What We Believe

Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Testimony

In 1986, the CRC formulated a statement of faith entitled “Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Testimony” which addresses issues such as secularism, individualism, and relativism. These issues were seen as “unique challenges of faith presented by the times in which we live.”

Because of its Biblical, kingdom perspective, the Contemporary Testimony closely follows the basic storyline of the Biblical message.  It moves from creation through the fall to redemption on the way to a renewed creation.  Under each of these main headings it confesses the Christian position regarding matters of crucial concern to the Christian community today.(a)

When reading through this document you are encouraged to have a Bible beside you in order to look up the references made at the end of each statement.  If you don’t have a Bible you can click HERE for an online version.

 Contents 

Preamble……………………………………………….1

Creation………………………………………………..7

Fall……………………………………………………..13

Redemption…………………………………………..18

Christ………………………………………………….23

The Spirit……………………………………………..28

Revelation……………………………………………31

God’s New People………………………………….34

The Mission of God’s People…………….………41

New Creation………………………………………..55

Preamble

1.         As followers of Jesus Christ,

living in this world—

which some seek to control,

and others view with despair—

we declare with joy and trust:

Our world belongs to God!

For God’s ownership of all things, see Psalm 24:1 (quoted in 1 Cor. 10:26), Job 41:11, and Deuteronomy 10:14. That this is also “our world”—given to the human race to keep and care for—is one of the themes of the creation stories in Genesis 1 and 2.

2.         From the beginning,

through all the crises of our times,

until the kingdom fully comes,

God keeps covenant forever:

Our world belongs to God!

God is King: Let the earth be glad!

Christ is victor: his rule has begun!

The Spirit is at work: creation is renewed!

Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!

For God’s faithfulness, see, among many passages, Psalm 89, 117, 145; Romans 8:31-39; and Hebrews 10:23. For the victory of God in Christ and the rule of Christ, see 1 Corinthians 15:54-57, Philippians 2:9-11, and Revelation 1:13-18. For the Spirit’s work renewing creation, see Genesis 1 and Romans 8.

3.         Still, despair and rebellious pride fill the earth:

some, crushed by failure

or broken by pain,

give up on life and hope and God;

others, shaken,

but still hoping for human triumph,

work feverishly to realize their dreams.

As believers in God,

we also struggle with the spirits of this age,

resisting them in the power of the Spirit,

testing them by God’s sure Word.

Psalm 2 expresses the rebellious spirit of the human race. See also Romans 1-3. Ephesians 6:10-17 describes the struggle of believers with the spirits of the age. On testing the spirits, see 1 John 4.

4.         Our world, fallen into sin,

has lost its first goodness,

but God has not abandoned the work of his hands:

our Maker preserves this world,

sending seasons, sun, and rain,

upholding all creatures,

renewing the earth,

promising a Savior,

guiding all things to their purpose.

See Genesis 3; 9:8-16; Psalm 104, especially verse 30; Matthew 5:45; and Acts 14:17. For the promisesof a Savior, see Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 7:14; 11:1-5; 42:1-7, 53; and Micah 5:2.

5.         God holds this world

with fierce love.

Keeping his promise,

he sends Jesus into the world,

pours out the Holy Spirit,

and announces the good news:

sinners who repent and believe in Jesus

live anew as members of the family of God—

the firstfruits of a new creation.

For God’s fierce love, see Hosea 11, especially verses 10-11. For statements of the gospel message, see John 3:1-21, Acts 2:36-39, Romans 10:7-11, and Ephesians 2:1-10. For “firstfruits,” see Leviticus 23:9-14 and James 1:18.

6.         We rejoice in the goodness of God,

renounce the works of darkness,

and dedicate ourselves to holy living.

As covenant partners,

set free for joyful obedience,

we offer our hearts and lives

to do God’s work in the world.

With tempered impatience,

eager to see injustice ended,

we expect the Day of the Lord.

We are confident

that the light

which shines in the present darkness

will fill the earth

when Christ appears.

Come, Lord Jesus.

Our world belongs to you.

Among the texts referenced in this paragraph, see Matthew 5:17-20, 48; John 1:1-5, 9-13; 3:19-21; Romans 12:1-2; Galatians 5:1, 13-25; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-5:11; 2 Peter 3; 1 John 2:7-11; and Revelation 22:20.

 

Creation

 

7.         Our world belongs to God—

not to us or earthly powers,

not to demons, fate, or chance.

The earth is the Lord’s.

For references, see the first paragraph.

8.         In the beginning, God—

Father, Word, and Spirit—

called this world into being

out of nothing,

and gave it shape and order.

See Genesis 1, where Creator, Word, and Spirit call creation into order. For the role of the Word increation and Jesus as the Word, see John 1:1-14.

9.         God formed sky, land, and sea;

stars above, moon and sun,

making a world of color, beauty, and variety—

a fitting home for plants and animals, and us—

a place to work and play,

worship and wonder,

love and laugh.

God rested

and gave us rest.

In the beginning

everything was very good.

On creation, besides Genesis 1 and 2, see Psalm 19; 33:6-9; and 104.

10.       Made in God’s image

to live in loving communion with our Maker,

we are appointed earthkeepers and caretakers

to tend the earth, enjoy it,

and love our neighbors.

God uses our skills

for the unfolding and well-being of his world

so that creation and all who live in it may flourish.

For the image of God, see Genesis 1:26-27; 9:6; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10; and James 3:9.

11.       Together,

male and female,

single and married,

young and old—

every hue and variety of humanity—

we are called to represent God,

for the Lord God made us all.

Life is God’s gift to us,

and we are called to foster

the well-being of all the living,

protecting from harm

the unborn and the weak,

the poor and the vulnerable.

See Genesis 1:26-27, Galatians 3:26-28, and Acts 2:5-11. On how we treat the vulnerable among us as a measure of justice, see Isaiah 1:15-17 and James 1:27.

12.       Even now,

as history unfolds

in ways we know only in part,

we are assured

that God is with us in our world,

holding all things in tender embrace

and bending them to his purpose.

The confidence that the Lord is faithful

gives meaning to our days

and hope to our years.

The future is secure,

for our world belongs to God.

For the providential care of God, see Isaiah 45:6-7, Matthew 6:25-34, and Luke 12:4-7.

Fall

13.       In the beginning of human history,

our first parents walked with God.

But rather than living by the Creator’s word of life,

they listened to the serpent’s lie

and fell into sin.

In their rebellion

they tried to be like God.

As sinners, Adam and Eve feared

the nearness of God

and hid.

For the fall of humanity into sin, see Genesis 3. On the serpent, see, in addition to Genesis 3, Revelation 12:9 and 20:2.

14.       Fallen in that first sin,

we prove each day

that apart from grace

we are guilty sinners:

we fail to thank God,

we break God’s laws,

we ignore our tasks.

Looking for life without God,

we find death;

grasping for freedom outside the law,

we trap ourselves in Satan’s snares;

pursuing pleasure,

we lose the gift of joy.

For the effects of the fall on humanity, see especially Romans 1:18-3:18.

15.       When humans deface God’s image,

the whole world suffers:

we abuse the creation or idolize it;

we are estranged from our Creator,

from our neighbor,

from our true selves,

and from all that God has made.

On the defacing of God’s image, see Romans 1:21-23; for the restoration of the image in Christ, see Romans 8:29, 2 Corinthians 3:18, Ephesians 4:22-24, and Colossians 3:10.

16.       All spheres of life—

family and friendship,

work and worship,

school and state,

play and art—

bear the wounds of our rebellion.

Sin is present everywhere—

in pride of race,

arrogance of nations,

abuse of the weak and helpless,

disregard for water, air, and soil,

destruction of living creatures,

slavery, murder, terror, and war,

worship of false gods,

the mistreatment of our bodies,

and our frantic efforts to escape reality.

We become victims of our own sin.

Among many passages, see Psalm 14 and 53, Amos 1-2, Romans 1:28-32, and Galatians 5:19-21.

17.       In all our striving

to excuse or save ourselves,

we stand condemned

before the God of truth.

But our world,

broken and scarred,

still belongs to God,

who holds it together

and gives us hope.

See Psalm 62 and 89:28-37; Romans 5:3-11; 15:13; and Hebrews 11:1.

 

Redemption

18.       While justly angry,

God did not turn away

from a world bent on destruction

but turned to face it in love.

With patience and tender care

the Lord set out

on the long road of redemption

to reclaim the lost as his people

and the world as his kingdom.

For God’s response to sin, see Genesis 3:9-15, John 3:16, and Luke 1:68-75; for the aim to restore the kingdom, see Revelation 11:15.

19.       Although Adam and Eve were expelled

from the garden

and their days burdened

by the weight of sin,

the Lord held on to them in love

and promised to crush

the evil forces

they had unleashed.

For God’s kindness to Adam and Eve, see Genesis 3:15-19.

20.       When evil filled the earth,

God judged it with a flood

but rescued Noah and his family

and animals of every kind.

He covenanted with all creatures

that seasons will continue

and that such destruction

will not come again

until the last day

when the Lord returns

to make all things new.

For God’s promise not to repeat the flood, see Genesis 9:8-17, 1 Peter 2, and 2 Peter 3; for the final renewal, see Revelation 21:1-5.

21.       The Lord promised to be God

to Abraham, Sarah, and their children,

calling them to walk faithfully before him

and blessing the nations through them.

God chose Israel to show the glory of his name,

the power of his love,

and the wisdom of his ways.

The Lord gave them the law

through Moses

and led them

by rulers and teachers,

shaping a people

in whom God is revealed—

a light to the nations.

For God’s promise to Abraham and to his people Israel, see Genesis 12:1-3, Deuteronomy 7-8, and Romans 9; for Abraham’s children as the light to the nations, see Micah 6:8 and Isaiah 60.

22.       When Israel spurned God’s love—

lusting after other gods,

trusting in power and wealth,

and hurting the weak—

God scattered them among the nations,

yet kept a faithful remnant

and promised them the Messiah:

a prophet to speak good news,

a king to crush evil and rule the earth with justice,

a priest to be sacrificed for sinners.

God promised to forgive their sins

and give them a new heart and a new spirit,

moving them to walk in his ways.

For the scattering, see 2 Chronicles 36 and Isaiah 10:1-11; for the promises, see Isaiah 53, Jeremiah 31,and Ezekiel 36.

 

Christ

  

23.       Remembering the promise

to reconcile the world to himself,

God joined our humanity in Jesus Christ—

the eternal Word made flesh.

He is the long-awaited Messiah,

one with us

and one with God,

fully human and fully divine,

conceived by the Holy Spirit

and born of the virgin Mary.

For Jesus as the incarnate Son of God, see Luke 1:31-35, John 1:1-14, and Hebrews 1:2-3.

24.       As the second Adam,

Jesus chose the path we had rejected.

In his baptism and temptations,

teaching and miracles,

battles with demons

and friendships with sinners,

Jesus lived a full and righteous human life before us.

As God’s true Son,

he lovingly obeyed the Father

and made present in deed and word

the coming rule of God.

In Romans 5:12-21, Christ is designated the second Adam. Hebrews 2:10-18 and 4:14-5:2 teach about his life of righteous humanity; the announcement of the kingdom is found, among other places, in Mark 1:1, 14, 15.

25.       Standing in our place,

Jesus suffered during his years on earth,

especially in the tortures of the cross.

He carried God’s judgment on our sin—

his sacrifice removed our guilt.

God raised him from the dead:

he walked out of the grave,

conqueror of sin and death—

Lord of Life!

We are set right with God,

given new life,

and called to walk with him

in freedom from sin’s dominion.

For Jesus’ lifelong suffering, see Hebrews 5:7-10. All four of the gospel passion accounts portray the depths of his suffering on the cross. Jesus’ resurrection victory is proclaimed often, especially in Matthew 28:1-10 and 1 Corinthians 15:20-28.

26.       Being both divine and human,

Jesus is the only mediator.

He alone paid the debt of our sin;

there is no other Savior.

We are chosen in Christ

to become like him in every way.

God’s electing love sustains our hope:

God’s grace is free

to save sinners who offer nothing

but their need for mercy.

Christ is shown to be our mediator in 1 Timothy 2:5 and Hebrews 9:11-15, and our only Savior in John 14:6 and Acts 4:12. For our election in Christ to be like Christ, see Romans 8:29, 2 Corinthians 3:18, and Ephesians 1:3-4.

27.       Jesus ascended in triumph,

raising our humanity to the heavenly throne.

All authority, glory, and sovereign power

are given to him.

There he hears our prayers

and pleads our cause before the Father.

Blessed are all

who take refuge in him.

For Christ’s universal authority and intercession as ascended Lord, see Matthew 28:18, Psalm 2:12, 1 John 2:1-2, and Hebrews 7:25. For the ascension of our humanity with him, see Hebrews 4:14-16; Ephesians 1:20-22; 2:6; and Colossians 3:1-4.

 

 The Spirit

 

28.       At Pentecost, promises old and new are fulfilled.

The ascended Jesus becomes the baptizer,

drenching his followers with his Spirit,

creating a new community

where Father, Son, and Holy Spirit make their home.

Revived and filled with the breath of God,

women and men,

young and old,

dream dreams

and see visions.

On the fulfillment of promises at Pentecost along with dreams and visions, see Acts 2:16-21. On the ascended Jesus as baptizer and also the imagery of drenching in baptism of the Spirit, see Luke 3:16; John 1:32-33; 20:22; and Acts 2:32-33. On the Spirit creating a new community, note Acts 2:41-47 following Pentecost. On the Father, Son, and Spirit making their home with God’s people, see John 14:15-24.

29.       The Spirit renews our hearts

and moves us to faith,

leads us into truth,

and helps us to pray,

stands by us in our need,

and makes our obedience fresh and vibrant.

God the Spirit lavishes gifts on the church

in astonishing variety—

prophecy, encouragement, healing,

teaching, service, tongues, discernment—

equipping each member

to build up the body of Christ

and to serve our neighbors.

On the Spirit’s work of renewing our hearts, see Titus 3:4-7; moving us to faith, Romans 5:1-5; leading us into truth, John 16:13; helping us to pray, Romans 8:26-27; standing by us in our need, Hebrews 2:18; and making our obedience fresh and vibrant, Romans 8:1-11. On the Spirit’s gifts, see 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12:3-8.

30.       The Spirit gathers people

from every tongue, tribe, and nation

into the unity of the body of Christ.

Anointed and sent by the Spirit,

the church is thrust into the world,

ambassadors of God’s peace,

announcing forgiveness and reconciliation,

proclaiming the good news of grace.

Going before them and with them,

the Spirit convinces the world of sin

and pleads the cause of Christ.

Men and women, impelled by the Spirit,

go next door and far away

into science and art,

media and marketplace—

every area of life,

pointing to the reign of God

with what they do and say.

On the gathering of all nations, see Revelation 7:9-17; on the Spirit and the church’s mission, John 20:21-22, Luke 24:49, and Acts 1:8; on the church’s mission as ambassadors, 2 Corinthians 5:18-21; on the work of the Spirit in the world, John 16:7-11; and on the breadth of the church’s mission in the Spirit, Philippians 1:27-2:15.

 

 Revelation

 

31.       God gives this world

many ways to know him.

The creation shows his power and majesty.

He speaks through prophets, poets, and apostles,

and, most eloquently, through the Son.

The Spirit, active from the beginning,

moved human beings to write the Word of God

and opens our hearts to God’s voice.

For general revelation, see Romans 1 and Acts 14; for the inspiration of the Bible, see 1 Timothy 3:14-17 and 2 Peter 1:16-21; and for the full revelation in Christ, see Hebrews 1 and Colossians 1.

32.       The Bible is the Word of God,

the record and tool of his redeeming work.

It is the Word of truth,

breath of God,

fully reliable in leading us

to know God

and to walk with Jesus Christ

in new life.

For the nature of Scripture, see Luke 1:1-4, John 20:30-31, Acts 8:26-39, James 1:18, and references in paragraph 31.

33.       The Bible tells the story

of God’s mighty acts

in the unfolding

of covenant history.

As one revelation in two testaments

the Bible reveals God’s will

and the sweep of God’s redeeming work.

Illumined and equipped by the Spirit,

disciples of Jesus hear and do the Word,

witnessing to the good news

that our world belongs to God,

who loves it deeply.

For God’s mighty acts, see Acts 2 and 7; for our instruction, see Matthew 16:13-19, 1 Corinthians 10:1-11, 2 Timothy 3:14-17, and James 1:19-27.

 

God’s New People

 

34.       In our world,

where many journey alone,

nameless in the bustling crowd,

Satan and his evil forces

seek whom they may scatter and isolate;

but God, by his gracious choosing in Christ,

gathers a new community—

those who by God’s gift

put their trust in Christ.

In the new community

all are welcome:

the homeless come home,

the broken find healing,

the sinner makes a new start;

the despised are esteemed,

the least are honored,

and the last are first.

Here the Spirit guides

and grace abounds.

For the new community, see 1 Peter 2:4-7; for the attacks of Satan, 1 Peter 5:8-11; for the gracious welcome, Matthew 11:28-30 and 1 Peter 5:5-7.

35.       The church is the fellowship of those

who confess Jesus as Lord.

She is the bride of Christ,

his chosen partner,

loved by Jesus and loving him:

delighting in his presence,

seeking him in prayer—

silent before the mystery of his love.

For the confession, see Matthew 10:32-33; for the church as the bride of Christ, see Ephesians 2:6; 5:21-33; 1 John 3:11-17; 4:13-21; and Revelation 21:9.

36.       Our new life in Christ

is celebrated and nourished

in the fellowship of congregations,

where we praise God’s name,

hear the Word proclaimed,

learn God’s ways,

confess our sins,

offer our prayers and gifts,

and celebrate the sacraments.

For the church’s worship, see Matthew 6:5-15; 28:18-20; Acts 2:41-47; Romans 10; and 1 Corinthians11:17-34.

37.       God meets us in the sacraments,

communicating grace to us

by means of water, bread, and wine.

In baptism,

whether of the newly born

or newly converted,

God reminds and assures us

of our union with Christ in covenant love,

the washing away of our sin,

and the gift of the Holy Spirit—

expecting our love and trust in return.

Matthew 3:13-17, with Matthew 28:19, establishes baptism as a gospel sacrament. That baptism is for children as well as adults and is accompanied by the gift of the Spirit is indicated in Acts 2:28-29. Titus 3:5 calls baptism a washing away of sins. Romans 6:1-11 and Galatians 3:27 show how it forms us as members of Christ. 1 Corinthians 10:1-10 indicates that baptism in itself is not a guarantee of salvation.

38.       In the Lord’s Supper, Christ offers

his own crucified body and shed blood

to his people,

assuring them a share

in his death and resurrection.

By the Holy Spirit, he feeds us

with his resurrection life

and binds us to each other

as we share one loaf and cup.

We receive this food gladly,

believing, as we eat,

that Jesus is our life-giving food and drink

and that he will come again

to call us to the wedding feast of the Lamb.

Matthew 26:17-29 and parallels establish the Lord’s Supper as a gospel sacrament. On the meaning of the Lord’s Supper, see 1 Corinthians 5:7-8; 8:1-13; 10:14-21; and 11:23-26. See also Jesus’ strong words on his presence in the Lord’s Supper in John 6:48-58.

39.       The church is a gathering

of forgiven sinners called to be holy.

Saved by the patient grace of God,

we deal patiently with others

and together confess our need

for grace and forgiveness.

Restored in Christ’s presence,

shaped by his life,

this new community lives out

the ongoing story of God’s reconciling love,

announces the new creation,

and works for a world of justice and peace.

On the church as a forgiven community called to be holy, see Ephesians 1:3-7; on dealing with one another patiently, Galatians 6:1-5 and Colossians 3:12-14; on the need for confession and restoration, 1 John 1:8-2:6; and on living out God’s reconciling love as part of a new creation, 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 and 1 John 3:16-17.

40.       We grieve that the church,

which shares one Spirit, one faith, one hope,

and spans all time, place, race, and language,

has become a broken communion in a broken world.

When we struggle

for the truth of the gospel

and for the righteousness God demands,

we pray for wisdom and courage.

When our pride or blindness

hinders the unity of God’s household,

we seek forgiveness.

We marvel that the Lord gathers the broken pieces

to do his work

and that he blesses us still

with joy, new members,

and surprising evidences of unity.

We commit ourselves to seeking and expressing

the oneness of all who follow Jesus,

and we pray for brothers and sisters

who suffer for the faith.

On the unity of the church, see John 17:20-23 and Ephesians 2:11-22; 4:1-16. 

The Mission of God’s People

41.       Joining the mission of God,

the church is sent

with the gospel of the kingdom

to call everyone to know and follow Christ

and to proclaim to all

the assurance that in the name of Jesus

there is forgiveness of sin

and new life for all who repent and believe.

The Spirit calls all members

to embrace God’s mission

in their neighborhoods

and in the world:

to feed the hungry,

bring water to the thirsty,

welcome the stranger,

clothe the naked,

care for the sick,

and free the prisoner.

We repent of leaving this work to a few,

for this mission is central to our being.

On our part in God’s mission, see Matthew 28:18-20, Luke 14:45-49, and John 17:18; on seeing our mission beyond our local community, Matthew 24:14 and Acts 13:1-3; on meeting the needs of people, Matthew 25:31-46 and Luke 4:18-19; and on the centrality of mission to our being, John 20:21.

42.       In a world estranged from God,

where happiness and peace are offered in many names

and millions face confusing choices,

we witness—

with respect for followers of other ways—

to the only one in whose name salvation is found:

Jesus Christ.

In Jesus, God reconciles the world to himself.

God loves all creation;

his compassion knows no bounds.

On the exclusive claims of Christ, see John 14:6 and Acts 4:12; on God’s love and compassion for the world, see Matthew 9:36-38 and John 3:16.

43.       Jesus Christ rules over all.

To follow this Lord is

to serve him wherever we are

without fitting in,

light in darkness,

salt in a spoiling world.

On the rule of Christ over the whole world, see Philippians 2:9-11, Colossians 1:15-20, and Revelation 11:15; on being light, salt, and not fitting in, see Matthew 5:13-16 and Romans 12:1-2.

44.       Life is a gift from God’s hand,

who created all things.

Receiving this gift thankfully,

with reverence for the Creator,

we protest and resist

all that harms, abuses, or diminishes the gift of life,

whether by abortion, pollution, gluttony,

addiction, or foolish risks.

Because it is a sacred trust,

we treat all life with awe and respect,

especially when it is most vulnerable—

whether growing in the womb,

touched by disability or disease,

or drawing a last breath.

When forced to make decisions

at life’s raw edges,

we seek wisdom in community,

guided by God’s Word and Spirit.

On respect for all life, see Deuteronomy 5:17 and Psalm 104:14-30 and 139:14-16. Our very bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit: 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.

45.       Since God made us male and female in his image,

we respect each other as equals,

not flaunting or exploiting our sexuality.

While our roles and capacities may differ,

we are careful not to confine God’s gifts and calling

to the shape of our cultural patterns or expectations.

Sexuality is disordered in our fallen world—

brokenness, abuse, pornography, and loneliness are the result—

but Christ’s renewing work gives hope

for order and healing

and surrounds suffering persons

with compassionate community.

Male and female, we are all made in God’s image: Genesis 1:26-27 and Galatians 3:27. On sexual disorder as a result of sin, see Romans 1:24 and 1 Corinthians 6:15-20.

46.       We are the family of God,

serving Christ together in Christian community.

Single for a time or a life,

devoted to the work of God,

we offer our love and service

to the building of the kingdom.

Married, in relationships of lifelong loyalty,

we offer our lives to the same work:

building the kingdom,

teaching and modeling the ways of the Lord

so our children may know

Jesus as Lord

and learn to use their gifts

in lives of joyful service.

In friendship and family life,

singleness and marriage,

as parents and children,

we reflect the covenant love of God.

We lament the prevalence of divorce

and of selfish individualism in our societies.

We belong to God.

See the apostle Paul’s discussion of singleness and marriage in 1 Corinthians 7. On the importance of teaching and modeling the ways of the Lord, see Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Proverbs 22:6, and Ephesians 6:1-4. Jesus’ teaching on divorce is found in Matthew 19:1-12 and Mark 10:1-12. That we together reflect the love of God is taught in John 13:34-35 and all of 1 John.

47.       Serving the Lord

in whom all things hold together,

we support sound education in our communities,

and we foster schools and teaching

in which God’s truth shines in all learning.

All students,

without regard to abilities, race, or wealth,

bear God’s image

and deserve an education

that helps them use their gifts fully.

For the importance of education, see Deuteronomy 6:1-9 and Proverbs 4:1-9; for the need for God’s light, Psalm 119:105; for the central place of Christ, Colossians 1:17; for equal acceptance, James 2:1-13.

48.       Our work is a calling from God.

We work for more than wages

and manage for more than profit

so that mutual respect

and the just use of goods and skills

may shape the workplace.

While we earn or profit,

we love our neighbors by providing

useful products and services.

In our global economy

we advocate meaningful work

and fair wages for all.

Out of the Lord’s generosity to us,

we give freely and gladly

of our money and time.

For the place of work, see Genesis 2:15, Exodus 20:9, Ephesians 6:5-9, and 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13; for justice in the workplace, Ezekiel 34 and James 5:1-5; for generosity, 2 Corinthians 9 and 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12.

49.       Rest and leisure are gifts from God

that relax us and set us free

to discover and to explore.

But we confess

that often our addiction to busyness

allows our tools and toys to invade our rest

and that an internet world with its temptations

distorts our leisure.

Reminding each other that

our Maker rested and gave us rest,

we seek to rest more trustingly

and to entertain ourselves more simply.

For rest, see Genesis 2:2-3 and Deuteronomy 5:12-15; for the discriminating use of leisure, Philippians 4:8-9 and Ephesians 4:17-32.

50.       Grateful for advances

in science and technology,

we participate in their development,

fostering care for creation

and respect for the gift of life.

We welcome discoveries that prevent or cure diseases

and that help support healthy lives.

We respect embryonic life,

approaching each new discovery,

whether of science or of medical technique,

with careful thought,

seeking the will of God.

In Genesis 1:28-31 and 9:1-7, God gives to humanity the right and responsibility to develop and care for creation; for a reflection on the limitations of human technology and need for divine wisdom, see Job 28; for the continuing goodness of creation and the need for a prayerful approach to what we use of it, see 1 Timothy 4:4-5.

51.       We lament that our abuse of creation

has brought lasting damage

to the world we have been given:

polluting streams and soil,

poisoning the air,

altering the climate,

and damaging the earth.

We commit ourselves

to honor all God’s creatures

and to protect them from abuse and extinction,

for our world belongs to God.

Genesis 1:28-29; 7:1-5; Psalm 8; and Romans 8:18-25 teach that we are entrusted with caring for the earth.

52.       We obey God first;

we respect the authorities that rule,

for they are established by God:

we pray for our rulers,

and we work to influence governments—

resisting them only when Christ and conscience demand.

We are thankful for the freedoms

enjoyed by citizens of many lands;

we grieve with those who live under oppression,

and we seek for them the liberty to live without fear.

Romans 13:1-7 teaches respect for governing authorities (see also 1 Peter 2:13-17); Revelation 13 illustrates government gone wrong. Colossians 1:16 teaches that authority and power come from Christ; Ephesians 6:12 warns us that authority and power can become infected by evil.

53.       We call on all governments to do public justice

and to protect the rights and freedoms

of individuals, groups, and institutions

so that each may do their tasks.

We urge governments and pledge ourselves

to safeguard children and the elderly

from abuse and exploitation,

to bring justice to the poor and oppressed,

and to promote the freedom

to speak, work, worship, and associate.

That governments are called to justice generally and that how a government treats the poor and the weak is a key indicator of a society’s commitment to justice is taught in all the prophets and in psalms like Psalm 72.

54.       Followers of the Prince of Peace

are called to be peacemakers,

promoting harmony and order

and restoring what is broken.

We call on our governments to work for peace

and to restore just relationships.

We deplore the spread of weapons

in our world and on our streets

with the risks they bring

and the horrors they threaten.

We call on all nations to reduce their arsenals

to what is needed

in the defense of justice and freedom.

We pledge to walk in ways of peace,

confessing that our world belongs to God;

he is our sure defense.

Isaiah 2:1-4 expresses God’s will for peace, and Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers . . .” (Matthew 5:9).

 

New Creation

55.       Our hope for a new creation is not tied

to what humans can do,

for we believe that one day

every challenge to God’s rule

will be crushed.

His kingdom will fully come,

and the Lord will rule.

Come, Lord Jesus, come.

On this hope, see 1 Peter 1:3-12, 2 Peter 3:3-13, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11, and Revelation 11:15.

56.       We long for that day

when our bodies are raised,

the Lord wipes away our tears,

and we dwell forever in the presence of God.

We will take our place in the new creation,

where there will be no more death

or mourning or crying or pain,

and the Lord will be our light.

Come, Lord Jesus, come.

For the coming of the kingdom of God, see Matthew 24, Acts 1:10-11, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11, and Revelation 19:11-16. 1 Corinthians 15 speaks of the resurrection of the body, Revelation 21:4 of the wiping away of tears, and Revelation 21:22-27 of the light of heaven.

57.       On that day

we will see our Savior face to face,

sacrificed Lamb and triumphant King,

just and gracious.

He will set all things right,

judge evil, and condemn the wicked.

We face that day without fear,

for the Judge is our Savior,

whose shed blood declares us righteous.

We live confidently,

anticipating his coming,

offering him our daily lives—

our acts of kindness,

our loyalty, and our love—

knowing that he will weave

even our sins and sorrows

into his sovereign purpose.

Come, Lord Jesus, come.

Revelation 5 describes the Lion and the Lamb. For the just judgments of the Lord, see Revelation 19:1-10. A picture of the multitude of those declared righteous in Christ is found in Revelation 7:9-17. The concept of God weaving all things together is found, among other places, in Romans 8:28-39.

58.       With the whole creation

we join the song:

“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,

to receive power and wealth

and wisdom and strength

and honor and glory and praise!”

He has made us a kingdom of priests

to serve our God,

and we will reign on earth.

God will be all in all,

righteousness and peace will flourish,

everything will be made new,

and every eye will see at last

that our world belongs to God.

Hallelujah! Come, Lord Jesus!

For the imagery of this paragraph, see Exodus 19:5-6, Isaiah 40, 1 Peter 2:9-10, and Revelation 4-5.


(a) Information comes from the Study Edition of “Our World Belongs to God” created in 1987 by CRC Publications (now Faith Alive)

Recent Posts

Sin: A Family Tale

We continue a series of blog devotions based on the CRC Contemporary Testimony “Our World Belongs to God.”. These devotions incorporate both Christian and non-Christian student reflections on the statements.  The series begins HERE if you wish to read them all.

Suggested Scripture Reading – Genesis 3

But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” Genesis 3:9-11

Our World Belongs to God – Article 13

In the beginning of human history,
our first parents walked with God.
But rather than living by the Creator’s word of life,
they listened to the serpent’s lie
and fell into sin.
In their rebellion
they tried to be like God.
As sinners, Adam and Eve feared
the nearness of God
and hid.

~~~

imagesWCG35L78I recently had the chance to visit my parents and I was reminded of a particular way in which members of my family sit. When we’re relaxed, we’re inclined to sit with our bottoms on the edge of a chair, our legs stretched out with feet crossed, and often our hands folded over our bellies. I sometimes think of this position as the coffin position because it’s how they usually arrange a body in a coffin. Yet in our family we attempt this position as we sit in chairs. My dad does it, I have cousins that do it and I do it. It’s hard to say what part of this sitting position is a learned behaviour and what part of it might be genetics. Either way, it was passed on to me through my parents.

The thirteenth article of Our World Belongs to God makes a thoughtful choice of words. As it begins to discuss the topic of sin and how sin exists in the creation, the subject is made personal. By beginning with the imagery of parents walking with God, it emphasizes our connection to the entire history of our human family. So often when it comes to the problems of our world we like to point fingers at other nations, races, religions, etc. etc. But to understand the problem of evil or sin we must look at ourselves. N.T. Wright in his book “Simply Christian” says it so well:

imagesC0OS667AThe line between good and evil does not lie between ‘us’ and ‘them,’ between the West and the rest, between Left and Right, between rich and poor. That fateful line runs down the middle of each of us, every human society, every individual. This is not to say that all humans, and all societies, are equally good or bad; far from it. Merely that we are all infected and that all easy attempts to see the problem in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’ are fatally flawed.”

The story of sin is OUR story.

untitled (8) When we read Genesis 3, we must hear an incredibly personal story about the way in which so many of us choose ourselves first. Genesis 3 is not just a story about the first sin, it’s a story about the way things go wrong. Our family history shows us a long and sordid tale of people who are constantly seeking ways in which we can be all-knowing. The problem of sin is a family story of learned and genetic behavior where we are always trying to live beyond our means. And in our contemporary society, we only need look at advertising slogans to see how we’re prone to lies of putting ME first – “Just Do It – Nike” “Because You’re Worth It – L’Oreal,” “I Want That – The Source,” “Have it Your Way – Burger King.”

The life aimed at serving the self is a lonely life, something that is emphasized in this article when it points out that as Adam and Eve chose themselves first they feared the nearness of God and hid. Life works best within the confines of a way where we as humans do not put ourselves first, where who we are exists to serve the creation as stewards of the garden, where we seek the good of our neighbor and ultimately where we acknowledge that only God can be all knowing. What lies might we be listening to these days? What does our chapter of the family story look like?

Prayer

Heavenly Father, have mercy on me, a sinner. Amen