When the immediate descendants of those who had survived the world-wide flood of Noah’s day found their bearings again in the course of time, one of their earliest recorded endeavors began with these words: “Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven” (Genesis 11:4). It was a lofty ambition – in some sense, a noble one – to reach heaven! Man, though he had failed the test in Adam, would build again the bridge he had broken, the bridge of communication with God. That the attempt failed, we know: that it, and all attempts like it, are doomed to failure from the start, may seem more surprising.
Adam’s sin and its consequences brought misery and ruin upon the human race; even those who do not admit the cause, tacitly recognize the result. Something is wrong with the world. And so men have set out to fix it. In Noah’s age, the fix was to build a tower; in the days of Jeremiah, to propitiate the false gods; in the time of Jesus, to keep punctiliously the Pharisaical law (see Genesis 11:4, Jeremiah 44:15-18, and Mark 7:3-4). But always the key has been: believe in yourself! Strive! Press onward! Never give up, and you will earn paradise at last!
The world could be better, as we all admit: let us, then, make it better! Or, if we are not so ambitious, still we recognize that our own lives could be better. Then let us make our own lives better; at least, let us assure ourselves of a better life hereafter.
When God had created man, He gave him a definite command, promising life if he obeyed and death if he did not. Man disobeyed, but God in His mercy entered into a series of covenantal bonds that led to the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, who fulfilled perfectly the conditions of God’s original demand and earned life for all His people.
God’s covenants with His people set the backdrop for all of history and are essential for a true understanding of His purposes. But how often is this explained clearly to the younger generation – the generation that in a few years’ time will be the front rank of spiritual leaders?
God’s Covenants has been written and designed specifically for young children of Christian parents who need to be taught these great and timeless truths about God’s dealings with mankind.
Children will appreciate the simple explanations, thought-provoking questions, and creative illustrations built with LEGO® bricks. Parents will appreciate this golden opportunity to read a clear explanation of the Gospel to children wanting to hear it again and again.
God’s Covenants is available now on Sermon Audio and at Amazon.com!
And stay tuned over the next few weeks for some behind-the-scenes looks at the illustrator’s take on creating a LEGO-illustrated book!
Swirled the milk-white snow; whistled the mountain wind; rattled the hollow pines. Winter.
White, a wall of white; wind, a wave of wind; wood, a whirl of woods. Winter – the wraiths of winter.
Snow, snow, snow! – as far as the eye could see – which was not very far. Had the landscape been visible, its solitary grandeur would have been more awe inspiring than even the white world of swirling snow; rocky outcroppings, coated now with a mantle of purity; tall evergreens, pointing long fingers at the airy vault; grand peaks, majestic symbols of age and stability. But the landscape was not visible.
Instead, a traveler would have been haunted only by the ghosts of pine trees – cheerful ghosts, for the day was a bright though not a clear one, and the crisp crackle of their clanging boughs suggested no midnight horrors – cheerful ghosts, looming through the whirl of snow – light, powdery snow, lifted by the breeze, dropped by the clouds, puffing in the air, dancing to the tune of the wind’s whistle. But there was no traveler.
Many people are familiar with the classic atheist question, “Can God create a stone that he can’t lift?” The answer to that, of course, is the same as the answer to a question like, “Can God create a square circle?” What is a square circle? It’s nonsense; and so is “a stone that God can’t lift.” There is no such thing; there couldn’t possibly be such a thing; from a Christian perspective, there couldn’t be such a thing because God is Unchanging Truth – logical and consistent.
So what about the question, can God create a being that He cannot control? Is it parallel?
Having considered these two radically different definitions of the term “free will” in parts one and two, we now have to decide what to do with them. Which definition has a better right to the term? And more importantly, which definition, if either, describe an actual state of affairs?
Before we jump into the discussion, let’s recap the definitions for you.
Definition number one: Free will is the ability of a rational being to act upon his circumstances in accordance with his own character, without direct alien interference between his character and will.
Definition number two: Free will is the self-determining character of the will whereby without regard to motives, emotions, and previous character a rational being can under any given circumstances act in either of two mutually exclusive ways.
Not too long ago we looked at a very specific definition of the term “free will” in The Bondage of Free Will, Part One. Today, we have another, very different, definition to consider!
As we move on to the second definition of free will, instead of starting with the definition, we will start with the general position. Succinctly put, it is “power to the contrary.” This is free will in the most radical sense of the term. What it means is that the same exact person in the same exact situation is perfectly free to choose either of two options. And not just any two options, but even two mutually exclusive options – for instance, good or evil.
Free will. If you’re ever looking for a can of worms to open, there’s one for you. The subject is fraught with confusion, contradictions, and complications. Do humans have free will? If so, can their acts be predicted ahead of time? Could an omniscient God know what a person with free will would do next? Could an all-powerful God plan what a person with free will would do next? And on the flip side, if a person has free will, doesn’t that mean that he is responsible for his actions? If he doesn’t have free will, can he claim freedom from responsibility?
Does free will – the power of choice – mean the same thing as ability – the power of doing? Is the human will self-determining, or is it determined by the person’s character?
These questions are not irrelevant or unimportant. Our answers to them will define our ideas of God, of man, of life, and of death. To be confused on this subject is to be confused about who you are, why you are here, and where you are headed. Whether you believe that you’re a chance group of atoms, purposeless and without a destiny, or whether you conclude that you’re a human created in the image of God, set on earth for the purpose of glorifying Him and standing before a future of eternal life or eternal death, you had better evaluate both sides and make pretty sure that you’re on the right track!
Where did human language come from? To be clear, we are using the word language in the sense of the human ability to speak, not a particular language such as English or Spanish, German or Latin. Obviously, the origin of language is outside the scope of repeatable, observable scientific experimentation. But by studying current languages, one can see the puzzle pieces scattered across the board, waiting to be put together. Of course, there are a lot of missing pieces. Human language is very complex, and much more complicated than the gruntings of animals. How did language – how could language – begin?
Does justice always mean that people are to be treated equally? This may perhaps seem to be the case. If I were a judge whose job it was to try two people for murder today, and if the respective juries found both equally guilty, would it be right for me to give one person sentence of death and the other a life sentence in jail? Certainly not! However, if I were to give both the same sentence, would that mean that I am treating everyone equally?
Is truth objective? That is, is truth true for everyone? If it is not – if one thing can be one way for me, and another way for you, without any contradiction – then language is meaningless, because it, too, can mean one thing for me, and another thing for you. This makes the theory of non-objective truth difficult to speak about. But let’s try.