God at Work (4)
He has sent redemption to His people;
He has commanded His covenant forever:
Holy and awesome is His name. Psalm 111.9
God’s eternal covenant
God is continuously at work throughout the field of the world, preparing a great ingathering for Himself in the coming day of harvest. We can become easily discouraged in our callings as ambassadors of the Kingdom of God and witnesses to Jesus Christ, if we focus only on the works of unbelief and sin which are everywhere evident in our secular age. As many and as visible as these are, they do not begin to compare, either in scope or significance, to the work God is doing in His field, and which He calls us to join Him in as sowers of the good seed of His Kingdom.
God Who created and sustains the world, is working to redeem and reconclie, not just the souls of lost sinners, but the entire creation and all of culture.
We must ever remind ourselves, lest we fail in our calling, that the world is not a weed field, waiting to be burned, but a wheat field, to be sown, cultivated, and harvested for the Lord. “Lift up your eyes,” Jesus tells us (Jn. 4.35), not to look upon the tares, but to see, if only in prospect, the vast harvest He is preparing.
The works of God – creation, providence, and redemption – are all bound up in God’s covenant. At the center of God’s covenant is His determination to call out a people for Himself, to whom He makes Himself known, and whom He enlists in His magisterial project of sowing His field to redeem and reconcile the world unto Himself. We who are no longer strangers to God’s covenant, but members of His household, must join Him in the work He has prepared for us (Eph. 2.11-13, 19-22). And this work extends to all of creation and culture, as well as to the souls of men.
The goodness of the Lord
In the beginning, the Scriptures tell us, God created the world and all things in it good. Mankind’s fall into sin affected not only human beings, but all of creation, which now groans and travails under the burden of humanity’s sin (Rom. 8.20-22). Thus, what God intended for good – a creation that would flourish, abound, and exult, as it were, in declaring His glory (cf. Ps. 148) – now suffers corruption, decay, waste, and destruction because of the sinful practices of the human race.
Yet those who have entered into God’s covenant through Jesus Christ, and who now have the wisdom of God, are called as part of God’s work of redemption, to restore the creation, as fully as possible, to its good estate. Our prayer must ever be that of David in Psalm 27.13: “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORDin the land of the living.” This is a call to exercise stewardship over all created things in the light of God’s having created and providentially ruling the world for His purposes and glory.
The Apostle Paul taught that the creation waits with eager longing for the sons and daughters of God to free it from the grip of sin, and restore creation to its proper place in God’s covenant (Rom. 8.19). How do they do that?
They do this, first of all by interpreting the voice of God as He speaks through creation to one another and the world. God is determined that His glory, which He is revealing in all His works, should be made known as the water covers the seas (Hab. 2.14). “He speaks to me everywhere,” as the hymn has it, and part of our work in the field of the world is to hear that voice and declare it. This is the privilege and calling of God’s redeemed people, as they, delighting in the works of God, study His works to know Him better (Ps. 111.2).
Second, by exercising good stewardship over God’s work of creation, the redeemed of the Lord liberate it from the destructive powers of sin, so that it can be fruitful for use in good works by the redeemed of the Lord, works that bring glory to Him (Ps. 119.89-91; Matt. 5.16). This aspect of our calling applies not only to the natural world, but the culture, mores, and institutions of our day. Whatever of God’s creation He entrusts to us, whether of the natural world or of culture, we must cultivate and use for good, as God originally intended.
Third, they who know the Lord and His works must rightly represent it in conversation, and in works of art, literature, and music – as, for instance, in the Book of Psalms. It matters, when we are working in the Lord’s field, how we talk about and otherwise represent the world we share in common with our unbelieving neighbors. Is it nature or is it creation? Are all these many and varied creatures just so many birds, bugs, and weeds, or do they have names and places within the divine economy? What others may regard as just so much stuff, to be used as we see fit, we must represent as precious gifts from God, fraught with glory and pointing to our Creator and Lord.
In His covenant, God promises to bless His people with a close and intimate relationship of love. From there He sends us out each day into the field of the world, where, amid the increasing tares of our secular age, our task is to redeem and reconcile all of creation, so that the goodness and glory God has embedded there may be discovered and declared (Prov. 25.2).
1. How can you see that God has left a considerable amount of good in the field of the world? Give some examples.
2. Does it matter whether Christians use creation and culture as vessels of God’s glory, and potential means of making Him known? Explain.
3. What role does redeeming and reconciling creation and culture have in sowing the good seed of the Kingdom?
Next steps – Preparation: Make a list of the “created things” that fall within your stewardship. Be general, not specific (“clothes” rather than all the different kinds of clothes). Are you using these things for working the Lord’s field? Explain.
T. M. Moore
For a more developed view of the Kingdom, and of the Gospel of the Kingdom, order a copy of our book The Kingdom Turn (click here) or The Gospel of the Kingdom (click here).
We look to the Lord to provide for our needs, and He does so through those who are served by this ministry. Please prayerfully consider becoming a supporter of The Fellowship of Ailbe with your financial gifts. You can send your tax-free contribution to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452, or use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card or through PayPal.
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.