Saturday, September 30, 2006

If God was sovereign, why do anything? Wrong question.

Many Christians seem to be quite uncomfortable emphasizing and focusing too much on God’s Sovereignty. This may be because they are concerned that people will use this as an excuse to say, “If God is Sovereign (and is totally in control and is working all things according to the purpose of His will) anyway, then why should we do anything? Why don’t we just all sit back and enjoy the show?”

Yet instead of seizing the occasion to expose the foolishness of such a question, we often end up even validating it by saying, "Well yes, God is Sovereign but Man is STILL Responsible." As if God is some Supreme Commander alright, but without His loyal troops playing their part in making the mission a success, well um, then the Great Commander won't be too terribly happy and the troops will miss out and have to settle for second best, or something... All as if the final decision to just sit back and enjoy the show, is truly up to mortals like us to make!

If we're missing out on anything, I think we're missing out on a wonderful opportunity to further herald our Father's majesty, power and providence--working even in us.

By skirting the issue, we allow others to continue with a very unsound view of God and a very pathetic opinion of His dominion over ALL things—including His active dominion over us, and His personal involvement with every single one of His beloved children. Such slanted views of God do not glorify our LORD.

God doesn’t just cause or initiate things and then leave it to us to determine whether we’ll participate in them or not. His Sovereignty is no sovereignty at all, if it is in any way shape or form, waiting for man’s willingness, decision or initiative to participate in His plan or not.

Am I suggesting that Man is no longer RESPONSIBLE? No: Man is STILL Responsible. 

He is still responsible to be holy and blameless before God, even if all our righteousness are like filthy rags to the LORD. Man is RESPONSIBLE for failing every single one of his God-given responsibilities--there is no excuse!

Man MUST do his part. It is essential. It is commanded. It is Biblical. And this is all the more reason why we should all celebrate the fact that:

It is GOD who works in US to both WILL and DO of HIS Good Pleasure.
 (Philippians 2:13)

What can be more inspiring, more encouraging, more exciting and more motivating to a true child of God than that?

God’s Sovereignty means that it is GOD who is initiating AND working out ALL things for the purpose of HIS will—down to the smallest and minutest of details—even to the number of our hairs. Each strand serves our Heavenly Father’s purpose.

Man’s goings are of the LORD, how can a man then understand his own way?

Sometimes we suggest that God waits for man to play his part before God will play His. Perhaps this is when we need to remember that it is we who have been commanded to wait on the LORD, not the other way around.

Championing human initiative and man’s ability to "make the right choices for God" is what brought us The Tower of Babel, the wild child Ishmael, Jacob stealing the birthright that was promised to him anyway, Moses the murderer, King Saul’s downfall, Simon Peter's foray into ear surgery and a host of other embarrassing fiascos—all recorded for posterity in God’s eternal Word.

Yet in all of these, God was and is still in full control—giving us valuable lessons about our inability, our fragility, our limitations and our utter need to be totally dependent on Him alone always. The Glory is all HIS.

God's Sovereignty means that it is HE who is the Master and LORD, ever faithfully transforming His children—shaping us, dragging us, lifting us, moving us from predestination, through election, through regeneration, through justification, through sanctification, from glory to glory with Christ, throughout all eternity.

There are no gaps or blind spots with God nor in His plan. God does not say, “Doh!”

If a person is not being actively used of God, then the onus is not on that person to be of use to God. No, the onus is on that person to be afraid—very, very afraid. For this is no small matter. If God is not actively working in a person, then there may be eternal implications for that person, that are too horrible to imagine. It doesn’t matter how long that person has been attending church, for it does not depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. And for us to suggest otherwise might be tantamount to offering that person a false hope, the cruelest of all hoaxes.

We are saved by GOD’s Grace Alone, through Faith Alone, in CHRIST Alone, as declared in Scripture Alone: All for the Glory of GOD Alone.

God does not save anyone merely to give them a choice whether they want to participate in God’s plan or not. No, God saves us because He is already actively involving us in His plan: For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do--even before the foundation of the world.

(And if any of us should end up in hell, then it is still for the glory of God who reminds us of what we truly deserve!)

God’s Sovereignty means that it is He who makes a people that is not His people, to be His people—and He will be their God. Just as sure as when God said, "Let there be light" and there was light, we can be sure of this!

God's word is true. It will accomplish that which He purposed and will succeed in all for which He sent it. 

God’s Sovereignty means that it is He who is the one removing our stony hearts and putting into us, hearts of flesh. It is He who is putting His Spirit in us, so that we can walk in His statutes and execute His judgments—not by our own choosing or His mere enabling, but by His actively carrying this out in us. Our God is not one who simply calls us to do something, then waits for us to decide to do it or not--otherwise we shall all be doomed! Praise God that He who is calling is also the one who causing everything to work out according to His will.

Like it or not, God’s Sovereignty means that poor old Moses went to Pharaoh, even if not once did Moses say to God, “Yes, sir.” 

In short, Moses went to Pharoah even if there is absolutely no indication in the Bible that Moses was himself willing to go. If it were up to Moses' choice, he would rather that God left him alone! 

And yet Moses led the Israelites for forty years, even as he complained to God, “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you, that you put the burden of all these people on me?... I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right now...”

God's Sovereignty prevailed regardless.

God’s Sovereignty means that little Gideon was told: “You have too many men…If I say this one shall go with you, he shall go; but if I say this one shall not go with you, he shall not go.” If the choice was up to Gideon, he would have preferred that God assigned the mission to someone else, right from the very beginning!

God’s Sovereignty means that Jeremiah still heralded God’s Truths, even as he lamented, “O Lord, you have deceived me, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me.” God’s Sovereignty means that Jeremiah still proclaimed the Word of God, even as Jeremiah chose and determined not to “mention Him or speak anymore of His name…”

God’s Sovereignty means that Jonah went to Nineveh, even when he preferred instead to die. If the whole matter were up to Jonah, he would have chosen to send all of Nineveh straight to hell. (So much for all of that "People-don't-care-how-much-you-know-until-they-know-how-much-you-care" drivel.)

God’s Sovereignty means that Simon Peter became a fisher of men, even after telling Jesus to, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” Peter's choice was to send God away!

God’s Sovereignty means that Saul of Tarsus who chose to persecute of the flock, became Paul—a bondservant of Christ, Apostle to the Gentiles.

God’s Sovereignty means that the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that human words cannot express. God’s Sovereignty means that at His appointed time, “You will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”

God’s Sovereignty means that true Christians CANNOT be fatalists. For the fatalist declares Fate to be in full control through chance; whereas those in the Faith proclaim God is in full control through Jesus!

The fatalists’ only hope is chance. Our very hope is Jesus—therefore there is no chance for chance.

God’s Sovereignty means that He has made sinners into Saints, worshipping an intensely active and deeply personal God, who is involved in everything that we are, were and will be—having sent us from where we’ve been, keeping us where we are and sending us to where He wills. No chance for chance.

God’s Sovereignty means that the decision to do anything or nothing, mercifully does not lie with vain capricious men. The decision belongs to the Sovereign God and Master, The King of Kings and LORD of Lords: The Shepherd, not the sheep. The Potter, not the clay. And so there is no chance for chance.

And who are we to protest? Do we feel slighted by being referred to as clay?

Then may God be gracious to us and cause us instead to cry out, “LORD Almighty, The Holy Righteous and Everlasting God: because it is You who is the Potter—because it is YOU who is The Potter—then what higher honor, what greater glory and what grander ambition can anyone have than to be YOUR Clay!”

Oh, how the planets and stars in the galaxies must groan in envy, because it is WE whom the Sovereign LORD has chosen to be His clay.

Yet over and above this, by His Sovereign Grace, He justifies the ungodly, having mercy on whom He will have mercy and adopts them to be His very own children: co-heirs with CHRIST!

So are we still to ask, “If God is Sovereign, then why do anything?”

Perhaps what we should be asking instead is, “If God is NOT Sovereign, then WHY do anything?

If God is NOT Sovereign, then why come to church? Why read the Bible? Why proclaim the Gospel? Why praise His name? If God is NOT Sovereign, then I can do whatever my sinful heart desires.

Yet it is because GOD IS SOVEREIGN, that the former objects of His wrath now have peace with Him who proclaimed: "I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again."

It is because GOD IS SOVEREIGN, that is why mortal sinners who do not understand and do not seek after God, end up worshipping Him forever!

It is because GOD IS SOVEREIGN, that is why those who used to live for themselves no longer live—but it is Christ who lives in them. The dead have no say over the One who is living. This is not an appeal for the dead to surrender their will to Christ—no, it is a declaration that Christ has taken over. The redemption has begun—Mission: Unstoppable. No chance for chance!

Through every painful struggle and correction and heartache and frustration and disappointment that He has ordained to take us through: in all this, we are more than conquerors through Christ who loves us. He is our chief and highest motive and there can be no greater exhortation to a true Christian than Christ Himself.

It is because GOD IS SOVEREIGN, that in Him we LIVE and MOVE and have our being.

GOD IS SOVEREIGN and that is why everything—EVERYTHING is going exactly according to His plan. Yes, people break His commandments all the time, and this breaks our hearts! But do not be deceived. God is not mocked. Whatsoever a man sows, so shall he reap. It’s all going according to God’s plan and nothing—absolutely not a single solitary thing is exempt.

Not even Satan, our enemy, our accuser and our tormentor—to whom we should not give a foothold—the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient, not even he is exempt. Satan could not sift Peter as wheat without Christ’s permission. Satan himself could not touch Job without God’s consent. So let us not be surprised if Satan himself cannot even scratch his own nose, if it is not according to God’s plan!

Jesus Christ is LORD. That means Jesus Christ REIGNS. That means Jesus Christ is SOVEREIGN.

Christ's LORDship, His Reign, His Sovereignty are not subject to the choices of man. It is not up to man to decide whether Jesus is Lord or not; whether man accepts it or not, Jesus reigns over all. Christ is not LORD only where we allow Him or choose Him to be REIGN; that's not Sovereignty, that's lip service!

"Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all you who remain in the house of Israel, you whom I have upheld since you were conceived, and have carried since your birth. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am HE who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you: I will sustain you and I will rescue you. To whom will you compare me or count me equal? To whom will you liken me that we may be compared?"

All glory, honor and power are His, to the praise of His Mighty Name: JESUS CHRIST our LORD—the Alpha, the Omega; the Beginning and the End, the Ruler of all things in between.

Ignacio Lacsina jnr.

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