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Archive for the ‘The Immanuel Project – Book’ Category

The Immanuel Project: Chapter 7: The Immanuel Project Goal

Posted by undergroundchurch on June 27, 2009


Click here for Chapter 6

I started out this little book with the notion that it is all about Jesus.  It is very important to always keep in mind that we are not the center of the universe.  The Bible is not about us; it is about God.  Yes, we try to apply its principles to our lives.  We find meaning and purpose within it pages, but the reality is that God existed before man.   God wasn’t created for man’s pleasure; we were created for God’s pleasure.

This basic concept leads us to the goal of the Immanuel Project.  We see at the beginning of Scripture that God wanted to be with man and indeed, He walked with man on earth in a garden. We see the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 that God would come in flesh and that He would be called “Immanuel” which means “God with us”. 

We then find that a virgin girl in the middle of Israel territory became the portal for which God would finally enter our world to walk with man.  For thirty-three years, God could physically reach out and touch His created beings.  His compassion healed them, His love saved them and His power changed them.  Then He left. 

But before He went, He left a deposit… the Holy Spirit.  This part of God now indwells His people.  He gives character, power, boldness, gifts and callings.  He changes lives and enables Christians to live the Christian life.  Once again, the Immanuel is with us.  Only this time, He is not walking beside us, He is living in us.

But as Paul says, He is only a deposit to guarantee a future reward.  There is something greater coming.  One day soon, we will be in the presence of the Almighty.  We will see Him in all His fullness – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 

But there is something so special about this reuniting moment that it absolutely blows away my mind. 

One day I was reading Revelation and ran across something that threw me for a loop.  I said to my self, “That can’t be right.”  I began searching the Scriptures to nullify or validate my finding and was shocked to find out it was true.

It starts in Revelation 21:1.  God makes a new Heaven and Earth. 

Wait a minute.  What was wrong with the old Heaven?  I can understand destroying the earth and rebuilding it, but Heaven?  What’s God doing? 

As we read on, we begin to discover some unique features of these new worlds.  Earth has no oceans.  I always thought that without water, you couldn’t have life.  Why did God vanquish the oceans?

God has basically rewritten all the laws again.  We won’t need water to live.

Verse three has a series of interesting statements, “[God] shall dwell among men, He shall dwell among them, they shall be His people and God himself with be with them.”

Three times in this verse we see Immanuel again. This time we see Immanuel in all His fullness.  When I saw this verse I was taken back because this is on earth.

Yes there is a new heaven and earth, but God isn’t going to stay in heaven.  He is coming back to earth to be with men.  The entire last two chapters of Revelation describe this moving party.  God is moving from heaven to earth.  The New Jerusalem is going to be our eternal home, and it’s not in heaven any longer. 

When Jesus tells His disciples that He is going to prepare a place for us so that we could be where He is, I don’t think anyone had in mind that it would be on earth, but God did.

This is huge!  What about all those songs, “When we all get to heaven…”, “If heavens not my home, oh Lord what will I do…”  Heaven is at best, transitional housing.  It was created for God’s angels.  One thing you don’t see in the New Jerusalem is angels.  Why?  Because they are in Heaven.

If I asked you to describe heaven to me, you would probably do what 99% of the Christians do, “Heaven has streets of gold, pearly gates and Peter is just outside of it with a list of people that can get in.”

Well, you might not add that last one, but you would still be wrong on the first two points.  The Bible only describes heaven a couple times.  One time we see God’s throne.  The second time we see a Temple. 

Hebrews tells us that this Temple is the real temple. The ones Moses and Solomon built on earth were copies of this original. 

Revelation 21:22 said there is no Temple in the New Jerusalem.  The Lamb would be the Temple.  Also, there is no sun because God’s glory would be its light.

Revelation 22 tells us that the New Jerusalem is the place that has the streets of gold, pearly gates, etc.

God has always been after living with His people.  God starts out walking in the garden of Eden with Adam; He later promises He will come as Emanuel.  After this He comes as a baby to grow up and live with man. Once He leaves, He send the Holy Spirit to live inside of us. And finally at the end, He prepares a huge 2000 cubic mile city in which He could call home.  He placed that mammoth city on the floor of earth and invited us to join Him.  This is what Immanuel is all about.

Whatever God has in store for us is right back here on a new earth.  He wants to do it with us.  He wants dwell with us.  Why? I don’t know.  But if it is truly all about God, this event more than any other should make you feel more passionate about your salvation than anything else you could possibly imagine.  God is with us; God wants to dwell in and with us. God is Awesome!

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The Immanuel Project: Chapter 6: The Incarnation

Posted by undergroundchurch on June 25, 2009


Click here for Chapter 5

There is something about the Bible that I always found curious.  There are some doctrines we believe today that aren’t talked about in the Scriptures like we do today.  For example, the Trinity doctrine is based on many passages. But no single passage exists that says, “Jesus is the Son of God, the Father is God and the Holy Spirit is God, yet all three are one and yet they are different.  We call this the ‘Trinity’.”

From a theological point of view it would be great to point someone to that one scripture and say, “See, it says right here as plain as day.”

The Scriptures are not laid out in “doctrinal” fashion.  They are designed to make you read them and discover what God is saying.  In fact, God says, “search the scriptures”.  He wants you to read them, not as a doctrinal thesis, but as a living love letter from Him to you.  The Bible, unlike any book you will ever read, is alive.  God uses it to speak to His people.  If it was just doctrine, it would not have that personal touch.  It would come across more as a “rule book” and less as a book that shows God reaching out to man passionately.

Probably the greatest example of this is the doctrine of God.  You will not find in the pages of scripture any place where God sets out to prove His existence.  In fact, God is just “assumed”. 

Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God…”  He doesn’t waste any time talking about why He exists, what His purpose is for existence, how we know He really exists.  He just states unequivocally, “I exist”.

Later He takes that statement as His name.  When God first called Moses at the burning bush event,  Moses asks a great question, “Who do I tell them [Pharaoh and Israel] who sent me.”

God answers Moses, “Tell them the ‘I am’ sent you”.

Moses never proves that God exists; only that Egypt’s gods are no gods at all.  The Egyptians already knew there had to be some form of deity above man.  They just had it wrong when it came to who that deity was.

God is not the substance of his creation.  He is not divided up into multiple gods constantly warring. He is not the uncaring, uninvolved sovereign that just lets the world runs its course without His loving intervention.  He is, and He alone is God… period end of discussion.

The name “I am” became so closely associated with God, that Jesus was accused of being a blasphemous deceiver by the Jewish rulers because He used the “I am” phrase when referring to Himself.  He said, “Before Abraham was, ‘I am’.”

The incarnation was the single most significant event in human history.  It was talked about for centuries before, but when it actually occurred, man was somewhat disappointed.  They did not understand the purpose of the incarnation.  They wanted something substantially different.  This misunderstanding was due to the fact that they misinterpreted the Scriptures, and Jesus held them accountable for not understanding the Scriptures. 

To understand the incarnation better, you have to understand why it occurred. 

The prophets had foretold that the deliverer or “Messiah” would come.  I don’t think anybody had any real issue with that.  The problem was that nobody understood the purpose in His coming. 

The Scriptures give two main functions of the Messiah, and I think that the problem everyone ran into was because they blended the two together or they simply ignored all the bad parts and just wanted to believe the good stuff.

The two veins are as follows:  The Messiah would be a conquering king, and the Messiah would be a suffering servant.

Put yourself in the shoes of the typical Jewish leader in Jesus’ day.  You are preaching your messages on Saturday morning for generations about the Messiah who would come.  Do you think they concentrated on the parts that showed him suffering, dying and being rejected by the Jews, or do you think they preached about the conquering king that would come and deliver His people from the captors and rule the world putting all of Israel’s enemies under His feet?

They weren’t about to ruin their Saturday morning crowds with bad news. They only wanted to see the good news.

The problem is that they didn’t understand that the bad news of the Messiah’s suffering was their good news.  The words “good news” are translated “gospel” and that is defined by Paul as the following, “Jesus died, was buried and rose again.”  Yes that’s bad news, but it is also good news and even greater news when you receive the news with joy.

The Pharisees knew Jesus might be the Messiah. They were just waiting for Him to take out about a legion of Roman guards to prove it.  Jesus never took out a legion of Roman guards.  He did, however, take out a legion of demons because He was more interested in the condition of man’s souls that the comfort of His circumstances.

Sadly, the preachers of the Bible today aren’t too far from committing the same error in misinterpreting the Bible like the teachers in Jesus day.

For example, I listen to well intentioned teaching that attempts to convince the church in America that we won’t go through the time of tribulation.  Like everyone else, I wish that were true, but I don’t think that is a good way to approach the teaching about prophecy that has yet to be fulfilled.

I am going to let a little secret slip.  The easiest thing to preach about is the end times.  There are two reasons for it.  First, I could take the prophecies and make them say whatever I want and turn around and exempt the church from any of it. 

Second, It is a feel good message because if I exempt the church from going through the tribulation, then I don’t have to worry about what’s in the book of Revelation, but it sure is fun to talk about.

Have you ever noticed how much teaching is out there about the end times?  But the way it is presented, the church will never even go through it, so why teach it?

I don’t want you to get me wrong about what I believe the Bible teaches concerning the church and the End Times. I just think that you walk on very dangerous ground when you speak so matter-of-fact about future events found in prophecy. 

The popular approach to the end times is that the church is raptured and then the tribulation begins.  This would mean that about seventeen chapters in Revelation as well as about a half dozen other chapters throughout the Bible have nothing to do with the church.  Yet it is a favorite subject for Sunday morning service.  Isn’t that what the Jewish teachers were doing about the Messiah?  They only wanted to see the good parts, not the bad parts. 

The Bible says that there will be a great falling away in the last days.  People will believe the Lie.  

Remember, these are Christians that are falling away. Why do you think they will be deceived so easily?  It might be because they are sitting in the middle of the tribulation time having to make a decision about the whether they want the mark of the Beast or they want to die, and they are saying to themselves, “This is not what my pastor told me would happen.  He said I’d be rescued out of this.  How can God love me and allow me to go through this?”

I am saddened when our American interpretation of the end times makes it to a place like Africa.  I have heard the testimonies from Christians that already have fallen victim to that teaching while they are experiencing their tribulation time.  They fall away because they thought that they would be rescued from it.

The Christians of old never taught that.  They knew that tribulation would come. The church was born in a time of tribulation.  The world couldn’t kill Christians fast enough, yet the church grew.  They did not believe for one second that they would be rescued from tribulation.  They knew they would be preserved through any tribulation that came their way.

We have so convinced people that tribulation won’t happen in their lifetimes that they will be pouring out of the churches when it actually does happen.  Preachers today are no different than those early Jewish teachers.  The only hope is that we catch ourselves before it is too late and begin teaching the truth that we may very well go through tribulation.  We may very well find out who the anti-Christ is.  We may have to make a choice to take the mark of the Beast or die instead.  It may not be a “feel good” message now, but when the tribulation time comes, and it will come, those that are prepared will prevail.

The purpose of prophecy is not to tell you what will happen as much as it is designed to prepare you for what will happen.  If you teach that the church isn’t going to experience anything, then you aren’t preparing anybody for anything. 

The best interpretation for prophecy is to recognize its fulfillment when it occurs.  Jesus tells the Jewish leaders that they should have recognized the times and seasons they were in and they would have realized that the prophecies were coming true. In fact, Jesus holds them accountable for not knowing the time of His coming which is actually given to the precise day in Daniel 9:25.  We don’t have that kind of precision in Revelation, so we need to always be watchful, vigilant and prepared. 

I like what one person said, “Be ready as if Jesus is coming back today, prepare as if He isn’t coming back until the Millennium.”

I chased a little rabbit there, but I’m back now.

Jesus came as the “I am”.  He was God in flesh.  Believe it or not, that concept proved to be a bigger problem for the first century believer than the fact that Jesus was God.

You won’t find many Scriptures trying to convince you that Jesus is God.  Like God’s existence, Jesus is assumed to be God.  John 1, Philippians 2 and a smattering of other passages is all you have to tell you unequivocally, “Jesus is God”.

The most talked about subject concerning Jesus is, “How could God be in the flesh”.  You will see every writer in the New Testament spend time convincing their readers that God came in the flesh. 

The problem stemmed from the Greek influences of the day.  Essentially, they believed that matter was evil and spirit was good.  When applied to Christ, they could not conceive how God, being spirit, could become man and therefore evil.

They tried many different workarounds.  One teaching taught that God came and appeared in the form of man, but really wasn’t flesh and blood like man is.  Another taught that he was somewhat of an apparition or ghost.  You could see him, but you couldn’t touch him.  These teachings though nullify the sacrifice.  Jesus had to be like us to be our sacrifice and literally die.

The incarnation solved the issue of God in flesh.  He was fully God and fully man. He was the “I am” and He was the son of Mary. 

The incarnation took God from birth to death in the robes of man’s flesh.

It shocks you to think that God had to potty train, God had to learn to walk, learned to talk, God scraped His knee on the dirt roads, hit His thumb with a hammer.  But if you want to believe Jesus was man, you have to believe that He experience what man experiences.

He cried, He laughed, He joked, He smiled, and He felt hurt and pain and rejection.  When it came time for him to crucified on a cross, He felt every stroke of the whip, every fist across His face, every bone wrenching hit with a hammer on the nails that pierced His hands and feet, every thorn of the crown beat down on His head.  He felt the beard being pulled out. He felt the pain of the jeering crowd. He felt the insult of spittle running down His beaten face; He felt his love for man being violated to the highest degree. He felt his Father God turn His back on Him in His greatest moment of agony as His bore the weight of the world’s sin. He felt the pain in every breath He gasped for while hanging by His arms, and He felt his heart beat its last beat as He gave up His Spirit when He said, “It is finished”.

If He was not fully man, the suffering servant couldn’t have suffered that much.  But because He was one of us, He could be that ultimate sacrifice for our sin that we so desperately needed.

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The Immanuel Project: Chapter 5: The Sin Problem

Posted by undergroundchurch on June 23, 2009


Click here for Chapter 4

The largest obstacle for God to overcome in the process we call “incarnation” is sin. The incarnation is the point where God transforms himself into man.  To be affective, the incarnation has to happen at the cellular level.  He has to conceived, carried in the womb and then birthed; otherwise; he would not be fully man. He would be more of a facsimile of man and not a real man.  As I mentioned earlier, angels have encountered our world many times in human “form” but they were no more “human” than a team mascot for the LSU Tigers is a tiger.  To be a tiger, you would need to be born a tiger. To be man, God has to be born as a man.

The main problem is that when man is born, he is born into sin because of the sin passed on to him from Adam’s original sin.  The spiritual curse was passed down in the physical genetics of the human gene.  The bible calls this the seed.[i]

The seed issue would seem to pose a huge problem because you need it in order to be conceived. 

However, God set the law of sin upon other principles.  There are two things that make a good law: one is that it needs to be well defined.  Obscure laws open to interpretations are not very effective.  The meaning of a law can change the next time a judge rules on the law.  So when they create laws, they try to capture the original intent of the law in the law itself. 

The sin law’s original intent is to produce a punishment – namely death.  The law is violated automatically just be being born.

A method was created to satisfy the law’s price.  This was done by shedding blood. 

It might surprise you to discover that the first shedding of blood was not performed by man but by God.

After Adam and Eve sinned and tried on their new leaf clothing line, God exchanged those leafy garments for animal skins.[ii]  But where did God get animal skins?

He must have killed an animal first.  He then placed the skin of the sacrifice over man’s naked flesh, so the first sacrifice was performed by God himself.  Incidentally, the last and ultimate sacrifice was also performed by God.  What does this say about God?  It shows that He is desperate for reconciliation with man.  It shows that man is not as involved in salvation as he thinks he is.  It shows that man cannot muster up enough righteousness to overcome his situation and that it takes the greater power of God to transform a sinful life.

The second component of a law is that the law must be based on something greater.  In our nation, we use a Constitution.  When judges make rulings on laws, they are judging the law against the Constitution and determine if the law is “Constitutional”. 

The law of sin is also based on greater rules.  One greater rule is the holiness of God.  Sin cannot abide in God’s presence.  Even looking at God in our sinful state is cause for death.[iii]  The holiness of God demands obedience and that is the foundation for righteousness.  When we disobey, we perform an unrighteous act which violates sin’s law.  Adam did that based on the single rule of obedience God set up with Adam, “Don’t eat from the tree.”

Sin is a bad thing, but a good law.  The law of sin is necessary in order for God to remain holy. If God allowed sin in His presence or performed some form of sin, then he would violate His holiness.

The mission of Jesus had to be one of holiness.  If He failed at any point to obey God, His Father, He would immediately lose favor with God and become a blemished sacrifice.  He would no longer be able to provide the ultimate sacrifice for man’s sin.  He would never be able to be “one” with the Father. 

Jesus states his current state of obedience when He tells us that He only does what His Father tells Him to do.[iv]

This presents that old theological issue, “Could Jesus sin if He wanted to?”  The answer has to be “Yes”. 

The reason it has to be yes is because the governing rule for obedience according to God is love.  Love, as stated earlier, demands a choice not love in order to be love.  If you have no other option but to love, then you can’t choose to love or not love.

Jesus had to have that choice.  If He didn’t, then Satan wasted his time.  Do you remember the temptation by Satan?[v]  Satan is giving Jesus choices.  He can do this mission the Father’s way or take the easy way out.  At one point, Satan even says that he would give Jesus everything if Jesus would just bow down to him one time. 

Satan was going to surrender if Jesus would just disobey God one time.  How could it hurt, right? I mean, God would forgive His only Son, and He wouldn’t have to die and go through all the pain.

Don’t tell me that wasn’t a powerful temptation.  But that is all it was.  Jesus knew the rules.  “Do not bow down to [other gods] or serve them; for I, the Lord you God, am a jealous God.”[vi]

That act would have been direct disobedience leading to death.  Not a good thing for the savior to do if he wants to be the savior.  This makes Philippians 2:8-10 come alive.  It was because of the choice to obey the Father and humble Himself in death that God promoted His name (Jesus) to a point where every knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus is Master of all.  That means that Satan, the one that Jesus could have briefly bowed down to, will have to bow down to Jesus because of the victory found in winning the battle over sin.  There was a lot riding on that temptation, and Jesus came through victorious!

It is important to keep in mind that God does not violate His nature nor does He violate His own spiritual laws.  Notice, I said spiritual laws.  He can suspend natural laws anytime He likes because He has not restricted himself to those laws. 

When Jesus walked on the water[vii], He violated several laws of nature.  Did He sin because He broke those laws?  By no means; in fact, we call them miracles.  He even tells us that we will do even greater things than that.[viii] 

You mean we get to break physical laws to and get away with it?  Yep.  It takes faith, but you can lay your hands on a sick person, pray for them and see the sickness disappear. 

I know I am making that somewhat simple, but so did Jesus.  We make it so complicated because we doubt.  Have you ever wondered why we don’t see miracles like we should, like they did a hundred years ago?  The simple reason is that Christians don’t believe.  Sadly, we have more information about our faith than any Christian generation ever, but we do not practice it.  There is no commitment, no passion, no repentance, no holiness and no faith. 

The only hope is the scriptures that tell us that in the last day, God is going to pour out His spirit on all mankind and great things are going to happen.[ix]  The last days get closer each day we get out of bed.  One day soon, God is going to find a church ready for His Spirit’s outpouring.  He will find them because they will be on their knees crying out to Him in His house. 

When He finds that church, look out world!

Back to God’s sin dilemma.  How does God become a birthed baby and not catch the sickness of the sin seed?

That is found in the sin-law loop hole.  Really good laws have loop holes for special circumstances.  The sin-law has a limit.  The sin seed is passed through the one who is accountable.  How do we know this?  Check out Genesis again.

Adam is formed by God from the ground on the sixth day.[x]  After man was created, God planted the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the garden.[xi]  He then commanded the man not to eat of the tree.[xii]  Notice though, who is not at this meeting… the woman. She isn’t created for five more verses.  You never see God tell her not to eat from the tree, so who do you think told her the rule?

By design, the responsible person to God was Adam.  God was going to hold Adam personally responsible.  Eve wasn’t there.  She is not accountable to God.

This concept is borne out through the scriptures.  I know that people think that there is some element of men lording over women in the Bible, and to some extent, you will find those accounts.  But the part you don’t hear is that the woman was not responsible for the sin. 

Here is a thought for you.  If Eve ate the fruit, and Adam did not, would there be sin in the world?  Was it Eve, Adam or both eating the fruit that caused sin? 

We know that their eyes weren’t opened until Adam ate the fruit.  So the act of Eve eating the fruit did not cause her to feel guilt, shame and sin.  In fact, she rather enjoyed it.  She actually gave it to Adam to share.  Why?  It is because she ate it and didn’t have any adverse effects. 

God said that they would die.  She didn’t.  Therefore, it must be fine for them to eat it. 

I submit to you that Eve’s act alone had nothing to do with the problem of sin.  Adam had not sinned yet.  I believe that evidence throughout Scripture bears a testimony that if Adam did not eat, he could have possibly atoned for her guilt and the sin seed would have died with her. 

There is a priestly order to things in the Bible. The husband is the individual in the household that is directly accountable to God. It’s not that the others in the house are less important, it is that the responsibility for the household falls to the husband.  That accountability is seen throughout scripture.  Men are found in leadership because God holds them accountable for the family, not women. 

It sounds odd given our humanistic society. And it certainly wasn’t designed to devalue women.  This principle is something that God Himself follows within the Godhead.

The Bible tells us that Jesus submitted to the Father in everything.  That is to say, Jesus is accountable to the Father.  Accountability does not show that Jesus is less valuable than the Father; it is simply a chain of accountability. Yes, there is an element of submission to it, but not in the sense of a Master/Slave submission.  Rather, it is a voluntary submission in love knowing that you are building the other up in the process.

Jesus did everything to bring glory to His Father.  In turn, the Father brought glory back to the Son.  But it started by the Son submitting to the Father.

This principle carries over to the church.  Jesus is the head of the church in the same way that the Father is the head of Jesus.[xiii] Jesus is the head because He sacrificed his life for it. 

That same word head is passed down to the husband and wife.  The husband is the head of the wife.[xiv]  Like the other relationships before it, this one must be saturated in love.  Notice also that it always costs the “head” something to be the “head”.  Husbands must lay their lives down for their wives. Jesus died for His church.

This accountability is like a priest’s duty.  They are responsible for those accountable to them. The priest’s duties are to atone for other’s sins.  But if the priest sins, there is no atonement left.  They had to be clean to be a priest.

Adam forfeited his ability to atone by participating in the sin.  When he took the fruit, he gave up his responsibility.  That is out of God’s order.  Instead of God being his head, he made Eve his head.  We aren’t allowed to transfer our allegiances.

In short, it was Adam’s act of eating the fruit that cause the sin seed to be born in man.  There was no further redemption that man could conjure that would overcome the act of disobedience. 

Adam was the one that told Eve not to eat, but in the end, he failed.

I have one quick side note about the passage in Genesis 3.  When the serpent talked with Eve (which she did not find odd at all) she changed God’s rules.  The law was, “Don’t eat”.  She added “Don’t eat, and don’t touch it”.[xv]  This is the first occurrence of legalism in the Bible.  Legalism are rules added by men on top of God’s law to make you feel more spiritual by putting people in bondage to more rules thinking they make you more holy. Eve’s legalistic touch didn’t keep her from violating God’s laws.  Legalism is no way to enhance your spiritual claim to holiness.  It only leads you to death.

When God’s divine order is messed with, chaos is just around the corner.

Looking at the sin seed again, so where is the out clause? 

Believe it or not, the woman is the out clause. 

You mean that the very person that started this has a way of getting us out of it?

Yep.  It’s funny how God works sometimes. 

God told the serpent the loophole that he designed into the sin law.  Genesis 3:15 gives man hope.  “The seed of the woman will strike your head and you will strike His heel”.  Interesting, but what does it mean?

It tells us that, because the woman was not held responsible, she would be able to produce an offspring that would be pure again.  That offspring would defeat the one that defeated man.  But it would cost the woman’s offspring dearly. 

From that point on, the women of the Bible understood that any child born could potentially be that deliverer.  Eve recognized this right away and thought Cain might be the “man”.[xvi] Later, after Cain killed Abel, she bore another son, Seth.  She saw him as a “seed” replacement for Abel.[xvii]  She thought to herself, “Maybe this one will be the one.” 

However, the deliverer didn’t come until after God gives more clarification.  The child had to be born of a virgin.[xviii]  Why a virgin?

This was done because the man carries the sin seed.  It is a feature that exists due to the accountability factor.

The way around this is to take man out of the loop and leave woman.  The Holy Spirit was the “Father” and Mary the mother. Therefore, if God was going to be the Father, then the sin seed would not be present at Jesus’ birth.

When the angel Gabriel came to Mary 4000 years after Eve’s promise, he told her that the baby in her was conceived by the Holy Spirit.[xix]  God had used His loophole in the sin law to get the savior God into the flesh of man. 

 


[i] Genesis 3:15 et al

[ii] Genesis 3:21

[iii] Exodus 33:20

[iv] John 5:30

[v] Matthew 4:1-11

[vi] Deuteronomy 5:9

[vii] Matthew 14:25

[viii] John 14:12

[ix] Joel 2:28, Acts 2:17

[x] Genesis 2:7

[xi] Genesis 2:8,9

[xii] Genesis 2:17

[xiii] 1 Corinthians 11:3

[xiv] Ephesians 5:23

[xv] Genesis 3:3

[xvi] Genesis 4:1

[xvii] Genesis 4:25

[xviii] Isaiah 7:14

[xix] Luke 1:26-35

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The Immanuel Project: Chapter 4: Blending the Spiritual and the Physical

Posted by undergroundchurch on June 22, 2009


 Click here for Chapter 3 

When we think in terms of the physical world, we usually think materialistically.  Scientists describe our universe as multi-dimensional.  There are the three dimensions of space, the dimension of time, physical properties of gravity, electromagnetism, weak and strong nuclear forces.  These are things that we can perceive and touch.  We know them.  We are familiar with their effects. We base our beliefs on our understanding of the physical world. The bottom line… if it doesn’t fit in our understanding of the universe, then it can’t possibly be true.

Scientists are actually discovering that our universe has at least eleven dimensions to it.  Much of this is “unknowable” currently.

Any way you look at it, the physical universe is huge, but there is a world even larger – the Spiritual world. 

The spiritual universe is a much larger domain than we give it credit.  God, the angels, demons and Satan operate primarily in this world.  Good and evil, sin and love abide in this world along with things that man cannot even utter[i] The physical world in which we live is not separate from the spiritual world but a part of the spiritual world – albeit a very small part. 

Which do you think came first, the spiritual world or the physical world? 

According to the creation account, God made the three components of our universe in the beginning.  In Genesis 1:1, 3, God creates matter, space, time and energy. “In the beginning (time), God created the heavens (space) and the earth (matter). God said, let there be light (energy) and there was light”

God did all of this from the “spiritual world”.  God had to actually create the space in which everything in the physical world exists.  Laws were set up at the beginning that made this physical universe work.  Gravity keeps the planets close to the sun, light keeps everything alive on the earth, etc.

We know many of the physical laws that govern our world, i.e. gravity, time, space, etc.  We are bound by these laws in our physical universe.  However, these laws do not apply to the spiritual world.  In the spiritual world, there is no time, space, gravity that we can define, but somehow things that happen in our world affect the spiritual world. 

Did you realize that the act of disobedience by Adam and Eve in this physical world initiated the seed of sin in man that would cause every person ever born of man to be born into sin?[ii]  Our physical world and the spiritual world are connected.  Sin is a spiritual property with physical symptoms.  God said to Adam, “In the day you eat of [the tree of the knowledge of good and evil] you will die.”[iii] The act of spiritual sin brought the result of physical death.

Likewise, events that happen in the spiritual world directly impact the physical universe.  The spiritual laws of sowing and reaping[iv] cannot be tied to any physical property.  Jesus said, “You will reap what you sow.” This happens because the spiritual law applies to physical actions.  God even tells us to test out this law and see if he doesn’t bless you. [v]

One of the Ten Commandments comes with a physical promise.  “Respect you father and mother – God, your God, commands it! You’ll have a long life; the land that God is giving you will treat you well.”[vi]

How can you attribute long life to obeying your parents?  I know what you’re thinking, “You didn’t know my parents.  If we disobeyed, they’d kill us.”  Perhaps, but the principle addressed here is a spiritual blessing that affects a physical property.

Even the simple act of blessing and curses can have a profound physical impact on people.  They are sounds uttered that can physically encourage or destroy even those that did not even hear the blessing. 

Isaac and Jacob are remembered for their faith, not because of some act they performed, but because they spoke spiritual words of blessing over their kids believing that generations later, those words would be true.  The surprising thing is that they did come true.

I love how the Message version reads in Hebrews 11:20 and 21, “By an act of faith, Isaac reached into the future as he blessed Jacob and Esau. By an act of faith, Jacob on his deathbed blessed each of Joseph’s sons in turn, blessing them with God’s blessing, not his own–as he bowed worshipfully upon his staff.”

They reached into the future in their blessing.  Words get their power because they are so closely tied to the spiritual world.  In fact, every word you utter is recorded in the spiritual world by God and you will be held accountable.[vii]

Words are what we use to communicate with the spiritual world.  The function of words operates on sound waves, but it’s not the sound that causes communication; it is the understanding.

Our prayers offered to the Lord are done upon the wings of words.  It’s the transport system that God established to reach into the spiritual world and communicate with the creator of the universe. 

Jesus tells us that we are not to live only on physical matter (bread) but on spiritual food (Words of God)[viii]

In our world, words don’t mean what they used to mean. Once upon a time, a man’s word was his bond.  Today, you need 300 page contracts with signatures and initials on every page in order to carry out a transaction.  On top of that you have fine print, hidden clauses, and addendums.  The words used are only legible to a select group of individuals called lawyers.

But in God’s eyes, the testimony of two or three witnesses establishes a matter.[ix]  Words still mean things with God.  They are so valuable, in fact, that He sent the portion of the Godhead known as the “Word” to our world in the form of Jesus.

Think about that.  Jesus is the Word of God.  Everything God has uttered is wrapped up in this part of God.  How awesome is that?

Think of Jesus as the verbal contract of God with man.  When Jesus succeeded in his earthly journey and climaxed it on the cross, God was essentially signing His verbal contract with man in the blood of His Son.  It cannot get any more powerful than that.

So what do I mean when I say, blending the physical and spiritual?

To better explain this, I am going to use the illustration of the electromagnetic spectrum.  Simply put this is the field of energy in the universe that gives us light in its various forms. The only real difference between the different types of energy in the electromagnetic spectrum is the wave length. 

If I have lost you, let’s try it this way.  Visible light is the light you see made up of the colors of the rainbow – violet through red.  What you can’t see in the light spectrum is everything to the left of violet where the waves get further apart (i.e. ultra-violet, X-rays, Gamma Rays) and everything to the right of red where the waves get closer together (i.e. infrared, radar, FM Radio waves, Television waves, shortwave, AM radio waves, etc.)  Although all these items exist in the same electromagnetic spectrum, you can’t see them.  You can only see a very small portion of the whole spectrum – namely visible light.

You can only see the influence of an AM radio by capturing the electromagnetic waves using a tool called a radio.  This gadget is specifically designed to capture and send waves of energy through the electromagnetic spectrum. These waves are all around you everywhere you go, but you can’t see them until you turn on your radio.

In a similar way, our physical universe is actually part of a larger spiritual universe.  We can’t see into the rest of the spiritual universe without some sort of tool – i.e. prayer, the bible, etc. 

Man is drawn to this spiritual universe because man is part spiritual creature as much as he is a physical creation.  Since man decided to walk away from God, he has tried every sort of tool to contact the spiritual world.  Witchcraft, horoscopes, astral projection, Hinduism, etc. are all created by man to reach into the spiritual world and somehow grasp this larger universe.  The sad truth is that it accomplishes that feat.  However, the contact with the spiritual world is not controlled by God, but by every evil force that resides in the spiritual world. 

God never forbid us to contact the spiritual world, He just said, “There is only one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.”[x]  God provided us with two basic tools to communicate with the spiritual world – the Bible and prayer through Jesus.  The person we are to contact in the spiritual world is specifically defined, “You shall have no other God before me”[xi]

In fact, God encourages us to spend as much time as possible in contact with the spiritual world.  He tells us to be filled with the Spirit of God.[xii] We need to fast and pray and spend time in the Word.  We need to devote ourselves to God wholeheartedly.

The spiritual and physical worlds are interconnected and God designed it that way. 

Have you ever wondered why God sent Jesus into this world to die for our sins?  Couldn’t God have just rewritten the contract in heaven and be done with it?  If sin is a spiritual matter, couldn’t it have been taken care of in the spiritual world alone?

The short answer is, “No.”

There were spiritual laws and penalties to sin that had to be accounted for.  God doesn’t “cook the books”.  He doesn’t make accounting errors.  Everything must be addressed.  Every dime must be accounted for.  The wage for sin is death.[xiii]

Hebrews 9:22 tells us that without the shedding of blood, there is no freedom from sin.  A price must be paid and it couldn’t happen in the spiritual world because God can’t die.

How then do you overcome this dilemma?  How does a God that can’t die, die?

That’s where the physical world comes in.  If God could totally take on the elements that would confine him to the physical universe he could tie himself to humanity by making himself human – fully man.  If this can be accomplished, then He could die.  But how do you do this?

God had a plan from the beginning to come into this world in such a way that the sin in this world would not corrupt Him and in a way that would make sure that He was fully man and therefore able to die.

 


[i] 2 Corinthians 12:3,4

[ii] Romans 3:23

[iii] Genesis 2:17

[iv] Galatians 6:7

[v] Malachi 3:10

[vi] Deuteronomy 5:16 (MSG)

[vii] Matthew 12:36

[viii] Matthew 4:4

[ix] Matthew 18:16

[x] 1 Timothy 2:5

[xi] Deuteronomy 5:7

[xii] Ephesians 5:18

[xiii] Romans 6:23

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The Immanuel Project: Chapter 3 The Ultimate Sacrifice

Posted by undergroundchurch on June 16, 2009


Click Here for Chapter 2

Chapter 3: The Ultimate Sacrifice – Challenging what you thought you knew

The concept of the previous chapter proves challenging for me to understand completely.  I find myself revisiting it and discovering a little more each time.  In the midst of one of those visits, I stumbled upon something that shocked me.  And when I saw it, my heart clung to God all the more knowing that His sacrifice held more significance and value than I could ever imagine.   

Quick quiz – what was the sacrifice God made for our sin?  If you answered Jesus’ death on the cross you would be agreeing with every true believer.  Our payment was made when the Messiah/Savior died.  His death fulfilled so many prophecies and types and has been venerated throughout scripture.  But one day I asked some tough questions that I have never heard asked, “If Jesus died, rose and went back to heaven, where is the sacrifice?  What is the cost?  What did He lose if everything is as it was before He came to earth in the manger? Isn’t a sacrifice supposed to cost something?”

Every sacrifice that you read about in the Bible meant that the one sacrificing would not regain the sacrificed object. It was lost forever.  It could have been burnt up with fire or in the belly of some priest that just ate it, but it was gone.  Sacrifice by definition means you lose it.

With that in mind, how do you explain Jesus’ sacrifice?  If you think that Jesus set aside robes of deity, put on robes of man, walked the earth 33 years, died, rose again and went back to heaven as he was before He came, then the sacrifice was more of a rental than a purchase.  No harm, no foul as they would say.  But I ask, “Is that what happened?”

To put Jesus’ sacrifice in perspective, one must first understand what Jesus was sacrificing.

We already know that God can’t die.  So how did Jesus die if He can’t die?  I know that the simple response is, “He died physically but spiritually he didn’t die.”  That may be a nice, simple answer, but then I go back to my initial question, “Where is the sacrifice?”  That human body was only temporary.  Death was only for a moment.  How did God’s sacrifice cost Him?

It was while pondering this that I felt the Lord illuminate some scripture for me.  It comes from a little passage in 1 John 3:2, “We shall be like Him”.  I’ve read that scripture many times, but never really understood it until that day.  This scripture opens up a huge mystery – what is his present condition that defines “how” we shall be like Him?  In order to find out what we will be like, we need to know what He is like.

If you say that Jesus is as He was before the incarnation, then you can translate this to mean we will be gods, spirit beings.  But I believe scripture argues against that point.  In fact, the Bible actually describes for us what he is like right now; we just have to put the pieces together.

After the resurrection, Jesus describes Himself like this, “See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; handle Me and see, for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have.”[i]

Jesus tells us after His resurrection that he wasn’t “spirit” but that He was “flesh and bone”.  Remember Thomas?  When Jesus appeared before him, He held out his hands and showed him His side to show Thomas the scars.[ii] Years later John the apostle, while writing about his Revelation of Jesus, describes seeing Jesus in heaven and that He looked like “a lamb that had been slaughtered”.[iii] 

I believe the Bible is showing us that Jesus is still bearing the scars that He took on the cross for our sins.  If He existed in the same form He was in before the incarnation, then Jesus would not be bearing any scars.  He would be Spirit – better known as “the Word”.[iv]  Somehow, Jesus’ actual form altered so that physical traits from this world passed on to His spiritual body. 

God’s form as a whole was altered when Jesus came to earth.  Until that point, Jesus was so much a part of the Godhead that there was virtually no way to distinguish the “Son” from the “Father” because in order to be the “Son” Jesus had to be born.  To illustrate this further, Matthew tells us that when Mary asks how she is going to have a child because she was a virgin, the angel told her that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and the power of the Most High would overshadow her[v].  In essence, the Holy Spirit and the Father are present for the inception of Jesus into the womb, yet only the Father is called “Father”.  My point is that it is impossible to tell where the Father stops and the Holy Spirit begins.  Prior to Jesus’ incarnation, we could never tell where either of them started or stopped.  God said that He is one God[E1] .  That singular nature seemingly conflicts with our understanding of plural reality of God.  Yet we must understand Him as being one God.

We [E2] know from the first chapter of John that Jesus has always been.  John uses an interesting name for Jesus prior to the incarnation – “The Word”.[vi]  I have always been fascinated by this name.  What does it mean, and why does John use it?

I must preface my explanation by saying that we only know about God through what He wrote about Himself.  Because the Bible only has a few thousand pages and doesn’t spend all of its time describing God, we know very little.  I believe, as John did, that if you were to begin writing down everything about God, the whole earth couldn’t contain the pages that would be needed.[vii]

Genesis 1:1-3 show the three person Godhead functioning as a unit.  “In the beginning, God created…”  This shows that God is creator – Yet we discover from John’s gospel that Jesus created everything.  How can this be? And where was the Father and Spirit?

Not every mentioning of “God” in the Old Testament was referring only to the Father nor only to the Son.  Sometimes it was a combined mentioning.  In fact, one of the most used words for God in the Hebrew is “Elohim” which is a plural form of God.

I remember when in Israel a few years back, we traveled to the shrine of the Dead Sea scrolls.  The Book of Isaiah is sprawled out across the wall in that building. We had our Jewish guide translate Isaiah from the scroll out loud.  He would actually say, “Gods” when he came to the word “Elohim”.  What I find most interesting about this phenomenon is that the key verse in the Bible for the Jew is Deuteronomy 6:4; it is known as the shema, and it states, “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.” 

This scripture is called the shema and is the central passage for the Jew, and in reality, all of us.  But the question remains, why does God say He is “one” in this passage and still He uses a plural when referring to his own self elsewhere?

Even Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God…” is plural.  It could rightly be translated, “In the beginning Gods…”

Maybe a better way of translating the shema is the way in which many Hebrew teachers have translated it.  “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God – The Lord alone[E3] .”  This is perhaps a more literal translation and would explain better to us that it is more important that there is no other god than that God is “one” in the literal sense that would confine Him to human understanding of one body, one spirit, one personality, one persona, etc.

Jesus states in one of His dissertations, “I and the Father are one”[viii]  Based on Deuteronomy 6:4, you really have two ways to go from this scripture, either Jesus and the Father are the same literally, or they are one in spirit, deity, purpose, unity, but separate in form. 

There are honest Christians out there that teach the Jesus is the Father.  I can understand the difficulty in reconciling in our minds a concept of oneness and separateness in the same person.  Our culture actually sees that trait as a flaw.  We give medicine to people with split personalities that show these same characteristics. 

There are many issues you have to overcome in scripture though if you want to hold to the belief that Jesus is the Father and there is no other.  First, and most blatant, He prayed to Himself all the time.[ix]

Second, there are scenes in the Bible where you see more than one of the God head in one place at a time.  At Jesus baptism, Jesus is in the water, the Father speaks from heaven and the Spirit descends upon him.[x]

There are many more, but I found one that takes the cake. When God gets ready to create man, He has, what can only be described as, a conversation with Himself.  He says, “Let Us make man in Our image.”  Who is “Us” and “Our”?  Is it God and the angels? 

I hope not.  Heavenly angels are described in almost terrifying terms.  Some have four faces, four arms and four wings, others have six wings.  We see angels on earth looking like man because they took on a messenger form. I suppose this was done so as not to frighten man. But when we see them described in their heavenly form, it isn’t anything like man.

I submit that God is talking about His plural unity.  We have labeled this with another word not found in Scripture – Trinity.  But the result is the same. 

By the time God fashions man from the dirt, He has already revealed himself using the plural term “Gods” found in the Hebrew word Elohim and that God created everything by speaking it into existence.  That word He utters later becomes Jesus the man as described in John 1 as the “Word becoming flesh”.  In addition to all of that, we see the Spirit of God hovering over the water.[xi] So in the end we see Father, Son and Spirit all present, all working in the creation.

For God to say, “Us” and “Our”, He is just continuing the revelation that there is more to God than man can understand. He is plural, and He is singular.  But one thing is for sure; there is no other God like Him.  So you can definitely say, “He is the Lord alone.”

I said all that to say this, God does not change – in essence.  However, there is substantial evidence to suggest that though He is “immutable”, He did transform His likeness for man’s sake.

This transformation began as a promise.  There are many prophetic utterances in the Scriptures indicating that a savior would come from God, some elude more to the concept than the method such as the one in Genesis 3 where God promises to Eve and warns Satan that though Satan would strike at Eve’s “seed’s” heal, Eve’s Seed would crush Satan’s head.  This would be an instance where the concept is present, but how God intends to do it is a mystery.

However, there are some very poignant prophetic moments that reveal the method in which God will fulfill His promise to man.  It is in these scriptures, that we find some incredible revelations concerning the depths God is willing to go to in order to save man.

We too often think of the price paid for our sins as being our sacrifice.  I understand how this can be somewhat confusing, but the sacrifice was not ours, it was God’s.  The sacrifice was made in our place because we couldn’t provide the adequate sacrifice to make the necessary payment for our sin.

The price that was paid by Jesus dying on the cross was the price of our sin.  That event was the atoning payment for our sin.  By definition, a payment costs someone something; however, the payment did not cost us anything.  So I ask; who paid the price?  Of course the answer is Jesus.  But I return to my original question.  If Jesus price was to come to earth, live as a man, die, return to heaven, where is the sacrifice? 

Isaiah reveals to us the key element that truly defines the immensity of Jesus sacrifice. “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (this word means “God with Us”)”[xii]

There is a fancy word we use to describe this event, “The Incarnation”.  Literally this word means “in flesh”.  God placed the fullness of the deity of the Word into human flesh.[xiii]  This act translated God from spirit form to flesh form.  He took off robes of immortality, omnipresence and even, for a time, omniscience and became a full participant in His creation.

Jesus went through everything we go through in life – wet diapers, potty training, skinned knees, crawling, learning to walk, the list goes on.  The bible says that he grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men.[xiv]  Jesus experienced everything in life that we experience.  This happened because he was fully man and totally susceptible to the laws of this world.  He had to eat, sleep and drink.  At any moment a runaway cart could run Him over and he would be dead (if it were His time) because he was 100% physical in nature.

He totally gave up his divine form for a form that limited him.  In fact, at one point he tells the disciples that if He doesn’t leave, He can’t send the Holy Spirit could dwell in each one of them.[xv] In His earthly form, he could only be in one spot at a time, in the Spirit form, God could be in each of them. 

So what could the sacrifice possibly be?  Is it that God changed clothes?  It is that Jesus died? 

To being, just the thought of God dying causes a stirring of impossible thoughts in me.  It is almost an oxymoron to say “God can die”.  But the truth be told, that is exactly what happened.  And the impact of that death still affects Him today.

Jesus sacrifice started in the cradle.  It was on that day that God, the Word, the Son, took off divine robes and put on human flesh.  The kicker is that this was a one way trip.  He would either live forever in that form, or He would die in that form and continue on into eternity in that form.

The sacrifice is found in the fact that God altered His very being so that He could spend a few years with His creation in order to provide a way for Him to spend eternity with His creation.

The sacrifice is an eternal sacrifice.  The cross merely sealed it for Him and for us, but the incarnation was the real sacrifice for God.  God became man and dwelt among us.

When Jesus rises from the dead, He is seen in human form. Thomas recognizes Him by the scars in His hands, feet and side, John in Revelation sees the scars and describes Him as a “lamb that had been slaughtered”.  You never again see Jesus as He was before the incarnation. Never again is He just the “Word”.  He is flesh; He is bone; He is the Son. 

 


[i] Luke 24:39

[ii] John 20:27

[iii] Revelation 13:8

[iv] John 1:1

[v] Matthew 1:35-37

[vi] John 1:1

[vii] John 21:25

[viii] John 10:30

[ix] Matthew 26:36 et al

[x] Luke 3:21

[xi] Genesis 1:1-3

[xii] Isaiah 7:14

[xiii] John 1 and Philippians 2

[xiv] Luke 2:40,52

[xv] John 16:6-8


 [E1]Reference

 [E2]The Word

 [E3]Reference

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The Immanuel Project: Chapter 2 God with Us

Posted by undergroundchurch on June 15, 2009


Click here for Chapter 1 part 3

Chapter 2: The Immanuel Project – God with us

“So the Master is going to give you a sign anyway. Watch for this: A girl who is presently a virgin will get pregnant. She’ll bear a son and name him Immanuel (God-With-Us).”[i]

What a strange way for God to interface with our universe.  He chose to start from the beginning. He chose to come as a baby.  He chose to be born as a man.  He could have come in like Adam – fully formed with good looks, the breath of God poured into him and no belly button.  But He decided to come in low and quiet, and if it weren’t for a crowd of noisy angels in the heavens that couldn’t contain themselves any longer, no one would have noticed. 

Well there were those Magi following a star.  You know, people have tried to identify that star for years, but that star might not have been a real star.  It might have been the twinkle in God’s eye.  The wise men saw the twinkle because they were looking for it. – Wise men still seek Him.

However, as important as this event, the incarnation is not where the Immanuel project began.  The[e1]  project’s plan began in Genesis 1:26 when God said to Himself “Let us make man in our own image.” (Just a side note; God set the precedent on talking to one’s own self, so don’t think it strange when I do it. I’m just imitating my creator.)

The most inspiring component to the passage above lies in what God doesn’t say.  He never mentions anything else created in His image like the baboon, the tree, the squirrel or the whale.  He only says it about man.

He set, as it were, a mark on man – His own image.  So that man would always see in Himself a reflection – the fingerprint of God.  By making us in His image, God signs His creation with all the joy and pride that only God could have. 

If you will pardon my simple illustration, it is like an artist that signs a painting in the lower right-hand corner.  He, in essence, puts his stamp on it that says, “This is my work.”  The signature then becomes part of the art work.  I especially like one painting in the Gettysburg battlefield museum.  The painter painted a huge cyclorama of the Pickett’s Charge.  In the middle of the painting, he painted himself leaning up against a tree smoking a pipe.  Like the Gettysburg painting, God put His image in us, not just His signature.  God may not be smoking a pipe against the hardwood in your life, but He did put His image in you.

However, God didn’t stop with a signature.  He took the painting home.  The first time we see man, we see God. – God placed him in the garden. God brought to man all of the animals searching for a help-mate. When none could be found that would adequately meet that need, God performed the first surgery on man taking everything that he needed from him to make woman. 

I know people think God took a rib from Adam and made woman.  Actually, the phrase there could be translated “out of the side”.[ii]  When Adam awakens in a couple verses, he notices that he changed because he says, “this is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh”.  God took something from Adam physically and emotionally and placed it in the woman.  This is the driving force behind marriage.  When man and woman come together in the marriage act, the two pieces God separated come together and become one flesh. 

Let me pose a question for you to ponder.  What did God look like to Adam?  I mean, was God just a voice from the sky, and impression in his heart, a noise in the trees?  Or, dare I say it, did God physically present himself to Adam and just simply talk face to face with him? 

It’s hard to put a dramatic pause in a book, but if I could, I would place it right about here.  That is because the bible does tell us how God presented Himself to Adam.

We don’t see it until after Adam and Eve sinned, but we can only assume that God did it daily.  The picture is priceless and tells quite a bit about God’s character, love and passion.

I must call your attention to Genesis 3:8, probably one of the most incredible scenes in the bible.  “And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day…”

Where else in man’s history do you find the creator of the universe in His entire splendor walking in a garden?  And what is he doing there? 

I am sure that this was not the first time that God strolled through His creation. I’ll even go so far as to say that I believe God probably habitually walked in that garden.  And I am sure many of the walks He experienced with Adam and Eve.  In this moment, we find God’s basic desire. He was there because He desired to be with man.  He created man to be with man. 

Indulge me while I lay down the scenario in my paraphrased manner. Six o’clock PM and Adam and Eve just defiantly ate a late afternoon snack at the bidding of a soon-to-be legless reptile.  Failing to look at his Blackberry®, Adam forgot his appointment with his Creator to meet him in the garden for their late day stroll.  Every day, Adam had looked forward to this time.  He loved to walk side-by-side with His first love.  Nothing stood between them and they could, and probably did, talk about anything. 

But now darkness encompassed Adam’s soul.  He had forsaken his first love for a new path – one that led him to death and total separation.  How could he face his maker now?  He had failed.  Now this dark cold penetrated so deep. The shame felt so overpowering, that he sought anything to cover his body, his soul, his heart.  He frantically ripped leaves from a tree and hid himself in the bush.

God, knowing what just happed, walked nearby to ask Adam, “Where are you?”

This isn’t because God was unaware of Adam’s location.  God said this because Adam lost his way and became unaware of his location when he sinned against his creator and friend. 

The question God utters, “Adam, where are you?” opens a small portal into the nature of God.  In it, we see God reaching out first.  God always makes the first move, especially when we are frozen solid in our fear, guilt and shame.  Paul tells us later, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”[iii]

Real love doesn’t respond to situations, but proactively pursues people in their situations.  It’s easy to feel empathy when someone hurts, but God’s love differs.  He wants to be with man so bad that He chases after him.  Man’s sin caused a barrier that would cost God dearly to overcome.  That cost was completely paid by Him, not us.  We think of ourselves to highly when we say things like, “I found Jesus”.  We don’t find Jesus, He finds us.  We hide off in the woods with poorly assembled leaves for garments.  God must find us because of our lostness.

Adam didn’t get up from his sinful spot and chase after God, “God here I am!  I ate the fruit like an idiot! I am so sorry!” He did what we all still do when we sin.  He hid.

Second thing I notice in the question God asks is that God is asking a question.  Yes, I know that is obvious and somewhat redundant, but think about this.  The all-knowing God asks a question.  Why would God ask the question for which He already knows the answer?  Is he testing Adam?  Is He ignoring the problem?

It reveals God uses love as the weapon of choice.  He could have come at Adam in His holiness and blasted him off the face of the earth.  But God chose to come at Adam in love knowing full well that His holiness would still need to be satisfied.  God did this for Adam’s sake.  Adam discovered God’s love in the way God approached Him after the sin.  This made Adam want to build His relationship with his creator. 

Who wants to serve and angry God?  I know that there are religions out there that preach the anger of God before the love of God.  But God’s love existed first.  This component protects us from the fury of His wrath and allows us to return to Him.  God gave Adam a choice to obey at the tree.  He gave Adam the freedom to receive and return God’s love after He sinned.  What an amazing God!

In addition to all of this, we get a sense that God asked the question more than once.  When Adam finally responds, he tells God that he heard His voice and hid.  That means that Adam heard God walking around probably in some manner that indicated that He didn’t really know Adam’s location.  God probably looked around the big tree in the corner and then went to the big rock in the middle.  He did this until either he found Adam or Adam couldn’t take it anymore and came out of hiding.

You are probably saying right now, “This writer has gone loco”.  I would agree with you normally, but I believe God made a habit of doing this, and that it happened more than once. I’m going to call God’s approach the self-discovery technique.  It is a highly effective way of getting someone to recognize their own demise[e2] .

One example that immediately comes to mind is the picture in Revelation 3:20, “Behold I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him and he with me.” (KJV)

This verse is actually Jesus talking.  He says that He is knocking, but to listen to His voice. 

Have you ever had someone come up to your door and just start knocking incessantly?  In fact, they not only relentlessly knock, but they yell out – “Hey Jeff, you home!  Answer the door!”

Usually if someone knocks, I get up slowly and take my time answering the door.  If they knock repeatedly, I say something like, “Yeah, yeah, I’m coming, hold your horses”. But if they knock repeatedly and yell through the door, I almost run to the door.  They tend to get my attention.

In this verse, Jesus is ceaselessly knocking at the door hoping desperately that someone will answer it.  He wants to come in and dine with the person at home.  One of the reasons that He is so passionate is because the door He refers to is the door of the church, His body, and not the door of the world.  Jesus could barge in, but He leaves it up to the home owner to let Him in.

That’s the self-discovery technique I see God using in the garden.  He’s lifting bushes, searching around trees, looking under rocks… it’s like He somehow knows that something is wrong with Adam, and He needs to find him quickly.  And like the Revelation door-knocking episode, God is chasing after someone that was saved and has now sinned.

God is always chasing after sinners.  If this were a movie, it would be sad.  The hero in this movie is a rescuer that can save the lives of millions of drowning people.  His technique is to dive into the water with a life preserver and swim up to the victim and ask them to put on the vest.  The struggling victim says that they can make it on their own despite the fact that they are hundreds of miles from land.

Looking back to Adam and Eve, the same sad tragedy plays out after their fall as the discourse between them and God leads to blame, avoidance, curses, punishment and banishment.

Adam blames Eve, Eve blames the serpent, the serpent is cursed as is the lowly couple where they are finally banished from the garden prepared by God for them.

However, encoded in this unfortunate event we find a single sentence that sets in motion events that would take 4000 years to come to fulfillment[e3] . 

God says, “I will put hostility between you (the serpent, a.k.a Satan) and the woman, between your seed and her seed (offspring) and he shall break your head and you will break his heel.”[iv]

If we look beneath the prophecy in this verse that shows the Messiah would one day destroy Satan, we see God leading the charge.  The sentence starts off “I will put”.  God is going to get back that which was stolen.  God is going to redeem where no one else can.  God is going to win where there seems to be no hope. God is going to vanquish the universe of sin no matter the price, no matter the time, no matter the depravity of man.

My favorite portion of the Bible is the first 10 chapters of Genesis.  In it you will find everything you need to live a victorious Christian life and you will find all the teachings of the New Testament veiled within its verses.  This story of the fall of man is no exception and shows us the roots of several biblical themes – sin, pride, selfishness, evil, lying, corruption, etc.  But there is a greater purpose to the events that took place that fateful day.  This is the story of Love.

Love?” you ask. “How in the world can the most dreadful day in human history be a story about love?”

You have to understand what love is to truly grasp the power of this moment. Love is not a feeling, thought, emotion or any of the butterflies that flutter in the tummy. Love comes from one individual to another through some act that reveals the love element. To do this, one must make a conscious effort to show love. Love requires a choice not to love in order to be love.  Until the day God planted the tree in the midst of the garden and set the rule that said, “Do not eat”,[v] there was no opportunity for Adam to demonstrate his love for God.  He could not compare the options to love God or not love God unless he had an option to choose not to love God[e4] .

Every time love is demonstrated, a choice is made.  Husbands, you chose to love your wife every time you do the dishes.  The alternative would be to avoid the dishes at all cost.  But when you fight your desire to please yourself by sitting in front of the boob-tube and decide to bless your wife instead, you have shown love.

Wives, in the same way, when you show interest in the things your husband enjoys, not because you especially like NASCAR, golf or cars, but because you want to be “with” him no matter where he is just because he is the one you love, you show love. 

“Hold on.” I hear you say, “I can’t do those things, I don’t like them.  They don’t interest me.”

That is precisely why you should do them.  Wives wouldn’t you be surprised if one day your husband told you, “Honey, here’s $500.  Go shopping.  I’ll clean the house top to bottom for you.”

Husbands, wouldn’t you love for your wife to call you at work one day and say those three magic words we all want to hear, “Let’s go golfing!”

The number one rule in making friends is showing interest in the other person.  Why do we have such a hard time when it comes to the person we said “I do” to

For Adam the rules were simple.  All he had to do was stay away from the tree.  I look back on that day and say (in my best Monday morning quarterback voice), “If I had been Adam, I’d have taken the sharpest rock, tied it to a stick and started chopping that tree down.”  But he didn’t. 

What I find really interesting about this story lies in where God placed the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  God planted it smack in the middle of the garden.

In our human reasoning, we would expect that if God really loved Adam and, He should place the tree somewhere where it would be easy to avoid.  Why couldn’t he put it in the corner of the garden next to the persimmon tree?  Adam surely would have never gone over to the persimmon tree – yuck!

But God never asked a “rational human’s” opinion, so He placed that tree right where Adam was going to be every day, right in the middle of the garden next to the Tree of Life. That tree was the one the tree Adam and Eve had to eat from of every day. [vi] In this we see plainly the test for Adam.  God says, “If you love me, you will obey me.” [vii]

Have you ever noticed sometimes that the things we need to avoid exist right next to the things that we need. 

Let me tell you a little about myself now that you’ve been with me for a chapter and a half.  I pastor a church and I work for a large pharmaceutical company as a computer systems specialist.  I spend a lot of time on computers.  Much of what I do for both the church and work require me to browse the World Wide Web (a.k.a the internet).  I need many of the resources that exist on the internet – Music, studies, system information, training, application code, etc.  But I am constantly on guard because I know that if I type in the wrong search words, I could be pummeled with porn or my computer could be destroyed by viruses.  I must avoid that tree of the knowledge of good and evil every day.

You could say the same about anything – TV, billboards, magazines, movies, the Super Bowl.  Nothing seems to be safe.  The temptations are everywhere.  The question is, do we have enough love for God to avoid that which displeases Him, or do we rationalize our wayward moments like Adam and Eve thinking that God is holding back from us and doesn’t want us to have fun.

God wants our love to be freely given by us to Him.  He sets rules and boundaries for two reasons: 1) Our own good so that we are protected and safe. 2) to allow us to demonstrate how much we truly love him.

But don’t think for a moment that God puts all the responsibility on us.  Love works both ways, and God’s love always flows first.  God’s love is proved in that He loved man enough to give man a choice to love Him back.  In so doing, God opened Himself up to rejection.  True love takes risks.  God laid it all on the line knowing the end from the beginning.  Yet, even though He knew the outcome, He didn’t falter on demonstrating his love to us[e5] . 

First, He showed love by giving us a choice to love Him in return.  Second, He showed love through reaching out to us after we rejected His first offer to love Him willingly.  This second form of love shows the relentless nature of God’s passion for man.

If we knew that someone was going to betray us, could we go out of our way to show love to them knowing full well that they would soon hurt us? 

God only got to experience love from man in its purest form for a few days, maybe weeks before man blew the whole thing.  Once this happened, man could never again walk with God in the garden.  If man simply looked upon God, it would cause instant death to the onlooker. 

God had to drive Adam and Eve from the garden, and worst, from His physical presence.  From that day on, only prayers, offerings, worship and other forms of long distance messages could be sent to God.  No longer could he walk side-by-side with God physically speaking. 

Man wasn’t satisfied to be made in God’s “likeness”; he desired to be “like”[viii] God by his own means and that trumped God’s “ability” to be with man.  However, man could do nothing that would trump God’s passionate “desire” to be with man.  Nevertheless, the Immanuel factor (God-With-Us) had to be placed on hold, but it would never go away.

 


[i] Isaiah 7:14 (MSG)

[ii] Genesis 2:1

[iii] Romans 5:8; See 1 John 4:19

[iv] Genesis 3:15

[v] Genesis 2:17

[vi] Genesis 3:22 (Note that this is the reason God banishes them from the garden)

[vii] Exodus 20:6, John 14:15, 23, 24, 15:10, 1 John 5:3

[viii] Genesis 3:5


 [e1]The incarnation began in the garden of Eden

 

 [e2]Jesus at the door

 

 [e3]Prophecy of the Messiah

 [e4]Love is a choice

 [e5]God demonstrates love

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The Immanuel Project – Chapter 1 (Part 3)

Posted by undergroundchurch on June 14, 2009


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Chapter 1: Confining the Infinite (Part 3)

The third death experience occurs to those that are cast into the lake of fire (ghenna).  They will suffer the “second death”[i] (as John calls it).  What makes this death so bad is not the lake itself, though you would think that would be enough.  The worst part of hell lies in the fact that God does not exist in hell.  God’s omnipresence stops at the gates of ghenna.

Even Hades, the place Jesus described in His story of Lazarus and the rich man[ii], had godly people within earshot.  The rich man suffering in torment saw and spoke with Abraham across the great canyon that divided them.  What torture that must have been.  The rich man agonized so much that of all the things he could ask for, he asked for one drop of water to cool his tongue.

Hades tortured people because they would always crave and never be satisfied.  You would be tormented in ways man can’t even dream up.  Have you ever wanted something so bad that you would do anything to get it, but you can’t? It just burns you up inside.  You crave it, but you can’t have it.  Hades exhibits that a trillion times over.  When you die without Christ, you go to Hades until the end after Christ rules and reigns for 1000 years.  At that time, he will cast the occupants of Hades into a place known as ghenna or the “Lake of Fire”.  . 

In ghenna or Hell, you will not see Abraham.  You will not see light.  And most importantly, it will not have even the hint of God’s presence.  The second death is total and complete separation from God for eternity in a lake of fire with the antichrist, Satan, unrepentant humans, demons and fallen angels suffering with you.[iii]  Paradise does not exist across the way; saintly conversations cannot be heard in the background.  The only sounds emanating from ghenna come from the endless wailing and gnashing of teeth of those suffering.[iv]

Jesus experienced this second death briefly while hanging on the cross. God turned His back on Him because of the sin of the world that he was bearing.  The only complaint Jesus utters on the cross is “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?”[v] He experienced something that for eternity had not taken place.  He felt God’s presence leave him while He took on the sin of the world.  God the Father, for the first time, took His loving eyes off his “One and Only Son”.  Don’t think this was any small matter. Jesus experienced the second death in our stead when His Father forsook Him on the Cross.

We must understand that the wages of our sin is death – total separation from God.  The price must be paid by everyone.  No exemptions or immunity exists from the price tag.  Unfortunately, when you purchase something that cost you your life, you won’t get the opportunity to enjoy it.  The reason lies in the fact that your death does not purchase eternal life; your death repays a debt[e1] . 

God created mankind with eternal life before Adam sinned.  The sin committed caused man to drop below “perfection”.  We don’t have enough in our life’s bank account to repay that debt even with our whole life.  Therefore, we need to have someone with a bigger checkbook, so to speak, in order to pay the price we can’t pay to obtain eternal life. 

The price tag for our sin only takes into consideration our debt to sin, not our eternal life.  Only God could pay both the debt to sin and give us to ability to regain the eternal life that was lost.  That part required God’s forgiveness.

Let me summarize that point this way.  The payment for sin is your death (separation from God.)  Everyone is required to pay that debt.  However, repayment of the debt does not allow us to regain what we lost.  It only repays a debt leaving us with nothing. 

God’s grace and forgiveness makes us regain our lost lives.  Millions upon countless millions will one day repay the debt to sin; even Satan is paying that debt.  But it doesn’t regain citizenship.  God returns citizenship to us through receiving something we don’t deserve.  God calls this “grace”.  We receive grace only by accepting grace.  The gift of grace makes it truly unique.  It can’t be bought, borrowed, stolen or earned. Only grace freely given matters, and only grace freely received by faith works. Paul said it this way, “You are saved by grace through faith, and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God so that no one can boast.”[vi]

This fundamental concept provides greater understanding concerning the true depth of despair you and I existed in and the true blessing of grace that we received if we accepted life through Jesus Christ.  God knew you as aliens and foreigners, now He welcomes you as citizens.[vii]  If you accept the work of Jesus, you have both a cleared debt to sin and a name written down in the citizenship records of heaven.

This salvation we have directly results from the very involved process that God went through to restore relationship with man.  God stepped out of time and eternity to encounter man.  He went from infinite to limited.  The robes of deity that he took off were robes of infinite.  The robes of man that He put on were robes of limitations.  Think about the potential impact.  God Almighty, maker of heaven and earth would need to learn how to speak, eat, sit up, crawl and walk.  He wet his diapers, got hungry, cried, skinned his knees, smashed his finger with a hammer and went to school like the rest of us.  He grew up both physically, emotionally, mentally and relationally while he walked with man as the Son of God.  Truly, God desperately sought a relationship with His creation.    

 


[i] Rev 2:11, 20:6, 14 and 21:8

[ii] Luke 16

[iii] Jude 1:6; Revelation 19:20; 20:10, 14,15

[iv] Matthew 8:12; 13:42, 50; 22:13; 25:30

[v] Psalm 22:1, Matthew 27:46

[vi] Ephesians 2:8

[vii] Ephesians 2:19


 [e1]Wages of sin is death

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The Immanuel Project -Chapter 1 (Part 2)

Posted by undergroundchurch on June 13, 2009


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Chapter 1: Confining the Infinite (Part 2)

Time itself, according to Einstein, is a property of our physical universe, and it can be altered by gravitational forces according to his theory of general relativity.  Look at all the physical properties that God created in the first three verses of Genesis chapter one: time – “in the beginning”, space – “God created the heavens”, matter – “and the earth” and energy –“and He said, let there be light”. Do you realize that this same God that lives inside you and created the world needed to create the space in which to place the entire universe?  In the beginning, only God existed.  God created all the physical laws that govern our universe in the first three verses of Genesis, but what happened for eternity before that?  Where did God come from?  The answer is simple; the understanding is not.  He came from nowhere because He has always been.  When God reveals to Moses his name (which is just another way of defining who you are) He uses the most common subject verb expression to denote who he is – “I am”. He is saying, “I am not new; I have always been.” [i]

Now, try to imaging never having a beginning. It goes beyond our human comprehension.  This stumbling block befuddles man because it doesn’t fit within the framework of his understanding.

So whether you want to go with the world and believe that it took billions of years, or you choose to believe God when he says that He did it in six days a few thousand years ago, you still have to wrestle with the infinite – for those of you that believe God took billions of years to “evolve” everything, where did the material come from that caused the “big bang”?  It had to have a beginning.  And if you say that “God created it”, how long did that take?  Couldn’t He just make it all “good” the first time?  If God can create time, He surely could create everything instantly with the appearance of time.

We see this in the creation account recorded in Genesis.  God creates everything with the appearance of time.  God did not create man as a fertilized egg.  He created him as a full grown man.  In the same way God created trees, shrubs, fish, dogs and cats.  Since God created time, He could easily create the appearance of time as seen in the earth and universe.

Faith begins where understanding ends.  And yet, we grow in understanding as our faith increases.  God wants us to lean more on His understanding (faith) and less on our own.[ii]

I wager that most people give up trying to understand the concept of the infinite.  Why?  Human limitations prevent us from grasping it.  This fundamental understanding makes the premise for the book you are reading even more mind-boggling.  Why would an infinite God confine Himself in flesh, and want to dwell among men?

The good news is that God decided to intervene in human history through Jesus Christ.  He took an active role in creation, laying aside robes of deity for robes of mortality.[iii] 

This event, known as the incarnation, broke history in two.  God got involved with His creation.  He walked and talked with His created beings.  He suffered at the hands of the physical laws that He created.  He ate to stay alive, slept to maintain sanity, breathed so as to not faint.  At any time a runaway donkey pulling a cart could run him down while he crossed the street, so He needed to look both ways before He crossed the street just like we teach our kids to do today.

Philippians 2 provides a little insight into the depth which God descended in order to reach out to man.  Verses 6-8 should confound even the wisest of us about Jesus’ role, “who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!” (NIV)

Let’s break this down a bit.  Though He is in His very nature –“God”, he set aside the Godly robes of his infinite existence to put on human robes of limitations.  He did not set aside his deity, just his existence.  His function stayed the same; He could still forgive sins as only God could do[iv]. He still called Himself the “I Am”[v], but His form was forever altered. 

It reminds me of the story of the prince and the pauper.  Both the prince and the pauper looked alike, and so, one day they switched places.  The prince put on peasant’s clothes while the pauper donned royal splendor.  However, try as he might, the prince was still a prince, though he became subject to some of the rules of the villagers.  He was still able to take back his kingdom.

Jesus, in similar fashion, donned mortality disrobing immorality.  He stepped into man’s finite shoes setting aside the infinite.  Jesus himself says this in so many words when he promises the gift of the Holy Spirit.  He told His disciples that it was good for Him to go back to heaven and leave them so that He could send the comforter, the Holy Spirit.  Why?  In his present human form, Jesus could only exist in one place at a time.  The Holy Spirit, in His form, could exist in everyone at one time.[vi] 

He also subjected himself to death.  What does this mean?  To understand what Paul is saying, you first have to understand that there are different meanings to death in the Bible.  First, there is physical death meaning that the flesh will one day fail and you will physically stop breathing and die. Second, there is spiritual death[vii].  Spiritual death is the result of human sin.  When we come into this world as a baby, we are actually born spiritually dead. We are destined for hell right out of the gate.  It takes salvation found in Jesus to breathe the breath of life into our dead spirits so that we might live[e2] .

 


[i] Exodus 3:14

[ii] Genesis 1:1

[iii] Philippians 2:6-11

[iv] Matthew 9:12

[v] John 8:58

[vi] John 16:7-13

[vii] Romans 3:23


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The Immanuel Project – Preface

Posted by undergroundchurch on June 13, 2009


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Preface

Anyone that studies the Bible with any amount of vigor knows about the mystery of the Gospel that Paul talks about so many times in his letters.  But if quizzed, I wonder how many could actually define the true depth of that mystery? 

In writing this book, I don’t claim to understand the full breath of the mystery of God.  That would be too presumptuous for any man.  The mystery I propose to those reading this pertains to the great mystery encompassing our salvation and the price God paid to be with us.  Yes, that’s what I said, “… to be with us”.  You see, the focus of our salvation belongs to God, not us.  If you get nothing else out of this book, understand that your salvation belongs to God! He planned it before man sinned; He manifested it when we did not know how badly we needed it; He purchased it though there was nothing to gain except a bunch of unrighteous created beings; He provided it free of charge to any who accept it.  He owns the ones He’s purchased.  He holds the bragging rights! 

The question “Why?” should exist within every humble and repentant heart.  Why should an infinite (with no beginning or ending), omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all knowing), omnipresent (everywhere) and transcendent (dwelling outside our physical universe) God step into time and space to alter the course of history for a degenerate society of clueless beings? 

So, as you enter into your time of reading, you must set aside yourself and focus completely on the Creator God.  You must ask yourself “Why?”  What I present in this book could potentially lead you into a newer, fresher and deeper relationship with God than you ever dreamed possible.  I want to get you past the “acquaintance” level relationship with God and even past the “friendship” level relationship that many attain to. I want to encourage you to establish a relationship that leads you to know a knowable God in the intimate way that I believe He designed.  Moses, Abraham, Joseph, Enoch, Elijah and Daniel walked in it.  Jesus showed us how we could do it.  Now grab your Bible, your love letter from God, and follow me as we discover a God that wants nothing more than to be with you.

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The Immanuel Project – Chapter 1 (Part 1)

Posted by undergroundchurch on June 12, 2009


Click Here for Preface

Chapter 1: Confining the Infinite (Part 1)

One of the greatest tragedies in reading the Bible, which proclaims to be the Word of God, lies in our human limitations.  A finite being struggles with understanding the unfathomable.  How can man understand God? Or how can we understand even remotely some of His basic characteristics.  We use simple terms like omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence and believe we have defined some aspect of God in a human delineated fashion; however, even though our limited vocabulary contains over two hundred thousand words it can’t even scratch the surface when it comes to describing an infinite God. 

Simply put, mankind cannot understand the eternal nature of God.  God exists in a realm that does not computer to the human brain.  He exists outside of our time dimension. He sees the past and the future in totality.  Nothing ever surprises Him, and no event ever happened that He forgets. God operates in infinite mode.  I like to challenge people with the following thought provoking illustration to demonstrate my point about conceptualizing the infinite.

Most Christians know John 3:16 –

“For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life”

The last part of that verse reads, “… will not perish but have everlasting life”.  Most believers understand that the Christian’s destiny in Christ leads to eternal life… living forever.  What a concept!  Imagine for a moment that you will never cease to exist.  You will breath, live, talk, worship and exist FOREVER!  It sort of blows the mind. 

Now that you took that first step in understanding future aspects of infinity, let us delve a little deeper.  A problem exists in our understanding of a never ending future.  Though you can perhaps discern the notion of an unending future in some simple fashion, we have a limitation.  We use a beginning reference point to carry forward our understanding of eternal things.  You were born.  You started.  You can conceptualize endless things from the starting point.  But when you remove that reference point, what happens?

For just a moment, think about never being created – never having a beginning.  That concept rubs us wrong.  Everything began. This defies the law of cause and effect, which essentially states that every effect in the universe was caused by something else.  Even with Christian understanding, we hit roadblocks to grasping the concept of never beginning. 

Everything we see and know had a start.  The car I drive started as iron ore that someone refined into metal that someone else fashioned into parts that someone else put together.  If you believe in evolutionary theory, you believe that iron ore came from an explosion in space billions of years ago.  The strange part is, I never met an evolutionist yet that explained how matter came from nothing.  All matter in the universe started somewhere, so what existed before matter existed.

If you are a creationist, you can look at the Bible and read the story about Seth.  He had a beginning; the Bible says that he was born to Adam and Eve.  His mother and father’s act caused his existence, but what about Adam and Eve?  Where did they come from?

Adam and Eve were “caused” or created by God’s hand.  Adam was formed from dust and Eve was formed from Adam. Both had a source… a beginning.  For Adam, it was dust, for Eve, it was Adam.  But where did God come from?  Who caused him?

Even some Christians fall victim to the world’s evolutionary idea that it took 13.7 billion years for the universe to evolve into its present form.  But no matter how much time you add to the creation of the universe, you have an “infinite” problem – Where did anything come from?  According to the understanding of cause and effect, you get to a point where you no longer have a starting point.  You get to a point where what you exists with no cause because it always existed.  At this point, you reached God.

To rebel against that probability, some evolutionists state that the universe explodes, evolves, implodes and then starts all over again.  They call this the “Big Bounce” theory.  The previous universe collapsed in on itself and then blew up.[i]  But even it doesn’t explain where that universe’s matter came from.  This looping theory will keep going and going with no beginning in sight because everything exists because of something else causing it to come into being.

The well proven scientific law of cause and effect does not apply to God.  Nothing “caused” Him to exist; He has always been because He exists outside of our physical universe and time domain.  The Bible illustrates this in God’s introduction.  “In the beginning God…”[ii] Nothing existed before him because He existed before time began. 

 


[i] Study performed at Penn State University – http://www.science.psu.edu/alert/Ashtekar5-2006.htm

[ii] Genesis 1:1


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