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Principalities and powers

The link between creation ministry and trials of our faith

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Published: 7 May 2013 (GMT+10)
iStockphoto Lion prowling

A young scientist recently told me of the trials that came into his life, and that of his family, shortly after he made a very public declaration of his belief in the biblical account of creation. Some of the trials were a direct response to his creation testimony in his professional capacity, and some were completely unrelated personal and family pressures. Without stating it, it seemed he believed that the panoply of trials all related directly to his public defence of biblical creation.

This struck a resonant chord in my own heart. My Christian faith had been strongly impacted by the truth of biblical creation early in my walk with the Lord, but it was about eight years ago that a desire grew within me to be used more in this vital ministry. At around the same time, our family was devastated by numerous attacks on our personal, family, ministry and business lives. I too have come to strongly believe that the association was no coincidence. Similar attacks on individuals and organisations involved in the defence of God’s Word through creation ministry that I have become aware of through the years have reinforced my conviction that we are a particular focus of Satan’s attentions.

1 Peter 5:8 tells us that our “adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Satan may be evil, but he is not illogical. Who else would be the prime focus of his fury than those actively involved in refuting his greatest weapon against God’s Word, evolution and its stable-mate, long-agism? It is his most powerful deception today in perpetuating his ancient question, “Did God actually say … .?” Did God actually say He created the universe in six days just a few thousand years ago? Well, yes! Very clearly! And yet the devil has been able to undermine the faith of countless individuals and cultures using another faith; a faith in Darwin and Lyell1. Satan is targeting his arrows most on those ministries and individuals engaged in that battle where he and the world are most effective—and I think he has no more powerful tool for his purposes in the world today than the belief in evolution. It undermines the Bible at the very foundations of the Gospel message, by destroying the history in Genesis of how sin and death entered the world.

As I look back over the past few years, I know that but by God’s grace and purpose, my adversary came close to having his way. As a whirlwind grew around us, my dear wife and I felt totally overwhelmed at times. Hurt, disillusionment and despair often took our eyes off the Lord as we focussed on our problems. At times, instead of looking to the Lord for relief, we sought it elsewhere, but ‘comfort food’ just does not cut it. The greatest pain comes when our loved ones are the victims of Satan’s evil. This may sound melodramatic but at times I even felt like the stress of it all had corrupted my ‘hard drive’. Facts, concepts and even memorised Bible verses seemed to fade under the pressure and concerns.

A repeated refrain in our thoughts and prayers was whether these things were directly related to some hidden sin in our lives. Peter said that sometimes Christians may suffer due to their own sinful ways, and so this self-reflection is probably a good thing. Certainly we know ourselves to be weak, imperfect servants of the Lord, and God has a purpose of conforming us to the image of His Son. And so we never felt that what was happening to us was unfair; God still has a long way to go in our lives. But Peter also said, “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.”

In other words, sometimes suffering just goes with the territory of being faithful followers of Christ. Certainly this was true in Job’s life. Satan’s attack on him—which could only happen with God’s permission, by the way (Job 1:7–12, see also Luke 22:31)—was purely due to his faithful testimony. And yet God was still able to use his terrible trials to further refine and equip Job.

In his classic book The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis has the senior demon Screwtape, describe to his nephew Wormwood the reason for God using trials in the lives of His children, “One must face the fact that all the talk about His love for men, and His service being perfect freedom, is not (as one would gladly believe) mere propaganda, but an appalling truth. He really does want to fill the universe with a lot of loathsome little replicas of Himself—creatures whose life, on its miniature scale, will be qualitatively like His own, not because He has absorbed them but because their wills freely conform to His. We want cattle who can finally become food; He wants servants who can finally become sons. We want to suck in, He wants to give out. We are empty and would be filled; He is full and flows over. Our war aim is a world in which Our Father Below has drawn all other beings into himself: the Enemy wants a world full of beings united to Him but still distinct.”

This is not to imply that all faithful Christians come under similar attack. Paul said to Timothy that “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” But that persecution will vary in kind and severity from person to person. Maybe Satan just gets to know pretty quickly that some Christians are ‘bomb proof’ and takes his focus off them to concentrate on those of us he thinks he may just divert from our walk with the Lord. When Jesus hinted at Peter’s future martyrdom, Peter asked Him about John. Jesus replied, “what is that to you? You follow me!” (John 21:22)

“But God is faithful.” James 4:7 starts by saying we are to submit ourselves to God, before reassuring the believer, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” This makes sense; we do not need to cower in fear. This is not because we are special in ourselves, but because, as 1 John 4:4 tells us, “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians said that the trials and temptations in the lives of believers are common to mankind in general. I believe very strongly though that the outcomes of those trials in Christians’ lives are very ‘uncommon’. As I look back at what the statistical consequences of the attacks on us should have been, I marvel at God’s grace in our lives. His protection and providence ensured a very different outcome to what might be regarded as typical in this fallen world. A major part of that providence was through His Word. My conviction that God’s Word was really true about creation meant that I could put my faith and trust in His promises for today.

As God truly acted in history, so He was truly at work in ‘our story’ in the present. I have recently experienced the realisation of many years of prayer and the ‘desires of your (my) heart’ (Psalm 37:4)—by being accredited as a speaker for CMI. God is so faithful. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)

Believer in God’s Word from the very first verse, if you find yourself under attack, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2–4) Often as I consider my frail self, I wonder whether God has achieved anything through these trials He allowed our way. But I trust it is the case; that bit by bit, our heavenly Father is at work completing these sinful, weak, yet redeemed vessels, that we may be “a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.” (2 Timothy 2:21)

We often refer to our ministry as the creation/evolution debate. Increasingly we see though that it is not a debate, it is a war and we need to be ready for battle. We need to remember that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

In wrestling people get hurt. This is a reality, but far better to be engaged in the battle against an enemy whose defeat is sure, no matter the temporal dangers, than sitting comfortably as collaborators in his strongholds waiting to be overrun. Will God have a ‘Nuremberg trial’ for those who try and compromise His Word with the enemy’s word—evolution?

In closing, two comments from the scientist I referred to in my opening sentence, received in subsequent correspondence:

“At the time I couldn’t understand why this was happening”.

But:

”Every day He sustained us and we managed to push through. What a mighty God we serve!”

To God be the glory!

Reference

  1. The lawyer Charles Lyell is probably the ‘godfather’ of modern geology’s billions of years. His philosophy of uniformitarianism (slow and gradual processes must be used to explain everything, in total denial of the Genesis Flood—see 2 Peter 3:3–6) was stated by him to be based on a desire to overturn Genesis. See Charles Lyell’s hidden agenda—to free science “from Moses” Return to text.

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