Does God have an “outside?” This is what we’ll look at on this installment of my series based on the question, “Are sinners separated from God?”
If you haven’t read my summary in part one, I suggest you do so before continuing on.
But before we get to the seven objections I raised in my introduction, we should probably ask ourselves, is this question even worth looking into? I would answer, most definitely!
Why? Because behind this notion of separation is the source of all “us vs. them” isms, those who are “in” and those who are “out,”all factions, wars, murders, abuse, injustice, racism, and other human atrocities going back to Cain.
This is the orphan theology of Adam, the bad fruit that comes from eating from the wrong tree. Unfortunately, this poisonous fruit has also infected the Church throughout its history with horrific consequences.
When we don’t see ourselves connected to God, and to one another, we will live under the illusion that people don’t have infinite value to God. We will separate ourselves into “camps” and make theological excuses why one person matters more than another, why we should withhold love, hate our enemies and justify our cruelty or indifference. We will make judgments on people’s eternal state and condemn their souls, demonizing and dismissing anyone who isn’t like us, or who doesn’t believe like us, to make us feel safe.
You see, it’s really that important.
Okay, on to my objections. Since I specifically covered the first two points in a previous post titled, “The Myth of Separation,” I will refer you to that to save time and space. I will cover the main points of Scripture here.
Objection one: Actually, nothing can be separated from God. To say that anything can be outside of Christ directly contradicts the New Testament revelation. Here are just a few examples (bold type added for emphasis):
16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Col.1:16-17 NIV)
36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. [For all things originate with Him and come from Him; all things live through Him, and all things center in and tend to consummate and to end in Him.] To Him be glory forever! Amen (so be it). (Rom.11:36 AMP)
Apparently, Paul didn’t agree with the idea that sinners are separated from God since he told the pagan philosophers in Athens the following:
28 For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ (Acts 17:28 NLT)
Furthermore, we have Paul’s own testimony. He understood that Jesus revealed Himself IN him WHILE still an enemy of the cross…
13 For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. 14 And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, 16 to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles…” (Gal.1:13-16 NKJV)
To say that someone can be outside of Christ requires that they be self-existent. In other words, they would have to be God! After all, if they’re not in Christ, how are they even breathing…existing at all?
So I believe we have our answer to the question that started this post. No, there is no “outside” with God! ALL things are in Christ. You cannot exist and or be apart from Christ, whether you are in heaven, earth, or even hell itself. Of course, this doesn’t mean that all are in communion with Him, which we will expand on in a later installment.
Objection two: It assumes our decision can change what Christ has already done. God is not going to change His status toward us or do something new if we believe. Instead, we must let faith rise up in our hearts and change our thinking so we can benefit from the fact that God has already reconciled us to Himself.
21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled (Col.1:20 NKJV)
10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. (Rom.5:10 NKJV)
that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ,
not counting people’s sins against them…” (2 Cor.5:19a NIV)
First, notice that WE were enemies of God in our mind (Col.1:20). It was not real; it was in our orphan-hearted thinking. Like Adam, we hid behind the fig leaves of religion. We were the ones who needed to change. By faith we need to let God open our eyes to this myth we believed about Him. This is the very definition of repentance.
Second, notice that God wasn’t the one who needed reconciling! Christ took all our vitriolic hatred and enmity against Him upon Himself on the Cross. Our orphan hearts have been reconciled to our Father by putting Adam to death (Rom.5:12-20; 6:4-8; 2 Cor.5:14).
Third, notice that this reconciliation is past tense. You were reconciled. It happened at the cross 2,000 years ago. God doesn’t change when a sinner believes. He doesn’t pop out of some closet and jump into a person when He gets the green light! He’s not waiting out in space for you to ask Him in either. Like with Paul, when we acknowledge Christ in us and turn our heart toward Him, we begin cooperating with Him instead of “kicking against the goads” (Acts 9:3-6).
We will continue with my objections next time.