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「关爱受造世界与福音」会议系列

结论:永远的福音

启示录十三和十四章,将圣徒的生活和行为,与撒但阵营中的生活和行为作对比。圣徒们追随他们的领袖——羔羊和睦相处,活在喜乐之中,与撒但阵营中的充满暴力、诡诈和胁迫,完全相反。这些圣徒(他们是在半空中飞行的使者,因为他们身处于在天上的上帝,和在地上、仍然未悔改的人之间),要向万国宣扬一个三环节的永远福音:一、应当敬畏和崇拜创造主;二、认识巴比伦已经倾倒了;三、并且要选择正确的(也是胜利的)一方,以避免永远的痛苦(启十四6-12)。

在以上三个环节之中,首先的是应当敬畏和崇拜上帝,因为他是创造「天、地、海洋和众水泉源」的创造主。(在启示录中,当同时提到一件事的四个方面,便意味着它的整体性,例如,在九15中,「年、月、日和小时」意味着「所有时间」)。因此,这个永远的福音,就追溯到起初,当上帝创造万物的时候。当时,上帝委托人类,管理他的创造(创一26和28),并阐明我们在其中的角色——管理。履行这个角色,就是我们对上帝的崇拜。

这从一开始就是个「好消息」,因为在所有其他生物中,上帝「叫他(人类)比天使微小一点,赐他荣耀尊贵为冠冕,并将你(上帝)手所造的都派他管理」。这个最基础的使命,得到新旧约圣经一致认同(旧约——诗八5-6,新约——来二7),因此,这福音是永远的,因为上帝对人类的旨意,从来没有改变。即使人类犯了罪,并且耶稣牺牲了自己,原来的使命,仍然生效。事实上,它在耶稣里更为重要,因为耶稣降世,旨在拯救他创造的秩序(罗八18-21)。

在以上三个环节之中,第二是认识巴比伦已经倾倒了。因着耶稣(启示录十一章中的两个见证人)的复活,反对上帝的城垒已经崩溃了。人类走迷路,导致他们建立了巴比伦这个以人为中心的建制,破坏了上帝创造的秩序。它的建立,是基于一个以人类为最终主权的信念。因着这信念,人类便不必为他们的所作所为,向上帝(或任何人/物)负责,原因是人类的行为,不论是好是坏、是善是恶,假如「人死如灯灭」,死亡会涂抹一切,变成无从追究。

但是,因着耶稣的复活,(肉身的)死亡不再是最后的终结;不论我们是支持或是反对上帝的工作(也就是他创造的秩序),谁也无法避免上帝的报应。这是个最终极的警号,而对所有跟随上帝的人来说,亦都是好消息。这消息也是永远的,因为耶稣复活的功效,既可以追溯到创造的开始,也可以向前延伸到时间的尽头。耶稣一直在历史上工作(约五17),来结束巴比伦。

在以上三个环节之中,最后是每个人必须根据自己对创造主的态度,做出选择。这选择就是,究竟我们愿意如何忠心地维护上帝创造的秩序。在这方面,上帝接受人的标准是普世的,因此,启示录在七个印中,总结了上帝的心意,即是,人类要照顾他的创造。而在七个号角中,通过耶稣,总结了上帝对他所创造的爱(参见前三篇文章);以及在七碗里,总结了上帝对那破坏他创造的人的愤怒。这些全都是永恒的真理。

此后,启示录十四章14-20节显示耶稣(人子)如何与他的圣徒合作,一起通过洁净(收割)地球,来实现这个永远的福音,同时亦实现了上帝的愤怒。

圣经的总结(启示录)中的永远福音,道出了每个人最基础、最重要的任务。这永远的福音,指示每一个人,要回到他原先被创造出来、为要担当的任务,就是照顾上帝的创造。倘若他已走迷了路,便要被呼召,回到这项工作中。从这个角度来看,我们现今所传的福音,如何跟这个永远的福音接轨呢?

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

「关爱受造世界与福音」会议系列文章之七。
作者为前环保署高级主任,现着力研究环保神学。本文原文为英文,中文版本由梁柏强翻译。
由中国神学研究院、香港教会更新运动、新福事工协会、施达基金会合办的关爱受造世界与福音香港会议
将于九月三十日至十月一日在中国神学研究院举办。详情: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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