Sunday, June 8, 2014

GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY (A Triune Publication – Part 2)

God’s Sovereignty is Covenantal
Who can speak and have it happen
    if the Lord has not decreed it?
Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
    that both calamities and good things come?
Why should the living complain
    when punished for their sins?
Lamentations 3:37-39 (NIV)

Okay, in my last post we saw that everything that happens happens because God has decreed, i.e., commanded it to happen. God is Commander-in-Chief. Therefore, everything that happens happens because it is His intent.

How are we to make head or tail of this? How are we to understand God’s intent at a ground level?

Creation, Fall, Flood, Redemption, Resurrection, New Heaven and Earth is all covenantal. The Bible is the Book of the Covenant. God has a grand plan, a covenant plan. For us who are “the boots on the ground” the Bible is God’s command to us to “Repent and believe the Good News.” Mark 1:5.

What Good News? The Good News that we can escape the punishment for our sins! As the verse in Lamentations says, “Why should the living complain when punished for their sins?” Lamentations 3:37-39 (NIV) Yet complain we do!

Why is God punishing us, i.e., the living, for our sins? Well, before we consider the “why?” question we first need to acknowledge again that, even though my neighbour might swing the punch that hits me on the nose or the Devil may blow my house down, the decree, command or order has come out of the mouth of God beforehand.

Yes, we’re left with the mystery of how God is not the author of evil when He lets Satan kill Job’s sons and daughters and destroy his property and livelihood. However, there is not a speck of sin on God’s righteous garments!

Take Adam: Scripture likens His Old Testament peoples’ rebellion against God to Adam’s breaking the covenant. Listen to what God says He did to His people. “What can I do with you, Ephraim? What can I do with you, Judah? Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears. Therefore I cut you in pieces with my prophets, I killed you with the words of my mouth—then my judgments go forth like the sun. For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” Hosea 6:4-6. Then the Lord says, “Like Adam, they have broken the covenant; they were unfaithful to Me there.” Hosea 6:7.

Now, I have to tell you that some theologians don’t like the thought of there being any covenant between God and Adam in the Garden of Eden before the Fall. So, even though it is perfectly permissible to translate into English the Hebrew words the way we have just read them, they would rather Hosea 6:7 say, “As at Adam, they have broken the covenant” or “Like human beings, they have broken the covenant.”

Look, to break covenant with God is to suffer everything Adam suffered, viz., sin, misery and death. Where do sin, misery and death come from? From Adam’s disobedience to God: “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.” Romans 5:12.

Next question: What is sin? 1 John 3:4 gives the answer, “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.” Therefore, sin, misery and death came to us from Adam’s sin. Sin is the breaking of the law. Thus Adam sinned by breaking God’s Law. Adam was unfaithful to God, which is to say that he broke the pre-Fall covenant.

Now, if God truly is sovereign would He not have known that Adam was going to be disobedient to Him and in so doing bring all creation into a state of bondage? Romans 8:20-21 gives the answer, “For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the One who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.”

Right, so we see that God had a plan. The plan was this: God would covenant with Adam who would represent the whole of mankind. Adam would exercise his freewill and choose either everlasting life with God or everlasting death without Him. In other words Adam would remain either faithful to God by keeping the covenant and receive everlasting life, or he would break it and receive death (including the rest of mankind to come).

When Adam sided with Satan and then rebelled with him against God by eating the forbidden fruit (which was the outward test of the covenant) he ended up where each of us is today, i.e., in a state of sin and misery and in need of a saviour, THE Saviour!

Enter Jesus as per God’s Covenant. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus.” Romans 6:23. If Adam had kept God’s covenant for the undisclosed period he would have received the gift of life and not the penalty of death that all humanity receives!

Jesus is the new Man, the replacement Adam. He did what the first man failed to do. He kept God’s covenant perfectly. He kept every jot and tittle of God’s Law as representative of those who believe in Him for salvation. Jesus perfectly kept the covenant Adam failed to keep.

Where’s the sovereign God in all of this? Well, Scripture speaks of Jesus as, “The Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.” Revelation 13:8. Did you get that? God had in His mind the picture of His Son slain as a human being right from the very beginning of creation!

Therefore, everything went right according to God’s eternal plan, His Covenant. In eternity past the Father covenanted with the Son as witnessed by the Spirit, that should the Son become also a human and keep the Law perfectly unto death, the Father would give Him a people innumerable and a place where the Lamb and His Bride could live with each other forever, i.e., on the future New Earth.

Let’s summarise: God’s sovereignty is very confronting when you have no idea what is going on with misery, suffering and death in creation. However, the apparent chaos becomes ordered when reality is viewed covenantally, i.e., in terms of God’s covenant.

God has a plan, a covenant plan. Though He’s not the author of it, the evil we see around us has been factored into that plan. Everything is on course for the future New Heaven and Earth, which includes the resurrection of our bodies on the Last Day.

Can we receive any assurance, any comfort from God’s sovereignty?

(Listen to the full recorded sermon at):

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