Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Sovereign Comfort in God's Providence

This may be an uncomfortable read. It may stir you a little bit and leave you feeling a little uneasy. That's true of any of the big doctrines of the Christian faith. Propitiation (1John 4) is upsetting. The incomprehensible nature of the Trinity is so mind warping that I feel dizzy just thinking about it. The eternal nature of God is inscrutable. My mind gets scrambled after I try to think about it. I can't even think about it because I don't have anything to compare it to so I just try to think about it and then my mind gets the blue screen of death. 

But God's providence is uncomfortable in a different way. The implications are endless.
"If God has providence over everything, that means..."

He has providence over everything and that's okay. It's actually good.

Providence and sovereignty naturally overlap and intersect but I want to really focus in on providence because there's a specific direction I'm going with this post and the term providence better articulates this particular attribute of God. 

We're going to think about our individual lives and how God works in them. Just think about your life for the moment. We can all point to different areas and times in our lives where God, through His providence, worked things out for us or where He accomplished something on our behalf using very unconventional means. He's done it in the past, He's doing it now and He's going to do it in the future. That's how He works virtually all the time...through providence. 

When we survey the Bible we see a lot of supernatural things going on. We see the parting of the Red Sea. We see a speaking donkey. We see Elijah and Elisha doing their things. We see Jesus turning water into wine and raising the dead, we see the Apostles healing people and prophesying and then we see people in Acts speaking in tongues and interpreting tongues. 

It's a series of incredible and miraculous events. It's God's glory on display. He's achieving His ends and using miracles to do so. Miracles are cool. Miracles are genuinely awesome. Awesome is a strong word but miracles are inexplicable supernatural events so the word fits. 

God used miracles in the Bible for very specific purposes. I can't think of any miracle that was completely random and undocumented.
"Tim, that's circular logic! If it's undocumented, then it obviously wouldn't be in the Bible!"
Touche! That's kind of my point!

"Tim, are you saying there are no miracles happening today? Are you.............putting God in a box??????!!!!???"
No I am not saying there are no miracles today. In fact, I know of at least 1 miracle that is a legitimate miracle: the regeneration of my soul. I went from being spiritually dead to now being spiritually alive. That is indeed a miracle; the miracle of regeneration. So I can't say that no miracles are happening today when every day I wake up knowing I was once dead in my sins but am now alive in Christ! Amen? 

Let's get to the meat of this post.

Does God still perform external miracles today? I am fully convinced there are no miracle workers today. I believe with a high degree of certainty that the Apostolic gifts ceased around the completion of the New Testament or when the Apostle John died. That's another topic and you're free to disagree with me. If you do disagree with me, I encourage you to not redefine the gifts as many in the Charismatic/Continuationist movement have done. 

Again, I'm not saying God can't perform miracles. I'm saying He's not using miracle workers today. We don't say God can't add to the Bible if He wanted to, we say that He's chosen not to. That's a fair question but if you get hung up on something I haven't said, that's your own fault. 

This post is about where our assurance and comfort comes from. Is it dependent upon God doing a miraculous work in our life like regrowing a limb or multiplying food in front of our eyes? Is that what we trust in? 

Or do we trust that if we are faithful to God and obey His word, He will provide for us, If we trust God, He will mature us? Is our assurance of God's care over our life built upon His ability to work all things together for our good in accordance with His holy nature or His ability to turn water into wine? It's awesome to know He can change one thing into another with His mouth so don't get me wrong about that. But what if He doesn't do that and we're left with a 5 gallon jug of Ecto-Cooler? Do we still have assurance that He's concerned about us and that He's even out there?

What if our loved one dies? God could have intervened and saved that person miraculously. Why didn't He? 
What if our loved one survives? What if our loved one is diagnosed with terminal cancer and then it's suddenly gone? What if you're convinced that's a miracle? You're praising God and you should be! But then what if a week later the hospital calls and tells you that there was a colossal clerical error and your loved one's x-rays were switched with someone else's (and that person now finds out they do have cancer)? So it wasn't a miracle but just a natural byproduct of human fallibility. Do you still praise God? 

YES! Your loved one is still alive and perfectly fine! Do you care that it wasn't a miracle? I sure don't! Whether God does a miracle in our lives or not is, to be honest, irrelevant to how much we should trust Him. 

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