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Posts Tagged ‘Scripture’

We are made of stardust. It is a hugely popular saying in our culture. In one form or another it has been repeated numerous times in recent years by such people as singer Joni Mitchell (August, 1969), Carl Sagan (book, 1973; “Cosmos”, 1980), and most recently and sophisticatedly by physicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson (2017). It is not a new idea, showing up in an ancient Serbian Proverb and probably being first stated in modern times in a speech by Albert Durrant Watson, then president of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada: “Our bodies are made of star stuff.”

What are we to make of it?
As Christians we evaluate all truth claims in the light of Scripture. The Bible says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1), and not until day four that “God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens’” (1:14). Since “the Lord God formed man of the dust from the ground” (2:7), the dust out of which man was made existed before the stars were created. It is reasonable that we have many of the same elements as we measure to be present in stars through spectral light analysis. Those elements were present in both the heavens and earth formed in the beginning. But a straightforward reading of the text gives no indication that earth was derived from this substance and there were certainly no stars. Therefore, we are not made of stardust.

The Substance behind the Material.
Earth, and therefore people, derived from stardust is a construct to fit Big Bang cosmology, and it fits well with our self-importance in God-denying Humanism. As Bible believing Christians, we must be very careful not to be drawn in by seemingly innocuous ideas that are false and dangerous.


The Real Source.
Our real value and source is not derived from “stardust brought to life, then empowered by the universe to figure itself out” (Tyson), but from God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being.” (2:7) Man is impressed by the dust because it is self-glorifying, but the believer is impressed by the breath of life because it and the dust are God-glorifying. Our value comes from being made in God’s image. (1:27)

Implications.
This greater value of man means capital punishment is right(Genesis 9:6) and abortion is wrong (Exodus 21:22-25), children are a blessing (Psalm 127:3-5), and “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 22:39, Romans 13:9).

And we have known this value and source of mankind since ancient times as well: ““The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” (Job 33:4) These ideas are not just about theological or scientific perspectives. It is about who receives glory and praise and allegiance:

“Thus says God the Lord,
Who created the heavens and stretched them out,
Who spread out the earth and its offspring,
Who gives breath to the people on it
And spirit to those who walk in it,
“I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness,
I will also hold you by the hand and watch over you,
And I will appoint you as a covenant to the people,
As a light to the nations, To open blind eyes,
To bring out prisoners from the dungeon
And those who dwell in darkness from the prison.
I am the Lord, that is My name;
I will not give My glory to another,
Nor My praise to graven images.
Behold, the former things have come to pass,
Now I declare new things;
Before they spring forth I proclaim them to you.” Isaiah 42:5-9

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We need hope, but from whence does it come?

Certainly a sense of purpose or destiny or family and friends bring hope, but what about when these fail or seem distant? Hear what source of hope the Scriptures give us:

“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 15:4-6

Given that this was written before any of the four Gospels and the book of Acts, it must refer to the Old Testament from which Jesus had “opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”” Luke 24:45-47 Now, I am not excluding the great encouragement and instruction given by the New Testament, but I magnify the value of reading and studying the Old, especially for those many of you who don’t spend much time there or see much value in it, thinking I’m “not under law but under grace” Romans 6:14 (1) It was written for our instruction, so read the instruction manual before assembly.

Now we get to the meat of our source of hope. The passage reveals a two-fold instruction on hope from God with an ancillary instruction on hope from fellow believers.

Those who are blood bought, Holy Spirit sealed believers (2) increase in hope of their relationship to God and future rescue through persisting in faith in the midst of difficulty- perseverance. In fact, the teaching of perseverance of the saints is pointing out how believers persist in belief to the end while “the Spirit explicitly says” of those who do not truly belonging to God through belief in Jesus “that in later times some will fall away from the faith.” I Timothy 4:1

How does this strange occurrence of hardship increasing trust in God work? As the believer comes to understand that he or she does not deserve anything and yet God is carrying him or her through difficulty and revealing Himself in the process, the believer trusts more. The unbeliever begins to doubt that God cares and pulls further away. Many a believer will also struggle with doubts and be estranged, but it will not persist. In the end faith will persist. The believer perseveres.

The greatest help to perseverance is the Word of God. For this reason, Open Doors, a ministry to persecuted believers all over the world, frequently reports how believers ask for Scriptures over security, food, or shelter. The Bible brings hope and especially when we are paying attention during difficulty. The passage says “the encouragement of the Scriptures”. As we read of others who struggled but found God’s grace to persevere, we find strength. Promises of God impart strength. Ultimately, the excellency of the character of God imparts strength. Strength comes in the form of hope. When we are hopeless, then we are weak. When we are full of hope, then we are strong, strong in the Lord.

But God gives yet another avenue for increasing hope- fellowship. The passage speaks of “same mind”, that is, unity of belief and purpose. Then it says “with one voice glorify”, which is unified worship. When we worship together in unity and convey how God has increased our faith in difficulty and have comforted others in their difficulty with the hope of God and shared Scriptures of encouragement and instruction, then true fellowship and encouragement has occurred and hope is increased. For this reason “let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25

The other disciplines of the faith like prayer, witness, fasting, service, and so forth, are all a part of this perseverance-Scripture-fellowship encouragement that strengthens faith leading to hope. What a good God we have who for His glory and our good by “His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” 2 Peter 1:3

And one day we will be removed from all difficulty and spend eternity in His presence. That will be glory!

  1. In context, this verse has nothing to do with the value or truth of the Old Testament. Rather, it refers to the source and power for overcoming sin, grace applied by the Holy Spirit and not striving to fulfill the requirement of the law. Why? Well it is because “a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 2:16
  2. These are not a special breed or dispensation of believers, just plain believers. I use these adjectives to exclude those who have mental assent to the things of God and are spectators in the church, but not saved.

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