I’ve invited several people to write “guest blog posts” for this blog. There are several reasons for this: 1) To offer different perspectives. 2) To generate even more discussion and conversation between blogs. 3) To introduce other bloggers to my readers.
(If you are interested in writing a guest blog post, please contact me at aknox[at]sebts[dot]com.)
Today’s post was written by Mark Hanson, who has founded a ministry, Sheepfold Ministries, concerned with preparing the Church for increasing opposition and resisting the inroads of wickedness in governmental systems. He writes at the Rabel WebPaper as part of the work of Rabel Christian Civil Liberties.”
The Sovereignty of God Over Us and His Church
When asked by Alan to do a guest post for his blog, I spent some time thinking what I could possibly write about to appear on a blog by a PhD student. Yet due to my particular ministry area I felt it important to write this particular post and the next one on the Sovereignty, Faithfulness and Love of God to Us and to His Church.
My ministry concerns itself with developments in the world where sorrows are increasing, and I believe that persecution of Christian believers is coming in a severe way to those nations where we are not used to such violent opposition.
In such light there is a real need to comfort Christians, as it is too easy a temptation to fall into fear and worry about tomorrow and not focus on Jesus. Therefore we as believers have a real need to be encouraged as to both God’s Sovereignty, and His love.
In this post, I cover the Sovereignty aspect: God is in control.
I cannot answer the question as to the why God allows suffering. As an old English proverb goes: “Ours is not to reason why, ours is just to do and die.” Yet what I do know that is God is able to use suffering and turn it around in the pursuit of goodness. And I do know that Scripture gives many examples of God’s Sovereignty, His omnipotence: He is the Almighty, the Sovereign Lord.
Jesus called the devil “the god of this world”. Yet we are assured that there is no other God but One, and in Job 1:6-12 we can see that, even though the devil is permitted to perform evil, he cannot act without the permission of God, and that God sets stringent limits on the devil’s power. Although creation is under a curse because of the fall, God remains the Lord over all creation (Job 38).
Jesus’ ministry is to restore all things to Himself. Because Jesus died and rose again He is Lord of both the living and the dead (Romans 14:9). He has purchased all creation to become reconciled to Himself and He has an especial authority over we Christians and over His Church. (I am not making comment as to the eternal destiny of those who refuse Christ, merely stating the encompassing grace that marks Jesus’ ministry.)
God is more than able to take what is evil and turn it to good. Remember Paul’s words to the Romans: “And all things work together for good to those who love God and are the called according to His purpose.” (Rom 8:28).
As pertaining to the Church, we can see in Scripture that Christ is the Head over her in all things (Eph 1:22-33) and that His power is supreme (Eph 1:15-23).
Revelation, which is perhaps one of the most misunderstood of all Biblical texts, has as its primary message the demonstration that God is ultimately in full control (Revelation, Chapters 4-6). Yes, parts of Revelation may deal with past events, future events and the doctrines of eschatology, yet taken as a whole it shows that God is all-powerful and has a good grasp on the steering wheel. Even in the midst of immense evil and intense persecution, Christians through the ages have taken great comfort from the book of Revelation. Indeed, the Revelation prophecy was given initially to persecuted believers. It therefore fulfills its own statement about itself given in Rev 1:3, that those who keep the words of the prophecy will be blessed.
In regard to the Church, we can trust God with the Church just as much as we can trust God in our own individual lives. The blessings of His Sovereignty can be enjoyed by us as individuals, but they are also to be enjoyed by the Body of Christ as a whole. (I speak not of blessings as the World would understand blessing: popularity, wealth and constant care-free indulgence; but blessings that will have an eternal reward but may be painful at times in this present age.)
Christ demonstrates both His Sovereignty over the Church, and His love to the Church in the seven messages He dictates to the Apostle John in Revelation chapters 2 and 3. I shall let you read these in your own copy of the Bible, but we can see in these prophetic letters that Christ does have the power to expel individual members and even whole congregations from the Universal Church. No, I do not believe that if one is truly a saint, chosen by God, that salvation can be lost. At times, however, excommunication can occur (such as when Paul advised the church in Corinth to excommunicate the member engaged in sexual immorality), yet we can see Christ’s love for His people and His Church in that He gives the chastised believers and churches the required response to the chastisement, and ends each letter with the comforting and exhorting promise that “whoever overcomes will be rewarded”.
To sum up this first post, we need never fear that God will somehow run out of resources, that His dominion does not reach to this or to that extent. God is Almighty; the Lord is the Sovereign Lord. Even in the midst of church wrangling, even as error tries to creep in and, yes, even in church splits and even in fiery persecution, God, ultimately, is in full control. He has a firm grip on the steering wheel.