1 Good Stuff!: God’s creation and the Christian faith Rev. Mark P. Surburg I. Introduction A.

The material creation and the Christian faith On a Sunday morning, the Divine Service sets before us the many ways that the material creation is involved in the Christian faith. In the invocation and sign of the cross, we remember our baptism using water. In the First Article of the Nicene Creed we confess faith in one God, the Father almighty who is the “maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible.” In the Second Article we confess that the Son of God became flesh when we say that He “was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary and was made man.” In the Third Article we confess the water of baptism when we state that it is “for the remission of sins” and we then go on to confess the resurrection of the body as we say that we “look for the resurrection of the dead.” Finally in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, our Lord uses bread and wine to come into our midst as He gives us His very body and blood for the forgiveness of sins. The Christian faith that we believe, teach and confess involves God’s material creation again and again. The faith presupposes the importance of the material creation from beginning to end. It is therefore very helpful to pause and ponder the role that God’s material creation plays in the Christian faith. In doing so, we will gain greater insight into who we are, what God has done for us, what God is doing now and the goal towards which all of God’s work is headed. B. The Christian faith: Creational, Incarnational, Sacramental and Eschatological As we think about the material creation and the Christian faith, we can summarize the content of our faith under four heading that are intentionally listed in this order: Creational, Incarnational, Sacramental and Eschatological. In these headings, and in the progressive relationship between them, we gain greater insight into the manner in which God works. This can be depicted in the following diagram: Creational  Incarnational  Sacramental  Eschatological Eschatological action  Eschatological goal (“Now”) (End of “Not yet”) Before we begin, it will be helpful to define what we mean by these four terms. 1. Creational: In Genesis 1-2 God makes a material creation and the Christian faith operates on the presupposition that the material creation is very good. The Bible’s starting point is the goodness of the material creation and we find that God operates on this basis from beginning to end; from Genesis to Revelation; from creation to restored creation. 2. Incarnational: When sin arrives on the scene in the Fall, both humanity and creation itself are warped and twisted. However, the God who considered His material creation to be very good does not abandon creation. Instead, He Himself enters into that creation in the incarnation as the Word becomes flesh (John 1:14). In Jesus Christ - the One who is true God and true man - we find the ultimate affirmation of humanity and the material

2 creation itself as God works to deal with the sin that has caused things to cease to be very good. 3. Sacramental: In the incarnation God used His material creation – He used the body and flesh of Jesus Christ – as the means by which He located Himself in the midst of His people in order to work their salvation. It is not surprising then, that when God wishes to deliver the benefits of the incarnation, He does so using the located means of His material creation – he uses water and bread and wine. This continuing action by God is simply consistent with his starting point (the goodness of the material creation) and with the located means by which He has acted to restore humanity and creation (the incarnation). 4. Eschatological: In Greek, the word “eschatos” means “last.” The word “eschatological” is used to describe everything that has to do with God’s End Time action and the Last Day itself. All of God’s action moves towards a goal: the restoration of humanity and creation on the Last Day when Jesus Christ returns in glory, raises the dead, pronounces the final judgment and restores creation. It moves towards the goal of a restored humanity and creation that is once again very good. In accomplishing this goal, God acts in a way that is consistent with His creational starting point, and with the incarnational and sacramental means He has used in order to restore humanity and creation. Note: While the eschatological goal is appropriately listed last, it is necessary to realize that each stage moving towards this goal is in fact eschatological (it is part of God’s End Time action). As the diagram indicates, the incarnation and the sacraments are eschatological actions by God that are working out this final goal – they are “the now” that are pointing towards the end of “the not yet.” II. Creational A. The fundamental goodness of God’s material creation 1. Look at the statements in Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, and 25. What kind of creation is God making? What is God’s evaluation of this material creation?

2. Genesis 1:31 What is God’s concluding evaluation when He has completed making the creation? God considers His material creation to be very good. It is essential that we grasp this starting point – this presupposition of biblical thought - if we are to understand correctly all that follows in Scripture. God’s attitude toward his material creation is that it is very good. In one sense this should not be surprising – after all, He made the stuff. Yet we will see that all too often this basic starting point and its implications have been hidden from view by philosophical presuppositions derived from a source other than Scripture.

3 B. Human beings are a body and soul joined together in a unity 1. Genesis 2:7 Describe the process by which God created Adam. What does this tell us about the make-up of human beings?

2. Matthew 10:28 How does this verse aid our understanding?

In the biblical worldview, a human being is comprised of a body and a soul joined together in a unity. A living human being as created and intended by God is the unity of a body and soul. Human existence apart from a material body does not match God’s original creation and divine intention. 3. Sometimes, we use language in the Church such as “there are souls that need to be saved.” Does this fully reflect the biblical worldview about human beings? What kind of language can we use to more fully reflect the biblical worldview regarding human beings?

4. Genesis 1:28-29; 2:8; 2:15 Where did God intend for Adam and Eve to live? How did their material body fit with this intention?

By way of anticipation of the last section in this Bible study, we will point out now that the goodness of the material creation and the importance of the material body shape all the expectations that we will find in biblical teaching about the Last Day. We will see that when Scripture describes God’s future action, it does so in terms of a restored creation and a resurrected body that will live in a restored creation. This is only to be expected, since it reflects God’s intention for His created order that we meet in Genesis 1-2. God created a material world that was very good and He created human beings as a unity of body and soul to live in that material world. We will see that God refuses to allow sin to hinder this divine intention. C. A competing worldview: Dualism The biblical worldview operates on the presuppositions that the material creation is very good and that a human being is composed of a body and a soul joined together in a unity. However, this is not the only worldview and set of presuppositions available for reading Scripture. In western thought another worldview has exerted a tremendous influence and has had a devastating impact on the Christian faith.

4 Beginning in full force with the Greek philosopher Plato, we encounter a trend in Western thought that has been extremely influential in various forms. We encounter a dualistic worldview in which the spiritual or intelligible world is “above” and the physical or material world is “below.” In this perspective, the material world is less important than the spiritual, or is in fact evil. There is a great divide between the spiritual and material, and the two do not mix. The spiritual component – the soul – is what is important and the body receives little emphasis or is in fact something to be escaped. Dualistic worldview Spiritual (good) --------------------------Material (lesser or bad) 1. “The finite is incapable of the infinite.”: What does this axiom of Reformed theology say about the relation between the material and the spiritual? Biblical Worldview Material world is very good.

2. “And Christ commending his spirit to the Father, and Stephen his to Christ, intend no other than that, when the soul is liberated from the prison of the flesh, God is its perpetual keeper” (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion [1559], I, XV, 2): What does this statement by John Calvin say about the relationship between the body and the soul?

The presupposition of dualism is found in Reformed theology (churches who trace their origin to the theology of John Calvin) as well as other non-Lutheran groups who trace their origins back to the Reformation such as Baptists, and non-denominational churches. It is not that these Christians always explicitly advocate this view. Rather this spiritualizing tendency is part of their worldview and theology. 3. All Christians read the Bible. However, it is the presuppositions we hold that determine the way we interpret the Bible. If a person has already decided that the spiritual and the material have nothing to do with each other, what conclusion will they reach when they hear the Words of Institution of the Lord’s Supper or when they hear Paul say, “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ have been baptized into His death? (Romans 6:3)?

5 The dualistic worldview has had a great impact upon Christianity. The Reformed tradition and groups such as Baptists, and non-denominational evangelicals read the Bible using this dualistic worldview. They read the Bible with the assumption that the spiritual and the material having nothing to do with each other. Having already decided this, when they come to statements in Scripture that deal with Holy Baptism or the Lord’s Supper, they conclude that God does not work any spiritual outcome using the material elements of water, and bread and wine. They conclude that Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper cannot be miracles in which God uses these physical means, but that instead they must only be symbols. 4. What kinds of experiences have you had in the past when you talked about Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper with others Christians who believe that these sacraments are merely symbols?

We need to realize that our disagreements about Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are often not really based upon the reading of individual biblical texts. Instead, they are caused by different starting points – different presuppositions: the biblical and the dualistic worldviews. Our task then is to begin to encourage others to trace the broad sweep of how the biblical worldview of Genesis 1-2 relates to the incarnation, the sacraments and eschatology (God’s action on the Last Day). This is the very thing we will be doing in this Bible study and we will see that the coherence of this broad perspective – the interlocking fit between the larger parts – helps to confirm for us that as Lutherans we are confessing a correct reading of the individual passages and their details. D. The biblical worldview and the Fall: creation is enslaved to corruption 1. Genesis 3:17-19 What were the consequences of the Fall for creation?

2. Genesis 1:30 Did animals kill one another before the Fall? Does the world as we now know it – a world of predators and prey – reflect God’s original intention and ordering of creation?

3. Romans 8:19-22 Romans 8 is one of the most important passages in the Bible for understanding creation’s present condition and the goal towards which God’s saving action is moving. What does Paul tell us here about the creation’s present situation? According to Paul, what needs to happen?

6 E. The biblical worldview and the Fall: The death of human beings 1. Genesis 3:19 What was the result of the Fall for human beings? Look again at Genesis 2:7. In what way is this a reversal of God’s act of creation?

2. 1 Corinthians 15:42, 52-54 How does Paul describe our bodies that we live in now? Does this reflect God’s original intention?

3. Is death “natural”? Why or why not?

We learn from Scripture that as a result of the Fall, death occurs and the body is now perishable. In this process, the soul is separated from the body. The body is then placed in the ground and left there. This condition stands directly contrary to God’s intention for human life – life that is a unity of body and soul. We learn that while we may now experience death as a “natural” part of life, there is in fact nothing natural about it. From the biblical perspective, there is in fact nothing more unnatural than the condition in which the soul is separated from the body. Once again, we will see in the final section of this Bible study that God will reverse this situation when Christ returns. III. Incarnational A. God enters His material creation 1. Galatians 4:4-5 What did God do in order to redeem us?

2. John 1:14 When John refers to “the Word,” whom is he talking about? What did the Word do?

3. Colossians 2:9 What does this verse tell us about Jesus Christ? Why is the incarnation the ultimate affirmation of the material creation and human bodily existence?

7 The ultimate proof that the dualistic worldview is wrong is the incarnation of Jesus Christ. When sin arrived on the scene in the Fall, both humanity and creation itself were warped and twisted. However, the God who considered His material creation to be very good did not abandon creation. Instead as we confess in the Nicene Creed, the Son of God “for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary and was made man.” God Himself entered into that creation in the incarnation as the Word became flesh (John 1:14). In Jesus Christ - the One who is true God and true man - we find powerful proof that God continues to care about human bodily existence and creation itself. We find powerful proof that within the mystery of God’s working, the finite is capable of the infinite. B. God continues to locate Himself in the midst of His people The incarnation was a radically new action by God. Yet at the same time, we need to realize that it was also consistent with the way God had always worked. It was God providing the means by which He located Himself in the midst of His people as he had always done. 1. John 1:14 What happened at Christmas? What does John tell us happened as a result of this? Note two of the key terms in this verse: “dwell” and “glory.”

2. Exodus 25:8 What was the purpose of the tabernacle that God commanded Israel to build?

3. Exodus 40:34-38 What filled the tabernacle and thereby indicated that God was dwelling there in the midst of His people?

4. Deuteronomy 12:5 What did the Lord say that He would do in the future? How was Israel to respond to this?

This place was eventually identified as Jerusalem on Mt. Zion (2 Sam 4:7; 6:1-17; 7:1-16). Solomon built the temple to be God’s dwelling (1 Kings 8:13) and at its dedication the glory of the Lord filled the structure, just as it had for the tabernacle (1 Kings 8:10-13). 5. Micah 4:1-2 The temple in Jerusalem was the means by which the Lord’s saving presence dwelt in the midst of his people. Because the temple was located on Mt. Zion, all of the biblical

8 truths about God’s saving presence located in the midst of His people are often summarized in the Old Testament by one word: Zion. 6. John 1:14 The tabernacle (and its permanent successor, the temple) provide the background for this verse. What is John telling us about Jesus Christ?

7. John 2:18-22 How does this verse aid our understanding?

Although the incarnation of the Son of God was something that was completely new, it reflects the way that God has always worked as He dwells in the midst of His people. In the Old Testament, God commanded Israel to make a tabernacle (a tent structure) to house the Ark of the Covenant. The glory of God, His holy presence, filled the tabernacle and the tabernacle became the means by which God located Himself in the midst of His people. The same thing happened when the tabernacle’s replacement, the temple, was built in Jerusalem on Mt. Zion and the Ark of the Covenant was moved there. The temple in Jerusalem was the located means by which God’s saving presence dwelt in the midst of his people. Because the temple was located on Mt. Zion, all of the Biblical truths about God’s saving presence located in the midst of His people are often summarized in the Old Testament by one word: Zion. As we encounter Jesus Christ, we meet the One who is the fulfillment of all that is meant by Zion in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament God located himself in the midst of His people through the means of a building on a mountain in Palestine. Israel knew that they met God there. In the incarnation, God located Himself in the midst of His people through the located means of a human being in Palestine. God’s people learned that they now meet God in the located means of the body and flesh of Jesus Christ. C. The body, blood and flesh of Jesus Christ as the means of God’s salvation 1. 1 Corinthians 2:2 According to Paul, what stands at the center of the message that he preached?

The cross stands at the center of the Gospel. It was the body and flesh (the New Testament uses both terms) that made the crucifixion possible as God carried out His plan of salvation. The body and flesh of Christ were nailed to the cross when He gave His life as a ransom for many

9 2. How do the following verses illustrate this fact? 1 Peter 2:24 Hebrews 10:19-20

1 Peter 1:18-19

3. How does the explanation to the Second Article of the Apostles’ Creed in the Small Catechism confess this?

4. Good Shepherd has a crucifix beyond its altar and uses a crucifix as its processional cross. The crucified One is also the risen One. At the same time, why is a crucifix an important reminder of the truths we are discussing in this section?

D. Incarnation as eschatological (End Time) event: Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God God sought to reverse the Fall and its impact through the incarnation of the Son of God. He began to work towards the goal of restoring humanity and creation itself through the incarnation. When the incarnation took place in the first century A.D. it began the last stage in God’s plan of salvation. It was the beginning of the end as God’s eschatological action began. 1. 1 Corinthians 10:11 What does this verse tell us about the time in which we are living?

The final restoration of humanity and creation still awaits Christ’s return on the Last Day (it is still “not yet”), and we will speak about this ultimate goal in the final section of this Bible study. However, it is essential to realize that the stages moving toward the final goal are in fact the beginning of this goal itself (it is “now”). We will illustrate this briefly using two different topics: 1) Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God 2) The resurrection of Jesus Christ . 2. Mark 1:15 How does Mark summarize Jesus’ message?

3. Psalm 93:1; 97:1; 99:1 What do these verses say that God does?

10 Coming out of its Old Testament background, the phrase “the kingdom of God” does not refer to a place but rather to God’s activity - the reign of God. The phrase refers to God’s action as He cares for His people and opposes the forces of sin and evil in the world. 4. Matthew 12:28 According to Jesus, what did His action of casting out demons mean?

5. Matthew 8:28-29 Why were the demons surprised?

Jesus announced the future consummation of God’s reign that will occur when He returns in glory (Matt 25:1-13, 31), and we will discuss this in the final section of the Bible study. However, during His earthly ministry Jesus also announced that God’s reign had arrived in Him. God’s reign was present in the person of Jesus Christ as God began to turn back the forces of Satan and sin, and restore humanity and creation. Jesus’ miracles show us that He is true God – but they also do more than this. They show us that in the person of Jesus, God’s reign was beginning to reverse the impact of sin. The miracles of healing demonstrate this as Jesus reverses sin’s physical impact in the lives of the people who come to him. The nature miracles on the Sea of Galilee (Mark 4:35-41; 6:45-51) show that Jesus is beginning to restore order to His creation. The exorcisms reveal that Jesus is turning back the forces of Satan – and much to their surprise this is beginning before the Last Day. E. Incarnation as eschatological (End Time) event: The resurrection of Jesus Christ 1. 1 Corinthians 15:20 What does Paul call Jesus and His resurrection?

2. 1 Corinthians 15:23 What does Paul say about the timing of the resurrection?

Jesus Christ is the first portion of the resurrection that guarantees the rest will also be raised. The message of Easter is that the resurrection of the Last Day that we will share in has already begun. It is now simply a matter of timing as we await our Lord’s return.

11 IV. Sacramental God had entered His material creation in the incarnation of the Son in order to deal with sin and reverse its impact on humanity and creation itself. God located Himself in the midst of His people through the means of Christ’s body and flesh. Now, as God delivers the benefits won through the incarnation, He continues to use located means that employ His material creation. He acts in a sacramental manner that is consistent with the biblical presuppositions seen in creation. This continuing action by Christ through located means reflects the very nature of the incarnation that won the forgiveness being delivered. A. God continues to use located means Just as the incarnation was consistent with the manner in which God had used the means of the tabernacle and temple to locate Himself in the midst of His people, so also God’s sacramental action in the New Testament reflects the manner in which He had used located means to deliver forgiveness to His people in the Old Testament. The primary example of this are the sacrifices God gave to Israel in Leviticus. 1. Leviticus 4:26 Did the Old Testament sacrifices actually deliver forgiveness?

Just as the incarnation fits with the manner in which God had used the located means of the tabernacle and temple in order to locate Himself in the midst of His people, so also God’s sacramental action in the New Testament reflects the manner in which He had used located means to deliver forgiveness to His people in the Old Testament. The primary example of this are the sacrifices that God gave to Israel in Leviticus. The Old Testament sacrifices pointed forward to the one, great sacrifice of Jesus Christ’s death on the cross. At the same time, they were the Old Testament “Means of Grace” that God had given to His people. All forgiveness of sins finds its source in the cross of Christ, and the Old Testament sacrifices were no different. The sacrifices were the located means God used to deliver the forgiveness that Christ was going to win on the cross, just as the Means of Grace today deliver the forgiveness of the cross to us. We need to realize that God’s sacramental action in the New Testament reflects the way He has always worked. B. God’s sacramental action – located means 1. In His sacramental action God uses His material creation as the located means through which He delivers the forgiveness of sins won by Christ in the incarnation. The Son of God entered creation in the incarnation and now God uses the creation itself in order to deliver the benefits of the incarnation. What are the located means God uses in Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper?

12 2. How do Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper demonstrate the continuing goodness of the material creation?

3. How do Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper emphasize the importance of the body in biblical thought?

4. As Lutherans we confess in the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, “Among us the Mass [the term used for the Divine Service in the sixteenth century] is celebrated every Lord’s day and on other festivals, when the sacrament is made available to those who wish to partake of it, after they have been examined and absolved” ( XXIV.1). In the Lord’s Supper we see Christ’s continuing presence in our midst through located means. In the Sacrament of the Altar Christ uses bread and wine to be bodily present in our midst. The Lord who used the located means of his body and flesh to be present with his people in the incarnation, continues to use the located means of bread and wine to be bodily present with us and deliver forgiveness. How has this fact helped to shape the Church’s practice in which the Lord’s Supper is celebrated each Sunday?

C. God’s sacramental action – eschatological (End Time) in nature God’s sacramental action is grounded in the incarnation. It is Christ who instituted these located means that reflect the nature of the incarnation itself. For this reason, God’s sacramental action is eschatological (End Time in nature) in the same way that the incarnation itself is eschatological. While the final restoration of humanity and creation still awaits Christ’s return on the Last Day (it is still “not yet”), the stages moving toward the final goal are in fact the beginning of this goal itself (it is “now”). When we considered the incarnation as an eschatological event, we focused on two areas: the kingdom of God and the resurrection. As God moves His saving plan towards the final eschatological goal, His sacramental action continues to involve both of these. 1. God’s reign arrived in the person of Jesus Christ as He turned back the forces of Satan and sin. In the Small Catechism we confess regarding the Second Petition of the Lord’s Prayer (“Thy kingdom come”): “How does God’s kingdom come? God’s kingdom comes when our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead godly lives here in time and there in eternity.” How does God’s reign continue now in our midst through His sacramental action?

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2. Romans 6:3-5 As we will see in the next section of this Bible study, the reign of God that arrived in Jesus Christ pointed forward to the final consummation of God’s reign when Christ returns in glory. God’s sacramental action in the present also points forward to the consummation of God’s reign that will involve the resurrection of the body. What assurance does our baptism give us now regarding the resurrection?

3. Matthew 26:29 What time did Jesus refer to as He instituted the Lord’s Supper?

4. 1 Corinthians 11:26 What does Paul tell us about the celebration of the Sacrament of the Altar?

In the Sacrament of the Altar, the incarnate Lord comes to us in His body and blood. This coming in the Sacrament now assures us that Jesus will also come in glory on the Last Day. When Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper He spoke of God’s end time salvation that would arrive. Paul tells us that when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. The weekly coming of Jesus in the Lord’s Supper points forward to Jesus’ second coming on the Last Day. 5. Isaiah 25:6-9 What imagery does Isaiah use in order to describe the future salvation God will give to His people?

6. Matthew 26:29 What imagery did Jesus use as He was instituting the Lord’s Supper?

In the Old Testament, God describes His future salvation as a great feast. Jesus also describes the future salvation in this way as He speaks about what will take place on the Last Day when He returns. The Sacrament of the Altar that we receive today is a foretaste of this feast to come. Because we receive the Lord’s Supper today, we know that we will also share in the feast of God’s salvation on the Last Day. 7. What does Jesus give us to eat and drink in the Sacrament of the Altar? Does He do this as the crucified Lord or the risen Lord?

14 8. John 6:53-54 What is the promise that Jesus gives to us?

9. Philippians 3:20-21 What does Paul tell us about the resurrection? How is the reception of the Lord’s Supper related to the resurrection?

10. John 6:53-54 An early Church father, Ignatius of Antioch (martyred in about 107 A.D.) described the Lord’s Supper as the “medicine of immortality” and many in the history of the Church have emphasized this thought as they have pondered the broader implications of Jesus’ statement in John 6:54. In the Lord’s Supper our bodies receive the very body and blood of the risen Lord. Why does reception of the Lord’s Supper give us assurance that our bodies will share in the resurrection?

In the Lord’s Supper, the risen Lord gives us His true body and blood to eat and drink. He places His body and blood in to our body. This fact assures us that our bodies will also be raised up on the Last Day since we know that in the resurrection our bodies will be transformed to be like the body of our Lord we are receiving in the Sacrament. In John 6, Jesus spoke words about this when He had not yet instituted the Lord’s Supper. Those words have found their fulfillment in the Sacrament and we know that all who eat and drink Christ’s body and blood have life and that their bodies will be raised up on the Last Day. V. Eschatological (The Last Day) God had created a material creation that was very good. He had created humanity as a unity of body and soul. When the entrance of sin and the Fall thwarted these intentions, God Himself entered into creation through the located means of the body and flesh of Christ. In the present, God continues in His sacramental action to use located means that partake of His material creation in order to deliver the benefits won in the incarnation. God has acted in this incarnational and sacramental manner – and Scripture is absolutely clear that this action is moving towards a goal. A. The goal of the Christian faith: Christ’s return and the Day of Judgment Scripture is absolutely clear that God’s saving action is moving towards the goal of Christ’s return and the Day of Judgment. It leaves no doubt that this is the goal of the Christian faith. In order to get a sense of this, I have provided below an extensive – though by no means absolutely comprehensive - listing of biblical texts that deal with the return of Christ (often called the day of Christ) and the Day of Judgment.

15 Christ returns/The Day of Christ Matt 8:29; 19:28-29; 24:3; 24:36-25:31; 26:29; Mark 8:38; 10:30; 13:32-37; 14:25; Luke 9:26;12:35-48; 19:11-27; 22:16, 18; John 14:3, 28; Acts 1:11; 3:20-21; Rom 13:11-12; 1 Cor 1:7-8; 3:13; 4:5; 11:26; 15:23; 16:22; Eph 4:30; Phil 1:6; 2:16; 3:20; 4:5; Col 3:4; 1 Thess 1:10; 3:13; 4:13-18; 5:1-4; 5:23; 2 Thess 1:7; 1:10; 2:1-2; 1 Tim 6:14-15; 2 Tim 4:1; 4:8; Tit 2:13; Heb 9:28; 10:36-37; Jas 5:7-9; 1 Pet 1:5, 7, 13; 2:12; 4:7, 13; 5:4; 2 Pet 1:19; 3:3-4, 10, 12, 14; 1 John 2:28; 3:2; Jude 21; Rev 1:7; 3:3; 3:11; 16:15; 22:7, 12, 17, 20 The Day of Judgment Matt 3:7, 10, 12; 7:21-22; 10:15; 11:22-24; 12:36; 41-42; 13:24-30, 36-43, 47-50; 25:31-46; Luke 3:9, 17; 10:14; 11:31-32; Joh 5:27; Acts 10:42; 17:31; 24:25; Rom 2:3, 5-13, 16; 3:6; 14:10, 12; 1 Cor 3:12-15; 4:5; 11:32; 2 Cor 5:10; Eph 6:8-9; Col 3:6; 1 Thess 1:10; 2 Thess 1:6-10; 2 Tim 4:1, 8; Heb 9:27; 10:26-27; 13:4; Jas 5:9; 2 Pet 2:9; 3:7; 1 John 4:17; Rev 6:910; 11:18; 14:7, 14-20; 20:11-15 The initial thing to note is the sheer volume of material that speaks in this way. Every book of the New Testament except for Galatians, Philemon, 2 John and 3 John contain eschatological statements likes these – and often they contain multiple examples. 1. Acts 1:11 What event did the angels immediately link with Jesus’ ascension?

2. Acts 17:31 What will Christ do when He returns?

3. Romans 5:1 What does Paul say we already possess?

The word “justify” is a legal term the means “to be declared righteous or innocent.” As Lutherans, there should be nothing more natural for us than to talk about Christ’s return and the Day of Judgment. After all, the texts from Paul’s letters that support our doctrine of justification are all grounded in the event of the final judgment. Those who have been justified and have peace with God already know that they will be “declared righteous” on the Day of Judgment when Christ returns. To speak about “justification” is to speak about Christ’s return and judgment on the Last Day. B. The “intermediate state” Scripture is clear that God’s action is moving towards the goal of Christ’s return on the Last Day. However, this does not leave us in uncertainty about the condition of those believers who die

16 before Christ returns. God’s Word says very little about this particular situation, but what it does say is very comforting. 1. Philippians 1:21, 23 What does Paul say about the happens to the Christian in death? Why does he say that this is “gain” and “very much better”?

2. The Christian who has died and departed to be with Christ no longer face the challenges of the devil, the world and our own sinful nature. This is very much better than our present situation. At the same time, does a body buried in the ground fit with God’s intention for human life? What is “the best” (not just “better”) thing that awaits all Christians on the Last Day?

Scripture leaves us in no doubt about the believers who have died in Christ, but it also speaks very rarely about this situation. This scarcity stands in dramatic contrast to the repeated and numerous references to Christ’s return, the Day of Judgment and the resurrection of the body. The focus of the New Testament and its primary eschatological (End Time) concern is not the question about what happens to believers when they die. Instead its focus and primary eschatological concern is the return of Jesus Christ on the Last Day and the resurrection. 3. Before we started this Bible study, how would you have answered the question, “What is the goal of the Christian faith?” How would you answer this question now?

C. The goal of the Christian Faith: The resurrection of the body 1. 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18 What did Paul tell the Thessalonians in order to comfort them regarding those who had died in the faith?

2. 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 In the Apostles’ Creed we confess “the resurrection of the body.” What does Paul tell us about this in these verses?

In 15:44 Paul refers to a “spiritual body.” This phrase has often been misunderstood. It is not the denial of a physical or material body, but rather as scholarship has widely recognized, “spiritual body” describes a body transformed for eschatological (end time) life directed by the Holy Spirit.

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3. 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 What does Paul say will happen at the resurrection?

4. Philippians 3:21 What will happen to our bodies at the time of the resurrection? What will be the pattern and model for this transformation?

5. Luke 24:36-43 Jesus’ resurrection provides the model for our own resurrection. What do we learn about Jesus’ resurrected body in these verses? In what ways is it the same? In what ways is it different?

6. Matthew 22:23-32 In what way will the resurrection be different from our present existence?

We learn that Jesus’ resurrected body is a physical and material body just as it was before. At the same time, it is a body that is also transformed and different from what it was before. We find one aspect of this difference reflected in these verses from Matthew 22. In the attempt to capture this fact that the resurrection body will be the same material body yet also different, one author had coined the phrase “transphysical.” It will still be a physical existence, but also one that has been transformed in a number of ways. 7. Food for thought: we only know our physical and material existence as it takes place in a fallen world. Why does this limit our ability to understand what the resurrection body will be like?

8. Romans 8:11 What role did the Holy Spirit play in the resurrection of Jesus Christ? Why does the presence of the Holy Spirit in us provide the assurance that we will also share in the resurrection?

9. Romans 8:22-23 What phrase does Paul use to express the truth that we just discussed in question #8?

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10. Romans 8:22-23 What does Paul say we are waiting for? According to Paul, when will this happen?

As we consider the resurrection of the material body, we must bear in mind the central truth that it is the restoration of God’s original intention for human existence. We see here the presupposition of the biblical worldview, that a human being is comprised of a body and a soul joined in a unity. Anything other than this does not match God’s created intention and is not “very good” in the ultimate sense God intends. Simply stated, a body buried in the ground and a soul present with Christ is not the final goal (although it is an existence far better than the one we lead now and is a source of great comfort). Instead, the goal of God’s action matches His original created intention, and that is a person who is the unity of body and soul joined together. D. The goal of the Christian faith: The restoration of creation Scripture teaches us that when Christ returns on the Last Day He will give us transformed and resurrected bodies. There is a very good reason for this. We have seen that in the beginning, we were created as a unity of body and soul in order to live in the good creation that God had made. We were created to live on earth. In the eschatological (end time) future we will still need bodies because we will be living in the restored creation. 1. Isaiah 65:17-25 What does Isaiah say that God will do in the future when He works His final salvation? How does Isaiah describe this future?

2. Isaiah 65:25; 11:1-9 How does Isaiah describe the future of creation in the age of the Messiah?

When the Old Testament describes the future salvation that God is going to bring, the only future it leads us to expect is some kind of restored creation. This same belief, based on what the Old Testament says, is found in the Jewish literature that leads up to the time of the New Testament. 3. Isaiah 65:17 What potential question does the adjective “new” raise as we think about a “new heavens and a new earth”?

4. Romans 8:18-23 How does this verse answer the question raised in question #3?

Paul is quite clear that it is not some other creation that will be freed from the slavery of corruption, but rather “creation itself” (8:21), the same creation that now suffers as a result of

19 the Fall. There could hardly be a clearer witness to the fact that the current creation will be restored and renewed. 5. Revelation 21:1-5 What does John describe in these verses?

6. Revelation 21:2-3 In what direction does the new Jerusalem move? What is the result of this?

7. Revelation 21:4-5 In Rev. 21:1 John says the “first heaven and the first earth passed away.” What aspects of the present creation are going to pass away? What does God say that He is doing? How does this fit with what we read about in Romans 8 (question #4)?

Scripture teaches us that God’s incarnational and sacramental action are moving towards the goal in which once again His creation will be very good – fully freed from sin and its impact. It will be “a new heavens and a new earth” - a material creation that no longer bears the curse of the Fall. It will be a place where once again the people He created as a unity of body and soul will live in that intended unity before Him. They will live before Him in the very good creation that He intended as their dwelling place.

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