Sunday, April 14, 2019

Before Church: God Is in Control

Before Church

Sunday, April 14, 2019 “God Is in Control”

Acts 17:26-27

And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward Him and find Him.

Late night TV – always a mistake for us insomniacs – when we find not the soporific effects of boring shows that lull us to sleep, but the extreme programs that shock us into wakefulness, like the TV preacher telling us that God is not in control.  His premise was simple; with all the evil in the world, God is not in control of that.  He had a laundry list of evil: rape, murder, thievery, etc., and justified his idea of no sovereignty in the Godhead by saying that if God was in control, we couldn’t prosecute wrongdoers for breaking the law, because then it would be God’s fault, not theirs. That crazy leap of illogic shows the man doesn’t know his Bible, but he also doesn’t know our God.
Paul, speaking at the Areopagus, makes the case for the One true God, Who is sovereign, even over evil.  Because whenever we talk about evil, we have to realize: it’s our fault.  It’s our fault; not God’s. God made the perfect world, God gave it to us humans, and we ruined it.  We invited evil; we gave satan an entrĂ©e into God’s creation and the world hasn’t been the same since.  Every bit of evil is when we succumb to temptation (I Corinthians 10:13; James 1:1:13-18) and our Lord Jesus Christ was tempted too ((Matthew 4, Luke 4, Matthew 26:36-46). But God sets the boundaries for all our troubles and temptations.  Look at Job, the devil wanted him, but God limited the suffering and temptation: the Sabeans who attacked his servants in the field, the Chaldeans who killed his herdsman and stole his flocks, and the wind that collapsed his house on his kids were all within boundaries God had previously set.  And when disease invaded his body, even then God limited its scope – Job’s life was never in danger.  Nor, by the way, was his soul ever in danger; God had confidence in Job.  Job never cursed God, never succumbed to temptation.  Evil only goes as far as God allows it to go, but humans have historically been all too willing to cave to temptation.  That is, and always has been, our fault, our responsibility, and fully prosecutable in human courts, and in the final judgment.  Paul warns that the Man Who was raised from the dead has fixed a day when He will judge the world in righteousness.
Using Scripture and their own poetry Paul challenges the people of Athens to recognize God as Who He is; not Zeus, not Athena, not any of the pantheon of Greek gods, but the One and only sovereign Lord of the universe.  What, then, is the purpose of evil?  Contrast.  To repent, to know ourselves as offspring of God comes from the contrast we see between what the world should be, and what the world is; what our souls should be, and what they are.  The boundaries God sets on evil quite simply maximize our opportunities to recognize God, to repent, to believe the Gospel, and to join His Kingdom, because there is a difference between being God’s offspring and being His children.  If we were quicker on the uptake, there wouldn’t be so much evil. 
God is in control, and we are His offspring.  Isn’t it time we became His children?