I want to ramp things up again for the sake of our sanctification and return to our discussion of God's ordination of all things that come to pass. This is a most frightening thing for us humans, and it can make us feel insignificant and even "robotish" if not handled with care. After all, if God has already predetermined all things, what becomes of human responsibility and free will? While good and natural questions, such thoughts must be answered after we have established whether or not God has ordained things. If He hasn't, then the point is moot.
I want to further suggest that, upon reflection, we will all be much happier and the universe will make far better sense, and that we can have tremendous peace knowing that God is in control and does indeed ordain all things that come to pass. Consider the alternative! That God is not in control of all things, that certain things happen for no reason, and that terrible evil may be propagated without consequence or from which no good arises. That, beloved, is a horrid thought.
So let us examine a few passages that indicate that God has indeed ordained things, even evil things, so that He may receive the glory and that He might triumph over sin and the very evil that was committed. (I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Why would He ordain an evil simply to overcome it?" We'll deal with that in a later noodle burner dealing with human responsibility.) Here are some verses to consider, and do yourself a favor, actually read them and think about the implications before we move on:
Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions. Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete. (Gen. 15:13-16).
For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. (Acts 4:27-28)
Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. (Acts 13:48)
Studied over those few examples yet? If you are skimming and trying to get the gist of this, go back and read them! Now you're done? Good.
In the first example, we see that the time of Israel's captivity in Egypt was ordained of God. It would last exactly 400 years, and at the end of that 400 years, God would set them free. Their freedom would come at precisely the right time as well because that would mark the time when their inquity would be complete. We further see that Abraham was promised to have a full life and die in old age, which he did. Every day was numbered and determined by God, and although God does not will that His people be hated and abused, He ordained that very thing by the hand of the Egyptians.
In the second example, we see that it was determined before that Herod, Pilate, the Jews and the Gentiles would mock and crucify the Son of God. Bar none, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ is the most heinous atrocity ever perpetrated by man, yet we see that it was predetermined that this would take place, and that Herod and Pilate would play a part.
Finally, we see in the Acts passage that everyone who was "appointed" to eternal life believed the gospel. If we cannot discern the sovereignty of God in Acts 13:48, I am at a loss as to where we will find it! To these examples we could add many more, and if your curiousity is aroused over this I heartily recommend you avail yourself to this article by John Piper entitled, "Is God Less Glorious Because He Ordained that Evil Be?". Let me quote from that article some examples he gives:
God often expresses his will to be one way, and then acts to bring about another state of affairs. God opposes hatred toward his people, yet ordained that his people be hated in Egypt (Genesis 12:3; Psalm 105:25 – "He turned their hearts to hate his people."). He hardens Pharaoh's heart, but commands him to let his people go (Exodus 4:21; 5:1; 8:1). He makes plain that it is sin for David to take a military census of his people, but he ordains that he do it (2 Samuel 24:1; 24:10). He opposes adultery, but ordains that Absalom should lie with his father's wives (Exodus 20:14; 2 Samuel 12:11). He forbids rebellion and insubordination against the king, but ordained that Jeroboam and the ten tribes should rebel against Rehoboam (Romans 13:1; 1 Samuel 15:23; 1 Kings 12:15-16). He opposes murder, but ordains the murder of his Son (Exodus 20:13; Acts 4:28). He desires all men to be saved, but effectually calls only some (1 Timothy 2:4; 1 Corinthians 1:26-30; 2 Timothy 2:26).
Tomorrow, God willing, I will continue this by drawing out why this truth of God's Sovereignty is a precious doctrine will bring peace into the suffering of life, especially in the face of unexpected tragedy. After that, we will deal with human responsibility in the face of Divine Sovereignty. I conclude this section with the quote from the 2nd London Baptist Confession of 1689:
God has decreed in Himself from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably, all things which shall ever come to pass. Yet in such a way that God is neither the author of sin nor does He have fellowship with any in the committing of sins, nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.
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