Tuesday, September 26, 2017

One Creator

There is no new thing under the sun.”
Solomon, in Ecclesiastes 1:9

There is only one Creator.  He created a Son first, and then chose to create everything else through that Son (Jn. 1:3), but even at that, the Son was limited to the power the Father gave him.  He could not go beyond it, and he did only what his Father wanted done.  While on earth, the Son openly and repeatedly confessed his utter dependence on God.  He understood well that no one but God is Creator.
In Ecclesiastes 3:11, Solomon made a strange statement.  He said that God has set eternity in men’s hearts, “so that man can’t find out the work that God has done from the beginning even to the end.”  It is a difficult phrase to understand, but I believe that Solomon was pointing out the inescapable fact that we cannot by any means go beyond the universe within which God has created us.  We have no power or wisdom that will take us beyond this creation; we cannot even think of anything beyond it.  In that regard, it can be said that no one has ever had a creative thought.  Only God can think creatively.  All we can do is use our imagination to re-arrange or combine elements of this creation into new shapes.  Solomon suggested this when he said that “God made man upright, but they have sought out many inventions” (Eccl. 7:29).  Men have invented ways to re-arrange or combine elements of God’s creation, but they have never created an element of it, or even thought of one.
This is true of every creature, in heaven or on earth.  Neither angels nor cherubim nor seraphim have ever thought anything except what belongs in this creation.  One may ask, “If Satan never had an original thought, then how could he be ‘the father of lies’, as Jesus said he was?”  The answer is found in the definition of a lie.  A lie is a re-arrangement of elements of the truth (which already exists) for an evil purpose.  For example, when the serpent told Eve that she would not die if she ate the forbidden fruit, he was combining the reality of eternal life with the reality of eating the forbidden fruit, and then telling Eve that those two things went together.  But they did not.  God had already told her so.
The serpent had not created anything; he had only combined two realities in a new way for an evil purpose.  And it worked.  Eve ate the fruit, persuaded her husband to do the same, and they both began to die.  All liars, that is, all who are like Satan, the father of lies, use the truth to their own ends.  In fact, the truth is the only thing they have with which to begin their evil work.
We have only one Creator.  He alone has thoughts that are not of this creation.  He alone has the wisdom to think of something not in this creation, and the power to bring it into existence, out of nothing.  And thankfully, He has revealed Himself through His Son Jesus, who came to bear witness of the truth, not to re-arrange it.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Ministers of Satan

For such men are pseudo-apostles, deceitful workers,
masquerading as apostles of Christ.
And no wonder, for Satan disguises himself as a messenger of light.
Therefore, it is no great thing if his ministers also disguise themselves
as ministers of righteousness, whose end shall be according to their works.
2Corinthians 11:13–15

Paul was not just hurling insults at people he did not like when he called them ministers of Satan.  Rather, he was warning his children in the Lord of men who had rejected the truth and were misleading them.  Nor was Paul condemning those men merely because they did not understand the true doctrine.  Paul was very patient and loving with the ignorant, as were those who worked with him.  For example, when Paul’s fellow-workers, Aquila and Priscilla, heard Apollos teaching the wrong thing, they took him aside and “explained to him the way of God more perfectly” (Acts 18:26).  Ministers of Satan are those who have heard the truth and rejected it, teaching their own doctrines instead.
Ministers of Satan minister to people things that are from the realm over which Satan has control – this world.  Satan is god of this world (2Cor. 4:4), and his ministers minister using worldly things such as worldly water for baptism, worldly food for communion ceremonies, worldly uniforms for worship, etc.  All such fleshly things are from this world, and Satan is this world’s god.
Ministers of Christ minister things from heaven, where Christ sits at the right hand of God.  No man can be a minister of Christ without the holy Ghost, because the holy Ghost brings from heaven the power and revelation necessary to preach the gospel.  True men of God “preach the gospel by the holy Spirit sent from heaven” (1Pet. 1:12), and there are precious few of them.  They may be like Apollos, and not yet see things perfectly, but they will continue to grow in knowledge until they do.  They are living up to all the truth they have been given, and because their conscience is clear, Jesus will continue to feed them the knowledge of God.
As a young man, Paul did great evil to the body of Christ, but he was able to do it with a clear conscience (2Tim. 1:3) because that was all the knowledge he had, and he thought he was pleasing God.  But when Jesus touched his heart, he ceased to do evil and began to learn to do good.  He told Timothy, “I received mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief ” (1Tim. 1:13).  Ministers of Satan, on the other hand, teach false doctrine in spite of having been shown the truth.  Their conscience is not clear.  Apollos was never a minister of Satan, even though he was teaching things that were not exactly right.  His conscience, like young Paul’s, was clear, and he, too, obtained mercy because of it.  If Apollos had rejected the more perfect way when he heard it, however, he would have become a minister of Satan, teaching false doctrine out of self-will.
If Jesus condemned everyone who thinks wrong things about God, nobody would ever come to the knowledge of God.  All of us have had wrong ideas.  That is not even the issue.  The issue is this: How many of us will give up those wrong ideas when Jesus shows us the truth?  There are many ministers who are teaching wrong things with a clear conscience.  I have been among them.  Maybe I still am; God knows.  But the critical question is this: Will those ministers continue in a clear conscience when they hear more truth?  Will they continue to grow in grace and knowledge, or will they reject the truth and cling to what they have always been told?  God is incredibly patient and kind to us who are ignorant.  Pray that He will grant us the grace to humble ourselves to His truth when we hear it.