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...and the Genesis of YOU

And God saw everything that he had made,
and behold, it was very good.
Peter Hiett
A fresh look at Genesis 1:1-2:4a



Introduction 3

1. Questions too Big for any Specialist (Genesis 1:1) 15

2. The Day You Were Born: your Fathers story
and the ramblings of mad scientists and Pharisees (Genesis 1:1) 27

3. The Deepest Story: not your failure,
but Gods success (Genesis 1:1-2:4a) 39

4. The Deepest Story: not Darwinism,
but the 7
Day (Genesis 1:1-2:4a) 53

5. Sabbath (Genesis 1:1-2:4a) 70

6. The Abyss (Genesis 1:1-3) 86

7. The Abyss in Me (Genesis 1:1-4) 100

8. Let There Be Light (Genesis 1:1-5) 117

9. Home:
were not there yet (Genesis 1:6-10) 131

10. Beauty:
road signs for pilgrims (Genesis 1:9-26) 148

11. Care for Creation and Creation Cares for You (Genesis 1:24-26) 163

12. How to Make a World with Just a Word (Genesis 1:16-2:3) 174

Appendix: Everything Good and What the Hell? 190

Chapter Summaries 206


The Most Embarrassing Chapter in the Bible

For me, for much of my life, Genesis one, has been the most embarrassing chapter
in all of Scripture. As a kid, I was a science geek. I also happened to love Jesus. He was/
is absolutely beautiful but dinosaurs are pretty cool too. Some folks told me that they
were mutually exclusive, at least for folks with half a brain. By that they meant any
serious discussion of dinosaurs (Science), would clash with any serious commitments of
faith (Religion).
By 1983 I found myself Leading a Young Life Christian outreach program and
preparing to graduate Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Colorado with a degree in
Geology, (I mention Phi Beta Kappa because I want you to know, Im not just making up
science stuff). I still remember the graduate level teaching assistant for one of my
courses. Having found out that I was planning to go to seminary to study Theology, she
pulled me into her office, sat me down and told me that I could go anywhere I wanted in
Geology. Then she asked, Why!?... Why would you go to seminary? Then, she gave
me a little lecture. The gist of it was, a mind is a terrible thing to waste.
By 1988 I was wasted. I graduated with a Masters of Divinity Degree in
Theology and entered the ministry. By that time I was pretty sure of one thing: there were
a lot of folks that said the Bible said a bunch of stuff it didnt say (remember the Bible
wasnt written in English) AND there were even more folks that said science revealed a
bunch of stuff it didnt reveal (remember science observes evidence and postulates
theories). Mad Scientists and Pharisees have thoroughly dominated our perceptions
of Genesis Chapter One for the last one hundred years.

The Meaning of Genesis Chapter 1 and everything

If I were writing this book twenty years ago, I suspect thats principally what Id
talk about: The translation of certain Hebrew words, the implication of certain gaps in the
stratigraphic record etc., etc. Well, Ill mention a bit of that stuff, so it wont get in the
way. Its really quite fascinating, but not nearly as fascinating as the meaning of Genesis
One. Weve been so preoccupied with the age of the earth and how to get dinosaurs on an
ark, that weve missed the point. The point is always, Jesus Christ and him crucified.
Or let me say it another way: God is good, He is making you in His image and He will
not fail, even if, especially if we break His body, shed His blood and crucify him on a
God is creating you with His Word. He is Love and His Word is the revelation of
Love. All Creation is a Love Story written to you. You were created to read that story and
fall in Love with the author, your author. In the words of St. Paul, Creation was
subjected to futilityin hope God consigned all to disobedience, that He may have
mercy on all. (Romans 8:20, 11:32) In other words, the Love story isnt over and at the
end of the story, behold everything is very good. (Gen. 1:31) Everything filled with
Love: Our Creator. Gods Word does not return void. It/ He is the Meaning of all

Meaning: to die for

Now I should tell you: The institutions of this world dont like that truth; our
flesh doesnt like that truthThe Truth. We like to think that we write our own story.
We like to think that we are our own creator and savior. And our institutions like to sell
themselves as necessary for our redemption. To confess that God in Christ Jesus is
creator, savior and redeemerindeed, an entirely successful creator, savior and
redeemeris the ultimate threat to our ego and the institutions of this world. If God
writes the story, we dont.
Sadly, what we refer to as The Church, is often an institution of this world and
thus threatened by the power of Gods Grace. If we are Gods workmanship, created in
Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand, then we are not an
institutions workmanship created through promises and threats anchored in fear.

If God is the Creator that doesnt fail:
Then, the church cant threaten with ultimate failure.
Then, I cant preach, Do what I tell you to do or you can no longer be saved.
I cant pretend Im the savior, who saves people from God.
I cant pretend that I love people more than my God, who is Love
loves those very same people

When we believe that God is a creator who fails, we become an institution filled
with fear and threatening with fear. But when we believe that God is Love and Love
doesnt fail, we become a Bride enamored with Grace, who cant stop singing about her
Well if you sing that song, dont expect everyone to like it even the people that
claim they do. Several years ago the institution required that I publicly confess that there
was a group of people that could not be saved. In other words, I was asked to confess
that God could not make everyone in His Image; that a persons sin can be more
powerful than Gods plan and power to save; that my failure can trump Gods Mercy;
that when God speaks, its only wishful thinking and not the substrate of all reality; that
God speaks his Word and it does not accomplish that for which it was sent.
Well, theres a great deal of mystery here, but Im convinced that when God said,
let us make mankind (Adam) in our own image and likeness, He meant it and did not
intend to fail. The message of Genesis 1:1-2:4, is that He did not fail. Even when the
Word of God was nailed to a tree and the sky grew black and the creation mourned, that
Word did not fail for when it failed it wonHe won. I think thats the deepest story.
Ill spare you the details, but I couldnt bring myself to confess that God
couldnt do what He intended to do. It cost me
The Gospel (Good News) will always cost your me. But when I lose me, I
find me in Gods story, singing His song.
Perhaps weve started reading our Bibles in the wrong place. Weve started
reading in Chapter two and three with what me has done, instead of reading in Chapter
one, which describes what God has done. Weve started with our failure, rather than
Gods success. Gods success--what God has done--is always the deepest story. What
God has done (which is what he is doing) is so beautiful its worth losing everything to

behold perhaps beholding it, is losing everything. Whoever loses his psyche (life)
will find it. (Matt.16:25)

A New Psyche; A New Paradigm; A New Life

You see we all have a psyche, a mental map through which we process
information. Already, after just a few paragraphs, your mind is filled with conclusions
and questions: Is this guy young earth or old earth?
Is he a liberal nut job or a close minded conservative?
Is he a universalist or a fundamentalist?
Maybe, Im none of those things. Maybe, Im all of those things. You see, each one of
those questions, each label, betrays a set of assumptions that constitute a paradigm.
Perhaps we must lose our paradigm to find it.
I think it was in the movie, the Bad News Bears. The coach lectured the kids
saying Dont Assume. He drew it on the chalkboard. When you assume, you make an
ass of u and me: ass-u-me. (Im sure by ass he meant donkey.) Well
theologians have been making donkeys out of scientists for quite some time. And
scientists have been making donkeys out of theologians for almost as long. Unless we
surrender our paradigms and psyches well make donkeys of each other, even God, and
never see His Kingdom - the finished creation.
Genesis One is the first chapter in the Bible. What if its foundational? What if
weve been reading it through our old psyche and some false paradigms? Well then, our
whole house our whole view of reality - might be crooked right? It might even keep
us from seeing the Kingdom.
Well, it would be wrong for me to simply demand a new paradigm. However I
can say, For Christs sake, (Matt 16:25) lose the old one. For the sake of Jesus, lets ask
some questions of our old paradigm. Then, lets ask Him to construct a new one.
Actually, all our life he is constructing a new one as we die to the old ones. I heard
someone say, To seek the Truth, requires one thing: a persistent willingness to admit
that youre wrong.
Jesus is the Truth. I believe He is the One Thing we must assume or be
assumed by. If that makes me an a donkey, so be it. I will be a fool for Him.
Philosophically speaking, we all have to be a fool for something.
We all have to assume
something or we could never believe anything. We all have to be a fool for something,
and I pick him or He picks me. So for Christs sake Lose your psyche. Christ said,
Whoever loses his psyche (translated: life) for my sake, will find it. (Matt. 16:25)
With our psyche (our mental paradigm), we give meaning to all the facts in our
world. And all the facts in our world inform our psyche (our mental paradigm).
Scripture tells us that Jesus is the Word; Jesus is the Logos (Greek). Logos means
reason or meaning. The meaning of a story is the plot of that story. So Jesus says,
Lose your psyche for me and you will find it. Lose your psyche and youll find my
psyche: life.
Genesis One and John One tell us that God created all things with a Word. That
Word The Meaning, The Reason, The Plot, The Point is Jesus. He is Gods map to
reality. He gives all things their meaning. So Im asking you to surrender your old
paradigm to Jesus. Then, ask Jesus to give new meaning to all your facts. He gives

meaning to creation (science) and He gives meaning to Scripture (theology). He gives
meaning to you (Life). He is Gods meaning and that meaning was revealed on a cross.
There, He was broken for the love of you. Gods meaning is Love: Love that bears all
things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things (1 Cor. 13:7).

Im sorry perhaps Im getting too philosophical. Im trying to say that for most
of us, the ideas in this book are a bit of a paradigm shift. Paradigm shifts freak us out, for
when they happen, it feels like everything has changed, even though none of the facts
have changed. I think most people are familiar with this sketch:

At first glance some folks see a show girl and some folks see their grandma.
When the paradigm shifts, it gives new meaning to all the facts. If the paradigm shifts
from grandma to the showgirl, suddenly the nose turns into a chin, the mouth turns into
a necklace and an old wrinkled eye turns into a young womans ear yet none of the
facts have changed; their meaning has changed.
If we wanted to find out whether this is grandma or the showgirl, we might seek
some more facts. A broader perspective, might uncover more facts: a cane in the
womans hand or perhaps the sound of show tunes in a theatre. Those new facts would
give the paradigm new meaning.
If the picture is the creation of an artist, the testimony of the artist might be even
more helpful. The artist might say, I was drawing your grandmayou dummy. And
well, that would give new meaning to all the facts. As a Christian, I believe that God,
the author, has testified: The meaning of all the facts is Jesus, (John 1:1-18, Col. 1:15-
That new testament gives meaning to all the facts. But even so, all the facts
inform my understanding of the meaning: Jesus. Once I see that its grandma, for
instance, that new paradigm gives meaning to the facts and the facts inform the
meaning (i.e. Thats grandmas nose AND grandma has a big nose.) Well our facts
are the creation all around us. And our facts are a letter from the artist, that we call

Scripture. Recently weve uncovered many new facts and rediscovered many old ones.
They all inform our picture of Jesus and Jesus tells us who we are. Im trying to say,
Trust Jesus. Surrender your old ideas and let him make them new. Let there be Light.
Let there be an Epiphany.
Epiphany comes from the Greek word: Epiphaneia. Its translated manifestation
or appearing. It describes what happens when the light comes on in a dark room. We
learned to love Epiphanies when we were children. The light would come on and what
we thought was a dragon, was actually the coat rack; what we thought was a monster,
was actually the recliner; what we thought meant death, actually meant life. Epiphanies
are paradigm shifts from darkness to light. They are wonderful and yet they, themselves,
can be terrifying. Sometimes our eyes, minds and psyches have adjusted to the dark.
When the light comes on we have to let go of the meanings we ascribed to things in the
dark; we have to surrender our dark paradigm.
Recently a friend said this to me, You know we all have paradigms and with
each paradigm, we have a bag of exceptions (Like the thought, Thats not a very good
ear, it kind of looks like a saggy old eye. Or, Why would a monster look like a
recliner?). When the bag of exceptions gets too heavy, we switch to a new paradigm
with fewer exceptions.

The Modern Paradigm

For the last few hundred years weve been reading Scripture and Creation through
a very modernistic paradigm. When we do, God doesnt look very much like Jesus.
Actually, Jesus doesnt look very much like Jesus! The Jesus, (The Word in the
beginning) and The Jesus, (who conquers in the end), dont look much like Jesus in the
gospels and hanging on the cross: Jesus Christ and Him Crucified - the full revelation
of the Father (1 Cor. 2:1-10), The Meaning of all things (Col. 1:15-20, John 1:1-18)
Well, thats a pretty big exception.
The modern mind takes our own perceptions of space and time very seriously
and meaning not so seriously. We tend to view space and time as reality and everything
else as metaphor. We think rocks, houses and calendars are truly real, and things like
meaning, truth and love are just metaphors. Therefore, we try to make the meaning of a
book like Genesis fit our concepts of space and time, rather than trying to make our
concepts of space and time fit the meaning of Genesis. We think space and time are more
real than word or meaning. So we construct a box of space and time, and if the
Word or Meaning doesnt fit, we call it a metaphor (mad scientists are really good at
this). Or we crucify the Word trying to get it/Him to fit into our box (Pharisees are
really good at this). Well, maybe space and time are the metaphor and nothing is more
solid than The Word. After all, Genesis One is the story of the creation of all space and
time, with just a Word.

The Post-Modern (Pre-Modern) Paradigm

Well, it should be more than a bit fascinating, that scientists, over the last hundred
years or so, have come up with a new set of facts that are just begging for a paradigm
shift. For an old science geek like me, who used to be terribly embarrassed by Genesis

chapter One, thats more than a bit comical. Its glorious. And yet, so many of my fellow
believers are afraid to look. The paradigm shift is freaking them out. They havent
noticed that the paradigms are shifting right back into the world-view of Scripture. They
panic and write books about the dangers of post-modernism and relativism.
Panic sells books. And for some bizarre reason, American Evangelical Christians
tend to be conservative without thinking through what they are conserving. Why would
we want to conserve a modernistic enlightenment view of reality? Modernism is great for
building motor cars and bank accounts, but absolutely terrible at building people! Central
to modernism is the idea that the only things that are true are things that can be verified
by the scientific method. Love, reason, truth, spirit, you none of these things can be
verified by the scientific method. Actually, belief in the scientific method, cant be
verified by the scientific method--its a faith statement: the one thing assumed.
Modernism is the idolatry of space and time as we perceive them. Its the belief that
everything is relative to our perception of space and time
Now it gets downright
In the past hundred years or so, scientists using the scientific method, have
postulated and validated the fact that space and time are relative and that reality is
fundamentally uncertain (Heisenbergs Uncertainty Principle); that matter doesnt really
matterwhich implies that the Scientific Method doesnt really matter (at least not like
we thought) all space, time and matterall creationis relative.
Christians hear the word relative and panic about relativism and the loss of
absolute truth. We need to do a better job of listening to scientists and to Scripture.
Einstein didnt say that space and time are relative to nothing. Niels Bohr, (The
Einstien of Quantum Physics) didnt say that subatomic particles are relative to nothing.
Einstein postulated, what has been verified through experimentation, that space and time
are relative to the speed of light. Scripture tells us that God is Light and Jesus is the Light
of the world. Niels Bohr postulated, what has been verified through experimentation, that
subatomic particles (the stuff that makes up matter in space and time) are somehow
relative to an observers perception, expectation or faith. An observer isnt a
machine, but a person a spirit that comprehends meaning, or is comprehended by
meaning. Remember the biblical term for meaning is logos. Logos is translated word,
and means meaning.
Scripture (John 1 and Genesis 1), tells us that The Light created all things with a
Word and that Word is the Light that enlightens all men. The Word became flesh and
dwelt among us full of grace and truth. Space and time are relative to Him, relative to
Light and Meaning: the Word. And it gets even better. String Theory, (which is the
current best attempt at combining Einsteins General Relativity and Quantum Physics
into a theory of everything), postulates that all reality is the manifestation of vibrations of
meaning on one-dimensional superstrings that vibrate in at least eleven dimensions. A
word is a vibration of Meaning on a string called your vocal chord and in the
atmosphere and all around you. All Creation is relative to Light, Meaning and Word:
For the first time in the past several hundred years, a fellow can take the Bible literally
(for lack of a better word) and sound entirely scientific.
And oh yeah scientists now say, what they never ever would have said, space
and time (the old idol) appear to have had a beginning and may just have an end.
Science has no categories for anything beyond space and time; for a beginning or and

end to space and time. Jesus said, I AM the alpha and the omega, the beginning and
the end. He is the Big Bang! Thats an epiphany.

Could it be that fighting the dragon we became the dragon. (Friedrich
Neitsche) I mean could it be that fighting modernism, we Christians became modernists?
Have you ever noticed that our picture of Jesus in Genesis (or the Father he reveals) and
our picture of the Jesus in The Revelation; the Jesus in the beginning and the end; seems
so different than Jesus I mean the Jesus revealed in the Gospels the one who touched
lepers, ate with prostitutes and tax collectors, suffered and died for our sins, rose from the
dead and said, If youve seen me youve seen the Father.? Could it be that we have
taken our perception of space and time as constant, and the meaning as relative and
so crucified the meaning to make Him fit into our box... a 4x5 inch box I call my brain?
Weve certainly done that with the End, that is, Jesus in the Revelation (For most modern
people, He looks more like John Rambo or the Toxic Avenger, than Jesus of Nazareth I
wrote a book on it, Eternity Now). And I think weve also done that with the Beginning,
that is, Jesus in Genesis. Weve been so preoccupied with the age of the earth and
dinosaur foot prints, that weve lost the meaning: Jesus.

Genesis One: The History of time

. On the seventh day (Gen. 2:1-3), God is finished with all the work that he had
done in creation I think that includes time, at least chronological time. You see its my
contention that God outlines all of time in Genesis 1:1-2:4. That takes care of the old
dinosaur problem and a whole lot more
At the end of the sixth day everythingis very good. Its finished.
Are you very good? Are you finished? Have you ever been finished? Perhaps
Everythingvery good hasnt happened yet?
In fear we think it must have happened.
And we messed it up.
So God came up with plan Bthe whole Jesus on the cross thing.
And now if we dont screw up maybe we can get back to the
garden, even if, God fries some of our relatives forever in Hell.
Well Jesus is never plan B.
And if you pay attention to the text, youll see: By Genesis 2:7, God is clearly
telling the story of the sixth day for He is making man (Adam)Us. That happens on
the sixth day. God doesnt finish making Adam, until the ultimate Adam, The image of
the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation (Col. 1:15) cries It is finished, as he
hangs from the ancient tree. Scripture tells us that He is the author and finisher of our
faith. (Hebrews 12:2 KJV)
Perhaps we are never finished until we are finished in Him, with faith.
So perhaps the seventh day isnt over.
Perhaps weve yet to come to the End.
Perhaps our sinful plan cant undo Gods good plan
Perhaps it hasnt and never did undo His plan
Perhaps He was never out of control.
Perhaps Everything will still be very good.

Perhaps weve yet to see the End and yet to enter the seventh day except by faith. To
enter by faith is to believe the finished work of the cross. Its to believe the Word, the
Logos, the Plot as he cries, It is finished and delivers up His Spirit. He is the Beginning
and the End. He is the Plot. Faith in Him is Him in you; His Spirit born in you. His Story
is History. And His Story becomes your story by grace, revealed as faith. Its the Genesis
of You, Christ in youuntil you are finally finished in Him: until youre Home: The 7

You may think, Nice idea, but do the math: seven days. Its over. I can count.
Yes, but where are you standing? Physicists tell us: time is relative to where youre
standing, how fast youre moving and the gravity that surrounds you. They tell us that,
six days from one position in the Universe can actually be fourteen billion years from
another. Some even argue that six days from the standpoint of our earth is like fourteen
billion years from the standpoint of the Big Bang.
So are you telling the story or is God telling the story? You see thats a physics
problem and its a theological problem. Well once you let God tell the story, everything
changes; everything ends at very good. Jesus is very good and he is the End. Once
you believe the end, every moment in your story becomes new and you are new,
transformed by the End in you. Epiphany.

Genesis One: The History of You

Genesis 1:1-2:4 a isnt just the beginning. Its the beginning and the end and
everything in between. Its the Index to Reality. Its the history of all time and your time.
Its the big picture, start to finish, that tells you who you are and where you fit. Its your
Father in Heaven, telling you who you are and still speaking His Word of Life into your
infant heart. You are His child to be filled with His Love. Matter doesnt really
matter, but you do.
You are His temple to be filled with His Glory.
You are His body to be infused with His blood.
You are His bride to be filled with Himself.
You are His child and all creation is a womb groaning in
anticipation for the revelation of you! (Rom. 8:22) And whether you know it or not, you
are groaning in anticipation for the revelation of Him Christ in you formed in
you (Gal.4:19)!
Genesis one is the History of Time and your place in that time, but its also the
history of that time and its place in you. Christ - The Word of God, The Beginning and
the End, The Meaning - formed in you. So
Do you ever feel formless and void?
Would you like someone to speak wisdom, meaning and truth into your soul?
Would you like to hear, Let there be light?
Do you long for someone to separate the troubled waters?
For dry land to appear, bearing fruit?
Would you like to discern the seasons and years?
Would you like to be made in Gods Image?
Would you like to rest - deeply and forever, from the core of your being rest?

Well then it might be valuable to consult the index, ingest the plot and believe that the
author of your story is good.
If the story is good and the author is good, then even the experience of formless
and void is transformed by that Good. The confusion and sorrow prepare you for the
revelation of grace. The nights crying alone in the dark, allow you to see as God
whispers now let there be light. The desperate longing is broken soil prepared for an
eternal seed that will bear eternal fruit. Even your disobedience; your aimless wondering;
your angry defiance even the void that is your sin, becomes space for the presence of
God who is Mercy; it even becomes space for the revelation of you--his child, in His
Image: a vessel of Mercy where once there was emptiness and wrath. Therefore, if
anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, behold, all things
have become new. (2 Cor. 5:17 NKJV)
He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that
he might fill all things (Eph. 4:10)including time, all time and your time. He is Good.
He is The Word God speaks which makes everything good (Gen. 1:31). He has
made everything beautiful in its (His) time. Also, He has put eternity into mans heart,
yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end
(Ecc.3:11). That was written by Solomon three thousand years ago. But we are those who
have met the Beginning and the End, by faith.
It is finished, he cried, enthroned on the cross. And from the throne, as a
slaughtered lamb standing, the same voice echoes throughout time, Behold, I make all
things new write this, for these words are trustworthy and true It is done! I am the
Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, (Rev. 21:5-6). Thats an Epiphany.

A New Paradigm

We need a paradigm shift. For when the paradigm shifts, we get a better glimpse
of God and He is so Good. So good that when we see the glory of God shining in the
face of Christ, we lose our selves and find our selves in Him The Image of God. So,
would you surrender your psyche? NOT to me, but to Jesus the Word. Ask Him to guide
you through the Word written and through the testimony of creation, in order that you
might see Him the Truth.
If it makes you feel better, I think your paradigm will shift back to some of the
views of the Church Fathers and even some of ancient Jewish rabbis, (if youre worried
about post-modernism, try pre-modernism). Whatever the case, lets be honest and
lets be biblical. We can only arrive at the Truth by being truthful. He is the Way.
I dont think the facts change. The same clam fossils are in the same
sedimentary strata and Scripture is still Scripture its truer than you know. Yet, the
paradigm does shift. Its not a chorus girl and its not an old woman, its Jesus. The
paradigm shifts, Jesus shows up and all the facts take on new meaning.

Here are some ideas you may end up letting go:

That the earth is young.
That the earth is old.
That God doesnt get His Wish.

That you are in control.
Your understanding of Hell.
Your understanding of evil.
Your understanding of you.
Your limitations upon God.
That God is distant.
That God is mean.
That Jesus death and resurrection only kind-of worked.

Here are some ideas that may not let you go:

God is good, all the time.
God is in control, all the time.
Evil cannot win.
God is not worried.
You dont need to worry.
Eternity is in your heart.
You are far more than you know.
God is everywhere working the wonders of Mercy.
God is always better than you thought.
Jesus is the Idea, the Word that will not let you go.

So for Christs sake, may your paradigm shift:
May you no longer see only old women or young show girls.
May you no longer see only space, time, carbon, nitrogen and oxygen.
May you no longer see only commandments, memory verses and principles for living.
May you always see Jesus, Gods Word.
When you look at creation, may you see Jesus.
When you look at Scripture, may you see Jesus.
When you look into your past, when you look into your future and when you
look into the mirror this day, may you see Jesus.

It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me, wrote St. Paul. [Christ] is the
image of the invisible God. (Gal. 2:20, Col. 1:15)

God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. (Gen. 1:26)

So shall my Word be that goes forth from my mouth; It shall not return to Me void.
(Is.55:11 NKJV)

By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a Word that shall
not return: To Me every knee shall bow, and every tongue swear allegiance. (Is. 45:23)

And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good. (Gen. 1:31)



Genesis 1: I think it may be my favorite chapter in the Bible.



1. If God is a person and not simply some life force or interstellar gas, it makes
sense that Hed set things up this way: such that wed have to assume something in this
world; such that wed have to be a fool for something or someone. My wife doesnt want
to be explained. She wants to be known. She doesnt want me to figure her out. She
wants me to be a fool for her love. I think thats called faith.

2. Everything is not relative to our perception of space and time. However, and
very ironically, everything may be relative to your perception of space and time at least
in some form. Well talk about this much more in body of this book, but according to
Quantum Mechanics, to some degree, an observer does create something of reality. An
observer creates subatomic particles, which are the building blocks of all matter.
Why an observer doesnt create their entire reality is a mystery for Quantum
Physicists and why we all seem to exist in the same reality is an even greater mystery.
Its like were junior creators, being observed by another creator. If that were the case,
the only way that we could truly all live together in one creation is if we all willed the
same reality perhaps thats exactly whats happening. We are all learning to love Love.
The will of our creator is Love. His Kingdom is Love. And we are predestined to Love in

As you read: In the body of this manuscript I quote a fair amount of Scripture and have
tried to provide references in parenthesis for those who are interested. Hopefully that
wont be distracting. I suggest tuning the references out, unless something catches your
attention and youd like to investigate further.
I would also suggest reading slowly and perhaps a few times. Were describing
pictures on top of pictures; stories on top of stories. The Gospel is being told in all
creation, the story of Israel, the story of your life, and of course the life of Christ. Think
Big and read slowly.


Chapter 1

Questions Too Big for Any Specialist

Genesis 1:1: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Thats a bit different from what I learned in school. Matt Stone attended the same
school as me - a bit later - but the same school: Heritage High School in Littleton
Colorado. I dont know where He went to grade school, but his memories sound a lot like
mine. Matt Stone and one other fellow are the creators of South Park you know, the
raunchy cartoon everyone loves to boycott.


On a recent episode, Mr./Ms. (He has identity issues) Garrison explains the
theory of evolution to his/her class. He/she points to a diagram and says:

Now, I for one think that evolution is a bunch of bull crap, but Ive been told I
have to teach it anyway. It was thought of by Charles Darwin, and it goes
something like this:
In the beginning, we were all fish. OK? swimming around in the
water. And then one day a couple fish had a retard baby, and the retard baby was
different, so it got to live. So retard fish goes on to make more retard babies, and
then one day a retard baby fish crawled out of the ocean with its mutant fish
hands, and it had #%** sex with a squirrel or something and made this retard
frog squirrel. And then that had a retard baby, which was a monkey fish frog, and
then this monkey fish frog had #%** sex with that monkey, and then that
monkey had a mutant retard baby, that $%*#@^! another monkey, and that made
you. So there you go. Youre the offspring of five monkeys having #%** sex
with a fish squirrel. Congratulations.

(Im sorry thats disturbing for some, but a fairly common belief. Mr./Ms. Garrisons
remarks may not be entirely accurate from a scientific perspective, but theyre quit insightful
from a philosophical one.)

Well, as luck would have it, Mr./Ms. Garrison goes on a date with Richard Dawkins the
renowned atheist. Dawkins pulls out the now famous Flying Spaghetti Monster argument, (Its
the idea that an inability to disprove something does not imply existence.) Mr./Mrs. Garrison
exclaims, I totally get it now: Evolution explains everything! Theres no great mystery to life,
just evolution, and Gods a Spaghetti Monster. Thank you, Richard!
Mr./Ms. Garrison then has Richard Dawkins come explain evolution to his/her class. He
explains, You must understand children, that we are dealing with very large numbers here. So
evolution doesnt even happen by chance. It is, in fact, bound to happen. Mr./Ms. Garrison
chimes in Thats right, kids. And so, you see, there is no God. Fourth grader Stan Marsh cant
take it anymore, he interrupts, Well, there could still be a God. Then He says:

Couldnt evolution be the answer to how and not the answer to why?

We can debate that, but it is a rather insightful observation. Of course the powers that be
dont think so. Stan is placed in a corner with a dunce cap on his head. Across the top, in bold
letters, is printed: I HAVE FAITH.


Like I said, Matt Stone, one of the two creators of South Park, went to my high
school, (Ive got that going for me.) So Ive wondered if Matt had Mr. Roberts in 11th
grade like I did. Mr. Roberts taught history not science, but he thought he understood
science. Mr. Roberts thought it was his mission to undo the faith of his students. I think
he thought, arriving at truth, is all about destroying faith of course thats a statement of
faith, but I doubt Mr. Roberts understood that. I dont think I understood it at the time.
It was that year, that I had a crisis of faith (in God). One night, I locked myself in
the upstairs bathroom of our house in Littleton, dropped to my knees beside the bathtub.
Sobbing, I cried out to God, God, I dont think I can believe in you any more.
I cried out to God, and I felt an emptinessa chaos, formless and void, in the
pit of my stomach. I struggled to put words to it then, but my heart knew: If there was no
God, there was no truth and there was no reason, no purpose, no beauty, no goodness, no
love, no me. And everything was nothing. . . zero. A cipher.


Jean Mizer was driving behind the Milford Corners school bus one cold February
morning when it veered to one side and the door flew open. A boy lurched out and
collapsed in the snow, dead. At school, no one seemed to know him.
Jean Mizer was a teacher at the Milford Corners School. The principal asked her
to inform the boys family. When she asked, Why me? the principal informed her,
Cliff Evans listed you as his favorite teacher. His favorite teacher, she thought. He
hadnt spoken two words to her all year. He always sat alone in the back.
When she arrived at his home, his stepfather snorted, He aint said nothin about
anything since I moved in here. If Cliff hadnt been so dumb, hed ve told us he didnt
feel so good. Jean Mizer writes:

After school I sat in the office and stared blankly at the records spread out before
me. I was to read the file and write the obituary for the school paper. The almost
bare sheets mocked the effort. Cliff Evans, white, never legally adopted by
stepfather, five young half-brothers and sisters. These meager strands of
information and the list of D grades were all the records had to offer. . . . As far
as I could tell, he had never done one happy, noisy kid thing. He had never been
anybody at all.
How do you go about making a boy into a zero? The grade-school
records showed me. The first and second grade teachers annotations read,
Sweet, shy child, timid but eager. Then the third grade note had opened the
attack. Some teacher had written in a good, firm hand, Cliff wont talk.
Uncooperative. Slow learner. The other academic sheep had followed with
dull, slow-witted, low IQ. They became correct. The boys IQ score in the
ninth grade was listed at 83. But his IQ in the third grade had been 106. The

score didnt go under 100 until the seventh grade. Even the shy, timid, sweet
children have resilience. It takes time to break them. . . .
I could guess how many times hed been chosen last to play sides in a
game, how many whispered child conversations had excluded him, how many
times he hadnt been asked. I could see and hear the faces that said over and over,
Youre nothing, Cliff Evans.
A child is a believing creature. Cliff undoubtedly believed them.
Suddenly it seemed clear to me: When finally there was nothing left at all for
Cliff Evans, he collapsed on a snow bank and went away. The doctor might list
heart failure as the cause of death, but that wouldnt change my mind.

How do you turn a boy into nothing?

Well, obviously there are many ways (that are all really one way). School might
be one of those ways. School is where you go to learn truth.
In the western world, weve come to believe you learn the truth by taking things
apart and looking at the pieces. Truth is what you can objectively observe in a controlled
environment, according to the scientific method.
So whats the truth about Cliff Evans? Well, take him apart, dissect him, look at
the parts, incinerate the pieces, do a chemical analysis, and you will find calcium, carbon,
oxygen, and a lot of water. And thats the objective truth about Cliff. Hes something like
$49.00 worth of chemicals and some water.
Yah, you say, but now hes dead. What about living? What is life?
Well, life is the replication of complex chemical patterns called DNA we
answer or have been taught to answer. The specialists have analyzed the fossil
sequence and concluded it happens by chance in a closed system. A bunch of mutant,
monkey fish frogs . . . then you!

Does it matter? Do I matter? asks Cliff Evans.

What matters is the survival of the fittest.
Then Cliff was picked last in baseball.
Then Cliff was graded on a curve, and he was at the bottom.
Maybe Cliff was learning the lesson best, indeed taking it to heart.
He wasnt fit to survive.

But even if he was fit, why would it matter? Things only matter if they matter to
someone who matters. And who do all the someones matter to that makes them matter?
God, perhaps?
Well no. Not if I follow the reasoning I learned in school. It cant even be true
that God exists. If the only things that are true are things observed through the
scientific methodthat is, matter and energyGod cannot exist, by definition. For God
is not matter or energy. How could He be if he supposedly made them both? So God does
not exist And I do not exist. I do not exist for I cant observe the me that is doing the
observing. I cant verify me. I cant observe the I that is observing me.
If all there is, is matter and energy, then there is no God, no I, no truth, no
scientific method . . . for none of those things can be validated with the scientific method,

including the scientific method! I might as well step off the bus and cease to exist . . .
because I dont. Nothing.

Is there a God?

See? Im just pointing out that an awful lot rides on that question,
including our very ability to even ask the question.

Its a very big question, far too big for any specialists like Charles Darwin or Richard
Dawkins. Dawkins may know everything about the DNA of a clam but absolutely
nothing about what anything means for technically there is no such thing as
meaning. Has anyone ever objectively, empirically validated the concept meaning in
a controlled scientific environment? Can meaning even matter? For its not matter.

Is there a God?

The way we modern people try to answer that question is absurd.

If you would, imagine that I am God. (Its something I ask my family to do every
now and then.) Just imagine that Im God and I hold the Universe in my hands. Picture a
shoe box, but its the Universe OK? All space, all time, all matter is in the box: the
universe. I AM not in the box but holding the box. Now sing: Hes got the whole world
in His hands (4x). Good class.
Now, let me tell you about the universethe box in my hands: Recent estimates
are that the universe is 156 billion light years across. That is, if the universe were not still
expanding, it would take light 156 billion years to go from one side to the other.
Scientists tell us that we can only see 14 billion light years away, because the universe
began 14 billion years ago. That is, we cant even see the vast majority of the universe,
for the light hasnt even reached us yet.

The universe is 156 billion light years across.
Our solar system is .00126 light years across (the orbit of Pluto).
Our solar system is 7.5 trillion miles across.
So our solar system is 117.5 quadrillion times smaller in width than our universe.

If the entire universe were the size of planet Earth, our solar system would be
about 1/70,000 of an inch wide. It would be about 1/6 as wide as a small bacteria.
The solar system: 7.5 trillion miles across, as wide as 1/6 of a small bacteria, if the
universe is scaled down to just the size of the earth. But Im asking you to imagine the
universe in this box. Got it?
Now imagine that a man in the utterly miniscule speck that is our solar system, on
the unimaginably miniscule speck that is our planet, in one particular spot, at one
particular time, examines some clam fossils. He is a specialist in fossilized cretaceous
mollusks. Then based on what he empirically and objectively observes, he writes a
book stating, There is no God, that is, there is no one holding the box.

So, all the modern, technologically advanced, scientific people say, Well, he is
an expert . . . so that must be truth.


Thats absurd, isnt it? Its absurd because some questions are way too big for any
specialist. Yet some specialist invariably says, Weve examined the clam fossils and
have concluded that there is no God.
So what do we Christians do? We call in our own specialists who go out to the
same spot and analyze the same clam fossils and say, Theres a lack of transitional
forms in the clam sequence; therefore, God exists. Someones holding the box. Then all
of us modern, technologically advanced, religious people say, There is a God because
our specialists say so . . . our scientists have concluded: God Exists!

In the words of C. S. Lewis:
The statement that there is [a God] and the statement that there is no [God]
are neither of them statements that science can make. And real scientists
do not usually make them. It is usually the journalists and popular
novelists who have picked up a few odds and ends of half-baked science
from textbooks who go in for them. After all, it is really a matter of
common sense. Supposing science ever became complete so that it knew
every single thing in the whole universe. Is it not plain that the questions,
Why is there a universe? Why does it go on as it does? Has it any
meaning? would remain just as they were?

In the words of fourth-grader Stan Marsh in South Park, Couldnt evolution be
the answer to how and not the answer to why?
I heard that Einstein once asked his class, How much of the universe do you
suppose we comprehend? Someone said, Five percent. Einstein said, I think thats
way too much, but even so, whos to say God couldnt exist somewhere in the other
95%? Well, Christians dont even believe Hes an object in the other 95%. They believe
Hes outside the universe; outside of space and time; outside the box, holding the box.
Hes the Creator of the box. Why would we even expect him to be a thing in the box that
He created?
When people ask, Is there a God? theologian Emil Brunner argued that perhaps
we ought to answer,

No. there is no God! there is a planet Uranus, [likewise, there is
clam sequence in cretaceous sediment] But there is no God. God is
neither an object of scientific observation nor something that we can insert
in the treasure of our knowledge, as one mounts a rare stamp in a special
place in an album

God is not an object of scientific observation in this world.


Even if you understood every individual part of a Ford motor car, took it apart and
analyzed each piece, you still wouldnt find Henry Ford. And the car would no longer
run. You wouldve dissected it. Yet a whole Ford motor car is a beautiful testimony to a
person named Henry Ford.

God may not be a thing in His world,
yet the whole thing can bear testimony to its maker.

A Testament

A composer is not a note in his symphony, but if you have the capacity to hear the
symphony and not just individual notes, the symphony bears testimony to the composer
and gives meaning to each note. If you specialize in a note, you may never hear the
Imagine if you were at the symphony and commented, Oh, wasnt that a
wonderful symphony! and a man says, There was no symphony. Im a specialist. I
specialize in D flat; I have studied the note D flat. I didnt hear a symphony.
Some people specialize in calcium, carbon, and oxygen, but perhaps Cliff Evans
was more than calcium, carbon, and oxygen. Perhaps he was a testimony to his maker.
Perhaps calcium, carbon, and oxygen are not what Cliff Evans is but just what Cliff
Evans is made of.
If Modern man wants to know a tree he cuts it down and counts its rings. If he
wants to know a frog, he cuts it in pieces and analyzes its parts. If he wants to know a
wife well modern men arent so good at knowing wives. If he wants to know Cliff
Evans, he can dissect him, call in the specialists, analyze the carbon, nitrogen and
oxygen but is that still Cliff Evans? How do you know a tree, a frog, a wife, Cliff
Evans, or God?
Certain questions are way too big for any specialist: Is there a God? Do I
matter? Do not concede those questions to any specialist or any expert . . . biologist,
geologist, pastor, or theologian. They cant answer the question for you, and theyre not
supposed to.
So how do you answer the question Is there a God who made the world? By
looking in the world? By taking it apart and analyzing the pieces? How do you find God
in the world that He has made?
Well, you cant . . . unless, of course, God decides to find you in the world that He
has made . . . unless, of course, God decides to speak to you through the world He has
made, giving you the capacity to hear the symphony.
Imagine if I spoke to the people in my box universe: Hey, people! Hows it
going, eh? Hang in there. Love you guys! Well, everything and everyone everywhere
and everywhen would vibrate with the sound of my words. People in the box might say
Did you hear the word: Love you guys Did you hear the word? Yet my word would
not simply be a thing in the box. So people couldnt say, Here it is! or There it is! I
found the Word!... or the One who is speaking. You wouldnt find the word, but the
word would find you.


Thats all a bit fascinating when you take a look at Scripture. In the beginning
God created. The Hebrew actually reads, In the beginning of, without an object for the
preposition. The King James translators simply dropped the preposition, of. Other
translators, some ancient translators, took the word translated in the beginning of, to be
a compound word meaning with first wisdom. Thus the ancient Jerusalem translation
of Gen. 1:1 into Aramaic reads, With wisdom God created
I dont know which
translation is right, but I do know that God creates with Wisdom and that Wisdom is
also a Word.

Psalm 104 says, God made all his works with wisdom.
In Genesis 1, God speaks creation into existence. Speaking is breath that carries
wisdom encoded in vibrations we call words.
In John 1:1, John writes, 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 were made
through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.

Logos in Greek means: meaning, logic, reason, wisdom, word. John goes on to
say that Word contains life, and the Life is the light of men. The Word is logic, meaning,
reason, truth, life, and light. And Scripture is clear that God does not only create with His
Word; He maintains and sustains all things with this Word. The box is upheld by this
Word. So God is continually speaking into the box (His creation). In fact, all creation is
like the manifestation of His Word.

One Word, One Verse, Uni-Verse

Now, that all sounds ridiculous to modern minds, but lately its all begun to sound
rather like science . . . special relativity, quantum mechanics, string theory: the theory
that all particles are like vibrations of meaning on superstrings that exist in at least eleven
or twelve dimensions. Vibrations of meaning . . . thats what a word is! Scientists have
become so specialized that theyve analyzed the smallest things that make up all things,
and now they say all things are like no things in this worldand that might testify to
something out of this world:

Physicists dont know what light is, but they say everything is relative to it or even
made of it. Scripture says God is light.

Scientists dont know what a person is, but every quantum particle in this universe is
dependent on some person (spirit) observing it . . . who cant be observed. Scientists
cant observe spirit. They can only observe bodies, not persons. God is a person
and observes all.

Scientists dont know what meaning is, but some say that everything is like the
manifestation of meaning vibrations of meaning on super-strings. The Bible says
everything is like the manifestation of Word. That Word was with God and the
Word is God. Paul writes, In him we live and move and have our being. (Acts

17:28) Indeed we swim in God, like fish in water.

Somebody wrote: Were not sure who discovered water, but were pretty sure it
wasnt fish. [footnote] Fish dont say, Oh, here it is! or There it is! I found water! Yet
everywhere they go, they assume it.

The Question Assumes the Answer

We swim in God. So to even ask the question, is to assume the answer.

If you ask, Is God real? you must assume reality. Perhaps, God is Reality.
If you ask, Is God true? you must assume truth. Scripture claims that God is Truth.
If you ask, Is God good? I think youre asking, Is Good, good? because God is
the Good.

When Richard Dawkins says, It is true that there is no God, he is saying, It is
true that there is no truth. In other words, My statement has no meaning.

God is truth.

It wasnt until years later, that I realized what I had done. Did you notice? In high
school, when I told God: I dont think I can believe in you, I was talking to the One in
whom I thought I didnt believe. You see I had already encountered Him and just by
asking the question, I assumed the answer.
So Is there a God? is not a question evolution can answer, science can answer,
or any specialist can answer. Some questions are far too big for any specialistor maybe
even you.

So how are we to answer?

Maybe we cant . . . but He can in us. Maybe Hes doing it all the time. Maybe we
cant prove God but Hes proving us: making us in His image. Maybe we cant
comprehend God, but He is comprehending us: revealing Himself to us, answering His
question in us . . .
Every time we ask, Is it true?
Every time we seek meaning.
Every time we yearn for love.
Every time we weep for someone like Cliff Evans and ask, Does he matter? and every
fiber in your being vibrates with the answer: Yes!

So how are we to answer? Not by sight (our objective, detached observation), but
by faith (our subjective encounter with the living God). Kind of like how we answer the
question, Do you like the symphony? or Do you know your wife?

Is there a God?


And then this is the choice:

1. God is not, and everything is absurd, including the question; Or
2. God is, and everything matters, including every boy and every clam.

The choice is between absurd and not absurd, yet to even conceive of the idea
of absurd means that weve conceived of the idea of not absurd, that is truth.
Weve conceived of truth? Perhaps I should say, Truth has conceived us.
See? Its a question with an answer that finds you or I should say, has already
found you, for otherwise you couldnt ask the question.

The Question with an Answer thats Found You

You know, a clam fossil cant answer the question Is there a God? Yet once
youve answered it, even a clam fossil is a testimony to its maker, (a fact endued with
meaning). Once youve answered the question, all of science is a testimony to her maker.
I think its a tragedy that so many Christians are afraid of science . . . and clam fossils.

When my kids were little and we had nothing to do, I used to take them hunting
for fossilized Inoceramus clams. You can find them in upper cretaceous limestone beds
just down the bike path from our house. Our garage used to be full of them. Theyre like
five inches across totally cool. Some people think these clams are a few thousand years
old. I think theyre 80 million years oldand much younger than a few thousand years
old, but well write more about that later.
The first time I took my son Jonathan, I kept showing him what they looked like,
but he couldnt seem to find any. So finally I found a nice one, set it on a ledge, and said,
Hey, buddy, this is a good spot. Come look over here.
Well, pretty soon I heard him yelling, Oh, wow! Daddy! Daddy! I found one!
Jon cradled that clam in his arms like a treasure.
Some people would say, Listen, Jon, these fossils are tricks played by the Devil,
to make you think the world is older than it is, to make you doubt Gods Word. Some
people would say, Listen, Jon, these fossils prove there is no God.

But I said something like this:

Hey, Jon, just think! About 80 million years ago, there was a warm,
shallow ocean right in this spot. Giant sea creatures swam in that ocean
above this spot, and dinosaurs walked on the beach to the west of this spot.
God made it all, and then He made this clam on the bottom of that sea. He
buried it here in the mud, and the mud turned to rock. It was here when the
dinosaurs became extinct and the mountains pushed up. It was here when
God made Adam and Eve; it was here when Jesus walked the earth; it was
here while kingdoms rose and kingdoms fell. And when God buried it here
in this spot, do you know what He was thinking about? He was thinking
about you . . . and the day you would ride your bike down the bike path,

climb this hill, find this clam, pick it up, and say, Wow! You see, Jon,
you must matter to Him a lot.

Jon found the fossil
because the Father used the fossil
to find Jons heart.

You may be seeking the Father,
but with all creation
the Father is seeking your heart.

And now you may say, OK, stop. I see how you can postulate the existence of
God. But how do you postulate a God like that with a heart like thatthe heart of a
Father . . . like you know Him?

The Question with an Answer thats Finding You

God speaks a Word with which He creates and sustains all things. Christians also
believe that at the right time, in the right place, that Word became flesh and dwelt
among us full of grace and truth. (John 1:14) And we met Him.
God is not simply an object in the box. Yet at one point, He made Himself an
object in the box. I should say He made Himself a person in the box. But, you see, a
person is not simply an object in the box (just $49.00 worth of chemicals and some
He made Himself a person in the box, and when He did, we hated Him. We
reduced Him and tried to take Him apart. We dissected Him on a cross. We didnt know
Him and couldnt know Him, but He knew us. And on that cross He revealed His glory.
And we beheld His glory for He sent his Spirit into our hearts crying Abba, Daddy,
Because of the Word all around you and in your heart, you can recognize the
Word hanging on the cross. You can recognize Gods heart and so hear God the Father.
You can say, Hes the meaning, the reason, the way, the truth, the life, the light, the
treasure! He is God, and God is Love bleeding grace for me. He is my maker, and now I
know Him. Now I found Him because He found me. My Father found me!
He found me, long before I knelt by the bathtub and told Him He wasnt there.
Why would I speak to Him if he wasnt there? Truth is, Hed been whispering to me
every day of my life, in every sunset, in every hug from my Mom, even in sorrow and
loss He was shaping my longing for him. Through all these things He was speaking to me
finding me in the box.

Jesus: God in the Box

Before my first son Jonathan was born, I used to speak to him in the box. I used
to speak to him in my wifes womb. Id say Little scooter, I cant wait to meet you. We
painted your room today. We prepared your place today. Id sing to him in my wifes
womb. When Id sing, when Id speak, everything in Jonathans world would move. The

umbilical chord, the placenta, the amniotic fluid, it would all vibrate with my word, my
Jonathan was born almost six weeks early. My wife had a brutal daya full day
of labor. My son Jonathan did as well. When he was finally born, he had a black eye and
his head had been squeezed into the shape of a cone. Those contractions must have hurt
like hell they were preparing his lungs to breath air in a new world they served a
glorious purpose but they hurt. Yet even in the pain, the muscles of my wifes womb
would vibrate with the sound of my voice: Your OK buddy, soon and very soon youll
be here with us.
When Jon was finally born, they took him from my wife, cleaned him up and
wrapped him in a blanket. He would not stop crying. Several nurses held him and he
would not stop crying except for me. They placed him in my arms. The nurse said talk
to him, he knows your voice. I spoke his name and he stopped. He knew my voice.
He came to know it in the womb. He knew my voice and now he felt my touch.
He saw my face, as I told him his story: I love you, Jonathan.
When those contractions were the worst, I wish that I couldve been with him, as
not only a word, but a word in flesh like another baby in the womb: one like him one
he could see, touch and understand. I couldnt. But God can, and God did.
God is Jonathans true Father. Jonathan is still being born.

You have been born into this world of space and time. You are being born out of
this world of space and time. The Word of the Father surrounds you and that Word
became flesh and dwelt among us full of Grace and Truth: The Word, The Plot, The
Beginning and End with us, Jesus. He comes from the bosom of the Father (John
1:18 RSV). He reveals the Fathers heartbroken on a cross, for the love of youthe
Fathers Word, to you. When Christ rose from the dead, He said, Im going to my Father
and your Father.

The question: Is there a God? is the same question as Do I want to be born? Am I
willing to be Gods creationHis child? He wants you to want him,
not because you discovered him in a chemistry lab;
not because you deduced him in a philosophy class;
not because youre terrified that Hell fry your buns in Hell.
He wants you to want Him because you fell in love with His voice, His Word, even in the
womb. His word is Jesus. His word is Love.

Is there a God? Its the same question as Do I want to live by faith in His grace? If
there is a Creator of everything and me, then everything and me, is Grace. If there is a
Father, than I am a child. Children live by faith in grace.

Is there a God? Do I like Grace? Do I like Jesus? They are the same question.

Some questions are way too big for any specialist.


Endnotes and Pertinent Quotes

1. Cipher in the Snow is a true story written by Jean Mizer in 1964. It was made in to a
short film by Brigham Young University in 1973. Ive heard the story in a variety of contexts and
read the story most recently at

2. C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, (New York: MacMillan, 1943), 32.

3. Emil Brunner, Our Faith, trans. John Rilling, (New York: Scribners, 1954), 1.

4. Gerald L. Schroeder, The Hidden Face of God: How Science Reveals the Ultimate Truth,
(New York: Free Press, 2001) p. 9


The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible.
~ Albert Einstein

There is nothing but God's grace. We walk upon it; we breathe it; we live and die by it; it makes
the nails and axles of the universe.
~ Robert Louis Stevenson

As an explanation of the world, materialism has a sort of insane simplicity. It has just the quality
of the madman's argument; we have at once the sense of it covering everything and the sense of it
leaving everything out . . . He understands everything, and everything does not seem worth
understanding . . . Evolution is a good example of that modern intelligence which, if it destroys
anything, destroys itself. Evolution is either an innocent scientific description of how certain
earthly things came about; or, if it is anything more than this, it is an attack upon thought itself. If
evolution destroys anything, it does not destroy religion but rationalism.
~ G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy: The Romance of Faith

In short, to demonstrate the existence of someone who already exists is the most shameless
assault. It is an attempt to make him ludicrous. The trouble is that one does not even suspect this,
that in dead seriousness one even regards it as a godly undertaking. How could it occur to
anyone to demonstrate that God exists unless one has already allowed himself to ignore him?

A king's existence is demonstrated by way of subjection and submissiveness. Do you want to try
and demonstrate that the king exists? Will you do so by offering a string of proofs, a series of
arguments? No. If you are serious, you will demonstrate the king's existence by your submission,
by the way you live. And so it is with demonstrating God's existence. It is accomplished not by
proofs but by worship. Any other way is but a thinker's pious bungling.
~Kierkegaard, Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard

A group was enjoying the music at a Chinese restaurant. Suddenly a soloist struck up a vaguely
familiar tune; everyone recognized the melody, but no one could remember its name. So they
beckoned to the splendidly clad waiter and asked him to find out what the musician was playing.
The waiter waddled across the floor, then returned with a look of triumph on his face and
declared in a loud whisper, "Violin!" The scholar's contribution to spirituality!
~ Anthony DeMello, Writings


Chapter 2

The Day You Were Born
Your Fathers Story and the Ramblings of Mad Scientists and Pharisees

Genesis 1:1-2 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of
the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
And God said, Let there be light, and there was light.

Following World War II, there were more than two hundred Frenchmen who
returned to Paris suffering from amnesia. They had been so psychologically devastated
by imprisonment that they had lost the conscious awareness of who they were.
In most cases, their identities were quickly found from Red Cross records or with
the help of other prisoners. But there were thirty-two men whose identities were
impossible to ascertain. There seemed to be no records of them or anyone who knew
anything about them. The doctors who were treating these thirty-two men believed their
chances for recovery would be slim if not impossible, unless they were connected with
former friends or relatives . . . anyone who could tell them their stories.
Someone proposed publishing photographs of the men on the front page of
newspapers throughout the country and giving a date and time when anyone having
information about any of these amnesia victims should come to the Paris Opera House.
The plan worked. On the proper day and at the assigned time, a crowd gathered to view
these war veterans. In dramatic fashion, the first of the amnesia victims walked onto the
stage of the darkened opera house, stood in the spotlight, and slowly turned completely
around. Before the hushed audience, he pleadingly and softly inquired, Does anybody
out there know who I am?
Ever feel like that?

Who am I?

Something like 3,500 years ago, an entire nation of amnesiac POWs and slaves
found themselves wandering in a dark wilderness following a wild-eyed, old man and his
terrifying God.
God spoke through the man named Moses. He had said something about a land
(Hebrew: erets) promised to an ancestor, a land to which they were now going. But
they didnt remember this land, this God, their origin, or their genesis.
So in that dark wilderness, the children of Israel longed to know, Who is this
God and who are we? Thats the question children ask: Who am I? Whats my story?

Two Accounts

My children love to hear stories about when they were born. When they were
little and Id tuck them into bed, theyd say, Daddy, tell me the story of the day I was
born. So Id tell them the story:

Well, Jonathan, in the beginning we werent even sure we could
have a baby. Mommy used to cry herself to sleep longing for a baby.
It was Sunday morning. I remember it as if it were just last week.
We were getting ready to go to church. I was sitting at the table. Mommy
was standing at the sink in her blue dressthe one I loved. She paused
and then turned and looked at me. She had a smile a mile wide. Her eyes
just sparkled and her face was glowing. She said, Im pregnant!
Jon, I used to hover over Mommys belly and talk to you while you
floated in the water inside her. Once I took a marker and drew a smiley
face on her tummy. (She had a doctors appointment and couldnt wash it
off.) I couldnt wait to see you!
I was playing my guitar too loud. Mommy screamed from the
bathroom, If you keep that up, Ill go into labor right here! I kept
playing or at least making noise. All at once I heard Mommy scream.
Her water had broken and you were coming early. I drove like a racecar
driver all the way to the hospital. We prayed so hard that you would be
Mommy was in a lot of pain for a whole day. It seemed like a year.
I was sure she wouldnt want another baby. I could tell: it hurt so bad. But
the second she saw you, Jonathan, she said, Oh, I want another one! She
thought you were the best thing shed ever seen.

Think about those soldiers in the Paris Opera House. What was it they wanted to

Question: Who am I?
Answer: You are Pierre Baptiste, born August 5, 1925, I.D. #924-34-2738.

No! Thats not the answer to the question. They want to know, Who am I? They
want stories. Without stories, birthdays have no meaning. Pierre wants to hear someone
say something like this:

Pierre, sweetheart, remember when Benjamin was born and you wouldnt
stop crying? Remember our picnic in the park? Remember the notes you
used to write to me in school? Pierre Baptiste, this is who you are. You are
a man who cried when his son was born; a man who loved to drink wine
on a blanket in the park below the Eiffel Tower; the man who wrote silly
notes to me in schoolnotes I still have in my dresser drawer.

Pierre Baptiste wants to know his story. Stories reveal persons. He wants to know, Who
am I to you?

Little Jon Hiett wants to know, Were you happy when I was born? Did Mommy
declare me good? Do I matter to you? Tell me my story. So Id tell him. He couldnt

comprehend all the facts, but he trusted the author, so hed listen in wonder. He wouldnt
interrupt me and say, Hey, how could Mommys face glow? Are you suggesting some
sort of ambient radiation or electrical discharge?
Imagine if Jonathan came back twenty years later, having become an OB-GYN,
and confronted me:

Father, Im so disappointed in you. Ive obtained my birth records from
the John Muir Medical Center, and they read as follows: Jonathan Jacob
Hiett, August 26, 1988, 10:07 PM, 5 lbs. 15 oz., 17 inches, ruptio-
placenta, etc., etc. Dad, there is nothing here about eyes that sparkle,
glowing faces, or the answers to anyones prayers. Dad, I have lost
my faith in you. Richard Dawkins is right: There is no Dad. You dont
even exist.

Imagine! Well, its hard to imagine, for we all know there are different ways of
conveying truth. A fathers story and the hospital records are two very different ways.
But let me ask you: Which account is more true?

1. The birth records from John Muir Medical Center? Or

2. The story I tell my son as I tuck him into bed?

Birth Record or Story: Which is more true?

Well, the first may stand up in a court of law, yet those facts only matter because
they belong to a storyto a mother whose eyes sparkle and skin glows.
The facts in the birth record would stand up in court, but the story shapes Jon in
my image, fills all his facts with meaning, and gives him life.
If one day the kids on the bus say, Hiett, youre nobody! the address of John
Muir Hospital and the date of his birth wont matter. But the storyJon, you are the
answer to our prayers!that might save his life. Maybe it is life.

And so the children of Israel, feeling like orphans and amnesiacs as they wander
in the wilderness, want to know, Who am I? Whats the story? And the Father tells
them. He tells them through Moses. The story is written in a book called the Pentateuch.
It has five parts; the first part is called Genesis.

The Story

Verse 1: In the beginningreshiyt (in Hebrew). Reshiyth anticipates ahariyth
end. Theres a beginning and an end. Theres a plot; theres a plan; theres meaning. In
Greek, youd say: theres logos, which means wisdom or word.
By the word of the LORD, the heavens were made. (Psalm 33:6)
The LORD by wisdom founded the earth (Proverbs 3:19)
All things were made through him, (the logos, the wisdom, the word) and

without him was not anything made that was made. (John 1:3)

There is an author, there is a beginning and an end, and there is a plotIts a story.

Verse 1: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Thats a Hebrew way
of saying God created everything.

Verse 2: the earth (erets with the definite article), which is normally translated the
land, was formless and void, perhaps more accurately translated for the Hebrew mind:
The land was an empty wasteland, a wilderness. Its a phrase used to describe the place
in which the Israelites were wandering at the time. But God was taking them to a
promised eretsa promised landthe land of their origin, the boundaries of which
seem to match the boundaries of the Garden of Eden.
Some scholars, ancient and modern, argue that verse 1 is about the creation of all
things but the ensuing six days are about the creation of the Garden of Edenthe
promised landthe homeland in which God had made His people and to which they
were now returning.

Verse 2: The land was a wilderness, and darkness was on the face of the deep, and the
Spirit (ruachbreath) of God hovered over the face of the waters.

Like the breath blew on the waters in the Red Sea in the wilderness as Israel was born
as a nation.
Like the Spirit blew on the waters in the womb of a virgin named Mary and the
Word became flesh.
Like my breath hovered over the waters in the womb of my bride as Jonathan was
prepared to be born.

Verse 2: I do think this story is about the creation of all things. In the Ten
Commandments, God says He created heaven and earth (everything) in six days. All
things . . . and that would include you.
I also believe its about the birth of the children of Israel. God is telling them who
they are and where they are going. The Pentateuch ends as the Israelites leave the
dark wilderness, the waters of the Jordan separate, and they walk into a land guarded
by an angel with a flaming sword, (Bible students should be foaming at the mouth.).
If youre a believer, Israel includes you. Youre grafted into their story, (Romans
9:1-13; 11:17-24).
I also believe its about the incarnation of Christ; the genesis of Jesus; the Word in
Flesh. Paul tells us that Adam is a type of Christ, and Christ is the ultimate Adam. He
is also beginning and end. Hes the plot, the Word, the wisdom, the life, and the light.
And if youre a believer, you know He includes you. Youre grafted into His story.
You are His body. He is formed in you. There is a Genesis of Jesus in you, (1 Cor.
15:45, Gal. 4:19, Gal. 2:20).
I also believe the story is about you; the genesis and consummation of you. The Word
God speaks, is the beginning and end of you.

This story is at least about three things . . . and one thing: you.
Or three things and one thing: Jesus.

Verse 3: And God said, Let there be lightnot created but let. Let there be light,
and there was light. Then God separates and calls the separated light daythat kind of
day lasts twelve hours. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. It
doesnt say the first day in Hebrew but a day.
The story continues with God creating, making, and letting for five days.
They appear to be rather indeterminate days: a second day, a third day, etc. until you
get to the sixth day. In Hebrew the first five days lack a definite article. We definitely
know the sixth day, but the first five days are rather fuzzy. Perhaps they overlap. Perhaps
this is less of a chronology (Actually all chronologies are illusion, for time itself--
chronos, our time-- is an illusionat least thats what physicists say.) Well perhaps
this is less of a chronology because its far more accurate than a mere chronology,
perhaps its a kairology. Like the Revelation is a kairology. (I invented that word in
my book on the Revelation: Eternity Now, pg.9) In Greek, chronos indicates sequential
time, whereas kairos indicates event time, fulfilled time, meaningful time. Meaning
full time must be more real than sequential time, for God created time, but He himself
is the Meaning. His Word is meaning. He is Meaning and He is Light, and time--
chronological time--is relative to light. Well talk about this more later.
But for now, perhaps the days are more like an Index to Reality and less like a
Table of Contents. They reveal the meaning of things, not just the date of things. Well its
not less than a chronology. Its more.
God creates over five indeterminate days, but on the sixth daywe know this
day. On the sixth day God creates Adam (man: male and female) in His imagethe
pinnacle of His creation! On the seventh day, He rests.

Chapter 2 Verse 4: These are the generations of the heavens and earth when they were
created. In the day [singular] the Lord God made the earth and the heavens. That day
equals seven days which equals generations, which is the same word used to describe
twelve hours in verse 2. Isnt it obvious that these days are a bit different from the days
on your calendar or the time on your chronometer, your wristwatch? That doesnt mean
that these days are less real. It could mean theyre more real.
God may perceive time a little different than you . . . maybe even a little better
than you.

Well, the Fathers story is the creation story, history.
And the Fathers story becomes Israels story.
And the Fathers story becomes your story.
And the Fathers story is Jesus, His story
The Meaning in all stories.

Im just pointing out that were reading an incredible story

Birth Record or Story: which is more true?

1. The birth records at John Muir Hospital in Walnut Creek, California? Or

2. The fathers story of the day his son was born?

Thats a hard question . . . because theyre both true in their own way.

In Genesis, the Father is telling us our story. But the Fathers story also bears witness
to a birth recorda birth record written into the things that have been made.

Psalm 19 says, The heavens declare the glory of God. Day to day pours forth
speech. (19:1).

Paul writes, Gods invisible attributes . . . have been clearly perceived in the things
that have been made. (Romans 1:20).

Jesus says, Look at the birds . . . Consider the lilies. (Matt. 6:28). The Lord has
something to say to you through them. So

Scripture bears witness to science.

Sociologists and historians have pointed out that the scientific revolution occurred
in the Christian West because the Biblical story endued all creationall factwith
meaning. So there are no meaningless facts.
Because there is an Author who created everything with the Plot, every thing has
a story tied to its tail; every thing is a temple at which the Author and His Meaning can
be worshipped. Newton, Pascal, Faraday, Kepler, Galileo, Copernicus, even Einstein . . .
they were worshippers.
It wasnt until the Enlightenment that some popular philosophers and journalists
became so enamored with the birth record that they began to say, We dont need the
Fathers story - just science; just the facts.
Well, theologians call the birth record written into things, General Revelation. In
other words, the way God speaks to us through creation they call General Revelation.
And the way God speaks to us through Scripture they call Special Revelation. In either
case, that which is spoken is the Word, and the One who is speaking is God.

So . . .
Special Revelation and General Revelation;
Scripture and science;
The Fathers story and the birth record;
. . . should complement each other.

So what does it mean when they dont?

1. Everything is absurd. There is no story, and the record has no meaning. We dont

even know why were talking. Or, perhaps

2. Everything has meaning. There is a story, and the record has meaning. But most of us
just arent that good at hearing the story or reading the record. In which case some
humility is in order, and we ought to learn one extremely valuable phrase: I dont
know. Thats called, speaking the truth.

You cant arrive at the truth unless youre willing to be truthful. God is truth, so
you cant find Him with con jobs, smoke screens, and lies. If you dont know how God
could count days before He made the sun, or how dinosaurs could fit on the ark, or how
rubidium strontium decays in igneous rock, say, I dont know.
You are not saved by what you know but by who knows you.
Weve really struggled with the phrase I dont know ever since the Serpent
said, Hey, do you want to be like God? Do you want to know stuff? And we chose to
know rather than be known. We chose to know about the good, rather than to be known
by the good the ONE who is GOOD.

Mad Scientists and Pharisees
Well, there are at least two types of people that have a very hard time saying, I
dont know. I call them mad scientists and Pharisees. Im a bit of each.

Both make it hard to reconcile science and Scripture;
Both change the facts in order to rewrite the story as their own story.
Mad scientists distort the scientific record.
Pharisees distort the biblical record.
Both want control; both want to be God.

Mad Scientists

Every mad scientist wants to be God . . . like Frankenstein did. They all want to
control life or make life, including their own life. They ignore Gods story because they
want to write their own story.
While I was studying geology at the University of Colorado, I had one professor
who was an internationally renowned paleontologist. I heard that he had just left his wife
and was shacking up with a grad student. It hit me one day on a field trip: Hes not an
objective observer. It really matters to him whether or not he sees transitional forms in
the clam sequence. It really matters because hes rejecting the Fathers story and trying to
write his own story. Its madness . . . but hes trying.
Whenever we sinhave an affair; worship alcohol, sex, or thingsI think were
mad scientists trying to rewrite the story of creation, worshipping and serving the
creature rather than the creator. (Romans 1:25). When science worships itself, it goes
insane. If the idolatry of science destroys anything, it destroys itself; it destroys science
through madness, for there can be no such thing as reason. Reason is not an object of
scientific validation neither is meaning. Some claim to understand all the facts, but
none of the facts are worth understanding, for they can have no meaning. Meaning is

not an object of scientific validation.
Many of the principles in evolutionary theory make real sense, but when
evolution worships itself, it goes insane. Sense becomes nonsense, for there can be no
sense, by definition. No God, by definition. And then in desperation for sense that
makes no sense, it distorts the facts to fit its own story, that is no story. When fully
formed new classes, orders, and species of animal, suddenly appear in the fossil record it
must conjure up evidence and invent theories far more fanciful than any Pentecostal
prayer meeting. When evolution becomes god, the science goes mad.


Mad scientists distort the scientific record, and Pharisees crucify the Fathers
story. They reduce the Fathers story to facts. Then they use the facts to write their own
story. They tithe mint, rue, dill, and cumin, and they dont even know what the story is
Ironically, they think the story is about the survival of the fittest, making them
selves first and seizing control. But the story is about sacrificebeing last and least;
surrendering control.
In 1632, religious leaders made Galileo recant for saying the earth revolved
around the sun
. They twisted scientific facts, and they twisted biblical facts to fit their
storytheir story of power and control.
Today some people have built entire industries around one particular
interpretation of the word day in Genesis 1. Perhaps we sometimes twist the facts to
defend our institutions by controlling the story. But then its no longer the Fathers story
filled with wonder. Its our story. We claim to understand every fact, but the story is no
longer wonder-full, its dead and untrue.
When I studied geology in college, I was really saddened at what some Christians
called science. When I studied theology in seminary, I was shocked at what some
Christians called theology.

How we know things

Pharisees are religious scientistsreligious mad scientists. They reduce
everything to systems, formulas, and laws so that they can comprehend everything. But
all they comprehend is boring and dead. They learn the facts but lose the story.

You can know things less than yourself through science . . . things like bugs, the
definition of Hebrew words, and sodium chloride. You dissect them, parse them, or
reduce them to know them. (Thats the epistemology of science.) Science teaches you
about things less than yourself. When Scientists use science to comprehend things
more than themselves, they go mad.

You can know things less that yourself through science, but you must know things
greater than yourself through worship. That is, you reduce yourself and surrender
control. (Thats the epistemology of worship.) Theology teaches you about things
greater than yourself. When Theologians use theology to make those things less than

themselves, they are evil.

Mad Scientists make God less than themselves.
Pharisees make themselves greater than God.
Neither will worship.

Pharisees (religious mad scientists) hate surrender, and they dont worship,
because they want to be God. So they try to use facts in the Fathers story to undo the
Fathers story and write their own story.
Never forget that when the Wordthe Plotbecame flesh and walked among us,
it was the religious people who used the facts in the Fathers story to crucify the Plot.
They used the law to crucify the Meaning. They dissected Him on a tree. They stole fruit
from the tree of knowledge and they nailed Himthe Plotto that tree.
Whenever we make the story about our knowledge and our accomplishments and
not Gods grace, we crucify the Meaning of all things and cant understand any facts
what they mean. Neither mad scientists nor Pharisees can understand the Fathers story or
the meaning of any facts.
Even though you must become large to get attention in our world; even though
you must become an adult to enter the halls of Academia (any academia: secular or
religious), you must become like a child to enter the Kingdom; Alice must become small
to enter wonderland.

Now, there are an abundance of ways to reconcile Scripture and science. Well
look at those in the coming chapters. But no matter what, we must surrender our hearts to
the Father if we ever are to know truth . . . or be known by the Truth.

To know by being known

Im trying to say:

You dont comprehend God;
He must comprehend you.

And you dont comprehend His story,
until His story comprehends you.

Dont dissect the story,
until you let the story dissect you.

Read it. Meditate on it. Ponder it. Let it cut you. Be willing to be wrong,
embarrassed, surprised, a fool for the Plot The Word.

Dont apply the Word so much as
let the Word apply you.

Dont read Scripture to find your self; read Scripture to lose yourself . . . in the

story. And then youll be found by the story. Read Scripture to lose yourself in the plot,
and then youll be found by the Plot and in the story.
Thats how great stories work! Thats why you go to movies! You get lost in the
story and then found in the story.
In Scripture, the Father is telling you your story. So when God told the children
the story of their creation, they were commanded to enter the story; live the story; be
known by the story (their story):

In Exodus 20, God says, Because in six days I made the heavens and the earth and
rested on the seventh, you will work six days and rest on the seventh. In the Western
world, we live a seven day week. For believers, every seventh day is a Sabbath. Its
our story, and it tells us who we are.

When God gave the Jews the Pentateuch and the story of their deliverancetheir
Passover, they werent just to read the story; they were to experience it; eat it: bitter
herbs and a slaughtered lamb. We come to worship and celebrate the Passover
because were grafted into that story. It tells us who we are.

When our Passover Lamb Jesus celebrated the Passover, He took bread and broke it
saying, Take and eat. This is my body. Hey amnesiacs, do this in remembrance of
me. He took the cup saying, Take and drink. This is the covenant in my blood.

He has grafted us into His story. He tells us who we are. He says, My Father is
your Father. My story is your story. His story is history . . . the history of all things
infused with new meaning: the Plot. That includes you! You are not an orphan. Your
Father wants to tell you your story.

Larry Randolph is a pastor with an amazing prophetic gifting. (I know thats a bit
weird for some, but God is weird the biblical word for that is holy. When people fake
holiness its nauseating. When you encounter the real thing, it sets your socks on fire.)
Years ago at a conference I heard Larry talk about a time when he first started using his
gift. A woman he did not know came to him for prophetic prayer. He said, The Lord
wants me to tell you . . . and then he heard, May 13th. He said, The Lord wants me to
tell you . . . May 13th . . . May 13th . . . The lady just looked at him. It was just a date . .
. just a fact.
Larry wanted God to tell him more, but he heard nothing. Feeling like an idiot, he
fumbled around and finally said, Uh, God remembers your birthday. And the lady left.
Larry said he felt like a moron.
Nine months later, the lady found Larry and thanked him for his words:

You have no idea what your words meant to me. I was an orphan in seven
different homes. Every night I would fall asleep crying, saying over and
over, God doesnt even remember my birthday. That night you said
those words, I went home and threw myself a birthday party.

God knows your birthday, and now Hes telling you your story. It changes the

meaning of every fact. When you believe the Gospel, when you take the body broken and
blood shed, you ingest the Story. You ingest the Plot, the Meaning, the Logos, the Word.
When I tell you a story, you have the right to ask, Is that true? But when God
tells you a story, creation happens. If you say, Thats just a manner of speaking, well,
Jesus is Gods manner of speaking. He is also the Truth.

You are being created out of chaos,
in the image of God your Father,
by Grace: Jesus Christ and Him Crucified.


Endnotes and Pertinent Quotes

1. Tony Campolo, Everything You've Heard is Wrong, (Dallas: Word, 1992), p. 31

2. For more information on this idea see: Dr. John Sailhamer, Genesis Unbound, (Sisters,
OR: Multnomah, 1996)

3. For a fascinating treatment of this topic see: Phillip E. Johnson, Darwin on Trial,
(Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1991)

4. G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy: The Romance of Faith (New York: Bantam, 1990), p. 94.


The word story comes from storehouse. So a story is a store or storehouse. Things are
actually stored in the story, and what tends to be stored there is its meaning.
~ Michael Meade

And its [the modern philosophys] despair is this, that it does not really believe that there is any
meaning in the universe; therefore it cannot hope to find any romance; its romances will have no
plots. A man cannot expect any adventures in the land of anarchy. But a man can expect any
number of adventures if he goes traveling in the land of authority. One can find no meanings in a
jungle of skepticism; but the man will find more and more meaning who walks through a forest of
doctrine and design. Here everything has a story tied to its tail, like the tools or pictures in my
fathers house; for it is my fathers house.
~ G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

I made up my mind long ago not to understand. If I try to understand anything I shall be false to
facts and I have determined to stick to fact.
~ Ivan in The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard,
his form you have never seen, and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe
the one whom he has sent. You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have
eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may
have life.
~ John 5:37-40

My grandfather was lame. Once they asked him to tell a story about his teacher, and he related
how his master used to hop and dance while he prayed. My grandfather rose as he spoke and was
so swept away by his story that he himself began to hop and dance to show how the master had
done. From that hour he was cured of his lameness.
~ Martin Buber

God created man because he loves stories.
~ Elie Wiesel


Chapter 3

The Deepest Story
not your failure, but Gods success

A few years ago I gave this childrens sermon to the kids at church:

Guys, I want to tell you a story, okay? So pay attention. A long
time ago, there was a brownstone house. Across the street was a huge
park. In the house there lived a boy with red hair and freckles who loved
bugs. Okay, times up. Lets pray.
Did you like the childrens sermon? No? Why not? You expected a
story? That was just a bunch of boring facts. There are lots of brownstone
houses and lots of boys with red hair. Who cares?
Well, you cared. You paid attention because you thought those
facts were part of a story. Actually, those facts are a part of a story -- my
story. Im the kid who liked bugs and my story isnt over.
Did you know your life is a story that God is telling? We like
stories. Thats why we pretend were in them. We play army or princess or
whatever. Your life is more amazing than any story youve ever heard.
You matter. You just havent gotten to the end of the story yet.
So your life isnt just a bunch of facts. Things dont happen to you
by chance. Its all a part of an incredible story that God is telling.

Your Story

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

In Chapter 1 we noted that if thats true, the question, Does God exist? is far too
big for any specialist. Its a question science cant answer.
In the last chapter we examined the story:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth
was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep;
and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. And God
said, Let there be light; and there was light. And God saw that the light
was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the
light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and
there was morning, one day (Genesis 1:1-3).

Theres a second day, a third day, a fourth day, and a fifth day. God speaks,
separates, creates, makes, and lets light, water, and land, then does the same to a
second series of three: lights, waters of life, and life on land. On the sixth day God
creates Adam (mankind) in His image. The sixth day is the first of the seven days to carry
a definite article in the Hebrew. The previous days are indefinite. Perhaps we dont know

them as well. Perhaps they overlap.
At the end of the sixth day, God sees that everything is very good. On the
seventh day, It is finished.

Genesis 2:3 So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it,
because on it God rested from all his work which he had done in creation.
These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were

In the last chapter we noted that there is a beginning and an end, as well as a plot
to this story. We realized that the creation account is not just a record of facts but a story.
Its the Fathers story which tells us of our birth.

I told you about the day my son Jonathan was born:
1. There is a hospital record of my sons birth. Its full of facts.

2. But then there is also the story I told my son about the day he was born. It contains
some facts. But more than facts, it contains the deepest meaning.

Science is like reading the birth record written into the things that have been
made. Genesis 1 is the Fathers story told to His children. It contains facts and the plot,
which gives meaning to all facts. Well, God not only tells us our story, but He actually
speaks us into existence and sustains us with His Word. In other words, we are characters
in the story He is telling. And that raises some fascinating questions like:

What kind of story is it? What is its genre?

What kind of character am I: a hero, a villain, an extra?

What am I, if Im the product of an author or a narratora narrator whos telling
my story? Well Im more than fiction and stranger than fiction.

Have you seen the movie Stranger Than Fiction? The main character, Harold
Crick, goes about his everyday life when all at once he begins to hear a female voice
narrating his every move. By some strange fluke of nature, the narrator turns out to be
author Karen Eiffel who is writing her next novel. The main character in her novel is in
fact Harold Crick. Until this moment Harold really had no story only facts, only
details and no plot. Harold is an accountant who lives by the law, the tax law. He
counts the strokes of his tooth brush and works for the I.R.S.
The Voice begins to narrate these facts: When others minds would fantasize
about their upcoming day, Harold just counted brush strokes. Harold stops brushing his
teeth. Finally he yells at the voice, Shut up! Stupid Voice. The voice keeps narrating:
Harold found himself exasperated, cursing the heavens in futility. Harold turns to a
psychiatrist for help, but eventually winds up in the office of a literature professor. The
professor takes him seriously. The thing we need to determine conclusively is whether

youre in a comedy or a tragedy. Have you met anyone recently who might loathe the
very core of you? Im and IRS agent, responds Harold. Sounds like a comedy
replies the professor.
You see Harolds existence had been facts to which he could ascribe meaning, or
not and thus maintain control. His existence had been facts until the voice began to
narrate those facts, turning them into a story. Harold wants to know: What kind of
story? Makes sense, doesnt it?

Questions about Your story
A. If your life is part of a story someone else is telling, what kind of story is it? Is it a
good story?

B. Even if its a good story, what kind of character are you? Are you a hero, a villain . . .
maybe an extra?

An extra is a character not central to the plot. Remember the movie Galaxy
Quest? Some actors on the TV show Galaxy Quest discover that an entire alien
civilization has been built around their TV show. These good aliens abduct the actors
and think the actors are their saviors. So the actors are no longer just actors, for the story
is no longer fiction, but life. And theyre being asked to save a world. Its hilarious.
One of these actors had been an extra in the TV show. His name is Guy.
When tribulation comes; when the bad aliens attack, he panics. He explains, My
character isnt important enough to have a last name. Im going to die five minutes in!
The other crew members try to comfort him, but when things really get scary, one of
them betrays the truth screaming: Lets get out of here before one of those things kills
guy! They all know that only the extras die and stay dead. Finally, Guy volunteers for
a little suicide mission. He tells his friends, Since Im just a glorified extra Id rather
go out a hero than a coward. One of them comments, Maybe youre the plucky comic
relief. Did you ever think of that?

What if youre the plucky comic relief?
What if youre an extra?
What if youre something else?

C. And what say do you have in the matter? I mean, do you have free will? If youre a
character in an authors story, what the heck is free will? I mean, isnt every decision
part of the story the author is telling?

What if the author were to let you help him tell the story?

Then your will would only be free if it served the plot, right? For only
decisions that serve the plot are part of the story the author is telling.

But your will wouldnt be free if it didnt serve the plot, right? Your
decisions would be futile, empty, and void. You would be choosing nothing

and nowhere.

Jesus said, Whatever you [all] ask in my name, Ill do it for you (John 14:13).
In my name, and who is He? Hes the Plot - the Word of the Author, who is the narrator.
What would happen if you argued with the narrator?
I remember one of my kids Winnie the Pooh videos. In it Pooh questions the
narrator, and Tigger exclaims, Thats the narrator! You dont argue with the narrator.
In Stranger Than Fiction, Howard crick argued with the narrator. He screamed, Im not
cursing the heavens! Im cursing you, you stupid voice! What would happen if you
cursed the voice or argued with the Narrator? In George of the Jungle, (I know. I have
great taste in movies.), the bad guys argue with the narrator, and the narrator rewinds the
If you argue with the narrator, you reject the plot and write yourself out of the
story and into nowhere. To argue with the narrator is to un-create yourselfthat is,
desecrate yourself.
In C. S. Lewis novel Perelandra, Satan tempts the new Eve, on the planet Venus,
to disobey God. She responds:

Surely what you are saying is like fruit with no taste! How can I
step out of His will save into something that cannot be wished? Shall I
start trying not to love Himor the Kingor the beasts? It would be like
trying to walk on water or swim through islands. Shall I try not to sleep or
to drink or to laugh? I thought your words had a meaning. But now it
seems they have none. To walk out of His will is to walk into nowhere.

In other words, to argue with the narrator would be to un-create yourself -- to
walk backwards into chaos and the void.
Well then, why would anyone ever want to argue with the narrator? Perhaps wed
like the narrators job. Wed like control. Wed like to feel safe.
Before Howard Crick hears the narrators voice, his life is all facts and no story --
no life. He is the walking dead, but at least he feels safe, for he thinks hes in control.
Once he hears the narrators voice, all his facts start to have meaning. He begins living in
a story: He falls in love, he learns to play guitar, his life becomes a musical and a love
story, and he experiences joy and pain . . . real pain he cant control.
If I was my own author and narrated my own story, it would have no pain, no loss,
and no failure. I suppose that it would read like this:

Peter woke up, went to the beach, drank ten beers, and then fell asleep.
Peter woke up, went to the beach, drank ten beers, and then fell asleep.
Peter woke up, went to the beach, drank ten beers, and then fell asleep.
Etc., etc., etc.

But not even that. Id write my story with no pain, no loss and no failure. Id
never get thirsty. Id never get tired. Id never wake up. Id never live. My story would
have no drama, no meaning, no plot . . . no story, for I would tolerate no pain. In other
words, it would have no faith, no hope, and no love.

A story of faith must include doubt and loss.
A story of hope must include a battle with despair.
A story of love must wrestle with not love.

Faith, hope, and love abide (1 Corinthians 13:13). They are eternal. If God is
growing those things in this world, it wont happen through us writing our own stories for
we wont author our own pain. We wont create ourselves but only desecrate ourselves.
We naturally want to write ourselves out of a real story. We naturally want to sin. It is our
The greater the story, the greater the pain

Writing ourselves out of our own story

So if Im part of a truly great story, of course Ill try to seize control and write
myself out of that story unless, of course, I have an immense amount of faith, hope, and
love in the plot.
We all have pain. And have you heard? Everyone dies.
At one point in Stranger Than Fiction, Harold hears the narrator, Little did he
know that events had been set in motion that would lead to his imminent death. Harold
looks up and cries, What? Why? Hello Come on! Ever done that?
Well it sends Harold on a quest to find the author of his story. He does. And then
begs her to rewrite the story. Its then that she reveals the plot by letting Harold read the
story. She doesnt put a period at the end so, hes not dead, yet.
Well, Harold reads the story and discovers that the plot is so good, he begs the
author not to rewrite the story and change the meaning. Harold wants to die for the plot . .
. or should I say with the plot?
Were all going to die, but if you have faith, hope, and love in the Plot, you wont
try to write yourself out of the story and into nowhere and nothing. And if God is the
Author, maybe death isnt the deepest story.
Harold Crick dies with the plot and then lives. Thats the plot.

In the beginning was the Plot (Logos, word), and the Plot was with God, and the
Plot was God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything
made that was made (John 1:1-2). The Plot became flesh and dwelt among us full of
grace and truth (John 1:14).
Do you have faith, hope, and love in and for the Plot? Would you die for the Plot?
With the Plot? See? It matters, what kind of story is being told. What (or who) is the

Genesis 1 is the Fathers story, and science is like reading the birth record written
into the things that have been made.

A. If my son Jonathan ever grew to hate me, he might one day go back to California to
find the birth record in order to invalidate my story (like a mad scientist or a
Pharisee). He might try to control the facts to write him self out of my story if he
hated me. But if he hoped in me:

B. He might also go back and try to find the birth record, not to write himself out of my
story but rather to understand my story and then surrender to my story as his story.
The facts would clarify my story.

Its in that spirit that Christendom spawned the scientific revolution. But in the
last century, the Fathers story came under attack from some who said, There is no
author, no narrator, no plot, and no story. Its all facts because the birth record contradicts
the Fathers story. They say the universe is 13 to 15 billion years old according to the
birth record, but the Fathers story says that it was created in six days.
As the Fathers children, we want to reconcile our Fathers story and the birth
record, not to prove our Father exists but to better understand His story -- History.

The Birth Record and His Story
To some, what Im about to say may seem like a diversion. But remember that all
facts are part of our Fathers story, and a few more facts helped Harold Crick find the
author. To others, it may seem like Im skimming over all the juicy bits, but you can
investigate this further on your own and soon well need to get back to the story.
There are numerous ways that Christians have attempted to reconcile the Genesis
story and the scientific record. Here are just a few. Some defend a young earth and some
an old earth.


Young Earth Old Earth
1. Creation Science 3. Theistic Evolution
2. Apparent Age Theory 4. Divine Fiat
5. The Creation of Eden/Israel
6. Day Age Theory
Young and Old Earth
7. Relativity

1. Creation Science. This group argues that the universe is just a few thousand years
old. They say the seven days are seven twenty-four-hour days. They have produced
an industry of science to defend that position. In my opinion, its pretty poor
science and the idea that the seven days are only twenty-four-hour days is rather

unbiblical. (Even in Genesis 2:4 its obvious the day is at least six days and as
well see the seventh day is like a day that isnt even a day Zech. 14:6-7)

2. Apparent Age Theory. If you asked this group, Did Adam have a navel? theyd
say, Yes. Its a good question. They argue that God created the world recently, He
just created it old, so Adam had a navel, trees had rings, and the Grand Canyon had
what looks like millions of years of sedimentary strata. Well, God sure could have
done that. However it feels a wee bit deceptive to me; a little out of character.
3. Theistic Evolution. This group argues that God created through evolutionary
processes, so Genesis 1 is true but largely metaphorical. There are some textual
problems with that position, and some scientific problems. Natural selection is a
given, but evolution as such, is a long way from explaining life or even the fossil
4. Divine Fiat. Some argue that Genesis 1 refers to days of Divine Fiat; God speaks
six things on six days. When the things happen is parenthetical and not bound by the
six days. This position seems to be supported by the language and vocabulary of the
text, yet when God speaks, worlds do spring into existence. His words are not a
manner of speaking but the substance of reality.
5. The Creation of Eden/Israel. Some think the Creation account (after Gen.1:1-2) is
the account of the creation of the land of Eden. Genesis is at least the story of Israel
and Eden in some form, yet thats not all. Exodus 16 and 31 say that in six days the
Lord made the heavens and the earth.
6. Day Age Theory. These folks argue that the days refer to vast ages and that the story
is told from the vantage point of the surface of the earth. They will also argue that the
days are indeterminate and they overlap in such a way that they correlate remarkably
well with astrophysics and the fossil record. God creates (like, out of nothing),
makes (like a potter makes a pot), and lets (like, lets stuff happen). All of which
matches the fossil record remarkably well.

All (or most) of these theories have something to offer. Yet they still leave us with
some very big questions about the story. The biggest of all and perhaps the sum of all is
this: What went wrong? The creation story ends like this:

Genesis 1:31-2:4a And God saw everything that he had made, and behold,
it was very good. . . . a sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were
finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his
work which he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his
work which he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it,
because on it God rested from all his work which he had done in creation.
These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were

Finished, finished, done, done, done, and all declared very good. Everything He

made, very good.
Have you read the paper this week? Genocide in Africa, millions dead or
homeless through war and natural disaster This world is plagued with chaos - formless
and void. Its not all very good, and were not very good. Nobody lives happily ever after
in this world. Everything dies.

What happened to His Story?
If youre a Bible student, you might point to Genesis, Chapter 3. Its true: We
wrote ourselves out of the story and became the walking dead. Adam and Eve chose to
know the facts; the knowledge of good and evil. They chose the law so they could write
their own story and be their own narrator and provide their own plot, which is no plot.
Facts without a plot have no meaning, and everything dies. We cant create ourselves.
So it was good, we say, but now its over. The seventh day is over. The story
has ended. Adam and Eve have been exiled east of Eden, into the wilderness, formless
and void. The storys over. Thats how we read it . . . like orphans.

One morning during World War II, after London had been bombed mercilessly
the night before, Leslie Weatherhead found a young boy sitting in some rubble. His
clothes were torn and tattered, his face covered with soot and streaked with tears.
Weatherhead said, Son, where are your mother and father? Dead, sir. Weatherhead
then asked about relatives. All dead, sir, the boy replied. Where is your home? The
boy pointed down the street at a pile of bombed-out rubble. Son, who are you? The boy
looked up and said, I aint nobody, nothin.

Why? Because, all of his stories had come to an end. He had been written out of
the story into nowhere, nothin . . . like an orphan.

Like Adam east of Eden.
Like Israel in the wilderness.
Like a man in bondage to death
Like the Son of Man descended into Hades.

What would you tell that boy? What would you hope for that boy? You would
desperately try to find a deeper storysome faith, hope, and love. You would find a way
to say, Maybe your storys not over. Maybe youll see your parents again one day.
Maybe theres a greater good. I know this hurts like hell, but maybe heaven is stronger in
the end.
Weve taken control of our stories and tried to write ourselves out of the Fathers
story ever since The Fall. Its called sin, and now we feel like orphans. But, you know,
there are often stories within stories.

Maybe The Fall is not the deepest story.
Maybe your sin is not the deepest story,
but more like a story within a story.


So, whats the deepest story?

Theres one more very challenging question for the reader of Genesis 1: How
could a character in Gods story write himself out of that story? I mean, who has more
authority -- the character or the author? You or God? Even if you had free will:

Could your free will trump Gods free will?
Could your hatred overpower His love?
Could you turn Him into a fact in your story such that you no longer were a fact in
His story -- Gods story --the One who accomplishes all things according
to the counsel of His will? (Ephesians 1:11)

So whats the deepest story?
Your badness . . . or Gods goodness?

Several years ago I realized that there was one more way to reconcile the Genesis
story and modern science:

7. Relativity. Einsteins theories of relativity are no longer just theories but tested
hypotheses verified through experimentation (unlike evolution). Relativity and
quantum mechanics teach us that we should not take space and time so seriously, for
they are relative to things like light and even word. Its something Scripture told us all
along. We just didnt believe it.

Gerald Schroeder is a Jewish physicist from MIT who now teaches in Jerusalem.
In his books, he reminds us that time is relative to differences in velocity and gravity, and
that time is dilated by the expansion of the universe. Therefore, the universe is different
ages in different places. To answer the question How old is the universe? you must
determine the frame of reference -- that is, where the observer is standing.
We always assume our own frame of reference, (As if we were God our
something). We always assume planet Earth, now and me. But in the beginning, there
was no planet Earth. Where would The Author be standing?
Schroeder argues that if we, (here and now, on earth), measure the age of the
universe at fifteen billion years, but then ask how long fifteen billion years would be from
the standpoint of Creation, (that is, from the moment matter formed, from the perspective
of the entire universe tuned to the cosmic background radiation from the Big Bang; that is
as close as we can get to the standpoint of the Big Bang) if the universe is fifteen
billion years old from earths perspective, its about six days old from Creations
Fifteen billion years or so, is literally six days. Thats just physics. I
suppose you could argue the details (estimates regarding the mass of the Universe etc.),
but its very clear that time is relative. Its relative to the speed of light, and God is light.
15 billion years is literally (physically, actually, really) six days.
And these are the generations of the heavens and the earth (Genesis 2:4).
A day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day (2 Peter 3:8).
Its what the Bible said all along. We just didnt believe it.

So, Im Old Earth and Young Earth. Im even younger than the young-earthers.
When I read Schroeder's book, a ton of scientific problems dissolved away, but even
better tens ton of theological problems did the same. Because what does this mean? It
means the seventh day is not over; the story isnt over. Were still being made in Gods
image. Actually, according to Schroeders calculations, it appears that we are at the end
of the sixth day, the edge of the seventh day. Perhaps God will still say, Behold, its all
very good or perhaps even, It is finished. Whatever the case, time is relative to Him.

The Deepest Story

Now, if thats just science, I should drop it. But its not. Its what the Bible said
all along. We just didnt believe it. After day seven, the next verse in Genesis says,
When no plant of the field was yet in the earth . . . then the Lord God formed man of
dust (Genesis 2:5-7). By Genesis, Chapter 2, were back in day six, and God is still
making mankind in His image. He doesnt stop at The Fall. In fact, Jesus in John 5
literally says, My Father has been working until now and I am working (5:17). That
means His Father had not yet rested in space and time since the beginning of space and
After the description of the seventh day in Genesis 2:1-3, God never says that He
is finished with His work until John 19:30 when Jesus,

The Word made flesh,
The Plot made flesh,
The Ultimate, Eschatos, Adam,
Firstborn of All Creation,
The Perfect Image of the Invisible Creator,
at the end of the sixth day, a Friday,
lifts His head as He hangs on the tree of law
and cries: It is finished.

He is the edge of the seventh day.
He is the point at which eternity touches time and gives meaning to all things.
He is the plot to the deepest story and to your story.
He is the Beginning and the End.

The deepest story is not dependent on your story. Your story is dependent on the
deepest story. The deepest story is not The Fall. The deepest story is not your sin. The
deepest story is that God is making you in His image. Jesus is His image, and you are His
Temple, Body and Bride. The deepest story is that God is making you in His Image and
will not fail.
So even though we wrote ourselves out of the story; even though we cursed the
voice; even though we crucified the Plot on the tree; even though we tried to make Him
just a fact in our story, even that is a story within The Story - The Fathers Story.
The Father is still telling our story in space and time. He never stopped. Actually,
when we crucified the Plot, we revealed the Plot and that was the Plot. Its there that we

get the Plot, fall in love with the Plot and ingest the Plot. Its there that we surrender our
story to His Story. There, we are created in His Image.

Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Thats the plot.
We die with Him, then, live with Him in the seventh day.

He died and rose from the dead saying, My Father is your Father (John 15:21).
You are not an orphan. You are not an extra. You have His name. At His table, you ingest
the Plot: body broken and blood shed. You ingest Mercy. You ingest the Plot and become
the Body of the Plot. What kind of story is it? The genre is Gospel. Although you wrote
yourself out, He wrote you in with His Blood. Thats Gospel. Its the deepest Story. That
means its eternal.

I have an amazing friend named Elaine. She had a horrid childhood. Her Father
Worshipped Satan and her mother seemed powerless to help. Over the years God has
allowed me and my wife to be used by Him in delivering Elaine from some very dark
memories and horrific bondage. Late one night, Susan and I prayed with her over one of
her first memories as a little child. The way Jesus heals her is that He reveals His
presence in these old memories through visions, and then His presence reveals the
deepest story: His relentless love. My wife often sees the visions along with Elaine.
On this night, because of this memory, Elaine had come to believe she was an
orphan, only worse than an orphan a child of evil. Jesus appeared in a vision and gave
new meaning to all the old facts in Elaines story. My wife Susan saw Him do this along
with Elaine. At one point, she leaned over to me and whispered, Peter, Jesus has
something to give Elaine. Its a birth record.
I said, Elaine, Jesus has a present for you. Will you let Him give it to you? She
was terrified that it would be some form of condemnation, but finally, she held out her
hand. I asked, What did He give you, Elaine? She said, Oh, its only a piece of paper.
I said, Read it.
In this vision, as we held her and prayed, Elaine looked at the piece of paper. All
at once she gasped saying, Its a birth certificate and its, like, glowing with light! Its
written in blood! On the birth certificate was her name. I asked, Elaine, whats the date
on the birth certificate? She paused and then exclaimed, Oh, there isnt a date . . . Its
You see, that means its the deepest storya gift from the seventh day. With her
birthright, her birth certificate, in one hand and a flaming sword in the other, Elaine
battles the ancient Serpent refusing to believe his lies. She undoes the powers of chaos
and the void with the Deepest Story, Our Lord Jesus.
I believe you have a birth certificate. And its eternal. Its the deepest story about
you. Its
The Deepest Story in You
Sorry: one more movie none more profound. There is a great little episode of
Winnie the Pooh on one of the videos I used to watch with my kids. In the video,

Tiggers bouncing gets him in a heap of trouble. He bounces himself right out of the
story and into the branch of an enormous tree. Hes terrified. The tree is an illustration
that appears next to the words in the book that the narrator is reading on the video. Tigger
hears the narrators voice and cries, For goodness sakes, narrate me down from here. At
that, the narrator laughs, turns the world upside down (the book, on its side) and tells
Tigger to let go. Tigger believes the word on the tree. And so he drops from the tree
and stands on the word (the print on the page). The narrator then turns the book and
Tigger bounces down the words onto the ground. Through the word the narrator delivers
him from peril on the tree and back to earth -- a new heaven and new earth.
If you watched that video when you were a little kid and thought, Thats so cool;
I wish it was real, it is! It is real! Weve bounced ourselves out of the story and into a
tree. The Father tells us to let go surrender control. His Word comes to us on that tree
and He delivers us from nowhere to somewhere His Story. And thats the new and
eternal plot; thats the story. We bounce ourselves out and He narrates us back in. Its
called the Gospel, and you need to believe it. Why? Because when you believe it, it
changes the meaning of every fact in your story, even the meaning of that tree. It changes
you Its the Word in you. The Deepest Story in you - The image of God.

We can write ourselves out of our own story, but not out of Gods Story,
The Deepest Story.


Endnotes and Pertinent Quotes

1. C.S. Lewis, Perelandra (New York: MacMillan, 1944), p. 116.

2. For more on this perspective: Hugh Ross, Creation and Time ((CO Springs: NavPress,

3. Gerald L. Schroeder, The Science of God: The Convergence of Scientific and biblical
Wisdom, (New York: Broadway, 1997).

One thought in this book revolutionized my understanding of the old earth, young earth
debate and then revolutionized my understanding of Genesis One and then, most
importantly, revolutionized my understanding of the Love and Sovereignty of God. Its this rather
shockingly simple and obvious scientific thoughtthat, since time is relative and the universe
was created before the earth started spinning on its axis, we ought to ask this question, From
what perspective is God speaking in Genesis One?

Schroeder calculates that six 24hr. days, from the earths perspective is actually 15 ! billion
years from the Bibles perspective, at the start of day one (p.60). Schroeder then calculates that
we now exist close to the boundary between the end of the 6
day and the beginning of the 7
creation. Scientists continually debate the age of the universe and cosmologists have made all
sorts of fascinating discoveries since Schroeders book was first written. Yet, I hope you see that
Schroeders figures dont need to be accurate for these ideas to be revolutionary. No matter what
data is used, we live in a universe where six days from one standpoint is several billion years
from another standpoint. And indeed all of time is an instant from the standpoint of light and
God is Light.

This means that we can take the Bible more literally, rather than less literally. By that, I mean
that we can and should take it according to the authors literal intent. We have butchered the
Biblical text over the last one hundred years trying to fit Scripture into a modernistic view of
space and time. Ironically, that view of space and time was proven to be an illusion just about one
hundred years ago. Men like Albert Einstein, Max Plank and Werner Heisenberg, revealed that
space and time are relative and realities like light and meaning (logos) are far more substantial--
even eternal, that is immortal. We can take the Bible at its Word (Logos), remembering that
with the Lord, a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day. Yet, Gods Word
cannot be broken and will not return void.


The master gave his teaching in parables and stories, which his disciples listened to with
pleasureand occasional frustration, for they longed for something deeper. ~ The master was
unmoved. To all their objections he would say, You have yet to understand, my dears, that the
shortest distance between a human being and truth is a story.
~ Anthony DeMello

Whenever you read a good book, its like the AUTHOR is right there, in the room talking to you,
which is why I dont like to read good books.
~ Jack Handy, Deep Thoughts

It is one of the greater triumphs of Lucifer that he has managed to make Christians (Christians!)

believe that a story is a lie
~ Madeleine L'Engle, Walking on Water

It will help much towards our understanding of the imagination and its functions in man if we
first succeed in regarding aright the imagination of God, in which the imagination of man lives
and moves and has its being. ~ [With this in mind] we discover...that where a man would make
a machine, or a picture, or a book, God makes the man that makes the book, or the picture, or the
machine. Would God give us a drama? He makes a Shakespeare. Or would He construct a drama
more immediately His Own? He begins with the building of the stage itself, and that stage is the
world....He makes the actors, and they do not actthey are their part. He utters them into the
visible to work out their lifeHis drama....All the processes of the ages are Gods science; all the
flow of history is His poetry....Man is but a thought of God.
~ George McDonald

She was living in the story as if it were real, and all the pictures were real too. When she had got
to the third page and come to the end, she said, That is the loveliest story Ive ever read or ever
shall read in my whole life. Oh, I wish I could have gone on reading it for ten years. At least I'll
read it over again. ~ But here part of the magic of the Book came into play. You couldnt turn
back. The right-hand pages, the ones ahead, could be turned; the left hand pages could not. ~
Oh, what a shame! said Lucy. I did so want to read it again. Well, at least, I must remember
it. Let's see . . . it was about . . . about . . . oh dear, it's all fading away again. And even this last
page is going blank. This is a very queer book. How can I have forgotten? It was about a cup and
a sword and a tree and a green hill, I know that much. But I cant remember and what shall I
do? ~ And she never could remember; and ever since that day what Lucy means by a good
story is a story which reminds her of the forgotten story in the Magicians book. . . . ~ Shall I
ever be able to read that story again; the one I couldn't remember? Will you tell it to me, Aslan?
Oh do, do, do. ~ Indeed, yes, I will tell it to you for years and years.
~ C. S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

We cannot walk out of Maleldils (Gods) will: but He has given us a way to walk out of our
~ C.S. Lewis Perelandra

The text said that there was evening and there was morning, it did not say: the first day, but
said, one day. It is because there was not yet time before the world existed. But time begins to
exist with the following day. Now what man of intelligence will believe that the first, and the
second, and the third day, and the evening and the morning existed without the sun, moon, and
~ Origen, 250 A..D.

The beginning of time is called one day rather than the first dayIt follows that we are
hereby shown not so much limits, ends, and succession of ages, as distinctions between various
states and modes of action.
~ Basil, 370 A.D.

The world was created Oct. 3rd, 4004 B.C.
~ Bishop Usher, 1650 A.D.


Chapter 4

The Deepest Story
Darwinism and the 7th Day

Winners and Losers

Seven year old Olive Hoover stands in front of a Television, rewinding a video
and reliving a scene time and time again. Regis Philbin announces, and the new Miss
America is Miss Kansas, Tara Dawn Holland. Olive Hoovers dream is to win a beauty
Pageant; to compete in the Little Miss Sunshine pageant and win.
Richard Hoover, highly motivated because hes a motivational speaker, stands in
the front of an auditorium delivering a multi-media presentation. He gives the knowledge
we need to create our selves in the image of a winner:
There are two kinds of people in this world: winners and losers With
my nine step Refuse to Lose program, you now have the necessary tools
and the insights and the know-how to put your losing habits behind you
and to go out and make your dreams come true. No hesitating; no
complaining; no excuses. I want you to go out in the world, and I want
you to be winners! Thank you.

The camera pans back to the audience: nine high school kids, terribly bored. Two
clap half heartedly.
Duane Hoover is Olives brother and Richards son. Along with Grandpa, Mom
and a very depressed uncle they are a family, but a very broken family. Duane is lifting
weights in his bedroom. Olive, Richard and Duane: these are the opening scenes of the
critically acclaimed movie Little Miss Sunshine. Behind Duane, as he pumps iron, on
his bedroom wall, is a poster of Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche was a Prussian
Philosopher who died at the age of thirty-five, having gone insane. In his book Thus
Spoke Zarathustra, he writes:

Lo, I preach to you the superman, the superman is the meaning of the
earthWhat is good? All that heightens in man the feeling of power, the
desire for power, power itself. What is bad? All that comes from
weakness. What is happiness? The feeling that our strength grows, that an
obstacle is overcome. Not contentment, but more power; not universal
peace, but war; not virtue, but forcefulness. The weak and ineffective must
go under; first principal of our love of humanity. And one should even
lend ones hand to this end. What is more harmful than any vice? Pity for
the condition of the ineffective and weak Christianity.

To Nietzsche, the Superman was the next evolutionary step achieved by the will
to power. Duane is a big fan of Nietzsche. Thats why hes working out so hard. An
even bigger fan of Nietzsche was Adolph Hitler. He ardently believed that the Arian race
was the next stage of humanity: the Superman -- Ultimate Man -- Eschatos Man. The

Nazis took evolutionary theory very seriously, for Friedrich Nietzsche took evolutionary
theory very seriouslyhe criticized Darwin, for he believed he improved upon Darwin.

Like Karl Marx, Lenin, and Stalin.
Like Duane Hoover lifting weights.
Like Richard Hoover and his nine steps to becoming a winner.
Like Olive Hoover competing in the Little Miss Sunshine contest.
Like me in 2nd grade at South Elementary in Littleton, Colorado.

In gym class, we always picked teamsthe survival of the fittest. It usually
confirmed I was least fit to survive. In math class, we were graded on a curve. I couldnt
enjoy an A unless several others got a B, C, D, or preferably an F.

My joy in math class
was dependent on anothers sorrow,
Like my sorrow in gym class
was the basis of someone elses joy.

If I didnt remember the lessons, I surely remembered the method. The method
was the lesson -- competition. They said its what made America strong. They said it
even explained life: the survival of the fittest.

Field Day, gym class, science class, recess . . .
We learned the lesson well.

In second grade, at recess, Duncan and Matt always played Batman and Robin.
(They wanted to be supermen.) Matt always played Robin. He was poor, uncoordinated,
and raised by his grandparents. Sometimes he smelled. Routinely someone would yell,
Lets get Matt and Duncan! and a mob of about twenty second-grade boys would chase
Matt and Duncan behind the backstop, knock them down, and begin mocking them and
beating them.
As Duncan and Matt began to weep, the crowd began to laugh.

Matt and Duncans pain was their pleasure.
Matt and Duncans loss was their victory.
Matt and Duncans weakness was the measure of their strength.

There are two kinds of people in the world: winners and losers. Unless you
identify the losers, how do you know whether or not youre a winner -- a superman?
I remember Matt crying and the crowd laughing, and me . . . frozen in fear, not
sure which way to go.

What is a winner?

Olive, Richard, and Duane Hoover were into Darwinism, like me and all the
second-grade boys at South Elementary. I dont mean by that, that any one of us could

have done a good job articulating Darwins theories. I mean that each of us was highly
influenced by Darwins myth.

Myths and Archetypes

Psychologists like Carl Jung and sociologists like Peter Berger taught that persons
and societies are not shaped by laws, governments, and armies but by powerful stories:
that is, myths. To say that something is a myth does not mean its untrue; it means that it
is so powerful it shapes a civilization. Myths are often captured in a picture; an archetype
- archetypes through which we interpret, understand, and prescribe meaning to our world.
One might argue that for hundreds of years in the western world, this was the
dominant archetype:

Yet in the twentieth century another archetype took over:

Now the facts in these two myths may be just the same, but the myth is the way
we apply meaning to the facts. Its the plot.
Secular Darwinism claims that all life is the product of random mutations.
Technically, it has no plot, for it is technically random and void. Yet in popular society,
we give it a plot. We make it a myth.

What does this archetype mean? What does the myth tell us?

Who we are: The winners in this world. The sperm that made it! We are the top of the
food chainfor now.


Who the creator is: Technically chance, that is the void. But we like to think its us and
our willpower.

How to make a world: Self-assertion; the will to power; the competitive spirit.

The Good: Technically, there is no good. But in our minds, its this: to beat your
neighbor; in the words of Conan the Barbarian To crush your enemies . . . to see them
driven before you and to hear the lamentation of their women.

The Ethic: The First will be first.
Blessed are the strong, for they shall conquer the earth.
Blessed are the dominant, so destroy your enemies.

The Goal: To keep your life.

The Judgment: There are two kinds of people: winners and losers.

Life Is: Competition.

Now, I hope you see that a person can profess a certain myth yet be governed by
another. For instance, a person might claim to be a secular Darwinist yet be very kind to
the last and the least. But over time the myth will have an affect. As a man thinketh,
so is he (Proverbs 23:7 KJV).
I also hope that you see the myth is more than science. Many people agree with
various tenets of evolutionary theory and ascribe to the very same facts but dont buy the
myth. The myth is more than scientific fact. The myth is a faith statement; its a religion.
Somewhere Mary Midgley wrote, Evolution is the creation myth of our day.

So I stood there in second grade, frozen between two myths -- two archetypes --
two religions that gave very different meanings to the facts that I was observing.

So, whats the deepest story?

The Darwin Fish Or - The Jesus Fish?

Darwinism Or - Creationism?

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The
earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the
deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

God creates, makes, and lets over six days, making all things with a word.

Genesis 1:31-2:4 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold,
it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth
day. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of
them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and
he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God
blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from
all his work that he had done in creation. These are the generations of the
heavens and the earth when they were created in the day that the LORD
God made the earth and the heavens.

Thats a very different archetype than the survival of the fittest, and what does
it mean? What does the seventh day mean?
In the previous chapter we noted that, because of the laws of relativity and time
dilation due to the expansion of the universe, physicists now inform us that if the universe
is 15 billion years old from our perspective, its about six days old from the perspective
of the Big Bang. We also noted that Scripture has taught this sort of thing all along:
Were living in the sixth day on the edge of the seventh day. In the next few
verses of Genesis, we find ourselves back in the sixth day, still being made in Gods
image. Jesus told us in Johns Gospel that His Father had been working all along. God
doesnt finish His work until John 19:30, the end of the sixth day, Friday, when Jesus --
the last Adam (Eschatos Adam, Uttermost Man, Last man, Superman) cries from the
cross, It is finished!

The cross is the edge of the seventh day;
The point at which eternity touches time and gives meaning to all our facts;
The point where God reconciles to himself all things;
The point at which Gods wrath is satisfied and judgment is complete.

By faith in Christ at the cross, we can enter Gods rest and walk in the seventh
day, even though our flesh is still walking in the sixth day, still being made in Gods
image. Jesus Christ and Him crucified is the door to the seventh day.
In the seventh day, on the other side of the cross, the other side of judgment, God
is finished with all His work. He rests from all His work which He has done in creation.
Its all done! Hes satisfied! Hes not angry; Hes not troubled! And behold, everything
that He has made is very good. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold,
it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning a sixth day. Thus the
earth and heavens were finished and all the host of them. (Genesis 1:31 2:1).
And now brace yourself for a very big problem. Ready?
It appears that in the seventh day, there are no losers.

So, whats a winner?


Some people need losers to feel like winners. Darwinists need losers to define
themselves as winners. But in the seventh day, there are no losers. I mean, there is no
hell. Where the hell is it?
By hell I mean what people normally mean by hell -- a place where God endlessly
tortures people with His wrath, or a place where God eternally separates people from
Himself in some sort of endless death. But on the seventh day, everything God made is
very good. Gods not angry, Hes not mad, Hes not uptight, and Hes not depressed.
Justice is satisfied, and no one is paying! Where the hell is hell?
Now, you may argue, Okay, Peter, obviously the seventh day is not in the future
but in the past. It came and went. Well, I dont know how that can be in light of the
things weve already discussed (God making man in chapter two, time dilation, etc., etc.).
And how do we explain that snake in Genesis 3? Hes BAD. Where did he come from if
everything is good? And why did Adam and Eve sin if they were 100% finished in Gods
image? And why would you need a garden? Wouldnt everything be garden? If the
seventh day came and went, I dont know how to explain the rest of Scripture.

Throughout Scripture there are series of sevens. And when you get to seven,
something amazing happens: Creation, Crucifixion and Revelation. Were considering

Consider John 12:31-32: Crucifixion. Jesus cries, Now is the judgment of this
world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the
earth, will draw all people to myself. All! When? . . . Hes speaking about His cross.
At the end of the sixth day as he hangs on that cross, He cries It is finished. Its the end
of 6, beginning of 7.
The creation, the crucifixion, and the Revelation;
Beginning (Genesis), middle (the Gospels), and end (The Revelation);
I think they all tell the same story.

Consider The Revelation: Revelation 5, the slaughtered lamb is standing on the
throne as if Jesus is enthroned upon His cross. The slaughtered lamb has seven horns
and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God. In scripture, seven is the number of
completion -- the finished creation. You get the idea that Jesus is a number seven kind of
On the throne, He opens the seven seals and gives meaning to all reality.

At the seventh seal seven trumpets sound, seven thunders boom, and seven bowls
are poured out.
At the seventh trumpet, the mystery of God is fulfilled, atonement is made, and
the kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our God.
At the seventh bowl, the wrath of God is finished completed --done. And then
the seventh angel shows John the Bride -- the New Jerusalem coming down.

As the slaughtered Lamb takes the scroll, preparing to open the seven seals and
give meaning to all space and time, the elders and the living creatures fall down and sing,

Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain and with your
blood you ransomed people for God. More join the song. Then in verse 13 we read:

And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and
in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, To him who sits on the throne
and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and
ever! And the four living creatures said, Amen! and the elders fell
down and worshiped.

Every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth praising God, and
that is good!. . . like everything God had made is good and all the host of them are
finished . . . like the seventh day. Every creature praising God for gracelike people
were bad but theyre now good because of that lamb Every Creature.

So where the hell is hell?

In Revelation 20, Death and Hades (translated Hell in the King James) are
thrown into the Lake of Fire. In chapter 21, Death is no more. And Jesus cries from the
throne, Behold, I make all things new . . . these words are faithful and true.
Now, some expect me to tell you why those words arent faithful and true, why
all doesnt mean all . . .

And why every, isnt actually every.
And why the heavens and earth really arent finished in Genesis 2:1.
And why all the works of God really arent good in Genesis 1:31.

But I cant. How could I?

Genesis 1:31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very
good . . . except, of course, for the people He intended to make in His image but instead
perpetually tortures without end in hell......................................... I CANT SAY THAT!

John 12:32 I will draw all people to myselfexcept of course, the people I
endlessly separate from myself in utter torment THAT DOESNT WORK!

Revelation 21:5 Behold, I make all things new . . . except, of course, for the last
and least whom I maintain in a perpetual state of living death so I can demonstrate my
justice for all eternity because my justice is never satisfied and my wrath is never
finished................SCRIPTURE WONT LET ME SAY THAT!!!!!

Yet Scripture does testify. (And make no mistake, Scripture cannot be broken.)
Scripture does testify: God is Holy; Judgment will come; The only way to the Father is
through the son; There is a consuming fire; There is a place of outer darkness called
Hades; And there is a place where evil is consumed by Fire and Light called Gehenna
But where the hell is hell? Well, if we mean what I think we mean,


Its not on the seventh day.

Genesis tells us the seventh day is holy, and did you notice theres no evening or
morning on the seventh day? Zechariah (14:7) prophesied a day without daytime or
nighttime. The seventh day is holy, and God is holy. His name is I Am that I Am. He
speaks time itself into existence. The seventh day is Gods day, and its holy. God alone
is holy. That means its different from the other days. I am incapable of explaining it
fully, but perhaps its something like this:

The line is time. There is a beginning and one day, a 2
day, a 3
day, a 4
day, a
day, and the 6
day on this timeline, and then the end: It is finishedthe 7
The End of time. You see, in Scripture, forever (aions) has a duration. Chronos
(chronological time), our time, comes to an end. And who is the end? Jesus is the End
and the Beginning. (Rev. 21:6)
So where is the 7
day? Its at the End of the timeline. But the End is the
Beginning. Hebrews 4:3 His works were finished from the foundation of the world.
YetGod works in time even now (John 5:17). So, He IS resting in the 7
day and at
work here in the 6
. Well if the 7
day is Gods day, perhaps its before and after time
and all around time, at least our time.
So where the Hell is Hell? Where is Hades, Sheol, the outer darkness, and the
realm of the dead? Well, its somewhere on this timeline.
And time comes to an End.
Then, where is the Lake of Fire? Well Hades gets thrown into the Lake of Fire
and death is no more. Our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29).
The Eternal
Fire is God. On Day 7, everything is filled with God, who will fill all things (Eph.
4:10). We are surrounded by Fire, for we are surrounded by God. In Him we live, move,
and have our being,(Acts 17:28). Perhaps were surrounded by Heaven. You know as
if the Kingdom of Heaven were at hand. Perhaps Day 7 is all around us and Holy Fire
is all around us.
So where are we? Were stuck on this line in time, half-baked and battling these
old bodies of sin and death, the old me. And yet Scripture tells us that were already
seated in the heavenly places in Christ. Its like I already have an eternal birth
certificate. Its like Im already finished. Its like theres a mea new mealready on
the other side of Judgment: The Fire.
So where is Jesus? Hes the beginning and the end. And Hes our Judgment. Hes
the author and finisher of our faith. He is the Word spoken by the Father that creates and
upholds all things and will fill all things (Eph. 4:10)
So what happened at the cross? The End invaded time. When we come to the
cross we come to The End. And we come to the cross because The End has come to us.
Jesus has come to us. We die with Him and rise with him to the seventh day, Gods Rest.

So what happened at the cross? Everything! For at the cross, eternity invaded
time and invaded us. At the cross, God gives meaning to all creation with His Word with
which he makes all creation. At the cross God makes you and gives meaning to you. He
who knew no sin became sin that we might become the righteousness of God (2
Corinthians 5:21). At the Cross God revealed His Heart and poured out His Life - Jesus
Christ and Him crucified.

The very first became very last so the very last could become very first.
The winner became the loser so all the losers would become winners.

At the cross, Jesus revealed the glory of God.
God is Fire. God is Love. God is eternal, unquenchable, unstoppable Grace.

All things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and
in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is
the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be
preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through
him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making
peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:16a-20)

So if Christians have an icon, archetype, or creation myth, its not God on a cloud
touching Adams finger, its this:


The cross of Christ.
Body broken and blood shed.

This is the Word of God. This is the touch of God. This is the eternal covenant of
grace. This is how God makes a world.

History is His Story and His Story is History.

The great theologian Karl Barth wrote in Church Dogmatics, The creation is the
external basis of the covenant. In other words, all of creation is like a set or stage to
reveal Gods covenant of grace in Jesus on the cross. The creation is the external basis
of the covenant, and the covenant is the internal basis of creation. In other words, God
creates all things through Jesus Christ crucified -- His body broken and His blood shed,
the sacrifice of grace.
We are saved by grace not once, but every moment. Grace creates us, grace
redeems us, and grace will bring us home.

Grace makes all things new.

But make no mistake, everyone has been or will be judged . . . by grace. It was
grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved. The cross is the
judgment of this world (John 12:31). Some may languish in Hades and outer darkness
for eons, but at the cross grace descended into Hades and grace is the door. And when
Hades is thrown into the Lake of Fire, perhaps some will be destroyed. Yet Jesus said He
came to seek and to save the destroyed (the lost and the destroyed are one word in
Greek - apololos)
And if God made a fellow of dust and ashes in the first place, whos to say He
cant do it again? But if He does it, He does it through Jesus every time. God consigned
all men to disobedience that he may have mercy on all -- have grace upon all -- have
Jesus upon all (Romans 11:32).

Well now, thats quite a paradigm shift for most believers, so I realize you may
need to chew on that a bit. (Ive included and appendix to help you do that). But for now
my point is simply that on the seventh day, it appears that there are no losers. So if you
need some losers to feel like a winner, you may not like the seventh day. In fact, you may
judge yourself right out of the seventh day and right out of the Story the God is telling

Like Jonah refusing to preach to Ninevites, judging himself out of the boat
and into the sea, the belly of Hell (Jonah 2:2 KJV)

Like the early workers judged themselves out of the Lords vineyard. (Matt.

Like the older brother judged himself out of the party and into that dark field.
(Luke 15: 25-32)


Like the sons of the kingdom (like Pharisees and us?) judge themselves out
of the banquet and into the darkness, offended by Grace. (Matt. 8:11-12)

Whatever you think about the nature of hell, we are to at least hope that none
will perish and all will reach repentance. Why? Because, God does (1 Timothy 2:3-4
and 2 Peter 3:9). So if you find yourself hoping against God, and the thought of everyone
being saved isnt good news to you, but bad news to you; if grace burns you like fire -
you need to ask yourself why.

Do you need an eternity of losers to postulate an eternity of winners?

Are you an eternal Darwinist?

Jesus is your scapegoat. You need no other.
If you need someone to be last, so you can be first, Jesus already foot the bill.
Would you keep him last? That must be Hell.

On the seventh day, there are no losers, and everything is created by grace. That
means no one there created themselves -- everyone there is a loser that God makes a
In Gods finished creation, there are not two kinds of people. There is only one
kind of person: the lost that have been found, that is, losers saved by grace. For by grace
you have been saved through faith and this (faith) is not your own doing; it is the gift of
God lest none should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Your choice didnt save you. Your free will didnt save you. Your will
damned you, and God saved you. Jesus is Gods good choice in you; Faith, Hope and
Love in you. He is your wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption. (1 Cor.
1:30) Youre made by grace, redeemed by grace, saved by grace and sanctified by grace.
If you have a problem with that, youll have a problem with the seventh day. Its all
Grace. If you have a problem with Grace, youll judge yourself out of the seventh day
and into the sixth day (the 666 day)the Antichrists day.
If you hate grace, youll un-create yourself, for you can only be created by grace.
So if you have a problem with grace, ask yourself: Why!?!?

Do you think that you must create yourself? Are you a Darwinist?

I hope you see that a person can profess a certain myth or archetype and be
entirely governed by another. You may home school your kids, boycott the Museum of
Natural History, memorize all the dictates of creation science, but be a Darwinist at
heart -- a hard core, religious, anti-Darwinism Darwinist.


Have you ever seen this bumper sticker?

If you have one, dont be embarrassed. But did you notice the Jesus fish is eating
the Darwin fish? Could anything be more Darwinistic?

Is that how Jesus wins? I mean, wouldnt the Darwin fish be crucifying the Jesus
fish? Wouldnt the Darwin fish be eating the Jesus fish? like because the Jesus fish
said, Here, take and eat: My body broken for you. My blood shed for you. If you need a
loser, let me lose so you can win.


So what does our archetype mean? What does our myth tell us?

Who we are: The winners in this world.

Who the creator is: Us.

How to make a world: Self-assertion.

The Good is: to beat your neighbor.

The Ethic:
The first will be first and the last will be

Blessed are the willful for they shall
conquer the earth.

Blessed are the dominant.

Destroy your enemies.

The Goal: To keep your life.

The Judgment: Two kinds of people:
winners and losers.

Life is: Competition

This is called SIN

Who we are: The losers in this world.

Who the Creator is: God.

How to make a world: self-sacrifice..

The Good is: to serve your neighbor.

The Ethic:
The first will be last and the last will be

Blessed are the meek for they shall
inherit the earth

Blessed are the merciful

Love your enemies

The Goal: To lose your life.

The Judgment: God who is one:
so we shall be one.

Life is: Cooperation.

This is called LOVE


See? I think there is another word for that first archetype. I think its called SIN.
And I think theres another word for that second archetype. I think its called LOVE.
Now, let me ask you: Which explains life: sin or love? Self-assertion or self-
sacrifice? The survival of the fittest or the sacrifice of the fittest?
Ask any biologist worth their salt, and theyll tell you the survival of the fittest
doesnt explain life. Competition doesnt explain life. It explains the limitation of life. It
explains death. It explains chaos and the void. For what is life?

Its one atom that sacrifices its self to make a molecule.
And one protein molecule that sacrifices to make a strand of DNA.
And one strand of DNA that sacrifices to make a cell.
And one cell that sacrifices to make a kidney.
And one kidney that sacrifices to serve a body.
And one body that sacrifices to make the Church.

Life is cooperation not competition.

Life is like a dance, in which each entity sacrifices self for the good of the whole.
That dance is beauty. That dance is Love. Life is cooperation not competition.
If you say, Competition is natural; survival of the fittest is the way of this
world, well, of course its the way of this world. This world has been subjected to death.
It is in bondage to decay, groaning in travail, waiting to obtain the glorious liberty of the
children of God, who have tasted the seventh day (2 Corinthians 5:2-5).
This world has been subjected to futility. (Romans 8:19) Its only half made.
Dont attribute creation to the void. Dont attribute life to death. Its not that Darwinism
isnt describing something real. Its just not life. Its deathand hell.

In Little Miss Sunshine, all of the characters are Darwinists. They each are
desperately trying to win. Yet each is creating their own private hell. When Olives uncle
comes to live with them, Duane writes it on a note, Welcome to hell. As they all travel
across the country, in one orange VW bus, in order to take Olive to the Little Miss
Sunshine contest, they cant hide. They each come face to face with their own failure.
And when they see their own failure they crack and then, they begin to love.
The last one to fail is Olive. It turns out that the dance she does for the beauty
pageant is one she learned from her drug addict grandpa, who died on the trip. No one
checks the dance or the song before the pageant, and seven year old Olive doesnt know
what it is - a striptease to the song Super Freak.
Olive dances and obviously scandalizes the pageant. As the woman in charge tries
to stop her dance, Olives father comes to the stage. Not knowing how to remedy the
situation and moved with love for his daughter, he joins her dance, sacrificing all dignity
so that she wont lose alone . . . so that she wont get crucified alone. Then Olives
brother joins the dance. Soon her uncle and her mother all join the dance. They all lose
the contest and gain a family. They lose the beauty pageant and become beautiful. They
lose their lives, that were hell, and taste a bit of heaven. It was there all along.
The dance is Love. Love is Life. And Life is Beautiful.


So I stood there, about seven years old the playground at South Elementary I
stood there frozen between a mob of laughing boys, and Matt and Duncan weeping in the
dust. I stood there between two archetypes.

Where was the life?
Where was the dance and the invitation to dance?
Where was the very first who made Himself very last?
Where was the Superman?
Where was Jesus?

Whats the deepest story?


Endnotes and Pertinent Quotes

1. Friedrich Nietzsche, as quoted in, K. L Kalla, The mid-Victorian literature and loss of
faith, (New Delhi: Mittal Publications, 1989), 23.

2. See: John Richardson, Nietzsche's New Darwinism, (New York: Oxford University Press,

3 The Lake of Fire and Brimstone can be translated The Lake of Fire and Divinity, or
The Lake of Fire that is Divinity, (Brimstone translates the Greek theion, derived from theos,
translated God.). I discuss this in more detail in Eternity Now.

Peter Hiett, Eternity Now: Encountering the Jesus of Revelation, (Nashville: Integrity, 2003)


We are because one odd group of fishes had a peculiar fin anatomy that could transform into legs
for terrestrial creatures; because the earth never froze entirely during an ice age; because a
small and tenuous species, arising in Africa a quarter of a million years ago, has managed, so
far, to survive by hook and by crook. We may yearn for a higher answerbut none exists.
~ Stephen J. Gould

Strange Christianity, whose most pressing anxiety seems to be that Gods grace might prove to be
all too free on this side, that hell, instead of being populated with so many people, might some
day prove to be empty!
~ Karl Barth, God Here and Now

Holy Church teaches me to believe that all these shall be condemned everlastingly to hell. And
given all this, I thought it impossible that all manner of things should be well, as our Lord
revealed at this time. And I received no other answer in showing from our Lord God but this:
What is impossible to you is not impossible to me. I shall keep my word in all things and I shall
make all things well.
~ Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love

Christ in Origens old words, remains on the Cross so long as one sinner remains in hell. That is
not speculation: it is a statement grounded in the very necessity of Gods nature. In a universe of
love there can be no chamber of horrors, no hell for any which does not at the same time make it
hell for God. He cannot endure that, for that would be the final mockery of his nature. And he
will not.
~ Bishop J.A.T. Robinson, In the End God

We know, states Barth, only one certain triumph of hell the cross of Golgotha on which
Jesus died for our sins and this triumph of hell took place in order that it would never again
be able to triumph over anyone. . . . We know of only One who was abandoned in this way, and
only of One who was lost. This One is Jesus Christ. And he was lost (and found again) in order
that none would be lost apart from him (II/2, p. 498). When we know this One by faith and see
what he endured for the sake of the world, then no matter how desperate the situation may be, we
will not abandon hope for anyone, not even for ourselves.
~ George Hunsinger, Disruptive Grace


When evangelicals rely on a nave Baconianism, they align themselves with the worst features of
the nave positivism that lingers among some of those who worship at the shrine of modern
science. Thus, under the illusion of fostering a Baconian approach to Scripture, creationists seek
to convince their audience that they are merely contemplating simple conclusions from the Bible,
when they are really contemplating conclusions from the Bible shaped by their
pseudounderstandings of how the Bible should be read. . . . Millions of evangelicals think they
are defending the Bible by defending creation science, but in reality they are giving ultimate
authority to the merely temporal, situated, and contextualized interpretations of the Bible that
arose from the mania for science of the early nineteenth century.
~ Mark Noll, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind

Beware when fighting the dragon lest you become the dragon.
~ Friedrich Nietzsche


Chapter 5


I liked the fried spiders. They were half the size of my hand and tasted a bit like
bacon. The water bugs were huge, looked like roaches and tasted like liver. Sareth
walked past piles of insects on the tables of vendors all jammed into the crowded Russian
Market in Phnom Penh Cambodia. Ooh Peter, try this one, he said, The water bugs
taste like liver, but these little roaches are really good. Australian tourists laughed and
took pictures. I was having a blast, reliving the glory days of Junior High when I would
impress my friends by eating bugs. Sareth was having fun as well, but his memories
werent so sweet.
He was an entomological culinary expert but not because of time served in
Junior High. For three years, as a young boy, Sareth had survived on bugs as he slaved in
work camps and the killing fields of Cambodia. Sareth was about seven, when soldiers
raided his home and took him from his family. They said hed be gone for two or three
weeks. That meant three years.
Its estimated the 1.7 million people were slaughtered in the killing fields of
Cambodia. Sareth walked us through some of those fields. Human bones and clothing
still poked through the dry ground. We saw piles of human skulls. As I bent down and
touched the dry bones of some man, woman or child, I thought this is the world I live
in. We cover it up in America. We usually fight our wars at a distance. Yet, even here,
everyone dies and evil is rampant.
Its not covered up in Scripture.
I touched the dry bones in a valley of dry bones.

Chaos: formless and void.

In the early 70s, as the Vietnam War spilled into Cambodia and mixed with the
Revolutionary Communist groups already present, the destruction produced chaos and an
untold number of fatherless children. Fatherless boys were easy prey for Communist
strongmen like Pol Pot, who then turned those boys into killing machines.
In 1975, the Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia. They erased the former calendar
and named that day, Day 1.

So out of the chaos, formless and void:

1. These fatherless boys and girls tried to separate the light from the dark: Day 1.
2. They tried to separate the waters of Sheol from the waters of Heaven.
3. They tried to make dry land appear bearing fruit.
4. They tried to determine the signs, seasons, days, and years: the calendar.
5. They tried to make life for themselves.
6. They tried to make themselves in Gods image.
7. They tried to find rest . . . but there was no rest; only more chaos.


How do we rest?

How do you find rest in a world . . . like that?

You know, the Jews were commanded to rest, and their world must have been like
that. They knew about genocide. Actually, they know about genocide; they know about
exile and bondage. You would think that above all, God would tell them to do something
about it. Yet above all, God commands them to do nothing . . . and to do nothing very
Exodus 31:12: Above all you shall keep my Sabbathshabath, rest, stop.
Above all you are to be very diligent about doing nothing, or die. Thats quite a
commandment! Its the fourth of the Big Ten. I think that means we are to pay attention,
even now.

1. Exodus 20:8-11: Every seventh day shabath, because in six days the LORD made
heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day.
Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
So remember the Sabbath because Inot youcreated you. Im your Father. I
created you. Im telling you your story.

Sabbath is about God creating all people.

2. In Deuteronomy 5: 12-15, God gives a different reason for the Sabbath. He says,
Observe the Sabbath, to keep it holy, (different) you shall remember that you were
a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord God brought you out from there with a
mighty hand and an outstretched arm.
So, remember the Sabbath because Inot youdelivered you.
Remember how He did it? At the Red Sea, He told them, Be still. At Jericho on
the seventh day, the seventh time around, the seven priests bearing seven trumpets
blew the trumpets, Israel worshiped, and the walls came down.

Sabbath is about God delivering His people.

3. In Exodus 31:12-17, the Lord says through Moses, Above all you shall keep my
Sabbaths, for this is a sign . . . that you may know that I [not you], the LORD, sanctify
you . . . keep the Sabbathas a covenant foreveran eternal covenant. Jesus the
Messiah forms that covenant with His body and blood. You know, He said that He is
Lord of the Sabbath. (Luke 6:5)
Remember we said the creation story is about (1) all people, (2) Israelthe
Church (ekklesia: those called out)the people of God, and (3) Jesus. Its at least
about 3 things and you.
Well anyway: Remember the Sabbath because Inot yousanctify you. I make
you holy (sanctified). I complete you. I finish you.

Sabbath is about God sanctifying His people in Christ

Its in those verses above (Ex. 31:14-15), that God says, Keep the Sabbath! or
be cut off and put to death How do you like that commandment? KEEP THE
SABBATH OR DIE! And its not just in body; were to obey from the heart.
So right now, all you readers, everyone reading this book, youyeah you:
REST!!! Be still and know that He is God! Do it now, dang it . . . right now! Have deep,
deep inner peace . . . OR DIE! REST OR DIE!!!!!!!

Thats kind of un-restful, huh?
Its like a law that could kill you . . . or show you youre already dead.
Hebrews 4:11: Strive to enter his rest. That sounds like work to rest.

Working to rest?

It was Thursday night, actually 3:00 a.m. Friday morning, I was soaking in a hot
bath because I couldnt sleep, couldnt rest. It had been a thirty-four-hour day since I
awoke in Bangkok and went to bed in Denver. My body would not rest, and my heart
would not rest.
Thursday was the third anniversary of my fathers death. Ive felt a bit like an orphan
since he died.
I was also wrestling with some attitudes in my heart that my friend Andrew had asked
me about while in Cambodia. I couldnt separate the light from the dark in me.
I was wide awake and couldnt rest and had to write a sermon on Genesis 2:1-4; a
sermon on rest. A sermon on stopping, and I couldnt stop.

How do we stop?

In the beginning, God spoke His Word into the chaos.

1. He separated light from darkness: one day.
2. He separated the waters below and above: a second day.
3. He made dry land, homeland, bearing fruit: a third day.
4. He made the seasons and times: a fourth day.
5. He made the waters living with life: a fifth day.
6. He made man, male and female: the sixth day. And He blessed them.

The Father is telling us the story of our birth.

Genesis 1:27-28a, 31-2:3 So God created man in his own image, in the
image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God
blessed them . . . . And God saw everything that he had made, and behold,
it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth
day. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of
them. And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done,
and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done. So
God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested

from all his work which he had done in creation.

On the seventh day, everything is very good. Hes finished, finished, done, done,
done (He repeats it several times), rested, rested, shabbath, shabbath . . . sabbathed from
all His work. For on the seventh day, everything is very good.
God the Father is content, satisfied, pleased and delighted in all He has made.
And that would include you. Hes not angry, frustrated, or upset. God declares the
seventh day holy.
But where is it? By chapter 2, Scripture is describing the sixth day. And thousands
of years later, man is still being made in Gods image.
The seventh day can hardly be the Garden of Eden, for not all is good there.
Why would you need a garden, unless outside there was not garden? Surely that snake
is not all good. Surely Adam and Eve are not yet made in Gods image, for the snake
tempts them to make themselves in Gods image.

So wheres the seventh day? Whens the seventh day? Maybe we havent arrived
quite yet. As we discovered in the last chapter, physics indicates that from the standpoint
of the beginning, the universe is about six days old. Not seems like six days old, but
because of the laws of relativity is actually six days old.
So maybe the seventh day is in the future. Yet Hebrews 4:3 tells us: Gods works
were finished from the foundation of the world. That would be even before Day 1!
Every other day in the story has an evening and morning. But the seventh day has no
evening and morning. Its a unique, different, holy day (Zech. 14:7). Its like it has no
duration. So maybe God is eternally resting even while Hes always working in time.
Well Jesus says His Father has been working until now . . . now being 2,000
years ago, just a little before Jesus cried from the cross, It is finished.
Jesus is the End. And Scripture testifies that the end of the ages; end of the
aions; end of the evers, has come upon us in Christ (1 Cor.10:11). Jesus Christ and
Him crucified is the door to the seventh day.
So last time we drew this picture; maybe its like this:

At the beginning of time is the Big Bang, there are six days, and then there is the
endthe judgmentthe Day of the Lordthe seventh day. Jesus is the judgment and the
end . . . and also the beginning, the source, the root. Maybe Day 7 is all around the
timeline. At the cross, the seventh day is revealed, and God gives meaning to all things
through His Word. Perhaps Day 7 is an eternal reality, while days 1 through 6 are

temporal realities. Chronological time, our time, is a created reality. That would mean
that time exists inside the seventh day; like in God we live and move and have our
being; like the kingdom of Heaven is really at hand. Whatever the case, our time
exists in Gods time, Gods eternity.
What Im trying to say is that we are surrounded by the seventh day, surrounded
by Heaven, and surrounded by God, like a baby in a womb is surrounded by its mother
though it has not yet seen the face of its mother.

After I tried to explain this at church one weekend, I talked to a friend of mine
who sometimes sees visions. She said, Peter, I didnt understand what you were talking
about when you drew that line and then the seventh day. So I prayed, Lord, what is Peter
talking about? (By the way, thats a prayer I highly recommend.) She then said, Peter,
I looked up, and I saw Jesus lying on the communion table. (He is the body and the
blood, you know.) He was lying on the communion tableand this is weirdbut He
was, like, giving birth . . . to us. But we werent yet born; we were being born. And I
said, Oh, thats exactly what Im talking about!
Jesus said we must be born from above, (John 3:3) and we are being born from
above. So life is not a test like an algebra test, but like being born is a test. God is not
waiting to see if well pass or fail. Hes testing us like gold or silver is tested and purified.
Its not to determine if there is good; the test delivers the good and destroys the not
good. Hes preparing us for eternity and an immeasurable weight of glory.
Being born is a test! Its hard to think of anything more traumatic. Actually, Ive
blocked it out entirely. I was safe, warm, and comfortable when my entire world closed in
on me - expelled me. I died to my old world and was born into the new. A doctor took a
knife and cut away, what I thought was most precious, what I thought was a part of me,
the most important part of me: the chord that bought life to me in the womb and the
placenta with which I was attached to that womb - my world. I was judged. I was cut.
One day our flesh will be cut away; this old world will be cut away and we will
It was a test! As that old world pressed in on me, it forced fluid from my lungs. I
exhaled my old world and inhaled oxygen in a new world. I used that oxygen to exhale
terror. I cried out in shock and pain but my father laughed. He spoke. It was a voice I
had heard even in the womb. He held me in his arms. He looked me in the face. He
spoke and I rested.
When my son was born, he was battered and bruised, crying his lungs out. They
put him in my arms still howling. I spoke his name and immediately He stopped.

Well, by the power of incorruptible seed, we are being born out of this womb of
a world, out of the confines of space and time as we know it; born out of this world and
into the new creation: the seventh dayGods Sabbath day.
Thats our hope, and God doesnt want us to forget it. So He commands the
Sabbath as if to say, Yes, Israel, I know the journey is hard. The whole earth groans in
travail. So every seventh day, hear my word, even in the womb. Hear my word and

I create you, and it is finished.

I deliver you, and it is finished.
I sanctify you, and it is finished.

Rest in that knowledge . . . or die. If a baby refuses to be born, it will die or never live.
Rest in that knowledge . . . or youll stay dead. Maybe we havent even begun to live and
we dont yet even know what life really is.
Adam and Eve died, but I wonder if they were ever fully alive? Whatever the case,

Were being born out of time and into Eternity

Well, Ive asked you to think of time as a line. But now Id like you to picture it
as a space the space in which we live. Perhaps you could think of it as our world, our
earth. Perhaps you could even think of the timeline as lying on the surface of the earth.
(That is how we measure time. One rotation of the earth, we call a day but the seventh
day is different, holy). So, in the picture below, think of the space above the line as
Heaven or the 7
day and the line as the surface of our earth, the edge of our space and
time. So the space above the line is the seventh day. Below the line is the sixth daythe
666 Day: sin, exile, bondage, death, Sheol our time. Our time comes to an End, just as
this old earth will come to an End. This also is the 7
Remember that the creation story is about at least three things: the first Adam
(that is, all humanity), Israel (the people of God), and Jesus (the last Adamthe Eschatos
Adam); its about three things and you.
We know that these three things happened in the following order
at least
according to our knowledge of time:

1) God took something of Himself (His Breath) and breathed it into earth and made
Adam. But Adam fell. The day you eat you will die, says God: sin, exile, bondage,
death, and eventually Sheol, which begins here, in this world. Adams line sinks into
the earth. [doted line].

2) Then God took something of Himself (His Word) and sent it to old Adam and made
Israel. But Israel rebelled and failed to enter the promised rest: sin, exile, bondage,
death, and a valley of dry bones. Israels line sinks into the earth [dashed line].
3) Then God took Himself and wrapped Himself in Israelite flesh and the body of
Adam. His name is Jesus. At the cross, God made him to be sin, who knew no sin.
(2 Cor. 5:21) and He descended into death and Hades and rose victorious on the third
day. He is the Lord of the Sabbath. Christ the firstfruits (1 Cor. 15:23). Firstborn
of all creation (Col. 1:15) All the promises of God find their Yes in Him. (2 Cor.
5:20) He is the door to the seventh day. Jesus descends in to the depths of the earth
and rises from the dead. [solid line]. The substance of the Sabbath belongs to Him
(Col. 2:17).
Jesus is the Substance of the Sabbath

Adam (mankind fell) and did not enter the 7
Israel fell and did not enter the promised rest:

Hebrews 3 and 4: For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all
who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? . . . For indeed the gospel was
preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not
profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. For we who
have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: So I swore in My wrath,
They shall not enter My rest, although the works were finished from the
foundation of the world. For He has spoken in a certain place of the
seventh day in this way: And God rested on the seventh day from all His
works; and again in this place: They shall not enter My rest. Since
therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first
preached did not enter because of disobedience, again He designates a
certain day, saying in David, Today, after such a long time, as it has
been said: Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.
For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have
spoken of another day. There remains therefore a rest for the people of
God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his
works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest,
lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.

All of Israel fell in the wilderness because they did not believe the Fathers story
and so wrote themselves out of the story and into the valley of dry bones. And yet there
remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. Today, now, you can enter Gods rest.
How? By faith which is, in fact, the faithfulness of Jesus.

We enter Gods rest because
Gods rest has entered us.


When we are saved, Jesusthe imperishable seed, the meaning of all things, the
plotdescends into our sin, exile, bondage, death and hell, and leads us to His rest. We
die with Him and rise with Him. We are the people of God called out, the ekklesia, the
church. [red line descending to blue and rising].

In Jesus, we are written back into the Fathers story.
In Jesus, we believe and enter Gods rest.

Now, Scripture reveals that Jesus went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison.
(1 Peter 3:19); that, "the gospel was preached even to those who are dead. (1 Peter 4:6)
So perhaps the line should go all the way down. He descended into the lower parts of the

earth and ascended far above the heavens that he might fill all things (Ephesians 4:9). So
maybe the line should go something like this [red line descending all the way]:

. . . or even something like this:

According to Revelation 13:8 KJV, Jesus is the Lamb that was slain from the
foundation of the world. And Scripture tells us that Christ is the end of the ages. He
rose on the third day, yet somehow thats the last day. Well thats a lot to digest. And Im
not saying that Ive got it all figured out, but it sure fills me with hope especially in the
valley of dry bones.
Do you remember what God told Ezekiel? Son of man, these bones are the whole
house of Israel. Behold they say, Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are
clean cut off. (Ez. 37:11). People in Hell have no hope, but that doesnt mean that
Hope no longer has them. God tells Ezekiel to prophecy (thats breath and word) saying,

Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your
graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know
that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my
people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live. (Ez. 37:12-14). Thats
the whole house of Israel! Even Judas and the Pharisees are included in the whole
house of Israel.
Perhaps thats why Paul wrote, And in this way all Israel will be saved.
(Romans 8:32). But thats not all of all. Six verses later He writes, For God consigned
all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on allFor from him and through him and
to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen. (Romans 8:32,36).
Paul also wrote, For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made
alivethat God may be all in all. Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on
behalf of the dead? (1 Cor. 15: 22, 28-29) And Paul wrote, Therefore, as one trespass
led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life
for all men. For as by the one mans disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the
one mans obedience the many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:18-19). Maybe Jesus
meant what he said, Behold, I am making all things new. (Rev. 21:5).

Because of those verses and many more:
Some argue that eventually all will respond to the Gospel, even in Hell.
Some say they wont or cant.
Some say its an incredible mystery we cannot fully understand. (see: appendix)

Well, Im definitely saying this: Todaynowenter His rest. Stop wandering in
death. And dont fall by the same examplesame sortof disobedience, which I think,
in reality, is every sort of disobedience.


1) Adam and Even fell because they didnt believe the Fathers story and tried to create
2) Israel fell because they didnt believe the Fathers story and tried to deliver
3) Jesus believed the Fathers Story. He is the Fathers Story.

The Khmer Rouge were fallen because they didnt believe the Fathers story.
They may have never heard the Fathers story.

If we dont believe that God creates us, delivers us, and sanctifies us,
well try to create ourselves, deliver ourselves, and sanctify ourselves;
well eat forbidden fruit;
well make golden calves to worship, and sacrifice our children to idols.
well consume, take, rape, and kill, trying to obtain the blessing
the blessing we can only receive by grace from our Father in Heaven.

When my children were little and didnt believe my blessing, they were

nightmares. I remember one evening in our minivan, Elizabeth was just mean to everyone
and mean to me. With Elizabeth, spankings usually didnt work. So when we got to the
restaurant I sent everyone inside except Elizabeth. I sat her in the front seat next to me,
stared her down, Elizabeth, whats gotten into you? She stared me down, then said, I
know, but Im not telling you! She was so cute, and yet terrifying.
I loved on her for a while, and finally she cracked. In the deepest agony, in one
unbroken stream she sobbed, Daddy, when you visited my kindergarten class, Kelly told
me that you told her that you didnt really love me but her. At that she just lost it:
convulsions, sobbing and tears. It just killed her to confess her fear. But having died to
her ego, she collapsed in my arms.
I let her cry for awhile, then, I lifted her face and said, Elizabeth, does Kelly
have a daddy? She answered, Yes . . . he just moved away. So I held Elizabeth and
then said something like this: Oh, honey, I will always love you. That doesnt change.
Dont ever doubt my love for you again. It hurts when you doubt my love. But when you
doubt, come to me and let me tell you again that I love you. I love you.
When my children dont believe the fathers love, they act out. When I dont
believe the Fathers love, I act out.

I have to create myself, save myself, and sanctify myself.
I have to judge myself, justify myself, defend myself, and position myself.
I get very busy with myself, and I can only see myself.
I get trapped in myself, in death and hell, unable to love and unable to rest.

Soren Kierkegaard wrote:

The greatest danger for a child, where religion is concerned, is not that his
father or teacher should be an unbeliever, not even his being a hypocrite.
No, the danger lies in their being pious and God-fearing, and in the child
being convinced thereof, but that he should nevertheless notice that deep
within there lies hidden a terrible unrest. The danger is that the child is
provoked to draw a conclusion about God, that God is not infinite love.

Children, if you dont believe your Fathers love story; if you dont believe He is
unfailing love and unending mercy; if you do believe He will withhold something on the
seventh day or be secretly displeased with you on the seventh day, never satisfied with
you, never utterly delighting in you on the seventh day; if you dont believe that all things
will be very good on the seventh day; if you think He does not truly rest . . . you will
never enter His rest, and youll fall by the same sort of disobedience as the Israelites,
Adam and Eve, and the Khmer Rouge.
But believe the Fathers storythe Gospeland then you enter His rest and
move from His rest, created, delivered, and sanctified by grace through faith in the
Fathers blessing. Then you move, dance, and sing not because you have to, but because
it is your nature.
A literal translation of Genesis 2:3 is, God rested from all His work that God
created to do, which sounds just like Ephesians 2:9: Good works which God prepared
beforehand, that we should walk in them. We are His workmanship created in Christ


Jesus is the Fathers Blessing
He is the Fathers Word
Receive Him and rest

Lately Ive been missing my fathers blessing. He told me my story. He told me
who I am. In his arms as a child, I always found rest. He died a few years ago. A friend
emailed me. She writes:

I was praying and God told me that the problems that you are facing . . .
are harder for you to deal with now because you dont have your dad to
talk to My heart was filled with Gods great compassion for you and I
began to weep. God then said, You do not need to weep, for I am Peters
Father and I will never leave him. I am always there to listen to Peters
struggles and I will help him separate the truth from the lies, to see the
good and renounce the evil. I have always been the source of Peters help;
Peters dad spoke my words of wisdom and knowledge and poured my
love into Peters life. I am God and my name is I AM.

I read that word and for a moment I rested.
Ive carried a letter in the back of my Bible, since Dec. 7, 1996. It ends like this:

So now, my dear super son, I wish for you for Christmas, not any
improvement anywhere but a sense of deep joy in what you are and are
doing and an ability to relax and give the Lord all your worries and
anxieties. I have so much more to say, but that will be in another note.
Meanwhile, what a son you are! All my love and affection, Dad

How could Dad write that: Not any improvement but a deep sense of joy? How
could Dad write that when he knew I was a basket-case with a busload of issues? And my
Dad knew what they were! He even acknowledges them in his letter and wants them to
go away: worries, anxieties How could Dad write that? Well, I think he saw me
through the seventh day. Good Dads are like that. Your Father in Heaven is a Good Dad.
Jesus stood on a mountain and the Father said, This is my beloved Son in whom
I am well pleased. I wish not any improvement but only a deep sense of joy: rest.
Well, Jesus actually needed no improvement! He trusted His father implicitly but I do
need improvement.

How can I hear God say that? Not by my works; Not because of my ability to
make myself in His image; but because His image has placed himself in me - Because
Ive been stopped by his Word and now Im hidden in his Word and because His Word is
in me. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in
the flesh I live by the faith of the son of God. (Gal. 2:20, italics KJV) Jesus is in me.
Jesus has been spoken into me.
Faith is the substance of things hoped for, and Jesus is the substance of the

Sabbath in methe image of God created in me.

I enter Gods rest because
Gods rest has entered me.

So Friday morning at 3:00 a.m., in chaos, restless and confused, I prayed, Father,
in Jesus name:

1. Separate the light and darkness in me: judge me.
2. Separate the chaotic waters below from the waters of mercy above.
3. Make your land appear bearing fruit.
4. Speak your seasons that I may move in the rhythm of your time.
5. Make the waters living with life.
6. Make me in your image in Jesus.

7. Help me to believe and rest.

My body was dead tired, but my heart began to rest in the seventh day. God
creates me, saves me, and sanctifies me, in Jesus by Jesus in me.

In Cambodia, I got to serve Jesus. A few months before, my friend Andrew, along
with my friend Paul, had preached the gospel while Sareth interpreted. They had
preached in a region that had been the last hold out of the Khmer Rouge. They preached
on an Army base where a few hundred had invited Christ to make his home in them.
Within a few months a few hundred believers became 10,000, and no one had to say,
Evangelize your neighbor. They just wanted to. In the Killing Fields they long for the
Fathers blessing. And for them, Sharing that blessing wasnt work, they just wanted to
like a song you like to sing, or a dance you enjoy dancing work, but not work.
According to Isaiah (40:28), God never grows weary. Its like Hes always
resting even if Hes working. I suppose that heaven is Gods rest, and our eternal rest, but
we do stuff in heaven, right? Perhaps it looks like work, but it doesnt feel like work. If
youre resting in your heart, but moving with your body, I think we call it play or
singing, dancing, partying, - work but not work thats heaven; Heaven on earth;
Heaven in a valley of dry bones.
Well like I said, in Cambodia, I got to serve Jesus; I got to serve those
Cambodians their first communion. We gathered for worship. I suppose thats work, but
good worship doesnt feel like work. We gathered for worship and took the body
broken and blood shed. Its a party, a feast, the Great Banquet and its more nourishing
than bugs. Jesus is the fathers blessing; the substance of the Sabbath; our foodrest that
nourishes our work.

Jesus declared, It is finished at the end of the sixth day. And Jesus rose the first
day of the new week. The early Church began celebrating the Sabbath on the first day of
the week to remind them that we work out of rest, out of grace, out of the finished work
of creation, salvation, and sanctification. The Fathers blessing: Jesus.


We dont work to rest
We work from rest

We stop. Then, we sing, dance and party. Then we live our lives to the glory of
the Lord because we want to. Because we believe the Fathers Blessing.


Just one more story: The only time that I ever saw Jarek Conelly sit still.
Several years ago, I performed the wedding ceremony between Jareks mother
Janielle and her fianc Andy Connelly. Jarek was about four and obviously Janielles son
from a former relationship, for Jarek was chocolate brown, but Janielle and Andy were
very white.
Jarek had really been fatherless for a time, and I think he felt it. He knew it, for
Jarek was always restless, always moving, always busy, and usually in trouble.
During the ceremony, Jarek was Jarek. He was everywhere. He wouldnt stop; he
wouldnt sit still. By the time of the vows, hed gone from the front as ring bearer to the
front row as prisoner quarantined by relatives.
As Janielle and Andy said their vows, Jarek squirmed. I was moving on to the
rings when Andy stopped me mid-sentence, turned around toward Jarek making a ruckus
in his front row seat. And while everyone watched, he said, Jarek.
Jarek froze. His eyes went wide; pinned to his seat. He knew hed been bad.
Jarek, Andy said, I love you with all my heart. I will always be your daddy and you
will always be my son.
And thats when I saw it: Jarek Connelly totally still, shabbaththe Sabbath. The
word that Andy spoke was the Covenant Word: I create you, I save you, I sanctify you,
and I give you rest. I am your Father.

We were bad. And we wouldnt stop. The children of Adam and the children of
Israel had nailed God in Flesh to a tree. The sky grew black. The earth shook in horror.
And He spoke. God spoke. At our very worst, He spoke the very best. His Word on the
tree: Father, forgive.
And there we stop and begin.

We cant stop.
He stops us.

So go to worship on the first day of the week. Go hungry. Admit that youve been
bad. Listen to the word. And watch as someone speaks the Word: This is my body given
to you. This is my blood, of the covenant, poured out for the forgiveness of sins. Do this
in remembrance of me. Eat. Drink.


Then Live.


Endnotes and Pertinent Quotes

1. In the Evangelical Universalist, by Gregory MacDonald (Eugene OR: Cascade Books,
2006), pg.66, there is a diagram that is very similar to this. For reasons that will unfold (I hope), I
expand on that idea and try to add the elements of eternity and temporality. The diagram certainly
isnt perfect, yet it is a bit fascinating: We measure time by the rotation of the earth. If the
timeline forms a circle, it simulates the rotation of the earth and temporality is enclosed in that
circle--just as in the biblical view temporality and Hades are enclosed in this earth, while eternity
exists in the heavens above. Temporality then floats in Eternity like the earth floats in space. And
time moves in circles.
Time moves in circles, just as one week leads to another week. This may give the
impression that temporality, chronological time, does not end. However in Scripture it does. (In
Scripture, all things come to an EndChrist, Jesus. This is made explicit in a literal translation of
Rev. 10:7: At the seventh trumpet, chronos is no more.)
In our little diagram, time ends at the end of the time line. If the line is a circle, time ends
when the circle is flooded with the 7
day: Eternity; the Consuming Fire; the Glory of God; The
One who will fill all things.
Leaving the timeline at death (like the thief on the cross); coming to the End of the Line;
And the Second Coming are all the same event. They are the boundary of time and eternitythe

2. Kierkegaard, Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard, (Farmington, PA: The
Plough Publishing House, 1999), p. xv


All evil stems from this: men do not know how to handle solitude.
~ Blaise Pascal

Our hearts are restless until they rest in you.
~ Saint Augustine

The death and resurrection of Jesus were themselves the great eschatological event, revealing
Gods covenant faithfulness, his way of putting the world to rights: the word for reveal is
apokalypso, from which of course we get apocalypse. Saul was already living in the time of the
end, even though the previous dimension of time was still carrying on all around him. The
Present Age and the Age to Come overlapped, and he was caught in the middle, or rather,
liberated in the middle, liberated to serve the same God in a new way, with a new knowledge to
which he had before been blind. . . . He wasn't just living in the last days. He was living in the
first days - of a whole new world order. As with the cross, the resurrection permeates Pauls
thinking and writing; and it isnt by any means just the future resurrection, to which of course
Paul looks forward. It is the resurrection of Jesus, to which he looks back.
~ N.T. Wright, What Saint Paul Really Said

And this was seen in the ninth showing where more is said of this matter. And in spite of all our
feelings, weal and woe, God wants us to understand and believe that we are more truly in heaven
than on earth.
~ Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love

Eternal life is now. Were surrounded by it, like the fish in the ocean, but we have no notion about

it at all.
~ Anthony De Mello

God forbid that anyone should say that God loved anyone in time, for with him nothing has
passed away and also nothing is future, and he loved all the saints before the world was made, as
he foresaw. When it happens that he makes manifest in time what he foresaw in eternity, people
think that God has acquired a new love. And in the same way, when he is angry or does a kind
action, it is we who are changed, whereas he remains unchangeable, just as the suns rays hurt
weak eyes and do good to healthy ones, although the suns rays remain unchangeable in
~ Saint Augustine

Here you should pay careful attention and rightly understand, if you can, that God in his first
eternal glance, if we could assume that there was one, considered all things to see how they were
to take place, and saw in this glance when and how he was to create the creatures and when the
Son was to become man and suffer He saw that you will urgently call upon him tomorrow and
earnestly pray, and God will not answer the call and prayer tomorrow, for he has already
answered it in his eternity before you ever became man. But if your prayer is not wholehearted
and is not sincere, God will not refuse you now, for he has refused you already in his eternity.
~ Meister Eckhart

Some of us believe that God is all mighty and has power to do everything, and that he is all
wisdom and knows how to do everything, but that he is all love and is willing to do everything
there we stop. And it seems to me that this ignorance is what most hinders those who love God.
~ Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love

Opsias de genomenes. Heaven is Miller Time. Heaven is the party in the streaming sunlight of the
worlds final afternoon. Heaven is when all the rednecks, and all the wood-butchers, and all the
plumbers who never showed upall the losers who never got anything right and all the winners
who just gave up on winningsimply waltz up to the bar of judgment with full pay envelopes and
get down to the serious drinking that makes the new creation go round. It is a bash that has
happened, that insists upon happening, and that is happening nowand by the sweetness of its
cassation, it drowns out all the party poopers in the world. ~ Heaven is, in short, fun. And if you
dont like that, Buster (hetaire), you can just go towell, youll just have to use your
imagination. ~ Youll need it: this is the only bar in town.
~ Robert Farrar Capon, Kingdom, Grace, Judgment


Chapter 6

The Abyss

Genesis 1:31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it
was very good.

Everything wonderful!

A few years ago I was able to take a couple of amazing trips. After speaking on
The Revelation for a group of missionaries in the Czech Republic, I had the opportunity
to walk through the remains of the Nazi concentration camps, Auschwitz and Birkenau.
A short time later I travelled to Cambodia and ate bugs with Sareth.
One Sunday after I returned I began my message with a slide show. I set the show
to music: one song. As we watched the slides, Louis Armstrong crooned his famous song,
What a wonderful world.

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

As he sang we watched images from Auschwitz and Birkenau where two million
people (mostly jews) were systematically exterminated. And we watched images from the
killing fields and Tual Sleng Prison.
Between 1976 and 1979 (while I was playing soccer and dating my new
girlfriend), something like 12,000 people were imprisoned and tortured in Tuol Sleng -
tortured by fatherless children between the ages of ten and fifteen who had been trained
in evil by the Khmer Rouge. Of the 12,000 imprisoned, seven survived. Most of the rest
were taken to the fields, where they were murdered as loudspeakers in the trees blared
music, to drown out the sound of the screaming. Something like 1.7 million, were
murdered in Cambodia, 30% of the population.
As the slideshow drew to a close, I sang: And I think to myself . . . What the hell
is going on? We dont normally ask stuff like that in church. But if we ask it at all, isnt
that the very best place to ask?

What the Hell?

What the Hell is going on? (Maybe the question is the answer)
Maybe Hell is going on.

People have turned Tuol Sleng and Auschwitz into museums. I like that, because I
think we dont take evil very seriously. Or maybe a better way to say that is that we all
deny evilwe take it so seriously that we deny it.
But Tuol Sleng and Auschwitz are happening right nowin places like Sudan;
even in Denverperhaps not a million at once, but a little girl here, a little boy there. We

read about some cases but probably not the worst. There are people I know that have
suffered as much or maybe more than those in Auschwitz or Tuol Sleng.
Years ago I prayed, God, would you be more real to me? In other words,
Jesus, I want to see you. The next week I met Elaine. Shed been moved here by some
folks in the graduate program at Colorado Christian University. They helped her relocate
and hide her tracks. Elaine wanted to meet me because she heard that I might believe her
story and be willing to pray.
Elaines father had been very involved in a satanic coven. What was done to her is
more horrifying than Auschwitz and Tuol Sleng. I probably wouldnt believe these things
ever happened, except for the fact that I now have seen too much and encountered too
much to deny its reality: My wife will experience the same visions that Elaine
experiences when we pray for her; Ive been wakened to things choking me in the night;
Ive seen the demonic manifest and Ive witnessed the beauty and power of Jesus as he
reveals his victory at the cross and in our lives.
And yet the evil that came against Jesus on that cross is so horrifying, Ive
wanted to deny it but couldnt. I used to ask people to come help us praythe
spiritual people. Some would say: It cant be true. She must have made up the story,
or if not that, then, Well, its her fault. She chose it . . . chose evil. We all want to deny

I remember walking through the rooms in Birkenau at Auschwitz praying, Thank
you, God, for the memorial that is this place, so we can not deny this place. And surely if
it happened to six million people here, we cant deny it may have happened to a little girl
in a garage in America. Evil in people; Evil in our world!?

When Susan, my wife, was seventeen years old, she woke out of a sound sleep.
The room was dark and she smelled death. In terror, she looked at the foot of her bed to
see a figure appear, blacker than the darkness, like a shadow in the very fabric of reality.
It lifted its empty arms and said, Youre mine. What is that? What the hell is that?
Who made that?

What is evil?

Trying to answer those questions is what theologians call Theodicy: the study
of the problem of evil. At least for Americans, it seems to be the biggest obstacle to faith.

Who made evil?

People say, How could I believe in an all-powerful, all-loving, good God when
six million Jews were exterminated in Germany and two million Cambodians were
slaughtered in the Killing Fields? If God made everything, and all that God makes is
good, where did evil come from?
American Christians love what is known as the free will defense. That is, we
chose or choose evil. Thats where it comes from, folks say. We have free will.
So those who are blessed are those who have chosen well, and those who are
cursed are those who have chosen poorly. So eternally speaking, the strong-willed

survive, and life is a test to see whose will is up to snuff. Theres evil in the world as a
result of our own free will. Thats what folks usually say.
The great philosopher Jack Handy from Saturday Night Live on NBC once said:

Sometimes when its raining and my children ask, Daddy, why is it
raining? I like to tell them, Because God is crying. And when they ask,
Why is God crying? I say, Because youre bad.

So do you laugh? Do you not laugh? Youre trying to figure that out, arent you?
Because its kind of true . . . but kind of not true. God knows the future. Right? He knows
the End at the Beginning. Right? So even if we had free will, he knew what wed do
with it. Why would he create beings that he knew would make him cry? then call them

Free Will?

Maybe free will helps explain the perpetuation of some evil, but what about
natural disasters and babies born with birth defects?
Christians often say, That may not be the result of your choice today, but it is the
result of Adam and Eves choice long ago. Well, that may be true. Adam and Eve were
guilty, but why didnt God just kill them and start over? Or never make them at all?

How could man explain the origin of evil?
How could man choose evil unless there was evil to choose?
Why was there a garden, if the whole world was a garden? It sounds like there was evil
outside the garden.
Why did God put a poison tree smack dab in the middle of the garden?
Who let the snake into the garden?
Who made man- Adam and Eve? Because theyre defective; they are really poor

Good Will?

If Adam and Eve had free will, they sure didnt have good will. That is, they
could make random decisions but not good decisions. How could they? They didnt have
knowledge of good and evilwhich isnt very free.
And if they had a free will they didnt know what to do with it. They could go
to 7-11 and pick Pepsi or Coke (a dog can do that). But they couldnt call one thing good
and another thing evil.
As weve seen, its not yet the end of the sixth day. Adam and Eve are not yet
fully made in Gods image, so the snake can tempt them to make themselves in Gods
imagebecause theyre not yet completed in Gods image. (Do you know anyone that
is? Anyone without sin? Adam and Eve are half-baked. Do you know anyone half-
Well, youve got to wonder: What was God thinking - letting two, half-baked,
naked people run around a garden with a poison tree planted smack dab in the middle and

an evil serpent on the loose?
You see, the idea that evil is simply the result of our bad choice or choices must
not be the deepest story, either then or now. And if Adam and Eve had free will, it must
not have been very good free will. Their free will was what got them in trouble.
By the end of Genesis chapter 3, Adam and Eve are not free but dead and doomed
to die because of their choice. If they had a free will, they lost it: dead in their trespasses
and sins; in bondage to the devil; by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
(Eph. 2:1-3)
Joshua (which is the Hebrew pronunciation of Jesus) says to the children of
Israel, Choose this day whom you shall serve. The story of the Old Testament is that
ultimately all choose evil or can only choose evil. Joshua says as much five verses
later, You are not able, to serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:19).

The Apostle Paul writes, None is righteous, no not one . . . no one seeks for God,
no one does good . . . no not one. (Romans 3:10-11) By the time we get to Friday
afternoon on the sixth day, where the Messiah hangs on the poison tree on the hill of
shame, its clear: All of fallen humanity has chosen evil and rejected the Good who is
crucified before them.

So weve all chosen evil, but we didnt create evil.
Where does the snake come from?

Where does evil come from?

Well, a snake is a critter made by God. But what about the satan (the adversary)
that inhabited the snake? Where does it come from? Where does evil come from? And
whats the deepest story?

Genesis 1:1-2 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
The earth was without form and void [nothing and empty, unreal and
waste], and darkness . . .

What is darkness? Well, it is . . . not. It is a no-thing, no light, an absence,
nothing. Nothing is so hard to talk about, because its not there. And yet, as soon as
you call it nothing, you turn it into something. But, of course, its really nothing.

The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of
the deep.

The deep is the Hebrew word Tehom. The Psalmist writes, From Tehom you will
raise me. (Psalm 71:20) When the Hebrew Scriptures were translated into the Greek in
Jesus day, they translated this word as Abussos. Abussos is abyss in English.
In the Revelation, the king of the abyss is Apollyon or Abaddon, destruction. The abyss
is where the devil is bound for one thousand years. Maybe that is where the snake comes
from, or at least the evil in the snake.
In Strongs Lexicon, the last definition of Tehom is Sheol. Sheol is often

translated as Hell. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was on the face of
Hell. Maybe thats where evil comes from: the abyss.

But who made it and what is it?

Let me ask it this way: How do you make darkness? Technically, you cant . . .
because its not there, for it is . . . not, nothing, no light. Its not a substance but an

How do you make darkness?

Well, I think this is the best I could do: Imagine if I turned on a spotlight a
spotlight shining on me. Let there be light! Imagine that. And imagine the shadow.
What if I pointed at the shadow and asked: do you see it? Do you see the shadow? Do
you see the darkness? If you were to answer yes, youd be wrong. No one ever sees a
shadow. What you see is the light and a place where there is less light. You perceive an
absence of light, because you see the light around the absence of light the shadow. But
a shadow is what is not.
Now imagine if I danced in that spotlight and I asked, Did you see the shadow
move? Correct answer, No, its not there. You would have seen the absence of light
move. Isnt that weird? My shadow would look alive.

Is it alive? NO.
Its the shadow of the living.
My shadow looks like a living person.

Is it a person? NO.
Its the shadow of a person.

Imagine that shadow. And check this out. It wouldve been there, even before you
saw it, or thought you saw it. Imagine if I turned off the light: the shadow would
still be there. I mean, the less light would still be there . . . that is, the dark part. The
whole room is shadow, you just cant perceive the shadow until youve seen the light.
The light defines the shadow, reveals the shadow and judges the shadow.

What if the whole world is in a shadow?
Well, you wouldn't know it until you saw the light.
What if there is a light brighter than the sun?
Then our whole world might be in a shadow.
What if your whole world is in a shadow, a complete shadow? What would you be?
Blind and you wouldnt know it. People would talk about dark and light, but
you would have no idea what they were saying.

Jesus said a lot of folks were blind in His day. They thought they could see, but
they were blind. They didnt see the light.
Light defines darkness, reveals it and judges it. For light is the substance and

darkness is its absence. Light defines darkness, but darkness does not define light nor
comprehend light. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not
comprehended it. (John 1:3 NASB) Without light, there could be no dark. Physicists say
even space and time are somehow dependent on light, so without light there would be no
space or time for the dark. So even though the darkness cannot comprehend the light, it is
dependent upon the Light.

Well, my point is: I really cant create darkness, because its not actually there. I
can only create an absence of light. Darkness is a negation, a no-thing, a no light. I cant
create the dark; I can only cast a shadow in the light.
But now, what if I was the light? Not holding the spotlight, but actually the
spotlight. How then, could I, the light, cast a shadow? Light cant make shadows. Light
can only reveal shadows, which are an absence of light. If I was the light, I couldnt make
a shadow . . . unless I, the light, made something like Peter Hiett (in the flesh), who
would then cast a shadow in my light. (That is, the light could only make a shadow by
making something thats not, in itself, light.) If you were the sun, you could never make
the night . . . unless you made the earth, which would cast a shadow called night.
But now, what if I, the light, decided to fill someone like Peter Hiett? What if I,
the light, decided to fill the earth with my glory? What if I, the light, decided to fill all
things? Well then, there would be no more shadows, only the knowledge of shadows; the
knowledge of light and dark, but no more dark.

What if one day we have a knowledge of good and evil, but no more evil?
Wouldnt that be a wonderful world?

Check out these Bible verses:
God is light, and in him is no darkness at all (I John 1:5).
Jesus said, I am the light of the world (John 8:12).
Paul wrote in Ephesians 4 and 5, He who descended is also the one who ascended
far above all the heavens that he might fill all things . . . . At one time, you were
darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.
In Revelation 21, the bride is a city, and the city radiates the glory of God. Verse 23:
The city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it
light, and its lamp is the lamb.
Revelation 22:5: And night will be no more.

And I think to myself, What a wonderful world!


If God is light, evil must be darkness not light.
If God is the way, evil must be lost-nessnot the way.
If God is truth, evil must be liesthe untruth.
If God is life, evil must be deathnot life.

If God is creator, evil must be desecrator.
If God is love, evil must be its negationnot love.
If God is I AM, evil must be I am not.
If God is substance, evil must be absencelike no thing.

So asking, Does God create evil? must be like asking, Does God create

Well, if a shadow is that which a light cannot make, perhaps evil is that which
God does not will. To say that God wills evil is to say God wills that which He does not
will, which is to say nothing.

Evil is that which God does not will and does not make.

So, of course, God does not will evil, but He wills for us to encounter evil. He
wills for us to encounter that which He does not will. He wills for us to encounter Not
God, for how else could we ever choose God? How else could we ever love God in
freedom in His image as He loves us, freely with a good will?

God is creating in us a good and free will

God alone is good, said Jesus. If we are to ever choose the good, perhaps we
need a knowledge of the not good. To choose the good, perhaps we need a knowledge of
the not good but the presence of the good in order to will the good.
If God wanted to create beings in His image, beings that arent Him yet choose
Him, He would need to make space thats not Him and then fill that space with Him.
He would need to make a void filled with nothing. The void wouldnt be evil, but
the nothingnessthe darknesswould.
Like a wound in His side,
the side of the light of the world.
Like a womb in His belly,
waiting to be filled with light.

Absolute Evil?

In the Bible, there is darkness and then there is outer darkness. Perhaps there is
utter darkness. You know, people can be a mix of light and dark, good and evil. Its like
we live on the borderborderlandof light and dark, good and evil. Thats where we
live: between heaven above and the depths below the grey. But then theres pure evil.
And that brings up another question:

What is Satan?

Because of some rather obscure references in Ezekiel 28, most have concluded
that he is a fallen angel, created good by God but fallen. It seems clear that there are
fallen angels, or spirits, called demons (II Peter 2:4). But in I John 3:8, John writes that

the devil sins from the beginning. In John 8:44, Jesus says, The devil was a murderer
from the beginning. That sounds like he never was good, but bad from the beginning.
A murderer from the beginning, John writes, and has nothing to do with the
truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own
nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Thats why Ive wondered if hes like the shadow on the wall, but not simply the
absence of visible light, the complete absence of the Light that is God. That absence
seems like a real substance, for it is our real adversary. It,
Looks like life, but its the shadow of life.
Looks like a person, but its the shadow of person.
Looks like creation, but its the shadow cast by creation.
Looks like a somebody, but hes a nobody.

My friend Elaine grew up being told that no one was more powerful or real than
Satan. Once in a vision, Satan appeared to my wife and to Elaine with the name
somebody, written across his forehead. He had used this to tempt my friend as she
cried somebody help me. In the vision, Jesus revealed the lie. I asked Jesus, Is he a
somebody? My wife and Elaine heard Jesus answer. No, he is a nobody. If a
person, (a somebody), is dust and the breath of God, I think satan must not be a
somebody, but a nobody. And if thats the case, no matter what Mick Jagger sings,
sympathy for the devil, is entirely unnecessary.
Well what exactly satan is or isnt, I really dont know. Jesus revealed that to me
as well. However I do know that he was utterly defeated at the cross. Satan was defeated
at the cross even though Jesus is still revealing His victory in space and time; even
though Jesus is still throwing satan into the lake of fire that is Divinity and asking us to

Once at Elaines house in a vision as we were praying, she watched Satan shrink
into a little man screaming on her coffee table. In the vision, Jesus walked over, picked
him up, put him in His pocket, smiled at Elaine, and walked away.
My wife heard Jesus say, With your fear you put flesh on the evil one. Perhaps,
with fear of nothing, we give the power of something. Please dont think Im saying
there is no Satan. There is. But maybe he is absolutely empty. Maybe he is void. With
fear you put flesh on the evil one. That kind of fear is faith in the devil.

Maybe we deny evil because we take it too seriously. We deny it because were
so frightened by it. We think the shadow is equal to the light, that the absence is equal to
the substance.
Turn on the light! Call on Jesus in every dark place and every dark place in you.
Call on Jesus, and one little word shall fell him, [Martin Luther] like one little match
fells the darkness. And all the darkness in this world cannot extinguish the glory of the
one little flame!

Well, no matter what Satan is or isnt, evil is a darkness. And then,

What is sin?


Sin must be faith in the devil; putting flesh upon evil. Its choosing the void. Its
choosing the darkness or the state of already having chosen the darkness. John writes,
The whole world is in the power of the evil one. (1 John 5:19) That means, The whole
world is in darkness. That means everyone of the world is likeblind.
So whats wrong with the world?
Everyones blind!

So what must be done?

Do we need to panic? Do we need to fear? No!
Should we yell at blind people?
The Church has panicked and done a lot of yelling at blind people: You stupid,
blind people, you need to try harder to see! Choose to see! Decide to love! Thats what
the law is about: yelling at blind people. Maybe it helps reveal that were blind, but it
cant make anyone see.
Should we panic, fear, or yell at blind people? No. But we could use some light.

Genesis 1:1-3 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of
the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering (Heb.merakhefet
brooding) over the face of the waters.

Broods, like the mother eagle broods over her chicks in Deuteronomy 32:11;
like God broods or hovers over Israel in the dark wilderness. The Spirit broods over
Auschwitz and Birkenau; over Tuol Sleng and the killing fields; over my friend Elaine
and my seventeen-year-old girlfriend Susan.
Its like in a theatre when the play is about to begin, when the story is about to be
told, when something big is about to be revealed, they dim the lights.

The Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said,
Let there be light, and there was light.

Let there be Light.

God is light, and Jesus is the light of the world. The light is not created; the light
is revealed. The light shines in the darkness. Its dark because God is going to show us
the light.
Thats why kids play with matches in dark basements and ramshackle forts. In
broad daylight, no one looks at the sun or can look at the sun. But in a pitch black cave,
basement or abyss, if someone lights a match, all eyes will immediately be riveted upon
that light.
Remember in Genesis 15 when God makes His covenant with Abraham? A
dread and great darkness falls on Abraham. Then in the darkness he sees a lighta
flaming torch and a firepot. They pass between the pieces of slaughtered animals broken
to make the covenant.
Remember when the Israelites came to Mt. Sinai and God declared His covenant?

The mountain was wrapped in darkness that revealed a heavenly fire.
And when Jesus hung on the poison tree atop the hill of shame, remember the sky
grey black? And there God revealed His covenant of grace; His love; His heart; His
nature; His substance: the Light of the world, Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

The light shines in the darkness.

And on that cross, the Light descended into the abyssevery abyssthat He
might fill all things with Himself.
As I walked through the barracks of Birkenau at Auschwitz, I knew He was there
and had been there revealing His covenant love to His people in the midst of dread and
great darkness.
As I walked through Tuol Sleng and the killing fields, I knew He was there. I hate
those places, and yet I love Jesus most in those places, for His glory is revealed in those
I found out that Tuol Sleng means hill of guilt (or shame), and that Sleng is also
the name of a poison tree in Cambodia. Tuol Sleng is a poison tree on the hill of shame:

Jesus suffered in Tuol Sleng,
for He bears the sins of the world.
Jesus suffered in Tuol Sleng
and will be glorified in Tuol Sleng.

He will be glorified in Auschwitz and Tual Sleng, just like Hes glorified in my
friend Elaine. He has revealed Himself in her places of unspeakable pain. And there Ive
seen Him more gloriously than any place in this world, save Calvary. It is Calvary.
When He reveals Himself, He bears all her sin, sorrow, and shame. Wherever sin
increased, He reveals the glory of His Grace. And in those darkest of places, He is
always weeping . . . not because Elaine is bad (like Jack Handy insinuated, remember?)
Hes not weeping because shes bad, but because shes suffered the bad. Shes suffered
the bad and He chooses to suffer with her and for her, sorry for her, weeping for her,
weeping with her, so that she can laugh forever with Him. So that having known the
bad, she might forever love the Good in freedom. Jesus is Good.

Saviors are glorified where people most need saving.

Im convinced that all her sorrows will turn into Joys, for which, we would be
eternally jealous except it will be heaven and well have treasures of our own.
The light shines in the darknessthe abyss. Much to her surprise, one day, Elaine
discovered that Elaine means light. Shes a house that contains the Light. Shes a
lighthouse. Surrender your darkness to Jesus, and so you are.

Well like I was saying, my girlfriend Susan, woke in darkness and dread to see
this shadow darker than her darkened room. She had been coming to youth group with
me, but she was undecided on the whole Jesus thing.

She smelled death, the shadow reached for her, and she heard the words, Youre
mine. Immediately the eyes of her heart fixed on Jesus. For in that dread and dark, Jesus
looked pretty good. She whispered, Jesus, Jesus . . . And when she did, the shadow
shrunk back into nothing as she heard an agonizing shriek like the evil one was being
burned by the fire of unapproachable light.
She rolled over and grabbed her Bible. The page fell open to these words: I will
never leave you nor forsake you. Well, that was the night my bride gave her life to
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it. The light
shines in the darkness.
Darkness was over the face of the abyss, and God said,

Let there be light.

So on the night Jesus was delivered up, on that darkest of all nights, in the midst
of the deepest dread, Jesus took bread and broke it saying, This is my body. Take and
eat. And He took the cup, and having given thanks he said, This is the new covenant in
my blood. Drink of it, all of you.
Do you see? Do you see the Light brighter than a billion suns.

Why is there evil in this world?

maybe so that you would see Jesus and love Jesus, freely and eternally.

Pray: Lord God, I surrender my darkness. Let there be light in me; Jesus in me.
And it was so.


Endnotes and Pertinent Quotes

1. Through Moses God tells the Israelites the same thing: Choose life, (Deut. 30:19) After
he says that, He tells Moses that they wont. (Deut. 31:16). However, just a few verse earlier in
30:11, God tells the people that the commandment is not to hard, for the word is in their
mouth. In Romans 10:5-9, Paul reveals that that Word is Christ Jesus. A good choice in you,
is Christ in you.
Joshua tells the people that they are not able, (Joshua 24:17) right after he says, As for
me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Do you see? The only way you can serve the Lord is
to be part of Joshua/Jesus house. For that to happen, you must be wed to Joshua or adopted into
his family. Its only through the Spirit of Christ in you that you can make a good choice.

2. In one of these vision episodes, I once got very frustrated with Jesus and had Elaine ask
Jesus, Why dont you just throw satan into the Lake of Fire? She did. Jesus answered, I am, all
the time. I realized we were witnessing that very thing that very moment. Perhaps all of time, is
about witnessing creation; which is witnessing the void being filled by God; which is witnessing
satan cast into the Lake of Fire that is Divinity; which is witnessing the victory of Jesus upon the


In Jesus (with whom are always present the other two Persons of the Trinity, since the three are
indivisibly one) is all realityoutside of him is no thing. Sin is a denial, a refusal, of the
providence of God. Sin is the deprivation of goodness. Therefore sin is a choice of departure from
God, and his care of us in the totality of his goodness, into nothingness. Evil is not a
substance, wrote Augustine. The whole difficulty of understanding Hell is that the thing to be
understood is so nearly Nothing, wrote C. S. Lewis. God made his creation very good, so we
must conclude that if things are deprived of all good, they cease altogether to be (Augustine,
Confessions VII:12).
~ John Nelson

Doubtless there is an event, X, in the future, by reference to which we may say that we are at
present in a category of Not-X, but until X occurs, the category of Not-X is without reality. Only
X can give reality to Not-X; that is to say, Not-Being depends for its reality upon Being.
~ Dorothy Sayers, The Mind of the Maker

Nothing will ever close that wound, he answered, with a sigh. It must eat into her heart!
Annihilation itself is no death to evil. Only good where evil was, is evil dead. An evil thing must
live with its evil until it chooses to be good. That alone is the slaying of evil. . . . We were not in
the outer darkness; had we been, we could not have been with her; we should have been
timelessly, spacelessly, absolutely apart. The darkness knows neither the light nor itself; only the
light knows itself and the darkness also. None but God hates evil and understands it.
~ George MacDonald, Lilith

God is everything that is good, it seems to me, and the goodness that is in everything is God. . . I
looked attentively, seeing and recognizing what I observed with quiet awe, and I thought, What
is sin? For I saw truly that God does everything, no matter how small. And I saw that truly
nothing happens by accident or luck, but everything by Gods wise providenceTherefore I was
obliged to accept that everything which is done is well done, because our Lord God does
everything; for in that instant the actions of human beings were not shown, but only those of God

within human beings; for he is in the centre of everything and he does everything, and I was sure
he never sins. And here I saw that sin is really not something which is done
~ Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love

Evil is like a shadow - it has no real substance of its own, it is simply a lack of light. You cannot
cause a shadow to disappear by trying to fight it, stamp on it, by railing against it, or any other
form of emotional or physical resistance. In order to cause a shadow to disappear, you must
shine light on it.
~ Shakti Gawain

Darkness in Scripture is the place of chaos, where the blessing of creation becomes an accursed
disintegration. It is the formlessness and void, the tohu wabohu, the deep-and-dark that requires
the divine light and the divine word to form and fill it (Gen. 1:2-5). This is the darkness in which
God came to cut his covenant with Abraham, moving as a light through dismembered animals.
This was how it would be when the covenant promises would be fulfilled in reality, when the
light of the world passed through an even deeper darkness on the cross, as God taking to
himself the consequences of a violated bond of fellowship with him. ~ It is also the darkness
foreshadowed in Egypt, the darkness that the angel of death penetrated to slay the firstborn in
those covenant-less homes where no lambs blood of sacrifice had been applied. So the angel of
death moved over the Roman gibbet where Christ, our Passover Lamb, was sacrificed (1 Cor.
5:7): At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth
hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?
~ Sinclair B. Ferguson

On this shadow side the creature is contiguous to nothingness, for this not is at once the
expression and frontier of the positive will, election and activity of God. When the creature
crosses the frontier from the one side, and it is invaded from the other, nothingness achieves
actuality in the creaturely world. . . . Nothingness is that which God does not will. . . . This being
which is alien and adverse to grace and therefore without it, is that of nothingness. . . And this is
evil in the Christian sense, namely, what is alien and adverse to grace . . . . The grace of God is
the basis and norm of all being, the source and criterion of all good. Measured by this standard,
as the negation of Gods grace, nothingness is intrinsically evil. ~ If our thought is conditioned
by the obedience of Christian faith, we have only one freedom, namely, to regard nothingness as
finally destroyed and to make a new beginning in remembrance of the One who has destroyed it.
~ From a Christian standpoint to be serious can only mean to take seriously the fact that
Jesus is Victor. If Jesus is Victor, the last word must always be secretly the first, namely, that
nothingness has no perpetuity.
~ Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics

In those famous dialogues of St. Catherine of Siena, God is reported to have said to her, I am
He who is; you are she who is not. Have you ever experienced your is-not-ness?
~Anthony De Mello

It is grace that forms the void inside of us and it is grace alone that can fill the void.
~Simon Weil

All that is made seems planless to the darkened mind, because there are more plans than it looked
for. . . . There seems no plan because it is all plan: there seems no centre because it is all centre.
Blessed be He! ~ Yet this seeming also is the end and final cause for which he spreads out time
so long and Heaven so deep; lest if we never met the dark, and the road that leads now hither,
and the question to which no answer is imaginable, we should have in our minds no likeness of

the Abyss of the Father, into which if a creature drop down his thoughts for ever he shall hear no
echo return to him. Blessed, blessed, blessed be He!
~ C. S. Lewis, Perelandra


Chapter 7

The Abyss
in me

Palm Sunday is a day absolutely drenched in irony. All over Christendom, folks
wave palm branches declaring, Jesus is King! and remember the day Jesus rode into
Jerusalem. On that day, the crowds lined the road into Jerusalem chanting, Hosanna! It
was a word of praise said to a king. Literally, it means, Save us, please!
But in just five days, the crowd chants, Crucify him! And all of Christs
disciples desert him. Jesus is riding a donkey into the Abyss.

The Abyss

On Palm Sunday, as the crowd chants, Hosanna, Luke records that Jesus is
weeping - weeping because the people are blind to what makes peace. They are blind to
Him and so their city Jerusalem will be utterly destroyed. (19:41-44)
John records that the crowd came that day because they saw Lazarus raised from
the dead (12:18) . . . raised not to eternal life but to more of this life. They came because
they thought Jesus would:

! make their lives work: that is, save their flesh and fill their empty stomachs with fish
and loaves;
! make their world work: that is, save the old kingdom of Israel, overthrow the
Romans, and establish Israel as a world power.
! They thought Jesus would save their dark little universe.

They thought they saw Him in His glory. But in five days they would all abandon
Him. Jesus Christ and Him crucifiedno glory there thats what they thought.
In the Revelation, every creature in Heaven and on earth and under the earth and
in the sea praises the slaughtered lamb on the throne, praises the glory of Jesus Christ
and Him crucified.
Palm Sunday people wave palm branches, cry Hosanna, read the book, get the
T-shirt, and are utterly blind to the glory of God.

The Glory of God

John records that as Jesus entered the city that day, He said, The hour has come
for the Son of man to be glorified. (12:23) Then He talks about death saying, Whoever
loves his life will lose it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal
life. A voice booms from Heaven, and Jesus says, Now is the judgment of this world;
now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth
[and He was speaking of His cross], will draw all people to myself.
He then teaches that He is the light. But they cannot perceive the light. Theyre

blind. They think they see, but theyre blind.
John 3:19: And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and
people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. This is the
judgmentthe light come into the worldjudgment.


Judgment is krisis in Greek. Its where we get our word crisis. It means to
separate; judgment; separation. Now our text:

Genesis 1:1-4 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of
the deep [tehom; abyss]. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face
of the waters. And God said, Let there be light, and there was light. And
God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the

In a world of grey, we need the light separated from the darkness. But God must
do it. Is that judgment good news or bad news?

In Leviticus (20:24-26), we read that Israel is to separate clean from unclean, holy
from unholy: separate, same word as used in Genesis 1.
The veil in the temple separated the Holy of Holies from all else. (Ex. 26:33)
Isaiah prophesies that our iniquities have made a separation between us and
God. (59:1-2)
God separates the light from the dark. All that same word: badal (Hebrew).

Last time we started asking the questions, What is the dark? Why the dark? And
what purpose does it serve? Genesis 1:1 says, In the beginning . . . Transliterated from
the Hebrew, Genesis 1:1 is, In the beginning of . . . which leads us to ask the question,
In the beginning of what? Well, maybe its all beginnings, and the beginning of all
beginningsall things: The universe, this world and you.

The Universe

You realize that for thousands of years, since Aristotle, intellectuals have argued
that the cosmos has no beginning . . . and that matter, space, and time are eternal. So Carl
Sagan used to proclaim on PBS in the 1970s, The cosmos is all there is, was, or ever
shall be. Thats a bit of a travesty, because just sixty years before, Albert Einstein had
postulated the laws of special and general relativity showing that matter, space, and time
are not at all constant but are relative to light or the speed of light.
Einsteins theories clearly pointed to an expanding universe. [footnote: or contracting
universe] At the time, this so disturbed Einstein that he postulated a cosmological
constant in order to adjust his calculations and hang onto the myth that the universe is

all there is, was, or ever shall be.
Later Einstein admitted this was the greatest blunder of his career. By the late
1920s, Edwin Hubble had produced empirical evidence that the universe was expanding;
that, in fact, it had a beginningthe Big Bang.
The Big Bang is so hard to talk about because its the beginning of space and time
themselves. So you cant say, Before the Big Bang, for that implies time. And you
cant say, Outside the Big Bang, for that implies space. Space and time themselves
sprang into existence out of nothing . . . or out of something so beyond (before, after,
inside and outside) all our somethings that it appears to be nothing; something utterly
different; in Biblical lingo, something holy.
And thats rather fascinating, because for thousands of years theologians have
been arguing that the universe was created by the Holy One. But not just made by The
Holy One, created by the Holy One ex-nihilo, which means out of nothing. Yet that
nothing, that no-thing, must not be less than something, like a void or a shadow. That no-
thing must be more than some-thing, like the Creator of all things, the Holy One.
In the 16th century, the Jewish rabbi, Isaac Luria, explained creation more as an
explosion of nothing in the something, rather than rather than an explosion of something
in the nothing. He taught that in the beginning, there was only Ayn Sof (it means the
boundless one), only Godthe simple, supernal, infinite light that was all existence
with no beginning and no end. Yet in order to create, God (the Ayn Sof) had to in some
way withdraw His presence (tzintzum in Hebrew). He had to withdraw to make space,
a void in which He could create.
So in the beginning of, all there was or is, is God. He is I AM that I AM. He
is Isness and Amness and Beingness. And Scripture reveals that He is Holy, He is
Good, and He is Light. He is Love . . . not just loving, but Love. He is all, and thats not
nothing. Thats something!
Now this will stretch your brain, but work with me: Imagine what we cant
imagine. Imagine reality (that is God) before the Big Bang. Imagine that He is everything
in the box below and that there is nothing other than the box below. He is everything
and everything is Him.

Now, if I draw anything else in this box, on this box, or outside of this box at any
time, it must only be analogous to this box. Thats because all prepositions (like on,
in, out, at, before and after) assume space and timeand God has not yet created space

and time.
Having said that, imagine this: In the beginning of, God created the heavens and
the earth. The Big Bang is like this:

Do you get the picture? The Big Bang - the creation - is
not an explosion of somethingness in the nothingness,
but more like an explosion of nothingness in the somethingness;
not an explosion of fullness in the emptiness,
but an explosion of emptiness in the fullness;
not an explosion of light in the dark,
but an explosion of dark in the light.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, and darkness was on the
face of the deepthe tehomthe abyss. John writes, God is light and in him is no
darkness at all. (1 John 1:5) Yet Scripture says, In him we live, move, and have our
being. (Acts 17:28) And in us who are in God, there is darkness, isnt there?
So the preposition in may be part of the problem. Or, perhaps we need to think
of our situation this way: We are partly in God and partly not in God; part light and part
dark; part somethingness and part nothingness; part good and part evil.

In the last chapter we said evil is a darkness. You know that visible light is only
one form of light in an immense spectrum of light.
Well, evil is like an absence, not
simply of visible light, but of the light that is God. And sin is choosing the absence or
trying to fill the absence with more absence. Its idolizing the absence: the void.
If we surrender the void and look for the light, I think thats called hope, faith, or
even love. But we cant surrender the void with the void. Even to surrender the void we
must be empowered by God.
So verse 2b: The Spirit was hovering over the face of the waters. The Spirit
testifies to the Light: the Light of the world, Jesus. Its the Spirit that causes us to hope
even from the depths of the Abyss Well hold that thought.

As we were saying, in the beginning of, darkness was on the face of the tehom.
Creation was an explosion of nothingness in the somethingness, like an explosion of not
God in God, like a womb in God; like a wound in Goda sacrifice of God.

Im trying to say, It must have hurt God to make the universe, the world, and

Space for Pain
And Space for Love

Remember Eve was created from Adams wounded side. The Church, the Bride
of Christ, is created from Christs wounded side - the last Adams wounded side. It must
hurt God to make us and to love us. And if we are to be made in His image, perhaps we
must taste that pain to know His joy. You will be sorrowful (John 16:20-21), said
Jesus, but your sorrow will turn in to joy. When a woman is giving birth she has
sorrowbut when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish.

In the beginning, God. Thats it. Before space was made, there was only
God. Not some dark, cold, nothingness, but light and life itself. And what
did God do at the beginning? He made space. He made space within
Himself for others to be. The very act of creation itself was sacrificial.
God made spacefor others to exist.

Isnt that beautiful? My co-pastor Aram Haroutunian, wrote that. Yet whats the
nature of that space? Well, it must be like a womb in God or a wound in God. If youre a
parent, youve felt that wound. You made space in your life for children. You made space
in your life for pain. But you made the space in hope . . . that one day theyd return your
love in your image.
If youve ever loved someone, youve felt that wound. You made space in your
life for another: a will that doesnt necessarily will what you will. You made space in
your life for another, which is space for pain, but you made the space in hope of love.
God subjected the creation to futility in hope. So in the beginning, God (who is
Light) made a void in which there was darkness. And then God spoke a word into that
void. His Word, The Seed, He spoke it into the void, like a womb. He said, Let there be
light, and there was light. In other words, Let there be Me in the void. And there was
Jesus. He poured Himself into the void. He poured His Glory into the Darkness. Or He is
pouring His Glory into the darkness.
God is light. (1 John 1:5) And Jesus is the light of the world. (John 8:12)

Those medieval rabbis taught that the light withdrew to make space, and then a
beam of light entered that space and made matter. And once again a beam made vessels,
and some vessels fell . . . Make of that what you will, but it does sound Biblical and
almost scientific.
Scientists say that at first the universe was a dark soupy plasma, like dark water.
Then as electrons bound to nuclei, photons broke free from matter, and light became
Whatever the case, the Universe has been infused with light. And in that
Universe, floats our world.

The World

Take a look at your world floating in space. Do you see the light? Well, actually
no not really. Scientists have been trying to see it for decades, and they cant even
tell you what it is: A wave? A particle? Its like it has a mind of its own.
You dont see light; you see everything else by light. You really cant see light.
(Well,with one exception: we can see the Light of the world. John 1:18: He has
made the Light known.)

But now check this out: In the picture, the space where you think there is no light;
where you see no light; what we perceive as black, nothing, and empty space is
actually full of light. And what we do see in this picture is not full of light our world.
In other words, you perceive light bouncing off of what is not light. You see the skin of
darkness, for where is darkness? Its underneath the surface of the earth. Its in the depths
of those oceans. Its in the dark watersthe abyss.

We think space is dark, lifeless, empty, and void, and the earth is light, living,
full, and solid. Its matter, and we think matter is what matters.

But perhaps space is light, life, full, and solidlike heaven, and the earth is dark,
dead, empty, and voidlike hell, Sheol, Tehom, the Abyss.

Perhaps the earth is like a bubble of dark nothingness floating in a sea of light
somethingness. If thats the case, we live on the skin of this dark bubble between light
and dark, heaven and hell, being and non-being, life and death. In what weve been told is
the antiquated primitive pre-modern cosmology of Scripture, our situation is something
like this:

Above us is light, and below us is dark. We exist in between, some light and some
Above are the waters of life that rain down from heaven, and below are the
waters of chaos, the depths of the sea. We exist in the expanse or firmament
that separates the waters from the waters (Gen. 1:6)
Above us is the breath, wind, Spirit of God, and below us is dust. We exist in
between, like spirit in dust. (Gen. 2:7)
Above is heaven and below is Hades. Remember Jesus descended into the depths of
the earth and ascended far above the heavens. (Eph. 4:9-10)
Above is life and below is death.
Above is fullness and below is emptiness.

A few hundred years ago, in the worldview of our forefathers, this picture of
reality made Hell as large as Heaven. (That was never the biblical view, but it may be our
view.) Now most of us tend to believe the world isnt flat but round. So if we gain a
larger perspective and extend the lines in the previous diagram, this is what we get:

Then, we exist on the skin of a dark bubble of nothingness floating in a sea of
somethingness. What we think is full is empty; what we think is something is nothing;
what we think is real is not really real. We stand on nothing upside down.
Modern people say, How stupid! Weve been to space and we now know that
space is empty because there is no matter there. And the depths of the earth are most full,
because matter is so dense down there.
Well, Im not sure how much of the language in Scripture is to be taken as
analogy and how much is not analogy (I suspect less than we think), but did you know
scientists are now not only saying that space and time are relative to light, but that matter
really doesnt matter? So what seems to be full is really empty. And what seems to be
most empty is profoundly full.
I think we all learned in school that atoms are mostly empty. In a hydrogen atom,
if the nucleus (a proton and neutron) were the size of a basketball, then the electron
would be circling about twenty miles away. The atom is almost entirely empty. Now
physicists tell us that those particles in an atom are not actually there only potentially
there and that the perception of an observer somehow determines their very existence.
In the world of physics thats old news. A little while ago I watched a rather
funky movie with some rather strange ideas. However, they did interview some well
known physicists. One in particular caught my attention: Professor Emeritus at Stanford
University in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, William Teller Ph.D.
He said:

Most people think that the vacuum (space) is empty. But for internal self-
consistency of quantum mechanics and relativity theory, there is required
to be the equivalent of 1094 grams of mass energy (per cm3) Now,
thats a huge number, but what does it mean practically? Practically, if I
can assume that the universe is flat (different that the earth being flat)
and more and more astronomical data is showing its pretty darn flatif I
can assume that, then if I take the volume, or take the vacuum (empty
space) within a single hydrogen atom, thats about 10-23 cubic
centimeters. If I take that amount of vacuum, and I take the latent energy
in that, there is a trillion times more energy there than in all of the mass of
all of the stars and all of the planets out to 20 billion light years. Thats

Did you get that? Do you see what that means? What we think is empty is
profoundly full, and what we think is most full is really most empty. Empty space is
profoundly full. And the densest matter is least full and most empty.

To put it in Bible lingo:
The heavens are profoundly full. Psalm 8:1: You, (Oh Lord) have set your glory in
the heavens. The heavens are profoundly full, and the depths of the earth are most
empty. Empty is full, and full is empty.
Faith, hope, and love are profoundly full and solid. They abide. (1 Cor.13:13)
Houses, cars, and bank accounts are empty, void and passing away.
Things not seen are eternal, and things seen are transient and fading away. (2 Cor.
Like Jesus said, The Spirit gives life, and the flesh counts for nothing (John 6:63
Breath, wind, spirit are most substantive and most real, while matter or dust is more
non-substantive and most unreal.
And what are we? What is Adam? He is breath and dust; spirit and flesh; unseen
and seen; light and dark; good and evil; fullness and emptiness. For now, he exists in the
separation, the judgment, the expanse in between.

Adam and Eve tried to fill the emptiness themselves and only made more
emptiness. They judged themselves with themselves. They tried to separate the light and
the dark, the good and the evil, and they only made more evil. By taking the fruit of the
tree of the knowledge of good and evil; by taking the law in the power of the flesh,
they tried to create themselves with themselves and only desecrated themselves. Adam
and Eve R Us.

The Universe, the World and You that is us

In the beginning of the universe, there is darkness and an abyss.

In the beginning of our world, there is darkness and an abyss.

In the beginning of us, there is darkness and something like an abyss. And
maybe were only just now in the beginning.

The Abyss in Me

If I could see the abyss in me; if we could see the emptiness in ourselves, perhaps
we could fill it. You can see your stomach, and you can fill it with bread or wine. A
bride can see her womb and fill it with her groomhis seed.
Perhaps Im beginning to feel the emptiness and sometimes, even beginning to
see what it is? We are becoming hungry for the food that is Jesus. We are the Bride
of Christ beginning to yearn for our Groom and the Word that is seed. But our emptiness
isnt a physical stomach or a physical womb. Our emptiness is ourselves: our lives, our
psyche (in Greek), our flesh, our ego, our pride, our Sin. We are empty.
And were blind and terribly confused, for weve thought that darkness is light
and light is darkness. We cant separate them. Weve thought empty is full and full is
empty. We cant judge them. In fact, for most, emptiness is the only fullness they know
and darkness is the only light they see.
So when we get a glimpse of the darkness in us it repulses us, but when we get a
glimpse of the light it terrifies us even more. For light destroys darkness and thats
what we think we are.

So when the crowd chanted, Hosanna! Save us, King Jesus! what did they want
saved? Answer: darkness - their old selves, their lives, their psyches, their flesh, their
ego, their pride, their Sin, their temple, their city, their country, their world, their universe
. . . their emptiness, their void, their Hell.
And when the crowd chanted, Crucify him! Crucify him! what did they want
destroyed? Answer: The Light - All being and the ground of all being, The New Creation,
their deepest longing, their bridegroom, their substance and sustenance, their new
selves everything thats anything. That chant is evil. Its the lure of the void; the power
of the abyss.

So on Palm Sunday in front of the crowd (John 12), Jesus prophesies His death
and says, Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will
keep it for eternal life. A voice booms from heaven revealing that God will glorify His
name through Jesus, and then Jesus says, Now is the judgment of this world. (12:31)
John writes, And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and men loved
the darkness rather than the light (3:19). John also writes, In him (Jesus) was life, and
the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness (John 1:4-5). Every Jew
knew that the life was in the blood (Lev. 17:11).
When they nailed Jesus to the tree, His blood; His Life; the Light of men; the
Light of the world, spilled out into that darkness. The Gory of God spilled out into the

God is love, and love spilled out is grace.
God is light, and light spilled out is Jesus.
He is the radiance of the glory of God. (Heb. 1:3)

At the cross, the glory of God invaded the Abyss.

Memorize this fact: All creation is made by grace. If you want to BE, it can only
be by grace, Gods grace. How else could it be? You cant create yourself, except with
your self which is the self you cant create or the self that is in fact an illusion. You
cant make you. Until youre at peace with that; until you agree with your creator, youre
trapped in the Abyss
God does not create ex-nihilo - out of nothing. God creates ex-Theo - out of
Himself with grace: body broken and blood shed, the Word of God, the Light of the
world shining in the darkness, Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
All creation is made with Gods grace. So Gods grace is the judgment. To reject
His grace is to choose desecration and the void. To receive His grace is to be created in
His image. From His fullness we have all received grace upon grace (John 1:16).
And as we were saying earlier, its even grace that causes you to surrender the
void; Grace that causes you to see Grace and choose Grace. God is Grace and Jesus
makes him known. Jesus bled. And then a thief said Remember me. Then a hated
Roman Centurion confessed, Surely this man was the Son of God.
So what are we saying? The light reveals my darkness, judges my darkness, and
then fills my darkness: Grace.

1. The cross of Christ reveals my darkness like light defines shadows. In light of the
cross, I see my arrogance, self-centeredness, and pride. I wake up in the middle of the
night all stressed. I pray for an hour, and I realize Ive prayed for no one but myself!
Even my good deeds are void.
2. The cross reveals my darkness and judges my darkness . . . like the Word (the sword)
that separates soul from spirit; that separates my life (my soul) from Gods life (the
Spirit). On Good Friday the world rejected Gods life, revealing the judgment: All
humanity is dead, blind, and empty.

3. The cross reveals my darkness, judges my darkness, and then fills my darkness with
Scripture tells us that Christ, the radiance of Gods glory, descended into the lower parts
of the earth and ascended that He might fill all thingsthe universe.
And Scripture tells us that the whole earth will be filled with the glory of God
the world. (Psalm 72:19, Isaiah 6:3)
The universe, the earth, Jerusalem, and the temple will all be filled with
glory. And we are being prepared for an immeasurable weight of glory,
(2 Cor. 4:17)Me!

One the cross, Jesus gives up His blood; His life. And on the cross He gives up
His spirit. (Luke 23:46, John 19:30) Father into your hands I commit my spirit. - The
Holy Spirit. When we cry Abba Father it is the Spirit himself (Romans 8:15-16). On
Pentecost the fire descended; light descended; the Spirit descended and filled the temple;
the city; the people of God. We are to be filled and to keep on being filled with the
Spirit. (Eph. 5:18). We are to be filled with all the fullness of God. (Eph. 3:19) We are
like the first fruits of an entire new creation! (James 1:18)

The Glory of God in Me

So why dont we always come to the cross, surrender our emptiness, and receive
His fullness?
The cross hurts. It hurts our flesh, that is, our emptiness. The cross reveals it,
judges it, and then fills it. Emptiness that is full is no longer empty. And darkness that is
lit is no longer dark. I think we hide our emptiness because we think our emptiness is us;
that our flesh is us; that our sins, fears, lusts, and shame are us. Flesh RUs.
You think your flesh is you, and in a way it is. Yet its only the beginning of you.
Its the emptiness, the void, the tehom, the abyss the space in which you are being
formed. Evil tells you that the absence is who you are, but its only the beginning of who
you are. Evil demons will tell you that if you confess your sin to Jesus, that is, surrender
your flesh at the cross, youll die.
Thats partly true. Youll die, yet youll only be dying to your emptiness, for your
emptiness will be filled with His fullness. You will lose your life (which is your
emptiness), yet youll find your life (which is His fullness).
Paul wrote, It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. (Gal. 2:20)
Well, it still looked like Paulsame shape, same formyet he was an entirely different

The Glory of God that is Me

I have a friend who is an artist and a sculptor of bronze. When Kent makes a
sculpture, he forms it with one substance, then empties it of that substance and replaces it
with another substance. II Peter tells us that heaven and earth will be melted with fire,
and we await a new heaven and earth in which righteousness dwells: a new substance. (2
Peter 3:7)
Well, when Kent makes one of his bronze sculptures, in the beginning he

painstakingly carves the figure in wax. Then he encases the wax in a ceramic mold (thats
an earthen vessel). Then he takes the earthen vessel and places it in a fiery kiln. The fire
hardens the ceramic clay and melts the wax, leaving a void in the earthen vessel. Paul
writes, We have this treasure in earthen vessel to show that the transcendent power
belongs to God. (2 Cor. 4:7)
Well, then Kent takes that empty earthen vessel, the mold, and fills it with liquid
bronze. I have a picture of him doing it: fiery brilliant liquid bronze into an empty earthen
vessel. Its permanent. It glows with light . . . burnished bronze like Jesus in Revelation.
His eyes like a flame of fire. His feetlike burnished bronze, refined in a furnace
(Rev. 1:15).
Kent told me that when the bronze solidifies, the earthen vessel (the mold) cracks
and is thrown away.

What if our body really is a dirt bag; an earthen vessel?
What if our flesh is like that waxwax that God will melt away?
What if our selfishness, arrogance, and sin form a void?
It would be a unique void of unique sins which you now recognize as your self.
What if God were to fill that void with Himself?
Youd lose your life and then find it. It would still look like you, yet be an entirely
new youshaped like you but made of Him. And He is grace.

That makes sense: Your absence gets filled with His presence; your nonsense with
His good sense; your dark with His light; your lies with His truth; your death with His
life; you nothing with His something. The form of your void becomes the form of His
creation. Where sin increased grace abounded all the more. So every sin is transformed
into His glory; every place of shame is filled with His grace. So the shape of your sin in
this world becomes the shape of your glory (His grace) for all time.
St. Pauls glory is to say, Amazing grace that saved a wretch like me, a
murdering Pharisee! And St. Peter will say, Amazing grace that saved a wretch like
me, a boastful coward! And you will say, Thats nothin! Amazing grace that saved a
wretch like me! Let me tell you about it! And you will each be solid gold, like gleaming
bronze, brilliant in glory, in the image of God and the brightness of His glory. The
substance belongs to Christ. (Col. 2:17) It is the glory of God and you will be full of it:
Many persons one substance, in the image of God
You know, Jesus came to help us die to ourselves. In Psalm 22, which He quoted
on the cross, Jesus says, My heart is like wax. It is melted within my breast. Jesus came
to die for us and die with us, that we might be filled with Himthe radiance of Gods
glory, the sun of righteousness, the bright and morning star.

Even now His Spirit is hovering over the abyss. So surrender your sin, surrender
your emptiness, surrender your self, surrender your world, lose your life. For all this
darkness and emptiness, the void you encounter in your world and in your heart, its not
the end of you; its just the beginning.
In the beginning . . . the earth was formless and void, and darkness was on the
face of the deep. God said, Let there be light, and there was light. And God separated
the light from the darkness.

In the beginning . . . Jesus took bread and broke it, separated it, saying, This is
my body which is given for you. Likewise He took the cup saying, This cup that is
poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
Its poured from his cup into your cup. Why the darkness, emptiness and void?
Because you are an earthen cup, a holy grail, prepared to be filled with the glory that is


A short time after speaking on this topic at church, a friend sent me this letter. In
it she shares about an experience in healing prayer:

In prayer, God had brought to my memory a deep wound from my
childhood about being unwanted. My mother, in fact, had no problem
telling me that I was unwanted from as early as I can remember. My Mom
had a "nervous breakdown" after she found out she was pregnant with me,
which I later came to understand, knowing my mother as I do, was a
euphemism for a major temper tantrum. She would always tell me how
she asked my sister and 2 brothers how they would like a new baby
brother or sister and they all said "No!" My Mom, sister, and brothers
told this story every year in front of everyone--nieces, nephews, even my
own children--at our annual family reunions and would always laugh
about it I guess they all felt like it was some kind of joke or something
and I would always reply wryly, "Well, you pay for your mistakes, don't
you?" I was an overachiever and was the only one in my family to
attend college (thus, the quip, "you pay for your mistakes"). The lies and
shame of "No one wants you! You are a mistake!" persisted in my life for
many years and chewed away deeply at how I looked at myself, others,
and, of course, God.

In our prayer time, Kaye (my healing prayer minister) asked God if it was
true that I wasn't wanted, and that I was a mistake. And He showed me
the most amazing thing. What I saw was the Holy Spirit preparing a place
for me. It was a dark orb and He hovered over it and touched it here and
there. Wherever He had been, the dark orb was covered with light, pure,
white, and intense. I was off to the side watching Him. I came to
understand that this was my mother's egg and that He was preparing this
place just for me. In that place of watching, I cannot describe to you the
intensity of everything. First, there was this indescribable peace. Then
trust. I just knew that everything I saw was supposed to BE. There was no
question or doubt and I freely consented to the Holy Spirit. But the most
amazing thing was what I understood about the creativity and purpose of
the Holy Spirit. His single intent was to glorify God, to glorify Jesus. And
this intention was motivated by this intense love, so much so that His love
for God and Christ naturally extended to me. In other words, He was not
using me to glorify them. The extension of His love to me glorified us all.

His love was so pure and intense and single-minded (a kind of "intense
intent") that I knew He was telling me that I was not a mistake, that He
intended me, that He created me with love and purpose (which is different
than for a purpose), and in that act and my trusting consent, God would be
glorified. But He loved me, too. Not a word was spoken, yet I knew, I
understood, and I believed the truth.

It is no surprise to me that, after that prayer experience, I went home with
my children for our family reunion and no one told the story of how I am
unwanted in my family. That was the first time ever in my memory that
this story was not told. And it was no surprise to me that in your
preaching in Genesis, the creation of the earth looked remarkably like my
own creation--a void covered with light, surrounded by substance. With
the same intent as He created the earth, He created each one of us.

In Romans 8:20, Paul tells us that it was God that subjected all creation to futility
(chaos) in hope. In 11:32, He sums up his theological arguments in Romans--Which
includes the topics of election, predestination, vessels of wrath and vessels of mercy--He
sums up his arguments with this statement: For God has consigned all to disobedience,
that he may have mercy on all.

That disobedience is the Abyss.
That Mercy is the Glory of God.

When you first catch a glimpse of the abyss in me, (or you) its terrifying.
When you first catch a glimpse of Gods Glory its even more terrifying.
For the Glory reveals, judges and consumes that abyss
the abyss that you thought was you.

You are a vessel of wrath; a vessel of formless and void; a vessel of the
nothingness that the creator fills with His Somethingness; nothingness that He consumes
with Himself-- the Consuming Fire. You are an old vessel of wrath (We were by
nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind, Eph. 2:3.) You are an old vessel of
wrath that has become a vessel of Mercy.
When you see the abyss and you sense the wrath, dont panic. Dont hide the
abyss from the wrath, for the wrath is the leading edge of Mercy filling the void. Dont
panic. This is the birthplace of the Messiah. This is forgiveness. You are being filled with
Grace, and even the process is Grace. God is Grace. He is Lovepoured out.
It is grace that forms the void inside of us and it is grace alone that can fill the
void wrote Simone Weil. We have been saved by Grace through Faith, and this Faith is
not of ourselves that none should boast. Salvation is Faith in Grace. Salvation is the
courage to accept acceptance (Paul Tillich). Salvation is accepting that you have been
created: Grace.

We are created by Grace through Faith


Endnotes and Pertinent Quotes

1. Rabbi Isaac Luria, Tzimtzum, (1534-1572). This has been posted on the inter-net at: It is an excerpt from: Hayyim Vital (1542-1620),
'Etz Hayyim ('The Tree of Life'), from Gate 1, Branch 2 (Warsaw:1891), p.22.

I also found Rabbi Jonathan Spira-Savetts short explanation of Lurias teaching in his
short article, Rosh Hashanah: Creating the world, Repairing the world, to be quite helpful. This
little article is posted at:

2. Scripture says we are to walk by faith and not by sight. So the light of God is not simply
visible light to be perceived with our physical eyes. And faith is like the eyes of the heart which
perceive the Light that is God. Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. (Romans 14:23)

3. Dr. William Teller, in and interview for the special features in the DVD version of the
movie, What the Bleep: Down the Rabbit Hole, (Beverly Hills: 20
Century Fox, 2004), Disc 3,
Side B.

4. Technically, a literal translation of Genesis 1:1 (In the beginning of the heavens and the
earth, the earth was formless and void.) does not describe an ex-nihilo creation. Literally and
theologically, our origin is not the void, but the Father.

5. Jesus said Behold I make all things new. (Rev. 21:5 RSV) I suppose that means all
things, but not no things, not nothings like evil; darkness; death; lies; the void. Death shall be
no more. (Rev. 21:4). Your sin, your old man will be no more. Evil will be no more. I suppose
the Abyss will be no more. I suppose he wont make no things new OR maybe he will by
turning no things in to some thing and thats called grace. George McDonald writes,
Annihilation itself is no death to evil. Only good where evil was, is evil dead. An evil thing
must live with its evil until it chooses to be good. That alone is the slaying of evil."


Know that before emanations were produced and creatures were created, there was a simple
supernal light that filled all existence; and there was no empty space, like a completely empty
space or vacuum, but all was filled with that simple infinite light (or, light of the Ayn Sof, the
Infinite One). It had no aspect of beginning or end, rather all was one simple light equally
distributed, and this is called the light of the Ayn Sof. When it arose in [the Ayn Sofs] simple will
to create worlds . . . The Ayn Sof then concentrated (tzimtzem) Itself in the central point in the
actual centre of that light. It concentrated the light and removed it on all sides from around the
central point. Then there was an empty space, a complete vacuum, from that actual central point,
like this.
~ Rabbi Isaac Luria (1534-1572)

Originally, there was only Ayn Sof, the Infiniteall of reality was God. In order for the universe
to exist, God had to withdraw from some part of that reality. This metaphorical withdrawal
(tzimtzum) left a place devoid of Gods presence, where the cosmos could come into being.
God did not abandon this empty space, but projected a beam of light, which became a mass
without form inside that space. From that mass, all levels of reality came into existence. God at
that point injected another ray of light, which began to create vessels; these represent facets of
Gods activity and Gods qualities, and each contains a portion of that light from Ayn Sof.

~ Rabbi Jonathan Spira-Savett

Now, with a certainty which never after deserted him, he saw the planetsthe earths he called
them in his thoughtas mere holes or gaps in the living heavenexcluded and rejected wastes of
heavy matter and murky air, formed not by addition to, but by subtraction from, the surrounding
brightness. And yet, he thought, beyond the solar system the brightness ends. Is that the real void,
the real death? Unless. . . he groped for the idea. . . Unless visible light is also a hole or gap, a
mere diminution of something else, Something that is to bright unchanging heaven as heaven is to
the dark, heavy earths.
~ C.S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet

There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created
thing, but only by God the Creator, made known by Jesus Christ.
~ Blaise Pascal

A damned soul is nearly nothing: it is shrunk, shut up in itself. Good beats upon the damned
incessantly as sound waves beat on the ears of the deaf, but they cannot receive it. Their fists are
clenched, their teeth are clenched, their eyes fast shut. First they will not, in the end they cannot,
open their hands for gifts, or their mouths for food, or their eyes to see.
Then no one can ever reach them?
Only the Greatest of all can make Himself small enough to enter Hell. . . .Only One has
descended into Hell.
And will He ever do so again?
It was not once long ago that He did it. Time does not work that way when once we have
left the Earth. All moments that have been or shall be were, or are, present in the moment of His
descending. There is no spirit in prison to whom He did not preach.
~ C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

In those famous dialogues of St. Catherine of Siena, God is reported to have said to her, I am
He who is; you are she who is not. Have you ever experienced your is-not-ness?
~Anthony De Mello

It is grace that forms the void inside of us and it is grace alone that can fill the void.
~Simon Weil


Chapter 8

Let There Be Light

My Coffin

Preaching, to a church, stresses me out and fills me with fear. So a few years ago I
preached the first ten minutes of the Easter message from the inside of a coffin. It was a
loaner coffin. The mortuary would loan it to families for funerals and then after would
replace it with a cheaper substitute for burialit was authentic.
During the offertory, a rather somber offertory for Easter, six pall bearers carried
the coffin in to the sanctuary and set it on the darkened stage. After a pregnant pause
folks could hear my voice coming from my wireless microphone and through the church
sound system.

This is awesome. Nobody can see me. Nobody knows Im even
here. Im, invisible. Yes, we are, my precious. Mmmm . . . more chips.
[I was snacking on chips and folks could hear the munch.] I should have
gotten one of these high-tech isolation chambers long ago.
All those people . . . stress me out. They think Im a dork, I know
it. Some of them think Im, like, all holy or something. I bet theyd hate
me if they really saw me
Crap! I have to preach to them. Sometimes I just hate my job. But I
cant let anybody know that, because Im supposed to rejoice in the Lord
always. I better have another beer. [I popped a pop-top]
I cant talk about God . . . thats insane. I want to run away. Well,
Id better get my act together. Its Easter. Ive got responsibilities. I want
to stay here . . . I could die out there . . . its safe here . . . its dark in here .
. . really, really dark in here
and lonely . . . really lonely . . . lonely as hell.

I opened the casket lid, then let it slam shut the moment I saw all the
people. Then slowly, acting shocked and embarrassed I climbed out.

Oh, golly, Im sorry. I lost track of time. I was just going over my
notes in this . . . ah . . . new . . . ah . . . Sermon Preparation Chamber. I
must have dozed off and someone moved it?!?

I prayed, then, began to Preach:
Well, its Easter Sunday. Easter is an old Anglo-Saxon word for the pagan festival
of the vernal equinox when the sun crossed the equator into the northern hemisphere such
that there was more light than dark in each day. When the Church arrived in England,
they took over the old pagan name, because Christs resurrection is the victory of light
over darkness.

That victory is eternal.

Genesis 1:1-2 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of
the deep [the abyss]. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of
the waters.

Theres something rather attractive about the dark, isnt there? I mean, light and
life can cause some pain. If only you could manufacture some sort of protective wooden
box for your soul . . . if only you could construct some sort of stone enclosure for your
heart where you could hide it in the dark . . .
Hiding in my room, safe within my room, (Simon and Garfunkel) I touch no one
and no one touches me; I am a rock, I am an island. And a rock feels no pain, and an
island never cries. Its dead.
Life hurts . . . and life is love. Remember what C. S. Lewis wrote?

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will
certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of
keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an
animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all
entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.
But in that casketsafe, dark, motionless, airlessit will change. It will
not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.
The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation.
The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all
the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.

In his book The Great Divorce, through the character of an angel Lewis writes:

Hell is a state of mind-ye never said a truer word. And every state of mind,
left to itself, every shutting up of the creature within the dungeon of its
own mind-is, in the end, Hell. But Heaven is not a state of mind. Heaven
is reality itself. All that is fully real is Heavenly. For all that can be shaken
will be shaken and only the unshakable remainsA damned soul is nearly
nothing: it is shrunk, shut up in itself. Good beats upon the damned
incessantly . . . their eyes fast shut. First they will not, in the end they
cannot, open . . . their eyes to see.
Then no one can ever reach them? (someone asks) And the angel
replied, Only the Greatest of all can make Himself small enough to enter
Hell. . . . Only One has descended into Hell.

Well, life and love are painful, and we hide ourselves in our own hell because its
easier to just not see.


On Paul Harvey news, Lucille Goodyear reported trouble driving home from
work. She says, It used to be easy . . . no traffic problems, no mad rat race. But now,
wow! Cars coming from all directions! She says its been that way ever since she got
her new glassesEasier to just not see.

Remember the character Gollum in The Lord of the Rings? He has a ring of
power that makes him invisible. He murdered his brother to get it and now he hides it and
himself, his shame, in the deep dark. The light is pain because it burns his shame. He
hides his darkness in more darkness. Tolkien chose the name Gollum as a reference to
the Hebrew word Golem. It means unformed, unfinished substance. The Psalmist
wrote: My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately
woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance (my golem).
(Psalm 139:15-16) If were still being made in Gods image; being begotten again; born
again, perhaps were golem. We lust for power in order to hide our shame we hide in
this womb of a worldand the longer we hide the deeper we sink into hell. We refuse to
be born into the light and have turned this womb of a world into our coffin.

I have several friends that were ritually abused as children. Ive come to believe
their stories. Its too horrid for details here. But one was placed in a coffin with a dead
man. One was placed in a freezer with a corpse. Almost all were imprisoned in dark
closets or basements and now evil tells them that thats where they belong; thats where
theyre safe, for they are shame and fear and the light will destroy them. Evil uses the
same lie on each of us, even if our means of hiding are not the same. We all want power
to hide. Sometimes its sex, drugs and Rock and Roll usually its religion.

We all hide from light, and what we hide is our shame. We hide in fear, like
Adam and Eve in fig leaves and trees; hiding in the knowledge of good and evilthe
law. We think that knowledge of law is power; that religion is power to cover our shame
and make our golem invisible to God. The most attractive way to hide a golem, a dark
heart, is to hide it with religion. Thats what the Pharisees did. Jesus said they were like
white-washed tombs.
We hide our darkness by acting a part, impersonating ourselves. And there in that
hiding place were cut off and alone. In denial and lies, we hide our darkness in more
darkness, which only makes the darkness grow. That darkness is death. We hide our
death in death. Thats why some try to kill themselves. Theyre so afraid of death they
seize control with death, which is only more death. We hide our fear of death in death.

We hide our darkness in deeper darkness.

So in summary, why do we hate the light? Because it exposes our death . . . which
we pretend is life.

On Easter I picked up a spotlight and shined it on the congregation. You dont
like this light shining in your eyes, do you? Everyone clinched their eyes. It burns
doesnt it? So how do we hide from the light? We shut our eyes. All we have to do is
shut our eyes. The light burns so we dont believe its good

Genesis 1:2-4 Darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of
God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be
light, and there was light. And God saw that the light was good.

God saw that it was beautiful. God says, Let there be, not there must be. Its
not like Hes shining the light in your face whether you want it or not. He wants you to
let there be light. He wants you to want Him. He is the light.
I think thats why He doesnt normally overpower us with bright lights and mind-
boggling miracles. He wants us to want Him. I think we call that faith. He wants us to
walk by faith and not by sight. (2 Cor. 5:7) That must mean theres more light than just
visible light and we must see that light with the eyes of our heart (Eph. 1:18) that is
faith. So you may be physically blind yet see better than anyone.
Well, God says, Let there be light, and He sees that the light is good. He wants
you to let there be light because you see that the light is good.

Let there be light

I ran an experiment on the congregation. I said, Turn to your neighbor. Close
your eyes. Now, give your neighbor a high five. And if it didnt work, (keeping your eyes
closed) try harder. Swing harder! Try harder! Church got ugly, real fast. You know,
giving someone a high five is good. Its a way to communicate joy and even love. But the
harder people tried to be good, the less it was good and the more it got bad.
So I said, OK, try this: Open your eyes, turn to your neighbor, and try again.
And we saw that it was good. God tells us to be good, and I think we each want to be
good. But we walk in darkness and cant see the good. So the harder we try to be good,
the more were bad.
Much of the time the Church just makes it worse, because we stand around
yelling at blind people: Youre not good! Try harder! Try harder! But were not
supposed to yell; were supposed to shine the light.
So if youre new to the whole Christian thing, I want to apologize on behalf of the
church. Im sorry that weve been doing so much yelling and so little shining the light.
Light can burn, but light is good. So, let there be light.

But what is light?

Scientists are utterly baffled by light. It behaves like a particle (mass) and it
behaves like a wave (energy). And whether it behaves like a particle or a wave depends
on what youre thinking. Its like light can read your mind.
Well, maybe light isnt simply a particle or a wave, mass or energy. Maybe light
is a person: not a what but a who. Remember that Scripture says, God is light, and
Jesus is the light of the world. So when God says, Let there be light, Hes saying,
Let there be me in the darkness.

God is Light


As we already discussed, The light shines in the darkness. But thankfully that
light doesnt shine at full strengthnot at first. Scripture reveals that Jesus emptied
Himself when He came into this world. (Phil. 2:7)
You realize that if you stare at the sun in full strength, it will fry your eyes. And
you wont be able to see its glory at all. However, you can stare at a single flame in the
dark and see that its goodbeautiful. The light shines in the darkness.

Jesus is the Light of the World

In this world, there was never ever a place darker than the edge of Mt. Zion at the
Hill of the Skull, 2,000 years ago on a Friday between high noon and 3:00. The darkness
does not get deeper than the moment in which the creation rejects and crucifies its
Creator. And yet, in that moment, the light shines more wondrously than anywhere else
in all creation. And if we see Him there, perhaps we can see Him everywhere.
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. As we crucified Him, the life
spilled out; the blood spilled out; the light was revealed. And what is the light? The light
is steadfast love; unending mercy; absolute, unquenchable grace. And who is the light?
The light is God, and God is love. And Jesus the Christ, the radiance of Gods glory, He
has made Him known. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not
overcome it.
All the darkness in the world cannot overcome the light of a single flame. Thats
because darkness is an absence, and light is a substance. Evil is an absence, and goodness
is substance. God is substance.
This is the creation story in the Gospel of John:

John 1:1-5, 9-14, 16-18 RSV 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 were made through him, and without him was not anything
made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The
light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. . . .The
true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world. He was in
the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him
not. He came to his own home, and his own people received him not. But
to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to
become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the
flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and
dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as
of the only Son from the Father. . .And from his fulness have we all
received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses (Try
harder! Try harder!); grace and truth came through Jesus Chris (The
Light). No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the
Father, he has made him known.

Well, to say, Let there be light is to say, Let there be Jesus. And can you see?
Hes good.


The Light is good

The light shines in the darkness. On the cross, Jesus emptied Himself and bore
our sin, experienced our shame, suffered our isolation, and descended into our death. See
it? The light shines in the darkness. The light is good.
Yet we worry that the darkness wins. In this world the good doesnt seem to win.
We think the darkness wins, so we make a covenant with death. We trust death, climb
into our coffins, and hide from light and life and love. We think death wins, for we only
see as far as the edge of the grave.
But death doesnt win! Death, darkness, lies, and evil always and forever lose.
As Jesus dies He cries out, It is finished! The earth shakes, the veil rips and
tombs are opened. And on the third day, Jesus tomb is opened and the Light walks out.
And now He tells you in Revelation 21:4-6: Death shall be no more . . . Behold, I make
all things new. . . . It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.
In other words, The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not
overcome it.

The Light always wins.

Even when He loses, He wins; especially when He loses, He wins. Where sin
increased grace abounded all the more (Romans 5:20).
On the cross, Jesus didnt just descend into one tomb, one grave; on the cross,
Jesus descended into Hell. I think He descended into every tomb, every grave. I think
thats every Hell. Like Paul wrote, He who descended is he who ascended far above the
heavens that he might fill all things. Did you get that? All things.
In The Great Divorce, the angel says, Only One has descended into Hell." And
will He ever do so again? asks the traveler.

It was not once long ago that He did it. Time does not work that way
when once we have left the Earth. All moments that have been or shall be
were, or are, present in the moment of His descending. There is no spirit in
prison to whom He did not preach.

Do you realize that the gospel has been preached to every creature under heaven.? If
Scripture is true, it has. (Col. 1:23) So light doesnt just shine in some darkness 2,000
years ago on a Friday; light shines in your darkness now. So if you dont see the light,
whats the problem?

Perhaps you dont trust that the light is good. So
Perhaps you wont agree with God and say, Let there be light.
Perhaps the eyes of your heart are shut, because
Perhaps youre too afraid to open them. You think the light will only burn and never heal.
You think the darkness wins. But the light shines in the darkness, and the
darkness cannot overcome it.

The darkness is temporal.

The Light is eternal.

There is at least one more amazing thing about light. Turn on a light and time how
long it takes to get from the bulb to the wall. Did you notice? Its fast. It was moving at
186,000 miles per second! And no matter how many times you measure it; no matter how
fast youre moving when you measure it, it will still move at 186,000 miles a second
relative to you.
Albert Einstein discovered that the speed of light is a constant. Now, thats totally
counter-intuitive, but it means this: If the speed of light is a constant, space and time are
not constant. Time is relative.
So as I move relative to you, time slows down for me and speeds up for you. If I
were to travel into space at 130,000 miles per second and then return in ten years, ten
years would have passed for me, but twenty years would have passed for you. Youd be
ten years older than me.
Theoretically, if I could travel at the speed of light, time for me would stop. It
would always be NOW. And all your life would be eternally present to mepast,
present, and futureNOW. Id see your whole life in the eternal NOW.
I cant travel at the speed of light. But light can and does. In The Elegant
Universe, Brian Greene writes, Light does not get old. A photon that emerged from the
Big Bang is the same age today as it was then.

A photon is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Light is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
So God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

So when He looks at you, He sees all of you: yesterday, today, and forever.
And when He forgives you, its all of you. Hes never surprised by you.

Light is eternal. God is eternal. Love is eternal. Jesus is eternal.
So when He gives you His life, its eternal.

God said to Moses, My name is I AM THAT I AM (Ex. 3:14 KJV).
Jesus said to some Pharisees, Before Abraham was, I AM (John 8:58).
And Jesus said, Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life (John

When we come to the cross, we come to eternity. The cross is the point where
eternity invades all temporality and fills it with life, with meaning and with plot. So when
Jesus cries It is finished, I think He means all is finished: all time is finished, all
creation is finished, all atonement is finished, and all of you is finishedin the End. He
is the End. So, when He died on the cross for your sins

Which sins did He die for?

Was it only the ones youve confessed up till now? So you worry that if He knew this or

that about your past the deal would be off?
If you hide a sin in the past, you just build a coffin for yourself now. You close
your eyes to the light and climb in . . . even though He has forgiven all your sins
in the past.

Is it only our sins in the past that Hes forgiven? Such that you have to worry about
failing in the future?
If you do worry, you only build a coffin for yourself now and then climb in . . .
even though He has already died for the sins youll commit tomorrow.
He already knows: If you fail tomorrow, He wont say, Oh no!I forgot that

There is therefore now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus writes Paul.
(Romans 8:1) I think He means no condemnation. Remember? You are already seated in
the heavenly places with Christ. (Eph. 2:6) So when God forgives your sins, He forgives
all your sins. And when the Light descends into darkness, He descends into all your
darkness. He is the end of all darkness and all time.

Grace is Eternal

Grace never comes to an end, because it is the End; Jesus is the End.
Time comes to an end. (Rev. 10:6 KJV)
The Ages come to an end. (1 Cor. 10:11)
Death comes to an end. (Rev. 21:4)
The Wrath of God comes to an end. (Rev. 15:1)
But Grace that is Mercy that is Love never comes to an End. (Lam. 3:22) It burns away
evil, and as it does so, it is known as wrath. But when the darkness is gone, there is no
evil left to burn. Creatures filled with fire are not burned by the fire. (Daniel 3) God is
Fire (Hebrews 12:23) and He will fill all things. (Eph. 1:23, 4:10) And then well see:
What we once called wrath was the burning edge of Mercy. God is Mercy.

God is the End. Jesus is the End. Jesus is the Beginning and the End. (Rev. 22:13)
He is the End and the Beginning of You.

And that means all darkness is Easter just waiting to happen. And all your
darkness is Easter just waiting to happen. In every dark corner of your life, Jesus is
waiting for you to open your eyes because you have come to believe that the Light is
good. Open your eyes and look at Him. Your scars are on His body. Your wounds are on
His hands, feet, and side. He has descended into your every sorrow, every wound and
born them in endless mercy.

Easter is everywhere just waiting to happen

So Mary went to the tomb on Easter morning. It was the darkest corner of her life.
There was no darker place in all the world. It was Jesus tomb and her tomb: the death of
her hopes and dreamsthe death of God. But she went to that place and in that place she

saw the Light. She saw Jesus there.
Remember the story? He was risen . . . but Mary was still in the grave.
He was there . . . but Mary couldnt see Him. The eyes of her heart were shut in
pain, shame, and fear. She thought He was the gardener until He said, Mary and
opened her eyes. The Light shone in her darkness, and everything changed.
He then showed His wounds to the disciples. They saw that the light is good and
said, Let there be light! That place of greatest pain, shame, and fear became the place
of unspeakable glory: The cross of Christ.
Julian of Norwich writes that Jesus revealed this to her: Since I have turned the
greatest possible harm into good, it is my will that you should know from this that I shall
turn all lesser evil into good.
When the light shines in the darkness, it turns evil into good. When anything is
exposed by the light, it becomes light (Eph. 5:13-14). Light turns our pain, shame,
and fear into the revelation of Gods mercy. He turns sin into grace. He turns grief into
Gospel. He turns darkness into light. Light reveals meaning, and Jesus is the meaning of
all things.

If you thought you had no Father, shine the light.
Youll see God is your Father.
If you thought you had no husband, shine the light.
Youll see Jesus is your husband.
If you thought you were alone, shine the light.
Youll see His Spirit is in you.
If you thought you were forsaken, shine the light.
Youll see He will never forsake you.
If you thought you were nobody, shine the light.
Youll see you are Gods Body.
If you thought darkness wins, shine the light.
Youll see the Light works all things for good.
If you thought you were darkness, shine the light.
Youll see that you are light in the Lord (Eph. 5:8).

He changes the meaning of your past,
so youre no longer stuck in shame.
He changes the meaning of your future,
so youre no longer imprisoned in fear.

For some reason, along with my wife, God has given me the incredible privilege
of praying for some severely abused friends. Time and time again in prayer, through
visions, he takes them back to lies, placed within them through abuse in the past. Each
time, the key to there healing is to open their eyes and see Him, The Light, in that place
of darkness, fear and pain. Each time Hes there, in the coffin, in the box, in the closet, in
the basement, in the abyss. And each time the battle is with shame. Each time the battle is
for faith to open the eyes and see the light of Glory and Mercy. Each time the Spirit must
grant that faith. But when that happens, even though the events remain the same, they
entirely change. Good Friday becomes Easter. That Hell no longer means theyre

unloved, that Hell becomes a demonstration of Love, for Jesus bears it with them and for
them, because he so relentlessly loves them. In fact its no longer their Hell, it becomes
Jesus Hell and they taste His sufferingssufferings which He bears for all humanity.
They know Him as none other.
But through knowing Him NOW, He changes the meaning of the pastor better
reveals the meaning of the past.
NOW, He opens their eyes to the past and He is the meaning of the past.
NOW He opens their eyes to the future and He is the future.
Free from the past, no longer terrified of the future, theyre free to live NOW.

Life is NOW.

Light is Eternal, which means that for Light, it is always NOW. Light is I AM.
NOW is where Light is; where eternity is. The present is the moment that eternity touches
time and gives it meaning. NOW is where I know God.
God is light, and God is person. I can know about a person in the past, and I can
imagine a person in the future, but I can only know a person NOW in the present.
Knowing Him NOW, He may reveal his light in all my time: past, present and
future, but I know Him NOW. He is NOW. Behold now is the favorable time, now is the
day of Salvation. (2 Cor. 6:2) Jesus prayed, And this is eternal life, that they know you
the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. (John 17:3) When I know
Jesus now, I have eternal life now.
The Spirits hovering over my darkness; the Light has already descended into my
darkness. To know Him now, I only have to speak to Him now; see Him now, with the
eyes of my heart. He died so that no matter where I am, I can talk to Him, be with Him,
now even in the darkest darkness.

Talk to Him NOW.

Years ago at a conference in Canada I told God that I was leaving the ministry.
Id had it. He didnt talk to me and He didnt care about me I thought. But that day He
spoke to me. I heard Him. It was during a little prayer time at the end of a lecture, holding
hands with a huge Pentecostal Native American man and a little old Roman Catholic lady
(The Church). As soon as we started to pray I heard the words, the only time Ive ever
heard words in my head. He said, Peter, you dont love my bride very much do you? In
an instant, I realized that I had gone into the ministry because I hated The Church.
When I was a young man, I watched my Father tried on the floor of the
Presbytery, the governing body in his denomination. My Father was a Pastor. I loved
him dearly. He was more like Jesus, at least in my mind, than any man Ive ever known.
They slandered him and removed him and I think I secretly vowed to vindicate him and
never let it happen to me. On the floor in a hotel ballroom in Canada, my Father in
Heaven, revealed to me my heart--the abyss in my heart. Id gone into the ministry to
show em, get even with em, and protect me.
I was ministering out of my own coffin.
Peter you dont love my bride very much, do you? And yet there was no
condemnation. It was the deepest compassion. He felt sorry for me. He hurt for me. I

closed the eyes in my head and opened the eyes of my heart. I lay on the floor and wept
and wept and wept and it was profoundly sweet. The Light was Good.
That evening, my Roman Catholic friend prayed for me again. To make a long
story short, I found myself literally pinned to the floor. I couldnt get up, and it felt like a
million volts of electricity coursed through my body. I said to this little old Roman
Catholic lady who was praying for me, Jesus just called me a dork! (This time I didnt
hear the words, but I knew what He was saying.) A dork She said, Oh, He
wouldnt call you that! But I believe He did. He was speaking my language. He was
saying, Stop being a dork and doubting my love for you.
For in that moment, the veil was ripped; light was everywhere. I thanked Him for
everything, for I saw that He was everywhere in my life working and had been
everywhere in my life workingeverywhere working: wherever I thought of Him,
sought Him, desired Him it was Him. And even in, perhaps especially in, my darkness He
was there working. He was in my coffin with me, Emmanuel, all along. He called
me using my bad motives, for perhaps bad motives were the only motives available at the
time. Yet my bad motives formed a space for His good motive: Grace. My coffin was a
womb; my coffin of sorrow only prepared me for a resurrection of Joy. In fact, I
experienced so much Joy in those moments pinned to the floor, I actually thought, I
might die. The light was so brilliant I remember thinking, I may die. If He reveals more,
I will die. And yet my heart said Let there be Light! For I knew it would be the death
of death; death consumed by life. I knew: The Light is Good.
Well He didnt kill me and yet He did, and still is. The very thing that happened
to my father happened to me, and in a very miraculous and parallel sort of way. My
Dads passed on, and Im in new church now, as He was in a new church then.
And this happened by accidentaccident on my partbut not on Gods part: For
a year and a half my new church met in the very room in which my father was tried and I
silently vowed to never let it happen to me. Every Sunday night, for over a year, I stood
in the very same spot I saw my father tried and from that very spot Id preach the Gospel
of Grace: The Light shining from my personal abyssmy good Friday, turning into
Easter. God is filling my time with new and deeper meaning; He is redeeming my time;
He is filling my story with His StoryHistory or opening my eyes to see His story
already in my story or my story in His. My coffin is a womb.

Yet I still have to battle the darkness. All the things I said in the coffin at the start
of the Easter service are still basically true today . . . except Ive learned not to say them
to myself in the dark. Im learning to say them to Jesus, the Light in my dark. So I speak
to Him NOW, wherever I am NOW, especially in the coffin

I tell Him, They think Im a dork, and He says, They thought I was a dork too.
I tell Him, Im ashamed of my past, and He says, Youre forgiven.
I tell Him, Im scared of the future, and He says, Peter, Im your future.
I tell Him, I cant do it, and He says, I know, but I can.
I tell Him, I want to get drunk on a beach, and He says, I know. Be filled with my
I tell Him, Im lonely, and He says, Lets be lonely together.
I tell Him, They kicked me out! and He reminds me, They will put you out of the

synagogues. Indeed the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think He is
offering service to God. (John 16:2)
I tell Him, Im getting crucified! He tells me, See? Im making you like myself.
My story is your story, little brother.
I say, I hate my job, and I think He says, I know. In a garden I did too. But your
job is my job. Every real job is my job. And then I love my job, and its not a job
but a calling. All my sorrow is being and will be resurrected as Joy our Joy. So I
step out of the coffin, NOW. My coffin is a womb.

I walk with Him; I talk with Him. I die with Him and rise with Him. Im born
with Him. No longer I who live but Christ who lives in methe Light in me. My
outer nature is wasting away; my inner nature is being renewed every day. (Gal. 2:20, 2
Cor. 4:16)
One day theyll actually lay this old body in a coffin. But I dont need to fear that
day. Ive already been through it a thousand times. And its not the end; its just the

In the beginning . . . darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit
of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, Let there
be light,

Each of you has a coffin. I just told you about mine. Dont stay in yours. The
Spirit is hovering over the darkness. The Light has already descended into the darkness.
The Light is good. Say:

Let there be light . . . in my coffin.


Endnotes and Pertinent Quotes

1. C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves, (San Diego: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1960),

2. C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce, (New York: MacMillian, 1946), 69, 123-124.


Oh that you would hide me in Sheol, that you would conceal me until your wrath be past... !
~Job 14:13

Deep, deep down, underground in a cave, isolated, alone, by the dark water lived old Gollum. He
was a Gollum as dark as darkness In his hiding place he had a ring--a ring of power. If you
slipped it on, you were invisible, only in full sunlight to be seen, and then only as a shadow. When
he was very, very hungry wearing the ring, he might even venture into torchlight, which made his
eyes blink and smart, but he would be safe. Oh yes, quite safe. No one would see him till he had
his finger on their throat. Quite safe. Yes, he whispered to himself. It wont see us will it, my
precious? No.
~ J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the
lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed [Hebrew: Golem].
And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of
~ Psalm 139:15-16 (NKJV)

..again he appoints a certain day, Today, saying through David so long afterward, in the
words already quoted, Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.
~ Hebrews 4:6-7

Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People
like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only
a stubbornly persistent illusion.
~ Albert Einstein, at Niels Bohrs funeral

Time is relative to motion and at the speed of light, time as an inexorable flow of successive
events ceases to exist at all. At the speed of light, everything is caught up in an eternal now. The
temporal is caught up in the eternal.
~ Tony Campolo, A Reasonable Faith

The riddle of the present is the deepest of all the riddles of time. Again, there is no answer except
from that which comprises all time and lies beyond itthe eternal. Whenever we say now or
today, we stop the flux of time for us. We accept the present and do not care that it is gone in
the moment that we accept it. We live in it and it is renewed for us in every new present. This
is possible because every moment of time reaches into the eternal. It is the eternal that stops the
flux of time for us. It is the eternal now which provides for us a temporal now. We live so
long as it is still todayin the words of the letter to the Hebrews. Not everybody, and nobody
all the time, is aware of this eternal now in the temporal now. But sometimes it breaks

powerfully into our consciousness and gives us the certainty of the eternal, of a dimension of time
which cuts into time and gives us our time.
~ Paul Tillich, The Eternal NOW

The humans live in time, but our Enemy [God] destines them to eternity. He therefore, I believe,
wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself and to that point of time which they
call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity Our business is to
get them away from the eternal and from the Present. . . . We want a whole race perpetually in
pursuit of the rainbows end, never honest, nor kind, nor happy now, but always using as mere
fuel wherewith to heap the altar of the Future every real gift which is offered them in the Present.
~ C. S. Lewis, Screwtape Letters

Eternal life is now. Were surrounded by it, like the fish in the ocean, but we have no notion
about it at all.
~ Anthony De Mello, Awareness

. . . His love never allows our time to be lost.
~ Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love

Everything belongs; God uses everything. There are no dead-ends. There is no wasted energy.
Everything is recycled. Sin history and salvation history are two sides of one coin. . . . St.
Augustine says, In my deepest wound I see your glory and it dazzles me.
~Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs

Time does not exist, Barth concludes, apart from eternity's embrace. Eternity embraces time on
all sides, preceding, accompanying, and fulfilling it. To say that God is eternal means that God is
"the One who is and rules before time, in time, and again after time, the One who is not
conditioned by time, but conditions it absolutely in his freedom" (II/1, p. 619). . . . God's eternity
is so to speak the companion of time, or rather it is itself accompanied by time in such a way that
in this occurrence time acquires its hidden center, and therefore both backwards and forwards its
significance, its content, its source and its goal, but also continually its significant present.
Because, in this occurrence, eternity assumes the form of a temporal present, all time, without
ceasing to be time, is no more empty time, or without eternity. It has become new. This means that
in and with this present, eternity creates in time real past and real future, distinguishes between
them, and is itself the bridge and way from the one to the other. Jesus Christ is the way." (II/1, p.
627) The real future that eternity creates in time is the future of eternal life in communion with
God. The real past, in turn, is the past of sin and death as abolished in the cross of Christ. This
old reality of sin and death is "continually opposed" by the new reality of eternal life, even as the
new reality "comes breaking in triumphantly" again and again (II/1, p. 628). Jesus Christ stands
between the old reality and the new. "In him the equilibrium between them has been upset and
ended. He is the way from the one to the other and the way is irreversible. He is the turning."
(II/1, p. 628).
~ George Hunsinger, Disruptive Grace, p. 205, 207


Chapter 9

Are we there yet?

Genesis 1:6-10 And God said, Let there be an expanse in the midst of the
waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters. And God made the
expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the
waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the
expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the
second day.
And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered
together into one place, and let the dry land appear. And it was so. God
called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he
called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

God separates the waters above from the waters below. He judges between
heaven and hell. And then God separates the waters below. He separates tehom, the
waters of chaos, and dry land or ground appears (yabbashah). Yabbashah is a
Hebrew word used just fourteen times in Scripture, but in critical places.
God calls yabbashah eretz. Sometimes that Hebrew word is translated earth,
like it is here in the ESV, but usually its translated land. And the Hebrew mind
automatically thinks Israel: Eretz Israel.
Old Testament scholar John Sailhamer argues that this is the way early Jewish
interpreters understood these verses, such that Genesis 1:1 states that God created all
things, but Genesis 1:2-2:3 are not about the creation of all things so much as about the
creation of the land of Israel. [footnote: Genesis Unbound by Sailhammer]
Well, it seems from scriptures like Exodus 20:11 and Jeremiah 27:5-6 that, among
other things, the first chapter of Genesis refers to both:
A. The creation of all things and
B. The creation of Eden which according to some [footnote: Sailhammer], has
basically the same boundaries as the land of Israel. Remember, Genesis is
given first to pilgrims on a journey home to a land they had never seen.
A few years ago, along with my Arab friend, George, and a Jewish guide named
Amir, I helped lead a tour of Israel for people in my church. As we approached the
Wailing Wall We saw a sign. It read (in part):

Jewish tradition teaches that the Temple Mount is the focal point of Creation.
In the center of the mountain lies the Foundation Stone of the world. Here
Adam came into being. Here Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob served God. The First
and Second Temples were built upon this mountain. The Ark of the Covenant
was set upon the Foundation Stone itself.

Isnt that incredible? It sounds like home for everybody


Well, we had a great trip. I recommend it for all, for it gives you an incredible
perspective upon Scripture.
We went to Gallilee: Nazareth, Capernaumplaces that Jesus would call home.
We also went to the temple mount and saw the remains of what Jesus called his Fathers
house. I have pictures of immense stones lying on pavement upon which Jesus once
walked. They were pushed off the edge of the Temple Mount in 70 A.D. by Romans. It
was just as Jesus prophesied: In one generation not one stone left on top of another, and
the Jews would be sent into exile.
From the steps of the temple, where Jesus taught we would look down into the
valley of Gehenna. Ominous clouds of smoke rose from that valleysome folks were
having a picnic and barbecuing chicken. In Jesus day, the blood of sacrifice, would run
down from the temple mount into the Kidron Valley, where it would converge with
Gehenna, and then flow all the way down into the Dead Sea, the abyss, the lowest spot on
the planet earth, tehomthe deep
From Masada, we could see all of that sea. It has shrunk into two seas today.
Thats due to industrial evaporation ponds in the south. Our Jewish tour guide explained
that this was like a partial fulfillment of Ezekiel 47 in which Ezekiel sees water running
from the Temple Mount into the Dead Sea, making it fresh and teaming with life rather
than death, darkness and chaos. Our guide said it was partial fulfillment, because Ezekiel
says part will be left for salt. And that would be the evaporation ponds to the south.
The Old Testament foretells the return of the children of Israel to the land, and
many think those prophecies were fulfilled or are being fulfilled since the foundation of
the state of Israel in 1948. They call it Aliyah. It means ascent and refers to the return
of the exiles to their homeland--the land flowing with milk and honey. Twelve times
the Old Testament refers to a land flowing with milk and honey:

On the last day, I found it: milk and honey at a mini-mart. Now, people will say,
Flowing with milk and honey is a metaphor. Maybe it is, but maybe it isnt. Either way,
the mini-mart was a disappointment next to the prophecies of Ezekiel and Isaiah.

We call the land, the Holy Land, and I did find some holy things. They were
sold in the gift shop at the hotel: olive wood Jesus heads, three types of anointing oil,
light of Jerusalem candles, Baby Jesus in a plastic bagslightly creepy, Jesus and His
disciples holy shot glassI think it neutralizes whiskey, and of course, 100% kosher
underwear. We also saw a Holy Rock Caf, some Holy Bagels, and we walked on
holy stairs where Jesus supposedly walkedyet the stairs themselves didnt seem
particularly holy. Gods holiness is hesed (Hebrew). It means, steadfast love, relentless
love, mercy. Holy Land is Mercy Land.
Psalm 37 and Matthew 5 both state, The meek shall inherit the land. But not
everyone agrees with that philosophy. It seems that its not the meek who inherit the land
but the folks with the strongest Air Force. They were selling a T-shirt in the gift shop. On
it was a picture of a fighter plane and these words: America Dont Worry. Israel is
behind you.
Now, please dont be madI realize that Israel is a hot topicjust acknowledge a
wee bit of irony. You know, Jerusalem means City of Peace. Arguably shes seen more
violence than any city in the world. I have a picture of the Jerusalem city gates. Theyre
absolutely riddled with bullet holes.
Isaiah prophesies a return to the land in Isaiah 60. He says of Jerusalem, Your
gates shall be open continually; day and night they shall not be shut that people may
bring you the wealth of the nations (v.11). Some gates were open, but some were shut.
For Americans, the gate was open. But, the gate leading to, or from, Bethlehem
was shut. A huge dividing wall separates Jerusalem from Bethlehem, so that people
like Bishara Awad cant get in. Its not the first time someone from Bethlehem was
rejected by Jerusalem. Hes exiled from the land because of his race and religion.
Hes a Palestinian Christian and the President of the Bethlehem Bible College ironic.
Now, I realize the issues are complex. We were able to cross the wall and meet
with Bishara, but our Jewish guide could not. And dont be too judgmental. Israel needs
that dividing wall of hostility, to guard themselves from terrorists and to save their own
lives that should sound familiar.
Over the gate to the Holocaust Museum is inscribed the prophecy of Ezekiel: I
will put my breath into you and you shall live again. I will set you on your own soil.
(from Ezek. 37:14) Ezekiel also prophesies the return of the house of Israel to the land in
chapter 36. He writes that on that day (v.33) the day that God causes the cities to be
inhabited, the waste places to be rebuilt, the desolate land to be cultivated and foreigners
to say, this is like Eden (v.35)on that day He will also give them a new heart . . .
and take away their heart of stone. (v.26) Then the nations, the gentiles, will know I
am the Lord. (v. 36) He says, I will do it. I WILL DO IT.
Well historians argue that Israel, Great Britain, the U.S. and sometimes the U.N.
did it. And I was expecting a little more from Eden. And not everyone there had,
what I think Ezekiel would call, a new heart, which made me doubt that this day is
that daythat day that Ezekiel prophesied about.

Now listen, Im certainly not just talking about Jews praying at dead stones in the
Wailing Wall. And Im not just talking about Moslems strapping bombs to their bodies.
Im talking about Christians with stone hearts.
In Capernaum we visited, what is believed to be, the remains of St. Peters house.

On stilts, built directly above it is a Roman Catholic Church. To me, the message was
clear: St. Peter belongs to us. Nearby is a version built by the Orthodox Church, for
they think St. Peter belongs to them.
In Bethlehem, we visited the Church of the Holy Nativity. Its divided into three
parts: Armenian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, and Roman Catholic. Amir, our Messianic
Jewish tour guide, told us that once he walked in to see a chair flying across the room.
The priests were fighting because one group prayed three minutes longer than their
allotted time.
We also visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where many believe Jesus was
crucified and placed in the tomb. On the second floor of the church there is a ladder thats
been leaning against an outside window for something like 200 years. To move it would
be to break a peace treaty between the Orthodox and Catholic priests who occupy the
building. Our tour guide told us that a Muslim family holds the only keys to the Church
of the Holy Sepulchre. For hundreds of years ago the fighting Orthodox and Catholic
priests agreed to a truce and gave the keys of the church to Muslims . . . since neither
Christian sect could trust the other.
So every morning a Muslim comes and unlocks the doors to the church so the
Christians can go in and out and find pasture.
And now, if you think those Old World Catholics and Orthodox are so carnal in
their childish attempt to conquer and occupy the Holy Land, check out the US Military
Aid Budget for the country of Israel. OK! Thats a bit controversial So check out the
inscription I found on a stone pillar in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, directly across
from the traditional tomb of Jesus: in magic marker, someone named Ray, from
California, had signed and dated the ancient stone pillar.

Now, you may make the very biblical argument that the Church is the living heir
to the twelve apostlesthe true Israeland the argument that we are that Church. Yet
this is not the way we, the Church, are to occupy the land.
We saw a sign on the outside of the old stone Church of All Nations, adjacent to
the Garden of Gethsemane, it read: Please: No Explanations Inside The Church. That
makes sense. Someone needs to control the story. We dont want any of those stones
coming to life and telling the story: the Gospel story. How Jesus entered the city and
conquered the land.
Ezekiel 36:26, 33: I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you
a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you On the day that I cleanse you from all

your iniquities . . . .

Well, it just makes a fellow wonder if this is that day. . . or if this is the land
Ezekiel was speaking of.
Some Orthodox and ultra Orthodox Jews say this is not that day, and the secular
state of Israel is really not that land. They argue that only the Messiah can establish the
kingdom and bring the exiles, the pilgrims, and the sojourners home. For its not by
might, not by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord. (Zech. 4:6)
Well, you can agree or disagree with that. But I think we can all understand why
so many Jews are so desperate for a homeland.

For 2,000 years since 70 A.D., they have been exiled from the land.
For much of that time, theyve been persecuted, abused, and murdered by the
Churchthe Church that is called by the Jewish Messiah to love the Jews!
Most recently, 6 million people of Jewish descent (not necessarily faith,
but descent), were tortured and murdered by Nazis.

No wonder theyre desperate for a homelanda home! Can you relate to that?

My Home

When I was a young boy, I didnt fit in at school. I was an uncoordinated,
preachers kid who got picked on a lot. I was exiled a lot. Every day I couldnt wait to get
home. I fit there; I belonged there; a place was prepared for me there: my own room, my
drum light, my soldier lamp, my rock collection, and my metal dinosaurs from the
Museum of Natural History; my sanctuary, my bed, my room, my home, my fathers lap.
I remember Id sit on my fathers lap and everything was good. I experienced
shalompeace, and I could rest.
I still wish I could go home to 6875 South Prince Circle, sit on my fathers lap
and tell him my struggles. But we sold the house long ago, the dinosaurs are in a box in
my basement, and my dad is dead. They say you can never go home, and I think that
would mean you can never restshabbottsabbath.

You can never go home.

Well, 3,500 years ago an entire nation of slaves, wandering in the wilderness,
wanted to go home . . . but they werent sure where home was. When things got tough,
they wanted to go back to Egypt, and if not that, just stay where they wereit was good
enough. Stay on the east side of the Jordan, settle down in the wilderness, and pretend:
This is home. They longed for a home. But unless they surrendered their wilderness
home of illusions and lies, they could never occupy their true home flowing with milk
and honey.
Genesis is first addressed to those pilgrims, exiles, and sojourners . . . homeless
ex-slaves wandering in the wilderness, longing for a homeland where everything is very
good and they can rest, have deep rest, shabbott, stop, Sabbaththe 7
In previous chapters we realized that we havent gotten there yet, that according

to modern physicists and the ancient biblical texts, the universe is not quite, or just
barely, seven days old.

Therefore we are, in fact, on a journey toward the seventh day (the kingdom of heaven).
And so we are, in fact, still being made in the image of God.
And therefore we are, in fact, pilgrims, exiles, and sojourners . . .
not staying here but traveling through on our way toward our promised landthe new
heaven and new earth, wherein righteousness dwells and everything is very good.

So Moses tells them that on the third day God said:

Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place,
and let the dry land (yabbashah) appear. And it was so. God called the
yabbashah Eretz. . . . And God saw that it was good.

Gooood! It was where they were going. God was speaking to their hearts.
Were not there yet. Have faith and keep going. I will do itI will judge tehom, I will
separate the waters and make a way. Be still and see the salvation of the Lord.

The Way Home

Youll remember that this nation of exiles had just seen the waters part at the Red
Sea. You can read about it in Exodus 14. God had led the Israelites to a place on the bank
of the Red Sea where they had no direction to look, but up. And God said, The Lord will
fight for you and you have only to be still. Be still and see. That night God parted the
waters, and they walked through on yabbashahdry ground. (v.19)
In I Corinthians 10, Paul writes that as they were baptized into Moses at the Red
Sea, so we are baptized into Christ. He is the way through the waters, through tehom, out
of tehom, and on to the Promised Land. He is the rock, the foundation stone. He moves to
wherever we are. Yet we must stand on the rock. And we must let go of the old land to
enter the new.

Moses also told those Israelites about Noah. You can read about him in Genesis 6.
Youll remember God judged the wicked land with a flood of water. But God saved Noah
in an ark, and forty days later the ark rested on dry ground.
In I Peter and II Peter, Peter argues that Christ is like that ark. And baptism
corresponds to this: that we are baptized with water and fire and that God once judged
the earth with water, and He will judge it with a flood of fire. Jesus is the ark that carries
us through that flood. He takes us from an old earth to the new, bearing us through
judgment of water and fire. But you have to get on the boat! You have to die to the old
earth to inherit the new. Baptism means youre on a journey through troubled waters to
dry groundPromised Land, Holy Land.

You may also remember that after forty years of wandering in the wilderness,
God separated the water once again. As the Ark of the Covenant, the Mercy Seat (Jesus is
the covenant and mercy seat--Romans 3:25), entered the Jordan River, God separated the

waters and the children of Israel crossed over on yabbashahdry ground (Joshua 4:22).
God made a way, but they had to leave the east side to occupy the west. They had to let
go of the wilderness to enter the land.
Now, the important thing is this. Fifteen hundred years later John came baptizing
in the Jordan, and get this: Jesus is baptized in the Jordan. Yet they both are already in the
land. Where are they going?
Theyre already in the land . . . or are they?
In Matthew 28, Jesus tells His disciples to go baptize, because all authority is His.
So I have a picture--a bunch of us getting baptized at the Jordan River. Were getting
baptized . . . but where do we think were going? Were already on the west side.
Were already in the land . . . or are we?
You know, Jesus came preaching that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matt.
4:17) But, you have to lose your life in order to find it. (Matt. 16:25) You have to
take up a cross and follow. (Matt. 10:38) People said, No thanks. Wed rather stay
here and pretend were already there. In fact, they crucified Jesus five days after they
tried to make Him king. They crucified Him because He would not lead a military revolt
against Rome, establishing an independent, worldly nation state named Israel.
Instead, Jesus said, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up
again. (John 2:19) He said to the thief on the cross next to Him, Today you will be with
me in paradise. (Luke 23:43) That word means paradise garden . . . like Eden yet even
better than Eden, for everything is very good. The book of the Revelation calls it the
New Jerusalem But,

To get to the New Jerusalem, you have to surrender the old.
To get to the new creation, you have to surrender your own creation.
To receive the city whose builder and maker is God (Heb. 11:10 KJV), you have to
surrender the city whose builder and maker is you.
To enter the Promised Land you have to surrender the land you occupy.

Why? Because
Jesus is the way
and you are not.

In John 14 at the last supper, Jesus tells His disciples:

. . . I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you
to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to
where I am going. Thomas said to him, Lord, we do not know where
you are going. How can we know the way? Jesus said to him, I am the
way . . . .

The way is not rules and laws, creeds and religion, work books and formulas.
The way is not the Republican agenda or the Democratic agenda.
The way is not the United Nations, the United States, or F-16s.
The way is Jesus.


And in case youre thinking, Thats easy for a preacher to say. Just wait til some
terrorist bombs a bus in your neighborhood. Jesus is the way?!? Jesus could get us all
killed! Yes. Crosses have a tendency to do that. Yet the moment you lose your life for
His sake and the Gospel, you enter the land, the seventh day; youre home.
The book of Hebrews makes it clear in chapter 11 that we are exiles. In fact, all
the Old Testament saints were exiles, pilgrims, and sojourners, including David, the
greatest Israelite king, for they did not receive what was promised (v.39). They
desired a better country, that is, a heavenly one (v.16). They were seeking a homeland

I Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a
people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of
him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you
were not a people, but now you are Gods people . . . . Beloved, I urge you
as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which
wage war against your soul.

In other words, were not there yet.

Were not home yet.

And unless you believe that, your flesh will hang onto this hell of a world, this
wilderness world, and lie to your soul that youre already home. Home in lust, pride,
greed, possessions, violence, and competition. Already home . . . so youll never seek the
Holy Land, the Promised Land, the promised rest, the seventh day.
If you think this world is your home, the Evil One can control you with the fear of
death, steal your courage and drain your joy. But if you believe youre an exile, this
world loses its grip on your soul. This world no longer changes you; you change the
In the 4th century, when Christians were still crucified and the Church changed
the world, Eusebius wrote to the Roman Emperor who was threatening him with death:

He needs not fear confiscation, who has nothing to lose; nor banishment,
to whom heaven is his country; nor torments, when his body can be
destroyed at one blow; nor death, which is the only way to set him at
liberty from sin and sorrow.

Years ago a missionary sat in sorrow on the dock at South Hampton, England.
Hed just gotten off a ship from Africa. On board the same ship was Teddy Roosevelt.
Whey they arrived, there was a band and a huge parade for Roosevelt. But no one had
come to greet this missionary. Discouraged, he buried his head in his hands and moaned,
God, I didnt expect a band or a parade. But you could have seen to it that somebody
came to welcome me home! At that the missionary heard God speak. He heard, My
child, youre not home yet. [footnote?]

Were not home yet. We think we are, but we arent. Maybe we dont have much

confidence in home or the Way that gets us there. We think that heaven will be some sort
of a timeless, nebulous, unfamiliar ooze not home.
So when we read the Old Testament prophecies that seem so solid and real, in
which old men fill out their days (Is. 65:20) and folks go fishing in the Dead Sea (Ezek.
47:10), we think to ourselves, This cant be heaven. This must be some place on earth.
Heaven is clouds, harps, and choir robes; timeless, nebulous, and unfamiliar. Heaven will
not feel like home.

What is home?

Well, Heaven is the seventh day, the finished creation, the paradise garden, the
new heaven and new earth in which righteousness dwells, our destination, our home. I
think its just the opposite of a timeless, nebulous, unfamiliar ooze.

Do you remember this picture?

The six days of creation, and then the seventh day. The New Testament contains
two Greek words that both get translated time. Chronos is chronological time, its time
governed by a chronometera clock. Kairos is more like time governed by an event, its
opportune time, the right time. Revelation 10:6 (in the Greek) tells us that, Chronos will
be no more. I dont think thats a figure of speech. Chronos comes to an End, yet I
suspect that kairos is always at hand, like the Kingdom is at hand. Jesus said, My
Kairos is at hand (Matt. 26:18).
Perhaps this is a distinction only hinted at in these Greek words, but I suspect that
the six days are chronos and the seventh day is kairos. Kairos invades our chronos
whenever we walk in Faith Hope or Love; whenever we experience eternal life NOW.
Well, if chronos comes to an end, I suspect that kairos never does, it is eternal. It is Gods
time, filled time, completed time, eternity. Kairos is filled time, meaning full, logos full
time; time that has been filled by God.
Hades, the abyss, and the void are time emptied of Meaning. The outer darkness
is a place on that timeline. But heaven is time filled with Meaning; Logos; Light; Jesus;
God. All chronos is surrounded by kairos; that is every moment is Easter waiting to
happen; heaven waiting to happen.
But this is my point: the seventh day, Heaven, our eternal home is not timeless so
much as time-full. It will be all times, made new and filled with glory. I dont think our
minds can conceive it but lets try.
In this world, we can only go one direction in time. Time is the fourth dimension.
In this world, time is our master, but in the next world, perhaps we will be the master of
time. And you will have all the time you want. And you will know the End from the

Beginning and know it all means Jesus. You will know the Glory in all times. And at no
time will you experience, fear, sorrow, anguish and anxiety except you will have a
concept of those times, for you have been created in this time. But you will never be out
of time. Even now, you only seem to be out of time.

I have a friend who lost several of her children years ago in the most tragic of
ways. In visions, Jesus has shown her that He has her children. That is a tremendous
comfort, and yet it has been an incredible sorrow for her that she has not been able to
raise them. Praying for her one night, as she mourned this painful reality, it occurred to
me that in the visions her children were always young even though they died decades
ago. I said, Why dont you ask Jesus: Why are they still young?
So she asked Jesus, Why are my children still young? She heard Him answer,
Theyre waiting for you to raise them. You see, she lacks for nothing, including time.

So maybe you can go home.

Excited, I then said, ask Him this: Am I a single mother? She did, smiled at
me, and said no. Shes not a single mother. Shes the Bride of Christ. The Promised
Land is not timeless, nebulous or even unfamiliar. And her Bridegroom is not timeless,
nebulous or unfamiliar nothing is more real than He.

My father had never had a vision, but before he died the Lord gave him several.
He would describe them to me with such hope and joy. In these visions, he met his
grandson who died in the womb. Hed go walking through beautiful Pennsylvania
woods and a town where everyone was happy. He told me, I visited the church I
grew up in.

See? Maybe you can go home. Maybe you can go back to Old Jerusalem, but Old
Jerusalem is forever new. Jesus said, I make all things new. Wouldnt that include my
drum light, soldier lamp, and the lap of my father? You see, I will be home again . . . In
deed, I will be more home than I ever was before. Actually, Ive never been home, only
dreamed of home and mistook that dream for home.
So pilgrims and exiles, we dont need to hang on to Egypt; we sure dont need to
stay in the wilderness; theres no sense in panic over that old Jerusalem. Weve never
been home, only dreamed of home and mistook the dream for home.

All you alcoholics, perhaps youve never tasted wine youve only dreamed of wine.
All you sex addicts, perhaps youve never experienced communion, only dreamed of
All you greedy folks, youve never seen riches, only dreamed of riches.
All you power-mongers, youve never felt power, only dreamed of power.
All you addicts, youve never experienced release, only dreamed of release;
youve never experienced rest, only dreamed of rest.
youve never experienced pleasure, only dreamed of pleasure
and mistook the dream for reality and so will not let it go.


Heaven is reality. This world is the dream, so you can wake from this dream; no longer
addicted to the dream; no longer enslaved by the fear of death

Real death is waking from the dream. Its the death of death. Its dying to self and living
to God.

My dad described his vision and said, Peter I visited the church I grew up in, and
I visited your church . . . I mean our church. I stood watching in the balcony. After
Hebrews 11, and the list of those that are seeking a homeland, the author of Hebrews
tells us that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. Thats Hebrews 12:1. It
was the last text my Father preached in church before he diedor uh, lived. You see, I
think my father sometimes visits, standing in the balcony. But hes not a phantom or a
shadow. In fact, hes more solid than anything you can see. We are the phantoms; we are
the shadows. Were the ones trapped in the dream. He is fully awake.
The seventh day isnt less real than us; its more real than us. Its not timeless, not
nebulous, and not some unfamiliar ooze.

When Julian of Norwich had her incredible visions, she spoke of how truly
awesome Jesus was and yet how incredibly familiar. The word she used in the Old
English was homeliness. She felt so incredibly at home in His presence.

In 1957, a father took his ten-year-old son, blind from birth, on a pilgrimage to the
Shrine in Lourdes, France. The father prayed that his son would see, and instantly the boy
could see. Brennan Manning tells the story, He saw flowers, trees, green grass, and the
open sky. Then he looked into his fathers face . . . saw the eyes that went with the only
voice he had known during ten, long years of darkness. When he saw his father, do you
know what he said? Oh boy! Everybodys here!
Did you know that every good and perfect gift comes down from your Father in
heaven? And did you know every gift comes through His Word, who is Jesus? He is the
Meaning in all your moments; the Kairos in all your chronos. So one day youll
receive all things and say, Oh boy! Everybodys here! Youll be home.

Were not there yet. Yet there is here

The Father never left his Son and the Father doesnt leave us.

He speaks his Word into the darkness that is us. And He speaks his Word, His
creative Word, into the dark world all around usthis age. World and age are often
the same word in the New Testament (aion). Our world, our eon, our time is
surrounded by Gods Time, Gods eternity. Like Jesus preached, The Kingdom of
heaven is at hand. I think that means, The Seventh day is at hand. At hand means
at hand like you can reach out and touch it. The new heaven and new earth is at hand.
Two thousand years ago, on the island of Patmos, John wrote, Behold (LOOK!),
he is coming (Rev. 1:7) Thats present tense. And he wrote, Then I saw a new
heaven and a new earth and I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down (Thats
present tense as well) out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her

husband (Rev. 21:1-2). We are that bride! Paul says it too: Therefore, if anyone is in
Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold (LOOK!) the new has come
(2 Cor. 5:17). That must be why the author of Hebrews wrote, you have come to
Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem (Hebrews
12:22) You have come!
Now you may be thinking: Hey, I dont remember that. Well maybe your eyes
were closed; maybe you werent listening; maybe you were dreaming. Like, standing on
the edge of the Grand Canyon on a black night, with your fingers in your ears, dreaming
a little dream about your self, until the sun rises or someone yells, Wake up! Would you
look at that?! Perhaps the New Jerusalem was right thereis right here, at hand, like the
Grand Canyon would be at hand; youve come to it, but havent seen it; havent heard
it? What is it?

The New Jerusalem is like the Old Jerusalem, except filled. She has the glory
of God (Rev. 21:11).
We make the Old Jerusalem with laws in the power of the fleshshe is human
life bought and sold like a Harlot the Great Harlot (Ezek. 16;1-15, Rev. 17:1-2).
God makes the New Jerusalem with Grace that is himself, his glory, his life, his
blood. The New Jerusalem is His Bride.
The New Jerusalem is coming down and is already here, hidden in the old
The New Jerusalem is constructed with people, (Rev. 3:12, 21:12-14).
Nobodies, filled with the Somebody, that will be Everybody.

Jesus said it, and will say it: Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least
of these my brothers, you did it to me (Matt. 25:40). He is present; at hand; all around us
every day. He is Love calling to our dark hearts from people in need: come live; come
love; come walk in the Light. And Jesus will also say this: As you did it not to one of
the least of these, you did it not to me (Matt. 25:45). That is, You missed the City in
which I live. And that somehow is the Judgment, the edge of the 7
day, the edge of the
celestial city our homeland.

Were not there yet. Yet there is here
The Journey is a revelation:
The revelation of Jesus

Our journey will come to an end. Jesus is the End.
Our journey will come to an End, but the End has already come to our Journey.
Our time will come to an End, but the End has already come to our time.

Even now He is the whisper of the Father in your heart: Say Abba Daddy.
Surrender to Love. Be filled with Love. I AM Love for you.
Even now He inhabits the last and the least, in your city and on the other side of
the wall. The Kingdom is at hand, for the King is at hand, hidden in the people around
you. They are His temple, His city, His Holy Nation, His Bride. If we believed that, I
think it would change the way we travel:

We travelled to Jerusalem but we are Jerusalem.

We travelled around the world to see the Holy Land but we are the Holy Land; His
brethren. Were not defined by genetics. Were defined by Grace through faith. Were
defined by His Breath, His Wind, His Spirit in our lungs; His blood in our bodies; by His
Father, who is our Father. The Holy Land is tax collectors, former prostitutes,
Roman Centurions, Pharisees, the chief of sinners named Paul, Jews, Gentiles, Arabs,
Samaritans, men and women. We are His temple, His city, His Holy nation, even His
landHis cultivated land (1 Cor. 3:9). Do you still want to go there, if they are
thereif there is them? Can you be home, if they are your home?
not with a stone heart; only with a new heart; only with Gods heart Jesus.

Countries go to war over the Temple Mount. But the true temple is born in Bethlehem.
(We build walls around Jerusalem just to keep Him from the Temple Mount.) We want
control of the temple and so we murder the living temple. Its not the first time its
happened. (John 2:18-22).

Nations go to war over the City of Peace and repeatedly murder the Prince of Peace.
They do not know the things that make for peace! (Luke 19:42) now they are hidden
from [their] eyes, said Jesus the Prince of Peace as He rode into old Jerusalem to be
crucified by old Jerusalem and to transform her into New Jerusalem, His Bride.

Countries go to war over the stones in the Holy City. And they murder the living stones
that make up the Holy City; (1 Peter 2:4-5, Rev. 3:12, 21:14) the stones that make up His
House. One day, the 7
day, that house will be his home and our home.

Nations go to war over the City of Peace and the Holy Land, and they are the Holy
Land. This is how they are judged, Matt.25:32: Before him will be gathered all (not
some)all the nations and he will separate He will separate that which loves his land
from that which hates his land: his Holy land filled with Himself, who is fiery hot,
relentless and holy Love.

Holy land is Mercy land; Grace land; Love land.

What is it that makes a house a home?
And a chunk of land a homeland?
Love, and God is Love.

Home is where Love Is

God is revealing your home, in every moment of Love. And even the moments
without Love, or your perception of Love, are a preparation for the incarnation of Love as
Mercy. And in the End, you get all your moments back, youve come homeor should I
say home has come home to you.


Our bus driver was an Arab believer named Munire. Our tour guide was a
wonderful Jewish believer named Amir. Our host was a Lebanese Boulderite Evangelist
named George Housney. Some on the trip were of Hebrew descent. Some on the trip,
were of German descent. We travelled on a bus, talking, telling stories, laughing, singing,
praying sometimes even crying. Jesus was on the bus too. He promised that he would
be. We were looking for home and we were home, if we only had eyes to see. One day
we will.
At the river Jordan we were baptized. The Spirit hovered; the light descended. As
we came up out of the water, the waters separated, and the Yabbashah, the dry land,
Gods Holy Land, began to appear. It has been hidden beneath the murky waters, in the
last and the least, in those that youre tempted to hate, in dirty fields and ramshackle
old mangers. The waters parted and the land began to appear. Our hearts crossed over
that river and soon our bodies will as well. Well have new bodies and new eyes in those
bodies. Our Lord will open them and we will exclaim:

Oh Boy! Everybodys here!


Endnotes and Pertinent Quotes

1. In just the last 100 years or so, particularly since 1948, there has been a great deal of strange
theology in the American church regarding the earthly nation state of Israel. It stems from the relatively
recent theology of Dispensationalism and certain modern theories regarding the end of the world and the
meaning of the Revelation. However, Scripture is clear that Jesus is the seed of Abraham (Gal. 3); He is
our Judgment, not some nation state in the Middle East; that not all who are descended from Israel belong
to Israel. (Romans 9); and that he is not a real Jew who is one outwardly he is a real Jew who is one
inwardly. (Romans 2).
After Peters vision in Acts 10 its clear that gentile believers are grafted into the house of Israel
(Romans 9). As Paul puts it in Eph. 2:14-15, He (Christ) himself is our peace, who has made us both one
and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostilitythat he might create in himself one new
man in place of the two. Jesus has torn down the wall. It is we who keep building it up.
NEVER confuse a kingdom of this world with the kingdom of our God; a worldly nation with the
Holy Nation. As the Holy nation (1 Peter 2:9), we are called to bless every person of Jewish descent and
every person of Palestinian descent. We are to bless every exile with the Way.--the way home--our Lord

2. P. L. Tan, Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times, (Rockville, Maryland, 1979),

3. Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love, trans., Elizabeth Spearing, intro.,
A. C. Spearing, (London: Penguin, 1998), xix, xxxix.

4. Brennan Manning, Lion and Lamb: The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus, (New
York: Chosen Books, 1986),140-141.

5. The Father never left his Son. He was the unseen presence in the dark night. On the cross
shrouded in our darkness Jesus, the Son, cried My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
(Matt. 27:46, Psalm 22:1). That is the first line of Psalm 22, which goes on to say, Praise him!...
he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard when he cried to him (Psalm 22: 23-24). Paul
writes, God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself (2 Cor. 5:19 KJV). On the cross,
Jesus had descended into our darkness and so could not see His Father, but the Father saw Him.
And in the darkness, Jesus remained Faith Full. Ive heard it said that God cannot look upon sin.
Perhaps thats true since sin is an absence. Whatever the case, God certainly looks upon sinners,
or wed all be endlessly lost. Its not God that cant look on us because of sin, its us that cant
look upon God. We have our eyes closed and our ears shut. On the Cross, Jesus descended into
that darkness.
I dont think the Father ever left His Son and The Son remained faithful in our darkness.
And NOW God sends the Spirit of His Son into our darkness to cry Abba Father. We may feel
forsaken, but we never are forsaken. The Father holds us in his arms like an infant that has yet to
open his or her eyes. He now speaks His Word, His Son, into the darkness that is us He
whispers, Say, Abba, say Daddy. And open your eyes.


I had often called myself an optimist, to avoid the too evident blasphemy of pessimism. But all the
optimism of the age had been false and disheartening for this reason, that it had always been
trying to prove that we fit in to the world. The Christian optimism is based on the fact that we do
not fit in to the world. I had tried to be happy by telling myself that man is an animal, like any
other which sought its meat from God. But now I really was happy, for I had learnt that man is a

monstrosity. I had been right in feeling all things as odd, for I myself was at once worse and
better than all things. The optimists pleasure was prosaic, for it dwelt on the naturalness of
everything; the Christian pleasure was poetic, for it dwelt on the unnaturalness of everything in
light of the supernatural. The modern philosopher had told me again and again that I was in the
right place, and I had still felt depressed even in acquiescence. But I had heard that I was in the
wrong place, and my soul sang for joy, like a bird in spring. The knowledge found out and
illuminated forgotten chambers in the dark house of infancy. I knew now why grass had always
seemed to me as queer as the green beard of a giant, and why I could feel homesick at home.
~ G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope
for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the
Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of
reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our
Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about
with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants
to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a
holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
~ C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your
own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses,
and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will
put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey
my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and
I will be your God. . . . It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord GOD; let that be
known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel. Thus says the Lord
GOD: On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be
inhabited, and the waste places shall be rebuilt. And the land that was desolate shall be tilled,
instead of being the desolation that it was in the sight of all who passed by. And they will say,
This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden, and the waste and desolate and
ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited. Then the nations that are left all around you shall
know that I am the LORD; I have rebuilt the ruined places and replanted that which was
desolate. I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it. . . .
Then he said to me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they
say, Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are clean cut off. Therefore prophesy, and
say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your
graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel.
~ Ezekiel 36:24-28, 32-36; 37:11-12

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel
belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but
Through Isaac shall your offspring be named. This means that it is not the children of the flesh
who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.
~ Romans 9:6-8 (See also Genesis 12:1-3 and Galatians 3:16; Psalm 37:11 and Matthew 5:5;
Deuteronomy 30:5-6 and Colossians 2:11-12; Isaiah 60:10-12, 66:20-21 and Revelation 21:1-3,
22-25; Joel 3:1-2 and Matthew 25:31-32,40, 45; Exodus 19:5-6 and 1 Peter 2:9-10.)

For we are God's fellow workers. You are God's field [georgion: literally cultivated land],
God's building.

~ 1 Corinthians 3:9

Jesus Christ is yesterday and today and for ever the same (Heb. 13:8; cf. Rev. 1:17). Openness to
the future is what quite simply and necessarily characterizes the understanding of time in the NT.
The goal of the eschatological event is God 'all in all' (1 Cor. 15:28). In him is described the goal
of all times. The time which follows the final predictable event is necessarily unlimited on the
basis of that which is said about its content - that from which it gains its quality and by which it is
defined: it is simply and solely filled by God ('God all in all' can have no temporal limits). It
alone is thus utterly and completely filled time, utterly and completely God's time and thus -
~ G. Delling Time in The Dictionary of New Testament Theology

"There seems no plan because it is all plan: there seems no center because it is all center.
Blessed be He! Yet this seeming also is the end and final cause for which He spreads out Time so
long and Heaven so deep . . . ."
~C. S. Lewis, Perelandra

Because eternity
was closeted in time,
he is my open door
to forever.
~Luci Shaw


Chapter 10

And Road Signs for Pilgrims

It must seem like I go on a lot of trips. I dont think I do, but a couple of years
ago, I guess I did. That was partly due to the fact that I received a wonderful sabbatical
after fourteen years of preaching. During that sabbatical, my friend George, along with
his wife Carol, paid for my wife Susan and I to attend some summer classes offered at
Oxford in Great Britain. Before the classes began we all visited the National Gallery. Its
Londons giant, free, art museum full of priceless art.
I never saw this coming, but I was utterly amazed at the work of Peter Paul
Rubens. I had never realized that he had painted so many biblical themes with such depth
and passion.
I remember walking into one room and seeing this picture:

Its titled Samson and Delilah. As I stood staring at it, George walked up next
to me and said, Youve got to wonder how Samson, knowing so much of God, could
have made a mistake like that? I dont understand.
We both stood there in silence, gazing at the painting, and then I said, Oh, I
understand. George looked a moment more and said, Yeah, I guess I do too.
Well, thats incredible artart that can preach a thousand sermons in one frame.
Samson is passed out on Delilahs lap. He has surrendered his strength to her beauty. She
is sick with ambivalence; Philistine soldiers wait at the door. In the background on the
shelf are the pagan idols Venus and Cupid. The painting reveals the human condition and
the biblical story so well: the desire to be known, the attraction and tragedy of sin, the
longing for a savior. Youll remember Samson surrenders his strength to Delilah and all
hell breaks loose. But in the end, he surrenders his weakness to God, and the kingdom of
heaven breaks loose on the Philistines. And Samson slays more in his death than in his

Sound familiar?

Millions come through the National Gallery and see the Gospel in art painted
hundreds of years ago.
Well, I stared, I ached, and God spoke. I didnt understand all I was feeling. Then
George and I walked into the next room.
It was shocking. All the paintings were of church buildings . . . or preachers
preaching in church buildings. And all were boring. A little plaque explained that the
difference between the two rooms represented a couple of decades and exhibited the
impact of the Protestant Reformation on the low countries in Europe. Due to fear over the
idolatrous excesses of the Roman Catholic Church, and the renewed focus on the
Word of God as correct doctrine, artists began to paint pictures of preachers preaching,
and they avoided biblical stories that might lead to idolatry.
In other words, they stopped painting the Word of God and started painting
preachers preaching the Word of God.
Well, you can see their point, cant you? The Church, especially since the
Reformation, has always had a rather ambivalent attitude toward art; toward

What do we do with Beauty?

Genesis 1:9-25 And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be
gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear. And it was
so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered
together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. And God said,
Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees
bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the
earth. And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding
seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their
seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And there
was evening and there was morning, the third day.
And God said, Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to
separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons,
and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the
heavens to give light upon the earth. And it was so. And God made the
two great lightsthe greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to
rule the nightand the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the
heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night,
and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.
And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.
And God said, Let the waters swarm with swarms of living
creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the
heavens. So God created the great sea creatures and every living
creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their
kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it
was good. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful and multiply and fill
the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth. And there was

evening and there was morning, the fifth day.
And God said, Let the earth bring forth living creatures
according to their kindslivestock and creeping things and beasts of the
earth according to their kinds. And it was so. And God made the beasts
of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their
kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And
God saw that it was good.

Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann writes that the good used here
does not refer primarily to a moral quality but to an aesthetic quality. It might better be
translated lovely, pleasing, or beautiful.
In the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament), the Hebrew word
for good, is here translated kalos not agathos. Agathos means good and implies the
ethical good. Kalos tends to describe aesthetic goodnot good for something, just
goodbeautiful. No one needs to tell you that its good, you see that its good.
God sees land, trees, seed, and fruit, and He sees that its beautiful.

Genesis 1:26 Then God said, Let us make man in our image, after our

Then at the end of the sixth day, on the edge of the seventh day, God saw
everything that he had made, and look! It was very good, very beautiful.
Scripture reveals that the Lord delights in His good creation. Hes an ecstatic and
sensual artist. I mean by that, that He senses, He sees His creation is beautiful.
He doesnt argue that its good. He doesnt say:
This is good for ______ (some other reason.),
Its good to enhance the moral fiber of society, or
Its good for enhancing production and the well being of the proletariat.
He doesnt argue that its good for something. Its just good--beautiful.
The fruit is good, long before anyones around to eat it. The wood is good long before
anyone turns it into an end table. The creatures are beautiful long before anyone rides
them, wins a 4-H show with them or eats them.

Creation is Beautiful.

Its just beautiful. A flower is beautiful. Some people think that means illogical.
Beauty is not illogical - not if its the manifestation of the Logos. Its not illogical. Its
more logical that we can comprehend.

You really cant comprehend beauty;
Beauty comprehends you.
You really dont argue beauty;
You proclaim beauty.

You say, Look at that flower. Its beautiful! Look at that sunset! But if you have
to argue that the sunset is beautiful, it loses its beauty. You really dont argue beauty; you

proclaim beauty or perhaps exhibit beauty.
In Matthew 5:6, after proclaiming the beatitudes (which arent arguments but
proclamations of beauty), Jesus says, You are the light of the world . . . let your light
shine before men that they might see your good works and give glory to your father in

Good Works

What good works do Christians do, or what good works do you do that make the
world say, Wow! Praise God for those beautiful Christians!
Is it when we point out depravity in others?
Is it when we picket in front of the Capitol demanding better legislation?
Is it when we argue, The evidence demands a verdict, so youd better believe!?
Is it when we debate atheists and win?
Is it then that the world says:
Wow! Praise God for those beautiful Christians!?

Jesus says, Let them see your good works (kala erga, dictionary form: kalos
ergon.) Its a phrase He only uses here and in one other place in Matthew. Let them see
your beautiful deedsyour beautiful thingsyour lovely works.

Beautiful Things

Well, God sees that His creation is lovely, beautiful, and good. He creates land,
sea, plants, trees, fruit, seeds, sun, moon, stars, seasons, fish, sea monsters, birds, and
animals . . . and then God creates man. Then God creates the last, ultimate thing in the
creation story. He creates a bare, naked lady.
William Blake wrote, The naked womans body is a portion of eternity too great
for the eye of man. So is a bare, naked lady bad??...No!
Shes so good, so lovely, so beautiful, so so so good, that a man can barely endure the
I mean, if I were going to pick an idol, I think my first choice would be bare,
naked ladies . . . and then a distant second: some kind of alcoholic beverage, then pizza,
then the island of St. Barts, and then maybe the Denver Broncos.
But do you see? The more beautiful a thing is the more tempting it is for us to turn
it into an idol.

Beauty is Dangerous

In Romans 1, Paul argues that God is revealed through His creation. However, in
vs. 22, humanity:

Claiming to be wise . . . became fools, and exchanged the glory of the
immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals
and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their
hearts . . .

He gave them up to their desire to comprehend, control, and consume. He gave them up

. . . to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,
because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and
served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

They saw the glory of the creature and missed the Glory of the Creator. They saw the
beauty of creation and missed the beauty that is the Creator. Created things, beautiful
things, reflect the Beauty that is their Creator.
Idolatry is putting a created thing in the Creators place. It could be pizza, beer, a
man, a woman, or even yourself.
Idols destroy us as we destroy them, and they lose their beauty.


The Old Testament refers to idolatry as harlotry. If you loved an artist for the
beauty of his artwork, but not the beauty that he is; if you loved a woman for the
beauty she bears, but not the beauty she is, well it wouldnt be love, but lust. If you
consumed the beauty she has, rather than served the beauty she isI suppose that would
be harlotry. Idolatry is harlotry. Its a relationship meant to be governed by love that
becomes governed by lust and consumption.
I think worshipping nature and consuming nature are two sides of the same coin.
Tree hugging and deforestation are both idolatry. If there is nothing that governs
your relationship to beautiful trees, youll either worship them or try to consume them . . .
or both.
Guys, if theres nothing that governs your relationship with women, youll either
worship women or abuse women . . . or both. And then theyll no longer be beautiful to
In Moses day, the Canaanites worshiped sex, fertility, rain, trees, sea monsters,
cows, sun, moon, and stars. And worship was a business arrangement. Worship was an
effort to control those things and possess their attributes.
Well, probably the greatest temptation to idolatry is not simply naked women but
beauty itself, for yourselfBeauty as a possession you comprehend, control, and
consume. Beauty you take to complete yourself. And that really is the greatest idol:
Do you remember the temptation Eve fell to? It was the fruit of a tree, the tree of
the knowledge of good and evil: the knowledge of beauty and corruption. She doesnt
trust God to give her that fruit as a gift. She takes it, possesses it and consumes it in order
to create herself; make herself beautiful and when she does everything gets ugly.
Now, you may not believe this, but the most beautiful thing ever seen on planet
Earth was a man named Jesusthe Ultimate Adamthe Beautiful One. What did Eve
do? What did the Bride do? What did we do with Jesus? We tried to comprehend Him,
control Him, and consume Him. Instead of receiving Him as a gift, to the glory of God,
we took His life and nailed it to the tree. We broke His body, and His blood spilled out.


When it did, a Roman centurion fell to his knees and worshiped. It wasnt idolatry. It was
worship. He tried to consume Beauty, but Beauty consumed him. He slaughtered the
Beauty, but in reality, the Beauty slew him. If it had been some form of idolatry before, it
was now transformed into worship.
Now we consume His body broken and blood shed, but that isnt idolatry.
It is what we are made for.

The cross is the revelation of Uncreated Beauty.
We try and conquer Him there. And there, He conquers us.
We take his life. And There He gives his life: body broken and blood shed--the
fruit of the tree.
We sin by taking it. He reveals His glory by giving itGrace.
We sin and He ambushes us with Beauty.
We try to take His beauty, His power, His attributes and He ambushes us with
We try to use God like a harlot, and he gives us his heart: Jesus

If we eat and drink without discerning him, we drink Judgment on ourselves.
If we eat and drink with gratitude for His Love, we Live.

Its not Idolatry, Its Worship

For He is not an idol; He is not the glory of the creature. This is
The Heart of God
The Word of God
The One we were made for
The One who is beauty,
Not the creature but the Creator.
This is the revelation of uncreated beauty, given to us as a gift the Glory of God.

God is Good.

Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? asked the rich young ruler.
Jesus answered, Why do you call me good? No one is good (agathon from agathos)
except God alone. (Luke 18:19). God is Good. The Good isnt something that we can
simply do. First it must be something that is done to us.
How is it done to us? No one is good, but God alone. Is Jesus good? Is Jesus
Beautiful? When you see beauty, what is it?
In Genesis 1:4 God calls the Light, good (tov) in Hebrew, Kalos in Greek, good
or beautiful in English). Its the first thing declared good, and think of it: if God sees
any other beautiful thing, whats He seeing? What are we seeing? Arent we seeing
uncreated Light, reflecting off of created not-light? Were seeing the Light of the
World, bouncing off of not light of the world.
Or perhaps: the Light of the World having filled the world. God tells Isaiah, I
am the Lord, that is my name; my glory I give to no other. (Is 42:8) However in chapter
6 of the same book the angels cry, The whole earth is full of his glory. Psalm 72:19:

May his glory fill the whole earth! Amen and Amen! His Glory: not the glory of the
creature, but the Glory of the Creator.
Jesus said that God alone is good, but in Genesis One, at the end of the sixth
day God sees everything that he has made and look, its very good or very beautiful.
It seems to me that the only way all those verses could actually be true is if God actually
fills all in all (Eph. 1:23) and He does it with Jesus the Light of the world who
descended and ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things. (Eph.
So there are things and then there is the glory that bounces off of those things
or perhaps, one day, fills those things.
So anyway, how might we be Good? How might we be beauty full? And what is
Beauty itself or himself?


Well, those are some fascinating questions. Well get back to them soon. For now,
my point is simply this: The beauty of created things is a problem for us humans, because
we tend to turn those created things into idols: We mistake the thing for the beauty we
see in the thing or reflected by the thing. So, we begin to worship the thing and thus
destroy the thing, because were missing the beauty in the thing or reflected by the thing.
We destroy the thing and destroy ourselves in the process of worshipping the thingthe
thing no longer good or beautiful, but an idol.

Beauty is a Problem

And so the natural impulse of religious people is to outlaw all potential idols;
which is to outlaw the creation; which is to outlaw the beauty in creation and the Word
that upholds creation. How could you outlaw creation? How could you outlaw seed, fruit,
sun, moon, and stars? How do you outlaw naked women without outlawing the human
race? If you outlaw creation, you in-law the voidyou legislate the void.
The natural impulse of religious people is to outlaw beauty, which is to outlaw
Peter Paul Rubens and his paintings, which is to outlaw the Proclamation of the Word;
which is to outlaw the Light of the world, and crucify the Beautiful One.
The natural impulse of religion is to comprehend, control, contain and conquer
beauty. And what is Beauty? Who is Beauty?
The natural impulse of religion is to comprehend, control, contain and conquer
beauty, which is just more idolatrythe idolatry of usus, saving us, from idols... from
beauty and what is, who is Beauty?
Thats a problem, and idolatry is a problem.

A Polemic against Idolatry

Well, most scholars agree that Genesis 1 is a polemican argument specifically
formulated to deal with idolatry in ancient Israel. It turns out that the Genesis creation
story is remarkably similar to other ancient Near Eastern creation stories, yet remarkably

Time is not circular but linear, like were going somewhere.
The seventh day is not bad but good.
The things the Canaanites worshiped as gods (like Marduk, the son of the sun god,
who sliced Tiamat the sea monster in two, making the firmament of heaven and earth;
or Baal the god of rain, fertility, and fruit; or waters, sea monsters, sun, moon, stars,
rain, sex, and fertility) -- The things the Canaanites worshiped as gods arent gods but
the good creation of the Creator God.

So the Hebrews are told that each of these things are not gods but pieces of art
that reveal the Artistcreation that reveals the Creator. God is an artist, who paints with
His Word.

I Timothy 4:4: For everything created by God is good [kalos, beautiful], and nothing
is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving [eucharist-ia] for it is made holy by
the Word of God and prayer.

Thank God for Beautiful Things

Every created thing goes from idol to temple when I say, Thank you Father in
Jesus name. That word of thanks puts the created thing in its proper place . . . not as
creator but as creation bearing testimony to the Creator a temple at which we encounter
the Creator and then worship the Creator.
So Im to drink every cup of wine in remembrance of Him. Im to say, Thank
you, Jesus, for the fruit of the vine. Then I remember He made it, its His, and He is
Lord, not the wine. He loves me, and He will fill me. He is not the wine and yet there is
beauty in the wine: Gods Word through wine, blood red wine.
Guys, when you see a beautiful woman, you dont have to deny that shes
beautiful, as if beauty is something bad. Say, Thank you, Jesus, for her. Then suddenly
you remember she belongs to God and not to you. Shes His good creation, neither to
worship nor to consume. And God Himself will satisfy the ache within you to surrender
your strength to great beauty. Shes a temple of beauty, but not the source of beauty; not
beauty himself.
The truth is, she herself, couldnt satisfy your ache--your longing for beauty. As
soon as you took the beauty; as soon as you seized beauty as your possession, it would
no longer be beauty full. You can take her, and yet shes not the beauty that you seek--
not the substance but the container of the substance; not the substance but the sign. All
creation is a sign pointing to its Creator.

Beauty full signs

And yet you do realize that God has subjected the creation to futility (Romans
8:20). That is, all signs fade . . . for a reason. Beauty doesnt last here. Beauty dies here.
After about 21 or 22, its downhill until youre dead: wrinkles, flab, bald spots . . . or
maybe its uphill, for God is leading us to greater and greater beauties, such that physical

beauty is like a signpost pointing to greater beauties, a drop of beauty to make us long for
more beauty - Beauty that we can now only barely begin to perceive.
The signpost reads: God is good. He created this good thing. But pilgrim, dont
stop here. You are being made for Him. Dont stop at the sign to Niagara Falls; read it
and keep going. Yes, theres beauty in the sign, it reflects the beauty that IS Niagara
Falls. Dont settle for the sign.
The signpost reads: Hey, Samson, Delilah is a sign but not your destination.
Dont surrender yourself to her until youve surrendered yourself to Him--the Beauty that
you are being made for.
Everything in creation, everything in Genesis 1 points to Him. Its beautiful
because He is Beauty; beautiful because it reflects the Light and points to the Light. The
heavens declare the Glory of God Day to day pours forth speech. (Psalm 19:1-2); Day
to day pours forth Word. Creation is created by that Word, upheld by that Word and
reveals that Word. In that Word, is life and the life is the light of men; the light of the
world (John 1:4, 8:12). That Light, in that Word, became flesh and we Beheld his
glory. (John 1:14)

Jesus is Beauty

All creation reveals that Beauty and proclaims that BeautyThe Word. All creation is a
stage for the revelation of Him.

Day 1 The Light shines in the darkness and that Light will reveal everything else and
every thing else will reflect that Light.

Day 2 Space under heaven and on the surface of the deep is space for us and space for the
revelation of Mercy.

The Third Day We are the land. Jesus is the seed. He is the Harvest of the Earth: Bread
and Wine. He is the Fruit on the Tree.

Day 4 Jesus is the substance of the Sabbath, the meaning of days, months, seasons, and
years. He is the Sun of righteousness (Mal. 4:2); the Bright Morning Star (Rev.
22:16); the Faithful Witnessthe moon (Ps. 89:37, Rev.1:5)

Day 5 Jesus is the Lion. Jesus is the Lamb slain. Jesus is the perfect sacrifice and spotless

Day 6 Jesus is the man, and we are the womanHis Bride.
God is our Father, and we are his childrenby the Spirit of Jesus.
By the Spirit of Jesus we cry Abba Father and It is finished.
Jesus from the bosom of the Father (John 1:18 RSV)
He is the Fathers heart for us.

All creation points to Jesus, like road signs point to your destination. All creation
points to Jesus and when we get Jesus, we will get all creation with him. He who did

not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him
graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32)
Jesus is from the bosom of the Father. He is the heart of God given to us. Our
Father has a beautiful heart. It is Beauty.
Every good and perfect gift comes from Him. But the goodness in the gifts is
Him, His heart, His light. He is the Father of lights. (James 1:17). He is what makes
the gift good.

Im a father. Every good father loves to give good gifts to his children, but the
children can come to love the gifts more that the giver, in which case the gifts are no
longer good, for the gifts have eclipsed the light in the fathers heartthe good in the
For a spoiled child, the fathers gifts are no longer the revelation of the fathers
heart; signs pointing to his heart. The fathers heart has become a means to get the gifts.
And when the spoiled child takes those gifts, those gifts are no longer good, because
hes crucified the good the Fathers heart.
The gifts are no longer good and for the spoiled child, the fathers heart is no
longer good. Its no longer good for nothing, its only good for something: getting
gifts that dont satisfy and are no longer good. A spoiled child is a miserable child and for
a spoiled child, everything is ugly.
So the good father will withhold good gifts, in order to give the best gift. The best
gift is his heart. It is revealed in all his gifts, yet it is ultimately revealed when the
children break his heart, revealing his heart, yet seeing his heart and receiving his heart.
Jesus brought good gifts: banquets that materialized from a couple of fish and a
few small loaves, miraculous wine in six stone jars, miracles and healings. And yet when
they demanded signs, more miracles and gifts, the signs were withheldHe said an
evil and adulterous generation seeks a sign. They seek the sign but dont read the sign.
So He withheld the gifts, to give the greatest gift: His Heart.
Jesus is Gods Heart given to us, at the right time. When we were at our worst, He
gave his best. His Heart, nailed to the tree for all the world to see.
Once we see him; once we really get him, not take him, but receive him
as the gift that He IS well then we receive all things, and all things are good, for they
contain and reveal our Fathers heart: Beauty, the radiance of his glory, his Love poured

A wealthy and powerful Bridegroom, will withhold his gifts, in order to reveal his
heart and win the heart of his Bride Then he gives her everything.
A wealthy and powerful Father, will withhold his gifts, in order to reveal his heart
and win the heart of his Children Then he gives them His Kingdom.

Jesus is our Bridegroom and the heart of the Father for us.
At the end of Day 6, we see Him.

Day 7 We get Jesus and all things with him. It is finished.

Isaiah saw the Lord seated on His throne. In the Revelation, He is a slaughtered lamb

standing on the throne. Isaiah sees Him and the angels start singing, Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory. (6:3)

When I see that the wine is full of His Glory, perhaps its safe to drink.
When Delilah is full of His Glory, perhaps shes safe to love.
Then the wine isnt an idol, but a sign.
Delilah isnt a harlot, but a temple.
Creation is filled with the Glory of the Creator.

But this is day 6, and we dont yet see it.
We dont yet see it, for we havent yet seen Him fully.
Were on a journey and our Journey is a revelation of Beauty.

The Revelation of Beauty

Were each growing in our ability to enjoy beauty. An infant wont even notice a
Peter Paul Rubens. A toddler will pick his nose in front of a Monet. But children grow.
Maybe were all growing. Maybe life is like an art appreciation class. And in the End we
appreciate the artist.

1. Perhaps the first sign is a dandelion on the front lawn when youre a kid. But it dies,
your heart aches, and you look further.
2. Then perhaps its a song, but the song gets old.
3. Then perhaps its religion, but it turns out to be dead.
4. Then perhaps its a lover: a bride or groom. You taste ecstasy but its not enough.
5. Then perhaps its a believer whos kind, but the kindness is flawed.
6. Then perhaps you begin to see Him: the One behind all the signsJesus Christ and
Him crucifiedthe love of God poured outthe Beautiful One.

But, you see, life is a journey from glory to glory, a journey toward beauty that is
God. Life is an art appreciation class or an artist appreciation class. You are learning to
love Love. In other words, you are learning to see beauty.

A group of visitors at a summer resort had watched the sunset from the gallery of
the hotel. A fat, unromantic-looking man had lingered until the last glow faded, and had
seemed thrilled through and through by the beauty of it all.
One guest, more observant than the rest, wondered about this, and so at supper
she said to this man, who sat next to her, You certainly did enjoy the sunset. Are you an
artist? No, madam, Im a plumber, he responded with a slow grin. But I was blind for
five years.

You see, even the darkness between signs is a sign itself teaching you to love
beauty. He had seen sunsets, then he was blind, and then he saw sunsets as hed never
seen them before.
Perhaps we encounter the dark in this world so we can learn to love the light in
the next. Perhaps we encounter chaos, pain, and suffering so we can see the beauty that

shines in its midst. See . . . and not only be plumbers but artists.

An enthusiastic young man who had just received his plumbers license was taken
to see Niagara Falls. He looked at it a moment and said, I think I can fix this.
God calls you to the blood that flows; to the torrent that is His cross, not so you
would fix it, but so it would fix you. So that sacrificial love would shape you in His own

You dont fix Beauty; Beauty fixes you.

A bored tourist walking through the art galleries at the Louvre commented to a
security guard, I dont find anything exceptional in these paintings. The guard replied,
These painting are not judged by us. We are judged by them.

We dont judge Beauty; Beauty judges us.

In Revelation 5, all creation (every creature in heaven and on earth and under the
earth) praises Him who stands on the throne: the slaughtered lamb; Jesus Christ and
Him crucified; Beauty.
In Matthew 25, Jesus reveals the Judgment: What we do to Him in people; what
we do to Beauty in the last and the least is Judgment. We all merit destruction and the
void. In Mathew 26:1, Jesus reveals that He is the Judgment for us; that He is the
Passover Lamb; the sacrifice for our sin; He is the source of a river of blood, the river of
Life. In Matthew 26 Jesus reveals Beauty and His disciples cant see it.
But this strange woman can. She sees the beauty of Jesus; she sees sacrificial
love, and then she takes a flask of the most precious of ointments, worth a years wage.
She pours it on Christs head. He will smell it as He hangs on the cross. It is sacrificial
The disciples ask, What is this good for? Jesus says, Leave her alone. It is a
ergon kalon (from kalos ergon)the beautiful thing.
After years of darkness, she sees the beauty. She doesnt fix the beauty; the
beauty fixes her. She doesnt judge the beauty; the beauty judges her. She sees the
beauty, she becomes beautiful, and she does the beautiful thingthe kalos ergonthe
good work.
More than likely she had been a harlot, but now she is a picture of the Bride; She
had bought and sold beauty, but now she surrenders to the beauty that is Christ. Jesus fills
her with beauty and she bears fruit that is beautiful. Its good for nothing, just good.
Jesus says, Wherever the gospel is preached, her story will be told. She gets it: Beauty
and she becomes Beauty full.

Beauty Full and the Beautiful Thing

What are those good deedsthose kalos ergon that we do, for which the world
(the pagans) gives praise to God? Well, probably not our legislation, argumentation, or
provocation; probably not the deeds that we do to build our ministries; probably not
the ways in which we use beauty, use the name of Jesus, to advance our own ends

But how about sacrificial love? Its love for which we get nothing in return but
love. Sacrificial love is love, solely for the sake of love. Its not love for some other
reason. It is the reason. Its good for nothing, its just good. Its the beautiful thing. Its
Did the world think Mother Teresa was beautiful?
Did the world think St. Francis was beautiful?
You know, there is a place for making arguments about the Beautiful One, but we
are always to exhibit the Beautiful One. You dont argue great art; you see great art. We
are called to witness great art and give glory to the Artist. Let your light so shine before
men. (Matt. 5:16) And Jesus is the Light. He is Beauty.

Life is an Art appreciation class and in the end we appreciate the Artist. We are His Art.
Beauty in us is Christ Jesus in us. He paints us with His Blood His Life.

A day after we went to the National Gallery, we travelled to Oxford for courses
on apologetics: that is, how to make a reasoned argument for the faith. I love that kind of
stuff, and it can be extremely helpful. Yet at times it feels like youre explaining the
prudence of an insurance policy rather than testifying to an unspeakable beauty.
(And for all our arguments, at least in the western world, evangelism doesnt feel
like very good news. And lately, it hasnt been very effective.)
Well, after Oxford, Susan and I traveled to France. One morning we went to see
the Marc Chagall Museum in Nice. Its really not my kind of art but a friend at church
suggested that we go.
We arrived early and sat outside with two busloads of Japanese tourists. You
know, the Japanese have been notoriously resistant to evangelism. It probably has
something to do with atomic bombs and the ugliness of war . . . so few are willing to
The French have been notoriously secular and dont want to listen. And Marc
Chagall was a Jew . . . an exiled, Russian Jew.
Well, once inside, I was amazed at the biblical themes portrayed on the walls.
And I was intrigued by one painting in particular. It must have been at least nine feet tall
and six feet wide. I sat and studied it a long time. It swam with color, passion and a
multitude of biblical references and stories. It had one man at the bottom and one man at
the top hanging on a cross. If I had permission, Id print the image here, but a little box
with a black and white reproduction just wouldnt do justice to this piece of art.
I dont think Ill ever forget sitting on a bench with apologetics running through
my mind, while watching a Japanese tour guide explain this painting to a mob of attentive
Japanese tourists.

The painting is entitled, The Creation of Man.
In the lower right corner I could see the first Adam with Eve.
Then, Man, dead in his trespasses and sins, yet carried by the Angel of Yahweh.
And above him was a brilliant covenant rainbow.
I saw Jacob climbing his ladder.
He carries a menorah, representing the seven days of creation.
I could see the giving of the law in the upper left corner

And a rabbi with a goats head keeping the law from the people
And David, playing his harp for those very same people.
Jeremiah was curled in a ball lamenting the destruction of Jerusalem.
or was he lamenting the destruction of Chagalls life and hometown in Russia?
And at the top, in the middle of it all, was Jesus Christ and Him crucifiedthe
Ultimate Adam, the Eschatos Adam. His Story becomes your story Adam.
Its The Creation of Adam.

Well, I couldnt understand any of the Japanese, but the tour guide went on for a
long time. And I thought to myself, How could she not, in some way, be preaching the
Gospel? And if she wasnt, the painting surely was. And they were listening. The
Japanese were seeing . . . seeing that God is goodbeautiful.
We work and work, and argue and scheme, to evangelize the world. But an exiled,
Russian Jew in secular France picks up His paintbrush and worships the Beautiful One.
And the world crosses the ocean to come see.

Your life is to be that canvas. Your life is the creation of Adam.

So on the night He was betrayed, He took bread and broke it saying, This is my
body given to you. Take and eat. Do this in remembrance of me. And in the same way
after supper, having given thanks, He took the cup and said, This is the cup of the new
covenant in my blood poured out for the forgiveness of sins. Drink of it, all of you, in
remembrance of me. He surrendered his strength to us, then, He was crucified in
Do you see Him? On the cross in weakness? He is good for nothing, just Good.
He is Beauty. We meet Him at the cross.
In His moment of utter despair, emptied of his strength, capable of accomplishing
nothing, Jesus is GOOD for nothing. And God makes Him GOOD for something. God
makes Him the GOOD in everything: Beauty.

See Beauty, Ingest Beauty and live Beauty full y

Samson, surrender your strength to this Beauty.
Delilah, Eve, surrender your strength to this Adam. Trust Him with your heart
Nothing in all creation is more beautiful to Him than His Bride undressed of
her self-righteousness; her strength.
For there He dresses her in His Glory: the Beauty that is Himself.
He is good for no reason. He is the Reason.

Everyone Good for Nothing, Just Good: Thats Heaven
Thats Beauty Full

For we are his workmanship, (His Artwork) created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
- Ephesians 2:10


Pertinent Quotes

Blessing theology defines reality in an artistic and aesthetic way. Throughout the narrative, God
judges the results of his work good (1:10, 12, 18, 21, 25), and in verse 31, he pronounces the
whole very good (v. 31). The good used here does not refer primarily to a moral quality, but
to an aesthetic quality. It might better be translated lovely, pleasing, beautiful.
~ Walter Brueggemann, Genesis

These thingsthe beauty, the memory of our own pastare good images of what we really
desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts
of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself, they are only the scent of a flower we have
not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.
~ C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

Our knowledge of Jesus Christ is far too serious a business to be left to theologians and exegetes
alone. I find myself in complete agreement with those who wish to reinstate the mystics, clowns
and artists alongside the scholars.
~ Malcolm Muggeridge

I recall a clergyman once telling me after a wonderful concert that for the first time in his life he
realized that by enjoying the beauty of the music he was obeying God, while before that
experience obedience had always been associated with unpleasant tasks for him.
~ Diogenes Allen, Spiritual Theology

On the wall of one of the cathedral bays at Saint Johns, the one called the Poets Corner, there
is an inscription carved into the stone that quotes Willa Cather: Thy will be done in art as it is
in heaven. Amen, I say. And in plumbing and paper pushing and publishing as well. And in
teachering and boardmembering and doctoring and bricklaying, for that matter.
~ Robert Benson, Between the Dreaming and the Coming True

At the end of his life Renoir had arthritis so bad he had to tape the brush to his hand. He was
wealthy, and people asked, Why are you doing this? He replied, Pain lasts a moment; beauty
lasts a lifetime.
~ Mark Brewer, Sermon at LMCC, June 6, 2000


Chapter 11

Stare at a Bug
Care for Creation and Creation Cares for You

One Sunday I gave the childrens sermon followed by the adult sermon a few
minutes later. After the service a very well known Christian author, who attended the
church at the time, said to me: Peter that was a great childrens sermon! You said what
you needed to say I dont think you needed the other one. Thanks I think?
That was the Sunday I brought Ralphie to church. Ralphie was our pet crawdad.
We kept him with the gold fish, the big resilient goldfish, in the aquarium downstairs. He
was awesome.

I pulled him out by the Thorax (the back) and set him on the stage.
Eyes grew big; some squirmed; most oohed and aahed. Ralphie held
his pinchers highFear, Trembling, Fascination and Awe; what
theologians call Mysterium Tremendum and Mysterium Fascinans;
manifestations of an encounter with the Holy, the Divine.
I asked the kids to describe Ralphie. What is he? They said stuff
like: Wow! Hes awesome! ScaryCool! BIG PINCHERS, I like him.
Freaky, Can I touch? Will he bite? That was their description.
I then said, Well this is the right description: Arthropoda
Crustacea Malacostraca Decapoda Pleocyemata Astacidea. Thats what
Ralphie is.
I then asked, Which description do you suppose God likes best?
That confused them a bit.
I think He likes yours best, I responded. And I think you have a
better idea of what Ralphie really IS. Hes like a piece of art. Have you
ever made something? Like a piece of art? Well, you dont want people to
explain it; you want people to look at it and say, Wow! Well, I think God
is like that. When you look at His creation and say, Wow! thats called

Perhaps my author friend was right. Worship is exactly what God desires. And
little kids do it quite naturally. If this is your Fathers world, then you are a child filled
with wonder. If this is your world, then you are a Grown up, and everything is dead.


There is a scene from my childhood which seems to be forever etched in my
mind. I cant remember exactly when it occurred, but it was on one of those long, lazy,
summer or fall days that we all enjoy as children.
We were down at the ditch, (Fred Remillard, Dave Hart . . . maybe Brad
Braverman). In the summer, I lived in the ditchthe irrigation ditch that ran behind my
parents house next to the railroad tracks in Littleton. There, we went inner tubing on hot

summer days. We made little boats out of milkweed pods. We collected every kind of
bug. Id stare at them for hours. Wed watch spiders spin the most amazing webs. Wed
watch caterpillars manufacture cocoons and turn into butterflies. We caught scores of
garter snakes, which gave me a sense of power over my Mom. . . awesome!
But the very pinnacle of all the wonders in the garden of the ditch was the
crawdadthe rather shocking and absolutely fascinating crayfish.
On this particular day, we had managed to catch several. As usual, we watched
them for hours. (Even now, they amaze me: Those antennas that feel in the dark; all those
legs and the fins under the tail; their tank-like little bodies; the way they carry their eggs;
those incredible eyes . . . and best of all, those outrageous, giant pinchers raking the air or
the water above.) Crawdads.
To a fifth-grade boy, nothing is more beautiful than a crawdad. The beauty of the
Sistine Chapel or a Peter Paul Rubens does not compare to the wonder of a crawdad. At
least to me they were the height of cool. Even then, I was convinced my Father in heaven
made each one. So the coolness of crawdads revealed a very cool God.
I was a little science freak at the time. And I think this is why: Science was all
about staring at crawdads . . . staring at crawdads, not explaining them away. I had
Darwins theory down, but even as a kid I knew that theory could never explain the
inherent coolness of a crawdad or the inherent ability in me to recognize that coolness
coolness, which in the last chapter we described as beauty.
So I would never say, Hey, Fred, thats an Arthropoda Crustacea Malacostraca
Decapoda Pleocyemata Astacidea. Mystery solved. Lets do something else. I didnt
want to dissect them and explain them away; I wanted to watch them. I hope you realize
that science started as worship of the Creator, not an effort to explain Him away.
So anyway, wed watch creation and because I knew the scientific lingo, Id say,
Arthropods are cool! and Fred would say, For sure! In other wordsin church
wordsFred, Brad, Dave, and I would worship in the Cathedral of the Ditch.
We worshipped for a long time this one particular afternoon, staring at crawdads.
And then someone made the seemingly very mature suggestion: Hey, lets blow em
Well, you know, in my ten-year-old brain something about that seemed very
manly: Man who dominates the beasts conquers the crawdads! And crawdad cool
would become Peter Hiett cool. I would take their beauty. So we got my daisy BB gun,
set the crawdads on the bank of the spillway . . . and shot them all to pieces.
And now, the scene I remember so well . . . not with my mind but with my heart: I
remember standing there staring at crawdad pieces . . . some still moving, scattered all
over the spillway in the hot sun. And deep down in my gut this knowledge of
something, this feeling that what we had just done was not cool, not manly, and not
courageous at all, but more like vandalism: graffiti on the inside of a cathedral or a paint
bomb thrown at a Peter Paul Reubens. I hadnt acquired their coolness, but something
else. What I remember was guilt.


Now listen: I love crawdad gumbo, and I eat it without guilt. But that day . . .
guiltshame, like I wanted to hide in the trees. Why the guilt?

Genesis 1:24-26 And God said, Let the earth bring forth living creatures
according to their kindslivestock and creeping things and beasts of the
earth according to their kinds. And it was so. And God made the beasts of
the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their
kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And
God saw that it was good [beautiful].
Then God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.
And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of
the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every
creeping thing that creeps on the earth.

I would think that would include crawdads; Dominion over crawdads.


In 1967, Princeton history professor Lynn White wrote an article titled, The
Historical Roots of our Ecological Crisis. In it he blamed Medieval Christian theology
for our modern ecological problems and argued that ten-year-old boys in the West
behaved as they did because of their Christian culture, which taught them that creation is
separate from people, created simply for our use, and that we are commanded to have
dominion over it, that is, dominate it.
In his article, White lamented the loss of old pagan religion in which people
worshipped creation. Since that article, the environmental movement has been heavily
associated with paganism. And environmentalists have viewed Christians with a whole
lot of suspicion. Likewise, Christians tend to view environmentalists as tree-hugging,
New Age Whackos.


Many environmentalists would argue that ten-year-old Peter Hiett was guilty of
Species-ism: thinking one species was better than another. Theyd say the earth is our
mother and we should worship her. And that makes some sense, because crawdads are
cool and the earth is profoundly beautiful.

I remember lying on my back on a little inflatable raft in the Sacramento River
Delta getting a tan. It was thoroughly serene. I was watching an immense, beautiful bird
ride the wind with perfect grace hundreds of feet above me. As I floated on the water in
the sun watching that bird, I thought, This is heaven.
Just then I noticed some stuff falling from the tail of the bird . . . but it was very
high and far away, so I thought, No worries. Just then I felt a breeze, and the material
changed directions. I watched it for a while, no kiddingit was like a smart bomb. At the
very last moment, I dove off the raft as it was thoroughly plastered with massive
quantities of bird pooh. I couldnt keep from laughing. It was miraculous! And I thought,
OK, God, I get the point.
Creation is good, but it has been subjected to futility, in bondage to decay.

Creation is heavenly, but not quite heaven yethere or nowat least not for me.

In seminary I had a friend named Rabi Maharaj. As a boy, he was trained to be a
Hindu Guru. So every day hed worship his cow, but whenever hed bow down before it,
it would bite him on the head. That sent him on a quest, Maybe my cow isnt my god.
Why do I have to take care of god . . . feed and water god? And why would god bite me
on the head? Maybe my cow isnt god. Then who is?
If youre into pagan environmentalism, think about it. If creation is God, why
would we need to take care of it/god? And why would cows bite faithful worshippers on
the head? And yet, something does tell us that cows are wonderful. We should care for
cows . . . and we should never mutilate crawdads, just for fun.

Scientific Naturalism

Well, many environmentalists who reject paganism are into Scientific Naturalism,
because, you know, science does do a lot of staring at crawdads. However, it seems to
me, the height of absurdity, for a Secular Darwinist to argue that I should feel guilty for
mutilating crawdads.
Darwin argued that life progresses through the survival of the fittest, that is,
dominant species dominating weaker species. The idea that anyone ought to feel even
remotely obligated to go save some distant species that has no direct benefits to man is
just the opposite of Secular Darwinism.
Extinctions are necessary to Darwins theory. In fact, if there is a good, its one
species exterminating another and occupying its niche. So the good is building strip
malls on wetlands and rejoicing in the demise of the yellow-bellied, ruby-crested,
southern swamp warbler . . . or whatever.
And now, if were honest, I think this is where we get our definition of dominion.
Its even where we Christians get our definition of dominion. That is: Dominion is to
beat your neighbor and conquer your enemy. Maybe our definition of dominion is
different from Gods.
Honestly, what is a better justification for the great crawdad massacre of 1971?

A. Nature walks in Sunday school where we had to find things God made?
B. Science lab where we dissected frogs in order to know them?

Secular Darwinism is idolatry: the idolatry of the dominant species named man.
Paganism is also idolatry: idolatry of creation and its creatures.


Remember our last chapter, we talked about idolatry and said if theres nothing
that governs the relationship between you and beautiful trees, for instance, youll either
worship trees or consume trees . . . or both. Environmentalism is taking care of trees. And
I think taking care of something is pretty much the biblical definition of exercising

In Genesis 1, God has just exercised dominion for six days by creating,
making, and letting . . . not controlling, conquering, and consuming. I think genuine
evolution is God letting His creation adapt and grow. He creates it and lets it . . .
reproduce, adapt, and grow. God is the great naturalist, the great environmentalist. He is
the great gardener, and we are being made in His image: gardeners. Yet, we are also His
gardenHis creation.
So I think what confuses us is that cows bite and birds drop pooh bombs, and
therefore we think that we should bite and we should drop bombs.

There are two principles in this world described with a vast array of words:

Creation. and desecration
Life and death
Order. and disorder
Substance.. and void
Light. and dark
Good. and evil
Love.. and not love

So in this world, we are constantly faced with a choice. Do we love love: do we
love beauty, and do we love creation? Or do we hate love, consume beauty, and desecrate
God has subjected creation to futility in hope. He has placed us on the border
of creation and desecration in hope. I think the hope is that we would be made in our
Fathers image and join Him in His work of creation.
In chapter two of Genesis, we find that God has placed man in a garden and
called him to be a gardener in His garden (2:15). A garden is simply ordered creation.
That would imply that creation is unordered and unfinished outside the garden. The man
and woman are called to care for the garden, but even more I suspect that God intends for
them to expand that garden; even go from that garden, and in Gods image, help Him
order the unfinished creationexercise dominion.

What is dominion?

If mankind gets his definition of dominion from the creatures; if he worships and
serves the creature rather than the Creator, then he will believe that dominion is the
survival of the fittest. And believing that and exercising that, Adam will be shaped into
the image of a beast.
However, if mankind gets his definition of dominion from the Creator, then he
will believe that to be great you must be servant of all and to be first you must be the
slave of all. And believing that and exercising that, Adam will be shaped into the image
of His Creator.

So creation is goodbut not finished yet.
And God is inviting us to help create in His image.
But how do we do that?

As it is, creation is feeding on itself. One life is dependent on anothers death.
And so, are we to take life or give life? Are we to eat or be eaten? What does God do?
How does He create?
You realize that everything you eat is something that has died. Your life is
dependent on the death of another. Its too bad that we buy meat in cellophane packages
at the grocery store. If we were each forced to hunt for our food, we would each know
that our very life is dependent on the death of some beautiful creation.
Remember that every day the Jews were to sacrifice plants and animals in the
temple. On Passover, for instance, each family was to take their lamb to the templea
lamb they cared for; perhaps, even raised. They would take it to the temple where it
would be sacrificed by the priest in the worshipers presence. The priest would slit the
throat, drain the blood, and then the family would feast on the meat.
I think that may be a critical step, which we miss when we purchase our lamb at
Safeway on Easter. We havent raised one and we havent seen one die. And so we
modern people tend to think that all of those sacrifices required in the Old Testament
mean that a lamb, for instance, isnt very valuable to God and therefore its no big deal
to kill one.
Is killing a lamb a big deal to God?
Does He hate lambs or love lambs?
In 33 A.D. at the Passover, a lamb was sacrificed on the Temple Mount. His name
was Jesus. He was sacrificed that we would feed on Him and live. And not just live but
live in His image, ready to lay down our lives in love for that which God is creating still.

The Jews believed that Jerusalem was the site of the Garden of Eden. Jesus was
crucified at the edge of a garden. They placed Him in a garden tomb. When He rose from
the dead, Mary thought He was the gardener. She was not less than right; she was more
than right. He is the Gardener who will turn this entire earth into a paradise garden. He is
the Gardener who orders all creation, making it new, with His very own body and blood.
Colossians 1:16-20: All things were created through him and for him . . . and in
him all things hold together . . . .He is the beginning (genesis), the firstborn from the
deadin him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell and through him to reconcile to
himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his
cross. That is

How God Exercises Dominion

Dominion is defined by Jesusthe slaughtered Lamb on the throne, who gave
His life as a ransom for many. Dominion is loveLove that speaks Love; the Word of
God spoken to create, sustain and reconcile all things.


1) Some can see God as the Word, the logos, the love, and the life behind all things.
But they get really nervous when folks talk about God in a manger or on a cross.
(We tend to call those people liberals. They tend to think like Pagans and

2) Some can see God as a baby in a manger; a man who dies, rises, and comes
againJesus. But they get really nervous when folks refer to Him as Love, Life,
Truth, Reason, or Word. (We tend to call those folks conservatives. They tend
to think like Darwinists.)
3) However, some by Gods grace can see that God is both: universal and particular.
I think theyre called Christians. And this is the glory, power, and wonder of the
Incarnation: Jesus is the Word, and the Word is God. Jesus is God.

So I can stare at a crawdad and say, Isnt Jesus cool?
I can look at a sunset and say, My Daddy did that!
I can preach the Gospel by caring for creation.

Biblical Environmentalism

A biblical view of reality is the only view of reality that makes any sense of
environmentalism. For by gardening, I testify to the Great GardenerFather, Son, and
Holy Spirit.
But when I merely consume, desecrate, and destroy, acting like creation doesnt
matter, crawdads dont matter, and lambs dont matter, I tell a lie about Jesus
the Lamb on the throne.
Whenever I litter, I lie about my Fatherthe Artist and Creator.
Whenever I trample the garden, I reject the Spirit of the Gardener.

FIRST POINT: We are called, by our Father, to care for creation.

LAST POINT: When we care for creation, the Father uses creation, to care for us.

We are His creation. We are Gods field, Gods plant, Gods garden.

Now before I go any further, I should probably mention that Scripture uses the
term world and the term earth in rather different sorts of ways. The apostle John uses the
term world (kosmos) to refer to the systems of decay and futility that infect the earth.
World often refers to the lust of the flesh; the pride of the eyes; the strivings of men
and the survival of the fittest; how this fallen world operates. John also uses the term
earth (ge in Greek, eretz in Hebrew). He uses the term earth (or land) to refer to
Gods good creation. We must renounce the world, but care for the earth and the
earth cares for us.

In Revelation 12, John sees a woman who gives birth to Christ and then Christs
brothers and sisters. Shes a picture of usthe Church. The serpent pours water like a
river from his mouth to sweep the woman away. Its the flood of his lies: that God is not
good and you must create yourself, so you must take knowledge from the tree of good
and evil; you must create your life by taking lifeThe Survival of the fittest. These are
the lies of the world, and they chase the woman, but in verse 16, the earth comes to her
aid, opens its mouth, and swallows the river of lies.

Even as a ten-year-old, Id go to the ditch chased by that river of lies. Hiett,
youre a loser. Once again, you were picked last for baseball. Youre a weenie and
always will be. Id go to the ditch, (and sure there were signs of chaos and the fall in the
ditcheverything dies. But look at it while it lives! How does it live? It lives by Grace.)
Id go to the ditch, chased by the river of lies, Hiett, you suck. And the earth
would open its mouth and swallow the river. Id stare at beauty: crawdads, bugs, and
milkweed plants. And I would hear the Word: I made you and I love you.

Jesus met me in the ditch.

I know a woman who at one time was sold and purchased by a man who
pretended to love her, but used her for evil. Years later she came to know Jesus and
began to receive His lovereal love, not the lie.
At one point when life was especially painful, she was tempted to go back to her
old lifestyle. She was temped by a memory that kept coming back as a dream. Long ago
she had gone camping with this man. They had gone to a lake. It was beautiful; the sun
was shining; they took a walk and he told her that he loved her.
With her mind she knew that this mans love was a lie. But that day at the lake,
she had felt love so strong and so real that she couldnt believe that what she felt was
simply a lie. And so, when life was hard and God seemed distant, she was tempted to go
back, tempted to be swept back into the old lifestyle.
She came to Susan and me for prayer. In prayer she had a vision of that lake on
that day: The evil man was there, the one who had consumed her for money and Jesus
was there sitting on a rock laughing and smiling. But she struggled with renouncing this
man and going to Jesus, for she had felt Love that day. I said, Love comes from God.
Where was God loving you that day? She looked into the eyes of that man and saw they
were dark with evil, and yet she struggled to leave him, and run to Jesus
I told her the story of the woman in Revelation 12. I told her of the earth and how
it swallows rivers of lies. I then said, Jesus was loving you that day. Long before you
knew His name and named him as your savior. He was loving you through the trees, the
sun, the wind, and the lake. He was loving you with His creation. He was swallowing
Satans river of lies.
At that she looked at Jesus in the vision, she saw that it was true. She had felt love
that day, but it wasnt from the evil man, it came from The Ultimate Man, her groom, our
Lord Jesus. That day He had romanced her through trees and lakes, wind and sunshine.
That day he longed for her to feel His Love, long before shed even speak His name. She
broke down weeping, and in the vision she ran to Jesus the Rock in the midst of Satans

Satan is the liar, who pretends to buy and sell beauty. That is harlotry and idolatry.
Jesus is the Truth, who gives us Himself; gives Beauty as Grace.
Its happening all the time.

We all battle a river of lies: God is not Good, God is not Love, God is not Grace.
So you must earn His love, pay for His mercy, and thus create yourself in fear.

Im no longer in fifth grade. Im grown up and Im a pastor. And actually three

years ago, I was quite a success. I mean, where others had failed, I had proven to be
most fit. I had survived. If you think the ways of the world dont infect the institutional
church or pastors like me, youve never been involved with church or youre drunk.
There is a tremendous pressure upon pastors and preachers to buy and sell Beauty. And it
makes sense: we preach the Gospel and get money. So its very tempting to think that our
business is Grace. When our business is Grace, we lose sight of Grace. And when that
happens were filled with anxiety, use people, sell ourselves and struggle to believe that
were good for nothing; that God loves us for nothing, just as we are.
Three years ago, my world came crashing down. It was a perfect storm. God
is in charge of perfect storms, but they hurt like hell and strip you to the bone. I was
removed from my denomination for ideas expressed in this book. I lost my church, lost
my world. and it was ugly. I wasnt just picked last for baseball, I was picked last for
church. Let me tell you: that can mess with your heart. With my brain I knew these
things happened; that Jesus even said to expect them; and that he was producing beautiful
new things out of the ashes. But with my heart I knew chaos, the void and despair.
For about six or seven months, I walked. And I walked and I walked. We live on
the west side of Denver Colorado with miles of trails nearbyand I walked. During that
time, some wonderful and concerned friends took my wife and me to Costa Rica for a
week, and every day Id walk, for miles and miles with blisters on my feet, Id walk.
At the time, I didnt really contemplate why. But I know why.
My heart was going back to the ditch, for Jesus met me in the ditch.

Id walk through the day and Id walk through the night;
Id walk along the ocean and watch the relentless waves having rolled across the great
abyss to crash upon the dry land;
Id walk through woods of old pine and blankets of wildflowers in verdant meadows;
Id watch the sunset, the sun to rule the day, and Id watch the moon rise, to rule the
night,lights in the heavens for signs and for seasons;
Id watch the birds (Jesus told us to do so), they neither toil nor reap, nor gather into
Id stumble across deer and elk. I walked and walked through Beauty
And the earth would swallow satans river of lies and my heart would hear the Word:
I made you. I AM making you. I love you. You are mine.
I listened.
If I pastored a church of 10 million, I could not have pleased Him more,
for in that moment, I worshipped.

Jesus is the Word God speaks to create all things.
Jesus is the Word God speaks through creation to create you.

Each of you battles a river of lies, yet you are surrounded by the creation of Truth;
the handiwork of love; the manifestation of Gods spoken Word.
So turn off the TV, put down your homework, stop vacuuming the rug, and head
down to the ditch. You dont need Costa Rica or the Rocky Mountains. Just stare at a
bug. If you dont like bugs, find a flowernot the kind you pay for; the kind you dont
like a dandelion. Stare at the flower. Stare at the bug. And let the Creator create you. Let

Him speak to your heart.

POINT 1: Worship. POINT 2: Be Created a worshiper.

I dont understand all that God said to my heart on my six month walk, but I
know it was Love. I know it was Jesus.

And of course I felt guilty that day in 1971. God was speaking Jesus to my ten-
year-old heart, and I decided to shoot Him with my BB gun. But dont fear. He rises from
the dead, forgives all our trespasses and makes us new. We are His Creation created with
grace. He is Grace. Check it out:

Creation is Free and you are His Creation.


Pertinent Quotes

What people do about their ecology depends on what they think about themselves in relation to
things around them. Human ecology is deeply conditioned by beliefs about our nature and
destinythat is, by religion. . . . We shall continue to have a worsening ecological crisis until we
reject the Christian axiom that nature has no reason for existence save to serve man. . . . Both our
present science and our present technology are so tinctured with orthodox Christian arrogance
toward nature that no solution for our ecological crisis can be expected from them alone. Since
the roots of our trouble are so largely religious, the remedy must also be essentially religious,
whether we call it that or not.
~ Lynn White, On the Historical Roots Of Our Ecological Crisis, 1967

Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.
~ Proverbs 12:10

How is it that we end up with such a disenchanted world? I think that this growth in
disenchantment has to be laid at the door of the theologians as much as the scientists. The
literalism with which these great matters are put forward, the lack of imagination, the lack of
poetry; its almost as if the entire discourse has been reduced to a scientific argument.
~ Simon Conway Morris, The Wittenburg Door, Issue #210

Earths crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.
~Elizabeth Barrett Browning


Chapter 12

How to Make a World
With Just a Word

court is in session, a verdict is in I cry out to God
no appeal on the docket today seeking only his decision
just my own sin Gabriel stands and confirms
the walls are cold and pale Ive created my own prison
the cage made of steal
screams fill the room
alone I drop and kneel ~Creed, My Own Prison

My Own Prison

Do you ever feel like youre in the Twilight Zone: that space between light and
darkness; between the heavens above and the chaos below; between being and non-
being? Maybe you are.
Theres a remarkable episode in The Twilight Zone: The Movie, based on an old
episode of The Twilight Zone, the TV show, based on a short story by Jerome Bixby
titled Its a Good Life.
Anthony is a little boy that wants a good life. Hes six years old in the short
story, but a few years older in the movie. In the movie, he invites a travelling school
teacher to dinner at his houseyoung and attractive, her name is Helen. She stood up for
him against a bully in the town caf. They drive down a long road to a house in the
middle of nowhere. Inside Anthony introduces Helen to his sister Ethel, his uncle and his
Mom and Dad. Its remarkably creepy, for they all act perpetually happy, even
though their obviously terrified. (Perhaps youve been to a church like that.) Well
Anthony wants them to be happy, and he wants them to want to be happy. He wants
them to want him and hes angry that they dont
For dinner they have hamburgers coated in peanut bitter. All of Anthonys family
constantly declare the hamburgers good and anything Anthony wishes, good: Its
good Anthony youre so good. Entirely creeped out, Helen says that she has to go,
reaches into her purse and pulls out a note. Someone had slipped it in her purse when
Anthony wasnt looking: Help us! Anthony is a monster.
Helen makes the mistake of reading the note out loud. They all declare their love
for Anthony. But when Anthony finds out that the author of the note is Ethel, Ethel cries
out Go ahead, Anthony. Do it! Do it! Then she turns to Helen, the teacher: Now do
you realize youll never get out of here? You think it was an accident you came here? He
made it happen. He brought you here, just like he brought us here and kept us here. Just
the way hell keep you here. Maybe hell get mad at you like he did to his real sister, and
cripple you and take away your mouth so you wont be able to yell at him any more. Or
maybe hell do to you what he did to his real mother and father.
At that, Anthony declares, Time for you to go now Ethel and wishes Ethel right
into cartoon land. She appears on the TV screen, where a cartoon monster gobbles her
up. Obviously Helen is terrified. Anthony declares that he doesnt want to hurt anyone,

but everybodys afraid of himhe just wants them to love him, to want him.
He says, I hate this house. I hate everything about it. I wish it away. I wish it all
away! Anthony closes his eyes and wishes it all away. Then we see him standing alone
in the darknessnowhere and nothing: the Void.
You see Anthony is a boy who gets whatever he wants with just a word. He can
make a world with a word. He gets what he wants, but doesnt want what he gets.
Is God like Anthony?
Are we like Anthony?
If we were God, would we be Anthony?
Anthony has created his own prison, the void.
But then, He hears a word. Its the teacher. Either he wished the teacher into the
void Or his will was not stronger than the teachers will and she wished herself into the
void; she willed to be with him in Hell. Perhaps its both. She tells Anthony, that shell
help him to choose the good. She does. A car appears and they drive into a new creation.

Maybe we need a helper like that; a teacher like that; a word like that

But we cant create our own world can we? I dont know. Do you ever want a
world all your own? Do you ever feel alone? Are you alone?
Have you ever wondered why rich and powerful people are often such sad
people? Maybe because they can get whatever they want . . . but they dont want what
they get.
Were all rather rich and powerful. And whenever we get a chance to create our
own world, we tend to create our own hell . . . like Gollum.

My World

Remember Gollum in The Lord of the Rings? He has a ring of power, and with all
that power, he crawls into a hole under the mountains. He chooses nowhere and nothing.
He gets what he wants and doesnt want what he gets.
As we noted a few chapters ago, Gollum is based on the Jewish legend of the
Golem. Golem means unformed substance. According to the Talmud, Adam was a
Golem until he received the breath of God and Spirit of God, the Word that rides on
Maybe were Golem. Maybe were not fully created until were finally created by
the Wordthe Logosthe wisdom and meaning of God. And until then, if we choose to
make a world, we choose to make our own hell, for we choose to speak our own words.

My word

You may think: Good thing thats a metaphor, because we cant create our own
Well, if it was utterly impossible to create your own reality with just a word; to
create matter with just intention, why would we dream about it so much? Thats a
philosophical question.
Its also a scientific question. We all dream of making our world with just a wish

or a word. Modern physicists are puzzled as to why we cant, for they say we do at the
quantum level. Physicists say that we create sub-atomic particles with our perception,
reason, logos, or word. (In quantum reality, an observer collapses the quantum state of
a subatomic particle; the particle only potentially exists until a person--an observer--
thinks, intends reasons or wills it to exist) Those particles make up reality as we know it.
So how come we cant simply create our own world, our own reality, with a word?

Maybe some do. Maybe some are entirely stuck in nowhere and nothing, like hell.
Maybe some are only partly stuck in nowhere and nothing, like sin.
Maybe we, at least for now, can only create our world in little ways and not big ways.
Maybe thats Gods Mercy:
Maybe kicking us out of the garden when we became like god;
Maybe subjecting creation (and us) to futility is Gods grace, keeping us from
damning ourselves to hell: our own reality and no one elses reality. ALONE.

One of the kids from my old youth group called me. He was studying quantum
physics at U. C. Santa Cruz and struggling with his Christian faith. We talked a while and
then he said something like this:

Peter, I have to believe theres a God. Physics clearly shows that an
observer creates reality. So if you and I can coexist in the same reality, if
we can have a relationship in the same reality, there must be an observer
observing us both, creating realityour realitywith His Word.

Universe: It means one verse, Gods verse, one Word, one World

The Universe

Making a world with a word. What a bizarre idea . . . and what a biblical idea.

John 1:1 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 were
made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The
earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the
deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And
God said, Let there be light, and there was light.

Then, for all of Genesis 1, for all of six days, God creates, makes, and lets
with just a word. It sounds a little far fetched, dont you think?
A word is a vibration of meaning; a vibration of logos, that rides on breath, wind,
or in biblical parlance: spirit. Its produced by vibrations on a string that we call a vocal
chord. In string theory, (the best and latest attempt to reconcile Quantum Physics and

General Relativity), all of reality is the manifestation of vibrations of meaning on one-
dimensional strings or superstrings-- strings that transect ten, eleven or even 26

Well, God creates the universe with His Word. Then, in verse 26 we read, Then
God said, Let us Whos us? Maybe God is talking to His Word or His Spirit.
Let us make man in our image and after our likeness. Well, what is Their image? What
is that image?
Theologians have debated this for thousands of years, so we certainly wont
answer it conclusively, (and in another book, I hope to address it more completely: the
trinity, love in freedom etc., etc.) But for now: It is rather interesting to note that when
God says these words, Hes been doing nothing but creating with a word. Creating with
a Word, and then He says, Let us make man in our image. So it would seem that
creating a world with a word would somehow be His image.
And it seems that none of us can do that, at least not very well. Were not good at
moving mountains, for instance, with just a word. However, we are still being made in
Gods image
Hey. Have you ever thought about this? If we could move mountains with a word,
and we all spoke a different word, then:

All our mountains would be crashing into each other in this world
Wed all have to live in separate worldseach alone

I mean, weve had a hard enough time with handguns. Imagine if each of us had
the power to move mountains with a word, and each word was our own word. Wed have
mountains flying all over the place and crashing into each other over the streets of
Denver, New York and Saigon.
Maybe thats why Jesus (John 14:13) said, Whatever yall (2
person, plural)
ask in my name, this I will my name. So there would be many prayers but one
Word; Many prayers but one Meaning. Then, we could all live in one world.

In Gods Image in Gods World

Well, this is the last chapter of this book. Ive taken some time with Genesis
chapter one, because I think it may be the most neglected chapter in all of Scripture. And
yet its the most foundational in all of Scripture. And if our foundation is crooked, the
whole house will be crooked.
God creates all things with a Word, and that Word is our solid foundationthe
rock. The Word is the light, the light is life, and life is good.
So weve discussed good and evil, life and death, light and dark, solid and empty:
the idea that the things we think are empty may be full and the things we think are full
may be empty. So we may be utterly full of ourselves and be truly and entirely empty.

Emptyyet God is speaking substance into uslight and life into us.
Emptyyet God is speaking His Word into the void that is us and our world.

Empty... yet God is speaking Faith, Hope and Love; He is speaking
His good choice; He is speaking freedom into the dark prison that is me.

He does it over the span of seven days (six days and one day), a pattern which
were called to repeat as the pattern of our lives. Its called a week.
Over the six days, the Father is telling us who we are. Were not orphans that
make our own world. Hes making us. And were not finished until we come to
judgment, which is the cross where JesusGods Wordcries, It is finished! and
delivers up His Spirit, which the Father then sends into the depths of our heart crying
Abba, Daddy. It is the spirit of sonship (Romans 8:15 RSV) It is the Spirit of the Son.
The cross is the edge of the seventh dayGods Sabbath rest where God finishes
creation and you.
If you think Ive been harping on that, Im sorry. I just want you to believe God is
making you in His image, He is doing it with a Word and His Word shall not return
empty (Is. 55:11) It shall not return void. It shall accomplish that which I purpose
says the Lord God. What does He purpose?

Genesis 1:26-2:3 Then God said, Let us make man in our image, after
our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over
the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and
over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he
created him; male and female he created them.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, Be fruitful and
multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of
the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that
moves on the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every plant
yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed
in its fruit. (Every tree: Wouldnt that include the tree in the middle of
the garden? And what is its fruit? And what is its seed?)
and every tree
with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of
the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on
the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green
plant for food. And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made,
and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was
morning, the sixth day.

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of
them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and
he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God
blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from
all his work that he had done in creation.

It is finished.

As Ive studied Genesis 1, Ive had a vision stuck in my head and even more in
my heart. I didnt see the vision; Ive rarely, if ever, seen a vision. But my friend Dale

did. He received it during three worship services several years ago as we preached
through the gospel of Matthew.
God speaks through visions, and God speaks through Scripture. Scripture always
takes priority over modern day visions, but sometimes visions open up Scripture and help
all of us to see.

This is Dales vision. Try to see it:

I saw God the Father, having made himself small, standing on the stage
behind the cross and tall enough that His head hit the ceiling. He had a
robe that covered the cross, and the train flowed over the entire stage and
spilled onto the floor. His robe shimmered such that when I looked on it
one minute it looked like silver, the next like a starry night, the next like
water, the next like fire. [He is the Lord of all creation.] The only parts of
His body that were not covered by the robe were His head and hands, and
from these issued such a light, brighter than staring directly at the sun, that
I could not look anywhere near them or discern any details or form. As
Peter was preaching, standing in front of God with His robe flowing
around Peters legs, the Word issued from Peters mouth like water, and it
flowed off the stage and mingled with blood coming from under the robe.

Now please understand: I am nothing, in and of myself. But the Word I preach
and the Word you preach are called to proclaim. That Word is everything.

The water and blood filled the room all the way to the ceiling. The people
sat in the rising flood and some breathed in the Word while others tried to
hold their breath . . . they were afraid of drowning. As the blood and
water reached the ceiling, the Glory of God sparkled through the water as
light through the most brilliant and perfect diamond, except the diamond
was red.

Its a blood diamond. So can you see the picture? The Word in the air in the
sanctuary was like a brilliant, red diamond full of light. Dale says we were like empty,
jagged holes in that brilliant red fluidjagged holes, the edges of which burned like
paper on fire. This is the judgment: writes John (3:19) the light has come into the
world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light The Light is Life. The life
is in The Word. (John 1:4)
Dale writes that those who held their breath and refused the Word slowly
shriveled up or burned away until there was nothing left. You see, the light of the Word
burns our minds; our old ways of thinking; or darkness. Love consumes not Love. It/He
consumes the darkness. Some were destroyed I suppose like Sodom was destroyed
by Eternal Fire (Jude 8). Yet God even restores destroyed things like Sodom (Ezekiel
16:53-63). Those who refused the Word were consumed, but then Dale writes that those
who received the Word and breathed it in began to sing and dance.
Dale asked the Lord, Where is the music coming from? Then he saw the Father
open His robe revealing Jesus hanging on the treethe source of the blood. And the

music came from His mouth.
Dale then saw orphans dancing around the foot of the tree, the cross. The orphans
were like the people: empty vesselspeople shaped voids.
We are all like empty vessels that God wants to fill with light, life, and meaning.
And we are all like orphans to whom God the Father is revealing our story. Hes giving
us our identity: no longer orphans but sons and daughters. Dale continues:

All those empty and identity-less vessels began to float around in the
blood. And then I noticed that the inside of the church had become so
large that it encompassed the entire earth, and the stage was filled with
thousands upon thousands of Peters and the sanctuary was filled with
billions more empty vessels, all floating. And God had grown
proportionally large and the number of orphans had grown into the
millions . . . .
However, the cross and Jesus did NOT change size. It was still the
same as the little cross in our little LMCC building. And then Jesus
opened a door . . . that is, while He was hanging there and continuing to
bleed, He opened His chest, and through it I could see daylight on the
other side. And that door became like a drain and all of the flood, filled
with us vessels, poured through the drain.

You know that Jesus is the door to Gods finished creationthe seventh day.
At His tree, the cross, we surrender ourselves and the isolated, lonely, empty worlds we
have created. We surrender our emptiness and are filled with Gods fullness: light, life,
faith, hope love, mercy, and blood. Dale writes:

When we each reached the drain, our clay vessels were broken so we
would be small enough to fit through. On the other side we would
suddenly realize that we had a body and we could see with our eyes . . .
except that our body, every limb, was connected, fused to someone else so
that the blood that flowed through our veins also flowed through theirs,
and the only thing we could see was light. We were all now literally part
of Jesus body; we were blood vessels. Then I watched as God the
Father hugged His Son, Jesus, took the hand of the Holy Spirit, and
together they picked up what was left of this now empty hell hole,
crumpled it, swallowed it, and said to each other, It is finished!

It is finished
We are created with Gods Word: the good news of Gods love in Christ Jesus,
the proclamation of Gods Grace.

1. In the beginning, we are empty and void. If we create anything with our own word, it
is the dark, meaningless, loveless, lifeless, lonely, self-centered worlds in which we
are each imprisoned. But . . .

2. God speaks light, meaning, love, life, Himself into us and separates heaven and hell.
3. The Word He speaks is more solid than anything in our empty, little worlds. It is His
kingdom of love that is at hand (like dry land under our feet).
4. The Word He speaks is Jesus, who descends into our darkness and through His Spirit
causes us to see the good and want the good. He makes us to want Him. He separates
night from day.
5. The Word is Gods grace revealed in Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
A. Nothing is more offensive, for it reveals our emptiness and sin. The reality is
that we cant make ourselves, save ourselves, or redeem ourselves.
B. Nothing is more offensive, and nothing is more desirable than Gods grace.
Grace is what we each truly want but are terrified to receive, for when we
receive it, we lose our lives and find them. We lose our emptiness but find our
fullness in Him. Born of His seed, no longer orphans, but sons and daughters.
6. Through the Word, God makes us in His image and is still making us in His image,
not prisoners of fear caught in the Twilight Zone, but sons and daughters who love in
freedom, so want and will what God wills, and so live in one World. He does it
with one Word. His Word given to us on the sixth day on the tree on the mountain
not fear, but Love.
7. God will finish what He has started.

So God creates the world with His Word. And God creates you with His Word.
And God creates you in His image, the image of the one who creates worlds with a Word.
He calls you to preach that Word. That means proclaim that Word, announce that Word
to His unfinished creation, and create in His image. You are a herald.

How to make a world with a Word
In the image of God

We proclaim The Word: Jesus Christ and Him crucified, the power of God and
the wisdom of Godwhom God has made our wisdom, our righteousness, and
sanctification and redemption. (1 Cor.1:23-24, 30)
To our dark, little hearts, the Word seems unsubstantial, inconsequential, weak,
and foolish. But nothing is more substantial, consequential, powerful, and wise than the
Word of God.
I want you to trust Gods Word so youll hear Gods Word and speak Gods

The Word

1. The Word is a thing more substantial, more solid, than all creation. In Hebrew,
the word for word is davar, which also means thing. The Word of God is the thing
of God on which all things rest. The Word isnt empty; we are empty.

2. The Word is seed. Six times Genesis 1 has referred to seed, and Scripture says the
Word is seedeternal seed (1 Peter 1:23). A farmer only sows seed. He doesnt make
it grow. If he thinks he makes it grow, hell dig it up and keep it from growing. We
dont have to argue the seed, defend the seed, or measure and judge the growth of the
seed; just sow the seed. The Word carries its future in its bosom, like a seed.
So when my friends Andrew and Paul preach in Cambodia, they dont topple
empires, but they sow a seed that will topple all empires.
Kiss your kids before bed and tell them, God loves you. You sow a seed
that will change a life.
The Word is a seed, like the Big Bang was a seed.
The Word is an entire universe ready to spring into existence. You cant create
a universe, but you can sow a seed that doesa seed of eternal consequence.
3. The Word is living and active (Heb. 4:12). The seed is living and active. We think
people are living and active and the Word is dead. But people are dead and passive;
the Word is living and active.
Its not you that must make the Word come to life; its the Word that makes
you come to life.
The Word spoke you, long before you ever spoke the Word. So the Word
really doesnt ride on your tongue; your tongue rides on the Word.
We dont judge the Word; the Word judges us. We dont choose the Word;
the Word chooses us.
4. The Word is Jesus. He is revealed in infallible Scripture, but the Word is Jesus. Hes
not a formula; Hes not print on a page. So when you speak the Word, youre not
speaking a formula. Youre not just speaking words on a page or steps in a booklet.
Youre not just making sound waves in the air. Youre literally expressing the love
of God, who is a person named Jesus. Jesus, the Word, is living and active. So we
really dont choose the Word, the Word chooses us. Jesus said to his disciples (John
15:16) You didnt choose me; I chose you.
5. The Word is Faith, Hope and Love. The Word in you is Gods good choice in you.
Gods good choice is Jesus the Christ.
St. Augustine wrote: "If there is faith in us, Christ is in us. For what else says
the apostle: 'That Christ may dwell in you hearts by faith' [Eph 3:17].
Therefore thy faith in Christ is Christ himself in thy heart."
In Col. 1:27 Paul reveals a great mystery which is Christ in you, the hope of
Glory. Hope in you is Christ in you.
And we all know that God is Love.
Faith, Hope and Love in you is Christ in you. Faith, Hope and Love in you is Gods
good choice in you. A good choice in you is Christ in youThe Word in you.

Your choice, your will, didnt save you (actually it damned you.) God saved you.
Your faith, didnt save you. Gods graceJesussaved you, and thats why you
have faith. Its His faithfulness in you.

In Romans 10:6-10 Paul makes it clear that the Word in you is Christ in you which is
the word of faith we proclaim.
In Galatians 3:23-26, faith came, just as Christ came.
Have you ever tried to create faith? Hard, huh? Thats because Faith creates you.
Faith is the substance of things hoped for. (Hebrews 11:1 NKJV) Our hope is in
Christ. You dont create Christ. He creates you. No wonder were stressed! No
wonder were afraid! No wonder church feels like a bad episode of the Twilight
If we try to manufacture our own faith, hope and love in fear, we become like
Anthonys prisoners in the Twilight Zone. If I try to force people into the kingdom
through threats, I dont create new people, I create religious peoplePharisees. Fear
of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10), but not the End, for perfect
love casts our fear (1 John 4:18). The kindness of God leads you to repentance
(Romans 2:4 NASB). Its the proclamation of Gods Love revealed on the cross that
causes men and women to love God in Freedom. Thats called faith. Faith is trust. Its
not to your credit as if you could boast. Faith is a gift. Its the Word, having found a
place in you.
6. The Word is a Promise. The child of the Promise is Jesus. His body and blood
form the new covenant; the eternal covenant (Hebrews 13:20) A covenant is a
promise; an oath. Thats why, above all, we are not to make oaths (James 5:17),
because Jesus is the oath that makes us (Hebrews 6 and 7).
Recently I heard a speaker say, Did you realize, you can take the Ten
Commandments as a promise or a threat? In my Bible God doesnt say You should
have no other Gods before me. He says You shall have no other Gods before
me. (Ex. 20:3) That sounds like a promise. Well, Hebrew can be rather obscure, and
people argue over shall and will in English, however Greek is very precise. When
Jesus sums up the Law in the Gospels, it is recorded in Greek.
He says, You shall love (Matt.22:37). Its very simple. The verb is Future active
indicative. It indicates what will happen in the future. It means, You will love.
NOT you might love, or you could love, or you should love. The
commandment is a promise. Jesus is that promise. He is the one that fulfills the
commandment, the law in you.
Do you wonder if you ever will be good? The harder you try to love God, the more
you hate God--terrified of God? The harder you try to act good, rejoice always,
and seem blessed, the more you feel cursed; the more you try to forget yourself, the
more youre stuck in yourself; the more you try to joyfully love in freedom, the more
you dont, the more you are terrified that you wont measure up and cant measure
up? GOOD NEWS: you dont measure up and cant measure up, but He does
measure up and has measured up and He makes you a promise.
The commandment is a promise. When God commands things; when God speaks His
Word what happens? Reality happens. Praise God! He is still speaking His Word. He
is still making you in His image.
So this is His Promise. Are you ready? This is THE WORD. This is THE END. This

is your CREATOR:
You will love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and
with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And a second is like it
you will love your neighbor as yourself
On a tree, on a mountain, at the end of the sixth day he said, It is finished, and he
bowed his head and gave up his spirit It is that Spirit, in your heart, that cries
Abba, Father. You are finished and perfected with His Spirit spoken into you; His
choice in you; His Faith Hope and Love in the void that was you. It has already
happened in eternity and it is happening now in time.
7. The Word is The End.
Jesus is more solid than all creation.
Jesus is imperishable seed.
Jesus is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword.
Jesus is a rider on a white horse, called the Word of God, the armies of heaven
follow in His train. On his robe and on his thigh He has a name written, King of
kings and Lord of lords, (Rev.19:16)
Jesus is the judgment of God and the wisdom of God; the author and finisher of our
faith.(Hebrews 12:2 KJV)
Jesus does not return void. He is Faith, Hope and Love spoken into the void that is us.
He is the End of us. That means He is the perfection of us. We are finished in
Jesus is the Beginning and the End; the Plot; the Reason; The Logos; The Word.

Jesus can take care of Himself.

Speak the Word that makes a World

You see, I think we get so scared to preach Jesus; to proclaim the Word, because
we think that He cannot take care of himself. We think the Word cannot take care of
himself, so we must take care of him twist him, tamper with him. We dont proclaim
Him, we sell Him, bargain with Him. We say, If you do your part, Hell do his. This is
how you can apply Him to your life This is how you can make Him work. This is how
you can use Jesus to create your world. Did you hear that? ...that sounds like a snake.
Why dont you tell more people about Jesus? (I dont mean this as an accusation.
Perhaps you shouldnt tell people about Jesus. He spent a lot of time asking folks not to
talk about him: Matt.16:20, 17:9 Mark 7:36, 8:30, 9:9 Luke 5:14, 8:56.) But why dont
you? Ill tell you about me.
I dont want to tell people about Jesus when I think I have to protect him, make
him work and thus need to create someones world and give Jesus the credit. And it
seems that every time Ive tried to create a world with my words, I create chaos and the
void. And yet if I just proclaim Jesus, because I like Jesus, who is Gods Word, He makes
the world.
I dont have to make Him work. And if I do, its not the Word that Im preaching.
I dont have to convince folks to choose Him. And if I do, its not the Word that
theyre choosing.

I dont have to know everything about the Word. And if I do, its not the Word.
I dont have to know everything about the Word, just testify to the Word I know.
I dont have to make a world. But I get to make a world.
I get to make a world the way my three year old daughter used to drive our van.
Shed sit on my lap and put her hands on the wheel and wed drive three thousand pounds
of steel to the mailbox, and when wed return shed say, Mommy guess what? I drove
the van! And Id say, Yep! She drove the Van.
Like Becky drove the van, proclaim The Word. The Word is in the drivers seat,
sit on his lap, turn to your neighbor and say Jesus is pretty cool and He likes you.
Drive the van.
There is a Word, that you will speak, that creates a world. The Word is Jesus, and
the world is the kingdom of heaven. And when you speak that Word, you yourself are
being created in the image of God, for God is the one who creates a world with a Word.

In Mark 16:15, Jesus says to His disciples: Go into all the world and preach
that means proclaim, announce, not argue or threaten. Go into all the world and preach
the Gospelthat means good news. Go tell them who God is; what Hes done; how He
loves them; who they really are and what it is that they really want.

When my children were little and I was creating them, I told them what they
wanted, for they were confused and didnt always know. They wanted me (and their
mother.) They wanted me more than chocolate, hot wheels and the toys on TV . . . and
even more than their own way.
So tell the world, God is your Father. He makes you and forgives you with His
own blood. You are His child, and He wants you to come home. He is what you really
want. Tell them, God saves; Yeshua in Aramaic; Jesus in English. Tell them
because you want to. Tell them because it doesnt depend on you. Tell them their story,
like God the Father has been telling us our story in Genesis 1. Tell them and help create
them in Gods image. They are Gods treasure. They are His blood diamond, which He is
creating with His Word even through you.

Have you seen the movie Blood Diamond? Its about a father named Solomon and
his son Dia in Sierra Leone, Africa. The father works hard as a fisherman to support his
family and keep his son Dia in school. Dia is his world.
One day rebels come to their village and take Solomon captive to work in the
diamond mines, the pit. But they conscript Dia into the rebel army financed by the same
diamond mines. They brainwash Dia and tell him he has no fatherno story. So he must
create his own story. Worse than that, they make him do terrible things, their things,
which they tell him, are his things--his story. They want him to write his story in their
One day Solomon, the father escapes from the pit, having found and frantically
buried a priceless red diamonda blood diamond. A diamond smuggler, Danny Archer
played by Leonardo Dicaprio, wants to find that diamond. Solomon wants to find his son,
who is his blood diamondhis treasure.
In a partnership of necessity they return to the pit: Archer looking for one
diamond, Solomon for another. At night Solomon descends into the enemy camp, but

when he finds his son, Dia has forgotten who he is . . . or its too painful for him to
remember who he is, where hes from, and what he really wants. Hes trapped in his own
hell. He wants what he hates, and hates what he wants. Deep in his soul, hes lost faith
hope and love in his father. And will not leave hell. He screams at his father, Leave
me alone. I dont know you. Solomon is caught by the warlord and Solomons son
stands at the warlords side. Solomon has sacrificed his life for his son, who has betrayed
his father to the devil in hell.
Just then another group attacks. Chaos ensues.
There is a remarkable scene at the end of the movie. Dia is with Solomon and
Archer, but terribly confused. Theyve just barely escaped two groups of mercenaries and
are frantically digging when Solomon finds the diamondboth of them. Solomon means
peace. This is how the prince of peace find his treasure in the field. He finds it with a
Word. He is the Word.
As Solomon digs the diamond form the earth, Dia grabs a hand gun and points it
at Archer. Solomon looks up and says Dia what are you doing? Dia? Look at me. As
he does he walks in front of the gun. Dia points the gun at his father. Tears run down
Solomons cheeks as he stares his son in the face and speaks the word:

You are Dia Vandy, of the proud Mende tribeYou are a good boy who
loves soccer and school. Your mother loves you so much. [Solomon
moves towards his son.] She waits by the fire making plantains and red
palm stew with your sister, Nyanda, and the new baby. [a tear rolls down
Dias cheek.] The cows wait for you, and Babu the wild dog, who minds
no one but you. I know they made you do bad things. But you are not a
bad boy I am your father who loves you. And you will come home with
me and be my son again.

Solomon reaches out, strokes his sons head and holds him to his heart, his blood

At a tree on a mountain at the edge of the City of peace, we held a gun to our
fathers heart. There he speaks and we see the glory of God shining in the face of Christ.
He is the Prince of Peace. He says:

I am your Father who loves you. You will come home and live with me.
You are my son. You are my daughter. I know youve been made to do
bad things. But you are not bad, for now I call you good. I wash you. I
fill you. I tell you who you are and what you want. You are made for me.
It is finished.

He spoke and Hes still speaking. He is the Word of God and this is the end of the sixth
day. Your Father is telling you who you are. Believe his Word. Soon you will feel his
arms wrapped around you and you will be home.

He speaks the world into existence. This is your fathers world.
He speaks you into existence. You are your fathers world.

He speaks Jesus: He gives everything to tell you who you are, make you who you are,
and bring you home.

Hear the Word and let him make His world.
Speak the Word and help him make other worlds
until we all hear the same Word and live in the same World; until were all home.

Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth!
For I am God and there is no other.
By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a Word
that shall not return:
To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance. (Is. 45:22-23)

So shall my Word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (Is. 55:11)

Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. (Gen. 1:26)

And God saw everything that he had made and behold it was very good.(Gen. 1:31)

Thats the History of Time and the Genesis of You.


Endnotes and Pertinent Quotes

1. Jesus also said (Matt. 21:21), If you have faith and do not doubt, you will say to this
mountainthis mountain. This mountain is Mt. Zion, and it did and does move. Its actually where faith
comes froma tree on that mountain. Faith is a Word in us. Its The One Word in us. Many persons, but
one Faiththen we can all live in one world.

2. Did you catch that: Every tree for food? If He meant that, he must have said it some time
after Genesis 2:16, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day
you eat of it you shall surely die. This is the topic of a book to come, but for now ask yourself this
question: Is there a tree of which eating the fruit will kill you, yet having eaten and died, you then eat and
live? I believe there is. From that tree comes judgment: knowledge of the law and our sin. And from that
tree comes Life, which is Gracethe life of God poured outBlood. We die there and live there. The life
from that tree, within us, is called Faith, Hope and Love. At that tree we are finished in the image of God.
This Hebrew word for tree is also translated timber or gallows. It is the Hebrew word for
cross. Was there ever a greater evil, than taking the life of God on that tree? Was there ever a greater
good, than God giving His life on that tree? In the New Jerusalem there is one tree (Rev. 22:2). The fruit is
for the healing of the nations. His body broken and His blood shed is for the healing of the nations. It is
food. It is the fruit of that tree. It contains a seed, an imperishable eternal seed, the Word of God.

3. Faith is a gift, not the result of human effort (Eph. 2:8). This was the glorious rediscovery of the
Reformers, but we have forgotten it we have even translated it out of our bibles. In Galatians Paul tells us
that we are justified by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ. (2:16 KJV)
Believing in Jesus is having the faith of Jesus. Modern translations often change the faith of Jesus to
faith in Jesus. In which case, were not justified by Jesus faith, or Gods faith, but our faith. They do it in
several places (Romans 3: 22, 26; Galatians 2:16, 20, 3:22; Phil. 3:9, Eph. 3:12) and violate the mystery:
Christ in us.


When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, It is finished, and he bowed his head and gave
up his spirit.
~ John 19:30

Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the
division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions
of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of
him to whom we must give account. . . . Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the
conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith
we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not
made out of things that are visible.
~ Hebrews 4:11-13, 11:1-3

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and
that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to
you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
~ John 15:16-17

"We did not search you out, Padri," he said to me. "We did not even want you to come to us. You
searched us out. You followed us away from your house into the bush, into the planes, into the
steppes where our cattle are, into the hills where we take our cattle for water, into our villages,

into our homes. You told us of the High God, how we must search for him, even leave our land
and our people to find him. But we have not done this. We have not left our land. We have not
searched for him. He has searched for us. He has searched us out and found us. All the time we
think we are the lion. In the end, the lion is God.
The lion is God. Of course. Goodness and kindness and holiness and grace and divine
presence and creating power and salvation were here before I got here. Even the fuller
understanding of Gods revelation to man, of the gospel, of the salvific act that had been
accomplished once and for all for the human race was here before I got here. My role as a herald
of that gospel, as a messenger of the news of what had already happened in the world, as the
person whose task it was to point to the one who had stood in their midst whom they did not
recognize was only a small part of the mission of God to the world. It was a mysterious part, a
part barely understood. It was a necessary part, a demanded part Woe to me if I do not
preach the gospel. It was a role that would require every talent and insight and skill and gift
and strength I had, to be spent without question, without stint, and yet in the humbling knowledge
that only that part of it would be made use of which fit into the immeasurably greater plan of the
relentless pursuing God whose will on the world must not be thwarted. The lion is God.
~ Vincent J. Donovan, Rediscovering Christianity

And he said to them, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.
~ Mark 16:15 (RSV)



Everything Good
What the Hell?

In several places Scripture testifies to the idea that there is a reality in which
everything is very good (Gen. 1:31); a reality in which all things are made new
(Rev. 21:5); where every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the
sea, and all that is in them, praises God and the Lamb that was slain (Rev. 5:13); a place
where Jesus, the Light, fills all things (Eph. 4:9) and every knee bows and every tongue
gives praise (Romans 14:11, Phil. 2:10-11, Isaiah 45:23) Well, if thats the case and
Jesus said, Scripture cannot be broken. Where the hell is Hell? I mean, how do we
reconcile Scripture with popular notions of Hell?
That question comes as a surprise for many. For weve been told that the
popular view of Hella place where God tortures people or allows people to be
tortured forever without endis a Biblical idea. The more Ive studied it, the more Ive
become convinced that this doctrine is a very unbiblical idea perhaps its even a
satanic idea. I hope that you dont simply believe me in these matters. I hope that you
examine the Scriptures daily to see if these things are so. (Acts 17:11) Some time ago I
pulled together a long document in which I tried to list the most pertinent Scripture and
wrestle a bit with each text individually. We have it posted on our church website, Its titled, All things new? and perhaps it would be a
help to you.
At the end of this appendix Ill also suggest some helpful books on the topic.
However, my strongest suggestion is that you examine the Scriptures, not simply
relying on one English translation but several. Even better, get your hands on some good
Bible software. With modern advances in technology and some good software, you can
do language studies that would have required busloads of graduate school in years past.
Dont rely on Scholars comments, theyre all human. With Bible software (I use
Libronix) you can click on a word like Hell in the Old Testament in the King James
Version, find that its the Hebrew word Sheol, then click on a prompt and find all the
places that word is used in the Old Testament and observe how its been translated.
The process can be rather discombobulating, if youre trying to fit what you find
into the old paradigm. Indeed its time for a new paradigm. Our culture is ripe for a new
paradigm. Modern (or post-modern) physics is giving us that paradigm or perhaps I
should say, giving back that paradigm. And now modern society and the de-
institutionalization of the church is giving back to believers, a freedom to examine the
Scriptures, which we really havent had since the 4
century AD. At which time, the
church was conscripted by a very powerful human institution interested in control gained
through power and threats--the Roman Empire. Up until that time many would argue that
the idea of unending conscious torment was the minority opinion in the early church
a church which did not grow through the exercise of power and threats, but through the
romance of sacrificial love.

If youre interested in that topic I would suggest Thomas Talbotts wonderful
book, The Inescapable Love of God and reading some respected early church historians
particularly in regard early church fathers like Origen, Athanasius and Clement of
In recent years the church has been largely divided between two camps: Liberals
and conservatives. Liberals like to talk about love, but often argue that Scripture cant
be taken at face value, and tend to sacrifice truth for tolerance. Conservative like to talk
about truth, argue that they take Scripture literally, and tend to sacrifice love for law.
Thats a tragedy, for us and especially for Jesus. Its his body that gets torn and the
reality in Scripture is the God is Truth and God is Love. If were willing to sacrifice our
ideological camps, perhaps we can begin to see Truth and Love, our Lord Jesus. I fear
that we have been sacrificing Him. He is the reputation of God. It seems to me that he is
just not that into torture and that Hes not willing to stop seeking the lost, until all are
So would you consider that perhaps, Hell (Sheol, Hades) does not have the last
word or last Word.? (I feel rather strongly about this.) And would you consider one
other thing? That God just might really make all things new? Perhaps some things will
turn out to be no things, like shadows and lies, but all things is a pretty big order.
Perhaps weve built an unbiblical box for God and missed the glory of Jesus Christ and
him crucified. Perhaps, God is better than we thought; the Love of Jesus is deeper than
we know; and the Spirit is everywhere working the wonders of Mercy.
In the following paragraphs, Id just like to offer the beginning of what might be
for you, a new perspective. In the first section--A New Biblical Perspective, Ill flood you
with some seeds, a set of ideas, that I hope will nurture a new perspective on the Biblical
text. In the next section Theology, Ill suggest a few ways that this might effect our
theological paradigms. In the last section, rather quickly, Ill suggest some reasons as to
why this matters.


A. Hell

Its rather shocking to discover that the modern American Church has used
this one term to describe at least two very different Biblical realities (Hades and The
Fire) and perhaps the place where those two realities come together (Gehenna).

1. Hades/Sheol:

I believe that Hades is temporal. Scripture indicates that it will come to an
End. Hades may very well last forever, yet even forever (temporality as we
know it, chronos) comes to an End.

Hades is the normative Greek translation of the Hebrew word, Sheol. In the
Old Testament, Sheol is the realm of the deadbasically all dead (Psalm 89:48). People
like Samuel and Jonah come up from Sheol. God raises things from Sheol (1 Samuel

2:6). The Psalmist speaks of his soul being brought up from Sheol (Psalm 30:3) or being
entangled by the cords of Sheol (18:5). Job wants to hide from Gods wrath in Sheol
(Job14:3). However in Deuteronomy (32:22), God reveals that the fire of his anger burns
even to the depths of Sheol. Gods fiery wrath does not appear to be the same thing as
Sheol. Indeed Sheol is considered a place to hide from Gods fiery wrath.
In the New Testament Jesus speaks of a place of outer darkness into which
sons of the kingdom are cast (Matt. 8:12). He also speaks of The Son of Man three
days and three nights in the heart of the earth as Jonah was in the belly of the whale
(Sheol- Jonah 2:2). He prophesies that the gates of Hades will not be able to withstand
His Church (Matt. 16:18). When Christ dies on the cross, graves are opened in Jerusalem.
Ezekiel had prophesied that God would raise the whole house of Israel (Ezekiel 37:11).
Ephesians 4:8 and 1 Peter 3:19 both seem to speak of Jesus descending and
preaching in Hades. We state this in the Apostles Creed. According to 2 Peter and Jude,
angels appear to be kept in this place until the judgment of the great day. Hades is at
least a temporal reality. That is, it is a place in the flow of chronological time. In
Revelation 20:13, Death and Hades are thrown into the Lake of Fire. It seems that
Hades CANNOT be the same thing as The Lake of Fire, if in fact God casts Hades into
the Lake of Fire. Revelation 21:4 then states that, death shall be no more. It does not
explicitly state that Hades will be no more, yet it seems understood by the text. And if
it does exist after, outside of, or beyond this temporal experience it must not be a place of
death for death is no more. Scripture seems to indicate that Hades comes to an End in
The Lake of Fire. It may be that even temporality (chronostime as we experience
it now) comes to an End in The Lake of Fire. As the Angel states in Rev. 10:6 KJV,
Time (chronos) shall be no more.

2. The Fire:

The Fire (including: the lake of fire, the pillar of fire, the fire on Sodom,
the burning bush, the fire in the temple, the fire that ignites Gehenna, the fire in
Daniels fiery furnace, and the fire of Pentecost) is Eternal and in some way divinity
Himself. By Eternal I mean beyond temporality and without End, because It/He is
the End.

In Old Testament theophanies, God often appears as fire. God IS a consuming
fire (Deuteronomy 4:24). In Scripture fire seems to belong to God in a special way. In
Numbers 3 the sons of Aaron offer unauthorized fire before the Lord and suffer
punishment. In Rev. 13, the false prophet must be allowed to bring fire down from
heaven. God answers by fire (1 Kings 18:24). Fire comes from heaven to consume the
sacrifices. In 2 Chronicles 7 fire comes down and consumes the sacrifices in the temple
and fills the temple with glory. In Isaiah 6, the burning coal from the alter atones for sin
and takes Isaiahs guilt away. The fire was to be kept burning in the temple at all times.
The sinners in Zion wonder, Who can dwell with the consuming fire? (Isaiah 33:14).
Yet in Acts 2, the fire descends and fills the new templethe Churchand instead of
consuming the sacrifices in pain, the fire fills the living sacrifices with joyin fact the
very Spirit of God.

God is a consuming fire. His Word is like fire (Jeremiah 23:29). The Angel of
Yahweh, Son of Man appears as fire. Yet Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are not
burned by this fire as are the Babylonians. The whole earth will be consumed with Gods
fire (Zephaniah 3:8). Yet one day the Lord himself will be a wall of fire around Jerusalem
and the glory in her midst (Zechariah 2:5). Glory is closely associated with fire. In
biblical times, light was also closely associated with fire. God is light and a fire.
Jesus came to baptize with fire. He transfigures into one who looks like hes on
fire. In the Revelation his eyes are like a flame of fire. In Luke 12 Jesus states that he
came to cast fire on the earth and that he wished it were already kindled. In Acts 2 the fire
falls and is experienced ecstatically. Paul tells us that in being kind we heap burning
coals on the heads of our enemies, as if Love is Fire (Song of Solomon 8:6). He also
speaks of persons being saved, as through fire. Peter teaches that our faith is refined
like gold as through fire. In Mark 9:49, Jesus states that we will all be salted with fire. It
seems that the same fire can consume some, purify others, and even fill some with
ecstatic joy.
In Matthew 25 Jesus speaks of eternal fire and eternal punishment that is
analogous to eternal life. The life is Gods and the fire is Gods. I think these five
statements are true: God is Light. God is Holy. God is Fire. God is Love. God is one. I
dont think God changes. However, our experience of him does. I dont think Hes 25%
light, 25% holy, 25% fire and 25% steadfast love. I dont think Hes merciful to a point
and then is no longer steadfast love. He is 100% Light, 100% Holy, 100% Fire, and
100% Steadfast Love, Mercy, Grace, Hesed. Jesus himself is our Judgment.
In the Revelation the Lake of Fire is often referred to as the Lake of Fire and
Brimstone. In the Old Testament brimstone falls from the heavens and the breath of
Yahweh is like brimstone (Isaiah 30:33). In the Revelation the Greek word for
brimstone is theion. Theos is Greek word rendered God. Theion is and adjective,
that can be used as a substantive. I am NO language scholar but according to the
Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains, theion can also be translated
as divine being. Perhaps this lake is the Lake of Fire and Divinity or Lake of Fire
that is Divinity (if the kai is epexegetical), or Lake of Fire that burns with Divinity
(Rev. 19:20). Some would disagree, but whatever the case, it seems that theion is
closely tied to Theos. Of course the fire is eternal if the fire is in some sense divinity.
The fire has no end because it is the End.
Torment for darkness is to be exposed to the Light. Torment for lies is to be
exposed to Truth. Torment for death is to be exposed to Life. Torment for any impurity is
to be exposed to the Consuming Fire. Because the agent of torment is eternal, it does not
mean the experience of torment is unending. Sodom and Gomorrah underwent the
punishment of Eternal Fire (Jude 7). This does not mean that Sodom and Gomorrah
continually and without end experience the torment of Eternal Fire. Indeed Ezekiel
prophecies that Sodom and her daughters will be restored. (Ez. 16:53-63)

3. Gehenna:

It appears to me that Gehenna is the place where death (Hades) and impurity
(sin) is consumed by the fire.


In Isaiah 30:33 we read that, the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone,
kindles Tophet. Tophet is in the Valley of the Sons of Hinnom, which is Gehenna. This
valley surrounds two sides of Jerusalem, yet Zechariah prophesied that one day the Lord
would himself be a wall of fire around the city. The valley of Hinnom contains the
Potters Field, which Jeremiah prophesied in, regarding the destruction and ultimate
redemption of Jerusalem. The Potters Field was later purchased with the blood money
Judas received and returned to the temple. It was purchased with Jesus Blood, and then
used as a burial place for gentiles. Jeremiah prophesies that when Jerusalem is rebuilt,
this valley of dead bodies will be included within the city itself (Jeremiah 31:40).
In ancient times great abominations were committed in this valley. Its my
understanding that in Jesus day it was used as a trash dump. Perhaps Gehenna is like the
ultimate trash dump and disposal service. Before entering the New Jerusalem all must
pass through the fire of Gehenna. We pass through judgment in Christ. Now is the
Judgment of this world (John 12). His Spirit is fire. He baptizes with fire. The world is
judged by fire. God himself is the wall of fire around the heavenly city. The only way
into the city is through Christ. Everything else will be destroyed.
Jesus said, Better to cut off the hand that causes you to sin etc., than to be thrown
into Gehenna with it. At the cross I am judged. I surrender my sin. Jesus cuts it out of
me and bears it to destruction on my behalf. My sin hurts Jesus. Sin is devoured by the
very substance of Godlike dark is destroyed by light; like lies are destroyed by truth;
like unlove is devoured by Love.

B. Annihilation:

Some of these observations have led some (many modern evangelicals), to take
the position that even if Hell is in some form unending, the experience of torment must
not be unending. They argue that those who go to Hell are immediately or eventually
annihilated and cease to exist. If this is the case, perhaps some that appear to be people
are really only shadows of people; simply vessels of wrath; that is, Golem without a
soul; those that do not contain the Breath (the Spirit) of God. If so, perhaps they never
died in Adam. Paul writes, For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made
alive. (1 Cor.15:22, also Romans 6:15-21)
This view makes some good biblical sense, however, it struggles to explain the
inclusive texts of Scripture, that argue for the restoration of all things. Perhaps some
things are only no-things, like shadows and lies. Perhaps some things are really no-
things, so dont count as part of all things made new. Perhaps some people are really
not people and never were people.
Endless Torment appears entirely unbiblical to me, yet some form of
annihilationism at least seems defensible. And yet its hard to conceive, and hard to
argue, that some people are only no people; that some are nothing but nothing, mere
vessels of wrath. Furthermore, as well see below, the destruction of a thing does
NOT seem to limit Gods ability to remake that thing. And things destroyed in
chronological time, may indeed show up in Gods time. In Scripture, not ever
(never) appears to often mean, not age or not in this age (aion).
Actually Scripture seems fairly clear that all things will be annihilated
(Zephaniah 3:8) but also fairly clear that all things will be made new (Zephaniah 3:9).

Paul was annihilated, by the fiery presence of Jesus (Acts 9:3, Gal. 2:20). Some then
argue that Christ will do exactly what He says He will do, and in fact, make all things
new. Some say thats impossible, because the things that God says in other places render
that impossible. I have trouble telling God what is impossible based on my limited
understanding of my very limited reality.

C. Ultimate Redemption:

Is it impossible?
I was asked to affirm that it is. But Scripture states that this is Gods desire (1
Tim. 2:1-6, 2 Peter 3:8-10). And Jesus tells us that with God, all things are possible
(Matt. 19:26). Paul tells us that God, works all things according to the council of his
will (Eph. 1:11). In numerous places Scripture certainly seems to say that God will
redeem all. This obviously seems to conflict with other texts, but even if the conflicts are
insurmountable, how could I, or any believer, ever affirm that God desires the
impossible? We are no doubt, speaking of great mysteries here, but

Perhaps, its possible.
If we cant affirm that it is impossible for God to redeem all, than arent we
affirming that it may at least be possible for God to redeem all? I think it certainly is. I
stop short of taking a dogmatic stance with a bunch of theological labels, because the
terms are so hard to define, our words never measure up to Gods reality and there is still
so much debate around this topic. I prefer to say, Every knee will bow and every tongue
give praise; Jesus will make all things new; As in Adam all die, so in Christ will all
be made alive; Jesus is the savior of all men. I prefer to say that for that is just what
Scripture says. I prefer to quote Scripture.
In conservative denominations pastors are called to affirm the authority of
Scripture, but then taught there are certain texts (inclusive texts) you can only read if
you then proceed to immediately explain them away. In liberal denominations you may
preach those texts, but none of the texts are seen as very authoritative. I think its best
to preach all Scripture as authoritative and embrace mystery when you cant reconcile
various passages.
Ive found that many agree with that last statement, yet panic when the texts can
be reconciled. Indeed I think that most can be, but in a way that implies God will actually
save all and that seems to really worry somewhich should give all pause. Why do
we love the idea of endless torture?
Below I have listed some of the biblical considerations which make it easier for
me to see eventual redemption for all as a real possibility. Even if all these
considerations are wrong or misguided, I still could not affirm that it is impossible for
God to accomplish that which he says He wills. If it is possible for God to redeem all, and
He wills to redeem all, then it seems to me that He may very well redeem all. Maybe we
should even count on it for if we dont count on it, maybe we wont want it when we
get it. Maybe well judge ourselves out of the great banquet (Matt. 20:15, Luke 15:28)

1. Jesus preaches in Hades: Scripture rather strongly indicates that Jesus preached in
Hades and led a host of captives free. He came to seek and to save the lost. (Like

19:10) The Greek, translated lost, is apollumi also translated perished and
destroyed. I dont see good biblical reason to say that Jesus can no longer save the
lost in Hades. The story of Dives and Lazarus indicates that there is a chasm that none
can cross; however, Jesus appears to have crossed it or leveled it in his death and

2. Destroyed Things that Come Back: In Scripture, destroyed and damned things
sometimes come back. Sodom is the premiere example of the destructive power of Gods
fiery judgment; however, Ezekiel prophesies that Sodom and her daughters will return
to their former state (Ezekiel 16: 55). Ezekiel doesnt just prophesy this about Sodom
but also Samaria and Jerusalem. Jerusalem will be destroyed like Sodom, yet God will
restore her as well. God is not simply restoring a city when he restores Jerusalem. The
New Jerusalem is made up of redeemed people. Jeremiah prophesied in the Potters field
that Jerusalem would be broken like a shattered pot, broken so that she could not be
mended (Jeremiah 19:11). Yet we know God is an astounding potter who does wondrous
things with earthen vessels like us and hes certainly not through with Jerusalem. In
Ezekiel 37, Israel is clean cut off a valley of dry bones. However, the bones come to
life. Those bones are the whole house of Israel. In Galatians 2:20, Paul writes, It is no
longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. What happened to the old Paul? He was
destroyed, and yet he lives.

3. The Old Man and the New Man: Scripture indicates that I have an old man (like
old Paul) and a new man. Perhaps I amwheat and a tare. Perhaps I am a vessel of
wrath and a vessel of mercy. I was once a child of wrath like the rest of mankind
(Eph. 2:3). Is my Earthen Vessel destroyed while I remain, such that I am destroyed and
yet saved? Does my earthen vessel form the mold which gets filled by the liquid gold of
Gods Mercy, such that my old self of sin is replaced by the love that is Gods very life
poured into me? Is the new me, the inverse of an obversethat is the old empty mefull
of self and sin? Does the form of Gods Grace take the unique form of my sin, such that
one day I will look like me but be solid gold?
In Isaiah 66:23 all flesh comes to the New Jerusalem to worship. In verse 24
they all go out and look on the dead bodies of the men that have rebelled. When we
study Isaiah we realize that he clearly states that all people including all Israel have
rebelled. Therefore, all flesh look into Gehenna and see all bodies. Whose bodies are
all flesh looking at, if not their own?
When we take an honest look at Matthew 25 and our Lords description of
Judgment, we each must confess that we are both sheep and goat, or else we do terrible
violence to the text. Who has never visited a sick person or never neglected to visit a
sick person? Christs word makes us realize we are sheep and goat. It cuts us (krisis) in
two. We must cry out for mercy, for we realize that part of us must go into the eternal
fire, while part of us is a fragrant offering (gift). We look to the throne and behold a
lamb standing as if it had been slain. Jesus describes Judgment in Matt. 25, then the next
sentence reads, When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, You
know that after two days the Passover is coming and the Son of Man will be delivered up
to be crucified.

I dont believe that Jesus is telling a simple story of some sheep and goats. He
taps into thousands of years of complex temple sacrifices even as he looks at the temple
prophesying its destruction and revealing that he will rebuild it in three days, fulfilling all
the ceremonial law. Every good work in me is Him: the fragrant offering, the sacrificial
lamb. He pays for every sin in me: He is my sin offering (Numbers 28one male goat)
and my scapegoat. He is my Passover lamb (to be taken from the sheep or the goats). He
is my sheep and He is my goat. He is my Judgment.

4. Time and Eternity: Aion (forever, age etc.) and Aionios (of the age, eternal,
forever) appear to be very difficult words to translate out of the Greek. Even if we
translate them correctly we dont even know what our translation means. Is eternal the
same as forever or the opposite of forever? Is it all time or the absence of time? I
dont think most people have considered what Einsteins laws of relativity imply, let
alone the eternal nature of God who spoke space and time into existence. We speak about
eternal things and things that last forever but have not specified our terms.
I suspect that aionios can loosely be translated eternal (as in timeless) and
that aion can be translated age or ever (as in all time). Eternal things cant end
because they are not bound by time (chronological time). Perhaps I should say they cant
end, because they are the End. Jesus is The End. I AM is The End. The Fire is The End.
World without end is the world full of Jesus who will fill all things (Eph. 4:10) and is
himself The End.
The ages, the evers, and the aions do come to an end (The End). Hebrews
9:26, But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages (aion) to put away
sin by the sacrifice of himself. 1 Cor. 10:11 makes it clear that, the end of the ages
(aion) has come upon us. At the Cross, the Eternal Judgment of God invaded time. I
believe that there is one judgment and that judgment is the cross of Christ (John 12:31).
We may encounter it in time, at the end of our time, or at the end of all time, but no one
gets to the Father or to the eternal city except through Christ and His Cross. Eph. 1:9-10,
the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a
plan for the fullness of time to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on
earth. Col. 1:19-20, For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and
through him to reconcile to himself all things whether on earth or in heaven, making
peace by the blood of his cross.
We have developed unbiblical (dare I say, absurd) eschatological systems because
we have tried to adapt scripture to the space-time cosmology of modernism. I think this
has been a tremendous failure and a disservice to the text. Ironically, this modern world is
no longer modern and physicists are saying that a modernistic view of space and time is
no longer valid scientifically. We live in an age where we can take the cosmology of
scripture quite literally and be entirely scientific in doing so. However, to do so we must
re-examine our old modern ways of thinking, taking extra care with words like eternity,
forever, never, and always.
Considering the nature of time and eternity (perhaps, chronos and kairos) it
becomes apparent that some things may last forever yet not be eternal. Perhaps, one
may suffer in Hell (Hades) forever (all time), yet be redeemed in eternity. We each
suffer on earth some time and yet are redeemed in eternity. The Jerusalem above IS our

mother and we are seated with him in the heavenly places, even though now, in time,
we also suffer in this body of death.

5. The Inclusive Passages: In numerous passages, Scripture seems to say that all
will be redeemed. In numerous passages, Scripture also seems to say that some wont be
redeemed. In light of the considerations above and through the process of studying these
texts more carefully, Ive found that its easier for me to understand the exclusive
passages in light of the inclusive passages rather than the other way around.
There are too many inclusive texts to consider them all here, but the ones that
are most convincing to me are those that come at central points of theological discourse,
are affirmed with declaratory statements like truly I say, are affirmed by the theological
context, and are affirmed by linguistic context.
The following are some of the inclusive texts that I deem most difficult or
impossible to explain in an exclusive sense:

! Genesis 1:31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very

! Isaiah 45:22-23 (and parallel passages: Romans 14:ll, Philippians 2:10) Turn to
me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. By
myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall
not return: To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.
The context is clearly salvation and not forced submission. This is affirmed by
the New Testament Parallels.

! John 12:30-32 Jesus answered, This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now
is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I,
when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.
As the next verse explains, Jesus is here speaking of his crucifixion. I consider
this to be a key verse for understanding judgment and Gods redemptive
purposes. If the all (panta) in verse 32, doesnt mean all it must mean
something else. I cant figure out what that something else would be. This is a
problem with numerous similar texts containing all or every.
! Romans 5:15-19 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through
one mans trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace
of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the
result of that one mans sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought
condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. If,
because of one mans trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more
will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness
reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to
condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life
for all men. For as by the one mans disobedience the many were made sinners, so
by the one mans obedience the many will be made righteous.

This appears to be a central theological statement for Paul as it is repeated in
Corinthians 15. The alls and the manys are in parallel and amplified by
the much more. Karl Barth wrote Christ and Adam as an exegesis of this
text. I recommend it highly.
! Romans 11:32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy
on all.
This text seems to be the absolute pinnacle of Pauls theology in Romans.
! 1 Corinthians 15:22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made
This text repeats Romans 5. The all who die in Adam are the all who are
made alive in Christ. I have a hard time understanding how all wouldnt
mean all. Ive wondered if some dont die in Adam, such that some would
not be made alive in Christ, such that some might be mere vessels of wrath
made for destruction and without a soul. This may raise all sorts of
anthropological problems and exegetical issues, but I see few other ways
around all meaning all.
! Colossians 1:15-20 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all
creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and
invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authoritiesall things were
created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things
hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the
firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all
the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all
things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
The alls are in Parallel here. If I try to make them say anything other than
all, I am entirely out of Orthodox Christian tradition.
! 1 Timothy 4:9-11 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For
to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who
is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. Command and teach
these things.
! Revelation 5:11-14 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living
creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads
and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb who
was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory
and blessing! And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the
earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, To him who sits on the throne
and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!
And the four living creatures said, Amen! and the elders fell down and
I have wondered if this all might only be the all alive at that time,
however this hardly fits the context of the opening of the seven sealed scroll.
And furthermore they praise the lamb that was slain and join the elders who

praise the lamb because he ransomed people for God (v.9). These creatures
seem to be aware that the lamb ransomed them. Even if it is only those alive at
this time, it seems clear that Hades has ceased to exist.

! Revelation 21:5 And he who was seated on the throne said, Behold, I am making
all things new. Also he said, Write this down, for these words are trustworthy
and true.
I am very uncomfortable arguing that all things really isnt all things,
especially when the resurrected Christ speaks it from the throne saying,
Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true. After this scene
there are those portrayed as outside the New Jerusalem and therefore not
new, but to be outside the New Jerusalem is to be still stuck in this current
age that will come to an End.

These inclusive texts do not exclude the exclusive texts, however I
think they do demand that we give them more attention and that we at least be
willing to question any theological box that simply explains them away.

6. Inscrutable Judgments: Romans 11:33, How unsearchable are his judgments and
inscrutable his ways. Paul writes this just after writing, God has consigned all to
disobedience that he may have mercy on all and just before writing, for from him and
through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. If scripture is
clear that I cant understand his judgments, how can I conclude that God cannot save all
people based on my understanding of his judgments? However, if scripture reveals, or
seems to reveal, that He will redeem all people, I should at least consider it possible, even
if I dont understand how something could be destroyed, condemned, or judged and yet
Romans 11:33, demands that we embrace a certain degree of mystery in the
biblical text. This is true in affirming the inclusive texts, yet also true in affirming the
exclusive texts. I do not feel comfortable with a label like Universalist because I
dont know what it means (sometimes it means just the opposite of everything I stand
for). I also want to avoid dogmatic labels regarding an area of theology that embraces the
topic of Gods Judgments. I want to destroy false theological boxes, but be very cautious
about constructing new ones. Karl Barth rejected the term, Universalist, because it
seemed to imply that God must save all when in fact salvation is always Gods
gracious choice in Christ.
The idea that people have been very dogmatic about unending conscious
torment is a bit horrifying to me. With the Judgment you pronounce you will be
judged, said Jesus. (Matt. 7:1) It should absolutely terrify us to announce that there are
some that God is unable or unwilling to save, let alone, some that God will
intentionally torture without end. In Scripture, Gods Wrath OR the experience of Gods
Wrath as wrath, comes to an end: teleo (Rev. 15:1, also Is. 57:16, Jer. 3:12, Lam. 3:31).
Yet, The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end.
(Lam. 3:22) His steadfast love endures forever. That phrase is repeated 42 times in my
Bible (ESV). If we are going to be dogmatic at all; if we are going to judge at all; if we

are going to hand out measures at all, lets hand out Grace. Jesus is the measure I
want to give. Jesus is the Judgment Im called to pronounce. Now is the Judgment of
this world. (John 12:31) Im called to announce that Judgment: Jesus Christ and Him
Crucifiedoutrageous Love.

7. The Direction of Our Hope: To me scripture seems abundantly clear on this point (1
Tim. 2:1-6, 2 Peter 3:8-10, etc.). If there are two possibilities in scripture regarding
ultimate redemption and two possibilities in any one persons story regarding ultimate
redemption, we are to always hope for and desire redemption. This means that I joyfully
join the Lord in HIS work of redemption and that I rejoice at news that His Grace may be
effectively extended to others. I proclaim the Gospel!


I. Scripture reveals that God is one. If God predestines some for unending torment
due to no merit of their own, it would seem that God ultimately has two purposes: to
exhibit mercy to some and no mercy to others. This is a difficult proposition on many
levels: philosophical, exegetical and theological. A wonderful book on this topic is The
One Purpose of God, by Jan Bonda.

II. I am a Calvinist who has a hard time believing in limited atonement. The
Scriptural evidence for an unlimited atonement seems fairly convincing to me (especially
1 John 2:2). Arguments for a limited atonement appear to be an effort to make sure that
some folks are destroyed or tortured in Hell without end.
Its tragically fascinating to me: Calvinists affirm that God is all-powerful, but not
all-loving (willing that some suffer endless torment). Arminians affirm that God is all-
loving but not all-powerful (Unable to save some from endless torment He wills that
there will would be stronger than his will.) Calvinists tolerate Arminians and Arminians
tolerate Calvinists, but neither tolerate those who tolerate both.
In other words, one may believe that God is all-loving or one may believe that
God is all-powerful, but if one believes that God is both all-powerful and all-loving, he or
she is accused of heresy, because he or she can no longer subscribe to a doctrine of
endless torment.
Thomas Talbot has pointed this out: Logically speaking it seems impossible to
subscribe to the following three propositions at once:
God is all-loving
God is all-powerful
Hell is endless torment
Calvinists (Presbyterians, Reformed, some Baptists etc.) find ways to fudge on the first
proposition. Arminians (Most Baptists, Methodists etc.) find ways to fudge on the
second. I advocate eliminating the last. We dont even have to fudge. Endless Torment
is an unbiblical doctrine.

III. This implies that Hell is not simply retributive but remedial and restorative. I do
not believe that Gods Judgment is established through endless torture. How could it

be, unless Gods Justice is endlessly frustrated in which case His Judgment would
never be established and never satisfied? Gods Judgment is established and revealed at
the cross, where it is finished. That Gods Justice is established through torturing the
creatures that He has made is an unbiblical idea handed to us from the middle ages (Jan
Bondas book, The One Purpose of God, is very helpful in this regard).
Hell (Hades or Sheol) is a means to an end rather than an end in its self. The
Roman Catholic doctrine of Purgatory is a nod in this direction.

IV. I realize that Im just a guy that went to Fuller. Im not a language scholar or a great
theologian. I also realize that many would disagree with things Ive suggested. Therefore
its been important to me to know that some well respected theological minds have
honored Scripture and also argued in the same direction as myself. I have not raised these
issues because of these theologians, but because of the Biblical text that Im called to
preach. Nonetheless its been encouraging to know that things Ive suggested have also
been advocated by great theologians such as Karl Barth, Hans Von Balthasar, and John
Paul II., as well as popular theologians like C.S. Lewis, George MacDonald and William
Barclay, who either affirm ultimate redemption or its possibility. Ive also been
encouraged by the fact that several of the early church fathers, who spoke the language of
the New Testament as their mother tongue, argued in much the same direction: Clement
of Alexandria, Origen, Athanasius and Gregory of Nyssa to name a few.

V. I believe that the Church in America desperately needs to wrestle with these issues.
On the left many would gladly embrace these ideas but not hold to a high view of
Scripture (they like to talk about love, but love without truth isnt love). On the right
many hold to a high view of Scripture, but are so deeply committed to a cultural
Christianity that they are unwilling to struggle significantly with the Biblical text (they
like to talk about truth, but truth without love isnt truth). We need the Truth spoken in
Love its always better than anything we could invent its the Gospel of Jesus Christ
and Him crucified. We need Jesus. And God longs to be glorified through Jesus.

Why it matters:

Well obviously it matters, when one tries to understand how Scripture could say,
God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. But I hope you
see that it matters for far more reasons than just deciphering some ancient Hebrew text. It
changes the way you breathe your next breath. Do you breathe in terror or faith, hope and
love? Do you live as an orphan or worsethe child of a sadistic father? Or do you live as
the child of a Father, who would give everything, and has given everything, to make you
in His image and bring you home?
Sometimes people ask, Why does this matter? Im still rather shocked that
anyone would ask. Nevertheless, this is why I bring the topic up; why I long for a new
reformation in the American Church; why I think it matters:


1. I want us to live to the praise of Gods Glory revealed in Christ Jesus. I think we
have underestimated the sufficiency and power of Christs work of redemption on the
cross. In American Evangelicalism we do this in the name of free will, which I believe
then diminishes the sovereign and gracious choice of God. In this way we claim merit for
our own redemption. We thus serve God out of a carnal sense of responsibility
(which is to not serve God), rather than serving him as an act of worship, which is the
chief end of man. (Westminster Confession, Larger Catechism)

2. I want us to not idolize our selves and our free will. I am concerned that we
American believers have come to view life as a great competition. We say that we are
saved by grace, but what we mean is that we are saved by our good choices or the
quality of our will. I dont believe that we have free will until God grants us free will
through his grace.

3. I want us to stop competing with each other and the world. When we view life as a
competition and judgment as the finish line; when we compare ourselves to each other
and measure ourselves against each other; when we judge each other and our selves;
when we suspect that God grades on a curve, we need losers so that we can feel like
winners. We need failures to define ourselves as successful. We need scapegoats. We
already have a scapegoat. One has lost that we all might win. If I have any emotional
stake in any other human being suffering in Hell other than Jesus, I probably do not
understand the Gospel He suffered Hell for me.

4. I want us to preach biblically. I am concerned that we no longer wrestle with the
biblical text and therefore end up preaching societal convention. My understanding is that
we are to be reformed and always reforming(This was a seminal statement defining the
reformation) as the living Word leads us in expositing the written word. Expository
preaching has forced me to wrestle with numerous texts that I would have otherwise

5. I want us to be honest. I have faith that the Truth sets us free and that we can only
arrive at the truth by being truthful. I do not believe I serve the Kingdom by hiding my
questions, but by being honest. I also believe in the Priesthood of all believers. All
believers are called to wrestle with The Word. I do not need to protect the church from
The Word. Some have told me this is my job. I believe its a Pharisees job.

6. I dont want people to go to Hell. By Hell I mean both Hades and Gehenna (where
the rebellious are consumed by the eternal punishment and Fire). I know that no ones
salvation is dependent on me, yet I believe that God has called me to participate in the
proclamation and plan of his redemption. In the Gospels it becomes very clear that those
who are most in danger of being cast into outer darkness are the Sons of the Kingdom,
those who struggle with the extent of Gods Mercy in Christ. I dont want anyone to be
cast into the outer darkness whether for three days or several million years. Furthermore,
I do not want them to be devoured by Fire on the Day of Judgment. I want all people to
see the glory of God in Christ Jesus NOW, no matter how long forever is.


7. I want us to serve God out of Love rather than Fear. I am to preach the gospel as an
act of worship, not because I arrogantly think that God needs me. I am to obey him out
of Love, not because Im afraid that He might torture me in Hell. To serve God out of
dreadful fear is to serve God out of faithlessness. Whatever does not proceed from faith is
sin. Fear is the beginning of wisdom, but perfect love casts out fear. I want us to be
perfected in love.

8. I want us to love our enemies. This is immensely hard, yet it appears that we only
love Jesus as much as we love the least of these. By asking the question What if they
all are saved? we are forced to examine our hearts. Im concerned that for some,
possible redemption for all is viewed as terrible news, rather than gospelgreat news.
Are we hanging on to resentment, hatred, and un-forgiveness? Jesus said, If you do not
forgive men their trespasses, neither will your father in heaven forgive your trespasses
(Matt. 6:15).

9. I want us to trust the heart of our Heavenly Father. Jesus from the bosom of the
Father, he has made him known. If someone were to tell one of my children that I had
other children that I planned to torture in unspeakable torment forever and ever without
end, it would create some serious doubt about my character in the heart of my child. It
would also fill me with intense wrath for the person that said such a thing. However, if
someone told my child that I had other children that I disciplined in Love (even severely),
it would create an entirely different response in me, and my child. If scripture is not
exceedingly clear about unending conscious torment with the wrath of God, we better
not say such things. I know that it may be a way to win converts at evangelistic rallies,
but I can think of nothing else that would infuriate me more as a father than to be
misrepresented in such a way. Obviously, God is not determined by my anthropomorphic
views of fatherhood; however, He calls himself Father for a reason. Perhaps Hell is
not retributive, but remedial. That makes sense to a Fathers heart.

10. I want others to trust the heart of our Heavenly Father. I want them to trust Jesus.
If I were to ask most unbelievers why they did not WANT to believe in the Christian
God, I think the first answer given would probably be something like: I cant believe in
a god that would eternally torture a junior high kid who died in a bicycle accident just
because he didnt say the sinners prayer or believe that God had forgiven him. Ive
always explained Gods prerogative to do so in the way we evangelicals have been
trained, but maybe weve been defending a picture of God that is not honoring to God
and deceptive to unbelievers. God is a consuming fire. Yes, he will discipline us severely
at times. But Yes, He is always Love. And He always loves you more than you are even
able to love yourself.

11. The Truth matters. Is there anything else that does matter? Jesus is the Truth.

If you would like more information on these topics:
Please visit our website at


There are many resources available in print and on the internet. The following are a few
books that I have found to be particularly helpful:

The Inescapable Love of God, Thomas Talbott
The Evangelical Universalist, Gregory MacDonald
The One Purpose of God, Jan Bonda
Christ and Adam, Karl Barth

Many consider Karl Barth to be the greatest of modern day theologians. His writing is
absolutely prolific, but his verbiage is dense and difficult to decipher. If you can handle
Barth, hes well worth the struggle. In my very humble estimation, I believe he offers the
most biblical and comprehensive of systematic theologies.


Chapter Summaries

1. Questions too big for any Specialist (Genesis 1:1)

Those questions to big for any specialist, are the ones we all ask with every nervous
glance in the mirror; with every doubt about truth, beauty, goodness, love and justice.
The questions are: Do I matter? Is there a God? and Does that God even care?
These questions are as big as the Universe and as small as your soul. I argue that these
are questions which no expert can answer for you, but that the creator wants to answer
within you.

Its crazy to relegate these questions to Religious experts (theologians) or Secular
experts (scientists). God is bigger than everything. Why would an expert in anything,
be able to answer questions about the author of everything unless of course that
anything is you. And God is concerned with you. In which case, the expert is you.

With all creation God is seeking you and your heart. He is asking, Do YOU love me?
And would you let me love you?

2. The Day You Were Born: your Fathers story and the ramblings of mad
scientists and Pharisees (Genesis 1:1)

Written into rocks and DNA, there appears to be something of a record of our creation.
However in Genesis One, The Father is telling us the story of our creation our birth.

In your case, there is a birth record at a hospital, which tells you your length, weight
and blood type. There is also the story your Father tells, of the day you were born it
reveals what your mother felt about you; perhaps what your father said when he first laid
eyes on you. The birth record and the fathers story reference the same event, yet they
communicate entirely different information. Science is like the birth record. Genesis is
your fathers story. They are both good, and each should complement the other. Yet each
can be distorted.

Both mad scientists and Pharisees try to control the record and the story. Mad scientists
distort the birth record to make themselves like God. Pharisees distort the Fathers story
to make themselves like God. Mad Scientists like to think they can explain everything,
explain themselves and explain you. And by explaining everything, seize control of the
birth record and you. Pharisees are basically the same, but they like to control the
Fathers story. They love to direct. They quite literally - dissect the plot and miss the
story. They make rules, set limits, construct calendars and miss the point. Jesus is the plot
and the point. Mad Scientists and Pharisees love to play God.

Were all a bit of each, but to know the Father, we must be humble with our birth record
and surrender our hearts to our Fathers story. We must let His Story comprehend us

before we try to comprehend the story. Like little children (two years old and afraid), we
must lose ourselves in the story thats being told, and then well be found (a princess or
noble warrior) by the story the story our father is telling.

3. The Deepest Story: not your failure, but Gods success (Genesis 1:1-2:4)

Your Life is a story that God is telling its filled with mystery, confusion, sorrow and
pain but its good. Scripture and Science reveal that the Seven Days of Creation are the
History of Time The Index to Everything. In the End everything is GOOD! Which
means: you are a good story thats being told a good story thats half finished a good
creation thats only half baked. Which means: every bad page in your story, turns into
good story, in the End - transformed by the good plot which gives new meaning to every
page. Jesus is the Plot. Jesus is the Beginning. And Jesus is the End. In the End, which is
Jesus, everything is Good.

Even though we can choose the bad, the Narrator only chooses the good. Even though we
write ourselves out of the story (every time we sin), the author/narrator writes us back
in and thats the story: Grace.

The story of all things is the story of Mercy; that is, the story of all things is the story of
God; that is, Jesus Christ and Him Crucified; that is, your sin is not the deepest story.
Your Fathers good creation (you in His image, in Jesus image) is the deepest story. Do
you understand? Genesis One is the revelation of Mercy and an unquenchable Hope.

4. The Deepest Story: not Darwinism, but the 7
Day (Genesis 1:1-2:4)

Your Father is writing/telling your story. And He does not fail. Your Father is Love.
Love is the deepest story. Darwinism (survival of the fittest, competition, the will to
power, hate) is not. Competition (sin) does not explain life. It explains the limits of life.
Any biologist would have to agree. Competition explains death. Cooperation (love)
explains life. One cell serving another cell; one molecule sacrificing for the many; the
first being last and the last being first a body that is life.

Many (perhaps most) that claim to follow God are Darwinists at heart. If we dont like
the idea that God might just make everyone in His Image in the End; if we dont like the
idea that Love wins, sacrifice wins, the last will be first and the first last. If we dont like
the idea that at the end of time, on the 7
day, there are no losers to make us feel like
winners perhaps were Darwinists at heart. Even though we picket against the
evolution taught in public schools, even though we love to brag that we have eternal
lifeperhaps weve put our faith in death, perhaps were Darwinists at heart. Perhaps
thats why were miserable, consumed with ourselves, addicted to winning, and so
limited in Love. Perhaps weve been secretly hoping that only the fit would survive; that
only the found would survive, and the lost would be lost; that the first would be first
and the last would be last; perhaps weve been hoping against life, which is hoping
against Jesus, for he is Life. Love is Life.


5. Sabbath (Genesis 1:1-2:4)

On the 7
day ALL is good, finished, accomplished God rests. On the cross at the end
of the sixth day, Jesus cried It is finished. In Christ we can enter Gods rest, because
Gods rest has entered us in Christ. Faith in Christs finished work on the cross, which is
faith in Gods ability to create out of chaos and faith that God has created out of chaos,
puts our restless hearts to rest. We Sabbath, for the Lord of the Sabbath takes up
residence in our hearts. We Sabbath for we know that He will finish his good creation.
Weve seen the End. Its Jesus the Christ.

In this world, in the sixth day, although we are unfinished, our spirits can be finished
with Christ. In faith, we can move out of deep rest, rather than anxiety, desperation and

If we dont believe Gods finished story, we will try to write the story ourselves and write
ourselves out of that story with anxiety, desperation and fear - sin. If we dont believe
that God makes our world, WE will try to make our world. With anxiety, desperation
and fear, well try to create our world and only desecrate our world. Well make hell
the Abyss.

6. The Abyss (Genesis 1:1-3)

In this chapter well wrestle with the hardest of theological and philosophical questions.
Its one we wrestle with every day, every moment we lose courage: Why is everything
broken? God, if youre so good how could this world be so evil? Did you create evil?
Why do you even allow such evil? What is evil?

Perhaps to get at why it is, we need to wrestle with what it is or isnt. The effects
of evil are horrendously real: babies without limbs, starvation, genocide and rape but
what is evil? Perhaps evil is NOT, more than IS. Its the presence of an absence - like
death is the absence of life, dark is the absence of light, lie is the absence of truth, lost is
the absence of way. Yet Jesus is the Way, the Truth, the Life and the Light. God is I
AM. He is ISness!

Perhaps God cannot create evil, like you cannot create dark You can only eliminate the
presence of light. Perhaps God makes space for the dark, in order to reveal the light, for
The light shines in the darkness. Perhaps, God suffers the darkness in this world to
reveal his heart in this world the light of the world: Jesus.

If were past the end of the story (the 7
day), evil is an unspeakable terror. If Gods still
telling the story, and its a good story, perhaps its time to really pay attention, its about
to get really good. The House lights have been dimmed. Look to the stage theres a
cross and a dead body. Its always darkest, just before the dawn.

7. The Abyss in Me (Genesis 1:1-4)


Its one thing to ask, Why is there evil in the world? Its another thing to ask, Why is
there evil in me? Is my evil terminal? Can it be redeemed? Why am I the failure that I
am the unique failure that I am? Perhaps the unique failure that I am, is an expression
of the unique emptiness that I contain, the abyss in me.

Scripture tells us that God will fill all things and indeed, He has on the seventh day. In the
New Creation, everything is good. Jesus said, God alone is Good. He will fill all
things and He will fill us. He is Mercy (Hesed). We are vessels of wrath that become
and are becoming vessels of mercy. Our flesh, our matter, our emptiness, our
abyss, is replaced with His Spirit replaced with Him. Our darkness is filled with Light.
Our lies are flooded with truth. Our death is replaced with His life. Our sin is replaced
with Mercy. Do you get it? Our unique failure becomes our unique glory! The form of
our sin, becomes the form of Gods Grace in us the form of the new creation.

We are like wax statues incased in an earthen ceramic vessel. In the fire of Gods
judgment, the old self is melted away and replaced with gold eternal glary. The abyss in
us becomes God in us. In other words, your place of shame will be transformed into the
temple of Gods glory the unique true and eternal YOU. Forever you will sing your
song, as others sing there song to you and to God, Amazing grace how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me uniquely, wonderfully me. Every song is different, yet all
are the same.

8. Let there be Light (Genesis 1:1-5)

This is the message that I preached from a coffin on Easter. We each take refuge in
coffins. That is we make our own Hell, Abyss our own Hades. It feels safe there. Its
the safety of darkness, death and lies the comfort of Hell. God longs for each of us to
say, Let there be Light That is Let there be Jesus in me. Light hurts our eyes at first.
Its terrifying to confess sins, at first. But Jesus Christ, and Him Crucified, reveals that
the light is Good. We can trust the light. The Light heals.

Light gives new meaning to all time... and all my time. Light is eternal it is NOW. My
time is temporal. Gods grace gives new and eternal meaning to my past, present and
future. It releases me from the past and frees me from anxiety over the future. It allows
me to live NOW with Jesus. Life is NOW with I AM. Now, in the Light, is where I
AM is. My Easter is God saying, Let there be light in Peter.

9. Home: Were not there yet (Genesis 1:6-10)

We havent arrived. Like the Israelites, to whom Genesis was first given, were on a
journey to the promised rest, the seventh day. The seventh day is our promised land. In
that place, everything is Good.

However, to get to the New Creation we have to surrender our own creation. To receive
the city whose builder and maker is God, we must surrender the city whose builder and

maker is us. To enter the Promised Land, we must surrender the land we currently

Thats terrifying for the land we occupy has felt like home. They say you cant go home.
So, will the new creation be home? Well on the seventh day, everything that God had
made is good. Jesus says, Behold, I make all things new. Doesnt that mean
everything old becomes new; everything half-made will be fully made; and so
everything weve surrendered, we will receive back? So we can go home! once we
leave home. The truth is that weve never been home, only dreamed of home. So we
dont need to hang onto Egypt. We can let go of our addictions. We dont need to hang
onto the wilderness. We can let go of our sorrows. We can even surrender the old temple
of stone. We can lose our lives, for our lives will be found. Everything that was anything
will be given back to you, yet made brand new. Alcoholics, you havent really tasted
wine yet. Sexaholics, you havent really experienced ecstatic communion yet. Sinners,
you can let go of your sin, for youre not home yet but you will be.

Were not home, however by faith, home has invaded our hearts. The Kingdom of
Heaven is at hand.

10. Beauty: Road Signs for Pilgrims (Genesis 1: 9-26)

And God saw that it was good/ beautiful. God delights in Beauty, however we are
enslaved by beauty and terrified of beauty, in this world. Were tempted to worship it,
then, tempted to destroy it. Tempted to idolatry, then, tempted to abstinence and legalism.
Were tempted to idolize beauty or destroy beauty (Church History, illustrates this
abundantly), and in either case we make ourselves ugly.

Created beauty - women, men, broiled lobster in drawn butter, the Grand Canyon they
are signs pointing to The Beautiful One, their author and maker. The signs fade by
design: we get old; the lobster makes us fat; the Grand Canyon gets boring. If you hang
on to the signs, they kill you and you kill them. If you read them and keep walking theyll
direct you to the source of all beauty, goodness and life.

God uses created beauty to entice us toward the Beautiful One. When we worship the
Beautiful One, the author of beauty, he makes us beautiful. You are created beauty and
your life is to exhibit the Beautiful One. God is an artist. You are being made in his
image: an artist. And you are his art.

11. Care for Creation and Creation cares for You (Genesis 1:24-26)

The environment is a huge topic on everyones mind these days. In reaction to the
idolatry of creation (pantheism), Christians have sometimes abused and belittled creation.
Because weve assaulted creation, the world has turned to others to explain the longing in
their hearts; the longing to value and care for creation; care for the environment; the
longing to till it and keep it. (Gen. 2:15)


Some worship the environment (pantheists and pagans), some worship themselves
(secular Darwinists). However, none of these idolatries, explains us and our desire to
care for creation. If we worship creation, we will desecrate creation (our idolatry will
destroy us and creation). God calls us to care for creation. The Judeo/Christian view of
reality is the only viable basis for environmentalism.

When we care for creation, God uses creation to care for us - speak his Word to us. His
Word is Jesus, by whom and through whom all things are created. To go camping, to go
for a walk in the woods, to stare at a bug is a spiritual discipline. True Science is worship.

12. How to make a world with just a Word (Genesis 1:26-2:3)

God made our world with his Word. We can speak the same Word. The Word is Jesus.
When we speak, Jesus Christ and Him Crucified; when we speak the Gospel; when we
speak The Fathers love; when we speak Grace we create anothers world.

In Genesis One, the Father speaks and we are born. Even so, we speak and others are
born, we are dispensing eternal seed, we are giving birth. We speak light and life into
the darkness and in Christs name create another in the Fathers image. We are creators
being created in the Creators Image.