Man's Unique Ability to Resist God's Word

The Bible tells us clearly that God created the world simply by speaking. And when God spoke, the universe sprang from nothing into something. Consider the following.

Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. Hebrews 11:3

For He spoke, and it came to be; He commanded, and it stood firm. Psalms 33:9

As it is written: "I have made you a father of many nations." He is our father in the presence of God, in whom he believed, the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being what does not yet exist. Romans 4:17

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. John 1:1-3

Nature itself has such a high view of God that it willingly complies with God's voice as soon as God speaks. Growing up, I always had read these verses and just took them for granted, but never appreciated the majestic power of God's Word to create things until I read the following sermon by A.T. Jones in the Review and Herald, February 21, 28 and March 7, 1899:

When God, by speaking the word, had created the worlds, for this one He said, "Let there be light." Now how much time passed between the words, "Let there be light," and the time when the light came? I want you to understand this matter aright so that you can find out whether you are an evolutionist or a creationist. Let me ask this again. Were there not six long periods of time between the time when the word was spoken and the accomplishment of the fact? You say No. Was it not a week? No. Not a day? No. Not an hour? No. Not a minute? No. Nor even a second? No, indeed. There was not a second between the time when God said, "Let there be light," and the existence of the light. [Voice: "Just as soon as the word was spoken, the light was."] Yes, that is the way it was. I go over it thus minutely, so as to get it firmly fixed in your mind, for fear that you will let it go presently when I ask you something further. Now it is settled that when God said, "Let there be light," there was not a second of time between that and the shining of light? [Voice: "Yes."] All right. Then the man who allows that any time at all passed between God's speaking and the appearing of the thing, is an evolutionist. If he makes it countless ages upon countless ages, he is simply more of an evolutionist than the one who thinks it took a day; he is the same thing, but more of it. A. T. Jones, Creation or Evolution, Which?

When I read this, it suddenly put everything about nature's response to God's commands in a completely new light. For example, consider that when Jesus was arrested, He told Peter:

Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? Matthew 26:53

Given that a single angel has the ability to destroy 185,000 soldiers (see 2 Kings 19:35), and a legion was somewhere around 5,000 individuals, Jesus wanted to remind Peter that if Jesus was unwilling to be arrested by the men that He had created, He could with a single word instantly summon a big enough angel army to destroy 185,000 people/angel × 5,000 angels/legion × 12 legions = 11.1 billion people. (For reference, the largest estimate for the global population at 1 AD is about 400 million.)

But that is how sentient obedient angels respond to God's voice. What about inanimate nature?

Satan, aware of God's creative power, used it to try to tempt Jesus into sinning:

And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. Matthew 4:3

Satan rightly understood that, if Jesus wanted to, He could say to the rocks "be bread". Rocks of course, are not even made up of the same types of atoms that bread is made of—rocks are primarily made up of silicon-dioxide, iron, magnesium, and calcium. Bread on the other hand, is rich in carbohydrates but contains very few minerals. In order to make bread out of stones, you need all of the silicon and metal atoms on a subatomic level to break down and reform into carbon and hydrogen atoms.

Just because Jesus didn't command such a miracle to happen when He was in the wilderness does not mean that this carpenter's Son didn't have mastery over particle physics. In fact, Jesus' first miracle was to turn water (which is virtually 100% hydrogen and oxygen atoms) to turn into wine (which is rich with nitrogen, oxygen, and a host of other elements, each carefully organized into glucose sugars, tartaric acids, phenolic compounds, aromatic molecules, and important mineral compounds such as potassium, sodium, iron, phosphates, sulfates, and chlorides).

We could cite example after example of how nature's greatest desire is to instantly respond to the every word of Jesus. But I want to shift the discussion to the unique ability of mankind to decide not to do what Jesus commands.

You see, Jesus has complete sovereignty over the entire universe. He speaks and stars and galaxies spring forth out of nothing. At His command, the water in the Red Sea splits in half. He says, "peace be still" and the turbulent mixing of warm humid air and cold dry air over the sea of Galilee instantly equilibrates resulting in perfect peace. On days 1-5 of creation, God created the world, and everything would obey Him perfectly. But on day 6, God created mankind, and gave him the freedom to choose to obey God or to rebel.

The only place in the natural universe where God can speak and the atoms don't immediately respond to God is in the matter that is inside of the human body. This makes "flesh" one of the strangest materials in the whole universe (see Romans 8:8, Galatians 5:19-21, Romans 8:6). It is the only place where God can command someone to be well, and for matter to resist God's command.

For the mind that is governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so.Romans 8:7

Given that God can instantaneously effect change with anything in the universe, God doesn't necessarily need patience, except when it comes to dealing with fallen man. This gives a whole new dimension to understanding the writings of Peter

The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

This understanding gives us a deeper appreciation for what God sacrificed to create man in the first place: God was laying down 0.000000000001% of His sovereignty over the Universe, and allowing man in his free will to choose whether he would submit himself to God, or to choose his own way. Furthermore, Jesus in the incarnation chose to "empty Himself" by taking the nature of a servant (Philippians 2:5-7).

The greatest challenge of the Christian walk is surrendering our will to God. We are the only part of the creation that has the freedom to resist God. Given that God's greatest desire is to save us from our own destructive choices, it is mind-boggling that we choose to use our freedom in a way that undermines our own happiness. But praise Jesus that He emptied Himself, and took on our nature, to show us what it was like to live a life that said "yet not My will, but Yours be done. (Luke 22:42)" This same Jesus showed us that He could command people to take up their bed and walk, to open their eyes and see, and to come forth from the grave, and if people trusted on His word, they were immediately healed. This healing was not limited to physical degradation, but also to spiritual justification. Praise Jesus, that from the example given to us in the Bible, we can all participate in the immediate power that comes with reading and obeying God's Word for our lives.