Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Sovereignty People: Actual Trusting in God's Sovereignty and Not Lipservice

God doesn't accept lipservice, people who say they're something when they're not or who say they believe something when they don't.   If someone says he believes in the sovereignty of God, then he would believe what God said about His own sovereignty.  God is sovereign, so He's sovereign over His sovereignty too.  His sovereignty is what He says it is.  Turning God's sovereignty into something that we say it is, and that He doesn't, acts as though we're sovereign over Him.

The people who believe in sovereignty as God reveals it in His Word, I'm going to call The Sovereignty People.  They are the ones who really believe it.  Others might have a name that they associate with believing in sovereignty that's only a name, because they just give sovereignty lipservice.  The Sovereignty People actually trust in the sovereignty of God, over which God is sovereign.  If you don't trust in the sovereignty of God, you are not one of The Sovereignty People.

The following are some examples, not in any order of priority, that I ask you to consider.  Again, people claim God's sovereignty but don't actually trust it.  They like to talk it, but manifest in obvious ways that they don't trust it everywhere.

The Church

I was reading a decent article on church versus parachurch.  I say "decent" because it had much good content, but wasn't right on.  It did a masterful job of ticking off many of the problems that arise, but ultimately left room for the parachurch organization.  There were a couple of tell-tale statements (emphasis mine):

Can anyone see a parachurch organization in the NT? If not, I still wouldn't conclude that there's no place for them, any more than I would for organs or guitars or pews.

A kid's at a secular college for some time, and a parachurch organization provides some on-campus fellowship, encouragement, instruction, camaraderie. I completely get that.

Why does someone conclude that there is a place for them or get why they are needed?  The reason why they cause many problems and why they suck energy from churches is because there is no place for them and they're not needed.  They're not.  They don't serve the church.  Jesus didn't start parachurch.  He didn't promise anything for them.  There's nothing to guide them.  They're sheer human innovation, saying that what God designed wasn't good enough.

So what does this have to do with the sovereignty issue?  Well, these people would claim to be sovereignty people.   But here God isn't sovereign to them.  They can't just trust what God said.  What He said was sufficient.  He didn't start parachurch, didn't mention it.  Is His way not good enough?  Did He not equip the church with enough to do what He wanted?   These additions are a faithless lack of trust in God.  They are the equivalent of David's ox-cart.  It isn't like using a computer instead of a typewriter, but like Caan's vegetables instead of an animal sacrifice.

God is glorified by what He said.  When we invent something to "help" what He said, He isn't glorified.  When we don't trust what He said, we're just giving His sovereignty lipservice.  God said what He said, and we should operate within that framework and then just allow Him to work how He works.  When it isn't like we think it should be, we shouldn't be starting something to supplement what He said because what He said doesn't work.  We should wait on Him.  That is trusting in His sovereignty.

The idea of parachurch is a supplement to the church in some way that church is insufficient.   The advocates usually say, "Churches just can't...."   God is omniscient.  He sees and knows what we can't see or know.  He foreknows.  If He didn't include something, He knew it wasn't necessary.  And even if it were necessary, He wants to be trusted.  He wants His way to be used.  He wants the credit for how it was done.  That is someone who actually trusts in the sovereignty of God.

The Bible

We might not feel saved, but we believe God is sovereign over His salvation, from which we get assurance.  People who say they believe in sovereignty might say that they believe in His sovereignty over salvation.  They talk about that again and again.  Saints persevere because God preserves the soul.  His Word says it, so they believe it.  Fine.  God knows His Word.  He knows what He inspired.  Every word.  And He promised to preserve every one of His Words.  Will we believe that?  Do we believe He is sovereign over His Word?  Most don't today.  They only give it lipservice.  What they really believe is that man is sovereign over God's Word through textual criticism.  Man determines what the Words are by "recovering" them through archaeology and then criticism.  This was another innovation to make up for something God didn't do.  I would say God couldn't do, but they'll say, "No, we haven't said, He couldn't, just that He didn't."  But He said that He would.  And now those preservation texts are being challenged to fit the presuppositions.

Men talk about the "version issue" or the King James Onlyism.   Generally, those two are red herrings.  We're talking about the doctrine of God's preservation of His Words.  In the past, men who claimed to believe in sovereignty also believed He was sovereign over His Word, and so they also believed in the perfect preservation of Scripture.  It's not a matter of a preference for a translation or a particular translation philosophy, but whether we can know what His Words are.  Christians once believed we could and did know, and this was even before the publication of the King James Version.  It's not a version issue, because we mean the original language words.

The big issue here is the existence of textual variants.  I believe that the soteriological equivalent are man's sins.  Can or does God not keep man's soul because of sins?  Yes.  Does God not keep His Word because of textual variants?  No.   See the inconsistency.   Sins are less of a problem than variants.  Why?  It isn't because of the power or wisdom of God, but because of the unbelief of men.  They say it's evidence.  No, it's faithlessness.  We believe either one of these because God promises them in His Word.  Whether we believe God is sovereign is whether we believe He has followed through on what He said.

Methods for Church Growth

The worship wars may not in fact be about worship.  They're instead about church growth.  How does a church grow or at least sustain its own numbers?  You would think that those who believe in God's sovereignty would say through biblical methods, but that is most often not what you hear from them.  You hear that a particular church is dead because of a music style that it uses.  If you believe God is sovereign, you also believe that His methods of church growth in scripture are sufficient. There are thick manuals on church growth authored by those who say they believe in God's sovereignty, and what they present is not solely what God said in His Word.  The Bible isn't enough.  You also need some marketing strategy and social programs.  These are people who are not OK with God being in charge.  There's got to be more to it to them.

There are many more examples than these., but what I am seeing is that people do not in fact believe in the sovereignty of God, because if they did, it would be more than just lipservice to them.


Anonymous said...

Canpeg 262 say: Good article. I am reminded of 2 places that I saw that was prevalent in this area. (1) US military with their so called chapels (2) Navigators.

Anonymous said...

Great article. Particularly the part about the Bible. They become a "bible" unto themselves who say, "well here's what it really says if you find the earliest manuscripts that agree on this even though I've never seen them and nobody else has either".