In discussing sovereignty from the Reformed perspective with those unfamiliar with it, many have never encountered the arguments contained within, and as a result, can sometimes hear things not being said. For instance, when we say God “ordains whatsoever comes to pass,” this is not doing away with secondary causes and forces at work that bring about an ordained end, such as the free agency (will) of the creature. As the Westminster Confession makes abundantly clear, that God “ordains whatsoever comes to pass,” underlies and enforces those very secondary choices or events.
Tag: Sovereignty Page 1 of 3
Originally posted at blog.myspace.com on Friday, February 17, 2006, archived here http://old.westerfunk.net/archives/personal/Dave%20Sermon%20Notes/
A. Read Philippians 4:4-7
B. ILLUS. Chaplaincy. Summer 2002. I was assigned to the reception station at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. I was counseling teenagers just about to step into Basic Training. The ones who stopped by my office were stressed and anxious about girlfriends they left behind, mean drill sergeants, the radical culture change, etc. and I did my best to soothe their worries and give them hope. One afternoon, halfway through my assignment, the Deputy Assistant Installation Chaplain and my Brigade Chaplain (my boss) entered my office. They told me that the Red Cross just informed them that my dad had had a massive coronary and was being care-flighted to a hospital 100 miles away and that my mom was in a car trailing them. I was to be released immediately to fly home and take care of family business. The counselor had now become the counselee.
Heard this through Jared Wilson: @JoelOsteen: “When you dare to #dreambig, you take the limits off of God.” Wow … How does this compare to Romans 9:21-23: “Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—
(Romans 9:21-23 ESV)”
YOU take the limits off of God. I didn’t know He was bound. I thought He did His best in Scripture to demonstrate in no uncertain terms that He is never, ever bound by what the creature does. This is precisely what sovereignty means. Joel Osteen’s teaching is absolute poison.
“And his disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
(John 9:2-3 ESV) … in other words, “he was born blind” “that the works of God might be displayed in him.” Let that sink in. Jesus said this. God gave him life, with blindness, for an overarching purpose: His own glory, namely that Jesus might be shown and evidenced to be the Son of God, to the glory of the Father.
Joseph attributes the ultimate cause of his trials and being sold into slavery in Egypt by his brothers:
“And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God” (Genesis 45:8). “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesis 50:20).
God, in His righteousness, is sovereign not only over the ends, but also the means to accomplish those ends, even when they involve the sinful acts of others. Joseph knew this full well and God’s providential sovereignty in his trials is precisely the truth that gave him comfort in the midst of them, helping him to see past the trials to the ultimate Ordainer who does as He pleases in absolute rightness, without sin or imperfection. He does these things for His glory and our good. Sanctification and the Lord teaching us to rest in Him alone through trials can be a painful process. But the fruit is the holiness without which no one will see the Lord and the ultimate accomplishing of things we cannot foresee in our finiteness.
An even greater display of God’s providential sovereignty in the midst of trials is that of Christ. He was ordained before time to enter this world in humility.
As this makes clear, Clement’s view of God’s involvement in His creation is not the one the Deists have set forth (the view many of our Founding Fathers in America held including Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin), that God is a watchmaker who created the universe, sat back and let things take their course. No, rather, God is intimately involved in all that takes place. Clement’s main point here is the peace and harmony with which God created and sustains His universe, not so much a discussion about God’s control over the negative things that take place. That’s for another discussion. What is clear here is Clement’s assumption of God’s meticulous, providential involvement in creation, from the largest thing to the smallest, including and especially with people, and even more importantly, His own people.
What a picture! This is a snapshot from a guy who climbed a mountain overlooking the eruption in Iceland that is wreaking havoc on all kinds of travel plans and logistical shipments of goods. The impact has been worse than the chaos of 9/11 even, one news report said. I have some friends who are going overseas to be missionaries who are currently stuck in Europe, waiting to travel on.
But aside from all of that, I couldn’t help but think this image looked similar to the depictions of God’s glory and His visibly-manifested presence in Exodus 19:16-20; Ezekiel 1:4-28; Isaiah 6:1-7; and several places in Revelation.
On a related note, I find it interesting how all of these descriptions parallel that of the description given of Christ in His risen, ascended, interceding glory in Revelation 1:12-20. In all of these instances where God makes Himself known in power, either through visible expressions or by the Person of Christ Himself, the people being spoken to fall on their faces in terror at His holiness.
This really got me to thinking. When the argument put forth in this article is set on the Biblical backdrop of God’s meticulous sovereignty over our lives as opposed to ‘chance’ or ‘luck’ (which does not exist) as asserted in the article; and when this argument is set on the backdrop of what man truly deserves for his rebellion against God (eternal conscious torment, not anything good, let alone wealth), I think James Kwak is certainly right in terms of people receiving a certain lot in life outside of their control, but it is owing purely to God’s good sovereign pleasure, not chance or luck. For who makes men to differ from others? Themselves or the grace of God or chance? “What have you that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7) “But by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15:10). All that we have has been given, as a gift.
Job’s Suffering Under a Sovereign God
In the Book of Job, Job is essentially sifted like flour at the hands of Satan, by the permission of God. Job loses just about everything except his life and his wife. He loses his children, houses, live stock, servants, everything. He even loses his health for a time.
From the very beginning of the book, in the first chapter, it is clear God is the one in charge and in control of Satan’s sifting, using it and even purposing it for His good, just and right purposes that are pure and free from evil. In fact, God initiates the conversation with Satan, the one who would perform this very sifting. He says to Satan in Job 1:8, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” He then goes on later to give Satan permission, as well as boundaries, of what he can and cannot do to Job.
While all of this is true, God cannot be charged with evil or injustice of any kind. He is pure and holy, wise and almighty. There are no evil motives with God in this. And yet, to the difficulty of our understanding, He permits and even asks Satan to consider Job as a target for calamity. He initiates and prompts Satan to strike Job. This is hard to swallow. What is God up to? What is His goal in this?
Close to the end of the book, after all the calamity of the first two chapters Job experienced, he goes through a list of sins and trespasses to try and figure out what he has done to have received such calamity. It seems he assumes those things happened because of something wrong he had done.
Or so he thought.
Last night I had one of the more terrifying experiences in my life. It was about 10:15 pm and my wife went into our master bathroom. I was at the desk in our bedroom (connected to the bathroom) reading on my computer. As she went in she looked over to the textured, translucent window in the bathroom thinking she saw something move and noticed someone looking in, or attempting to at least. She yelled out one of those volume-controlled, startled, terrified yells, and said, “There’s a man in the window!” but didn’t say it loud enough that he heard her, because he stuck around.
It had not quite registered in my mind what she yelled initially. I just thought it was a bug, maybe a scorpion or tarantula or something a little worse than the normal roach, but not some guy in the window. Sitting at the desk, with my back turned away from the window, I quickly turned around and saw the guy. Because the glass is textured you can’t see people clearly looking from the outside-in, but you can see colors, shapes, etc. So he really couldn’t see a lot. But the closer to the window you are, the better you can see people. And so we clearly saw him standing there trying to do some peepin’.