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Posts tagged ‘God’s control’

How Much “Authority” Does Christ Have

SOURCE:  John Piper/Tolle Lege

“The Lofty Claim” 

“‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.’ (Matthew 28:18) This I call The Lofty Claim. Jesus claims that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him.

He has died for sin, to triumph over guilt and condemnation. He has been raised from the dead to triumph over suffering and death. And in triumphing over guilt and condemnation and over suffering and death, He has also triumphed over Satan who can only destroy us with the guilt of sin and torment us with suffering and death.

And because Jesus has triumphed so gloriously over guilt and condemnation and suffering and death and Satan, therefore ‘God has highly exalted Him and given Him a name that is above every name that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father’ (Philippians 2:9–11). Which is just another way of saying: ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to [Him].’

All authority.

  • He has authority over Satan and all demons, over all angels—good and evil;
  • authority over the natural universe, natural objects and laws and forces: stars, galaxies, planets, meteorites;
  • authority over all weather systems: winds, rains, lightning, thunder, hurricanes, tornadoes, monsoons, typhoons, cyclones;
  • authority over all their effects: tidal waves, floods, fires;
  • authority over all molecular and atomic reality: atoms, electrons, protons, neutrons, undiscovered subatomic particles, quantum physics, genetic structures, DNA, chromosomes;
  • authority over all plants and animals great and small: whales and redwoods, giant squid and giant oaks, all fish, all wild beasts, all invisible animals and plants: bacteria, viruses, parasites, germs;
  • authority over all the parts and functions of the human body: every beat of the heart, every breath of the diaphragm, every electrical jump across a million synapses in our brains;
  • authority over all nations and governments: congresses and legislatures and presidents and kings and premiers and courts;
  • authority over all armies and weapons and bombs and terrorists;
  • authority over all industry and business and finance and currency;
  • authority over all entertainment and amusement and leisure and media;
  • authority over all education and research and science and discovery;
  • authority over all crime and violence; over all families and neighborhoods;
  • and authority over the church, and over every soul and every moment of every life that has been or ever will be lived.

There is nothing in heaven or on earth over which Jesus does not have authority, that is, does not have the right and the power do with as He pleases. Both the right and the power.

The scope and the magnitude of the authority of Jesus is infinite, because Jesus is one with God the Father. The Father has given him all authority not because the Father can give up being God, but because Jesus is God.

And when deity shares infinite authority with deity, He neither loses nor gains anything, but remains infinitely full and triumphant and all-sufficient.

This is the lofty claim. Our Lord, Jesus Christ, has all authority in heaven and on earth, because our Lord Jesus is God.”

–John Piper, “The Lofty Claim, the Last Command, the Loving Comfort,” Sermons from John Piper (1990–1999) (Minneapolis, MN: Desiring God, 2007), 1.

Weathering The Storms Of Life

Source: (Adapted from the article, Weathering The Storms Of Life by Noel Yeatts; Christian Counseling Connection Vol. 16/Iss.1)

The following article excerpt is based on one’s overwhelming life struggle and what was learned.

How does one who is going through unbearable and indescribable pain, misery, and uncertainty face this deep, dark struggle?  One answer is to believe that God is going to do incredible things through this trial of life.

However, before God can use us in light of this circumstance, He made need to teach us come critical lessons as follows:

1.  God is ultimately in control and He has our best interest at heart.

Every one of us will be called upon to face adversity.  It is a fact of life.  We may not be able to see the reason for our trials and challenges, and we might not know the purpose right away, but rest assured that God is sovereign and is working behind the scenes for our benefit.

2.  We are never alone.

Even on our weakest days, God is with us.  He will never forsake us and longs to gather us under His wings of protection.

3.  We need to focus on what really matters.

Charles Swindoll says, “We shouldn’t deny the pain of what happens in our lives. We should just refuse to focus on the valleys.”  Consider what is most important to you in life.  Then decide not to waste your time and energy worrying about the small stuff.  When you focus on what really matters, your family becomes more valuable to you than ever before and each moment becomes so precious.

4.  We need to cope one day at a time.

When you are going through a storm, don’t try to take on your entire life—live one day at a time.  Minimize the bad days.  Maximize the good days.  Thank God for today and accept it.

With God, There is NO _____________

SOURCE:  Tolle Lege/J.C. Ryle

The pillow of God’s omnipotence” by J.C. Ryle

“Let us mark, in the third place, the mighty principle which the angel Gabriel lays down to silence all objections about the incarnation. ‘With God nothing shall be impossible.’

A hearty reception of this great principle is of immense importance to our own inward peace. Questions and doubts will often arise in men’s minds about many subjects in religion. They are the natural result of our fallen estate of soul.

Our faith at the best is very feeble. Our knowledge at its highest is clouded with much infirmity.

And among many antidotes to a doubting, anxious, questioning state of mind, few will be found more useful than that before us now,—a thorough conviction of the almighty power of God.

With Him who called the world into being and formed it out of nothing, everything is possible.

Nothing is too hard for the Lord.

  • There is no sin too black and bad to be pardoned. The blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin.
  • There is no heart too hard and wicked to be changed. The heart of stone can be made a heart of flesh.
  • There is no work too hard for a believer to do. We may do all things through Christ strengthening us.
  • There is no trial too hard to be borne. The grace of God is sufficient for us.
  • There is no promise too great to be fulfilled. Christ’s words never pass away, and what He has promised He is able to perform.
  • There is no difficulty too great for a believer to overcome. When God is for us who shall be against us? The mountain shall become a plain.

Let principles like these be continually before our minds. The angel’s receipt is an invaluable remedy.

Faith never rests so calmly and peacefully as when it lays its head on the pillow of God’s omnipotence.”

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–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1879), 1: 27-28. Ryle is commenting on Luke 1:34-38.

Seven Things the Bible Says About Evil

SOURCE:  Johnathon Bowers/Desiring God

How can we reconcile God’s sweeping control over creation with the existence of such horrors as cancer, famine, genocide, sexual abuse, tsunamis, and terrorism? Voltaire sums up the issue nicely in his “Poem on the Lisbon Disaster,” written after the devastating Lisbon earthquake of 1755:

Ill could not from a perfect being spring,
Nor from another, since God’s sovereign king.

His point is that since God is good, he can’t properly be the source of evil. Likewise, if God is all-powerful, no one else can thwart his intentions. So we’re stuck, it seems. Who’s to blame for the suffering we experience? Though we lack the space here for an extended discussion, let’s consider seven biblical affirmations.

1. Evil is real.

That is to say, we distort the Bible and do ourselves a profound disservice by minimizing the existence of suffering. God invites us to acknowledge our pain. The Psalmist wrote, “I believed, even when I spoke, ‘I am greatly afflicted'” (Psalm 116:10).

2. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

In some ways, talking about a “problem of evil” is a false start. A better quandary to start with would be the problem of sin. How quickly we rush to raise a self-righteous fist while our other hand digs in the cookie jar. “Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way not just? Is it not your ways that are not just?” (Ezekiel 18:25).

3. God is good.

Whatever we say about God’s sovereignty over evil (and say we will; see below), we must never imply that God is corrupt, that he somehow nurses a dark side. “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one” (James 1:13).

4. God ordains all things that come to pass, including evil.

God does whatever he pleases (Psalm 135:6). To be sure, this means he clothes lilies and feeds birds (Matthew 6:26, 28). But he also makes lightning (Psalm 135:7). He strikes down firstborn children and kills mighty kings (Psalm 135:8). Our God holds sway over the good, the bad, and the ugly. “I form light and create darkness,” he says. “I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things” (Isaiah 45:7).

5. Man is responsible for his actions.

Lest we fall into fatalism, we should remember that God’s sovereignty never excuses wrongdoing. When a man commits murder, the blood is on his hands. “For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” (Luke 22:22).

6. God did not spare his own Son.

The cross speaks to our theology of suffering in at least two ways. First, it shows us that God can will something to happen that he opposes. Proverbs 6:16-17 tells us that God hates “hands that shed innocent blood.” And yet he sent his Son to suffer precisely that fate. Is this a mystery? Absolutely. But it is not nonsense. We can look at evil and with no contradiction say, “This is wrong, and God has willed that it take place.” Listen to how Peter describes the crucifixion: “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:23, emphasis mine).

Second, the cross demonstrates that God regards our affliction not as something strange to the palette, but as a cup he has drunk to the dregs. By giving up his own Son, God entered into our pain. He knows what it’s like to suffer loss. But he also did more. By putting his Son to grief, God turned grief on its head. “But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). This brings us to the final point.

7. Heaven works backwards.

C. S. Lewis writes in The Great Divorce, “They say of some temporal suffering, ‘No future bliss can make up for it,’ not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory.”

Lewis is not being novel here. He is simply restating what Christians have hoped in for centuries, the promise that gives all our suffering purpose: “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).

Johnathon Bowers is Instructor of Theology and Christian Worldview atBethlehem College and Seminary in Minneapolis, MN.

God’s Complete Control. Period.

SOURCE:  Chuck Swindoll

God’s Complete Control

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble. 
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; 
Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah. . . .
The LORD of hosts is with us; 
The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah. . . .
“Cease striving and know that I am God.”
—Psalm 46:1–3, 7, 10

Quiet our hearts, dear Father, and in so doing, remind us that You are sovereign—not almost sovereign but altogether sovereign. Nothing occurs in our lives that has not been masterfully planned and put together by You, our eternal God.

Help us to enter into the truth of Psalm 46:10 personally and consistently. May that result in being still, enabling us to discover that You are God. As we cast our cares upon You, knowing You care for us, release our stress.

We entrust our concerns to You today . . . large and small, new and nagging.

We long to experience peace-filled living by stepping off this treadmill called pressurized living. We pray that Your mighty presence would take the place of the stress, the demands, the struggles, the mess we’ve created.

We ask that You would give us Your shalom—Your peace—like we’ve never known it before. We deliberately choose to trust You and to rest in You.

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

See also Psalm 34:4; Proverbs 16:3; Jeremiah 17:7; Philippians 4:19.

Nothing occurs in our lives that has not been masterfully planned by our God.

God Makes NO Mistakes

SOURCE:  J.C. Ryle/Tollelege

“The eternal counsels of the Trinity”

“There is a mine of deep truth in the words before us, which deserves close attention. They show us plainly that all our Lord’s sufferings were undergone voluntarily, and of His own free will. He did not go to the cross because He could not help it.

He did not die because He could not prevent His death. Neither Jew nor Gentile, Pharisee nor Sadducee, Annas nor Caiaphas, Herod nor Pontius Pilate, could have injured our Lord, except power had been given them from above.

All that they did was done under control, and by permission. The crucifixion was part of the eternal counsels of the Trinity. The passion of our Lord could not begin until the very hour which God had appointed. This is a great mystery. But it is a truth.

The servants of Christ in every age should treasure up the doctrine before us, and remember it in time of need. It is ‘full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons.’

Let such never forget that they live in a world where God overrules all times and events, and where nothing can happen but by God’s permission. The very hairs of their heads are all numbered. Sorrow and sickness, and poverty, and persecution, can never touch them, unless God sees fit.

They may boldly say to every cross,—’Thou couldst have no power against me, except it were given thee from above.’ Then let them work on confidently. They are immortal, till their work is done. Let them suffer patiently, if needs be that they suffer.

Their ‘times are in God’s hand.’ (Ps. 31:15.) That hand guides and governs all things here below, and makes no mistakes.”

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–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John, Vol. 2 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1869/2012), 21. Ryle is commenting on John 7:25-36
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Satan is Powerful But POWERFULLY LIMITED

SOURCE:  Taken from an article by June Hunt

Don’t make the common mistake of assuming that God and Satan possess the same power—or that the power of Satan is equal to the power of God.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Cast out of the heavenly realms to roam the earth, Satan has been given power, but only to the degree that the Lord allows. In the first chapter of the Book of Job, a dialogue between God and Satan confirms that Satan’s activity is limited and always requires the sovereign permission of God.

• Satan cannot be everywhere.

“The LORD said to Satan, ‘Where have you come from?’ Satan answered the LORD, ‘From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.’ ” (Job 1:7)

• Satan has no absolute power over a believer’s possessions.

“Then the LORD said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.’ ‘Does Job fear God for nothing?’ Satan replied. ‘Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.’ ” (Job 1:8–11)

• Satan has no absolute power over a believer’s body.

“The LORD said to Satan, ‘Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.’ Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.” (Job 1:12)

• Satan has no absolute power over a believer’s life.

“Then the LORD said to Satan.… ‘[Job] still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.’ ‘Skin for skin!’ Satan replied. ‘A man will give all he has for his own life. But stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.’ The LORD said to Satan, ‘Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.’ ” (Job 2:3–6)

• Satan must obey Jesus.

“Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.” ’ Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.” (Matthew 4:10–11)

• Satan must ask permission to tempt a believer.

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.” (Luke 22:31)

• Satan has to leave if he is resisted.

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)

• Satan cannot protect his followers.

“Then he [Jesus, the King] will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’ ” (Matthew 25:41)

• Satan cannot prevent his own demise.

“The devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” (Revelation 20:10)

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Hunt, J. (2008). Biblical Counseling Keys on Satan, Demons & Satanism: A Sinister Reality (14–15). Dallas, TX: Hope For The Heart.

Even When… God is…

SOURCE:  Taken from  The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 61

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Certainly, God takes no pleasure in what is hurtful (Ezek. 33:11), and he is never the author of sin (James 1:13-14; I John 1:5). Yet, for his eternal purposes, he sometimes allows suffering and permits unjust acts by men and women whom he decides not to restrain, even though he has the power to do so… Even when sinful and painful things are happening, God is somehow exercising ultimate control and working things out for his good purposes.

Food for Thought

And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

From war and rumors of wars, to politics and politicians, to road rage and playground rage, it is tempting to bow our heads in despair. Hate is strong. The song of peace is mocked. But even when it sounds as if there is no peace, you and I must remember the deeper, truer song of His word. God is in control. And He is working for his good purposes.

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1864

Make No Mistake: God Is In Control !!

SOURCE:  Taken from an article by D. A. Carson

The three-week delay (Dan. 10:12–14) unveils conflict in the heavenlies.

The prince of the Persian kingdom is apparently some angelic being connected with Persia; similarly for the prince of Greece (Dan. 10:20). Michael, “one of the chief princes” (Dan. 10:13), is “your [Israel’s] prince” (Dan. 10:21). The hierarchy of angelic beings is not governed by the relationships of their earthly counterparts.

As there is war between good and evil on earth, so is there war in heaven.

In the same way that observing earthly people and powers might lead the unwary to conclude that God is not really in control, so also this delay in the movements of angels has caused the unwary to conclude that God is not really in control in heaven either—since clearly there are many contingencies of which we are not normally aware.

But that is to draw a conclusion that Scripture rules out of order:

Nebuchadnezzar learned the lesson well:  God “does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and with the peoples of the earth” (Dan. 4:35, italics added).

There is a terrible war going on, but this takes place under God’s sovereignty;  in its affirmation of God’s utter dominion the text insists, “All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing.… No one can hold back his hand” (Dan. 4:35).

So there is space for conflict, resolve, perseverance—and for faith and utter confidence.

2 Kings 6; 1 Timothy 3; Daniel 10; Psalms 119:1–24

Answers in Times of Great Disaster

SOURCE:  Charles Stanley

Read | Deuteronomy 29:29

Almighty God reserves the right to reveal some things and conceal others. Although we may not know why natural disasters occur, the biblical truths we do know with absolute certainty allow us to trust the Lord even in times of great suffering. These include:

1. God is in control (Ps. 103:19).

Nothing in heaven or on earth is outside of His rule and authority. He does not react to events but sovereignly ordains or permits them to run their course. Although we cannot know for certain if He has sent a catastrophe or allowed it, we can trust in His goodness and wisdom.

2. The Lord loves people and wants them to be saved (John 3:16-17).

Giving His Son for the salvation of the world proves without a doubt that He loves each person. This truth stands firm despite the fact that many reject the Savior. He cares for us, even when we can’t feel it or won’t accept it.

3. God ordains or permits events for His good purpose (Isa. 46:10).

Though we cannot fully comprehend what He is doing in each incident, every disaster is a wake-up call for humanity. He is alerting us of the need to repent—so the lost can be saved and the saved can be revived to live totally for Him. Catastrophes open our ears to hear from the Lord.

The One who loves us perfectly is in full control, working everything out according to His good purpose. Knowing this should fill us with hope, even in the midst of crisis situations. The Lord even promises to turn disaster to good for those who “are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

God’s “Won’t”

SOURCE:   The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 61

“You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay!”  Isaiah 29:16

God’s sovereignty is so complete that he exercises ultimate control even over painful and unjust events (Exod. 4:10-12; Job 1:6-12; 42:11; Ps. 71:20-22; Isa. 45:5-7; Lam. 3:37-38; Amos 3:6; I Peter 3:17).  This is difficult for us to understand and accept, because we tend to judge God’s actions according to our notions of what is right.  Whether consciously or subconsciously, we say to ourselves, “If I were God and could control everything in the world, I wouldn’t allow someone to suffer this way.”  Such thoughts show how little we understand and respect God.

Food for Thought

In seeking to follow God’s will, are you open to His won’t?

There have been countless sermons preached and numerous books written concerning God’s will.  But have you ever heard someone talk about God’s won’t? How many times have you asked, sought and knocked, only to hear God say, “No.”?  We often find ourselves in painful and unjust events; we discover thorns in our flesh or hear peaceproclaimed where there is no peace.  And we cry out, “Save us!  Take it away!  Roll down your justice, O Lord!”  We might ask three times or maybe even keep at it for three years.  But the answer from heaven appears to be, “I won’t.”

As Ken points out, this is difficult for us to understand and accept. We’re convinced that God should do this or should intervene there.  And when it appears that he won’t, we question his control. Or his love.  Or both.  And it’s not that the questioning is wrong, per se, but that the questioning frequently gets “ment-ed” — filled with judgment or resentment toward God.  However, “such thoughts show how little we understand and respect God.” We turn things upside down and seek to understand them based on what little we really know or see.  We have to remember that we are the clay, not the potter. There is a God and we’re not him.  The life of faith is allowing our lives to be lived God-side-up, obediently trusting his infinitely, tender hand to mold and shape us according to his good will.  And that includes his good won’t.

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