Bring my people together.
They have eyes and ears,
but they can’t see or hear.
Tell everyone of every nation
to gather around.
None of them can honestly say,
“We told you so!”
If someone heard them say this,
then tell us about it now.
My people, you are my witnesses
and my chosen servant.
I want you to know me,
to trust me,
that I alone am God.
I have always been God;
there can be no others.
I alone am the Lord;
only I can rescue you.
I promised to save you,
and I kept my promise.
You are my witnesses
that no other god did this.
I, the Lord, have spoken.
I am God now and forever.
No one can snatch you from me
or stand in my way. (CEV)
I confess that I am an unabashed Calvinist – a Protestant theologian, pastor, and chaplain in the Reformed tradition. What that means to me is that 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 folks, it is just some churchy mumbo-jumbo which is rather irrelevant to the real stuff of the Christian life.
I do not agree. It seems to me to be quite important. The heart of Reformation faith is a focus on God’s 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.
God works in the world according to divine free will and is not dependent upon anyone or anything to accomplish good purposes and fulfill good promises.
Today’s Old Testament lesson is a soaring view of God’s grace and powerful control. Yes, indeed, throughout all eternity God is God. There is none who can thwart the Lord’s plans. God acts freely and mercifully and nothing can cancel out those actions. 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 any wicked person can do to subvert divine initiatives. 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 the One who knows exactly what he is doing in the world.
So, take a few minutes, draw a few deep breaths, and think on the 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:
Q: What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A: 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. Amen.