Friday, April 25, 2008

...our help comes from the Lord!

The Scriptures tell us, "[Our] life does not consist in the things which [we] possess..."

In times of sorrow, brokenness, disappointment, tragedy, disaster, privation, destitute, agony, hopelessness, etc. our greatest need is to run to the Lord--and find our solace, refuge and strength in Him. In the days after any national tragedy, the body of Christ have a great opportunity to demonstrate genuine love for our neighbor by reaching out to them in helping meet their physical needs with food, shelter, medical supplies, etc. And to also comfort those who have lost loved ones and friends during this ordeal with the hope of the gospel. As the Psalmist asks, "where does our help come from?"; he also answers with joyful confidence, "our help comes from the Lord!"

May these following thumbnails on the character and attributes of God from myself and several other authors, encourage you today to run to the Lord for your salvation, rest, hope, assurance... and every care that He knows in advance we daily face. Oh what a wonderful, merciful Savior we serve!

Because God is infinite in wisdom, no secret can be hidden from Him, no problem can baffle Him, nothing is too hard for Him. -"Great is our Lord, and of great power: His understanding is infinite" (Psalm 147:5).

Because God is omniscient, He knows all from the beginning to the end for nothing is hidden from His sight. The good and the evil are laid bare before His sovereign fire-burning piercing gaze. -"And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do." (Hebrews 4:13)

Because God is omniscient, such is His claim: He knows everything: everything possible, everything actual; all events, all creatures, God the past, the present and the future. He is perfectly acquainted with every detail in the life of every being in heaven, in earth and in hell. His knowledge is perfect. He never errs, never changes, never overlooks anything. "Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do" (Hebrews 4:13). YES, SUCH IS THE GOD WITH WHOM "WE HAVE TO DO!"

"Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, Thou understandest my thoughts afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue but, lo, O Lord, Thou knowest it altogether" (Psalm 139:2-4).

God not only knew the end from the beginning, but He planned, fixed, predestinated everything from the beginning. And, as cause stands to effect, so God's purpose is the ground of His prescience. "…who are chosen 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in fullest measure." (1 Peter 1:1b-2)

God's supremacy over the works of His hands is vividly depicted in Scripture. God's supremacy is also demonstrated in His perfect rule over the wills of men. "I am the LORD, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God. I will gird you, though you have not known Me; 6 That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun That there is no one besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other, 7 The One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these. 8 "Drip down, O heavens, from above, And let the clouds pour down righteousness; Let the earth open up and salvation bear fruit, And righteousness spring up with it. I, the LORD, have created it. 9 "Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker-

An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth! Will the clay say to the potter, 'What are you doing?' Or the thing you are making say, 'He has no hands'? 10 "Woe to him who says to a father, 'What are you begetting?' Or to a woman, 'To what are you giving birth?'" 11 Thus says the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker: "Ask Me about the things to come concerning My sons, And you shall commit to Me the work of My hands. 12 "It is I who made the earth, and created man upon it. I stretched out the heavens with My hands, And I ordained all their host. 13 "I have aroused him in righteousness, And I will make all his ways smooth; He will build My city, and will let My exiles go free, Without any payment or reward," says the LORD of hosts. 14 Thus says the LORD, "The products of Egypt and the merchandise of Cush And the Sabeans, men of stature, Will come over to you and will be yours; They will walk behind you, they will come over in chains And will bow down to you; They will make supplication to you: 'Surely, God is with you, and there is none else, No other God.'" 15 Truly, Thou art a God who hides Himself, O God of Israel, Savior! 16 They will be put to shame and even humiliated, all of them; The manufacturers of idols will go away together in humiliation. 17 Israel has been saved by the LORD With an everlasting salvation; You will not be put to shame or humiliated To all eternity. 18 For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, But formed it to be inhabited), "I am the LORD, and there is none else. 19 "I have not spoken in secret, In some dark land; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, 'Seek Me in a waste place'; I, the LORD, speak righteousness Declaring things that are upright. 20 "Gather yourselves and come; Draw near together, you fugitives of the nations; They have no knowledge, Who carry about their wooden idol, And pray to a god who cannot save. 21 "Declare and set forth your case; Indeed, let them consult together.

Who has announced this from of old? Who has long since declared it? Is it not I, the LORD? And there is no other God besides Me, A righteous God and a Savior; There is none except Me. 22 "Turn to Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other. 23 "I have sworn by Myself, The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness And will not turn back, That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance. 24 "They will say of Me, 'Only in the LORD are righteousness and strength.' Men will come to Him, And all who were angry at Him shall be put to shame. 25 "In the LORD all the offspring of Israel Will be justified, and will glory." (Isaiah 45:5-25)

The sovereignty of God may be defined as the exercise of His supremacy-Being infinitely elevated above the highest creature, He is the Most High, Lord of heaven and earth. Subject to none, influenced by none, absolutely independent; God does as He pleases, only as He pleases always as He pleases. None can thwart Him, none can hinder Him. So His own Word expressly declares: "My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure" (Isaiah 46:10); "He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand" (Daniel 4:35).

Divine sovereignty means that God is God in fact, as well as in name, that He is on the Throne of the universe, directing all things, working all things "after the counsel of His own will" (Ephesians 1:11).

Because God is absolute Sovereign, such is His own claim: "This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth: and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations. For the Lord of hosts hast purposed, and who shall disannul it? and His hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?" (Isaiah 14:26,27).

Because God is irresistible Sovereign, such is His own claim: "All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest Thou?" (Daniel 4:35).

The Sovereignty of God is true not only hypothetically, but in fact. That is to say, God exercises His sovereignty, exercises it both in the natural realm, and in the spiritual.

One is born black, another white.
One is born in wealth, another in poverty.
One is born with a healthy body, another sickly and crippled.
One is cut off in childhood; another lives to old age.
One is endowed with five talents, another with but one.

And in all these cases it is God the Creator who makes one to differ from another, and "none can stay His hand." So also is it in the spiritual realm.
  • One is born in a pious home and is brought up in the fear and abomination of the Lord; another is born of criminal parents and is reared in vice.
  • One is the object of many prayers, the other is not prayed for at all.
  • One hears the Gospel from early childhood; another never hears it.
  • One sits under a Scriptural ministry; another hears nothing but error and heresy.
One has his heart opened by the Lord to receive the truth; while another is left to himself. One is "ordained to eternal life" (Acts 13:48), while another is "ordained to condemnation (Jude 4). -"To whom He will God shows mercy, and whom he wills He hardens" (Romans 9:18).

God not only created everything, but everything, which He created, is subject to His immediate control. God rules over the works of His hands. God governs the creatures He has made. God reigns with universal dominion.

Two thieves hung by Christ on the cross; they were equally guilty, equally needy, equally near to Him. One of them is moved to cry: "Lord, remember me" and is taken to Paradise, while the other is suffered to die in his sins and sink down into a hopeless eternity. Many are called, but few are chosen. Yes, Salvation is God's sovereign work. "God does not save a man because he is a sinner, for if so He must save all men, for all are sinners. Nor because he comes to Christ, for 'no man can come except the Father draw him;' nor because he repents, for 'God gives repentance unto life;' nor because he believes,' for no one can believe 'except it were given him from above;' nor yet because he holds out faithful to the end, for 'we are kept by the power of God.' It is not because of baptism, for many are saved without it, and many are lost with it. It is not because of regeneration, for that would make the new birth a practical duty. It is not because of morality, for the moralist is the hardest to reach, and many of the most immoral are saved - the ground of distinguishing grace is the Sovereignty of God: 'Even so Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight'" (J. B. Moody).

One of the most flagrant sins of this age is irreverence. By irreverence I am not now thinking of open blasphemy, or the taking of God's name in vain. Irreverence is, also, failure to ascribe the glory, which is due the great and dreadful majesty of the Almighty. It is the limiting of His power and actions by our degrading conceptions: it is the bringing of the Lord God down to our level. There are multitudes of those who do not profess to be Christians who deny that God is the omnipotent Creator, and there are multitudes of professing Christians who deny that God is absolute Sovereign. Men boast of their free will, prate of their power, and are proud of their achievements. They know not that their lives are at the sovereign disposal of the Divine Despot. They know not that they have no more power to thwart His secret counsel than a worm has to resist the tread of an elephant. They know not that God is the Potter, and they the clay. Rightly did the late Mr. Spurgeon say in his sermon on Matthew 20:15:

"There is no attribute more comforting to His children than that of
God's Sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the
most severe trials, they believe that Sovereignty has ordained their
afflictions, that Sovereignty overrules them, and that Sovereignty
will sanctify them all. There is nothing for which the children ought
more earnestly to contend than the doctrine of their Master over all
creation-the Kingship of God over all the works of His own
hands-the Throne of God and His right to sit upon that Throne.
On the other hand, there is no doctrine more hated by worldings,
no truth of which they have made such a football, as the great,
stupendous, but yet most certain doctrine of the Sovereignty of the
infinite Jehovah. 

Men will allow God to be everywhere except on
His throne. They will allow Him to be in His workshop to fashion
worlds and make stars. They will allow Him to be in His almonry to
dispense His alms and bestow His bounties. They will allow Him to
sustain the earth and bear up the pillars thereof, or light the lamps
of heaven, or rule the waves of the ever-moving ocean; but when.28
God ascends His throne, His creatures then gnash their teeth, and
we proclaim an enthroned God, and His right to do as He wills
with His own, to dispose of His creatures as He thinks well,
without consulting them in the matter; then it is that we are hissed
and execrated, and then it is that men turn a deaf ear to us, for God
on His throne is not the God they love. But it is God upon the
throne that we love to preach. It is God upon His throne whom we
trust. "Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did He in heaven, and in earth,
in the seas, and all deep places"
(Psalm 135:6)."

This is one of the Divine perfections, which is not sufficiently pondered. It is one of the excellencies of the Creator which distinguishes Him from all His creatures. God is perpetually the same: subject to no change in His being, attributes, or determinations. Therefore God is compared to a rock (Deuteronomy 32:4, etc.) which remains immovable, when the entire ocean surrounding it is continually in a fluctuating state; even so, though all creatures are subject to change, God is immutable. Because God has no beginning and no ending, He can know no change. He is everlastingly "the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (James 1:17).

"Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? for Thou only art holy" (Revelation 15:4). He only is independently, infinitely, immutably holy. In Scripture He is frequently styled "The Holy One": He is so because the sum of all moral excellency is found in Him. He is absolute Purity, unsullied even by the shadow of sin. "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5). Holiness is the very excellency of the Divine nature: the great God is "glorious in holiness" (Exodus 15:11). Therefore do we read, "Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity" (Habakkuk 1:13). As God's power is the opposite of the native weakness of the creature, as His wisdom is in complete contrast from the least defect of understanding or folly, so His holiness is the very antithesis of all moral blemish or defilement. Of old God appointed singers in Israel "that they should praise for the beauty of holiness" (2 Chronicles 20:21).

Because God is infinite in holiness, "only true God" is He who hates sin with a perfect abhorrence and whose nature eternally burns against it.

He is the One who beheld the wickedness of the antediluvians and who opened the windows of Heaven and poured down the flood of His righteous indignation.

He is the One who rained fire and brimstone upon Sodom and Gomorrah and utterly destroyed these cities of the plain.

He is the One who sent the plagues upon Egypt, and destroyed her haughty monarch together with his hosts at the Red Sea.

He is the One who caused the earth to open its mouth and swallow alive Korah and his rebellious company.

He is the One who "spared not His own Son" when He was "made sin for us...that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him."

For one sin He banished our first parents from Eden
For one sin He cursed the posterity of Ham
For one sin He turned Lot's wife into a pillar of salt
For one sin He sent out fire and devoured the sons of Aaron
For one sin Moses died in the wilderness
For one sin Achan and his family were all stoned to death
For one sin the servant of Elisha was smitten with leprosy. Behold therefore, not only the goodness, but also "the severity of God" (Romans 11:22).
And this is the God that every Christ-rejector has yet to meet in judgment! As well might a worm seek to resist the tread of an elephant; as well might a babe step between the railroad tracks and attempt to push back the express train; as well might a child seek to prevent the ocean from rolling, as for a creature to try and resist the outworking of the purpose of the Lord God -"O Lord God of our fathers, art not Thou God in heaven? and rulest not Thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in Thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee?" (2 Chronicles 20:6).

We cannot have a right conception of God unless we think of Him as all-powerful, as well as all-wise. He who cannot do what he will and perform all his pleasure cannot be God. As God hath a will to resolve what He deems good, so has He power to execute His will. The power of God is that ability and strength whereby He can bring to pass whatsoever He pleases, whatsoever His infinite wisdom may direct, and whatsoever the infinite purity of His will may resolve... As holiness is the beauty of all God's attributes, so power is that which gives life and action to all the perfections of the Divine nature. How vain would be the eternal counsels, if power did not step in to execute them. Without power His mercy would be but feeble pity, His promises an empty sound, His threatenings a mere scarecrow. God's power is like Himself: infinite, eternal, incomprehensible; it can neither be checked, restrained, nor frustrated by the creature. (S. Charnock).

"God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this, that power belongeth unto God" (Psalm 62:11). "The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" (Psalm 27:1). "Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen" (Ephesians 3:20,21).

Unfaithfulness is one of the most outstanding sins of these evil days. In the business world, a man's word is, with exceedingly rare exceptions, no longer his bond. In the social world, marital infidelity abounds on every hand, the sacred bonds of wedlock being broken with as little regard as the discarding of an old garment. In the ecclesiastical realm, thousands who have solemnly covenanted to preach the truth make no scruple to attack and deny it. Nor can reader or writer claim complete immunity from this fearful sin: in how many ways have we been unfaithful to Christ, and to the light and privileges which God has entrusted to us! How refreshing, then, how unspeakably blessed, to lift our eyes above this scene of ruin, and behold One who is faithful, faithful in all things, faithful at all times. "Know therefore that the Lord thy God, He is God, the faithful God" (Deuteronomy 7:9). This quality is essential to His being, without it He would not be God. For God to be unfaithful would be to act contrary to His nature, which were impossible: "If we believe not, yet He abideth faithful; He cannot deny Himself" (2 Timothy 2:13). Faithfulness is one of the glorious perfections of His being. He is as it were clothed with it: "O Lord God of hosts, who is a strong Lord like unto Thee? or to Thy faithfulness round about Thee?" (Psalm 89:8). "God is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man, that He should repent: hath He said, and shall He not do it? or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good?" (Numbers 23:19).

Therefore does the believer exclaim, "His compassions fail not, they are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:22, 23). Scripture abounds in illustrations of God's faithfulness. More than four thousand years ago He said, "While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease" (Genesis 8:22).

"The goodness of God endureth continually" (Psalm 52:1). The "goodness" of God respects the perfection of His nature: "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5). There is such an absolute perfection in God's nature and being that nothing is wanting to it or defective in it, and nothing can be added to it to make it better. He is originally good, good of Himself, which nothing else is; for all creatures are good only by participation and communication from God. He is essentially good; not only good, but goodness itself: the creature's good is a superadded quality, in God it is His essence. He is infinitely good; the creature's good is but a drop, but in God there is an infinite ocean or gathering together of good. He is eternally and immutably good, for He cannot be less good than He is; as there can be no addition made to Him, so no subtraction from Him. (Thomas Manton).

God is sum mum bonum...
"the chiefest good"

Stephen Charnock, the Puritan, defines God's patience, in part, thus: It is a part of the Divine goodness and mercy, yet differs from both. God being the greatest goodness, hath the greatest mildness; mildness is always the companion of true goodness, and the greater the goodness, the greater the mildness. Who so holy as Christ, and who so meek? God's slowness to anger is a branch of His mercy: "the Lord is full of compassion, slow to anger" (Psalm 145:8).

It differs from mercy in the formal consideration of the subject: mercy respects the creature as miserable, patience respects the creature as criminal; mercy pities him in his misery, patience bears with the sin which engendered the misery, and giving birth to more.

Grace is a perfection of the Divine character which is exercised only toward the elect. Neither in the Old Testament nor in the New is the grace of God ever mentioned in connection with mankind generally, still less with the lower orders of His creatures. In this it is distinguished from mercy, for the mercy of God is "over all His works" (Psalm 145-9). Grace is the alone source from which flow the goodwill, love, and salvation of God unto His chosen people. This attribute of the Divine character was defined by Abraham Booth in his helpful book, The Reign of Grace thus, "It is the eternal and absolute free favor of God, manifested in the vouchsafement of spiritual and eternal blessings to the guilty and the unworthy."

There are three principal characteristics of Divine grace:
First, it is eternal. Grace was planned before it was exercised, purposed before it was imparted: "Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began" (2 Timothy 1:9).

it is free, for none did ever purchase it: "Being justified freely by His grace" (Romans 3:24).

it is sovereign, because God exercises it toward and bestows it upon whom He pleases: "Even so might grace reign" (Romans 5:21). If grace "reigns" then is it on the throne, and the occupant of the throne is sovereign. Hence "the throne of grace" (Hebrews 4:16). Just because grace is unmerited favor, it must be exercised in a sovereign manner. Therefore does the Lord declare, "I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious" (Exodus 33:19). Were God to show grace to all of Adam's descendants, men would at once conclude that He was righteously compelled to take them to heaven as a meet compensation for allowing the human race to fall into sin. But the great God is under no obligation to any of His creatures, least of all to those who are rebels against Him.
"O give thanks unto the Lord: for He is good, for His mercy endureth forever" (Psalm 136:1). For this perfection of the Divine character God is greatly to be praised. Three times over in as many verses does the Psalmist here call upon the saints to give thanks unto the Lord for this adorable attribute. And surely this is the least that can be asked for from those who have been such bounteous gainers by it. When we contemplate the characteristics of this Divine excellency, we cannot do otherwise than bless God for it. His mercy is "great" (1 Kings 3:6), "plenteous" (Psalm 86:5), "tender" (Luke 1:78), "abundant" (1 Peter 1:3); it is "from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him" (Psalm 103:17). Well may we say with the Psalmist, "I will sing aloud of Thy mercy" (Psalm 59:16). "I will make all My goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy" (Exodus 33:19). Wherein differs the "mercy of God from His grace"? The mercy of God has its spring in the Divine goodness. The first issue of God's goodness is His benignity or bounty, by which He gives liberally to His creatures as creatures; thus has He given being and life to all things. The second issue of God's goodness is His mercy, which denotes the ready inclination of God to relieve the misery of fallen creatures. Thus, "mercy" presupposes sin.

There are three things told us in Scripture concerning the nature of God:
First, "God is spirit" (John 4:24). In the Greek there is no indefinite article, and to say "God is a spirit" is most objectionable, for it places Him in a class with others. God is "spirit" in the highest sense. Because He is "spirit" He is incorporeal, having no visible substance. Had God a tangible body, He would not be omnipresent, He would be limited to one place; because He is spirit He fills heaven and earth.

Second, God is light (1 John 1:5), which is the opposite of "darkness." In Scripture "darkness" stands for sin, evil, death; and "light" for holiness, goodness, life. God is light, means that He is the sum of all excellency.

Third, "God is love" (1 John 4:8). It is not simply that God "loves," but that He is Love itself. Love is not merely one of His attributes, but His very nature. There are many today who talk about the love of God, who are total strangers to the God of love. The Divine love is commonly regarded as a species of amiable weakness, a sort of good-natured indulgence; it is reduced to a mere sickly sentiment, patterned after human emotion. Now the truth is that on this, as on everything else, our thoughts need to be formed and regulated by what is revealed thereon in Holy Scripture. That there is urgent need for this is apparent not only from the ignorance which so generally prevails, but also from the low state of spirituality which is now so sadly evident everywhere among professing Christians. How little real love there is for God. One chief reason for this is because our hearts are so little occupied with His wondrous love for His people. The better we are acquainted with His love-its character, fullness, blessedness-the more will our hearts be drawn out in love to Him. Jeremiah 31:3, "I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee."
The wrath of God is His eternal detestation of all unrighteousness. It is the displeasure and indignation of Divine equity against evil. It is the holiness of God stirred into activity against sin. It is the moving cause of that just sentence which He passes upon evil-doers. God is angry against sin because it is a rebelling against His authority, a wrong done to His inviolable sovereignty. The forerunner of Christ warned his hearers to "flee from the wrath to come" (Matthew 3:7). The Savior bade His auditors "Fear Him, which after He hath killed, hath power to cast into Hell; yea, I say unto you. Fear Him" (Luke 12:5). The apostle Paul said, "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men" (2 Corinthians 5:11). Faithfulness demands that we speak as plainly about Hell as about Heaven.

"Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the whole soul of man, as a devout, earnest, continued, investigation of the great subject of the Deity. The most excellent study for expanding the soul is the science of Christ and Him crucified and the knowledge of the Godhead in the glorious Trinity." (C. H. Spurgeon).

Let us quote a little further from this prince of preachers: The proper study of the Christian is the God-head. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the doings, and the existence of the great God which he calls his Father. There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity. Other subjects we can comprehend and grapple with; in them we feel a kind of self-content, and go on our way with the thought, "Behold I am wise." But when we come to this master science, finding that our plumb-line cannot sound its depth, amid that our eagle eye cannot see its height, we turn away with the thought "I am but of yesterday and know nothing." (Malachi 3:6). Yes, the incomprehensibility of the Divine nature should teach us humility, caution and reverence. After all our searchings and meditations we have to say with Job, "Lo, these are parts of His ways: but how little a portion is heard of Him!" (26:14).

No dominion is so absolute as that which is founded on creation. He who might not have made any thing, had a right to make all things according to His own pleasure. In the exercise of His uncontrolled power, He has made some parts of the creation mere inanimate matter, of grosser or more refined texture, and distinguished by different qualities, but all inert and unconscious. He has given organization to other parts, and made them susceptible of growth and expansion, but still without life in the proper sense of the term. To others He has given not only organization, but also conscious existence, organs of sense and self-motive power. To these He has added in man the gift of reason, and an immortal spirit, by which he is allied to a higher order of beings who are placed in the superior regions. Over the world, which He has created, He sways the scepter of omnipotence. "I praised and honored Him that liveth forever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation: and all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doeth Thou?"-Daniel 4:34, 35. (John Dick).

A creature, considered as such, has no rights. He can demand nothing from his Maker; and in whatever manner he may be treated, has no title to complain. Yet, when thinking of the absolute dominion of God over all, we ought never to lose sight of His moral perfections. God is just and good, and ever does that which is right. Nevertheless, He exercises His sovereignty according to His own imperial and righteous pleasure. He assigns each creature his place as seemeth good in His own sight. He orders the varied circumstances of each according to His own counsels. He moulds each vessel according to His own uninfluenced determination. He has mercy on whom He will, and whom He will He hardens. Wherever we are, His eye is upon us. Whoever we are, our life and everything is held at His disposal. To the Christian, He is a tender Father; to the rebellious sinner He will yet be a consuming fire. "Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen" (1 Timothy 1:17).


willmania said...

So wonderful to read all this after reading of Tony Campolo's recent denial of God's omnipotence concerning Katrina. All glory to Him who is our All in all.

2Tal said...

I liked John Piper's response on to NPR Senior News Analyst, Daniel Schorr's comment saying that if Katrina "was the result of intelligent design then God has something to answer for." Piper's response... "No Mr. Schorr, you have something to answer for, not God. God answers to no man." He goes on to say that "whatever mercy is mingled with judgment in New Orleans neither we not they deserve" and says further, "there is only one hope to escape the flood of God’s wrath. It is not the levee of human virtue but the high ground called Calvary. All brokenhearted looters and news analysts and pastors are welcome there."
Thank you Steve for these gems.
I hope the Piper quotes are fitting. I always enjoy contemplating God's attributes. So balanced...
Complimenting one another...
May we imitate "mercy" in our efforts to help the myraids of brokenhearted people in the midst of this devastation.

Dinsdale said...

Great post Steve! Thanks for reminding us of what our perspective should be.

By the way, where are you getting those awesome pics of the bible scenes?

DOGpreacher said...

Thank you Steve. So far I have read John Piper, James Spurgeon (The Howling Coyote), and this your latest post. I am blessed to be able to receive these wonderful thoughts on Gods' sovereignty. I hope that more pastors like myself will tune into your blog and be edified, & educated. I am...
Grateful for Grace,
A fellow laborer

SJ Camp said...

Thank you you all for your comments.

1. Tony is a friend of mine and we have wrestled on several issues over the years. Keep in mind that he is a sociologist and not theologically studied. As a result, somethings he says, though passionate, do sound odd and are not compatable with biblical doctrine such as the one you cited.

2. The Piper quotes are more than fitting... very good - I thank you.

3. The great Bible scenes are from the hand of Gustave Dore. He is the finest artist of biblical themes I know of. A tremendous 19th century gift to the church... even to us today.

4. Lastly, I am honored to be a fellow laborer with you brother. I am a churchman at heart and thank the Lord for men of God who faithfully labor in the fields of God's Word daily in bringing every man complete in Christ (Col. 1:28f). I am humbled that you deem this blog a worthy tool to be used for the good of His people and for His glory alone.

Grace and peace to you all,

Ted Gossard said...

Steve, thanks for reminding us of the Lord from whom our help comes.

I understand that grace as defined in your post and as in Ephesians 2:8-10 is confined to Christians (the "elect").

However I would take gentle issue with the idea that God's grace is not given to all people. It would be what Calvinists (and others, I believe) have called "common grace". This includes such passages as those referring to God sending his rain on the just and the unjust. God filling people's hearts with joy (Acts 14:17). God's kindness/goodness which is meant to lead people to repentance. And I'm sure there are other ways of seeing his "grace" displayed to all people. Even his saving grace has appeared to all people.

Thanks for helping readers focus on God.

DOGpreacher said...

This grace (saving) must be to the elect alone. Saving grace being efficacious, if it were given to all men, all men would be saved, and we would have to be universalists. The grace (mercy) which is common to us all is that we breathe & live instead of being consumed upon our first transgression. He suffers long with many, and we definitely do not deserve it, so yes, that is grace, but not saving grace.

DOGpreacher said...

Also...the statement about kindness/goodness/repentance must be looked at in the same light (as for His elect), and then we understand Esau searching but it (repentance) was not to be found.

loren said...

Hi Steve,

Like so many others, I've wondered about the disaster with Hurricane Katrina, in New Orleans. I took this to Ezekiel 14 where the Lord talks about the judgment He brings against a land that sins against Him through persistent unfaithfulness. He cuts off their supply of bread, sends famine, wild beasts, etc., against them, even though Noah, Daniel and Job(flood, wild beasts, and disaster) stood before Him.

How true was it that New Orleans was persistently unfaithful? Try clicking here for some eye-opening facts.

None of us like to see people suffer. But in judgment God remembers mercy, and He makes all things work together for good for those who are the called according to His purpose.

Accordingly, I took heart at the end of that passage, in Ezekiel 14, when God said that He would bring out a remnant to comfort us, and we would be comforted concerning the disaster. And when He does this, we will know that He has done nothing without cause that He has done in it. So we will all understand this better in time.

4given said...

Excellent post!

Psalm 121 is the Psalm my oldest son memorized and recited to me during one of my most challenging times when I was first diagnosed with MS.

SJ Camp said...

Psalm 121 is one of my favorites too. I wrote a song around this Psalm for the Desiring God CD. It was written after I had devotions with my five kids.

Family time around the Psalms is sweet indeed!

littlegal_66 said...

"I wrote a song around this Psalm for the Desiring God CD."

Yes, and just reading the title of this post had that wonderful duet playing in my head all weekend long. :-) What a medium! Powerful song inspired by a powerful passage. Thank you Campi.

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