“God is in control.” We hear that a lot, but what does that mean? The Scriptures help us understand God’s control over the world. (1) God’s sovereign will prevails on earth (Psa. 135:6; Dan. 4:34-35). “He rules and works according to His eternal purpose even through events that seem to contradict or oppose His rule” (Holman, 1523). (2) God did not create the world and then walk away from it. The false theology that only nature’s laws operate in this world is called Deism. It rejects God’s interaction with His creation whether by revelation, by miracles, or by answering prayers (Eph. 3:3-5; Heb. 2:4; Matt. 7:7-11; Acts 14:17). (3) God does not control every event in your life. Free will means we can choose between good and evil, and our choices have consequences (Deut. 30:19; Gal. 6:7-8). Conversely, fatalism is the “doctrine that events are fixed in advance so that human beings are powerless to change them” (Merriam-Webster). Calvinism’s doctrine of predestination is false since God gave us free will (Josh. 24:15). (4) God’s plan for us is that we fear Him and keep His commandments (Eccl. 12:13). His will and purposes prevail in heaven and earth, and human redemption in Christ is the centerpiece (Rom. 8:28-30). Through the gospel, God is calling us to believe and obey Him to be saved and walk with Him in life and eternity (Mark 16:15-16; 1 John 1:5-10; Matt. 7:21-23).
29 “And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me. 31 But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do. Arise, let us go from here. (John 14:29–31, NKJV)
Jesus was caring for the faith of His apostles even in the shadow of the cross. Its trauma would shake their faith (Matt. 26:31). When they saw the risen Lord and heard Him explain His fulfillment of God’s promised salvation, their faith would be renewed (Lk. 24:36-47; Acts 1:1-8). Evil forces were coming, thinking to eliminate God’s Son by death. Satan and his servants would fail (1 Cor. 2:7-8; Acts 2:32-36). Jesus was about to show the world His love for the Father by voluntarily dying on the cross (v. 31). Here is our lesson. When we obey God, we show the world we love God. Jesus exalted obedience to the Father as a defining demonstration of devotion (cf. Jno. 14:15). The Father had commanded Him, and He willingly yielded His will in obedient love. God so loved us that He gave His Son to die for our sins (Jno. 3:16; 1 Jno. 4:10). The Son showed the world His love for the Father by obediently dying on the cross (Heb. 5:8). We love God when we keep His commandments (1 Jno. 5:3). Christian, set an example for the world by lovingly obeying the commandments of the Lord.
21 Tell and bring forth your case; Yes, let them take counsel together. Who has declared this from ancient time? Who has told it from that time? Have not I, the Lord? And there is no other God besides Me, a just God and a Savior; There is none besides Me. 22 Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. (Isaiah 45:21–22, NKJV)
The foretelling of events is a mark of the one true God (Isa. 41:22; 42:8-9; 46:10). In context, Isaiah explains the idols of men are nothing but carved pieces of wood; without knowledge and void of power to save those who pray to them (Isa. 45:20). By contrast, Israel’s God declares events before they occur, such as the rise, reign, and exploits of king Cyrus (Isa. 44:28-45:3, 13). God shows Himself to be just and a Savior by His word of wisdom and by the power that fulfills His declarations. He calls on all the earth to look to Him for salvation; He alone is God. The gospel of His Son, Jesus Christ, is God’s call of salvation that goes out to the ends of the earth (Mk. 16:15). Yet, eyes are still blind, and hearts remain hardened to the salvation God makes available. We try to save ourselves with our own wisdom, power, wealth, pleasure, and other false gods. We carry around these idols in our hearts, vainly thinking they are our salvation. These always fail (Matt. 16:26). There is only one true God. Faith that “God is” and that He “Is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” brings salvation from sin in His Son (Heb. 11:6; Acts 4:12).
3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. 4 Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 5 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” (Matthew 17:3–5, NKJV)
The Word (Christ) did not cling to the “form of God” when He became flesh (Phil. 2:5-7). That is, He emptied Himself of the glorious appearance of deity He shared with the Father “before the world was” (Jno. 17:5; Jno. 1:1, 14). Without divesting Himself of His Godhood, He took the “form of a bondservant” and became human (Phil. 2:7). His humility reached its zenith when He obediently died on the cross (Phil. 2:8). On the mountain, when Jesus was transfigured, Peter, James, and John saw a glimpse of His glory and heard the Father’s confirmation of His Sonship (Matt. 17:1-2; Lk. 9:32; 2 Pet. 1:16-17). Jesus is superior to the Law (Moses) and the prophets (Elijah). Therefore, we must hear the Son in everything He teaches (Acts 3:22-23). That means we go to His New Testament to inform and activate our faith, not to the Old Testament law and prophets (Heb. 1:1-2). We listen to the Son by hearing and accepting His apostles’ teachings (Jno. 13:20; Matt. 28:19-20). Are you listening to the Son of God?
13 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” 14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:13–16, NKJV)
Who do people say you are? A good reputation is valuable and should be guarded (Prov. 22:1). Yet, what people say about you may not be the truth. People said many things about Jesus, many of which were incorrect (Matt. 12:24; Jno. 7:12). Peter accurately identified Jesus as the “Christ, the Son of the living God” because he accepted the Father’s testimony of His Son (Matt. 16:17; Jno. 5:36-39). When we value what people say about us more than the truth God reveals in His word, we will find ourselves compromising truth for the sake of having people’s approval. Many did this concerning Jesus: “Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (Jno. 12:42-43). God’s word sanctifies us, not what people say about us (Jno. 17:17; Gal. 1:10; 1 Thess. 2:4).
33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! 34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?” 35 “Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?” 36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33–36, NKJV)
Humanity stands before the superlative majesty of God. His wisdom and knowledge are more profound than any human philosophy. Man’s wisdom is foolishness to Him (1 Cor. 1:25). His purposes, decisions, and ways do not originate in the human heart. God has revealed His mind, His judgments, and His conduct to us by His Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:6-11; Eph. 3:3-5). Paul’s use of Isaiah 40:13-14 calls our attention to this fundamental truth: We do not tell God how He should do things. God does not arrange His purposes based on our advice and counsel. He is sovereign over us. Many push back at this truth and refuse to yield to the supremacy of the Almighty. To do so invariably leads to foolishly following false gods (Rom. 1:21-23). May we humbly bow before God and bring ourselves into harmony with His will. He rules His world, including each of us, in the wisdom of truth and righteousness.
18 Therefore they left the house of the Lord God of their fathers, and served wooden images and idols; and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem because of their trespass. 19 Yet He sent prophets to them, to bring them back to the Lord; and they testified against them, but they would not listen. (2 Chronicles 24:18–19, NKJV)
At first, Joash, the king of Judah, “did what was right in the sight of the Lord” (2 Chron. 24:2). Yet later, he listened to the leaders of Judah and fell away from the Lord (2 Chron. 24:15-17). Listening to the counsel of men rather than the prophets of God, Joash and Judah turned back to idol worship. Led by the king, they even killed the prophet, Zechariah, in the court of the temple, because he rebuked their sins (2 Chron. 24:20-21; Jesus referred to this in Matt. 23:34-36). Indeed, the prophets of God were “an example of suffering and patience” (Jas. 5:10). Now, God speaks to us “by His Son” through His apostles and prophets (Heb. 1:1-2; 2 Pet. 3:1-2). The choice between listening to the will of men or to the word of God remains. Shall we join with those who cried, “Crucify Him!” and reject His word, or shall we stand with “the apostles of the Lord and Savior” who spoke Christ’s truth (2 Pet. 3:2)? Will you listen to the Lord or men? That depends on whether you want to fulfill the will of God or the devil (Jno. 8:43-44).
16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16–17, NKJV)
This dramatic event at the baptism of Jesus capsulizes the identity and the nature of the Godhead. Seen by Jesus and John, the Spirit of God descended and rested upon Jesus as a heavenly attestation of approval. The presence of the Spirit of God was miraculous confirmation to John that Jesus is the “Son of God” (Jno. 1:32-34). At this seminal event, God the Father declared by word and by the presence of His Spirit the identity of Jesus and His pleasure toward Him (Isa. 42:1; Acts 10:38). Jesus is the Son of God, an expression denoting sameness or equality of nature (Jno. 5:17-18; 10:30-36). In other words, Jesus is Deity, God with us (Jno. 1:1-3, 14; Matt. 1:23). Three distinct individuals (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) comprising One God. The Godhead is a united One – complete and undivided in nature, purpose, and will (Deut. 6:4; Jno. 10:30). Doctrines of God that deviate from this profound truth concerning the Godhead (and, there are many) advance false gods. (For more on the Godhead, go to http://www.bibleanswer.com/godhead.htm.)
God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:9, NKJV)
The faithfulness of God is the Christian’s ground of confidence. He will do what He has promised. 1) God is faithful to call us into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ. The gospel calls us into salvation as new creatures in Christ (1 Cor. 1:18, 24; 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 3:26-27; 2 Thess. 2:13-14). We are confident in the promised fellowship we have with the Father and the Son when we love Christ and keep His word (John 14:23). 2) God is faithful to shield us and give us a way of escape when we are tempted to sin (1 Cor. 10:13). We are confident that, though tempted, we can endure it successfully. 3) God is faithful to preserve us blameless at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 5:23-24). Christians are saints, set apart to the holy service of God (1 Cor. 1:2; 1 Pet. 2:5, 9). We are confident that when we walk in the light, we will be blameless at the Lord’s return (1 Jno. 1:5-9). God faithfully accomplishes what He promises. Our confidence is in Him (Rom. 8:35-37). Let us be ever faithful and true to Him (Rev. 17:14).
22 The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His way, before His works of old. 23 I have been established from everlasting, from the beginning, before there was ever an earth. (Proverbs 8:22–23, NKJV)
Wisdom cries out for us to receive her guidance of truth and understanding (Prov. 8:1-11). Not only does she “dwell with prudence,” Jehovah has possessed her from eternity past. 1) Wisdom attended God’s creation of the heavens and the earth (Gen. 1:1). She served as His “ready craftsman” when He fashioned the earth (Prov. 8:30, 24-31). The wonders of the heavens and the earth defy human intellect, power, skill, precision, and imagination. Divine wisdom, though invisible, is perceived by the things God has made (Rom. 1:20). 2) Wisdom attended God’s plan of human redemption. God made redemption in Christ “abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence” (Eph. 1:7-8). The church (those redeemed by the blood of Christ) reveals the “manifold wisdom of God” to heaven and earth (Eph. 3:10-11). 3) Wisdom attended God’s revelation of the gospel. The gospel is the “wisdom of God” that reveals His mind to the whole world (1 Cor. 2:6-13; Mk. 16:15). The gospel plums the depths of divine wisdom as it calls sinners to salvation (1 Cor. 1:18-25; Mk. 16:16). The wisdom of men pales in comparison to the wisdom that God possesses and has revealed in His word. Let us choose “the wisdom that is from above,” and bear the fruit of righteousness (Jas. 3:17-18).