Friday, April 4, 2014

An Abundance of Rain

“...for there is a sound of abundance of rain.”

(What I am about to share begins with rain and concludes with reign.) 

“Why are you going out in the rain?” Nancy asked me. “Because I want to hear what they are saying,” was my reply. That Saturday evening  - the rain pouring down outside - as I listened to several - of varying race, gender, generation and denomination - my thoughts turned to the passage below which I immediately looked up on my electronic tablet. (I am not really that out of touch!)  What they espoused was a hope in God that is impervious to the encroachments of modern culture - no matter how alluring. The siren song of subjectivism - each doing what is right in his own eyes - is effectively silenced. 

"For I have chosen him, so that he may command (direct) his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him." Genesis 18:19 NAS

I am amazed at the stark contrast concerning perspectives on this verse.  For the historic Reformed evangelical it is about God - for the modern it is about Abraham. Abraham is choice among men as a result of having been chosen by God. This majestic principle cannot be relegated to foreknowledge alone.  It must arise out of foreordination. 

Abraham instructs

A faithful God chooses Abraham by divine fiat. As a result Abraham instructs his whole household - possibly to include servants - in the way of the Lord: the doing of righteousness and justice. The ultimate objective being: “so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.” This is a blessing that is transcendent of generational restrictions–or any other form of societal constraints.

That is the Lord initiates, sustains and consummates - no greater motivation exists for the children of God. Such majesty gives rise to worship - our highest and eternal calling. “That no flesh should glory in his presence.” 1 Corinthians 1:29 KJV Also: “so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:11b NAS 

Abraham did not waiver

So when we come to the New Testament it is recorded that Abraham did not waiver in faith - yet the Old Testament story records many waivers.  As John Wimber said, “Ishmael would be a waiver in my household.” May the Holy Spirit grant us - with our finite minds - the ability to grasp such magnanimous truth.

The very thorough Pulpit Commentary reads: “the Divine resolution (is grounded) on the prior fact that Divine grace had elected him to the high destiny described in the language following.”

In the notes of a more modern divine: “This is a bright part of Abraham's character. And this is given as the reason why God would make known to him his purpose concerning Sodom; because he was communicative of his knowledge, and improved it.” 

Abraham improved on what God had given to him!? Please....  I hope not to mean disrespect for this writer, but this might as well be Dr. Phil talking. For him this was only about the coming judgement on Sodom. In reality it is the entirety of the Abrahamic Covenant  - through the Seed of the Promise all of the nations would be blessed: “Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him.” Genesis 18:18

If - even by foreknowledge - it is the character of Abram that attracted God’s attention, then the Monk Pelagius still lives and the voice of Hippo’s Bishop Augustine is effectively silenced.1 The decent into humanism is then a very swift and slippery slope. If God’s choosing is on the basis of choice - then who be god? Note Augustine's famous prayer: "Grant what Thou commandest, and command what Thou dost desire."

Abraham is a doer 

The operating system of the declaration of God to the two witnesses concerning Abraham is the doing of righteousness and justice settled upon the immutable foundation of the sovereignty of God: “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne;...” Psalm 89:14a  Please understand that it is the foundation - not foundations less dualism raise its hooded head.

As a caveat before concluding below I want to reiterate my hope of a people - not just one generation, gender or ethnicity - that will resist the subtle seduction of sub-culturism and be lifted up to the mandate of counterculture transformation. Modern evangelicalism - for the most part - has not been able to make this transition. This is why I refer to myself as an evangelical agnostic.

We are worshipers 

Paul - who had no thought of surrendering to Christ until he was apprehended - addresses this issue head-on: 

The NIV subtitles the following passage with one word: doxology.  This word means to honor God as in worship. "But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.” John 4:23 This worship cannot be constrained by certain times or at certain places.  It is pervasive.

Romans 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
34 "Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?"
35 "Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay them?"
36 For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.

Arise True Worshipers and proclaim with one voice: "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.” 

1The seminal thought of Pelagius survives today not as a trace or tangential influence but is pervasive in the modern church. Indeed, the modern church is held captive by it. R.C. Sproul