In the beginning, God created!

Continued from last post!

In the beginning God created…

One of the great enigmas of human inquisitiveness, is that God is not discoverable by investigation. He is not material in essence. He cannot be placed in the crucible of the laboratory and dissected, analyzed, categorized, or understood by scientific means. All the mystics, philosophers and prophets of old understood God to be spirit, and thus transcendent. The Bible presents God as a spirit. The world view of Judaism, Christianity and many other religious systems are constructed around God as a spirit, from which matter exists.

This simple premise is the roadblock for the enlightened mind, in that our Western, rational reductionist mind has concluded that all things are within the confines of our material world and that this singular, three dimensional existence is all that exists. Yet, just within the past two decades, the theories of physics conclude that reality is composed by as many as ten dimensions. As mind boggling as that is, it is not news to the ancients, who understood that the physical arena of reality is but a reflection of the spiritual.

We are not given a complete picture of the spiritual dimension in scripture, or in any other writing that I know of. The explanation of this is really quite apparent. We are bound to our three dimensional physical existence and our primary relationship to existence is within the natural, physical world. Although the spiritual arena is described to us and affirmed for us through scripture and the experiences of the prophets and writer of the past, we do not live there. Periodically, we pass close to it, taste it, interact with it and understand that there is a reality beyond our physical dimension, but we simply cannot shed the confines of where we are to be in a dimension that is not yet revealed fully to us.

Our relationship to the spiritual arena of reality is through those pictures provided of a greater sphere of reality. Jesus, Himself is described to us in scripture as the express image of God. That is, lacking the ability to grasp greater reality, God has provided pictures of Himself to us in a history of revelations, experiences and annotations, and then expressed Himself to us in the ultimate expression of His fullness, in Christ Jesus. That is the core message of the Gospel – God has been manifest and that is all we need to know. Jesus is an adequate physical expression of all that God is to man within this present physical reality.

The principle of creation is: First the Spiritual and then the natural. The principle of redemption is: First the natural Adam, and last the spiritual answer to human inadequacy.

 I Corinthians 15:45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being” ; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven.

In the beginning, God created… There is nothing to recommend what God should do, for he is the first and last, the eternal. There are no counselors, no advisors and no expectations. He can do as He pleases, of do nothing at all. Yet, the indication of the creation story is that He has a master plan, not just for the event of creation but for the entire purpose and extent of creation. He is not the observer of history but its author.

What He speaks into existence, is born out of the spiritual. All of the physicists look for the point of the origin of the universe, and propose various theories as to how this spontaneous generation happened. Call it the Big Bang, or what have you, it is self evident that the universe has an age and that it exists in the dimension of time and space. God is a spirit and transcends time and space. All of the rules of our physical reality apply to the natural creation, but they apply only within that dimension. It is all the expression of God and is under the auspices and rule of the spiritual.

The damaged character of the earth, gives us a picture of a change that happen to the original creation, that left the earth damaged from its original state, and the indication is that what we experience as the natural state of physical reality is not the original state of things. What the earth was in original creation we do not and cannot know. It is a damaged and rough representation of the original earth. Physical reality, in whole, may only be a rough resemblance of the perfection of the spiritual dimensions, and yet, even that resemblance is a damaged state, after the fall.

The picture of creation is often misunderstood as an event, and as the end result of the purpose of God. If is seen as a point in time when God did all that He could do and would do and then man messed it up. Typically, writers of the creation story see the purpose of God in Christ as a means of getting us back to the state of man in the garden before sin. But if I can, allow me to press you to a greater possibility. There is more in redemption than there was in creation. The creative act of Genesis 1, is not the end of God’s creative plan, but only the beginning. We are incapable of comprehending the wonders of God’s plan for humankind. The primary limitation of our comprehension is the assumption that God made us, places us on the earth, tested us and when we failed, he redeemed us to be able to get us to heaven to live forever. End of story.

But that is far from the end of the story… It is only a means to a beginning. Genesis 1:1- In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 – Now the earth was (became) formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. NIV

Isaiah 45:18 – For thus saith Jehovah that created the heavens, the God that formed the earth and made it, that established it and created it not a waste, that formed it to be inhabited: I am Jehovah; and there is none else. ASV

These two passages have been held in contrast for centuries by those who hold assumptions about creation that are not generally accepted in church history or by those who study the original languages. The problem is in the declaration that God makes nothing waste or void, while Gen. 1:1 states that the earth was without form and void. When taken together, which of course we must do, we might assume that God made the earth in a perfect state and that it became less than was originally created.

 If we see it through this light, then many other things fall into place. That is, God’s creative act that ‘become formless and empty’ is a secondary act to the original creation, or a re-creation.

Hang in there with me for a moment while we set the stage for what may be a powerful revelation of creative possibilities!

There are many references in the scripture about an evil entity we call Satan, Lucifer, Abaddon, etc. He is referenced, but we are not given a time frame for his appearance into the creative sequence of events. He is just sort of there… What we do know is that he was part of the angelic hosts created by God before human history. He is not a part of the creation in Gen. 1 or 3.

So somewhere before mankind was created, Satan rebelled against God, spread his rebellion to a third of the other angels and started his own program of rebellion. There are some clear references to him in the prophets:

Isaiah 14:12 – How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! 13 – You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. 14 – I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” 15 – But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit.

A second parallel passage is found in Ezekiel chapter 28. Both portray the fall of this powerful angel who was created and given to be second in command to God Himself. In his arrogance he decided that he was not given his place but was his place. That is, arrogance always assumes possession of a position as a right as opposed to it being a sacred trust. Humility is the opposite, keeping in touch with the fact that we are created, fallen and everything we have is from our Father God.

Now step back with me and let’s look at the picture so far… God is the master creator, and He does not have the limitations that are inherent in any created being. He knows the end from the beginning. He knows that Satan will fall and that man will fall. The fall of man and of Satan are not a surprise to God. He also knows the provisions of His plan to work it all out. We also know that God is (as opposed to HAS) love. So what He is doing is good – it is very good.

To be continued…

Pastor Dave

Finding God

Finding God Forgive the title of this chapter, as I am aware that we do not find God, in any real sense. The creation narrative itself provides us with a sense of direction for both God and man. It is God who seeks and finds man. It is man who, in the discovery of his shame, hides from God. Yet, it is important that we discuss the process by which our concepts of God have sprung. It is common to think of human concepts of God as ever changing as knowledge shapes our understanding and our experience. It is true that man, in some sense, creates God in his own image. We are given to explain the unknown by the superstitions of human stories, explanation and assumptions, not based on scientific fact, but based on the simple need to explain existence. Our ancestors explained the weather as acts of God, and various anomalies of life were explained by the creation of god concepts. The god of fire, the god of rain explained those things that we could not comprehend, while the moon god, sun god and various and sundry gods filled in a vast and complex array of explanation of natural phenomenon. Religion had created a complex set of rituals and explanation for the world in which we exist.

Centuries went by with a basic sense of existence attributed to the gods and controlled by the leaders of religious systems of thought, which sanctified the concepts of existence into religious thought. But there were those who challenged those systems and proposed that there were cause and effect relationships to the order of things. The Enlightenment was a period of time when a series of men, given to challenging the thinking of the establishment, emerged with ideas that were out of the established systems of thought. Galileo Galilei argued that the earth rotated around the sun and set in motion a conflict with what was believed to be divinely established order of things. This ushered in a sweeping renaissance of thinkers, who challenged the religious tradition, the established superstitions and the basic premise of religious faith. From the seeds of those who rejected pat answers and religious control came a plethora of thinkers who ushered in the age of enlightenment. It was, by necessity, in contrast to the explanations of the past and resulted in conflict between the power structures of the time, mainly the established church. But, try as it might, the religious establishment count not control the growing philosophical zeal for more knowledge and understanding of our physical world.

 The discovery of a cause and effect world was replacing the superstitions of the past and the gods of physical phenomenon was giving way to explanations of a scientific nature. The pitting of science against religion and religion against science, set the stage for the rejection of both the control of the Church over thought and belief, and the explosion of the sciences. It also became the basis of the rejection of God as an explanation of existence and the presumption that all things exist as the natural expression of some biological substrate of cause and effect alone. Without going into the history of the age of enlightenment and the renaissance, I recommend that the serious scholar investigate that history and in particular the writings of Dr. Erich Sauer on the subject. Yet, in the transition from religious traditions and superstitions, to Western rational reductionism, there remains also the quest for God. That which builds the platform for the rejection of God, does not deter the sense of God’s existence in the human family, nor does the platform of faith deter the ongoing explosion of human scientific knowledge. The contrast of two worlds seems an enigma, inexplicable in and of itself. There are those brave souls who propose that neither frame of reference is a reality unto itself and that the discovery and pursuit of a cause and effect universe is not in contrast to the pursuit of God and of understanding the spiritual arena of existence. In fact, the discovery of greater and great explanations of our universe always ends up with the question of God and of the need for some explanation for the beginning, the formation and the genesis of the universe. The great minds of the past have wrestled with the god factor. The writings of most, at some point, come back to the unknown force in the beginnings of all things. It is assumed that there is a beginning and a course of existence and of an inevitable end of forms as they transcend from one form to another.

With the exploration of the universe and the explosion of the knowledge in the field of physics, there is both the rejection of God as creator as the cause and effect relationship to the ever expanding universe is understood, and the awe of it all, pointing back to some intelligence above and beyond our understanding.

Psalm 8 – For the director of music. According to gittith. A psalm of David.

1 Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens.

2 Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.

3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,

4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?

5 You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.

6 You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet:

7 all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild,

8 the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.

9 Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

What is apparent, after several centuries of the enlightenment process, is that we are yet on the verge of discovery, and human knowledge is yet in its infancy. We have but scratched the surface of our knowledge of the universe in which we live and the God, that most of the human family affirm as existing, who created it. Could it be that the unknowable ‘I AM!’ in the expression of Himself in creation, shares that unknowable quality with the creation itself? That is, as we explore outward in macro-understanding and inward in micro-understanding, that the discovery of component parts and of the interaction of those particles and sub particles and macro formations, is a never ending search into the ultimately unknowable? The question itself is an enigma in that as we discover, we know more and more, and yet realize that the amount of knowledge we have is less and less in relationship to total knowledge. It is this awe of creation that drives us to know more, but also to a greater sense of awe and the vastness of existence.

The Psalmist David expressed it best in the 8th Psalm. As he contemplated creation, he is driven to the awe of God, and yet, in that same breath recognizes the place of man if God’s creation, as crowned with the honor of being rulers of creation. In that position, it is essential that we are driven to understand and also driven to be subservient to the creator also. These two divergent drives should not be in contrast but complimentary to our role in life. When the presumption that we know God, drives us away from investigation and knowledge, we have failed to see ourselves as we were created to be. But conversely, when we our search for knowledge obscures our awe of God, then our presumption will keep us from knowledge. It is possible, more, it is essential that we both know our universe and stand in awe of the creator. Where the power of the church or the presumption of science keeps from both, we are diminished and vacant of the wonder of creation and the creator.

 Awe is an essential ingredient in the pursuit of knowledge as is wonder in the pursuit of God.

But let us go back to the garden of God, to Eden and the lessons of man’s relationship with God. It is God who comes to find man, while the nature of fallen man is revealed in his hiding from God.

Much of human activity throughout history is the record of that continuing hiding from the creator.

To be continued…

Pastor Dave

In The Beginning God!

In The Beginning, GOD!

The theologians of past ages have described God as unknowable, the “I AM’ who defies description and objective knowledge. All the writers I have read have tried their best to define God, HIs ways, HIs attributes, and to paint pictures of the splendor and greatness of God.  All fall short. I will also. I do not pretend that in writing about God, I shall come even close to revealing the totality of what He is.

Many years ago I taught a class in our church from a book entitled simply, Knowing God. It was a massive tome of well organized parts, covering all of the attributes of God and the doctrinal positions that the author thought to be important about God. The message seemed to be, if you read the book and agreed with its statements, doctrines and positions onissues, then you would know all there is to know about God.

I always laughed at the arrogance of the work, although I primarily agreed with its content. I simply though it short sighted of the author to think that by creating such a massive work they had created the final and most authoritative work on the knowledge of God. I still find the pursuit of God by organized thought, diagrams, and statements to be laughable, for my sense of God is that He is so beyond the grasp of we who live in time and space as to be incomprehensible. The laughable part is that there are those who presume that by dipping their teaspoon sized minds into the infinite mind of God, they can come away with anything resembling the totality of He who is.

Moses, in encountering God on the mountain asked God who He was, and God simply replied, “I AM!” It was as though God understood that His existence was beyond description, and could not be comprehended by the partial and flawed creatures we are. And yet, it has to be acknowledged that God desires for man to know Him at least as much as we are capable of doing so. It is for this reason that God manifested Himself in human form, so we could behold a likeness of Him and to understand, at some level, the manifestation of the exact image of His glory.

I AM! That is the greatest knowledge we can hope to have of God, for He does not fit within the Western reductionists mind of human investigation. We know our material world by sight, touch, taste, hearing, smell, and through the process of scientific investigation. We have come a long way from the superstitions of the past and the folk lore of our ancestors. Yet, we continue to place the pursuit of the knowledge of God within the finite arena of human skills and under the microscope of our physical existence. I AM! He is not there, although our physical world is an expression of God. If God exists, then He is not confined to anything that we can investigate or determine or understand or know in any ultimate sense. I AM!

The history of humanity is that we presume too much on ourselves and reduce God to be too little and too finite. We can only see God through the matrix of our own matrix, and God is not disturbed by that. But we seem to demand some context by which we can have a controlled sense of God within the limitations of our experience, our doctrines, our church affiliation and to know that we are right and, in contrast to those who see Him differently, that they are wrong. In that pursuit of the knowledge of God, we fail miserably. He cannot be contrasted, in that He cannot be fully known by any means within the physical world in which we live. We are limited and God is not! We live by our five senses and by our limited mind set, world views and comprehension. God is beyond that. I AM!

He is Alpha, the Beginning, and He is Omega, the End! He is not confined to time and space. He is the essence of eternity and the one who sees all things as present tense. He expressed Himself in the creation of the material world, yet is not limited to the material world. We are told that God is a spirit and that they who worship Him, must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24) Yet even that phrase defies interpretation and total knowledge. We affirm that a spiritual area exists, and to some degree it interacts with our physical world and our existence in worship, yet we have but an imperfect grasp of what that means. We try so hard to be ‘in the spirit,’ yet the fact that we are, as biological beings, trying, negates our ability to be other than what we are and underscores our limitations. We are created to be who we are and where we are, in the material world with a material body and God does not have a problem with this fact. But we tend to. We, who want to be acceptable to God and to be other than physical, appeal to our spirit to be in contact with the dimension of the spiritual world. And we do contact God and we do live in and by His spirit within us, yet even that is limited by our lifespan in the flesh.

It is OK for me to be here and to live life and to follow my precepts of God and to attempt to be as spiritual as I can, yet it is not to be presumed, that by doing so, I can know God who can only describe Himself to us as, I AM! There are dimension of existence that I shall yet know, beyond this life and beyond the limitation of this fleshly body. There is a place in God that I cannot go, yet! There is more ahead with greater dimensions of realization and greater understanding of what I am and who He is – I AM!

He who knew me before the foundation of the world, and who loved me in the creation of the world, has more for me than I have yet experienced and more than I will experience in this human form. Life is more. God is more! The task is to be patiently content with the imperfections of this life and to await the transitions into life beyond. I cannot even imagine or speculate as to what that is about! I can only wait for it!

In the mean time, I marvel at the presumptuousness of those who know all there is to know about God and also at those who are certain there is no God. I laugh as denominations and sects argue about doctrinal issues and set up contrasts to show that they are right. I wonder where it came to us that being right was the issue of life, and then I remember the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and I know. We still eat from the wrong tree. Our God is too small – I AM!

The science of physics postulates that there are 10 dimensions of reality in existence. We live within the confines of one dimensions, the physical world. They do not yet venture to determine what those dimensions are, nor to define their attributes, just that they exist. Some argue with the number of 10 dimensions, supposing that it is only 7, or 9, or ?. Again, I laugh at the limited contexts we build for our own theories, and our scientific discoveries. It is interesting and mind boggling, yet, it also underscores the limitations of our simple ability to know the expanse of all that God is, that life is, and that is within the creative expressions of God. I AM!

And so I study, worship and pray, knowing full well, that my mind cannot comprehend the good things that God has prepared for those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose. For, our God is too small!  I AM!

Continued…

Pastor Dave

In The Beginning God!

There has been a passion in me for many years, to speak about some things that I have needed to say, and yet there is a fear that many will not understand. But that passion has grown and the concepts have matured, at least as best they can in a mere mortal, and I need to write them. I thought that possibly this forum might be a good place to proof them and to generate feedback. So, if you will permit me, I would like to take this opportunity to jump into, what might be a book, of what might finall bring the men with white coats, to take me away, where the administration of Thorazine will calm my imaginations and stop my ranting. (Grin)

In any event, what follows will be a series of articles that I am not even sure how to title. For now, we shall call it, The Book of Life. No, not the Lambs Book of Life from the Book of Revelations, but just David’s Book of Life.

Get ready…

Here it comes!

Pastor Dave