Larry Kirkpatrick

A Positive Place on the Web for the Third Angel's Message

Two Flights

We gather in the church on Sabbath but not to worship not some random idea, or fuzzy, amorphous, impersonal alien being. We gather to worship our Creator/Re-creator. The gospel of John says that in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. This "He" was in the beginning with God the Father. Who is "He?" He is Jesus. The Bible says that All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made (John 1:1-3).

We do not worship a deist God who made the world, found it uninteresting, and left us alone in this corner of His creation while He went off somewhere else to do Suduko with particle physics. We do not worship a God who made us and then left us to define everything for ourselves as we would wish. Through Jesus God made this world and He made it with specific parameters and purposes. He intends that it shall be inhabited by creatures made in His image. He wants men and women to be holy and happy. This is the design of the Designer. The Designer is not disinterested. He actually came down and humbled Himself and entered His very creation as a creature. The Infinite God packaged Himself in created flesh, and came and pitched His tent beside all the rest of us.

That's audacious. That's bold. Jesus took flesh that could be cut, a human body that could bleed.

We are fallen humans. We have a tendency to want to do things in our own way. A divine Creator gets in the way. Even converted persons tend to want to do things in our own way. We struggle with the question of who is God. Is God God? Or are we god? Who creates the world? Him or us?

Two Flights

Let us propose the following then about living as one of these fallen humans. Ideally, during our lives we engage in two flights. The first flight is not part of God's original design. But because we are born into a fallen nature, because we are bent from the beginning, inclined to put ourselves first, we start off by failing to trust God. Actually, we positively distrust Him. And so, the first portion of our lives tends to be spent fleeing from Him. We depart from Him. If we think He is near, we usually will take a side road because we are unsure about Him. We have trained ourselves how to "live" according to our own plan but not according to trust in His plan. So we hide from Him, flee from Him, we turn away from His revelation. We're not sure we want to know what He wants us to know, because then we may not be able to carry on as small-g gods. Then we will be responsible if we disobey or remake.

That is the first flight. Then, ideally, somewhere along the way, because He relentlessly loves us, we surrender to Him and we submit to His salvation plan and we accept the life of His Son given for us and sent to change us inwardly.

In other words, our life is hopefully punctuated by an experience of conversion.

This conversion changes everything. Then the second of two flights begins--a flight away from the world and its distortions, and a movement closer and closer to the living God who suffered Himself to be nailed to the cross to die in my place. That God--whose blood oozed out of nail holes which by right were mine, who gave Himself for me--that God draws me. And I come.

So. Two flights, first away from, and then, a turning to and approach to Him. We can say "outbound" is flight away from God, and "inbound" is the flight that turns its back on the darkness of the world and returns to God. Conversion? That happens at the airport between the two flights. And it continues to happen on the second flight all the way until it lands.

False Signals

Now, a problem. We have all, most of our lives, educated ourselves in avoidance. We didn't trust Him, at least not fully. And so we made many of our own plans and prepared many halfway measures. Self-trust dies hard. But let us propose that the relentless love of Jesus wore us down and we surrendered and accepted and turned and are now in the second phase, the flight to God. Let's think about that phase together.

So we are turning back to God, seeking to draw closer. But our adversary, Satan, knows how this works, and so, when he can't keep us out of church, he finds ways to confuse us via--when he can--the church. And so there is not just one church but there are hundreds if not thousands. Each has different ways of approaching the Bible, different ways of understanding and of interpreting its text, different doctrines alleged to be correct representations of the teachings of God and that would help us understand how to live our lives as children of God.

God's plan is that in a revolted world, His church would be His fortress. In a world fleeing its Creator, full of pretenders pretending to be gods (small "g"), the Creator's church should be an island of reality, an example of the Designer's intended world, exemplifying in itself in every way God's ways. It should be a window to what heaven and the new earth will be like. We should see the design of the Creator demonstrated in His church.

The world is "Outbound"; the church of God is "inbound." See the problem, the clash? What help has God given us? He has given us a Bible that includes a story. It is the story of the creation of man, His fall into rebellion, the intervention of God through Jesus, the creation of a church, a mission for His followers and its result, Second Coming of Jesus and the final elimination of sin and confusion and an earth made new. The basis for all of this is the Bible, revealed truth, facts from beyond, from an otherwise inaccessible past.

In this Bible we have two books which reveal to us the way things were before human rebellion (Genesis chapters one and two), and the way things shall be after the elimination of sin (Revelation chapters 21 and 22). Now let's think about our role as Sevneth-day Adventists. When it comes to the Bible which two books exemplify Adventist emphasis? Genesis is the book of beginnings and there we first see the Sabbath, God's original diet, His plan for male and female roles, His plan for marriage and for families. Then there is Revelation with all its prophesies and its opening our understanding to the end-time mission God has for His people. Genesis, the way things were and should be, Revealtion, the way things will end and finally be. Historically, Adventists have focused much on Revelation. But we may need some refresher courses on Genesis.

If our basic thesis is sound--that everyone is on one of two flights, the outbound flight away from God or the inbound flight back to God--then it is clear that most of the world is on flight one, the outbound flight. Which is all to say that most of the world is fleeing what God has revealed and trying to construct their own version of life. Most people are fleeing Genesis just as most people are fleeing Revelation.

So let's look again at Genesis, because we are liable to find our own understandings, shall we say, in measure at least, corrupted? Because all around us the world is fleeing the creation and we cannot help but be impacted by this.

Design for Human Health

Genesis 1:29 shows us that God's original plan is for us to eat non-violently. Humans are designed to eat fruits and nuts. In the creation before sin, this was to be our diet, and God pronounced htis diet "very good" in Genesis 1:31. Adam and Eve did not need a "Food pyramid": to organize their eating; everything they understood they were to eat was healthy and full of vitality for them. Of course, on the outbound flight there is much to eat and almost all of it destructive to health. We've had to make some changes here to be on the inbound flight which has a different menu!

Design of Human Sexuality

The Creator designed man and woman in the beginning. He made them complimentary to each other. Both are in God's image; each reflects in a unique way something of what God is like. Each, as they mature, present more and more clearly the image, reflection, or mirroring of certain divine qualities. So God created the man and the woman in the beginning. Humanity is fundamentally binary: male and female. There is no generic, non-sexed human being. There are no humans; tehre are only male humans and female humans.

It is also true that all of us are defective. The Fall of humankind when Adam and Eve sinned and rebelled dramatically weakened the race. It brought all kinds of defects, so that some here must where glasses or contact lens to see well, or someone here might have an artificial knee or hip, or in some cases metal pins holding our bones together. Someone might have a hearing aid. Some of us might be bald, or infertile, or have diabetes, or brain damage from drug abuse by ourselves or our parents. No one here is the perfect example of feminine beauty or masculine strength or human intelligence. We are all dullards, just barely capable of remembering where we last laid our car keys! We are not too bright. In a game of chess, Adam before the Fall into sin could probably defeat us with almost his whole brain tied behind his back.

Now here is where I am going with this. A small number of persons are born with genetic or physical abberations, so that their genitalia is ambiguous, or one leg is shorter than another, or they have extra X chromosomes and so on. Some want to use this as evidence for multiple sexualities. Friends, all it is is evidence that we are fallen humans and that all of us are defective, some in some ways and some in others. A defective person is not a new race or a new sex or a new gender. He is merely an example of what happens when created beings insist on outbound flight. Sin is the result. Damage is the result. Aberration is the result. If it is possible that someone is born with an unnatural craving for turnips it does not justify his stealing turnips.

Design of the Sabbath

Another institution coming to us from the Designer is the Sabbath. Just as maleness and femaleness are particular, so is the Sabbath particular. It is not one day in seven but the seventh of seven days in a continuous cycle. Think of it. From a sinless world, from the hand of the Creator, comes an approach to time so that it is marked off in seven consecutive units, 14 day-night cycles. And the first six units all lead up to the seventh. At the beginning of the seventh cycle all toil ceases and humankind is called to rest and remember its Creator. The final unit of the seven is the Sabbath, a sanctified part of time, a holy part, because it is to be time when a holy people spend it together with a holy God.

Whatever humans may decide on their outbound flight, the Sabbath remains the Sabbath. Whatever they may decide they will do as a substitute honoring of God, such as claiming He has transferred holiness to a different day, or has somehow discontinued the Sabbath or has "fulfilled" it in Christ (another way of claiming that He has discontinued the Sabbath), the Sabbath remains. The creation is still the creation. It is marred now; it can send conflicting signals because of the graffiti of sin that has been painted over it through Satan's rebellion, but that is where revelation comes in. The Bible cuts through such uncertainties and tells us the truth about the way God's reality is.

Design of Marriage

Closely related to maleness and femaleness, and to Sabbath, is God's design for marriage. He does have a design. Jesus made this clear when He pointed out to the pharisees that their idea of marriage, where you could divorce your wive for burning the beans, was an adaptation, and that "but from the beginning it was not so" (Matthew 19:8). Jesus, recognizing that His people need to provide marker lights for those who might be inbound, brought the creation-world to the forefront and sought to change the valuation of marriage by His people. He elevated marriage. He elevated the treatment of women compared to what had developed. But He always kept within the plan we see in the ordered creation He Himself had set up thousands of years before.

Interestingly, Jesus shows us that even now, even in this present evil age, His creation design for marriage can be realized. In the Garden of Eden there was no such thing as divorce. The Greek word that is often used for divorce in the New Testament is what? Did you know? It is APOSTASIA, from which we get the English word, "apostasy," literally meaning to have been standing rightly but to have stepped away from standing rightly. In other words, apostasy means knowingly to retreat from or fly away from truth. In the design of Jesus, there is no need for divorce, for there is no person who is part of His kingdom who flees from truth, who steps backwards from the truth. As we draw closer to Jesus, He strengthens us and draws us closer to Himself. He increases our love for His truth.

Men and women and children today are deeply impacted by many changes in our culture. Think with me about the biblical pattern. God's design from the beginning always was that Jesus would marry His bride His church. God's plan from the beginning always was that humans were made to have communion with God. He gave headship to the man, Adam, with this long-term goal already in mind. In the final purpose of God for the world, the man Jesus was to be the head of His body the church, God, in the beginning, gave Adam to be head over Eve.

Do you see this? God's plan for His church always was that it would be joined to Christ. He would lead her. We see this in Ephesians 5:22-33:

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

In our marriages, men need to love their wives, not just desire certain things about them, biut to love them through and through. Women are to respect their husbands, not merely put up with them. The Christian marriage is unique in God's plan; it points back to the way God created men and women. Our marriages can reflect the design of our Designer Jesus. Indeed, here is the place and now is the time. One wonders, were the world populated by biblical, loving respecting Christian marriages of men to women, whether the present toxic societal push for homosexual marriage would have ever become so large.

Summary and Conclusion

When we look out at the news of the week, we see that the world is very largely on the outbound flight, fleeing from the Creator and His created order. His design is set aside so that people can feel validated in their passions and immoral behaviors. You and I are on the inbound flight, and Jesus calls us to model something entirely different. For males, our masculinity should be biblical, confident and clear-headed. We should know we are men after God's design. For women, femininity should be biblical, not shaped by expectations on magazine covers or toothpaste commercials.

Christians are not controlled by flesh, but our humanity is under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and our privileges and pleasures will be exactly as the Creator designed them to be. When it comes to Sabbath and Sunday, again, we will be clear about the pre-Fall design of the Designer, and we will worship the Creator on the day that He has especially made for His worship the one holy sanctified day different from all other days. When it comes to marriage, we will not have our expectations shaped by Hollywood and television and an "educational system" that is busy validating outbound stuff. We are inbound.

We need to remember which of the two flights we are on. Are we on flight one, outbound with Satan's temporary kingdom? Or, are we on flight two, inbound for God's eternal kingdom?

In these last days God has called a people to lift up these markers to the Creator's plan. He has called us to uphold biblical marriage, biblical Sabbath, and biblical relation of male and female. Outound flights are not really paying attention but for inbound flights in these last days, these pre-Fall things from Genesis one and two are like marker lights on the runway, showing where those inbound flights returning to God are to land. The Sabbath is a marker light on God's runway. Biblical marriage is a marker light on God's runway. Biblical relations for males and for females are also as marker lights pointing out the shape of the runway. In earth's darkness in a world engulfed in sin, God is there. God's ideas are resiliant. They may be difficult to see if you are already outbound. But if you are inbound, if you are looking for the Creator's landing zone, you will see these beautiful lights blazing along the runway of the King.


West Plains WA SDA 2013-06-29