HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
A. Every detail of life is under God’s control.
Intellectually we know this is true. If God is God, then he must know about all the things that happen to us, and in some sense, we can’t fully understand, that “all things” includes both the best and the worst that comes our way. After preaching this sermon, a friend asked if even our sins are “ordered” by the Lord. We have to think carefully in answering a question like this. God is never the author or instigator of sin. Never. He does not sin and he does not tempt anyone to sin. Sin is always our own responsibility. But that does not fully answer the question. If our sin can somehow exist independently of God so that our sin (and indeed, all the sin and misery of the universe) can somehow exist outside of God’s eternal plan, then God cannot truly be sovereign over all parts of the universe. We might ask the question this way: Is God sovereign over Satan? The answer must be yes. When you come all the way to the bottom line, the answer goes something like this: God reigns over all parts of the universe all the time, and he does it in such a way that all things must fit into his eternal plan. This even includes the reality of sin itself. For reasons that we only partly understand, God decreed to permit sin to enter the universe (primarily to display his glory through the grace that would be shown in redeeming sinners through the death of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ). When we sin, we remain fully accountable for the wrong choices we make—and the negative consequences we must face. But if God did not allow it to happen, it would not happen. Thus in the broadest sense of God’s sovereignty, even our sin cannot take place apart from God’s divine decree. Is there a mystery here? Absolutely, and it is a mystery so enormous that we will spend eternity learning more about it, and marvelling at the riches of God’s grace and the wisdom of his plan. But if this is not true, then God is not truly God at all, and we are (to borrow a Pauline phrase) of all men most miserable. But it is true, and therefore we rejoice to serve a God whose ways are far beyond our limited minds to understand. He can make the wrath of man praise him.
And there is an important personal application to be made at this point. Since every detail of life comes under God’s control, we can remain confident and peaceful even when life itself seems to spin out of control. Are you familiar with the name George Muller of Bristol? When I asked that question during my sermon, I noted that only a few heads nodded yes. But a hundred years ago, every person in the congregation would have known his name. For over 60 years, George Muller oversaw a group of orphanages in Bristol, England, that provided food, clothing and personal care for over 10,000 boys and girls. Here is an amazing fact: He never once took an offering, sent out a fundraising letter, or made an appeal for money. He depended on God for whatever was needed to support the work. His diaries record numerous instances when they had no food and no money to buy food. He would gather with his fellow workers to cry out to God for help. On many occasions, the help came while they prayed—a grocer would come by with bread, cheese, meat and eggs so the children would have breakfast in the morning. Mr. Muller proved in his own life that you can take God at his Word. After he died, someone picked up his well-worn Bible and began to leaf through it. Because Mr. Muller was an avid Bible reader, its pages were filled with jottings from his daily devotions. Next to the words of Psalm 37:23, he had added two little words to the text: “The steps AND STOPS of a good man are ordered by the Lord.” How true that is. For the Christian, the path of life is never an unbroken straight line to heaven. We all go through “many dangers, toils and snares” on our way to Heavenly City. How good to know that our God ordains both the steps and stops of life.
TO BE CONTINUED ……