Is God Big Enough?

I’ve been thinking about prophesy as regards our United States. It concerns me greatly that our national and state governments and other officials are so thoroughly corrupt. It is urgent that those who lie, steal and kill be brought to justice, for the life of a nation is at risk. The more one inquires into the lives of our leaders the more appalling the evidence of wrong-doing being uncovered. Not just a few of our Representatives and Senators are guilty of wrong-doing, but hundreds, perhaps thousands, of elected and appointed are implicated across the nation. Draining the Swamp is a good idea but perhaps it is impossible in scope. Activist judges, lawyers, peace-keepers, lawmakers have abandoned what is morally right in favor of doing what is right in their own eyes. (Deut. 12:8; Judges 17:6; Judges 18:1; Judges 19:1; Judges 21:25) Or worse, they may choose to do what pleases themselves and answers their greed. Selling our nation’s resources to our enemies; aborting our unborn babies; preying on our infants and children; depraved sexual behaviors.

II Tim. 3:1-4 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.

Time after time these same immoral tendencies inflamed the kings of Israel. Faithfully God sent messengers to warn the people and their kings that they would reap what they were sowing. Galatians 6:7 “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” Every farmer knows you reap more than you sow and later than you sow.

As an intercessor and decree-er I have prayed for the morass we as Christians are confronted with. But it occurs to me that while we are attempting to bring the lawless to justice, it is too little too late. I’ve even been told, “As long as I have the freedom to live my life the way I want to, I don’t care what the government does.”   What we desperately need is a powerful move of God as in the days of Jehoshaphat in II Chron. 19-20.

I believe God is rallying His children (as opposed to cultural Christians) to come together in unity and He is honoring those who take the risk to obey His precious Holy Spirit. I also believe He will do exceeding great exploits soverignly as we obey Him. I believe this nation can become far more than it is as we cry out to Him for whom nothing is impossible.

How Should We Pray?

Isaiah 44:26 “(I Am) the Lord Who confirms the word of His servant, and performs the counsel of His messengers;…”

Isaiah 45:11 Thus says the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and His Maker: Question Me of things to come concerning My children, and concerning the work of My hands command Me!

Job 22: 28, 30 You shall also decide and decree a thing and it shall be established for you, and the light [of God’s favor] shall shine upon your ways,…He will even deliver the one [for whom you intercede] who is not innocent; yes, he will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands.

These passages are powerful and reveal God’s desire to work with His followers, but our prayers and decrees must be in agreement with His will. What is God’s will? His deepest desire is that all men would come to Him for salvation, come to know Him and His love and beauty. He gave His only Son on the cross to buy back fallen mankind. That’s a strong desire!

The precious blood of Jesus cleanses deeper than the stain of sin. No one is beyond Jesus’ ability to save and keep – no matter how filthy the sinner.

Hebrews 7:25 Therefore He is able to save to the uttermost – completely, perfectly, finally, and for all time and eternity – those who come to God through Him (Jesus), since He is always living to make petition to God and intercede with Him and intervene for them.

Aionion

The word ‘eternal’ translated from the Greek aionion is used some 45 times in the New Testament. With only two or three exceptions, it is always used in reference to eternal life. When Matthew wrote …

“And these will go away into eternal (Gk. aionion) punishment, but the righteous into eternal (Gk. aionion) life”

… he used exactly the same Greek word to describe both the punishment of the wicked and the duration of eternal life. In other words, ‘eternal life’ cannot mean one thing, and ‘eternal punishment another’ – If the punishment is not eternal, then neither is the life.  If the life is eternal, then so is the punishment.

Note how the book of Hebrews uses exactly the same Greek word in both cases, speaking of “eternal” judgment and three chapters later, speaks of “eternal” redemption.

…and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal (Gk. aionian) redemption. (Hebrews 9:12 NASB)

…of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal (Gk. aioniou) judgment.  (Hebrews 6:2 NASB)

Redemption itself was a once and for all event that took place 2000 years ago. However, the results of the redemption continue forever. Similarly, the judgment will occur in a particular moment in time. However, the results of the judgment are eternal.

Again, in the verse below, something is destroyed once, i.e. something cannot be continuously be destroyed. However, the results are permanent, i.e. the thing stays destroyed.

These will pay the penalty of eternal (Gk. aionion) destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, (2 Thessalonians 1:9 NASB)

Not only is there a lack of support for universalism and decisive arguments against it, but the Bible never once says anything about sinners repenting, accepting Jesus Christ, having their sins forgiven etc. in the afterlife. In fact, the author of Hebrews completely contradicted this notion when he wrote …

And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, (Hebrews 9:27 NASB)

Finally I have to ask why 1 Corinthians 9:16 records Paul as saying

For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.  (1 Corinthians 9:16 NASB)

Why was Paul “under compulsion” to preach the gospel and, considering the “woe” means great sorrow or distress, why did he say woe to him if he did not preach the Gospel?

If all men are saved, it wouldn’t have made the slightest bit of difference whether Paul preached or decided to start a tent-making company. If people are already saved and only need to be informed of that fact, why would Jude have said to snatch people out of the fire by just about any means necessary. (Jude 1:23)

Reference:  http://www.inplainsite.org/html/universalism.html

 

Philosophical Teaching Strategies, Part II

If the idea that all living things are equal and that life has no meaning, what is the missing concept?  I suggested that man is set apart from all other living things because man has personality.  But where did personality come from since evolution is purely mechanical?  Personality is not concrete.  Could it have evolved?  Personality is more than metaphysical; it is spiritual.

Why has no one ever been able to demonstrate how time plus chance can produce the needed complexity of the universe, much less the complex personality of mankind? Initially, this question will seem unrelated to the literature students have read, but it is better to let them struggle with these questions without knowing where the teacher is leading lest they attempt to anticipate and develop a rebuttal before truly exploring what they have accepted as science and truth.

Students will disagree with one another about life having meaning, but eventually will come to the conclusion that life does have meaning although they can’t explain it.  Then I suggest that if life started with a personal beginning – a Person – then personality existed before creation.  In this situation man, having personality, also has meaning.  Beginning with the impersonal, there is no explanation for the complexity of the universe or the personality of man.  Morals have no meaning in the mechanics of evolution for there are no absolutes.

If life started with a personal beginning, which was the origin of all else, then personality does have meaning, having derived from the Creator.  Man with his aspirations is not meaningless, as in Thomas Hardy’s writings, because he is superior to other living things.  If the teacher stops here, a philosophical case for creation and purpose of human life, as opposed to the mechanics of evolution and the mindlessness of Fate, have been established.  This philosophical discussion can be carried to a conclusion, however, and a case for man’s need of redemption can be made.

Once the idea of a personal beginning is accepted, will the class choose an infinite-personal God or finite, man-made gods?  Do absolutes and morals originate from man himself, or do they come from the Creator?  God, or finite gods, must be big enough to be the point of reference for the underpinnings of society.  Man creates gods in an attempt to explain his world.  They are a product of man’s limited mind; thus, they are inadequate to help man develop personal character and structure for society.  However, God the Creator is entirely separate from his creation.  He alone is infinite.  All else is finite and cannot stand alone.  Only the infinite Creator is immeasurable and independent.

Man was made in the image of God; thus, there is a separation between man and other living things because man has personality.  Furthermore, man is separate from God, as the created is separate from the Creator.

If man was created with a personal beginning, how can his lawlessness be explained?  There are two possibilities.  Man in his rebellion and cruelty is inherently what he has always been.  If this is true, then the infinite-personal God who made man must himself be inherently ruthless.  Or, is it possible that man has changed himself; he is not what he was created to be?

Man, made in the image of an infinite and perfect Creator, was perfect in mind, body, and soul.  But he was given a will and some boundaries were set.  At a specific time in history man chose to violate God’s boundaries to become something he previously was not.  This act of disobedience put man in a moral predicament rather than a metaphysical one.  Morals suddenly existed and man was in discontinuity with what he was originally created to be.

The man-is-normal philosophy offers no hope of a solution to man’s corruption.  But because rebellion is abnormal, there is hope of a solution.  The substitutionary death of Jesus Christ, as God’s only son, on behalf of lawless mankind, takes on significance.  We have the hope of a solution for man’s abnormal condition.  With the hope of deliverance from lawlessness we are able to be angry at social injustice and moral evil without being angry with God.

In summary, if there is no God there is no answer to the dilemma of evil and immorality.  Thus, evolution cannot answer man’s questions about who he is and why he is morally flawed.  More importantly, man has no recourse to evil, individually or socially.  But there is hope when one knows who God is because his character is the foundation of law and morality in the universe.  And in his infinite compassion and mercy the personal God has provided the antidote to sin and corruption, both individually and socially.

 

Philosophical Teaching Strategies

I brought with me one semester He Is Here and He Is Not Silent by Francis Schaeffer.  It’s a little book about examining evolution from the problem of personality development.  Schaeffer has a wonderful way of challenging people’s assumptions so I took detailed notes to use in my graduate English lit course.  We will be comparing Thomas Hardy’s writings with Charles Dickens’, Hardy presenting fate as the inescapable determination of man’s life and Dickens presenting hope for positive change.  The graduates went to the Internet to read what they could find about Hardy in their own language and from their own prejudices, for the Chinese believe very strongly in determinism (fate).  Where does personality come from?  Does personality evolve?  Give evidence to support your view.  Since personality is not found in the DNA of an organism, how did it originate?  When life evolves mechanically it has no meaning.  But life does have meaning and is not mechanical, so where does meaning come from?  That was an intellectual challenge for my graduate English majors.

The Problem of Personality in Evolution

Every Christian teacher abroad will occasionally meet students who wish to discuss reasons Christians don’t espouse the theory of evolution.  They are generally taught in China that evolution is a theory only because it can’t be reproduced in the laboratory although natural illustrations of the process abound.  However, evolution cannot stand up to philosophical examination.  Using Francis Schaeffer’s little book, He is here and he is not silent, I used a strategy which challenged students’ assumptions about evolution and creation.  This worked best for me in graduate literature classes where sharply contrasting authors’ styles could be analyzed, as with Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens.

In Thomas Hardy’s writings Fate twists and perverts personalities and events.  Absolutes produce discontent and disillusionment.  Education – or merely the desire for education – corrupts individuals, as in Jude the Obscure.  Individuals may never reach their potential after making a commitment to marriage.  Even nature in Hardy’s writings is exploited to cooperate with Fate by producing a pall that hangs over churches and colleges.

In Charles Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities, commitments to friendship and marriage are honorable and honored.  Biblical phrases are quoted to support responsibility to friend and spouse.  Absolutes are called into action to admonish readers to avoid an English revolution by pointing out the bloodshed of a French Revolution.  Nature and happenchance support Darnay’s escape and the subsequent safety of the fleeing Manette family.

After the class finished reading the two contrasting novels, I scheduled time to ask students some questions.  I wrote the questions on the chalkboard and encouraged students to discuss them with friends and classmates.  I began with a question like this: If everything that now exists came out of nothing, where did energy, mass, motion, and personality come from. In our external world we see form and order.  If everything that now exists had an impersonal beginning, everything is equally impersonal.  In an impersonal world a weed is no less valuable than a man.  If all living things are equal, life has no meaning.  Is this conclusion acceptable to the class?

Part II next week.