The Best Free Book About God Answers Many Questions About God

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Best Free Book About God "God is Cruel?" Part 1 Chapter 5




The Lie: A God of love could never allow suffering and evil.


The world is marred with suffering and almost every conceivable form of evil.  Some religions try to deny the reality of suffering and evil but their very denials often express an acute awareness of undesirable phenomenon.  There are also those who claim that evil is only a relative term that varies in definition from one culture to another; how­ever, there are certain basic standards of goodness and evil which have been common among virtually every culture.  There­fore, since evil and suffering do exist, many people have incorrectly concluded that; either God must be unloving, or; He must not be powerful enough to cope with human adversi­ties.  However, both conclusions are totally contrary to the Christian perspective of the true nature and character of God.

The God of the Bible is powerful enough to command the entire universe into existence by the mere words of His mouth (Genesis 1).  He is so constantly aware of everything that occurs in this world, that not a single sparrow can fall to the ground and escape His notice (Matthew 10:29).  He knows what the outcome of every life and every situation will be before it actually culminates (Isaiah 42:9).  He is a God of righteousness (Psalm 111:3), a God of holiness (1 Samuel 22) and a God of perfect justice (Psalm 19:9).  The God of the Bible cannot lie, nor will He ever break a promise (Numbers 23:19).  He is revealed as a God of compassion, a God of mercy (Lamentations 3:22, 23), and above all, a God of ever­lasting love (I John 4:16).

These and many other divine attributes comprise the whole nature and character of the eternal God of all creation. Each one of God's attributes is intrinsic to the completeness of His perfect being.  He cannot compromise any portion of His complete nature and character without violating His per­fection.  For example, God's love cannot be manifested in a way which would compromise His justice.  If God expressed His love at the expense of His justice, He might still be a God of love, but would no longer be a totally just God.  Such an action would therefore violate His perfect and complete character.

To illustrate this principle, let us hypothetically suppose that an honorable Judge is required to try his own son for the crime of vandalism.  And, let us suppose that after examining all of the evidence; it becomes obvious to the Judge that his son is definitely guilty of the offense. In this situation, would it be right for the Judge to de­clare his son "not guilty" if this Judge had previously convicted other people on far less incriminating evidence? Or, would it be proper for the Judge to impose the required punishment in spite of the fact that the criminal happened to be his own son?  Although the honorable Judge loves his son very much, he should obviously impose the required penalties for his son's guilt.  Otherwise, the Judge can no longer be considered a just man.  The Judge's love and compassion for his son may cause him to personally pay the son's fine; nevertheless, to satisfy justice, a debt has to be incurred.

God's love cannot be manifested at the expense of sacrificing His other divine attributes.  Therefore, before anybody questions the love of God, it is necessary to take into consideration His other divine characteristics as well. It is also important to remember that it is impossible for finite minds to totally comprehend the thoughts, motives, and actions of an infinite God.  In fact, God spoke through the prophet Isaiah and said:  "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts'." (Isaiah 55: 8,9)

However, even though the mind of God is infinitely superior to the human mind, He has not left His people with­out at least some degree of insight and comprehension of His plans and dealings with the human race.  One of the best ways to obtain this insight is to become familiar with the infor­mation which God has revealed about Himself and mankind throughout the pages of Holy Scripture.  However, God's rev­elation should be examined in its entirety before judgmentally evaluating a problem such as the existence of evil.  It is especially important to consider the Biblical record of creation itself, before the problem of evil and suffering can ever be properly understood.


The Cause


When God created the first man and woman (Adam and Eve), He gave them a perfect, uncorrupted environment.*   They were given the responsibility and privilege to govern the entire earth and all of its living creatures (Genesis 1:28-30). They also experienced an intimate spiritual relationship with their eternal Father and creator and their world was untouched by sickness, death, or any form of evil.  Adam and Eve liter­ally lived in a "paradise on earth."

When God created mankind, He took a calculated risk by implanting the gift of volition within man's being.  God could have created a world full of “robots," programmed with unchange­able instincts to love and obey Him; but, instead, He chose to give man His own creative thought processes and the freedom of choice because God wanted a relationship which was based upon a two-way exchange of voluntary love and respect.  Therefore, He gave man the ability to accept or reject His love and guidance.

God provided a simple test in order for man to have a means of exercising His volitional right to accept or reject His love and guidance.  Adam and Eve were told by God that they could eat the fruit of any tree within the "Garden of Eden" with the exception of only one.  They were permitted to eat the fruit from the "tree of life" but they were forbidden to eat from the tree of "the knowledge of good and evil." God warned Adam and Eve that they would die if they ate the fruit of the forbidden tree.

Some Christians believe that God's test involved actual trees and fruit while others believe that the trees and fruit were only symbolic of deeper spiritual truths.  Whatever the actual case may be, it is certain that the test was rela­tively simple and the importance of the test was made absolutely clear to Adam and Eve.

In spite of God's explicit warning, Satan tempted mankind into disobeying God's instructions.  He did this by first convincing Eve that God had lied to her and Adam about the consequences of eating the forbidden fruit.  He assured her that death would not result from eating such a tantalizing food (Genesis 3:4).  In fact, he insinuated that the fruit was all that was preventing mankind from becoming like God (Genesis 3:5).  Eve yielded to Satan's temptation and then of­fered the forbidden fruit to Adam, who accepted it without hesitation.  It was at this point in time that sin entered into the human race.

Both Adam and Eve accepted the deceitful advice of Satan and ignored the truthful advice of God.  They not only considered God to be a liar, they apparently chose to become independent of His fellowship and wisdom.  Since Adam and Eve believed that they would become as "Gods" themselves, it is reasonable to assume that they no longer wanted to depend upon the life and guidance of their creator.

The failure of God's simple test certainly did not stem from ignorance or immaturity on the part of man.  The first people were created as fully mature adults, both physically and intellectually.  Adam and Eve probably had the ability to utilize 100% of their brain potential.  Modern man, in his fallen state, only utilizes a small portion of the brain's potential capacity.  In addition to their thinking ability, the first man and woman also had a spiritual relationship with God that was unlike any relationship which man has had since.  They had direct, uninhibited access to their creator and all of His goodness.  The violation of God's simple in­structions by people, who were so enlightened, constituted a reproachable act.  Although the act does not seem so terrible to man in his current state, by relative comparison, it was a heinous crime for man in his original state.

The knowledge of good and evil would not have even been necessary in a world which contained no evil.  Nor would it have been necessary as long as Adam and Eve trusted in the goodness of God's instructions and followed His loving guidance.  Therefore, when Adam and Eve rejected God, the first evil they became aware of was their own!  Their newly acquired "knowledge of good and evil" was conceived in sin and rebellion so therefore it was used to testify against them.  Because it was conceived in sin, it was not a pure and objective knowledge like that which God possesses. Thoughts which were once holy and acceptable became dis­torted and corrupted within the minds of Adam and Eve because God was no longer the governor of those thoughts.  Adam and Eve experienced a deep sense of shame which prompted them to cover their naked bodies because their entire beings became infected with sin and guilt.  They recognized that their inner thoughts and consciences were no longer pure or inno­cent, and this realization affected their outward behavior.


 The Effect


Contrary to what Satan told Adam and Eve, God did not lie to them about the immediate consequences of their fail­ure to heed His guidance.  The very moment in which Adam and Eve rebelled, their innermost spirits died.  In other words, that essential part of man, which was specifically designed for intimate fellowship and communion with God, became dysfunctional.  In effect, mankind became separated from the holy and righteous God by a barrier called sin.  Nevertheless, God still loved man, but He could no longer retain the same close relationship with him. God could not compromise His divine attribute of perfect righteousness by allowing Him­self to remain in spiritual union with any form of evil or corruption.

Man's spiritual demise eventually produced his physical death as well, because God did not want mankind to live for­ever in a state of ever-increasing corruption and misery. Although the soul, or consciousness, of man would exist for­ever, physical death would serve as a deterrent to the malignant, cancerous potential of sin and its effects upon the whole of humanity.  Furthermore, death served as a cons­tant reminder to mankind that this world is imperfect and needs to be corrected.  The anticipation of death also served as a "checks" and "balances" of human behavior.  This sup­pression of evil would allow mankind to live the happiest, most abundant life possible in his fallen state.  Imagine what the world would become if the great tyrants of history were allowed to live forever!

Another consequence of sin was the deterioration of man's original authority and ruler ship over the earth.  When Adam and Eve accepted the deceitful advice of Satan while ig­noring God's truthful guidance, they somehow relinquished (or at least greatly diminished) their God-given authority to reign over the earth and all of its creatures.  They followed the dictates of the creature (serpent through whom Satan was speaking) rather than exercising their own authority, which was based upon God's knowledge, to rebuke the creature.  The serpent governed them instead of them governing the serpent.  As a result of Man's fall, Satan was somehow allowed to enter into a position of power and influence over the earth and humanity.

This fact is borne out in several scriptures of the Bible.  One specific example is found in the fourth chapter of the gospel of Luke, where, after fasting for forty days in the wilderness, Jesus was tempted by Satan.  Consider the following words from Luke's account:  "And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.  And the devil said to Him, 'I will give you all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.  Therefore if you worship me, it shall be all yours,1 And Jesus answered and said to him, 'It is written, (you shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only).' “(Luke 4"5-8).

God entrusted man with a precious gift.  He literally gave him dominion over the entire earth.  However, man took God's gift and handed it over to Satan.  Although it is im­possible for us to understand all of the spiritual ramifi­cations of this transaction, at least certain basic principles can be comprehended.  In order to better understand a sit­uation which encompasses metaphysical concepts, it is sometimes helpful to relate it to a physical, or earthly, situation by using a parable which contains similar underlying principles.  A parable can never illustrate every aspect of spiritual truth within a situation, but it can be used to demonstrate the feasibility of one or two particular concepts.  For example, to better understand how man could have given away his position of authority over the earth without God inter­vening, consider the following situation:

Let us suppose that a modern day father gives his teenage son the title to a new automobile.  The father obvi­ously wants his son to respect the gift and use it wisely so he makes it absolutely clear to him that this particular car will be the only one which the son will be allowed to have until he reaches adulthood. Now, let us suppose that the teenage son soon decides that it would be more desirable to have money instead of a car; therefore, without consulting his father, the son sells his car for far less than its real value.

When the father hears of this transaction, should he go out and immediately buy his son another car?  Or, can he take the car back from his son after it has already been sold? Obviously the answer to both questions is no.  The father en­trusted his son with a valuable gift.  With that valuable gift came the explicit warning that the gift would not be replaced. The automobile was legally the son's property to manage in whatever manner he chose.  Therefore, once the title was trans­ferred to another person, the father had no legal or ethical way of reclaiming the gift – unless of course he would be willing to pay an acceptable price for it.  However, even if the loving father did decide to buy back the automobile for his son, it wouldn't be right for him to do so until the son learned a valuable, but somewhat painful lesson.  Until the son was allowed to experience the adversities of being with­out a car, any restoration of the father's gift would only be detrimental to the character of the son.

Somehow the title deed to man's position on earth was transferred into the hands of Satan.  The earth was still God's creation, completely dependent upon the power of God for its existence; but, as long as God allowed the earth and humanity to exist, Satan maintained a sort of "legal right" to participate in the scheme of earthly activities. The extent of Satan's malignant participation however, is limited and restrained by God's Holy Spirit.  If this were not so, there would be absolutely no goodness whatsoever upon the earth.


God's Decision


When sin entered into the world, God could have immediately destroyed the earth along with mankind.  Just as an artist has the right to destroy an unsuitable paint­ing, God had the right to eliminate His own creation.  Such an act would have been within the guidelines of God's per­fect nature and character because regardless of God's love for mankind, the infection of evil needed to be dealt with.  God couldn't bypass it by manifesting His love and mercy at the expense of His righteousness and justice.  Therefore, realizing the malignant, cancerous effect that unrestrained evil would have upon humanity and all of creation, God could have justly eradicated sin at its inception, just as a surgeon might have to eradicate cancer from the human body to keep it from reaping greater destruction.

Remember, the penalty for sin was death because a holy and righteous God would never allow Himself to enter into an eternal relationship with any form of evil or corruption. And, since God is the only provider of true life, any type of severance from Him and His life-giving spirit would con­stitute a very real form of death.  Therefore, even if God merely withdrew Himself totally from humanity, mankind would still eventually reap a terrible destruction.

However, instead of abruptly ending humanity, or completely withdrawing Himself from earthly affairs and allowing sin to eventually destroy mankind by itself, God chose to deal with sin in another special way.  He allowed the earth and mankind to exist because He knew of a way to cure the cancer of sin without irreparably destroying the beings that became infected by sin.  In fact, since God has all foreknowledge, He apparently knew that man would fall before the world was ever created; however, man was never­theless created because God had a preconceived plan of redemption for the human race. 

God knew beforehand that Satan would try to thwart His intended purpose of creating a special race of beings who would share in His love and righteousness throughout all eternity; but, Satan's interference would not prevent God from accomplishing this purpose.  Although God knew that the infection of sin would be a "hereditary" trait within the nature of every human being, He nevertheless permitted an infected humanity to exist because He conceived of a way which would eventually eliminate that "hereditary trait." However, because of the gift of volition, He realized that there would be those who would reject His love and His plan of redemption; but, He also knew that there would be multi­tudes of people who would be willing to come to Him for eternal salvation, and, because of this, the whole plan of creation was apparently deemed worthwhile.


God's Involvement


Because of God's deep love for man, He designed a plan which would not only provide a remedy for sin; it would also restore man to an even greater spiritual relationship with God than was originally enjoyed before man's fall.  This plan would allow God to be loving and merciful; but, without sacrificing His attributes of righteousness or justice. How­ever, the cure for sin was to be very costly, yet God was willing to pay the entire price Himself in order for man to be eternally delivered from sin and its effects.

In order to achieve His final "cure," God chose to remain actively involved in human lives and affairs.  Man was still spiritually separated from God because of the barrier of sin but, nevertheless, God was still able to communicate with mankind and assist him in coping with his spiritual condition through various indirect means and channels.  However, the extent of God's involvement was based in part upon human volition; therefore, any "healing" within the human race depended somewhat upon man's willing­ness to be healed.  God provided an unlimited source of benevolent assistance for the human race, but man had to be willing to receive that assistance and also to share in the distribution of God's benevolence to others throughout the world.

Although the human race was no longer in a position to have the same direct, uninhibited fellowship with God, God was still able to use individual people as instruments or channels through whom He could reveal Himself and His remedy for sin to the world as a whole.  God chose to allow His Spirit to work upon, and within, the lives of people who would be willing to act as His messengers; and, because of this, man himself became the main instrument through which God would touch the world.  In this respect, man was given some degree of responsibility to participate in God's program of healing and redemption.


God's Progressive Therapy


When man first sinned, God's plan of redemption was put into effect immediately. However, it would require a consi­derable amount of "spiritual therapy" and preparation in history before the "final cure" would be administered by God. The Bible contains a progressive, historical revelation of this curative intervention into the human race.

Apparently sin had such a devastating effect upon mankind and his relationship with God, that the re-establish­ment of a volitional union between God and man required a gradual "therapy," or preparation, of the human race to re­ceive God's final cure for sin.  Since mankind had become so alienated from God and His righteous character, it would have been impossible for man to tolerate a sudden exposure to the complete holy radiance of God's entire being.  The Bible in­dicates in the Old Testament that such an exposure would have caused death.  (Exodus 33:20 also John 1:18).  Therefore, God often appeared to man in the forms of fire, clouds, light, and even theophanies (which were human forms that only re­flected a limited revelation of God's entire spiritual being).

It would have also been difficult for humanity to totally comprehend a sudden and complete revelation of God's spiritual truths.  Therefore, God's truth was progressively revealed and illuminated throughout history.  It was apparently neces­sary for humanity to acquire a gradual education which was based upon human experience in conjunction with each individual's desire to draw closer to God.  Apparently man needed to experience the benefits of living within God's guidelines, and to contrast that experience with the effects of living outside of those guidelines.  Just as in the pre­vious story about the teenage son who needed to experience the adversities of being without a car for awhile; humanity likewise needed to experience the adversities of being spir­itually separated from the source of all goodness before being allowed to enter into eternal fellowship with that source.

Personal experience is an essential part of any learning process; but, the recorded experiences of others are also beneficial.  Each individual can avoid unnecessary failures by paying attention to the mistakes and successes of other people.  That is why the cumulative record of human experience as recorded in the Bible can serve to ac­complish this same purpose.  The Bible helps to establish the validity of God's precepts while it demonstrates the foolishness of trying to live apart from God.  Because of this, people in this generation could avoid unnecessary spiritual despair by being more attentive to the record of Holy Scripture; but, unfortunately, most people completely disregard it.

God's plan of redemption is progressively revealed from the first pages of the Old Testament through the last pages of the New Testament.  The Bible is a continuous unfolding story which starts from "paradise lost," and ends with "paradise found."  This revelation encompasses many generations of social and cultural development, but, for the most part, the Old Testament contains a record of God's dealings with mainly one special race of people.

Because of the faith of an ancient man named Abraham. God promised to bless the entire world through his descend­ants - the Jewish people.  The Jews became God's chosen people and their history is recorded throughout the pages of scripture.  It was through the race of the Jews that God would bring salvation and redemption to all mankind.

God's complete plan of redemption was not instantly revealed to mankind when sin and death entered into the world; but, many foreshadows of truth related to God's plan were revealed throughout the Old Testament.  For example, a foreshadowing truth was revealed when Adam and Eve covered themselves with garments of fig leaves after sinning against God.  (Genesis 3:7).  It was vaguely symbolized at this point in time that sin itself would require some type of covering.  This fragment of truth was somewhat magnified when God Himself had to make a more appropriate covering for Adam and Eve.  The Bible states that God personally made garments of animal skins to cover their bodies.  (Genesis 3:21).  Therefore, this act obviously required the bloodshed and death of God's own innocent creatures.  Up until this time there had been no bloodshed of any kind upon the earth and this act was a prefigure of three elements of truth which would later be clearly revealed by God.  The first element of truth was that "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23).  The second was:  "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" (Hebrews 9:22).  And the third element of truth was that God Himself would have to provide the only sufficient remedy or covering for sin in the world.

As time progressed, numerous reflections of God's eternal plan of salvation were symbolically revealed through­out the remainder of the Old Testament.  In many cases, these reflections became much clearer and more meaningful.  Of par­ticular significance was the Hebrew system of sacrifice and, although the concept of animal sacrifice seems cruel to most people of modern cultures, it served as an effective means of "communication by demonstration" to the ancient Hebrews and their forefathers.

To better understand this, it is important to remember that God's participation in human affairs was affected by certain cultural limitations and moral values which resulted from the infection of sin.  Jesus Himself indicated this when He was asked by some of the Jewish religious leaders if it was lawful for a man to divorce his wife.  Jesus replied, “What did Moses command you’?  And they said 'Moses per­mitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.'  But Jesus said to them, 'Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment.  But from the be­ginning of creation, God made them male and female.  For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and the two shall become one flesh . . . What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate'." (Mark 10:3-9). Thus, God's communication to mankind was generally within the realm of human comprehension and cultural acceptability. To accomplish this, the spiritual lessons of history were usually taught in terms that were familiar to each generation.

Before condemning the Old Testament accounts involving animal sacrifices, one must first consider the cultures in which the sacrificial practices occurred.  Remember, the ef­fects of sin had a devastating effect upon human conscience and morality. Many of the ancient cul­tures of the world became barbaric and decadent and the knowledge of God became further distorted as people ven­tured away from God's intended standards of living.  Yet, in spite of the many misconceptions about God (or "gods") that developed, there usually existed a common feeling of guilt and an inner awareness of impending judgment for man­kind among diverse cultures. Because of this, people often sacrificed their posses­sions to God (or "gods") as a means of earning God's favor and averting His wrath.  These sacrifices often involved crops and animals, but remember, the slaughter of animals for food was a commonplace duty shared by most families of ancient times who could not enjoy the modern convenience of obtaining their necessary food from supermarkets.  There­fore, the slaughter of animals for sacrifice was not as abhorrent to ancient man as it is to many modern people because animal slaughter was often a part of one's daily routine for survival.

When God reached into the Hebrew culture, He provided a temporary remedy for sin which was dependent upon faith, obedience, discipline and sacrifice.  The Hebrew system of religion was understandable and culturally acceptable to the ancient Hebrews and it was also morally and ethically supe­rior to the religions of other nations of the same era.  So, within the limitations of a somewhat uncivilized culture, the true nature and purpose of God began to be progressiv­ely illuminated within the Hebrew nation.  And, just as with other ancient religions, a system of sacrificial of­fering was still an integral part of ancient Judaism; however, the sacrificial order of the Hebrews became more spiritually meaningful than the sacrificial practices of other cultures.  In many ways the Hebrew sacrifices for sin were symbolic of the final, ultimate sacrifice which would be offered by God Himself for the sins of the world and, although the ancient sacrifices did not provide a complete cure for sin, they did provide a temporary remedy for the guilt which was produced by sin.

Through these sacrificial rituals, God was able to demonstrate certain spiritual truths that helped to alleviate the adverse consequences of sin.  For example, in the seventeenth chapter of "Leviticus," God identifies the blood of animals as representing "life."  In the eleventh verse of this chapter God says:  "For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the alter-to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement."  The blood of animals was shed as atonement for sin because God's re­quired punishment (and the inevitable result) for sin was death.

The sacrifices for sin served as a continuous reminder of the seriousness and severity of sin.  They constantly dem­onstrated to the nation of Israel that the penalty for sin was death; however, the sacrificial practices also demonstra­ted God's desire not to inflict the required penalty upon mankind.  Because of God's righteous character, a penalty had to be paid, but, God was willing to "defer" the final payment by allowing His people to make temporary "install­ments" (so to speak) on the ultimate debt, by offering the life of innocent animals instead of their own.  The sacri­fices had to be perfect, or "without blemish" in order to be acceptable to God.  This symbolically demonstrated to the nation of Israel that only an innocent, perfect life would be the acceptable, ultimate sacrifice for sin.

The remedial benefits of the sacrifices for sin would only be effective if they were offered according to God's exact instructions.  This demonstrated the importance of obediently following God's guidelines and not human notions. It also foreshadowed the fact that any final remedy for sin would have to involve a sacrifice of God's own choosing and not one that is offered according to man's own precepts and desires.  The rules and regulations of the sacrificial orders gave the nation of Israel the opportunity to demonstrate her loyalty and trust in God by adhering to His established guidelines without question or reservation.  In doing so, the Jews could receive a temporary relief from the deva­stating effects of sin.  This was accomplished as individuals symbolically identified themselves with the animals that were slain.

For example, even before the elaborate Mosaic sacrificial systems were established, innocent lambs were sometimes slain as offerings for sin.  When this occurred, the person offering the sacrifice would lay his hand upon the head of the innocent lamb.  This act symbolically depicted the transfer of the man's sins and guilt into the lamb which would then become de­filed and was therefore slain as a result.  This act would serve to alleviate the guilt consciousness of the person who wanted to be made more acceptable to God.

The substitutionary death of a single innocent sacrifice on behalf of a multitude of people was well symbolized in the an­nual observance of "Yom Kippur," or the solemn "Day of Atonement."To better understand the symbolism of this special day, it is important to have an understanding of the Jewish Temple itself.  Within the elaborate structure of the ancient Jewish Temple was a special room known as the most holy place or "Holy of Holies."  The "Holy of Holies" was the place that was permeated by the actual holy presence of God and within the "Holy of Holies" was the "Ark of the Covenant."  The Ark of the Covenant was a specially designed, ornate box which contained the rod of Aaron, a pot of manna, and the Ten Com­mandments.  The lid of the Ark was known as the "Mercy Seat.”The “Most Holy Place” was separated from the "Holy Place" and the rest of the temple by a large veil, or curtain.

The Jewish high priest was the only person who was allowed to enter the "Holy of Holies" through the veil and, as a rule, this was done only once a year on the "Day of Atonement." However, before entering the most holy place, the high priest would have to offer a special sacrifice for his own sins and would then choose two perfect goats to be offered on behalf of the people.  One goat was slain and its blood was sprinkled upon the Mercy Seat.  This sacri­fice served as a substitutionary offering or covering for the sins of the people who had violated the laws of Moses written on the tablets of stone that were contained in the Ark of the Covenant.  When this was done, the Lord would look upon the covering of the blood and see the sins of the people no more.  The high priest would then lay his hands upon the head of the other goat known as "the scapegoat" and confess the sins of the nation of Israel.  These sins would then be transferred to the goat and the goat was then removed from the land and released in the distant wilderness.  Through this entire sacrificial ceremony the  people of Israel were made cognizant of the facts that they were indeed sinners; that the penalty for sin was death; but that God would provide a substitute; and, that once their sins were atoned for, they would be removed from them and "remembered no more" by God.


The Plan Revealed


The ancient sacrifices were merely foreshadows of God's ultimate cure for sin.  They were only temporary remedies for the symptoms of sin, without lasting effect because the debt of sin required a more supreme price than the blood of animals.  A glimpse of this truth was revealed in the fortieth Psalm of the Old Testament when King David wrote: "Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired; my ears You have opened.  Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required."  (Psalm 40:6).  This truth is elaborated in the book of Hebrews in the New Testament.  The writer of the book of Hebrews says:  "For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never by the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have a consciousness of sins?  But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year.  For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins."  (Hebrews 10:1-4).

In order for God to remain an eternally just and righteous being, the infection of sin and evil needed to be dealt with. It could not be overlooked.  The death penalty had to be im­posed to satisfy God's required justice; but, because of His unfathomable love, and boundless mercy, God decided to pay the debt Himself on our behalf.  The sacrifice of Himself would be the only sufficient way to once and for all satisfy the just requirement of sin without imposing the penalty of eternal separation from God upon mankind.

In order to accomplish this, God Himself entered the human race as a man; yet, He retained His divine nature.  He became completely human, but, because of His divine nature, He still remained God.  He entered the human race in the per­son of Jesus Christ of Nazareth who came into the world as a baby boy through the process of natural child birth; However He was the first man since Adam who was born without an in­herent sinful nature because He was not conceived by an earthly father.

The inherent nature of sin was transmitted from one generation to the next through the "seed" of each earthly father because Adam was the first-created human being and was probably more responsible for the willful act of sin against God then was Eve since Adam apparently "ate of the fruit" without question or without experiencing any en­ticement or temptation from Satan like Eve did.  (Genesis 3:6, 17).

So, the incarnation of God occurred within the womb of a woman called Mary through a supernatural conception by the Holy Spirit of God.  In the third chapter of the Gospel of Luke, an angel says to this woman called Mary: ". . . The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the Holy off­spring shall be called the Son of God."  (Luke 3:35).  As previously stated, God became totally human, yet, because of His divine nature, He was still the eternal God.  The "Son of God" laid aside His characteristics of total omnipotence, total omniscience, and total omnipresence to enter the world as a servant; but, He never laid aside His divine nature. In the second chapter of the book of Philippians, the Bible says, speaking of Jesus:  "... who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, (held on to) but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."  (Philippians 3:6-8).


Could it be Possible?


At this point it is important to briefly diverge from the subject matter of this chapter and clarify the Chris­tian concept of God.  Christians believe that there is only one eternal God, but that He is a Triune God.  According to the revelation of Holy Scriptures; within the nature of the one eternal God, there exist three distinct persons who are God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. God the Father is presented in scripture as the unseen, per­sonal source and cause of things; God the Son executes the will of the Father and tangibly reveals the Father to mankind; and God the Holy Spirit is the unseen personal agency by whom the purpose and will of God is accomplished.  The Spirit also reveals the Son to mankind and, through the Son, establishes fellow­ship with the complete Godhead.  All three persons of the Trinity are capable of interpersonal communication with each other at the same given moment.  Each person of the Godhead has a separate distinction; yet, each is by nature co-equal, and co-existent as one God in substance.

Without question, this doctrine is extremely difficult to comprehend; yet, it is not impossible.  In fact, it is the only logical concept of God that can be derived from the complete revelation of Holy Scripture because the Bible declares with absolute certainty that there is only one eternal God; and, that there has never been another God formed before, nor will there ever be another God formed after the one and only eternal God.  (Isaiah 43:18; Deuteronomy 6:4; I Corinthians 8:4-6).  However, with just as much certainty, the Bible speaks of three distinct per­sons known as The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit; who are all referred to as God and are ascribed certain attributes which the Bible says that only God can posses.

Most people have no difficulty accepting the fact that there is a definite person in the Bible known as "The Father" who is equated with the eternal God (I Corinthians 8:6; I Chronicles 29:10; John 6:27; Matthew 11:25-27).  The Father is represented as a cognizant, personal being and not some inanimate, impersonal governing "force."

Since "the Father" is obviously represented as being God, it is often difficult for some people to accept Jesus (the Son), or the Holy Spirit, as likewise being God.  In fact, many people fail to recognize the Holy Spirit as a person at all, but rather as some sort of impersonal force like fire, wind, electricity etc. . . . However, a careful study of the scriptures will reveal that both "The Son" and The "Holy Spirit" are two distinct persons apart from the Father who are referred to, both directly and indirectly, as also being God.

The fact that Jesus Christ is revealed in scripture as a definite person who is called "the Son of God," is obvious. Isaiah 9:6; Luke 1:31-32; Mark 1:11; II John: 3; Romans 1:4). The Son is ascribed with attributes of omnipotence (Matthew 28:18), omniscience (Colossians 2:3), and omnipresence (Matthew 18:20).  He also is said to be the eternal creator of all things (John 1:1-4, 14, 18) (Hebrews 13:8) and, accord­ing to the Bible, only God Himself can be credited with such attributes and credentials.  However, in addition to posses­sing the divine qualities, Jesus was also directly referred to as God.

For example, the apostle John stated (speaking of Jesus): "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being by Him and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. . . And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.  (John 1:3, 14).  And, in the twentieth chapter of the Gospel of John, the disciple Thomas is quoted as saying to Jesus:  "My Lord and My God."  (John 20:28).  Some of the additional verses equating Jesus with God can be found in the books of:  Titus 2:13, 14; Hebrews 1:8; John 10:30-33; Reve­lation 1:8 & 22:12, 13, 20.

Although Jesus equated Himself with God, He sometimes spoke of "the Father" as being "greater" than He.  But such verses must be considered in the light of Christ's role on earth as a man. Remember the previously mentioned passage from the book of Philippians which states:". . . who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equal­ity with God a thing to be grasped (held on to), but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond servant and being made in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  (Philippians2:6-9).

God the Son humbled Himself when He became a man known as Jesus of Nazareth.  In doing so, He willingly "emptied Himself" by laying aside His divine attributes of total omni­potence, omniscience and omnipresence; but, in spite of this, He always retained His divine nature.  He was a complete hu­man being who experienced human feelings, emotions, and temptations; yet, by virtue of His nature, He was able to completely subject Himself to the will of the Father, de­pend totally upon the Holy Spirit for his supernatural power and live a perfect life without committing sin.  However, His voluntary mission on earth was never an easy task, in spite of His divine nature, because Jesus often had to endure great physical and emotional anguish as a man.

Therefore, whenever Jesus spoke of the Father as being "greater" than Him, He was speaking from the perspec­tive of a human, Jewish Rabbi.  He was making a quantitative statement in reference to His position as a Rabbi who was totally subject to the Father's will, but He was never speaking qualitatively in reference to His divine nature or substance.  In other words, Jesus said the Father was greater than He, just as we might say the President is greater than ourselves by virtue of his office.  Jesus never said the Father was "better" than He (a statement referring to quality), just as we would never say the President is "better" than us; since he too is a human be­ing like ourselves.

The Bible also reveals "the Holy Spirit" as a definite, cognizant person, distinct from the Father and the Son, but, who also is called "God" and possesses the divine attri­butes.  In speaking of the Holy Spirit Jesus said:  "And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him, or know Him, but you know Him, because He abides with you and will be in you."  (John 14:16, 17). From these verses it is evident that the Holy Spirit is a personal being and not an impersonal force because He some­times spoke to the Apostles.

For example, in the book of Acts, the Bible says:  "And while they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, 'Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them1 .... So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia and from there they sailed to cypress."  (Acts 13:2, 4).  In addition to speaking, the Holy Spirit teaches (John 14:26), comforts (Acts 9:31), intercedes for us in prayer (Romans 8:26), and is capable of becoming "grieved" (Ephesians 4:30).  Such traits are hardly indicative of an inanimate, impersonal force.  The Holy Spirit is a definite personage who, like the Father and Son, is revealed as being omnipotent (Luke 1:35), omniscient (I Corinthians 2:10, 11), and omnipresent (Psalm 139:7-10).  He is sovereign (I Corinthians 12:6, 11), eternal (Hebrews 9:14), and was also involved in the cre­ation of the world.  (Genesis 1:2).

Not only is the Holy Spirit ascribed with the attributes that only God can posses, He is also directly referred to as "God" by the Apostle Peter. In the fifth chapter of the book of Acts, Peter, after discovering that a man and his wife had deliberately conspired to withhold a portion of the proceeds they received from the sale of a parcel of property that they had previously committed to give to the Lord, rebuked them with the following words:  ". . . Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back some of the price of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own?  And after it was sold, was it not under your control?  Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart?  You have not lied to men, but to God."  (Acts 5:3, 4) It is impossible to lie to an impersonal, lifeless entity such as a car, or the wind, because only a reflective, cognizant being is capable of being lied to.  In the aforementioned passage of scripture, Peter accused Ananias of lying to the Holy Spirit.  He then tells him that in doing so, he had lied to God.  Obviously the Holy Spirit is revealed by Peter to be a reflective cognizant person who is directly referred to as God.

The Bible contains many other verses which, both directly and indirectly, imply the absolute deity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Therefore, since there are three distinct persons who are identified as God; yet, the Bible reveals that there is only one God, the only possible conclusion one can arrive at (if the Bible is believed to be God's trustworthy revelation) is that the three persons must comprise the one eternal God.

On this issue, some people will make a mathematical objection by stating that 1+1+1=3.  However, the Godhead is not triplex, but is rather, triune and can be mathemat­ically analogized as 1x1x1=1.  The entire universe reflects a Trinitarian creator because it contains a host of tri-unities within itself.  For example, we live in a "space-mass- time continuum" which comprises the entire cosmos.  All physical knowledge and experience can be classified under the heading of space, mass, or time.  Each of the three is a separate entity, yet each is an essential component of the united "space-mass-time" continuum.  Furthermore, each of these three entities likewise reflects a Trinitarian design.  For example, space (as we perceive and experience it) consists of exactly three dimensions.  Each dimension is distinct from the others, yet the three are absolutely es­sential to the composition of "space." Without all three dimensions, there would be no space or reality.  The three dimensions comprise the whole of space, yet there is only one "space."

As with space, there are three essential ingredients in the composition of matter.  Matter is comprised of energy in motion which produces various phenomenon.  Energy is the unseen source, or power, which manifests itself in motion. The type of motion determines the type of phenomenon that is produced and thus perceived by our senses.  Energy, mo­tion and phenomenon are three distinct phases of matter yet all three unite to form the whole of matter.  One phase cannot exist without the other two.

And finally, the entity of time consists of past, present, and future.  All three unite to form the whole of time, yet one cannot exist without the other two.  Dr. Henry Morris explains time in the following manner:  "The future is the unseen source of time and made, real, moment by moment in the present.  The past then proceeds from the present, becoming invisible again yet continually influencing us with regard to the present and even, to some extent, the future."*

Much more could be said about the Trinitarian design that permeates all of creation.  Indeed, several books have been devoted to this one subject alone because of the many scriptural passages which allude to the Trinity and because of the many analogies which are available to illustrate the feasibility of a triune God.

Although the concept of a triune God is admittedly difficult for mankind to totally comprehend, our incompre­hension does not constitute a legitimate excuse for the rejection of a triune God.  There are many things in this world which are difficult to understand; but, which are nevertheless proven realities.  For example, it is somewhat perplexing to imagine that the chair you may be sitting on is composed of trillions and trillions of tiny vibrating particles called atoms.  Within each atom exists even smaller units called electrons, which move so fast that they orbit the center, or nucleus of the atom, billions of times in less than one millionth of a second.  Our inabil­ity to fully comprehend this fact does not detract from its reality, nor does it prevent us from placing our trust-in the chair as we rest our entire weight upon it;  just as our inability to understand everything about electricity certainly does not prevent anyone from turning on the light switch to enjoy the benefits derived from it.  Therefore, if people trust in finite perplexities which seem to defy human perception and logic, why should they demand total understanding of an infinite God, before placing their trust in Him.

The most basic and cardinal doctrine of the true Christian faith is the Doctrine of the Trinity.  It is a revelation of Holy Scripture and an historic belief of the earliest Christian churches (although some cults unintelligibly try to deny this).  The concept of a triune God is one further indication of a faith that was not conceived within the limitations of finite human logic; rather, it was re­vealed by an infinite God and accepted by His people, even though it defied complete human comprehension.

The Christian concept of a triune God is essential to a proper understanding and appreciation of God's supreme remedy for the infection of sin in that, because of God's unfathomable love for mankind, He personally provided the one and only sufficient sacrifice for sin.  God the Father, sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ into the world to redeem the human race.  Because of this, the Holy Spirit is now actively engaged in the ministry of revealing God's plan of redemption throughout the world.


God's Final Cure


In order to satisfy the required debt of sin; God the Son took upon Himself the punishment which all men right­fully deserved.  The eternal God of heaven humbled Himself, became a human servant, and allowed Himself to be mocked, humiliated, spit upon and finally crucified in order that man could be eternally delivered from all evil and suffer­ing.

Jesus lived a perfect life, unblemished by sin or evil. Wherever He ventured, He alleviated human suffering and sat­isfied human needs.  As a man, He always sought the will of the Father and never succumbed to the temptations of Satan. Because of this, Jesus was undeserving of death; yet, He willingly suffered one of the most heinous executions imagin­able.  He, who had been united with the Father from the beginning, experienced the horrible emptiness of being sepa­rated from the Father when the past, present, and future sins of the world were transferred to the innocent Lamb of God who hung upon a cross and suffered in our place.

Just as the sacrificial lambs of the Old Testament were required to be perfect and unblemished, so also was the "Lamb of God," Jesus Christ, was required to be perfect and unblemished by sin.  If Jesus had sinned against God, His life would have been an insufficient sacrifice because He would have no longer been free of guilt and undeserving of punishment.  Plus, He would have never conquered death through the resurrection from the grave because sin would have held Him in bondage forever. However, because of His perfect life; and because the debt of sin had been paid in full; death could not hold Him in the grave.  Furthermore, if Jesus had been only a mere man, without the divine nature, His death would have had no more vicarious significance than the deaths of the patriarchs and prophets before Him.  But, since God Himself laid down His own holy life as a ransom, there is no greater price which can be paid; therefore, the debt of sin for all time has been more than satisfied.

There is now no other sacrifices which can be offered as atonement for our sins except the precious blood of Jesus. There is no more need for mortal priests who offer continuous sacrifices to God on our behalf because Jesus is now our "Great High Priest" who continuously intercedes for those who love Him.  Consider these words from the book of Hebrews: "And the former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers, because they were prevented by death from continuing, but He (Jesus), on the other hand because He abides forever, holds His priesthood permanently.  Hence, also, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.  For it was fit­ting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins, and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself" (Hebrews 7:23-27).

At the very moment Christ died, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom while the earth experienced an upheaval in nature (Matthew 27:51).  This event is well documented in history and was believed by the Jews to be an omen of the impending destruction of the temple.  However, the tearing of the curtain may have also symbolized the new available relationship between God and man.  It may have sig­nified the removal of any barrier between God and man since all people now have access to God through faith in Jesus Christ.  This thought is expressed in the following passage of scripture:  "Since therefore brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assur­ance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful"; (Hebrews 9:19-23).

The preceding passage was written to some Jews who had originally accepted the free gift of forgiveness through Jesus Christ; then later began sacrificing animals again as an addi­tional means of forgiveness.  The writer of the book of Hebrews goes on to sternly warn these people by saying:  "… if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the know­ledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins."  (Hebrews 10:26).  In other words, if we continue to rely upon any other means of forgiveness besides the blood of Jesus, then there will be no forgiveness of sins as long as we maintain this attitude; because there is no greater sacrifice, no further price that can now be of­fered on our behalf.

The debt of sin has been satisfied for all eternity. The required justice of God has been administered.  Now God can freely extend His love and mercy without compromising His attribute of justice.  All that remains for man to do is to thankfully receive His free pardon through faith and trust in Jesus Christ. (By Robert Linkey)


The Truth:

“….God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (I John 4:16)


"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:16)


Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is  born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. (I John 4: 7,8)


* The creation account of Genesis is supported by a wealth of scientific data that seldom reaches the public education system.  These facts are well-documented in  part II of this book.

* Dr. Henry Morris, The Bible & Modern Science (Moody Press, Chicago Ill, 1951, 1968) P. 24

Proverb of the Week

Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23 NASB)

Psalm of the Week

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help come?My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber.Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand.The sun will not smite you by day, nor the moon by night.The Lord will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul.The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever. (Psalm 121 NASB)

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