Quill and writing

Ultimate reality

In Luke 5:4 Jesus addressed Simon saying, ‘Launch out into the deep and let your nets down for a catch’.  What followed represents a crucially important lesson.  Simon, thinking amiss, believed that the world around him was the ultimate reality.  The sand, the sea, the sky, the boats, etc.  Moreover, he believed that the forces controlling all of these things were/are likewise ultimate.  Thus, marshalling his thoughts and trusting in his own comprehension of his environment he spoke up confidently and dismissed Jesus’ instruction.  As a seasoned fisherman, he knew ‘from experience’ how noise, temperature, time and location altogether determined what was possible.  But Jesus sought to teach Peter (& us!) an important lesson.

Happily, Peter yielded to Jesus’ request & discovered to his surprise that something else (actually SOMEONE else) was more ultimate than ‘nature’.  Though we are powerfully accustomed to think that we are reasonable judges of what is POSSIBLE, we need to recognise that God alone, by His own sovereign decree and counsel, is to be trusted with that jurisdiction.  It is God’s prerogative – NOT OURS – to determine what is possible and what is not possible.  Does it matter?

Yes indeed.  The scientific community is overrun with folk telling us what is possible and what is not possible.  Please note that I am in no wise throwing cold water on the enterprise we call ‘science’.  Far from it.  We maintain that only in a universe which is orderly and which is presided over by a personal God is it possible to have LAWS – abstract, universal, absolute entities which allow us to comprehend the workings of ‘nature’.  Only if the uniformity of nature can be justified is it possible to carry out scientific research on Wednesday & expect it to proceed (under the same physical conditions) as it did on Monday.  Only Christianity and the Bible provide the necessary warrant for expecting the future to be like the past.  Why?  Because The God of Scripture, the Creator & sustainer of the universe is now upholding His world and supplying the necessary providential control.  For, ‘He is before all things and in Him all things consist’ (Col 1:17).

The unbeliever today is like the Baal worshiper of old.  He reckons that ultimate reality is governed by ‘the gods’ – i.e. Baalim – all the (blind, non-sentient and impersonal) natural forces and powers of nature.  Like Nebuchadnezar of old, the proud secularist in our midst needs to be confronted with the ignoble image of his dream.  That seemingly glorious image, that looked so full of promise in its exalted (golden) head, had ‘feet of clay’ – from where incidentally we get the expression!  Those feet were wholly incapable of making it stand upright & steady.  Rather they represented a most unstable foundation – as does the vain speculation of autonomous, human speculation which we are oft inclined (falsely) to label ‘science’.

Returning to the ‘catch of fish’ (Luke 5), Peter seems to have apprehended something of the enormity of his mistake and the grievous nature of his sin as he exclaimed “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (v8).  Would that more Christians today involved professionally in scientific enterprise might recognise the compromised character of their thought.  May the Lord open their/our eyes and stir their/our hearts to challenge & question the many unwarranted presuppositions of their peers.