www.theaterofgod.com – Website for the DG Conference

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Published in: on September 25, 2009 at 8:11 am  Leave a Comment  

John Piper’s letter to a couple whose baby was born without eyes

http://theworksofgod.com/2009/09/24/helpful-things-pastors-who-love-their-people/

Published in: on September 24, 2009 at 2:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Forgotten Jewel of Creation

ying-yang 5

“God created the world in such a way, so that some things are hidden and some things are revealed.”  I have never forgotten that statement.  It was made by Dr. Wetmore, one of my college professors. He was referencing his drawing on the board of a circle with one half darkened and one half lightened.  There was something very intriguing about what that statement meant in the real world.  It seems to me to be a miracle of creation almost entirely overlooked, although it is the sum of all creation itself;  a case of not seeing the forest for the trees.

God has done an amazing balancing act by creating the universe in such a way that an unregenerate person, and a regenerate person (regardless of intellectual level) can look at the exact same creation and come to utterly opposite conclusions.  I believe we take this creative achievement for granted.

For instance, imagine that I gave you a can of play-dough and told you to form something that ten people would say was a random shape and another ten would say was a masterpiece of technical complexity and precision.  God did this on the grandest of all scales, on such a razor’s edge of perplexity, that it can confound the wisest of worldly wisdom, or be perceived by a child.

We can even see the evidence of this incredible balance on different levels.  We can look at the sheer volume of creation.  One person will say that size is irrelevant; others that the size ratio of a person to the mountains, sun, moon and planets were purposeful, reflecting the sheer power of the Creator over and above miniscule man, and therefore is extremely relevant.  One person can look at the aesthetic beauty of creation; it’s snow-capped mountains, sunsets, flowering blossoms, peacock feathers and more, saying that it is a random act of mindless evolution, while another person sees the incomparable artistic mind of a creative Creator. When looking at the technical complexity of life, one person sees a blind watchmaker throwing the cogs of time + matter + chance into a pile until it makes a machine, while the other sees the awe-inspiring design of a superior intellect.  Even on the philosophical level, one sees fatalism and meaninglessness while the other sees God’s metanarrative of displaying His glory in all things.

God’s balance in natural revelation is not limited in its effects by differing levels of human intelligence.  From the simplest of minds to the highest of mental capacities, the balance created by God becomes the watershed issue for all worldviews.  One can look to the left and watch the brainiac four horsemen of New Atheism, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett and see the best intellectual defense their worldview can offer.  Or one can look to the right and see Douglas Wilson, D.A. Carson, Ravi Zacharias, and Al Mohler and see an equally intellectually stimulating defense of the theistic worldview.  The uneducated are also split along these lines.  All human understanding wilts under the weight of perfectly balanced perplexity.

Based on the known biblical command that all are to repent and believe on Jesus (Matt. 3:2), it might seem at first glance that it would have made things much easier for God to have given more visual evidence for his existence; to in essence “tip the scales” in favor of natural revelation.  But to believe so actually betrays an ignorance of God’s revealed purposes in Scripture.  God did not design the cell in all its complexity, format space-time, and instill the beauty of music, only to forget that He had made his creation just half as God-declaring as He had meant to. The balance is just as much a creation as the creation that it contains. The word “ambiguous” can not even be used here.  For to Christians it is not ambiguous at all, but rather the “heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” (Ps. 19:1)  But the unbeliever draws an opposite conclusion.  This is amazing in itself.  There is no fuzzy line.  People are convinced either one way or the other.

Another amazing aspect of this balance, is that it is not divided up into things that are God-declaring and those that are not.  The balance is contained within all parts of creation, from the blade of grass to the fiery star.  There is no hum-drum molecule.  Hum-drum molecule?  Can you make a hum-drum molecule?  Can you make anything ex nihilo?  The balance is maintained in the heavens, in the plant cell, in the weak and the strong force, in chemical reactions and in the bumble bee.

To discover God’s purpose in this, we need look no further than to the One who sustains all creation by the word of His power.  When Immanuel came, he did not come down in a flash of divine lightning, but in a dirty stable.  He did not have a tatoo labeling him as Messiah, but only a trusty family lineage.  He did not come to liberate the Jewish nation from Roman occupation, but to bring the spiritually dead to spiritual life.  His kingdom was not of this world, but instead He had no place to lay His head.  His explanation of the kingdom of God did not come in a 10-step plan or a how-to guide, but in parables.  Jesus explained to His disciples the reason for His veiled speech in Matthew 13:10-17:

10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:

“‘You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.

15 For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’

16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. 17 For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

Paul echoes the reality of this purposeful blindness in 1 Corinthians 2: 6-8:

6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

But God, in his freedom and justice still holds accountable those who deny Him in general and special revelation.  Paul addresses this in Romans:

Romans 1:18-21

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Romans 1:28

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.

Romans 2:5

5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

God gives a testimony of Himself in creation and the gospel, but those to whom it is hidden refute their conscience which is a witness against them (Rom. 2:15). Their hard hearts are ever darkening, clinging instead to the false idol of self, or some created thing outside themselves which will free them to their debase desires.

“I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption… The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in metaphysics, he is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do, or why his friends should not seize political power and govern in the way that they find most advantageous to themselves… For myself… the philosophy of meaningless was essentially an instrument of liberation… sexual… [and] political.” — Aldous Huxley in Ends and Means, 1937.

However, to those unmeritorious creatures for whom God has freely chosen to reveal Himself, the mind is awakened from its spiritual slumber to see the plain reality of God in both general and special revelation.

Ephesians 2:1-7

1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

We see examples in the Scriptures of God opening and closing people’s understanding.

Acts 16:14

14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.

Exodus 4:21

21 And the Lord said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.”

Deuteronomy 2:30

30 But Sihon the king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him, for the Lord your God hardened his spirit and made his heart obstinate, that he might give him into your hand, as he is this day.

Daniel 2:30

30 But as for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because of any wisdom that I have more than all the living, but in order that the interpretation may be made known to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your mind.

Matthew 16:17

17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”

Luke 10:21

21 In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.”

A student is not greater than his teacher.  If the Son of God praised His Father for hiding these things from some and revealing it to others, according to the counsel of his own will (Eph. 1:5), we too should praise God for this amazing and often forgotten jewel of creation; and with an outpouring of humility we should bow the knee and thank God that in His mercy He has chosen to reveal Himself to us.  For He says,

Exodus 33:19

19 …I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.

and again,

Romans 9:16

16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.

And so we look up from our new birth, and in joy to the mountains and the seas and the heavens above, and say with the Psalmist,

Psalm 148

1  Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
2 Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his hosts!

3 Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars!
4 Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!

5 Let them praise the name of the Lord!
For he commanded and they were created.
6 And he established them forever and ever;
he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.

7 Praise the Lord from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all deeps,
8 fire and hail, snow and mist,
stormy wind fulfilling his word!

9 Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
10 Beasts and all livestock,
creeping things and flying birds!

11 Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the earth!
12 Young men and maidens together,
old men and children!

13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his majesty is above earth and heaven.
14 He has raised up a horn for his people,
praise for all his saints,
for the people of Israel who are near to him.
Praise the Lord!

Published in: on September 10, 2009 at 12:22 pm  Leave a Comment