Daily Light – Jan 12, 2018

Your daily goal:

Philippians 3:14  “press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”   

(Monday-Friday, from my morning quiet time, I will write a short thought for that day which I pray God will use to motivate you to ‘GO’ for that day.  Your objective is simple…to GO…to GO OUT and share the love of Christ with someone in that day….to GO and bear fruit …to be light to the world.)

Today’s Daily Light

Biblical, Philosophical, and Emotional Reflections on a Perpetual Question

By:  Joe Rigney, Professor, Bethlehem College and Seminary

Confronting the Problem(s) of Evil     Part V

Psalm 139 also provides the most explicit biblical support for the author-story analogy. “All the days ordained for me were written in a book when as yet there were none of them” (Ps 139:16). God is an Author and our days are his story. Combined with the earlier passages on creation through speech, perhaps we can say this: God writes the book of history, and then reads it aloud into existence. He puts pen to paper and forms a plan for the ages, and then performs a dramatic rendering of his epic poem that is so potent that his words actually take on flesh.

This analogy tightens the God-world relation without abolishing the Creator-creature distinction. God is absolutely transcendent and wholly ‘other,’ and yet as C. S. Lewis reminds us, “The world is crowded with him; he walks everywhere incognito.”

The analogy enables us to affirm, with the Bible, God’s total and exhaustive sovereignty over all things while refusing to minimize the moral significance of our decisions. Because just as the Bible is clear about the ‘all things’ that God governs according to his wise counsel, it is equally clear that we are completely and wholly responsible for our thoughts, intentions, and actions.

We can’t absolve ourselves or others of blame because God freely and unchangeably ordains whatsoever comes to pass. “God made me do it” does not exonerate us any more than “the devil made me do it.” The Scriptures are clear: we can choose life or death (Deut 30:19). God will judge us for our actions (2 Cor 5:10) and words (Matt 12:36–37). We have some inherent capacity to respond to God’s commands, exhortations, and warnings (Exod 20:3; Gal 6:10Rom 8:13); otherwise, he would not have given them. Our actions are instrumental and necessary in the completion of God’s purposes (“How will they hear without a preacher?” Rom 10:14). And answered prayer depends in some measure on our persistence (Luke 18:1-8) and our asking with right motives (Jas 4:2).

Of course, Christians who submit to Scripture will receive both strands of biblical teaching, regardless of whether the details and mechanics can be fully worked out and comprehended. But then, having embraced the teaching of the whole Bible, we can seek to press into God’s ways, laboring to understand what we have believed.

The analogy of an author and his story helps us to understand how God can be completely, totally, and exhaustively sovereign; how human beings can be responsible; and how their choices and actions can be meaningful and significant. It allows us to see layers in our understanding of causality.

Why was it always winter and never Christmas in Narnia? Because the White Witch enslaved the land.

Why was it always winter and never Christmas in Narnia? Because that’s the way Lewis wrote the story.

Why does Aslan have to die? Because Edmund was a traitor.

Why does Aslan have to die? Because that’s how Lewis wrote it.

Who killed the White Witch? Aslan did.

Who killed the White Witch? Lewis did.

Every aspect of the story—from plot to characters to background details—is under the sovereign control of the Author. And the actions of the characters are necessary for the resolution of the plot.

This is the sort of layered causality that we see in the story of Job, whose goods are stolen by Chaldean raiders, whose children are killed in a natural disaster, and whose body is afflicted with disease by the enemy of our souls himself. Yet in all of these calamities, in all of these evils perpetrated by Satan and carried out by wicked men and the forces of nature, Job recognizes the sovereign hand of the Lord, the one who is to be blessed when he gives and when he takes away (Job 1:20-21).

We see the same layered causality in the story of Joseph, who was sold by his jealous brothers in a fit of wickedness and sin, falsely accused by a spurned woman, punished by an angry ruler, but who, in all of it, was also sent by God to be the means of deliverance for his people. Joseph’s confession stands as a banner over every evil action ever committed by the wicked: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Gen 50:20). Not just “used it for good;” meant it for good. Intended it for good. Designed and purposed the very evil of men for the ultimate good of his people.

So then, the author-story analogy, with its layering of divine and human intentions in both good and evil acts, has biblical and theological legs, both in terms of explicit Scriptural warrant and potent explanatory force. But will it find further corroboration in the realm of philosophy?

I love his quote of C.S. Lewis… “The world is crowded with him; he walks everywhere incognito.” 😊

4 more parts…part 6 next week.

Father…I am reminded this week of Your power, Your sovereignty, and just how loved we feel…how safe we are… BECAUSE….we are ‘in’ Jesus.  All of Your power keeps us eternally safe because we belong to You..we are Your children…and there is no other place that we would rather be than ‘being’ in Your story …in Your perfect plan.   Amen

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