‘Seeing’ The Light

‘Seeing’ The Light 

In this modern era of thinking, there are many people who look for purpose and meaning to life neither sure the external world is Created by God the Creator or that man is special in that he is created in the Image of God.  But despite their intellectual doubts, many of them have had a true ‘experience’ of the reality of the external world that exists, and/or the “mannishness” of man that exists. They can do this precisely because this is how God has made man, in His own image, able to experience the real world and man’s “mannishness.” 

Thus they have hit upon something which exists, and it is neither nothing, nor is it God. We might sum up thier experience by saying that when they experience the “redness” of a rose, they are having the experience of the external world, as is the farmer who plows his field. They are both touching the world that is. 

In the same way, lovers on the left bank of the Seine in Paris experience the “mannishness” of man when they fall in love and yet cry because they do not understand the source of love because they are not sure that love exists.

In his writing, Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer says “If I met any of these people who are having an ‘experience’, I would put my hand gently on their shoulders and say, “You are separated from God if you do not accept Christ as your Savior, but at this moment you understand something real about the universe.” Though their system may not be able to explain the source of love or that love exists, their own experience shows that it does. They have not touched the personal God who exists, but for a fleeting moment they have touched the existence of true personality in their love. This is indeed an objective reality, because God has made their personalities in this way. 

It is true that in these experiences man has touched something, not nothing; but what he has touched is not God, but the objective reality of the external world and the “mannishness” of man that God has created.  They experience the objective reality of what God has designed and created for man to experience ‘so that’ it leads them to experience a personal knowledge and relationship with the personal God who is there.  

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – The God Who Is There 

Seeing The Light

God has created a real, external world. 

It is not an extension of His essence. 

The real, external world exists. 

God has also created man as a real, personal being, and he possesses a distinct and particular “mannishness” from which he can never escape.  

We are designed and wired to ‘know’ an objective and rational experience of the reality of the external world that exists, and/or the “mannishness” that exists. 

We can know this reality precisely because this is how God has made man, in His own image, able to experience the real world and man’s “mannishness.”   We have ‘personality’ because God is personal.  

We are hard-wired to ‘know’ the personal ‘God who Is’.  

Your ultimate life meaning and purpose is to ‘know’ God at the deepest personal level of experience.   

He has revealed Himself to us through the external world that exist.  

He has revealed Himself to us in our ‘internal’ wiring…our sense of ‘knowing’ is hard-wired to give us ‘knowledge’ and relationship with Him.

And He has manifested Himself to all men through the God-man Jesus Christ.    

Thoughts developed from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy. 

How To Read Genesis 1-3

The Nature of God 

Who God Is 

How To Read Genesis 1-3

Part 5  (Final Part)

Use of Analogies in Genesis 1–3 

Finally, it is wise to take into account the ordinary way that God uses in speaking to his people in Genesis 1–3. He does not need to impress anyone with some highly technical display of scientific knowledge. After all, he is God. All the technical knowledge, like all human knowledge whatsoever, ultimately comes from him. What he does in Genesis is to speak to ordinary people about what they most need to know. They need to know that he is the almighty God. They need to know that he created everything that they can see, and even what they cannot see. He created things at least partly for the benefit and blessing of human beings. The creation displays his power and his glory (Psalm 19:1–6). 

So in Genesis 1–2, God largely describes what he did by using analogies with providential works that he continues to do today. For instance, he created the whole system by which plants reproduce according to their kinds (Genesis 1:11–12). He did it in an initial, once-for-all act of creation. But the pattern of making new plants continues in his providential work today. These analogies between today and the events of creation help ordinary people to understand what God did. 

If we take into account God’s address to ordinary people, it helps to steer us away from either overreading or underreading Genesis 1–3. We overread it if we try to find technical detail about exactly how God did what he did. What he did in Genesis 1 is analogous to what he does day by day in providential control now. But because this description involves analogy rather than identity, we cannot infer the details beyond what the analogies give us. 

We also should beware of the danger of underreading Genesis 1–3. This underreading takes place if we merely focus on the main point — God is God, and he made everything. That is true enough. But whatever God says in Genesis 1–3, including each detail, offers something to learn. Nothing is to be merely discarded or set aside merely because it is not the main point. 

Events in Space and Time 

The basic guidelines for interpreting Genesis 1–3 derive from Scripture itself. If we follow the guide of Scripture, we will read Genesis 1–3 with understanding. We will not have all our questions answered, because Genesis 1–3 does not say everything that could be said about the details of how God did things. Much remains mysterious. But we do gain from Genesis 1–3 a true understanding of reality. God created the world and mankind. Adam and Eve rebelled in the garden. Those were real events in space and time.   (end)

Taken from an article from the works of Vern Poythressauthor and professor of New Testament interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary. His most recent books include Knowing and the Trinity: How Perspectives in Human Knowledge Imitate the Trinity (P&R Publishing, 2018) and The Mystery of the Trinity: A Trinitarian Approach to the Attributes of God (P&R Publishing, 2020). He has degrees from Westminster, Cambridge, Harvard, and Caltech. 

What to Do with Modern Science?

The Nature of God

 Who God Is

 How To Read Genesis 1-3

Part 4

What to Do with Modern Science? 

Next, let us ask how we deal with claims coming from modern science. The upset over some of these claims is undoubtedly one of the motivations for people who search for new interpretations of Genesis 1–3. Some people are looking for ways to make peace with modern scientific claims by reinterpreting Genesis 1–3 in such a way that it then fits within the framework of modern science. 

We cannot in a short article deal with every aspect of this complex, challenging issue. For thoroughness, it needs book-length treatment.1 But we can make some brief observations. 

First, modern scientific research and reflection has many benefits. But it is not immune from influence from the surrounding cultural atmosphere. In particular, philosophical materialism has an influence. It puts pressure on scientists to treat the world as reducible to matter and motion, and to deny the existence of God in practice. Clearly, the implications of this framework are inevitably going to clash with the Bible, because the two worldviews, the modern one and the biblical one, are in conflict. 

Second, as a result of the influence of worldview, Christians need to inspect critically claims coming from scientists, rather than blindly accepting everything that waves the banner of the prestige of science. It does not mean that scientists are deliberately concealing the truth. But they are typically not consciously inspecting the influence of their own worldview assumptions. They may take for granted assumptions (such as philosophical materialism) that are not in fact true. 

Moreover, in many areas of the sciences, as investigation continues to develop, scientists dispute among themselves. It is easy to ignore minority voices, but not wise to do so. 

Third, it is wise to distinguish experimental sciences from historical sciences. In experimental sciences, as the label suggests, scientists conduct experiments. They postulate regularities on the basis of repeated observation under controlled laboratory conditions. The impressive practical benefits of the sciences derive almost wholly from experimental sciences. 

Historical sciences, by contrast, are investigations that try to reconstruct the past. Direct experiments cannot be conducted on the past, because the past is permanently gone. And here it gets challenging, because there are key events in the past that occurred only once in the whole history of the universe. Man came on the scene once. Each new kind of animal appeared once. The universe itself came into being once. These events are exceptional. And, since God exists, they may be miraculous events. They may be outside the scope of the regularities that experimental scientists can currently observe. 

The main takeaway principle here is not too quickly to decide that current scientific opinion about the past is completely aligned with what actually happened, nor that investigations into current regularities (“scientific laws”) will ever be able to explain unique past events brought about by God. We should be patient, rather than panicked, if we hear of some apparent discrepancy between the claims in the Bible and the claims being made by some modern scientists.  (Part 5 tomorrow)

Taken from an article from the works of Vern Poythressauthor and professor of New Testament interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary. His most recent books include Knowing and the Trinity: How Perspectives in Human Knowledge Imitate the Trinity (P&R Publishing, 2018) and The Mystery of the Trinity: A Trinitarian Approach to the Attributes of God (P&R Publishing, 2020). He has degrees from Westminster, Cambridge, Harvard, and Caltech. 

The Genre of Genesis

The Nature of God

 Who God Is 

How To Read Genesis 1-3

Part 3

The Genre of Genesis 

Next, let us ask what kind of a book Genesis is. In accord with the richness of who God is, what God says in the Bible includes a variety of forms or genres of literature. God chooses a variety of ways of communicating, in order that we may absorb what he says and grow in communion with him in a variety of complementary ways. The book of Psalms, for example, is a collection of poetic songs and prayers. In the Gospels, we find sermons of Jesus (such as the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5–7), parables, records of miracles, records of healings, and the record of the crucifixion. The Bible has prophetic books like Isaiah that contain exhortations, recollections of God’s past dealings, and predictions about the future. There are historical books, such as 1–2 Kings, that have a record of past events in the history of Israel. 

Each literary section of the Bible was crafted by God, as well as by the human author (2 Peter 1:21). It is exactly what God designed to say, not only in its contents, but also in all its details, including the features of genre. If we respect God, then we should take into account how he chooses to communicate. It would be a mistake, for example, if an interpreter were to treat Jesus’s parable of the lost sheep (Luke 15:3–7) as if it were a prosaic nonfictional account that is merely about one shepherd and one sheep. It is a fictional story with a spiritual point. The point is indicated at the end: “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7). Jesus also indicates near the beginning of the parable that it is hypothetical, rather than an actual case in real life: “. . . if he [the shepherd] has lost one of them [the sheep], . . .” (Luke 15:4). 

So what kind of genre is Genesis 1–3? We need to start by considering the book of Genesis as a whole. It is the book as a whole that guides our understanding of each part within it. The book as a whole has some embedded poetry (Genesis 49:2–27). But as a whole, it is Hebrew prose narrative. It is similar in character to the other Old Testament books of narrative, such as Numbers, Judges, 1–2 Samuel, 1–2 Kings, Ezra, and Nehemiah. 

One crucial question involves the distinction between fiction and nonfiction. Is Genesis fiction or nonfiction narrative or some combination? Several types of indications confirm that it is nonfiction. Genesis functions together with Exodus to set forth a continuous development of events that lead to the growth of the nation of Israel. The nation is real. The implication is that the growth towards that endpoint is also real. There is no literary indication of a separation in nature between events that happened in the real world, in the times when Genesis was read to Israelites, and events that happened earlier. Next, key characters, such as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, are referred to in later parts of the Bible with the assumption that they are real, rather than being fictional like the lost sheep in Jesus’s parable. Later historical narratives, such as in 1–2 Kings, refer to earlier records, with the obvious implication that someone who was interested could check the records to see (e.g., 1 Kings 11:4114:1929). 

There is a further complexity in distinguishing between fiction and nonfiction. It is possible for a human speaker to deceive people. He can pretend to give nonfiction when he is actually making up a story. An example of such deceit occurs in 1 Kings 13:11–19. A man, described as “an old prophet” who “lived in Bethel,” invited a prophet from Judah to come back to his home to eat. To induce the prophet from Judah to come, he falsely told him that he had had a message from an angel instructing him to invite him home. This narrative in 1 Kings is revealing, because it shows that people in the ancient culture of the time knew the difference between fiction and nonfiction just as much as we do. And they depended on that difference at crucial times. This principle is illustrated not only in 1 Kings, but in Genesis itself, when Pharaoh and later Abimelech reproach Abraham for not telling the truth (Genesis 12:18–1920:9–10). 

So now, how do we treat the book of Genesis? It presents itself as nonfiction, like the material in Numbers and 1–2 Kings. But could it be pretending? Could it be deceiving? In the case of a merely human author, we cannot be absolutely sure. Because Genesis has God as the divine author, in addition to a human author, we can be sure. God does not deceive. So Genesis not only presents itself as nonfiction. It is in fact about events that happened in the past. 

The idea of a combination of fiction and nonfiction does not work, for the same reason that the theory that Genesis is fiction does not work. A combination of fiction and nonfiction is possible for a human author. But Genesis gives no warning to readers that it is such a combination. It presents itself as nonfiction. And that is decisive in coming to a conclusion. It is nonfiction. The events described there are events in the real world, not in an imaginary world, and not made-up events injected in a confused way into the midst of other events in the real world. 

The principle we take away is that the events described in Genesis 1–3 happened in the real world.  (part 4 tomorrow)

Taken from an article from the works of Vern Poythressauthor and professor of New Testament interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary. His most recent books include Knowing and the Trinity: How Perspectives in Human Knowledge Imitate the Trinity (P&R Publishing, 2018) and The Mystery of the Trinity: A Trinitarian Approach to the Attributes of God (P&R Publishing, 2020). He has degrees from Westminster, Cambridge, Harvard, and Caltech. 

Who God Is – Part 2

The Nature of God 

Who God Is 

How To Read Genesis 1-3

Part 2

The Divine Authorship of the Bible 

A second issue concerns the nature of the Bible. It is the word of God. It is what God says. 

One principal reason for the diversity of readings of Genesis 1–3 is an underlying diversity of opinion about what kind of text the Bible is. Much of the academic study of Genesis takes place with the assumption that God is not the author of Genesis. In effect, academics deny the divine inspiration of the Bible. This denial follows directly from the prior assumption that God does not speak. According to modern Western thinking, either God does not exist, or he was not involved in the writing of Genesis in a special way. Or, if he was involved somehow, he deferred pretty much to the human author or authors. One way or another, these people discount divine meaning and search only for human meaning. 

Clearly, the issue of divine authorship makes a difference in what meanings come out at the end, because a misjudgment about who the author is leads to a misjudgment about what he means. Or, according to some postmodern interpretive approaches, verbal texts and the readers who interact with texts float in a sea of meanings, more or less independent of either God or human authors. But this kind of multiplication of meanings is a mistake, because it discounts the unique authority of God to say what he means and to do so with unique authority. 

So it is worthwhile asking whether the Bible teaches divine authorship. It does, in any number of places. Second Peter 1:21 says, “No prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” This verse affirms a role for human authors: “men spoke . . .” But it emphasizes that the more ultimate and decisive author is God: “men spoke from God”; and “they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” Jesus himself affirms the divine authority of the Old Testament in a number of places and a number of ways (Matthew 5:17–2019:4–526:54John 10:35). Interested readers can consult any number of books by evangelical authors, showing how the Bible affirms its own divine authorship and authority (2 Timothy 3:16). 

Since God is a God of truth (John 3:33), his word is truth (John 17:17). He can be trusted. The Bible can be trusted, because it is his word. That must be our attitude as we read Genesis 1–3 — and every other passage in the Bible. 

So here, in the fact of divine authorship, we have a second central principle in interpreting the Bible. We read and study it with respect and trust, rather than distrust. Just as we must reinterpret modern Western culture in its view of God, so, for the same reason, we must avoid imitating the distrust that the culture has toward the Bible. We avoid also the human temptation to pick and choose the meanings that please our prior preferences, or picking and choosing to believe only those parts of the Bible that line up with our preferences. That picking and choosing makes sense only for people who have already rejected God. 

(Part 3, Monday)

Taken from an article from the works of Vern Poythressauthor and professor of New Testament interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary. His most recent books include Knowing and the Trinity: How Perspectives in Human Knowledge Imitate the Trinity (P&R Publishing, 2018) and The Mystery of the Trinity: A Trinitarian Approach to the Attributes of God (P&R Publishing, 2020). He has degrees from Westminster, Cambridge, Harvard, and Caltech. 

Who God Is – Part 1

The Nature of God 

Who God Is 

How To Read Genesis 1-3

Part 1  

Does God exist? And what kind of God is he? Is he a God who can create the world, in the way that Genesis 1 describes? Is he the kind of God who could fashion the first woman from the rib of Adam, as Genesis 2:21–22 describes? Is he the kind of God who can speak in an audible voice from the top of Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:9–20:22Deuteronomy 5:2–22)? Is he the kind of God who can multiple five loaves and two fish, so that they feed five thousand men (John 6)? 

Most of elite culture in the modern Western world does not believe in a God like that. Rather, the culture is deeply influenced by philosophical materialism, which says that matter is the ultimate constituent of the world. If some kind of a god exists, he is not involved in the world in the way that the Bible describes. He is not a God who speaks or who works miracles. 

In addition, some people are influenced by New Age mysticism. They believe in various kinds of spiritual influence. But their “god,” if they call it that, is an aspect of nature. 

The issue of God is monumentally important. If God is not a God such as the Bible describes, then either the Bible is a lie or it has to be radically reinterpreted. And that is what people do. Much of the academic study of the Bible at major universities of the world takes place under the assumption that the way we read the Bible must harmonize with modern ideas about the world. Hence, this academic study corrupts the Bible. And then this corruption travels out into general culture. 

But in fact, God exists — the same God that the Bible describes. Therefore, the elite people in Western culture are walking in the dark about God. It is the culture, not the Bible, that has to be radically reinterpreted. Genesis 1–3 is one text — a crucial text — that shows the massive difference between the Bible’s view of God and common modern Western views. 

The first point, then, is that when we read the Bible, we need to reckon with who God is.  (Part 2 tomorrow)

Taken from an article from the works of Vern Poythress, author and professor of New Testament interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary. His most recent books include Knowing and the Trinity: How Perspectives in Human Knowledge Imitate the Trinity (P&R Publishing, 2018) and The Mystery of the Trinity: A Trinitarian Approach to the Attributes of God (P&R Publishing, 2020). He has degrees from Westminster, Cambridge, Harvard, and Caltech. 

Daily Light – Feb 17, 2021

The Universe Is Saying Something 

(Reprinted) Article by Dan Dewitt, Guest Contributor 

Early in the year 2014, the earth tried to tell us something: it doesn’t like Corvettes. At least that was the interpretation given by ABC news analyst Matthew Dowd, who suggested the universe is sending us a message. 

Maybe he’s right. Perhaps the earth was unhappy with the materialism of the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and therefore opened up a sinkhole large enough to swallow several collectible sports cars. Or maybe it’s just an unfortunate byproduct of building over Kentuckian limestone formations. 

The comments for the online posting of the article demonstrate that much of Dowd’s readership was unconvinced that the sinkhole was a subliminal message for man to be “more in sync with the Earth.” I agree. I think Dowd’s theory should be buried beneath the subterranean stack of rusting automobiles. 

But if the universe did want to tell us something, what might it look like? 

Hardwired in Humanity 

We reject Dowd’s theory as out of hand because we don’t anthropomorphize the earth. There’s not a mind grinding away at the earth’s core analyzing consumer data and determining where to inflict naturalistic disasters. 

But the vast majority of humanity, past and present, has believed, and still believes, in some sort of transcendent Mind, not subservient to creation, but sovereign over it. So, when Christians speak the gospel, they are not fighting a counterintuitive campaign like Dowd’s pseudo-pantheistic eco-friendly conspiracy theory. The evangelist speaks to the universal intuition of the divine that is hardwired into humanity. 

In this way, all of reality is the believer’s ally in sharing the gospel. Our universal longing for transcendent meaning actually points to a transcendent source. And only Jesus can satisfy this persistent craving. To paraphrase Pascal, this is a God-sized problem that only God can fix. Only the gospel provides an exclusive foundation for human flourishing. All other ground is sinking sand. 

The Faulty Foundation 

If this is true, and I certainly believe it is, then most of our neighbors have built their lives upon a faulty foundation. Like the Corvette Museum, their lives are constructed upon the volatile bedrock of limestone that is highly affected by the changing environment. Jesus told a parable about this very thing, illustrating the utter importance of the foundation of our lives. 

But this message is not popular in our day where secular humanism is thriving and is mass-marketed and amplified to us through every channel available. Some may ask: What is the big deal with objective morality and intrinsic worth? Can’t we just determine our meaning for ourselves? Is the limestone life really that bad? 

Consider another illustration; imagine that my children are playing a game of Monopoly in the basement of our home. Do the multicolored bills have worth? Of course they do. But their worth is determined by our house rules and is subject to the overall temperament of those playing the game. If they left our house and took the Monopoly money to the corner store, they would discover the limited value of their fake currency. 

It’s not that the game money doesn’t have value; it just doesn’t have objective value. And our “real” money doesn’t have objective value in this sense either. It is subject to numerous factors. To have objective value, it would need to be backed by a treasury that is not liable to change, political, economic, or otherwise. 

Jesus or Nothing 

The same is true for human value and worth. The only way humans can have objective worth is if it is grounded in a transcendent source that is not subject to the changing whims and wishes of contemporary society. Have we really come so far from the twentieth-century that we have forgotten the tragic price of the relativizing human dignity? 

The late Christian philosopher Francis Schaeffer asked a similar line of questions in his important work He Is There and He Is Not Silent

It is important to remember that it is not improper for men to ask these questions concerning metaphysics and morals, and Christians should point out that there is no answer to these questions except that God is there and he is not silent. Students and other young people should not be told to keep quiet when they ask these questions. They are right to ask them, but we should make it plain to them that these are the only answers. It is this or nothing. (30) 

Schaeffer is right. It is either this — the gospel — or nothing. These are mankind’s categorical options: Jesus or nothing. 

If the Gospel Is True 

Consider the famous quote from the late atheistic Harvard professor Carl Sagan, “The cosmos is all there is, or ever was, or ever will be.” 

If we accept this proposition as true, we must, to be consistent, recognize a complete loss of intrinsic worth and objective purpose. Eternal, impersonal, and non-rational matter cannot provide a foundation for human dignity. 

But if the gospel is true, then the world is filled with unchanging purpose, and man is endowed with an inalienable worth. Maybe this is what the universe is trying to tell us after all. The heavens are declaring the glory of God (Psalm 19:1), and only in our Creator is there a corresponding dignity for man (Psalm 8:4–8). 

Dan Dewitt is dean of Boyce College, the undergraduate school of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses on worldview, philosophy, apologetics, and C.S. Lewis. He is the author of Jesus or Nothing

Daily Light – Feb 16, 2021

Expect Providence to Surprise You 

Learning the Rhythm of God’s Ways 

Article by David Mathis, Executive Editor, desiringGod.org 

One year ago today, a novel coronavirus in China was just becoming news in the United States. On February 3, 2020, the U.S. government declared a public-health emergency, but it wouldn’t be till three weeks later, on February 25, that the Centers for Disease Control would announce that COVID-19 was heading for pandemic status. On March 11, the World Health Organization made that formal declaration, and two days later, the pandemic became a national emergency in the United States and prompted a travel ban on non-U.S. citizens from Europe. 

Now, what do we even begin to say about all that has transpired in these last eleven months? Such unexpected twists and turns just in our personal lives often prompt us to ask, and rightly so, “What is God up to?” — and all the more when the unexpected is so global. Few events in our lifetimes, if any, have been so global. And so, in the last year, perhaps as many of us as ever have paused to ponder, What is God up to in this global pandemic? 

Whether we’ve used the word or not, we are asking about providence. 

Providence in Our Uncertain Experience 

When we speak of divine providence, the particular focus is not as much on the absolute power of God but on his purposes. Providence, according to John Piper, is God’s purposeful sovereignty: “In reference to God, the noun providence has come to mean ‘the act of purposefully providing for, or sustaining and governing, the world.’” 

For Christians, the word of God and the providence of God go hand in hand. God has spoken into our world, through his prophets and apostles, and climactically in his Son, and captured his words for us in writing (the Scriptures). He tells us that he is indeed “sustaining and governing” the world — and that he does so with purpose. Providence emphasizes his provision, that he not only rules over and foresees all that happens, but that he sees to it that his purposes ripen in his perfect, world-confounding ways, and on his timetable. 

God is always sovereign, and always purposeful in his sovereignty, not just in the unusual, but also in the everyday. Yet it is often certain glimpses of his providential hand, in particular surprising twists and turns in life, that prompt us to ask, What is God doing? What is he up to? 

We remain uncertain about the particular meanings of such providential events. What is the meaning of this global pandemic, for instance? What is God saying to the world, and to our nation, and our church, and our family, and to me? In other words, how do we interpret the fingerprints of God in various providential acts today? What can we comprehend about providence, and what can we not? 

What We Do Not Know 

As we glimpse God, in his providence, “seeing to it” in our lives, and in our world, we should take care how much stock we put in our own seeing and interpreting beyond what we know from God’s word. As William Cowper wrote in “God Moves in a Mysterious Way,” “blind unbelief is sure to err” — and so is any pretense on our part to know for certain any meaning he has not revealed in his word. “God is his own interpreter,” said Cowper. 

In love, we will want to be careful not to presume or put pressure on others, or make demands, based on what we think we see in God’s seeing to. As we move from observing his providence, to ponder the meaning, we apply it first and foremost to ourselves. “The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God” (Romans 14:22). 

We also will want to take care that our eyes aren’t just seeing affirmations of our own desires and calling them “providence.” When we have some growing desire — say, about a next step in life, whether whom to date, what job to pursue, what city to move to, or a major purchase to make — it can be all too easy, in the many layers and complexities of reality, to seize upon a few aspects that align in our partial eyes and mind as providential confirmations of what we wanted all along. We will do well to ask ourselves, when we think we see providence most clearly, how convenient it is to our flesh. Are we willing to follow the leading of providence when it trends in the opposite direction of what seems easiest? 

Which brings us to the question of what we might know of God’s pattern in the world and in our lives. 

What We Do Know 

In our uncertainty about various particular meanings in the providential circumstances of our lives, we do know with clarity and certainty, from God’s word, that there are some purposes he is always pursuing. 

We know, for example, that God is always calling the world to repent, and giving opportunity to turn to him (Luke 13:1–5Acts 17:30). He is always building his church, saving and sanctifying his people, intensifying their worship, shattering hopelessness, strengthening faith and courage, giving joy in affliction, and creating love in their hearts (Matthew 16:18). And he is always humbling the proud (1 Peter 5:6), including putting to shame the principalities and powers (Colossians 2:15). 

These purposes, and many more, God tells us ahead of time, in his word, so that as he acts in history, as in a global pandemic, we can know many precious truths about what he is up to. We are not left in the dark. Yet beyond these, there is also a divine logic, or a rhyme and rhythm, of God’s purpose in the world, even amid the many unexpected twists and turns of providence. 

The tune of providence, we might say, plays to the beat of Isaiah 55 and 1 Corinthians 1. 

Who Understands God’s Ways? 

In Isaiah 55, the prophet presses a larger truth into the service of a specific, surprisingly wonderful reality. Unlike humans, who might presume God would have only condemnation for the unrighteous, the prophet implores the wicked to turn from their thoughts and ways, while there is still time, because God is compassionate. “Let him return to the Lord . . . for he will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7). Then comes the larger truth that applies to providence as well: 

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8–9

As prone as we may be to presume that God is like us, he is not. His thoughts are not human. His ways, not human. His plans, not human. His ways and thoughts are not just different; they are higher — “as the heavens are higher than the earth.” And so must we keep that in mind, in our lowly human thoughts, as we observe God’s providence and try to speculate about meaning. Oh, there is meaning! Make no mistake: his sovereignty is indeed purposeful. Filled to overflowing with purposes. Bursting with countless purposes, far beyond our ability to appreciate. And one of his purposes is to show, again and again, just how wonderfully different he is from us. 

Who Gets the Praise in Providence? 

We could turn elsewhere in the Scriptures, but the end of 1 Corinthians 1 might be the most appropriate place to land. In fact, 1 Corinthians 1:28–29 might be the single most important statement in all the Bible for learning to read God’s providence and discern his meaning: 

God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 

In seeking to discern God’s purposes in providence, do we ask, “How is God making it so that no human being — including myself — might boast in his presence?” Is he magnifying his wisdom and power and grace, in the person of his Son, for the weak eyes of his creatures to see him more for what he really is? 

First Corinthians 1:20–31 casts a vision of a God who is turning the patterns of the world upside down. He gives space for human wisdom, power, and nobility to come into their own — that they might be overturned. As he closes the long arcs and completes the purposes of his providence, he makes foolish the wisdom of the world, and weak the world’s strong, and low the world’s noble. He makes the “things that are,” according to human standards, into nothing — and makes something from nothing — “so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” 

So, with every effort on our part to look for God’s meaning as we observe various aspects of his providence, we might ask ourselves, “Does this meaning make much of me, or does it make much of God? Will his meaning lead me to boast in self, or to boast in some other mere human, or will it cause me to boast in the Lord?” 

We surely know very little about all that God has been up to in a year like the last one — or any year for that matter — but we do know this: those who have the best pulse on his providence marvel at the counterintuitive wisdom of his ways, learn to expect surprise, and boast in him alone. 

David Mathis (@davidcmathis) is executive editor for desiringGod.org and pastor at Cities Church in Minneapolis/St. Paul. He is a husband, father of four, and author of Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus Through the Spiritual Disciplines

Daily Light – Feb 15, 2021

Friends:  I read this news article one day last week.  I respect and appreciate the work of the world’s great scientific community.  The article is in purple below…my comments are in black….Bible verses are in Red (ESV). 😊 

Scientists Are Pretty Sure They Found a Portal to the Fifth Dimension 

From Popular Mechanics 

Dark matter could be the result of fermions pushed into a warped fifth dimension

This theory builds on an idea first stated in 1999, but is unique in its findings. 

Dark matter makes up 75 percent of matter but has never been observed … yet. 

In a new study, scientists say they can explain dark matter by positing a particle that links to a fifth dimension. 

While the “warped extra dimension” (WED) is a trademark of a popular physics model first introduced in 1999, this research, published in The European Physical Journal C, is the first to cohesively use the theory to explain the long-lasting dark matter problem within particle physics. 

Our knowledge of the physical universe relies on the idea of dark matter, which takes up the vast majority of matter in the universe. Dark matter is a kind of pinch hitter that helps scientists explain how gravity works, because a lot of features would dissolve or fall apart without an “x factor” of dark matter. Even so, dark matter doesn’t disrupt the particles we do see and “feel,” meaning it must have other special properties as well. 

“[T]here are still some questions which do not have an answer within the [standard model of physics],” the scientists, from Spain and Germany, explain in their study. “One of the most significant examples is the so-called hierarchy problem, the question why the Higgs boson is much lighter than the characteristic scale of gravity. [The standard model of physics] cannot accommodate some other observed phenomena. One of the most striking examples is the existence of dark matter.” 

(The article has a few more paragraphs of scientific discussion relevant to theorized problem solving and scientific thought as to how the ‘all’ of the universe and the gazillion pieces and parts of its infinite complexity of interaction work and are held together.   Such articles always cause me to pause and worship our Creator God…He is there…and He has spoken.  This amazing and wonderful universe ‘declares’…it speaks of HIM.  

Psalm 19:1  The heavens declare the glory of God and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. 

Genesis 1:8  And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day. 

Genesis 1:4  And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. 

Isaiah 42:5  Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it: 

Jeremiah 10:12  It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens. 

Genesis 2:4  These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens. 

2 Corinthians 5:17  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 

Nehemiah 9:6  “You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you. 

Romans 1:18-20 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 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.

Jeremiah 32:17  ‘Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you. 

Colossians 1:16-17  For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 

Isaiah 40:26  Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing. 

Psalm 8:3  When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 

Jesus, God the Son, is more…soooo much more than an ‘X-Factor’…  

Hebrews 1:3   He (Jesus) is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.