“I will question you…”

“Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me.”

Job 38:4 ESV

I was reading through Job 38, and as I read through the chapter, my thoughts were captivated by the wisdom and the power of God. The book of Job in its entirety goes against conventional wisdom and by that I mean, the book of Proverbs says; “No ill befalls the righteous, but the wicked are filled with trouble” (Proverbs 12:21 ESV). But the book of Job turns that logic on its head. At the beginning of the book, it was established that Job was ‘blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.’ (Job 1:1 ESV). Like Solomon wrote in Proverbs, ‘no ill’ befell him. Life was great for Job, he had much livestock, had many children and served God faithfully and joyfully. What more could a man ask for from God?

But God took all that away from him, leaving him with sores from his head to toe. And the Scriptures tell of this picture of Job sitting in ashes, taking broken pottery pieces and scraping himself. Job’s story is a tragedy of tragedies. The book of Job begs the question, why would evil befall the righteous? And I think that the book of Job gives the most beautiful and terrifying answer at the same time… but it can only be understood through faith.

In chapter 38, after a long-winded debate over why Job’s life turned sour, God suddenly appears and speaks in a whirlwind;

“Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said; Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you and you make it known to me.”

Job 38:1-3 ESV

As I read this, I tried to imagine the awe-inspiring sight that is God’s glory being manifested so clearly before these men’s eyes. What kind of fear gripped Job and his friends as they heard God reply back? The fear must’ve been overwhelming to see that whirlwind and to hear the voice of God.

What I love about God’s response is that He doesn’t actually answer the question of why He took everything away from Job. Instead, he says, “I will question you”. In other words, God was telling them, “hey you don’t have a right to question me, I’m God and you’re not! If I choose to give, I have every right to, and if I choose to take, I have every right to do that also”. From there God just asks them some very loaded questions, like ‘where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?’ (Job 38:4 ESV), or ‘have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place?’ (Job 38:12 ESV). After a plethora of questions asking Job, he answers ‘Behold I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth’ (Job 40:4 ESV). We don’t put God on the stand and question Him as if He were in a courtroom. It is God who is the judge, and it is us who has to answer to him. But yet when calamity strikes, the very first thing that men are so prone to do is to lay it upon God and question him, asking him a cascade of questions. God doesn’t have to answer us, and we don’t deserve an answer from him, other than “I’m God and you’re not, deal with it”. We should know our place, as we’re the creatures and He’s the creator. And because He’s the creator He has every right to do whatever He wishes, as the Psalmist wrote, ‘Our God is in the heavens, he does all that he pleases’ (Psa 115:3).

Now to the humanist, this is not the response that would satisfy. The reason for this is because for the humanist, man is the final arbiter of his fate, not God. For the humanist, religion exists to serve man, fulfilling his needs and desires. But the humanist forgets that from dust he came and to dust he will return. But God on the otherhand, He is self-sufficient, creator and everlasting, having created all things for the glory of His name. And whether the humanist likes it or not, he is within the domain of God’s creation, leaving him forever beneath His sovereign rule and therefore He must never dare question God, nor accuse him.

But for us Christians, we must trust our God’s sovereign hand, never questioning Him. Because we know, that “all things work together for (our) good” (Rom 8:28 ESV). We as Christians must always remember that our God is a wise and benevolent Father. He’s not a cruel and seeking our destruction. In the same way a human father loves his child, how much more greater is the love of our Father who is in heaven?

“Lord remind us always that you are a benevolent and wise Father. Though we may never question your goodness in seasons and storms that may seem bad on the outset; may we see that these afflictions are but light and momentary, having eyes to see the things that are unseen. All praise and glory and honour be to your name.”

Amen

Coram Deo,

Chad

Calvinists Shouldn’t Be Jerks!

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer”

Psalm 19:14 (ESV)

We Reformed folks are known for many things, and one thing we’re known for is our immense love for learning theology. We love to read books, lots of books! We love talking about theology and talking about old dead guys who most often times have beards… long, flowing and majestic beards.

Now whilst I wholeheartedly believe that learning theology should be encouraged, as it is the duty of all Christians to diligently understand it. I must say that there are certain pitfalls, we Reformed folks fall into. By this, I mean that we can be arrogant jerks at times if not a lot of times and I think the meme below, speaks for itself to explain what I mean.

Unknown

If you’re in the know, then you know that we call this the ‘cage stage’ and if you’re not familiar with the ‘cage stage’, then chances are you’re probably right in the middle of it.

Listen! Especially those of us who are in the ‘cage stage’, Reformed theology should not cause us to be arrogant and proud! Cause if it is, then you need to get yourself checked, because you only understand it on an intellectual level. If anything, our doctrines should cause us to be the most humble people on the planet. Think about it, the God who we claim to have a better understanding of than our Arminian brothers decided to illuminate to us these doctrines which we love and cherish now. Our Arminian brothers can’t see what we see, although they may understand it at an intellectual level, we, on the other hand, can dwell and relish upon the fact that our God is in the heavens and does whatever he pleases (Psa 115:3), and that none can stay His hand or say to Him what have you done (Dan 4:35). Whenever trials and suffering come our way, we know that God holds all of history at His fingertips, nothing surprises Him. And because of that, we need not fret, knowing that He is a benevolent and loving Father who works all things for our good (Rom 8:28). We must praise God that we see these things! Not sin against Him by being arrogant towards our brothers and sisters who don’t see eye to eye with us.

Is it because you’re better than them, or that you have a slightly higher intellectual capability, that you’ve come to believe these things? No! It is God who hides ‘these things from the wise and understanding and reveals them to little children’ (Matt 11:25 ESV). The very fact that you’ve come to understand Reformed theology is simply because God allowed it, ‘according to the purpose of (His) will, to the praise of (His) glorious grace…’ (Eph 1:4 ESV modified) so that you may not boast (Eph 2:9).

So instead of toting the fact that we know and believe certain things that other Christians (and yes there are Christians outside the Reformed tradition) don’t know and parading it around by starting foolish arguments. Let’s instead remember that we too didn’t have this understanding at one point in our lives. We should dwell on God’s grace to humble ourselves before Him and others around us.

Brethren, I’m not writing this because I’m perfect in doing this, but because I too am very prone to this and I pray that God would give us all the grace to do what Paul instructed young Timothy; that is to correct opponents with gentleness (2 Tim 2:25). This way our hearers will know that we love them, and we’re not just showing off our theological prowess. But more than that God is glorified and we’re able to say with David, ‘May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight” (Psa 19:14)

“O Lord give me patience and wisdom in discussing my disagreements with my brothers who disagree with me. May you keep my heart from pride and arrogance, so that the meditations of my mouth and mind may be pleasing in your sight. Amen”

Coram Deo,

Chad

I Surrender All? Huh Really?

One song which has been on my radar lately is ‘I surrender all’. You know that old song where it’s talking about surrendering all to Jesus. If you’re not familiar here are the lyrics of the first few stanzas;

All to Jesus I surrender,
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.

Refrain:
I surrender all,
I surrender all;
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

To give some historical background to this famous hymn, it was written by a man by the name of Judson W. Van DeVenter. DeVenter was a professional musician and school teacher, who served in the music ministry of a Methodist Episcopal church. The hymn, ‘I surrender all’, arose after a struggle with a call on his life to become an evangelist or to develop his teaching career. When he finally ‘surrendered’ to this call, he describes his experience in the song.

I have felt very uneasy about singing this song, especially after the question was brought up by a brother to me, in regards to this song; “Do we really surrender all to Jesus?”.

It got me thinking; ‘hmm we don’t really surrender all, because if we did, then we love God with every fibre of our being. But we know that’s not true because we sin’. Jesus said, ‘if you love me, you will keep my commandments’ (John 14:15). But the very fact that we don’t always obey God, certainly means we don’t truly surrender all.

To quote, A.W. Tozer,

“Christians don’t tell lies, they just go to church and sing them”

Talk about a convicting and hard-hitting quote. Sure we Christians are known for not being liars by the world, but the reality is when we sing at church about how much we love Jesus, do we not exaggerate with our tongues about the degree of our love for Christ?

Now there were only two people in the Scriptures, that I could think of who said “I surrender all” (well not quite exactly verbatim) to God… and they died because they lied!

Those two people were Ananias and Saphira. Acts 5 tells us they were a couple who sold a piece of property and laid it at the Apostles’ feet. They claimed that they were giving all the proceeds of the selling of the property, but they actually kept back some for themselves. This is basically the same as when we sing ‘I surrender all, all to thee my blessed Saviour, I surrender all’. Now what Peter said to Ananias was terrifying,

‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.’

(Acts 5:2 ESV).

After these words were spoken, Ananias fell dead to the ground! His wife suffered the same fate three hours later.

This story should cause us to tremble neath the holiness of God, especially in light of certain people saying that God has lessened in his ‘harshness’  in the New Testament. To sing, ‘I surrender all’ when we really don’t, is to lie to God and that should not be overlooked as a small matter. Our tongues sing ‘I surrender all’, but our hearts don’t ring with the tune of surrender.

But is God not merciful? Praise be to God, that church congregations don’t fall to the ground like Ananias and Saphira. If God treated the church today, the way he treated this couple, we would be seeing a lot of dead corpses in the church.

With this being said, I don’t intend to make it be an attack on churches who choose to sing this song, it’s a matter of Christian liberty as to whether a congregation should sing it or not.

And to end on a good note, this song has greatly encouraged my soul, reading lyrics like; ‘worldly pleasures all forsaken…’. I love this line, but I don’t think I can sing this knowing that I still have worldly pleasures that I cling to. And when I think I’ve already forsaken all, that’s when I realise that I still have a sea of wicked pleasures I did not see.  Indeed John Owen is right in saying ‘be killing sin, or it will be killing you’ because in this world sin will always afflict us. But when we see Him in glory, we can then truly say “I surrender all”. So till then, I make it a prayer to God. “Lord give me the grace to forsake all wicked pleasures in the world, and to walk in your light because I can’t do it, but you can”.

Coram Deo,

Chad

Some thoughts on the Doctrine of Regeneration

‘…unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God’ (John 3:3). In order to see the Kingdom of God, or to be a partaker of God’s saving covenant; or to put it simply, being saved, one must first be born again. In other words, before we can come and believe in the gospel we must first be regenerated by the Spirit of God, causing us to come to Christ and be saved.

Regeneration never fails to amaze me, because God never fails to amaze! And by His providence, this season, I’ve been relishing in this great doctrine and studying the verses related to it.

Regeneration is a work which only God can bring about, apart from you and me, by his great power. So, if you are in Christ, you were once dead in your trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1), a God-hater (Rom 1:28-32), unable to receive the things of God (1 Cor 2:14). But after God works regeneration, you are made alive in Christ and have been given new desires and affections to love and obey him.

It’s a miracle! A miracle because we could never bring this about, ‘but God being rich in mercy… made us alive together with Christ’ (Eph 2:4 ESV). We who are saved by God’s grace must give Him praise for the miracle of regeneration; indeed we will worship Him for all eternity for it.

To give a historically Reformed definition of this doctrine, here’s what the Westminster Confession of Faith says;

‘All those whom God hath predestined unto life, and those only, He is pleased, in His appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, by His Word and Spirit, out of the state of sin and death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds, spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God, taking away their hearts of stone, and giving unto them an heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and by his almighty power determining them to that which is good…’

Westminster Confession 10.1

That is all from me, for now

Coram Deo,

Chad

New Blog!!

Hey you!

You don’t know me and I obviously don’t know you… yet! So that we can start the conversation, here’s what you need to know about me…

My name is Chad, I’m 19 years old as of this post and I am the eldest of two younger siblings, one is 18, and the other, 15. I love writing (I mean obviously, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing this), especially about theology in my spare time. I love, love coffee, and hence I am currently working as a barista at a local store near me and I also love singing and playing the guitar.

But the thing that you need to know about me as it is relevant to you reading my blog is that I LOVE THEOLOGY! I love discussing it, asking questions and wrestling with it. However, I have to constantly remind myself the reason why I love it. I’ve quickly discovered that I can easily spiral down into an abyss of dead intellectual orthodoxy, and indeed I have. Meaning, that a mere intellectual understanding of all the Reformed doctrines, but not allowing these great truths to affect our thoughts and deeds.

When we consider the rich theology and history of our faith, we can only read and study so much of the great works of the Reformers, Puritans and other great men who’ve gone before us. And in the midst of this wealth of knowledge, we get lost and forget the reason why we study theology. And I think we all know what the answer to that is.

It’s to KNOW God!

And in knowing Him, we can worship and adore Him. Or to quote Shai Linne;

“…if you have theology without doxology, you just have dead, cold orthodoxy ”

In other words, if your abundance of knowledge of the Scriptures, and your ability to quote Calvin and the other Reformers, isn’t causing you to praise God, then your study of theology is nothing more than an intellectual exercise leading to futility. And dear friend, it’s my prayer in writing in this blog that both you and I would have a greater understanding of who God is, and in doing so worship Him as he ought.

Coram Deo,

Chad…