God’s great works are all around us
All things in the world, visible and invisible, were created by God’s Word (John 1: 1-3; Colossians 1: 16; Hebrews 11:3). This includes the physical universe, plants and animals, angels, and human beings—their body, spirit, and soul (1 Thessalonians 5: 23). God not only creates, He also sustains all creatures in being, for all things hold together in Christ (Colossians 1: 17). What God creates by its very nature confesses its creator. It pours forth speech declaring the glory of God (Psalm 19: 1-3), and it joins in a high doxology, praising the Lord (Psalm 148).
God’s great works are within us
Human beings are specially made in the image of God, so that they can serve as stewards of God’s world (Genesis 1: 26-28). Although original righteousness was lost in the fall, still man has a special dignity, above other animals (Genesis 9: 6). God leaves His signature in His image bearers, so that even after the fall, they may recognize God. Though we live in time, He has set eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3: 11), which makes us long for a different country, heaven itself (Hebrews 11: 13-16). He has revealed His existence and power in the things He has made (Romans 1: 19-20). He has written the moral law on our hearts (Romans 2: 14-15). This shows us our sin, and our inability to save ourselves (Romans 3: 9-20). God, who wants all people to be saved (1 Timothy 2: 4), shows us our need for a savior. God’s Word, which is living and active (Hebrews 4: 12), presents Christ as the Great Physician who can heal us. We are saved, not by works, but by grace alone (Romans 3: 21-28, Ephesians 2: 8-9).
Through Christ, we are made right with God: Christ bore all of our sins and took the punishment that we deserve. Though we made ourselves enemies of God (Romans 8: 7), God befriended His prodigal children, adopting them into his family (Romans 8: 14-17, Galatians 4: 1-7). Our cure is only made complete in heaven (Revelation 7: 15-17), yet even now, as we wrestle with sin (Romans 7: 15-20), the new person in Christ has been born. Our minds are transformed, so that we no longer conform to worldly patterns of thinking (Romans 12: 2). We can now recognize the precious dignity and value of each human being, and we do not try to justify evil because good may come of it (Romans 3: 8). Instead, we more clearly perceive the will of God for our lives. Thus we begin to put off our old self, like a discarded garment, and to put on our new self, where the image of God is being restored (Ephesians 4: 22-24).
God not only creates individuals, but communities. We are social beings, and it is not good for us to be alone (Genesis 2:18). So God creates the institution of marriage, where man and woman become one flesh (Genesis 2: 24). A central purpose of marriage is to support the family, the basic building block of all other communities, in both the state and the church. God provides us with different gifts, so that each of us can serve the needs of others, and each of us needs to be served by others (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12). In this way, God teaches us that we are dependent beings: we need one another, as we all need Him. The church also calls us to worship together (Hebrews 10: 25), not only with others in the pew, but also with the company of heaven, including the many saints that precede us. God places us in various stations (1 Corinthians 7: 20), in the family, in society, and in the church. For He does not micromanage our lives, but delegates responsibilities to us. Although God does not need our good works, our neighbor does, and God is powerfully at work in us serving our neighbor through our various vocations. We are salt, helping to preserve what is good in this world, and we are light, sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Even when we sin in and against our vocations, God powerfully works good out of our evil (Genesis 50: 20, Romans 8: 28).
God’s great works are yet to come
God’s powerful works are by no means complete. He has already raised Christ from the dead (1 Corinthians 15: 20), but He will raise us also (1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18). Our perishable bodies will be raised imperishable (1 Corinthians 15: 42). Not only human beings, but the whole creation, will be renewed (Romans 8: 20-21). Then God will dwell with us in the new Jerusalem (Revelation 21: 2). It is here that God will completely heal all harms and sorrows: “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21: 4). This is the final renewal, when all things will perfectly fulfill God’s original intentions for them.
Concordia University Wisconsin exists in order to manifest God’s powerful work in our world, in our earthly lives, and in the world to come. He is here—around us, within us, and in our future. Praise God for His good works among us!
Soli Deo Gloria!
—Angus Menuge, PhD, Professor of Philosophy
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