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A Sick Planet without Meaning: A Fallen Race without God
And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? (Genesis 3:9)
Although the human mind stubbornly resists and resents the suggestion that it is a sick, fallen planet upon which we ride, everything within our consciousness, our innermost spirit, confirms that the voice of God is sounding in this world—the voice of God calling, seeking, beckoning to lost men and women!
At first thought, the human being wonders why it should be necessary for the divine voice of entreaty to be heard at all in the earth.
There is only one possible answer, it can only be because we are out of the way, lost and alienated from God. Even the very world we inhabit is a lost world.
There are many reasons to believe that the earth upon which we ride is a lost planet. Hints of this are found throughout the entire Bible, and through the anointed intellect such evidences may be found also in nature.
After the great failure of our first parents, God said this about our planet as He spoke to Adam and Eve:
Cursed is the ground for thy sake;..
Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee ...
till thou return unto the ground,
for out of it wast thou taken;
for dust thou art
and unto dust shalt thou return.
Now, why were those words ever spoken?
I believe they were spoken to describe the planet which is our habitation. We have our clue here that it is a lost planet.
I would quote here also from the writings of a man of profound intellect, the Apostle Paul. I believe that it would be generally conceded in most circles that Paul possessed one of the most brilliant and profound minds that ever set a pen to paper. This is the passage from the eighth chapter of the book of Romans, the quotation taken from the British Williams translation:
This world of nature was condemned to be without meaning, not by its own will but by the will of him who condemned it, in the hope that not only mankind but this world of nature also might be set free from bondage to decay, to enter the glorious liberty of sons of God. For to this day, as you know, the whole world of nature cries out in pain like a woman in childbirth. (Rm. 8:20-22)
So, long before our time, this world of nature was condemned to exist without meaning, that is, "vanity." Perhaps it is not strange that the very words that the philosophers like to use are used here by the sacred writer—that nature is without meaning! And yet there is a glorious promise here as well—giving hope that not only mankind but this world of nature is to be set free from bondage to decay.
But there is something worse than the fact that this is a sick, fallen planet and that is the truth that the inhabitants of this planet are also lost. We believe that God created us living souls and gave us bodies through which we can experience the world around us and communicate with one another. When man fell through sin, he began to think of himself as having a soul instead of being one. It makes a lot of difference whether a man believes that he is a body having a soul or a soul having a body!
For the moral "unlikeness" between man and God the Bible has a word—alienation—The Holy Spirit presents a frightful picture of this alienation as it works itself out in human character. Fallen human nature is precisely opposite to the nature of God as revealed in Jesus Christ. Because there is no moral likeness there is no communion, hence the feeling that God is far away in space.
Lost, But Not Abandoned
Yet when we speak of men being far from God we speak truly. The Lord said of Israel, "[They] have removed their heart far from me" (Isaiah 29:13), and there we have the definition of "far" and "near" in our relation to God. The words refer not to physical distance, but to likeness.
Actually, men are lost but not abandoned. That is what the Holy Scriptures teach and that is what the Christian Church is commissioned to declare. For any who may doubt it, let me ask, just in the name of reason: does it seem reasonable to you that unique human beings, made in God's image, should each be given just one little turn at bat?
I know also, of course, that there is a theology, or a color or complexion of theology, that squirms uneasily as soon as you say something good about mankind. Many are prepared to say that you are a liberal at the least, if you say something good about mankind.
It is my studied opinion that except for sin, it would be very difficult to overpraise human beings. Consider what we are and what we know and what we can do: our memories, imaginations, artistic abilities, sensibilities and potentialities.
When you thoughtfully consider it, you cannot justly and properly sell mankind short! Sin, God knows, is like a cancer in the heart of a man's being. It ruins the man and damns him at last!
But the man is not all sin, for man was made in the image of God. It is true that sin has ruined him and condemned him to death forever unless he is redeemed through the blood of Jesus. Yet man as a being is only one degree removed from the angels and in some ways is superior indeed to the angels.
Again I ask: does it seem reasonable to you that if this were not a lost world that such a being as man—a Shakespeare or a Churchill or an Edison or any of the great thinkers and writers, artists or engineers—should, like a little kid, be given his one little turn at bat and then be told to sit down while the ages roll on?
Does it seem reasonable to you that a being so Godlike as man should take all of this marvelous comprehension and ability only toward the grave? Should he carry his memory gifts, his brilliant imagination, his artistic creative powers and all those gifted traits that make him a man only to the grave?
Would the Creator God waste His time on such a being as He has made man to be, only to say, "I was just fooling around with man. I just made this marvelous creature for a short day. I am just having some fun!"
That does not seem reasonable to me.
Why does man as we know him consistently live beneath his own ideals? Why is he everlastingly far below what he knows he ought to be? Why is a man doomed to go to the grave frustrated and disappointed at last, never having attained his highest ideals?
You cannot tell me that mankind does not continue to dream of a shining world beyond him. Every man secretly believes that shining world is somewhere there before him—yet nevertheless it is always lost to that man or he is lost to it.
Even those followers of Jesus in His day on earth confessed: "Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?" (John 14:5).
No truer words were ever uttered by any man on this earth! Sacred revelation declares plainly that the inhabitants of the earth are lost. They are lost by a mighty calamitous visitation of woe which came upon them somewhere in that distant past and is still upon them.
But it also reveals a glorious fact—hat this lost race has not been given up!
A Divine Voice Calls
There is a divine voice that continues to call. It is the voice of the Creator, God, and it is entreating them. Just as the shepherd went everywhere searching for his sheep, just as the woman in the parable went everywhere searching for her coin, so there is a divine search with many variations of the voice that entreats us, calling us back.
If we were not lost, there would be no Father's voice calling us to return, calling us back. So, I say again that we have not been given up. Think of the Genesis account: Adam fleeing from the face of God, hiding among the trees of the garden. It was then that the sound of God's gentle voice was heard, saying "[Adam,] where art thou?" (Genesis 3:9).
I would remind you that His seeking voice has never died out. The echo of that voice is sounding throughout the widening years. It has never ceased to echo and reecho from peak to peak, from generation to generation, from race to race, and continent to continent, and off to islands and back to the continent again. Throughout all of man's years, "Adam, where are you?" has been the faithful call.
There are many voices, but it is really only one voice.
When a child is lost in the swamp or in the woods, searching parties are organized immediately.
Who is back of that organized search? Is it not the throbbing, anguished heart concern of the mother and father? They have encouraged the officers and the volunteers to hover overhead with helicopters, to send out sound trucks, to organize soldiers, and Boy Scouts, and friendly neighbors—always calling, calling, calling.
There will be many voices calling. It may be the voice of a soldier, a deputy, a volunteer, a neighbor—but always it is in a true sense the father's voice. All of the voices are simply overtones of the same loving father's voice that organized the search and whose distraught heart is calling for his lost child. So it is with the voice of God! Actually, many voices call us. But it is all one voice.
Man may hear the voice of God's love or the voice of Jesus' blood or the voice of conscience; it may be the voice of the dead or the voice of the living or the voice of the lost or the voice of the saved. Whatever the voice, it is only another inflection of the voice of the One who calls.
It is the distraught heart of God seeking His lost race; calling men and women in any way that He can call them.
He may call from above or from below; He will likely call from around the bend or from down the road or beside the river or on the plateau.
Yes, it is the voice of God entreating us, searching us out and always calling us to return home!CHAPTER 2
One of Our Greatest Mistakes: Measuring God's Love by Our Own
The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. (Jeremiah 31:3)
Perhaps the greatest mistake we humans make is in our insistence upon trying to measure the love of God by our own human standards of love.
As men and women, is it not true that we are most likely to love people for what they are—often for their good behavior?
Let me describe for you what is likely to happen when you tell a sinner that "God really loves you!" That person will say, "I don't believe that."
You see, he can only measure the love of God by his own kind of love.
"I know better than to believe that," he will say.
"I know what I am on the inside. I have lied. I have cheated. I have stolen. There probably is not a sin that I have not committed, either overtly or in my heart. I am worse than anyone knows, so if God is the moral God the Bible says He is, He cannot love me!"
At this point, we must say that he is right, and also that he is wrong.
He is right if he believes that God cannot love him for his sin's sake. But he is wrong because he fails to see that he is loved of God and for God's own sake. He is wrong if he fails to believe that God can love anyone, no matter how sinful, for His own sake and for His Son's sake.
The Love of God
Here are a few things about the love of God that you are not hearing very often in these days. God, being the divine person that He is, must love Himself first, because His love is a pure and blameless and perfect love.
Please do not say: "Mr. Tozer, you do not really mean that!"
That is exactly what I mean: that God, being Himself God, an uncreated being, deriving from no one, owing nothing to anybody, must necessarily be the fountain of all the love there is! That is why I say that as our God, He must love Himself forever with pure and perfect love.
This kind of love, God's love, holy and blameless—this is the love which the three Persons of the Godhead feel and hold for one another. The Father to the Son; the Son to the Father; the Father and Son to the Spirit; the Spirit to the Father and Son—the divine Trinity in perfect and blameless and proper love; loving one another with a holy, poured out devotion! The Trinity's three fountains, eternal, infinite, pouring without measure into each other from the bottomless, boundless, shore-less sea of perfect love and bliss.
This, I say, is the love of God for His own holy self. God being who and what He is, is Himself the only being that He can love directly. Everything else and everyone else that God loves, He loves for His own sake.
That is why we can believe and say that God loves Himself—and that when it comes to His creatures, His divine or perfect love cannot fall directly upon any man. God must find something of Himself there in order that He may love it. God can only love Himself and that which is like Himself. If God should love and cherish anything unlike Himself, it would be equivalent in our knowledge to a pure and holy woman loving and cherishing an evil man, perhaps a murderous gangster.
God must love that which is equal to Himself and like Himself.
So, when God looks at the mute creation that the translator calls the world of nature, He loves it because it reveals to Him something of the glory and power of His own Godhead. It shows something of His own wisdom.
When God looks on His sun and His moon and all the stars that He has made, His lakes and His rivers, His mountains and His seas, God loves them because they remind Him of His own wisdom and power that gave them being. But when God looks at the seraphim and the cherubim and the holy angels before the throne, He loves them because they remind Him of His own holiness. They are holy angels and their holiness is derived from God, God loves in them that which came from Himself. God can properly and with moral propriety love the holy angels because they are holy beings.
Now, when God considers men and women, He loves in them the fallen relic of His own image! It is at this point that I seem to be in trouble with a lot of people who write to me and abuse me and insist that I am a liberal.
But I do not have education to be a modernist and I am not a liberal. I believe that the Bible says what God wanted it to say, and it is plain in the Scriptures that the living and eternal God made man in His own image. Therefore, when Jesus Christ was incarnated He came to us in the body of a man—without embarrassment and without change.
"How can that be?" we ask.
Because man was an image of the God who created him; the image of that God who said, "Let us make man in our image" (Genesis 1:26).
Yet, that man is fallen—and that brings in another element here, a foreign element that has crept in. It is the element of man's sin! It is the deadly sting of the serpent, going back to the scene of failure in the garden. That is why man, made in the image of God, is now a dying man; sick unto death because of sin which like the poison of an adder has gotten into his moral veins.
But extract that sin and take it out and you have the image of God again, and Jesus Christ was the true image of God because He was a man without sin.
That is Bible Truth—no modernism there; no liberalism there!
Those who deny that fallen man bears upon him something of the original potential of what he once was are not true friends of the Bible. They themselves are guilty of taking liberties with the Holy Scriptures.
It is still true that when God looks on a sinner and loves the sinner, never while the stars burn in their silence can it be said that God loves the sin in the sinner. Never can it be said that a holy God loves an unholy thing.
And yet God loves sinners—bringing the often repeated question, "Why?"
God loves them for that which He sees in them of His lost and fallen image, for God can never love anything but Himself directly!
Loves for His Own Sake
God loves everything else for His own sake. You are loved of God, but you are loved of God for the sake of the holy Son, Jesus, who is the Godhead incarnate, who is the second person of the Godhead, the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us. God sees in Jesus Christ what you would have been: that is, He sees that in His perfect humanity, not His deity. You and I could never be divine in that sense.
This is why God loves lost men. He loves them not by the excusing of their sin; not by taking an attitude of carelessness; not by any willingness on His part to become morally lax—but He loves them because He once stood and said, "Let us make man in our image."
Here is an illustration that could fall within our own human experience. A man and a woman meet. After falling in love, they marry and have one child, a son. They have a great deal of pleasure as they consider the boy's features. Each says that he looks like the other. Then they change it around and insist that he looks like this one—then again, that one. But the child is their son, and they try to see each other in that boy!
The years pass and the boy grows up and approaches manhood. The hour comes when he breaks with society. He chooses to go outside the law. He drinks, gambles, lies, steals, cheats—and then he murders. He becomes a fugitive from justice, known to be vicious and cruel.
The father of that lad dies before the outlaw is caught and thrown into prison. But the grieving mother goes to see him. She knows he is finished. Evidence of every kind is against him, fingerprints everywhere, a thousand witnesses. He will pay for his crimes.
Excerpted from Echoes from Eden by A. W. Tozer, Gerald B. Smith. Copyright © 1981 Zur Ltd.. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers.
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