Creation

Why did God create?

Was He bored, or lonely? Was He incomplete?
None of the above! He is perfect & unchanging.
He created because He is love and wanted to share the joy and wonder that was experienced in the Trinity, between God the Father, God the Son & God the Holy Spirit. It gave Him pleasure to see us so blessed.

What does this imply?
In order to have a relationship with God, these creatures must be like Him, at least in key areas of character. If Man is made in God’s image He must be capable of love, He must have free moral choice. In short, he must be capable of choosing not to receive.

If man chose not to receive that love, what might God have done?
He could have wiped us out, He could have withdrawn and ignored the consequences. He could have forced us back into obedience. Or He could choose to win us back. God is love: 1 Cor 13 tells us about love; It bears all things, it does not insist on its own way. Therefore, whilst God's nature enables Him to do any of these options, His character will be to win us back. What then might be the cost of such a decision to create?

Is it worth it?
At the moment of creation God pauses and considers what it might cost. ‘The Spirit brooded over the waters…’. In the Gospels, Jesus poignantly remembers this discussion in eternity and tells the story of the man building a tower: ‘Who would not first consider the cost and see if they were able to complete…’. Before creation is completed, God weighs the cost. Is it worth it?


Looking at the joy
Hebrews tells us that: ‘For the joy set before him, Jesus endured a cross…’. For the joy of sharing all that they are with their creatures, even in the face of the cost, they commit to it being worth it. For our sake Jesus offers Himself as the Lamb of God, offers to leave the Father and to become a man and endure a cross. The Holy Spirit offers to live in the lives of sinful believers. The Father accepts the potential pain and separation. He will watch, choosing to be powerless as His son dies at the hands of those He loved. For our sake, God determines that if it is necessary, He will pay the price.

And God said ‘Let there be light’

The Consequences

Creation
God had created us to enjoy relationship:

- He gave us free moral choice and real significance
- He gave us the garden as a model for how the whole world could be
- He showed us His ways and taught us how to live
- He helped us understand how the world worked
- He warned us of the consequences of going our own way
- He gave us a job to do and the authority to do it

The Garden
It began in a garden, a paradise in which to learn of God & His creation……
A time to learn how to exercise authority, how to do what was right, out of relationship with God. The aim was to take the garden out into Eden, then Eden out to the world: ‘Go and be fruitful… have dominion, subdue the earth’. ……And should have gone to all the Earth. In essence, God was saying to Adam & Eve, ‘I am with you, I am giving you authority to extend my rule throughout the earth’. Or as Matthew 28 puts it: ‘All authority ….has been given to me, therefore, go into all the world and make disciples…’

Accepting His parenthood means we stick to the Makers instructions for life, resulting in protection & safety, living under the shadow of His wing.
Accepting His purpose means we do what we are designed for resulting in reduced stress and greater job satisfaction, I know the plans I have for you….
Trusting in His Provision results in wholeness, man shall not live by bread alone... In short, we have life in all its fullness.

The fall
‘God Created the Heavens….’. Creation included spiritual beings, Angels, Archangels, Cherubim etc. Lucifer, an Archangel rebelled against God. He and a third of the angels were thrown out of heaven. They have lost position, purpose and power, where will they look to win it back? Who is around who now has power?

The tree of the knowledge
In creating mankind to share in His plans, His love, God had to allow moral choice, the ability to choose not to love. He provided two ways of understanding the world, the first was out of a growing relationship with himself, the second was to know right and wrong outside that relationship. The first relied on the trust that comes from relationship, the second relied on ‘the pride of life’, a mistaken assurance that we are capable of independence from God. In giving this choice, God made the options abundantly clear:

‘The day you eat of it, you will surely die’ God wanted them to know the difference between good & evil, but out of relationship and an understanding of His character that underpins morality. That leads to the tree of life, the other way leads to death.

Lucifer’s strategy
To sow doubt about God’s word. ‘did God really say….’
To sow doubt about God’s character. ‘you will not die…. God doesn’t want you to be like him….’

Mankind’s response
They do not know God’s word. ‘…we must not touch it……’
They do not believe God’s word. ‘you will surely die’.
Fundamentally, they do not understand or trust God’s character.

The battle ground – Belief or unbelief
Adam & Eve had to make a choice:
They had God’s presence & His promise, they had His works & His word.
They knew Him and His love for them, they had significance and life.
Against this they had the word of the serpent and a desire to be like God.
Despite their experience of God, despite the clearest of warnings, despite the abundance of life, against all reasonable expectation, they chose rebellion.

At the fall of man
Satan usurped the authority that God had given man, he became ‘the prince of this world’. We lost our power, our purpose, our relationship with God.
We rejected His judgement as to what is best for us
We set up our own values of right & wrong
We exchanged the father of Lights for the father of lies
In every meaningful way, we died……

Death
God had given us purpose, provided for our needs, given us a job to do and the power to do it. He had given us his presence to bring us joy and as a guarantee of his love towards us. God created us with these as foundational needs. Now that we have broken relationship, God can no longer fulfil these needs. Now, we look to the world and the enemy to satisfy them. This is the heart of temptation, we fulfil these basic needs from inappropriate sources. It brings death in the guise of life.

DeathExample(s)
Between Man and GodSpiritual Death
Between Man and ManLust, hatred, war, injustice
Between Man and Creation Natural disasters, suffering
MorallyLoss of Choice, Spiritual Blindness
PhysicallySickness, death

The Solution

The World
The world chains us, puts us in protective custody, to save us from feeling the pain of broken relationship with God .The story of the man with legion illustrates this. Left to himself, this man was in torment, a battle raged within. The world tried to chain him, to fetter him, to stop everyone being hurt. But it didn’t cure him, it didn’t even stop the pain, it only served to cut off from all that was good. He was viewed as a threat and the enemy sought his harm and destruction. He was out of control, out of his mind, conformed to Satan’s view of him. The world cannot fill the God shaped vacuum in our life. It cannot solve the problem, we need to be transformed to God’s image, not conformed to the world and only a renewed mind can do that. ‘If the Son shall set you free, you shall be free indeed’. In the story of Legion, the man recognises Jesus as the answer and rushes to worship. Jesus responds in love, frees him and restores him. In the end we see him clothed and in his right mind, fit for relationship, fit for service.

The Problem
Therefore, if paradise is to be restored these things need resolving:

- The consequences of sin; suffering, despair, hatred, death
- Relationship; purpose, power, provision, parenting
- God’s righteous anger; towards man, towards Satan and his angels
- Restoration of our moral choice

We see that sin is less to do with broken rules than it is with broken relationship

Sin comes when we deny God’s character, when we don’t trust Him, when we don’t take Him at His word. Now one has come who clearly reveals God’s character and unambiguously speaks His word. Now, there is no excuse.

The Garden
The victory was won in the garden. Jesus prays ‘if there is any other way’ and there is silence. He returns to His friends for support, he is weary to death with the struggle, Finding them asleep he returns to pray, still there is silence. Finally, one last time, Jesus pleads ‘if there is any other way, but if not…..’. The answer comes as he realises that , ‘if you ask of me, I will send more than 4 legions of angels’. In other words, ‘you do not have to do this’. Now Jesus must make that ultimate moral choice, will he do as he purposed at the outset of creation, or will he choose to allow man to suffer the full consequences of rebellion. For our sake, for the joy that was set before him, he chose the cross.

- Sin entered when in a garden Adam said: ‘Not your will but mine’
- Sin was defeated when second Adam came to another garden and said: ‘Not my will but yours’.

The Cross
Sin broke the relationship between Man and God. On the cross, the man who was God took our sin in order to bring us back:

- If man whom He created is precious, how much more His Son?
- If relationship with man is to be restored, how better than through the man who is God?
- If suffering is immeasurable, who else can bear it than immeasurable God?
- If the only just response of a holy God to man’s sin is righteous anger and the death of man, who else could die but the righteous Son of God who spoke man into life?

Jesus was arrested at night and tried, illegally, before the Jewish and Roman officials. The evidence from his accusers conflicted (they were scared of saying anything too obviously untrue as accusers in capital trials were liable to death if found guilty of perjury). Despite this, the Jewish authorities passed him to Pilate, who alone was able to authorise crucifixion. Even though the governor believed him innocent, the crowd, incited by the priests, demanded Jesus death and after a vicious beating, which many did not survive, Jesus was led away to be crucified. During the hours of darkness that followed Jesus was separated from his father and in agony cried out ‘My God, my God, why have you abandoned me’. Yet even in this seemingly despairing shout, we see the seeds of victory. For this is part of a psalm which speaks in later verses of the victory that was to be won. On the cross, Jesus took on himself every sickness, every sin, every grief, every sorrow that man has ever known. Each became a shackle in the chains that bound him and weighed him down to hell itself. (1 Peter 2:21-25). Imagine Satan’s joy as Jesus is disowned by his people, abandoned by his Father and now defeated by sin and death itself.

The Resurrection
Yet the deceiver has deceived himself. He cannot comprehend that one who is far greater in power would willingly submit himself to such torture. He has not understood the nature of God’s love, but he is about to discover the reality of His justice. Because Jesus is sin-less, because he is fully God, none of the shackles can stay longer than he allows, they have no right to be there because the life of Jesus provides no hooks for them to cling to. So having fulfilled the requirements of the law (‘without the shedding of blood, there can be no forgiveness of sin’), having become for us the perfect sacrifice, the ‘lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’, he now begins to unbind himself. Every chain, every hurt, every death, every sin is now used to bind the enemy and his minions. Now the captive hosts of darkness are paraded in front of heavens armies, a foretaste of the final judgement and vindication to come. At daybreak on the third day, Jesus completes the victory, taking back from the enemy all that had been lost, including his own life. This is the validation of all that has happened before. If this is not true, then none of the rest is relevant, as Paul says: ‘If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile: you are still in your sins…. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has been raised from the dead.’ (1 Cor 15:17,19,20)

The evidence for the resurrection is overwhelming. Something happened to change a frightened, disillusioned band of men into a bold, world-changing group of believers, there explanation was that Jesus had shown himself to them. There was clearly no body or the Jewish authorities would have paraded it to kill rumours of resurrection on day one. Either someone stole the body, or Jesus was raised to life. If the Jews or Romans stole the body, they would have displayed it for all to see as we have said. If the disciples stole it, then all but John would die for preaching what they knew to be a lie. Furthermore, the evidence of believers throughout the millennia has been that they have an on-going relationship, not with a dead icon, but with a living Lord.

The End

Relationship: If Relationship was destroyed by unbelief, it can be restored by belief in the character of God revealed through His son.
Authority: Because of Christ’s work on the cross, belief in Him gives us back our authority: ‘To all who believe in his name, he gave authority to become sons of God’ Choice: More than this, we are made alive to God again; the power and desire to make Godly choices is born in us anew.

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