- Revd Peter Breckwoldt
Doctrine to Live By
Yesterday we looked into the first point of the diagram, the Purpose of God. Today we will explore the Predestination and the Providence of God. See the diagram again below:
2. The Predestination of God. V29
This is the second point in the triangle. The predestination of God guarantees the purpose of God. The purpose of God is that I am to be like Jesus. The predestination of God assures us that it will happen. Let’s look at v29: “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” Now, I am not going to try to explain the everything about predestination. However, let me say it’s a truth in the Bible and we can sometimes find it hard to fully understand. I do not fully understand predestination, but I know it is a fact because the Bible teaches it. The word predestination means to choose beforehand.
In eternity, God designed and loved me before I was ever born. The design was for you and me to be like Jesus. God is not going to leave it up to me to become like Jesus, because he knows I’ll never do it on my own! So God guarantees that his purpose will be fulfilled. He guaranteed it: in eternity past before any of us were even born, God knew us and he drew a circle around us and said I am going to guarantee you are going to be like Jesus. The predestination of God guarantees the purpose of God. That purpose of God is supported by the predestination of God. So today if you have been saved like it or not–someday you are going to be like Jesus. There is no power in heaven, or earth or hell that can ever prevent you from being like Jesus. Regardless of how discouraged you may be today, one of these days you are going to be exactly like Jesus!
Eric Liddell was an Olympic Champion and missionary for God. There is not anything you can do about that. You and I can’t change that. There’s not a thing you can do. His life is walking example of life shaped by God for his glory even before he took his first breath. God decision is so secure that you are already have a home in heaven (Glorified). He writes of it as already happened. It’s in the past tense. God guarantees it. Believe it or not, I am glorified now. Now I don’t look much like I’m glorified. Sometimes I don’t sound or act as if I’m glorified. However, when God looks at me, he says I’m glorified. So how can I lose my salvation, if I’m already in heaven glorified? The Predestination of God.
3. The Providence of God. V30
Finally, the third aspect of the triangle. Remember that these two bottom points support the purpose of God. The third point is the providence of God. The purpose of God is to be like Jesus. The predestination of God assures that purpose. The providence of God accomplishes that purpose. The purpose of God which has been guaranteed by predestination, is in the present life being accomplished by God’s providence. What is providence? Purpose is to design beforehand.
Predestination is to choose beforehand. Providence is to provide beforehand. Providence is made up of two words: pro (before) and video (to see). It means to see beforehand and to plan accordingly. The providence of God is this: God saw every situation I would be in before I was ever in it, every circumstance I would ever encounter before I ever encountered it, God saw beforehand everything that would happen to me and he planned accordingly. If I know what is going to happen, I can make provision before it happens. That’s why you buy a takeout insurance, isn’t it? You know if the Lord lingers, you are going to die. Knowing therefore what is going to happen, you can provide for it. God knows everything that is going to happen—every detail, every turn in the corner, every hole in the road. In eternity past he looked down, saw everything that was going to happen to us, and made provision for it. I maybe surprised at what happens to me tomorrow, but God isn’t. He has already made provision.
There is no better example than Joseph and his brothers in Genesis 45. Time again Joseph’s life was under threat, but we saw how God’s Providence was at work. These brothers tried to kill him but 17 years later with a famine in the land and Joseph’s brothers come to Egypt desperate for help. Joseph meets his brothers but does not at first reveal himself. They do not recognise him, but he knows them. In Genesis 45, he cannot hold himself back any longer. He must tell these brothers who he is. Joseph was weeping and says, to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! 5 And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you! God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me here but God: Three times Joseph says to his brothers, who thought they were the ones who sent him to Egypt: it was not you, it was God. Joseph didn’t want his brothers taking credit for something that God did! God knew they were going to be filled with envy and try to kill him. What did God do? He made provision. He planned for it. God wasn’t caught off guard. The Providence of God
Let me say God has a plan and a purpose. That purpose is to make you like Jesus. God has guaranteed that purpose is going to be fulfilled. But God doesn’t want to wait year or 50 years. God wants to do it right now so that you can be displayed! The glory will go to God in a lost and dying world. Why does God do this? So that that you can be a source of life and hope to others! Joseph and Eric Liddell became a source of life to others. God is right now in this life is accomplishing that purpose. Do you know what God uses for that purpose?
Circumstances! God will arrange for you a set of circumstances, made, that will fit you perfectly. The purpose of those circumstances is to accomplish God’s purpose in your life.
I think most of us are praying that God will change our circumstances. Friends, God priority is not in changing your circumstances. He is interested in changing your character! When those circumstances have changed your character then God may change your circumstances. Let me say again the route God selects for us is travelling through the mountains and narrow roads of life. These were the truths that the Reformers knew and longed for us to know as well.