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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Both!-Ending the dispute between God’s sovereignty and man’s will

Posted by Gary on August 18, 2011

Acts 4:27-28 “For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.”

Revelation 2:23  “…and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.”

I have had many discussions and debates with people concerning the issue of God’s sovereignty/predestination and man’s will. The great majority of people seem determined to have one of these prevail at the expense of the other. So which is it? Does God predestine events or do things happen because people make choices according to their wills? Yes!

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Our peace found in the sovereignty and providence of God

Posted by Gary on August 11, 2011

Psalm 103:19 The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all.”

We willingly attribute good, wonderful and large events to the providence of God. But what about hard things? Small things? Are there things outside of God’s control? If there are, let’s eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.

My great peace and the real peace of all Christians is in God’s sovereignty and providence. The planets, stars, demons, angels, nations, oceans, people, animals, powers, governments, weather, specks of dust, hairs on the head, all things, are in His sovereign hand and are directed by Him. Do you believe it? I pity you if you don’t. If you do, rest in God’s control of the universe and your life.

We frequently hear persons say of a pleasant or a great event, “What a providence!” while they are silent as to anything which appears less important, or has an unpleasant savor. But, my brethren, the place of the gorse bush on the hill is as fixed as the station of a king, and the dust which is raised by a chariot-wheel is as surely steered by providence as the planet in its orbit. There is as much providence in the creeping of an insect upon a rose leaf as in the marching of an army to ravage a continent. Everything, the most minute as well as the most magnificent, is ordered by the Lord who has prepared his throne in the heavens, whose kingdom ruleth over all. (Charles Spurgeon from the sermon: “Providence As Seen in the Book of Esther”)

Getting it

Posted by Gary on June 9, 2009

John 17:2 “even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life.”

Over the past year I have read John 17 probably four or five times. This chapter of the Bible is the prayer that Jesus offered to the Father on the night of the Last Supper. I do not think there is anything more glorious, profound and revealing as this pouring out of the Son’s heart to the Father.

As is always the case with Jesus you must ponder every phrase and word. Jesus does not waste words or say things He doesn’t mean. Read John 17 (also called “Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer”) and you will gain insight into marvelous, challenging and if embraced, comforting truths.

Today was another occasion on which I read Jesus’ prayer and I was struck by the above sentence from it. It was as if I had never read it before though I had read it many times. In one sense what I read added nothing to what I already had in terms of established truth from God. I am thoroughly Reformed theologically, I know that God chooses those who will be saved and that His choice has nothing to do with what one has done or might do. God’s choice of a fallen sinner is based upon reasons known only to Himself for His own purposes and glory:

Ephesians 1:5  “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,”

Ephesians 1:11 “also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,”

John 1:12-13 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Listen to what Jesus tells us here, He is letting us in on something more profound than the the revelations sent back from the Hubble Space Telescope, He is letting us in on things that were taking place before the world and space existed in eternity past. He is also letting us in on things that have to do with eternity future, who it is that will spend eternity with God.

Will you listen to Jesus? Do you want to get it? Here is what He has told us…He (Jesus) has been given authority over all flesh (that includes you by the way) to give eternal life…to whom? To those that the Father has given Him.

Now look at the verse as it reads: “even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life.”  Granted, the Bible speaks in places of eternal life being given to “whosoever will”. Those of us who are Reformed in theology do not deny that “whosever” will come to Christ will be saved but Jesus has revealed something in His prayer to the father, who will come? Who will receive Jesus and eternal life? Those that the Father has given Him. What is more than implied is that only those the Father has given the Son will receive eternal life: “…that to all whom you have given Him, He may grant eternal life.”

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

He causes it to happen

Posted by Gary on September 13, 2008

It is hurricane season and it appears to be an active one. These powerful storms cause wonder and sometimes destruction and death. It is always interesting to listen to the prognostication of the experts as hurricanes threaten to make contact with land.

Tracks and models hold before us the potential path of the storm sometimes ten or more models are established, “It could go this way or perhaps turn that way or all-together head back out to sea.” We do our best and we are thankful for those who watch over these things to help us. But who decides where these storms will go? More foundationally, why do they happen? The Bible speaks clearly to us about these matters. Are we willing to listen?

Job 37:5-13 “God thunders with His voice wondrously, Doing great things which we cannot comprehend. For to the snow He says, ‘Fall on the earth,’ And to the downpour and the rain, ‘Be strong.’ He seals the hand of every man, that all men may know His work. Then the beast goes into its lair and remains in its den. Out of the south comes the storm, and out of the north the cold. From the breath of God ice is made, and the expanse of the waters is frozen. Also with moisture He loads the thick cloud; He disperses the cloud of His lightning. It changes direction, turning around by His guidance, that it may do whatever He commands it on the face of the inhabited earth. Whether for correction, or for His world, or for lovingkindness, He causes it to happen.”

I am afraid that the god of many is a white-haired old man who is very well-intentioned but unable to bring about what He wants. He intends so much good but the devil and man just seem to always defeat His purposes. He speaks but no one is listening, He threatens but never carries out. He is a god to be pitied, not worshipped. But this is not the God of the Bible who says this about Himself:

Isaiah 46:9-10 “Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure…’”

Isaiah 43:13 “Even from eternity I am He, and there is none who can deliver out of My hand; I act and who can reverse it?”

God is great. He controls His world including you and me. Let us humble ourselves before Him in wonder and gratitude. Do you know the sovereign God?

Beauty amidst destruction

Posted by Gary on February 20, 2007

My Bible reading recently brought me to the account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. There is much to learn from this well known story not least among the lessons, the fact that God detests some sins more than others. How we need to be mindful of this in our day, most recently as the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that homosexual unions are a state right. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was total, God’s displeasure with sodomy could not have been made more clear. Do we think that we will escape judgment as a nation?

In the midst of this story filled with destruction and judgment is the most beautiful picture of God’s electing love. While it is true that the two angels went to Sodom to destroy, they also had another assignment, to save. The recipients of this mercy as we know are Abraham’s nephew Lot and his family. There are a few statements in this chapter that are powerful in their revelation of God’s determination to save those He has chosen, in spite of ourselves:

Genesis 19:15-16 “When morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city.” But he hesitated. So the men seized his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his two daughters, for the compassion of the Lord was upon him; and they brought him out, and put him outside the city.”

Lot has been warned by two angels (whose miraculous powers he has seen when they struck the men of the city blind). Lot knows the wickedness of this city and the holiness of God. We would imagine that upon hearing of God’s intention to destroy Sodom that Lot would be quick to leave with his family yet we are told something amazing, “He hesitated”. Hesitated? What could Lot have been thinking? Probably thoughts like many of us who are saved thought when God was calling us out of this sinful world that is destined is for fire. Yes, we knew we were in danger, that God’s judgment was set to fall on us and this world yet even when called to forgiveness and escape, we looked around at our life of sin and balked.

What we are told next is one of the most beautiful pictures in Scripture, “So the men seized his hand”. Wonderful, merciful love of God. God was not willing to let Lot stand and think any longer. Why not? Certainly God knew the folly of sinners, Lot would have waited too long, he would likely have been overcome by the temptation to stay and so God through His angels grabs Lot’s hand and moves him by force. Where is Lot taken? The Bible tells us outside the city, not he alone but his wife and daughters with him. Not only did God move Lot in an initial sense, He brought him where he needed to be, outside the city.

I wonder how my Arminian friends deal with a passage like this? Didn’t God infringe upon Lot’s will? Free will theology would insist that God would never grab someone’s hand while he is pondering his options. Free will theology would say, “Lot wasn’t sure about what he wanted to do and God being a God of love, who always bows to the will of the creature would never have forced Himself upon someone who had not made the decision for themselves.” Thank God that He does act and move upon us according to His will and intention. When God has chosen to save someone, he saves them in spite of their foolish thinking and possible decisions. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Is this your view of life?

Posted by Gary on September 20, 2005

Genesis 45:8 “Now therefore, it was not you who sent me here but God…”

I am reading my children the book of Genesis in the evenings before they go to bed. I was caused to pause in my heart last night as I read the children verse 8 when Joseph states, “Now therefore, it was not you who sent me here but God…” It was one of those times when the Scripture stands you up and speaks loudly and makes you think.

To the heart devoid of faith Joseph’s statement makes no sense. Of course it was Joseph’s brothers who sent him to Egypt right? They were the ones who threw him into a well and then drew him out and sold him to Midian traders heading to Egypt, this story has human agency written all over it.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »