This is the discussion page for chapters 3-4 of the novel, Escape from Paradise.
WARNING: Lots of spoilers. It is recommended you finish the novel before joining the discussion if you are planning on reading the book. If you are not planning on reading it, you are still welcome in the discussion. It is not necessary to have read the book to benefit from the Bible study questions.
Each weekday I will post a Bible study question related to the passages of Scripture I was trying to teach in the story. Please don’t hesitate to post your answers in the discussion. Your point of view may be just what someone else needs to make it click.
Before I explain the meanings from chapter 3, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Any ideas on what the following parts of the story mean in the allegory?
1) The Collapsing City
The Golden city represents the world. The fact that it is collapsing illustrates 1 Corinthians 7:31, which says, “This world in its present form is passing away.”
Specifically, it’s the gold that is disintegrating and burns those who touch it. This illustrates James 5:2-3. “Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire.”
2) The Sending of Kailyn
The fact that Kailyn was sent to call Adam home represents the Great Commission–God sending his people to reach the lost. The children that venture into the city are missionaries.
3) Receiving a New Name
This is to illustrate 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! The old name represents the old self which we must continually strive to throw off (Ephesians 4:22).
4) The Assignment Room
This represents all God’s work equipping his saints to engage in spiritual warfare and carry on the work of God’s kingdom. It includes receiving a spiritual gift (represented in the story by weapons), as well as various other ways God prepares and equips us, many of which are quite painful.
|Within seconds, the sickening boom arrived. So many buildings had fallen lately that the sound had become familiar. It knotted Adam’s stomach. So much suffering. There was hardly ever a building collapse that didn’t bring the little girl’s words back to Adam’s memory. “The gold is cursed.” Was the city doomed? -.p29|
1 Corinthians 7:31 says this world in its present form is passing away. What are some implications for your life? (Be specific.)
This morning when I got up for my prayer time, I rushed it because I have such a full schedule today and I was eager to get started. Many of the things that feel so urgent won’t exist 1000 years from now and will have very little impact on eternity. I wonder if I sacrificed something of far greater value for something of lesser value.
My daughter is trying to teach her 4-year-old daughter, Sadie, about how to use her money for things of lasting value. Sadie had saved her pennies and wanted to spend her money on an arcade game at the grocery story that had a claw to pick up prizes. My daughter assured her, “You won’t win. It will be a waste of your money.” Sadie spent the quarter anyway and, sure enough, didn’t win.
The next time they were at the store she had saved up some more money. She walked right past the claw game. My daughter showed her some toys she could buy that would supply ongoing fun. Sadie decided on a balloon.
I think I’m a lot like Sadie when it comes to eternal treasures.
|“With all their knowledge of the properties of metals, why can’t the Great Ones discover what’s causing these collapses?” -p.35|
Our culture puts inordinate trust in scientists, experts, and government. Reflect on how successful they have been in slowing this world’s decay or staving off God’s judgment. See Revelation 6:15; Daniel 4:29—32.
The question answers itself. The idea that all our modern technology has slowed moral decay or staved off God’s judgment is laughable. If anything, all our amazing modern “wisdom” has plunged us further into darkness than ever. The world is so proud of how enlightened we are in modern times and how vast our knowledge is, yet there is still human trafficking, murder, theft, war, and every other sign of societal decay.
|“The healing properties only work if it is your own gold. Touching someone else’s gold has the opposite effect. It will burn your skin.” -p.31|
To illustrate the burning effect of coveting, see 1 Kings 21:1—4 and 2 Samuel 13:1—2. What insights can you glean from Hebrews 13:5, 1 Timothy 6:6—9, and Philippians 4:11—12 about how to become more content?
Heb.13:5 – We often concern ourselves with how we are using our money, but this verse warns us about something much more basic—the love of money. Step 1 in finding contentment is fighting against deadly loves in our hearts (for money or any other earthly thing).
It also helps to remember God’s promise that he will never leave or forsake us. A child isn’t awake at night worring about whether he’ll have a place to live in the coming years. He just assumes mom and dad will take care of it. If we could foster that way of thinking about God, it would go a long way in helping us find contentment in what we have now.
1 Tim.6:6-9 – This passage provides numerous insights for contentment. First, by showing that contentment itself is great gain. The person who is content is the richest person in the world because he has everything he needs to be happy (as long as he also has godliness).
Secondly, The fact that I brought nothing into this world is a reminder that God is capable of supplying my needs. How could a naked newborn with no money, skills, education, or anything else possibly survive? God saw to it, and he can continue to do so.
Thirdly, the fact that I’ll take nothing with me when I die puts the importance of “stuff” into perspective. I won’t be needing all that stuff where I’m going.
Fourthly, the desire for riches can bring untold misery into my life.
Php.4:11-12 – Happiness has nothing to do with whether I am well-fed or hungry. And I can achieve contentment, even in times of great deprivation, through Christ who strengthens me.
|“How do you treat injuries in the high country?” Adam asked. “If there’s no gold, then—”|
“Oh, there’s plenty of gold,” Kailyn said. “But we don’t need our own gold. Once you get your new name, anyone’s gold can heal you. And you don’t even have to touch it. Just seeing them enjoy their own gold heals your wounds.” -p.113
Envy is when you feel distressed or unhappy because of the good fortune of someone else, such as a co-worker getting a raise. What virtues should a person pursue to push envy out of his heart? See Romans 12:15.
In a word, love. If I love the person who had some good fortune, I will be genuinely happy for them. If hearing of their windfall makes me unhappy because I didn’t get it, it shows I love myself more than I love them. I can train myself to love more by reminding myself, whenever I feel envy, “Rejoice with those who rejoice.”
For those with children, what are some ways a parent could teach this principle to a child who is prone to be unhappy when a sibling receives something special?
When our kids were little, we made a game out of it. We explained to them that when a person is unhappy at someone else getting a good thing, that’s envy, which is really bad. The kids actually had fun spotting it. Whenever someone had that response they would point and say, “Envy!” like they found an Easter egg or something.
We also purposely avoided always giving them all the same things. Some times one would get a cookie and the others wouldn’t, and we would teach them to rejoice with those who rejoice.
That impacted their behavior. They really did learn to be happy when a sibling got something they didn’t get.
We all naturally tend to rely on our income and savings for financial security. What insights can you glean from 1 Timothy 6:17-19 and James 5:1—3 about how to overcome this tendency?
From 1 Tim.6:17-19
- Wealth is “uncertain.” It’s far less reliable than it promises to be. So putting my eggs in that basket is a dangerous way to live, because there’s no telling when my safety net will disintegrate.
- God has proved his generosity and reliability and his desire for me to enjoy his gifts, and is far more reliable than money.
- The more often I give money away, the easier it will be to train my heart not to cling to it as a hope.
- When I exchange dollars for eternal treasure laid up as a firm foundation, that will help me stop trusting in the dollars and trust more in the firm foundation.
James reminds me that wealth is subject to the same laws of decay as everything else in this cursed world. And if I’m attached to it, it will drag me down with it (eat my flesh like fire).
I also urge you to read the answers to this question in the comments. There are some great insights!
BEGIN CHAPTER 4
|“I was sent for you … by someone who knows why you snuck out of the city in the middle of the night—and who wants you to come home to your family.” -p.41|
At this stage in your life, what do you believe your role is in fulfilling Christ’s commission in Matthew 28:18—20? Be as specific as possible.
- Leading my family and helping raise my grandchildren in the fear of the Lord
- Living a godly life in my neighborhood and at work and seeking opportunities to share the gospel with the people around me
- Contributing 3% of my income to missions
- Share the gospel with people I counsel on Groundwire
- Proclaiming the gospel in my Bible study, podcast, and writing
- Praying daily for the lost and for God to raise up harvesters
Why do you think Jesus prefaces the commission with the remark about his authority in verse 18?
It is to give us boldness. People are often reluctant to call people to repent and follow Christ because they think they have to first earn the right to do so. Jesus wanted us to know that we already have the right and the responsibility because he has all authority, and he has commissioned us.
When a blind man calls out to Jesus for mercy in Mark 10:46—50, instead of going to the man himself, Jesus sends his followers to call him. This serves as a model for how Jesus uses us to bring people to him today. What insights can you glean from the way they called the man to inform how we should go about calling people to Christ?
First, we learn from their excitement. They sound like they are thrilled to be able to deliver this amazing news to the guy.
Second, we learn from their message. It begins with “Take courage!” No matter what misery the person is in, we can promise salvation, refuge, strength, and a thousand other blessings.
Next, they said, “He’s calling you.” We are motivated by the knowledge that Jesus wants that unbeliever to come to him. We don’t have to say, “Maybe he’s calling you.” Or “I think he’s probably calling you.” We can guarantee it.
Finally, they called for action: “On your feet!” They didn’t just say, “He’s calling you, FYI.” They said, “On your feet. Get up and go to him.” Our job is not just to let people know the information of the gospel, but to call them—command them to take action and go to Christ. We tend to be so timid, but we have full authorization to command people—Get off your backside and go to him.
|“Everyone who goes through the cottage gets a new name.”|
“I like my name.”
“Of course you like the name you’ve always had, because you’re still the person you’ve always been. But when you become a new person, your old name will no longer fit and you will come to hate it.”
… “You won’t lose your identity. You’ll gain it. Your identity is corrupted. When it is renewed, you’ll be what you were created to be.” -p.44
What changes does the Bible say take place in a person when that person becomes a Christian? See Ephesians 4:24; Ezekiel 11:19—20, 18:31; Romans 6:4—13.
Eph.4:24 – He is created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Ezek.11:19-20; 18:31 – He gains a new heart that is eager to obey God’s will.
Ro.6:4-13 – He is not longer enslaved to sin and now lives for God.
What are the characteristics we were created to have? See Colossians 3:10; Ephesians 1:4; 2:10, 4:24; Titus 2:13—14.
Col.3:10 – Renewing knowledge that conforms us to God’s nature
Eph.1:4 – Holiness and blamelessness
Eph.2:10 – Carrying out good works
Eph.4:24 – God-likeness, righteousness, holiness
Titus 2:13-14 – Purity and eagerness to do what is good
What changes do you remember taking place in your life when you became a Christian?
I wish I could remember. I came to know the Lord at a very young age, and, sadly, I don’t remember the event.
|“Adventure has higher stakes. The potential for great joy comes only when pursuing things of great value. But that means exposing yourself to the risk of great loss. Fun has little risk of loss and provides only the shallowest gain.” -p.45|
What are some examples of how the Christian walk brings joy that surpasses the shallow thrills of entertainment, but also brings more profound sorrow than the world’s sorrows? Consider Psalm 4:7 and Romans 9:2—3.
The world’s joys compare to ours like the thrills of a toddler to those of an adult. Kids are ecstatic when they get a piece of candy or a new toy. But it’s a shallow joy. Moments after jumping up and down and squealing for joy, they might be wailing in sadness because of a scraped knee or loss of a toy. That sorrow is also shallow, as a few minutes later they might be laughing again. They aren’t capable of deep joys like a couple feels on their wedding day, or deep sorrows like a parent who loses a child and understands what death means.
In a similar way, the world’s joys, whether it be marriage, a job promotion, or financial windfall, are shallow. They are connected to temporal things. Our joys, on the other hand, are far more profound because we rejoice over much greater, eternal realities.
And our sorrows are also deeper. Worldly people only lose temporal things, but we understand eternal losses.
|“I can show you the way home, but it’s not an easy path. Not everyone makes it.” -p.46|
What are some dangers that threaten to keep us from making it to heaven? See Luke 14:25—35.
Failure to prefer Jesus above family or one’s own life, refusal to give up everything for Christ, or loss of saltiness.
The Assignment Room
|Neither of the men would have survived the battles in the lowlands without the training. And the war to come would require strength, skill, and whatever weapon Abigail was learning to use in that room.|
Another of Abigail’s screams penetrated the door. Both men looked again at the sign: Assignment Room. Every room Watson had explored in this building had served to prepare him for the war, but none had been more painful—or more crucial than this one. -p.48
The word translated “discipline” in Hebrews 12:11 refers to training. What are some examples of how God’s training in your life has been painful—but also effective in preparing you for his work?
One way was by allowing something I poured ten years of my life into to be a catastrophic failure.
For years I prayed for humility, but I didn’t realize how deeply pride was ingrained in my heart until all my “successes” turned to failure. When that happened, it felt like my life had been a waste, and only then did I realize how much pride I had been taking in my apparent successes. I still have a long way to go in learning humility, but at least now I’m aware of a battlefield of pride that I wasn’t even aware of before.