God and His World
Mr. Edwin Fesche resides in Westminster. Maryland. He has been in the Lord’s work for over 50 years and is a valued and regular contributor to “Food for the Flock” magazine (see his column, “The Current Scene”).
We consider that God in dealing with His world does so on three levels. To each God has imposed His principles, or laws, suitable to the nature wherein they operate. They are Creation, Conscience and a Divine Revelation. These three spheres have a voice to all that are attentive and wise. In fact, the lessons learned far exceed the sophistries so current in present society. “I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation” (Psa. 119:99).
The Bible definitely states that God created the heavens and the earth. We discover ourselves to be dwellers on this terrestrial globe and are invited to “lift up our eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things?” (Isa. 40:26). As one appreciative observer has said, “The stars forever singing as they shine: the hand that made us is divine.” The precise movements of the heavens and the fixity of the laws of the earth teach us that the Creator is the architect of order. Think of gravity, the seasons, and the work ethic for survival. Woe to the farmer that plants his corn in the fall instead of the spring. Worse yet is to deny a Creator. Since the days, particularly of Darwin, creationism has come under attack. Of such God has said, “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God” (Psa. 14:1). To others God is defined as a creative process within nature, or “the ongoing of things” — pantheism. Certainly He is not viewed as a personal God to whom man will give account. Because of this trend, our schools and colleges take a favorable view of evolution. In Scripture our world is seen as a forecaster of heavenly things. Our Lord often appealed to nature to point to higher truths. The parable of the sower revealed how the kingdom of heaven was to be propagated. As a cure for anxiety, He advised his listeners to “consider the lilies” or God’s care of the sparrows. Saint Paul showed a wholesome respect for the laws of nature when he advised the centurion and the ship’s captain to remain harbour-bound until the tempest season was over. The refusal imperiled the whole ship’s company on the journey to Rome. When imprisoned in Rome, the apostle asked Timothy to bring him his cloak as winter was coming on. On another occasion Paul rebuked the men of Lystra for worshipping Barnabas as Jupiter and himself as Mercurius. The witness of God sending in rain and fruitful seasons should at least show to them the folly of their poltheism and superstitution. So then creation leads us on to a higher plane.
God has written His moral law in the heart of every man that comes into the world. Furthermore, for those who are within reach of a Bible there are the Ten Commandments. The great missionary to Africa, Dan Crawford, said “the heathen sin against light.” So, just as there are laws in the material world and men soon learn to adjust to them; equally so, there are moral laws. Obedience and compliance to these brings its reward: on the other hand, there is punishment to the disobedient. The laws of morality are not as demonstrative as those of nature. So often we see sinful men seemingly getting away with it. In this connection this verse naturally comes to mind, “Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before in judgment: and some men they follow after” (1 Tim. 5:24). A holy God must execute justice according to His impeccable nature. As another has said, “The man or the nation of men who thinks it possible to cheat a moral God in a moral universe is a moral imbecile.” The most overt area that portrays a society’s moral calibre is its respect, or otherwise, of the relationship between male and female. The modern mentality encouraged by permissiveness and contraceptive devices has thought to bypass shame and punishment. As a result, social diseases now terrorize or torment offenders. The “do your own thing” society is not the way to the happiness that it seeks.
The January ‘83 Reader’s Digest, while fully neglecting any thought that the present scourge (20 million Americans) is a divine visitation, nevertheless, recognizes that punishment can be a necessary deterrent. This secular writer observes, “The herpes counter-revolution may be ushering a grudging chastity back into fashion.” The writer also adds, “This highly contageous disease has irrevocably altered the lives of millions and might help bring to a close an era of mindless promiscuity.” The excessive reliance upon alcohol, drugs, tobacco and gambling each have their retributive backlash.
All of this reminds us of God’s revelation to Abraham when he promised Canaan to Abraham’s descendants after the “iniquity of the Ammonites” (the then inhabitants) had come to the full. Modern archeology has confirmed the moral degradation of the Canaanites that were to be put to the sword by the invading Israelites. Also the antediluvians had become a moral cancer and the only remedy was their destruction in Noah’s flood. Those lessons from divine history, so ignored or refused by present liberalism, have been defined as “God’s moral surgery.” The secret of Joseph’s chastity (Gen. 39:9) was found in his own words, “How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” Where there is no fear that God is a consuming fire, an attitude so prevalent today, He has called other monitors to the front. Compliance with the dictates of conscience pays priceless dividends. The rich young ruler, although he balked at wholly following Christ, possessed an admirable character, insomuch that Jesus loved him. He was a noble product of the culture of his day. Peter, having learned of the piety of Cornelius, said to him, “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him” (Acts 10:34-35). Still he needed to hear “words” whereby he could be saved, but he was actually a likely candidate. A scribe in our Lord’s day, although not saved, won our Lord’s approbation, for it is written, “When Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, He said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God” (Mark 12:34). So there is such a quality as plumb, plain decency and morality. Where such does not cater to self-righteousness there has been a development that conditions one to be amenable to the gospel invitation.
There have been those in the past that have observed how closely the laws of creation and morality are related to the spiritual realm. Bishop Butler’s analogy 250 years ago showed how the physical foreshadowed the spiritual. He argued that man is more than his body but also a spirit and, therefore, eternal. Butler saw that a man could lose all his limbs, but his spirit or mind need not be diminished. Losing all physically by death still leaves the spirit intact. The latter is just what the Bible teaches. The Bishopsaw the vanishing lines of the physical projecting into the unseen. A hundred years ago Professor Drummond wrote a sensational book entitled, Natural Law in the Spiritual World. The substance of his book is seen in one of his sentences, “The true greatness of Law lies in its vision of the Unseen.” If the only way a man can enter the world is by birth, so a spiritual birth is essential to enter “the kingdom of God.” F. W. Grant, while appreciating Drummond’s work, reversed the title of his book, Spiritual Law in the Natural World. Drummond looked from the bottom up to the Source: Grant saw God imposing His laws on everything created. Butler and Drummond would have nature interpret Scripture; Grant’s reversing, then, is the better approach. Both of these later writers reveal an immense knowledge of the sciences up to their day. Modern discoveries in no way negate their reasoning but rather further add to the views already advanced.
The voice of everything around, whether they be animate or inanimate, witnesses to their Creator. Paul confirms this, “For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they (mankind) are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20).
When the Apostle Paul defined a man as “spiritual” (1 Cor. 2:15), he was distinguishing him from the “natural man.” The natural man is a man of the world nevertheless. He might rise to the top of one of the professions, or by laziness or immoderate living wind up as a bum. Much depends on how they have responded to “the work of law written in their hearts” (Rom. 2:15). On the other hand, the spiritual man (a born again, normal Christian) is he that has obeyed the laws of the divine revelation. The grand words “whosoever will” have been heeded and one is immediately introduced into the realm of the spirit. He has inherited a new nature that elevates him for higher things than mere morality. Again, we notice that the laws of the Spirit are an enlargement of the natural laws. For instance, natural birth and born of the Spirit. There is no natural life without seed, so Saint Peter writes, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.” Then also spiritual growth is developed by cultivation; either by self-discipline — “abiding by the vine” — or by the ministrations of the local church: “I (Paul) have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase” (1 Cor. 3:6). We reap what we have sown, which can be either to the flesh or to the spirit. Paul speaks of “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:2). These laws reveal a single Creator and show how essential it is for man to conform to these principles for a normal existence here and God’s approbation in the hereafter.