devotional

01FEB
2015

LBCF 1689 Reflections (part 18).

 

Reflections on the Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689. 23 Aug 14 began a perhaps unbroken, orderly, and personal journey through my favorite written confession of faith. This will be my personal reflections on this beloved written codification of the Christian faith according to a Baptist flavor.

 

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CHAPTER 2

Paragraph 1: “…working all things according to the counsel of his own immutable and most righteous will for his own glory…”

“In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will,” Ephesians 1:11. God is at work in all things.

     There’s an old Christian nursery rhyme that goes, “He’s got the whole world in His hands, He’s got the whole wide world, in His hands.” Sing it with me! There’s more truth to that than many of us consider on a regular basis. The confession is wise to remind us who’s in control. God’s level of control over the universe isn’t something we can really understand. We can confess it, but not truly grasp it. This, in my opinion, is simple. It’s because God is not at all like us. He simply does not operate like we do. We cannot truly grasp how He works because He’s an infinite being far beyond what our mortal frames can comprehend, Psalm 103:14. God’s control over the universe is exhaustive. Many people today, even in Christendom, have adopted pagan concepts like karma, luck, or what’s falsely called science to explain away God’s supernatural control, but the Bible reveals a God completely in control. God’s guidance of His universe, in theological terms, is called His “providence.”

     We see His control spoken of in many ways, some perhaps much more subtle than others. All of them are equally according to the counsel of His will, and, as the confession affirms, for His glory. For instance, what makes the grass grow? The sun, oxygen and water, right? Wrong. Incomplete answer if left alone. God makes the grass grow; He simply uses photosynthesis: “He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and vegetation for the service of man, that he may bring forth food from the earth,” Psalm 104:14; 147:8. Paul attributes the harvests, the rain, etc., directly to the providence of God to the people of Lystra in Acts 14 when he says, “He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness,” Acts 14:17.

     Where do kids come from? Sex, right? Wrong. Incomplete answer if left alone. Kids are from God. “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward,” Psalm 127:3. All throughout the Old Testament we see the people treating barrenness and childbirth in direct relation to God, Genesis 25:21; 29:31; 20:18; Deuteronomy 7:14; 1 Samuel 1:5, etc. God may not choose to give children to everyone, and I know that this is very hard for some, however, if He does withhold children, it is for the optimal joy of those who love and serve Him.

     Even the casting of lots, the equivalent of rolling dice or drawing straws, the Bible reveals to be wholly under God’s supernatural control. This was once a trusted practice under God. “The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the Lord,” Proverbs 16:33. Get that? Even dice (lots) fall according to His counsel. A fascinating OT example of this is with Jonah. God worked His providential control even with the pagan crew of Jonah’s boat to identify Jonah as the cause of the storm. “And they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this trouble has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah,” Jonah 1:7. God used lots to identify Jonah to the crew. It’s intriguing to me that even the Apostles in the New Testament used lots to decide identify Matthias, Judas’ apostolic replacement. They knew Jonah’s story. They knew of the use of the lot with the priests and the scapegoats, the lot’s division of the land of Cana, and all the ways lots were used by God in olden times. They trusted God to use them. “And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles,” Acts 1:26. Lots disappear entirely after this in Scripture.

     Some things are secret regarding the counsel of God; other things aren’t, but Scripture gives us the categorical promise of Ephesians 1:11 that God works all things, not arbitrarily, but according to His will. If you trust His will then you can literally rest assured that He is in control. How about this beautiful promise? “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows,” Matthew 10:29-31. This is the promise of Him who works all things according to His own counsel, for His own glory. No matter what you’re going through in life, God is able to show you eternal reward in it if you’ll submit to Him in trust and obedience. This is the joy of the believer even in the hardest of times.

     God will be glorified in all His works. I believe we will be able to marvel about His providence alone forever.

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