Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
EFCA Advent Devotional 2015
Series Title: Christmas In the Storyline of the Bible: Peace In the Midst of Tribulation
Series Theme Text: “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.” (John 16:33)
Advent: Week Four
A Cradle, A Cross, and A Crown: Consummation (John 20; Revelation 21)
We now come to the end of our advent series, so it is fitting that we address the final part of the story of the Bible, the consummation. As we do so, let’s briefly review.
We began “in the beginning” when God created all things “very good” (Gen. 1:31). Adam and Eve, the culmination of God’s creative handiwork, were created in the imago Dei, the image of God (Gen. 1:26-28). They were created to “work and keep,” to worship and obey God (Gen. 2:15). They were in a unique relationship with God. However, they sinned when tempted by Satan (Gen. 3), which affected them and all their progeny, who are now fallen, i.e., spiritually dead (Gen. 3:14-19; Rom. 5:12-21), along with all of creation (Rom. 8:19-23). “But God” in his grace and mercy promises an offspring would come from Eve (Gen. 3:15) who would crush the head of Satan (Rom. 16:20), overcome the effects of sin and bring new life (Jn. 17:3). This is redemption, the third major part of the story. The final part of the story consists of the consummation.
Before we address the consummation, we return to our advent theme passage of Scripture. With the biblical story now in mind, Jesus and his statement become clear.
In the farewell discourse (Jn. 13:31-16:33) Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (Jn. 14:27). And later in this section, our theme verse, Jesus says something similar: “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” (Jn. 16:33).
The world is in a fallen state. It is broken. Life in this world consists of tribulation. This hardly needs to be stated because it is everyone’s universal experience. The world offers no solution, which explains why the peace offered by the world is transient, and not true, real or lasting peace (cf. Jer. 6:14; 8:11). This peace is what Jesus came to provide. This is redemption. One does not have to remain in the fallen state in the biblical story. One can, in and through Christ, enter into the story of redemption to become part of the story of the redeemed (Col. 1:13-14).
To continue reading, please go to pages 13-15 here.