|Volume 18 Number 2 February 2016||
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). God created the light, the firmament of heaven, the earth and seas, day and night, living creatures in the ocean and air, living creatures on the earth and saw “that it was good.” Yet, there was something missing, and He created “man” to fill that void. Not only did He create man, but He created man in His own image. The creation of man was His crowning glory, and following it, God said “It was very good” (v. 31).
When God created man, He blessed him and said, “Be fruitful and multiply, replenish the earth and subdue it, have dominion over the fish of the sea and fowls of the air and over every living creature” (Genesis 1:29-30). From the beginning, it was God’s intent that mankind produce offspring after his kind, and He gave men a brain unlike any other of His creation so that man could think and reason to be able to meet God’s mandate to replenish and subdue the earth and exercise dominion over the rest of God’s creation.
God created man because He chose to do so. He didn’t need man to do anything for Him because He is quite capable of doing all things for Himself and for all others. He created man to take care of the rest of His creation and to worship and serve Him. We’re told in Ecclesiastes 12:13, “Fear God and keep His commandments for this is the whole duty of man.” “Whole” means complete, full, all of. Obeying God is what man is to do. In his book entitled, For This Cause, Stanley Sayers said, “It is as though the earth (man’s great house) was built especially for him and completely furnished to the utmost detail and then the man, the keeper of the house, was invited to live in this house and be master to all things in it.”
Man’s existence came about so that God would have someone to “dress it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15); man was created to be the keeper of the earth. Still, there were others things man had to do. From the beginning man was told what not to do. God told Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and if they did, they would die. They did eat of that forbidden fruit, and that day they died spiritually because they were separated from God, and they began to die physically. God had to put into motion a plan whereby man could be reconciled to Him (through Jesus).
“The Lord has made all things for Himself” (Proverbs 16:4), and that includes mankind. Psalm 149:4 tells us that “the Lord takes pleasure in His people.” When God spoke to Moses about the exodus out of Egyptian bondage, He said, “I am the Lord…and I will take you to Me for a people and I will be to you a God and you shall know that I am the Lord your God” (Exodus 6:2, 7). God is still the same. He still loves His creation and will take care of the needs of His people. “My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory” (Philippians 4:19). Man was placed on the earth by God, and His people are to “worship God and serve Him only” (Matthew 4:10).
Man is not here by accident. From the Garden of Eden until this day, God has a plan. He has always been very open about His expectations of men. He has always given assurance to the faithful with such being “the peace of God that passes understanding” (Philippians 4:7). He has also told men what would happen if they failed to do His bidding. “These will go away into everlasting punishment” (Matthew 25:46). There will be no surprises at the Judgment.
God created us to faithfully serve Him, but when we fail, He has a plan. “If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not His own Son but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32). The plan is forgiveness through the blood of Christ.
[Editor’s Note: Even Christians often fail to make the distinction between the purposes for their creation and existence, and on the other hand, daily living. Christians, too, confuse vocations and avocations; each child of God’s primary vocation or job is to do the bidding of God (Matthew 22:37). One’s avocation or second job pertains to daily life – making a living, amusements, etc. (Matthew 6:24). “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these [other, material] things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33 NKJV). We Christians serve at the good pleasure of our Creator. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]
What Does the Bible
Say About Persecution?
Gary C. Hampton
Jesus said His followers would endure persecution (Matthew 5:10-11). He urged those following him to not fear those who could, at most, kill the body but not destroy the soul, but rather fear God, who could cast both soul and body into hell (Matthew 10:28; Luke 12:4). These passages reveal that persecution can range from angry, insulting criticism and false testimony all the way to death.
The Lord indicated persecution began not long after the creation of the world when Cain killed Abel because of his offering by faith (Matthew 23:35). The Savior’s Sermon on the Mount served to remind the listeners that God’s Old Testament spokesmen had suffered persecution (5:12). A brief summary of things they endured is found in Hebrews 11:36-38.
God’s Son said persecution is an inevitable result of giving up all for the sake of the Gospel (Mark 10:29-30). He described those with stony ground hearts as stumbling because of persecution (Matthew 13:20-21). Following Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Son of God, our Lord forewarned His disciples of His impending persecution and death (Matthew 16:21; Mark 8:31-33). He spoke of those upcoming events again during a stay in Galilee (17:22-23).
Persecution of the early church began with casting Peter and John in prison and bringing them before the Sanhedrin. They were threatened and warned not to teach again in the name of Jesus. Rapid church growth led to all of the apostles being arrested, imprisoned, put on trial, beaten and warned not to preach in Jesus’ name (Acts 4:1-22; 5:17-40). Stephen was stoned for preaching the truth, and great persecution followed (7:54-8:1). Paul boasted of the faith and patience of the church in Thessalonica because it held up while they endured persecutions (2 Thessalonians 1:4).
The Jews stirred people up against Paul and Barnabas, expelling them from the region of Pisidia (13:50). The apostle made it clear that persecution could not separate Christians from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35). He took pleasure in persecution because the strength of God could be shown in his time of physical weakness (2 Corinthians 12:10). Timothy’s father in the Gospel reminded him of the things he suffered and went on to say, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:11-12).
Persecution is real, but it cannot keep God’s people out of heaven. Praise God!