Gee: God Really is In Control!

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Do you believe that God is directly involved in the affairs of man? Do you believe that he is actively working in the world today? Or, even more important, do you believe that God is actively working in your life today? Many believe that he is not. Sadly, there are Christians in America today who believe in God, but who do not believe that he is involved in their life nor that he is concerned with their life. The old heresy of deism has crept back into American culture. It is the belief that God created the earth and all that is in it, and then stepped back to see what would happen. He watches, but he is uninvolved and unconcerned.

This uninvolved and unconcerned God is not the God of the Scriptures. The Bible is clear in its teaching that God is presently, always has been, and will continue to be intimately, directly and sovereignly involved in his creation—including the lives of men.

This of course begs the question “Why?” Why would an infinite and all-powerful God want to be involved in the lives of puny and impotent, and sinful men? Why is God at work in my life? Why is God at work in your life? God is at work in your life, and God is at work in my life, and God is at work in His world for one purpose—and that is to glorify and exalt Himself. Listen to the apostle Paul as he writes to the believers at Ephesus:

“And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:9-12, NIV)

When we consider the Doctrine of the Providence of God there is no better verse to contemplate and meditate on then Romans 8:28

*"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." KJV

Here we see four laws concerning God’s providential workings in His creation.

I. THE LAW OF OPERATION: “All things work . . . “

            1. when I read the writings of Christians from earlier centuries I am struck by the multitude of references to God’s providence
                1. it seems as though prior to the twentieth century, Christians were more keenly in tune with the providence of God in their lives than we are
                2. the Doctrine of Providence is something believers need to study and understand
                    1. the we know of this verse carries the meaning of can know
                    2. tragically, many Christians live lives of quiet desperation, uncertain that God really is in control
                3. the Bible teaches us that we can know with certainty that God is in control
                    1. that lets us walk in confidence and hope, taking God at His word
                    2. we do not believe in luck or fate or chance
                    3. there are no blind, impersonal forces at work in human history or human lives
                    4. all things are brought to pass by the invisible hand of God’s providential workings
            2. according to Romans 8:28 All things work and all things work because God is active in His universe
                1. what God creates, He also sustains
                  • “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:16-17, NIV)
                2. the universe is not only dependent upon God for its origin, it depends upon God for its continuity of existence
                    1. the universe can neither exist nor operate by its own power
                    2. God upholds all things and holds all things together by His power


            1. all of humanity shares physical blessings irrespective of their individual relationship with God
              • " . . . your Father who is in heaven; . . . causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." (Matthew 5:45, NASB95)
            2. the central point of the doctrine of providence is the stress on God’s government of the universe
                1. He rules His creation with absolute sovereignty and authority
                    1. not a single molecule anywhere in the universe moves without God’s knowledge or permission
                2. He governs everything that comes to pass, from the greatest to the least
            3. nothing ever happens beyond the scope of His sovereign providential rule
                1. His government extends over nature
                    1. He makes the rain to fall and the sun to shine
                      • "He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, And vegetation for the service of man, That he may bring forth food from the earth, And wine that makes glad the heart of man, Oil to make his face shine, And bread which strengthens man’s heart. The trees of the Lord are full of sap, The cedars of Lebanon which He planted, Where the birds make their nests; The stork has her home in the fir trees." (Psalm 104:14-17, NKJV)
                2. His government extends over earthly kingdoms
                    1. He raises up kingdoms and brings them down
                      • "Daniel said, “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, For wisdom and power belong to Him. “It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding." (Daniel 2:20-21, NASB95)
                3. His government extends over the lives of men
                    1. He numbers the hairs on our head and the days of our life
                      • “Man, who is born of woman, Is short-lived and full of turmoil. “Like a flower he comes forth and withers. He also flees like a shadow and does not remain . . . Since his days are determined, The number of his months is with You; And his limits You have set so that he cannot pass. “Turn Your gaze from him that he may rest, Until he fulfills his day like a hired man." (Job 14:1-6, NASB95)
            4. God is at work through general providence


            1. God’s special providence is the working of events that seek to specifically accomplish His will in the lives of His people
              • "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand. I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread." (Psalm 37:23-25, NKJV)
                1. sometimes that even means that God may allow evil people to commit evil acts against His children
                  • "Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt." (Genesis 45:4-8, NIV)
            2. the root meaning of the word providence has two meanings – “to see in advance or beforehand,” or “to provide for”
                1. it implies that God is actively at work orchestrating the affairs of this world and guiding them toward their divinely predetermined end for the believer’s ultimate benefit
                  • "For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God." (2 Corinthians 4:15, NKJV)
                2. this is an amazing verse to me
                    1. the Apostle Paul tells us that all things – not some things, not a few things – but all things that take place in this world are done for the sake of God’s people, and for the spreading of the Gospel of grace, and for the glory of God
                3. and yet, God accomplishes His will in such a way that does not deny man the ability to make true, independent choices
            3. All things work
                1. this divine, sovereign, and benevolent control of all things by God is the underlying premise of everything that is taught in the Scriptures

II. THE LAW OF COOPERATION: “All things work together . . . “

            1. according to Romans 8:28 All things work and all things work because God is active in His universe
            2. every time God does something, He does it or allows it in order that the next event on His cosmic calendar that might occur
            3. as these seemingly isolated events occur they all come together to form the picture that God is working on
                1. and, according to Eph. 1:11, He accomplishes all these things after the counsel of his own will
                    1. in other words, God does not call together a council of angel and ask, /“OK, what do you guys think I ought to do next?”?
                    2. nor does He seek the council of men in His decisions


    • ILLUS. Every two years, millions Americans vote for the political candidates of their choice in local, state, and national elections. Through those choices God providentially works to elevate the exact person He desired as leaders of our local community, and nation. To believe otherwise implies that God is note in control, the Bible is errant and blind chance rules the universe.
            1. the law of cooperation illustrates that the providential acts of God do not take place willy-nilly
                1. in other words, God does not act haphazardly
                2. the events that take place in the world around us all work together to bring history to the ultimate conclusion that God has for it
                    1. how do I know?
                    2. cause I’ve read the Book and I know how the story ends!
                      • Rev. 21:1-7
            2. God is working in the world, bringing events to pass, so that everything moves in one direction—to bring to Himself glory and honor and the praise of angels and men and even creation itself
                1. that – generally speaking – is God’s purpose for Christians
                    1. you and I both fit into that plan somehow and some way
                2. but – specifically speaking – God’s purposes for each of us can be very different
            3. even though God is at work in your life and in my life to bring honor and glory to himself, how He goes about that work in our lives is unique to us
                1. every one of us has been distinctly formed with talents, abilities, personalities, desires, interests and emotions that God uses to accomplish his purposes
                  • ILLUS. The providence of God is like a puzzle that has many pieces to it. The pieces of God’s cosmic puzzle includes individual men, family groups, nations, churches, governments, and almost any other subgroup of the culture you wish to name. Each piece in the box is shaped with its own individuality and colors, but God takes each piece and fits them all together to form the bigger picture. When you’re putting a puzzle together, what’s the most important part? It’s the box lid isn’t it? Without the lid you would have a very difficult time of putting the puzzle together. Now, I will admit that I am not a great fan of puzzles. But, on those rare occasions when I do help put a puzzle together I keep the box propped up in front of me so I can see what I’m working toward. That’s what the Bible does for us as Christians. It gives us the big picture. While it doesn’t give us all of the specifics about everything God is up to in our lives, one thing is still clear, God is actively at work every moment using our actions, our behavior, are decisions, and every part of who we are, to bring glory to Himself.
            4. the theological word for all the pieces of the puzzle coming together is concurrence
                1. we are creatures who make choices
                    1. we make things happen
                    2. God has given us freedom within the parameters he has set for His creation
                    3. yet the causal power we exert in this world is secondary
                2. God’s sovereign providence stands over and above our actions
                    1. He works out His will through the actions of human choice, without violating the freedom of human wills
                      • ILLUS. Take, for example, the biblical story of Esther. The name of God does not occur anywhere in the book of Esther, but His hand of providential working is seen everywhere in that story. The story of Esther is a confirmation of Romans 8:28. Consider the four main characters of the story. There is Vasti. She is the self-willed queen who rebels against the king and refuses to attend a banquet held in her honor. There is Esther. She is an unlikely candidate for becoming the queen of the great nation. She is an orphan and she is a Jew. Through a series of circumstances she becomes part of the King’s harem, and ultimately Queen of the nation. There is Mordecai. He adopts Esther – who is his niece – and raises her as his own child. After Esther is made Queen he becomes a trusted adviser to the king. While holding that office he discovers a plot to assassinate the king. The plot is defeated and he gains even more stature in the monarch’s eyes. Then, there’s Haman. He is the chief adviser to the king. He is a very proud man. When Mordecai refuses to bow to him, Haman is incensed and begins to plot the death of Mordecai, but not only his death, but the death of every Jew in the country. Mordecai discovers this plot and communicates it to Queen Esther. Through her bold intervention before the king, Haman’s plot is thwarted and he is hung on the very gallows he has erected to hang Mordecai. Not only are Mordecai and Esther saved from death, but the nation of Israel is preserved. In memory of this great deliverance, the Jews to this day celebrate the feast of Purim.
                3. all of these characters made choices and God used those choices to accomplish His desired end—the preservation of His people
                    1. which, by the way, brought glory and honor to His name
            5. God is so great that He weaves together the choices of millions of human beings and waves of cause and effect, and then blends them together to accomplish His purposes
            6. all things work together

III. THE LAW OF COMPENSATION: “All things work together for good . . . “

            1. there is a third law found in Romans 8:28
                1. not only do all things work together, but all things work together for good
            2. now here is were the Doctrine of Divine Providence can be difficult to comprehend
                1. if God is able to make everything that happens to us work together for our good, then ultimately everything that happens to us is good
                    1. we must be careful here to stress the word ultimately


            1. many of you know Romans 8:28—it’s a very popular verse
                1. but how many of you know Romans 8:29?
                  • "For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren." (Romans 8:29, NKJ)
                2. the good of all things work together for good, is the constant and continued conformity of the believer to the image of Christ
            2. how God causes conformity to occur is sometimes a mystery to us because it includes events in our lives that are not always easy to understand nor endure
              • "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?” (Romans 11:33-34, NKJV)
            3. on the earthly plain, things that happen to us may indeed be evil
                1. we encounter difficulties, misery, injustice, and a host of other afflictions and woes
                2. yet God—in His goodness—transcends all of these things and works them to our good
                  • ILLUS. Wicked men may plot evil against us and may even enact their plots, but in due time God will overrule their schemes and lift us up to the glory that he promises we will share in His Son. Just ask Joseph: "Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive." (Genesis 50:19-20) NKJV)
                3. we could never say that the bad things that happened to Joseph weren’t really bad
                    1. but we must say, without a doubt, that the bad things happened for a good purpose
                4. sometimes it may take years for us to come to that conclusion
                    1. Joseph was a teenager when he was sold into slavery and he was probably 40 years old when he rescued his family from starvation
            4. for the Christian, ultimately, there are no tragedies
                1. ultimately, the providence of God works all these evils and travails and difficulties for our final benefit
                  • ILLUS. Martin Luther—bless his heart—understood this aspect of God’s good providence. In his earthy way of communicating spiritual truth, Luther once said, “If God told me to eat the dung from off the streets, not only would I eat it, but I would know it was good for me.”
                2. it would behoove us to remember that the ultimate end that God seeks in your life and my life is our spiritual good and not necessarily our material benefit
                    1. material blessings may well come to us as a result of God’s special providence and our obedience to his will
                    2. Jesus said that if we seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness that material blessings will come to us
                    3. yet, God may also allow financial hardship, illness, or other trials to occur if—in His wisdom—He deems them essential to our spiritual maturity
            5. all things work together for the good

IV. THE LAW OF LIMITATION: “All things work together for good to them that love the Lord”

            1. here is the final law of Romans 8:28
                1. the good that God seeks to accomplish in us is not for all men
            2. in the original language of the New Testament, the phrase them that love the Lord stands at the beginning of the sentence
                1. so literally the verse reads, “And we know that to those who love God all things work together for good”
                2. but because it translates awkwardly in English we have it as it is found in most translations
            3. the meaning is this: believers, and believers alone, have a right to be comforted by this fact
                1. only in the case of those who love God is it true that all things work together for good
            4. our trust in the providential grace of God enables us to endure
              • ILLUS. Augustine, one of the early Church Fathers, explains in his book “The City of God” that Christians are not distinguished by what happens to them. They suffer pain and death along with everyone else in this world. What distinguishes Christians is not what happens to them, but rather it is the way we respond to what happens to us. Christians differ not in the details of what life brings to us, but in the fact that we are empowered by God’s Spirit to respond to the events of life in faith, hope, and love.
                1. it means that—for the believer—there are no dead-end streets in life
                2. it means that—for the believer—pain and suffering do not have the last word
                3. it means that—for the believer—are no situations from which there is no exit
                4. it means—for the believer—there are no circumstances in which God is not at work
            5. when the Christian finds him or herself right in the middle of a difficult situation, it may be that you're right where God wants you at that moment
                1. when bad things happen to believers, it's not always because we've sinned
                2. when bad things happen to believers, it's not always because someone else has sinned and we got caught in the middle
                3. when bad things happen to believers, it may be the providence of God at work
                  • ILLUS. As the Apostle Paul pens his letter to the Philippian believers, he does so as a prisoner of Rome. In some form or another, he has been incarcerated for three years, first in Caesarea by Felix and now he is chained to a Roman guard 24-7 while he awaits his appeal before Caesar. And yet he sees his misfortune is a unique way.
                  • "But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear." (Philippians 1:12-14, NKJV)

CON. As I conclude this message, let me ask you something: Do you believe God knows what he is doing? Do you believe that he sees all of us as puzzle pieces and knows exactly where we go? Sure he does. He knows everything about you. He knows you better than you know yourself. So trust him as he works in your life even when the things he is doing don’t always make sense

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