Thursday, July 19, 2007

A Father's Mind "The Sovereignty Of God"

Many proclaim it. However, do we truly believe it? I composed this letter to Vision Forum following the VA Tech shootings. Vision Forum was kind enough to publish it on "Doug's Blog" here: To better understand my motivation in composing it, start reading here:

The Sovereignty Of God

Amos 3:6 says, “Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?”

Undeniably the shootings at Va Tech were a tragic event. Loved ones left behind are in need of our compassion and support. Any of us who have lost those we love to sudden tragedies such as this know the grief, feelings of helplessness and the desire to turn back the clock in order to be able to avert what happened. However, is it the Church’s sole responsibility in times such as this to merely comfort those who are mourning or must we proclaim the whole counsel of God?

Is God worrisomely wringing His hands and reacting to the actions of men? Scripture is very clear. Amos 3:6 says, “...shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?” God’s plan has not changed. He has not idly stood by or been caught off guard. He has not now been forced to react.

Certainly Job knew this. Job knew that Satan was not the highest cause in the calamities that befell him. He did not say “the LORD gave and Satan taketh away” but instead, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”

Scripture is clear that God purposes all things that come to pass. He does this not for man’s glory but for His glory. What is difficult for our finite minds to grasp is how God upholds, directs, disposes and governs all creatures and their actions and yet the sinfulness of these actions proceeds only from the creature and not from God who can neither be the author or approver of sin. However, just because my finite understanding cannot fully grasp HOW this works itself out, makes no less true this immutable teaching of Scripture. God’s use of Pharoah is a powerful example:

Romans 9:17 “For the scripture saith unto Pharoah, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.”

After a senseless act of violence such as this we are tempted to cry out, “This is not fair!” or “A loving God would not do such a thing!”

However, in saying this I expose my man-centered theology. I expose my idolatry. I expose my attempt to create a god after my own image. God is not loving because He does things that I define in my fallen nature as loving. No, God IS love therefore whatever He does IS loving. Who am I to judge God? I have heard many times there must be balance in what we teach. I would argue we must have fullness. We must teach the fullness of God’s love along with the fullness of God’s wrath, the fullness of God’s mercy along with the fullness of His justice. This can only be accomplished as we speak boldly about the revelation of Scripture.

No wonder pseudo-Christianity has become irrelevant in the world today. How can we expect anyone to be forced to come to terms with the God of creation when He is taught in a manner that gives fictional superheroes such as Superman or Spiderman more influence over the affairs of men?

Only as we teach the true God of Scripture and proclaim the true Gospel is unregenerate man brought face to face with a loving, wrathful, just, merciful God.

Jonathan Edwards wrote,

“From my childhood up, my mind had been full of objections against the doctrine of God’s sovereignty, in choosing whom he would to eternal life; and rejecting whom he pleased; leaving them eternally to perish, and be everlastingly tormented in hell. It used to appear like a horrible doctrine to me. But I remember the time very well when I seemed to be convinced, and fully satisfied, as to this sovereignty of God, and his justice in thus eternally disposing of men, according to his sovereign pleasure. But never could give an account how, or by what means, I was thus convinced, not in the least imagining at the time, nor a long time after, that there was any extraordinary influence of God’s Spirit in it; but only that now I saw further, and my reason apprehended the justice and reasonableness of it. However, my mind rested in it; and it put an end to all those cavils and objections. And there has been a wonderful alteration in my mind, with respect to the doctrine of God’s sovereignty, from that day to this; so that I scarce ever have found so much as the rising of an objection against it, in the most absolute sense, in God showing mercy to whom he will show mercy, and hardening whom he will. God’s absolute sovereignty and justice, with respect to salvation and damnation, is what my mind seems to rest assured of, as much as of any thing that I see with my eyes; at least it is so at times. But I have often, since that first conviction, had quite another kind of sense of God’s sovereignty than I had then. I have often since had not only a conviction, but a delightful conviction. The doctrine has very often appeared exceedingly pleasant, bright, and sweet. Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God.” How can I be so bold as to attempt to make excuses for God. How can I dare to take any of His glory from Him.

Psalm 115:3 “But our God is in the heavens; he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.”

So I commend Doug Phillips. Well done. I am thankful for Vision Forum Ministries. I rejoice knowing we serve the same God - the God that Scripture proclaims. We serve a God that works all things after the immutable counsel of His own will for His own glory. In humbleness, Doug Phillips and the staff at Vision Forum will admit they are just men. They are men in need of God’s wisdom and grace. Know that our prayers and support are with you.

Philip Cochran

No comments: