Revised 01 December 2002
APrayer of Jesus I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will.
The characteristics of the natural world as experienced by humans and described by science are consistent with the faith based message of Jesus. It is reasonable to believe that the Father created the world as it is for a certain purpose. The Bible reveals this purpose, which is also consistent with Jesus' message. Free will is a primary key to this conception.
Chapter I: The Problem
Please note and remember that it is not our purpose here to prove anything because these faith based conceptions are not subject to scientific proofs. Any attempted proof must begin with proof of our primary assumption, the existence of a Creator God, which is impossible. Our purpose, in this and subsequent chapters devoted to this theme, is only to show that, in the light of modern science, it is reasonable to believe Jesus and his unique message
A. The Purpose of the World
God has revealed his purpose for the world. There are brief statements in both the prophets and apostles. Isaiah wrote:Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you; I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, every one who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made. (43:5,6,7)The prophet assures Israel that the scattered nation will be gathered from the ends of the earth and that the sons and daughters “whom I created for my glory” will be gathered into his Glory. This does not mean only that he created his sons and daughters for his glorification on the earth. He created his sons and daughters for his Glory, which is his heavenly abode, much as one begets children for his house.
Then in the apostolic writing we find this in Hebrews:For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through suffering. (2:10)From this early testimony we can draw the reasonable inference that it is the purpose of him, by whom and through whom all things exist, to bring many daughters and sons to glory by means of the creation of all things. There may be other purposes for the creation of all things. They need not be considered here. We need consider only this one statement of purpose in creation that is relevant to human beings. God has created all things that he might bring “many sons to glory.” As Isaiah suggests, we were created for his glory.
Jesus did not state the purpose of creation. He appears, instead, to have assumed it, and then to have gone on to reveal the implications of this purpose for human beings. His message is so thoroughly consistent with this expression of the Father's purpose in creation that it is most reasonable to believe that he understood it to be so. Before we bring his revelations forward, we must set forth some implications of this purpose of the Father in creation. These implications will define four basic propositions. This will of necessity compel us to focus on free will as a key to relating the natural world and the supernatural purpose.
B. Defining the Problem
When we ponder the above statements of the Father's purpose in creating the world, we find that two things require careful study. The first is the concept, Glory. The second is the concept, sons and daughters, or children. It is through the consideration of these things that free will comes to mind. We need only look at each one briefly to see why this is so.
“Glory” is the word used to specify the eternal realm of divine being. The Father is glorious; his eternal dwelling is glorious; everything pertaining to his state of divine being is glorious; it is the realm than humans call “heaven”, where dwells the Father together with the angels, his divine son, and other glorious beings that inhabit his realm. It is beautiful beyond description, and those that dwell there are happy beyond expression. We can say this only because there is an innate, inner drive that compels us to imagine such a place and to hope for it as our eternal destiny. It is an aspiration that seems essential to our being, which is an important observation that I will return to in Chapter IV.
We can say almost nothing more of the divine Glory. We cannot tell how it came to be, how the Father and other eternal beings came to inhabit it, how it relates to our world, or how the Father obtained the Son who appeared in the world in the person of Jesus. We can, however, further define the elements of divine existence in Glory that are compatible with Glory. It must be a place of secure and undisturbed happiness. It must therefore be devoid of conflict. It is therefore a realm of permanent, eternal peace. Otherwise, it could not be Glory. It is without war. It is without anything that would make its residents unhappy. Let us set this forth as a cardinal observation:(1) There can be no conflict in Glory.2. Sons and Daughters
The second concept, sons and daughters, defines a relationship between parents and offspring. To simplify I here substitute the word, child. The child is related to and is like the parent in fundamental ways. There may be differences in the details, but the essentials are the same. Therefore a child of God the Father is like the Father by definition. To use a common example of what I mean here, a child may not have the same color of hair as the parent, but the same nature resides under the hair. So, when we consider spiritual things, it is not necessary that there be the same physical appearance. It is necessary that there be the same spiritual nature to define the person. This is the significance of the biblical revelation that God created man in his own image. (Genesis 1:26) It follows that we can learn much about God by studying ourselves. The inner qualities of the human person are such because God is so. Thus we can state Proposition No. 2 as follows:(2) The child of God is necessarily the likeness of God.3. The Quality of Free Desire
Most important to the present subject is that human beings have the ability to desire things, freely and without hindrance. This does not imply omnipotence, which would include the ability to produce whatever we desire. We conclude therefore that the Father likewise has this quality of free desire, and that he has imparted it to us that we might be in his likeness. It is this capacity to freely desire that I am calling free will. We have free will because the Father has free will. The belief that the Father has free will raises philosophical questions that we will identify below, in Chapter II. Here it is only necessary to acknowledge that he does, in truth, have and exercise free will much as humans do. Otherwise human beings could never qualify to be his children, nor could he qualify to be our Father because we would be unlike him in our essential nature. We state this as Proposition No. 3:(3) The child of God possesses free will as God possesses free will.4. Free Will and Dominion
Dominion is one of the many things we are prone to desire in the freedom of the will. This should not surprise us, because the first thing that God said after setting man in the earth was, “Let them have dominion . . . over all the earth.” (Genesis 1:26) We can exercise dominion only because we are in the likeness of the Father, who also is of such a nature as to exercise dominion. When the dominion is the Lord's, we have what the scriptures refer to as the kingdom of God. Therefore we human beings are perfectly fitted to the exercise of dominion because we are in the likeness of him whose nature it is to rule. From the beginning the Father invested human beings with free will and with dominion “over all the earth.” (Genesis 1:26) It is our nature to freely desire and exercise dominion, again because we are in the likeness of God.
There is a very intimate connection between free will and dominion. At the most fundamental level, free will results in specific desires. These desires are often in conflict with the desires of others, such that only the one who has dominion controls the situation and is able to realize his or her desire. Therefore free will demands dominion as its companion. Whoever has dominion in any specific situation of conflicting desires is the one who “gets his way.” The history of the human race displays this as nation has risen against nation in the ongoing striving to obtain dominion “over all the earth.” Proposition No. 4 is then as follows:(4) Human beings, as potential children of God, freely desire dominion.Now we list these four propositions together to see what we can learn from them in the light of God’s purpose of having “many sons in glory”:(1) There can be no conflict in Glory.
(2) The child of God is necessarily in the likeness of God.
(3) The child of God possesses free will as God possesses free will.
(4) Human beings, in the likeness of God, freely desire dominion.
5. The Problem Defined
Do you see the difficult problem that lies before us? If the Father populates his glory with children in his likeness, as they must be to qualify as children, they will have free will. They will exercise this free will to desire dominion, as they must if they are in his likeness. They will therefore strive with one another and with the Father for the dominion in glory. The result will be great conflict – war in heaven! But this is not permissible, because Glory would no more be glorious. If we seek an example of what would transpire in Glory, just look at the history of human beings on the earth! Or, look at a typical family with adolescent children. If the Father is to realize his purpose of having “many sons in glory”, he must first find a way to surmount this difficulty.
The problem has another aspect just as serious. The desire for children to inhabit the Father's realm of glory is the Father's desire! The children, if they are free, as they must be in the context of free will, may have contrary desires. They may find Glory not to their liking and desire to inhabit some other place or state of being. What then? If they are free, they must be accorded this desire and, if possible, its fulfillment. We see this scenario worked out in almost every nuclear family of human beings on the earth, and pictured in Jesus’ Parable of the Prodigal Son. It is typical of adolescent children to want to inhabit some other place than the familiar home provided by the parent. Here we see the wisdom of the old cliché, “familiarity breeds contempt.” So, the desire for dominion may seek its consummation either in claiming dominion over the domicile of the Father, or by escaping the dominion of the Father into some other realm. Either way, the Father will have lost the child.
The problem, then, we can simply state as follows: How can God populate heaven with children like unto himself without sparking conflicts of the will such as would spoil his Glory?
C. THE SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM
The first idea to come to mind is of course not acceptable. The Father cannot program the children to be submissive to his will of their own free will. This idea is a contradiction. That would void their freedom. They, being then unlike him, could not qualify as his children. They might qualify as slaves or hired servants, but never as children. Their wills would not be free.
1. The Alternate Habitat
Another idea, almost as simple, may apply. To avoid conflict, the children must not enter Glory with wills contrary to that of the Father. Since his primary will for them is that they inhabit Glory, it follows that they must first inhabit some other site. There they must have and be aware of the option of desiring to inhabit Glory in perfect accord with the will of the Father. Some of them may freely choose that option. Those who do so will be qualified to enter into the Father's eternal Glory simply because that is their will, freely chosen and in perfect agreement with the will of the Father. Those who want to continue to abide in the alternate habitat cannot and will not enter into the Father's realm of Glory simply because they do not want to do so! Their wills would be contrary to the will of the Father. Let us now state Proposition No. 5:(5) The Father must provide an alternate habitat in which to birth his children.This seems so obvious that it is surely the solution to our problem. Yet questions remain. What must be the characteristics of the potential children dwelling in the alternate habitat? What must be the characteristics of that habitat? How will their transfer into Glory be effected? These questions require extensive consideration and will be discussed in Chapters III and IV respectively.
2. The Urgent Question
Another, more immediate, question must be addressed here and now. That is the obvious one: The children qualify to enter Glory by desiring of their own free will to be there. They must retain their free will to remain in the likeness of the Father so as to continue to qualify as children. What is to prevent their rebelling after having been accepted into heaven? In that case the entire project would have been for naught! They might, like the Prodigal Son, decide to demand their inheritance and split. Or, they might become rebellious, fractious, and willful instigators of conflicts. No, we cannot go a step further without resolving this question!
3. Love, a Third Point of Likeness to God
This is simple to resolve. We need only remember that these children will be in the likeness of the Father. That is a fundamental premise. Thus far we have only needed to specify two areas of likeness: the possession of free will and the desire for dominion. There are two other biblically stated characteristics of God that now come to our rescue. The first is love.So we know and believe the love God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. (I John 4:16)God is love; therefore his children in his likeness are also love. They love one another and they love the Father, even as the Father loves them. (John 3:16) This love is in its essence the most powerful binder in existence, in either time or eternity. It binds all lovers together into a unity, much as the mortar binds the individual bricks into a solid wall. They have their very lives immersed in love, as God is love; therefore they abide in God, and he in them. In the unity of love there can be no conflict – no war in heaven. The Father's children in heaven will therefore experience perfect unity in the bonds of love.
4. The Unchangeableness of God
Still, they remain free. What is to prevent one or more of them from exercising this freedom of the will to cease loving and begin hating? The resulting discord would surely spoil Glory! This brings us to the second additional characteristic of God that resolves the issue completely:For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed. (Malachi 3:6)This is the unchangeableness of God! Therefore, his children, in his likeness, do not change. They are love, as God is love, and that will not change. Therefore all his children enter into his Glory in the bonds of love. They love the Father, and they love one another with a love that will never change. We state these two points of likeness as Propositions No. 6 and 7:(6) The Father's children, like the Father, will be love.Unchangeableness will appear at first glance to void free will. How can a will be free that can never change? Yet, if one truly has free will, one must have the option of unchangeableness. That is our position here.
(7) The Father's children, like the Father, do not change.
These seven biblically based propositions are sufficient to explain our fundamental premise, that God has created the world as the habitat where his potential children have their being and come to know him, becoming like him in all things so as to qualify for the heavenly Glory. We summarize this by listing all seven together.(1) There can be no conflict in Glory. Peace is its essence.
(2) The child of God is necessarily in the likeness of God.
(3) The child of God possesses free will as God possesses free will.
(4) Human beings, as potential children of God, freely desire dominion.
(5) The Father must provide an alternate habitat in which to birth his children.
(6) The Father's children, like the Father, are lovers.
(7) The Father's children, like the Father, do not change.
D. IMPLICATIONS OF THE SOLUTION
Let us now visualize the alternate habitat and its inhabitants, and see what we can say about them. As indicated above, they must be in the image of God the Father as to their essential nature. Therefore they will have free will. In the freedom of the will, they may either love or hate God, but if they are to qualify to enter his Glory, they must learn to love God above all. Love is a binding force that draws persons together into a unity, and when they have learned so to love God the Father, they will desire above all things to go to him in his Glory. This is precisely where it is his will that they be.
1. The Essential Hatred
It follows that, once they have learned to truly love God, they will not want any longer to remain in the alternate habitat. They will desire from the heart to leave it so as to go to the Father. This desire of separation is the opposite of love, which binds, and therefore qualifies as hate. Those who have qualified to enter the Glory of the Father will therefore hate their existence in the alternate habitat. This implies that, to qualify for Glory:(1) Each must hate the life in the alternate habitat, desiring to leave it.
2. The Essential Desires
It is as children that the Father wants them in his Glory. It is not enough simply to desire to enter the Glory of God. To conform to the will of the Father, those in the alternate habitat must want to enter in the bonds of a certain relationship: as children of God the Father. They must desire from the heart to enter the Glory of God, and they must desire to enter it as the children of God. Entering on the basis of any status other than children of the Father would put them outside his will. Their discordant wills would generate conflicts in Glory, and so destroy it. They must love God in a certain way. They must love him as a child loves its father. This implies that, to qualify for Glory:(2) Each must desire to be a child of God the Father.3. The Exclusive Relationship
The relation of father to child must be exclusive. The father may have more than one child, to be sure, but the child can have only one father. So, in the present case in which we consider the child of God, there can be only one father, the Father in Glory. Let us suppose it were otherwise and examine the consequences.
The child then enters the Glory of the Father loving the Father as father, but also having another father – perhaps one left behind in the alternate habitat. This love for the father left behind will continue to bind the child to that father. The heart of the child will be divided and therefore not fully conformed to the will of the Father in Glory. The result will be discord, lack of commitment, conflict and unhappiness. Glory would, again, be destroyed. How can one truly desire from the heart to leave the alternate habitat and enter the Glory of God when one remains bound by relationships peculiar to that habitat?
Therefore it is not possible for one to desire from the heart to enter the Glory of God while remaining bound by that heart to persons in the alternate habitat. God cannot accept one into his Glory as his child who remains bound to another father. This implies that, to qualify for Glory:(3) Each must hate any "father" other than God.This is radical language. If one in the alternate habitat continues to love, not only the father, but other persons who dwell there – mother, brother, child, spouse – one remains bound to that habitat and cannot qualify to enter the Glory of the Father. One must desire from the heart to leave all of them so as to go to the Father in Glory! Love bound them together and they will remain bound while the love abides. Therefore one must cease loving them and begin hating them to qualify for Glory. This implies that, to quality for Glory:(4) Each must hate all relationships in the alternate habitat.Now, let’s list these four implications together:(1) Each must hate the life in the alternate habitat, desiring to leave it.4. Love must be paired with Hate
(2) Each must desire to be a child of God the Father.
(3) Each must hate any father other than God.
(4) Each must hate all relationships in the alternate habitat.
The hatred of which we speak here must be a qualified hatred. It does not imply that those who love God and want to be joined to him in his Glory must despise others. It says only that they must truly desire to be separated from others who are in the alternate habitat so as to go to the Father. Love binds all lovers into one, whereas this particular hatred splits them apart from those who do not similarly love the Father. This is because they must truly want to leave them and go to the Father.
Love unites – hate divides. When a separation occurs because one party despises another, it is primarily negative and may have no corresponding love. A wife who has learned through hard experience to despise her husband will want to separate from him. That is a negative hate that has no love in it, but is only the death of love. We do not speak here of that application of hate. That same wife, who once loved her husband dearly, separated from her parents so as to be joined to him. That was primarily positive, although it was nevertheless an act of hate in that she wanted to be separated from her parents. This is the hate of which we speak here.
E. JESUS: REVEALING THE PLAN
The seven propositions and the four implications listed above are basic to the gospel according to Jesus. In their light his entire message, including especially the “hard sayings” makes perfect sense.
1. Identification of the Elements
There are two identifications we must make. We need first to identify the “alternate habitat” with the cosmos, the created world that we commonly call “the heavens and the earth.” It is alternate to the divine Glory that is the habitat of the Father. Then we need also to identify human beings on the earth as the candidates for the divine childhood.
2. Listen to Jesus!
Next, we need to listen carefully to Jesus. Hear him carefully, now, as he speaks to us:He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. (John 12:25)You see, of course, how perfectly this corresponds with Implication No. 1. This love and this hate are clearly indicated by the Father’s purpose of “bringing many sons to Glory.” (Hebrews 2:10) Those who love God and desire to go to him as his children in Glory will want to leave life in this world. They will hate it. But if they have learned to hate the live in this world consistent with the desire to go to the Father, they will keep it for life eternal.
This is only one of Jesus' many statements of his Great Principle.
Reaching out to God as “our Father” is according to Implication No. 2, and is the essence of the opening lines of the Lord's Prayer:Pray then like this: Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. (Matthew 6:9)The simple act of calling God “Father” is to him the most precious thing we can do. It is the first word to issue from the mouth of the Prodigal Son when he returned to his Father’s house. He said, “Father, I have sinned . . ..” (Luke 15:18,21)
The exclusive relationship of Implication No. 3 mandates this saying of Jesus:And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. (Matthew 23:9)The following utterance of our Lord arises from Implication No. 4:If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26)By adding the words, “even his own life” Jesus here included also the mandate of Implication No. 1. Also, the exclusive relationship to God as Father must be accompanied with a similar exclusion of other relationships pertaining to the earth.
All the implications are fundamental to Jesus’ message to the world. But so are the seven propositions. All spring from the realization that the purpose of God in creating the world is that he might have children with whom to share his dominion and Glory.
Why would Jesus say such things as the above if they were not essential to his message? Every one of these quotation are offensive to human beings. It would have been stupid to speak thus to human beings were they not of the essence because we are lovers of family and of life in this world. I know Jesus as the most rational of persons. He was certainly not stupid, therefore these sayings express the essence of his message. Furthermore, if the purpose of God in creation is as indicated above, they were certainly essential. I can only conclude that he said such things because, apart from receiving and conforming to them, there is no way human beings could find acceptance in the Glory of the Father.
This leads to another radical conclusion when we focus on the free will of God: He did not create the universe for its own sake and, insofar as human beings are concerned, he has no purpose for it other than that of obtaining children for his Glory. If it does not produce children, it is a failed project. It follows that the will of the Father for us human beings is one thing exclusive of all others: He desires that we love him and come to him in voluntary submission to his will. Nothing else matters.
Thus, when Jesus related the Parable of the Prodigal (lost) Son, he pictured a father who had no interest in his wayward son’s circumstances in the “far country.” He solely and absolutely wanted only one thing of the Prodigal: that he come home of his own free will.
The Father did nothing for the son, though the son became destitute and entered into great suffering. The parable says it plainly: “No one gave him anything.” (Luke 15:16) The Prodigal’s father had but one desire concerning the far country: that it produce his son. That father had no goals for individuals, peoples, and nations of the far country save this one thing: that each individual might freely resolve, as the Prodigal finally did, to “arise and go to my father.” Until that point, the Prodigal was, as the parable has the father say, both lost and dead. The resurrection to his father was the father's only desire concerning the son.
Jesus defined the Father’s will in precisely these terms:For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me; and this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day. (John 6:38,39)This, then, is the only and exclusive will of God. Jesus came down from heaven to do it, and he did it when he gave up his life on the cross so as to ascend, through his resurrection, to the Father. Others do it only as they unite with Jesus so as to follow him and be raised up at the last day. It is through the resurrection that we enter into the Glory of the Father as his dear children, but only if we, of our own free will, truly want to do so, as Jesus taught. He illustrated the exclusive will of the Father in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, he stated it in the above quotations, and he exemplified it in his own death and resurrection.
There can be no salvation apart from the desire of the prodigals to “arise and go to my Father.” It follows that we must learn to love our Father in heaven far above and beyond any thing or person on this earth, including our very lives in this flesh. That is why Jesus stated as the paramount commandment that which is first of all:. . . and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' (Mark 12:30. See also Matthew 22:37, Luke 10:27 and Deuteronomy 6:4,5)We must learn to Love God, we must learn to love him as our Father, and we must learn to love him exclusively as our Father. Everything concerning our relationship with him as his children depends now upon our response to his initiative set forth in Jesus and his message to the world through Jesus. The Father has done everything he can reasonably do to redeem us to himself; everything else depends upon us and upon our responses to Jesus. This Great Commandment, together with the Great Principle, comprises the Great Correlate.
Jesus made the Father-child relationship conditional on our response by the following utterance:Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:3)Now it is human beings that must “turn” or “repent” so as to enter God’s kingdom and Glory. The ball is in our court!
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