Theology of Work - Lesson 1


Gerry Breshears
Theology of Work
Lesson 1
Watching Now

1.  Every Member a Minister


2.  Secular vs. Sacred?


3.    Defining Work

The biblical doctrine of work is the gracious expression of creative energy of the Lord in the service of others to create shalom.

Dorothy Sayers via Tim Keller and Gerry Breshears

4.  A look ahead

          Lesson 2:  Who God Is

          Lesson 3:  The Image of God

          Lesson 4:  Humanness

          Lesson 5:  Spiritual Gifts

          Lesson 6:  Vocation

          Lesson 7:  Salvation

          Lesson 8:  Work

          Lesson 9:  Justice

          Lesson 10: Rest


We are created in God's image and God invites us to be co-workers with him. By developing and using the spiritual gifts God has given us, the tasks we perform when we work have eternal significance in themselves. We also have opportunities to interact with our co-workers, promote justice and enjoy times of rest.

So what is God calling you to do? Is his calling only for pastors and “professional ministers” or is it something that applies to all of his people? Dr. Gerry Breshears, professor of systematic theology at Western Seminary, explores key questions such as who God is, what he has created people to be, how being the image of God affects the way we approach work, and what is the role of spiritual gifts in our job. This course will expand your vision of what work is all about, as you come to see yourself as God’s co-worker and representative.

Theology of Work

Dr. Gerry Breshears



Lesson Transcript


Welcome to the Certification module and Theology of Work. My name is Gary Breshears. I teach theology here at Western, have been doing that for a long time, and I'm also a teaching elder. My church Grace Community Church out in Gresham. And through that, I have a lot of contact, a lot of different people, from megachurch pastors to ordinary people, from missionaries to counselors to a psychologist or psychiatrist, medical doctors, CPAs, tax accountants, I mean, gosh, everything in the world down to people who just take care of electronics for a living. And what I want to do is think with you a little bit about what is this whole idea of theology of work. We at our church have a on our masthead, on our bulletin. Every member, a minister. But the reality is we don't think like that. Now, the reality is when it gets right down to it that we think of the guys who are employed at the church, the full time people as ministers and the rest of us are not. And we tend to think of God's work as something that happens inside the building or for the specific purposes of Jesus. We tend to think of pastors and missionaries as more God's called people than, say, somebody who's working it or in a business place or checking out groceries at Safeway or something like that. And what I like to suggest in this course that we're going to do together, that we need to get that fixed when we've got our basic theology of work backward, then we tend to divide things into sacred and secular. We tend to divide things into supernatural and natural. We tend to divide things into God's world and the rest of the world. And I just don't think that's right.


I don't think it's biblical. One of the things that happened in the history of work is that there was the vocation to be a priest in the Roman Catholic Church. And one of the things that happened in the Reformation, especially Martin Luther, said that's not true. Every Christian has a vocation and it's not just the ordained guy. Now, part of that was the whole idea of universal priesthood. And we'll look at priesthood in one of our modules. I part of the idea of what is God's work, and we'll look at that. So what I propose to do here is just kind of unpack this a little bit and on a couple of things I'd like to do. One is just a basic definition of work that I'm going to use. It has quite a history. I ran across it first in some material by Tim Keller, Pastor Redeemer Presbyterian Church back in New York City, now a very well known author, but a very, very good theologian, thinker, pastor. And he, in an essay by Dorothy Sayers that you'll find on the the CD unpacked this and put together on this theology of work which of course I have to mess with because I can't take anything and leave it alone because I work. You know, the basic idea of a biblical doctrine of work is the gracious expression of the creative energy of the Lord in the service of others to create shalom. Wow. Okay, one more time. Basic biblical doctrine of work is the gracious expression of the creative energy of the Lord in the service of others to create shalom. Now we're going to unpack several pieces that as we look at it. But that's the basic idea. And look for work in any mode is an expression of the Lord's energy that comes to us as image of God empowered by the Holy Spirit, gifted by the Holy Spirit, called into ministry.


It's in service of others because we fundamentally are other oriented people, because we're like God and we're trying to create shalom, a context of human flourishing, all relationships and order. We'll look at that under the context of justice. So a number of pieces we're going to do as we unpack this. Now, here's what I'm going to do. As we work through this, I'm going to start with Baseline. We're going to look at the concept of God. We're going to start in Genesis chapter one in his creation of human beings as image of God. And I want to look at God a little bit because that picture of who God is and what He is in relation to us is foundational. Then I want to come and look at human beings. Chiklis image of God. And unpack that a little bit. And then a basic idea flowing out of that is what is our humanness and different dimensions or humanness and how that relates to our working in covenant partnership with God. I want to look at the idea of gifts, gifts and talents because we are gifted by God to do things. And we need to understand a little bit more about this whole topic of spiritual gifts to understand things well. We'll look at the idea of priesthood in a context of basic idea of a church. And I would look at the concept of justice. What does it mean? It's not a car in Mitch, but righteousness and justice will unpack that a bit. And then finally, I'm going to come back and tie this all together in a theology of work and taking this definition work and pulling all the pieces together and seeing what that looks like theologically. So that's how we're headed.


I you can look at these modules in any order, I suppose if you follow them through on the order I just said that would probably be the most logical progression, but you get to do it your way. I tie in, look at it, give me feedback. I'd sure appreciate that because we all are not in a classroom. There's a certain level in which there's a community that we're working together here, and I'd love to get it, get feedback from you and share that with others as we work together to understand what is a theology of work.


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