Yesterday I had the privilege of meeting with several other church planters from around the Twin Cities. There were supposed to be some guys there from other parts of the country, but being a holiday weekend they couldn't find affordable plane fares! We missed them all, but the Lord knows what he's doing!
As I said in my blog yesterday, it was my turn to bring the devotional and, by assignment, I led us to reflect on the third part of Bethlehem Baptist Church's Elder Affirmation of Faith which I will again quote:
3. God’s Eternal Purpose and Election
3.1 We believe that God, from all eternity, in order to display the full extent of His glory for the eternal and ever-increasing enjoyment of all who love Him, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His will, freely and unchangeably ordain and foreknow whatever comes to pass.
3.2 We believe that God upholds and governs all things – from galaxies to subatomic particles, from the forces of nature to the movements of nations, and from the public plans of politicians to the secret acts of solitary persons – all in accord with His eternal, all-wise purposes to glorify Himself, yet in such a way that He never sins, nor ever condemns a person unjustly; but that His ordaining and governing all things is compatible with the moral accountability of all persons created in His image.3.3 We believe that God’s election is an unconditional act of free grace which was given through His Son Christ Jesus before the world began. By this act God chose, before the foundation of the world, those who would be delivered from bondage to sin and brought to repentance and saving faith in His Son Christ Jesus.
Section 3.1 tells us both the purpose and the plan of God. The purpose of God is to display the fullness of his glory for the joy of our souls. The plan of God is to do so by ordaining and foreknowing all things. I don't know about you, but joy was not my initial reaction when I first heard the doctrines of predestination and election and the foreknowledge of God. It was very difficult for me to conceive how a holy and loving God could have foreordained everything, including evil and the destinies of every person who has ever lived.
But in the end, the sheer amount of texts in the Bible that teach these doctrines, and much more the persuasiveness of these texts, overwhelmed my doubts. I came to a place in my life, by the ministry of the Holy Spirit, where I either had to reject the Bible or explain away so many texts or simply believe what the Bible says. Obviously, the third option was the only option and I chose to embrace these doctrines. Over time they have become exceedingly sweet to me, although I'll have to explain why this is so some other time.
For now I want to point out that once you acknowledge the absolute foreknowledge of God his sovereignty over all things is implied. This is why section 3.2 expounds on God's sovereignty over all things, and why section 3.3 expounds on God's sovereignty over the salvation of human souls.
The key point I made yesterday, and that I want to make here in this blog entry, is that God's sovereignty over all things was specifically designed to produce great joy in our hearts, because his sovereignty over all things is tantamount to the display of his glory.
Where are you with your knowledge and embrace of these precious doctrines? Are these doctrines producing joy in your soul? If so, how so?
You can access some great resources to help you understand and rejoice in these doctrines here.