Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Proper Look at Secondary Causes

I read something from the Puritan Thomas Brooks that deserves a hearty "Amen" and thought I would pass it along.  It is something that we at Sovereign Grace Baptist speak about often; not only that God is sovereign over all things but how this affects the way we as his people are to think.  Brooks points out Psa 39:9  "I am mute; I do not open my mouth, for it is you who have done it."  Nothing reveals our faith in God like how we react to the adversities of life.  We, like the Psalmist, understand that God is the first cause of these things and so we are careful of what we say and our attitude under these circumstances.

What I particularly appreciated about this from Thomas Brook's perspective was that he pointed out some biblical examples where we see God's people demonstrating that they understood this.  I am not sure I have ever heard this referred to when listening to these passages being explained and I imagined more often than not these truths are not mentioned very often.  In Job 1:21 we read, And he said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD."  The point is in what Job never once said.  He never complained of what those "awful Chaldeans" had done to him.  He knew from the start that God had done this to him no matter what means he used and no matter what evil motives Satan had while he did God's bidding.  He didn't focus on the act of hatred towards him by sinners, he focused on what God was doing.

Joseph clearly believed this when he said in Gen 45:8  "So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt."  If he didn't believe in God's sovereignty there is no way he could have returned good for evil to his brothers.  There has to be a greater principle involved in our thinking if we are to live godly in this present age.

Aaron knew this it seems when God struck down his sons in "Lev 10:3  Then Moses said to Aaron, "This is what the LORD has said, 'Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.'" And Aaron held his peace."  Although in this case God acted directly, yet at the heart of faith is to know that God can do no wrong and his ways are perfect.  Such faith will cause us to keep our mouths shut when it comes to complaining before God and man.  Yet it should also cause us to open our mouths to acknowledge the goodness and wisdom of God before others.  Is this not what the Psalmist does by telling us that he said nothing in Psa. 39:9?

I imagine it was hard for Eli upon hearing that his house would cease to produce priests and that it was going to mean the death of his sons found it hard to say, "It is the LORD. Let him do what seems good to him."  But this is all that those who have been enlightened to the glory of God and the sinfulness of man can say.  Yes, there is pain but at least our pain has a purpose.

The alternative is to think you have a right to critique the Lord which is surely a most grievous sin for a creature to commit.  Instead of having the mind of Christ like Paul exhorts us in Phil. 2 we have a mind that reflects the spirit of this world and its Prince.  We actually think we know better than God what we need and have the audacity to think we can tell him as much.  Is this not what Jonah did in
Jon 4:9  But God said to Jonah, "Do you do well to be angry for the plant?" And he said, "Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die."?  What an amazing God we have that he doesn't squish Jonah like a bug but graciously explains to him his error. 

Let us be like David who when Shimei cursed him David assumed God had told him to do it.  He knew that if God was in it the curse would stand and if Shimei acted alone, God would take care of him.  Either way God is behind it all; we can relax and not be sidetracked by offenses and let God take care of the results.  What else can produce such patience as understanding the secondary causes that God uses to train us in righteousness are firmly in the hand of God?

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