Baptism and Faith

exodusIt hadn’t struck me before the last few days just how significant the opening verses of 1 Corinthians 10 are for ecclesiology. As Paul emphasises the need to ‘run in such a way as to get the prize’, he draws the Corinthians back to the story of Israel in the wilderness. He deliberately conjoins the language of the Christian church with the story of Israel…

For I don’t want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea – and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea… 1 Cor 10:1-2

Paul uses the language of baptism to draw his parallel, evoking the story (and placing the Corinthians within the story) of the wilderness generation. Paul is a master rhetorician as well as a master theologian. And this is not merely rhetoric, but theology.

Baptism into the Church is being drawn in parallel with belonging to Israel in the Old Testament. Why? Because for Paul, the Corinthians do actually belong to Israel; they are grafted into this ancient olive tree in Christ. The story is their story. Paul is very consciously saying ‘those who do not know their own history are destined to repeat its mistakes.’

This is not only Paul’s theology of the church, but also his theology of the sacraments. Baptism here is not the baptism of individual faith, but baptism into the people of God: all were baptised into Moses. This is critical to Paul’s point: not all of those baptised into Moses were pleasing to God (v.5). In the same way, the Corinthian Christians who are toying with idolatry need to know that it is their faith in Christ, not their baptism which is the ground of their security.

In describing Israel in this way, using the language of the Church (the language of baptism), Paul is describing the mixed nature of the Church as the People of God. Within it are those of faith and those without. It is this truth that is expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith (chapter 25, emphasis added):

The visible church, which is also catholick or universal under the gospel … consists of all these throughout the world that profess the true religion, together with their children.

Thus baptism, as the means of entry into the visible church, cannot be fundamentally based upon the faith of the one who receives baptism (WCF 28.4).

Oscar Cullmann in Baptism and the New Testament understands Paul’s link between baptism and the exodus in 1 Cor 10:1-2 as demonstrating that baptism follows the paradigm of God acting first and man responding. Indeed,

[t]he whole point of the connection of this event with Baptism is that afterwards, really and temporally afterwards, the response must follow―and this even when faith was already present before Baptism. This sequence of events: act of God―response of man―is normative. What happened to all (πάντες) the members of the people, namely, the miracle of God, is opposed to what happened to τινες, whom that miracle did not suffice to save, since they did not respond to it with faith but incurred the guilt of the sin mentioned there (p.49).

Thus, for Paul baptism is an act based not primarily on faith, but on God’s covenant promises. These promises are not just to individuals or to families, but to a whole community. In the case of the baptism of the children of believers it is a sacrament based on God’s promise, not first and foremost on the parents’ promise. It is God’s promise that demands a response. And it is a sacrament that involves a community, the Church. The sacrament demands a forward-looking response in life together, the response of faith. This is true for children of believers and for those from outside the Church whose faith has led them to baptism in the first place.

If we don’t respond to our baptism with faith, we will be disqualified from the prize.

Thoughts on Christian Identity: God’s Presence

davinci2God’s presence with the Christian is a fundamental part of Christian Identity. In 1 Corinthians 6:19, the apostle Paul writes:

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you?

Earlier in his letter (3:16), Paul has written something similar, but he emphasises there the teaching that corporately the Christians can be described as a temple of God. This thought is also found in Ephesians 2:19-22 where the whole Church is being built as a temple on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, but where the readers of the letter are also ‘being built together into a dwelling of God.’

But, getting back to 1 Corinthians 6, it is something more personal here. It is the body (the context shows the physical, human body of the individual is in view) that is a temple of the Holy Spirit. Paul does not write: your soul is a temple of the Holy Spirit. We might have thought that more likely. But, it is your body that is the temple. What are we to make of this? How does it impact how we think of ourselves as Christians?

Paul is using a metaphor. In the Old Testament, the God of Israel dwelt amongst his people in a tent, and then in a temple. These structures were outposts of a lost Eden in the fallen world (the tabernacle and temple both contained garden & creation imagery). The temple spoke of the re-instatement of that pre-Fall, perfect connection between God and humans. Theologically, humans cannot be human in the truest sense without the restoration of a lost dimension to their lives. That dimension is their living experience of the presence of God in their lives. That is what gives ‘true life’. Saying ‘presence’ might be confusing. Really, the idea is one of God’s influence on us, not coercively, but in partnership with us. A kind of enabling, but with a deeply personal component too – which is why ‘presence’ is ultimately the right word. It’s not merely a ‘spiritual’ thing. Because of the fundamental co-existent connection between the spiritual and the physical, both aspects of our person are involved in God’s presence.

If the presence of God in our body seems an odd concept, think about this: when you have an idea, an insight, or an intuition, where does it come from? From stored experiences in cells of your brain; from firing synapses and intercellular chemistry bringing experiences, memories and knowledge together (of course, I’m no expert on brains, but no-one on the planet really understands how this stuff really works!). Yes, of course that’s true. But, when we accept that the ‘spiritual’ and physical are intimately connected, we realise that through the Holy Spirit, God himself is influential in these processes. So, God can give insight. He can bring motivation to action. He can bring about answers to prayer when someone is praying for help and there’s a knock at their door. When we respond to reading God’s word, what is that? When we worship in Church and feel a deep-seated peace, or a rising up of joy, what is that? I don’t think a purely materialist perspective on these things is adequate. And, of course, when our knowledge, experience, etc. are formed by our interaction with God’s word and our interaction with God himself through prayer and worship, then all of this forms a rich tapestry of God’s presence in our bodies.

Obviously, I’m not saying that Paul thought of it in these terms – two thousand years ago the human body was a bigger mystery than it is today. But I am building this on the fact that Paul saw it as entirely appropriate to describe God the Holy Spirit as being ‘present’ in our bodies.

Through faith in Jesus Christ, God is present in us. What is lost to humanity – due to the entry of sin into the human psyche and the alienation of God from humans – is restored! But not only is God present, but in some sense so is the human Jesus Christ himself, who is the incarnated logos, the second ‘person’ in the divine Trinity (when we think of the connection between God and humans, the fact that God has become a human is extremely important, but no space here for that!). In John’s gospel we find the same idea expressed in a striking manner.

I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper…the Spirit of truth…; you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you… In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you…. Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. John 14:17-23

Does the way we imagine Christianity reflect this? Does our relationship with God reflect this? When we are praying, do we imagine we are praying to someone far off? And what about our relationship with Jesus? Are we talking to a Jesus lost in the past, or somewhere off in heaven? Talking to someone who doesn’t understand, or know about your life, your hopes, fears, sins, joy? In Jesus Christ, the Father truly has embraced the prodigal! And Paul’s main purpose in writing what he does in 1 Corinthians 6 is ethical. When we face temptation, shouldn’t the real presence of God in our bodies act as some kind of restraint? And give us real hope for choosing the right path? Our God, our Lord and Master Jesus is present in us through the Holy Spirit.

Thoughts on Christian Identity: You Are Not Your Own

cross3In my previous post I looked at how a true understanding of the human person is important to Christian Identity.

Ethicists of every stripe agree that identity, how a group or individual defines itself, is fundamental to their moral formation. A frequent summary of the logic of Paul’s ethics is the maxim ‘become what you are’. Ciampa & Rosner, 1 Corinthians, p.158

In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Paul teaches Christian Identity.

Flee immorality. Every other sin that a person commits is outside the body, but the immoral person sins against their own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

Fundamental to Christian Identity is the idea that we belong to God. Modern thought emphasises the complete freedom of the human person. Freedom is important, but a true understanding of human freedom must recognise that it is often illusory and has limits. Western capitalism and democracy are built on freedom of choice. But are humans truly masters of their own destiny? Are we free to do as we please?  The scriptures tell us that human beings are ‘slaves to sin’. We cannot free ourselves from our condition of moral compromise and inability to act consistently in righteous ways that benefit ourselves and others. We are destructive and self-destructive. The reason for our lack of freedom is that we are fundamentally alienated from God our Creator.

The Christian finds freedom in being reconciled to the Creator. Christians are redeemed, bought back by God. Therefore, we are not our own, we have been bought with a price. This is the same idea as is found in 1 Peter 1:18-19:

…you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your ancestors, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.

This fact of Christian Identity ought to give us pause for thought. It’s not just a truth to be confined to the ‘theological’ category to be dug up and reflected on every once in a blue moon. You are not your own when your married work colleague is flirting with you. You are not your own when you’re choosing your holiday. You are not your own when you’re caught up in that dispute that flairs up at work.  You are not your own when you’re choosing coffee in the supermarket.

I preached on Christian Identity the Sunday after the factory collapse in Bangladesh that highlighted again the oppression that enables rich Westerners to buy cheap clothes, rich Westerners who have ‘freedom of choice’. You are not your own, when you’re in the queue for the till in Primark. We are not our own. Jesus Christ did not give his life for us so that we could partition off a part of our lives as beyond his jurisdiction, using a body-soul, sacred-secular dualism to justify it.

Thoughts on Christian Identity: The Lord is For the Body

davinciA couple of Sundays ago I preached on Christian Identity from 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. Roy Ciampa and Brian Rosner, in their commentary (p.158), write:

Ethicists of every stripe agree that identity, how a group or individual defines itself, is fundamental to their moral formation. A frequent summary of the logic of Paul’s ethics is the maxim ‘become what you are’.

In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul teaches Christian Identity in the harsh reality of a fledgling church where pagan converts to Christianity are struggling to cast off the habits of their pagan world. It is part of Paul’s attempt at, in the words of Richard Hays, a conversion of the Corinthians’ imagination. The same appeals to a right conception of Christian Identity are applicable to all Christians today.
Paul’s insistence that the Corinthian Christians live holy lives flies in the face of the views of some in the church who are clinging to pagan views of the human person. These people say that what’s done in the body ultimately doesn’t matter, since the body is a transient feature; the body is incidental, and not essential, to being human. Paul summarises their view – and counters it:

You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.

As an aside, the NIV has the best translation here. Although there are no quote marks in the Greek, the section only makes sense if Paul is here quoting the Corinthians as marked above. Quote marks can be the only way to ensure a good translation – especially in 1 Corinthians, where Paul quotes the views of the Corinthians a number of times. The NASBs omission of quote-marks isn’t helpful. The ESV, earlier NIVs and NLTs have the quotes in the wrong place.
Pagan views that the body is dispensable to human identity are definitely not shared by Paul. The body is part of the human person. The Lord is for the body, pro-body. If we want to talk about soul and body, then these are equally as much a part of who we are. They are best thought of, not as two parts, but as two aspects of the same person. We are not spiritual beings temporarily inhabiting physical bodies. We are spiritual-physical beings. My body is no less the real me than my soul is. My body is no less important to me being me than my soul is. There is a fundamental link between the spiritual and the physical. Modern science emphasises the psycho-somatic unity of the human person. That would be closer to Paul’s view than the extreme dualistic view that is common in modern Christianity and which finds its roots in the philosophy of Plato. The Church has often given the misleading impression that God is about saving souls, but that our bodies are dispensable. That’s wrong. Salvation is as much about bodies as it is about souls.
Where do we see the fact that ‘the Lord is for the body’ demonstrated? The answer lies in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. God raised Jesus from the dead – and he will raise us also. Salvation embraces our whole human ‘self’, body and soul. And, for Paul, because salvation embraces the whole person, the body as well as soul are also both involved in God’s work of sanctification, the outworking of our salvation. We see this in 1 Corinthians 15, where Paul concludes his argument showing his hope of human resurrection in Christ, with these words:
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.
Our work for God in this world is not in vain because of the future hope of the resurrection. Paul believes that because our bodies will be raised in the resurrection, what we do with our bodies now is fundamentally important to our salvation. This is the background to 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, and it’s why Paul finishes this whole section with the words:
Therefore, glorify God in your body.
One broader implication of the above is that the Christian life is not just about ‘spiritual disciplines’: going to church, reading the Bible, praying every night. It’s about our whole lives. It’s as much about the physical side of marriage as it is about the spiritual. It’s as much about what we do with our hands when they’re not together in prayer. It’s about what we do with the money that’s not in the plate on a Sunday.

Judging Preachers

PaulRomeHow do we judge the effectiveness of preaching? It’s a question that’s of obvious interest to preachers. And it’s also a question that’s at the heart of the ubiquitous discussions amongst the laity about who is, or isn’t, a good preacher.
 
Some time ago I read through Bruce Winter’s Philo and Paul Amongst the Sophists. It’s a very persuasive argument for a background to the problems in the Corinthian church in the sophistic movement of the first century. The Sophists valued rhetoric and presentation above all else in their speaking, and the hearers too would judge the relative merits of the Sophists by this same criterion.
 
So, when Paul is at pains to point out that he didn’t arrive in Corinth with a message delivered by ‘cleverness of speech’, he’s distancing himself from a sophistic culture which was represented amongst the Corinthian Christians. Similarly, the parties at Corinth (‘I am of Paul, I am of Apollos…’) was a reflection of the tendency to follow and identify with a particular sophist, not necessarily because of the content of their declamations, but simply based upon their style. The sophists were not merely concerned with the style of their speech, but also with their appearance (which might connect with 2 Cor 10:10). Sophists were keen to present themselves outwardly as exemplars of style to the masses. In one case cited by Winter, Epictetus, who is unimpressed by this superficiality, berates a young student of the Sophists for plucking the hair from his body and being concerned about the way in which the hair on his head is set.
 
How do modern attitudes in the church compare with the attitudes of the Corinthian Christians? To start with, it’s definitely a familiar phenomenon to find preachers judged on their rhetorical power. But, as Paul is at pains to point out, that is a very poor way to judge the effectiveness of a ministry (1 Cor 2:4,5; 4:20). The measure of effective preaching is not how elated we feel when we sing the final hymn or when we are leaving the church. It is how we feel six months or six years later, when we are able to judge the cumulative effect of a ministry in our lives.
 
And there are implications for us as hearers. If we approach sermons looking for a ‘hit’, a ‘rush’, a ‘high’, looking to be thrilled, our listening might not be conducive to understanding and learning. And there are implications for preachers. If we are looking primarily to thrill the congregation, then that might not be an approach geared to effective teaching and learning. Are we, as hearers, listening in order to grow towards maturity? Are we, as preachers, teaching in such a way as to produce these outcomes amongst our hearers?
 
And as for the outward appearance… Some preachers have to run just to stand still with some congregations because they’re not wearing a collar (or because they are); because they’re not wearing (or are) a tie, or a suit, or jeans! In the contemporary church there is a tendency to judge a ministry, especially a preacher’s ministry, in terms of oratory, or personality, or even appearance, or perhaps in terms of new people coming into church drawn by that oratory or some other aspect. However, the true test is one of results, not of the instant gratification of an adrenalin hit or a spiritual high, or of the fickle measure of bums on seats, but by the solid, nitty-gritty of effective teaching leading to spiritual growth across the board: new Christians and more established Christians both growing to be mature, effective Christians.

Discipline and the Fragmentation of the Church

paul1Yesterday, I was preaching on 1 Corinthians 5 where Paul seeks to protect the fledgling Corinthian church from the effects of gross sin by one of its members, and to act for the good of that person. Gordon Fee writes the following challenging words concerning church discipline…
Finally, the great problem with such discipline in most Christian communities in the Western world is that one can simply go down the street to another church. Not only does that say something about the fragmented condition of the church at large, but it also says something about those who would quickly welcome one who is under discipline in another community.
Perhaps it should be added that if one were to be so disciplined in our day, too often the person could “take it or leave it” as far as the church is concerned—and that probably says more about the condition of the church itself than about the person who is dissociated. Maybe the most significant thing we can learn from such a text is how far many of us are removed from a view of the church in which the dynamic of the Spirit was so real that exclusion could be a genuinely redemptive action.

The Dilemma of Death

IMG_6908In 2 Corinthians 5:1-10, the apostle Paul struggles with the Dilemma of Death. He describes three states of human existence:
  1. Mortal Life. Paul uses the metaphor of a tent to emphasise the temporary, precarious nature of this life (vv.1-2). This follows hard on the heels of his description of his trials in 4:7-12. Mortal Life is a life of groaning and burden, since it is clear to us that this is not Real Life. We long, not for Death  but to be clothed with a different kind of body (‘not that would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed’ v.4, ESV), not temporary and precarious, but a body as God intended (vv.2-4).
  2. Death. Some refer to this state as Life After Death. This is misleading. A separation of soul and body cannot be properly described as life. The state of Death is not fully human existence. It is best described as the state of Death. Death is the destruction of our mortal body, our ‘tent’ (v.1). This state is likened by Paul to being (in a change of metaphor) naked, unclothed (vv.3-4). To keep the same metaphor as tents and buildings, we might say that Death is being homeless with respect to the possession of a body. Paul does not want to be unclothed, to be homeless. The thought is a burden. It is an unnatural state. And yet, Death is also the state in which we may be present with the Lord. Jesus the Christ is present in the heavenly realm and at death we are, despite being without physical existence ourselves, present with him.
  3. Real Life. This is what we ought to have in mind when we use the term Life After Death (some refer to this as Life After Life After Death). Real Life is resurrected life. This, not Death, is Paul’s great hope in the face of the realities of Mortal Life (4:13-14). It is not an entirely different existence, an existence about which we have no knowledge now. Rather, Paul describes Real Life as an engulfing of mortality by life (v.4b). The image is one of a tsunami of Life sweeping across and through the mortality of our present experience. This wave of renewal transforms Mortal Life into Real Life. The ‘tent’ of our mortal body is replaced with what Paul calls a ‘heavenly building’, a building that is not temporary but eternal. Paul rather poetically here conceives of God holding this building for us (contrast his view in 1 Corinthians 15) – its giving to us is so certain that Paul can describe it as ‘in the heavens’ (v.1). But we do not receive it in heaven. It is kept there for us, for the day of the resurrection. As Tom Wright famously wrote: ‘If I tell my friend I’ve kept a cold beer in the fridge for him, it doesn’t mean he has to get into the fridge to enjoy it!’
Of course, Paul writes from the perspective of a faithful disciple of Jesus. The descriptions of these states apply to Christians, who participate in God’s salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Resurrection is but the final act in God’s work of human salvation. It is for those who he has chosen, called, justified, sanctified and glorified. It applies to those baptised into the Church who believe and follow Jesus in faith, as disciples. For those who do not follow Jesus Christ, there is no hope of being present with Jesus in the state of Death. Nor is there any hope of Real Life.
 
The Dilemma of Death for the Christian is seen in how Paul uses the language of being ‘home’ and being ‘absent’. He mentions two homes:
  • if we are in our bodies, we are ‘home’ (v.6b); and
  • if we are with Jesus Christ our Lord, we are ‘home’ (v.8b).
And, correspondingly, two absences:
  • when we die, we are ‘absent’ from the home of our body; and
  • when we live Mortal Life, we are ‘absent’ from Jesus our Lord.
The Dilemma of Death is found in the fact that, when we die, we lose one ‘home’ but gain the other. In Mortal Life we are at home in the body, but absent from the Lord. In Death, we are absent from the body, but at home with the Lord. Neither state is ultimately desirable, but to be with the Lord is better than being absent from him and this is the consolation in Death (v.8). Compare this with Paul’s words in Philippians 1:21-24.
 
This Dilemma is only resolved in Real Life, the life of the resurrection. No-one gains this Real Life ahead of any other (Heb 11:40). Or, in terms of Paul’s poetic view here, no-one receives the heavenly building prepared by God ahead of anyone else. Real Life is given to all (whether dead of alive, 1 Cor 15:51-52) at the Parousia of Christ (1 Thess 4:14). During Death we await the realisation of it. It is our final adoption, the goal of our redemption (Romans 8:23).
 
So, at a funeral of a Christian brother or sister, ought we to grieve or rejoice? Both. We grieve because Death is an enemy, an imposter in God’s purpose for man. We grieve because our friend is absent from the ‘home’ of their body. To be dead is to be not fully human. But we do not grieve as those who have no hope (1 Thess 4:13-14). We rejoice because they are present with the Lord and are free from the groaning and burdens of this Mortal Life. They are with the Lord, which is better. And we rejoice in the hope of the resurrection. Are they finally ‘home’? No, they are not. They await Real Life when they, along with us, will be at ‘home’ in our bodies, and at ‘home’ with the Lord.
 
The doctrine of human resurrection is neglected in Christianity. If we do not proclaim the resurrection as part of the Gospel, it is not a Christian Gospel. It is no Gospel at all. The Gospel without Resurrection becomes a gnostic shadow of the Christian Gospel. Silence about resurrection in the preaching of the Gospel comes close to a de facto denial of it. We ought to heed the words of Justin Martyr.

All Things Are Yours

feeI was preaching recently on 1 Cor 3:21-23. The Corinthians say: I belong to Paul, I belong to Apollos…(1 Cor 1:12). Paul says: Paul, Apollos and Cephas belong to you – in fact, all things belong to you.

Whilst preparing, I came across this great quote from Fee’s NICNT volume on 1 Corinthians.

The Corinthian error is an easy one to repeat. Not only do we all have normal tendencies to turn natural preferences into exclusive ones, but in our fallenness we also tend to consider ourselves “wise” enough to inform God through whom he may minister to his people. Our slogans take the form of “I am of the Presbyterians,” or “of the Pentecostals,” or “of the Roman Catholics.” Or they might take ideological forms: “I am of the liberals,” or “of the evangelicals,” or “of the fundamentalists.” And these are also used as weapons: “Oh, he’s a fundamentalist, you know.” Which means that we no longer need to listen to him, since his ideology has determined his overall value as a spokesman for God. It is hardly possible in a day like ours that one will not have denominational, theological, or ideological preferences. The difficulty lies in allowing that it might really be true that “all things are ours,” including those whom we think God would do better to be without. But God is full of surprises; and he may choose to minister to us from the “strangest” of sources, if we were but more truly “in Christ” and therefore free in him to learn and to love.

This does not mean that one should not be discriminating; after all, Paul has no patience for that teaching in Corinth which had abandoned the pure gospel of Christ. But to be “of Christ” is also to be free from the tyrannies of one’s own narrowness, free to learn even from those with whom one may disagree.

The Renewal of our Spirits and Bodies

P1010056In 1 Corinthians Paul perceives a now-and-not-yet in human salvation. Now, the redemption of our spirits, and in the future, but not-yet, the redemption of our bodies. It is part of Paul’s inaugurated eschatology. The contrast between the anthropos psuchikos (natural/unregenerate man) and ho penumatikos (he who is spiritual) in 2:14-15 expresses the regenerative power of the Holy Spirit. In 15:44, the soma psuchikon (natural/unregenerate body) is transformed into the soma pneumatikon (spiritual body). One body is animated by psuche, the other animated by pneuma. The categories applied to the inward transformation of the one who has faith in Jesus Christ are here applied to their bodily transformation. Both aspects are part of the same overall process and goal. The diagram on the right is an attempt to show this.

Hans-Joachim Kraus writes similarly in his Theology of the Psalms. In his chapter on The Individual in the Presence of God, he identifies spirit (ruah) and heart (leb) as synonymous descriptions of the inner being of humans. The ruah is ‘the wind, the breath of life, the life-giving power.’ It is equivalent to breath (nismah). So Psalm 51 contains a plea for a ‘clean heart’ and ‘a new and right spirit.’ It is a plea for a creative renewal of the human ruah, which can only be achieved through the intervention of the ruah of Yahweh himself.

ruah as a revivifying element of creation corresponds here to ruah as the divine power of new creation, or of its effect on the human spirit. The person who has been renewed in her or his ruah through Gods ‘holy spirit’ is the counterpart to the person who as God’s creature has been given life through ruah or nismah. Both aspects, however, are intimately related, because it is the will of Yahweh the Creator to renew his creation. This will is, however, first active in human beings in Israel. Here the human ruah is in need of God’s protection and guidance through the divine Spirit. ‘Let thy good spirit lead me on a level path!’ (Ps. 143:10).  p147.

What Paul sets out explicitly, we detect in God’s renewing, creative action in the Psalms. What I especially love about this quote is the salvation-historical clarity: the will of the Creator for renewal is ‘first active in human beings in Israel’! The same will of the Creator is today active in all the world! We are closer today to the goal: Behold, I make all things new!