Saturday, September 17, 2005
God has a plan for your life
This sign is what much of the modern church and cults pour forth from their pulpits. As a matter of fact, it comes forth from the pulpits of reformed assemblies. At its core it is biblical. God does have a plan for each and every life. He has purposed the forming of every human being. He has not sat back and as the deists believe just allowed things to run apart from a sovereign decree. However, knowing what is prevailing in the modern church, that somehow the God of the Bible is not actively involved in the affairs of men down to the smallest detail and that He only has "good", as man defines "good", things in store for man, I want to address the lack of context here.
I recall reading in a wonderful book concerning the last 50 years or so of the 20th century of evangelicalism by Iain Murray titled "Evangelicalism Divided". In it he sees clearly the evidence of what Charles Spurgeon said would come about in the future and was occuring in his day. Murray documents how the church lost her footing after Spurgeon. Moving into the midst of the 20th century he shows how the church began to more and more embrace "decisional regeneration". He specifically cites Billy Graham with pushing this type of "conversion" to the forefront, though there were a small minority of faithful pastors who opposed his methods and theology. Today, the church has long surpassed that. They have embraced "decisional regeneration" and they have even gone to the point where there is not even need of regeneration at all. Many believe what Pelagius taught and was condemned for. Many like Robert Shuller clearly don't think man has a problem with sin, but with negative thinking. His solution is not the person and work of Christ, but simply altering the thinking of the individual. However, both Graham and Shuller both promote the quote from the sign above. "God has a plan for your life", though they often throw in "wonderful" in the midst of it.
The fact is God does have a plan for our lives. He has made us for a purpose. As the catechism states, "Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." Yet why do many men not attain to this lofty end? Well just as there are those who are predestined to eternal life by God's grace, according to Ephesians 1, there are also those whom God will leave in their sin in order that He may glorify Himself in the just punishment that they deserve (I will be writing on the deserving of mercy in a future installment). You might read this and say, "Oh no, God would never do that. He is a loving God. He wants and desires the salvation of every single man." I want to remind you that God had different plans and purposes for different men in history and not all of those purposes were for salvation.
Most notably we can refer to Romans 9 and there we see that God had different purposes for Moses, than He did for Pharaoh. While He was merciful to Moses, He hardened Pharaoh. One was blessed with earthly possessions and power and the other was blessed with being among the people of God. God's favor delivered Moses and the Israelites, but His wrath consumed the armies of Egypt and God states clearly that He raised Pharaoh up for this purpose, "that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth." God indeed had a plan for Pharaoh, but it was not that he might experience the sovereign grace of God. The question that is often asked is, "What will you do with Jesus?" The question should rightly be asked, "What will Jesus do with you?"
This subject has been touched on in many works of those of the church down through the centuries in far better writings than I can give. However, the truth of the matter is that we must be clear about God's purposes and that those purposes are very often unknown to man. We do not know the precise purposes of our existence and what God's intentions are to accomplish in us or anyone else. As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, those who have been regenerated and given the gift of faith, we are simply those earthen vessels (clay pots) that God has poured the treasure of the gospel of grace into. We are to be used in the Master's hands to spread the treasure to all men, whether from the divine perspective, they are appointed to life or death. As the apostle Paul puts it in 2 Corinthians 2:14 "Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. 15 For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: 16 To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?" You know what brothers and sisters? When we proclaim the gospel, we are not so much proclaiming it to men as we are to God. It is a savour, an aroma, a fragrance. Get this..........God just wants to smell the sweet fragrance of His gospel! That should make a reformed baptist want to shout "Hallelujah!, Glory!"
Therefore, let us keep the phrase, "God has a plan for your life" in perspective the next time someone says it and let us be aware of its context and be faithful to correct, rebuke, or exhort accordingly. May God bless us as we do so. Amen.