04 October 2013

"God...maketh use of means" (WCF)

From 2006 to 2012, PyroManiacs turned out almost-daily updates from the Post-Evangelical wasteland -- usually to the fear and loathing of more-polite and more-irenic bloggers and readers. The results lurk in the archives of this blog in spite of the hope of many that Google will "accidentally" swallow these words and pictures whole.

This feature enters the murky depths of the archives to fish out the classic hits from the golden age of internet drubbings.

The following except was written by Frank back in February 2010. The topic was God's use of "ordinary means" in accomplishing his purposes.

As usual, the comments are closed. 
Part of the way God is in control of things is by His revelation of decrees (like the Law) and "good advice" (like the Proverbs). That is: part of the way God is in control of the Cosmos is that there are ordinary means for achieving ordinary parts of His sovereign will for all things.

For example: your marriage. There’s no question that it’s really impossible for two people to have a wholly-holy marriage apart from the sanctifying grace of God. Cannot happen.

BUT many people who are not even believers have a marriage that works insofar as it actually follows the purpose and guidance God has given for such a thing. That is, even if it is not spiritually profitable, it turns out to be materially profitable and emotionally profitable and relationally profitable.

This is because after the primary purpose of Scripture (that is: being about Christ; revealing him to us), there is another purpose of Scripture, that being as our tutor. It teaches us how people who believe this stuff live as if it is true. There are ordinary means, ordained by God – that is, the normal way things work...

And in all of this, we take refuge in a few things:

[1] That we obey not for the sake of what it ordinarily accomplishes, but because we believe that God is wiser than we are. We shouldn’t have to invent what it means to believe him over and over when he has already spelled it out. His sovereignty actually starts in the means and doesn’t just reside in the ends. He’s not God just because what he wanted to happen was finally accomplished: he’s God and sets forth for us all the works, too.

[2] That we obey knowing this is actually how God ordinarily accomplished his plan, trusting and actually placing our hope in him and not in the work. Sometimes the work looks completely foolish. Since we are fools anyway, we should be glad that God can use even that for His ends – and they are His means after all.

[3] The sovereignty of God gives us hope and does not put us in a place where we are humiliated or over-awed into inaction or despair. In fact: we need to see all the means God uses to instruct as the way He reveals that there is hope for those who believe Him.

It is utterly true that God may do as he pleases: God is free to work without, above, and against normal means, at his pleasure. But He is also not a capricious being. He is a savior to the weak, and a God who loves those who have hated him and even still today do hate him.

This is why He is great and we are not. And this is why it’s critical to believe in his sovereignty – not to believe that we are somehow merely pawns, but to know that in doing what the maker and sustainer of all things has prescribed, we demonstrate our love and trust in him.