The Truest Truth

The truest-truth concerning the meaning and purpose for ‘being’ and ‘existence’ is that ‘man’ is made in the image of God and intended to be in vertical communication with the one who is there and who is not silent, the one who created him.   We were made to be connected to our Creator, to ‘know’ Him.  The connection is about purpose and intention in design.   It is about source and supply.  Man is made in the image of God.  And ‘man’ is also meant to have a horizontal communication with his own kind.  The deepest way to experience the truest-truth of knowing that which can be truly known about reality, about purpose and meaning to life, about love, begins in the vertical relationship with the God who is there and then extends out into the horizontal in order for us to give and receive love as it was intended and designed to be experienced.    

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – He Is There and He Is Not Silent 

Need and Solution

It is God Himself and His character who is the moral absolute of the universe.  This is why we have our internal awareness of objective right and wrong.  This is why we know good from evil.   

The Bible says that ‘all’ men…’all’…are morally guilty before God.  It says that this is the result of the real space-time Fall that occurred with the first man and first woman.  The Fall resulted in ‘all’ men standing morally guilty before God.  We are separated from a personal knowledge of and relationship with God.   

The good news is that God provided a solution to take-away our guilt status ‘in order’ to re-establish the God-man relationship.  We are truly morally guilty and we need a solution for it.  We can’t absolve our own guilt through the simple act of good deeds or good works.  Absolution requires something greater, much greater.   And this is where the substitutionary, propitiatory death of Christ is needed and fits in.  We need a solution for our true moral guilt before the absolutely good God who is there.  That is our need.  Christ’s substitutionary death is the solution. 

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – He Is There and He Is Not Silent 

One Clear Answer

Most adult people, and sometimes teens, say that they think about existence, being, and why we are here.  And all people have some level of thinking about why evil and bad things happen in life.  And most people, at some internal level, have awareness of ‘self’ and of ‘being’ and are aware they have moral conscious (or awareness of right and wrong).  And it is thus natural and of necessity to seek for answers to the questions related to these things. 

To me, the only answer that completely answers all of these questions is that the God of the Bible, who has revealed himself to us in a propositional revelation in verbalized form, in a historical reference, He must indeed not only be there, but He has spoken.  In addition to the written scriptures, we can see the work-of-His hands in what we can see and know of the universe, nature, and life around us.   

There is just no other comparable or equivalent explanation for the ‘why and how’ of existence and being that explains what we can see, know, and feel.   

We need to know who He is, and what His character is, because His character is the law of the universe.  He has told us what His character is, and this becomes our moral law, our moral standard.  It is not arbitrary, for it is fixed in God Himself, in what has always been.  It is the very opposite of what is relativistic.  It is either this, or morals are not morals. They become simply sociological averages or arbitrary standards imposed by society, the state or an elite.  It is one or the other.   

For me there is one clear answer to being, existence, the moral necessity, and to all of life.  It is that the God of the Bible is there and that He has spoken.   

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – He Is There and He Is Not Silent 

He Is…The Moral Absolute

It is not that there is a moral absolute behind God that binds man and God, because that which is farthest back is always finally God.  Rather, it is God Himself and His character who is the moral absolute of the universe. 

In prior posts, we discussed the metaphysical component of existence (the nature of reality and cause as to being and existence). And saying again, as in the area of metaphysics, we must understand that this is not only the best answer — it is the only answer for understanding the existence of morals.  The only answer in the area of morals, as true morals (including the problem of social evil), turns upon the fact of God’s being there.  If God is not there (not just the word God, but God Himself being there objectively – the God of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures), there is no answer at all to the problem of evil and morals.  Again, it is not only necessary that He be there, but that He is not silent.  There is a philosophic necessity in both metaphysics and morals that He is there and that He is not silent.  He has spoken, in verbalized, propositional form, and He has told us what His character is.   

As I sit here on my little piece of earth watching the dawn of a new day, I ‘know’ that He is there.  I am aware of Him.  At the deepest place inside my being, at the deepest level of consciousness, I ‘know’ Him…the only true and wise God.  I stake my eternal life to Him, in Him, and on Him.  

God’s son, Jesus Christ, takes us by the hand and leads us to the the infinite-personal God.  And we know Him.  There is nothing in the all of life that compares to this level of knowing.  We can know the God who is there.  

The disciple/Apostle/friend, travel companion of Jesus Christ wrote a letter to us saying…. 

God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.  This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. 

Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. 

And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. 

God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. (1 John 4:9-16 NLT) 

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – He Is There and He Is Not Silent 

Not A Bad God (Part 3)

Let’s look at the account of Jesus before the tomb of Lazarus.  (It is found in The Gospel of John, Chapter 11). To me, what Jesus did at the tomb of Lazarus sets the world on fire – it becomes a great shout into the morass of the twenty first century.  Jesus came to the tomb of Lazarus, and the Greek language makes it very plain that he had two emotions.  The first was tears for Lazarus, but the second emotion was anger.  He was furious; and he could be furious at the abnormality of death without being furious with Himself as God.  This is tremendous in the context of the twenty first century.  When we look at evil – the cruelty which is abnormal to that which God made – our reaction should be the same.  We are able not only to cry over the evil, but we can be angry at the evil.  We have basis to fight the thing which is abnormal to what God originally made.  The Christian should be in the front line, fighting the results of man’s cruelty, for we know that it is not what God has made.  We are able to be angry at the results of man’s cruelty without being angry at God or being angry at what is normal.   

We can have real morals and moral absolutes, for we know that God is absolutely good.  There is the total exclusion of evil from God.  God’s character is the moral absolute of the universe.  Plato was entirely right when he held that unless you have absolutes, morals do not exist.  But Plato had a dilemma.  Here is the complete answer to Plato’s dilemma; he spent his time trying to find a place to root his absolutes, but he was never able to do so because his gods were not enough.  But for us, we have the infinite-personal God who has a character from which all evil is excluded, and His character is the moral absolute of the universe.  And what is mind-boggling is that ‘this’ infinite-personal, pure and holy God, loves you and me.  He weeps for you and me in our pain and struggle.  And he comes to us in our worst times of being lost and in the dark and he shines His light of life into our hearts and draws us to Himself.  He is a very good God.  😊  

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – He Is There and He Is Not Silent 

Not A Bad God (part 2)

We can explain that man is now cruel, without God being a bad God. 

There is hope of a solution for this moral problem which is not intrinsic to the ‘mannishness’ of man.  If this cruelty is intrinsic to the ‘mannishness” of man – if that is what man always has been – then there is no hope of a solution.  But if it is an abnormality, there is a hope of a solution.  It is in this setting that the substitutionary, propitiatory death of Christ ceases to be an incomprehensible concept.  In liberal theology, the death of Christ is always an incomprehensible god word/concept.  But in this setting to which we have come, the substitutionary death of Christ now has meaning.  It is not merely god word/concept or an existential thing.  It has solid meaning.  We can have the hope of a solution concerning man if man is abnormal now.   

On this basis we can have an adequate ground for fighting evil, including social evil and social injustice.  Modern man has no real basis for fighting evil, because he sees man as normal – whether he comes out of the pan-everythingism of the East or modern liberal theology, or out of the pan-everythingism of everything’s being reduced (including man) to only the energy particle.  But the Christan has the solution:  we can fight evil without fighting God, because God did not make things as they are now – as man in his cruelty has made them.  God did not make man cruel, and He did not make the results of man’s cruelty. These are abnormal, contrary to what God made, and so we can fight the evil without fighting God.   

Continued tomorrow 😊 

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – He Is There and He Is Not Silent 

Not A Bad God

There are questions and there is tension as to understanding the reality that God is good even though cruelty exists in man and in the world around him.   And again, within all philosophic ideas and thoughts on this question…the most realistic answer is that of the Judeo-Christian view as stated in the written record of the Bible.  The Bible is God’s communication to man related to the cause, reason, and truth of the existence of what we can see and know.  The Bible says that man is not ‘continuous’ with what he has always been.  That is, that man as he is now is not what he was; that man is ‘discontinuous’ with what he has been rather than continuous with what he has always been.  Or, to put it another way, man is now abnormal – he has changed.    

And within this circle of thought, this involves yet another question and choice:  If God changed man, or made him abnormal, then does this mean God is a bad God?  And the answer as stated in the Bible is that man created by God as personal has changed himself – that he stands at the point of discontinuity rather than continuity not because God changed him, but because he changed himself.  Man by his own choice, is not what he intrinsically was.  In this case we can understand that man is now cruel, but that God is not a bad God.  This is precisely the Judeo-Christian position.  There was a space-time, historic change in man.  There is a discontinuity and not a continuity in man.  Man, made in the image of God and not programmed, turned by choice from his proper integration point at a certain time in history.  When he did this, he became something he previously was not, and the dilemma of man becomes a true moral problem rather than merely a metaphysical one. Man at a certain point of history, changed himself, and hence stands, in his cruelty, in discontinuity with what he was, and we have a true moral situation:  morals do exist.  Everything hangs upon the fact that man is abnormal now, in contrast to what he originally was.   

The difference between what the Bible provides as the answer to the story of existence, the answers to ‘why and what’, and the non-Christian philosophical answers are very different on this point.  The non-Christian philosophy says that man is normal now, but biblical Christianity says he is abnormal now.   

When you come to the Christian answer, that is, that man is abnormal now because at a point of space-time history he changed himself (morally) — we can explain that man is now cruel, without God being a bad God.  And the good news, very good news, is that this same story in the Bible says that this ‘good God’, who is love, provides a solution to save man from his fallen state.   

We will continue this thought tomorrow 😊 

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – He Is There and He Is Not Silent 

Right and Wrong

Let’s talk about man’s inherent sense, or internal awareness, of objective right and wrong…call it the area of moral awareness.  And we continue with the philosophic thought concerning man’s existence originating from the ‘personal’ instead of the ‘impersonal’.  We continue to contrast the personal beginning of man from an impersonal beginning:  Either a personal infinite God created all things outside of Himself and gave finite man a special place in His creation and ‘this’ is what gives meaning and purpose to the ‘life’ of man… Or, in contrast, we are left with the philosophic answer that man came into existence out of an impersonal beginning from absolute- nothing plus time and chance.   

So, where does man’s internal awareness of objective right and wrong – moral motions, come from?  Let’s refer to it as ‘moral motions’ in the sense of norms.  In that sense, we are talking about the fact that men have always felt that there is a difference between right and wrong.  All men have this sense of moral motions.  You do not find man without this anywhere back in antiquity.  You do not find the determinist (relating to the philosophical doctrine that all events, including human action, are ultimately determined by causes regarded as external to the will), or the behaviorist in psychology, without the feeling of moral motions, even if he says morals as morals do not exist.  We find man cast up with a feeling of moral motions which in reality leads only to a complete cosmic alienation, because if you begin with the impersonal, in the universe as it is, there is no place for morals as morals.  There is no standard in the universe that can explain or give a final meaning to such a concept as objective right and wrong.  If you begin with the impersonal, the universe is totally silent concerning any such words.   

It is the infinite, personal God of the Bible that has communicated to us the reason we have awareness and sense of internal/objective right and wrong.  The reason is because we were created in His image.  We have a personal beginning.  We are created with intention and purpose.  We are designed to ‘know’…to know the personal God of creation.   

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – He Is There and He Is Not Silent 

He Is Not Silent

I want to use today to summarize the main thought of the past few weeks:   

Without the infinite-personal God, the God, who through His existence in the God-Trinity, Father/Son/Holy Spirit, the God of personal unity and diversity, there is no answer to the existence of what exists.  The infinite-personal God has spoken, He is there, and He is not silent.  There would be no use to having a silent God.  We would not know anything about Him.  He has spoken and told us what He is and that He existed before all else, and so we have the answer to the existence of what is.   

In the Bible, God has revealed to us the truth of existence and meaning to life.  He has spoken to us through the creation and existence of the universe and by creating us with unique awareness of the fact that we are created in His image…we are ‘aware’ of these realities.   

He is not silent.  The reason we have the answer is because the infinite-personal God, has not been silent.  He has told us who He is.  He is not silent.  That is the reason we know.  It is because He has spoken.  What has He told us?  Has He told us only about other things?  No, He has told us truth about Himself – and because He has told us truth about Himself – that He is the infinite-personal God – we have the answer to existence.   

Man, beginning with himself, can define the philosophical problem of existence, but he cannot generate from himself the answers to the questions.  The answer to the question of existence is that the infinite-personal God is there, and that the infinite-personal God is not silent.   

We, you and me, are made in His image ‘so that’ we can know Him at a personal level.  He has provided a way for us to come to Him and ‘know’ Him and ‘know’ the truth, purpose, and meaning of existence.  That ‘way’ is in and through the person of God-the-Son, Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the ‘way’ to know God.  😊 

Thoughts developed and/or taken from the works of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Trilogy – He Is There and He Is Not Silent 

God is Love Does Not Mean ‘Love is God’

Yesterday we talked about God is love. He is love, at its fundamental essence. As we grow in knowing the God of the Bible, we grow in knowing love. He is the very definition of love. 

From the definition and understanding of ‘love’ as presented in the Bible, ‘God is love’ means that God is love personified. It means that we cannot properly understand love, or possess it, or love God and others, unless we understand it in terms of God – who He is, and what He has done. God’s love is manifested supremely in the giving of Christ as a sacrifice for sinners.  All true love will be consistent, in some way, with the love of God in Christ. It will be sacrificial, it will hurt, it will forgive sins, it will desire the best for the beloved, and it will care about the standard of holiness – God’s Law. But if we elevate love itself to the position of God, we have not only misunderstood love – we have misunderstood God as well.  

Now, on the other hand, a person who reads “God is love,” but inaccurately interprets it as “Love is god” is in a very different position. This person holds their personal definition of love above the God of the Bible. Their definition of love is treated as the concrete thing. God becomes fluid. 

I think this is how most people operate. They get their definition of love from the world: from friends, movies, music, books, and personal experience. Then they open the Bible and read it through that lens. Their idea of love is held with an iron grip. God is held loosely. 

If a particular passage of Scripture describes God in a way that fits their definition of love, they accept it. If, instead, it describes God in a way that seems unloving (to them) they ask, “How could a loving God say or do this?” Of course, when they say “loving God,” they mean a God who loves according to their definition of it. 

God is on the hot seat. Their definition of love is the judge. 

From this perspective, it becomes clear that a person who functionally believes that Love is god is operating in arrogance. The hidden assumption is that their definition of love is complete. God is expected to fit their bill – to conform to their limited understanding of what love is. 

In recent years, there has been an increasing emphasis on the importance of asking questions within Christianity. I think this is mostly good. This has primarily been encouraged by younger Christians who feel there is not a welcoming enough presence in the faith. They are not all wrong. 

Asking questions to better understand God so we may submit to Him is a wonderful thing. But I’m not so sure this is what most of them mean. I think they mean something quite different. I hear this from them: ‘What we’ve found in the Bible doesn’t sit well with us.’ So they essentially ask, “Can’t we make it mean something else?” 

Their own understanding of love, or freedom, or happiness is what drives them. That is their North Star. They have no interest in conforming themselves to the God of Scripture; they are far more interested in making adjustments to Him. 

God is love. He is the concrete reality from which love flows. He defines it. He is it. God is the sentient being; love is one of His qualities. To know love, we must know the God of the Bible. And if He seems to contradict our definition of love, we must revise our definition – not Him. 

Otherwise, let us be honest and just say, “Love, as I define it, is my god.” And, of course, worshiping something we can define is just another clever way of adoring the sovereign self. 

Thoughts developed or taken from an article written by Ryan McCoskey, Pastor, Wichita, KS