earth? You keep talking about having a longer life-span, but for what? To do more of what you are doing? How much more? Ten years? You’ve talked in terms of thousands of years without any trepidation that you would suddenly have done everything and learned everything and become bored.
    Many of us here talk about the joy of learning, and if you are like me you are struck continually with the awareness of how short our time is and the fact that we will never learn a fraction of what there is to know. There is always so much more to do and so much more to learn.
    We’ll be learning about God and worshipping Him in everything we do. And in learning about Him we’ll be duly impressed. I have no doubt that we can learn for an eternity about an eternal God and His creation and how to reign with Him in it and fulfill our duties.
    And that is ignoring the aspect of loving. Do you anticipate growing tired of love? Of being in fellowship and of communicating? Of being known and knowing others?
    Yes, I fully expect to be saying “wow!”.
    I am practicing now.

    You cannot create a being for that being’s benefit, because you cannot compare how well off a being is in actuality with how well off it would have been if it had never existed. If we were created for a purpose, then that purpose must serve God, not us.

    The three-year-old ascends to the level of omniscience again. It is far from obvious to me that an omniscient God can’t determine whether it is better that a being exist rather than not exist. In fact, existence is one of the attributes of goodness, so it would seem other three-year-olds, those who have thought and studied on this issue, disagree with you there.
    Does this serve God’s purposes? Of course. One of the things we will do in heaven is serve Him. And one of the things we will be doing there is being served (as we are now) by Him. It serves God, the eternal community of love, to create a larger community of love and it serves us to be a part of that and to take our role in its creation. We are created by goodness because it is both good to create and good to exist. This is one of the things infinite goodness results in.
    It is yet another sign of the materialist mentality that you can’t even determine whether or not it is better to exist than not.

  14. That’s because evil is undefined if there is no good God. Something to bear in mind next time you think something is seriously wrong with the world.

    What does this mean, Tom? Do you mean that evil only exists if it can be contrasted to an absolute good? I don’t think that’s defensible…we know evil when we experience it (although we may all experience and therefore define it differently.)

  15. DL:

    So you think that our great purpose is to go “Wow!” for eternity? BTW, “yes” is a perfectly acceptable answer for me.

    I don’t know what we will be or become in Heaven but I know that the chief discourse in Heaven will be our amazement at God’s glory.

    When I’ve seen something that made me say “wow” my natural instinct after the initial joy is to turn to the person next to me and discuss what we’re enjoying and wondering at.

    So at a minimum we will have discourses that rise above anything we discuss on Earth as we plumb the glory of God. We won’t simply say infantile “wow”s. We’ll be describing in unimaginable terms the glory of God.

  16. Hi OS,
    Can you truly identify evil?
    You realize that that would be a moral judgment, right? And it would require a true model of the world.

    Here’s a defence.
    http://www.str.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=6023

    And then there’s Lewis:

    My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? – Mere Christianity

  17. Charlie:

    This is what I said:

    we know evil when we experience it (although we may all experience and therefore define it differently.)

    So, yes, I realize that I am making a moral judgment for myself. And we have already been over the straight line analogy.

  18. Hi OS,
    Yes, but that’s not evil. That’s what OS doesn’t prefer while not knowing the truth about the situation and operating within a model which may or may not be true. That is no counter to Tom’s point. It is the opposite.

    Your repeated assertions that “we’ve been over that” or “that argument’s been tried before” say nothing about whether or not you’ve presented coherent consistent defences of your critiques.
    You haven’t.

  19. Charlie,

    Yes, but that’s not evil. That’s what OS doesn’t prefer while not knowing the truth about the situation and operating within a model which may or may not be true.

    And that is what Charlie prefers: To define evil in reference to what he believes is “true.”

  20. I’m rubber and you’re glue doesn’t answer the problem either, OS.

    So by all means, define evil such that we all know it when we experience it even though we don’t share the same models and we can’t presume anybody else shares our morals. Then demonstrate how you can speak authoritatively on whether or not we can say evil can only be identified with respect to a good God. Show how your position can be true when you can’t speak the truth about morality.
    By reference to the evidence, the claim that evil can only be identified in contrast to good is, contra your charge, highly defensible. The defences abound.

  21. The thing about models is that they can be tested with evidence, for logical consistency and in other rational ways.

    A demand that we ignore the law of non-contradiction is actually a demand that we abandon logic.

    We happen to live in a universe where the law of non-contradiction holds.

    I can’t eat an apple and at the same time not eat an apple.

    Until I see contradictory things occurring simultaneously I think we can safely reject the relativist model.

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