Most Christians have no idea of what the Biblical "cosmos" is. Yet the Greek word "KOSMOS" appears no less than 186 times in the New Testament. It is usually translated as "world". For example, the first time it appears, is in Matthew 4:8 where it is describing Jesus' temptation in the wilderness before his ministry began.
it is also used to describe the people in the world, as in John
1:10, (where the word occurs three times).|
define the cosmos, I would like to make two statements.
The cosmos is everything that God has made.
2. Most importantly, it is everything spiritual he has made.
is all in all
is everywhere and he is all powerful. Everything he has made, he has made out
of himself. He is the first and the last and there is no other. He is spirit and
spirit is more "real" than physical matter which has originally been
made out of spirit by the word of God. Matter degenerates with time, spirit is
marvel is that we have been made by God in his image. How could independent spiritual
entities exist when God is all and in all, omnipresent and omniscient?
cosmos is primarily spiritual
think of it as a physical place. We might tend naturally to think of the cosmos
as the physical world or even the universe, but that isn't what God sees primarily.
I think the best way to illustrate it is to use the example of the worldwide web.
I have a lap top computer with me with internet connections I can access my e-mail
from the worldwide web from wherever I am, at home, at work, on a bus, or even
up the top of a mountain. So my internet "identity" is everywhere, but
it only becomes active wherever I have the correct ID to log in. In the same way,
whoever sits in the same room with me can log into their own e-mail if they use
their own correct ID log-in's. My address is not my home in England but rather
an internet address that could be anywhere physically. This is because the www
is "everywhere" physically speaking, but only become active wherever
it is accessed appropriately.
is what the cosmos is like. God has made millions of spiritual individuals out
of himself that can think and make decisions and experience feelings as separate
entities. (Spirit is not limited by space as matter is). They live and move and
have their being in him. It is in the sense of living within his womb that they
grow and develop. What he has done, in effect, is to remove aspects of himself
to a degree, from certain spiritual "locations" so that they can experience
a spiritual life independently. He is still there, of course, because he is everywhere
but he chooses to limit his manifestation to make room for his children.
has made you to be an independent spiritual being who can exist as a separate
individual. Your body joins with your spirit to make you a living soul. This is
like your p.c. that is logged onto the internet. That's where your consciousness
is. (You can't read you e-mail unless you have a computer or device to access
it with, even though the web fills the very room you are in right now).
Similarly, without your body you would have no access to your spirit.
is the cosmos
is a spiritual womb in which God is producing children. It isn't physical space,
which goes on forever. God isn't somewhere beyond space. He is here. He is inside
you and around you but he has made a space within himself (spiritually speaking)
in which he is nurturing you.
the way, people are not made of "spirit, soul and body". They are made
of spirit and physical matter. Oh I know that 1
Thessalonians 5:23 says "May your whole spirit soul and
body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ", but
that was an expression like "heart and soul" or "heart, soul and
mind". Look it up for yourself and you will see that "The Lord
God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils
the breath (Heb. RUACH, spirit) of life and the man became a living being."
about it, if your "body" consists of chemicals and your "spirit"
consists of spirit, (which they do), what is your soul made from?
God has purposely made us spirit in a physical body so that we don't live for ever. The life we lead inside the cosmos is a preparation time for Christ to be formed in us. If we had eternal life now as human beings we would resist the work of God in our lives more than we do now. It is all for a good purpose and it is all made by God. Dualism says that the spirit is good but the body is bad. This is nonsense. You are made of both and both are made by God, of himself, for his glory.
probably doesn't need much amplification. Most people believe this, on an intellectual
level at least. The problem is that Christians have largely misrepresented him
out of sheer ignorance and foolishness. This has resulted in many people being
turned off Christianity and with good reason.
Well, would you think a god was "loving" if they were represented to you as doing the following?
|1.||He made man, left him alone in the Garden of Eden with the serpent (knowing his weakness - because he made him) and just because he eats one fruit, banishes him from his presence forever.|
|2.||He subjects everyone forever afterwards to fallen human nature, sicknesses and ultimately death, and periodic warfare, famine, pestilences and untold natural disasters.|
|3.||He then chooses one nation, the Jews, to be his favourites. He gives them the land of Palestine and tells them to drive out the people who are peacefully living there at the time. He commands them to commit ethnic cleansing and horrific war crimes. Men women and children are to be killed.|
|4.||Until Jesus comes along, no non-Jew has a hope of salvation unless they become Jews. Finally Jesus is born and overturns the Old Testament laws. But he is killed by sinful men.|
|5.||This was all a part of God's secret plan, however. His anger demands death for sin but he is prepared to accept Jesus' death instead of man's. (Why not just forgive us all, like we are supposed to when someone does something to hurt us?)|
|6.||Of course, it only counts for you if you accept Jesus personally as Lord and Saviour. If the missionaries don't get to your village before you die, then, "Sorry chum", it's an eternity in hell for you along with everyone else who never heard the gospel or understood it for whatever reason.|
you really want to cuddle up to this God? Can the God of the Old Testament be
the same one the New Testament describes? Can we wonder that people aren't beating
a path to our church doors?
he is the same God in the Old and New Testaments. But the Church has done a bad
job of explaining the Bible to people for them to understand why God has done
what he has. He is love and everything he does is motivated by 100% altruistic
concern for mankind. But some of our cop-outs are pathetic. Like "Well, all
the suffering we see on earth isn't God's will. He allows it but it's not his
perfect will. It's only his 'allowed' will."
nonsense. If God is all powerful why doesn't he just make sure that everything
that happens IS his perfect will? Or is the devil just too strong now? This brings
us to my next point.
you make something you can't control it doesn't say much for your abilities as
a creator, does it? "But the devil upset God's plans," some will say.
Oh really? Who's the most powerful then? The devil that is supposedly filling up hell with his billions of souls or God and his little flock?
illustration of a jigsaw puzzle
you ever done a difficult jigsaw puzzle? I remember one particularly tricky one
I did that I got nearly to the end of and found that the few pieces that I had
left simply didn't fit in the few gaps that were left in the puzzle. I realized
that either they had put the wrong pieces in the box when they made it (a bit
unlikely) or else I must have put some earlier pieces in the wrong places. Guess
what? Some of the pieces I had put in earlier were wrong. Once I took them out
I was able to see the correct places for all the pieces. It's like that with these
doctrines. You think, "Certainly God couldn't possibly be responsible for
all the terrible things that we see going on today? Aren't millions suffering
through dying of AIDS, famines and wars and diseases and then going to a lost
eternity in hell?"
if you took that piece out again and examined it you would find that the Bible
teaches that hell is redemptive. It is for a season - it's not for eternity. Once
you realize that - you begin to see how many scriptures there are that tell us
that Jesus is the saviour of the whole world, that he loves everyone equally,
that he isn't calling everyone today and that he has "Bound all men
over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all." (Romans
things begin to fit together. God really is in charge of everything that is happening
because he is working it out for everyone's ultimate good. Suffering has a purpose.
Life's unfairness isn't without meaning or an ultimate restoration. God will reward
us one day and put right all the wrongs of this life. (And, I might add, we will
be staggered to see who gets the top seats at that heavenly banquet. The Bible
says that the first will be last and the last first. Think about that.)
The universe is safe in his loving hands. The salvation of all mankind is his purpose and nothing and no-one can thwart him. It's important that we are obedient to him for our own sakes but believe me; someone else's salvation doesn't rest in your hands.
dear Christian brother once told us of something that was haunting him in his
walk with God. Some time back he had the impression that God wanted him to "witness
to" someone. He was nervous about just going up to them cold and talking
about Jesus and so he vacillated, the moment was lost and he didn't do it. Shortly
afterwards that particular neighbour died suddenly.
you imagine the torment that this brother went through as he believed that there
is someone who had gone to a lost eternity of unending torment because he didn't
pluck up the courage to witness to them?
God looks on the heart. To him, the case of this brother is no different from that of any one of us who has failed to respond to a prompting of the Holy Spirit at any time. He would rather we had obeyed. It would have been better for us and caused blessing to others in all probability. But God has got it all in hand. The fate of all rests with him and him alone. What a relief!
exactly is free will?
would have you believe that you can't understand free will. But is that true?
Why not apply a bit of logic for a moment and see what conclusions we come to?
for a moment that you were as clever as God. (Okay - total fantasy but bear with
me). You want to make a robot that has free will. How would you do it? There would
be no problem with making it extremely complex and able to make decisions on complex
matters. But would its decisions always depend on the data that it received? Of
course! Regardless of whether the factors that caused the decisions to vary were
from external stimuli or internal stimuli as well as data from various sources,
the basic decision making system would be logically based upon the input received.
The point is that you can add a random factor so that the decisions are based on evaluating the data in varying ways so as to come up with different decisions from time to time. But, nevertheless, this is still a "cause and effect", "output based on input" system.
this really what we mean by "free will"?
it isn't. When we talk about free will we essentially mean that it is something
that we can be held accountable for, don't we? We have laws in our country that
carry penalties such as fines or imprisonment for people who break them. The basis
of this is that they are accountable for their actions. If we were all "programmed"
to act in whatever ways we do simply because of the inputs we have received from
our genetic makeup and our environment combined then we must come to the conclusion
that no-one could be blamed or punished because of the way they act.
we believe that people can choose whether or not to do wrong. (Of course, there
are situations where this freedom of will is diminished or even removed, such
as when people are under the influence of drugs or compelled by addictions or
illness etc. etc.) But the courts take such situations into account.
will, therefore, cannot be explained by Skinnerian psychology or mere cause and
effect from physical stimuli alone. There is a spiritual factor involved in human
behaviour that is not present in the same way in animals or plants. I say "in
the same way" because I believe that animals also have a spirit (not the
same as a human spirit) that imparts consciousness to them on an animal level
and that appears to enable some animals to "choose" their reactions
at different times.
Bible says, "For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the
man's spirit within him?" (1
is the human spirit that God puts into each human being when they draw their first
breath that imparts to them the consciousness that we understand as "human".
Sometimes, if there is brain damage this is not manifested, but human consciousness,
which is far higher than animal consciousness and imparts the ability to think
abstractly and appreciate beauty and also to exercise free will etc. is a result
of the human spirit working in conjunction with the human brain.
we have a spirit, we are able to exercise free will on a natural human level.
this is totally different from being able to make choices on a spiritual level.
The verse in 1 Corinthians
goes on to say
means that if a person doesn't have the Spirit of God (the Holy Spirit) then they
can't understand the mind of God. They have human free will but they cannot choose
to please God, it's impossible for them to. They are simply human and essentially
selfish without the gift of faith that the Holy Spirit imparts to a person and
without such faith it is impossible to please God.
Later in 1 Corinthians 2 it goes on to say,
People would have you believe that God will burn those in hell forever who fail to respond to the gospel in this life. But if the truth of the gospel is "spiritually discerned" from them, God could not blame them for their wrong "choice" could he? Wouldn't that be grossly unfair? Some Bible teachers would tell you that this is exactly what God does and they support their claim by quoting Romans 9,
other words, who are you to question God? If he wants to fry some of your family
forever, you have no cause to be unhappy with him. After all, you're chosen, so
you can live happily ever after.
Of course, this is a gross misrepresentation of the letter to the Romans and one that would become apparent to anyone who reads through the entire book. It says later on that:
|(Romans 11:8 & 32)|
As far as salvation is concerned you don't have free will. God chooses whosoever he chooses. Do you think that Saul of Tarsus had free will regarding his salvation? Before Jesus confronted him on the Damascus road he was a zealot serving God to the best of his ability within Judaism but without illumination from the Holy Spirit. As such he couldn't please God (spiritually speaking). Once the Holy Spirit opened his spiritual eyes (and closed his physical ones) he was converted because God chose to call him to accomplish the ministry that he chose for him.
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