Over the last 3 years or so, my doctrine has changed radically. Though I have named the name of Christ since I was five years old, I’ve had a major shift in vision during this brief last three years. Maybe I should back up a bit to tell the story.
In 2002, my sister-in-law who had Down Syndrome was diagnosed with cancer. I believe it was liver cancer, though I’m not sure. She went downhill fast, with about six months elapsing between the initial diagnosis and her death. At this point in my Christian walk, we were involved in a charismatic church. As I am wont to do, I also read numerous resources associated with our stated beliefs. I listened to other charismatic preachers. I say that to say that I may not have gotten this mindset completely from our church at the time, but I was at least influenced in this way of thinking by this theology. I am not disparaging these teachers, though I no longer agree with them. To clarify, my understanding of this teaching was that God has provided for all our healing. Satan is committed to bringing sickness on us all. Therefore, all we needed to do to get our healing is to have faith, reach out, and “take” it. Christ has already provided for healing on the cross, according to Isaiah 53:5. Well, here I was watching my sister-in-law die a death stretched out over 6 months, and all I could see were my in-laws preparing for the worst. This devastated me because I had known Lori since she was 7 years old. She was 21 at this time. She had been like a little sister to me. In my way of thinking, the devil was attacking her and we needed to stand strong and “claim” her healing. I said some things that I later regretted, because in my theological system all I saw was a “lack of faith” exhibited by her family.
2002 was a hard year. In addition to her sister, my wife also lost her grandmother, and I lost a grandmother as well. I didn’t blame God in all this. But I also didn’t see His hand at work in it either.
Meanwhile, my children were growing older. I could see that my daughter was quickly approaching youth group age at our church. Through at least one source, and I believe several sources, I found the ministry of Vision Forum. They have some excellent teachings on the hazards of the “Christian” youth culture. I began to listen to tapes and read books on parenting according to Christian principles. We were blessed in that a majority of our church homeschooled. Yet, when it came to worship, the whole church seemed to love the age segregated model.
To make a long story short, I had some other friends in Nashville who I met with at least weekly to do ministry at a local Planned Parenthood facility. I rarely “did ministry” with others from my church (though we did do a bit of street evangelism periodically). It was difficult to ever get any of them to join me at the abortuary for a time of prayer and passing out of literature. God was leading all of us (my friends and I) in a direction of Reformed Theology. We didn’t all approach it in the same manner. Yet, all of us were shown the truths of the Doctrines of Grace. I listened to an audiobook entitled The Sovereignty of God by A.W. Pink. I secured a printed copy and passed it on to the associate pastor at our church. He read through part of it and quickly dismissed it. I also began to realize that the senior pastor consistently preached an Arminian message, though he never called it that.
Through a series of events we ended up attending Reformed Baptist Church of Nashville for several months during the transition year of 2005 before our short move to Dallas, followed by our permanent move to Oklahoma.
The short of it is that I have come to realize the greatness of the Sovereignty of God. There is nothing that happens outside His control. When my sister-in-law passed away in 2002, it wasn’t that Satan “won this battle” as I had thought previously. Rather, God, in His Providence, and for purposes which I don’t understand “took her home.” God did it Himself, whether directly, or by using Satan as His puppet. It doesn’t matter. Satan can not thwart God’s will. This realization has shook me to the core and shaken up many of the old ideas that I once believed.
God reigns supreme. His Word is 100% accurate and true. He can be trusted to fulfill His promises, but He has never promised we would never have to endure sickness. That is a charismatic misinterpretation of the scriptures.
It all begins to make sense when you consider that if it is always God’s will for us to be healed, and we aren’t healed, then God failed. God never fails. Therefore we know that His will is always accomplished. Who are we to feebly attempt to thwart His will?
Likewise, God is sovereign over the salvation of man. For those who advocate a “free will” as the determining factor in salvation, they greatly exaggerate the importance of man in this decision. The scripture says we are dead in sin. Dead men do not respond to the Gospel. It is only when our spirit is resurrected by God Himself that we ever respond to His call.
I can now approach life with a brand new attitude. I need not fear death, for I know that I will not die until the day God has appointed for me to die. What’s more is that if God has appointed me to die on a particular day, there is nothing I can do to stop it. When I or my family is sick, I pray for the grace of God that they are healed. Yet, if they are healed, God gets the glory, not me for reaching out and “taking” it. If they are not healed, but get over it gradually, then I accept that as God’s will. If they are healed through the hands of doctors, then I can accept God’s sovereign will in that area too.
God is sovereign over the blessing of children. Who is man to deliberately try and stop God’s blessing of children? Sure, God can override man’s feeble attempts and give a child in spite of birth control. However, how much better it is when we freely surrender this area of our lives to His control as well, knowing that He is a much better judge of knowing the number of children we should raise.
I challenge you to acknowledge God’s sovereignty in every area of your life. Live your life according to the scriptures. Share the Gospel with those you come in contact with. Pray for your sick loved ones. Pray for your unsaved loved ones. Having obeyed His commands, leave the results to God. For He controls it all anyway. He is much better at bringing His results to pass than we are.