What for Paul was the foundation of the gospel message, the foundation upon which he built?
When he had decided to write a detailed letter to the Romans in which to set out his presentation of the Christian Faith, he announces this thus (see Romans 1:11-17): “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong. ... I am eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” He then asserts the Lordship of God Almighty, on display in the Creation (1:19- 20): “since what may be known about God is plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”
When Paul was addressing Jews, he began with the common ground of their Scriptures (cf. Acts 17:3, “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah.”) However, when Paul was invited to address the pagan Athenians of the Areopagus on Mars Hill, he began with God’s creation (Acts 17:19-34): “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. ... this is what I am going to proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth.” He proceeded to present God as the Creator of all things, and from this he then advanced to Christ’s Resurrection. But there they stopped him dead. They found this quite ridiculous. “When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered.” This was just too much for them. And then there were others who said to Paul, “Oh yes, we want to hear more about this subject, but not right now. Yes, some more. But some other time. Perhaps.” (See Acts 17:32.) But, as always when the gospel was presented, there were “Some of the people [who] became followers of Paul, and believed” (17:34). But we note that Paul had begun his address by presenting the Lord God as Creator of all things.
Similarly in Romans 8:19 Paul writes about “the creation” and then moves forward (verse 34) to “Christ Jesus who died — more than this, who was raised to life.”
THE PRESENT CRISIS FACING PLANET EARTH
At this present time, God’s earth is confronted by a planet-wide crisis. Indeed, right now the earth is under a sustained vicious attack: great damage is currently being done to God’s Creation by global warming. And this issue matters. This global warming is due to the accumulation in our atmosphere of greenhouse gases. In particular these gases are CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide. To a significant extent these gases are due to the burning of fossil fuels: coal, oil, and gas. In world history up till now these fuels have been a great boon to us — in many ways they have been the foundation of civilization, and of our worldwide culture. But now these greenhouse gases that they produce are forming a blanket that is wrapped around the entire planet and is smothering us in dangerous pollution. Furthermore it is raising the earth’s temperature so that the earth is becoming less habitable for ourselves — and for other life forms, many of which are becoming extinct.
This is no slight matter, which will simply go away. The members of the family of God, the church, have a God-given responsibility to do what we can to help in this matter, because we have been charged with taking care of the Earth. We need to start by making ourselves familiar with the facts of the situation: facts about the damage being done to God’s Creation. And its causes — seeing that God specifically committed it to our care and concern (Genesis 1:28). This care of the earth is not a diversion from our responsibility for the world-wide proclamation of salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord (Matthew 28:19- 20): rather, care of the earth is part of the gospel. It is an essential part, in practical terms, of our role in the care of our neighbour — which is Christ’s “second Commandment” (Matthew 22:39//Mark 12:31). And this global warming is threatening the continuing habitability of this planet. Things are that serious.
Now, there are some aspects of the causes of global warming over which we have little control (if any). But there is one cause of this crisis, to which we can respond positively, and where we can make a huge difference to what happens. There is a way in which we can act. And should act. For we humans have built our lifestyle, our present world civilization, upon the burning of fossil fuels for our energy needs. These fossil fuels, which we source out of the ground, are coal, oil, and gas — and at present we seem to think, by and large, that we cannot function without using them. But we can. And we must change. We must transition away from fossil fuels as speedily as this change can be implemented. This transition is a matter of urgency. We must recognize the facts about this. In this matter we must change our thinking, as Paul teaches us (Romans 12:2). In accordance with what he says here in this passage, we must “cease to conform to the pattern of the world” on this issue. Rather, as he says in this passage, we must “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Yes, what we need is actually to be transformed to a different way of thinking. One which, instead of resulting (as now) in damaging the liveability of Planet Earth, will restore its climate and its fruitfulness, for the benefit of all who live upon it. Including those which, and who, are due to arrive to live upon it in the future. For this is the earth about which, as Psalm 115:16 says, “The highest heavens belong to the Lord, but the earth he has given to mankind.” Let us in full conscience accept the responsibility of this gift as a sacred trust from the Lord, and act accordingly. Let us act in accordance with a full responsibility to fix those things which harm the planet. And there is, moreover, a major moral dimension to this issue, of which Christians have an especial need to be aware.
The problem is that whilever we continue burning fossil fuel, we are making the situation progressively worse. The two main ways we are making things worse are (a) through fossil-fuel-burning power plants that produce energy for our use, and (b) from the gases produced by the Internal Combustion Engines (ICE) used in our motor vehicles.
There is a transition which is in the process now of gradually taking place in this world. We must deliberately choose that we will play our part in this transition. For we can make a difference to the outcome of what is now happening. First, let us heed what Paul instructs us (Romans 12:2), and renew our thinking. This is very relevant. For let us recognize that God’s gifts for our benefit (fossil fuels) have now, through the activity of our enemy, become turned instead to be used against us, to our harm. We can perceive how what Paul writes about this issue in Ephesians 6:10-18 exactly fits our situation. Now, I realize that ours is not the first situation in world history to which this passage has applied. But in any case it applies again to us right now.
Be part of this transition. Let us recognize that God’s gifts for our benefit (fossil fuels) have been taken over for the forces of God’s enemies (whom Paul can identify), and are now being used against us. (See Ephesians 6:10-16). Recognize how exactly this description fits our situation.
If we were to think that this present situation of damaging global warming is none of our business as Christians, this is faulty thinking! The Lord has made it our business when he commissioned us to care for the earth (Genesis 1:28). If we believe that there is nothing we can do to help, we are mistaken! There is much we can do. In a proverbial “nutshell”, we need to act in obedience to God’s command through Isaiah (1:16-17): “Cease to do evil. Learn how to practise what is right.” Now let us unpack this in further detail.
FOR THERE IS EVIL HERE TO BE FACED
The burning of fossil fuels has long been recognized as God’s good gift, and a great benefit for mankind, but it has now become an evil: for it produces the noxious polluting greenhouse gases that are a primary cause of global warming. First then, we need to take prompt and effective steps so as to “Cease to do evil.” We must initiate whatever action is needed in order to change this harmful way of living. This means we must leave the fossil fuels in the ground.
Then the second part of the Lord’s command through the prophet Isaiah is, “Learn how to practise what is right.” Applying this to our present situation: we need to transition to using the abundance of sunlight and wind which the Lord sends upon the earth daily (and also to store up this energy so as to have it available to meet the varying energy uses to which we will need to put it).
So then, how do we do this? Where do we start? And what exactly do we need to do?
- First, let us recognize to the full the seriousness of the situation we face. It is not a matter to be treated lightly or brushed aside. Recognize just what is involved here. In fact, it is the continuing habitability of our planet — which the Lord God has called us to care for — that is at stake. This global warming is not a minor problem we face, to which we can simply adapt ourselves. Earth’s global warming is progressively doing great harm to mankind, and to living creatures of every kind — and this is an evil which should not be permitted to continue.
- Recognize then that this present attack upon God’s creation by global warming is an evil. When we are confronted by evil, the goal which we are to set for ourselves, and to strive for, is to follow the pattern of the command of the Lord through the prophet Isaiah: to “Cease doing what is evil; Learn how to practise what is right” (Isaiah 1:16-17). Our response to what is evil is to be to replace it. “Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. ... Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” While hating and opposing the evil, we are to aim to replace it instead with what is right, what is good (Romans 12:9, 21; so also Psalm 34:14; Psalm 37:27; Proverbs 4:27).
- Recognize that this confrontation concerning global warming is in fact an issue of spiritual warfare. This is a serious battle “against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” such as Paul describes in Ephesians 6:10-18. Here (verse 12) Paul identifies our true enemies, the source of the attack on the Lord’s Creation. Yes, these are the real enemies, the forces which are behind the obvious earthly foes (the vested interests in oil, coal and gas industries who are actively working in opposition against the transition to renewable energy). In order to wage this spiritual battle, we need (Paul says) to take “the full armour of God” — and we should take a firm stand against this evil (see verse 13).
- Recognize also that through our actions we can make a difference to the outcome of this warfare. We need to make up our minds to take action. We should transition as speedily as possible out of our support for the way of life (fossil fuel use) that is the major cause of the global warming that endangers our planet’s future. There are some who are saying: “It is already too late for anything we do to make any difference — there is nothing that we can do to stop global warming.” But this is not the Christian way of thinking; for this is being conformed to the world’s pattern. There are two realistic responses we should make to this assertion: Firstly, addressing this evil of Creation-damaging global warming is the right thing for Christians to do: and it is never too late to start doing what is right. Never forget the choices that God allows us, so that the future is what we ourselves are building day by day. Moreover, secondly, if right now we attack and substantially reduce one of the major contributing causes of the problem of global warming (burning fossil fuels), we will definitely make a huge difference.
- Recognize that what happens next lies in the hands of the human inhabitants of earth, concerning which the Lord has said “the earth he has given to mankind” (Psalm 115:16). To us he has entrusted the custodianship of the planet — and also to us he gives instructions as to what we are to do about it. When our thinking is astray, we need to change our thinking. “Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). We should renew our thinking to be in accord with his revealed will. Paul continues, “Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, perfect, and perfect will.” What is God’s will in this matter? Let us apply the Scripture to our lifestyle: Initially, “Cease doing evil” (Isaiah 1:16). Let us be in no two minds about this: to be basing our lifestyle on burning fossil fuels is not just unnecessary; this is a calculated and deliberate behaviour which is attacking the wellbeing of Planet Earth for the sake of increasing the present profits for those with vested interests in the status quo. This is morally wrong. It is evil. We must transition out of the burning of fossil fuels, because this is continuing to add greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and is thus making the problem of global warming that much worse. The global warming this is causing, and the attendant damage to health resulting from the pollution produced, can be progressively halted. For there are fossil fuel alternatives available right now.
But, whatever we do: will not the Lord himself act to intervene on behalf of his Creation when it is thus under attack? In very truth! Indeed he will. And the Lord’s response to the planet’s present problems will be (as so often can be seen in other situations in Scripture) to stir up his people to practise obedience to his instructions: that is, to align our thinking to his revealed will; to stop acting in ways which worsen the evil of the situation we face; and to learn how to do what is right.
TO SPELL OUT THE APPLICATION OF THIS TRUTH:
- We need to renew our thinking, changing from conformity to the pattern of the world, to be aligned instead to his good, pleasing, and perfect will (Romans 12:2).
- Our conforming to his will is going to involve our obedience to his commands: that we transition to a changed lifestyle that stops burning fossil fuel (because this is adding to the greenhouse gases that are worsening the problem of global warming). We must simply stop doing what makes this evil situation progressively worse. The Lord’s command is: “Cease to do evil” (Isaiah 1:16).
- Next, we are instructed to “Learn how to practise what is right”. In the circumstances of our planetary life, this is clearly going to require our changing to wide use of the alternative energy available from sun and wind power, plus its storage for use when “the sun don’t shine and the wind don’t blow” (Isaiah 1:17). It would be sinful, when we see the good we should do, for us to fail to do it (James 4:17).
- A practical idea for consideration: it is now possible to transition from society’s use of polluting Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles (producing greenhouse gases) into Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) of every kind which are safer, more economical and more reliable, and which don’t add to our problem with global warming. And don’t cause health problems for our neighbours. Or ourselves.
I strongly believe that great damage is currently being done to God’s Creation by global warming, and that this issue matters, because we have been charged with taking care of the Earth.
It will help counter this present ongoing attack upon the continuing liveability of Planet Earth if we were to transition as quickly as we can to the use of sustainable renewable resources. In particular it would make a significant difference to this problem if we were to adopt widely the use of Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) in place of Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles, To do this would require a substantial reorientation in all our thinking — for Battery Electric Vehicles at the moment make up less than 1% of motor vehicles on the roads of most countries.
Yet we are not alone. The importance of this transition to the use of BEVs, in place of ICE vehicles, is being widely recognized, and is already beginning in quite a number of countries around the world — but because of the seriousness of the ongoing damage being done to Planet Earth we really need to speed up this transition. Indeed, it is urgent that we do this. But this transition can be made. Let us recognize: earth would be a much more habitable home for humans, and also for other life forms, if we were to leave the fossil fuels in the ground. Let us adopt this as our goal. For it will make a huge difference to our future.
It is a significant step forward whenever people transition from an ICE to a BEV. Being aware of this urgency, and in line with this, I myself have changed from ICE cars to owning and driving an excellent BEV). See below.
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P.S. My new car is a Tesla BEV. I have compiled here the facts which led me to select this vehicle to buy.
The Tesla is a Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) which does not burn fossil fuel or produce pollution.
You can top it up overnight by plugging it into your household power (very economic fuel) - OR
you can use my Referral Code (see other side) to buy your Tesla and receive free Supercharging for it.
It travels more than 350 kms on a single charge, and it has Tesla Superchargers all around Australia.
It can charge to 80% capacity (recommended charge) in 20 mins when you need a topup on a long trip.
Why not be finished with the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) car – which produces deadly pollution.
The Tesla has many fewer moving parts than an ICE car, and so it needs a great deal less servicing.
It costs a bit more than an ICE car to buy, but only costs a third as much to run and for maintenance.
Because of its battery, it has a low centre of gravity, and is a joy to drive — very smooth and stable.
Electric vehicle batteries are recyclable after their use — they are not hazardous to the environment.
A Tesla gives outstanding performance; it is quiet, and reliable: and additionally, it has autopilot. This is a driver-assist program in a Tesla which can handle much (not all) of the workload of safe driving.
Official crash tests by Road Safety authorities in America and Europe call it the world’s safest vehicle.
The world’s countries are moving now towards recognizing that BEVs are the transport of the future.
The facts of science are undeniably clear: God’s Creation is under violent attack at present by Global Warming. This is being caused by greenhouse gas emissions into Earth’s atmosphere.from burning fossil fuel (coal, oil, gas). Mainly in two primary ways:(a) by our power stations, to produce energy (even though we could switch over now to using more economical and reliable renewable energy); and (b) produced by ICE vehicles (whereas we could transition now to using Battery Electric Vehicles that have no emissions). I feel very strongly concerned about obeying the biblical teaching that I am to care about the wellbeing of God’s Creation. But there is little that I personally can do to be involved in this situation. But in this matter also I want to be an obedient servant of the Lord. And there IS one thing: I can be part of this culture change. Therefore I have joined the “change from ICE to BEV” movement already happening in Australia, Europe, Asia, the Americas, and around the world.
And to those who think maybe that this transition is not possible, I give this invitation: To the extent to which it is practical (I live in Sydney Australia), I offer to take those who are interested for a drive in my Tesla so they can experience it for themselves. Contact me and we’ll check out the possibilities. “Come, experience my Tesla. Check it out for yourself.” I want to show people a genuine alternative to driving an ICE vehicle — and Tesla accepts trade-ins. The Tesla is the ideal vehicle for Australians (or anyone else) to drive. For personal use. For Parish use. Or business. By every objective measurement, Tesla is the leader of the change into the future which awaits us: no exhaust smell, because no tailpipe, so zero emissions; long range on a single charge, speedy recharging, economical to run — and available now.
Tesla is producing its Model 3 at the rate of thousands every day, and all are pre-sold as built. New ship-loads are now on the seas, on their way here. There is a delivery delay, though, of a few months.