Full Text for Dogmatics 1- Volume 52 - Is there anything that is outside of God's control? (Video)

Dogmatics 52 Captioning provided By: Caption First, Inc. P.O. Box 1924 Lombard, IL 60148 ******** This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings. ******** >> Is there anything that is outside of God's control? >> No, there isn't. God's providence encompasses, embraces everything: All people, all events, all time. Before I go into that, let me go back to something that I mentioned, but I didn't stress. I said that providence, like creation, and like all of God's works towards creation, including redemption and sanctification, all God's works are Trinitarian works. In other words, God the Father does them with His son and with the Holy Spirit. I mentioned that before, but I didn't bring that out. And let me go back to a couple of passages that we looked at with creation and Jesus Christ, and then pick up the fact that God's providence does, indeed, embrace all things. From Colossians 1, Paul writes of Jesus Christ: He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created, things in heaven and things on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities, all things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things and in Him all things hold together. In other words, a providence takes place in Him. Likewise, in the first chapter of Hebrews, we read about the Son. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful words. So these are some of the New Testament witnesses to Jesus Christ, His involvements in the preservation, in the providence of creation. And in these passages, in both of them, they stress that all things hold together, as Paul said to the Colossians, or sustains all things by His powerful words, as Hebrews puts it. So God's providence extends to everything. God is the God of all things. God is the God over all events. Nothing takes place outside of God's providence. Nothing takes place outside of His watching. Nothing takes place outside of His knowing. Nothing takes place outside of His planning. Nothing takes place outside of His sustaining. Or as Paul says in Romans 11, from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. And providence is not only universal in the sense it extends to all things in general, but it extends to all things specifically. In other words, God's providential activity extends to the littlest things, the smallest events, even the lowliest and from our perspective, at least, the most despised of creatures, the most trifling things as well as the most glorious. Now, the fact that God's providence extends to all things has some important pastoral implications. And we touched on some of them before, but let me bring them up again and amplify on them. One is like this: Now, some people will object that it's beneath the dignity of God to be concerned with everything. Is God concerned with who will win the Super Bowl? Is God concerned whether we eat at McDonald's or Burger King? Is God concerned whether I go shopping today or tomorrow or this, that, and the other? God is concerned. Now, how God is concerned with these things is probably beyond our even imagining, but to say that God is concerned with all things means yes, all things. Another objection that people might bring up, and it's really a more serious one, is the idea that God is in control. It eliminates human freedom. In the related topic of salvation, Immanuel Kantz says if God enters and determines things in history, then that's the end of free will, that's the death of human reason. It seems Kantz was right if you mean by "human freedom" being free from God, being a free agent with respect to God. In that sense, we have no free will. We have no free choice with respect to God's plan. We have no free choice with respect to God's providence. We brought that up earlier with the notion of necessity and contingency. From the divine standpoint, from the standpoint of divine providence, all things happen of necessity. Now, that strikes us according to our sinful nature very hard, because it means the end to us. We have to suffer God. We're always at God's mercy. On the other hand, going to our final disposition, how will things work out? That does mean, on the other hand, that if God has chosen you, if God has shown His grace and said you are mine, then you really are His and nothing can happen in creation, nothing can happen in the world. There can be no one who can interfere with that. And in the end, no matter what God may allow to happen in the meantime, in the end you will be delivered, you will be His forever and ever. And in this way, this very difficult thing can become for us the good news. Finally, then, another important pastoral implication is that the terrible things that do happen in our lives do happen in accordance in some way with God's plan for us. We are talking about this with respect to death. For me personally, I grasped this, you might say, in here, in the heart, when finally taking to heart what happened after the wise men visited Jesus. Herod wanted to know of course where the one born king of the Jews was. But being warned, the wise men went off a different way, and then Herod went and had those little children killed. Matthew says: Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled. A voice is heard in Ramah weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted because they are no more. It happened, says the evangelists, to fulfill what was said through the prophet Jeremiah. God spoke and it happened. God only knows why these things happen, and that's the difficulty of these things. Is there anything outside of God's control, you asked? And the answer to that is no. And there's very little help in that. There really is only good news from God himself. And so here the Gospel as the Word of God, the Word from God, here is where it has, in a sense, its most traction. In the face of the God who cannot be fully understood, whose ways cannot be grasped, but who is in control of all things, where He says you are mine, your ways are in my hands, the we can be sure --