Lou: Another individual has written this question: “Do you see the world as a predominantly evil place? If so, how can God’s plan be vindicated, if evil seems to triumph over good?” And this individual adds, “I believe that good must triumph over evil without divine intervention before Christ can come again.”
Graham: The most important words in this question would be “without divine intervention.” If the person who wrote this means it in the absolute sense, it would leave us in a helpless situation. In this conflict we have an adversary who is intervening all he can, manipulating, deceiving and beclouding the intellect. If God had never intervened, we would be in trouble.
But if the questioner wants to say that truth will triumph without God ever manipulating things, I would agree, absolutely. My understanding is that God intervenes in order that truth may be seen clearly, so that truth may have a chance to win. God will not win because He has intervened with power and force and manipulation. That’s the devil’s method. God will win, in a certain sense, without intervention. But He is very much involved in this world in order to protect us from the adversary and give the truth a chance to be seen. God will win because the truth is seen to be true, and we’ll agree.
Lou: Moving in a different direction. “If it is true that the plan of salvation and the death of Christ was needed to confirm the faith of the unfallen angels, would it not seem that God needed a place like this earth to send His Son to die in order to answer Satan’s charges?”
Graham: Must a parent die under the wheels of a truck, pushing his little child out of the way, to prove that he or she loves the child? That is one way such love would be demonstrated, but it doesn’t have to be that way. God doesn’t need the emergency on this earth to show that He loves His children and is worthy of their trust. But when the emergency arose, look how He behaved. Look at the way He has handled it. God is no more trustworthy after the cross than before. But because of the emergency, God is more clearly seen to be trustworthy than He was before. He has taken advantage of an emergency, and I find it very gracious of Him.
Lou: Although the emergency made His heart break, He made something positive out of it.
Graham: Yes, that’s right.
Lou: Here’s a question related to Martin Luther and his problems with Hebrews, James, Jude and Revelation mentioned in the previous chapter. Could you give us some actual references where people could go for themselves? People believe what you said because they trust you, but they would like to have a reference.
Graham: That’s fair enough. The prefaces that I read from can be found in a series edited by Jaroslav Pelikan, entitled Luther’s Works. In Volume 35 Luther says there is no way the Holy Spirit could have inspired the book of Revelation. I’ve also mentioned that Luther thought the book of James was totally contrary to Saint Paul. But lest we put Luther in an unfair light, you should read the prefaces for yourself. There he also spoke so reverently of Scripture. He says, for example, “James is a wonderful book, and I like the way it upholds God’s law.” That statement is needed to balance out the other. The only reason I brought it up was to answer the question whether he was able to see the larger, great controversy view. And there are even glimpses of that.
In the first volume of Luther’s Works, the one on Genesis, he says, “The holy fathers have fancied that there once was this war up in Heaven.” He said, “That is a likely idea. It fits in with the statement in Jude that angels fell.” And in another place he said, “You know, it is true that the angels apparently were once able to sin, because some of them fell.” Then he went on to say, “The loyal angels were confirmed, so that they are no longer capable of sinning.” From this evidence it seems to me that he was working with it up to a point, but he never truly followed it through.
Lou: Where will we be going with the next chapter? What is the topic?
Graham: Chapter Four is entitled “God’s Way of Restoring Trust.” God does not seek to restore trust simply by making claims or through spectacular shows of power. Instead he invites our trust on the basis of evidence. And I believe the methods that He has chosen to use are the greatest reasons for trusting Him. That will be the key focus of the next chapter.