Whole Treasure of Heaven

Just before I woke up this morning I experienced a most intense dream. Too many times such intensity involves fear that wakes me up full of adrenaline, but this time it was the opposite. I can't remember anything about the circumstances in the dream, only that somehow I suddenly began to perceive the truth about the above quote that has mystified me all my life. Yet as soon as I awakened from the intense emotion this revelation caused in me, I couldn't remember the answer that had just produced that reaction.

As I lay there trying to recapture the lost epiphany praying for God to bring it back to me, I scrambled to recall the phrase or quote that was associated with it. A little later I went looking for it in my computer and this was the closest I could find to what I remember hearing growing up. Although I did begin to perceive an explanation different from what I had previously had about these concepts, I also realize how much I need to become more deeply settled into the truths God has been teaching and revealing to me in recent years about His true character and disposition.

God could not do more for man than He has done in giving His beloved Son, nor could He do less and yet secure the redemption of man and maintain the dignity of the divine law. He poured out in our behalf the whole treasure of heaven; for in giving His Son He threw open to us the golden gates of heaven, making one infinite gift to those who shall accept the sacrifice and return to their allegiance to God. Christ came to our world with love as broad as eternity in His heart, offering to make man heir of all His riches and glory. In this act He unveiled to man the character of His Father, showing to every human being that God can be just and yet the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. {4T 418}

Now that I have rejected and discarded horrific atonement views that define the meaning of the cross of Jesus in distorted ways that I grew up believing, there are still many peripheral issues left over that still await revisiting and reinterpreting, and this is likely one of them. If the cross had nothing to do with appeasing a vengeful God or paying off some demand on His part, then how does this idea of the treasures of heaven being given to us fit into what I now see as the truth about what is actually happening? I perceive that this is a mine full of treasure waiting to be explored that I never noticed before. I am eager to listen to whatever the Spirit is waiting to bring to me, for I long to experience again that overwhelming awe and appreciation of whatever it was I encountered a few hours ago.

But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved-- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God-- not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. (Ephesians 2:4-10)

To me this statement, along with Paul's words to the Ephesians, implies that God took some sort of massive risk. This also seems to be reflected in a number of parables Jesus told. That sounds hollow if God is like how we have typically imagined Him to be - untouchable, above creation and to some degree unable to feel threatened by anything or even able to actually lose anything.

What might God have had that He could lose? What was the investment of God? I find clues but not necessarily clear answers, at least up to this point.

If heaven's governing arrangement is like some have suggested (and I believe more and more that it is, for it helps to explain many other things I have been learning), that there is some sort of giant council/court/house of representatives in heaven that God allows to help govern the universe with Him in some sort of power-sharing arrangement, then I could begin to see a potential huge risk God could have chosen (and this might fit the 'poured out all heaven' phrase). He needs respect and honor in this arrangement producing uninhibited trust from beings He has delegated to share authority with Him. (For a peek into the existence of such a heavenly 'house of representatives,' look at Job 1 and 2.)

Did God risk losing respect for His governing methods by proposing a radically risky venture that might prove impossible to accomplish in the end because it required full endorsement on the part of myriads of beings? God's planned method to overcome evil may be so foreign to how we believe it must be done means we too are ready to deny it is possible if He attempts to do it His way. Most people I know are unwilling to accept that love alone will be enough to win against all the forces of evil and rebellion and coercion. Yet I have come to believe that this is in fact what God intends to prove to everyone, to the consternation of not only most humans but also other beings in the universe.

As I have pondered this for some years, the clues seem to support the existence of this interesting power-sharing arrangement. Very possibly God's proposal to bring redeemed sinners into heaven's pristine society, maybe even to fill the vacancies created by fallen angels who abandoned their positions (Jude 6) may have been viewed with considerable skepticism at its initial unveiling. We don't generally think of loyal angels as having any doubts about God's will or wishes, yet the more I come to appreciate God's true character the less I track with that line of thinking. I believe many of the loyal angels may have had serious questions about the practicality of God's proposal. I also believe that because God has chosen to govern through earning the respect of those who choose to submit to Him and by never forcing His will, He thus has to make a strong enough case before this court He has in place to convince all of them before He may be willing to move ahead with important ventures.

To imagine that the Almighty, supreme ruler of the universe would make Himself accountable to anyone sounds almost blasphemous. But the more I come to know about Him the more sense this makes, for to do otherwise could actually lessen the respect of free-thinking beings He created to live in an atmosphere of pure love free of all fear. The only way that heaven can live in harmony with God's principles of freedom, truth and love is for every individual to willingly acquiesce that God's ways are best and that He has proven that to them sufficiently to invite their implicit trust in Him.

I know many might view me as diminishing God's holiness for even suggesting such notions, but so far this arrangement for God's government makes more sense given all the evidence I have gleaned over time. If this is indeed the case, then the above statement and others suggesting God has bet all heaven on successfully pulling off our redemption might include the risk of having to convince every last angel and unfallen being to endorse His seemingly crazy proposals. God waits until all are fully convinced and give Him their permission to carry it out, and then they can offer to assist in helping Him do so.

I think that possibly many of these heavenly beings have long been scrutinizing many cases God has been working on here on earth, watching the growing evidence that has accumulating slowly in God's favor. As time after time He salvages apparently impossible people, turning sordid sinners into humble, loving saints, He has been convincing highly intelligent minds in heaven that His plan to re-populate His government using former slaves, abusers, rednecks, perverts and outright haters – generally anyone who has been debased by selfishness. And He asserts that these can strengthen His government in the long run instead of endangering it. This is the massive project God has undertaken.

Remember, God also respects the concerns and opinions of every individual in the universe and will never force His will on anyone. I believe He intends to prove conclusively in the end that total freedom and respect, not just for us here on earth but for all beings everywhere, is the only safe environment in which He can secure His everlasting kingdom. This is what I believe the Bible calls 'the faith of Jesus.'

So is this the risk God has taken? Does it involve risking His reputation, or additionally other things He might lose? If He cannot pull off completely persuading a skeptical universe, relying on evidence alone with no coercion involved, to prove that He can be trusted to be able to thoroughly transform sinners without violating anyone's freedom, and even go so far as to also empower them to co-govern the universe with Him from His own throne – if God cannot persuade every last participant that will be affected by this arrangement to buy into it fully, then everything He plans could actually fall apart. For I am convinced He will never force His plans on anyone, not even unfallen loyal angels.

I want to analyze more carefully clues I noticed in this quotation that might provide more insights.

God could not do more for man than He has done in giving His beloved Son, nor could He do less...

It is true that the focal point of God's risk and gift are wrapped up in the act of sending of His Son to this planet as a human to do all the things needing to be done to overcome evil for all eternity. But the reasons used to explain what that means have changed dramatically for me in recent years. I now see sin, not so much as bad behavior or breaking rules but as an issue of distrust resulting from belief in lies about our heavenly Father. Malfunctions we call sin are simply symptoms of that distrust, and in that light the gift of Jesus has everything to do with changing our minds about God by exposing and refuting every lie about Him that leads us to doubt or distrust His heart and His passionate love for us.

...one infinite gift to those who shall accept the sacrifice and return to their allegiance to God.

Christ came to our world with love as broad as eternity in His heart, offering to make man heir of all His riches and glory. In this act He unveiled to man the character of His Father...

What seems to emerge as the central point of contention that Jesus came to address is the accusations and presumptions about what is in God's heart versus the true character of the Father. Our allegiance should not result from some demand or threat by God but rather needs to be based on an intelligent appreciation of His true character of love.

The law of love being the foundation of the government of God, the happiness of all created beings depended upon their perfect accord with its great principles of righteousness. God desires from all His creatures the service of love--homage that springs from an intelligent appreciation of His character. He takes no pleasure in a forced allegiance, and to all He grants freedom of will, that they may render Him voluntary service. {GC 493}

God does not force the will or judgment of any. He takes no pleasure in a slavish obedience. He desires that the creatures of His hands shall love Him because He is worthy of love. He would have them obey Him because they have an intelligent appreciation of His wisdom, justice, and benevolence. And all who have a just conception of these qualities will love Him because they are drawn toward Him in admiration of His attributes. {GC 541}

Christ came to show us the Father – straight out. What Christ demonstrated the most about His Father, according to this statement, was a love as broad as eternity, a love extreme and maybe even irrational to the minds of loyal angels when He proposed making us heirs of all His riches and His glory. This is where it seems to me the risk factor really comes in big time. God made this proposal to beings who had already experienced enormous trauma resulting from a previous massive upheaval in heaven and who have suffered unspeakable emotional agony when heaven's society was first ripped apart by Lucifer's rebellion. Understandably from their perspective, such a proposal by God could have the effect of arousing a great deal of serious questions in the minds of beings who have become extremely diligent to prevent anything from ever ruining the peace, joy and tranquility of heaven again.

Unfallen angels know in some respects better than any of us, just how damaging and subtle sin can be and how easily it can hide behind a veneer of righteousness. Lucifer was personally known as one of their best friends and had betrayed their trust and ripped apart unnumbered friendships as a result of his accusations against God. As a result of such a history they would have no interest in ever allowing any Trojan horse to be slipped into heaven masking the deadly virus of selfishness. And I believe God fully respects that wariness.

Yet God still proposed that He wants to take many of the worst victims of Satan's abuse and who have even themselves participated in similarly exploiting others to inherit a place on His throne. And this proposal is based only on promises that through a revelation of His character in the person of His Son these very people can become completely trustworthy. What kind of extreme, radical faith does God have, that through the effectiveness of just the testimony of His Son and the evidence He revealed at the cross about the truth about His Father, that sinners can be so transformed by that so as to not only be safe to live among holy beings but beyond that may become experts to help administer God's universe for and with Him. This is nothing short of mind-boggling.

It seems to be clear to me now that possibly this may be at least part of the risk God has taken. It does involve sending His Son to this earth, in part to qualify Him to displace Satan as the representative for our race in the assembly or court in heaven. Now with Jesus retaining our seat in the house of universe representatives, and God, His own Father, presiding over all proceedings, we as humans have the most compelling and expert Team working on our behalf and even seeking to raise us up to places of honor that stagger our imagination. What a God we serve!

What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else?
I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-32, 38-39)

I think I am starting to recover some of that awe in my dream that I lost when I woke up this morning.


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