Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for July, 2010

The Heart of a Minister ( 2 Cor 8 )

In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, he writes about the generous nature of the churches in Macedonia. In doing so, he urged the Corinthians to give financially, as well (2 Cor 8:113-14). To prove that he was not acting alone in making this request, he shares this insight into the life of his associate, Titus:

But thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same earnest care I have for you. For he not only accepted our appeal, but being himself very earnest he is going to you of his own accord (2 Cor 8:16-17).

God had placed within Titus’ heart the same desire that Paul had. Paul then goes on to display the human responsibility side of the equation: “he is going to you of his own accord.”

By Jeff Spry (www.monergism.com)

 

***This is part of a blog series on the Sovereignty of God.  This topic has been highly mis-understood throughout much of evangelicalism.  Some will say they believe that God is sovereign, yet deny its many implications.  Others will completely deny God’s Sovereignty because of it’s implications.  We hope that you will stick with this extensive study on the Sovereignty of God.  We will be including resources from a variety of Theologians and Authors, that will hopefully be able to answer many of the misnomers and questions that you may have***

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

The Crucifixion of the Messiah (Acts 2, 4)

Peter and John have just been released from prison after the healing incident of the cripple at the temple gate (Acts 3). When they returned to their fellow believers and told them what had happened, the response to the others was to pray (Acts 4:24). Their prayer begins with an acknowledgement of God’s sovereignty over heaven and earth as Creator . Then, they recall the words of David in Psalm 2, in which the king of Israel asked, “Why did the Gentiles rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against His Anointed” (Acts 4:25).

These early believers see the fulfillment of Scripture in the death of the Messiah that they proclaim. However, it is not only the content of their prayer that is important; it is also the way they say it.

 They said:

. . . for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place (Acts 4:27-28).

Peter had already taught this lesson. Earlier in Acts we read these words:

Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know– this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men (Acts 2:22-23).

This is a remarkable statement because there were a great number of people involved in the conspiracy to crucify the Savior: Herod, Pontius Pilate, the Jewish leaders, the Jewish people. The words of the Jewish believers reveal that they consider all of them to be guilty of this most horrible of all acts in human history. Yet, at the same time, they are able to say that God was behind it all and that these conspirators “did whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.”

It must be this way. If the cross was the plan of the people alone, then God must have simply come in at the last moment and made the best of a very bad situation. The cross could not have been the plan of God. On the other hand, if God was orchestrating these events in such a way that the people involved were mere puppets on a string, then we cannot talk of conspiracy or even of sin.

Instead we see that God was sovereignly at work in the death of Christ and humans are held responsible for their part in this evil deed – even as they accomplished the Father’s ultimate purpose.

 By Jeff Spry (www.monergism.com)

 

***This is part of a blog series on the Sovereignty of God.  This topic has been highly mis-understood throughout much of evangelicalism.  Some will say they believe that God is sovereign, yet deny its many implications.  Others will completely deny God’s Sovereignty because of it’s implications.  We hope that you will stick with this extensive study on the Sovereignty of God.  We will be including resources from a variety of Theologians and Authors, that will hopefully be able to answer many of the misnomers and questions that you may have***

Read Full Post »

The Blow of a Blunt Instrument (Isaiah 10)

The tenth chapter of Isaiah reveals God’s plan to punish Israel for their sin. His instrument of punishment is the mighty army of Assyria, which God calls “the rod of my anger” and also says that “the staff [or club] in their hands is my fury” (Isaiah 10:5). The Assyrians were a vicious people and treated their enemies with extreme brutality. Yet, with this horrible “club,” God states that “Against a godless nation I send [Assyria], and against the people of my wrath I command him, to take spoil and seize plunder, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets” (Is 10:6).

 

Isaiah tells us that Assyria “does not so intend, and his heart does not so think; but it is in his heart to destroy, and to cut off nations not a few” (Is 10:7). The Assyrians have no idea that they are pawns in the hands of God and will be used to bring to fruition His perfect plan. If they had known, they likely would have rebelled against it.

 

However, there is a problem. In verse twelve, God says, “When the Lord has finished all his work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, he will punish the speech of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the boastful look in his eyes” (Is 6:12).

 

How can God use them and then punish them for what they did?

 

However, in the verses that follow, the Assyrians make many boasts of the many cities they have already destroyed and the prowess of their military leaders. Then, in verse thirteen, we see that the Assyrians say, “By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I have understanding; I remove the boundaries of peoples, and plunder their treasures; like a bull I bring down those who sit on thrones” (Is 10:13).

 

God is holding Assyria responsible for their actions, even though it was He who put the thoughts in the mind of the Assyrians and used them to accomplish His ultimate purpose of punishing Israel. God does not punish them because they warred against Israel but because they thought in their arrogance that they were doing it by their own strength.21

This is rebellion. God asks, “Shall the axe boast over him who hews with it, or the saw magnify itself against him who wields it? As if a rod should wield him who lifts it, or as if a staff should lift him who is not wood!” (Is 10:15).

 

This single passage tells us that Isaiah believed in the responsibility of man and the sovereign control of God over the ways of man.

 By Jeff Spry (www.monergism.com)

 

***This is part of a blog series on the Sovereignty of God.  This topic has been highly mis-understood throughout much of evangelicalism.  Some will say they believe that God is sovereign, yet deny its many implications.  Others will completely deny God’s Sovereignty because of it’s implications.  We hope that you will stick with this extensive study on the Sovereignty of God.  We will be including resources from a variety of Theologians and Authors, that will hopefully be able to answer many of the misnomers and questions that you may have***

Read Full Post »

A Return to Sanity (Daniel 4)

Nebuchadnezzar was king of Babylon, the mightiest nation on the face of the earth. In looking at his wealth and power, the king became prideful and said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:30).

The Lord instantly tore his kingdom from him and drove him to insanity. God punished Nebuchadnezzar for his boastfulness, declaring, “The kingdom has departed from you, and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will” (Daniel 4:31-32, emphasis mine).

At the end of this term of punishment, Nebuchadnezzar regained his ability to reason:

At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?” (Daniel 4:34-35, emphasis mine).

The king acknowledged God for who He truly is and saw himself for who he truly was. Nebuchadnezzar was a creature, incapable of disputing the decisions of almighty God.

  By Jeff Spry (www.monergism.com)

 

***This is part of a blog series on the Sovereignty of God.  This topic has been highly mis-understood throughout much of evangelicalism.  Some will say they believe that God is sovereign, yet deny its many implications.  Others will completely deny God’s Sovereignty because of it’s implications.  We hope that you will stick with this extensive study on the Sovereignty of God.  We will be including resources from a variety of Theologians and Authors, that will hopefully be able to answer many of the misnomers and questions that you may have***

Read Full Post »

The Disobedience of a Eunuch (Daniel 1)

The people of Israel are once again in exile. In 586 BC, the Babylonian empire crushed Jerusalem and carried tens of thousands of Israelites back to Babylon as slaves. Among the exiles were four noticeable young men. You know these men by either their Jewish or Babylonian names: Daniel (Belteshazzar), Hananiah (Shadrach), Mishael (Meshach), and Azariah (Abednego). These four men were among several given special treatment in the palace of the king. They were to be given the same food as the king and the best education in the land.

Daniel rebelled against this attempt at Babylonian assimilation and asked to be exempt from this special treatment. The king’s servant in charge of these Hebrews expressed his reluctance to comply with Daniel’s request, saying, “I fear my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So you would endanger my head with the king” (Daniel 1:10).

To honor Daniel’s request was to disobey the order of the king, an act punishable by execution. Yet, the eunuch eventually agreed to Daniel’s request. Why? The Bible tells us so in verse nine: “God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs” (Daniel 1:9).

 

  By Jeff Spry (www.monergism.com)

 

***This is part of a blog series on the Sovereignty of God.  This topic has been highly mis-understood throughout much of evangelicalism.  Some will say they believe that God is sovereign, yet deny its many implications.  Others will completely deny God’s Sovereignty because of it’s implications.  We hope that you will stick with this extensive study on the Sovereignty of God.  We will be including resources from a variety of Theologians and Authors, that will hopefully be able to answer many of the misnomers and questions that you may have***

Read Full Post »

The Calming of a Fearful King (Psalm 139)

 

 

In Psalm 139, King David is in grave danger and fearful for his life. He has taken a stand for God but his enemies oppose him for it. He does not know the outcome of this situation but he knows enough to flee into the presence of God. Basically, he asks, “What can I count on right now?”

 

In the first six verses, David reminds himself that God knows him well. He writes:

 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it (Psalm 139:2-6).

 

David acknowledges that his outward behavior and even his inward thoughts are laid bare before the Lord. He uses the word “hem” in verse five but it is a much stronger word (it was often used to speak of siege warfare). David understood that God has him under His control. Unlike many today, David is strangely comforted by this knowledge and action of God.

 

David sees he cannot outmove God, outthink God, or outplan God. Everywhere he turns, God is there. It must be asked, “How can an Arminian concept of simple foreknowledge account for this reaction by David?” Simple foreknowledge dictates that God reacts to man’s actions or beliefs or thoughts. Yet here, David is drawing strength from the truth that God never loses sight of him, always understands what he is thinking and feeling, and is always far out in front of David’s current situation.

 

In verses 13-18, David reviews the truth that God created him. As he ponders Gods “great works,” he writes,

“Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:16).

 

The NIV’s interpretive translation indicates that David is merely saying that God knows the finite number of days that David will be alive. However, a more accurate rending of the ESV shows that here David affirms that God has written the script of his life. He writes that all his days were “formed” as a clay pot would be formed. This calms David because he knows that his present situation is not by chance. He is living out God’s plan for his life and he finds great comfort and confidence in that.

 

In the midst of great chaos, David has found a greater certainty. He reaches out for something immovable and grasps firmly to God’s sovereignty in his life. With this new God-centered perspective, David stands confident in the Lord’s control of his life.

By Jeff Spry (www.monergism.com)

 

***This will begin a new blog series on the Sovereignty of God.  This topic has been highly mis-understood throughout much of evangelicalism.  Some will say they believe that God is sovereign, yet deny its many implications.  Others will completely deny God’s Sovereignty because of it’s implications.  We hope that you will stick with this extensive study on the Sovereignty of God.  We will be including resources from a variety of Theologians and Authors, that will hopefully be able to answer many of the misnomers and questions that you may have***

Read Full Post »