I never expected the theological depths found in the story of a man being swallowed by a big fish and then delivered alive on dry land after three days. This fun to tell and hear children’s story has been a staple of last minute or surprise teaching opportunities for many years by more than one faithful Sunday School teacher. If you find yourself having been raised at all with any influence of a Christian church, you know the story very well, right?….. Maybe not.
The past several weeks we have been preaching and teaching through the book of Jonah. We always follow up our morning worship hour with Sunday School and the topic of discussion and discovery for the adults is the morning message (man does this keep the preacher honest). The discussion these past several weeks has been wonderful. The topics which the book of Jonah has led us to has caused us to stretch and rethink our individual perception of God and who He is. Stretch and conform our thinking to a biblical view.
As Pastor, I have found myself nearly at a loss for an adequate answer to some of the questions posed. Questions dealing with God’s sovereignty and His will. Why do bad things happen, sin and evil in general, election and man’s will, creation and the fall are just a few of the questions discussed these past 5 weeks. Yes, when you give serious consideration to the issue of God’s sovereignty, these issues become unavoidable in your study. Unavoidable but not always answered satisfactorily.
In many of the cases, I have felt I nearly copped out when asked these probing questions by coming ultimately back to the cause of all things, God’s will. Why did God place His love on Israel, because he loved them. Why does God bring prosperity and create disaster, because He, the Lord does all these things. Why did God chose to persevere with Jonah and save Jonah from himself, because He did. Why did God….because He willed it. As I found myself in study today, I came across this statement from one the church’s divines. He sums it up better than I ever could….
“. . . it is very wicked merely to investigate the causes of God’s will. For his will is, and rightly ought to be, the cause of all things that are. For if it (God’s will) has any cause, something must precede it, to which it is, as it were, bound; this is unlawful to imagine. For God’s will is so much the highest rule of righteousness that whatever he wills, by the very fact that he wills it, must be considered righteous. When, therefore, one asks why God has so done, we must reply: because he has willed it. But if you proceed further to ask why he so willed, you are seeking something greater and higher than God’s will, which cannot be found. Let men’s rashness, then, restrain itself, and not seek what does not exist, lest perhaps it fail to find what does exist”
I hope the folks of Center Hill have found this study to be as rewarding and convicting as I. I believe they have. It is encouraging when 75% of the adult congregation find the Word preached so compelling, not by human attraction incidentally, that they remain to discuss it further. When this occurs lives must be changed and God is honored.
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!….
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. Romans 11:33
By the way, who was the divine quoted above? No fair googling. E-mail me the answer and I’ll let you know who is right in Sunday School this week.
SOLI DEO GLORIA!!!!!