The Sovereign Hand of God

Another great post from Eric at the J.C. Ryle Quotes website. I count myself so fortunate to be living in this digital information age.

Just as the telescope and microscope show us that there is order and design in all the works of God’s hand, from the greatest planet down to the least insect, so does the Bible teach us that there is wisdom, order and design in all the events of our daily life. There is no such thing as ‘chance’, ‘luck’, or ‘accident’ in the Christian journey through this world. All is arranged and appointed by God: and all things are ‘working together’ for the believer’s good (Romans 8:28).

—J.C. Ryle
Day by Day with J.C. Ryle

If you have not visited this site you have deprived yourself of the wisdom and insight of this brilliant and faithful pastor. For more information about J.C. Ryle see this page at J.C. Ryle Quotes.

Via: J.C. Ryle Quotes

How to Fight the Accuser

Dr. Ortlund posted this fantastic quote from Martin Luther on his website this afternoon:

When the devil accuses us and says, ‘You are a sinner and therefore damned,’ we should answer, ‘Because you say I am a sinner, I will be righteous and saved.’  ‘No,’ says the devil, ‘you will be damned.’  And I reply, ‘No, for I fly to Christ, who gave himself for my sins.  Satan, you will not prevail against me when you try to terrify me by setting forth the greatness of my sins and try to bring me into heaviness, distrust, despair, hated, contempt and blasphemy against God.  On the contrary, when you say I am a sinner, you give me armor and weapons against yourself, so that with your own sword I may cut your throat and tread you under my feet, for Christ died for sinners. . . . As often as you object that I am a sinner, so often you remind me of the benefit of Christ my Redeemer, on whose shoulders, and not on mine, lie all my sins.  So when you say I am a sinner, you do not terrify me but comfort me immeasurably.’

Martin Luther
Commenting on Galatians 1:4

Via: Ray Ortlund

Shalom’s Linchpin

Tony Reinke posted this inspring quote on his website today and I wanted to pass it along.

The God of the Bible is the righteous God of holy love. The trouble is, however, that we have become paradoxically the glory and garbage of the universe. Our great need is peace with God, and not just with God but also with one another. …

There is no shalom, however, without sacrifice. Peace is made through the blood of the cross. The atoning life, death and vindication of the faithful Son bring shalom by addressing the problem of sin, death the devil and wrath definitively. Sacrifice, satisfaction, substitution and victory are key terms for understanding God’s atoning project in general and the cross in particular. Eschatologically speaking, the realization of the triune God’s reconciling project will see God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule living God’s way enjoying shalom in God’s holy and loving presence to God’s glory. …

The broad notion should humble us at the thought of a righteous God of holy loving purpose who, in love, has never abandoned his wayward creatures but in a plan of rescue has begun to reclaim the created order and will in the end restore creation to himself and to his glory. Love is the motive, glory the goal. The narrow one brings us to Christ and his cross. He is the linchpin of the plan. We are brought to a real Christ, to a real cross, to a real cost.

—Graham A. Cole
God the Peacemaker: How Atonement Brings Shalom

Via: Tony Reinke

Resurrection and Redemption

Another great post from Of First Importance.

In God’s mighty act of raising Jesus bodily from the grave we are right to glimpse the final chapter of the drama of redemption. Indeed, an understanding of redemption that fails to take its moorings from Christ’s victory over sin and death via bodily resurrection, and the promise of ultimate restoration of all things declared by the empty tomb, is not a biblical understanding of redemption at all.

—Michael D. Williams
Far as the Curse is Found

Via: Of First Importance

The Sovereignty of God and Suffering

I originally posted the audio from this NPR interview with Dr. John Piper on August 7, 2008, but I thought it was especially timely in relation to the recent disaster in Haiti and wanted to make it available again. This is a thoughtful, biblical response to people that question the sovereignty of God in the face of tragic events, in this case the subject of the interview was the 2005 Tsunami. The interview is about 30 minutes long but well worth the investment of time.

Related: You can download or listen to the interview at Desiring God.

Does God Hate Haiti?

Update: You can listen to Dr. Mohler read this article:

Dr. Mohler posted a helpful article today regarding the recent disaster in Haiti. You can read the original article here.

The images streaming in from Haiti look like scenes from Dante’s Inferno. The scale of the calamity is unprecedented. In many ways, Haiti has almost ceased to exist.

The earthquake that will forever change that nation came as subterranean plates shifted about six miles under the surface of the earth, along a fault line that had threatened trouble for centuries. But no one saw a quake of this magnitude coming. The 7.0 quake came like a nightmare, with the city of Port-au-Prince crumbling, entire villages collapsing, bodies flying in the air and crushed under mountains of debris. Orphanages, churches, markets, homes, and government buildings all collapsed. Civil government has virtually ceased to function. Without power, communication has been cut off and rescue efforts are seriously hampered. Bodies are piling up, hope is running out, and help, though on the way, will not arrive in time for many victims.

Even as boots are finally hitting the ground and relief efforts are reaching the island, estimates of the death toll range as high as 500,000. Given the mountainous terrain and dense villages that had been hanging along the fault line, entire villages may have disappeared. The Western Hemisphere’s most impoverished nation has experienced a catastrophe that appears almost apocalyptic.

In truth, it is hard not to describe the earthquake as a disaster of biblical proportions. It certainly looks as if the wrath of God has fallen upon the Caribbean nation. Add to this the fact that Haiti is well known for its history of religious syncretism — mixing elements of various faiths, including occult practices. The nation is known for voodoo, sorcery, and a Catholic tradition that has been greatly influenced by the occult.

Haiti’s history is a catalog of political disasters, one after the other. In one account of the nation’s fight for independence from the French in the late 18th century, representatives of the nation are said to have made a pact with the Devil to throw off the French. According to this account, the Haitians considered the French as Catholics and wanted to side with whomever would oppose the French. Thus, some would use that tradition to explain all that has marked the tragedy of Haitian history — including now the earthquake of January 12, 2010.

Does God hate Haiti? That is the conclusion reached by many, who point to the earthquake as a sign of God’s direct and observable judgment.

God does judge the nations — all of them — and God will judge the nations. His judgment is perfect and his justice is sure. He rules over all the nations and his sovereign will is demonstrated in the rising and falling of nations and empires and peoples. Every molecule of matter obeys his command, and the earthquakes reveal his reign — as do the tides of relief and assistance flowing into Haiti right now.

A faithful Christian cannot accept the claim that God is a bystander in world events. The Bible clearly claims the sovereign rule of God over all his creation, all of the time. We have no right to claim that God was surprised by the earthquake in Haiti, or to allow that God could not have prevented it from happening.

God’s rule over creation involves both direct and indirect acts, but his rule is constant. The universe, even after the consequences of the Fall, still demonstrates the character of God in all its dimensions, objects, and occurrences. And yet, we have no right to claim that we know why a disaster like the earthquake in Haiti happened at just that place and at just that moment.

The arrogance of human presumption is a real and present danger. We can trace the effects of a drunk driver to a car accident, but we cannot trace the effects of voodoo to an earthquake — at least not so directly. Will God judge Haiti for its spiritual darkness? Of course. Is the judgment of God something we can claim to understand in this sense — in the present? No, we are not given that knowledge. Jesus himself warned his disciples against this kind of presumption.

Why did no earthquake shake Nazi Germany? Why did no tsunami swallow up the killing fields of Cambodia? Why did Hurricane Katrina destroy far more evangelical churches than casinos? Why do so many murderous dictators live to old age while many missionaries die young?

Does God hate Haiti? God hates sin, and will punish both individual sinners and nations. But that means that every individual and every nation will be found guilty when measured by the standard of God’s perfect righteousness. God does hate sin, but if God merely hated Haiti, there would be no missionaries there; there would be no aid streaming to the nation; there would be no rescue efforts — there would be no hope.

The earthquake in Haiti, like every other earthly disaster, reminds us that creation groans under the weight of sin and the judgment of God. This is true for every cell in our bodies, even as it is for the crust of the earth at every point in the globe. The entire cosmos is awaiting the revelation of the glory of the coming Lord. Creation cries out the hope of New Creation.

In other words, the earthquake reminds us that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only real message of hope. The cross of Christ declares that Jesus loves Haiti — and the Haitian people are the objects of his love. Christ would have us show the Haitian nation his love, and share his Gospel. In the midst of this unspeakable tragedy, Christ would have us rush to aid the suffering people of Haiti, and rush to tell the Haitian people of his love, his cross, and salvation in his name alone.

Everything about the tragedy in Haiti points to our need for redemption. This tragedy may lead to a new openness to the Gospel among the Haitian people. That will be to the glory of God. In the meantime, Christ’s people must do everything we can to alleviate the suffering, bind up the wounded, and comfort the grieving. If Christ’s people are called to do this, how can we say that God hates Haiti?

If you have any doubts about this, take your Bible and turn to John 3:16. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. That is God’s message to Haiti.

—Dr. Albert Mohler

Via: Albert Mohler