God, Man or the Devil
The following excerpt from Donald Grey Barnhouse’s book the Invisible War and it summarizes in a few paragraphs why I hold that the concept of the invisible war (aka the angelic conflict) is so critical for Christians to understand. We are here for a purpose! We have free wills for a purpose! I use the angelic conflict as a frame of reference when interpreting all of the strange, and sad, happenings in the world. I believe that it is the only biblical explanation for why evil is allowed to exist in the world.
[Note: I wrote this before the earthquake in Japan. FYI I do not consider the earthquake to be “evil” even though many people view it that way. I do consider natural disasters to be a consequence of Adam’s fall and the curse that was placed on all mankind. In that way I guess you can call it a consequence of evil.
I am a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ but I am still probably going to die. Maybe I will die tomorrow and maybe I will die twenty years from now. Maybe I will die alone or maybe I will die along side thousands of others. No matter how it plays out my eternal destiny is secure. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?]
I would also like to tie this in with studying the bible and what biblical wisdom is. I have been listening to Robert Dean’s study of the book of James (link here) and at times he has gone to great lengths to point out how the Greek and Hebrew concepts of wisdom are very different. The Greek concept of wisdom tends to be very abstract while the Hebrew concept of wisdom tends to be very practical. I have a couple of dozen Christian blogs that I track in my news reader and we Christians do love that abstract knowledge. We laugh at the medieval theologians who debated how many angels can dance on the head of a pin but modern Christianity is doing the same thing a hundred times over. We treat the smallest details in just about any verse as if they are the keys that will unlock some hidden bible code for us yet we don’t seem to be able to grasp what the verse, or passage, or chapter is telling us. Much knowledge but little applied wisdom.
The concept of the invisible war gives meaning to why we are here, how we got where we are at, where the world is headed, and why God has allowed this to happen. This is wisdom in the Hebrew sense much more than anything I read on Christian blogs every day.
Here is Pastor Barnhouse:
God, man or the devil: these are the three possible sources of hope. The strategy of the invisible warfare has been planned by God in order that these questions shall be answered, once and for all, in the presence of all created beings whether human, celestial or infernal. Human history is the record of the attempts of man and Satan to do something for man. When asked why an omnipotent God permits the holocaust of human history, the answer from the Word of God must be that He permits it in order to demonstrate to the universe that neither Satan nor man can do anything for themselves or for each other. If it were otherwise, these forces, which are at enmity with each other and both against God as their common enemy, could say either separately or together: “We have done it. We have succeeded in organizing ourselves and are no longer dependent upon God. We have demonstrated our capacity and ability. We have established a kingdom, and we do not need the plans of God for His kingdom of heaven over the earth . . .”
Mr. H. G. Wells has said that, faced with what we see around us in the world, we are forced to conclude either that God has the power and does not care, or that God cares but does not have the power. The logic is incomplete. There is a third possibility which is most certainly the expression of Biblical thought. It is that God both cares and has the power, but that He is planning something which demands the coming chaos of man’s world in order to demonstrate to all that help is to be found in Himself alone. God knows that the world is in a terrible condition. God has the power to alter it, but will not do so today because of His greater purpose. God cares tremendously. This is evident in Calvary. But He knows that His care can be manifest today only to the select company of individuals who have accepted the principles that rise from His eternal decrees. These admit the principle of their own spiritual bankruptcy and have turned utterly to the Lord Jesus Christ as God’s one and only answer to the problem.
There is a sense, therefore, in which God does not exercise any care over the rebels who people this world. Something of this is seen in the prayer of the Lord Jesus Christ: “I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine” (John 17:9). This is what Mr. Wells saw without the spiritual insight to understand. This is why the worldlings, seeing the disasters of human suffering, draw the conclusion that God is not caring for His creation. They do not understand God; they do not understand the meaning of care, and they do not understand the difference between the creatures who refuse the Lordship of God and those who have bowed to it in Christ and have thus become the children of God.
In short, they do not recognize that there is a war on, and that God neither will nor can yield. There must be the unconditional surrender to Him of His universe. He is Lord of all strategy, and, when in His judgment certain lessons have been made obvious to the dullness of the fallen creation, He will move to end the present phase of the struggle and bring in the righteousness which shall, most certainly, come to the creation in the moment God has chosen for it. Meanwhile the war goes on, and it is fought entirely under a set of rules which have been drawn up by God and which He is able to enforce, even now, upon the reluctant enemies in the armies of Satan and in the camp of humanity.
The Invisible War