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22 April, 2014 By Rev. Ted Pike

Editor's Note: This is the transcript of my recorded Bible study under this title at Our TruthTeller Bible Answers page.
Seven miles deep in the ocean, no sun can reach. No nutrition can be drawn from its rays. God designed deep-sea life to be sustained from chemicals emitted by volcanic fumaroles or on the ocean floor. He equips creatures to live at such depths with phosphorescent lights, with their own unusual mind-boggling strategies for life. God specializes in designing the most imaginative systems of hope—often within seeming hopelessness.

God told Job that He dwells in the life-exterminating, bitter cold; He exists, all seeing, in "the thick darkness." He is Master over infinitesimal smallness. Who created from nothing all the universe’s atoms—their perfectly interacting protons, electrons and neutrons and more than a dozen other subatomic particles? Who created from them the first DNA molecule, making life and replication possible? Not evolution. It is He Who possesses all physical and creative strength. But He explained to the apostle Paul that He delights to perfect His power in the smallness of our strength and natural gifts, often a lack of talent that seems to extinguish hope.

God told Paul He would perform His great works in a manner very contrary to human instincts. He would do it primarily through the commonest and weakest of men and women. Paul says in 2 Cor. 12:7-9:

…because of these surpassingly great revelations…in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Scripture warns Christians that "we are not to despise the day of small things," wishing we could do "great things" like more famous Christians. Christ gives to the weak who hope in Him—like the tiny creatures who can survive in deepest seas and harshest deserts—all the strategies and strength they need to glorify Him and do good within the hostile, barren place He wants them to bear witness.

The more formidable and hostile the environment, the more God likes to show His power to save. After promising Abraham that Sarah would bear a son, God waited until both were about a century old. It is understandable why they both laughed when the Lord told them that from Sarah’s body life would spring. But He wanted to destroy, not just for Abraham and Sarah but for all believers, the natural criteria of when we have sufficient grounds to hope in God and believe His promises. Trust and belief in Him, against all feelings and circumstances, is the sunlight that keeps us spiritually alive under the equivalent of tons of sea pressure. With God’s grace, we can not only survive but flourish.

Similar desperate circumstances were recorded in John 11:6. Jesus stayed far away from the dying Lazarus, His beloved friend. He waited until four days after his death, when his body stank in the semi-tropical sun. Only then did He return. When He did, He proclaimed, “I am the resurrection and the life. If anyone believes on me, though he were dead, yet shall he live!” (John 11:25) He then raised Lazarus from the grave, just as He made Sarah pregnant after nearly a century of waiting.

Jesus: Architect of Our Existence

We have barely scratched the surface of Jesus the Creator's vast catalogue of incredible strategies and systems empowering life and deliverance. Before the universe had ever been formed, He anticipated an astonishing system of human redemption – one that would fly in the face of impossibility and even God’s law. The timeless and immutable law of a holy God says discord to His perfect will cannot exist. Thus, free will for both men and angels can’t lawfully come into being. It is morally impossible that a potentially rebellious being outside of God be created or tolerated, let alone be forgiven and live with Him forever.

Yet here we are. We do exist, often lifting our clenched fist against God. How can this be? Enter Jesus Christ, the second Member of the Trinity. I believe we may reverently and logically speculate that it was Christ who, with the Father's permission and cooperation, allowed free will and all the resulting discord. He knew He would pay for this violation of God’s unity and harmony by His own death at Calvary. He would become sin who knew no sin so life and hope could be given to man in otherwise impossible circumstances—circumstances which forbade us to even be alive.

Christ must have said: “Out of love for man and to give him a chance at the privilege of knowing God, becoming holy like Him, and living with Him forever, I will violate God’s law forbidding the existence of discord and rebellion—the penalty for which is death. I will suffer that penalty so that man might know both good and evil and choose the good. And having made it possible for man to sin and, receiving God’s just sentence of death, I, being God, will provide pardon for all who have sinned and yet hope in Me. I will thus have made possible two impossibilities: first, man’s existence; second, deliverance and eternal life for those who have inevitably become ensnared and condemned by sin and yet cry out to me for salvation."

Motivated by love of a magnitude that made Him willing to suffer torment and death on the cross for us, Christ predestined Himself to be the sacrificial lamb of God, slain as an offering for man’s sin. He chose from the “foundation of the world” to become our Sin Bearer. “He became sin who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God through Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). “For He was bruised for our iniquities, and by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).

God the Father allowed His law to be broken, yet, after “seeing the travail of Christ’s soul and being satisfied” that Christ had faithfully completed His mission of love, making possible the salvation of countless souls, God raised Him from the dead. He “has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every other name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow” (Philippians 2:9-10).

Many believe that forces of evil will create in the years to come an environment without hope for Christianity and freedom. Yet, from all history and creation, one thing should be clear: Far from hostile circumstances ending Christ’s ability to save, He specializes in revealing His power within hopelessness. Yes, Jesus said the times will someday be so evil that the Christian will not be able to work, i.e., preach the good news of salvation publically (John 9:4). But that does not mean Christ cannot still work in human hearts.

God wants us to never forget that our life and success have not come from favorable circumstances but from Him—the One who flourishes within the coldest cold and within the depths of the sea or the depths of our weakness. What is most important in life is that we hope in Him and His mercies as long as breath remains. We must never turn our backs on the open door of the possibility of His salvation or deliverance. We must hope in Him and His power to create ways of escape. We must cooperate with Him and obey, going toward His will as long as we live. Jesus wants us, through every moment of our life, to believe in Him and take action for Him because, before the beginning, He took action for us.

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Ted, today - photo: John Pike, October 2019
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