Christians are often guilty of not telling the full story when it comes to knowing God. First of all, we often start the story at the Fall of man, rather than at the beginning. Second, we jump from Genesis 2 to Jesus crucifixion and conclude with His Resurrection. Then we insert this long wait for the second coming, judgment, and final destination of believers and unbelievers. In reality, we are gipping people of the full Gospel, the Kingdom of God. We do this when we reduce the story to what we think are the essentials – Man sinned, Man needs God to be free from sin, God sent man Jesus to die in our place so we can be forgiven, Jesus saves those who believe, believers go to heaven, unbelievers go to hell. End of story.
This couldn’t be more misleading. I am finding both in Christian circles and in non-Christian circles this is creating quite a misconception. This misconception is a logical misconstruction based on our faulty rendering of the Gospel.
The story doesn’t start that man sinned and is thus in need of God. The story starts, “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. . .” He goes on to create the sun, moon, stars, oceans, plants, animals, and finally humans. He says that all that He has created is good. He places the man and woman (Adam and Eve) in the Garden of Eden and He tells them they have dominion over land, vegetation, and animal life. He tells them to have children and multiply humanity in the earth. He gives them only one “don’t” – He tells them not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and warns them doing so will bring death upon them.
God had fellowship with Adam and Eve – walking with them in the cool of the evening. He had relationship with them. I imagine they walked with Jesus through the Garden – as Jesus is as eternal as His Father. Throughout the Old Testament we see instances where Jesus appeared. Remember Jesus said, before Abraham was, I Am.
Here is where the Fall comes into play. Eve, and then also Adam, having been tempted by Satan, succumb to temptation and eat of the forbidden fruit. Now they want to cover themselves and hide from God. They broke relationship with God, and already felt the shame of their first experience with sin.
Mankind was designed to walk with God as we cultivated and multiplied across the globe. Now we had caused a divide between God and man. The curse of sin worked its way into the nature of man – corrupting humanity – and corrupting the earth itself. A world that was designed to flow in harmony with the Kingdom of God was now being ruled by corrupted men rather than holy men who walked with God.
Christians often take the story from the Fall to the Cross and then lack the theology for the story to go beyond getting forgiven by the work of Jesus upon the Cross. Jesus gained back for the world what was lost in the Fall – but we have lost sight of the role of man in this earth. God gave us dominion. Satan took that dominion when sin infected us – but Jesus took it back from Satan and gave it – not back to God – but back to man. We are still the ones who are to cultivate the earth to restore it to the glory of God – to a New Eden. It starts with transformed people – but these transformed people are called to transform everything we have influence over – land, businesses, economy, health care, medicine, food, water. We can restore healing and life back to everything that was once corrupted. It’s all back in our hands. The thing is, most of us don’t know it. And even the few that do, don’t take action. We are clueless to our assignments and to our power and authority to carry them out.
Most the Church is still focused on a salvation only Gospel. No wonder the world only asks questions of us regarding heaven and hell because they don’t know that we are supposed to have access to the entire Kingdom of God. They don’t know we have access to far more than salvation – because we don’t know it ourselves.
Even if man never fell – we would have a huge assignment upon this planet that would require continual communion with God. We were designed to thrive on that communion – a symbiotic relationship. Without it we languish never reaching our full potential. We don’t even know it because we are conditioned to accept life without God. In fact, this includes Christians. We have become so accustom to doing things in our own strength we haven’t scratched the surface of what life would be like if we did everything in partnership with His strength.
Heaven – is an extension of living in Christ – that is why it is not a gift of Jesus – but a place in Jesus. It’s not a separate place from Him. So it is not accessed outside of Him. All of the Kingdom of God is in God. We can only access it by knowing Jesus and having His Holy Spirit living inside of us.
Hell – is an extension of existence outside of Christ – where He is not present. Where we are always thirsty for Him and yet unable to quench our thirst – we may not even know at that point we thirst for Him, but we will know the torment of life without Him. It is tormenting because it was never to be – not because it was the worst punishment God could think up for not loving Him. It is, instead, the place of abject darkness – full of souls perishing without His sustenance we so desperately require. Existence without God is death. When we cross over from our earthly existence without God – all is left is existence without God – that is an eternal perishing existence.
Kingdom of God – is the extension of heaven – of Jesus manifested upon the earth by God’s children accessing heaven and making it available to be experienced by others on earth. This is everything from peace to healing the sick or raising the dead, or causing unfertile land to produce a harvest, or any other number of miracles.
Everything that has breath is designed to operate within the Kingdom of God – without the King there is no Kingdom.
While brief, hopefully this article helps to create a more accurate rendering of the story of the role of God in the life of humanity regardless of the interruption and corruption of sin.