Salvation 2.0: Part 1.8: Individual vs. community salvation

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So Jesus cures the curses — all of them — through the cross. We who enter into Jesus through faith in/faithfulness to/trust in Jesus participate in redemption from the curses.

And there is this shift. Before the cross, the curses were against everyone and everything (Gen 3) or against the nation of Israel (Deu 27-28). These were national or group curses.

However, the hanging on a tree curse was highly individualized — and so Jesus suffered an individual curse for all people and the nation of Israel.

To participate in Jesus’ redemptive work is an individual choice. The spiritual Israel is those of the physical Israel with faith in Jesus, plus Gentiles who have faith in Jesus, added by grafting in (Rom 11). We choose whether to have faith individually — one at a time. We are baptized one at a time.

But we believe and are baptized into the Kingdom — a nation — which is blessed as a community. It’s the Kingdom that is elect. It is the Kingdom for whom the new covenant was made. (We greatly distort much of Paul by taking words he borrows from the OT regarding Israel as a nation — such as “election” — and apply these words individualistically.)

The Western mindset is highly individualistic. We have a “personal relationship” with Jesus. We attend the church of our choice. We see Christianity as being about our individual relationship with Jesus and God and the Spirit.

And, admittedly, there is certainly truth in this — but it’s a badly incomplete truth. We also are added to a community, a nation, a Kingdom that God has a relationship with in a community sense. The church isn’t just the set of all individually saved people. Rather, we are individually saved by being added to the saved community, nation, and Kingdom.

This is is one of many reasons that God so insists on Christian unity. His mission to redeem the world cannot be accomplished by individuals acting solely as individuals. There is power and strength in community. There are efficiencies and economies that can only be attained in groups — and these things matter very much to God.

Not only do we need each other to support and encourage each other, the work we’ve been given is too big, too important to take on individually.

This is why the NT refers to the church as a temple for the Holy Spirit. A temple can only exist if the stones are all very tightly joined together. In fact, the Temple in Jerusalem was built with stones carved with such precision that they fit together without mortar. And our walk on earth with Jesus is a time of being fitted for the temple, that is, being shaped by God to so precisely join with our brothers and sisters that no mortar is needed.

Profile photo of Jay Guin

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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21 Responses to Salvation 2.0: Part 1.8: Individual vs. community salvation

  1. Mark says:

    This is why the confession in liturgical churches says “we” and not “I.” It came right from the Yom Kippur confession which also uses “we” and not “I.”

    The one time I heard a minister in the cofC say there was going to be confession one Sunday soon, it was nixed and never mentioned again. I never heard anyone else even suggest it.

  2. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay,
    I have never seen this concept expressed in scripture, “Rather, we are individually saved by being added to the saved community, nation, and Kingdom.” This sentence gives the impression that the community,nation, or kingdom has redemptive power to save us. All the text that I am familiar with places all of our salvation into Christ’s power. All of the “saved” were then added to the church, in similarity a child is born into a family, but the family (other children) have no voice or power in this operation. All have entered by through the birth process. Disciples, followers of Christ only enter into the community, nation or kingdom as they are born again.

    You said, “This is why the NT refers to the church as a temple for the Holy Spirit. A temple can only exist if the stones are all very tightly joined together. In fact, the Temple in Jerusalem was built with stones carved with such precision that they fit together without mortar.”
    I cannot find where the NT speaks of the church as a temple. Nor that there will ever be a Temple for the Holy Spirit. The only temple I find is described in this context, “1Co 3:16-17 ESV Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? (17) If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.”

    In the following text, all communication is being directed to a singular individuals, nothing is being applied to the body of believers (the church). It is filled with identities as; you, anyone, each one’s, he, he himself, him.

    1Co 3:11-17 ESV For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (12) Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— (13) each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. (14) If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. (15) If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (16) Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? (17) If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

    You have stated,”This is is one of many reasons that God so insists on Christian unity. His mission to redeem the world cannot be accomplished by individuals acting solely as individuals.”

    I question the concept, “His mission to redeem the world” does not match any text I can find in scripture. Jesus came to earth to save the world. But, “redeem the world” has never been recorded in scripture.
    (Joh 3:17 ESV) For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
    (Joh 12:47 ESV) If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.
    (1Co 1:21 ESV) For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.
    (1Ti 1:15 ESV) The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

    Jesus comments,
    (Joh 16:33 ESV) I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
    (2Pe 2:20 ESV) For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.
    (1Jn 4:4 ESV) Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
    (1Jn 5:4 ESV) For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
    (1Jn 5:5 ESV) Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

    “Overcome” does not seem to me to be in the same category as “redeem”

    You said, “There is power and strength in community. There are efficiencies and economies that can only be attained in groups — and these things matter very much to God.”
    The history following Pentecost does not reflect this concept. There is very little communication in scripture which displays the power and strength of the church, There is very little if any documentation of the work performed by the church (body of believers), the organized church did not stand up to the persecution! It was individuals who stood up and suffered the consequences. There is no text describing how the organized body of believers in any location proclaimed Christ to the world (taught the Gospel) but, there are records of individuals who were performing that service. There are no records of how an organized city of believers (the local church) rose up to address a major catastrophe and therefore were held up in honor by the surrounding worldly population as displaying their beliefs in God while serving mankind as God would have.
    So do I have a false concept according to the work of the church, the church is never any larger than the individuals who are participating in God’s work. There usually are individuals within the organization (church) who are just pew warmers, who never really get involved in the work they see others doing. Which gets back to it is really just individuals rather than the church performing God’s work.

  3. Richard constant says:

    Larry a principle that holds true is that the Spirit of Christ animates.
    Since it is the spirit that animates.
    Gives us life.
    Then all of the factors that incorporate in that animation.
    Become one in the same.
    At 1 in the same time.
    What you get. And how you get Taught, by way of ontology, does not always necessarily hold true.
    What we are together from the spirit is that Jesus said, John 13 14 15.
    Is that the spirit would speak the words of Jesus And to bring into remembrance all the things that Jesus taught to the apostles, at the time that the apostles needed those words to answer the questions that were directed to them, quote unquote by non believers..
    when this occurs I think Paul sums it up quite well in 2nd Corinthians 3 through 5.
    we are all instantaneously delivered into the new creation.
    we become part of God’s eternal plan or scheme of redemption and reconciliation.
    the body of Christ.

  4. Richard constant says:

    Oh and one other thing Larry.
    Cain murdered Abel.
    And when God was walking around any ran into Cain, God ask him, hey Cain where’s your brother Abel.
    CAIN responded…. what am I my brother’s keeper I don’t know where he is.
    and an evil response to be sure.
    not only did he knoW Where Able was, he added to the response, that it was none of his business we’re Able was.
    now then about those Pew Setters that you know of!
    are you not your brother’s keeper.
    we all at times I turn out the lights I don’t want to see.

  5. Dwight says:

    We are saved. Not the community, but we as the saved are part of the saved community or the congregation. In regards to the Temple…we are called the Temple, because we individually hold God within us. We are to build each other up but we are responsible for our own sins. We compose and aid the body, but this is on a worldwide plane, which is the body. The person we see in front of us or across town might be in the body and we not even know it, but we are bound to them through Christ.
    But it is us, personally, who have connection to Christ and are baptized into Christ. Part of our problem is that we think collectively on many things that are not supposed be thought of collectively. If we sin, we are supposed to come before Christ, personally. If we sin against our brother, we go before them and Christ. We are not supposed to or are required to come before the congregation, unless the congregation (the last step) is involved and maybe not even then. We often think that the local “church” is to do a work and then we don’t do anything, because we assume it is being done on some level by someone else or by committee. Our worship is collective, as we go to church to worship, but our worship should be us, personally praising God with others who are doing the same thing and we can do this at home or in assembly.
    I have heard it argued that there are some things that a “local church” can do that a saint can’t, but there is no truth in this. In fact, if the saints were more active in their daily life, they would easily out strip the collective actions of the local group. The money that goes into the coffers is exactly the same money that a person can give to another.
    I am not against collective action, but the NT scriptures never point that way.
    Our connection to other saints is based solely on our connection to Christ. “If we walk in the light as He is in the light we have fellowship one with another.”

  6. Dwight says:

    We are to bear one another’s burdens, but we are not to take over their burdens or remove them, as we are to bear our own burdens. We can however help our brother in the carrying of the burdens. But I cannot make my brother carry either his or my burden. We give of ourselves…willingly.
    Ironically God had asked Cain to take care of himself and see to himself, but he was burned up with anger and jealousy for what his brother had. God didn’t tell Abel to correct Cain as that was God’s territory and Cain’s responsibility. Also it Cain’s responsibility to worship God and fix that. It was Cain who murdered his brother.
    We can’t worship or act by committee. We must worship and act by our own desire towards God.

  7. Richard constant says:

    Dwight / larry it’s these kind of viewpoint’ s.
    that bring me to say.
    the church ain’t got no game….

    no one really accepts Their position.
    in the body.
    not everybody Is a hand Not everybody is a foot, not everybody is an Eye.
    I bet you no one wants to submit to the elders and deacons. but they’re probably too busy watching the pennies. you know like a dollar chasing after a Dime.
    oh well you can either stay in the same squirrel cage.
    Or you can demand leadership from the people that are supposed to be leading.
    helping the poor and those that are dispossessed or less in the body.
    That seems to be what Paul is speaking to. in an arrogant and self obsessed society like Rome and kind of like ours

    when Jay started this and told us what he was going to start .
    was to be like a football coach and start practicing tackling and blocking.

  8. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Dwight,

    Obviously what I’m saying has NOTHING to do with the old non-institutional arguments re what can be bought out of the church treasury vs. what individuals can do with their own money. Simply not in the same universe.

    The Bible refers to a temple of the Holy Spirit three (or four) times. In 1 Cor 6, the human body is in mind as the topic is prostitution.

    However, the other two references are to the local congregation. In 1 Cor 3, we have —

    (1 Cor 3:9–23 ESV) 9 For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.
    10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
    16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.
    18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” 20 and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” 21 So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

    “You” throughout the passage is plural in the Greek. Many modern translations footnote that fact. A few say “you all” in good Southern English. And the commentaries are unanimous that the congregation is in mind — and in context, it should be abundantly clear. After all, Paul is resisting division in the local church, not smoking or prostitution. Read v. 17 as “you all are that temple.” You (plural) are that temple (singular). He’s saying the members together make up a singular temple.

    And, in fact, the image of the local church as a temple for the Holy Spirit is actually more natural as there was generally just one temple in a city for a particular god.

  9. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    The next occurrence of “temple” as a metaphor for the local congregation is —

    (Eph 2:17–22 ESV) 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

    Again, “you” is plural and “the whole structure” includes our “fellows citizens wiht the saints and members of the household of God.” Plainly the congregation itself is in mind.

  10. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Next is —

    (1 Pet 2:4–10 ESV) 4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it stands in Scripture:
    “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
    a cornerstone chosen and precious,
    and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

    7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,
    “The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone,”

    8 and
    “A stone of stumbling,
    and a rock of offense.”
    They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
    9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

    Peter isn’t quite as plain as Paul. He is obviously saying that the local church is a temple, made of living stones with Jesus as the cornerstone. All the key nouns are community words including the entire church: race, priesthood, nation, a people.

    “Spiritual” house translates pneumatikos — which we’ve discussed several times on the blog. It means “empowered by the Spirit” — similar to “steam” in steamboat. So I think Peter is giving us a different perspective on the same thing.

    In short, of four occasions where the NT mentions a temple for the Spirit, three are plainly talking about the church. One is plainly talking about our bodies. Both are true.

    It is sheer assumption to declare that the congregation is a temple of the Spirit solely because we are each a temple of the Spirit. There is truth to the statement, but the metaphor would suggest that it’s not the whole truth. A temple is more than the stones that make up the temple. It’s also the arrangement of the stones. The way the stones fit together matter — indeed, the arrangement determines whether the stones make a temple or an amphitheatre or a bath. The arrangement matters a lot.

    And so a temple is not merely a bunch of stones next to each other. The stones have to be properly fitted to become a temple. Just so, people in a room do not make a church. They must be connected to each other in the right way. It’s love but not just love. It’s leadership but not just leadership.

    And this is NOT about pattern theology. Rather, it’s about letting God be God and the Spirit be the Spirit. We have to let the Spirit empower the church (per Peter). And per Eph 2, we have to let the Spirit build us together. The voice in Eph 2 is passive: “you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” It’s not “we are building ourselves together by the right Pattern.” It’s God, through his Spirit, doing the building — just as God’s Spirit guided the construction of the Tabernacle and Solomon’s Temple.

  11. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Dwight,

    As I said in the main post, there is, of course, an individual relationship with God through Christ. But that is not all that there is. This should be plain enough just from the use of “kingdom” by John the Baptist, Jesus, and the apostles. Jesus is King of the Kingdom. When we submit to him as Lord, we enter the Kingdom and submit to his rule. When this happens, we aren’t just ruled by Jesus; we are also a part of his Kingdom. We change citizenship and nationality. We enter into a covenant community as old as Abraham.

    This is what Peter says in 1 Pet 2:4-10. We are a royal priesthood, a people, a nation, citizens of the kingdom of heaven. We cannot become part of Jesus’ nation unless we enter that nation and submit to its Ruler and laws — together with the other citizens of the Kingdom.

    (Col 1:13–14 ESV) 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

    In Colossians, Paul says we’re delivered from darkness into the Kingdom, and thereby we receive redemption and forgiveness. And that’s all that I’m trying to say.

  12. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Larry,

    Regarding the redemption of the world —

    (Rom 8:18–25 ESV) 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

    Our “hope” is the “redemption of our bodies” when Jesus returns. But the entire creation has been groaning in anticipation of “the revealing of the sons of God,” which happens when our bodies are redeemed. THe “not only creation” in vs. 23 seems to plainly tie our redemption to the redemption of the creation itself.

    Literally, “redemption” is freedom from slavery, and Paul had just spoken of the “bondage” and “captivity” of the creation — words referring to enslavement. To say that the creation is enslaved is to strongly imply the need for redemption — freedom from slavery.

    (Titus 2:13–14 ESV) 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

    Again, we await our redemption — when Jesus returns. All who are saved are to be redeemed, and God desires that the entire world be saved/redeemed (John 3:16).

  13. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay, I certainly do not have a problem with the concept that God desires the entire world to be saved/ redeemed. As verse 14 above clarifies what I have understood, he (past tense) gave himself for us. He redeemed us as we accepted him, we are now awaiting,”the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ”

    Part of my previous post was contesting the concept that the earth (all creation except man) in under bondage and a curse because of man’s sin and will be redeemed from that when Christ comes again. I admit that it is a deep subject about the identity of this creation in these passages.
    Rom 8:19-23 ESV For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. (20) For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope (21) that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. (22) For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. (23) And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
    This text, ” that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” has been used to imply that the earth is under bondage to corruption. But, what would this bondage of the earth look like? What would be the difference between the way it would exist under the influence of God’s children? Even God’s children had to obtain their food by the sweat of their brow and the earth did not yield its fruit without labor from man. If it is identified as nature, then what would the children of God do differently to cause it to be released from this bondage?
    To me this creation is referencing man, who is bound in bondage by corruption. Can the earth and everything living except man be bound to corruption? I understand that man can change the earth. Wasn’t man given the responsibility by God to groom the garden? That would be to change it, was he also given a guide as how God wanted it groomed? I have never seen that information. But, it is very easy to see how God created the vegetation, trees, animals on this earth, just notice what it looks like where man has never touched it. We have a word to describe it, jungle, and man considers it unsuitable for a man to live in.
    God had promised.
    Gen 8:21-22 ESV And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. (22) While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”
    God released the earth and all living creatures from being under a curse because of man’s actions. I believe that never again spoken by God means forever.
    In fact, this passage of scripture could help to revile an answer to our question about creation, being that created man contains this, “for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth” and he is in opposition to God’s children. Does he not groan as he awaits God’s modification of his present situation.

  14. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Larry,

    Man’s charge is to keep and to work the Garden — to preserve and to make it productive for the good of man.

    (Gen 2:15 ESV) The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.

    It necessarily involves some balancing — and we don’t need an instruction book. Some common sense and the Spirit should be quite enough.

    Man has the power to care for the earth or to destroy it. If we would just step outside of the politics and think about the planet as kings and queens called by God to rule this place for him, we would know better than to do much of what we do to our environment.

    I’m no fan of the Sierra Club. I’m skeptical of much of what passes for the modern environmental movement. But I remember living in cities with smog so thick I couldn’t see across the street. I’m glad we learned better.

    The river that flows less than a 1/2 mile from my house used to be unfishable due to the pollution. People are still scared to eat out of it. We were wrong to fill the river with poison.

    Your church may not be able to reach consensus on global warming, but surely you can adopt a mile of interstate and clean it in the name of Jesus. Or volunteer to help clean up a local creek.

    I tend to agree with you to this extent: much of the adulteration of the creation has come from man. On the other hand, I live in a town that’s been hit by both Katrina and a 1.5 mile-wide F5 tornado that went right through the middle of town. The creation is subjected to futility. It’s not perfection. And it certainly shouldn’t be worshiped.

    But neither should we despise it or disassociate it from God and our service as Christians. I can think of nothing more essentially Christian than working to better the environment in the name of Jesus. After all, the world was made through Jesus. I’m sure he’d be pleased if we’d help clean up some of the mess we’ve made of it.

  15. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Larry,

    The interpretation of Gen 8:21 is interesting.

    Verse 21 has occasioned much discussion. The phrase “never again curse the ground [or hold it in contempt]” (קלל qālal ) could refer to no more floods, to no additional curses on the ground (ארר ʾārar, 3:17), to the abandonment of the existing curse, or, more generally, to the end of the reign of the curse. The last seems likely; curse will no longer be the decisive divine relationship to the earth. God enters into the unfolding effects of the curse (of which the flood was a climactic instance), not allowing it to control the future of humankind or the creation. In effect, God places an eternal limit on the functioning of the moral order. Positively, the divine blessing and promise enter anew upon the scene and begin to break down the effects of the curse.
    God’s internal reason for giving the promise of no more floods appears highly unusual: “For the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth” (v. 21). A comparable statement occurs in 6:5, which serves as the reason for the flood; it now becomes the reason for not sending a flood. The differences between 6:5 and 8:21 are minimal (omission of “every”; replacement of “continually” with “from his youth”). The flood has not changed the basic human character. No new people are in view in 8:21, just fewer of them!
    God chooses to take another course of action. The deity does not resign to the presence of sin (God sets only a certain type of judgment off limits), but offers a new way of relating to a wicked world. In view of this, God changes the ways and means of working toward divine goals for the creation (see p. 395).
    God promises that the rhythm of the natural order—disrupted by the flood—will continue “as long as the earth endures” (v. 22)—literally, “as long as all the days of the earth.” At first glance, one wonders what kind of promise this is, if another flood could simply be one way in which the earth no longer endures! But this phrase does not qualify the promise. It does not have an “end of the world” in view (though 2 Pet 3:6–7 suggests one could think of “the fire next time”); it speaks only of the life of the earth in an indefinite future. The phrase alludes to the “permanence” of the earth.71 The promises focus on matters ecological, involving agricultural life, climate, seasons, and the daily rhythm. The first implies the continuing existence of human work in seeding and harvesting. All elements are necessary for continued life in the world, providing a basic rhythm as life reaches forward to the future. Come what may, the cosmic order will remain steady and regular.

    Terence E. Fretheim, “The Book of Genesis,” in General Articles; Genesis-Leviticus (vol. 1 of NIB, Accordance electronic ed. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994), 393-394.

    God says he’ll never again curse the earth. The traditional view is that he’ll destroy it with fire — which seems very curse-like. The view I’m teaching is that he’ll purify it with fire, returning it to its pristine state and even better — the very opposite of a curse. He’ll bless the earth.

    “While the earth remains” is literally “as long as all the days of the earth.” When God comes to earth to reign, he’ll replace the sun himself. There will be no night. The world will be made new.

  16. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay,
    I do not see how the information written by the inspired Peter will fit into the concept that you are promoting.
    2Pe 3:7-13 ESV But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. (8) But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. (9) The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (10) But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. (11) Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, (12) waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! (13) But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
    In his account there will be nothing of this planet or heavenly things for the new heaven and new earth to attach to, and if we believe God has all power there is no reason to demand that something of this creation has to exist for him to connect the new with. A transformation of this earth as you suggest is not a new creation. Should we then ignore these passages of scripture. Actually, Peter is saying that the whole solar system will be burned up and dissolved. To me that has reference to non existent. The new will be totally new. If you make something new it is not a copy of a past object. What you are suggesting is a copy of the initial creation. There many more obstacles within this earth which will not fit into the description of the new earth.
    As I think of what this earth is presently like or has been like since creation, it really looks very unstable as a dwelling place for God or man for eternity. God’s description of his dwelling place now certainly does seem perfect, and I would be anxious to go there. Jesus experienced this earth and he was anxious to return home. Question, if Jesus spirit had not re-entered into his body after the resurrection would anyone have known that he was alive? Or comprehend him in the spirit? I believe that there will be so much difference between our existence here and what will be in resurrection that we cannot comprehend the change. Therefore, the communications about the future had to be linked to something we could partially understand, thus the references to mankind and nature.

  17. Robert says:

    The fire consuming the earth, has been started on the day of Pentecost.

    The purification is well under way in my thinking.

  18. Dwight says:

    I agree that as saints we are a part of the congregation or the Kingdom, but even so we cannot see the borders of the congregation or kingdom as these are in heaven. We are joined to Christ who also is in heaven. There is no earthly form of the congregation or kingdom on earth, although there are to be associations that mimic who we are to be in heaven…unified.
    But when it comes to work and worship we are individuals who man or may not come together to do these things, but we at least must do these things when we are not with others.
    In I Cor. “For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.” Paul is telling the saints in Corinth what they are and as noted the “you are” is plural in form, but this only adds credence to the concept that Paul wasn’t talking to a collective, but to individual people. “You are God’s field and you are God’s building”, but they are not a field or a building in a collective sense, but rather in a ownership sense in that God owns the field and building.
    When we read I Peter 2 “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
    “you” singular, then “you” singular, then transition to “yourselves” – plural, then “living stones”-plural, “holy priesthood” – plural. A collective is never broached, but rather what they were as saints.
    When we move to the Temple aspect
    I Cor.3 “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.”
    I Cor.6 “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?”
    II Cor.16 “And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.”
    The people themselves are related as the Temple themselves as God dwells in them. Elsewhere the people are called priest and a living sacrifice, so they are to be of service and worship. But these qualities are never related to a group or collective of people in a particular place/time as apart from the people individually. Even the Temple was within the realm of the Kingdom in the OT. And we are as well.

  19. Robert says:

    But was that temple that they served more of a physical temple with only a few chosen that were anointed with the Spirit? This is why Jesus glorification was necessary. Only after his resurrection was the promise of the indwelling / gift of God given. This gift is why when we read the words of the the old and new testament the mysteries are no longer veiled. We have the full measure of the Spirit because the veil has been torn by the perfect sacrifice accepted by Jahovah. So we are all chosen by God to accept his invitation. When we do we are individually added to the Kingdom of God and sealed with the Spirit internal dwelling and inherit sonship. Jesus dwells within this physical body temporary . But when we are assembled together in a group we still being many are one body or temple. We become living stones, just as Jesus became our corner stone. This not of our doing that anyone can boast, it is only the works of Christ who wills us to do the good works building up the collective body of Christ, bringing glory to God our Father.

  20. Dwight says:

    There is a combining of concepts in the NT in regards to the saint/saints. We are a Temple and we are to be built together as a Temple. Both are reasonable and non-contradictory, even as we have a body and are part of the body of Christ. One concept is a little more concrete however than the other in what we can see. If God dwells in us, then we are a Temple in reality and function and we as saints can come together to build a Temple, but this Temple is not physical in nature, but heavenly in form. They are both real, but one is here and the other is heavenly in nature.
    Jesus is the cornerstone, not of a physical structure, but of a heavenly one…the church or congregation. This is why Jesus says to Peter, “On this rock (confession) I will build my congregation.”
    My fear and what I have seen is that we often focus on the building of the congregation, that is to say the local assembly, which is focused on very little in the scriptures, and we often leave the building up of the saint to the limitations of the assembly. We stop building ourselves up in Christ and depend upon the system or assembly to do it, which is a benefit, but not the day to day reality in which we live. Thus our work and our service and our worship become limited and tied to the assembly, when it really ought to be seen when we are not amongst others or our kind.
    I know too many people that make assembly the focus of our Christianity, instead of living like Christ. They don’t worship God, but go to assembly to worship.
    Our membership and fellowship is based on our being in Christ, which results or should result in us loving and building each other when we happen to be with each other. We should be unified even before we come together.

  21. Larry Cheek says:

    I have listened to many who believe that this earth will be renewed as Jay is proposing and that concept really presents a huge amount of questions for my understanding. As I observe the earth that I live on I see many thing that I really like, I am very glad to have electricity to power all the comforts that we have available, you know HVAC protects us from the cold and heat which has been here from the creation of the earth. Then sources of energy which allow us to travel in a fashion that is unique to the inhabitants of earth for less than 100 years. Communications beyond the wildest dreams of even the wisest man on earth. I could continue with many of the conveniences we have become accustomed to which have only been present within the last few centuries of this earth.
    So to those individuals I would ask, what if God restored this earth back to its perfectness at creation, would you be happy here? I cannot remember anyone predicting the time period for the likeness of this earth to resemble, other than the comment that at creation everything was good. And it was because what was is all that man knew, but has this earth not constantly been improved by mans tending the garden? Imagine for a moment, what is the natural resemblance of the earth where man has not been working. In most cases it is either barren or it is a jungle. Neither is a suitable place for man to live. Would nature not return that man has groomed back into natures design?
    Do you remember any account in the description of Heaven which identifies there will be any of the animals of this world there? No vegetation control from plant consuming animals. Oh on second thought what plants would be there, there will be no seasons, no darkness the plants of present earth would not exist either.
    I could go on, but instead I believe that God, Jesus, and His Angels exist in an environment that is free from the heart aches and pain of the different seasons and catastrophes attached to this world. I believe that I would be like Heaven to live within their environment.

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