Wednesday, December 1, 2010

God Dethroned?

“Who is regulating affairs on this earth today - God or the Devil? What impression is made upon the minds of those men of the world who, occasionally, attend a Gospel Service? What are the conceptions formed by those who hear even those preachers who are counted as “orthodox”? Is it not that a disappointed God is the one whom Christians believe in? From what is heard from the average evangelist today, is not any serious hearer obliged to conclude that he professes to represent a God who is filled with benevolent intentions, yet unable to carry them out; that He is earnestly desirous of blessing men, but that they will not let Him. Then must not the average hearer draw the inference that the devil has gained the upper hand and that God is to be pitied rather than worshipped.” -A.W.Pink 
It discourages me to know that from the pulpits of our churches people are preaching that God has little or no influence on the world today. Sure they do not say it in such a direct manner, but the subtle assertions that Satan is slowly gaining the upper hand inevitably makes the God who created the universe by the word of His mouth fade into the background. This increasingly popular, yet pseudo-Christian, worldview infects our theology and ultimately seeks to dethrone the King of kings. How could we begin to imagine that God is not in complete control of His creation? How can a person who abides in the truth of the Bible be convinced that God is not entirely sovereign over every aspect of His universe? 
Our removing God from our lives has its root in our view of our relationship to sin. Many subliminally think that we allowed God to save us just enough that we can avoid Hell and now we are on our own to fight off the temptations that so easily entangle us. One could not be more wrong! Some are under the impression that we can overcome sin and temptation of our own will and desires. What do the Scriptures say?
Isaiah 64:5-9
5 ...You are indeed angry, for we have sinned—
       In these ways we continue;
       And we need to be saved.
       6 But we are all like an unclean thing,
      And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;
       We all fade as a leaf,
       And our iniquities, like the wind,
       Have taken us away.
       7 And there is no one who calls on Your name,
       Who stirs himself up to take hold of You;
       For You have hidden Your face from us,
       And have consumed us because of our iniquities.
       8 But now, O LORD,
       You are our Father;
       We are the clay, and You our potter;
       And all we are the work of Your hand.
       9 Do not be furious, O LORD,
       Nor remember iniquity forever;
       Indeed, please look…
We CANNOT overcome a single sin by our own effort nor do we desire to apart from the compulsion and conviction of the Holy Spirit. Our efforts toward doing good are as “filthy rags” in the eyes of a holy God. We are, by nature, inclined to do nothing but sin. Therefore we are reliant on God for ALL of our good. The only way we can please God and escape the bondage of sin is for God to transform us into a new creature by His true salvation that is found only in faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. 
Who would want to have to rely on themselves for any degree of righteousness? This method of thinking serves only to fuel human pride. We preach so heavily about “gaining that victory,” but whose “victory” is it? Is God glorified more by our own efforts toward overcoming sin or by our total dependence on Him for all our good. We take God out of the equation and when we do, a most disturbing world results, a world where we must rely on our own will power to maintain righteousness. We are taught that if we can muster up enough faith and pray really sincerely, then we can talk God into giving us what we want. We do not have nearly that sort of power in and of ourselves. 
Back to the original point. How much influence does God have in the world today? Complete control. He does not leave either salvation or sanctification up to us. He governs, guides, and regulates all things - large and small, animate and inanimate, good and bad - primarily for His Glory and secondarily for good of those who love him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8), which still serves His glory. On what basis does He conduct things? According to His own pleasure and according to the council of His own will (Ephesians 1). Why wouldn’t the self-sufficient God who spoke the world into existence have the right to uphold and direct every outcome? Does He rule, or is He ruled? Do His eternal plans come to pass, or are they thwarted by His creation? There is no in-between.