Friday, April 10, 2009

Sovereign Grace, Jeremiah & the Resurrection

You will seek Me and find {Me} when you search for Me with all your heart.--Jeremiah 29:13
Often this verse has been thrown before me by proponents of "free will." God told Jeremiah to inform the Israelites that they had an option to search after Him, they argue, Shouldn't we assume the same options are there for us? Doesn't it, after all, seem that God has the ball in Israel's court. If you search for God, you will find Him.

If this is what the passage says, then we should not shy away from it. In fact, I was in a study the other day where a man was struggling with passages that speak of seeking. Can people with a reformed perspective speak of people seeking? I turned to this passage to make a point that our systems should never trump the text. Regardless of your theological persuasions, you better preach whatever the text says. This passage has been thrown in my face so many times, I planned to open my Bible to that text, read it, and simply state, "We must preach this verse whether it fits our system or not."

For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.--Jeremiah 29:11
Often I've heard this verse presented as someone claiming God owes them comfort, ease or all of their desires. The prosperity message (and close associations) so distort this passage that we can often be tempted to teach what the verse doesn't say instead of what it does. But for some reason, as if with new eyes, the passage is screaming something different at me.

Look at God's sovereignty.

Rather than haggling over whether the believer can claim material blessing, I suddenly see the real point of this verse. Only a God who controls all things--Only a God who knows the beginning from the end--Only a God who can speak and cause it to come to be--Only a God who makes plans that cannot be thwarted could makes such a claim! He will give hope and nothing can stop it!

Then my eyes glance down to the verse in between:
Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.--Jeremiah 29:12
Now it comes together. Notice the threefold point here:
      I [God the Father] have plans for you.
      You will call upon me and I will listen
      You shall seek me with all of your heart.
This passage does not refute God's sovereignty, but celebrates it. There is no need to hesitate to cry out, "Seek the Lord and He will be found!" For only the one whom God has ordained will truly seek after the Lord.

If you've sought the Lord and found Him, it was not your doing. Not only did He make Himself found to you, but He placed the desire of your heart to seek. This should not cause pride but should be the most humbling truth of all. You rest--not in your choice--but in His.

This Resurrection Sunday, we should delight in the plan of God. The resurrection was not God's reaction to His Son being killed. His Atoning Sacrifice was not God's making the best of a trial gone bad. His giving His life as a ransom was not a different plan after Israel just wouldn't follow Him. Even His incarnation was not an adaptation to man's sin.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.--Ephesians 1:3-6
Only a Sovereign God could do that!

1 comment:

Margaret said...

Interesting. I just used this verse in my blog to underscore the point that God has known all along what His goals and plans for us are. I appreciate that He is sovereign and in control. That, in itself, gives me great hope.

We aren't playing a game of hide-n-seek with God.