Saturday, December 15, 2007

NO NEED FOR DISILLUSIONMENT

ROMANS 11: 33-36; DEUTERONOMY 32: 3-4
In all things we must acknowledge the Sovereignty of God. We must remember that His nature is love, wisdom, knowledge, truth, justice, and power. We do not have access to all the facts. Therefore, we must trust His wisdom and His power. Even when it seems that everything has gone sour or has fallen apart, we must remember that God is still on the throne now just as He has been throughout history. Though now we see as through a glass very dimly, someday we will be given the divine perspective. We will understand then with great clarity that truly He does all things well. We have every reason to stand in faith and hope. For our God is the God who works all things after the counsel of His own will and who causes all things to work together for good to those who love him.

LUKE 23: 38-43; 24: 21; Matthew 27: 63
It seems that a criminal was the only one not suffering from "disillusionment" when Jesus was hanging on the cross. Because of the complexities, contradictions, enigmas, and anomalies of life, those with the most knowledge may face the greatest temptation to disillusionment. Those who know the truth also have the highest expectations and may have great difficulty during the testing. During the times that press toward disillusionment they will say, along with the two on the road to Emmaus, "We were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel" (Luke 24: 21). This is why it is important for the heart to be fixed in God as the mind gains knowledge. With knowledge comes responsibility and a need to be rooted and grounded in faith. The writer of Ecclesiastes says that Wisdom and knowledge produce sorrow. They do this by revealing how much everything is out of plumb. Truth causes the wise man to see how crooked we've made the road and the wall.

The word that brings faith can also produce disillusionment if it is not believed when the testing comes. The disciples had heard the truth of the resurrection many times, but the crucifixion still caught them off guard. Who knows what their thoughts were during those dark hours! Some like Mary may have pondered the situation in pain and perplexity. Others, echoing the thoughts of the two Emmaus Road disciples, may have thought, "We had been hoping that He was the One." There was one man, however, a criminal hanging on the cross beside Jesus, who had no previous access to the truth. Hanging there near death and seeing Jesus near death he looked above Jesus' head and saw a piece of wood on which the Romans had written in mockery, "This is the king of the Jews." Those words, though placed there in mockery, were nonetheless the truth, and, being touched by the finger of God, became the word of God to this dying man's heart. He turned to Jesus and said, "Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom." God used the unbelieving Romans to speak His word to a dying thief.

Christians should learn a lesson. Don't allow the dark times to cause you to cast aside the truth. While you are tossing it away, some miserable and destitute soul may pick it up like the homeless man who finds a diamond in the garbage can. Don't drop your truth when you face Calvary. Cling to it and cry out to the Lord, "Remember me as Your kingdom comes."
It is also interesting to note that while the disciples had temporarily forgotten Jesus' words about the resurrection, the Pharisees had not. As the disciples scattered in confusion, the Pharisees went to the Romans saying, "Put a guard at the tomb because that man said that he would rise again on the third day." (Matthew 27: 63)

THE FINISHED WORK IN CHRIST
"according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Ephesians 3: 11.
"continue in the faith steadfast ... not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard..." Colosians 1: 23.

Seeing so many things that could discourage us and seeing the failures of God's people we are tempted to lose heart and faith and to think that there is no use trying. We have seen what we thought were the wrong people succeeding and the wrong people failing. Like John the Baptist we have seen the glory and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God!" Then we have sat in our "prison cells" and said, "Are you the one or do we look for another? Did I miss it?"

We have stood on the mountain top and cried out, "This is it!" And we have crawled on the valley floor crying, "Where did it go?" We have said, "Lord, I'll never leave you nor forsake you" and later denied Him before the rooster crowed. We have slept while others were in their Gethsemanes. We have had friends walk into our Gethsemanes and betray us with a kiss. We have seen churches fly and churches fall. We have been in the processes of God and were not sure whether we were being pruned or stripped, whether we were being purged and refined or burned and rejected. In our attempts at obedience we have at times stepped out in faith not sure whether we were stepping up or stepping off. We have been asleep in the boat during the storm and did not know whether to stand up and say, "Peace! Be still!" or whether to ask someone to throw us overboard to the whale.

In the midst of all of the situations above, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that the eternal purpose of God was accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord (Ephesians 3: 11). Instead of being in the pits of unbelief because of our failures and that of others, we should rejoice that Almighty God will complete the church and bring forth His kingdom. Not one jot or tittle shall fail of what He has said regarding the church and His kingdom plan. Jesus, while hanging on the cross, gored by the "bulls of Bashan", bitten by demonic dogs, and "pierced by the congregation of the wicked" (Psalms 22) which surrounded Him on Calvary, could still, in the face of this, know that all things were accomplished and that the Scripture concerning Himself had been fulfilled. He thus could say, "It is finished!" (John 19: 25-30). How much more from His place of glory and authority at the right hand of the Father, even in the face of a hostile world and a stubborn and stiffnecked church, will He not again come to say in the proper time, "It is finished!"?

The book of Ephesians speaks of God's purpose, God's people, God's grace, and God's power. These are high and lofty elements; they represent the wonderful work of God. The book also deals with the nitty-gritty areas of life such as unity, godly living, spiritual warfare, the family, relationships, etc. Sooner or later God's purpose, power, and grace will prevail in the nitty-gritty, and God will reveal in His people just how much He really is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we can ask or think (Ephesians 3: 20). He is able to subdue all things unto Himself (Philippians 3: 21). He will complete His work.

We have faith for the past and for the future—but we think God has trouble handling the present. We believe God controls all things. He controls the whole—but we think He has difficulty with the parts and the particulars. We believe He sets the boundaries of nations—but we think he has no control over the unreasonable and trespassing neighbor who has moved the boundary lines of our front yard. We believe, according to the scripture, that God will produce the glorious church, that He will succeed with the whole—but we think He is failing with the parts, with the individuals, that He controls the "whole" but not the "each." Obviously we must realize that to determine the boundaries of nations God must have power over the neighbor's small plot. To be God of history, He must also be God of the moment. To control past and future, He must control the present. He is God over all. He will complete His work and fulfill His counsel. Not one jot or tittle shall fail of all his good promises.

The apostle Paul experienced every type of evil from the hands of men, including attempts to destroy his life. He experienced grief from the failures of churches under his ministry. He was forsaken and rejected. He even suffered at the hands of the demonic messenger of Satan sent to buffet him. Yet in spite of all this, he spoke eloquently and with great faith concerning God's plan for the church. He trusted in God, in God's wisdom and power. Paul began the book of Ephesians with the phrase "Paul...an apostle by the will of God." Having experienced God's sovereign initiative and power, and having seen how it completely transformed him into God's faithful and passionate servant, Paul basically proceeded to say, both explicitly and implicitly in the book of Ephesians, that the church, the people of God, will also be transformed and made into the perfect man by the same will of God and by the same power of God.

God is building together a people into an habitation of God through the Spirit. That People is His heritage, His chosen possession, through which His great power and grace shall be demonstrated, through which the manifold wisdom of God shall be made manifest unto principalities and powers, and through which His life and image shall be reflected upon the earth. His kingdom shall come. He shall bring down all principalities and powers until His enemies are made a footstool for His feet. His glory shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.

Therefore, we should not be moved away from the hope (the confident expectation) of the fulfillment of all that is promised and proclaimed in the gospel. The Sovereign God is administrating times and seasons, each to its fullness, until all things are fulfilled in Christ. God's sovereignty, His power, His grace, and His wisdom are the backdrop and foundation for our faith and confidence. There is no place to sit down disillusioned with God, His purpose, His plan, or His church. God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or think. No matter how discouraging our own experiences have been, God will succeed. "Why are you cast down, O my soul?...Hope in God." (Psalm 42: 11).

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