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Lesson 1: God's Nature: The Basis of Atonement *

Introduction: Have you ever thought about how long God has been around? Just saying, "How long" implies a specific period of time. Can you imagine a God who has always been? There is much scientific evidence for the "Big Bang" theory of the origin of the universe. We can observe that the universe is uniformly expanding outward at a set rate of speed. Two logical conclusions flow from this. First, the universe had a creation point (the "bang"). Second, since the rate of expansion is perfectly timed, an Intelligence guided the "bang." If time was created when the universe was created, then the "Intelligence" exists in a realm outside of time. Let's dive into the Bible and see what it says on this subject!

  1. Creator God


    1. Read Psalms 102:25. Do the heavens and the earth have a beginning, according to the Psalmist? (Yes.)


      1. Read Genesis 1:1-2. Just looking at these two verses, does it appear to you that the heavens and the earth were created at a point in time before our specific world was further developed? (These verses can easily be understood this way. God "bangs" the universe into existence, and then He sets to "work" to improve our "formless and empty" earth into the Creation. The amount of the time lapse is not indicated.)


    2. Read Psalms 102:26. Does our earth have a finite time to exist? (Yes.)


      1. What happens when the earth wears out? (God creates a new one.)


    3. Imagine a God who is so powerful that creating a new world is like you putting on new clothes. What would you do if it turned out that the set of clothing you had just created had a defect?


      1. Consider the options open to God when Adam and Eve sinned. What would you have done?


    4. Read Psalms 102:27-28. What does this tell us about our Eternal God and the future of His defective children? (It suggests that humans will live in His eternal presence. Their earth will wear out, but God will make a place for them in His presence.)


      1. Which member of the Trinity is the one who created our earth? (Skim Hebrews 1:8-12. The writer of Hebrews tells us that Psalms 102:25-27 refer to Jesus (the Son). He is the Creator.)


    5. Read Isaiah 65:17-19. We learned that God will make a place for His people after this earth has worn out. What place is that? (He makes a new heaven and a new earth.)


      1. Will the new earth remind us of the old earth? (God mentions a new city with the name of an old city - Jerusalem. I think that the new earth will have places we recognize from the old earth.)


        1. What major differences will there be in the geography of the new earth? (Read Revelation 21:1. The sea is gone. Most of the present earth is covered with water.)


  2. Loving God


    1. So far we learned that God (specifically Jesus) created the earth and will recreate it. The good news is that we do not need to die when the old earth dies. That does not make logical sense, because we are defective. We sinned. If God can make a new earth as easily as He changes His clothes, why not just create a new, better grade of humans while He is at it? What interest would He have in preserving us?


    2. Read 1 John 4:9-10. What interest does God have in us? (He loves us.)


      1. Why? Look at the person to the right of you. Would you give up your only son for that person?


        1. Would you give up your son if that person was in trouble and facing death due to their own fault? Let's say that person is dying of AIDS because of an improper sexual relationship and your son has always been pure sexually?


        2. What if you could easily create a new, better version of the person sitting to your right? Would you give up your son then?


        3. Let's go beyond a simple trade - your son for that person to the right of you. Assume that person to the right of you (and that person's family) planned to torture your son in this trade. Would you do it then?


    3. Read 1 John 4:7-8. Do you know God? (My brain is not big enough to "know" God. That He would give up Himself, give up His Son, to death and torture for me is beyond my ability to grasp. It is a love beyond my comprehension.)


      1. Does this mean that I (and you, if you just agreed with me) do not fit within 1 John 4:7-8? (I don't think any honest person can say they completely grasp the enormity of God's love. These verses say that an attribute of a born again person is that we will love that person sitting to the right of us (and left of us and those all around us).)


      2. We are the beneficiaries of a love that we cannot completely comprehend. What fortunate people we are!


  3. God Without Equal


    1. Read Isaiah 40:25-26. What is your answer to the question in verse 25? (Based on what we just learned, God has no equal.)


      1. What is the pagan's answer? (Time and chance.)


      2. Time and time again, God pins His claims, His entitlement to our allegiance, on His Creation of the world and His recreation of humans through Jesus' redemption of us. In that light, is it fair to call the Genesis account a myth or an allegory?


      3. I was just reading something written by retired Professor Irvin Taylor, a cultural anthropologist. He said that "most educated" members of my church who live in the more developed countries "have matured past the point" of taking the Genesis account of God's creation literally. What do you think? If we become more "mature," live in a certain place and have "higher" education, will we start believing that time and chance are the true explanation for God's amazing claims? (Full disclosure: I am not familiar enough with Prof. Taylor's views to know whether he has "matured" to the point of believing in time and chance as opposed to simply disbelieving the Genesis account.)


        1. It is hard for me to believe that Professor Taylor really thinks that geography and age make the real difference in a person's thinking. What I suspect he is really talking about is higher education. Should a highly educated person be more likely to disbelieve God's claims? (My goal is to reconcile God's eternal truths with whatever science currently claims is the true. If the Christian God stakes His claim to our allegiance on His Creation and Redemption, logic says that people who disbelieve Him need to seek out another god who makes no such claims.)


    2. Look again at Isaiah 40:26. The Psalmist says not one of the stars is missing. Missing? How could you lose a star? (This is one of the astonishing things about the rate of expansion of the universe. If it expanded too quickly, it would blow apart. If it expanded too slowly, gravity would take over and it would implode. God has precisely ordered the universe.)


    3. Read Psalms 139:1-4. God has a universe to mind. He has nations and rulers to mind. Has He time for you? Has He the capacity to know about your (my) little life? (The Psalmist tells us that God knows everything about my life.)


    4. Friend, do you need to expand your thinking about God? Do you need to expand your view of the love He has for you? The idea that we can scratch a rock, and then with our limited mental ability extrapolate truth which contradicts the plainest teaching of Scriptures is the ultimate arrogance. Will you today decide to repent and give God His proper place in the universe He created?


  4. Next week: Cosmic Crisis: The Disruption of God's Established Order.
* Copr. 2008, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2017 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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