[ Doctrine in Detail ]

Topic: III. God the Father

Lesson: C. The Works of God (or God at Work)

Is God like a clockmaker, who made a clock, wound it up, and left it to run by itself? Some people who believe in God and creation think of him as a disinterested God, who does not care what happens in our day to day world. They think God has pretty much left us alone to work things out for ourselves. Even if God can be made to take an interest, it must take extraordinary faith or prayer to get Him to intervene, and these interventions or miracles are rare.

Objective: To describe what God the Father has done, what He is doing, and His eternal plan

1. God Provides

a. God Created the Universe."By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth."(Psalm 33:6) There are many verses that describe the creation by God. God the Father appears to be the director, while we also know that all things were made 'through the Son'. Jews and Muslims also believe that God created the universe. We believe more than this, in that we believe He is involved every day, as we will see in the remainder of the lesson.

b. God Sustains.Paul was speaking to unbelievers in Athens when he said, "... in him we live and move and have our being ..."(Acts 17:28). God preserves us, we exist 'in him'. This is true of unbelievers as well as believers. In Job, we read that if God withdrew his breath, all live would perish and return to dust. God keeps things going. He does this though secondary causes. He keeps the Earth in position using the gravity of the Sun. Somehow, we can't be too specific, God preserves creation and sustains it.

c. God Lovingly Cares."Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy."(Acts 14:17) Although the farmer sows the seeds, God gives crops in their season. It is easy to forget God, and look at the secondary causes. The seed is planted. Rain and sunlight help it grow. The farmer reaps. However, the Bible says that God gives the crops. He also gives rain from heaven. This does not mean that he creates new raindrops out of nothing. We know how the secondary causes work, the sun evaporates water from the sea or lakes, the water vapor condenses in a cool air mass, it falls as rain. Yet God superintends this process of our Earth's weather.

We know that in the time of Elijah, there was a drought in Israel for three years. As led by the Lord, Elijah publicly prayed and the rain came.

More than this, He 'fills your hearts with joy.' The next time you are happy, perhaps at a birthday party, or simply because you are feeling good, remember this verse and God who fills our hearts with joy

2. God Rules

a. God Rules Throught the Family.God is a god of order and peace. He oversees the society of this world. This is delegated in different ways. One way is in the family unit. The Apostle Paul wrote, "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, ... Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her."(Ephesians 5:21-25)

We believe that God exercises his rule through the family with a father as a leader. In many families this does not appear to work very well, and sometimes God works and takes care of His children in a bad family situation. But His good pleasure is for a loving partnership under the head of a man who willingly follows God.

This husband (and entire family) is to draw strength from the Lord to be able to submit to one another. The man must put his own desires aside and place the welfare of his family first. He is to give himself up for his family.

b. God Rules Through Human Government."Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God."(Romans 13:1)

When I read this verse in class, some of us had difficulty with it. How about the harsh years of Communist rule in the last century in Russia and China? What about those countries where the Muslim rulers prohibit the teaching of Christianity or evangelizing? Certainly there are times where we must obey God and not government, like when Peter kept preaching after the Hebrew Sanhedrin (the court of the Jews) commanded him to stop. But most of the time, we are not given contradictory commands. There in nothing in the Bible that tells us to drive 80 MPH on the highway if the speed limit is 55.

Even the worst human government restrains evil. Governments prevent widespread theft, murder, and general bullying of the weaker people. Jesus lived under an oppressive Roman Government. In less than 40 years after Jesus' death, that government would completely destroy Jerusalem, tear down the walls of the Temple (except for the foundation wall which is now known as the 'Wailing Wall') and slaughter thousands of Jews. Yet, Jesus said to "Give unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's."

God can and does act to change or remove governments. Again, we see the secondary causes such as wars, elections, natural deaths of leaders, and etc.. But God is still actively directing these events. This is one reason we pray for our Government and leaders.

C. God Rules Through His Church."Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." (17 ...) And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.""(Matthew 16:16-19) There is disagreement over this verse, but let's look at what we all agree on. God has given the Church the 'keys of the kingdom of heaven' and further states that what the church binds and loosens is bound and loosed in heaven.

What is the binding and loosing? I believe it is the binding and loosing of sins. As we proclaim the gospel message, people reject (and remain bound by sin) or accept (and are freed from sin). While God is the one who saves (all three members of the Trinity, the Son died for our sins, the Holy Spirit convicts of sin) the Church is the one who gives the word of life. Through the church, as a body of believers, the word has been preserved (the transmission of the Bible) and is preached.

As far as the church, the Catholic church believes that Peter is the Rock, and also believe he established the line of Roman Catholic Popes who inherit his position. They claim the Church is the Roman Catholic Church ruled by a Pope. I do not see that in this verse, nor do I accept these claims.

Another view is that "you are Peter, and just as you confessed that I am the Christ, this confession is the Rock and my church will be built on the confession of Jesus and Christ". On the other hand, some read it as, "Peter, your name means Rock, but the true rock is that I am the Christ, and I will build the Rock on myself, the Christ."

While I prefer the view that the church is built on the confession of Jesus as Christ, in practical effect it is very close to the third view that the Rock is Christ. But the first view, of a line of rulers built on the Rock Peter, I must disagree with. Even in Peter's lifetime, we see the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15) being headed by James, not Peter.

3. God Accomplishes His Eternal Purposes

a. Glory to God.When the LORD said "Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth - everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made."(Isaiah 43:6-7), He indicated that the purpose of life (why they were created) for His people was His own glory.

"What is the purpose of life?" Philosophers have asked that question, with no definitive answer, for many centuries. Many people today think of what they want to look back on at the end of their life, a successful career, a healthy family, perhaps leaving an inheritance. Others seek the meaning in life in pleasure or wealth or power. But the reason WE were created is for God's glory. And if we are not glorifying God, we are missing the purpose of our creation, the true purpose for our life.

b. Salvation."For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will ..."(Ephesians 1:4-5) We will discuss the relationship between man's free will and responsibility on the one hand, and God's choice and predestination on the other hand at a later lesson in some detail. But for now ...

Before the creation of the world, God already knew that man would sin and planned, purposed, chose, and predestined that we would be saved (adopted) through Jesus Christ. This is one of his purposes and part of his Eternal plan. This is still being worked out today as the Holy Spirit convicts sinners of sin and people are saved through faith in Jesus Christ.

c. Subjection of the Universe."And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment - to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ."(Ephesians 1:9-10)

God has a plan, and made it known, to bring the enitre universe under the kingship of Jesus. To some extent this is happening today, as people (not perfectly) submit to Jesus as Lord. It is also happening as God is controlling world events, raising and deposing leaders, and leading to an eventual return of Jesus Christ to this earth (more in a later lesson on the End Time events).

Summary. God Provides as seen by creation, sustaining of all things, and His loving care. God Rules through family, human government, and the Church. God accomplishes His eternal purposes of showing His glory, providing salvation, and bringing all of creation under the rule of Jesus Christ.

Written Assignment:

Write a single paragraph on the question, "How do the works of God relate to you and your life?"

Reading Assignment:

Ryrie - Chapter 5 and Article 6 of the Bible Fellowship Church Articles of Faith

Key Verses:

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose"(Romans 8:28)

Additional References:

" Day by day and with each passing moment, Strength I find to meet my trials here.
Trusting in my Father's wise bestowment, I've no cause for worry or for fear.
He whose heart is kind beyond all measure, Gives unto each day what He deems best,
Lovingly its part of pain and pleasure, Mingling toil with peace and rest."
(Carolina Berg, translated by Andrew Skoog, Day by Day)

All Bible quotations are from the New International Version (NIV), (C)Copyright 1984 by the International Bible Society, used by permission.
Doctrine in Detail (C)Copyright 2002 by Ronald Miller, All Rights Reserved

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