Study Guide: Trouble In Paradise

Sunday June 16, 2019 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

In the second part of our Long Story Short series Greg takes a look at what happens when Adam and Eve disobey God by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and what universal lessons we can learn from them about who we were originally designed to be. Life in the Kingdom revolves around trusting God for provision and honoring his prohibition. It’s this focus that keeps us secure in our identity and not looking for life elsewhere through judging eyes. We are to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, and him crucified, and this will keep us from judgment of others as well as keep a clear picture of who God is.

Extended Summary:

When looking at the Bible as a whole it can be difficult to see the forest through the trees. It’s hard to know how to connect the dots with all the different characters, ideas, and timelines. In this series we are looking at the Bible through the dual lenses of covenant and kingdom. There are times when it can take looking at a verse the 5th or 6th time and then finally the coin drops in the slot. It’s important to never get weary of repetition and don’t assume you already know the conclusion because God is always looking to speak a fresh word to those who have ears to hear.

When looking at a passage like Genesis 3, many questions can come to mind. How literally or figuratively is the passage meant to be taken? What is the genre? How do we integrate this story with the theory of evolution? What to make of all the other species of humans? There are many thinking about how to answer these questions, but it’s also okay to say we don’t know or we’re not sure. There is no certainty test in the Kingdom and we’re not required to lose all doubt. It’s healthy to be asking questions. What we do have good evidence for and compelling reasons to believe is that Jesus Christ is Lord, and that he endorsed the Old Testament. At the end of the day we may have to conclude that the story of Genesis didn’t set out to answer 21st century science questions. That’s okay and it shouldn’t affect our belief in its inspiration.

There are a couple ideas central to Woodland Hills view of the Kingdom fleshed out in Genesis 3. The first is that the life we are to trust God for is the life we’ve been given. There are 2 trees in the center of the garden. The tree of life represents God’s provision and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil represents God’s loving no trespassing sign. We were created in his image and he put his imprint on us. Nothing else will fill that void in us except his life in us. We learn that life in the Kingdom revolves around trusting God for provision and honoring his prohibition. The knowledge of good and evil is about thinking we have the ability and the right to define good and evil for ourselves – thinking we can be the judge. God says, be like me in my kindness and my character, but don’t try to be like me in my judgment, because unlike God, we can’t both love and judge at the same time.

Love is about ascribing worth to another at cost to yourself. Judgment is about ascribing worth to yourself at cost to another. Judgment creates a parasitic effect where we continually walk around hungry looking to get full off our comparison to others. We can’t ascribe worth when we’re constantly trying to steal it. The fullness of the provision is what keeps us away from the prohibition. We have one job and that is to agree with God that every human being has unsurpassable worth. Paul said he resolved to know one thing, Jesus Christ and him crucified. It’s okay to discern things, separating objects and safe from unsafe, but we are never to separate ourselves from people as a way of getting life from the comparison. If we really care about sin, we should start with our own and consider ourselves to be the worst of sinners.

The second idea is that all our feelings about God are derived from our picture of him. The first thing the enemy goes after is Eve’s image of God. Unfortunately, the hungrier you are, the more appetizing rubbish looks. The beauty of our kingdom life will never outrun the beauty of our picture of God. We will take on the image of the God we worship. Jesus is not one among many images of God, but rather he is the definitive revelation. He tells his disciples that if they see him, they see the Father. If our eyes stay fixed on Jesus, we’ll know what God is like. Keeping our eyes fixed on him will both give us an accurate picture as well as keep us away from judgment. This practice often starts out of sheer obedience, but over time will lead to a life characterized by freedom.

Reflection Questions: