Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Grace of Being Fully Known and Fully Loved

I continue with my notes and comments on the teaching we received from Monica Michael at the SGF Ladies' Retreat.

Evidence of God's Love for Adam & Eve:

1. God gave them purpose. Be fruitful and multiply. God took the man and put him in the garden to tend it and to keep it.

When you feel you have no purpose, it's dreadful.

2. God provided food and pleasure. 29 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. You shall have them for food. . . So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes.

3. God gifted them with each other. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.

4. God gifted them with Himself. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day.

Adam and Eve were fully known and fully loved. God provided for their intellectual, physical, emotional and spiritual needs. There was no angst. They were naked and unashamed.

Were there any vulnerabilities in Eden?

It was a pristine environment, but was it paradise? The notes in the ESV Bible say

God provides a suitable environment for the man by planting a garden in Eden, in the east. The name “Eden,” which would have conveyed the sense of “luxury, pleasure,” probably denotes a region much greater than the garden itself. God formed the man in the “land” (see vv. 5–7), and then put him in the garden (cf. v. 15). The earliest translation into Greek (the Septuagint) used the word paradeisos (from which comes the English term “paradise”; cf. note on Luke 23:39–43) to translate the Hebrew term for “garden,” on the understanding that it resembled a royal park. The abundance of the garden is conveyed by the observation that it contained every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food

There are only three verses that mention paradise:

Luke 23:43
And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

2 Corinthians 12:3
And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—

Revelation 2:7
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’

So Eden was like paradise, in that it was a luxurious garden. But there were vulnerabilities.

Not Good. God said it was good. But He also said something was NOT good. This was before the fall.

Genesis 2:18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

Why was it "not good" that man should be alone? Isn't God enough? Isn't God more than enough?

God was so OTHER. So ALMIGHTY. So TRANSCENDENT. There is a huge gap between God and man. Adam needed a helper suitable for him. A comparable companion.

Death Mentioned. Before sin, before disobedience, death was mentioned. This is certainly a vulnerability. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

God Made a Garden, but it needed to be tended. Why did it need overseeing? If everything was peaceful and right and perfect, why did they need to order it?

Corruptibility. Man was created, and was not self-existent. There was finitude. He was corruptible. Only ONE is incorruptible: God.

Harm. The prohibition meant that there was something in the garden that could cause them harm.

The Tree. What about the tree? Was it bad? If Adam and Eve were to disobey God, the disobedience would be bad - The spiritual act of going against the Creator.

So the garden of Eden was good, but not-so-perfect.

Evil. The Serpent was there. Evil.

Paradise = Heaven; not Eden.

In Eden, there was a lack of God-Awareness and a lack of Self-Awareness.

Want in Eden

Did not know God was their only source of help


Lack of




Didn’t know God’s Words

Disregarded God’s Words

Wasn’t sure of God’s motives

Valued his own judgment above God’s

Blind to her own vulnerabilities

Lack of



Unaware of his role as protector and leader

Mistook the Fruit for something good

Ate what could bring him harm

Did not know they were naked.

There was no Reciprocity. God fully knew Adam and Eve, and He fully loved them; but they did not fully know and fully love God. They did not know how great the Father's love was. If they had known, they would never have gone against Him; if they had sinned, they never would have hidden from Him, but would have run to Him for forgiveness and cleansing.

We cannot fully love what we do not fully know. Ignorance is NOT bliss.

Products of Guilt

Loss of Innocence

Emotional Discomfort

Loss of Transparency

Disruption of Relationships


Focus on External Motivators

Responses that Lead to Death:

Avoid God.

Focus on Someone Else's contribution to the problem.

Letting the Problem paralyze you.

In Christ

Clean Conscience



Unconditional Love


Focus on Internal Motivators

Monica then gave an example from her own life of a response that lead to guilt and fear and "death". She had a habit of leaving her supper dishes sit in the sink until morning. She just didn't do them. The sight of the dishes in the sink every morning bugged her, so she decided that leaving them was not an adult thing to do. She'd change.

She asked herself, "What is keeping me from doing the dishes?"

Ask yourself this in regard to your issues of guilt, procrastination, angst:

What is keeping you from doing _____________ ?

When will you benefit your family by getting it done?

Monica asked the ladies for their theories regarding her not doing the supper dishes.

Don't like dishes.

Want someone else to do them.

Want company in the kitchen.



Monica confessed that she didn't like doing dishes because it was dark. She had huge, deep angst regarding the dark window that she looked out of when she did the supper dishes.

One day she was in a seminary class, and the professor asked, "Who has a fear you want to get rid of?"

Monica flippantly put up her hand. After the break, the professor assured her, we'll get rid of that fear forever. (Apparently, he did. It involved the class surrounding her, being a safe place for her. It involved using the Scriptures to speak to the issues.)

Do you trust God? (We all know He is trustworthy!)

How well do you know yourself? How well do you know God? Do you actively pursue Spiritual growth?

God Awareness + Self Awareness = Authentic Christianity

Suggestions from Monica for Greater Awareness

1. Pray out loud more often. God knows your thoughts; the Spirit groans within you.

2. Pray that God will answer, then look for the answers. Expectation.

3. Read your Bible more actively. Write down questions. Jot down notes.

4. Pay more attention to your emotions. We aren't just "walking heads". We are sentient beings.

5. Ask yourself if there is a disconnect between what you read and how you feel.

6. Participate authentically in small groups. Be yourself. Be real.

7. Personalize Scripture.

8. Teach others what you learn. Look carefully at your assumptions; discard falsehood.

9. When God brings a verse to mind, ask Him if there's something He wants you to remember or think about. Practice the presence of God.

Monica said that the technique the professor used was an incredibly emotional experience that freed her from fear. She gained freedom - God does not give a spirit of fear. She gained blessing - comfort from classmates. She gained deep trust in God. She gained courage to take God's word and apply it to her life.

There are promises in Christ that we have not apprehended. Mediocrity is not good enough.

This is where Monica's seminar fell short. She did not explain what the professor did, or how she was freed. She seemed to say "look at me, I am free from fear, and I have never looked back" without giving any practical examples of what her listeners could do to find the same freedom.

I do agree that greater awareness of God and self is important. A right view of God (holy, transcendent, omniscient, etc.) and self (saved by the grace of God, dependent on His righteousness, prone to wander, etc.) is essential to live an authentic Christian life. Applying Scripture to specific needs or fears or guilt is freeing. I agree with that. However, I don't think the "hows" were taught clearly.

More to come tomorrow.


  1. Indeed.

    It was interesting to me to think about how Eden was not paradise; it was good, but not perfect. Very interesting.

  2. ^ I agree. Hadn't thought about that before.

  3. Ok, I read back words. Now I get it.

  4. A good discussion about some aspects surrounding the garden that I had never considered before. I had the same question about the professor's technique as I was reading, though - i.e. what scriptures did he and class use to help her fear?

    I am enjoying living vicariously through you at this conference!


Remember that you will give an account for every word. Respond with wisdom and grace, please.