Introduction – Born in a Box

Born in a Box

There are seven billion, two hundred million people alive on this date on planet earth.  This number can be adjusted to the date this Introduction is being read by adding the number of births minus the people who have ceased living “under the sun.”  The world population has been estimated to increase up to ten billion “living souls” in 2050.  Each of these individual’s spirit, their present “self,” has come from the same God.  This is evident because people all over the world have the same innate needs; this is to say, all babies need food, clothing and shelter.  They also need love and security.  They want to achieve and have friends.  Even more interesting, these are the same forces within maturing people in all nations that motivates and drives them to exert time and energy to achieve satisfaction for these needs.  The God who created us knows how He created “living beings” and He provides for those who respect His natural and spiritual laws (Matt. 6:25-34).  People desire to be viewed in a good way by others and by their Creator.  Being viewed in a good way is the meaning of the word glory – in the Bible.  God had a program in His mind to satisfy mankind’s innate need for glory before He created the world (I Cor. 2:7).

The spirit of mankind comes from the God who created all living beings.  This spirit enters the physical body as it develops in the mother’s womb (Luke 1:41).  The spirit becomes the “self” of a human being with a mind, heart and conscience (Eph. 4:22-24).  The “self” has been designed by God in His likeness; therefore, the baby’s body may favor the mother or father.   The spirit of each child “favors” God.  Thank the Lord!  Jesus may have had this in mind when He referred to Psalms 82:6-8 while defending His claim to be the Son of God: “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are gods?’”  See John 10:33-36.  It is often said, “There is a little good in every one.”  The fact is there is a little of God in all of us.  We need to let this quality, a quality that is evident in children, dominate our character and personality (Matt. 18:2-4).

All human beings have the potential for developing as sons of God (Matt. 5:9, 16, 48).  This can happen because our spirits came from God and they have been designed in His likeness (Heb. 12:9; Jas. 3:9).  Most people fail to reach their potential because they have not opened their “door of faith” by a study of God’s word about why and how He created mankind.

The present 7.2 billion “living beings” will inhabit earth for a period of time.  Moses’ prediction of 70 years, or perhaps 80, still stands in several nations (Psa. 90:10).  Physical death happens at the time a person’s spirit leaves his or her body (Jas. 2:26).  Each individual’s personal “self” will return to God at some point after leaving their body (Eccl. 12:7; Heb. 9:27, 28).  All people have been born into varied environments; environments formed by physical and social circumstances.  Yes, even children in the same family.  Their environment forms a “box” during their formative stages of life in which a large number of people remain all the days of their lives “under the sun.”  King Solomon’s speculative wisdom in Ecclesiastes is about mankind’s life while we live in our physical bodies on earth.

I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem.  I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is under heaven.  What a heavy burden God has laid on men!  I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them meaningless, a chasing after the wind.   Ecclesiastes 1:12, 13

Solomon used the term, “under the sun,” more than two dozen times in this short document to depict the life of a person with a spirit from God in a physical body on earth.  Each human being will become responsible for “knowing good and evil” at a certain point in their maturity (Gen. 3:22).  We can blame Adam and Eve for breaking God’s covenant; however, all mature humans are now dealing with our responsibility to choose good over evil (Rom. 12:21).  It does not matter whether people accept a religion or not, all mature individuals’ wrestle with what we believe is good or evil.  Like Solomon said, our lives are “meaningless” unless we recognize our Creator and His laws that describe “what is life.”  The Person of Jesus Christ and His teachings is the law of life in God’s new covenant.  See John 1:1-5; Heb. 8:10.

God gave Solomon wisdom about many different types of life “under the sun.”  His earthly wisdom was advanced over his equals and even those who had lived before him (I Kings 4:29-34).  He pondered many issues of life and came to, at least, two conclusions that should interest all who are now living “under the sun.”  One is what happens to all people because Adam and Eve broke God’s first covenant with mankind:  “Like the fool, the wise man too must die!”  Eccl. 2:16.  See Gen. 2:15-17; I Cor. 15:22.

Regardless of the status and accomplishments of people while living in our “box of life under the sun,” we all come to the same end – we die physically.  Life for mankind would, indeed, be “meaningless, a chasing after the wind,” without the “grace and truth” made available to us through the incarnation of Jesus Christ (John 1:17).  Solomon did not possess the wisdom of God Jesus Christ had concerning eternal life in God’s kingdom; however, he knew people were responsible for having the capacity to discern good and evil.  This is another of his conclusions that should be of interest to all people:

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter:  Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.  For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.  Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14

The difference in the circumstance of each of our births form the box in which we live.  For instance, an infant born a few miles outside Newport, Arkansas in the USA in 1929 to a Caucasian mother and father grew up in the box, or environment, this circumstance developed.  The “circumstance of birth” formed a different box of life for a baby born across the dirt road in an African American family.  Both of these children’s “boxes of life” would have been altered drastically had they been born in Africa or Europe; however, the difference in birth’s impact may be less significant than the way a child learns.  The way a child learns in their formative years is called “passive learning.”  The differences in 7 billions peoples’ finger prints and DNA serve our legal system well for identification.  The differences in our individual passive learning stages have not always served the world’s social order for peace.  Most wars can be traced to the differences in the “boxes of life” in which the participants were born, learned and moved “under the sun.”

Children learn much of what develops the mental environment within their ego boundaries (boxes of life) by watching others.  Our own unique formative years, in which we developed our mental and physical capacities, may not have always served our social needs.  In such cases, it did not serve our Creator’s purpose for our lives “under the sun.”  Passive learning is a fact of life for each human being until we develop the capabilities to learn by hearing, reading, thinking and doing.  Thinking for ourselves may start in the junior stage; that is, in the preteen years; however, the later stage of adolescence is when young people are capable of setting themselves free, if necessary, from their family designed “box of life.”  Even then a person’s mental/spiritual environment may be formed by the mundane wisdom of mankind dominating the society in which they dwell.  This may be the reason it is often said, “people usually accept the religion of their parents or relatives.”

The foregoing has been set forth to simply point out how all 7.2 billion people, who are at this moment living “under the sun,” have been born into circumstances of life we did not choose.  We will each live and die in the circumstantial “box of life” into which we have been born unless we individually make a personal decision to learn to think outside our circumstantial box.  We must become proactive rather than passive or reactive.  Proactive means, “I choose my own decisions.”  Because of the nature of the way very young people learn, their potential for thinking outside their circumstantial box, if indeed it is necessary, cannot happen until they mature in mind, heart, conscience and body.  An individual may close the lid on his or her “box of life” at some stage and never learn to view the situations they encounter with a new set of paradigms.  Paradigms may be defined as the “glasses” through which we view significant situations we encounter.  These glasses are partially developed by what is called a person’s “world view.”  Some people’s world view may have been borrowed from the people who set up their “box of life.”  The aim of this series of lessons is to help us let God who created us form the mental and spiritual environment in which we live and move.  He will do this if we will study His word, decide to believe His word and commit our lives in faith to what we believe to be truth.

The following are some “boxes of life” a mature person may come to realize he or she has been entrapped by their parents, extended family or the society in which he or she has lived their life up to this point “under the sun.”  Suggestions will be offered for “opening the lid” of their particular box in order to consider a new way of looking at the reality of their “present life and the life to come.”  I Tim. 4:8.  We want to properly view the truth about our present reality and the period after “man goes to his eternal home and mourners go about the streets.”  Eccl. 12:5.

Each mature person living on earth has been born into a theist or atheist family.  In most cases, she or he has developed the foundation for their “world view” during their formative years in this family setting.  Theists believe life continues for them after we cease living “under the sun.”  Atheists claim they do not.  Both groups of people have the capability for discerning “good and evil.”  Theists and atheists both attained the capability and the responsibility to discern good and evil because Adam and Eve broke covenant with God.  Even though all people do not accept the Genesis 2:16, 17; 3:22 documentations, they still have this capacity to discern good and evil and they know it.  God arranged for their minds and consciences to make them aware – often times painfully.  A person’s conscience marked with guilt by his or her own judgment system is painful because it robs them of their innate need for glory (Rom. 2:14, 15).

Philosophers have been trying to decide what is good and what is not good for ages.  We often refer to them as wise men and scholars.   Like Solomon, they are wise according to the wisdom of men.  The Apostle Paul said they failed to come to “know God” as a divine Person because they did not accept His wisdom “in Christ.”  I Cor. 1:20-25.

Atheistic families may follow Humanistic doctrines or they may live by what “seems right in their own eyes.”  Proverbs 14:12.  People who find themselves in an “atheistic box” must learn about God by reading or hearing theistic literature in order to break out of atheism.  Of course, they could decide there is an Almighty Power at work in nature, but this will not help them “know God” as a Divine Person (John 8:54, 55; Rom. 1:20).

Theists include two very broad groups:

Monotheists – believers in one God.  Polytheists – believers in many gods.

The Egyptians, Romans and Greeks practiced polytheistic religions before and after the Messiah came to earth as Jesus of Nazareth.  Presently Hellenic polytheistic reconstruction is active in Greece and other places.  Modern Polytheistic groups are active in India and some other nations.  Altogether these groups in India are identified as those who belong to the Hindu religion.  Some simply identify Hinduism as a way of life because it does not have some of the characteristics of more formal religions.  Hindu literature is made up of the Vedas, Upanishads, Vedanta and the Bhagavad Gita.

Animism is a religion without literature.  It was commonly practiced by people, mostly in tribal Africa, who believed “spiritual essence” inhabited animals, plants and some inanimate objects.

There are many other polytheistic religions being practiced in Eastern countries.  Religions can no longer be defined by geographical locations because of the present mass migration of people living “under the sun.”  Children are now being born into polytheistic and monotheistic believing families in the same apartment complexes all over the Western world.

People who find themselves in a “polytheistic box,” in most cases, must hear and understand the Koran or the Bible in order to make a significant break with their pantheon of gods (I Cor. 8:5, 6).  In cases where a religious group does not possess literature, it would be necessary to listen to another human being to learn of this particular religion.  For instance, the Baha’i believe in continuous revelations.  Listening to other human beings is what holds people captive in the “box of life” in which they now abide.  Listening to others is the main reason we have “uncalled for” division in all religions.  People who do not learn from the manuscripts supporting their religion must listen to the people who claim to know.  This has become a profitable business for false prophets throughout history and in all religions (II Pet. 2:1-3).  Christian believers suffer from, perhaps, more divisions than other religions.  When Christians learn to study for themselves, they will not support the people who are in the religious business (II Cor. 2:17).

Monotheistic religions are identified by world societies as Christian, Jew and Muslim.  They all have literature they claim has been inspired by one God.  Muslims have the Koran.  Christians and Jews have the Bible; however, the Jews do not accept the Divine inspiration of the New Testament portion.  A person who was born into a family believing in one of these religions has a unique problem if he or she decides to break out of their “box of life.”  They will need to decide to study the literature supporting each group’s belief about the same God.  All three claim to be monotheists – one God only.

Children born into a Jewish family would need to decide if Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ.  Jews have already decided God’s children relate to Sarah’s offspring, Isaac, rather than Hagar’s son, Ishmael.  Muslims relate to Ishmael.

Christians who have been born into a family belonging to one of what is called “the Christian churches” would need to carefully study the Jewish traditions and Muslim’s Koran to attain a different way of thinking about God.  They would need to abandon the New Testament teachings to make a change in their set of paradigms for viewing “life under the sun,” and life hereafter.  If they should decide both religions were unacceptable, they still must identify God’s people.

Jesus rejected division within the church He built for God, His Father; consequently, every Christian group who claim to be God’s people, cannot be.  See John 17:20-23; I Cor. 1:10.  This is the dilemma in which most young people find themselves.  What are their choices?  They can decide to remain in the box they find themselves or they can become a student of God’s word in order to know they live in truth.  Becoming a student is what being a Christian means.  Jesus Christ said, “If anyone is ashamed of Me and my words, the Son of man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” Luke 9:26.  See Luke 8:21; 10:21-24.  Jesus also said, “Everyone on the side of truth listens to Me.”  John 18:37.

As Solomon proclaimed; “What a heavy burden God has laid on men.”  This situation developed after Adam and Eve broke God’s covenant.   God made drastic changes in nature and His fellowship relations with mankind but His desire to have children in His kingdom still stands.  See Rom. 8:18-30.

The aim of this series of lessons is to help Christians break out of their “box of dependency” in relation to their Bible study habits.  Christians often depend on others to tell them what the word of God means; however, faith comes from each individual’s hearing God’s word.  Each element of a person’s faith is specific to the specific point they learned, believed and decided to trust with his or her life.  This is faith – living a life formed by the word and fellowship of God (I John 1:5, 6).

This series will not be another argument about which church is God’s church.  The aim is to guide each disciple of Christ into a path of study and learning that will let him or her rise above the, quote, “Christian religious box” developed by the wisdom of men (I Cor. 3:19-23).  The majority of people who identify as Christians today are dependent on a hierarchy of people who are paid by them to tell them what the scriptures mean (Heb. 5:11-14).  Many of the people who teach are still locked into the “box of life” of their families or perhaps a university the family favors.  Our prayer is for each of us to open wider our individual “door of faith” into the kingdom of God by understanding and living by the wisdom of God set forth by Jesus Christ via the Holy Spirit in the Bible (Acts 14:27; I Cor. 2:10-16).

The method used in this series of lessons will be to enter into a sequential topical study for Christians.  For instance, the first lesson will be entitled, “The Mind of God before Creation.”  What was in God’s mind before He created the world and Adam?  What was in God’s mind about His purpose for our personal creation?  The challenge will be to understand each scripture revealing this divine information in the context it has been presented.  After understanding the content, we will want to ask ourselves: Do I fully believe this information?  Next follows the all-encompassing personal challenge:  “Will I commit my life to what I have read, understood and believed about what was in God’s mind for me before He created me?”

If a person decides to place his or her faith in God’s purpose for creation, they are ready to move forward in a sequential topical study of God’s word.  For instance, after developing faith in why God created mankind, he or she will need to learn and develop faith in how God created living souls (Gen. 1:27).  On the other hand if a Christian, who is trapped in the “dependency box” relating to hearing God’s word is not willing to examine their faith, they may remain “shut up” in their limited box of learning (II Cor. 13:5).  Their life is limited to what other people believe.

All of us are dependent on God and other people in many ways.  This is not what is meant by the “dependency box.”  People with this mental and spiritual problem decide to let other people be responsible for their responsibilities in life.  The consequence of Christians remaining in this type of box continually fuels division in the church and allows business people to use the church for their glory and greed (II Cor. 11:18-21; II Tim. 2:14-16).  “We must pay careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.”  Heb. 2:1.

In this study we will be seeking answers to questions like “Why and how God created us?”  We will seek to understand what went wrong in God’s creation and what He did about our problem with sin and death.  These questions are answered in a simple manner in God’s word; however, we want to do more than learn the answers in our minds.  We want to, first of all, understand and believe the divine word in the context it has been presented.  Next, we want to enlarge our “door of faith” based on what we learn (Rom. 10:17).  This type of study will give us membership in the family of God, which is citizenship in the kingdom of God, while we still live “under the sun.”  Phil. 3:20, 21.

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