Monday, 24 October 2011

of God's Providence in Ezekiel's Wheel; Part 8

Photo Credit: Smithsonian American
Continuing our series that we began here, we now consider how The Providence of God is Always Correct. Let’s begin by looking again at Spurgeon’s text:

Now as I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the earth beside the living creatures, one for each of the four of them. As for the appearance of the wheels and their construction: their appearance was like the gleaming of beryl. And the four had the same likeness, their appearance and construction being as it were a wheel within a wheel. When they went, they went in any of their four directions without turning as they went. And their rims were tall and awesome, and the rims of all four were full of eyes all around. And when the living creatures went, the wheels went beside them; and when the living creatures rose from the earth, the wheels rose. (Ezekiel 1: 15-19; ESV)

Somewhere I read recently, “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” What does that mean? It means that just because one person or nation views another as a terrorist, doesn’t mean that others share the same opinion. From a worldly perspective, terrorism, like most other things, is really quite subjective. Even truth itself can be viewed as subjective. In other words, it is often dependent more on how well one argument is crafted and presented against the next one.

One thing about us humans is that we are a fickle people. What I mean is that we often seem to be constantly changing, sometimes without rhyme or reason. Sometimes there just seems to be no system or sense to the things we do. “The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him” (Proverbs 18:17; NIV). Perhaps it’s all just human nature.

Thankfully God is not like that. Thankfully God’s truth doesn’t change based upon man’s ability to argue a point. Thankfully the Providence of God is Always Correct. In this section of his sermon Spurgeon says, 
The prophet saw the wheels, and he well says, they turned not when they went, they always went straight forward; they never turned to the right or the left. Such is God’s Providence. Man marks out plans: he says, I shall build this tower; he gets halfway up, and he finds he has not enough to finish it with; he has to pull it down, lay a smaller foundation, and build again. God never does so; He lays the foundation, and always finishes the top stone.
There is an institutional church group not far from where I live whose building project reminds me of what Spurgeon said here. A number of years ago my wife and I visited them for a couple of their services. They were a nice enough bunch of people, but something I heard from the pulpit each time we were there bothered me. They insisted that God was calling them to build a 5000-seat sanctuary. This was God’s will, they preached.

Suddenly, almost overnight it seemed, that building project was reduced to a mere 1000-seat sanctuary. Apparently, I sarcastically commented, God had changed His mind. Or, as Spurgeon said, did they begin to build their “tower,” and half way through realize that they didn’t have enough funds to finish it? Did they then have to “eat crow,” as the expression goes, admit they didn’t really hear God on that building project, and begin anew building on a smaller foundation? Today, several years after the fact, the shell of their new smaller building has been erected, but they are still a long ways from completing it and from moving in to their new church home. Who knows if or when the “top stone” will be laid?

It’s really quite sad, actually. Did they hear God correctly? I would argue, it appears that they did not. Man marks out his plans, but how many of those plans are actually in agreement with the will of God? “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand” (Proverbs 19:21; ESV). Just because our plans may sound spiritual and Christian, that doesn’t necessarily mean that God is in those plans. Spurgeon continues, 
There are some who talk about God changing His purpose; such people do not know what God is at all. How could God change? God must either change from better to worse, or from worse to better. If He change from a worse to a better, He is not perfect now; if He change from what He is to something worse, He will not be perfect then, and He will not be God. He cannot change. It is not possible that God should ever change or shift in any of His purposes.
I love that line of reasoning. Any sort of change one way or another implies that something somewhere was not good enough and therefore needed to be changed. Furthermore, if it were changed now from what it was before, who says it won’t be changed again at some point in the future? Applied to the nature of God, that means that He could potentially change countless dozen times again before the end of the age. Take that argument even further, who says that He then doesn’t change His mind and not bother taking us to glory one day?  Foolishness, right? Yes, and not to mention, contrary to the teaching of the New Testament. Still, if we hold to the possibility of God changing His mind, then such a potential scenario is also very much logical.

An example of this that comes to mind involves changes in Mormon doctrines. Many of the doctrines that the fathers of Mormonism preached, are no longer practiced by the Mormon (LDS) church of today. Think about this for a minute. Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, et al, are highly venerated by Mormons today as having heard the voice of God. If Mormonism no longer teaches ALL that their founders taught, or if they have somehow revised parts of the early message in order to be more palatable to modern would-be converts, isn’t it logical that the Mormon god has changed his mind? (Yes, the lower case “g” was deliberate, for I do NOT believe that Mormons are Christians, nor do I believe that we worship the same God. Their Jesus and my Jesus are NOT the same).

Likewise, I would argue, many Christians today are also guilty of watering down the Gospel message to such an extent that in many ways it no longer even resembles the same Gospel that the early church lived and often died defending. Most of Christendom today I simply do not see in the Book of Acts. The converse is also true; the church in Acts is virtually unheard of today. A lot has changed, and I don’t just mean culturally either. Has God changed His mind? No, and to be fair, most Christians would never suggest that He has. But the subliminal message many of us portray through our “churchianity” does often seem to be such.

The Bible is fully true (as originally written), or all of its parts are also potentially in error. And if parts of it are in error, then like worldly wisdom, God’s truth has also become subjective. The minute that we start questioning the truth of the Bible and the possibility that God changes, our whole faith becomes a sham and we might as well just quit Christianity all together.

The Providence of God is always correct. Man may make many mistakes, and man may be prone to misunderstanding the mind of God, despite his beliefs to the contrary. Even men who claim to be born again and guided by the Holy Spirit, can  and often do contradict each other. Why is it that four Christian brothers, all clearly born again, and all clearly known to be led by the Holy Spirit, can come up with four differences of interpretation and understanding of the will and nature of God? The only logical answer is that man is not always correct. Thankfully, however, the Providence of God is always correct. Thankfully, though we make mistakes, God never does.

“When they went, they went in any of their four directions without turning as they went.” The wheels of God’s Providence continue in exactly the direction that He has ordained them to go. We need not fear that they will suddenly change course. God will not change His mind; what He promised He will do.

“So shall my word be that goes forth out of my mouth; it shall not return to me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11; Amplified).

“And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you” (Philippians 1:6; Amplified).

Thank you Lord for your unchanging grace. Thank you Lord that your Providence is Always Correct.
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