Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Restoring Integrity: our view of God

Restoring Integrity in Baptist Churches requires a correct view of God, a view that many Christians do not have. There are many visions and versions of who or what God is.

To some he is the glorified Santa Claus, the god who exists to grant our wishes. If you need a shiny new toy, he's the go-to guy. Don't worry about him the rest of the year.

To some he is the dutiful servant, a "little g" god who is bound to execute whatever the faithful demand. If you believe the Word of God and confess it then you will receive whatever you want. God must do it.

To many a nominal Christian he is the Deist's disinterested creator, who may have started everything but has left it to its own course. We can't believe all this got here by accident. But we can't believe a sovereign creator is actively governing this world, either.

To others he is an impotent ruler who, like a lame-duck President thwarted by a resistant Congress, is trying to work his will in the face of stubborn human resistance. Man is doing what he will, and God is trying to do what he can.

We need to catch of view of what Isaiah saw, the Lord high and lifted up. We need to hear God as Job heard Him, and know that He can do everything, and that no thought can be withheld from Him. Almighty God is the Sovereign Creator Who reigns on high, rules this universe and conducts its affairs by His All-wise Providence. He is neither a Santa Claus to grant our wishes, a servant who is bound by our commands, a disinterested beginner of events who rarely shows up, nor an impotent ruler who can't quite do anything because of the free will of man. "[God] is both the Almighty Creator and Merciful Redeemer; he is not a valet who caters to our whims."* "God is not your errand boy and He's not going to jump through a hoop just because you hold it up."** If my view of God doesn't inspire awe, I have no vision of the God of the Bible.

"For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen." -- Romans 11:36 (source, origin) (instrumentality, power) (purpose, consummation, completion)

'Of Him' suggests source or origin. God is eternal. Before Him nothing exists. God dwells in eternity, beyond the grasp of the thoughts of time-bound mankind. He not only has no end, but also has no beginning!

Before the world’s were set in place
Or angels brought to be,
Eternal Godhead filled all space
Through vast eternity.

The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
The All Sufficient Three;
This glorious God whom angels boast,
At first ‘twas only He.

Nothing but God was there at all
No, nothing else but He!
‘Twas nothing there however small,
Nor need there any be.

From everlasting, God is He,
The self-existent One.
His age equals eternity;
He was when there was none.

Eternity - before, behind,
And all points in between,
Were by the Lord clearly defined.
By Him all things were seen.

He spoke creation into place
And fashioned mortal man;
Then saved him by eternal grace -
His everlasting plan.***

'Through Him' suggests power and instrumentality -- omnipotence. By Him everything exists. Without Him nothing exists. He is the Creator, the beginning of all things. He is the Sustainer of all things. For in Him we live and move and have our being. Science (falsely so-called) has robbed us of these two truths. Don't need a creator? Substitute evolution. Don't need a ruler? Substitute chance and the laws of nature. My paternal grandfather was an old-time farmer. He died when I was a small boy. Except for a fleeting memory of a sick man, I've only seen him through the eyes of others. According to my father, he had a saying about the rain -- something like "We'll get it when we need it." Now I used to wonder about that statement; some others have thought it ridiculous. But the older I've got and the more I've thought about it, the more it makes sense to me. If I could I would ask him what he meant. I think he would say something like "It's not the parched ground, the withered crops or the desire of man that determines when we need rain. It is the good pleasure of God."****

'To Him' suggests purpose and completion. It points to His glory. All things are not only by Him and through Him -- they are to Him. "...all things were created by him, and for him." He made this world for Himself, for His own pleasure and His own glory -- "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created." He is the purpose of all things; He is the completion of all things. To God be the glory, great things He hath done.

When we see God as He is -- high and lifted up -- we see man as he is -- undone and unclean. We need to restore integrity to and through our view of God.

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art.*****

* John W. Robbins in his introduction to Gordon H. Clark's Predestination
** J. Vernon McGee on Through the Bible Radio, 1 July 2008
*** R. L. Vaughn, 1992
**** Jer. 14:22 - Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain? or can the heavens give showers? art not thou he, O LORD our God? therefore we will wait upon thee: for thou hast made all these things. Matt. 5:45 - That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
***** Carl Gustaf Boberg (1859-1940), Translated by Stuart K. Hine


Anonymous said...

Great message! Eventually we must realize it is all about God and not us. As I have said, we pray, ask and demand this or that, and then we rush off from prayer before God has spoken to us. We need more silent prayer, when we just kneel in silence and let God speak.

Life is like orange juice when the machine isn't working. Orange orchards all about, but when the machine isn't working in the cafe, there isn't a drop to drink. We need to repair the "machine" because the orchards are loaded with oranges.

Cheers, and bless,


R. L. Vaughn said...

Good to hear from you, Jim. Hope all is well and the Lord is blessing.

It is likely that most of us need to spend more time listening and less time asking -- swift to hear, slow to speak.

Anonymous said...

Jim wrote: "Eventually we must realize it is all about God and not us."

This is what the journey is all about; exchanging out self-life for His life. I am so grateful it is NOT about me.

Bro. Anon