The Masterpiece (Romans 1:20) – Austin Gonzales

At last, the Artist had finished laboring. He took a step back and surveyed His work. Completely satisfied, He said, “It is very good,” then He rested for a day (Gen. 1:31-2:2). Within this masterpiece are many smaller works – each one a masterpiece in its own right. I am one of those privileged to observe some of these every day, as the Artist
continually touches-up and cares for them. Some of my favorites are “Water,” “Flora and Fauna,” “Sky,”

“Chemistry,” and “Music.” “Chemistry” is the medium that the Artist uses to mold his masterpiece. Within “Chemistry,” I consider Elements, which struggle together as small teams cooperating and building upon each other to construct the entirety of the vast masterpiece, as the Artist directs (1 Cor. 12:12-31). I also observe Fire, which He uses to refine various parts of His masterpiece – eradicating great stains and smears through much toil and patience, as well as strengthening the mold (1 Pet. 1:6-7).

“Flora and Fauna” illustrates the delicacy of the masterpiece. From this we can see how such art owes its existence to its Creator and to the Person who preserves it and cares for it. It is a beautiful creation – filled with untold complexity and variety that give us just a taste of how intelligent and wise the Maker of this masterpiece must be (Rom. 11:33-36). Moreover; through examining the intricacies of the relationships between “Flora and Fauna” set pieces, we discover amazing jewels like care and protection (Matt. 6:25-34).

“Sky” makes use of the Artist’s full palette of colors, patterns, and lighting. The dominant feature – Weather – is a constantly changing canvas. Weather portrays, at times, immense power. At other times it portrays peace, or anything else in-between (Mark 4:35-41). Another feature is Sunrise, sometimes called Sunset. Sunrise is a live exhibition portraying the Artist’s emotions in color. This fascinating display of emotion continually changes as each moment passes. But even when it disappears from view, it’s still there – bleeding, growing, mourning, smiling. Though many parts of the masterpiece fade away after a time, Sunrise never ceases to be. It is at the Beginning and, as Sunset, it is at the End of the masterpiece (Rev. 22:13).

“Water” is the shading technique that connects all of these masterpieces to each other in a pure hue. It sometimes acts as an eraser – cleansing and shaping the foundations for the masterpiece. At other times, it gives life to the masterpiece (John 3:5; 4:13-14): “Sky,” “Chemistry,” and especially “Flora and Fauna,” could not be what they are without “Water”, and wherever “Water” is not, there is instead a blemishing agent called Death.

“For the invisible things of him, that is, his eternal power and Godhead, are seen by the creation of the world, being considered in his works, to the intent that they [men] should be without excuse:” (1599 Geneva Bible) (Brackets added for clarification, based on context)

Art is a way of expressing oneself. The Artist desired to express Himself – His personality – to His masterpiece. So through art, as well, we can see the personality of this master Artist displayed. Through music, we can see harmony – the idea of multiple parts working together as a whole – much like Elements. Through smithing and pottery, we can see His method of refining and strengthening through toil and pain – much like Fire. Through score composition and architecture, we can learn about the mathematics, complexities, and other such evidences of this Artist’s intelligence – much like “Flora and Fauna.” By studying colors, patterns, and lighting – as seen in “Sky,” we can learn a great deal about sin and righteousness (1 John 1:5-10), and about human emotion, a gift bestowed by the Artist upon His portrait “The Likeness of His Image” (Gen. 1:26-27).

Even in the use of our cleaning materials when the work is done we can observe the pure, cleansing nature of the Artist – like that of “Water.” We can observe how they may be used to both erase and create, to make the artwork exactly what the Artist wants (2 Cor. 5:21). Even more; we can observe how, without the proper cleansing Agent, the art may remain blemished or covered up, but never restored – much like those marked by sin, for Death. The Artist can only use the proper cleansing Agent to restore that precious gift of Life to His portrait and make it again, truly, “The Likeness of His Image” (John 14:6).

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Truth, Goodness, and Beauty in Christianity

In philosophy, there are three qualities that are often referred to as “the trandscendentals.” These three qualities are truth, goodness, and beauty, and “transcendental” is a proper designation for them. “Transcendental” is a fancy word that describes an aspect of reality that is not dependent on our personal feelings or opinions.

All three of these – truth, goodness, and beauty – are not dependent on our personal opinions. They are realities that are discovered, rather than invented or randomly chosen.

Consider truth. You and I do not get to make up our own truth, we can only discover what the truth is and choose whether or not we will accept it. Feeling like 2 + 2 = 5 does not make it so. It is a transcendent reality because it does not depend upon our personal feelings for its validity.

In the Biblical worldview, moral goodness is the same way. We do not get to pick and choose which attitudes or actions we consider morally good or bad based on our own personal feelings. Just because I “feel” like murder or stealing is okay does not make it so. Even if the majority felt this way, they would still be wrong.

Even beauty has a certain transcendent quality. Rather than choosing arbitrarily what music or art we find beautiful, we observe and recognize beauty in music or art and identify it as such. Saying “this object is beautiful” does not actually make it so. The object in question is either beautiful or not, regardless of what we say about it.

But as you may have noticed, not everyone in our society respects the transcendence of truth, goodness, and beauty. These days many academics assert that “truth is relative” and individuals may respond to your beliefs by saying “that is true for you, but it is not true for me.” In terms of moral goodness, the ultimate standard in our culture is no longer an objective standard, but rather a question of how we “feel” about it. Much of modern art and music reflects the fact that we have given up on objective standards of beauty and are resorting instead to shock value, vulgarity, and “art for art’s sake” with no message to convey.

The general movement of society away from objective standards of truth, goodness, and beauty probably reflects our disdain for constraints on our freedom more than anything else. As long as truth is comprised of objective facts, it can get in my way and prevent me from believing whatever I want. As long as moral goodness is an unchanging standard that I must submit to, it can prevent me from living out my dreams. Even beauty, to the extent that it supersedes personal feelings, reminds me that the reality of life is not always mine to control.

But there is a special beauty and power in the recognition of transcendent realities. When the psalmist said “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path,” he was recognizing that the truth of the Bible could lead him farther than he could get by his own understanding alone. When Jesus said “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth,” the truth that He referred to was a truth that can transform us precisely because it does not come from within us, but rather from the God who created us.

The Philippians were told “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” This is a description of a life in which we discover and enjoy that which is true, that which is good, and that which is beautiful in the realest of senses.

Will you “dwell on these things” and commit your life to acquiring them?

Biblical Womanhood

If society is confused about what make a real man, it seems equally confused about the true meaning of womanhood.

Pop culture, even with its endorsement of “feminism,” still uses women’s bodies pervasively to sell products. Music videos, television, and movies reinforce the idea that a woman’s most valuable asset is her looks, and that this determines her worth.

Even those who are deeply concerned with women’s rights are often confused about the meaning of womanhood. Rather than arguing for a powerful and beautiful picture of strong, biblical femininity, they argue for the abolishment of “gender roles” altogether so that women are free to act and think like men, and men are free to act and think like women.

The truth is that God designed men and women to be different but equal, to compliment each other. Here are some Biblical insights into womanhood.

Women are:
Strong – “She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.” (Proverbs 31:17)
Helpful – “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’” (Genesis 2:18)
Capable – “She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens.” (Proverbs 31:15)
Deserving of love and respect – “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.” (Colossians 3:19)
Compassionate – “She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.” – (Proverbs 31:20)
Submissive, yet persuasive – “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives.” (1 Peter 3:1)
Wise investors – “She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.” (Proverbs 31:16)
Modest – “Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control.” (1 Timothy 2:9)
Dignified – “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” (Proverbs 31:25-26)

There is understandable concern among some in regards to the Biblical model of wives submitting to husbands, but before we complain too loudly, let us remember that submission is a beautiful thing. The submission of men and women to governing officials preserves the peace. Each man and woman must submit themselves to Christ. Christ Himself submitted to His Father in His death on the cross.

Let us never be ashamed of God’s picture of womanhood. It gives honor and dignity to her body, her daily work, and her purpose in a way that contemporary society does not.

Beautiful Rose