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The Complete Plan of God #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green
The Truth Network Radio
April 23, 2024 12:00 am

The Complete Plan of God #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green

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April 23, 2024 12:00 am

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Welcome to the Truth Pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Hello, I'm Bill Wright. Thanks for joining us as we continue teaching God's people God's Word. Don begins a new message today, so without further delay, let's join him right now in the Truth Pulpit. Well, I think you're here on a very good day in the plan of God as we start a new section in a longer-term series that we're doing. Those of you that have been with us over the past several months know that we are in the middle of an extended series called Building a Christian Mind, and we have considered basic fundamental themes that Scripture teaches on matters of how to know that God exists, how to know that the Bible is true, how to know Jesus is Lord. We taught on all of those themes over multiple times. I've reviewed them multiple times, so I won't say anything further about those three series that we've completed, except to say this, is that there is something very fundamental transcendent that is communicated in the cumulative impact of those three series.

It is this. There is truth, there is authority, there is a God, and there is a day of accountability that will come. Those things are very fundamental, and I don't think it's too much to say that unless in some manner those thoughts are recurring and come back to you from time to time every week, that your mind is not trained in Christian thinking.

If that sounds like a really radical thought to say, it just illustrates the need for this series all the more. And for those of you that are Christians and yet you still find yourself a little bit pierced by that state, that the thoughts that there is truth, that there is authority, that there is a day of accountability, and if those thoughts are not really a regular part of your thinking, you can do one of two things, I suppose. You can reject and dismiss the conviction of that and say, I know I'm fine, which I hope you won't do because there's no wisdom in that. Or you can say, you know what, I need to come back to God's word.

I must be missing something. There must be more to my life than just the day-to-day activity of keeping my job or watching over my family or doing these things. I'm so preoccupied with things, maybe I'm missing the whole point. Because the truth of the matter is, if those aren't a regular thought of your thinking, then yeah, you are missing the point.

And I would not be doing you any favors to sugarcoat that to you in any other way than to state it plainly. And so that's why I say, I'm really glad that you're here today because we're about to start a fourth aspect of this series of building a Christian mind. And what I would say, without fear of contradiction, as we will look at this over the next, this section over the next six to eight weeks on Sundays, only on Sundays, is that what we're about to enter into is the most practical, the most absolutely life-changing aspects of biblical thinking that you could possibly imagine. This changes everything in the midst of your day-to-day anxieties, in the midst of severe crises, in the midst of a successful, prosperous life, a prosperous business, pursuits are going well.

This changes absolutely everything what we're going to see. And I've said in the past, and I don't mind repeating it, that these were things that I didn't really come to grasp until even after I had been through two courses of study in seminary. And you guys know where I went to seminary at, so that's a pretty remarkable thing to say. These things were not clear to me, even after I graduated, and only in the course of my own study and exposition of Scripture did this rise to my understanding and enable me to put behind a lot of junk, and to embrace truth in a way that has altered the way that I think and the way that I minister and the way that I live. And this is true of not just of me, but of anyone who comes into a full understanding of these things that we're going to look at. So this is absolutely essential. And I would say this also, beloved, just by way of introduction.

We're going to be in this for a while, so there's no reason for me to hurry here. If you find yourself, and if you can be candid enough with yourself to say that you are chronically discontent with life, that you're chronically dissatisfied, that people point out to you that, you know, you complain a lot, then you really need these things, because you're looking at life through the wrong lens. And to be chronically discontent with life is to miss something very fundamental and foundational. It's the fact that you have, right now, you have the very life that God has given to you. No matter how difficult it may be, God has given you the life that you now have as you sit here today. Now admittedly, some of you may be suffering because of sinful choices that you've made in the past.

You may be under affliction of some kind, but as you look at it now, looking forward, understand that God has orchestrated everything in your life to bring you to precisely the point that you're at now. And his purpose in that is so that going forward, from this point forward, you would learn and that you would submit and that you would commit your heart to glorify him, to honor him in precisely the circumstances that you find yourself in. And so if you're in a hard strait because of sinful choices that you've made, you start by glorifying God by saying, Lord, I confess my sin. I acknowledge that my own choices have put me in this position. I humble myself and I ask you for grace going forward.

There's the starting point. If you're chronically ill, chronic difficulties of whatever sort, Lord, I accept this affliction from you and I acknowledge that your grace is sufficient for me and I ask you to perfect your strength in my weakness. If you have prosperity, you say, Lord, everything that I have comes from you. What do I have that you haven't given to me? Oh, God, I give you the glory.

I take none for myself. Thank you and help me to be a good steward of the blessings that you've showered upon me. And on and on it goes. There's a common thread through all of it. And it's the title of our next series.

And you need to know this in order to be able to live that way. The title of this next series is How to Know God Rules Over All. How to Know God Rules Over All.

That's our next series that we're embarking on here. And today's message is entitled specifically The Complete Plan of God. The Complete Plan of God.

Now, I want to say I want to repeat a word that I've made about to justify this whole series. I want to say these things further. We said that we know God exists, how we know the Bible is true, how we know Jesus is Lord. We're about to start on how to know God rules over all.

Down the road, we're going to consider how to know that Christianity is true, how to know truth exists, how to know true salvation. I've said in the past, but I think it's really important to say it again. And there's always reasons for why I repeat myself. I realize full well that most of you to one degree or another would verbalize a statement that you affirm these things. I affirm that God exists. I affirm that the Bible is true. I affirm that Jesus is Lord and on and on it goes. That's why you'd gather in a church like this, for the most part. I realize that you would outwardly affirm these things, but beloved, that's not the issue.

That's not why we're considering these things. I say what I'm about to say sympathetically, pastorally, but I also say it with clarity. I also realize that most of you could not on the spot be able to persuasively support those beliefs from Scripture and to be able to state forth a biblical reason and multiply biblical grounds for all of those things that are fundamental to a Christian worldview. You assume it, you kind of affirm it in general ways, but to be able to go to Scripture and to be able to explain it to yourself, explain it to your family, explain it to those that are hostile or foreign to the faith, I'm mindful that most people can't do that, and that's not good.

That's not the way it's supposed to be at all. And again, I say these things sympathetically, but I just have to say them, beloved, even if it hurts your feelings. For many, your lamp is plugged in to these truths, but it's plugged into someone else's outlet. And you cannot live in this world on borrowed belief. And as the forces of our culture become increasingly hostile and the things that we've presupposed for generations collapse all around us on an accelerating basis, a borrowed belief isn't going to do anyone any good. You must make the sustained effort to make this truth your own, to know it, to take the time over the course of weeks and months to meditate on it and to grasp it and to be able to share it effectively with others. You and I, we must know why we believe what we say we believe. And we must be able to go to specific places in the Word of God to support it. We must know that. We must know why we believe and why we believe what we teach. And let me say something else and to be an encouragement to parents of young children that are here and just the opportunity that you are taking advantage of to put your children under the teaching of the Word of God. We need to recognize this corporately.

Some of us, yeah, we've heard these things before. You and I, we need to have the patience and the love and the care and the concern to want something beyond that which would tickle our own minds with new information. We need to have the love and concern for the young people in our midst who are hearing these things for the first time with any degree of understanding. We owe it to them. We owe it to Christ to lay a foundation that will serve them all their lives. And even if you don't see it right now, beloved, that's what we're giving to you and your family. We are giving to you that which would serve your children all their lives. We're not here to entertain them in a moment. We're not here to simply give them a happy day of a youth event. That's not why we exist.

That's not what we're after. What we're after is to develop in families, in fathers, in mothers, in children a Christian mind that knows how to think and operate biblically and to live accordingly. And we think that's important to do. And so as we begin this sub-series, How to Know God Rules Overall, here's what we are about to embark upon. We are going to see God for what He has done and what He does and what He will do.

And I said this section is immensely, immensely practical. And we're going to start going all the way back before any of us were here. When I say any of us, before any of humanity existed. Go back long before the world began and enter into the pre-eternal mind of God in what we consider here this morning.

It's a pretty holy place to go, isn't it? To step back beyond time and into the divine mind of God. We can only do that because He's revealed these things to us. When we talk about the complete plan of God, theologically what we're about to consider here this morning is what is known as the divine decree. The divine decree. Sometimes theologians will refer to it as the divine decrees, plural, and we'll explain that in a moment.

But here's where we want to begin. And this is just so very fundamental to right Christian thinking. This is not abstract theology. This is absolutely essential to understanding everything or anything about what you see happening in the world around you. If you are not familiar with the concept of the divine decree, you have no idea of how to interpret rightly anything that's happening around you.

You can't understand why a cow stands in the field like it does. You can't understand the simple principles of mathematics without understanding something about this. Let's approach it this way. Scripture says, and you all know the very first verse of the Bible, that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And we're not talking about creation today, we're talking about something else. We'll talk about creation next week, Lord willing. God created the heavens and the earth. God, at the beginning of time, in that instant of time, He created the heavens and the earth, and the clock on human history began ticking at that point, right? Here's the question. Here is the question that we need to ask as we go back to that beginning moment in human history.

Here's the question that matters. When God did that, when God created the heavens and the earth, did He have a plan in place for what would come next? Did God have a long-term plan in mind when He created the heavens and the earth? Now, in the course of human history, the course of theology, there are deists who would say that, man, not really, He really didn't. Deists teach us that God created the heavens and the earth, and then He just walked away and left it to work out on its own energy its own timetable, and doesn't have any interest in what happened. So He just created it and walked away. Now, it's really difficult to understand why God would do that. Why would God create something that He had no interest in? And so that line of thinking, which was so prominent around the founding of our country, really doesn't do us any good and doesn't take us anywhere.

It's a dead end and a foolish way to think. More recently, in the course of the evangelical church, there's been this rise of what's been labeled and what I've taught on known as moralistic therapeutic deism. Moralistic therapeutic deism.

That's a mouthful. If you haven't heard those messages, I really ask you and encourage you to go online, find them, and listen to them, because they're really, really important for understanding the nature of what happens in the broader church all around you. Moralistic therapeutic deism. What I'm about to say is a gross oversimplification, but it's sufficient for purposes today. They say, yes, there is a God. Yes, He created the world.

But it's really not that serious of a deal to Him. God wants you to be nice and kind to one another, and God will intervene when you have a problem and you need His help and you're in a tight spot, you can call on Him and He'll step in, He'll solve your problem, and then He'll step out again and let you get back to the life that you want to live. And so God will intervene as you ask Him to, and He'll help you when He wants to, but for the most part, He stays out of the way and just has a grandfatherly, benign approach to things.

It's so seductive and yet so destructive at the same time. Moralistic therapeutic deism is a complete false heresy on the whole nature of truth, as it suggests that God created things, just wants you to be happy, He stands back, and He really doesn't have much to do with it. But if He needs you, you can call on Him like you can call on AAA if your car breaks down alongside the road. Call, He'll come, He'll help you, He'll get you going, and then He'll go away, and just like you have no real relationship or need for, the record driver from AAA over the course of life conditions you to think about God that way, and it's an outrage against biblical truth, and so you need to hear those messages. But both of those, whether you're looking at classical deism or moralistic therapeutic deism, both of them are conditioning you to think that God is distant and removed from His universe, distant and removed from the world, and really has no interest in what happens along the way. And it creates, it creates in your mind, it creates in your heart a sense of a cold, distant deity, uninterested in what takes place, and because you have that sense of a cold, distant deity, you have to plead with Him and beg Him to get involved in something when it looks like things are getting out of control. Well, all of that can be swept aside, dismissed, and put into the prison of false religion where it belongs if you understand something about the divine decree, the complete plan of God that we're going to look at this morning.

Let me repeat the question. Did God have a long-term plan in place when He created the heavens and the earth? Did God have a long-term plan in place when He created the heavens and the earth?

Obviously, beloved. The answer, the biblical answer to that question is yes, He did. He did have a plan in place when He created the heavens and the earth, and the theological name for that plan is the divine decree, the divine decree. Let me start with a definition of the divine decree.

The reformed theologian Louis Berkhoff defines it this way, and you should write this down. It's so brief and yet so comprehensive, there is a lifetime of study wrapped up in this brief sentence. The decree of God is His eternal plan or purpose in which He has foreordained all things that come to pass. Period. End quote. The decree of God is His eternal plan or purpose in which He has foreordained all things that come to pass. Now beloved, let me restate that. God determined beforehand everything that would happen in the universe.

Let that sink in. God determined beforehand what would happen, everything that would happen in the universe. He had a plan in place.

He was working something out. He had an idea in mind, a comprehensive, multifaceted, unified idea of what He wanted to accomplish when He created the heavens and the earth. Now, for those of us in this postmodern, self-absorbed society in which we live, for those that are not accustomed to even planning out a day and just kind of respond as the day comes and goes to whatever happens, it's hard for people conditioned by what we live in today to think that that would even matter to God. But that, in keeping with the scripture that was read as the service started from Isaiah 55, my thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways are not your ways. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so my ways, God says, are higher than your ways, and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. Beloved, this is so essential, and we're going to get into a lot of scripture here in just a moment, but it is so essential to approach the subject matter with this thought clearly in mind.

You should not judge the teaching of the divine decree by what seems reasonable to you based on how you live your life. Because how you live your life according to your thoughts is not the way that God thinks, it's not the way that God acts. God is different from us. He is uncreated, He is above us, He is distinct from us. He is powerful, He is wise, He is God. And so He doesn't think or operate like we do. And so the fact that we come into something that is far greater than what we could conceive is no indication that it's not true at all. It's an indication that we think small thoughts and live in a small world with small minds that have not adequately taken in what scripture says about the glory, the sovereignty, the omniscience, the omnipotence, the omnipresence of a holy, just God who orders all things according to His will.

God determined beforehand what would happen in the universe. Turn in your Bibles to Isaiah chapter 46. Isaiah chapter 46, beginning in verse 8.

I'll give you a moment to find your way there. Isaiah 46 verse 8. And again, I just remind you as we start to dive into the deep end of the pool in scripture here that these things are so immensely practical, so immensely far-reaching, so immensely life-changing, so settling, so calming in their effect to the believing heart that even if you don't see on the front end why it has those implications, even if you don't see on the front end why these things are so important, stay with us as we go through scripture and ask God to help you see that which may not be apparent to you on first appearance. Isaiah 46 verse 8.

Remember this and stand firm. Recall to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old, for I am God and there is no other. I am God and there is none like me. Declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times, things not yet done saying, my counsel shall stand and I will accomplish all my purpose. God declares the end from the beginning. He says beforehand everything that will happen and in that he is declaring that he has established all things that will come to pass before they actually do occur in time. God in eternity established his plan.

God in eternity worked out what that plan would be and now he is in the process of implementing it and executing it and carrying out as he determined to do. Now when it comes to understanding these things and just on a very fundamental, on a very fundamental level, beloved, understand this, that as we look at everything that happens around us in our individual lives, in our country, in politics, in finance, in whatever else you want to talk about, understand this, beloved, which is a direct colossal hit on the philosophy that governs the way the world thinks. This is a collision of massive proportions with the spirit of the age in which we live.

And we're not at all trying to diminish that, we're trying to highlight it. You and I, we live in a God-centered universe, not a man-centered world. What is happening in the world is according to a plan that God has established, that God is controlling, that God is directing to ends that God has appointed because he determined things that would happen that had not yet been done. He will accomplish all his purpose, Scripture says.

And that means, sometimes I just have to smile and almost chuckle at the magnitude of biblical truth because it's so amazing and so overwhelming and so contradictory to the way that men in sin think. It means that man is not the master of his own destiny. He is not the captain of his own soul. He is not in charge. Things do not run according to the way that men determine them to be.

Things operate according to a plan that God established before eternity began and that he is working out in perfect sovereign control to an end that he has appointed that will be to his glory. This is fundamental to right thought, it is fundamental to right Christian living, and it is essential for us to understand it and that's why we're taking time to consider these things here today. That's Don Green here on The Truth Pulpit.

And here's Don again with some closing thoughts. Well, my friend, there is no substitute for reading the word of God for yourself and spending the time day by day going through the Bible in a systematic way so that you have a full exposure to everything that the word of God says. It's remarkable the way the Spirit of God works through the word to minister to our hearts in that way. And to help you do that, we have a couple of different Bible reading plans available on our website, thetruthpulpit.com. If you would go to thetruthpulpit.com, click on the link that says About, you'll find a sublink there that takes you to two different Bible reading plans that you can choose from. It's free, it's there available to help you in your reading of God's word, and I know that the Spirit of God will use that in your life if you're not used to reading God's word on a regular, systematic basis. Make this the day that you start something new and move in that direction, and join us again next time here on The Truth Pulpit as we continue teaching God's people God's word. That's Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Thank you so much for listening to The Truth Pulpit. Join us next time for more as we continue teaching God's people God's word.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-23 04:59:44 / 2024-04-23 05:10:12 / 10

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