In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. (John 1:1-3)
From everlasting to everlasting, the perfect love that we call God existed in three persons. Fullness of love, joy, peace, harmony and beauty exists only in them and they exist eternally. Desiring to share love, joy, peace, beauty and harmony with others, they created the angels as sons made in their image.
The angelic creation was perfect and none of the angels ever knew sickness, disease or death and they were perfectly aware of God’s existence and nature from the time they were created. Being finite beings who were not perfect in their love nor self-existent, however, the angels could only be perfectly loving by choosing obedience to the guidance of God. For an age that had a duration that human beings cannot quantify or understand, the angels lived in obedience to God and all was well. At some point, however, the foremost of the angels chose not to walk in obedience to perfect love and fell.
This angelic being, who the Word of God tells us is the Father of Lies and a Murderer from the beginning, seized the power of death and began to terrorize the angelic creation. Deliberately choosing to perform actions that were not consistent with perfect love, this angelic being began to magnify himself and accomplish his own ends at the expense of others. When those injured by imperfect love petitioned God for protection and redress, this angelic being became Satan the accuser. Wielding the perfect holiness of God as a weapon, Satan would answer any accusation with counter-accusations. “I find it deeply disturbing that my brother should accuse me in this way, oh God. We all know that if you were to start judging us, all would be found unworthy of your gift of life and we all alike would be sentenced to the death and unbeing that we all deserve. Can not my brother be like you and forgive and turn the other cheek that we all might live?” Using the power of death in this way, Satan sought to usurp the throne of God and rule over creation in accordance with God’s will.
Though God’s infinite love, patience and mercy would have allowed this situation to continue in perpetuity, those angels who chose obedience to perfect love did not have infinite love, patience and mercy. They began to petition God to end Satan’s usurpation and release them from the power of death. At long last, God heard their cries and initiated the plan to overcome the power of death and bring in everlasting righteousness.
Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone–while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? (Job 38:4-7)
He began by creating this Universe, where the nature and even the existence of God are veiled from the sight of those who live among the stars and are made from the dust. From the unimaginably vast number of stars and galaxies, God chose a small planet around a seemingly unexceptional star and created life. Over billions of years, God sequentially created bacteria, plants, fish and other creatures culminating in creatures that had a divine spark named Adam and Eve. After Satan demonstrated that human beings were not capable of perfect love by tempting these new creatures with the knowledge of good and evil, humanity began its journey to accomplish God’s purpose and release creation from the power of death.
Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:6)
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)
In stark contrast to the angelic sons of God, the descendants of Adam and Eve cannot know God’s existence except by faith. Living lives of toil that are constantly punctuated by pain, disease and death, humanity does not directly see the infinite love, patience and kindness of God. When a being who has known such pain, suffering, disease and death trusts in God and believes in His existence and His goodness, God considers that person to be perfect before Him regardless of what that person has actually done.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103: 11-12)
If God is for us, who can be against us? . . . Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. (Romans 8:33)
This miracle of declaring those who have faith as righteous was accomplished by the second person of the Trinity, the finite manifestation of perfect love on the cross at Calvary. By living a life of perfect love and obedience even to the point of being tortured to death on the cross, Jesus Christ pleased God the Father and made it possible for all who believe in Him to be declared righteous before God by faith. Because those who believe in Jesus Christ are righteous by faith and not by works of the law, they cannot be accused of violating the law and death has no power over them.
Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! (1 Corinthians 6:3)
Once human beings have been declared righteous by faith, they are appointed as judges over the angels. Because those whom God has declared righteous by faith are heirs to throne of God, they can judge angelic disputes without imposing the penalty of death required by God’s holiness for any transgression. Because the power of death has been broken in this way, Satan can no longer use it to enslave creation and God’s conquest of evil is complete.
When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” (1 Corinthians 15:54)
The Bible speaks of Satan’s power of death, but there is little discussion of what it is or why it is important in the church. What is the power of death? How did Satan come to have it? Why should it be that Satan has the power of death when God is the author of life? Answering these questions as above allows us to answer other questions that are seemingly unrelated and have been an obstacle to faith for many generations.
What is the purpose and meaning of life?
God created us to know eternal love, joy, peace, beauty and harmony. In order to experience the joy that God has for us, we must learn to depend on Him and accept His guidance. Without the guidance and assistance of God, perfect love and joy is impossible for us.
Why did God create evil?
God created finite beings who did not have a perfectly loving, kind and generous nature in order to share joy with them. Because created beings are finite and do not have a perfectly loving nature, they must choose obedience to perfect love in order to avoid injuring one another. If created beings do not choose to submit to perfect love, an unlimited amount of evil is the inevitable result.
Why does pain, suffering, disease and death exist in the world?
The essential purpose of this creation was to create sons of God who would be righteous by faith and not by sight. This purpose required that God veil His existence and His nature and He accomplished this by placing us in a hostile environment where belief in an omnipotent and beneficent God is extremely difficult.
Why did Jesus Christ have to die on the cross for God to forgive sins?
Jesus Christ did not have to die on the cross so that God could allow us to live. God’s infinite patience and mercy was sufficient to grant us eternal life. Jesus Christ had to die on the cross in order to declare those who believe righteous by faith and break the power of death. This was done that the rule of Satan might be broken and the rule of the Son of God might be established on the day the Bible calls the “Great and Terrible Day of the LORD”.
Why does a human being have to believe in Jesus Christ in order to get into heaven?
As finite human beings, we tend to think of paradise as a pleasant place. Perhaps a white sandy beach with crystal clear blue waters and a cool tropical breeze with great food. Paradise, however, is determined by the love that you experience from those around you. In order to be capable of the perfect love that paradise requires, we have to accept the guidance and assistance of God through Jesus Christ. Without this guidance and assistance, the world must inevitably become the world we see around us. A world of violence, envy, bitterness, hatred, strife and unforgiveness caused by human small mindedness and self-centered thinking. Only by accepting that your love has fallen short of God’s perfect standard and accepting His forgiveness and assistance is paradise possible.
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