Monthly Archives: October 2005

Though the Mountains Quake; God is our Stronghold

The shock of 25,000 people being crushed by a 7.6 scale earthquake in South-eastern Asia is mind-boggeling…or is it? Has it set in for you that 2 million people in the areas of Pakistan, Islamabad, Afghanistan, and the Northwest frontier are homeless after this massive earth blast? I know that for me, numbers on a screen will never have the comparable affect of experiencing first hand a tragedy of this magnitude. However, today we have access to many of the personal stories experienced by survivors that are simply astonishing. I commend to you a time of reading and praying through these stories.

Your response to this type of thing depends greatly on your view of God. This morning I prayed through Psalm 46 and the Lord reminded me of 4 things: (the text of Psalm 46 will be posted at the end of this blog)

1. We should behold this tragedy as a work of the Lord. (verse 8). We know from other passages in Scripture that God is in control of all nature (including natural disasters) and calamity.

  • Isaiah 29:6 From the LORD of hosts you will be punished with thunder and earthquake and loud noise, With whirlwind and tempest and the flame of a consuming fire.
  • Job 31:23 “For calamity from God is a terror to me, And because of His majesty I can do nothing.
  • Isaiah 45:7 The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these.

2. God is our strength and our Refuge; A very present (or abundantly available) help in trouble.

  • During these times of tragedy, when the earth caves in and the mountains tumble (verses 2,3) we DO have a rock to hold onto! God is ruling over nature and we can be secure in His perfect wisdom.

3. We should cease striving and know that God is God and He will be exalted!

  • Cease Striving: stop trying to rescue God from His sovereignty.
  • Cease Striving: stop trying to manage our own lives in such a way that produces self-sufficiency
  • Cease Striving: stop trying to promote ourselves. We must join in the greatest task on earth, namely exalting God with all of our lives!
  • Cease Striving: stop worrying. God is God.

4. Finally, what is our response?

  • We should not fear abandonment by God (verse 2).
  • Whe should fear God! (He has the ability to melt the earth with His voice!) (verse6).
  • We should repent! Anytime we encounter God’s majestic power, we should be reminded of Jesus’ words in Luke 13:3,5 when He was answering the question about people being killed when a giant tower fell on them. He responed with a question and then a statement (both will serve us well as we seek to respond to this calamity):
  • Question: “Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem?
  • Statement: “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

(NAS) Psalm 46

For the choir director. A Psalm of the sons of Korah, set to Alamoth. A Song.

God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; 3 Though its waters roar and foam, Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah. 4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, The holy dwelling places of the Most High. 5 God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. 6 The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered; He raised His voice, the earth melted. 7 The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah. 8 Come, behold the works of the LORD, Who has wrought desolations in the earth. 9 He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots with fire. 10 “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” 11 The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.

Soli Deo Gloria!

The Question of God’s Sovereignty

I cannot say how many times I have been asked about God’s control over all things (sovereignty). I truly believe that the Bible puts forth a majestic sovereign Lord. The following is a response to a friend’s honest question about this doctrine. Perhaps you have wondering the same…

Question:

If God predestines everything, and he knows that some people he creates will NEVER do any good, never become Christians, and never get into heaven, then why does he even bother to make them and set out this entire life for them?”

Let’s first establish that God does predestine all things from Scripture:

Ephesians 1:1-10
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
  • Now we can work from the fact that God does predestine all things. So, our question has become “Since God predestines all things, how does he find fault in human beings?”
  • This question is not a silly question, but it must be approached will all humility and submission. The problem comes when we begin to question God’s purposes with an attitude of rebellion…like “if God does things this way, then I won’t have anything to do with him…or God is unfair in predestining some to eternal life and others to eternal death.”
Scripture: Romans 9:14–I say it’s a good question because the Apostle Paul asks the same question in Romans 9:14…What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part?
Answer: By no means!

Paul has just explained that God chose Jacob instead of Esau before they were born or did anything good or evil. Now, listen to Paul’s argument for the righteousness of God, found in the next verse:

15 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, the reason that this is not an unrighteous act (God predestining all things) is because of who He is and who we are. He shows mercy on whom He will…He is not obligated to show mercy to anyone. In fact there are only two categories in salvation that we can speak of…those who receive mercy and those who receive justice. NO ONE RECIEVES INJUSTICE. It is completely just and right for people to spend eternity in hell…because they have offended and spit on the glory of an eternal God!
  • Next Argument from Paul: This result in God being sovereign in salvation is total dependence on His grace, not our works or efforts…

    16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.
    17 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.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

Now, this is HUGE…God not only mercies some people, by opening their hearts to the Gospel…but He also hardens others so they will be judged. This is the Word of God….I did not write this. (I would have never written this by the way!) We must submit to God’s Word!

Paul’s next question…probably yours too: So, why are we responsible for what we do?

  • 19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?”
  • This seems to be a logical question, but we must clothe it entirely with humility…some do not and for those Paul answers in the next verse…
  • Paul’s answer: Who are you to question God?
  • 20 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?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use?
  • In other words, God knows how to make clay (people) for his glory better than we do…Are we questioning the almighty on His wise and powerful plans for His own glorification? WHO ARE WE TO QUESTION GOD?

The latter part of the question is answered in the next verse: “…why does he bother to make them?”

  • 22 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, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory- 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?
  • So breaking it down…
  • Is God just in making vessels of wrath (humans destined for hell)? Answer yes… (v.22)
  • Why does He do it? Answer: in order to make known the riches of His mercy to people who are being saved. (v.23)

    This doctrine of the sovereignty of God does not take away our responsibility for our actions. We are still called to trust in Christ by faith! Human Responsibility and Divine Sovereignty create a tension that we must not try to undue. We must simply believe it and worship God! We should also be motivated to share the Gospel with people and pray that God would open their hearts, and not harden them!

    May we have a robust view of God and His glorious Gospel!