Thursday, July 22, 2010

GOD, GOVERNMENT, AND THE GOSPEL, Part 2, "God is the Ruler Yet"

REVIEW

1. It is natural for us, as believers, to be grieved by injustice and immorality.

2. How are we to respond? Fear, worry, and/or grumbling are not the answer. To what extent should we concern ourselves with politics and/or engage in political activism?

3. What is needful is a Biblical perspective leading to a God-honoring response that enhances, and does not undermine, our witnessing efforts.

INTRODUCTION

1. The four words, ”In God we trust,” are etched on US coins and printed on US bills.

2. To what extent do we, as believers, live by these four words?

3. What effect will an abiding trust in God’s sovereignty have on our thinking about, concern for, and involvement in political matters?

LESSON

1. God is sovereign over all:

Ÿ “Why should nations say, ‘Where, now, is their God?’ But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases” (Psa. 115:3).

Ÿ “He works all things after the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:11).

2. God is sovereign over all the affairs of this world:

Ÿ He is sovereign over Satan and sin (Job 1:12; 2:5-6; Luke 22:31).

Ÿ Over governments and military powers (2 Chron. 20:6; Rom. 13:2).

Ÿ Over nature and natural disasters (Psa. 107:29; Nah. 1:3-6).

Ÿ Over sickness and disease (John 9:3; 11:4; Rev. 21:4).

Ÿ Over every human being (Acts 13:48; Rom. 9:17-18).

Ÿ Including, you and me (Prov. 16:9; 19:21; James 4:13-15).

3. God’s sovereignty does not negate human responsibility:

Ÿ Man is still responsible for his sin (Gen. 50:20; Acts 2:23).

Ÿ Believers are still exhorted to serve (Eph. 1:11 vs. Eph. 4:1f). Example: Nehemiah was confident of God’s purpose to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, but the people still had to do the work (Neh. 2:18).

4. In His sovereignty God appoints rulers:

Ÿ We have, in our country, the freedom to vote, but God is the one who ultimately appoints rulers (Dan. 2:21; 4:17). Note: Biblical Elders are appointed by men (Tit. 1:5), but ultimately are first made elders by the Holy Spirit (Acts 20:28).

Ÿ God providentially directs the affairs of nations (including ours) to accomplish His purpose (Dan. 2:36f; Jer. 27:5-6; Matt. 2:13-15).

Napoleon, at the height of his career, is reported to have given this cynical answer to someone who asked if God was on the side of France: “God is on the side that has the heaviest artillery.” Then came the battle of Waterloo, where Napoleon lost both the battle and his empire. Years later, in exile on the island of St. Helena, chastened and humbled, Napoleon is reported to have quoted the words of Thomas Kempis, “Man proposes, God disposes.”

5. The fact that God is in control should relieve us of anxiety and worry:

Ÿ Though we may not agree with our earthly leaders, we are still commanded to respect them (1 Pet. 2:17).

Ÿ They have no more power to do harm than that which is permitted to them by God (1 Pet. 2:13-17; 4:19).

Ÿ God is ultimately in control of the affairs of our lives (Matt. 5:25f; Phil. 4:6-7).

Margaret Clarkson, “The sovereignty of God is the one impregnable rock to which the suffering human heart must cling. The circumstances surrounding our lives are no accident: they may be the work of evil, but that evil is held firmly within the mighty hand of our sovereign God...All evil is subject to Him, and evil cannot touch His children unless He permits it. God is the Lord of human history and of the personal history of every member of His redeemed family.”

CONCLUSION

1. How are we to reconcile the apparent dichotomy that exists between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility?

A. W. Tozer (in referring to the analogy of a ship headed in a certain unchangeable course, but with passengers on board having the freedom to walk about the ship and make decisions): “Both freedom and sovereignty are present here and they do not contradict each other. So it is, I believe, with man’s freedom and the sovereignty of God. The mighty liner of God’s sovereign design keeps its steady course over the sea of history. God moves undisturbed and unhindered toward the fulfillment of those eternal purposes which He purposed in Christ Jesus before the world began.”

2. Define “fatalism.” Distinguish between “fatalism” and a proper response to the doctrine of God’s sovereignty?

3. Distinguish between God’s determined will (God’s decree) and God’s permissive will. Is it possible to thwart God’s determined will?

4. Is it possible to stop the degradation of society through political activism or legislation? Why or why not?

"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." John Adams, October 11, 1798

5. To what extent is it appropriate (or profitable) for us to involve ourselves, as believers, in political affairs? Is that in keeping with our mandate? What is our mandate?

6. NEXT WEEK: Lesson Three, “What is this World Coming To?”: Differentiating between a postmillennial and premillennial approach.

1 comment:

Michael Gormley said...

Here is a very good anti-predestination argument formulated by a Catholic priest who is a former Calvinist himself, Fr. Paul Rothermel...

PROPOSITION:
A true Calvinist teaches that everything that happens has been predestined before the foundation of the world. Thus, according to Calvinism, because I have free agency and no true power to choose contraries (i.e., free will), I do voluntarily what I could never do otherwise.

Thus, "My sins last week happened; they were certain to happen; and they were predestined before the foundation of the world. I freely did evil, but I could not have done otherwise."

A true Calvinist admits this. Yet St. Paul teaches that, with every temptation, God has made a way to escape from committing the sinful deed (1 Cor 10:13). Therefore, the question for the true Calvinist is:

"Which way did God, in fact, provide for you to escape the temptations to do the sins you committed last week, if indeed you are so inclined? That is, if you have been predestined before the foundation of the world to do it?"

This is a clear hole in the Calvinist position, forcing one to conclude that Calvinism cannot be reconciled with St. Paul.

Clearly, if Calvin is right and one is predestined to commit a particular sin before the foundation of the world, God could not have truly provided a way out of that sin for you to take.

How could He if you were predestined not to take it? So, either Calvin is wrong or we are dealing with a God Who feigns offers of deliverance from temptation.

So, which is it? Is God a fraud or is Calvin?

Many thanks to Mark Bobocore.