Cause and Effect

Ancient peoples believed that everything good and bad happens by the exercise of God’s arbitrary power. Many modern people believe the same. The idea is that God causes all events, as if He is up in heaven pushing the blessing button and the curse button. But that’s not actually how reality operates. We don’t live in a closed system in which everything is minutely controlled, but rather in an open system in which our decisions are causal. Because God is love, He designed the world to function by laws of cause and effect, which simply means He designed the world in such a way that our free actions create actual outcomes. In order for any real love to exist there must be real freedom, and in order for real freedom to exist there must be real cause-and-effect interplay at all levels of our existence. The exercise of arbitrary authority would be, in fact, the absence of freedom and, therefore, the absence of love. Describing how the world really works, the Bible says:

“The curse __________________ shall not come” (Proverbs 26:2, KJV).

“Whatever a man ________, that he will also ________” (Galatians 6:7).

In the Bible there is something called “wisdom,” chokmah in Hebrew. The word literally means “skill”—skill at understanding the principles of life and making good choices. In the book of Proverbs “Wisdom” says, “Blessed is the man who listens to me . . . For whoever finds me finds life, and obtains favor from the Lord; but he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; all those who hate me love death” (Proverbs 8:34-36). When a person discerns cause-and-effect relationships and makes choices that produce positive effects, that’s wisdom. The result is “blessing,” a word that means happiness of well-being.

We live in a world, and in bodies, governed by principles of cause and effect. It should come as no surprise to us that God has an interest in the principles we live by. After all, He loves us, so He can’t help but want what is best for us. In fact, according to the Bible, salvation itself involves an educational process by which God aims to increase the quality of our lives by teaching us the principles that govern reality and by empowering us to live in harmony with them.

Healing and Wholeness

Often “salvation” is thought of in the narrow sense of escaping hell and getting to heaven when this life is over. But according to the Bible, it’s far more than that. In the New Testament the Greek word that is translated “save” is sozo. It’s a beautiful word that has huge significance for the present-tense quality of our lives. Sozo literally means to deliver, liberate, make well, heal, restore health, make whole. It communicates God’s desire that we experience health and wholeness here and now.

READ THE FOLLOWING SCRIPTURES AND DISCUSS WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY ABOUT GOD’S INTEREST IN OUR PRESENT QUALITY OF LIFE: JOHN 10:10; 3 JOHN 2; ROMANS 12:1-2; 1 CORINTHIANS 6:19-20; AND 1 CORINTHIANS 10:31.

What are three key ideas that stand out to you in these verses?

  1. ________________________________________________________________________________________.
  2. ________________________________________________________________________________________.
  3. ________________________________________________________________________________________.

The Bible’s Health Message

As we’ve just discovered, God desires our health and flourishing. If the core truth of Scripture is that “God is love,” it makes total sense that God would care about the quality of our health.

The human body operates best when supplied with a steady intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes. They are densely packed full of the very nutrients our bodies need to thrive and fight disease. Modern science has now proven that this is the real food our bodies need. In the light of the original diet given by the Creator, and with the support of modern science, why not consider trying this original diet? You will be blessed and you won’t look back on the decision with regret.

After the Flood had destroyed much of the vegetation of earth, God permitted certain animals to be used for food. This was an accommodation to the situation our fallen world now found itself in, but it was not God’s ideal plan. What two categories did God specify for animals? Genesis 7:2 ___________________________.

DISCUSS DEUTERONOMY 14:3-20. On a separate sheet of paper compose a two-column list of animals God says are clean and those that are unclean.

Some people reason that the clean and unclean laws of the Old Testament no longer apply now that we live in the New Testament era. That’s like saying the law of gravity applied back then but doesn’t apply anymore. God specified which animals were clean and which were unclean as health laws, not as ceremonial laws that would become unnecessary once Christ had fulfilled what they symbolized. Health laws are not symbolic and, therefore, do not become obsolete. They have real effects on all human bodies at all periods of history. You will find it very difficult to persuade your arteries, your heart, and all your other vital organs that the health laws of the Bible are symbolic. And modern science is affirming what the Bible has taught all along.

READ AND DISCUSS DANIEL 1:8-16. As a captive in Babylon who manifested intellectual giftedness, Daniel and his three friends were offered the “privilege” of taking their daily meals at the king’s table. The diet offered to them consisted of “delicacies” (“meat” in the KJV) and “wine”— basically, the diet of much of the Western world today. Daniel requested a kind of controlled study in which he and his friends would be allowed to forgo the king’s food and be given “vegetables to eat and water to drink” for ten days. Then he suggested that their “appearance” be “examined” and compared to “the young men who eat the portion of the king’s delicacies.” The results? “At the end of the ten days their features appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion of the kings delicacies.”

This is amazing. Written 2500 years ago, Daniel’s story tells us what medical science is just now discovering. The top two causes of death in the United States are heart disease and cancer, in most cases lifestyle related diseases, largely due to poor dietary habits, lack of exercise, toxic relationships, and negative emotional stress. Many of us are eating our way to an early death and a lot of unnecessary misery along the way. Daniel’s ancient diet recommends itself to common sense and harmonizes with modern nutritional science. The basic message of the Bible on diet is this: eat food, not other stuff masquerading as food.

Why did Daniel refuse the wine at the king’s table? To discover the answer, read and discuss Proverbs 20:1, 23:29-35 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.

The data on the destructive effects of alcohol are staggering:

• There are 2.5 million alcohol related deaths per year worldwide

• Alcohol is the third largest risk factor for all disease worldwide, number two in Europe, and number one in the Western Pacific and the Americas

• Alcohol is involved with many serious social woes, including violence, child abuse, and absenteeism in the workplace

• In the U.S. one-quarter of all emergency room admissions, one-third of all suicides, and more than half of all homicides and incidents of domestic violence are alcohol-related

• Underage alcohol use is more likely to kill young people than all illegal drugs combined

• In the U.S. 4.65 college students die each day as a result of alcohol-related injuries

• Alcohol-related problems cost the U.S. economy an estimated $185 billion per year

It shouldn’t be surprising that the Bible has a lot to say about what we eat and drink. “God is love,” after all. Every good parent cares what their children put into their bodies because they care about the health of their children. So why wouldn’t our heavenly Father care about our health? We have such a powerful advantage at our fingertips: the One who engineered our bodies offers us clear instruction on how best to feed these glorious machines. Why not do as He says and reap the benefits in health, energy levels, and longevity?

[CONNECT]

Jesus came to our world as a healer of hearts and bodies.

Looking forward to the salvation Jesus would achieve for us, Isaiah said, “by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5), meaning that the love He manifested for us by His sacrifice exerts a healing power over our sin-sick hearts. In the last book of the Old Testament the prophet Malachi foretold the mission of the coming Christ in these words: “The Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings” (Malachi 4:2). When Jesus did come an angel told Mary, “Call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). The Bible says Jesus “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). His ministry was characterized by two main features: (1) He preached the good news of God’s love to bring healing to hearts weighed down with the dysfunctions of shame and (2) He healed people’s bodies, revealing that God cares about our physical well-being. He is just as interested in our spiritual and physical health today.

[EXPERIENCE]

What a blessing it is to realize that God cares about my health and well-being! I love Him for that and I am determined, by His grace, to glorify Him in my health habits. The promise of Jesus is for me: “I have come that you may have life, and that you may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Sign me up for that! I want to learn all I can regarding the principles that make for abundant living. Please provide me with additional educational materials on the topic of health and healing.

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