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Meditation on the Sovereignty of God: Never Abstract and Theoretical.

I can’t share all that’s been going on with me over the past 72 hours. My wife and I drove the 11 hours to Nashville and our family requires much prayer at the moment.

I may be beating the same drum again, but it needs to be said. The sound theology that so many people turn their nose up to during the days of sunshine is designed by God for the benefit of the believer when the storms come.

Sound theology doesn’t take the pain away. That’s not its’ purpose.

What it does is ground you in reality.

Romans 8:28-39, the doctrine of election, the perseverance of the saints and the rest of the doctrines of grace aren’t simply theoretical ideas that have no basis or real impact on the life of the everyday believer.  They are comfort when hard times come.

You see, every true believer defaults back to a position similar or identical to reformed theology when trials hit.

They know God is wiser than our desires (thanks for the reminder RaRa). And so when they have done all that they can do to fix the situation, they default back to trusting God in His infinite wisdom to do what seems right to Him. They may pray for deliverance and relief from the situation, but know full well that if their prayers are not answered in the affirmative, God is still good….and God is still God.

At times when most people would lose all hope, true Christians have hope. They rely and trust upon God. They acknowledge simple things about God: His goodness, His omniscience, His power and ability to rescue…and deep underneath it all, they know.

Romans 8:28-30 again. God is for me.  As a believer, I may endure all sorts of trials – even down to persecution and death at the hands of my persecutors (vv. 33-36). Think of the implications of that closely.  And the promise I have that God is for me is seen in the fact that He gave up the most valuable possession in the universe to Him – He gave Himself.

God the Father, who loves His son, gave His Son. His Son who did no wrong, took the penalty for my wrongdoing.

If God is capable of doing this, then Him choosing me, calling me to salvation, paying the penalty for my sin on the cross, preserving me, sanctifying me and eventually glorifying me is not an impossibly big deal.

And I take this promise and feed on it for comfort during times like these. I realize that God has not only called, saved, sanctified me, but also others.  And when those others are enduring their own pain, I point them to these promises as a source of comfort and hope.

No, the pain doesn’t ‘not happen’. Every day is not a Friday. Every day can’t be a Friday. Joel Osteen’s book is full of lies and is nothing more than paganism and selfishness wrapped in fake Christianese with a few misquoted scriptures tossed in. If your ‘BEST life’ is now, then your next life will be in hell.  God never designed the Christian life to be free of pain or struggle. But He did design it to be full of hope and joy even in the midst of tribulation and trial.

So I rest in the Sovereignty of God  and trust Him. The Judge of all the earth will always do what is right (Gen. 18:26), even when my finite, limited-understanding, easily moved and changed mind and emotions don’t understand why things have to happen the way they do when they do.

Pain, then, becomes a beacon pointing us back to the true and living God for comfort, and not simply our friends & family. It also points us away from things like alcohol, drugs and other destructive things that provide a false sense of temporary comfort. Suffering becomes an opportunity for trust, not dismay.  Nothing less than a God who is both Sovereign and in control of all human events (including, but not limited to earthquakes, death, famine, marriages, joy, celebrations, and accidents) is able to promise Romans 8:28-30.  He can be trusted. Nothing less than a God who is carries out election, calling to salvation, justification, sanctification and glorification is able to promise and carry out Romans 8:38-39. We don’t serve a God who simply wishes well for us or thinks well for us like a cheerleader on the sidelines watching the game.

Never theoretical. Never abstract. Always real. Because God is real, life is real and pain is real.

What are you resting on ?

Trust God.

Why I won’t convince anyone of the doctrines of grace

10. Believing sound theology involves both the intellectual side of the mind and the emotional side of the mind (Deut. 6:5). I can’t make you love truth.

9. Believing sound theology requires work (2 Tim. 2:15). If you’re looking for quick and simple answers with one or two or ten proof texts, you won’t sit still long enough to meditate on scripture, I might as well be talking to the UBS guy. But the fruit of the Spirit is self-control, right ?

8. Believing sound theology requires time and patience (see above – Joshua 1:8). We live in a microwave age. But sound biblical theology isn’t just something you learn quick and then move on to something else. It’s like learning music theory and composition – you’re always referring back to the basics and your understanding of them grows progressively as you move deeper into them. That part falls on you…. but the fruit of the Spirit is patience, right ?

7. If you’ve got a particular personal reason for not believing the doctrines of grace, I can’t help you. You need to let go of whatever it is you’re holding on to and seek repentance and healing from it from God. Otherwise, question after question, response after response will make no difference. Your heart will be closed toward it no matter how many convincing arguments I posit to you.

6. If your idea of Christianity is ‘here’s a list of things you need to believe, okay got it, let’s move on to something else’, the doctrines of grace won’t appeal to you (Hebrews 5:9-6:14). In fact, most sound theological teachings won’t appeal to you, since spending time meditating on the word of God requires time, patience and ‘moving onto something else’ doesn’t work well with it.

5. If you’re irrational, the doctrines of grace won’t appeal to you. God Himself is the ground of all logic – the doctrines of grace work on that basis. So if you’re used to believing things that are mutually exclusive of each other (i.e. postmodernism), you probably will feel ‘tied down’ by the doctrines of grace. But hey, truth isn’t dependent upon how you feel about it, is it ?

4. If you’re walking around with unbiblical notions regarding the abilities of man and you’re not willing to have them checked, the doctrines of grace won’t make sense to you. But that requires you to approach them and admit to being wrong on something…and a lot of folks aren’t willing to do that when it comes to discussing salvation.

3. My understanding of the doctrines of grace and reformed and covenantal theology are still growing. Eight years ago, I would’ve told you that I’d never be presbyterian because ‘babies can’t believe! Why would you baptize them ?’ As my understanding grows, my ability to present a sound and convincing argument grows. Stuff I know now may not be convincing and intelligible to you the way I phrase it. Maybe five years from now I can present it better in a way that you might catch onto immediately.

2. If your acceptance is based on whether or not you like me and the way I say things at times, you’ll probably reject me. I don’t pretend to be perfect. I’m harsh at times, and even the best intentioned words sometimes come out wrong. Of course, even if I never existed, the doctrines of grace would still be true. So in that vein, I’m really unimportant.

1. You can argue with me all day (some of you have tried…LOL). At the end of the day, I always point you away from me to scripture first and foremost. You can dislike me and call me names all you’d like. You can’t argue with scripture. And God is the one who ‘convinces’ folk of sound doctrine once they take time and apply themselves to studying it. So I always encourage folks – study it till you can articulate it accurately. Then you’ve earned the right to attempt to critique it. But usually, by that time, God the Holy Spirit does something to make folk see….’oh wow. it’s there. and it’s RIGHT THERE. How did I miss it all this time ?’