Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Adam and Eve: God’s Perfect Work Part I

Perfection, Preference, and Problems

I hope to use the part of June to talk about Adam and Eve and their creation. I plan on addressing the issue of “free-will” in these posts about Adam and Eve. I also hope to use June to discuss topics such as when things don’t make sense, and the question do we stop trying in life and fly by autopilot. In addition I would like to get to why we seek praise and recognition. I also want to address the issue of does God change, repent, or regret.

My plans for July will include discussing the topic of prayer. This is a great issue. It is tremendously misunderstood. I also want to discuss why we are to pray in view of the fact that God is sovereign and has determined his will and purpose.

I truly wish I could be like the Apostle Paul who reminded the Ephesian Elders that he had taught them in public and from house to house. I wish I could teach daily in your houses. I have to suffice with this.

First, for the record, I rarely debate anyone on the subject or topic of creation verses evolution. I especially avoid debate with individuals who demonstrate that they are more than likely non-believers. The reason for this is found in Hebrews 11:2 –

By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. (Hebrews 11:2, ESV)

Creation is a faith issue not an intellectual issue. Debating a non-believer about creation is like debating the merits of the hypo-static union. I have found it more profitable to share the gospel as clearly as possible and then pray fervently for the Holy Spirit to perhaps open the heart through life-giving regeneration. Proving that God created the world to a man which doesn’t believe in the God of the bible is like trying to prove the validity of the bible to a non-believer. These things are faith issues that come after a man has been given faith by God through the regenerating power of the gospel. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation, not winning a debate on creation verses evolution.

So, I said that to say that for this and any following posts I am going to begin in Genesis and by faith, I accept the creation account as accurate without an attempt to validate it. If you are reading this post and are you not a believer, it is my prayer that you stop what you are doing right now, fall on your face before God and plead with him to have mercy on you, asking if perhaps he will be gracious to give his life-giving Holy Spirit to you in order to open your heart, regenerating you, thereby giving you both the gift of faith and the desire to repent of your sin against the living God.

Were Adam and Eve “perfect” in every way or only physically? That is an interesting question, one of which I have never been asked. However, I believe it is worth an answer, especially since it helps us explain what “free-will” really is.

First of all, let’s lay some foundation in order to support the framework of this discussion, shall we? God is not a created being – he has existed forever. Now, how long is forever? Well, forever! Yes, forever is forever. Can you wrap your mind around the fact that God has always existed and that he existed alone, apart from anything else for eternity?

As human beings we see everything as having a beginning. Paper began as a tree. You began on a certain day that most people celebrate with joy called your birthday. Your automobile began with steel, rubber, cloth, metal, and mostly plastic. All those items began somewhere as a resource; natural or man-made. We think of everything as having had some type of beginning. God did not; he has existed forever, and ever, and ever, and ever until our mind hurts trying to contemplate how that could possibly be. God had no beginning. God always was. Are you dizzy yet?

Secondly, God existed forever fully self-sufficient, self-contained, and satisfied. Meditate carefully on this statement: “For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.” (John 5:26, ESV)

God is self-sufficient – God is what he is in himself. Whatever God is, and all that God is, God is it in himself. God is self-contained. God had no needs. God did not lack anything. God needed nothing, no not one thing. For all of that forever, for all the time that God existed prior to what we call creation God existed in full sufficiency without having one need.

If God had a need it would mean that God was incomplete in his divine being. God would then be less than perfect. There was a time when God existed apart from anything. He existed with no heaven, no angels, no seraphim, no cherubim, no universe, and no earth. There was nothing but God. This wasn’t for just a day, a week, a month, a year, or a trillion billion, quadrillion years – he existed from everlasting.

Thirdly, God did not need to create heaven, angels, universes, or human beings. When God did choose to create these things they added nothing to God in his essential being. What does Malachi 3:6 say? “For I the LORD do not change, therefore you, O children of Jacob are not consumed.” (Mal 3:6, ESV) God does not grow from any addition nor does he diminish from any subtraction. I hope I don’t burst your bubble, but you nor I add anything to God. There where no deficiencies in God that prompted or coerced God to create anything, including you and me. He could have gone for everlasting without every creating a thing remaining perfectly self-contained, self-sufficient, and self-satisfied.

Fourth, God was under no constraint, necessity, or obligation to create. He maintains a relationship with his creation voluntarily. He chose to create all that he did from a sovereign act on his part. Why did he create? Having established that it wasn’t because he was lonely, had a need, or was bored, I think the answer is simple. Of course the answer comes from the scripture and seeing a consistent theme from Genesis to Revelation.

God created in order to manifest, or to demonstrate, to put on display his glorious character and nature. Meditate carefully on Nehemiah 9:5; “…stand up and bless the LORD your God from everlasting to everlasting. ‘Blessed be your glorious name – watch now, don’t miss it – which is exalted above all blessing and praise.” (Neh 9:5, ESV)

Did you see it? God’s name, which of course name is a representation of God’s character, or all that God is, is exalted above blessing or praise. In other words, God’s character supersedes and transcends even our praise. God does not gain by our praise and worship; we do not add one thing to God, his character, or his glory by praise. So, why does he command our praise and worship? First of all, because He is worthy of praise. Secondly, it is to complete your joy.

Let me share this truth with you that I learned from John Piper. He learned this truth from C. S. Lewis. I really want you to get this. C. S. Lewis describes his insight from his book Reflections on the Psalms.

“But the most obvious fact about praise -- whether of God or anything -- strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honor. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise unless (sometimes even if) shyness or the fear of boring others is deliberately brought in to check it.

The world rings with praise -- lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite game -- praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians and scholars…

My whole, more general difficulty, about the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what indeed we can't help doing, about everything else we value.

I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are, the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. (Reflections on the Psalms, pp. 93-95)

What does Lewis mean? Did you get what he meant? Do you see what he said? He said… We praise what we enjoy because the full enjoyment is not completed until our enjoyment is expressed in praise. If we are not allowed to speak of what we value or enjoy or delight in, our joy would not be full or complete.

Therefore God makes it His aim to win our praise for Himself, Not because there is a weakness or flaw in God and it is not because God is compensating for some kind of deficiency, but God seeks our praise because he loves us and wants your joy to be full or complete. Your joy of God can only be full or complete when you are praising him and exalting him.

So, when God says in Ephesians 1 that He does all things for “…to the praise of His glory.” He is giving you and me the only thing that can satisfy of our all heart, the opportunity to fulfill our joy by praising Him.

Lord willing, until tomorrow.


welcome to my world of poetry said...

Most interesting post Gregg, look forward to what you have planned,

Have a good day.

The Old Geezer said...

Brother Gregg

Amen, and thank you for my morning Bible study.


Gregg said...

Yvonne - thank you!

Ron - thank you. As always,you are too kind.

LibbyLibbyLibbyLibbyLibby said...

I am interested in what you teach as you are very balanced and deep. Thanks for sharing your insights and your labor of studying to not only be fed but to teach.

arlee bird said...

It looks like you have a lot of answers coming up. Today's explanations were clear, though deep and vast--it is a topic that I guess I don't need to understand fully if I just have faith. Yet there is so much I want to know that maybe in this world we are not meant to know.

Like when you state: God created in order to manifest, or to demonstrate, to put on display his glorious character and nature, it makes me wonder that if it were only God existing then to whom would He be demonstrating His character and nature?

Sorry, I know it says that we shouldn't question, but it seems so natural to question and I like to have good answers when a non-believer questions or challenges me.

Good post today.

Tossing It Out

AL said...

God seeks our praise because he loves us and wants your joy to be full or complete. Your joy of God can only be full or complete when you are praising him and exalting him.

Awesome explanation. I've never known how to answer this objection from skeptics. I'm sure none of them would accept this answer, but it makes perfect sense to me.