I am an unabashed Calvinist – a Reformed theologian and pastor. I believe in God’s unconditional election of persons to salvation and new life. Maybe that means nothing to you, and to others it means everything. For many, it is just some churchy mumbo-jumbo that is rather irrelevant to the real stuff of the Christian life. But it is quite important. The heart of Reformation faith is a focus on God – his sovereignty, majesty, power, and grace. It is God who justifies, and not any human. That means there are no “conditions” to which God is beholden to act. In other words, God works in his world according to his own free will and is not dependent upon anyone or anything to accomplish his good purposes.
Today’s Old Testament lesson is a soaring view of God in his grace and powerful control. “Yes, from eternity I am he; there is none who can deliver from my hand; I act and who can cancel it?” God’s rhetorical question lets us know that nothing can separate us from the love of God. We might jump from finger to finger in our puny attempts at autonomy, but we are not getting out of God’s hand! This really ought to be a comfort to every believer. God’s decrees will be fulfilled, and there is not one thing that any wicked person can do to thwart his plans. Furthermore, there is absolutely no way we can screw-up God’s purposes. We simply do not have such power. Our great task as believers is to rest secure in God’s will and place our trust in Him who knows exactly what he is doing in the world.
So, take a few minutes, draw a few deep breaths, and think on this wonderful truth that God is sovereign. To help you, here is the great opening to the Reformed confession, The Heidelberg Catechism, giving us a glimpse into the majesty of God:
What is your only comfort in life and in death?
That I am not my own,
but belong with body and soul,
both in life and in death,
to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.
He has fully paid for all my sins
with his precious blood,
and has set me free
from all the power of the devil.
He also preserves me in such a way
that without the will of my heavenly Father
not a hair can fall from my head;
indeed, all things must work together
for my salvation.
Therefore, by his Holy Spirit
he also assures me
of eternal life
and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready
from now on to live for him.