Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hello Reform-Shire friends,

I'm sure you have been missing my postings these past couple of weeks. I've been in a lot of conversations over the past few weeks about the church and the pastor search. Asking questions of the interviewing pastor and attending a Sunday School Class called "Gospel in Life - Grace Changes Everything" by Tim Keller.

There were a couple of articles by Tim Keller that I shared with the church leadership about being Gospel Centered in the the Church.

This has been a really really good class so far.

This week I've been thinking about the Sovereignty of God. And more specifically the providence of God.

There are a so many characters in the Bible to choose from but 2 that I like to think about are
Joseph in Genesis and Zacchaeus in Luke.

1)Joseph and that colorful coat.

RC Sproul did a wonderful series on the "Life of Joseph"
My favorite part is when RC Sproul discusses how much happened because of one lousy multi-colored coat. But, through all of that it was really God's providence that brought about the ultimate good in spite of the evil things that happened to Joseph. Not just in Joseph's life where he says you have meant it for evil but God has meant it for good.
We can see throughout scripture how God was working even allowing sin to take place to bring about the ultimate good. And God's providence works through all the aspects of the Human free will. For example, if you look at Jacob prior to the incident of Joseph and giving him this coat of many colors. Look at what kind of person Jacob has become. Look at what has happened in his own life. See how God worked even in that situation. See how Romans 9 interprets how God had chosen Jacob over Esau. So, all these things God was active and not just observing. He was involved in orchestrating the people while allowing them to maintain their freedom while at the same time maintaining His providence and His sovereignty over whatever comes to pass.
God not only determines the ends, but also the means by which everything comes to pass. But, this does not assign any evil to God, it still assigns the evil to man. And God either allows or does not allow the evil to take place.

So, Joseph's story is very big and very significant. And ultimately these things had to take place in order to bring about a savior in the person and works of Jesus Christ. Which happens way off into the distant future from the events or life of Joseph.

Now lets look into the
New Testament at a smaller example but God's providence is often overlooked. Let's look at Zacchaeus

2) Zacchaeus who climbed a tree to be able to see Jesus.

Luke 19:3-5 (New International Version)

3He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. 4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

5When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today."

Now in American churches Zacchaeus is given praise for being determined and having the wisdom to climb that tree because somehow Zacchaeus all of a sudden decided that he was curious about this man Jesus was about to come along. We have a tendancy to put a lot of emphasis on the example of Zacchaeus tha we can apply to our every day lives. But, in reality, this is "Me-ism" or Narcissism. Below I will make a case for more praise to God's Providence and less praise for this man Zacchaeus.

So, Just like in Joseph's story, God was involved in this small little situation as well. The encounter of Jesus with Zacchaeus. Jesus was not surprised by this event that was unfolding. God made Zacchaeus and allowed him to become the kind of man that he is in this story. God caused Zacchaeus to be short, or at least short enough to need to climb the tree to see over the crowd. God also provided the tree to be planted and to grow so that Zacchaeus would be able to have a way to see over the crowd. And Jesus was to walk by at the precise time that Zaccheus would have the desire (created by the
Holy Spirit) to see Jesus Christ and feel the compulsion to get a better look by climbing that tree. God also allowed Zacchaeus to become a tax collector and even a cheating tax collector, that would be despised by all the Jews. So, it wasn't part of Zacchaeus life to be anticipating the coming of the Messiah, it was his anticipation to make a little money off the excess that he would charge as he collected the taxes.
So, somehow, someway, while Zacchaeus was still in his free will to choose to have nothing to do with God, God changed Zacchaeus will, awakened him from spiritual darkness and brought him to the light in the meeting with Jesus. Zacchaeus response to the Grace of God was to do something out of Gratitude for the realization of his guilt before a Holy God. He wanted to give back more than what he had taken which is like the Grace that is given to us in our salvation or our adoption as sons of the Most High King, Jesus Christ.

So, in little ways and in big ways God is working to bring about His ultimate will to His Glory and to His Honor.

Romans 8:28-39
More Than Conquerors
28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,[j] who[k] have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

31What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written:
"For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."[l] 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[m] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Thank you,
Greace = Grace and Peace,
Coram Deo!!!

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