This Sunday I will be completing a short sermon series called “What is Christianity,” in which I have attempted to explain the four major epochs of redemptive history – creation, fall, redemption, and glory. It’s a new start for our church as we have been adjusting to a new sanctuary, so it seemed appropriate to go back to the basics and review what the Christian faith is all about.
One emphasis that has come through in each message is the centrality of the physical creation in God’s redemptive plan: God created the physical universe and pronounced it good (Gen. 1); the effects of the fall actually extend beyond the spiritual to the physical universe (Rom. 8:20-21, Is. 24:4-5); the physical universe is actually within the scope of Jesus’ redemptive work (Col. 1:20); and the glorious future eternal state for God’s redeemed will involve the physical universe (Rev. 21:1; 2 Peter 3:13).
For many Christians, this is a startling new thought. Many believers have no category for the idea that bodies, trees, music and food will one day be redeemed – that salvation is not something reserved only for souls and spirits. One reason for this is the influence of Gnosticism, which teaches that physical matter is inherently evil, or at least significantly inferior to the spiritual. Gnosticism was considered a heresy in the days of the early church (I John 4:1-3), and yet it is unwittingly assumed by countless people in the church today.
The implications of holding a high view of God’s creation are profound. If the earth is good, and God is going to salvage it instead of scrap it, then this would suggest that this world matters, that Christianity should not be reduced to private acts of personal piety, and that Christians of all people should be the ones most involved in politics, science, technology, the arts, and business.
How do we get over this mistaken notion that God has somehow lost interest in creation and has forfeited it to the devil? Below I have listed five books that explain the goodness of earthly existence as we await the promised redemption of all things: