Saturday, March 27, 2021


I'm no great hunter, but I very much enjoy hunting. I'm enthusiastic rather than skilled.  Last year, I was trying to get a clear shot at an elk who walked down into a gully, out of my sight. Not wanting to lose a chance at him, I climbed down from  the tree stand and started making my way carefully down the hill after him. When I gave up and turned to go back for my pack, I saw two black, furry ears peaking out over a bush extremely close to where I had left my pack. I was so intent on the elk I was stalking, I had completely missed the bear that was much closer.

We all have trouble with tunnel vision. We all tend to focus so much on one thing we can't see anything else. One of the issues I have with a whole lot of ministry by "brethren" is precisely tunnel vision: a focus so intent on one issue, they are oblivious to all other issues. But I am just as bad as any of them.

One area where I've had really bad tunnel vision has been the whole area of New Creation.  The Pauline epistles bring New Creation into view sharply, front and center. "For [in Christ Jesus] neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision; but new creation" (Galatians 6:15). God isn't looking for us to improve what we are by nature in Adam, He is looking for something entirely new, what we are in Christ.

But the equal and opposite truth is, New Creation isn't some ethereal, vague place. It's not nirvana. We know this, because the Lord Jesus, having been raised from the dead, was as much a physical Man as any of us are. John 20:26–28 tells the story of Thomas not believing the Resurrection. So the Lord appears to the disciples, and invites Thomas to touch the nail marks in His hands and the spear wound in His side. Notice it's a physical touch that the Lord offers as proof. This isn't some discorporeal apparition, it's a real Man, with a real body.

And 1 Corinthians 15 brings both these truths to equal light and importance: the core of our faith – the single most important thing we believe – is that Christ has been raised from the dead in His physical body. If we don't believe in the bodily Resurrection of Christ, we're not Christians, period. This isn't negotiable (1 Corinthians 15:11–17). And Christ being raised from the dead, we shall also be raised from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:19–28). That's one truth, the bodily Resurrection.

The other truth is that Resurrection changes us (1 Corinthians 14:42–45). We won't be raised exactly like we are now, we'll be raised into incorruptibility. Our bodies will be changed to be like His. Not new bodies, but changed bodies, certainly. That's what we're waiting for: the Son of God will come from Heaven to transform our bodies (Philippians 3:20–21).

I have trouble keeping both these things in mind at the same time. I tend to think about the Lord coming to transform my body in such a way that I forget it'll still be a human body. I tend to think lose sight of the truth of bodily resurrection when I am thinking about the truth of our being raised into incorruptibility.

But the reality is that the end goal isn't for me to be any less human than I am. I'll be transformed, certainly, but not less human for all that. Francis Schaeffer might argue I'll be more human. I'm not sure I really buy that, but it's worth thinking about.

Or to put it another way, New Creation is still the sort of thing where we wash dishes and learn to play guitar. It's not a place where we sit around like a cartoon parody of Heaven, with gentle background music and harps and clouds. Ellis Potter points out that the Lord baked bread, build a fire, and roasted fish after His Resurrection. So New Creation definitely doesn't exclude mundane tasks.

There's a lot more to be said, but I think this is a good place to stop for now.

Friday, March 19, 2021


My dad told me one time, "when Moses struck the rock a second time, he was wrong... but water still came out" (see Numbers 20:7–13).  I've thought about that comment many, many times. It's entirely possible – even likely – that God will bless us regardless of our obedience or our disobedience. God's blessing isn't evidence that we are obedient, it's evidence that God is good. In the story of the water from the rock, everyone was wrong except God; but He still gave them what they needed.

So let's don't allow ourselves to fall into the trap of thinking that God's blessing is proof of our own goodness. It isn't. A friend told me many years ago (quoting someone else), "God blesses us because He is good, not because we are."

But the fact remains that I'm not terribly interested in a Christianity that doesn't actually work. And this brings me to a sort of a conundrum: on the one hand, faith is believing that God has said. "The just shall live by faith," is really the central message of Romans (Romans 1:17), Galatians (Galatians 3:11), and Hebrews (Hebrews 10:38). There's not much more central than that!

But on the other hand, the epistles teach a transforming sort of faith. 2 Corinthians 4:6 tells us that the same God who commanded light to shine out of darkness has shone in our hearts. God's having called light to shine out of the darkness of our hearts (which is really the point Paul is making) suggests a visible effect.

Note I'm not talking about counterfeit spirituality. I am convinced nothing has done more to hurt the testimony of believers than trying to produce spiritual fruit from carnal energy. And I suppose that's really the point I'm trying to make. Moses and Aaron acted carnally at Meribah, but water still came out. See, it's possible to act with fleshly energy, and still see tremendous blessing. Isn't that what Philippians 1:15–20 teaches? It's possible to preach Christ out of envy, out of a desire for strife. And it's possible people will be brought to repentance out of it, not because God approves of the preaching, but because God blesses out of His own goodness.

I know for a fact that we can be fleshly in our preaching, our prayer, our Bible study, and even our declaring the Gospel. We know for a fact that God can and does bless us, and through us, even when we're acting badly, even when we're flat-out wrong. And seeing "results" isn't proof that we're right, it just means that God is acting like He always does – out of grace.