From a Hunk of Metal to a Sword, Part I

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We can’t read white letters on a white page. Light needs a dark background; think of all the nuances of shade an artist uses.Without the human race falling into sin, grace would not be apparent. God has purposed to use the Devil as an unwitting errand boy; “Those who will not be God’s sons become His tools,” said George MacDonald. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. He made man, made woman. He placed the two Trees in the Garden. Since He knows the end from the beginning, He knew Eve would take Satan’s bait. Why didn’t He show up and rescue her, or give any prompt to Adam?

God knew exactly what was going to happen, since He is omniscient. He created the first man and woman knowing full well they would fall, since Jesus is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

This doesn’t mean God authors sin. He gives freedom, and creatures in their freedom choose to misuse it. But He “means evil for good.” Joseph said, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good,” and later Joseph says, “It was not you (his brothers) that sent me here to Egypt – it was God.” He saw God working in all things and even in the completely evil actions of his brothers.

Job – Satan took God’s bait (again, God’s omniscience knew that he would) and ran off to wipe out Job. This was meant by God to purify Job of the last little bit of self-righteousness.

There are other passages in the OT that are odd. God says, “Who will be a lying spirit in the mouths of the false prophets for me?” A spirit speaks up and says, “I will.”

Imagine what this world would be like without any suffering at all.

We’d never experience hatred of evil. We could not choose to love even though we felt like hating the person. No one would ever go on a mission trip. Without the potential of suffering, courage cannot be exercised. Jesus would never have been born.

The Devil is our resistance training.

A sword has to be heated to white hot levels and then hammered out on the anvil again and again before it gains an ability to be trusted by the swordsman.

God is building a people He can trust to never do what Lucifer did. They will become the Bride by seeing firsthand the results of Lucifer’s mindset: “I will be like the Most High.” That mindset can be summed up in one word: Separation. “I am a separate being from God with my own purposes and wants and desires. Not Thy will, but My will be done.”

That’s the mindset we as believers have got to burn out on. That’s the source and wellspring of sin in the believer: “I am a separate self who must find fulfillment, worth, meaning, security by my own devices.” Rather, the mature believer sets his mind in this way: “I am an indwelt cup who has been given everything I need for life and godliness. Worth, meaning, security, fulfillment – all are mine, here and now, in Christ, because I am a new creation, Blood bought and washed son of God, an heir of righteousness.” These truths must be eaten and digested and become part of us.

Winner of 147 Grammys (or so), Ron Block is the banjo-ninja portion of Alison Kraus and Union Station. When he’s not laying down a bluegrass-style martial-arts whoopin’ on audiences around the world, he’s taking care of his donkey named “Trash” and keeping himself busy by being one of the most well-read and thoughtful people we know.


18 Comments

  1. Mike

    God is building a people He can trust to never do what Lucifer did.

    Ron do you mean that God is creating trustable creatures or building only trustworthy people. In other words does he start with nothing and end up with people He can trust or does He pick those that He can trust and build them.

    I wrote this little ditty as I have been thinking about His work vs. mine.

    If we pray a little louder
    Will we feel like we’re more spiritual?

    If we sing a little longer
    Will we feel like we have praised?

    If we memorize another verse before we go to sleep
    Will He love us more tonight than He did today?

    If we never miss a Sunday
    Will we feel like we have served the Lord?

    If we give another dollar
    Will it feed the poor?

    If we ask another person “if you die where will you go?”
    Will it increase what Jesus did for us by a little bit more?

    Where is your hope?
    Does it come from what you do?
    Where is your peace?
    Does it come from keeping rules?
    Where is your power?
    Are you gaining anything?
    Where is your strength?
    Does it come from you?

  2. Nathanael

    Ron,
    Good stuff.
    “That mindset can be summed up in one word: Separation. ‘I am a separate being from God with my own purposes and wants and desires. Not Thy will, but My will be done.'”

    Wow! Well said!
    Guilty as charged.

    Mike,
    Great little ditty, brother.

    Shalom

  3. Brance

    Right on Ron. I’ve heard someone refer to “The Fall” as “The Fortunate Fall.” The reasoning is that without the fall, and the experience of sin, we would never have experienced God’s grace, mercy, and love the way we do. So, we actually have a more thorough experience of God and his entire character, than did Adam and Eve before they sinned. And knowing and experiencing God fully is very fortunate indeed.

  4. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Mike,

    God is in process of creating grown up sons that He can trust with the business of running His universe. He takes us from a baby Christian consciousness, where everything is about me, about me getting forgiveness and my identity and my holiness, and begins to turn us into grownups – where our live turns more and more to others. But we must come to the place where forgiveness and acceptance in Christ is a “given” (though always thankful for it), and our identity is a “given” as well. We “leave behind” basic principles and move on into living them.

    Those are safe sons – those who refuse to misuse what God has given, who do His bidding and His business with an immediate and total faith and obedience.

  5. Nathanael

    Ron,
    Your take on “grownup sons” is very interesting.
    I’m no child psychiatrist, but I understand that there is a period of time very early on in a child’s development when he (she) believes the world revolves around him. Every new thing he does incites cheers and praise. When he walks into a room full of people, he is sure everyone is gathering for him. And this is healthy and necessary.

    But good parents gradually wean their children from this mindset. This is why they are required to do chores. Life is no longer just about them. It is about the family. And as they get older, their responsibilities grow.

    Then we arrive at your definition of grownup sons. A true son is secure in his sonship so that he is free to step out and minister to others out of a heart that understands that it is not about him anymore.

    Sadly, many of us forget the lessons our Father has taught us. And we regress to a place of infancy, believing the world revolves around us.

    Lord help!

  6. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Nathanael,

    That’s the whole point of God’s plan – a universe of “little christs,” as both Luther and C.S. Lewis put it. God is a for-others person; He lives to give Himself. That is why the more we give ourselves to Him, the more we become our real selves. We are designed as weak vessels to be filled with that other-centered Life, and to be so one’d with that Life in us that we express Him in everything we are, say, do.

  7. Aaron Roughton

    Well, this will be my last post in the Rabbit Room ever. I have accomplished my purpose for posting: To make Andrew Peterson laugh out loud. Thanks, and good night.

  8. Benjamin Wolaver

    Ron,

    Great post. I agree with everything you said, though I must confess I began to have flashbacks to one of the most disturbing titles I’ve ever read by Calvin’s protege, Theodore Beza, called “The Fall of Man Was Both Necessary and Wonderful”. I won’t go that far, but I agree, evil is a more often than not a tool for God’s purposes.

    When I think of this fallen world, I often wonder: does anyone else think that maybe the all powerful God just wanted a challenge? In Chesterton’s words, maybe the ultimate Ruler decided to play the role of the ultimate Revolutionary…

  9. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Benjamin,

    “Wonderful” is a wee bit over the top; it gives the lie to all the centuries of human suffering; it doesn’t allow for humanness. That the Fall was necessary, I believe so. It may have been the only way to purify a people who trust God no matter what the circumstance; we must have a contrary, an alternate, options to be able to choose from, and we have to see the results of our choices. I do like the idea of God as the ultimate Revolutionary. George MacDonald said, “Yet I know that good is coming to me – that good is always coming; though few have at all times the simplicity and the courage to believe it. What we call evil is the only and best shape, which, for the person and his condition at the time, could be assumed by the best good.” Joseph echoed this sentiment in talking to his brothers.

  10. David

    Ron,
    Wellsaid.

    And it is certainly NOT all about us.

    A grown up son (or daughter) of the Great King understands the truth about his or her purpose: “I must be about my Father’s business.”

    Blessings to each…

  11. John_Galt

    Ron-
    Interesting, ideas. I find myself a bit conflicted about this. The vision you sketch of a God Who is entirely sovereign over all aspects of creation, (including the fallen parts), Who works everything for His glory and purposes, resonates with my reading of Scripture.

    But I’m not comfortable with “the Fortunate Fall.” It smacks of Mormanism, which claims the Fall was a “Fall Upwards”- one step on the journey to make men into gods.

    Any thoughts?

  12. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    John,

    Part of the problem is God’s omniscience. He knew everything that was going to happen. The question we have to ask is “Why, then, did He allow it?”

    I have a friend who owns a business. His son, who is in his twenties, will probably take it over and inherit it eventually. But my friend is smart. He is having his son work for another company in the same line of work for a few years. His son will learn the hard way, will not get any special favors because he’s the owner’s son, and will come out on the other side with skills that are much more honed. A Native American came to my children’s school awhile back. He told how his tribe, years ago, would give the sons over to the uncles after a certain age to be raised by them. Again, learning the hard way.

    As I said in one of the later posts, I don’t consider the Fall as “wonderful.” Necessary? Quite possibly.

    The Mormon view, as you stated it, is a perversion of the truth. Satan always has his counterfeits, his twistings of truth. The Fall was a fall downwards; in the Fall, and subsequent Law, we learn our total weakness and inability. Adam and Eve should have cried out to God to sustain them, but they did not yet know they were helpless vessels. They fell to the lie that they could choose good and reject evil. The Fall was a fall downwards, but God’s deepest nature is redemptive; He redeems it upwards.

    Sometimes we’ve got to let our children fall in order for them to learn the lesson. They’ve got to endure the consequences of their choices in order to make better ones in the future.

    What if the eternal view is the same, but so vast we can’t even comprehend it here and now?

    Whether God merely permits evil or whether He means it to happen (as Joseph said) is a matter of debate. I believe God has meant it all; there is something so weighty about eternity that it can withstand centuries of human suffering. Our years here, even the entirety of human history, will be but the breath before we begin the eternal Story.

    God is making a universe of little Christs. Satan takes that and twists it, making the human into God. We will always be the created, God always the Creator. But He has chosen to enter us, and live from inside us, and be our life. He lives in us, through us, and as we learn to trust, He lives as us. That developing unity of Creator and created is the purpose for which we were designed. It has to be learned; it has to be willed by us. As we trust more and more, He lives more and more fully through us.

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