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Jesus: A New Creation

Jesus: A New Creation

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

                                                                                                                                           2 Cor 5:17

Through Jesus Christ, we have become a new creation…but what does this mean?

The ‘new creation’ has a two-fold meaning – cosmic and personal. On a cosmic level, the new creation refers to the way in which Jesus’ life, death and resurrection ushered in the new created order. On a personal level, it refers to the changes that Jesus’ actions brought about within the believer.

 

The World as a New Creation

To understand ‘the new creation’ we must understand that it is a creation – it was created by God. This means that it was brought about solely by the will of God, and was not simply an accident or consequence of Jesus’ life, death or resurrection. The new creation was crafted by God’s hands, just as the original creation in Genesis 1 was, but this creation is greater – it brings about the fullness of God’s original creation.

The creation is also ‘new’, this means that the old creation has not simply been cleaned up. Jesus has inaugurated a brand new creation – fresh and never-seen-before. ‘The old has gone’. It has not been transformed or changed, it has passed away. The new creation establishes the fullness of Creation that has been introduced through Christ. It is an all-encompassing conversion that takes place over everything on earth. No aspect of the world is as it was before Christ –everything has died with him and has been renewed.

 

Believers as a New Creation

The new creation also refers to the way in which Jesus’ actions altered the way that humanity exists.

The old creation is our old sinful natures – our former habits, sinful behaviours and selfish deeds. The old creation has been replaced with the new creation – a new created order is full of new things and new life. As a new creation, you “have taken off your old self with its practices” (Colossians 3:9) and “put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24).  Through our new created-ness, we see the world through a different lens. The nature of the world and of ourselves has changed.

This does not mean that we have been perfected. We are renewed and redeemed daily by the crucified Christ, but we still have the capacity to sin. Though we have been changed, we are also still being changed. The new creation, however, gives us the ability to be freed from the bondage of sin, and loosens its power over us. We are now a new, empowered creation with the choice to continue on, dead in sin or living in the life that reigns through Christ and the new creation. We are not simply forgiven, but we have been changed, and continue to change.

Jesus’ life, death and resurrection renewed every person. We are renewed to live by new rules, in a renewed world, with a renewed faith.

 

 

 

To honour God’s creation, be sure to sign the petition to establish Creation Day as an official holiday!

Were Adam and Eve Vegetarians? The Biblical Basis for a Vegetarian Life

Were Adam and Eve Vegetarians? The Biblical Basis for a Vegetarian Life

In recent years a movement has developed that explores the idea of Christianity as originally designed to be vegetarian. Authors who examine this idea encourage Christians to adopt a vegetarian diet and often claim that scripture itself demands it. Some people have even attributed the long lifespans seen in the early bible to the vegetarian diet prescribed by God.

 

What does the Bible really say about vegetarianism?

 

The Original Design

According to Genesis 1, at the end of the week, when God had finished his creation, he told Adam and Eve to eat plants.

Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to everything that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so.”

This directive suggests sufficiency in the finished creation. Human and animal life was able to consume freely from plant life, because God has supplied abundance as part of the original design.

Shortly after God created the perfect earth, He laid down the vegetarian mandate because death did not exist – it was not a part of the original creation design. Animals and humans were designed to live forever, and therefore could not survive by eating meat because ‘meat’ did not exist. There were only living things.

In Genesis 3, sin entered the world, and so did death. The creation was no longer perfect but was fractured and unable to function according to its original design. The paradisal state that prevailed in Genesis 1 and 2 was ruptured, ushering in a new age of death, cruelty and carnivory that was not intended as part of the original design.

As a result, animals began to eat other animals.

 

Cain and Abel

One question often asked when this issue is explored, is whether or not Abel was a meat eater. This is assumed since Cain was a produce farmer and kept vegetables but Abel is depicted as a shepherd who sacrificed his animals.

This alleged contradiction comes from assuming Abel was doing something that Scripture doesn’t say he was. The relevant passages are:

“Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat.”

Abel’s intentions for tending flocks were probably not for meat. His flock could have been raised for the various other goods that lambs can yield – wool, milk, leather and for sacrifice.

Those who assume Abel was a meat eater are assuming that after the sacrifice, Abel was eating the meat. Since we know that God commanded all human beings to eat only plants, and directed this at Abel’s parents, it seems likely that he would be familiar with God’s intentions for humanity.

Matthew 23:35 indicates that Abel was considered a righteous man, and we know from Genesis 4 that God favored Abel’s offering over Cain’s. This would be unlikely if after the offering Abel was doing something that would displease God. We must assume that Abel would not choose to be so blatantly disobedient, and that given the glowing reports that Abel is given later in scripture, he was not going against God’s directive from Genesis 1.

If Abel did not eat meat, which scripture certainly doesn’t indicate, then there is no contradiction.

 

The Changed Design

In Genesis 9, God establishes a new covenant, and offers a new directive;

“Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant.”

The state of humanity in Genesis 6 prompted God to take action. Human corruption had once again shattered the original design, distorting God’s plans for humanity. He was forced to take action.

After the flood, God’s directive regarding the human diet was altered. Noah and his family were given permission to eat meat. Although people may have sinfully eaten meat during the pre-flood time of immorality and depravity, they were not given permission to do so. Genesis 9 is the first time that God gave permission for humans to eat animals.

The presence of this permission further reinforces the directive given in Genesis 1. Human life was not intended to eat meat – it was not a part of God’s original design. Here, in the midst of a post-flood world, and at the defining moment of a fresh start, God allows meat-eating to take place.

With some arguing that long lifespans were a direct result of the vegetarian diet in the pre-flood world, it has also been further suggested that the sharp decline in the length of life after the flood can be attributed to the introduction of meat into the human diet.

Since the directive in Genesis 1 suggests a sufficiency, it could be argued that God’s permission in Genesis 9 is due to an insufficiency. After the flood, there wouldn’t have been an abundance of plants as there was in Eden. God may have felt that he needed to incorporate meat into the human diet for survival. It’s also worth noting that at the fall, God’s original design was permanently damaged, leaving a scarcity. In Genesis 3 God says to Adam;

“…cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life;  thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you…”

In a time of vegetation shortage, God made a concession.

 

So is a Vegetarian Diet Mandatory?

In the modern age, people have struggled to come to terms with the fact that God’s original design did not include meat eating. Scientists have attempted to explain it away by claiming that certain animals cannot survive without meat, and even theologians have argued that God’s statements are a generalisation with a theological agenda: we are all fed by God, one way or another. However, the command issued directly from God was clear: eating meat was not a part of the finished creation. We must take God at His word and accept that created creatures were intended to eat only plants.

God’s permission given in Genesis 9 allowed humanity to eat meat, but we should not regard this permission as a rescinding of the original mandate, or perceive God to have conceded in any way. However, this permission was given to a family who were starting a new life amongst scarce natural resources.

When we come to the Gospels, Jesus’ life is an indication that a vegetarian diet is not mandatory. Jesus caught fish with his disciples (presumably knowing those fish would be eaten), ate lamb, ate fish, cooked it for his disciples and used it to feed 5000 men.

So if it’s good enough for the savior of the earth, then it’s good enough for us…right?

Not necessarily. Jesus acknowledged and lived out of the permission given in Genesis 9, but ate meat sparingly, and often in religious contexts such as Passover.  We should not regard this permission as a free pass to kill for eating pleasure. Just because we have been given permission does not mean we have to, unless you are suffering shortage.

However, decisions regarding personal diet choices in modern life involve many factors including health, doctor’s advice and personal conviction. The best choice for one person is not necessarily the best choice for another, and choosing to live a vegetarian diet should not become a test of orthodoxy for any Christian.

We must also remember that any issue that distracts from the Gospel message is probably not worth getting too troubled by.

 

The Future

The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox”

The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, and dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain”

Isaiah makes it clear that for animals, at least, the primeval decree shall prevail: vegetarianism will reign in the new creation.  Christ’s second coming will usher in a reinstatement of the original design established in Eden, and will restore the intentions that God had at the beginning.

 

So today – eat, drink and be merry, for whether we like it or not…eventually…..we may ALL be vegetarians.

 

 

 

 

To honour God’s creation, be sure to sign the petition to establish Creation Day as an official holiday!

 

The Bible: From Creation to New Creation

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Though the Bible is filled with many different books and authors, it tells a cohesive story about the history of the world, functioning within God’s holistic and redemptive purpose – from creation, to new creation. God’s creative activity unfolds throughout scripture, providing a meta narrative that reveals our God and his plan for the entire created order.

The Bible begins and ends with creation, and ultimately uses creation as a way of reflecting on the nature of God, of humanity and of His plan for the cosmos. Scripture affirms that God has been intimately bonded to creation from before the creation of the world, in the now, and through to the ‘not yet’.

 

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Original Creation

One of the most well-known stories in the Bible is the seven day creation of the world seen in Genesis 1. This chapter reveals the creative process and creative nature of God, and sets the foundation for creation as a theme throughout the Old and New Testaments.

Through God’s creative activity, we learn that our God is a God who is actively present within his creation, and who continues to care for and sustain this creation throughout history.

Genesis 2 outlines the creation of the first man and woman, and once again reveals a God who is deeply connected to the earth, so much so that he breathes his own breath into Adam as part of his creative process.

When we come to Genesis 3 we see that all is not well within creation. Though God is seen to be walking with Adam and Eve in the garden, they have forgotten God’s creative generosity and have taken it for granted. In eating from the tree, Adam and Eve set off a chain of events which not only affects their own existence, but unravels the very fabric of the created order. This unravelling will continue to deteriorate until God takes action in Genesis 6.

 

The Flood

By Genesis 6, the created order has declined into a state of irreparable disrepair, and God feels compelled to take matters into his own hands. Scripture describes God’s grief and regret at having created, and his plans to flood all of creation and remake it through Noah.

In carrying out His plans, God is returning the earth to its pre-creation state of watery chaos that preceded his six day creation process – he is carrying out a systematic reversal of his own creation. This ‘de-creation’ is done by destroying everything in the order that it was created;

  • The windows of heaven are opened, and the fountains of the deep are released. This parallels Genesis 1 where God separated the water from the land
  • Noah’s ark is seen as floating on the face of the waters, an echo to God’s spirit which hovers over the face of the waters
  • Land animals, birds and sea creatures are destroyed
  • Humans are destroyed
  • God manifests a wind to blow over the waters, alluding to the breath of life God gives in Genesis 2

Finally, the flood episode ends with a reinstatement of the original creation – God gives Noah and his family directions akin to what he gave Adam in the garden, and even instructs him to “be fruitful and multiply”, an exact replica of the command given to Adam and Eve.

After establishing a convenant with Noah, God offers him a sign in the form of a piece of creation – a rainbow.

 

The Torah and Deuteronomistic History

God’s desire to renew his created order is bound up with the renewal and recreation of Israel as a nation. The writer of the Torah describes this and acknowledges God as the creator of the earth;

Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it.”

These first books of the Bible also point to the responsibility that we have as humans to become diligent stewards of creation. Leviticus states that creation is the property of God, and is not to be defiled. Moses, the likely author of Leviticus, even commands that creation itself, including the land, will observe the Sabbath.

In Numbers, the Israelites are told;

“You shall not pollute the land in which you live…. You shall not defile the land in which you live, in which I also dwell; for I the LORD dwell among the Israelites.”

…and this mandate is repeated in Deuteronomy.

The Old Testament closes with the Prophets, who urge Israel to come back to their creator and their God. The Prophets also urged God’s people to care for creation, and respect the earth in a way that adequately pays homage to the creator of all things (Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Joel, Hosea).

 

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The Gospels

John opens with a retelling of Genesis 1.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

He was in the beginning with God.

All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.”

 This mirrors the words of Genesis, and gives us insight into Jesus’ role in the cosmic order – he himself was a fundamental part of the original creation from the beginning.

Later in John, Jesus is described as having breathed on the disciples, in order for them to receive the Holy Spirit. This has echoes to Genesis 2 where God breathes into Adam.

The Gospels portray Jesus as asserting authority over all of creation – defying natural laws by walking on water, stilling a chaotic storm, multiplying a small amount of fish in order to feed a multitude, raising the dead and defying death himself.

 

Jesus

John’s passage reflects on Jesus as being integral to the creation of the world. As the New Testament goes on, it become more and more clear that Jesus was not only involved in creation, but is central to it. In this way, we must regard all of creation as thoroughly Christocentric in nature. Paul tells us in Colossians that “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created…”

In 2 Corinthians, Paul writes that:

“…if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation…”

The same God who created all things in six days has now established a new creation through Christ. All those who embrace Jesus are now living out of this new creation.

Through Jesus, God reconciles himself to his created order once more, bridging the gaps that were made broken through sin. Christ’s life, death and resurrection do not only affect the human condition, but affect the fundamental order of the entire cosmos.

 

Groaning Creation

We know from Romans 8 that the entire created order longs for redemption – and that the brokenness established at Eden reverberates throughout the entire natural world.

“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God… in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.

 

We can see this groaning as early as Genesis 4 when Abel is slain and God tells Cain that:

“The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.”

The entire created order all looks forward to the restoration of the world through God’s redemptive plan. This includes the stars, the spiders and everything in between!

 

New Creation

As early as Isaiah, we are told that God will

“…create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.”

Revelations confirms this, when John has a vision;

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.”

 

Paul also validates this when he writes in Peter that:

 “…according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”

 

The promise of a new creation is a promise which will be fulfilled throughout the entire cosmos.

Tracing the history of the world from creation to new creation helps us to see that creation was never merely a background theme in scriptures – creation is in itself the story of salvation. The entire created order was made, fell from glory, groans in anticipation, became a new creation in Christ and looks forward to the complete and final restoration of the entire cosmos. There is no biblical narrative without creation, and without an understanding of this fundamental theme, we cannot fully grasp the biblical story.

 

 

 

To honor the redemptive purposes of God from creation to new creation, please sign our petition, to establish Creation Day as an officially recognised holiday!

 

To sign, click here

Aspiring Leaders

Aspiring Leaders

Since the beginning of dynasty, our concept of leadership rested on the lineage of influential personalities who are born to govern its constituents. Even in the corporate world today, the succession of CEO’s would automatically come from the owner of the business. While the system has been the culprit to people being discourged to pursue leadership, it is also responsible for incumbents who fail in governance due to lack of experience and passion. They have only been given the authority without meaning. Another thing is that when we think of leadership we overwhelm ourselves with this huge image of responsibility that it gives us the impression that only influential people would have the resources to fulfill what is required. It is not to imply that passing the baton to your bloodline is a bad idea, for as long as the successor is determined to serve then all falls into place.

Experience and passion being considerably the two main essentials to leadership, the difference between them is that experience can only be as diverse as possible, whereas passion allows you not only to hear people out but to hear what God says about his people. Passion draws not only from your deepest desires but from the will of the Father. It gives us the yearning to serve and teaches us the essence of valuing people rather than valuing the plan. It enables you to surrender your plan in exchange of His and rouse people to seek God with you. It motivates rather than command. Passion pushes you to go that extra mile to begin with before sitting in control.

Jesus is the quintessential of true leadership. The scripture records that while Jesus claims to be the Son of God, He managed to eat with crooks, touched the lepers, and healed on Sabbath day.  All His works did not actually reveal the leader material in Him but these gained Him much influence, way more than the king and high priests in that era and up to this moment, considering He was only known as the son of the carpenter who had not much. Not only because Jesus is Lord and therefore has the power to persuade, but because He begins His day with a Word with the Father in Heaven.

Hebrews 3:15 says “Today, if you shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” The desire and ability to lead and delegate task wisely come from having the heart to seek and acknowledge the voice of the Divine Leader. A true leader recognizes that his calling is a revelation from the Creator, the One who has the game plan of the entire universe that moves by the rules of the One who has preordained it. We ought to receive instruction that comes from the Father that we may realize what we have been created for, and to see the value of creation in His eyes in order to have the capacity to oversee all that He has entrusted to us.

While you might wonder what relationship leadership has with creation, God wants us to be the CEO of His masterpiece by first having the right character. As most dream of initiating an advocacy and celebrate victory, we are in fact given the opportunity to take the lead right now in preserving God’s work in our own little way and celebrate its fruitfulness as a humble beginning.

The Word again says being faithful in small things will put in us charge of greater things. For some it might have to take a little courage to consider a good habit and make a difference by simply keeping a clean environment as a first step towards that leadership climb. But it will definitely give you that discipline you need to get to the peak of your highest potential. For those who are already leaders, you have been blessed to have the influence to stir your people to take initiative in being mindful of what God has created to benefit the entire race. The question is, would you take the privilege?