Archive for the ‘Musings on Sovereignty’ Category

Musings on Sovereignty 15

December 3, 2016

We do not forget the words of one long since passed away, namely, that “Denunciation is the last resort of a defeated opponent.” To dismiss this book with the contemptuous epithet—“Hyper-Calvinism”! will not be worthy of notice. For controversy we have no taste, and we shall not accept any challenge to enter the lists against those who might desire to debate the truths discussed in these pages. So far as our personal reputation is concerned, that we leave our Lord to take care of, and unto Him we would now commit this volume and whatever fruit it may bear, praying Him to use it for the enlightening of His own dear people (insofar as it is in accord with His Holy Word) and to pardon the writer for and preserve the reader from the injurious effects of any false teaching that may have crept into it. If the joy and comfort which have come to the author while penning these pages are shared by those who may scan them, then we shall be devoutly thankful to the One whose grace alone enables us to discern spiritual things. (A.W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God)

In thinking through just how sovereign God is, it is easy to find many people who want to think of God as sovereign and yet limit Him and His work to a mere persuasion. When people have that mindset, it is very easy to look at those who hold to a stronger view of sovereignty and think of them as Hyper-Calvinists. As Pink notes, something like that is really not worthy of notice. In our day it appears that men who are in reality Arminians or perhaps practical Arminians think of consistent Calvinists with the sneering term “Hyper-Calvinist.” That is a term of contempt, but it may also reflect more on those who use it rather than those it is used against.

Pink’s original book on Sovereignty had a chapter on reprobation, but when Banner of Truth published his book they took that chapter out as well as sections from other places. The question is not who is this or that, but who is biblical. Was Pink leaning toward Hyper-Calvinism or is the Banner of Truth leaning toward a practical Arminianism? Phillip Johnson clearly thinks of Pink as being a Hyper-Calvinist in one area of six indicators that he believes makes a person a Hyper-Calvinist. On the other hand, despite a claim to be a Calvinist it may be that Johnson and others who make that claim have accepted certain presuppositions that in reality make them practical Arminians. The issue has been argued for centuries and will not be settled at any point in the near future, but the simple point at the moment is that these things are not so easy and clear as some try to say.

The doctrine of God’s sovereignty is more important than many (if not most) realize. Apart from God’s sovereignty there is no true Christianity. It is that important. Any attempt to minimize or categorize the sovereignty of God is an attempt to conceptually free men from their bondage and deliver them into their own hands. When men are left in their own hands and they think that they are free to do in accordance with their own wisdom and desires, the reality of the matter is that be described as Arminianism. While men stress the responsibility of man, they should not stress that in a way that minimizes sovereignty. They should also not just throw out the word “responsibility” as if there are no parameters for it and just basically assume (to speak directly) the same position as Pelagians do. Just because God has commanded something does not mean we have the ability to obey.

The “contemptuous epithet” of being termed a Hyper-Calvinist is usually used in a way that assumes more ability for man that man has and less sovereignty for God than He has. Some shy away from holding to the sovereignty of God when it is taught with clarity and strength, yet others flee to those who shy away because it leaves them in control of their lives (they think). It is far better to be biblical in the matter rather than line up on sides and bash away at each other. Like it or not, the Christian Church has not figured out everything and even its boldest Reformers were not perfect either. As long as God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, He will be and cannot be other than perfectly and completely sovereign. As long as God is infinitely wise, no one can figure a way out of His complete sovereignty. Until those things happen, and they never will, it would be wise of men to be careful of throwing out the term “Hyper-Calvinist” to others. While Hyper-Calvinism is a real thing, it is perhaps quite rare. The Bible must be our guide and not these epithets which are not accurate.

Advertisements

Musings on Sovereignty 14

December 2, 2016

In addition to the widespread effects of unscriptural teaching, we also have to reckon with the deplorable superficiality of the present generation. To announce that a certain book is a treatise on doctrine is quite sufficient to prejudice against it the great bulk of church-members and most of our preachers as well. The craving today is for something light and spicy, and few have patience, still less desire, to examine carefully that which would make a demand both upon their hearts and their mental powers. We remember, also, ‘how that it is becoming increasingly difficult in these strenuous days for those who are desirous of studying the deeper things of God to find the time which such study requires. Yet, it is still true that “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” and in spite of the discouraging features referred to, we believe there is even now a godly remnant who will take pleasure in giving this little work a careful consideration, and such will, we trust, find in it “Meat in due season.” (A.W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God)

It might be important to call to our attention why the sovereignty of God is so vital to basic Christian doctrine. It is true that shallow and superficial teaching will not dive to the heart and reveal the corruption of the hearts nor will it dive to the bottom of the teaching of the real and true God. Shallow and superficial study and teaching will not move people to go beyond what appears to be obvious to the senses and obvious in light of the world. Shallow and superficiality will never see beyond the surface to see the depths and reality of the glory of God.

The sovereignty of God is at the very foundation of God and His kingdom. His kingdom cannot be seen with physical eyes, but instead it is seen with spiritual understanding. There is no doctrine that the sovereignty of God does not touch because God is the very center and the realest reality (so to speak) of all things. When we think of the attributes of God, not one of them can be understood beneath the surface unless we understand them as sovereign. The world was created by a sovereign God and as such it was created because He was pleased to create it and as a way of manifesting or expressing His glory. There is no room for such nonsense as God creating people because He was lonely. That is a terrible heresy if one cares to look beyond the surface.

The Gospel itself cannot be understood in truth apart from the sovereignty of God. He does not save sinners because all of a sudden they decide that they want to be saved, but He saves because He has sovereignly chosen to save. He saves sinners to the praise of the glory of His grace and not because they think they want to at some “random” moment and in order to deliver them from some horrible fate. The grace of God is always sovereign and must be sovereign or it is no longer grace at all. We will either look to Christ as God’s grace or we will look to Christ thinking we move Him because of something we do.

A superficial people in a superficial age will not study their own hearts and they will not want to understand the true nature of God. People do not want to take the time or effort to study, meditate, and pray over the great truths of the faith, yet that is what it will take. People do not want to humble themselves and seek the face of God for Himself; they only want God to the degree that they can get something from Him. A sovereign God, however, knows the hearts of men and as a sovereign and holy God He will not be sought and found by the selfish hearts of people. Until men learn that they are opposed to God in themselves and in their desires, they will not get past their superficiality and seek Him for humility and light.

There is no God but a sovereign God. There is not grace but a sovereign grace. There is no love but a sovereign love. We cannot earn those things and we cannot move God to give them. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is how a sovereign God who sovereignly loves and sovereignly shows grace saves sinners. It is a different God altogether that is waiting on man who thinks he is sovereign. We live in such a superficial day that those things are barely comprehended rather than people seeing those things and seeking Him who alone can show them the depths of their sin and then the depths of His glory. Biblical Christianity rests upon a sovereign God and the Gospel He has sovereignly worked and sovereignly applies. A shallow version of “Christianity” knows virtually nothing of true Christianity though it has the Bible and uses some of the same language.

Musings on Sovereignty 13

December 1, 2016

It would be foolish for us to expect that this work will meet with general approval. The trend of modern theology—if theology it can be called—is ever toward the deification of the creature rather than the glorification of the Creator, and the leaven of present-day Rationalism is rapidly permeating the whole of Christendom. The malevolent effects of Darwinianism are more far reaching than most are aware. Many of those among our religious leaders who are still regarded as orthodox would, we fear, be found to be very heterodox if they were weighed in the balances of the Sanctuary. Even those who are clear, intellectually, upon other truth, are rarely sound in doctrine. Few, very few, today, really believe in the complete ruin and total depravity of man. Those who speak of man’s “free will,” and insist upon his inherent power to either accept or reject the Savior, do but voice their ignorance of the real condition of Adam’s fallen children. And if there are few who believe that, so far as he is concerned, the condition of the sinner is entirely hopeless, there are fewer still who really believe in the absolute Sovereignty of God. (A.W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God)

If God is truly sovereign, then He is sovereign over all things at all times and in all ways. The idea of “free-will” cannot truly be reconciled with the biblical doctrine of Divine sovereignty. The will can never be free of God and of His sovereign will and pleasure. The will can never be free from the wisdom of the Supreme Governor of the world. The will can never be free from the omnipotent power of God in ruling His creation as He pleases. The concept of a “free-will” can only be conceived of when the sovereignty of God has been diminished.

While it is true that the “free-will” can only be conceived of when the sovereignty of God has been diminished, it is also true that one can only assert that human beings have “free-will” if they deny the depravity and helplessness of man. Man is born dead in sin, so clearly if the whole man is dead (spiritually dead) then the will is dead as well. There is nothing free about a will that is dead in sin. The will that is dead is a will that is in bondage to death and has no freedom from that bondage at all. It may be said (to some degree and in some limited ways) that the will is free in sin, but that is not freedom at all. The will that is dead in sin is not forced to choose sin, but all of its choices are sinful.

We also have to consider another aspect of what it means to be dead in sin and a slave to sin. Since God judges all sin, He will judge the sin of those who are dead in sin. But what does God judge sin with? He judges them by hardening their hearts and turning them over to more sin. The punishment for sin is more sin. We can think of it as with Noah when God shut the door. When God shuts a door no one can open it. Well, when God hardens a heart no one can soften it but Him. In other words, when God hardens a heart and turns it over to sin, that heart is not free from the sin that God has turned it over to. All who are born dead in trespasses and sin are not free from the deadness of sin and are not free from judgment regarding their sin. It is impossible to think that a person who is in that condition has a “free-will) in any meaningful way.

Those who are born dead in sins and trespasses are also by nature children of wrath. Now this is a condition that a person has by nature. This includes at least two important concepts. First, what a person is by nature is what a person is unless that nature is changed. Second, a person is helpless in the nature that s/he was born with. The doctrine of regeneration tells us that a change of heart or a change of nature must occur for a person to believe. This should instruct us that a person that is dead in sin and by nature a child of wrath cannot believe until his or her nature is changed in regeneration. This destroys the idea of “free-will” since the will cannot carry out what it chooses if indeed it would ever truly choose in any way. A person dead in sin would not want to be anything but a sinner unless God opened his or her eyes to that sin. But again, a person dead in sin cannot open his or her eyes to that sin and even if the eyes are opened to some degree a person will never desire to be changed apart from God giving that desire.

It should be clear that a person that is dead in sin and by nature a child of wrath is helpless to do anything spiritual or spiritually good and is not free to change self. How free is a person to free himself from the wrath of God? That person is not free at all and so cannot change his or her nature and cannot defeat the power of God who is pouring out His wrath on that person. The doctrine of the depravity and helplessness of man runs parallel to the sovereignty of God. As man can do nothing in his deadness and his nature, so God cannot deny His wisdom and power in order not to be sovereign. It is true that it appears that in our day very few seem to believe the truth of who man is and that means that very few really believe that God is sovereign from the depths of the heart. It is one thing to have a creed that says God is sovereign, but it is quite another to live like God is sovereign. It takes free-grace (which is sovereign grace) to live as if God is sovereign.

Musings on Sovereignty 12

November 30, 2016

Who is regulating affairs on this earth today—God, or the Devil? That God reigns supreme in Heaven, is generally conceded; that He does so over this world, is almost universally denied—if not directly, then indirectly. More and more are men in their philosophizing and theorizing, relegating God to the background. Take the material realm. Not only is it denied that God created everything, by personal and direct action, but few believe that He has any immediate concern in regulating the works of His own hands. Everything is supposed to be ordered according to the (impersonal and abstract) “laws of Nature”. Thus is the Creator banished from His own creation. Therefore we need not be surprised that men, in their degrading conceptions, exclude Him from the realm of human affairs.

Throughout Christendom, with an almost negligible exception, the theory is held that man is “a free agent”, and therefore, lord of his fortunes and the determiner of his destiny. That Satan is to be blamed for much of the evil which is in the world, is freely affirmed by those who, though having so much to say about “the responsibility of man”, often deny their own responsibility, by attributing to the Devil what, in fact, proceeds from their own evil hearts ( Mark 7:21-23).

But who is regulating affairs on this earth today—God, or the Devil? Attempt to take a serious and comprehensive view of the world. What a scene of confusion and chaos confronts us on every side! Sin is rampant; lawlessness abounds; evil men and seducers are waxing “worse and worse” ( 2 Timothy 3:13). Today, everything appears to be out of joint. Thrones are creaking and tottering, ancient dynasties are being overturned, democracies are revolting, civilization is a demonstrated failure; half of Christendom was but recently locked-together in a death grapple; and now that the titanic conflict is over, instead of the world having been made “safe for democracy”, we have discovered that democracy is very unsafe for the world. Unrest, discontent, and lawlessness are rife every where, and none can say how soon another great war will be set in motion. Statesmen are perplexed and staggered. Men’s hearts are “failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth” ( Luke 21:26).

Do these things look as though God had full control? But let us confine our attention to the religious realm. After nineteen centuries of Gospel preaching, Christ is still “despised and rejected of men”. Worse still, He (the Christ of Scripture) is proclaimed and magnified by very few. In the majority of modern pulpits He is dishonored and disowned. Despite frantic efforts to attract the crowds, the majority of the churches are being emptied rather than filled. And what of the great masses of non-church goers? In the light of Scripture we are compelled to believe that the “many” are on the Broad Road that leads to destruction, and that only “few” are on the Narrow Way that leads unto life. Many are declaring that Christianity is a failure, and despair is settling on many faces.

Not a few of the Lord’s own people are bewildered, and their faith is being severely tried. And what of God? Does He see and hear? Is He impotent or indifferent? A number of those who are regarded as leaders of Christian thought told us that, God could not help the coming of the late awful War, and that He was unable to bring about its termination. It was said, and said openly, that conditions were beyond God’s control. Do these things look as though God were ruling the world?

Who is regulating affairs on this earth today—God, or the Devil? What impression is made upon the minds of those men of the world who, occasionally, attend a Gospel service? What are the conceptions formed by those who hear even those preachers who are counted as “orthodox”? Is it not that a disappointed God is the One whom Christians believe in? From what is heard from the average evangelist today, is not any serious hearer obliged to conclude that he professes to represent a God who is filled with benevolent intentions, yet unable to carry them out; that He is earnestly desirous of blessing men, but that they will not let Him? Then, must not the average hearer draw the inference that the Devil has gained the upper hand, and that God is to be pitied rather than blamed?
But does not everything seem to show that the Devil has far more to do with the affairs of earth than God has? Ah, it all depends upon whether we are walking by faith, or walking by sight. Are your thoughts, my reader, concerning this world and God’s relation to it, based upon what you see?

Face this question seriously and honestly. And if you are a Christian, you will, most probably, have cause to bow your head with shame and sorrow, and to acknowledge that it is so. Alas, in reality, we walk very little “by faith”. But what does “walking by faith” signify? It means that our thoughts are formed, our actions regulated, our lives molded by the Holy Scriptures, for, “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God ” ( Romans 10:17). It is from the Word of Truth, and that alone, that we can learn what is God’s relation to this world. (A.W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God)

Musings on Sovereignty 11

November 29, 2016

It would be foolish for us to expect that this work will meet with general approval. The trend of modern theology—if theology it can be called—is ever toward the deification of the creature rather than the glorification of the Creator, and the leaven of present-day Rationalism is rapidly permeating the whole of Christendom. The malevolent effects of Darwinianism are more far reaching than most are aware. Many of those among our religious leaders who are still regarded as orthodox would, we fear, be found to be very heterodox if they were weighed in the balances of the Sanctuary. Even those who are clear, intellectually, upon other truth, are rarely sound in doctrine. Few, very few, today, really believe in the complete ruin and total depravity of man. Those who speak of man’s “free will,” and insist upon his inherent power to either accept or reject the Savior, do but voice their ignorance of the real condition of Adam’s fallen children. And if there are few who believe that, so far as he is concerned, the condition of the sinner is entirely hopeless, there are fewer still who really believe in the absolute Sovereignty of God. (A.W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God)

Pink thought it was foolish for him to expect that his work would meet with general approval. While there were a few who thought his book was a great statement of an essential truth, it was not met with widespread approval. In his own day people told him that it was not balanced and that it was overly harsh, and in our day the same things are being said but even worse. When Banner of Truth published Pink’s work on sovereignty they cut out his chapter on reprobation and sections of other chapters as well. In other words, the harder teachings of sovereignty are not acceptable and do not meet with the approval of those who think of themselves as being Reformed.

Indeed the trend of modern “theology” is the exaltation of man at the expense of exalting the living God, which means that the heart of all theology is lost. Pink asserts that “few, very few, today, really believe in the complete and total depravity of man.” If that was indeed true in his time, then it is worse (perhaps far worse) in our own day. It is true that people give lip-service to the doctrine of depravity, but in a very practical and real way they deny it. They treat men, even unregenerate men, as if they had the power to do what they were supposed to and the power in themselves to come to Christ. This is simply false theology and is part of the exaltation of man at the expense of the sovereignty of God.

The total depravity of man teaches us that man cannot keep the commands of God in his own strength and that man is dead and cannot make himself alive. If man truly had the power in himself to keep the commands of God and to make himself alive in the spiritual realm, then indeed man would be sovereign and God would be relegated to efforts regarding moral persuasion. It is impossible to hold to God as really and truly sovereign and yet hold that men have power in themselves in the spiritual realm. All good gifts come from God and nothing good can come from the flesh and self of man. Jesus said that apart from Him we can do nothing, and whatever else nothing may or may not mean it should teach us that there is not one thing spiritual or good that a human being can do unless s/he receives it from Christ first.

The total depravity of man teaches us that all the religion in the world cannot give a person a better standing before God as all that the unregenerate man does is outside of Christ and as such is not acceptable to God. Not only is it the case that all the so-called good works of men are nothing but filthy and damnable in the sight of God, but all the good that a person does comes from Christ. Really and truly human beings have nothing to be proud of in themselves and nothing to be proud of for what they have done. Human beings are born dead in sin and are by nature children of wrath (Eph 2:1-3). As dead in sin they can do nothing but act in accordance with that deadness. Since they are by nature children of wrath they cannot change their nature and will always have that nature unless God by His grace changes that nature.

All of the religion of men, and that includes all that “Christianity” has to offer apart from the sovereign God, cannot change men’s nature and cannot produce any good in them. The unregenerate man cannot please God with his orthodox preaching because he is not doing it out of love for God and is not doing it with spiritual insight. The most religious people cannot please God by all of their devotion because their devotion is really to self and all of their acts are from their sinful flesh. Despite all the outward good and despite all of their external religion, they are worthy of nothing but the eternal wrath of God. The externals of Christianity are utterly worthless apart from teaching the sovereignty of God and the depravity of man. These are two truths that are something like the one coin with two sides.

Musings on Sovereignty 10

November 28, 2016

It would be foolish for us to expect that this work will meet with general approval. The trend of modern theology—if theology it can be called—is ever toward the deification of the creature rather than the glorification of the Creator, and the leaven of present-day Rationalism is rapidly permeating the whole of Christendom. The malevolent effects of Darwinianism are more far reaching than most are aware. Many of those among our religious leaders who are still regarded as orthodox would, we fear, be found to be very heterodox if they were weighed in the balances of the Sanctuary. Even those who are clear, intellectually, upon other truth, are rarely sound in doctrine. Few, very few, today, really believe in the complete ruin and total depravity of man. Those who speak of man’s “free will,” and insist upon his inherent power to either accept or reject the Savior, do but voice their ignorance of the real condition of Adam’s fallen children. And if there are few who believe that, so far as he is concerned, the condition of the sinner is entirely hopeless, there are fewer still who really believe in the absolute Sovereignty of God. (A.W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God)

The doctrine and biblical teaching of the sovereignty of God seems to have been eclipsed today by many things. The sovereignty of God, while many would verbally assent to it, in the doctrine of it, the preaching of it, and the application of it appears to be absent in the modern professing Church. While the sovereignty of God may be mentioned, where can one find it really preached and perhaps stressed? If the true God is indeed sovereign, then can we preach the true God if we do not preach and even stress sovereignty?

If the sovereignty of God is not preached, then are we not by neglect allowing for or even pushing the sovereignty of man? Is this not, as Pink says above, something toward the deification of the creature? If we are not preaching and teaching the sovereignty of God and even being clear about it, I am not sure how we can get away from (at the very least) allowing for the deification of man to be asserted. If we are not preaching and teaching the sovereignty of God, then men will not hear about the true God and will think of themselves as being in control. If men do not look to the hand of the sovereign God for all things, then they will look to themselves. If men do not think of God as absolutely sovereign, it is not clear how they will escape forms of Rationalism and Arminianism. There is no logical stopping point between the sovereignty of God and absolute atheism, though men will usually find a resting point somewhere in between.

Pink notes that many religious leaders with the reputation for being orthodox would be heterodox if they were examined. But why is this? Is there any heterodox position that does not start with an attack on the sovereignty of God in an attempt to exalt man or free man? Even in Reformed (by creed or in name) churches there has been a massive backing away from the sovereignty of God. Fleeing from God as the special Creator of all things is fleeing from the sovereign God. Regardless of where the god of Rationalism will take men, the true God reigns over all at all times and in all ways. God is sovereign and man is not. God is sovereign and science is not. Shall we simply say that God is God and science is science and we must know that while science is a wonderful gift of God, it is not God and it is not sovereign.

The present day certainly appears to be a wonderful time to be alive, yet it is also a very deceptive time to be alive. There are so many things to take our attention from God and so many things to take our time. There are so many religions and so many beliefs that it makes our heads and our hearts swim. However, we must never, never, never back away from the plain and basic truth that God alone is sovereign. It is a wicked and idolatrous thing for men to deny the sovereignty of God and following from that is the idolatrous trust in self. We either look to self for wisdom or we look to the sovereign God for wisdom. We either look to God as all-sufficient or we look to self for some sufficiency in some way. Again, there is no middle ground. God is either absolutely sovereign and reigns supreme over all or He is not and man makes up for the lack in his own estimation. When preachers back off from declaring God as absolutely sovereign, they are making room for men to trust in themselves rather than God.

Musings on Sovereignty 9

August 28, 2016

The late deservedly celebrated Dr. Young, though he affected great opposition to some of the doctrines called Calvinistic, was yet compelled, by the force of truth, to acknowledge that “there is not a fly but has had infinite wisdom concerned not only in its structure, but in its destination.” Nor did the late learned and excellent Bishop Hopkins go a jot too far in asserting as follows: “A sparrow, whose price is but mean, two of them valued at a farthing (which some make to be the tenth part of a Roman penny, and was certainly one of their least coins), and whose life, therefore, is but contemptible, and whose flight seems giddy and at random; yet it falls not to the ground, neither lights anywhere, without your Father. His all-wise Providence hath before appointed what bough it shall pitch on, what grains it shall pick up, where it shall lodge, and where it shall build; on what it shall live, and where it shall die.” Our Savior adds, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. God keeps an account even of that stringy excrescence. Do you see a thousand little motes and atoms wondering up and down in a sun-beam? It is God that so peoples it, and He guides their innumerable and irregular strayings. Not a dust flies in a beaten road but God raiseth it, conducts its uncertain motion, and, by His particular care, conveys it to the certain place He had before appointed for it; nor shall the most fierce and tempestuous wind hurry it any further. Nothing comes to pass but God hath His ends in it, and will certainly make His own ends out of it. Though the world seems to run at random, and affairs to be huddled together in blind confusion, and rude disorder, yet, God sees and knows the concatenation of all causes and effects, and so governs them that He makes a perfect harmony out of all those seeming jarrings and discords. It is most necessary that we should have our hearts well established in the firm and unwavering belief of this truth, that whatsoever comes to pass, be it good or evil, we may look up to the hand and disposal of all, to God. In respect of God, there is nothing causal nor contingent in the world.         Augustus Toplady

If God is truly sovereign and the extent of His sovereignty is indeed to the extent and degree as the people above said, then things must change in the local churches and in our lives as well. We basically live in a Pelagian world with the thinking guided by man-centeredness and the works and efforts of men. The attempt of men to practice scientific thinking in many ways is nothing but the outworking of a Pelagian system of thought. It is to remove the true center of all true science and remove the true center of man and focus those things in other directions. We are inundated with man-centeredness in all areas of life, and that includes the professing Church. We have taken the concept of God (rather than the absolute reality of God) and have made Him useful to our programs and our schemes for large buildings and income. We have made pitches to men and women for them to donate and to commit themselves to the work for God, but we have almost forgotten about God at all other than to expect His blessings if we work hard enough.

If God is sovereign over every destination of the fly and every movement of the fly, then He is sovereign over every act of every human being. If even the lowly sparrow has every event in its life planned by God and sovereignly superintended over, then how much more does He do the same over men? If it is God who is sovereign over the dust and how each speck of dust rises in the wind or by a tire and then he is sovereign over its every motion and where it lands, then how much more shall His people have comfort that He is sovereign over them. God cares for and nourishes His Church and His people can know that the earth and all things in it were created by Him for His own glory. There is no need for the Church to worry or be anxious; it is right where it is because of the sovereign hand of God. Yes, we should pray and seek the Lord and His face, but we should do so knowing that we are to seek for His sovereign will to be done.

The people of God must learn to rest more and more upon Him and His sovereignty. When hard things happen, and they will and they will happen often, we must know that it is His sovereign will being carried out. We can know that there is nothing that happens to us that He has not brought to pass and it came through His heart of love. The greatest thing for His people is to be contented with His presence knowing that He is our greatest good. The living and true God is perfect in all ways and who are we to argue and fret about His plan that is made with infinite wisdom? Surely our comfort is not a greater good than His glory? Our hope is in Him and His glory in Christ and not for our own physical welfare and riches. Our prayers for our welfare must always fall down the list in importance to His glory, His kingdom, and His will. He is sovereign, we are not.

Musings on Sovereignty 8

August 27, 2016

The late deservedly celebrated Dr. Young, though he affected great opposition to some of the doctrines called Calvinistic, was yet compelled, by the force of truth, to acknowledge that “there is not a fly but has had infinite wisdom concerned not only in its structure, but in its destination.” Nor did the late learned and excellent Bishop Hopkins go a jot too far in asserting as follows: “A sparrow, whose price is but mean, two of them valued at a farthing (which some make to be the tenth part of a Roman penny, and was certainly one of their least coins), and whose life, therefore, is but contemptible, and whose flight seems giddy and at random; yet it falls not to the ground, neither lights anywhere, without your Father. His all-wise Providence hath before appointed what bough it shall pitch on, what grains it shall pick up, where it shall lodge, and where it shall build; on what it shall live, and where it shall die.” Our Savior adds, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. God keeps an account even of that stringy excrescence. Do you see a thousand little motes and atoms wondering up and down in a sun-beam? It is God that so peoples it, and He guides their innumerable and irregular strayings. Not a dust flies in a beaten road but God raiseth it, conducts its uncertain motion, and, by His particular care, conveys it to the certain place He had before appointed for it; nor shall the most fierce and tempestuous wind hurry it any further. Nothing comes to pass but God hath His ends in it, and will certainly make His own ends out of it. Though the world seems to run at random, and affairs to be huddled together in blind confusion, and rude disorder, yet, God sees and knows the concatenation of all causes and effects, and so governs them that He makes a perfect harmony out of all those seeming jarrings and discords. It is most necessary that we should have our hearts well established in the firm and unwavering belief of this truth, that whatsoever comes to pass, be it good or evil, we may look up to the hand and disposal of all, to God. In respect of God, there is nothing causal nor contingent in the world. Augustus Toplady

The God that the authors quoted above wrote about is really the only possible true and living God. The true God can be nothing but sovereign, and as such a denial that God is sovereign is really a denial of the true God. We cannot deny necessary attributes of God and still hold on to the true God. If we deny that God is a God of love (in the biblical sense), then we have denied the true God. If we deny that God is a thrice holy God, we have denied the true God. If we deny that God is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient, then we have denied the true God. Why is it so hard to come to the conclusion, then, and recognize that the denial that God is sovereign is a clear denial of the true God?

A God that is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient can be nothing but sovereign if you think about it. If God is truly omnipotent, then there is no real power but His. If God is truly omnipresent, then truly He is everywhere there is a where. It should also be added that He is not just present, but He is all present in all places that He is. If God is truly omniscient, then He knows all things from eternity past to eternity future and nothing can take place apart from His knowledge and wisdom. That means that anything that happens can only happen if God allows it to happen or brings it to pass. Whatever the case, it means that He is the sovereign of this universe.

The description the authors above give of God, then, is not just some intellectual point of doctrine that is not all that important, but they are striving to set forth the biblical truth of the living and true God. This is not just some small point of difference, it has to do with the most important aspects of truth and that is the truth of who God is. It is not acceptable to deny the greatness and vastness of the love of God, and as such it is not acceptable to deny the greatness and vastness of the sovereignty of God.

The one and true God has declared that He will be gracious to whom He will be gracious. Fallen men have and still assert that God will be gracious to those who choose Him to be gracious to them. The one and true God declares that men are born from above not by the will of any man and not according to the blood line of men, but instead by the will of God. Yet fallen men have and still insist that God regenerates those who will choose Him by a prayer or by an act of faith. Man fell from God when man wanted to trust in his own wisdom. Now men want to trust in themselves for salvation rather than the sovereign God. Fighting the sovereignty of God in life and in the heart is really what fallen men do, but Christians seek God for all He is and love Him and His sovereignty because that is who He is.

Musings on Sovereignty 7

August 26, 2016

The late deservedly celebrated Dr. Young, though he affected great opposition to some of the doctrines called Calvinistic, was yet compelled, by the force of truth, to acknowledge that “there is not a fly but has had infinite wisdom concerned not only in its structure, but in its destination.” Nor did the late learned and excellent Bishop Hopkins go a jot too far in asserting as follows: “A sparrow, whose price is but mean, two of them valued at a farthing (which some make to be the tenth part of a Roman penny, and was certainly one of their least coins), and whose life, therefore, is but contemptible, and whose flight seems giddy and at random; yet it falls not to the ground, neither lights anywhere, without your Father. His all-wise Providence hath before appointed what bough it shall pitch on, what grains it shall pick up, where it shall lodge, and where it shall build; on what it shall live, and where it shall die.” Our Savior adds, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. God keeps an account even of that stringy excrescence. Do you see a thousand little motes and atoms wondering up and down in a sun-beam? It is God that so peoples it, and He guides their innumerable and irregular strayings. Not a dust flies in a beaten road but God raiseth it, conducts its uncertain motion, and, by His particular care, conveys it to the certain place He had before appointed for it; nor shall the most fierce and tempestuous wind hurry it any further. Nothing comes to pass but God hath His ends in it, and will certainly make His own ends out of it. Though the world seems to run at random, and affairs to be huddled together in blind confusion, and rude disorder, yet, God sees and knows the concatenation of all causes and effects, and so governs them that He makes a perfect harmony out of all those seeming jarrings and discords. It is most necessary that we should have our hearts well established in the firm and unwavering belief of this truth, that whatsoever comes to pass, be it good or evil, we may look up to the hand and disposal of all, to God. In respect of God, there is nothing causal nor contingent in the world. Augustus Toplady

It is so striking how fundamentally different the thinking of the men above was as compared to the thinking of today. In the modern day men start with everything from a man centered point of view and God is thought to be in the service of man. In the past (with the men above and others in that day as well) men thought of God as the starting point and that everything followed from there. They thought of God as being centered upon Himself and not man. They thought of God as gloriously do all for Himself and His own glory.

The doctrine of the sovereignty of God permeates the whole of the doctrine of God and all the doctrines of Scripture. When Moses cried out for God to show him His glory, the Lord declared that He would be gracious to whom He would be gracious. That is sovereignty and it is an aspect of the divine glory. Indeed, it is a brilliant aspect to that glory and it is a beautiful aspect to that glory. This doctrine of sovereignty is at the heart of what it means to be God. This doctrine of sovereignty is at the heart of the Gospel of grace alone. However, in our day men want to water the sovereignty of God down and make it out to be less than what sovereignty really is. They do so in order to be popular with men and to climb the ranks of denominations.

When men water the sovereignty of God down, they are attacking the very nature of God and the very glory of God. If the sovereignty of God is watered down, then the so-called sovereignty or freedom of man is lifted up and exalted to the throne of God. The Gospel is changed from the Gospel of grace alone to the gospel of mostly grace but a little of the acts of men. This simply cannot be tolerated as it is a different Gospel and a different God. We cannot expect for God to come down and show Himself in glory if we are going to water the truths of Him down. We cannot expect God to use the message from our lips to truly convert sinners if we are not going to preach the truth of God and the truth of grace.

Many claim to be seeking revival today, but apart from standing on the full sovereignty of God there will be no true revival. There may be false things rise up, but when the truth of God is not declared we cannot expect revival to happen. No, it is not because God is waiting on us to get the message right, but He is not making hearts in ministers and so-called ministers with the right message. We must cry out to the sovereign God to give us hearts that love Him and His sovereignty and His sovereignty in Jesus Christ. If we don’t really want that, then we must seek Him to give us that desire. There will be no real revival until ministers are broken from self and pride and they seek the glory of the sovereign God in truth from the heart.

Musings on Sovereignty 6

August 23, 2016

The late deservedly celebrated Dr. Young, though he affected great opposition to some of the doctrines called Calvinistic, was yet compelled, by the force of truth, to acknowledge that “there is not a fly but has had infinite wisdom concerned not only in its structure, but in its destination.” Nor did the late learned and excellent Bishop Hopkins go a jot too far in asserting as follows: “A sparrow, whose price is but mean, two of them valued at a farthing (which some make to be the tenth part of a Roman penny, and was certainly one of their least coins), and whose life, therefore, is but contemptible, and whose flight seems giddy and at random; yet it falls not to the ground, neither lights anywhere, without your Father. His all-wise Providence hath before appointed what bough it shall pitch on, what grains it shall pick up, where it shall lodge, and where it shall build; on what it shall live, and where it shall die.” Our Savior adds, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. God keeps an account even of that stringy excrescence. Do you see a thousand little motes and atoms wondering up and down in a sun-beam? It is God that so peoples it, and He guides their innumerable and irregular strayings. Not a dust flies in a beaten road but God raiseth it, conducts its uncertain motion, and, by His particular care, conveys it to the certain place He had before appointed for it; nor shall the most fierce and tempestuous wind hurry it any further. Nothing comes to pass but God hath His ends in it, and will certainly make His own ends out of it. Though the world seems to run at random, and affairs to be huddled together in blind confusion, and rude disorder, yet, God sees and knows the concatenation of all causes and effects, and so governs them that He makes a perfect harmony out of all those seeming jarrings and discords. It is most necessary that we should have our hearts well established in the firm and unwavering belief of this truth, that whatsoever comes to pass, be it good or evil, we may look up to the hand and disposal of all, to God. In respect of God, there is nothing causal nor contingent in the world. Augustus Toplady

The natural eye of man sees things as happening according to luck or perhaps a series of random events. The natural eye of man does not see anything but confusion in terms of the acts and events of men in the world. The natural eye cannot see anything but what happens and the natural mind cannot behold the sovereign hand of God working all things according to His purposes. The natural man has no ability to behold the sovereign hand of God in the small events, though he may understand something when large “natural” disasters strike. The spiritual man, that is, the one with the eye of faith, is able to “see” the hand of God working in these events.

We know that unpleasant things befall most if not all of men. The natural man thinks that it is bad luck or perhaps that God has it out for him, but the spiritual man (though it may take a while) knows that God is in control and nothing can happen to him apart from God’s will. The spiritual man will eventually come to the point where his heart will submit to that sovereignty as God works His softening work in the heart of that person. When we fight events and happenings in our hearts, what we are really fighting is God’s right to rule over us and to do with us as He pleases. The spiritual man understands this at some point, but the natural man ridicules spiritual things.

Every effect has a cause or perhaps a series of causes. The natural man thinks of these things as random, but every single cause and effect is governed by God and is the outworking of His plan which is a beautiful harmony of effects and causes. The wisdom of men cannot see this at all, but that is not because the wisdom of God is less than that of men, but it is because men cannot rise to the level of God’s wisdom. His ways are not only higher, they are a lot higher. The quicker that the heart learns this principle the quicker the heart learns what God is doing to humble it and break it from self.

The heart must learn to rest in this great truth as a basic fact or it will be wavering all over the place. Regardless of what happens in the world or to each individual soul, regardless of what “comes to pass, be it good or evil, we may look up to the hand and disposal of all, to God.” While this is absurd and even crazy in the thinking of the natural man, this is what brings the spiritual man great comfort and abiding peace. God does not behold the world as if there are causes and effects that do not flow from Him, but instead there is nothing caused and nothing is truly contingent other than Himself. This is God’s world and He reigns and rules all things in accordance with His eternal plan. Oh how delicious this is to the soul that is taught of God to bow and know that if the Lord did it, then it is for a holy and good reason.