This is a continuation of the "Made in the Image of God" series we introduced last week by Breck Wheelock. The overall purpose is to equip the church with God's view of men and women by countering the lies we're being told today from the world -- that claim we're evolutionary accidents who can be whatever sex we choose. These lies can bind us and our children, but the Truth will set us free!
Part 4: The Destiny of Man
What was mankind’s ultimate destiny under the headship of Adam, and how has that changed as a result of the fall? These are the questions that are taken up in this final sermon of the series. The sin of Adam affected the whole of creation and caused misdirection with regard to the destiny of man. However, the redemption of Christ (the second Adam) has likewise affected the whole of creation, and He is slowly but steadily reorienting the created order back to its intended direction – the glory of God.
The exhortations given at the end of the sermon encourage us to take part in Christ’s ministry of reconciliation – to plant seeds and pull weeds; to be cultural transforms according to the cultural mandate of Genesis, and to be cultural reformers according to the great commission of Christ. The series ends on a very high note that you won’t want to miss!
Thus far we’ve considered the dignity of man, the identity of man, and the purpose of man. And today we’re going to consider the DESTINY of man.
The purpose of man and the destiny of man go together, so today’s article will encompass aspects of both, but with an emphasis on the destiny of man. With regard to the purpose of man, we learned last week that man’s vocational calling was to have dominion over the earth, to subdue it, and that this idea of having dominion and subduing the earth is perhaps best summarized by the word, culture. Consequently, the divine ordinance that is given in Gen. 1:28—that man is to fill, subdue, and have dominion over the earth—is sometimes referred to as the cultural mandate. Mankind was made to create culture and civilization as God’s representative prophet, priest, and king. But to what end? What was mankind’s ultimate destiny under the headship of Adam, and how has that changed as a result of the fall? These are the questions that we shall take up in today’s sermon.
Once more I will remind you that my overall objective is that we would have a better understanding and appreciation of man being made in the image of God, and that we would arrive at a good working definition of what it means to be made in the image of God. And by the end of today’s sermon, we will finally arrive at the working definition that we’re after. So, let’s once again read Gen. 1:26-28, and then we’ll explore the subject of man’s destiny.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
The Destiny of Man
CREATION: Clues to our cultural destiny in Genesis and Revelation
The word destiny implies destination, and it also implies directionality, for one will not reach their destination if they’re continually going in the wrong direction. Thus, in today’s sermon, we’re going to consider both of these things—destiny and directionality.
In terms of destiny, man’s vocational calling to fill, subdue, and have dominion over the earth was not to go on indefinitely. There was an end goal in mind. There was a terminal point in which man would have completed and fulfilled his cultural mandate. He would have eventually arrived at his destination; however, it would have undoubtedly required ages and ages for him to ultimately accomplish this task.
Look again at the comprehensive language of the cultural mandate that is given in verse 28, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” This is sweeping language; the scope of this mandate is all-encompassing. As was mentioned last week, by himself, Adam couldn’t possibly fulfill the command to subdue the entire earth, to have dominion over all of the fish of the sea and over all of the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.
In order to develop and transform the whole earth into a global temple of worship, Adam was going to need a lot of help and a lot of time. In order to fulfill his destiny, mankind (under the headship of Adam) was to carry on the work of filling and forming the earth that God had begun in the creation week.
In the beginning, the earth was formless and void or empty; thus, it needed to be formed and filled. And over the 6 days of creation, this is exactly what God did, He systematically formed the earth and filled it. He formed the dry ground and the seas, and filled the earth with vegetation, plants, and trees; He formed the sun, moon, and stars to fill the heavens; He formed the birds to fill the sky; He formed the fish and sea creatures to fill the waters; He formed livestock, creeping things, and beasts to fill the dry land; and then He formed the man and the woman to have dominion over it all. In the 6-day process of developing the earth, God had formed it and filled it—but not completely. He put an image of Himself on the earth and gave a mandate to this image-bearer to continue the work of developing the earth. By being fruitful and multiplying, man would continue to fill it, and by subduing and taking dominion, man would continue to form it (or trans-form it). Thus, we see that in order to fulfill his destiny, man was to fully fill and form the entire earth.
I think part of the reason that the Garden of Eden was situated at a point of elevation (perhaps even atop a mountain) was to impress upon Adam and Eve the broad scope of their calling, of how much effort and time would be needed to fill and form the entire earth. We can infer that the Garden of Eden was situated at a point of elevation from Genesis 2:10-14 where we are informed that:
"A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah... The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates."
In order for the origin of a river to divide so as to water large geographical regions in multiple directions (around the whole land of Havilah, around the whole land of Cush, and to the land east of Assyria) it would need to be elevated. Personally, I believe that these four rivers branched out into the general directions of N, S, E, and W in order to encourage man to branch out into the four corners of the earth, and in whatever direction he went, there would be an abundant water supply for living and for cultivating the earth. At any rate, the origin of the river that gave rise to these four rivers would need to be elevated. Thus, the Garden of Eden was situated at a point of elevation. Ezekiel 28:11-14 offers further evidence of this. In this passage, Ezekiel records God’s lament over the destruction of Tyre, and in the lament, Ezekiel compares the king of Tyre to Adam, and the kingdom of Tyre to the Garden of Eden. Ezekiel writes the following:
"You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering—sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle; and crafted in gold were your settings and your engravings. On the day that you were created they were prepared... I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God."
Note what Ezekiel says, “You were in Eden, the garden of God…the holy mountain of God.” According to these verses it would appear that the Garden of Eden was a holy mountain of God. This should make sense when we realize that Eden was a temple, and that both the temple of Solomon and the reconstructed temple under Herod were situated upon a mountain (Mount Moriah), and that even the eschatological heavenly city of Jerusalem—whose temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb—is associated with a mountain (Mount Zion). (Heb. 12:22; Rev. 21:22) For these reasons, I think we can safely conclude that the Garden of Eden was elevated to some degree and was very likely located on a mountain or perhaps within a mountain range.
Why do I bring this up? How is this significant to man’s purpose and destiny? If the Garden of Eden was in fact elevated, how would that serve to reinforce to Adam and Eve the broad scope of their calling, of how much time and effort would be needed to fill and form the entire earth? Well, think about it. When you go up in elevation, even slightly, your perspective changes. Being higher up in elevation, you’re able to look out much farther in multiple directions. There are often vistas and lookout points that allow for incredible panoramic views of the surrounding area.
Imagine Adam and Eve on a walk in the Garden, they’ve been commissioned by God to be fruitful and multiply and to fill the earth and subdue it, and they suddenly come to a lookout point where a panoramic view of the earth is opened up to them. Would they not look at each other and say, “Wow, we’ve got a lot of work to do here!” And no matter how elevated they may have been, the view that they had would still only be able to reveal a tiny fraction of the entire planet! From such a vantage point they would surely begin to see how much time and effort would be needed to fill and form the whole earth. To quote Herman Bavinck:
[Man] was given an assignment which would cost him centuries of effort to accomplish. He was pointed in a direction [note that word] incalculably far away which he had to take and which he had to pursue to the end…The nature of man, the essence of his being—the image of God according to which he was created—had to come to a constantly richer and fuller unfolding of its content by means of its striving towards its destination [destiny]. The image of God, so to speak, had to be spread to the ends of the earth and had to be impressed on all the works of men's hands. Man had to cultivate the earth [to fill it and form it, or transform it] so that it would more and more become a revelation of God's attributes.
As Bavinck points out, man was pointed in a direction incalculably far away; he was given a trajectory to follow, and it would take him centuries of effort to accomplish it. But this once again raises the question, “to what end?” If Adam and his progeny had been faithful to fulfil the cultural mandate, to fill and form the entire earth with God-glorifying culture and civilization, what would be waiting for them at the end?
I think the tree of life gives us a clue in answering this question. There are differing views on whether or not Adam and Eve ate from the tree of life prior to the fall, and we don’t have time to get into the details of these differing views. It’s true that in the Genesis narrative, the only tree in the Garden that God explicitly told Adam and Eve that they were forbidden to eat from was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But in my own personal view, I don’t think that Adam and Eve ate from the tree of life prior to the fall. Gen. 3:22 seems to indicate this. In expelling man from Eden God says, “lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat.” The inference is that man had not yet eaten from the tree.
Thus, I think that the tree of life was a symbol, just like the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you recall back to the first article on the dignity of man, I made the point that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was placed in the Garden as a symbol of authority; it was the tree that would demonstrate whether or not man would be content to obey the word of God. Similarly, I think the tree of life was a symbol—a symbol of confirmation.
The reason I think this is because of the way in which the tree of life is spoken of in the book of Revelation. In the final chapter of Revelation, we read that a river of life flows out from the throne of God through the middle of the city of the New Jerusalem, and that the tree of life is on either side of the river. And who will be partaking of the fruit of the tree of life in this New Jerusalem? Verse 14 tells us. “Blessed are those [Christians] who wash their robes [in the blood of the Lamb of God], so that they may have the right [the legal authority, the conferred privilege] to the tree of life.” (Rev. 22:14) And just a few verses later (vs. 19) we read that “if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share [his portion] in the tree of life and in the holy city.” Again, earlier in the book of Revelation (Rev. 2:7) it says that, “To the one who conquers I [Christ] will grant [as a reward] to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”
From these verses we see that the fruit of the tree of life is given as a reward (a conferred privilege) for our faithful and loving service to Christ. And in a similar way, I think that Adam was not to eat of the fruit of the tree of life until he had faithfully fulfilled his service to God to fill and form the earth, while always accurately reflecting and representing the righteousness of God. I think the fruit of the tree of life was meant to spur Adam on to complete his mission.
Adam was in a probationary state. He was not in a confirmed state of uprightness; it was possible that his state could change. If he failed his mission by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, death would result (a curse). But if he completed his mission, he would be granted to eat from the tree of life, and a conferred glorified life would result (a blessing). He would no longer be in a probationary state; he would be confirmed in a state of righteousness, just like we will be confirmed in a state of righteousness in the New Heavens and Earth because we are joined to the second Adam (Jesus Christ) who faithfully fulfilled His mission. Had Adam successfully completed his mission, he would have received the crown of life, just like we will if we remain faithful to Christ. (Rev. 2:10)
Thus, I believe the tree of life was a symbol of confirmation that pointed Adam to his ultimate destiny. However, as we know all too well, Adam failed his mission and plunged mankind into sin. How, then, has sin altered our purpose and destiny? In order to properly answer this question, it’s very helpful to understand the concept of creational structure and direction.
FALL: Creational Structure and Direction
Because Adam’s sin corrupted the whole of creation, it’s very important that we recognize how this corruption is related to the originally good creation. This relation is crucial for us to understand our continued purpose and destiny in the wake of Adam’s sin. The central point to make is this: sin is not to be identified with creation. Creation and sin remain distinct, however closely they may be intertwined in our experience. Prostitution doesn’t eliminate the goodness of human sexuality; political tyranny doesn’t wipe out the divinely ordained character of the state; the subjectivism of modern art doesn’t obliterate the legitimacy of art itself. In short, sin does not have the power to bring to nothing God’s steadfast faithfulness to the works of His hands. Thus, while Adam’s sin has introduced an entirely new dimension to the created order, nevertheless, our purpose and destiny has not been annihilated; rather, it’s been altered.
Recall what I said at the beginning of this sermon. Destiny implies destination, which implies directionality. Sin has turned man in the wrong direction, away from his destiny. Sin has brought about a strong spiritual headwind that inhibits us from moving freely in the direction of our purpose and destiny; it’s an antagonistic force. However, while the force of sin’s headwind makes forward motion very difficult, it doesn’t completely prevent us as Christians from making forward progress. Sin has simply imposed misdirection upon the structure of the created order. Prior to the introduction of sin, the entire structure of the created order moved in one direction → in the direction of obedience to God, and to magnify the glory of God. But what exactly is meant by the terms structure and direction? Let’s define these terms.
Structure refers to the creational constitution (or composition) of any given thing, what makes it the thing or the entity that it is.
Direction refers to the distortion or perversion of creation through the fall on the one hand, and the redemption and restoration of creation in Christ on the other.
Anything in creation can be directed either toward or away from God—that is, directed either in obedience or disobedience to His law. This double directionality applies not only to us as human beings, but also to such cultural phenomena as technology and art; to such societal institutions as labor unions, schools, and corporations; and to such human functions as emotionality, sexuality, and rationality. To the degree that these realities fail to live up to God’s creational design for them, they are misdirected, abnormal, and distorted. And to the degree that they still conform to God’s creational design, they are in the grip of a countervailing force that curbs or counteracts the distortion. Direction, therefore, always involves two tendencies moving either for or against God. Now, with regard to unbelievers, their directionality is always against God. For those who are outside of Christ, there’s absolutely no resistance to the headwind of sin; in fact, they love to be swept up by its forces. They love to be blown about by every headwind of sinful doctrine. They prefer darkness to light because their works are evil. (John 3:19) All of their cultural activity is done in disobedience to God, and thus by nature they are children of His wrath. They sow to the headwind of sin and reap the whirlwind of God’s wrath.
But for those of us who have been redeemed in Christ, we are given the ability (and more importantly the will) to resist the headwind of sin. To give a different analogy, we are like salmon swimming against the sinful current of the world. We still feel the effects of the current of sin, but we no longer just go with its flow. Through the Spirit, we’re now able and willing to swim upstream in obedience to God. We’re still in the world, but we’re not of the world.
In the N.T., the term “world” is frequently used in a negative sense, and recognizing creational structure and direction helps us understand those verses that speak of the world in negative terms. For example, when John says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world…the desires of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, and the pride of life,” (1 John 2:15-16) He’s essentially referring to the sinful directionality of the world. Likewise, when Paul says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world,” (Rom. 12:2) what he’s basically saying is, “In every area of life, train your mind to strive against the fierce headwind of sinful misdirection.” Similarly, James says that, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this…to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1:27) In other words, “make every effort to keep yourself from being swept up by the headwind of sin.”
When the term “world” is used in this negative way, it’s referring to the sinful misdirection that is being imposed upon the originally good structural order of creation. Recognizing this creational structure and direction is very important because it keeps us from seeing the world in terms of “secular vs. sacred.” Any structure within the created order has the potential to be made sacred if we work to abolish the sinful misdirection that is being imposed upon it.
Compartmentalizing the world in terms of “sacred vs. secular” is a very great error because it implies that there is no “worldliness” in the church, and that holiness is impossible within the realm of politics, for example. “Sacred vs. secular” thinking defines what is secular not by its directionality (obedience vs. disobedience to Christ), but by the creational neighborhood it occupies.
This approach has led many Christians to abandon the “secular” realm to the trends and forces of humanistic secularism, to the misdirected headwind of sin. Indeed, because of this “sacred vs. secular” mentality, to a large degree, Christians have only themselves to blame for the rapid secularization of the West. If political, educational, and artistic life—to mention only these areas— are branded as “secular” and therefore off limits to Christian cultural activity, then is it surprising that the tide of humanism in our culture is not being stemmed?
Brethren, it’s imperative that we realize that the redemption that has been achieved by Christ is cosmic in the sense that it is reorienting all of creation back to its intended direction—to the glory of God. And Christ has called us to take part in redeeming all of creation, to work to make all of the created order sacred. No structural component of creation is to be thought of as being “secular” and thus irredeemable.
REDEMPTION: Salvation as Restoration
Having discussed the concept of creational structure and direction, let’s now consider how salvation affects the directionality of the created structural order, and then we’ll conclude with a few words of exhortation.
It’s quite striking that virtually all of the basic words describing salvation in the Bible imply a return to an originally good state. The word “redemption” is a good example. To redeem is to “buy back,” and the image it often evokes is of someone who has been captured. A free person has been seized and is being held for ransom. Someone else pays the ransom on behalf of the captive and thus “buys back” their freedom. Redemption is meant to free a prisoner from bondage, to give back the liberty that he or she once enjoyed.
It is similar with the word “reconciliation.” The prefix re- indicates that something is going back to its original state. The directionality is turning back. With reconciliation, we might think of friends who have had a falling out, but are eventually brought back into fellowship or friendship; or of historical national allies who have declared war on one another, but who are eventually brought back into their former alliance.
Another example is the word “renewal,” which literally means “to make new again.” What was once branded new but has gotten worse for wear is renovated and restored back to its former glory. All of these salvation words convey the idea of returning something back to its originally good state. In fact, the word “salvation” itself conveys this idea. Salvation implies a rescuing from danger and returning something back to a state of safety and security. In the Greek, the word for salvation was also sometimes used with regard to sickness and disease. In this sense, salvation is returning someone back to a state of health. We see the same idea in our English word “salve,” which is the root word for “salvation.” A salve is used for medicinal purposes to restore health.
Salvation is therefore restorative in nature, and all of the terms associated with salvation indicate this—a turning back to an originally good state. Salvation is all about redirecting sinful misdirection. Fundamentally, this means that salvation doesn’t really bring anything new to the table. At bottom, salvation is about redemption, restoration, reconciliation, recreation, renewal. Salvation is not really a matter of adding something new to creation, it’s a matter of bringing back the life and vitality to creation that was originally there. The only thing that salvation adds to creation that was not already there is the remedy for sin. But even in this, the remedy is brought in solely for the purpose of recovering a sinless creation.
Now, even though salvation doesn’t bring more to creation, it certainly doesn’t bring less. All of creation is included in the scope of Christ’s redemption. Through Christ, God determined “to reconcile all things to Himself.” As we read in the first chapter of Colossians:
[Christ] is the image of the invisible God [the perfect image-bearer] …for in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things [!] whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of His cross. (Col. 1:15, 19-20)
Clearly, the scope of redemption is as great as the fall; it affects creation as a whole. The redemption of Christ is slowly but steadily moving creation toward the consummation of all things, to the day of His return in which all of sin’s effects will be banished forever. By the power of His redemptive blood, Christ is progressively rebuking the headwind of sin.
Accordingly, wherever there is corruption of the good creation, Christ provides the possibility of restoration. If the whole of creation is affected by the fall, then the whole of creation is also reclaimed in Christ. Brethren, this is a massive point that many Christians seem to miss. Just as the fall of Adam resulted in the ruin of the whole earthly realm, so the atoning death of the second Adam results in the salvation of the whole earthly realm. Likewise, just as the first Adam’s fall was aided and abetted by the subsequent disobedience of humankind, so the salvation of the whole world is manifested and promoted by the subsequent obedience of a new humankind. The Adamic human race perverts the cosmos; the Christian human race renews it.
The obvious implication is that the redeemed of Christ (God’s people) are called to promote renewal in every aspect of creation. If Christ is the reconciler of all things, and if we’ve been entrusted with “the ministry of reconciliation” on His behalf (2 Cor. 5:18), then we have a redemptive task wherever our vocation places us in this world.
We ought to see the great commission in this light. The great commission of Christ is almost like the cultural mandate 2.0; it both complements and reinforces the cultural mandate. In the cultural mandate, we are told to be fruitful and multiply, and in the great commission we are likewise told to be fruitful and multiply—to disciple the nations and baptize those who are spiritually reborn. By proclaiming the gospel to the nations, we are bringing about spiritual rebirth, we are being fruitful and multiplying God’s people.
Again, in the cultural mandate, we’re told to subdue the earth, and in the great commission we are similarly instructed to spiritually subdue the earth, to teach the nations to observe all that Christ has commanded. Indeed, in Mark’s rendering of the great commission we’re told to “proclaim the gospel to all creation” because there is need of gospel liberation everywhere.
Thus, we are called, in the entirety of our lives, to witness to the kingdom of God. We’re to make known the good news that creation is being renewed according to the reign of Christ, and that His kingly authority extends over the whole world—that Jesus rules over marriage and family, business and politics, art and athletics, leisure and scholarship, sex and technology. We’re not to think that there is some invisible “sacred vs. secular” dividing line that separates the structural order of creation. In the name of Christ, the sinful misdirection of the created order must be opposed everywhere—in the kitchen and in the bedroom, in courtrooms and corporate boardrooms, on the stage and on social media, in the classroom and in the workshop. Everywhere creation calls for the honoring of God’s laws and norms.
Don’t miss this point: To conceive of either the fall or Christ’s deliverance as encompassing less than the whole of creation is to compromise the biblical teaching of the radical nature of the fall and the cosmic scope of redemption. Our ultimate purpose and destiny is to serve Christ in renewing the entire created order until He returns to bring about the consummation of all things. Jesus did not enter into His own creation merely to save sinners from their sins; He came to save all of His creation from the effects of sin. To say that Jesus came simply to save sinners is a gross understatement. Jesus is the savior of the world—He’s restoring all of creation; He’s reconciling all things in heaven and earth! What a savior!
To conclude my portion of this series, I would like to leave you with a few words of exhortation. But before I do this, let me give you the complete working definition of what it means to be made in the image of God. To be made in the image of God is to reflect the righteousness and the interpersonal love of the trinity to our neighbor—in accordance with our maleness or femaleness—while worshipfully working to advance culture and the redemptive salvation of Christ as a representative prophet, priest, and king.
I know that this is a lengthy and somewhat involved definition, but hopefully you can appreciate its relative comprehensiveness considering all that we’ve discussed over the last month—the dignity of man, the identity of man, the purpose of man, and the destiny of man. We’ve covered a lot of ground thus far in our brief survey of the biblical doctrine of man, and this leads me to my first word of exhortation:
1. Ponder and admire the superiority of the biblical doctrine of man
Hopefully, the time that we’ve spent together has convinced you of the uniqueness and the superiority of biblical anthropology. No other anthropological view—whether religious or philosophical in nature—comes anywhere close to explaining the dignity, identity, purpose, and destiny of man the way that the Bible does. No other anthropological view upholds and elevates the dignity of man to the degree that Scripture does. No other view can solve man’s identity crisis and provide man with the relational security and significance that he longs for. Only a personal relationship with Jesus Christ—the God-man—can accomplish this. No other view so clearly defines man’s purpose and gives man the directionality of his existence.
Ponder and admire the superiority of the biblical doctrine of man. And for any who are here who are not Christians, you will never find your dignity, identity, purpose, and destiny looking anywhere else. Where else will you go? Christ alone has the words of eternal life. Apart from Him, your dignity is not upheld, your identity remains in crisis, your feelings of insecurity and insignificance will continue to haunt you, your purpose will forever elude you, and your destiny will be to suffer eternal wrath from the one whose image you failed to represent. Come to Christ and be saved; be restored, be redeemed, be renewed. Otherwise, when you die, you will be confirmed in your state of unrighteousness, and there will be hell to pay.
2. Plant seeds and pull weeds / Be culture-makers and culture-takers
Not only are we called to be transformers of the earth according to the cultural mandate of Genesis, but now—because of the misdirection of sin—we are also called to be reformers of the earth according to the great commission of Christ. We are to plant seeds and pull weeds; we are to be culture-makers and culture-takers (taking back the culture wherever sin continues to impose itself). Until Christ returns, there’s much work that remains for us to do, therefore:
3. Set your hand to the plow, and plow in hope.
Our purpose is to be cultural transformers and cultural reformers. So, let us set our hands to the plow and never look back. Let us plant seeds and pull weeds in our marriages; let us plant seeds and pull weeds in our children’s hearts; let us plant seeds and pull weeds in our church community; let us plant seeds and pull weeds in our vocational work; let us plant seeds and pull weeds in our city, state, and nation. Let us not grow weary in our service to Christ and let us not get discouraged when it seems that all of the cultural seeds that we’re sowing seem to be falling on rocky ground, or that the enemy is constantly devouring our efforts, or that for every weed we pull a hundred more immediately pop up. Brethren, it may seem that our efforts are futile, but they’re not. It may seem that we are being overcome by the world, but continue plowing in hope because we know that He has overcome the world.
One day He will return, and we will rule and reign with Him in the ages to come, that is our destiny! Our ultimate destiny is hinted at in Eph. 2:6-7 when Paul says something wonderfully mysterious.
[God] has raised us up with [Christ] and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ … so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
There will be ages to come in which God will continually be showing us the immeasurable riches of His grace. What does that even mean??!! Only God knows. But it is sounds AWESOME! I love the direction we’re headed, and I can’t wait to reach that destination. Plow in hope!
I’ll leave you with this final thought. When Peter tells us that the earth will be burned up in the final judgment, some have argued that this fire is to be understood symbolically, that it will not be an actual fire that destroys the earth, rather, it will act to purify the earth of the effects of sin. They further argue that when it says in Rev. 21:24-26 that the kings of the earth will bring their glory into the New Jerusalem (the glory and honor of the nations) that this could be referring to the cultural treasures of mankind that are present now—various works of art and works of technology; even a grand and majestic cultural icon such as the Golden Gate Bridge. Again, only God knows, and I certainly wouldn’t be dogmatic on this point. But it’s a wonderful thought nonetheless. At the very least, the skills and the talents that you’ve developed in this life—that knowledge—will most certainly go with you into the next. It won’t be lost. God isn’t wasteful. We will continue to use our knowledge and skills in service to Him in the world to come.
And consider this: if we’ve been able to achieve space travel in our fallen state, what is to prevent us in our glorified state—where we will no longer be weakened or impeded by sin—to explore the outermost regions of the universe? What will limit us from progressing on and on, learning and pursuing new and deeper aspects of God’s creation to His glory and for our good? Nothing.
Christians, use your sanctified imagination; climb up to the top of Mount Zion in your mind and imagine the panoramic views that are possible. Our destiny, our chief end, is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. Set your hand to the plow, and plow with hope into glory!
 The concept of creational structure and direction is developed in the book Creation Regained by Albert Wolters, and much of what I’m about to discuss comes from this helpful book.