What the Bible Says About Heaven: Encouraging Insights and Inspiration (Value Books)
Both are creative enterprises that give specific activities to people created in the image of the Creator. By growing things and developing culture, we are indeed fruitful. We bring forth the resources needed to support a growing population and to increase the productivity of creation. We develop the means to fill, yet not overfill, the earth. We need not imagine that gardening and naming animals are the only tasks suitable for human beings. Work is forever rooted in God's design for human life. It is an avenue to contribute to the common good and as a means of providing for ourselves, our families, and those we can bless with our generosity.
An important though sometimes overlooked aspect of God at work in creation is the vast imagination that could create everything from exotic sea life to elephants and rhinoceroses. While theologians have created varying lists of those characteristics of God that have been given to us that bear the divine image, imagination is surely a gift from God we see at work all around us in our workspaces as well as in our homes.
Much of the work we do uses our imagination in some way. We tighten bolts on an assembly line truck and we imagine that truck out on the open road. We open a document on our laptop and imagine the story we're about to write. Mozart imagined a sonata and Beethoven imagined a symphony. Picasso imagined Guernica before picking up his brushes to work on that painting. Tesla and Edison imagined harnessing electricity, and today we have light in the darkness and myriad appliances, electronics, and equipment. Most of the jobs people hold exist because someone could imagine a job-creating product or process in the workplace.
Yet imagination takes work to realize, and after imagination comes the work of bringing the product into being. Actually, in practice the imagination and the realization often occur in intertwined processes. While it is being done, it changes as one's thoughts change. And when it's finished, it goes on changing, according to the state of mind of whoever is looking at it.
Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr. Waltke, eds. While this quote is widely repeated, its source is elusive. Whether or not it is genuine, it expresses a reality well known to artists of all kinds. God said, "See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.
Without him, our work is nothing. We cannot bring ourselves to life. We cannot even provide for our own maintenance. We do not have to depend on our own ability or on the vagaries of circumstance to meet our need. The second cycle of the creation account shows us something of how God provides for our needs. He prepares the earth to be productive when we apply our work to it. Though we till, God is the original planter. In addition to food, God has created the earth with resources to support everything we need to be fruitful and multiply. He gives us a multitude of rivers providing water, ores yielding stone and metal materials, and precursors to the means of economic exchange Gen.
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Even when we synthesize new elements and molecules or when we reshuffle DNA among organisms or create artificial cells, we are working with the matter and energy that God brought into being for us. Did God rest because he was exhausted, or did he rest to offer us image-bearers a model cycle of work and rest? Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns.
While religious people over the centuries tended to pile up regulations defining what constituted keeping the Sabbath, Jesus said clearly that God made the Sabbath for us—for our benefit Mark What are we to learn from this? When, like God, we stop our work on whatever is our seventh day, we acknowledge that our life is not defined only by work or productivity.
Walter Brueggemann put it this way, "Sabbath provides a visible testimony that God is at the center of life—that human production and consumption take place in a world ordered, blessed, and restrained by the God of all creation. Otherwise, we live with the illusion that life is completely under human control. Part of making Sabbath a regular part of our work life acknowledges that God is ultimately at the center of life. Having blessed human beings by his own example of observing workdays and Sabbaths, God equips Adam and Eve with specific instructions about the limits of their work.
In the midst of the Garden of Eden, God plants two trees, the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil Gen. The latter tree is off limits. Various hypotheses are found in the general commentaries, and we need not settle on an answer here. For our purposes, it is enough to observe that not everything that can be done should be done. If we want to work with God, rather than against him, we must choose to observe the limits God sets, rather than realizing everything possible in creation. Francis Schaeffer has pointed out that God didn't give Adam and Eve a choice between a good tree and an evil tree, but a choice whether or not to acquire the knowledge of evil.
They already knew good, of course. In making that tree, God opened up the possibility of evil, but in doing so God validated choice. All love is bound up in choice; without choice the word love is meaningless. God expects that those in relationship with him will be capable of respecting the limits that bring about good in creation. Human creativity, for example, arises as much from limits as from opportunities.
Architects find inspiration from the limits of time, money, space, materials, and purpose imposed by the client. Painters find creative expression by accepting the limits of the media with which they choose to work, beginning with the limitations of representing three-dimensional space on a two-dimensional canvas. Writers find brilliance when they face page and word limits.
How do you avoid failure? Jim Moats claims, "I believe that failure is the least efficient method for discovering limitations. There are limits to healthy eating and exercise. There are limits by which we distinguish beauty from vulgarity, criticism from abuse, profit from greed, friendship from exploitation, service from slavery, liberty from irresponsibility, and authority from dictatorship. In practice it may be hard to know exactly where the line is, and it must be admitted that Christians have often erred on the side of conformity, legalism, prejudice, and a stifling dreariness, especially when proclaiming what other people should or should not do.
The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. The use of this terminology is not essential, but the idea it stands for seems clear in Genesis 1 and 2. It is not in our nature to be satisfied with things as they are, to receive provision for our needs without working, to endure idleness for long, to toil in a system of uncreative regimentation, or to work in social isolation. Until this point, we have been discussing work in its ideal form, under the perfect conditions of the Garden of Eden.
But then we come to Genesis Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God say, 'You shall not eat from any tree in the garden'? The serpent represents anti-god, the adversary of God. Bruce Waltke notes that God's adversary is malevolent and wiser than human beings. He's shrewd as he draws attention to Adam and Eve's vulnerability even as he distorts God's command.
He maneuvers Eve into what looks like a sincere theological discussion, but distorts it by emphasizing God's prohibition instead of his provision of the rest of the fruit trees in the garden. In essence, he wants God's word to sound harsh and restrictive. In short, they turn what is good into evil. By choosing to disobey God, they break the relationships inherent in their own being.
First, their relationship together—"bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh," as it had previously been Gen. Eve likewise breaks humanity's relationship with the creatures of the earth by blaming the serpent for her own decision Gen. God speaks judgment against their sin and declares consequences that result in difficult toil. The serpent will have to crawl on its belly all its days Gen. The woman will face hard labor in delivering children, and also feel conflict over her desire for the man Gen.
All in all, human beings will still do the work they were created to do, and God will still provide for their needs Gen. But work will become more difficult, unpleasant, and liable to failure and unintended consequences. It is important to note that when work became toil, it was not the beginning of work. Some people see the curse as the origin of work, but Adam and Eve had already worked the garden.
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Work is not inherently a curse, but the curse affects the work. In fact, work becomes more important as a result of the Fall, not less, because more work is required now to yield the necessary results. Adam, made from dirt, will now struggle to till the soil until his body returns to dirt at his death Gen. Domination of one person over another in marriage and work was not part of God's original plan, but sinful people made it a new way of relating when they broke the relationships that God had given them Gen.
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Two forms of evil confront us daily. The first is natural evil, the physical conditions on earth that are hostile to the life God intends for us. The second is moral evil, when people act with wills that are hostile to God's intentions. By acting in evil ways, we mar the creation and distance ourselves from God, and we mar the relationships we have with other people. We live in a fallen, broken world and we cannot expect life without toil. The Fall created alienation between people and God, among people, and between people and the earth that was to support them.
Suspicion of one another replaced trust and love. In the generations that followed, alienation nourished jealousy, rage, even murder. All workplaces today reflect that alienation between workers—to greater or lesser extent—making our work even more toilsome and less productive.
Nonetheless, God continues to provide for them, even to the point of sewing clothes for them when they lack the skill themselves Gen. The curse has not destroyed their ability to multiply Gen. The work of Genesis 1 and 2 continues. There is still ground to be tilled and phenomena of nature to be studied, described, and named.
Men and women must still be fruitful, must still multiply, must still govern. But now, a second layer of work must also be accomplished—the work of healing, repairing, and restoring the things that go wrong and the evils that are committed.
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To put it in a contemporary context, the work of farmers, scientists, midwives, parents, leaders, and everyone in creative enterprises is still needed. But so is the work of exterminators, doctors, funeral directors, corrections officers, forensic auditors, and everyone in professions that restrain evil, forestall disaster, repair damage, and restore health. Roughly speaking, there is twice as much work to do now than there was in the garden.
Genesis 4 details the first murder when Cain kills his brother Abel in a fit of angry jealousy. Both brothers bring the fruit of their work as offerings to God. Cain is a farmer, and he brings some of the fruit of the ground, with no indication in the biblical text that this is the first or the best of his produce Gen. Although both are producing food, they are neither working nor worshiping together.
God looks with favor on the offering of Abel but not on that of Cain. In this first mention of anger in the Bible, God warns Cain not to give into despair, but to master his resentment and work for a better result in the future. But Cain gives way to his anger instead and kills his brother Gen. God responds to the deed in these words:.
And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it will no longer yield to you its strength; you will be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth. He can no longer till the ground, and Cain the farmer becomes a wanderer, finally settling in the land of Nod, east of Eden, where he builds the first city mentioned in the Bible Gen.
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See Gen. The remainder of chapter 4 follows Cain's descendants for seven generations to Lamech, whose tyrannical deeds make his ancestor Cain seem tame. Lamech shows us a progressive hardening in sin. First comes polygamy Gen. Yet in Lamech we also see the beginnings of civilization. Division of labor —which spelled trouble between Cain and Abel—brings a specialization here that makes certain advances possible. The ability to create music, to craft the instruments for playing it, and to develop technological advances in metallurgy are all within the scope of the creators we are created to be in God's image.
The arts and sciences are a worthy outworking of the creation mandate, but Lamech's crowing about his vicious deeds points to the dangers that accompany technology in a depraved culture bent on violence. The first human poet after the Fall celebrates human pride and abuse of power. Yet the harp and the flute can be redeemed and used in the praise of God 1 Sam.
As people multiply, they diverge. Through Seth, Adam had hope of a godly seed, which includes Enoch and Noah. When people began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that they were fair, and they took wives for themselves of all that they chose The Nephilim [giants, heroes, fierce warriors—the meaning is unclear] were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went in to the daughters of humans, who bore children to them.
This specific ISBN edition is currently not available. View all copies of this ISBN edition:. Synopsis About this title When you have questions about your final forwarding address as a Christian, turn to What the Bible Says about Heaven. Book Description : What does the Bible reveal about heaven?
Buy New View Book. Other Popular Editions of the Same Title. Search for all books with this author and title. Customers who bought this item also bought. Stock Image. Published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. Why is evangelism so important? Because there is no other way to be reconciled to God but through Jesus Christ. In keeping with John 17 , it's imperative that we accept that our behavior and our fruit is a form of proof that reinforces our evangelism. The word "holiness" literally means "set apart. People will judge our words by our works.
We need to have fruit that communicates the truth of the gospel we preach. Jesus speaks in future tense of the empowerment that will come through the Holy Spirit.
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This power will give potency to the disciple's message as they take the gospel to the ends of the earth. This power that was to be given via the Holy Spirit came soon afterward, and is available to all of us who seek to be obedient to our commission. We have the power we need to fulfill our high calling! To the first-century Jew, the idea that God's salvation would extend beyond Israel was completely foreign—despite the fact that God had always told Israel that through them all the nations would be blessed.
All of us who follow Christ are part of His goal of redeeming the whole world to Himself. We are the light of the world. There is no plan B. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God's grace Acts , NIV.
If you're looking for inspiration, tape up this verse all around your home. Paul's single-minded focus to fulfill his responsibility of sharing the gospel as widely as possible should energize us all. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile Romans , NIV. Our willingness to share the gospel puts us at the mercy of those who may scoff at our devotion.
It only takes a couple times of being laughed at, ridiculed, or treated roughly for sharing the gospel before you're tempted to downplay your faith. Apart from the gospel, we would all receive our wages as workers of inequity. Christ's gospel has the power to swap out those wages for a free gift of eternal life! For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, "Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame. How, then, can they call on the One they have not believed in?
And how can they believe in the One of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news! But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our message?
God has always wanted a people who labor beside Him. It is entirely possible that God could magically place the message of the gospel in the hearts of every person, but He doesn't. Because He wants His bride, the church, to play a part. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. The New Testament is full of Paul's intelligent defense of Christianity, so it's heartening to hear that his method for evangelism was not based on crafting the most eloquent and air-tight arguments.
On the contrary, he came with a simple message of Christ and His sacrifice. The best evangelists aren't the greatest orators; they're the ones who are single-minded in their desire to share what God has done. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.
So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. We share God's message, but God causes it to take root and grow into faith. And even if we don't always get to see the fruit, we can take solace that we are playing an important role in the harvest.
Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law though I myself am not under the law , so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law , so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.
I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings 1 Corinthians —23, NIV. God's Word manifests itself differently in each of us. So our goal isn't to get others to conform to our cultural standards as proof of their faith. For I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits.
But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me 1 Corinthians —9, NIV. It was Paul's desire to invest some quality time with the church at Corinth—and with the issues going on there, it's obvious they needed it. Yet, Paul was aware that the Spirit is making opportunities to share the gospel in Ephesus, and following the Lord's movement is Paul's priority.
It's important to remember that we will be pulled in multiple directions, but we need to follow the Lord's prompting—and not see opposition as a reason to quit. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We are the diplomats that God has sent to represent him in this foreign territory. On the contrary, they recognized that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised.
For God, who was at work in Peter as an apostle to the circumcised, was also at work in me as an apostle to the Gentiles. James, Cephas and John, those esteemed as pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. It's easy to feel God is prompting you toward a specific work and think His prompting is universal.
This was a problem that was brewing in the early church. Peter felt called to witness to the Jews and struggled with Paul's contrary calling to preach to the Gentiles. In the end, don't be dissuaded from reaching the people you feel called and empowered to reach. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast Ephesians —9, NIV. We do well to remember that salvation is not something we earned by the work we've done.
He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. Paul was all about sharing the gospel, but he never saw that as his only responsibility. He worked tirelessly to ensure that systems were set up so that people could grow into maturity. This is in keeping with Christ's commission that we not only share the good news, but that we teach them to do everything that Christ commanded. Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.