Bruce's Beat 10-8-2015
THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD
"Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, 'Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.' He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision." (Psalm 2:1-4). "All the nations are as nothing before Him, they are accounted by Him as less than nothing and emptiness." (Isaiah 40:17). “And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” – Revelation 19:16.
Over and over again, Scripture asserts the sovereignty of God – that is, God is the ruler of all nations, of all peoples. But, if God is sovereign, how is He sovereign? If He is the king of our lives and we refuse to listen to Him, are we not dethroning God? If we insist that the message preached from the pulpit be pleasing to us rather than pleasing to Him, are we not on the throne instead of God?
The Apostle Paul spoke of a future time in the church at Ephesus. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, having itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” – 2 Timothy 4:3-4.
We would never openly dethrone God and reject His word, but we might end up doing the same if we fail to discern “ear tickler” preachers and “itching ear” messages. In the name of church growth (and who does not want to grow?) messages that entertain are supposed to draw the crowds. This type of preacher might even quote Paul: “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” – 1 Corinthians 9:22. But, “. . . being ‘all things to all people’ can be a prelude to good communication or to surprisingly self-subversion and shabby compromise.” (Guiness, 79). And so mega-church preachers like Joel Osteen fill an arena, but who is on the throne? Not God.
Earl West made an interesting observation about the relation between preaching in the Restoration movement and church growth. “If any pioneer preacher had been asked why he was preaching the gospel, the answer would inevitably have been, ‘to save souls.’ . . . The language of modern Christians is not incorrect but the focus requires clarity. A preacher moves in with a modern congregation, and borrowing the terminology of an industrialized society, his duty is ‘church growth.’ This is not wholly inaccurate since in New Testament times the same thing that saved a person also added him to the church. Yet the vision of building up audiences and increasing contributions swings the mind away from loving the lost and bringing them to Christ which is the nucleus of the message of good news.” (West, 375).
What is the solution? “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and doctrine.” – 2 Timothy 4:2. The way to exalt God and to enthrone Christ is to allow the word of God to be proclaimed faithfully. As God’s Word is proclaimed may we submit our hearts and lives to the KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
Guiness, Os. Dining with the Devil. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1993.
West, Earl. “The Abuse of the Restoration,” Freed-Hardeman University Lectures, 1998: 355-377.