Thursday, November 16, 2006

Comfort for doubting believers

This is not original with me, but it is good nonetheless.

Upon some points the believer is absolutely sure. He knows, for instance, that God sits in the stern-sheets of the vessel when it rocks the most. He believes that an invisible hand is always on the world's tiller, and that wherever providence may drift, Jehovah steers it. That re-assuring knowledge prepares him for everything. He looks over the raging waters and sees the spirit of Jesus treading the billows, and he hears a voice saying, "It is I, be not afraid." He knows too that God is always wise, and, knowing this, he is confident that there can be no accidents, no mistakes; that nothing can occur which ought not arise. He can say, "If I should lose all I have, it is better that I should lose than have, if God so wills: the worst calamity is the wisest and the kindest thing that could befall to me if God ordains it." "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God." The Christian does not merely hold this as a theory, but he knows it as a matter of fact. Everything has worked for good as yet: the poisonous drugs mixed in fit proportions have worked the cure; the sharp cuts of the lancet have cleansed out the proud flesh and facilitated the healing. Every event as yet has worked out the most divinely blessed results; and so, believing that God rules all, that he governs wisely, that he brings good out of evil, the believer's heart is assured, and he is enabled calmly to meet each trial as it comes. The believer can in the spirit of true resignation pray, "send me what thou wilt my God, so long as it comes from thee; never came there an ill portion from thy table to any of thy children."

"Say not my soul, 'From whence can God relieve my care?'
Remember that Omnipotence has servants everywhere.
His method is sublime, his heart profoundly kind,
God never is before his time, and never is behind.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

God is sovereign even in the sinfulness of His children

I recently wrote this letter to encourage a friend who had recieved news of a fellow believer who had recently fallen into disobedience. When I think of my own sin, I am comforted by the truth of God's sovereignty. I pray that this will be a blessing and encouragement to every believer who reads it to pick themselves up when they sin by basking themselves in the debt they have to God's grace. May we dig ourselves deeper into this debt, because it is the only way we can do right. I took the names out to keep it generic, and to not hinder those who don't know the situation.

I don't know what happened with D___, and I am not sure that it is healthy for me to know. But something that helps me when I think of what it means to glorify God in all circumstances, both good and bad, is to remember Romans 8:28 which says that all thing always work together for good to those who love God. It is further explained by saying that this is for those who are the called according to His purpose. And then of course is the promise that these people are the ones who will become conformed to the image of Christ.

"What this tells me is that God is sovereign in every circumstance, divinely working each one in love to make me like Christ. I have this assurance that everything that happens--everything--is purposed by God and will become good in that it makes me more like Christ. This does not mean that the circumstance itself is necessarily good. The circumstance very well may be bad and very painful...but in each and every case for each and every believer, each and every circumstance will have its final end in the believer's Christlikeness.

"Something also of comfort is that this is not ever in any circumstance a conditional promise. It is unconditional. Some people may take this promise and think that when they have a high level of love for God, they will have a high level of their circumstances working out for good, and when they have a low level of love for God, they will have more of their circumstances working for bad. That is wrong thinking. God never imposes that on this passage. Notice that if a person is called according to God's purpose (which all believers are) he automatically is one who loves God. The loving of God is the natural response of a person who has been made alive by God.

"The way this plays itself out has application for both you and D___. For you, you are right now being driven to your knees, you are crying out in dependence to God, you are seeking Him earnestly as the hart pants after the water brooks, you are desiring His presence, and you are being comforted by the Holy Spirit who alone knows your hurt greater than anyone else. He alone can provide the wisdom, comfort, and assurance you need, and He is kind. This is the kind of worship that God desires from us continually--and the bottom line is that sometimes it takes great pain to drive us to that place of dependence.

"And if D___ is truly a believer, this promise is for him also. That means that this circumstance, whatever his sin is, will work out for his good in driving him into greater Christlikeness.

"I think this happens this way: God knows D___ far better than any of us do; He is D___s' Father. God will break him. God pursues His children unto sanctification. Because of our sin, we come to know our need for God in a greater way. When I think of my own sin, I realize the magnitude of God's forgiveness. While I was yet a sinner, Christ died for me. If D___ is truly a believer and truly God's child, and if God allows him to live, God will chasten him, and D___ will learn what it means to be a son. Being chastened by God is a beautiful thing, because although it hurts, it drives us to Him. Thus, D___ will be brought closer to God as a result of sin. Isn't that beautiful? What Satan means for evil, God uses against him. Satan is sitting back chuckling, and then God overcomes him again.

"Christ is the greatest example of this. I often imagine Christ hanging on the cross in agony, and Satan gleefully rubbing his hands together assuming that he had triumphed because he had coerced the people into slaying the Son of God. And then I hear Christ on the cross cry "IT IS FINISHED!" He just accomplished redemption for me!! This is Christ's proclamation of triumph. Satan, horrified, realizes that all his work to tempt the crowd in to deceitful and bloodthirsty riot and even murder of the Messiah was designed by God to accomplish salvation. God uses sin to bring his children to Himself. If I had never known my sin, would I know God's grace so deeply?? The one who loves deeply is the one who realizes that he has been forgiven much.

"I have to constantly remind myself of these truths. God's promises are for all of His children. The unconditional promise of Romans 8 is true for you and it is true for D___. I think the best way to glorify God in this situation is to embrace the fact that He is driving you into dependence on Him, then to seek to restore Dennis with a Spirit of gentleness and bear his burdens (Galatians 6:1), and realize that God is refining D___ and will accomplish D___s' Christlikeness if D___ is truly God's child.

I am praying for you.