The Plan of God

Why?  Why did God create Satan?  Why did God allow Satan to tempt us in the Garden of Eden?  Why did God allow us to grow up in a world filled with evil and pain?  Why does God require faith?

As I have tested my Christian beliefs over the last twenty years, I have grown in my assurance of the truths of the Bible.  By examining what I know of my own behaviour and inclinations, I cannot doubt that I am a sinner who does not deserve God’s love and needs a saviour.  From my examination of the scientific evidence, I know that I must either have faith in an infinite number of random universes for which human beings can never have any evidence or a creator such as the one described in the Bible.  Considering the reality of my everyday experience, I see that I appear to be made in the image of God in my ability to reason, love and make choices.  Examining the facts of history, I see that human beings are sinners and that the early Christians died in large numbers testifying that humanity had a saviour who rose from the dead.  Examining all of this evidence, however, still leaves one major question.  Why?

To my mind, these central question of motivation are the most important.  Any reasonable adult will understand and agree that a limited amount of pain and suffering could, in principle, be worthwhile depending on the goal.  We even have a saying that recognizes our willingness to make this exchange.  We say, “no pain, no gain” to motivate ourselves to suffer through difficulty in order to attain a desired goal.  On the other hand, experiencing gratuitous pain at the hands of another person is the hallmark of an abusive relationship and any intelligent, self-respecting adult would avoid someone who inflicts pain on themselves or others without a good reason.  What is that reason?  Why would God create a world filled with such pain?

I have wrestled for a long time with how to present what I believe to be the essential answer to these questions.  I finally decided on a narrative form, but the work required to complete the answer in this form is substantial.  For this reason, I changed my mind and decided to present the case in basic outline as a time line of significant events in the Plan of God.

  1. Desiring to pour out His love and bless others, God creates an absolutely perfect creation and appoints the greatest of all possible created beings as the “morning star”.  The beings in this creation know God “by sight” without requiring faith and experience no pain. (Genesis 1:1)
  2. The “morning star” is overcome by pride as he desires to supplant the creator.  The “morning star” Lucifer is cast down by God and becomes Satan, the great enemy of God.
  3. Satan oppresses the angelic creation using the power of death.  Satan’s power of death derives from God’s perfect holiness and the imperfect love of all created beings.  Because God is no respecter of persons and because every soul that sins is worthy of death and because every created being falls short of the glory of God in various ways, Satan is able to lawyer his way out of judgment for evil acts committed against other angels.
  4. Groaning under Satanic oppression, the holy angels appeal to God for deliverance.
  5. In response to the appeal of the holy angels, God agrees to create a royal priesthood, a people made in His image who will share His throne and judge over angels and end the Satanic oppression.  Putting this plan into action, God creates the Earth and the first human beings.
  6. Determined to derail God’s plan for ending his reign, Satan tempts Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  God responds to the disobedience of Adam and Eve by banishing them from the Garden of Eden, but God promises that the “seed of the woman” will crush the head of Satan.  (Genesis 3)
  7. In an attempt to destroy the “seed of the woman” promised by God, Satan corrupts the children of Adam and Eve until God is forced to destroy them in a universal flood that wipes out all of human society.  Out of this judgment of all mankind, God saves a man named Noah.  (Genesis 6-9)
  8. After the Flood of Noah, humanity once again rebels against God by attempting to build the Tower of Babel.  God responds by confusing our languages and forcing humanity to spread over the entire Earth.  (Genesis 11)
  9. After humanity has been scattered over all the earth and forgotten all about God, God begins to broadcast the truths of creation, fall and flood to all mankind through dreams.  Though a few cultures preserve distorted versions of these dreams as legends or stories, only one man chooses to seek after the source of these dreams.
  10. From among the most barbaric people of the world, God chooses His servant Abram to become the father of the faithful.  He changes Abram’s name to Abraham, makes a covenant with his descendants and causes him to have a son in his old age.  Over the course of the next few thousand years, God takes the descendants of Abraham and fashions them into the people that He wants them to be.
  11. At long last, God’s promise is fulfilled when His Son Jesus Christ is born, lives a perfect life to the glory of God the Father and dies on the cross for the sins of the world.  After three days, He is resurrected and given all authority in Heaven and on Earth.  The “bright and morning star” has replaced the “morning star” as the ruler of God’s creation.
  12. After the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the gospel of salvation goes out to all the world against all possible opposition.  Those who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior do so by faith under the worst possible conditions.  They do not see God’s great goodness by sight, but instead experience suffering of all kinds.  In common with all human beings, believers in Jesus Christ experience the pain and death of mortality.  In addition to this common tribulation, believers also experience the persecution and ridicule of the world.  Because human beings who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour in faith have done so under the most difficult conceivable conditions, however, they can be trusted to share in God’s throne and will be given the authority to judge over all of God’s creation as a royal priesthood.  Jesus Christ and His church are the fulfillment of God’s promise to deliver angelic creation from Satanic oppression.  By reconciling all things to himself through the cross of Christ, God broke Satan’s power of death and freed creation from its tyranny.
  13. Once God has completed His church, He sends Jesus Christ back to the earth to rescue His chosen people, to establish His throne and to bring in a new age.  This is known as the great and terrible “Day of the Lord” and inaugurates what Christians call the Millennium or thousand year reign of Christ.

Why?  Why did God create Satan?  Why did God allow Satan to tempt us in the Garden of Eden?  Why did God allow us to grow up in a world filled with evil and pain?  Why does God require faith?

God’s first creation had no pain and required no faith.  Because the citizens of the angelic creation were given their gifts without accepting their need of the love, forgiveness and assistance of God, this creation was doomed because created beings are incapable of eternal love without God’s help.  To redeem angelic creation, God’s plan required a second creation where those who accepted their need of God’s help by faith were accepted into the divine family.  In this way, pain, suffering and faith are central to God’s purpose for our lives and this is why the world around us is the way that it is.  We experience the pain and suffering of this world that we might see our need for the grace, forgiveness and love of Jesus Christ and accept Him as Saviour and Lord.

 **Notes**

  1. We don’t know if the angelic creation preceded the creation of the stars and galaxies that we see in the night sky because the Bible covers the creation of the stars and galaxies and the angels in a single verse.
  2. We don’t know when the fall of Lucifer occurred, but we do know that it preceded the events in the Garden of Eden detailed in Genesis 3.
  3. Though the fall of Lucifer must have occurred before Genesis 3 and must have had a negative impact on the angelic creation, we do not know any details.  I am convinced that the history of the angelic creation dwarfs the history of human beings both in terms of how many angels there are and the amount of time involved.  I offer up some ideas about what these details might have looked like in my post “The Second Wave of Creation“.
  4. (see 3 above)
  5. There are a few verses in the Bible where the role of believers in Jesus Christ is mentioned:  “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9)  “Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?” (1 Corinthians 6:3)
  6. I am a believer in the day = age school of interpretation of Genesis championed by Dr. Hugh Ross and Reasons to Believe.
  7. As I have outlined elsewhere, the Flood of Noah is the hardest part of Christianity for me to believe and requires faith.
  8. Like the Flood, the rebellion of Nimrod af the Tower of Babel requires faith as there is no external evidence to validate the story.
  9. God often communicates to people through dreams and I believe that there was a “Broadcast to all men” where God sent dreams to people all over the Earth showing them the stories of creation, fall and flood.  I believe that these dreams are the basis for the similarities between various accounts of creation and flood among different cultures.
  10. Many people are horrified at the sins that are obvious in the Old Testament, but to me it is clear that God chose a primitive and barbaric people to display the power of His love and forgiveness.  If you claimed that you had the ability to rehabilitate criminals and were asked to prove it by picking a single prison inmate, would you choose the most moral inmate or the most depraved?  The primitive barbarians of Old Testament Israel were the worst of the worst and God demonstrated the power of His love by making them into the most civilized and accomplished people on earth.  I give an example of one of the sins of Moses in “Throwing Moses Under the Bus Part 2“.  I discuss the sins of Old Testament Israel in “Quantum Mechanics in Kindergarten“.
  11. A common objection to Christianity is made by atheists when they note that Jesus is the same as Muhammad when He says, “But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them–bring them here and kill them in front of me.” (Luke 19:27).  I believe that this verse reveals the plan of God to use the church as a mediator for those who are not perfect in righteousness before God through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.  After Christ, whose holiness requires Him to punish with death all who sin, pronounces this judgment, the Bride of Christ intercedes on behalf of the condemned.  Those who choose to accept this final intercession will be allowed to live “outside the city” as is spoken of in Revelation.  (see my post on the Nature of Hell)
  12. Of course, this view requires the acceptance of the idea that all created beings are inherently evil and “fall short of the glory of God” in their attempts to love Him and love one another.  I outline why I think the simplistic notion of Adam as perfectly good in the Garden of Eden is bad theology in my post “Bad Theology Part I“.  I outline why I think faith is essential for those who share God’s authority in “Absolute Power“.

 

About Robert V

Former atheist currently living in Toronto.
This entry was posted in God's Purpose for Suffering and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to The Plan of God

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