Engaging the culture with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Posts tagged “Sovereignty

Prayer and The Sovereign LORD:

The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD, he turns it wherever he will.” Proverbs 21:1

I can’t tell you how many times it has bees suggested to me that because I believe in the sovereign LORD, Who controls all things down to the smallest detail, that I should cease prayer. Yet, some of those people who tell me that, are the ones who would use the very verse to encourage prayer for the President of America, or some other political issue which they are concerned about.

I believe it was J. I. Packer that said something to the effect of every Christian is a Calvinist on his/her knees. It is precisely the sovereignty of God that drives us to prayer and gives us the assurance that He can accomplish what we ask. If God did not have control of the the hearts of kings, then why ask God to change the direction a ruler is headed, to cause him to veto a bill, or alter his allocation of troops? If God doesn’t hold sovereign sway over the hearts of men then why ask God to save the lost? Why ask God to bring a straying child back? If words mean anything at all, at the heart of the one asking these things is the belief that it is really God who does these things. They may claim free-will as a God frustrating factor, but when they go to seek God’s face they leave their man made notions of freedom behind. If they are to pray biblically, then they must do so.

The believers in Acts prayed like this (chapter 4:24-30… note their appeal to God’s creatorship and control over all things, and their plea for the grace to be bold instead of trusting in their own determination to preach the gospel) “And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,

‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers were gathered together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed’—

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 plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.

We serve the Almighty God, and it’s is precisely because He controls all things that we go to Him in assurance that He can do what we ask.

Soli Deo Gloria.


Camp on God’s Sovereignty

I have much to share regarding my sister’s wedding, but I was reading this article by Steve Camp and thought I’d share it as I will not be able to blog until the 1st of July.
Here is the link to the site if you wish to read more of his thoughts on topics.

http://www.a1m.org/

May God be glorified.

THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD
…salvation is not your choice – it is His
October 29th 2009 –
For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness,
but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
-1 Corinthians 1:18

One of the damnable lies that has crept into evangelicalism over the last fifty years (via a return to Finneyism) is that salvation is the result of your free will enacted by your own volition to decide to follow Jesus Christ so that you can gain eternal life. Rubbish! Salvation is the result of His sovereign election of His own from all eternity past in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 1:9; Titus 1:1-2). Salvation is not the result of you mumbling some little sinners prayer, walking an aisle, raising a hand, or signing a decision card. “The only thing,” as Jonathan Edwards has said, “that you bring to your salvation is the sin that makes it necessary.”

So read the following words by brother C.H. Spurgeon and consider the greatness of your salvation – that it is all of grace, all of God, all of Christ Jesus the Lord, all of the regenerating ministry of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:4-7). Any boasting in and of ourselves is excluded; any attribution in the smallest degree to man’s free will is a gospel worthy of the dung hill (Roms. 3:21-31; Phil. 3:1-12). All our boasting and glory is in the Lord Jesus Christ alone (1 Cor. 1:27-31)!

Amen?

We stand in grace,
Steve

“I feel persuaded that false doctrine, inasmuch as it touches God’s sovereignty, is always an object of divine jealousy. Let me indicate especially the doctrines of free-will. I know there are some good men who hold and preach them, but I am persuaded that the Lord must be grieved with their doctrine though he forgives them their sin of ignorance. Free-will doctrine—what does it? It magnifies man into God; it declares God’s purposes a nullity, since they cannot be carried out unless men are willing. It makes God’s will a waiting servant to the will of man, and the whole covenant of grace dependent upon human action. Denying election on the ground of injustice it holds God to be a debtor to sinners, so that if he gives grace to one he is bound to do so to all. It teaches that the blood of Christ was shed equally for all men and since some are lost, this doctrine ascribes the difference to man’s own will, thus making the atonement itself a powerless thing until the will of man gives it efficacy. Those sentiments dilute the scriptural description of man’s depravity, and by imputing strength to fallen humanity, rob the Spirit of the glory of his effectual grace: this theory says in effect that it is of him that willeth, and of him that runneth, and not of God that showeth mercy.

Any doctrine, my brethren, which stands in opposition to this truth—”I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy,” provokes God’s jealousy. I often tremble in this pulpit lest I should utter anything which should oppose the sovereignty of my God; and though you know I am not ashamed to preach the responsibility of man to God—if God be a sovereign, man must be bound to obey him—on the other hand, I am equally bold to preach that God has a right to do what he wills with his own, that he giveth no account of his matters and none may stay his hand, or say unto him, “What doest thou?” I believe that the free-will heresy assails the sovereignty of God, and mars the glory of his dominion. In all faithfulness, mingled with sorrow, I persuade you who have been deluded by it, to see well to your ways and receive the truth which sets God on high, and lays the creature in the dust.” — C. H. Spurgeon


Defensive Pottery:

I am listening to Doug Wilson as he is preaching through Romans, and would like to share a thought with you.

We get offended at Paul’s comparing us to clay (Romans 9:21), claiming we are not very much like pots at all. We don’t just sit there; we have dreams and aspirations – a pot doesn’t! We have wills, and desires! We are not inanimate pots. Yet, we never get offended at comparing God to a potter. It never occurs to us that the transcendent, Almighty God is so much more than a potter. Matter of fact, we are more like clay than God is like a potter.

Isn’t it odd how we are so quick to try to protect ourselves? We would rather twist the truth, that submit to it (2 Peter 3:16). We’re awfully defensive pottery.

May God give us grace to come humbly to His Word.


Potent Stuff!


Of God and grasshoppers:

But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.”Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.” So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them. Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night.”

Numbers 13:30-14:1

This is not the main text, but I will begin here. Lord willing you will understand why by the end.

The children of Israel had the promise of God that He would give them the land. He did not send them into the land for them to see whether they could take it or not, but to see what they had been promised. What should have been a source of rejoicing was a source of dejection and lead to the death of an entire generation save two people. Many a message has been preached on how their unbelief kept them from entering, and how we need to take our eyes of the problem and fix them on The LORD. This is not what I wish to discuss today. I want to direct your attention to the last verse of chapter 13 and first verse of 14. “And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them. Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night.grasshopper

Now, it is true the response of the nation was not one of faith in God. And it is true that they doubted God and did not take Him at His Word. But I want to speak about their perception and the response they had to it. Again, let me give a disclaimer, that in the whole scheme of what had happened, their response to the situation was absolutely wicked. This is not being disputed. But I want to zoom in on a segment of the situation and show you how their response was completely appropriate. Let me give you a passage of scripture that takes the same perspective I am attempting to present. Ecclesiastes 1 “The words of the Preacher,the son of David, king in Jerusalem. Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?”


Solomon speaks of life being empty and futile, but this is all spoken concerning life apart from God. Solomon uses the phrase “Under the sun” to keep us in the perspective that he is describing life as what it is without God. All of what he says is true of the man’s life who has not God. When life is viewed apart from God it loses all meaning and fulfillment. It’s purpose is gone, and man becomes no different than a dog in that he lives and dies and is forgotten. Solomon takes the perspective of the futility of life and says there is nothing under the sun but for a man to live happily and enjoy life all his days for after this he dies. Taking the context in which he is speaking this is a proper response for one who is without God.

That being said, look at what the Israelite people said and their response. They saw themselves as grasshoppers in compared to their enemies and realized that their enemies viewed them in such a manner as well. This perception didn’t spur them to rush into the battle, it didn’t fill them with shouts of acclamation that they could squash their opponents with their little finger. It caused them to weep! It paralyzed them as they thought about the certain destruction that would fall on them if they were to meet the enemy! It made all the pleasures the land had to offer seem mundane, and the milk and honey of the land became bland at the prospect of certain doom. They saw themselves as grasshoppers and became weak in the knees! They lost all heart, and all confidence fled. They saw how powerless they were before the strength of their enemies and their hearts melted within them. They were consumed with fear!


I want you to get this picture. They were convinced that they were absolutely powerless and defeated. They saw that they were nothing more than grasshoppers in the sight of the inhabitants of the land – and they dare not approach them!


Now turn to the text – Isaiah 40:22 “It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads circle-of-the-earththem like a tent to dwell in;”


What does this verse say about the inhabitants of the earth? Grasshoppers! We are but grasshoppers! It is easy for us to think of “them” but don’t forget that you are an inhabitant of the earth. Why are your knees not knocking? Why has your heart not become wax within you? Is it because you don’t believe i?! Examine the response of the children of Israel when they truly saw themselves as grasshoppers before men. Now look at yourself. We are not speaking of man to man, but man to God! The Almighty, Whose wrath is a consuming fire!

See how Isaiah describes him:

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand

and marked off the heavens with a span,

enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure

and weighed the mountains in scales

and the hills in a balance?

Who has measured the Spirit of the Lord,

or what man shows him his counsel?

Whom did he consult,

and who made him understand?

Who taught him the path of justice,

and taught him knowledge,

and showed him the way of understanding?

Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket,

and are accounted as the dust on the scales;

behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust.

Lebanon would not suffice for fuel,

nor are its beasts enough for a burnt offering.

All the nations are as nothing before him,

they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness.


To whom then will you liken God,

or what likeness compare with him?

An idol! A craftsman casts it,

and a goldsmith overlays it with gold

and casts for it silver chains.

He who is too impoverished for an offering

chooses wood that will not rot;

he seeks out a skillful craftsman

to set up an idol that will not move.


Do you not know? Do you not hear?

Has it not been told you from the beginning?

Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?

It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,

and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;

who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,

and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;

who brings princes to nothing,

and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.


Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,

scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,

when he blows on them, and they wither,

and the tempest carries them off like stubble.”


It is before this GOD that you are a grasshopper! Yet our minds raise objections. “God is love!” “God is merciful!” “God doesn’t hate men!” We have developed an idol in our minds and named it god! We have created a loving, sappy, paternal figure that is just aching over the sin that we are bound in, and is consumed with attempting to free us from all those hurtful things if we would only permit him to do so. We have successfully made “Sin” the bad guy and us the victim. It is true that we are slaves, but we are such willingly. We love our sin, our hearts are full of it, and although we don’t always like the effects of it, we would rather die than leave it! We are born enemies of the God Who gives us our every breath – and we don’t tremble. We are told of His power and view His majesty and strength all in creation and we don’t tremble. We see the burning sun, sustained by His Word, and we don’t tremble. We see awesome storms and catastrophes created by The Almighty and we have no fear of Him. The demons are better than we, for they believe and tremble. We read Scripture and twist it to fit our felt needs. We have made His Word nothing more than a strategy book by which to live life and be free from problems. We think God is only as relevant as He gives me what I long for. Those who don’t use it for health, wealth, and prosperity; utilize it for morality, decency, and nominal Christianity.We have conditioned ourselves to only see what builds our self-image – “For God so loved the world that He gave…!” This is true, but somehow we interpret that to show how valuable we are to God. It’s not our value, but our wickedness that is manifested in the death of Christ. We have elevated us as the sole purpose for which God exists, and the motive behind all He does. We have changed the well known catechism “Q: What is the chief end of man? A: To glorify God and enjoy Him forever” to “Q: What is the chief end of God? To worship man by doing all for his well being.” We are some pretty big grasshoppers!


Are you trembling yet? You rush into prayer as a kid would burst into a candy store assuming that all he desires can be his. No regard to the store owner. He is the Almighty God! Even David, the man after God’s own heart asked God to give ear to his petitions. (Psalm 141:1-2) We “worship” and our hearts are no where near bowing before The LORD. We are nothing! The God-enthralled king of Israel also said, “What is man that you are mindful of Him?” David didn’t presume he could rush in, why are we so foolish as to do so? We know next to nothing of God. And when we do begin to see Him in His Word we shut the book, a bit discomfited at the God we find described in it’s pages.


We are foolish!! May God cause us to tremble before His holiness! The fear of The LORD is the beginning of wisdom! May God be merciful to us grasshoppers, causing us to fear Him.


Soli Deo Gloria




Why don’t we rejoice in it? He does!

Luke 10:21 says that Jesus “rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.”” Jesus actually rejoiced that the Father hid truth from some, and rejoiced in His Father’s electing love. This has rocked my world, and what was once a loathsome thing, is sweetness and light, now I can see it.” If Jesus rejoices in His Father hiding (which speaks of activity) truth from some that He reveals to others, I think it should at least cause us to ask the question “why?” Why would God hiding some things from some and revealing His truth to others be precious to our Lord? Why does it not excite us the way it excited Jesus? (that’s something to think about for sure)

I read this from an article you can read in it’s entirety HERE.

And I ask you the question: Why? Why does that which brought Jesus rejoicing(the hiding truth from some and the revealing it to others) not bring us the same?


A biblical view of God:

A biblical view of God is not something we are left to develop on our own as He has revealed Himself to us in His Word. Nor is it something we are at liberty to create by approaching His Word with a “pick-and-choose” mentality, holding to what suits us best and looking over those parts that are most distasteful.

There are a few verses that I would like to mention here were God confronted Job and His friends concerning this very thing.

1.  Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?
(Job 40:8  ) Paul asked his questioners the same thing in Romans 9:19-20 “You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” ” The settings of these two questions are similar in that God was doing what He desired with whom He desired when He desired. Man likes to think he has control of his destiny, but he is nothing but a created being and is under the Sovereign control of God Almighty. “”Behold, Behemoth, which I made as I made you; he eats grass like an ox.”
(Job 40:15)

2.   Look on everyone who is proud and bring him low and tread down the wicked where they stand. Hide them all in the dust together; bind their faces in the world below. Then will I also acknowledge to you that your own right hand can save you. (Job 40:12-14)  Our will is a feckless thing! Our only hope of salvation is in The LORD! Many say that we are drowning and the gospel is a life preserver, thrown to us, and if we grab on to it we will be pulled to safety. They say this in attempts to emphasis man’s responsibility to believe the gospel, but take it to an unbiblical degree and turn responsibility into ability. God says we have no ability, that our own right hand (the hand of power) cannot save us.

3.   Behold, the hope of a man is false; he is laid low even at the sight of him. No one is so fierce that he dares to stir him up. Who then is he who can stand before me? Who has first given to me, that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine.  (Job 41:9-11) Prior to these verses, God had been describing Behemoth. He goes on to say that we fear a created thing and our strength fails us – what makes us think we can stand before The Creator? We fear dinosaurs more than we fear The Almighty! We would not dare contend with Behemoth, yet daily, man raises his fist at God and cries out injustice; or at best points a doubting finger at God with questions of fairness. We so often forget that we have given God nothing, and have no claim to His mercy and grace. There is not an action we can do to put ourselvs in a favorable light with Him.  For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
(Rom 9:15-18   )

After God was finished speaking to Job, his response was amazing!

“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
(Job 42:2) He affirmed God’s sovereign control over all things. That God can do whatever he desires, and that He accomplishes exactly what He desires to accomplish – always.

This biblical view of God affected Job drastically.

I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
(Job 42:5-6)

God is also concerned with the view we hold of Him.

After the LORD had spoken these words to Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.
(Job 42:7)

May God graciously give us a right view of Him.


Evangelism: What exactly is it anyway?

I read an article today that was published in a past issue of Christianity Today entitled “What Evangelism Isn’t” .It was published in 2007, but is a must read!

Mark Dever hit the nail on the head when he addressed this topic. It is amazing how when the doctrines of grace are forsaken (whether ignorantly, or intentionally) that other vital areas slip as well. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve either been told that I will not evangelize, or that I am inconsitent if I do evangelize. Those who make this statement show that they have been missinformed concerning the doctrines of grace and what true evangelism is.

As Ernest Reisinger said in addressing the question “Will Calvinism Kill Evangelism“:

“The answer to the question is yes and no. Yes, it will kill unbiblical man-centered evangelism and some of the carnal unbiblical methods employed in man-centered evangelism.

No, it will not kill God-centered evangelism where biblical methods are employed in the great work of carrying out our Lord’s clearest command.”

May God bring His people back to Scripture, and true evangelism!


A thought from Job:

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“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.

(Job 42:2)

God’s sovereignty is a truth that no Christian would intentionally deny. But what happens among most believers today, is that once they affirm this biblical doctrine with their lips the quickly forget it with the mind and hearts and move on to another doctrine. They affirm God rules all things and that it is impossible for Him to be “tripped up” or delayed, and then turn around and speak things like, “God wants to do such and such, but you won’t let Him.” That sounds good, but there are some serious ramifications to holding to such statements! Apart from denying the words you just affirmed, you are in the process of deifying man and humanizing God.

Two rebuttal arguments that are often proposed in opposition to the truth of God’s total sovereignty are:

God is so sovereign that if He chose to give man a completely free-will and still be sovereign then He could do that.” Essentially they claim that God could give up some of His sovereignty and still be sovereign; that He could relinquish control over something, or someone, and yet still control it/them. For this to be true, one must redefine the meaning of “control”, as well as “relinquish”. If words had no sure meaning then I guess that would be possible. (But then how could we communicate truth, if words have no set definition?) ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.

(Job 42:3)

Another one is:

God says that His purpose will not be thwarted, so ultimately He will win, but that doesn’t mean He was in control the whole time.” This is just not biblical. God says He does all His pleasure (Isaiah 46:10), that He works all things after the counsel of His own will (Ephesians :11); that He does according to His will in the host of heaven and the inhabitants of the earth (Daniel 4:25). This attempted rebuttal also denies that God is concerned with the details of our lives, as it says He gets His way in the end, but not in necessarily in the middle. It also is problematic in that if God doesn’t control the means He doesn’t control the ends. It makes Him indifferent to what happens from start to finish as long as the finish ends as intended. This rebuttal is also an illogical proposition. For this to hold true it would have to be held that God is only concerned that every knee bow and tongue confess that He is LORD; and not concerned with who is in heaven or hell. For if God wanted Hitler in heaven, and tried to get him there, but he’s in hell, then God’s purpose for Hitler was thwarted, also since Hitler wasn’t a believer and was the catalyst for a world war, then there are many deaths that was not intended, as well ad broken homes, national debts, etc. Those who died in the war who God intended to raise children, had none; so God’s plans for all those unborn children are completely thwarted. If God doesn’t control this minute in time, what guarantee do you have that He will control the next? Does it just so happen to work out for Him in the end? Absolutely not. We know He had planned all that comes to pass. Even the fall of man; as Scripture tells us Christ was The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

The problem is that when men deal with this topic they hold onto their unbiblical presuppositions, and unfounded ideologies of what God must be in order to be just and right, instead of see what God says He is and how He is just and right. We formulate what we define as right and just and then hold God to that since He tells us He is just and right. When He defines just and right. He says all he does is right, so we know that if He does it, it is right. God is good.

God is not regaining control over anything. He is not attempting to solve a problem that He would have preferred not happen, but since it did, He will step in a fix it. Satan, nor man, has thwarted God’s plan. And although their intentions are to do so, their attempts to thwart are nothing but fulfillment. Just as Joseph’s brothers. They meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.

No purpose of God’s can be thwarted, not even for an instant. God accomplishes what He desires in exactly the time frame in which He desires it to be accomplished. This was the climax of Job’s discovery. All that had befallen him was ordained of God. God had brought him to this end for His purposes. Satan, Job’s “friends” – they were tools in the hand of The Master Craftsman. Responsible for their actions? Yes, yet never out from under the control of Almighty God. As Loraine Boettner put it, “God wills righteously those things which men do wickedly.”

Then Job answered the LORD and said: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” After the LORD had spoken these words to Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.

(Job 42:1-7) [emphasis added]

Soli Deo Gloria!


The response of a crushed heart…

Recently, The LORD has impressed upon my heart how small my view of HIM really is. Due to this minute view of GOD, we have such a minute view of sin. Sin seems more and more sinless, all this is due to our unbiblical view of The ALMIGHTY GOD.

As I was reading Job 38-40:5, my heart was humbled and encouraged simultaneously. I would encourage you to read what The LORD says to Job for two chapters and then see Job’s response. Not once did God tell job he was a sinful being. The entire monologue that God speaks to Job is all about HIS greatness; but look at Job’s response. God had crushed this man as only The loving God can do.

But don’t just skip to the end to see what Job says… meditate on every verse. I can’t read this without crawling away, awed by the Sovereignty of ALMIGHTY JEHOVAH!