"Oh to Grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be.
Let thy goodness, like a fetter
bind my wandering heart to Thee!"

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Are Your Thoughts of God Too Human??

The following passage by A.W. Pink is probably one of the greatest passages that I can point to as a reason why one should go to such great lengths to preserve the truths of God and His character as it is described in the Bible, even amongst those that say we are 'divisive' or just being too nit-picky. No way. I was having that very conversation with someone a few weeks ago....we were discussing Calvinists and this person didn't understand why they were so 'hard headed' about election and their doctrines of grace. After all, there is so much common ground right? As I began to go into how it is just SO frustrating to see God being portrayed with characteristics that just simply ARE not Him, I tried to explain why it is not just a simple difference that should be overlooked. Erroneous depictions of God are DISHONORING to Him. I was trying to point out that a God that is not in sovereign control of everything is not a God that is worthy of being glorified. If God did not decree everything that happens, then why should we give Him glory for it? A God that simply knows all things but didn't decree it is not worthy of our admiration. Anyways, it was during that very conversation that I happened to have Pink's The Nature of God book sitting by me, and by the grace of God I flipped to this passage and read it out loud. Let's just say, it ended all discussion up to that point and led to me and the person sitting there in awe of the Lord and His glory. This passage may be a bit lengthy, but I promise it is WELL WORTH the read. Enjoy.

In one of his letters to Erasmus, Luther said, "Your thoughts of God are too human." Probably that renowned scholar resented such a rebuke, the more so, since it proceeded from a miner's son. Nevertheless, it was thoroughly deserved. We, too, prefer the same charge against the vast majority of the preachers of our day and against those who, instead of searching the Scriptures for themselves, lazily accept their teachings. The most dishonoring conceptions of the rule and reign of the Almighty are now held almost everywhere. To countless thousands, even professing Christians, the God of Scriptures is quite unknown.

Of old, God complained to an apostate Israel, "Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such as one as thyself" (Psalm 50:21). Such must now be His indictment against apostate Christendom. Men imagine the Most High is moved by sentiment, rather than by principle. They suppose His omnipotency is such an idle fiction that Satan can thwart His designs on every side. They think that if He has formed any plan or purpose at all, then it must be like theirs, constantly subject to change. They openly declare that whatever power He possesses must be restricted, lest He invade the citadel of man's free will and reduce him to a machine. They lower all-efficacious atonement, which redeems everyone for whom it was made, to a mere remedy, which sin-sick souls may use if they feels so disposed. They lessen the strength of the invincible work of the Holy Spirit to an offer of the Gospel which sinners may accept or reject as they please.

The god of this century no more resembles the Sovereign of Holy Writ than does the dim flickering of a candle the glory of the midday sun. The god who is talked about in the average pulpit, spoken of in the ordinary Sunday school, mentioned in much of the religious literature of the day, and preached in most of the so-called Bible conferences, is a figment of human imagination, an invention of maudlin sentimentality. The heathen outside the pale of Christendom form gods of wood and stone, while millions of heathen inside Christendom maufacture a god out of their carnal minds. In reality, they are but atheists, for there is no other possible alternative between an absolutely supreme God and no God at all. A god whose will is resisted, whose designs are frustrated, whose purpose is checkmated, possesses no title to deity and, far from being a fit object of worship, merits nothing but contempt.

The supremacy of the true and living God might well be argued from the infinite distance which separates the mightiest creatures from the Creator. He is the Potter; they are but the clay in His hands, to be molded into vessels of honor or to be dashed into pieces (Psalm 2:9) as He pleases. Were all the denizens of heaven and all the inhabitants of earth to combine in open revolt against Him, it would cause Him no uneasiness. It would have less effect upon His eternal, unassailable throne than the spray of the Mediterranean's waves has upon the towering rocks of Gibraltar. So puerile and powerless is the creature to affect the Most High, Scripture tells us that when the Gentile heads unite with apostate Israel to defy Jehovah and His Christ, "He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh" (Psalm 2:4).

The absolute and universal supremacy of God is plainly affirmed in many Scriptures. "Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heaven and the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all...And thou reignest over all" (1 Chronicles 29:11-12). Norw "reignest" now, not "will do so in the Millennium." "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 [not even the devil himself] is able to withstand thee?" (2 Chronicles 20:6). Before Him presidents and popes, kings and emperors, are less than grasshoppers.

"But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth" (Job 23:13). My reader, the God of Scripture is no make-believe monarch, no imaginary sovereign, but Kind of kings, and Lord of lords. "I know that thou cantst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee" (Job 42:2; or another translator, "no purpose of thine can be thwarted" (RSV). All that He has designed, He does. All that He has decreed, He perfects. All that he has promised, He performs. "But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased" (Psalm 115:3). Why has He? Because "there is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the Lord" (Proverbs 21:30).

God's supremacy over the works of His hands is vividly depicted in Scripture. Inanimate matter, irrational creatures, all perform their Maker's bidding. At His pleasure, the Red Sea divided and its waters stood up as walls (Exodus 14); the earth opened her mouth, and guilty rebels went down alive into the pit (Numbers 16). When He so ordered, the sun stood still (Joshua 10:1-13); and on another occasion it went backward ten degrees on the dial of Ahaz (2 Kings 20:1-11). To exemplify His supremacy, God made ravens carry food to Elijah (1 Kings 17); iron to float on the waters (2 Kings 6:1-7); lions to be tame when Daniel was cast into their den (Daniel 6); fire to burn not when three Hebrews were flung into its flames (Daniel 3). Thus, "Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places" (Psalm 135:6).

God's supremacy is also demonstrated in His perfect rule over the wills of men. Ponder carefully Exodus 34. Three times in the year all the males of Israel were required to leave their homes and go up to Jerusalem. They lived in the midst of hostile people, who hated them for having appropriated their lands. What, then was to hinder the Canaanites from seizing the opportunity, during the absence of the men, to enslave the women and children and take possession of their farms? If the hand of the Almighty was not upon the wills even of wicked men, how could He make this promise beforehand, that none should so much as "desire" their lands (v.24)? "The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will" (Proverbs 21:1)/

But, some may object, do we not read again and again in Scripture how men defied God, resisted His will, broke His commandments, disregarded His warnings, and turned a deaf ear to all His exhortations? Certainly we do. Does this nullify all we have said? If so, then plainly the Bible contradicts itself. But that cannot be. What the objector refers to is simply the wickedness of men against the external word of God. We have mentioned what God has purposed in Himself. The rule of conduct He has given us to walk by is perfectly fulfilled by none of us. His own eternal counsels are accomplished to their minutest details.

The absolute and universal supremacy of God is affirmed with equal positiveness in the New Testament. We are told that God "worketh all things after the counsel of his own will" (Ephesians 1:11)-- the Greek for the "worketh" means "to work effectually." For this reason we read, "For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen." (Romans 11:36). Men may boast they are free agents, with a will of their own, and are at liberty to do as they please. But Scripture says to those who boast, "We will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, " that they ought to say, "If the Lord will" (James 4:13,15).

Here then is a sure resting place for the heart. Our lives are neither the product of blind fate nor the result of capricious chance. Every detail of them was ordained from all eternity and is now ordered by the living reigning God. Not a hair of our heads can be touched without His permission. "A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps" (Proverbs 16:9). What assurance, what strength, what comfort this should give the real Christian! "My times are in they hand" (Psalm 31:15). Then let me "rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him" (37:7).

-A.W. Pink

Monday, August 11, 2008

Oh How Easily We Forget....

Oh how easily we forget the muck and mire we were in,
The times when we went without faith, the times as slaves to sin.
Oh how easily we forget the dreaded days when our eyes were blind,
When my thoughts were only selfish, and when true depravity was mine.
Oh how sick and sad to see, how we forget so easily
About the former days of empty praise we sang with worldly ease.

I for one, come before you Lord, so broken and contrite
So much so, my flesh and bones will get no rest tonight.
For quite a bit of time has passed, before I’ve now come to see,
That I have been living in great sin and running away from Thee.
O Lord, how easily I have forgotten, my former days of carnal lust
And instead of staying alert and awake and giving You my trust,
I have given way to earthly treasures which have rotted and collected dust.

But a child of God cannot go on deceived by its youthful lusts,
The Lord will stretch and pull and pry and chastise when He must.
Because it is so clear how fast we steer from the straight and narrow path
I know personally, for a season now I have lost all sight of His holy wrath.
And what a frightening time indeed, when you have lost that holy fear
Of the Lord and His righteousness; instead you put on the deceptively fake veneer.
Oh hypocrite, your lips may sing but your heart is far from Me
Father, I beg you now, draw me back in so I’m near to Thee.

Oh how easily I have forgotten the times of those dreaded days
When my heart was only selfish, so depraved in all my ways.
For just as easily as I’ve forgotten, just as easily I have seen
That same person I once left behind has come back in a nightmarish dream.
But I am grateful that tonight, Lord, You’ve given me eyes to see
That I’ve been blinded once again, and its time to come running back to Thee.
So I pace and pace, and pray and pray until wee hours of the night
Reading psalm after psalm, no rest or peace, not until I'm reconciled in Your sight.

What is this Lord, can’t I come back to fellowship with Thee?
Seems not until I’m stripped and still, knowing I’ve sinned in thought and deed.
I acknowledge it Lord, I’ve sinned against You! Be merciful to me indeed.
Deal with me not in your anger, I beg, and my confessions I do concede.
So for now, I know one thing, I will sit and wait upon your gracious gift,
The gift of repentance, Lord, so this great burden may finally lift.
I exalt you Lord, so abase me now, so I remember again those days
When I was so dependent on your grace, that it guided me in all my ways.
Because it seems that I’ve forgotten and now my heart has become so hard
Only to come to grips with my sin, feeling trapped and chained and barred.

But oh how merciful you are to the righteous, even though I don’t feel I qualify
I know I’ve been washed and cleansed by your blood, I pray the flesh now I mortify.
For sin leads to death, to destruction, to despair, and I’ve tasted that tonight
But gracious you have been to me, Lord, though I’ve been anything but upright.
You’ve heard my cry and delivered me, and your faithfulness is clear
You will have nothing to do with a prideful heart, but the humble you’ll draw near.
Why do I insist on forgetting this, like I haven’t learned it before in my past?
Transform me by the renewal of my mind, so this spiritual growth with last.

Oh how easily, Lord, I had forgotten my former days of bondage to sin.
So use it now to remind me how if I don’t have your grace I’ll be there again.