Whose World Is It? Part 3

I ended Part 2 of this short series with these questions:

So does God’s sovereignty mean the world is Christian? Or does the fact that Satan rules the world mean it’s not?

By way of review, we know that Satan rules the world because Scripture tells us he does; this point is not arrived at through speculation, inference, or deduction based on observation.

This is a critical issue, I think, and therefore I want to take the time to look at the additional verses I mentioned in the previous post, along with 1 John 5:19 — “We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (emphases in all these verses are mine).

John 12:31 – this verse comes in the midst of an amazing account. Jesus is preparing to go to the cross. As He shares His struggle, He cries out for God to glorify His name. The Father answers. The crowd of people standing around are trying to figure out what they heard. Then this:

    Jesus answered and said, “This voice has not come for My sake, but for your sakes. 31 Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. 32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.”

1 John 4:4 — “3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. 4 You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”

2 Corinthians 4:4 — “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

John 16:11 — “8 And He [the Holy Spirit], when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; 11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.”

John 14:30 — “I [Jesus] will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me.”

Fantasy author Karen Hancock wrote an excellent post on this subject as well, and she’s used an even wider range of Scripture in reaching the same conclusion I have: this world is not Christian.

How can we resolve the apparently contradictory facts that God is sovereign and yet Satan has the world in his grip? Part of the answer is that we’re at war. Satan is in rebellion against God, but there is also enmity between Satan and the woman and her seed. Many Bible scholars understand “her seed” to refer to Christ. But that doesn’t leave us out — not if we’re in Christ; not if He is the head of the body, the church, and we are the members.

But let me be clear. Satan is not an equal foe wrestling against God as if he can bring Him down. A poor analogy, but helpful, might be a two-year-old refusing to obey his parents and put away his toys. That act of rebellion isn’t going to bring his parents down, but for a time his room may be in chaos. And his parents might just let the chaos go for a while as they deal with the rebellion.

Now suppose the two-year-old induces the toys to rebel too, so that they refuse to be put away. (Work with me here — use your imagination. I am a fantasy writer, after all. 😉 ) The two-year-old is no closer to bringing down his parents. All he’s done is make the toys guilty of his same rebellion. The parents are still in charge, and the toys will get put away, but for a short time, the two-year-old will be the tyrant of his room and the toys will be out of control.

Right now, for a short time, Satan is the tyrant of this world. But ultimately, nothing has changed — he has already lost his rebellious struggle (see last Tuesday’s post on this subject — “The Defeated Foe”).

One final question regarding this subject: how does this view of the world, in contrast to “the world is Christian” position, affect Christian fiction? I’ll tackle that one next time.

Published in: on November 7, 2011 at 6:54 pm  Comments (3)  
Tags: , , , , , ,

Then God Said . . .

Happy winter. This, the shortest day of the year, marks the “official” start of the winter season. And for once, it feels like it here in SoCal.

December is often the interlude between our short and long rainy seasons, the first being a few weeks in November and the latter taking up most of February and sometimes part of January or March.

This year things are different.

For one, the climatologists were predicting we would be in a drought. Last year we had a surprising year of “normal” rainfall (most years either give us a shortfall or an abundance), but that, the experts said, would be followed up this year with more drought—the pattern we’d fallen into previously.

Instead of drought, we’re looking at perhaps the wettest December in recorded history here in the LA basin. My local paper quotes one expert as saying, “This is a very unusual event. Nobody really saw it coming.”

Well, “nobody,” of course, leaves out God. But we’ve gotten pretty good at doing that here in America, I think. Sure, we bring Him up during “the spiritual season” as the USA Weekend magazine article “How Americans Imagine God” called it. But not one person they quoted—and the article was primarily a composite of what people said in answer to the title question—said God is sovereign or Creator or intimately involved in the affairs of men.

“God is love” came out as the “one gleaming, common thread” weaving throughout the answers. “Christians, Hindus, Jews and Buddhists alike describe a loving presence who offers a pathway to goodness, peace and brotherhood.”

So god, the consensus seems to be, is all about the feel-good stuff. The rest?

Apparently nature, at least, has a mind of her own. From a public works spokesman quoted in today’s weather article: “[Slow, steady precipitation] doesn’t cause as much problems as when the weather decides to drop a lot of rain in a short amount of time.” (Emphasis mine.) Of course, this man may have been speaking euphemistically, but I’ve heard many similar references regarding nature, as if the elements create a collective conscience that dictates things like hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, and yes, rainstorms.

The Bible makes it clear that God is in fact in control of nature. He brought the flood Noah and his family lived through. He withheld rain for seven years in Egypt and later did the same for three years in Israel. He made the sun stand still and a shadow reverse direction. Jesus Himself calmed a storm with just a word.

None of this should be surprising because God laid the foundations of the earth, after all. He counts the stars and knows them by name, feeds the sparrows and clothes the lilies.

And an impossible thing like a virgin giving birth? No problem for God because He rules what He created.

If He spoke the world into being, can He not speak a little rain—unexpected as it was to all the students of His work—into being as well?

How topsy-turvy our world has become when we assign god (however you understand him or her to be) to that little brotherly-kindness corner over there; nature, that little weather corner over there; and Man, pretty much the rest of the room.

Apparently we have forgotten, “Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.”

Published in: on December 21, 2010 at 6:28 pm  Comments (3)  
Tags: , , , , , , ,

God’s Sovereignty over Business

“It’s nothing personal; it’s just business.”

That line has become as common as “winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.” And the idea is that business operates under a different set of rules. Stabbing someone in the back to get ahead in business isn’t really cruel or unkind. It certainly doesn’t mean I dislike the person. It’s just that, in order to get ahead, you have to be cut-throat. Or so those who use the phrase seem to be saying.

The thing is, Christians seem to be accepting this line of thinking, as if “it’s just business” means we can put our Christian values aside and do what’s expedient.

I think this fragmentation of morals is a by-product of American pragmatism. Above all else, can-do Americans believe in what works. That’s why you find so many self-help books at Borders. That’s why many Christian stores have self-help sections.

Self-help Christianity? Isn’t that a contradiction of terms? Before a person can ever come to Christ, he must realize there is no self-help for his problem of sin.

But after salvation, maybe self-help works for the rest of life.

Not according to Scripture. “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”

Of course, that “perfected” has to do with sanctification. It would indicate that back in Paul’s day, some Christians got the idea that they needed grace to begin their walk with God, but after that they could take over.

Today’s new trend seems to divorce our spiritual lives from our business lives. It’s not even the idea that I can do business God’s way on my own. It’s closer to the idea that God’s way only matters when it comes to God’s things. Just as business matters aren’t personal, they aren’t part of God’s things either.

I doubt if very many Christians would verbalize this philosophy, but from the outside, it seems like a lot of us have adopted it. Think about some of the middle class values connected with money many Christians hold in America—it’s good stewardship to save for retirement, we should invest our money wisely, we should pay our own way.

I’m not saying those ideas are wrong, but I doubt if the Apostle Paul had a retirement fund. The first century Christians were more about investing their lives than their money, and they preached that the believers with extra should provide for those in need.

Maybe I’m simplifying things too much, but it seems to me that what I believe to be true about God needs to apply to all parts of life. So if God is sovereign in the affairs of men, then He is also sovereign over business.

Consequently, no matter how I wrangle, no matter how many hours I stay at the wheel, no matter how much I promote, no matter how professional my presentation, God is the One who brings all those plans to fruition. Or not.

Am I saying writers shouldn’t promote or be professional or work long and hard? Not at all. But I don’t think any of that should come as self-effort. I should proceed with prayer, do what God leads me to do as a result of my time with Him, then trust Him with the results.

And maybe the same is true for editors and agents and publishers and association executives.

Published in: on March 30, 2009 at 1:49 pm  Comments (5)  
Tags: , , ,
%d bloggers like this: