Thoughts from the Abbey – October 2021

Immortality Through Science

God gifted mankind with a natural curiosity and desire to explore His creation. We want to understand our environment and how things work. This is the foundation on which science is built and it is good and natural.

As with many human acts, it is less the act than it is the heart behind an act that is sinful. There is an adage that goes “The path to hell is paved with good intentions”. I’m not so sure I necessarily agree with that. I think God honors selfless acts of Love and kindness. The trick, perhaps, is in the self-assessment of our true intentions.

Consider being healthy. If I eat well, sleep well, work hard, keep my body strong, and avoid foods, activities, or excess that can harm my body, is that a bad thing? Again, I would argue that in all things, it’s the heart behind the action that matters, and not the action. Why am I being healthy? Is it so that I am able to serve God and serve others in a larger variety of ways? This is good. Is it so I can respect the Temple of God which is my body according to scripture? Then this is also good. But is it so that I can prolong my life for my own personal gain or even cheat death? This is a vanity.

Scientific breakthroughs and increased knowledge of hygiene, food, and diseases have all helped increase both health and lifespans across the world. All of this is good. But there are those among us now whose goal is to live forever. Their fear of death has led them to desire to find a way to cheat death. At what point does scientific knowledge pass the realm of being good stewards of our bodies and into the realm of blaspheming God by creating something prolonged only by the means of man’s limited understanding of God’s amazing creation?

If you’re looking for an opinion from me, you won’t find one. This is a complex and personal topic, and I don’t have answers for anyone else. But I will argue that in all things the issue is the heart behind it. Are we making decisions based on the fear of death or the good stewardship of our bodies while they are ours to look after? If the last year and a half has proven anything to me it’s how many people fear death. So many people have no hope. Science tells them that when they die, they are dead. Their bodies rot like any other animal and there is no more. Science tells people that the only way to experience joy is to do so here and now while you can and that there are no eternal consequences to choices. Ironically, in my city there are billboards that say, “In science there is hope”.

Scripture tells us that this existence is not our home. That in this place there is disease, hate, a multitude of sins, and ultimately death. We are told that God so loves us that He has given us a path out of sin and death. This path is to simply accept the freely given gift that is open to all and can not be earned. That gift is the forgiveness and everlasting life we received in Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for our sins. For those who believe, this place is not our home, but our actions here have eternal consequences. Scripture tells us that we will still have to account for our actions in this world. Forgiveness is there, but also accountability. As a man, I am told that I will be held accountable for the actions of my household. That is my wife and my children, perhaps even my grandchildren. So, when I am not letting the world distract me, every decision I make and word that I speak is done with eternal consequence in mind.

There are some who believe that my generation, if not the next, will see the advent of immortality through science. If it was available to me, would I accept it? No. Immortality in this broken, hateful realm of Satan and man would be a punishment, not a prize. I will wait on my immortality from the only giver of good gifts, the Lord God himself. In the meantime, I will serve Him as best I can with what strength He has given me. I will do my best to be a good steward of His money, His body (in which His Holy Spirit dwells), and His creation in general. But most importantly I will do my best to share the Gospel with whoever will hear it so that they too can have eternal life in a place without sin.

Do I Trust God?

Do I trust God with my provision? My Health? My protection? My life (both in this one and the next)? My salvation? Or do I lean on my own strength and intellect and judgement?

When I “say Grace”, thanking God for the food He has provided, haven’t I worked for it? Scripture says that God provides and yet it also says if a man doesn’t work, he won’t eat. So, what is it that I am thanking Him for? I’m thanking Him for the opportunity that I know was provided by His providence. When I think about how I came to be where I am, in this city, with this job, and with this family, I have no choice but to bow my head and praise God for His provision. Some may say that I worked hard for what I have, and that is true so far as it goes. But the Truth is that God made a way for me, and I have been obedient in working for Him at whatever he put in front of me. I worked, but He gave me success.

When I eat healthy foods and take vitamins to supplement what my body needs am I relying on my own wisdom and actions to extend my life or give me health? Not at all. I know that I can’t add a single day to my life. But I am being obedient to God to be a good steward of this life and body He has given me. It is He who makes all the components work as they need. And in times of need it has been God who Has rescued my body and my life when it was beyond my works. Not all the healthy food in the world can extend my life forever, nor can any medicine protect me from every disease. But I walk with the Lord. I do what little I can, and He blesses my obedience with His works.

My days of fisticuffs are long since over, not that I was ever a great brawler. So, when I was considering whether or not I could carry a weapon and still claim that I was trusting in God for my protection there was a great deal of prayer and reading of scripture that went into it. When I look back on my life, I see numerous instances that God directly protected me, even before I came to Christ. In the end, like all things, I believe that I have a part to play in the protection of myself and my family (and those around me), but that in the end it is still God who guides my hand and gives me success when I am obedient.

I have no choice but to trust God with my life in its totality. Whether it’s where I live or where I work or what provisions He gives me. The world is a large, complex place with so many pitfalls and dead ends. If I try to figure it out on my own, I am doomed. But instead, I trust that scripture provides me wisdom and that the Holy Spirit guides me to God’s will in any circumstance. I trust these for guidance in my life above my own wisdom and instinct.

But most importantly of all, I must trust God with my salvation. When I read scripture and assess myself critically, I can’t come to any conclusion other than that I am not worthy of saving. I have done nothing that deserves the Love of God. And yet, I know I have it because He has said so. He Loves me and He has paid the penalty for my sins. I must rest and trust in that because otherwise I will go down a road of self-righteousness where I fool myself into believing I am “good enough”, or worse, that I know better than God what is right and good. God is the final judge, and Christ is my savior from the penalty I owe for my crimes. This is where all my hope lies and it is the guiding truth of my life and my interactions (not that I don’t still stray, but praise God there is forgiveness for that as well).

Whose Son is the Messiah?

Matthew 22:-42-46

“What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet”’? If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?” And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.

Psalm 110:1 

A Psalm of David. The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” Whose son is the Messiah?

I have to admit that I have glossed over this passage in the past because I didn’t understand the implications. I really wasn’t sure what Jesus was getting at. I now realize that Jesus was revealing that David prophesized that the Messiah would not have an earthly father despite being from David’s line. Just as Jesus did not have an earthly father. But instead, that the Messiah would be the Son of God as well as the Son of Man (being born of the Virgin Mary). There are many passages where Jesus asserts His unique relationship with The Father (and usually has to leave before getting stoned). But I appreciate that he put the crowd on the spot here and makes them connect the dots, which they fail to do.

A Little Harmless Conjecture

Matthew 24:29-31

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

So, a little harmless pondering on this passage. When I read it, I got to thinking about a recent article I read about scientists trying to find a way of diverting an asteroid on a collision course with Earth. It seems to me that a large enough asteroid coming at the Earth from the direction of the sun would not only dim the sun but conceivably do so enough to also blot out the light that the moon reflects. With all our astronomical advances we would likely know it’s coming, and all the nations would certainly mourn. Perhaps it is at this time that Christ will come to bring the remnant to Heaven. It is of course pure speculation, but I thought it was an interesting piece of speculation anyway.

Is It Unclean?

In Romans Chapter 14 Paul has a great deal to talk about in regard to cleanliness. He opens by stating:

Romans 14:1-6

“As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.”

So, we see two examples of differences of opinion about what is clean or unclean. In more current terms we may say what is allowable in the sight of God and what is not. These two issues were important during this time because there were many Messianic Jews who weren’t sure what was OK as they were now sitting next to Gentile (non-Jew) followers of Christ who didn’t have any of the food restrictions and may have had no special day for the Lord or a different one.

Paul makes it abundantly clear that whether it is a sin to consume something, or do something, that isn’t specifically forbidden (like murder or drunkenness), is up to the individual conscience of the believer. He concludes by saying:

Romans 14:21-23

“It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.”

So, from this perspective, it is up to the conscience of the individual to determine if something that may be generally allowable (such as eating certain kinds of meat) is not allowable for their walk with the Lord. This is true of foods, holidays, and dare I say, vaccines. Consumption or injection of anything that a believer has doubts about regarding whether it’s OK with God is by its very definition not OK. One must be certain by faith that his choice is in line with God, or it is a sin. This is an important aspect of the Christian faith that may be overlooked as we look at introduction of vaccination requirements for a growing portion of the population and whether religious exemptions will be permitted.

About Michael Wigle

I am a servant of Christ who is married and has two children and four grandchildren. For employment, I am the IT Manager and the Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired. I also have a wide variety of interests from economics and politics to hiking and caving.
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