As the written, divinely inspired word of God, the Bible is the only infallible rule for faith and practice. The biblical storyline has four major sections: creation, fall, redemption, and consummation. A coherent understanding of the grand narrative of the Bible is vital to understand God’s purposes and our partnership with him in his work in the world. Creation defines God’s integral design for his world and describes the way the world “ought to be.” The fall of humankind disintegrates every aspect of God’s good design, causing a rupture in four relationships: our relationship with God, our relationship with others, our relationship with ourselves, and our relationship to the rest of the created order — this is the world “as it is.” In redemption, God is renewing and reconciling all things, healing the four relationships and setting the world right. This is the world as it “can be.” At the consummation of all things, God will bring to completion all that he started in creation, bringing to fulfillment his work of redemption when all things will once again bring glory to him. This is the world as it “will be.” These four sections are interdependent and inform each other, and ultimately, provide a lens to interpret all of reality.
Since the fall, God has been on a mission to renew all things. To do this, he chose a family (the family of Abraham) who became the nation of Israel, the people of God. In covenant with his people, God commissioned them to participate in his mission, bearing witness to him in word and deed. Though Israel often failed, the mission of God did not. The mission of God is fully revealed in the gospel, in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Through faith in Christ, we are justified and united with the triune God, and welcomed into the family of God, his church. As children of God, we are commissioned to serve as ambassadors of reconciliation and live as agents of redemption, proclaiming the gospel of God’s grace to individuals and working together for the renewal of all things. We recognize renewal in this world is always incomplete, and we await the fullness of the kingdom when Christ returns.
God’s redemptive story moves from integration in creation to disintegration in the fall to reintegration in redemption. Just as the fall led to separation from God in every area of life, so also redemption and reconciliation lead to the reintegration of all things. God begins a project in all who are justified to become increasingly restored in the image of their creator. The Christian life is more than moral conformity. It involves the formation of our whole person into Christlikeness.
By grace and in cooperation with the Spirit, we become more like Jesus, who perfectly modeled wholeness, demonstrating a life of justice, compassion, humility, integrity, truthfulness, and sexual chastity — as Jesus affirmed, celibacy for the single man or woman and a lifelong union of male and female in marriage. He also embodied generosity, kindness, self-denial, hospitality, peacemaking, non-retaliation, doing good, forgiveness, joy, contentment, and love, combined in a life of worship, praise, and faithfulness to God. These qualities define servant leadership, which Christ himself modeled, and also calls us to exemplify.
God is a worker, and his work is both intrinsically good and for the good of all creation. Since humans were created in his image, work is a key component of human dignity, even in a fallen world, and a primary way we worship God and love our neighbor. Work, whether paid or unpaid, includes all meaningful and moral activity apart from leisure and rest. Work is fundamentally about contribution, not compensation, adding value to others. God forms us through our daily work as we collaborate with one another to serve the common good in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Good intentions to serve our neighbors must be combined with sound economics if we seek to help others without hurting them. Wisdom is the biblical category for skillful living, which aligns with the moral design of God’s world. Economic wisdom, then, is the skillful application of economic principles that align with God’s moral order.
God’s design for the economic lives of his people is embedded throughout the Bible, and is a concrete expression of his call to reflect him and love our neighbor. Several principles follow. In creation, we are given stewardship over the world so our work would make it flourish for God’s glory. Since all humans are stewards, we recognize that those in need are also fellow stewards with productive potential. Through economic exchange, we work together and create value for one another. Economic systems should be grounded in human dignity and moral character, in line with a biblically robust understanding of how humans flourish. In applying economic wisdom, we should practice and encourage responsible action. As a result, we must not merely rely on good intentions alone, but ask and measure whether our economic actions are truly helping others.
The church is a creation of the Holy Spirit, designed to reveal God’s glory to the world. While the church is a universal reality, Scripture most often talks about the church as a local community in place and time. Because of this reality, the church is a foretaste of the coming kingdom — a called out community empowered by the Holy Spirit and commissioned to be a counterculture for the common good. The church’s mission is to join God in the renewal of all things, including individuals, institutions, cultures, and all of creation.
God has designed the church to be led by pastors, who are in turn called to equip congregants in how they can join God’s mission in all of life, serving in a variety of vocations and occupations. When the church functions as it was created, it is a powerful cultural agent that brings human flourishing.