Thursday, January 31, 2008

Living and Dying in the G.O.E - Part 1

I've been doing some thinking about the creation account from Genesis 1-4. Specifically about the Garden of Eden (G.O.E). I've always been curious about some of the details about the story that are often passed over too quickly.

This post will be first in a series of posts regarding some observations and questions I have about the G.O.E.

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil

God also said, "Look, I have given you every seed-bearing plant on the surface of the entire earth, and every tree whose fruit contains seed. This food will be for you, for all the wildlife of the earth, for every bird of the sky, and for every creature that crawls on the earth-everything having the breath of life in it. [I have given] every green plant for food." And it was so. - Genesis 1:29-30

1. God says in the above that every tree bearing fruit with seeds is for food, and also the every green plant. Can we take this to mean that the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (TOTKOGAE) was not green and did not bear fruit contain seed? One might exclaim 'who cares!?'. I do. If the TOTKOGAE didn't have seed, it would not reproduce and would have been the single source of that info. Also, it would NOT have been intended for food if it were not green, etc. There might be implications in these statements? Don't know - still thinking about it.

2. Why did God plant this tree in the G.O.E. to begin with? If it was not for Adam & Eve, why put it there? Was it for someone/something else? Was it planted by God?

3. What is the fruit? Not biologically, but more "what is it's purpose"?
I am not inclined to think it's a metaphor, so I am curious to know if the fruit indeed contained the knowledge (in some capacity), or if the knowledge of Good and Evil was realized upon the disobedient action of taking from the tree.

Some possible ideas about the fruit:
- What if Evil is the essence of the absence of God. How I see it, God's person demands that all things exist and are held together by Him. He's totally good, and without defect. Where God isn't, life isn't. If God weren't, what would be (nothing). Where God isn't life isn't. What if Evil is what happens when God isn't or doesn't. Could it be said that to be disconnected from God is Evil. Learning of Evil (after knowing God), would by default reveal to one the essence of Good.

Dinner time - more to come!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Why does God allow bad things to happen?

**DISCLAIMER** - I don't claim to be right on this matter. These are just some of my thoughts.

Who of us hasn't wondered or said "why does God allow these things to happen?". More often that not, we preface that with "If God is so _________...". Where do these thoughts come from? Are they reasonable thoughts and questions? While we might think that they come from our hearts and minds, I think they are often from the influence of Satan.

It's not God's fault. While Satan would have us believe that God is to blame, it's him who is to blame. If anyone else could share in that blame, it would be Adam! One of my favorite sections of scripture on this topic is the 5th chapter of Romans where the Paul explains that through Adam's single sinful action, sin entered the world and effected all people, then death through sin, and therefore, death comes to all people because all people sin.

Sin is in our DNA (quite literally I believe).

Paul then goes on to contrast Adam with Jesus (the second/last Adam). He tells us that in the same way that Adam's single trespass caused sin and death to come to all mankind, that through one righteous act of Jesus, God's righteousness would come to many. Just like Adam got us into this mess by one action, Jesus got us out through one action! If you think about that for a minute, the greatest conflict/resolution in the history of, well... history itself, boils down to the single actions and resulting consequences of two men. (this is where I imagine most feminists would get really disturbed ;-) )

Sure, God is able to technically "fix" things so that no one gets sick, and never dies. But it's the fact that he is sooooo good that causes these things to exist in the first place. Sickness and death exist because God's nature could not tolerate evil, so he kicked our greatGrandDaddy1000 out of the G.O.E. where out of his nature, he reproduced evil and death.

God could have just wiped everything away when Adam first sinned against him. Then what? Keep starting over and over again until Adam #X obeyed? That's not that point. Instead, God in his LOVE dictated that Adam must leave the G.O.E. Had he remained there, he would have had access to the tree of life which would have allowed him to have eternal life with his newly darkened heart, dying body, and sinful nature. If you think things are bad now, they would really suck if you had to endure then forever.

Although God loved Adam and Eve, they were now impure. Since God is pure, he could not tolerate them in his presence. No more walks together in the G.O.E!

God's edict to Adam had been that if he ate of the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil, that he would surely die. If he accepted Adam despite his failure, then God would be going against his own word. We usually ascribe negative words to people who do that. God cannot be pure, light, just, and totally good if he tolerates the opposites of those things in his presence.

Therefore, if God fixed every effect of sin this instant, (or at any instant), that means that he would have to tolerate (overlook) the fact that it was unrighteousness (sin) that caused these evil things to happen. By ignoring the sin, God would be circumventing his own edicts, violating his own laws, and basically asserting that sin itself is no big deal, making one of his positions on sin (the former or the latter) a mistake or a lie. See the dilemma now?

God acting against his own word would diminish his own character, make him a liar, and make him the source of evil as well. This amounts to a "can God make a rock too big for him to lift?" situation. The answer is yes! God can be (and is) constrained by his own nature at times. He cannot violate one of his attributes in an attempt to establish another.

I personally believe that evil just might be the literal absence of God, therefore God allowing evil is like God trying to ignore that fact that he exists. You try that yourself sometime ;-).

God cannot be who/what he is - and what we want, need, and expect him to be and still make any accommodations for things that violate his own nature. Since God is the source of all righteousness, all righteousness would cease were God to do such a thing.

Now, God (the trinity) was totally alone as the only righteous entity in the universe. What would they do? Man was now unrighteous and they were not, yet they wanted fellowship with man...

God instituted a plan. The trinity understood that only they could satisfy themselves. Only God is good enough for God. If man was going to be restored to God, he would have to have God's own righteousness. !Even in his purity and our impurity, God's love for us was so strong. He had a plan for redeeming mankind so that people could once again endure his presence and relationship.

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. - 2 Corinthians 5:21

Wow, God himself would give us his own righteousness! What a plan! But it would take blood! The blood had to be innocent blood. Problem is, who's innocent?

Long story short, God came as a man, through a virgin (so not to inherit the sinful nature), and lived a sinless life, offered himself as the perfect sacrifice (meeting all the demands of God's own law) paying the sin-debt we incurred through Adam. That debt was the death we're obligated to pay since we inherited it from Great Grandpa Adam.

God accepted Jesus' payment of that debt in our behalf. When Jesus died, we died with him, when he rose, we rose with him, this defeating death (spiritual death) and receiving God's very own righteousness. This is a once and done event!

I've often wondered, why physical death didn't stop as soon as Christ's sacrifice for us was complete. Then it hit me. God is so dang perfect and righteous, and consistent. Unlike me (who dishes out edicts of punishment, then lets the kids off the hook), when God says something, he means it, sticks to it, and it happens. God had promised Adam that if Adam sinned against him, that he would surely die. That's exactly what happened. Adam did die. He experienced physical and spiritual death. He produced generation after generation that continues to die.

God's word is revealed as true every moment of the day as people continue to die. Sin and death is in man's physical nature as well as spiritual. We need rebirth, both physical and spiritual (just as Jesus told Nicodemus). When we come to faith in Jesus' payment of our sin debt, we experience spiritual rebirth. We also receive the promise of future physical rebirth. If we received both instantly, we would experience physical death the moment we placed our trust in Christ. Could you imagine what that would do to the average altar call ;-)? Who would remain to tell the rest of the world about God's provision for our sin/death problem?

We have to die physically, despite God's sacrifice. It's not a punishment that we have to do this, it's grace. Without it, we could not fully experience what God secured for us through Jesus sacrifice. Our bodies were born as impure, into a impure world. They cannot endure eternity. If God fixed things so that we'd never die (physically), we'd be tied to these old bag o' bones for ever and never experience the full magnitude of our new birth.

God's plan is perfect resulting in 100% life, both spiritual and physical. We get the heart change now, and the rest later. He's not responsible for the bad things that happen. He allows them because he's perfect. They day he stops enforcing the effects of sin is the day God ceases to be God and all that we know ceases to exist. It cannot, and will not ever happen. However, we will one day see all things under subjection to God. He will recreate the physical world just as he has recreated us spiritually. Then a new dawn wil arise when death will cease to exist. Until then, Hosanna Maranatha.

Death, Pain & Sadness

Tonight, my wife and I attended a service for a baby girl whom the world had never met. She passed away at the age of 36 weeks before being born.

I can not think of anything else in life that I would find so painful as seeing the joyful expectations of pregnancy turn so rapidly into horror, despair, grief and sadness as one coming realize that their unborn child has died, or will be dying soon.

Even as a stranger to this child and her family, standing there, looking at the smallest casket I've ever seen, I found myself wanting to open it up, grab the tiny body, and hold it tight. Why Lord? It just seems so unjust.

It's times like these that I find being a believer the hardest. It's in times like this where Satan seems to increase the persistent challenges to the goodness and righteousness of God's character by whispering things like "If God is so ______ (you fill it in), why does he allow bad things like this to happen?" (I'll save my response to that for another post). However, this time, I find myself not shaking my head in agreement to that question, but blaming the one asking instead.

If I could slap him, I would. Lying, murderous sack of shit that he is! Can I say that word? Sure, what words are more fitting for such a horrible creature who would inflict so much pain and suffering on mankind? I am done buying into this lie. God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. None! He's a good, loving, and merciful God. No matter how hard it gets, we must continue to hold fast to that truth.

This tiny life we witnessed tonight will never see a sun rise. That's a very painful thing to think about. However, this young baby is experiencing true life because the Son did Rise! And because He rose we will too - even those whom never saw the light of day. Lord I pray that I might hold on to that truth!