June 2007

1Co.14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

The Bible teaches clearly that God is not the author of confusion. I am sometimes reminded of this fact by those with whom I have doctrinal discussions. Usually it takes a form along the lines of “That’s confusing and God is not the author of confusion.” This statement might be made after I’ve just explained how something that appears to be a contradiction in scripture is really not at all. In such cases a verse seems to say one thing but when compared with other texts on the same subject it is clear that it cannot say that thing which it appears to say in isolation since to do so would create a contradiction in scripture of which there are none (2Pe.1:20).

The objection that is raised in such cases is that God doesn’t make his word confusing and it’s confusing when a verse seems to say one thing but really says another. Ironically, this argument is itself a confusion. Let me explain.

Confusion is “a disorderly jumble; breakdown of order.” The English word confusion comes from the Latin confusio which comes from the verb confundere which means “mingle together.” In biblical context, when you mingle together God’s truth with Satan’s lie, you have confusion: a disorderly jumble, a breakdown of order. On the other hand, when you compare spiritual things with spiritual as the Holy Ghost does (1Co.2:13), you rightly divide the word of truth (2Ti.2:15) to ensure that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation (2Pe.1:20). Private means separate, thus no single verse or passage of scripture can be taken in isolation from the rest or it may result in confusion.

What people are really complaining about when they make this argument about things being confusing if they are not immediately obvious from the first read of a verse is that they’re hard to be understood. I have no problem with that statement, nor does Peter, nor does Paul (2Pe.3:16). Those who take the time to study the scriptures, who labor in the word and doctrine, who search for wisdom as for hid treasures will reap the reward of a clear understanding of God’s word.

Confusion does not necessarily mean difficult to understand.  The verse quote above comes in the midst of Paul’s dealing with the gift of prophecy and directly after he says that the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.  In other words, prophecies that are truly from the Lord will be in agreement one with another.  Just as Peter said, no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.  God’s prophets do not prophecy in isolation from one another (even though they may be separated by time and space).  Their words are the words of the Lord and he is not the author of confusion.

John 11:37 And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?

Of course Jesus could have prevented Lazarus’ death, but he instead allowed it to happen that God might be glorified (Joh.11:4).  Which is greater, that Jesus heal a sick man or raise a man from the dead?  He’d already healed many sick, and apparently that had now become somewhat of an expectation.

These people lacked faith in the power of God over death.  Yes, Jesus can heal the sick and cause that this man had not died, but he can also raise the dead, as he did here with Lazarus, “for the glory of God” (Joh.11:4).  Jesus told Martha “that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God” (Joh.11:40).  His glory certainly was manifest when he raised Lazarus from the dead, as he said.

Martha believed in the resurrection of the dead (Joh.11:24-27), yet she seems to have forgotten that Jesus had power to raise the dead, for she thought not of it after her brother had been dead four days (Joh.11:39-40).
Let us not, therefore, forget the power of God.  He is the creator of the heavens and the earth and the sea and all that therein is (Neh.9:6; Psa.146:6; Jer.32:17; Act14:15, 17:24) and nothing is too hard for him, including raising the dead to life again.  He breathed life into the dust of the ground out of which he formed man and man became a living soul (Gen.2:7)  It stands to reason that he can breath life into the soul of man again after he is dead.

“But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1Co.15:57)

Concerning the question of whether plants died before the fall of man:

The argument is along the lines that since plants were for food for man before the fall, we know plants were decaying and “dying” at that time. Clearly they weren’t being consumed in their created state and remaining that way. Thus death existed before the fall of man, at least for plants. And if for plants, then how do we know that it didn’t exist for animals, too? Perhaps it was only man that died from the fall.

I don’t believe this is correct.

In the creation account, plants and animals are created on different days and with very different characteristics. No mention is made of plants being living creatures or things in which is the breath of life, as the animals are described. “And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit true yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.” (Gen.1:11). The sea creatures and fowls and land creatures are all described as having life (Gen.1:20-21,24-25). To make this even more plain, God said the plants were to be for food for man “and to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life.” (Gen.1:30) There is here an implied distinction between plants and living things.

In Genesis 6:17, God said that he would bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life. Noah was told to bring of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort, of fowls and of cattle, of every creeping thing after his kind (Gen.6:19-20) into the ark to be saved from the destruction of the flood which was to destroy all flesh. Plant were to be brought also, but not to be saved from destruction: they were to be brought for food (Gen.6:21). So there is here, as in Genesis 1, a distinction made between plants and living creatures.

Skeptics might say that plants are creeping things, and in some cases they may be right from a purely scientific perspective, however it is clear that plants are not among the creeping things as God defines them in Genesis 1 and Genesis 6. Skeptics might also say that plants are living, but they are not living in the way that God describes life in the Bible. They do not have blood and they do not breathe air (at least not in the same way the living creatures do).

Plants were made for food, to be consumed. They are not considered flesh and they are not considered living, breathing creatures. The Bible shows this and honest science would admit this as well.