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「關愛受造世界與福音」會議系列

結論:永遠的福音

啟示錄十三和十四章,將聖徒的生活和行為,與撒但陣營中的生活和行為作對比。聖徒們追隨他們的領袖——羔羊和睦相處,活在喜樂之中,與撒但陣營中的充滿暴力、詭詐和脅迫,完全相反。這些聖徒(他們是在半空中飛行的使者,因為他們身處於在天上的上帝,和在地上、仍然未悔改的人之間),要向萬國宣揚一個三環節的永遠福音:一、應當敬畏和崇拜創造主;二、認識巴比倫已經傾倒了;三、並且要選擇正確的(也是勝利的)一方,以避免永遠的痛苦(啟十四6-12)。

在以上三個環節之中,首先的是應當敬畏和崇拜上帝,因為衪是創造「天、地、海洋和眾水泉源」的創造主。(在啟示錄中,當同時提到一件事的四個方面,便意味著它的整體性,例如,在九15中,「年、月、日和小時」意味著「所有時間」)。因此,這個永遠的福音,就追溯到起初,當上帝創造萬物的時候。當時,上帝委託人類,管理祂的創造(創一26和28),並闡明我們在其中的角色——管理。履行這個角色,就是我們對上帝的崇拜。

這從一開始就是個「好消息」,因為在所有其他生物中,上帝「叫他(人類)比天使微小一點,賜他榮耀尊貴為冠冕,並將你(上帝)手所造的都派他管理」。這個最基礎的使命,得到新舊約聖經一致認同(舊約——詩八5-6,新約——來二7),因此,這福音是永遠的,因為上帝對人類的旨意,從來沒有改變。即使人類犯了罪,並且耶穌犧牲了自己,原來的使命,仍然生效。事實上,它在耶穌裡更為重要,因為耶穌降世,旨在拯救衪創造的秩序(羅八18-21)。

在以上三個環節之中,第二是認識巴比倫已經傾倒了。因著耶穌(啟示錄十一章中的兩個見證人)的復活,反對上帝的城壘已經崩潰了。人類走迷路,導致他們建立了巴比倫這個以人為中心的建制,破壞了上帝創造的秩序。它的建立,是基於一個以人類為最終主權的信念。因著這信念,人類便不必為他們的所作所為,向上帝(或任何人/物)負責,原因是人類的行為,不論是好是壞、是善是惡,假如「人死如燈滅」,死亡會塗抹一切,變成無從追究。

但是,因著耶穌的復活,(肉身的)死亡不再是最後的終結;不論我們是支持或是反對上帝的工作(也就是祂創造的秩序),誰也無法避免上帝的報應。這是個最終極的警號,而對所有跟隨上帝的人來說,亦都是好消息。這消息也是永遠的,因為耶穌復活的功效,既可以追溯到創造的開始,也可以向前延伸到時間的盡頭。耶穌一直在歷史上工作(約五17),來結束巴比倫。

在以上三個環節之中,最後是每個人必須根據自己對創造主的態度,做出選擇。這選擇就是,究竟我們願意如何忠心地維護上帝創造的秩序。在這方面,上帝接受人的標準是普世的,因此,啟示錄在七個印中,總結了上帝的心意,即是,人類要照顧衪的創造。而在七個號角中,通過耶穌,總結了上帝對祂所創造的愛(參見前三篇文章);以及在七碗裡,總結了上帝對那破壞祂創造的人的憤怒。這些全都是永恆的真理。

此後,啟示錄十四章14-20節顯示耶穌(人子)如何與衪的聖徒合作,一起通過潔淨(收割)地球,來實現這個永遠的福音,同時亦實現了上帝的憤怒。

聖經的總結(啟示錄)中的永遠福音,道出了每個人最基礎、最重要的任務。這永遠的福音,指示每一個人,要回到他原先被創造出來、為要擔當的任務,就是照顧上帝的創造。倘若他已走迷了路,便要被呼召,回到這項工作中。從這個角度來看,我們現今所傳的福音,如何跟這個永遠的福音接軌呢?

參考: Christopher Fung (2017) “The Lord of the Sabbath Opens His Book of Revelation” Wipf and Stock, 241pp

「關愛受造世界與福音」會議系列文章之七。
作者為前環保署高級主任,現著力研究環保神學。本文原文為英文,中文版本由梁柏强翻譯。
由中國神學研究院、香港教會更新運動、新福事工協會、施達基金會合辦的關愛受造世界與福音香港會議
將於九月三十日至十月一日在中國神學研究院舉辦。詳情:https://creationcarehk.org/


英文原文:

In Conclusion, An Eternal Gospel

Revelation 13 and 14 contrast the saints’ living and deeds with those in Satan’s camp. As opposed to the violence, deception and coercion in Satan’s camp, the saints live joyously in harmony following their leader, the Lamb. Then these saints (messengers flying in mid-heaven because they go between God in heaven and the still-unrepentant on earth), are to proclaim a three-prong eternal gospel to the nations: 1. Fear and worship the creator, 2. Recognize that Babylon has fallen, and 3. Choose the right (also victorious) side to avoid eternal misery (Rev 14:6-12).

First, the God to be feared and worshipped is the creator who made “the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of water”. (In Revelation, simultaneously mentioning four aspects of one thing conveys its totality, e.g. year, month, day and hour means all the time in 9:15). This eternal gospel thus harks back to the beginning when God created all things. There God commissioned humans to rule over his creation (Gen 1:26&28). This sets our role in God’s created order. Fulfilling this role is our worship of God.

It is the “good news” from the beginning because among all the other creatures, God “has crowned him (human) with glory and honor and has appointed him over the works of God’s hands”. This foundational commission is echoed throughout the Bible (OT – Ps 8:5-6, NT – He 2:7), hence the gospel is eternal because God’s intent for humans has never changed. Even after humans sinned and Jesus sacrificed himself, the original commission is still in effect. Indeed, it is made even more relevant in Jesus, because Jesus aims to save his created order (Rom 8:18-21).

Second, in Jesus’ resurrection (the two witnesses in Rev 11), that God-opposing enterprise has crumbled. Mankind’s waywardness has led them to build Babylon, that human-centred establishment that damages God’s created order. It is founded on the belief that humans are the ultimate sovereign and thus they will not have to answer for their actions. Death would erase everything. But when Jesus resurrected, death no longer has the final say; our works for or against God, hence also his created order, will not go unanswered. This is the ultimate wake-up call and is good news for all who follow God. It is also eternal because the efficacy of Jesus’ resurrection reaches both backward to the beginning of creation and forward to the end of the ages. Jesus has always worked throughout history (John 5:17) to bring an end to Babylon.

Finally, a personal choice has to be made based on our attitude towards the creator God – how we work faithfully to uphold God’s created order. Such criterion for God’s acceptance is universal, hence Revelation has summarised God’s intention for humans to look after his creation in the seven seals, God’s own love for his creation through Jesus in the seven trumpets (see previous three articles), and God’s wrath on those who destroy creation in the bowls. These are all eternal truths.

Thereafter, Revelation 14:14-20 shows how Jesus (son of man) works together with his saints to actualize this eternal gospel through cleansing (harvesting) the earth while effecting God’s wrath.

The eternal gospel in the Bible’s conclusion lays out the foundational task of every person. This eternal gospel points the person back to the job he was created for – to look after God’s creation and calls him back to this work should he have strayed away. In this light, how does the “gospel” we now preach measure up against this concluding eternal gospel?

Reference: Christopher Fung (2017)“The Lord of the Sabbath Opens His Book of Revelation” Wipf and Stock, 241pp.



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