Sjolander Road Fellowship




Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

living in fulfilled times by bob cravens

3/24/05

 

The nature of sin touches both the physical and spiritual realms, but it is spiritual first. Adam and Eve sinned first not when they ate the forbidden fruit, but when they decided to do so in defiance of God’s command.  Cain sinned when his heart filled with jealousy and hatred; the club he lifted against Abel was a physical response to the sin that already existed in his heart and was first of all spiritual in nature.  Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount made clear that God’s concern was secondarily with the physical nature of sin and primarily with the spiritual. The physical act is only a reflection of the inward, spiritual intent of the heart. When an attitude is changed, the resulting actions are changed. We judge actions; God judges the thoughts and intents of the heart. Man looks on the outward.  God sees what is inside.

 

In the Garden of Eden, God outlined three consequences for Adam and Eve’s behavior. One was pain, or suffering, and a second was work, or labor. The question we are concerned with in this writing is can man have the redemption of sins if he still experiences pain and /or the necessity of work?  To this we answer yes.  God designed these physical consequences for man’s good.  The concern of many who believe in a “future” fulfillment of scripture is that they still see sin and it’s physical consequences. Therefore, they ask, how could God have restored Eden and man’s relationship with Him if we still endure pain and suffering? They cannot comprehend the spiritual fulfillment of God’s promise.  The events of the “end times” were “to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy” (Dan. 9:24). There is clear fulfillment of this verse in the crucifixion of Christ and the events of 30-70 A.D.  If Christ “put an end to sin” by His death on the cross, then we cannot interpret “an end to sin” to mean that no human being would ever again suffer the physical consequences. Man’s sin still exist in the physical realm, and the consequences of sin in the world are still felt, but our spiritual sins (the sins of the heart) are covered by the blood of Christ and are unknown to God in the spiritual realm. The end of sin, and the end of death (i.e. spiritual death, separation from God) were events of the “time of the end” that changed the ages and completed God’s redemptive plan.

 

If we put our eyes and attention on sin and its physical consequences-on toil, suffering and physical death- then we will not be satisfied with God’s plan of redemption.  But if we study our bible with spiritual eyes, then we realize that God in Christ has put an end to sin. He has removed the crucial consequences of sin, which is separation from God.  He sees our sins no more.  He draws us to Himself, dries our tears (though we still cry), feeds us with the Bread of Life (though we still hunger), refreshes us with streams of living water (for we continue to thirst) and directs our way on paths of truth and righteousness in the new heaven and earth which is our spiritual dwelling place. He has ended death for us; there is no more separation of us and God for it was our sin that separated us and God has removed the sin problem from our lives.

 

In contrast to the above paragraph, religious deception today is rampant. War, terrorism, anarchy, and much of the political scene are affected by the erroneous understanding of end times. Even non-Christian nations and leaders push and promote the soon return of Christ to further their own agendas and make Christianity look ridiculous in the eyes of the world. All the hot air on the airwaves and over the pulpits on the imminent return of Christ, and all the money that is raised to supposedly convert the world to Christianity before the big day is one of the most cruel con games ever perpetrated on a people. The damage done to society is incalculable. Business ethics, governmental involvement and even family decisions are affected by the worldview that the end is near, so why get involved.  The religious community has been neutered by the escapist mentality taught by the dispensationalist deception of the last century. Much could be written about what goes on behind the scenes in corridors of power around the world.  They often use misguided religious leaders for personal and political gains.

 

Christian futurists often show little interest in environmental concerns, ecology or the social/political scene because they are sure that this earth must become worse and worse, physically and morally, before the end comes. Because they believe this is inevitable, they begin to see further decay as desirable in hastening the day of the end. By contrast, fulfilled eschatology affirms and rejoices in the goodness of all of God’s creation and teaches the need for man to respect and protect his home, the earth. This produces a biblical worldview in which the stewardship concept that God initiated with man in the Garden of Eden continues to be the governing force in our relationship with the planet God created for us. Because we see all of God’s design in the physical realm, we also see God’s design in the spiritual realm.  These insights deepen our appreciation for the Creator and strengthen our resolve to oppose all that is physically and morally destructive to our physical and spiritual environment. Realized eschatology affirms and rejoices in the goodness of all that God has done in His designs for us physically and spiritually. This produces a deep appreciation for the God of our salvation and His wonderful creation of the physical and redemption in the spiritual.