“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death...Death is swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:26, 54
"The greater the sin, the greater the mercy, the deeper the death and the brighter the rebirth.” - C. S. Lewis
"This story...has the very taste of primary truth." - J. R. R. Tolkien

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Victory of God: Summary, part 3

All this God carries through with complete sovereignty and foreknowledge – the cross was (like all sin) an evil event in itself, but it was planned from eternity for a good purpose. But all this would be impossible without a fallen world and the horrible reality of evil. Only by freely choosing against God’s will, by falling into sin and evil, and thus pain and grief, could we need redemption, and only through redemption – only by death and resurrection – could there be eucatastrophic victory over evil. The full light of God – revelation not only of his love and justice, but of all his perfections – could shine on us only if both man and God passed through sorrow and suffering. And only by seeing this light could we see God for who he is, and be filled with the joy that comes from knowing him. Evil, then, is necessary to accomplish “the end for which God created the world” – the deepest and highest joy of God’s people – joy in God that is given by God and honors and glorifies God. God is just, and he will destroy evil and sin in the end – it is a temporary and passing reality, and exists so that God may conquer. A time will come when evil is no more, and when there is no longer a “problem” to be troubled by. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4). But without the difference it makes, God’s Story and our joy would be incomplete.

In the deeper wisdom of the cross and the power of Christ’s resurrection, then, we find an answer to both the problem of evil and the “problem of good” – our hope is confirmed and a greater redemptive purpose is seen. And in seeing how God has so beautifully and powerfully defeated evil in order to write into being the best of all possible stories, we have cause to step back in awe and wonder (which we also ought to do in response to good and evil, and indeed to reality itself). What must God be like that he has made such a creation and written such a story, for our joy* and for his glory?

*Chiefly in heaven, but also here and now to some extent – the process of being raised to new life in Christ has already begun. One might ask, “why doesn’t God complete the redemption of the world right now? If the cross was the important thing, why does suffering continue after it?” This is a valid question, and one that I will consider in future posts. There are, I think, things that are accomplished through a long and gradual history of redemption that would not have been otherwise accomplished.

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