Tuesday, August 11, 2009
PRACTICAL BENEFITS OF GOD'S SOVEREIGNTY
Much can and has been argued about the various aspects of the sovereignty of God. A new-born infant knows very little of this world in the first few months or years of its existence. Yet from birth the child learns of light, love, security, and trust. It also rapidly learns the many discomforts of Providence and the many disappointments and chastisements of loving parents.
Prior to its birth, the child knows only darkness and the struggle to be delivered.
From the dawning months of existence, the child learns to implicitly trust its wellbeing to its parents. They satisfy its hunger and thirst; they embrace it or refrain from embracing. The child soon learns that it can trust the parents not to drop it or to harm it in any way. As the infant passes into childhood, it desires to be like “mama” or “daddy”, often stomping clumsily in high heel shoes as its mother; or attempting to shave as its father. The desire to be like its parents leads to the shaping of its own internal value system of right and wrong.
In the spiritual realm, many similarities to that of nature can be perceived. The child-of-God’s first consciousness is of total spiritual darkness. In its darkness and distress, it struggles to enter the “strait way”.. filled with obstacles and threatening fears . . . “that leads unto life everlasting.”
Upon enlightenment by the gospel, the sensible sinner has “life and immortality” brought to “light”; and as a new born child it becomes extremely curious about the new life and principles of the kingdom of grace and glory.
The child of God learns by experience the love of God and His tender mercies in Christ Jesus. Being fully aware that it deserves nothing but death and hell, this love is magnified within the soul, creating a desire to be conformed to the image of its heavenly Father and Christ Jesus, its Saviour. Much can be written relative to these similarities, but our thoughts are upon the exceedingly practical benefits of God’s sovereignty applied to the quickened child of grace.
As the Holy Spirit unerringly guides him into all truth, one such element is the faithfulness of God in both grace and Providence It is this holy instruction that separates the true believer from the nominal professor. Where there is faith, there must by necessity be trust; and where trust is, so is faith. It is useless to speak of faith without trust, for while they are not the same in essence, yet they are twin graces.
The child of grace learns as Abraham of old that “The God of the whole earth will do right.” He learns that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to those who are THE called according to His promise.” And they REST upon this truth. The heir of heaven may not necessarily understand all the ramifications and secret patterns of God’s sovereignty, yet he trusts God to command and to do that which is RIGHT. When adversities arise, the child of grace finds that all is right with his soul in God’s tender care.
The rain falls upon the just and the unjust. The unjust complains of the weather while the redeemed say: “This is the day the Lord hath made, Let us be glad and rejoice therein.” The works of Providence become exceedingly precious to God’s people. One loses a small item and searches in desperation and frustration seeking it. The man of the world, even though religious, may find it later and lament the time lost searching for it; while the child of grace silently says: “Thank you, Lord” knowing that it was of Him it was found. That is the grace of trust in the sovereignty, of God as it is made manifest.
When the gospel of grace is preached in the power and demonstration of the Holy Ghost, the man of the world, even though religious, finds little comfort or good news in it. The blood bought and quickened child of grace finds it applied sweetly to his soul, and tears of joy and gladness flow abundantly in love to God.
Early on the child of grace will learn the exceeding sinfulness of sin and will abhor himself for its corruption; while the ungodly takes to sin as a very light matter. Yes, it may be “wrong”, or “not right”, but everyone does it, says the religious — no one can be perfect. The child of God is less concerned with what others may do .. his problem is that he finds himself too often doing what he readily condemns others for doing; and this grieves him sorely. By such experiences he grows in gospel maturity. He learns more and more of his total dependence upon God for all His salvation. With an ever-increasing knowledge of the corruption of his vile nature, he has an ever-growing ability to contrast God’s Holiness and His righteous standard of perfection. He, too, learns that he never receives the fullness of judgment he so rightly deserves from his offended Father, and thus he marvels more and more of the infinite mercies of his covenant-keeping God.
The man of the world, regardless of his religiosity, never learns this, for he never truly can see himself. By considering this, the child of grace fully knows that he EARNS none of God’s blessings by carnal works; thus he is stripped of any self-righteousness in his service to his God.
Acts of Providence . . . those daily events which appear to be the random unfoldings of nature . . . are to the elect matters of thanksgiving and praise. A tornado hits his community, and he thanks God for mercy shown him and others; if it carries his home away, he finds his trust increased in his Father’s tender mercies; if his loved ones are taken way, he says as Job: “Shall we not receive evil as well as good? The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away, Blessed be the name of the Lord.” This is the language that recognizes God’s sovereignty. . . whether or not one understands it.
Ah, how often the word of faith is ridiculed in this world, yet the child of faith finds sweet comfort and consolation in the phrase “what is to be will be.” Many reply to him saying: “You mean you believe that what is to be will be whether or not it ever happens?” And his answer might be: “Do you believe that what is to be, will not be?” A story is told of Elder Sikes in Texas, who, while working on the railroad had one ask him: “Do you mean if I laid my head on this railroad track and a train cut it off, it was my time to go?” Elder Sikes replied: “Any fool should know if his head was cut off that it was his time to go!”
I suppose one of the most practical benefits to flow from a proper conception of God’s sovereignty would be: that one is NOT to put God to the test to see if He really is sovereign; the results of tempting God MIGHT be surprising!
Jonathan Edwards wrote in His “Personal Narrative”: “Sovereignty I love to ascribe to my God; but formerly it was not so.” So, too, every child of God loves the pleasant contemplations of an Almighty, Sovereign, and Exalted Everlasting God.
By Stanley C. Phillips