Christianity From 30,000 Feet

Introduction

For those of us who are Christians, many of us have spent (or will spend) years and years in rows listening to someone speak about the events, letters, and prophecies found in the Bible in microscopic detail. While we benefited greatly from and found enormous value in the detail, we were often left to piece together the big picture on our own. When I was younger, the big picture I was given was John 3:16.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) NLT

This verse was great but it didn’t really help me understand how the pieces of the Bible fit together. Studying and trying to figure out the Bible can be daunting for those of us who are new to it. Where do I begin? Why is it not in chronological order? How do I make sense of it? What is the big picture? So, I’ve decided to step out on a limb here and write a little bit about what I think the big picture is based on what is found in scripture. If you have other ideas or if you think I've missed something important please feel free to share!

Act I

God created everything. Let's just pause there for a second... So this includes Adam and Eve who were placed in charge. He only gave them one rule, because only one was needed. The world was not a dangerous place yet! Rules are there ultimately for protection. Sin hadn't yet entered the world so no need for a lot of rules yet. The one rule established God’s authority over them and gave them free will--the ability to choose. The rule: Do not eat the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden. Satan tricked them into thinking that God was keeping something good from them, and they broke the rule and ate the fruit. At that moment, sin (aka selfish disobedience to God) entered the world and the world became a dangerous place.

The fruit was from the "Tree of knowledge of good and evil". That magical fruit changed them. Suddenly they became aware of their ability to say no--their ability to be selfish. Ultimately, the selfish nature that was produced in Adam and Eve was passed down to the rest of us. We could no longer be accepted based on our actions or our goodness. We were unclean because of our sin and selfishness. We were in danger of being eternally separated from our Creator because of that sin. God couldn't just ignore our sin, because justice is at the core of his nature and the scales must balance. There had to be payment. Thankfully, love is at the core of His nature as well.

Act II

God knew we could not measure up to the standard of perfection required by His holiness. And He knew His love and mercy would not allow him to do nothing. So he gave Moses the law. This was step one. While He knew we did not measure up, we had no idea. If he had told us that we did not measure up, we would not have understood. We had no measuring stick. The law was not intended to be a bar for us to jump over. God knew it was impossible for us to be good enough to get over the bar. Instead, it was intended to be a measuring stick to show us what God already knew--that we could not possibly measure up no matter how hard we tried. We could not be clean enough or good enough to satisfy God’s just and holy nature. He gave us prophets to point to the Messiah who would be the true solution. He gave us animal sacrifices to show us that we could not simply ignore our sin or sweep it under the rug. Payment and sacrifice was required for us to be forgiven. But these animal sacrifices could not actually cleanse anyone. An animal sacrifice wasn’t enough. It simply highlighted that man could not gain forgiveness based on his performance. This was the setup for the final act.

Act III

Jesus, God’s chosen sacrifice, was born into the world through a virgin. It had to be a virgin, because a human father would have passed on his sinful nature to the child. The sacrifice had to be perfect and sinless, otherwise he would be paying for his own sin and would do us no good. Jesus taught to show us who God really was, and he showed that God had chosen him through miracles and other signs. He developed quite a following as people began to realize that the promised one had come. But they didn’t understand that His primary goal was to be a sacrifice--they hadn’t understood that part of the prophecy. They expected a King to reign over them who would free them from Roman rule. Much to their surprise, he was executed and buried by the Romans. And then they saw him walking and talking three days later. Suddenly they remembered He had predicted his own death and resurrection. Jesus began to guide them through the Old Testament prophecies and finally they understood. Finally things made sense.

God had a very specific plan. We know that God knows the future; fulfilled Old Testament prophecies written about the arrival of Jesus make that clear. God chose to put the tree in the garden knowing that sin would spring up and cause Jesus to be sacrificed. Why? This is speculative, but I think it’s because God didn’t want robots. A robot does what you tell it because that’s how it was designed. A robot can't love, can't desire, can't choose. He wanted us to have free will, not only so that we could love Him but also so that we could love each other... freely! Our love and our obedience mean something and have value simply because we have the ability to say no. Love given freely to God is incredibly valuable in God’s economy. So much so that he was willing to give us free choice knowing what we would do with it.

He loves you enormously and desires a relationship with you. In fact, I would argue that somehow all the pain, suffering, and sin of this world is counterbalanced and justified by love itself. Otherwise, why put the tree there? Does God need our love? No. In fact, we need His even though we may not realize it. God is whole and complete without our love to "sustain Him." He offers us His love and desires that we love Him in return. It's an enormous privilege for the God of the Universe to desire a relationship with us. How amazing to be adopted by royalty! How incredible to be forgiven and declared righteous when we know we did nothing to deserve it. This is the God of the Bible. This is the big picture (at least from my perspective).

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6 comments

lambservant profile image

lambservant 5 years ago from Pacific Northwest

I really liked this hub. I thought you communicated these truths in a very succinctly. Good job and thank you for sharing the Good News so eloquently.


sonfollowers profile image

sonfollowers 5 years ago from Alpharetta, GA Author

Thanks very much. BTW, the hub I was talking about the other day is coming next. I forgot to publish that one first. :) Have a great day!


Mark Knowles profile image

Mark Knowles 4 years ago

So - let me get this straight. A&E did not know the difference between good and evil or right and wrong. They had no knowledge or understanding of pain or death.

Then - this god-thing made certain that Satan would tempt them - knowing full well they would eat the fruit - because they did not know right from wrong and the world they knew did not include death.

But they had free will - the sort of free will that is "Do what I tell you or I will kill you"?

That about it?

And you worship this thing? How strange. Cannot imagine how this is "love" either.

I would hope my parents would make certain I understood the ramifications before making sure I was going to be punished.

Not your Invisible Super Being though.


sonfollowers profile image

sonfollowers 4 years ago from Alpharetta, GA Author

Greetings, Mark! :)

Our employers give us the freedom to do what they tell us or they will fire us. Our parents give us the freedom to do what they tell us or there will be consequences. Adam lived to be 900+, according to Genesis. There are always consequences for acting against those who are in authority. Adam and Eve were given specific instructions and they were told that death would be an eventual consequence of their disobedience. You assume that they had no understanding of pain or death. You assume that God did not take the time to properly communicate the ramifications of their decision. The account in Genesis doesn't go into that level of detail. Still, it's clear from the dialog that the issue was not that they didn't get it. The issue was that they bought the lie and believed that God was not being straight with them. No amount of clear communication is going to solve that problem.

Satan showed up and presented them with a question, but it was on them to decide. No one forced them down a path. We love to blame someone else for our problems but we must ultimately be responsible for our decisions. Any consequences that may exist for our decisions (painful or not) are ours, and deservedly so. That was the case with Adam and Eve, in my opinion.

Thanks for the visit! I definitely enjoy good conversation (even opposing perspectives).


Mark Knowles profile image

Mark Knowles 4 years ago

Then why treat me like a moron?

I did not assume any such thing.

Perhaps you could tell me - biblically - where god explained the difference between good and evil, right and wrong, and properly communicated the details of these things - and death.

Or - maybe you should re read the majik book? I did not assume anything. By your words "The world was not a dangerous place yet!"

Or was that a lie? I think so. And you grovel to this thing? No wonder your religion causes so many fights. :(


sonfollowers profile image

sonfollowers 4 years ago from Alpharetta, GA Author

I certainly do not think you are a moron. :) I don't think I've found one of those around here, honestly. We disagree, which is not a crisis. You seem to be more bothered by it than I am.

Really what I should have said is "you seem to assume." As I read what you are writing, you still don't seem to be acknowledging a very important point. If every detail of Biblical events were recorded (every word uttered, every step taken, etc.), it would be so long that no one would be able to read it all. And if they did, it would be nearly impossible to get the important pieces of information out of it. So my point is that just because you don't find it written there doesn't mean it didn't happen. Lots of things happened that aren't written in there.

Your belief (as I understand it) is that God did not clearly communicate to Adam and Eve what the consequences were. When I read the dialog between Eve and the serpent, it's clear that God made enough of an impression on Eve that she was able to quote the rule to the serpent. She at least knew bad things would happen. She later walked away from that conversation convinced that God had lied to her and that good things would happen (not bad things). This isn't a failure to communicate on God's part. This is a lack of trust on Eve's part. So then how effectively God communicated it is irrelevent. They would not have believed him anyway. That's what I was trying to communicate in my previous comment.

Hopefully that's more clear.

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