Tuesday, February 19, 2013

An Old Study Note

As can be expected, during my approximate 2-year journey in which I wrestled with critical issues involved in the means/anti-means controversy, I became a bit of a writer.  Not all of which I wrote then I would now totally agree with though.  I did lots of brainstorming over deep theological issues during this time so this is to be expected.  Just last night however I ran across an old note of mine from my personal study which serves as an example of what the Lord was leading me to see, in which I think things are stated correctly:

“We must not hastily discard the use of means.  He who is familiar with the Word of God should know very well that God has often used means for the fulfillment of His purposes.  To the oft-stated one-liner “God doesn’t need the gospel to save His people!”, and like statements, we might well rebut that Jesus didn’t need to spit on the ground to heal the blind man of His sight either…but He did.  We might say that God didn’t have to use the Jordan River to heal leprous Namaan, but it was His pleasure to do so.  The statement, therefore, that God doesn’t have to use His Word to regenerate or convert His people is quite beside the point.  The real issue is not whether God HAS to use His word or not in saving His children, but whether he has CHOSEN OR NOT CHOSEN to do so.  To avoid it by boldly declaring that the power of God doesn’t have to use the gospel to reveal himself to His people, while it sounds pleasant to those with extreme views of God’s sovereignty, reflects much ignorance to the fact that God has often chosen to channel that power through secondary means simply because it pleased Him to do so.”

Little did I know at the time that I was returning back to what my forefathers taught.  A good while after I wrote these words, when I began to dig into history, I read for the first time Elder William Fristoe’s History of the Ketocton Association in which I found words very similar to that of my own:

"THO' a Sovereign God, may work above, beyond, and without means, according to His own good pleasure, yet as He hath been pleased to ordain means, and accompanied them by the displays of His power for the conversion and salvation of multitudes of poor sinners…”

I’m so thankful that the Lord blessed me to see this truth a few years ago.  I often heard the one-liner stated from the pulpit that God was all sovereign and therefore didn’t NEED to use the gospel.  I even met with some, in whom the balance of sovereignty and responsibility was practically non-existent, who felt that God needed us not to even invite people to church.  Correct, He doesn’t!  But we might as well reply that God doesn’t have to use the sun to give light to His creation, make use of Moses to bring Israel from Egypt, Joshua to achieve the conquest of Canaan, ravens to feed Elijah, etc.  But guess what?

Discarding the idea of instrumentality because God doesn’t need it is therefore not the issue.  The question is what has He chosen to do.

For one who has been brought to see this truth, hindsight has indeed become a most precious thing.

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