An Unquenchable, Doxological Fire

Defense.gov News Photo 120723-F-HA794-089 - A U.S. Air Force firefighter sprays water at the fire of a simulated C-130 Hercules plane crash during operational readiness exercise Beverly

“The natural man is such a one as constantly throws water on a fire he cannot quench.”- Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, 115.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.- Romans 1:18-23

In the creation of His hands, God has left a crystal clear imprint of His person on all things. It isn’t as if all humanity has a sense that there is a god but rather that all mankind knows Him, the One who fashioned them, the Alpha and Omega, the One True God. Paul’s argument from Romans reveals that in all nature God has revealed His divineness, and His revelation, called natural or general, is clear enough to render all men guilty of rebellion. Indeed, we read in Psalm 19:1-4,

“The heavens declare the glory of God,and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.Day to day pours out speech,and night to night reveals knowledge.There is no speech, nor are there words,whose voice is not heard.Their voice goes out through all the earth,and their words to the end of the world.In them he has set a tent for the sun.”

All men then, by virtue of their created-ness, receive from creation and from their own being a declaration of the greatness and glory of the One God from the moment of their birth until their dying breath so much so that they are aware of the truths of its proclamation. Though we know the truth, Paul tells us that we all suppress it. From our first breath, we as natural humans are busy attempting to stifle and shut up the voice within us and the voices of creation, desperately trying to fashion for ourselves a makeshift autonomy in place of the realized dependence we have upon the Maker. Because of this desperation, God has given us over to our futility culminating in the supplanting of the True Object of worship for the worship of His created things in our hearts. In this futile grasp for autonomy, we have traded wisdom for foolishness, reason for irrationality, hope for despair, heaven for hell, and most poignantly, God for gifts.

Our desperate attempt, Van Til tells us, is like trying to frantically throw water on an all-consuming fire we cannot control. It is true that autonomy is what we all aim for. The freedom to live according to our own rules, possess rationality that we can claim as solely our own, and indulge in activities we don’t have to answer for is what we are attempting to gain. But it is simply an attempt. If we were to gain such autonomy, we would cease to exist, because the universe is up-held by the law of God, knitted together with His supreme rationality, and is headed to a final, inescapable judgment. To become autonomous, self sufficient, is to finally reject the very Breath that gives life. To become autonomous is to shrivel into nothingness.

We cannot stifle the voices of creation any more than we can quench the voice within us. It is as fruitless as one voice trying to drown out the 1812 Overture in full swing and crescendo in a concert hall. Instead, the doxology of the universe drowns out our hopeless attempts to be heard. It is better to be consumed than to be heard. It is better to give in than to resist. It is better to join the praise than attempt to oppose it. And here we have a gracious opportunity given to us by God Himself. He offers to adopt us, to change us, to remake us in Christ. He offers to subdue our attempt at autonomy and to bring us back into union with the praise of His creation. It is good to repent and be consumed in the doxological fire that pours forth from all creation, exclaiming

“‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!'” (Revelation 5:12) 

We will either join in now or be consumed in judgment later. But this is what awaits us…

“And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.” (Revelation 5:13-14) 

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