The Eternal Decrees of God
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
Don’t you wonder who is in charge especially when bad things happen? There is a powerful statement made by the great prophet Jeremiah. He is often referred to as the weeping prophet. He wrote two books of the Old Testament. One is called by his name and the other is called Lamentations. Jeremiah was weeping, lamenting over the state of the once great city of Jerusalem. God used the Babylonian Empire to crush Judah. Judah’s capital city, Jerusalem was destroyed and the people were sent into captivity. Jeremiah wept over what had happened knowing that God had exercised judgment against His people for their idolatry. He gave us the answer to who it is that controls all things. “Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?” Lamentations 3:37-38
Jeremiah’s answer is clear. God is in charge of everything that happens. There is nothing, good or bad that occurs outside of His sovereign authority.
Likewise, answers to this question and others were sought from Scripture during the Sixteenth Century Protestant Reformation. By the Seventeenth Century England’s Parliament commissioned many pastors and theologians to give biblical clarity concerning the true religion, their description of man’s expression of biblical faith in Jesus Christ. They produced a document called a confession of faith. The Westminster Confession of Faith is still used as an expression of sound biblical doctrine. This Confession is part of the constitution of my denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). We began in 1973 as a Presbyterian Denomination committed to: biblical faithfulness, reformed doctrine and obedience to the Great Commission.
Chapter 3 of the Westminster Confession of Faith, paragraph 1 reads in part: “God from all eternity did ordain whatsoever comes to pass… “. In ordaining everything, they re-stated what the Bible declares: God is not the author of sin. God does not offer violence to the will of His creatures.
Reasonable people know that if God is not in charge, we live at the whim of someone or something else that has different intentions than the God who is always good! The fact that we often don’t understand events does not nullify the sovereign authority of the God who ordained them.
This truth reflects the character of God. If He’s not in charge, He’s not God! If God has not ordained everything that happens, then all creation is at the mercy of some indeterminate entity or force. The Bible is clear and even man’s fallen reason testifies to the truth that a sovereign God ordains everything.
What then are we, believers in the truth to make of this? Jeremiah wrote in the same book, Lamentations 3:22-23, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Likewise, the Apostle Paul wrote, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
God is in charge and He has a good plan because He is good. Jesus said to the rich ruler, “… No one is good except God alone,” Luke 18:19.
Notice that, I asked, “What are believers to make of the truth that God is in charge?” God promised that all things work together for good for those who love Him. The one’s who love Him are those whom He called. Therefore, there is comfort for believers, the called ones, because God ordains everything that comes to pass. In other words, God has a wonderful plan for those who have placed their trust in Him. Those who place their trust in Him are those whom He calls.
So, when things look bad, they often are. But, if you believe in the Risen Lord Jesus know that God will work those bad things together for your good. Trust in a good God. Don’t place your trust in circumstances or in some human savior who promises to change your circumstances.
Remember that everything that happens has been ordained by God. In the midst of life, even the bad things, God has promised the ultimate good for His people and He never goes back on a promise!