Monday, March 16, 2009

I0316-Does God Repent? 1.17.12-14

This post is part of our group read of the Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin.

Reading from book I, Chapter 17, Section 12 and following. Click here

Does God Repent? Does God change his mind? Does God alter his plans? Is it necessary for God to react to new circumstances? (to which we answer, "NO") This section of our reading addresses these questions and for very good reasons.

1. The doctrine of providence itself is destroyed with wrong answers to above questions since the wrong answer implies this thing happening will cause a change in God's mind and action in order that God may react to this thing that happened.

2. The wrong answers to the above questions also serve to UNGOD God. For believing that God changes and repents robs God of his omnipotence, his omniscience, his perfection, his absolute sovereignty over absolutely everything.

3. Wrong answers to the above questions lead to the conclusion that there is no eternal plan and perfect purpose with God. A wrong answer would lead to concluding God's decrees could be annulled.

4. Wrong answers to the above questions destroy our comfort and peace in the gospel. For if God changes, then what of eternal election, what of the Father giving to his son a people, what of all things working together for good to them that love God, what of Christ slain from before the foundation of the world.

As a young christian I remember my wife and I befriending another individual a little older than ourselves. Hoping to teach us about prayer and the importance of prayer, this individual explained to us how in prayer we can change God. It may be that God is intent upon this action but we can change His mind, we can alter the course of events from what they otherwise would be. God may repent in response to our prayer. So much depended upon ourselves. Further we were instructed not to pray "if it be thy will." What matters if it be God's will our not. His will may be this but we will pray and change it.

As young believers we were not persuaded by the individual. In some respects we were not equipped to make a good answer. But I do remember at the root of our response which we did give was this truth: That God is Sovereign, that God is in control, that God is God.

Isa 14:27 For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?

Isa 43:13 Yea, before the day was I am he; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand: I will work, and who shall let it? (Let an old word for prevent.)

Isa 46:11 Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.

Rom 8:31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

Psa 33:11 The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.

Pro 19:21 There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.

Eph 1:9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:

Eph 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

Eph 3:11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:

The above verses serve as a strong confirmation that God does indeed work all things after the counsel of his own will. What the Lord has purposed none can thwart. That He will work and no one can stop him. That His counsel and eternal purpose shall stand for ever.

But what of those scriptures that do tell that God repents. They tell us that he repented that he had made man in Gen 6:6. They tell us that God has repented for raising up Saul as king in 1Sam 15:11. Again they tell in Jer 18:8 that God will repent of the evil He had intended towards the nation that turns from their evil. Then there is also Hezekiah who was supposed to die but upon praying God gave him more years. Isa 38:15 and 2Ki 20:15. Or the Ninevites upon whom destruction was pronounced and yet they received a reprieve after all following their own repentance. Jon 3:4-10

How are we to understand these verses which describe God as repenting and changing within the whole analogy of scripture?
Does the Spirit of God mean by these verses that:
"God has not fixed human affairs by an eternal decree, but according to the merits of each individual, and as he deems right and just, disposes of each single year, and day, and hour."

Are we "saying either that he knows not what is to happen, or that he cannot evade it, or that he rushes precipitately and inconsiderately into a resolution, and then forthwith regrets it?"

IN THESES SENSES of REPENTANCE "we must hold that it can no more exist in God than ignorance, or error, or impotence."

NOTE THEN right after the scriptures tell us that it repented God that he had made Saul king. The scriptures also state:

1Sa 15:29 And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent.

No figure of speech in this verse. Just plainly stating God is not a man that he should repent.

13. Scripture speaks of God's "repentance" to make allowance for our understanding What then is meant by the term repentance? The very same that is meant by the other forms of expression, by which God is described to us humanly. Because our weakness cannot reach his height, any description which we receive of him must be lowered to our capacity in order to be intelligible. And the mode of lowering is to represent him not as he really is, but as we conceive of him.

Applying repentance to God: "simply means that his procedure is changed. In the meantime, there is no inversion of his counsel or will, no change of his affection. What from eternity he had foreseen, approved, decreed, he prosecutes with unvarying uniformity, how sudden soever to the eye of man the variation may seem to be."


If you think concerning the Ninevites or concerning Hezekiah that God's eternal purposes and plans have changed or His decrees annulled: "Those who think so labour under delusion as to the meaning of threatening."

"Why did he by Isaiah give Hezekiah intimation of his death? He might have destroyed both them and him without a message to announce the disaster. He had something else in view than to give them a warning of death, which might let them see it at a distance before it came. It was because he did not wish them destroyed but reformed, and thereby saved from destruction."

"When Jonah prophesies that in forty days Nineveh will be overthrown, he does it in order to prevent the overthrow. When Hezekiah is forbidden to hope for longer life, it is that he may obtain longer life. Who does not now see that, by threatening of this kind, God wished to arouse those to repentance whom he terrified, that they might escape the judgement which their sins deserved?"


We should never conclude that the Lord varies in any way from his eternal purposes, from his eternal council.

"When, by denouncing punishment, he admonishes to repentance those whom he wishes to spare, he paves the way for his eternal decree, instead of varying it one whit either in will or in language."

Calvin concluding chapter 17 with:
"The only difference is, that he does not express, in so many syllables, what is easily understood. The words of Isaiah must remain true, "The Lord of hosts has purposed, and who shall disannul it? And his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?" (Isaiah 14: 27.)"

The analogy of Scripture, and the study of theology, a grasp of what God has revealed of himself will quickly shut down any notion that God changes, that God is sorry for his own actions and repents of his plans. NEVER, NEVER let such a vile thought be entertained within your own soul. Let the full revelation of scripture speak. Acknowledge God as God. Seek and desire to have only thoughts worthy of the Great God of all the Universe. The Creator of heaven and earth and all that in them lies. God whom ( Job 42:2 ) I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.

Deu 32:39 See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.

HOLDING to the VERBAL PLENARY INSPIRATION OF SCRIPTURE** will guard us against making scriptures contradict themselves. We may not always understand but we will always believe the fault lies with us and not with GOD. Knowing that all scripture is given by inspiration of God we do not pit scripture against scripture but seek to understand, "what doth the scriptures say?" A high view of scripture and a proper view of God will work together in us by grace that we will not be deceived or deceive ourselves when confronted with some things harder to understand than others. Gal 6:7, 2Tim 3:16-17

click here for an online copy of Gaussen's book, Theopneustia the Verbal Plenary Inspiration of Scripture, which is one of the best books I've ever read. OR click here to purchase from

1Sa 15:29 And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent.

Jas 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

** Verbal Plenary Inspiration of Scripture defined as meaning the words themselves are inspired, all of them in their entirety by GOD.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

MBC-03/15/09 Sermon on 1Pe 1:8-9

Continuing our series from First Peter, this post is a summary of the most recent sermon preached at Morningside Baptist Church (MBC) by Pastor Dave Sowers. The audio of the sermon can be found at the "Sermon Audio Podcast" link of the website Pastor Sowers pictured to the left. As much as is possible it is hoped that these notes honor both the intent and the content of Pastor Sowers' original message. Please compare to the sermon audio podcast.

ASSUMPTIONS: Perhaps you, yourself, or you have witnessed individuals making certain assumptions only to find out later they were incorrect. For example, this week we read of the devastating financial consequences of many who placed their trust in Bernard Madoff and whereas they thought to make a good financial income, discovered they instead lost all their lives savings, or a great amount of money on someone unworthy of their trust. They assumed the relationship they were in with Madoff was good one, but it proved otherwise.

With Today's text we have an opportunity to examine where we are in our relationship with Jesus Christ or if we are trusting in faulty assumptions.


1Pe 1:8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: 9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

Peter shows us here, that people he has never met, a people abiding in what is now northern Turkey, yet not meeting, not having seen he knows some things to be true about them.

1) He knows of their Love in Christ
2) He knows of the Trust in Christ
3) He knows of their Rejoicing in Christ.

Peter knows these things to be true, because these are things true about every true believer in Jesus Christ.

We learned last week that even in the midst of great hardship and trial there is still much to rejoice in. Things to rejoice in no matter how hard or bad the circumstances.

How can we not rejoice, and see how much grounds of rejoicing belongs to us: 1Pet 1:1-5

Loved by God.
Washed Clean.
Born Again.
Were dead but God caused new Life.
Having an imperishable inheritance.
God keeping me to the last day

BUT REJOICING in 1Pe 1:8 though is of a more specific nature. Rejoicing in knowing Christ.

Robert Asty: [Rejoicing in the Lord Jesus in all Cases and Conditions]

"There is enough in Christ Jesus alone for the soul's full rejoicing and triumphing in all cases and conditions....Let things go how they will in the world, as to my outward concerns, yet the ground of my joy is never taken from me. . . . It is not in the creature, it is not upon earth, but it is in heaven; it is not in man, it is in the Lord; it is not in the confluence of these things that are coming and going, and in an uncertain enjoyment, but it is in the Lord who never fails."

There is joy and rejoicing both now and a fulness even reserved for later:
Psa 16:11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

But don't we have a taste of the fulness of joy and rejoicing even now. Sometimes as we are driving in the car, in a quiet place by ourselves, thinking upon Christ and we are overcome with such joy, struck by the great grace that abounds towards us, a view of our beautiful saviour, and thinking upon such things overwhelmed and filled with great rejoicing. DO YOU NOT TASTE such rejoicings even now - in HIS PRESENCE IS FULNESS OF JOY.

Joh 20:29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.


Demons have a very orthodox theology.
Luk 4:33-34 And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice, Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God.

Mar 1:23-24 And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, 24 Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.

In my own experience every Sunday we would recite the apostles creed, except on the day we had communion and then we would recite the Nicene Creed. I, myself, had acquired an accumulation of facts and could profess an orthodox theology. Yet, I did not know Christ.

John Gill:

"Faith is looking on him and to Him"...."committing our all unto Him"..."and expecting our all from Him."

Is this true? The statement has been made but first is it really true?

There are some today, who in the name of Christ deny this very statement.

By way of example, we will consider two:

One prominent teacher in discussing Rom 8:28 tells us here that when the verse says that all things work together for good to them that love God, we should learn that there are indeed different classes of Christians. This verse is only for that certain class of believers who "Love God - who Love Christ." When I read this conclusion, I wrote in the margin of the book, "WHAT!!!" Christians who don't love God!

There is also another populuar illustration involving a train in which the various parts are described and applied thus:

The engine is Fact.
The coal car is Faith.
The cabbose is feeling or emotions.

The conclusion being, the train can run without the caboose, so don't worry if you have no feelings, no particular love for Christ, no passion for Christ.

Thus in some circles loving Christ is not considered essential in order to finally arrive in heaven or to consider oneself a true Christian.

1 Peter 1:8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:

Notice it does not say: "Ye should love Christ."
It does not say: "Ye ought to love Christ."

No, Peter can assure and state as a fact, if you are bought with his blood, and really experienced from him true salvation, you cannot help but love Christ.

John 21:15-17 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. 16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

Jesus asks Peter, "Lovest though me...?" Contrast this with a scene from Fiddler on the Roof when the husband asks the wife, "Do you love me?" She responds with a "how can you ask that..." and then begins to relate all that she has done for him, in cooking and washing, and keeping home. But once more after that the husband asks again, "Yes, but do you love me?" And again she gives a further list of the various duties and activities she has fulfilled as his wife.

We to, could answer the question with, "Of course I love Jesus. I go to church, I give, I read the bible, I do this thing and that thing, I fulfill all the duties presented before me. How can you ask, 'Do I love you?'"

BUT ALL THESE THINGS we can do without loving Christ.

Can we say like Peter, "you know all things --- you know that I love you."

Luke 14:25 And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, 26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

Speaking here of a Love that makes the other love look like hate because so SUPREME is our Love for Christ.

Matthew Henry:
They must be willing to quit that which was very dear, and therefore must come to him thoroughly weaned from all their creature-comforts, and dead to them, so as cheerfully to part with them rather than quit their interest in Christ, Luk 14:26. A man cannot be Christ's disciple but he must hate father, and mother, and his own life. He is not sincere, he will be constant and persevering, unless he love Christ better than any thing in this world, and be willing to part with that which he may and must leave, either as a sacrifice, when Christ may be glorified by our parting with it (so the martyrs, who loved not their lives to death), or as a temptation, when by our parting with it we are put into a better capacity of serving Christ. Thus Abraham parted with his own country, and Moses with Pharaoh's court. Mention is not made here of houses and lands; philosophy will teach a man to look upon these with contempt; but Christianity carries it higher. [1.] Every good man loves his relations; and yet, if he be a disciple of Christ, he must comparatively hate them, must love them less than Christ, as Leah is said to be hated when Rachel was better loved. Not that their persons must be in any degree hated, but our comfort and satisfaction in them must be lost and swallowed up in our love to Christ, as Levi's was, when he said to his father, I have not seen him, Deu 33:9. When our duty to our parents comes in competition with our evident duty to Christ, we must give Christ the preference. If we must either deny Christ or be banished from our families and relations (as many of the primitive Christians were), we must rather lose their society than his favour. [2.] Every man loves his own life, no man ever yet hated it; and we cannot be Christ's disciples if we do not love him better than our own lives, so as rather to have our lives embittered by cruel bondage, nay, and taken away by cruel deaths, than to dishonour Christ, or depart from any of his truths and ways. The experience of the pleasures of the spiritual life, and the believing hopes and prospects of eternal life, will make this hard saying easy. When tribulation and persecution arise because of the word, then chiefly the trial is, whether we love better, Christ or our relations and lives; yet even in the days of peace this matter is sometimes brought to the trial. Those that decline the service of Christ, and opportunities of converse with him, and are ashamed to confess him, for fear of disobliging a relation or friend, or losing a customer, give cause to suspect that they love him better than Christ." [I am not sure of the exact quote Pastor read from Matthew Henry at this place in the sermon, this is taken from Luk 14:25 as found in Matthew Henry's Commentaries.]

1 Corinthians 16:22 If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.

Anathema - CURSED. If you do not love the Lord Jesus Christ, your are accursed!

Loving Christ is not an optional extra in the Christian life.
Loving Christ is not the uneeded caboose attached to the end of the train.

If not Loving Christ we are accursed.

This is not another class of Christian -- to not be loving Christ is then have NO HEAVEN.

LOVING CHRIST does not earn heaven..... BUT:
John 8:42 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.

If this is true: That God is your Father, then this is true "ye would love me."

The evidence of being in God's family then is if YOU LOVE CHRIST.

Eph 6:24 Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.

John Fawcett, Christ Precious:
"Love to the divine Redeemer is the distinguishing characteristic of a real Christian...the parent and promoter of everything excellent and amiable in the Christian character...The eloquence of men, or even of angels, the gift of prophecy, the knowledge of all mysteries, the power to work miracles, the most extensive liberality to the poor, and even the suffering of martyrdom, are all insignificant and unprofitable without love." [editors note: quote taken from book by John Fawcett (1739-1817), Christ Precious, a treatise on 1Pet 2:7. I did not find the exact copy from which Pastor Sowers quoted. This taken from a description of quote taken from the book. Boldface matches exactly what I wrote in the notes taken during the service.]



We sang the same in a number of our hymns this morning. "thee will I cherish" and "Oh, how I love Jesus." But it is certainly possible to honour Christ with our lips but our hearts are actually far from him.

Mat 15:8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.

When I was young I purchased a "Honk if you love Jesus" bumper sticker and attached it to my Mother's car. As we were driving every now and then someone would honk. We didn't know if they loved Jesus or if something was amiss. But that doesn't prove anything, it is totally possible to honk without loving Jesus truly. Honking isn't a good test.

1 Peter 2:7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,

IS HE Your treasure your pearl of Great price?
Mat 13:44-46 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.

What are your Affections for Christ:

John Piper:
Heartfelt love for Jesus.
Abiding enjoyement in his fellowship.
Strong gratitude for loving us before we loved him.

These attitudes out to be in us.

Think of your spouse doing for you every good thing a wife should do, a husband should do. So careful in all the duties of marriage. And then saying: "though I do all these things I truly feel nothing for you." What would all the doings of marriage amount to without love?

Think of your husband, your wife, relating to you all the nice things they like about you. A good list and it makes you feel good. So you reply, "this is nice, let's go on a date together, have some time alone." to which your husband or your wife responds, "though I said all these nice things I like about you, yet I really don't want to spend any time with you."

Is there any desire to spend time with Christ? Are you like the brother I talked to recently who has been spending more time with Jesus and yet can say: "I wish I could spend more time yet with him."


John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

John 14:21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

John 14:23-24 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. 24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.

Love in the heart will express itself in obedience to his word.

As a fruit and evidence. Obedience, itself, is not love but the fruit of it.


Philippians 2:21 For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's.

What does Christ care about? As I prepared this sermon, Three things came immediately to mind:

1) Glory of His Father. Such truth comes blazing forth as we read the scriptures.
2) Spreading of his kingdom everywhwere to all nations.
3) His church and the right relations between brothers within His Church, loving one another.


John Piper:
Admire him above all.
Enjoy his ways and words above all others.
Desire his approval far above all others.
Desire to be with Him.
Trust his words more fully than the words of any other man.
Being more glad in HIS exaltation than the exaltation of any other man including myself.

Thus we conclude:

It is possible to be deceived in this. We need to really get at what this means. Where does these words find you:

1) Maybe you havent met Christ. Maybe you don't know him. And therefore because of this don't Love him.

Acknowledge you have not loved and trusted Christ which is an infinitely serious matter.

Acknowledge nothing you can do to repair the matter. No self-effort, no doing more, or trying harder.

Trust in Christ alone for change. Trust Christ who died. Trust in Christ who rose from the dead. Trust in Christ who alone can take care of the penalty and judgement against you on account of your sins. Trust in Christ alone who can give a new heart. Look for the righteousness of Christ alone as a gift and do not trust in your own righteousness.

2) But others of us having begun well may find the following to be our case:
Revelation 2:2-7 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: 3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. 4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. 6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

Don't take this lightly. The word in verse four which some of you may have in your translation, "somewhat" is actually in italics and is in no way intended to lessen the severity of the charge.

You have done many good things. Works and labors of love, patience, intolerance for them that are evil, testing false apostles, not fainting... YET ...... YOU HAVE LEFT THY FIRST LOVE.

All the good does not make up for this. Many good things does not make up for failing to continue in the LOVE FOR CHRIST.

Christianity is not just works-to-do and things-to-know.

Without love for Christ in the heart all these good things are worthless.


The answer is contained in three R's:

Revelation 2:5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

REMEMBER what it was like then, when you couldn't get enough, what it was to enjoy prayer, when you couldn't wait for fellowship with brothers, when you couldn't wait to hear the word preached and to learn more of your precious saviour.

Rev 2:5... and repent, and do the first works

Repent (twice repeated in this verse). It is not simply remembering but also to repent. If you are not loving Christ, repent, be sorry that the intensity of your first love has declined, diminished, and disappeared. Do not be content with lukewarmness, or cold affection.

Do the deeds you did at first. Not just remember and repent but get back to that which you did at the first. Go back to having the fellowship that was then encouraging that then stoked the flame of your passion for Christ. Remembering the deeds you did at first which fueled your love for Christ, return to doing them again.

Revelation 2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

This letter is not just for the church at Ephesus, but for the churches. For the churches down through these 2000 years. Hear what the Spirit says to the churches, to Morningside Baptist Church, what the Spirit is saying to YOU.

Glory to God, By His Grace and For His Glory

Sunday, March 8, 2009

MBC-03/08/09 Sermon on 1Pe 1:6-7

This post is a summary of the most recent sermon preached at Morningside Baptist Church (MBC) by Pastor Dave Sowers. The audio of the sermon can be found at the "Sermon Audio Podcast" link of the website Pastor Sowers pictured to the left. As much as is possible it is hoped that these notes honor both the intent and the content of Pastor Sowers' original message. Please compare to the sermon audio podcast. [Original Title was appearing with incorrect date, post edited on 3/10/09 to clear up grammar at one point and separate verse references at another.]

First Peter 1:6-7

In any week we have sometimes minor and sometimes major trials. Such difficulties in living that cause us anxiety and distress. Sometimes the nature of this trial may cause us to ask: "What is God up to?" or to say, "I don't see how this difficulty can work for good." Today's text addresses these questions and brings us needed encouragement and counsel in the midst of trial.

1 Peter 1:6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

First let us learn from this passage: God knows our trials are distressing.

ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations" or NASB: distressed or the ESV: grieved.

Consider the account of our Lord the night he was betrayed in the garden, where the scriptures tell us he was deeply grieved or exceedingly sorrowful.

Mat 26:38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.

Now in 1Pe 1:6 there is not a rebuke to the distress and heaviness that comes from trials. God knows trials are hard to bear.

Psa 103:4 For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.

God knows we are weak --- we are but dust.

Hebrews 4:14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Jesus Knows.

Second: God knows that trials are necessary. 1Pet 1.6
"if need be", "if necessary"

There will be trials if they are needed. God knows when this is the case. Trials are not random, not subject to luck or chance, not the devil who decides, they are designed by God.

1 Peter 3:17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

1 Peter 4:19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.

Both of the above verses make clear, that trials come, suffering comes, "If the will of God be so" or "according to the will of God."

Suffering is not something outside of God's will but part of God's will for us. Something that is necessary.

Consider the experience of missionaries to India, David and Helen Seaman. Their baby son, Steve was born in India with a club foot. It was over one month before they were able to travel the 500 miles necessary to reach a hospital where proper treatment could be given. Because of the month long delay in treatment it was required that the parents for several years would provide therapy to their little baby in order to restore the club foot. Every day the babies father, David, would place the foot over a bottle and turn it the opposite way from the twist. The process was extremely painful for the toddler and heart wrenching for the parent. The child sometimes would cry out "I hate you Daddy." He was just too young to understand how this painful treatment was necessary to restore him to full health. Too young to know what good would the future held for him if the painful excruciating treatment is faithfully continued. Too young to know what happiness he would forfeit in the long term if he forsook this present trial.

In a similar way we don't understand the purpose of God's trials for us.

Thirdly: God knows our trials are temporary.
1Pe 1.6 "though now for a season, " or "though now for a little while".

Think of the end to which we wait described for us in Revelation 22 and following. In heaven there is no more pain, death, trials.

The world has a saying, "this too shall pass." The world knows this, how much more shouldn't we know this who wait for eternity.

2 Corinthians 4:16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Jas 4:14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

God knows that trials are beneficial.

1 Peter 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

The proof of your faith...the trial of your faith is precious. God knows the great benefit - though we like that little baby of David and Helen Seaman, do not know the benefits and purposes of our trial, we have such a word here, the trail of our faith is much more precious than gold.

1) Trials Can demonstrate to us the authenticity of our faith.

How can we know that we do not merely believe in God as do the demons, not having true saving faith?
Jas 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

How do I know my faith is a living faith?

How do I know the genuineness of my faith and that I'm not with those that fall away as described in the sower and the seed and not truly having the grace of faith?

Luke 8:5-15
Luke 8:5 A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. 6 And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. 8 And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. 9 And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be? 10 And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. 13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. 14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. 15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.
The outworking of the trials we endure work to prove that our faith is genuine.

2) Trials also demonstrate that God is greater than we ever imagined. God who in our trials is near, and a very present help in time of need is greater in our eyes having gone through trial than we ever would have had without that trial.

A brother recently commented in an email: "We would now have a smaller view of God without that trial."

3) Also the purifying work of trials:

Isa 48:10 Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.

Job 23:10 But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.

2Co 1:8 For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.

From the trials we receive a purer faith. A refined faith.

1 Peter 1:6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:

Why do we rejoice?

This is the proper reaction of all that is true in 1Peter 1:1-5.

1PE 1:1-5
1 Peter 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

How can we not rejoice, and see how much grounds of rejoicing belongs to us:

Loved by God.
Washed Clean.
Born Again.
Were dead but God caused new Life.
Having an imperishable inheritance.
God keeping me to the last day.

What this rejoicing is not.
We are not called to live in denial. Think of the hymns:

At the cross, at the cross Where I first saw the light, And the burden of my heart rolled away It was there by faith I received my sight, And now I am happy all the day!

Every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before.

The hymn can lead one to think, we are never to have a place for heaviness, for distress, for deep grieving. After all we must be happy all the day. But this rejoicing is not a denial of current hard ship.

Don't pretend, don't look to your power of positive thinking to wish the trial away.

Don't deny the trial you might be walking through. For such a denial would also be a denial of the great blessing God intends.

The scriptures show that we can be both sorrowful and always rejoicing.

2Co 6:10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.

See the apostles who were both sorrowful and yet rejoicing:
ACTS 16:22-25
Act 16:22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. Act 16:23 And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. Act 16:24 Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. Act 16:25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them,
Paul was really hurting and in pain, truly sorrowful. Yet there they were also in the midst of that singing

Here the prophet was waiting for the invasion. Sorrowful - still in verse 18 the words "yet I will rejoice in the Lord" We are waiting perhaps for a coming persecution, or a coming economic collapse there is sorrow as we wait - and yet rejoicing knowing that God intends it for his own purposes. Knowing he rules the universe according to the highest reason.

Habakkuk 3:16-18 When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops. 17 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: 18 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

Matthew Henry on Hab 3:18
"But those who, when they were full, enjoyed God in all, when they are emptied and impoverished can enjoy all in God, and can sit down upon a melancholy heap of the ruins of all their creature comforts and even then can sing to the praise and glory of God, as the God of their salvation. This is the principal ground of our joy in God, that he is the God of our salvation, our eternal salvation, the salvation of the soul; and, if he be so, we may rejoice in him as such in our greatest distresses, since by them our salvation cannot be hindered, but may be furthered. Note, Joy in God is never out of season, nay, it is in a special manner seasonable when we meet with losses and crosses in the world, that it may then appear that our hearts are not set upon these things, nor our happiness bound up in them. "

DO YOU WANT MORE JOY LIKE THAT - Even in time of trial?

1) only by God's enabling grace and not by trying harder.

2) 2Cor 4:16-18 is a clue from one who lived this sorrowing yet rejoicing.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

We should be looking at things not seen -- eternal things.

Look: fix your eyes upon, gaze intently at, concentrate and focus upon.

This is the fight of faith: What will I focus on in this trial? God or the problem.

This fight of faith reminds me of trying to capture the beauty and grandeur of the mountains with my camera. There are the mountains and their are some people in the foreground. If I focus my camera on the people, center my picture and fill the lens with the people they become the object of the picture and the whole expansive beauty of the mountains behind is lost for the object in the foreground. But if I forget the people in the foreground and let the lens fill up with as much of the beautiful mountain range as possible I come closer much closer to capturing the grandeur and the greatness. So it is in the fight of faith. If we focus the lens of our perspective on the trial - the problem - the immediate we will lose sight of God. We will lose sight of heaven to come, it is a fight of faith to focus on things not seen - things eternal.

Rom 8:18
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

J.C. Ryle: [from Old Paths]
"There we shall find all that we hope for and find that it was a million times better than all our hope."

GLORY TO GOD, By His Grace and For His Glory
[This post composed from notes taken during the preaching of this same sermon by Pastor Dave Sowers.]

The Timelessness of Osteen's Message

The Contemporary Calvinist: The Timelessness of Osteen's Message

Click on the above link for a refreshing view of "Your Best Life."

Saturday, March 7, 2009

I0307-Use of the Doctrine of Providence 1.17.1

This post is part of our group read of the Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin.


WOW, this chapter opens up with a very solemn warning which serves as a strong motivation to truly understand and seek to understand the doctrine of Providence.

it becomes almost impossible for those who do not see the sound and proper use of this doctrine, to avoid entangling themselves in perplexing difficulties." 1.17.1
Said another way -- YOU WILL BE entangled in perplexing difficulties if you do not see the proper use of the doctrine of providence.

Once again, I'm reminded of the great bondage that ensnares those caught up in the Faith Movement. By ascribing so much power to Satan, and so much power to themselves they UNGOD our great God and purchase for themselves great troubles.

Let me explain.

Faith Movement teaches that all sickness comes from the Devil. If you are sick He receives blame.

Faith Movement teaches also that these bad things come upon you, because you lacked Faith. You made a negative confession. A cardinal tenet of the Faith Movement being "Never, Never, never say anything negative or you will perpetuate the problem and doom yourself."

Consider two examples I witnessed personally. A friend was joyfully telling me that God had miraculously healed his back. But then he added, "My back doesn't know it yet. But it is healed." Wrongly ascribing the power of miraculous healing to the necessary magnitude of his own faith.

Second example: several years back an acquaintance made the comment, "oh my eyes hurt." but then immediately with horror upon her face said again, "no they don't -- they don't hurt -- there is nothing wrong with my eyes." Real terror had gripped her having just made a 'negative confession.'

In both examples above, neither individual is really exhibiting true Faith in Christ alone. But rather a faith in the devils ability to torment them if they don't act properly in confessing positively. Or a faith in their own ability and responsibility of 'positively confessing' themselves into health. Neither of them, in these actions, exhibited a trust in our Sovereign, Powerful, Omnipotent God who works all his own purposes according to his own counsel. Neither of them perceived that God truly governed the world by his mighty hand --- so that nothing comes to pass but what he wills and purposes. (this is not to embrace cold, dead, lifeless fatalism - but an embracing of our God, who is our Heavenly Father, who will always do good and right even in the face of apparent present calamity.)

Interestingly I think both the individuals above would affirm the verses that declare the opposite of their present behaviour, ie:

Job 42:2 I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.

Psalms 115:3 But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.

Psalms 135:6 Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.

Isaiah 43:13 Yea, before the day was I am he; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand: I will work, and who shall let it? (Read Isaiah 43:10-25)

Ver. 13. Yea, before the day was I am he, &c.] Before there was a day, before the first day of the creation; that is, before time was, or from all eternity, I am he that resolved upon and contrived this method of saving men; "and ever since that day was" {k}, as it may be rendered, I am he that have spoken of it by all the prophets, from the beginning of the world, and now it is accomplished:

and there is none can deliver out of my hand: either such whom the Lord determines to punish, or such whom he resolves to save; none can snatch them out of his hands, there they are safe:

I will work, and who shall let it? as when he wrought the work of creation, there was no opposition to it, or hinderance of him; and in providence all things are done as he pleases; so all his purposes and decrees, which are his works within him, are exactly accomplished according to his pleasure, and none can resist his will. The work of redemption is finished just according to the draught of it in his eternal mind; and when he works upon the heart of a sinner at conversion, whatever obstructions and difficulties are in the way, these are removed, and the work is begun, and carried on, and performed, until the day of Christ. The work of the Lord in his churches, and the setting up of his kingdom in the world, in a more visible and glorious manner, shall be done, and none will be able to hinder it:

who can turn it back? either his work, or his hand in working; his purposes cannot be disannulled; his power cannot be controlled; his work cannot be made void, or of no effect; he always succeeds, for he has no superior that can obstruct him. [John Gill's Commentary, Online Bible 8.0]

Habakkuk 3:6 He stood, and measured the earth: he beheld, and drove asunder the nations; and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: his ways are everlasting.

Matthew 19:26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

Mark 14:36 And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.

Luke 1:37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.

Revelation 19:6 And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.

But regarding my two exemplar individuals somehow there is a disconnect between truth and practice. Or perhaps an inability to see the conflict and inconsistency between embracing one truth and another truth (which is not truth at all)

OF Course this is but a blatant example where a true understanding of the proper use of the doctrine of providence and other truths as well would serve to alleviate both fears and bondage. Think how terrifying our present economic situation would be, without trusting that even this is of the Lord. Even this is serving his purposes. Think what despair should grasp all of us as we contemplate the destruction of Katrina or the devastation and destruction of 100,000's by tsunami. Think also, what comfort we are robbed at the death of a dear loved one, if we do not know that 'not a sparrow falls without our Father' and 'ye are much more than a sparrow.' Think what fears we bring upon ourselves not truly believing that our future is in the hands of our Heavenly Father who loves us. Who having given for us his son will also with him freely give us all things.

SO Calvin introduces this chapter: "It will, therefore, be proper here to advert to the end which Scripture has in view in teaching that all things are divinely ordained."

Calvin in this chapter intending to show what GOAL and PURPOSE the scriptures have in view when they teach that all things are ordained of GOD. God has given us these scriptures - they are His Word and by these words he absolutely teaches that he is absolutely in control of absolutely all things. Why - it isn't enough to affirm this to be somewhat true in theory - but how do we then make use of them?

Providence embraces the Past and the Future, God overrulling all things, sometimes with means, sometimes without means, and sometimes against means.

God has undertaken the care of the "whole human race, but is especially vigilant in governing the church."

Calvin's words here simply declaring what God has said:
1 Timothy 4:10 For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.

John Gill explains this verse very well as follows:
Who is the Saviour of all men; in a providential way, giving them being and breath, upholding them in their beings, preserving their lives, and indulging them with the blessings and mercies of life; for that he is the Saviour of all men, with a spiritual and everlasting salvation, is not true in fact. Specially of those that believe; whom though he saves with an eternal salvation; yet not of this, but of a temporal salvation, are the words to be understood: or as there is a general providence, which attends all mankind, there is a special one which relates to the elect of God; these are regarded in Providence, and are particularly saved and preserved before conversion, in order to be called; and after conversion, after they are brought to believe in Christ, they are preserved from many enemies, and are delivered out of many afflictions and temptations; and are the peculiar care and darlings of providence, being to God as the apple of his eye: and there is a great deal of reason to believe this, for if he is the Saviour of all men, then much more of them who are of more worth, value, and esteem with him, than all the world beside; and if they are saved by him with the greater salvation, then much more with the less; and if he the common Saviour of all men, and especially of saints, whom he saves both ways, then there is great reason to trust in him for the fulfilment of the promises of life, temporal and eternal, made to godliness, and godly persons.
[John Gill, John Gill's Commentary, e-sword, 1Tim 4:10.]

A. T. Robertson adds also:
Not that all men “are saved” in the full sense, but God gives life (1Tim 6:13) to all (Acts 17:28).
[A. T. Robertson, Robertson's Word Pictures, e-sword, 1Tim 4:10]

Matthew Poole:
who is the Saviour, that is, the Preserver, of all men, the Preserver of man and beast, as the psalmist speaketh, is in a more especial manner the Saviour of those that believe, Psa_33:18,19. This seemeth rather to be the sense of the text, than to understand it of eternal salvation, for so God is not the actual Saviour of all; besides that the text seemeth to speak of a work proper to the Father, rather than to the Son.
[Matthew Poole, Commentary by Matthew Poole, e-sword, , 1Tim 4:10.]

John Calvin's Commentary: click here
for the word σωτὴρ Le mot Grec que nous traduisons Sauveur.” — “The Greek word which we translate Savior.” is here a general term, and denotes one who defends and preserves. He means that the kindness of God extends to all men. And if there is no man who does not feel the goodness of God towards him, and who is not a partaker of it, how much more shall it be experienced by the godly, who hope in him? Will he not take peculiar care in them? Will he not more freely pour out his bounty on them? In a word, will he not, in every respect, keep them safe to the end?

Footnote found in Calvin's Commentaries on verse 1Tim 4:10:
" “The word Savior is not here taken in what we call its proper and strict meaning, in regard to the eternal salvation which God promises to his elect, but it is taken for one who delivers and protects. Thus we see that even unbelievers are protected by God, as it is said (Matthew 5:46) that “he maketh his sun to shine on the good and the bad;” and we see that all are fed by his goodness, that all are delivered from many dangers. In this sense he is called “the Savior of all men,” not in regard to the spiritual salvation of their souls, but because he supports all his creatures. In this way, therefore, our Lord is the Savior of all men, that is, his goodness extends to the most wicked, who are estranged from him, and who do not deserve to have any intercourse with him, who ought to have been struck off from the number of the creatures of God and destroyed; and yet we see how God hitherto extends his grace to them; for the life which he gives to them is a testimony of his goodness. Since, therefore God shows such favor towards those who are strangers to him, how shall it be with us who are members of his household? Not that we are better or more excellent than those whom we see to be cast off by him, but the whole proceeds from his mercy and free grace, that he is reconciled to us through our Lord Jesus Christ, since he hath called us to the knowledge of the gospel, and then confirms us, and seals his bounty toward us, so that we ought to be convinced that he reckons us to be his children. Since, therefore, we see that he nourishes those who are estranged from him, let us go and hide ourselves under his wings; for, having taken us under his protection, he has declared that he will show himself to be a Father toward us.”

Whatever the out workings of God's providence may appear to be, we can be convinced that:
"that the counsel of God was in accordance with the highest reason" 1.17.1

Psa 147:5 Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.

...that his purpose was either: to train his people to patience, correct their depraved affections, tame their wantonness, inure them to self-denial, and arouse them from torpor; or, on the other hand, to cast down the proud, defeat the craftiness of the ungodly, and frustrate all their schemes. How much soever causes may escape our notice, we must feel assured that they are deposited with him, and accordingly exclaim with David, "Many, O Lord my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered," (Psa 40:5.)

Walking through the valley of the shadow of death is difficult indeed, we are tested, there is a true trying of our Faith. Trials are trying. Difficulties are difficult. But how much more difficult they are when we do not know the comfort of faith trusting that none of these things are without our God. None of these take him by surprise, none of these things are outside His purpose. None of these things are without Him who works all things together for our good.
"We must use modesty, not as it were compelling God to render an account, but so revering his hidden judgements as to account his will the best of all reasons. When the sky is overcast with dense clouds, and a violent tempest arises, the darkness which is presented to our eye, and the thunder which strikes our ears, and stupefies all our senses with terror, make us imagine that every thing is thrown into confusion, though in the firmament itself all continues quiet and serene. In the same way, when the tumultuous aspect of human affairs unfits us for judging, we should still hold, that God, in the pure light of his justice and wisdom, keeps all these commotions in due subordination, and conducts them to their proper end."

Think of the IMMODESTY of the pastor whose funeral message is: "God did not want this man to pass from us. God did everything he could to prevent his dying. God tried all but it was not enough it was his time."

Let's not in our hearts follow this example.

So I say to my own soul: "purpose to understand the true use of the doctrine of providence. Purpose my soul to acknowledge God as the supreme and only ruler. Purpose my soul not to kick against the providences of God, but to acquiesce, to beleive and trust Him whose ways are perfect, who rules with the highest reason, whose understanding is infinite."

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I0305-World Gov'd by Providence 1.16.1-9

This post is part of our group read of the Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin.

As I reflect upon Chapter 16, I'm struck that not only the doctrine of Providence but each chapter thus far, each doctrine, each biblical truth when embraced, believed and delighted in serves to work in me praise and worship to God, deeper admiration for his Holy Name and for the beauty of His Majesty. Also these truths working greater confidence, deeper faith, more comfort, more encouragement, more assurance. Is this what is meant by the scriptures when they speak of going from grace to grace, and glory to glory?

2Co 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
I can say with Matthew Henry:
"from one degree of glorious grace unto another, till grace here be consummated in glory for ever. How much therefore should Christians prize and improve these privileges! We should not rest contented without an experimental knowledge of the transforming power of the gospel, by the operation of the Spirit, bringing us into a conformity to the temper and tendency of the glorious gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."

God's "divine power is conspicuous." A "cold and lifeless" - even meaningless existence if we knew only a God who was but an originator of all things and then left those things to run their own course.

But faith knows that God is not only a creator but also the Governor and Perserver of that He has made. Sovereign to the minutest detail: over the falling of every sparrow, the number of hairs on our head. Drawing from Psa 33:6 and Psa 33:16, Calvin gives us this:

David himself showing that the World was created by God:
Psa 33:6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.

But David not leaving it there "
immediately descends to the continual course of Providence:"

Psa 33:13 The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men.
So David by the Holy Spirit demonstrating that God is the maker of the world, shows in the words "beholding the sons of men" that God is not setting back with no further active and immediate control. In Calvin's words: "
no one could seriously believe that he is its Creator without feeling convinced that he takes care of his works; David with good reason, and in admirable order, leads us from the one to the other."

David speaking by the Spirit of God rises to far greater heights than mere philosphers acknowledging a secret something involved in the affairs of the world when he writes:

Psa 104:27 These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season.
Psa 104:28 That thou givest them they gather: thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good.
Psa 104:29 Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.
Psa 104:30 Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.

There is an opinion, which is present in all ages, Calvin says "almost universally prevailing in our own day" and we would agree most certainly also almost universally in our day as well.

that all things happen fortuitously, the true doctrine of Providence has not only been obscured, but almost buried."

In otherwords all things happen by chance, by luck. There is an equal an opposite error that also denies the sovereign mighty hand of God, that all things happen according to fate. Cold - Distant - hard and lifeless fate.

But whose has learned from the mouth of Christ that all the hairs of his head are numbered, (Matt 10:30) will look farther for the cause, and hold that all events whatsoever are governed by the secret counsel of God."

1.16.3 Omnipotence

Love the language here - an omnipotence that is vigilant, efficacious, energetic and EVER ACTIVE:
"...not the vain, indolent, slumbering omnipotence which sophists feign, but vigilant, efficacious, energetic, and ever active.."

How do you define this word, Omnipotence? All-Powerful. God is all-powerful! All Power is his! None can stand against him! No one and no thing can thwart his eternal perfect plans!

General References from Nave's Topical Reference Bible:
Gen 17:1; Gen 18:14; Job 42:2; Isa 26:4; Mat 19:26; Luk 1:37; Act 26:8; Rev 19:6; Rev 21:22

Also Spurgeon commenting on Psa 135:6 -- click here

Psalms 135:6 Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.

Ver. 6. Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places. His will is carried out throughout all space. The king's warrant runs in every portion of the universe. The heathen divided the great domain; but Jupiter does not rule in heaven, nor Neptune on the sea, nor Pluto in the lower regions; Jehovah rules over all. His decree is not defeated, his purpose is not frustrated: in no one point is his good pleasure set aside. The word "whatsoever" is of the widest range and includes all things, and the four words of place which are mentioned comprehend all space; therefore the declaration of the text knows neither limit nor exception. Jehovah works his will: he pleases to do, and he performs the deed. None can stay his hand. How different this from the gods whom the heathen fabled to be subject to all the disappointments, failures, and passions of men! How contrary even to those so called Christian conceptions of God which subordinate him to the will of man, and make his eternal purposes the football of human caprice. Our theology teaches us no such degrading notions of the Eternal as that he can be baffled by man. "His purpose shall stand, and he will do all his pleasure." No region is too high, no abyss too deep, no land too distant, no sea too wide for his omnipotence: his divine pleasure travels post over all the realm of nature, and his behests are obeyed.

[Treasury of David, Charles H. Spurgeon, Online Bible 8.0]

SO the truth of God's Providential Care over all things even to the minutest detail is a great comfort to us who believe - especially when in trials and adversity. How can it not be when everything which we "endure is by the ordination and command of God," we are "under his hand."

SO THINKING that things move along as they will freely however the course of nature may run is DOUBLY BAD.

1) God is defrauded of his glory.
2) Those thinking thus are robbed of a great comfort.
for nothing were more wretched than man if he were exposed to all possible movements of the sky, the air, the earth, and the water."

RESOLVE now to be blessed with the DOUBLE BENEFIT:
1) For God is able to reward them who thus honor him in praise of his divine omnipotence.
2) We can rest secure in the protection of God who controls everything that could ever harm us - it is all subject to Him and can go only thus far as His purposes and no further.

There is no "RANDOM POWER" and "
nothing happens but what he has knowingly and willingly decreed."

God is not sitting idly by.

He "holds the helm and overrules all events."

Gen 22:8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.

God will provide --- God not only knows the future these words mean much more -- Abraham was trusting that the future itself was in God's hands. He could "resign the management of an unknown business to the will of him whose providence is to bring perplexed and dubious matters to a happy result."

To assert that God only influences and works with contingencies asserting his power to bring his purpose to pass but not certainly -- not by a divine decree - but only by the exercise of a power that REACTS.

This is making man a "partner with God."

Sounds like we are reading here of what is called today, OPEN THEISM. Or maybe it is just old-fashioned arminianism.

TO WITHHOLD Government from God makes God a the ruler of the world in name only.
Jesus and the Father have always been at work from the beginning:
John 5:17
But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.

We live in him and have our being in him:
Act 17:28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
Upholding all things: Heb 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

Nothing by Chance Nothing by luck:
"The thing to be proved, therefore, is, that single events are so regulated by God, and all events so proceed from his determinate counsel, that nothing happens fortuitously."

1.16.6 Scripture espeically showing that EVERYTHING done in the world is according to God's decree, declares that things that seem most likely ascribed to chance or luck are indeed subject to GOD:

Such as the accidental death of one man at the hands of another:
Exo 21:13 And if a man lie not in wait, but God deliver him into his hand; then I will appoint thee a place whither he shall flee.

Which John Gill explains thus: "it being suffered and ordered by the providence of God, without whose knowledge and will nothing comes to pass, even what may seem to be a contingent thing, or matter of chance, to us; or it is so brought about in providence, that one man falls into the hands of another, and his life is taken away by him, though not purposely and maliciously; "

What could appear to be more the work of chance than the casting of Lots, rolling of dice?:
Pro 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.
Who is poor and who is rich, their "lot" in life we call it - not so that this is Random says the Lord. And so we should learn some contentment:

Pro 29:13 The poor and the deceitful man meet together: the LORD lighteneth both their eyes.

Psa 75:6 For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south.
Psa 75:7 But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.

1.16.7 Particular Events are the special providences of God
Note: Exo 19:13, "where God caused a south wind to blow, and brought the people a plentiful supply of birds."
Note: Psa 104:3-4
"did he not at pleasure drive the clouds and winds and therein manifest the special presence of his power."

See also: Psa 107:25 and Psa 107:29 and Amos 4:9.

God withholding children from Rachel: Gen 30:2
"Nothing in nature is more ordinary than that we should be nourished with bread. But the Spirit declares not only that the produce of the earth is God's special gift, but "that man does not live by bread only," (Deut. 8: 3,) because it is not mere fulness that nourishes him but the secret blessing of God."

GOD MAY EMPLOY all creatures for His own service in whatever way he wishes. Both the righteous and the wicked.

Psa 34:15 The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.
Psa 34:16 The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.

"Hence we infer, not only that the general providence of God, continuing the order of nature, extends over the creatures, but that by his wonderful counsel they are adapted to a certain and special purpose."
1.16.8 DEFENSE against the accusation that all that is taught here as providence is really just FATE as held by the stoics.

1) The idea of Fate is a "Profane Novelety" which we are to shun: 1Tim 6:20

2) It is the use of an "odious term, to fix a stigma on the truth of God."

3) The stoics teach that there is a necessity of a perpetual chain of causes, and a kind of involved series contained in nature. WE HOLD that God is the disposer and ruler of all things. THIS IS INSIGHTFUL.

4) Contrary to the stoical fate - we believe in a God who decreed by infinite wisdom and according to His own eternal purposes long ago what he was to do, and now HE DOES WHAT HE DECREED HE WOULD.
by his providence, not heaven and earth and inanimate creatures only, but also the counsels and wills of men are so governed as to move exactly in the course which he has destined."

5) But do we not admit that some things happen by chance, by coincidence, by fortune. "
that Fortune and Chance are heathen terms; the meaning of which ought not to occupy pious minds."

6) All Blessings are from God. All calamity and adversity are his curse. What then there is nothing left for chance to bring about.

1.16.9 Our minds are limited
Though we know by revelation and by faith that all things are of the Lord. Yet their movements, their comings about are so hidden from us that they do appear to us to be by chance. Thanks be to God, that we have been made new creatures in Christ, given a new heart, and precious Faith. It is certain to us that all things happen under the government of God. (Calvin makes the parenthetical statement - "far be such a heartless thought from every Christian breast" that should imagine things truly come by chance.) Future events seem uncertain to us. But in our hearts we know that nothing happens outside the eternal purposes of our Great God.

What seems to us contingence, faith will recognise as the secret impulse of God."

he reason is not always equally apparent, but we ought undoubtedly to hold that all the changes which take place in the world are produced by the secret agency of the hand of God."
In conclusion, I confess I have not yet learned brevity. These notes are long. But then this truth is precious, and so precious that I am encouraged to search the scriptures further knowing a further and deeper convincing by the Spirit of God awaits me that this doctrine is True, comforting and God exalting. That God who made the heavens and the earth and all that lies within them does also rule over all things bringing to past all His perfect eternal unchanging purposes. It will be for our good, because we are HIS, we are in His Son, we belong to Him and were bought with a precious price, even the blood of Jesus Christ. If God has given for us his only-begotten son how will he not with him freely give us all things. All things working together for good, to them that love God, to the called according to his purpose. Rom 8:28