Bible, Theology

An Exegetical Analysis of 1 Peter 3:18-22

January 15, 2021

 For many students of the Bible, and particularly of the New Testament, 1 Peter 3:19-22 stands as one of the most difficult passages to interpret and understand. Christians and scholars throughout church history have struggled with various interpretations surrounding what exactly happened to Jesus after he was crucified.[1] In fact, the great Reformer Martin Luther once said about this passage, “A wonderful text is this, and a more obscure passage perhaps than any other in the New Testament, so that I do not know for a certainty just what Peter means.”[2]

While we cannot be certain and dogmatic of any position, we can give our best exegetical analysis of what is happening in this text. The purpose of this paper is to bring clarity to the predominant issues in the text. 

 Two problems arise from a cursory reading of 1 Peter 3. First, what does it mean that Jesus went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison? Who are these spirits? What does it mean that Jesus “went”? How does the death of Jesus relate to the story of Noah? Second, what does it mean that Peter says, “baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you”? How does the story of Noah provide a typology for water baptism in the New Testament? How does baptism intersect with salvation? In order to fully argue my position on these two issues, a holistic approach must be taken, meaning that we will examine each issue exegetically, theologically, and historically. 

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Bible, Theology

Why You Need the Language of Lament At The End of 2020

January 4, 2021

Many of us are ending the year tired, weary, exhausted, and hopeless. The global pandemic has caused a multitude of losses: friendships, time with family, jobs, opportunities, graduations, rituals. The ‘”New Year, New Me” facade is glaringly absent as the hopelessness continues on for another year. Even for some of you who are seeking to turn over the new year leaf, eventually we have to come face-to-face with the trauma and suffering that we have endured this year. If you do not have the language of lament, you will be woefully deficient in dealing with the multiple heartbreaks from the last year.

Thankfully, God has not left us alone in our pain and sorrow—God has given us language to deal with our trauma: the language of lament. In fact, the wisdom literature is primarily comprised of lament language, which gives the people of God freedom to express their grief and sorrow towards God and to one another. Because of the effects of sin on the world, part and parcel of being human is dealing with pain and suffering. Lament gives you language to properly grieve the loss while at the same time trusting God in the pain.

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Uncategorized

My Top Books from 2020

January 1, 2021

Every year, I work through a slough of books; some are good, some are great, some are poor. Outside of reading the Bible, reading good books is one of the primary ways that my affections are cultivated for Jesus. Furthermore, reading good books not only cultivates my relationship with God, it helps me make sense of the world that we live in, gives me language for the emotions that I am feeling, and stimulates my intellect in a way that only books can. Without further adieu, here were my favorite books in 2020 (in no particular order).

Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortlund

For many Christians, Ortlund’s latest book will be on their best of list for 2020. In fact, World Magazine called Gentle and Lowly “the most accessible theology book of 2020,” which is no surprise to me at all. Dane Ortlund does an amazing job of combining both theology and practice in a book that is both warm and pastoral, while also retaining its challenging and convicting tone. I found myself awestruck of God’s love for me in Christ as I turned from page to page. This book drained my highlighters as I could not stop underlining the nuggets that seemed to be endless. If you are to read one book in 2021, please pick up this book.

The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self by Carl Trueman

Carl Trueman does an excellent job of showing the progression of thought that has taken place since the 19th century to the present cultural moment. How did Western society move so radically to be a culture dominated by sex and a progressive interpretation of sex? For those who have been completed confused by the drastic cultural changes surrounding sex, look no further than Trueman’s book for your answers. Carl Trueman is both scholarly and approachable in this slightly intimidating book. Furthermore, I found the tone gentle, compassionate, and understanding; there was never a hint of condescension or arrogance. While for the average reader, this book may be challenging in its philosophical arguments, it is nevertheless one of the most important books of our age.

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

One of the greatest gifts of 2020 was the release of the broadway musical Hamilton on Disney+. My children can testify: the soundtrack has been playing all year long. As a history buff myself, I found Chernow’s work fascinating, engaging, and inspiring. For those who are interested more in the life of Hamilton, you will not be disappointed by this lengthy but enjoyable read of his life.

1 Peter by Karen H. Jobes

As I preached through 1 Peter this year, I found Karen H. Jobe’s commentary so helpful. In fact, I found it so helpful that I would recommend laymen to read the book as devotional content. Jobes, like any scholar would, dives into the weeds of academia at times, but the majority of her commentary is spent in rich, Christ-centered content that would encourage any Christian. For those preaching through 1 Peter soon or for those looking for book that will help you take a deeper dive into one specific book, Jobes’ commentary on 1 Peter is the one for you.

The Pastor: A Memoir by Eugene Peterson

Peterson models the type of pastor that I want to be: gentle, compassionate, humble, present. Peterson’s book gave me freedom to admit one thing: to pastor and to write are two sides of the same coin for my calling. Peterson shows through his own life how he was called and formed as a pastor. One of the best memoirs I’ve ever read.

The Care of Souls by Harold Senkbeil

Senkbeil’s work on pastoral ministry is by far one of the best books I’ve ever read on the calling of a pastor. In an age where pastors are busy building their platforms and the pastorate is filled with celebrities rather than shepherds, this work is undervalued in a culture that does not value pastoring as it used to. What should a pastor be doing week-in and week-out? Caring, praying, discipling, encouraging, visiting. Senkbeil hit it out of the park with this one.

Culture

How (Not) To Be Secular

December 2, 2020

Serving as a pastor is one of the most rewarding and difficult tasks that I have ever been faced with. On the one hand, I am one of you – I am a fellow disciple learning to love God in a broken world. I am a sinner in desperate need of the grace of God alongside every one of you. I am a sheep. On the other hand, I am your leader, your shepherd. I stand above you— not in a prideful or arrogant sense—but in a sense of leadership. I must watch fervently where we are headed, to observe the roadblocks and dangers coming our way. I must bear the load of our collective safety as we navigate a world full of spiritual enemies. This, of course, is done under the guidance of the one True Shepherd, Jesus Christ. 

Due to my humanity, God has uniquely created me to shepherd in a way that suits my gifts and desires. For many pastors, relational conversations are the medium they want to utilize to shepherd their people; for others, it is primarily the pulpit. Personally, I discovered early on, that I need to lead primarily through preaching and writing. Like Eugene Peterson, I will not and cannot drive a wedge between being a pastor and a writer – they are two sides of the same coin. In other words, in order for me to pastor well, I must write. 

My hope is that you may invest the time to read, not because I need an audience, but because I hope writing will be one of the main ways that I pastor you. Personally, I can communicate complex truths in a more helpful manner via writing than speaking. My hope is that as we journey together as sheep, God may use my writing to equip you to do the work of the ministry, here in Las Cruces and to the ends of the earth. Soli deo Gloria.

A Secular World

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word secular? For many—particularly for those from a Christian background—think in terms of secular versus religious. For example, there are secular schools and religious schools. Perhaps others consider anything outside the religious system. For many, secular conveys that which is wrong or evil with the world. Yet, we should not abandon the word or simply use it in a negative context. This is where Charles Taylor is incredibly helpful, the most prominent modern philosopher. 

Charles Taylor is a trained philosopher by trade, a Roman Catholic by profession, and the author of one of the best philosophical works in recent generations entitled A Secular Age. Many have attempted to slay Taylor’s magnum opus but have failed. Not only is Taylor’s work long, it is philosophically dense. Thankfully, men such as James K.A. Smith have undertaken the task to translate and modernize Taylor so that the average person can understand the meat of his arguments. In 2014, James K.A. Smith published How (Not) To be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor, which gives a philosophical primer to those looking to dip their toes in waters of Charles Taylor.

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Bible, Culture

Expressive Individualism and the Corruption of Community

December 1, 2020

Everyone is a philosopher. The common American may not often think deeply about works of philosophical reflection but everyone functionally lives a philosophy of life every single day. In other words, every single human is pursuing their version of “the good life” (for more reference to this subject, please see James K.A. Smith’s You Are What You Love). We make plans, set goals, pursue hobbies, and conform our life around a particular vision of what will bring us satisfaction and delight. Perhaps one of the most prominent philosophical systems that most Americans orient their life around is expressive individualism, yet few would actually use the proper term. So what is expressive individualism? A survey of popular slogans illustrates just exactly the ethos of this way of life:

  • You do you.
  • Be true to yourself.
  • Follow your heart.
  • Find yourself.

These slogans reveal what Westerners chiefly value: individual freedom to decide what is best for oneself. Our highest good is to be true to our selves and thus, if we were to deny ourselves certain impulses, desires, or loves, we would be denying that which is ultimately good. As Americans, we are hard-wired culturally to see ourselves as individuals who “isolate themselves from the mass of his fellows and withdraw into the circle of family and friends” (Robert Bellah, Habits of the Heart). What does it mean that as individuals we must express ourselves? Yuval Levin in The Fractured Republic is helpful:

That term suggests not only a desire to pursue one’s own path but also a yearning for fulfillment through the definition and articulation of one’s own identity. It is a drive both to be more like whatever you already are and also to live in society by fully asserting who you are. The capacity of individuals to define the terms of their own existence by defining their personal identities is increasingly equated with liberty and with the meaning of some of our basic rights, and it is given pride of place in our self-understanding.

A culture that values expressive individualism is a culture dominated by people yearning for fulfillment through the definition and articulation of one’s own identity. Your identity does not come from any external factors, rather, it is a call to bend yourself inward, to discover what is most true about yourself. But then, you are not only called to find your identity inwardly, but you must express it to the rest of the world. To hide your true identity or values denies your right to self-understanding.

Therefore, any culture, religion, or ethical system that imposes rules, regulations, identities, or expectations on an individual is seen as threatening and oppressive. If I am my own authority and if my identity is found by finding “the true me” internally—a community of faith, a government, or a hobby group that asks me to conform to their way of life not only infringes upon my rights to self-understanding but also places me under bondage so that I may not experience my true identity.

20th century Roman Catholic philosopher Charles Taylor calls this Western phenomena the “age of authenticity.” For Taylor, authenticity is less tied to integrity and honesty but rather is set against conformity. In this way, your purpose of life to find your deepest self and then express it to the world. You are to forego what those around you say, you must pursue what feels right to you. In respect to our current age of authenticity, Taylor notes:

I mean the understanding of life which emerges with the Romantic expressivism of the late-eighteenth century, that each one of us has his/her own way of realizing our humanity, and that it is important to find and live out one’s own, as against surrendering to conformity with a model imposed on us from outside, by society, or the previous generation, or religious or political authority.

The Silent Killer of Community

In this ideology, my highest good is finding my identity in myself and therefore, outside authority is a challenge to my vision of flourishing. But, the Bible paints a vastly different picture to this view. In the beginning, before there was any sin, humans were designed to submit to God’s authority while at the same time flourish, in the deepest sense of the word. Even now, we believe that the best life is not found in isolation from authority but in conformity to God’s authority. Therefore, the highest good that I can pursue is to find my identity outside of myself—to find it in God himself. While it may seem counter-intuitive or even flat-out wrong to find good in submission to authority, that is only because our lenses have been colored by expressive individualism and we are unable to see authority and submission without our presuppositional and cultural baggage. 

If the average American believes that the fullest life is found by turning inward, shedding of cultural, religious, and political expectations, then unfortunately, the church will be seen more as an enemy than as a friend. But is the problem with the church/Bible or with the cultural presupposition? How then will Christians interact with one another if our primary philosophical presupposition is one of expressive individualism? How will we handle conflict? Disagreements? Put bluntly, expressive individualism left unchecked will be the silent killer in the church in the West. Because of the work of Jesus, we can now turn outward to those in need, giving our time, money, talents, and lives for the good of others. Our lives no longer revolve around ourselves but for they revolve around the good of others. 

If the expressive individualist says that the highest good is individual freedom, happiness, self-definition, and self-expression, what happens when that expression goes against what the Bible says or leads to the harm of another person in the community? How can serve one another in love, humility, and service when our highest pursuit is ourselves? How do I consider others more significant than myself, if I believe the most significant thing in life is my own happiness (Phil 2:3)?

Much like the old adage of the frog slowly boiling to death, if expressive individualism is left unchecked, it will silently kill the health of a church. After all, as Americans, expressive individualism is the air we breath. Therefore, let us be vigilant in our analysis of our church culture, so that what we are reflecting is Christ and not a cultural phenomenon. Let us look to Christ, who did not bend himself inward but rather, extended himself outward on the Cross for you and I, so that our selfish hearts may in turn bend towards the needs of others.

Book Review, Books

Book Review: Gentle and Lowly

November 30, 2020

Every year, thousands of books are published in the non-fiction Christian genre. Some are novel, others are republications of older works; most are not worth reading (remember C.S. Lewis’ maxim: read one old book for every new book that you read). Yet, every once in awhile, a modern author publishes an absolute gem that will serve the church for years to come. This year, Dane Ortlund, son of Ray Ortlund, has published one of the most helpful, encouraging, and needed books surrounding the person of Jesus for the every-day Christian. Ortlund’s Gentle and Lowly seeks to answer the ultimate question that many of us wrestle with: How does Jesus really feel about us?

For many Christians growing up in the West, we are completely unaware of how our familial and cultural upbringing has shaped the way we view God and live in our Christian life. As a culture that values productivity, success, and hard-work, many times these mentalities bleed into our view of God. While we would not outright proclaim this, many of us functionally live our lives as if God is a boss rather than a father, a master rather than a friend, someone to appease rather than someone to enjoy. But, for those of who are in Christ, have our cultural glasses blinded us to the true character of Jesus towards us? Ortlund wishes to exchange your Western glasses with biblical ones, helping you to see that Jesus’s primary disposition is gentle and lowly.

Perhaps Ortlund’s book was so impactful for me because I felt like he was writing directly toward me: someone who is often “discouraged, frustrated, weary, disenchanted, cynical, and empty” (pg. 13). In the pit of despair, how does Jesus feel about us? While this sort of questioning may seem foreign to how we talk about God, Ortlund is unafraid to ask such bold and inviting questions. Through the use of biblical passages and puritan writers such as Thomas Goodwin, Ortlund beckons the weary Christian to the promise land of better rest in the biblical Jesus.

Put simply: Gentle and Lowly was by far the best book I read in 2020. My hope and prayer is that I may savor the words of Ortlund so that I may love Christ more deeply and also experience his love more often. For those Christians who are tired, discouraged, cynical, and frustrated, allow this book to be a balm to your wounded soul. To give you a simply taste of the healing you may encounter, please reflect deeply upon these words from the first chapter:

“His yoke is kind and his burden is light. This is, his yoke is a nonyoke, and his burden is a nonburden. What helium does to a balloon, Jesus’s yoke does to his followers. We are buoyed along in life by his endless gentleness and supremely accessible lowliness. He doesn’t simply meet us at our place of need; he lives into our place of need. He never tires of sweeping us into his tender embrace. It is his very heart. It what gets him out of bed in the morning.”

Dane Ortlund, Gentle and Lowly (pg. 23).
Bible, Culture, Politics

Before You Vote: Remember the True King

October 13, 2020

In the last few months, several members of Coram Deo (the church I pastor) have asked me about what they should do regarding this upcoming political election. For some, this is the most important political election they have ever witnessed; for others, they are discouraged and weary of the political division. Given that election day is three weeks away, I hope to write a series of articles that are primarily directed at the members of Coram Deo, while also applying to the broader Christian circle in which I am a part of.

A quick disclaimer: my approach to politics comes primarily from the perspective of Reformed Christianity, particularly in the realm of Kuyperianism in relation to culture. For those unaware, Kuyper was a 19th century theologian, politician, journalist, and a prolific writer of how the church should engage not only in the area of biblical theology but of culture and politics. I am aware that some of you may disagree with my perspectives, which is totally in your right to do so. My plea to you as you read and engage with other people in this season: extend the same grace that has been given to you in Christ.


Around this time of the year, I yearn for election season to be over, primarily so that the endless number of billboards and commercials will cease. Every four years, there seems to be endless promises, half-told stories of particular candidates, and the potential for doom if one candidate looses (particularly, the candidate that is NOT your candidate). Yet, something feels different this year. There is more angst, more animosity, more fear, and the Christian camp is not immune to this. Fear and anxiety have gripped the people of God concerning who will get elected in a few weeks.

While I do believe that Christians should be actively involved in the cultural and political moments of their time, I would caution us to remember that fixing our hopes and identity upon a political party or candidate will always lead to disappoint and angst, whereas fixing our eyes on Jesus, the True King, will always lead to rest and security. In other words, in this election season, church, remember Whose you are. Remember the first question of the New City Catechism: what is your only hope in life and death? That you are not your own but belong to God.

This means that regardless of what happens in the coming weeks, your eternal security and present comfort is found in God’s covenantal love for you in Christ and God’s preserving of the church for the ages to come. Rather than being a cheesy, cliche statement that Christians hold on to, you seriously need to remember that through all things, Jesus is still King. As King, Jesus promised that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church. Nothing can thwart God’s agenda in this world—and yes, not even your worst political nightmare.

EVERY SQUARE INCH

Even though Abraham Kuyper was Prime Minister of the Netherlands, he nevertheless retained his theological bent, believing that the state is a necessary good, while at the same time believing that the Kingship of Jesus reigns as supreme over all things. Make no mistake: the state is absolutely a necessary good in a world governed by corruption, but the state is limited. Government has been instituted by God (Romans 13:1) and have been instituted to restrain evil in society (Romans 13:3). In the throes of governing and politics, Kuyper never abandoned his chief concern in life:

There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’

Abraham Kuyper – Sphere Sovereignty

Kuyper believed, and we believe in his stead, that Christ, not the state, is the rightful ruler and king over all creation. There is nothing outside of his jurisdiction or control. There is never a moment of stress or angst in God’s heart as he governs and sustains the world right now. And the good news? God will never be dethroned. Your political candidate may win or loose in a few weeks but Jesus the King will remain King forever. Lest we get tunnel vision in our political vision, let us remember the end of history: all of the nations gathered together, bowing before Christ the Lamb, celebrating the victory of Jesus over all kings and rulers (Revelation 7:9).

So, Christian, go to the ballot box on November 3 with complete assurance and confidence, not in your political party or candidate, but in the fact that Jesus is the reigning and ruling King over all creation. Go in confidence to vote remembering that God has sustained his church through far more wicked governments. Go in hope to the ballot box, not in the promises of Trump or Biden, but in the promises of God found in the Scriptures.

Bible

Why Should You Study 1 Peter?

August 26, 2020

Starting in September, I will begin to preach through 1 Peter at Coram Deo. Why should we care about 1 Peter and how is it relevant to the life of a Christian today? My hope and prayer is that the people of Coram Deo may learn not just information but be transformed by the renewing work of God found in 1 Peter. So then, why should we study 1 Peter now in the 21st century?

PETER IN A TIME SUCH AS THIS

Many Christians are familiar with the Pauline epistles, the Psalms, Proverbs, and the Gospel stories; very few people spend significant time in 1 and 2 Peter. In fact, I have rarely, if ever, heard a Christian say that 1 Peter is one of their favorite books, even though the book has so much relevance to the life of a Christian in the 21st century. Even though thousands of years apart, we would discover that Peter’s world and our world are really not that different.

For one, depending upon when you believe Peter wrote 1 Peter, the persecution that Peter warns against is very similar to the persecution that Western Christians are now facing or will begin to face very soon. For Peter, the majority of persecution was verbal and cultural, meaning that perhaps a Christian would be verbally shamed or ridiculed for their belief in Christ while not enduring physical punishment. As Western culture continues to push further from Christianity, we will continue to see verbal and cultural persecution. For many of us, this type of aggression will be foreign to us and sadly, many of us will respond more from an American mindset than a biblical mindset. We will want to defend our honor, retaliate, and protect our rights. Rather, Peter would admonish us, “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called.” (1 Peter 3:9)

Peter will help refocus our priorities and fix our hope firmly on our Covenant God. Many of us have been accustomed to being in a place of cultural power, which is now shifting, and without the help of the Scriptures, we will be left confused at best and angry at worst. This, personally, leads me to the most important reason to study 1 Peter in the 21st century.

AN EXILIC IDENTITY

In the introduction, Peter identifies his audience as “elect exiles,” which, for our current cultural situation, is incredibly relevant. The average American Christian probably does not feel like an exile but the reality is that we progressively feel more like an exile as the years progress. An exile is a resident of one country while being a citizen of another. In this case, the people of God have always been exiles in this world—members of the Kingdom of God while living in the world. Yet, for many of us who grew up in Christendom, we have not felt like exiles. Times are changing, folks.

Peter wants to ground our identity in two facts—that we are elected and chosen by God and we currently reside as exiles and aliens in a foreign world. We recognize that we primarily belong to a world that is not here, to a Kingdom that is unshakeable, and to a King that is unimpeachable. Rather than grasping for cultural straws, it allows us to rest in and for the Kingdom of God that is breaking in right now.

A KINGDOM-SHAPED ETHIC

Because we are living in times where it is evident that Christians are exiles, it is more important than ever to have lives that are modeled after the Kingdom. Perhaps for many growing up in Christendom, morality was regulated via the government or the neighborhood that you grew up in. With the rise of postmodernism, morality is no longer enforceable outside the individual realm and thus, the people of God must be shaped by an ethic outside of themselves, namely through the Scriptures and the Kingdom of God.

1 Peter will not only teach us but shape us as a people to live as exiles in God’s kingdom. We will learn what it means to honor governors (even ones that are evil and commit evil acts), how to live as a godly family, how to serve in our vocations, and how to minister to those that are different than us. Rather than taking our cues from culture, 1 Peter invites us to be shaped around a Kingdom ethic.

JOIN US IN SEPTEMBER

I hope that you will join us as we learn from 1 Peter in the Fall. Perhaps you are new to Las Cruces and are looking for a church home, I invite you to join us on Sunday mornings at 10 am (you can also join us online as well). For those of you who already attend a church in Las Cruces, we invite you to journey with us and mine the riches of Peter’s epistle that is more relevant now than ever.

Bible, Catechism

Question #5: What Else Did God Create?

August 25, 2020

What else did God create?

God created all things by his powerful Word, and all his creation was very good; everything flourished under his loving rule

In my last post, we discussed New City Catechism’s question #4, which deals with the purpose of humanities creation: to know and love God. Now, after dealing with humanity, the catechism turns to the rest of the world. What else did God create? There are three points of interest that the catechism offers us.

GOD CREATED ALL THINGS

A simple reading of Genesis 1 and 2 would make God’s creation of all things a known fact. Birds, reptiles, trees, fish, and a host of other animals were created by God. But God did not only create what can be seen, but also the unseen: he created emotions, desire, will, relational and familial systems. Think about the vast sum of objects that you enjoy in this life. Marriage? Friendship? A ribeye medium-rare? A perfectly pulled shot of espresso? The Rocky Mountains? All of this, and more, comes from the hand and mind of God.

CREATED BY HIS POWERFUL WORD

You may be thinking, what is so special about God creating? We create all the time. We create tables, iPhones, cultural systems. We create all the time. For you and I, we are entirely dependent upon raw materials to create. In order to design and create a table, we must purchase a saw, screws, and wood. What is unique about the work of God is that He creates without any raw materials. In other words, Genesis 1 and 2 tell a story of a God who simply speaks and creates. God says, “Let there be light” and light appears.

God creates with no strain or stress, whereas we create with incredible stress and strain. Mankind has created some of the most fascinating inventions, yet most of the time through arduous work. God, on the other hand, never tires or worries about what he is creating. He never has a rough draft. God creates all things perfectly and painlessly. Here is the unique and inviting aspect of Christianity: God is immensely powerful while being highly relational at the same time. The same God who spoke the universe into being longs to be in relationship with you.

EVERYTHING CREATED VERY GOOD

We were originally created to live in a world that flourished, rather than the world that we live in now that has been corrupted by sin. Every single person, whether they are religious or not, recognizes that there is something wrong with the world. There is something inside of our bones that cries out, “This is not the way it’s supposed to be.” That is because something in our soul recognizes that there was a moment when everything was perfect.

Because God is perfect in himself, God created everything perfectly, or as the catechism notes, everything was created to flourish. This is what we all desperately long for: flourishing relationships, businesses, and friendships. We were designed to live in a world that flourishes under God’s loving rule, where everything works in perfect harmony together. Our hope lies in the fact that one day, God will return to earth to renew and restore all things, so that our heart gets what its longing for: to be in relationship with God and then world in perfect harmony.

Bible, Catechism

Question #4: How and why did God create us?

August 17, 2020

How and why did God create us?

God created us male and female in his own image to know him, love him, live with him, and glorify him. And it is right that we who were created by God should live to his glory.

New City Catechism #4

Deep inside humanities’ bones, everyone is asking: Why do I exist? What am I here for? Tired, anxious mothers question their existence and calling in sleepless nights; ambitious college-students seek to find their niche in the world; children wonder what their eventual purpose will be in the world. Simply put, wondering why we exist is simply human. Thankfully, Christianity and the catechism are not devoid of engagement with some of life’s most prominent questions. Here we have our answer, though some may not like it: we were created to know God, love God, live with God, and glorify God.

First, before we jump into the four reasons we were created, the catechism distinguishes how God created us. In the opening pages of the Bible, God is described as a Creator, who creates all things, including mankind. God first creates mankind in his image, noting that there is something amiss in the good creation, namely, a helper suitable for Adam. Now, lest we read our sin-filled world into Genesis 1 and 2, Eve being a “helper” for Adam is not derogatory or demeaning. A helper is someone who is strong, able to help, and fully competent (as I help my children with their homework, I cannot be the weaker party because then I could not help).

Everything in God’s good world was just that, good. Man and woman existed in perfect harmony with one another, with creation, with their vocation, and with their God. They existed together in a state in which we all long to be in. God created the first human pair to complement one another in relational harmony, as the catechism notes, we are created as male and female. We were created for vocational stewardship in this world, marital union, and relationship with God.

CREATED TO KNOW HIM

Our highest aim is to know God, more than as intellectual subject, but as an actual person. Of course we must know things about God but what is of utmost importance is that we know him like we know a good friend, rather than how we know how divide complex numbers. We were created to know God, as Adam and Eve were, walking in the garden with God in the cool of the day. Above everything else in life, you must ask yourself, “Do I truly want to know God? Am I fulfilling my ultimate purpose?”

CREATED TO LOVE HIM

More than just know God, we were created to love him, to have our affections stirred by him, and to have our delights infatuated by him. Men in the West have a difficult time understanding the concept of loving God, but the call is the same to both males and females: we are created to love God. We were created to know God and love God in a such a way that we exchange the best conversation around a fire with friends and think, “There’s no place I’d rather be!” In every moment of every day, we were created to love him.

CREATED TO LIVE WITH HIM

While some sectors of Christianity have espoused a monastic life, the vast swath of Christians in history have chosen to live with God in their day-to-day routines. This, frankly, is one of the most compelling things about Christianity. Rather than a cloistered religion, only known by the holiest of holy’s, Christianity is a rugged and personal religion, one in where God walks with you in the day-to-day affairs of your life. While certain sections of our life can be devoted more specifically to God (think, worshipping on Sunday morning), God is just as interested and involved in your business endeavors, your relational woes, and your fluctuating hobbies. God cares and wants you to live with him in every facet of your life.

CREATED TO GLORIFY HIM

The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks this fundamental question, “Why were you created?” The answer: to glorify and enjoy God forever. The reason you exist is not to make a name for yourself, to accomplish great tasks, or to build a great empire—but to glorify a great King. From work, to play, to rest, to parenthood, to marriage—all things are for the glory of God. You’re highest aim in life is to worship, adore, and glorify the Creator God.