023.1 Creative Expression, pt 3: Logos and Rhema

Creative expression includes most things people think of when they think about art. We are going to start by reviewing some of the big picture ideas we got to in parts 1 and 2 of this discussion.

First obvious signs of creative expression after the fall

Jubal the first musician, Tubal-Cain working with metal. We see records of people desiring to express creatively after the fall. Prior to the fall, man and God have perfect communion. After the fall, communication is impaired.

In the Garden, we had perfect communion. We were fully known, and we knew God in a very intimate way. So will there be creative expressions in Heaven? We will sing, we know that much. And God is creative, and we are created in His image. Are there parallels between creative expressions and spiritual gifts? Obviously spiritual gifts come from God and express who He is. But there will be a day when some pass away, and they won’t be necessary, at least not in our current comprehension of them. They are for ministry and to build us up into the fullness of Christ. What purpose would they serve once we are in that fullness, together with the Father?

So instead of looking at creative expression as a compensation for lack of communion, is it something that is fully realized in unison with God? Is it something that we do WITH God, and in doing it with God, it becomes its true form, and works toward the will of God?

Is redeemed creative expression meant to EXPRESS God or EXPLAIN God? Likely, both.

Is creative expression out of union with God inherently corrupt? While they can be very honest, essentially yes. We had mentioned the urge to build and control related to the urge to create. These are parts of our image of God and part of His purpose for us, that we should be little creators who rule the world on God’s behalf, and with Him. When those are corrupt, we end up building Babels. When we exercise our own creative energies apart from God, it can exalt our pride.

While there is much to be said for all humanity’s creative efforts, the kind that will build us up will in some way point towards the Creator of all. Can our communion with God, our longing for Him, our desolation apart from Him, our questions and doubts, our pains and loss, inspire expressions that bridge the gap created at the Fall?

So after looking at all the ways music specifically was used in Scripture, for godly and ungodly purposes, and exploring lots of modern corruptions, how do we get back to God’s design for creative expression? How do we reform it?

The Bible displays a spiritual connection to expression, and servants, especially Paul, desiring to communicate in God’s ways.

Creative Expression, Rhema, and Logos

Martin Luther believed that the Gospel was Jesus – essentially anything that communicated Jesus was Good News. If everything that could be expressed about God in human form was Jesus, then there is some merit to this idea. There are some who believe God’s expression of Himself has ceased, and is contained entirely in Scripture. Some believe God is always communicated Jesus in some way. Not writing a new Bible, or replacing the Bible, or negating the Bible, but that God expresses Himself and communicates the Good News of the Kingdom always in many ways.

Logos and Rhema are two greek words that get translated as “word”. However, the represent two slightly different ideas, both of which relate to creative expression.

Logos is most famously used in John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Here, he is clearly referring to Jesus.

Rhema is most famously used in Matthew 4:4 “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”

While their literal definitions are very similar, their uses in Scripture show a difference.

Logos is the word, it is declaration. Rhema is revelation. Logos is concrete and clear and trustworthy. Rhema is expressive and fluid, yet still never contradicts the Logos. Rhema is not simply allegorical interpretations of Scripture. It is revelation of God. Sometimes it involves reading scripture. Sometimes it simply happens in ministry, no where near a Bible.

How does art relate to rhema? As God redeems His people, He fills them with His Spirit, grants them rhema (revelation of the truth), and inspires them to express it in way similar to how He expresses. This could be seen as taking what Scripture says, and creatively expressing what it means.

God supernatually revealed the design of the Tabernacle, then He sent His Spirit to empower craftsmen to accomplish the design.

When we are faithful and obedient, we are declaring the character of God. God reveals Himself to people in certain ways at certain times. Sometimes as a burning bush, sometimes as thunder, sometimes as a pillar of cloud, etc. Why? Why does He choose different forms, different expressions? Even in Scripture, there are many literary forms. Why does He choose poems in place, and geneologies in another? Why did Jesus come in human, tangible, physical form to live an observable, historical, concrete life, and yet also grant confounding visions to John? Because He is expressing in forms that express Him, to the recipient, and to others to come after. Because He is the creative Creator. Because there is so much of Him to express.

Songs

Newsboys – God is Not a Secret

Nichole Nordeman – I am

Additional music

Ben Pasley – Rugged Old Hand http://www.benpasley.com/ Used by permission.

This episode originally broadcast live on September 4, 2015 on KXEN 1010AM in St. Louis, MO

For more info:

www.sunministries.org

www.sunministries.blogspot.com

Theme music: “The Resistance” by Josh Garrels (www.joshgarrels.com) licensed by Marmoset Music (www.marmosetmusic.com)

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022.1 Creative Expression, pt 1 – The Image of God

What is creative expression? How does God express creatively? How do humans express creatively? How has all this been distorted? We look at some big pictures to explore what it means to be created in the image of the Creator.

“What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life…what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.” 1 John 1:1,3

God is the ultimate creator. Everything He has done has been an expression of Himself (Romans 1:19).

The whole earth is full of His glory (Isaiah 6:3)! God’s creation declares His glory. Our creations should also declare His glory. So what is His glory?

We are the only creation created in the image of God. When we were created, we did not have the knowledge of good and evil, so we expressed nothing corrupt. But once we fell, our expressions changed from representing God to representing useless and base things. Idolatry is a perfect example of these. We perform worship for a creation rather than the Creator.

Apart from God, our creative expressions are misdirected and point towards things other than God. Once mankind was out of the presence of God, they begin making things – musical instruments and tools of metal. Is this a response aimed to compensate for the fact that they can no longer commune with God? Expression is no longer pure and directly connected, so are they looking for ways to “reconnect” with their Creator? When creative expression naturally flows out of relationship with God, it is spiritual. Separate from that, we are left to physical tools and physical means. This deteriorates from makings songs, to making idols, to making the Tower of Babel. Our creativity given us through the image of God now becomes the thing that gives voice to our pride in the invention of the brick. Bricks would later solidify our slavery in Egypt.

Outside of relationship transparency, we have to figure out a way to communicate what is going on; we need to find a medium. If we could simply and purely communicate, would we still have the desire to utilize the medium to create the expression? Is the whole purpose of creative expression to communicate God to others? To utilize a medium to cross a communication gap? We don’t know. There is plenty of singing in Heaven.

Corruptions in creative expression begin with the fact that there is a separation. And then they start to point towards other things. We also appear to have a desire to build and control. Is our drive to create the same drive that pushes us to overtake other people? Are we trying to manifest the “image of God” in our own power, apart from the Spirit? If this is so, then when this is redeemed, we can then bring about redemption, peace, and justice. Redeeming the “creative” drive in us, the part of the image that creates, builds, and manipulates, will declare the glory of God and end the distortion that leads to destruction, imperialism, and oppression. There is no way to “get back to the garden” without reforming creative expression.

When we empower and encourage people to express God’s glory in their own way, it can bring great unity in the Spirit through the diversity of the Body of Christ.

Our expressions come from what is inside of us (Matthew 12:33-37). Psalm 45 shows an expression that is inspired by God and directed to Him:

“My heart overflows with a good theme; I address my verses to the King; my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.”

Creative expression encompasses many things, but most practically the arts. We explored the specific example of music throughout scripture to see what role it played in the interaction between man and God.

  • David set aside men to prophesy with music
  • Many of the verses quoted in the New Testament as being prophecy of the coming Messiah are from Psalms.
  • The Psalms declare God’s character
  • Songs were used for teaching and correction
  • Song, and creation itself, were involved in the birth of Jesus, and creation testified at the death of Christ.
  • Music was shared with other members of the Body, often in giving thanks
  • Music was used to edify the Body, and is likened to spiritual acts such as teaching and speaking in tongues, which could be seen as other creative expressions

Next week we will continue to explore creative expression.

Songs:

Beautiful Eulogy – “Instruments of Mercy” from their album, “Instruments of Mercy”; available at www.humblebeast.com. Used by permission.

Josh Garrels – “Colors”, from his album “Home” www.joshgarrels.com

This episode originally broadcast live on August 28, 2015 on KXEN 1010AM in St. Louis, MO

For more info:

www.sunministries.org

www.sunministries.blogspot.com

Theme music: “The Resistance” by Josh Garrels (www.joshgarrels.com) licensed by Marmoset Music (www.marmosetmusic.com)