(This is a reaction to the January 18 bible study lesson at http://ssnet.org/lessons/13a/less03.html.)
I really liked the quotes in the lesson for today. Check out this quote from Ellen White’s book Patriarchs and Prophets, chapter 9:
Many teach that matter possesses vital power–that certain properties are imparted to matter, and it is then left to act through its own inherent energy; and that the operations of nature are conducted in harmony with fixed laws, with which God Himself cannot interfere. This is false science, and is not sustained by the word of God. Nature is the servant of her Creator. God does not annul His laws or work contrary to them, but He is continually using them as His instruments. Nature testifies of an intelligence, a presence, an active energy, that works in and through her laws. There is in nature the continual working of the Father and the Son. Christ says, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” John 5:17.
It’s very common to contradict what Ellen White writes here. I think we have the term “laws of nature” because of the common idea that the universe is set up like a giant clock with natural laws as the gears that are set up and built into the matter and structure of the universe; and the universe just ticks and tocks along on its own with no need for God.
But the Bible doesn’t teach that. It teaches that it’s actually God doing everything all the time and that He is so consistent that it seems like the universe could run itself on “laws,” but it’s really God constantly working. The idea that matter itself has some vital force so that it can do its own thing apart from God would have been crazy to someone in Bible times. They believed that God was constantly at work in everything around them. Today, it’s common to think He created things and then left us alone. People ask, “Where was God when that happened?” But the Bible teaches that He sustains our very existence all the time (like in Acts 17:28: “for in Him we live and move and have our being”).
This paragraph from that same chapter says the opposite of what most people think:
Yet men of science think that they can comprehend the wisdom of God, that which He has done or can do. The idea largely prevails that He is restricted by His own laws. Men either deny or ignore His existence, or think to explain everything, even the operation of His Spirit upon the human heart; and they no longer reverence His name or fear His power. They do not believe in the supernatural, not understanding God’s laws or His infinite power to work His will through them. As commonly used, the term “laws of nature” comprises what men have been able to discover with regard to the laws that govern the physical world; but how limited is their knowledge, and how vast the field in which the Creator can work in harmony with His own laws and yet wholly beyond the comprehension of finite beings!
Some people say that God has to break His own laws to do something like resurrecting someone. Well, we think we practically know all the laws of nature from our experiences of just a few years. But this last quote is awesome: we believe that God can do things that are beyond our comprehension and yet still be within His own laws. He could be lawful and self-consistent even when raising the dead. We just don’t know the principles involved in raising the dead yet! Maybe we’ll learn those principles someday. They’re beyond my comprehension right now, but the point is that’s only my understanding or our understanding, not the whole truth about nature or about what is possible. New things are discovered all the time, so why would our understanding right now be the final word?
(Praise Team Leader at New Horizons SDA Church in Republic, MO)