On The Fall
The doctrine of the Fall (both of man and of some “gods,” “eldils” or “angels”) is the only satisfactory explanation. Evil begins, in a universe where all was good, from free will, which was permitted because it makes possible the greatest good of all. The corruption of the first sinner consists not in choosing some evil thing (there are no evil things for him to choose) but in preferring a lesser good (himself) before a greater (God). The Fall is, in fact, Pride. The possibility of this wrong preference is inherent in the v. fact of having, or being, a self at all. But though freedom is real it is not infinite. Every choice reduces a little one’s freedom to choose the next time. There therefore comes a time when the creature is fully built, irrevocably attached either to God or to itself. This irrevocableness is what we call Heaven or Hell. Every conscious agent is finally committed in the long run: i.e., it rises above freedom into willed, but henceforth unalterable, union with God, or else sinks below freedom into the black fire of self-imprisonment. That is why the universe (as even the physicists now admit) has a real history, a fifth act with a finale in which the good characters “live happily ever after” and the bad ones are cast out. At least that is how I see it.
From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume II
Compiled in Words to Live By
The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume II: Family Letters 1905-1931. Copyright © 2004 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Words to Live By: A Guide for the Merely Christian. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
Sin, Satan, Sickness, or Sabotage
By John Piper
Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:8–9)
Is the suffering that comes to the Christian because of persecution the same as the suffering that comes from cancer? Do the promises given to one, apply to the other? My answer is yes. All of life, if it is lived earnestly by faith in the pursuit of God’s glory and the salvation of others will meet with some kind of obstacle and suffering. The suffering that comes to the obedient Christian is part of the price of living where you are in obedience to the call of God.
In choosing to follow Christ in the way he directs, we choose all that this path includes under his sovereign providence. Thus, all suffering that comes in the path of obedience is suffering with Christ and for Christ — whether it is cancer at home or persecution far away.
And it is “chosen” — that is, we willingly take the path of obedience where the suffering befalls us, and we do not murmur against God. We may pray — as Paul did — that the suffering be removed (2 Corinthians 12:8); but if God wills, we embrace it as part of the cost of discipleship in the path of obedience on the way to heaven.
All experiences of suffering in the path of Christian obedience, whether from persecution or sickness or accident, have this in common: They all threaten our faith in the goodness of God, and tempt us to leave the path of obedience.
Therefore, every triumph of faith, and all perseverance in obedience, are testimonies to the goodness of God and the preciousness of Christ — whether the enemy is sickness, Satan, sin, or sabotage. Therefore, all suffering, of every kind, that we endure in the path of our Christian calling is a suffering “with Christ” and “for Christ.”
With him in the sense that the suffering comes to us as we are walking with him by faith, and in the sense that it is endured in the strength he supplies through his sympathizing high-priestly ministry to us (Hebrews 4:15).
And for him in the sense that the suffering tests and proves our allegiance to his goodness and power, and in the sense that it reveals his worth as an all-sufficient compensation and prize.
By John Piper
“Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.” (Mark 10:29–30)
What Jesus means here is that he himself makes up for every sacrifice.
What was Jesus’s attitude to Peter’s “sacrificial” spirit? Peter said, “We have left everything and followed you” (Mark 10:28). Is this the spirit of “self-denial” commended by Jesus? No, it is rebuked.
Jesus said to Peter, “No one ever sacrifices anything for me that I do not pay back a hundredfold — yes, in one sense even in this life, not to mention eternal life in the age to come.”
Though Christian charity sounds a very cold thing to people whose heads are full of sentimentality, and though it is quite distinct from affection, yet it leads to affection. The difference between a Christian and a worldly man is not that the worldly man has only affections or ‘likings’ and the Christian has only ‘charity’. The worldly man treats certain people kindly because he ‘likes’ them: the Christian, trying to treat every one kindly, finds himself liking more and more people as he goes on—including people he could not even have imagined him- self liking at the beginning.
This same spiritual law works terribly in the opposite direction. The Germans, perhaps, at first ill-treated the Jews because they hated them: afterwards they hated them much more because they had ill-treated them. The more cruel you are, the more you will hate; and the more you hate, the more cruel you will become — and so on in a vicious circle for ever.
Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of. An apparently trivial indulgence in lust or anger today is the loss of a ridge or railway line or bridgehead from which the enemy may launch an attack otherwise impossible.
From Mere Christianity
Compiled in A Year with C.S. Lewis
Mere Christianity. Copyright © 1952, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright renewed © 1980, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. A Year With C.S. Lewis: Daily Readings from His Classic Works. Copyright © 2003 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven.
2 Corinthians 12:2
Many people form their first conceptions of heaven from the little Sunday school song, “Do Lord,” which includes the phrase, “I’ve got a home in gloryland that outshines the sun—way beyond the blue.” That’s not a bad first impression. Heaven is our home, and it’s glorious. It’s somewhere beyond the blue skies over our heads. Paul called it the Third Heaven and Paradise.
Recommended Reading: 2 Corinthians 12:1-4
King Solomon had a different name for this place in 1 Kings 8:27 when he said, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!”
Moses called this the “highest heaven” in Deuteronomy 10:14. Psalm 103:19 says, “The LORD has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all.”
This heaven—the heaven of heavens, the highest heaven—is the locale of the throne and the dwelling place of God. It is Paradise. It is our eternal home. This is where we will soon live side-by-side with God and with the angels and with the redeemed of all the ages—far beyond the blue.
The most thrilling thing about heaven is that Jesus Christ will be there. I will see Him face to face.
Read-Thru-the-Bible: Luke 16 – 20