Sometimes I wonder if unbelievers look at those who believe and ask themselves, "What's so great about being a Christian?" They can't help but notice that we too have trouble in this world. Jesus warned us of this after explaining that "the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God". . .John 16:27. This verse tells us that God loves those who believe in Jesus. Jesus then acknowledged that -
"In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world." John 16:33
Most of us have noticed this to be true. What do we see in our lives? You don't have to think too hard or look too far to see sickness, financial problems, divorce, children who go astray,
addiction to alcohol and drugs...all evident in the lives of people who have a personal relationship with God. Trouble will sometimes land us in jail. I know this because I've spent the last twelve years working with hundreds of inmates, some of whom are Christians. They want to overcome the trouble in this world, and many want to experience peace with God. I personally want to know the One who has overcome the world. Who, except Jesus, has ever said that they've "overcome" the world?
# 9 God is sovereign.
I mentioned at the start of "Ten Most Important Things About God" that my ten things may be different from the list you'd make. My list is not in any particular order. For me, the fact that God is sovereign, and all that implies, is the #1 attribute of God. Sovereignty is the single most important truth that can be applied to all aspects of daily life. Knowing God is sovereign and that I can trust by faith what He is doing in my life is the truth that brings peace and enables me to know joy in the midst of any circumstance.
We can't decide to believe a spiritual truth on our own. The apostle Paul knew that the Lord must reveal truth to us personally. He wrote..."I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ." - Galatians 1:12. God reveals truth, we are dependent upon Him.
Speaking for myself, God's sovereignty has been at the heart of my faith and provides the perseverance and patience to deal with all the trouble in this world. Okay, I'll admit it; sometimes I'm not too patient! But, in the midst of my impatience and pain, I take great pleasure in knowing that nothing can happen to me outside of God's control. And further, whatever happens, He will work it for good in my life - Romans 8:28. Every trial and tribulation comes from His hand and for His purpose. Here is a verse you don't hear quoted very often;
"The Lord works out everything for his own ends - even the wicked for a day of disaster." Proverbs 16:4
Someone told me that this verse is in the exact middle of the Bible. I am comforted by the hope I have and the faith God has given me to know that only He is sovereign.
At times, our life can get pretty messy. We look at ourselves and see that we are far from perfect and wonder. . .how can we stand before a holy God? Like many, I believed I had a free will and power over my life. Living life by my own strength, feeling pride, or feeling guilt was all I knew. The prophet Habakkuk wrote that our own strength can become our god. Paul understood this concept also and wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:9 ...
The Lord told Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore (Paul said) I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ's power may rest on me...For when I am weak, then I am strong."
What Paul is saying is that he has learned that God is in control and our power rests in God, not in ourselves. Relax, come to Jesus and let Him carry the heavy burdens of life. He wants to that for you.
Since I started studying the Bible, over forty years ago, I've never, not for one minute, believed that I have a 'free will'. If I were free to plan as I'd like, my life would be perfect - perfect in the sense that it would be the way I think it should be. I sometimes wonder what people who believe they have a free will think they are 'free' from. Free from God's will in their life, free from God Himself? I've heard 'free will' described as a "self-idolatrous euphemism." That's a mouth full!
We are not to idolize ourselves as if we were the 'all powerful one'. The Lord has very strong words to say about any kind of idolatry. It's not a good thing. Even though Christians are not under a law of conduct, the 'law' is valid as it was given to us to show that we need a Savior. The very first commandment states, "You should have no other god's before me." This includes elevating ourselves into a god.
Many years ago I read this statement in study notes from a Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) class. We were studying the life of Moses.
"The sovereignty of God is probably the most pervasive doctrine in the Bible. God always does what God determines to do and what happens is what God has determined."
I don't think you can say it any better than that. Of course if Scripture doesn't confirm this to be true, this statement has no value. I do not understand how one can reconcile God's sovereignty with man's free will. . .it simply does not compute, either God is in control or we are. If we are, God must constantly change His plan to react to the next foolish thing we decide to do. Some worry that if we don't make the free choice to love the Lord, it can't be love; God doesn't force anyone to come to Him. Really? Humanly speaking, that may make sense, but that's not what the Bible teaches. In Paul's letter to the Ephesian believers, he writes. . .
"For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will - to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves." Ephesians 1:4 -6.
Psalm 139 tells us that God knit us together in our mother's womb. David wrote, "All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." God leaves nothing to chance; He has a perfect plan in place. Before knowing Christ, the Bible describes us as being "dead in your transgressions and sins". Dead people are not capable of making any choice, good or bad. But when (or if) God puts His spirit in you, you will come alive and by faith, a gift from God, recognize that you are sinful and you will accept God's gracious gift of faith and salvation through Jesus. This process is all God's doing, our works don't count and Ephesians 2:9 tells us why; "so no one can boast." If we thought our salvation was our doing, we'd feel superior to those who can't recognize the Savior or understand their need for forgiveness. God is the holy one, not us, and He alone gets the glory!
And then, we have those who lament, "God didn't make me a robot!" Yes He did. God knows the beginning from the end and we are each a player on this stage of life which He flawlessly directs. Speaking for myself, I love the fact that my heavenly Father has planned and looked after every detail of my life and that I can never escape His sovereignty. Ruminate on this verse. . .
"In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will." Ephesians 1:11
One reason we know that the Bible is God's Word is that it has a consistent message from Genesis through Revelation. And because the Word is alive, it speaks to us today, individually, opens our hearts to spiritual truth and allows us to see into the invisible with eyes of faith. Isaiah wrote, "Have you not heard? Long ago I ordained it. In days of old I planned it; now I have brought it to pass. . ." Isaiah 37:26. Amen!
I'm finding that there aren't just ten most important things about God. Everything about Him is important! Don't you think so?
I don't like to have advertising on my blog, but from time to time I like to mention that I put together a book that contains blogs I've written. I cover subjects like "Why Study the Bible", "Bible Basics", "Knowing Truth", "Fact or Fiction?" "A Practical Love", "A Sovereign King", "Married - To Be or Not To Be", "The View from Above", and many more. The book, Blogging God's Word - Seeing Ourselves Through God's Eyes by Roberta Van Hise can be bought on-line at the Crossbooks.com website, or at Amazon.com, also available as an E-book. Within the next two to three months, God willing, I'll have a new book available, also written from my blog.
Lord, thank you for choosing me. I know many are called, but few are chosen. I am humbled by your sovereign grace toward me. I understand that I've done nothing to earn or deserve your love, you simply chose to give it. Thank you for the honor of sharing your Word with the world - an amazing thing. I ask your blessing on all who read these words and know that you have ordained spiritual ears to hear the truth.
Bobbe Van Hise
- Over the past few years my blog has been visited by people from all over the world. Very few know me, or of me, they simply are looking information concerning the Bible and discover my blog. After many years of intense study and teaching, I've come to believe we are vulnerable to misguided and incorrect teaching if we don't understand for ourselves the teaching of God's Word. My 'hot buttons' are - grace, sovereignty, exhortations and sanctification. If you understand these basic principles of Scripture, and apply them to daily life, you will understand what it means to have peace, joy and absolute security in any circumstance.