Monday, February 10, 2014

"The Worst Thing, the Best Thing"

     Pontius Pilate believed himself to be more than he was, and to possess greater power than he actually wielded.  "Knowest Thou not that I have power to crucify Thee, and have power to release Thee?" (John 19:10).

    The Lord Jesus Christ responded with a declaration of truth we do well to remember and affirm in our hearts.  "Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above" (John 19:11).

    Pilate served the purposes of One infinitely greater than himself.  God did not determine the man's wickedness, of course.  "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God.  For God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man" (James 1:13).   He did take advantage of Pilate's sin to fulfill His holy purposes, thus illuminating a wondrous truth about our Lord.  He operates by such wisdom that He can allow created beings the freedom to utterly reject Him - to the point of condemning His Son to death - but nevertheless fit the waywardness of the wicked into "the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Ephesians 1:11).  Indeed, it would be one thing for God to move human hearts like pawns on a chessboard in the execution of His determinations.  This would reveal the greatness of His power.  It is quite another, however, for the Creator to grant chess pieces liberty to move about according to their own dictates, while still serving the ultimate strategies of their Maker and Sustainer.  This reveals the greatness of His heart and mind.  "His understanding is infinite...  How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!" (Psalm 147:5).

    A new believer once addressed the question to me in a Bible study.  "Glen, I know you're right when you say the Bible teaches that God does not determine sin.  But sometimes it seems that good things come out of evil, and..."  The young lady paused for a moment, and then expressed the simplest and clearest wisdom concerning the matter I've ever heard.  "Oh, I see!  The Lord doesn't determine sin.  But He sure does take advantage of  it!"  Indeed, sin is sin.  Our Heavenly Father does not and cannot initiate wickedness without violating His holy nature and character.  He can, however, fit it into His holy purposes, including the greatest crime of the ages, the murder of His perfectly just and innocent Son.  Such evil became the basis of our very redemption, thus transforming the worst thing that ever happened into the best thing that ever happened for those who trust in the Lord Jesus.  "God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye crucified, both Lord and Christ... And though they found no cause of death in Him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of Him, they took Him down from the tree, and laid Him in a sepulcher. But God raised Him from the dead" (Acts 2:36; 13:28-30).

    Further consideration of this matter would take me far above my limited capacities of understanding.  Suffice it to say that if God can cause the worst thing to become for trusting hearts the best thing, nothing can confront us beyond the power of His promise that "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).  This is a Lord in whom we can trust with full confidence regarding His wisdom, His ability, and most of all, His love.

"And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation."
(II Corinthians 5:18-19)

Weekly Memory Verse
    "For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."
(II Corinthians 5:1)

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