When stripped down to our historical foundation, IFCA International is a Bible movement. Our churches and ministries exist to preach Christ crucified (1 Cor. 1:23), a prospect that has never been acceptable to the world and is rejected by the apostate church. Like the Apostle Paul, we do not shrink from declaring the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). We believe that God has spoken without error and that His Word has never failed. We believe that the Word of God rules over the Church and God’s people, and that this authority extends to all humanity whether it accepts it or not. We believe the Bible, and this should have a direct impact upon how we minister in the preaching of the Word.
Back when I was a child, one of the most popular things to play on in the playground was a merry-go-round that kids would climb on and spin around until you would get dizzy. To make extra exciting, we would sometimes throw sand on it to make it slippery, and then everyone would climb on and we would have one person run around spinning it as fast as they could. The centrifugal force mixed with the slippery sand-covered deck would cause any unfortunate soul with a weak grip to be flung off of that merry-go-round. Last one left holding on was the winner. What fun!
We played that game before we understood the ideas related to physics, or had ever heard of centrifugal force. We just knew that if you go fast enough in a circle (as in carnival rides) you get pulled away from the center. It’s fun to think about these things, but they also remind me of what Paul wrote to the Colossians about Jesus Christ, the sustainer of the universe.
“And He [Christ] is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. (Col. 1:17)
He is Before All Things
This means that Jesus has priority and primacy. “He is before all things” means that Jesus existed before anything was made. He existed before the universe began (John 1:1-2; 1John 1:1). He existed before Abraham, father of the Jews (John 8:58; Ex. 3:14). This is shown in Col. 1:17 when it says that “He is before all things,” not he was before all things. This isn’t poor grammar, but points to the eternality of Jesus Christ. This can also be clearly seen in the references to Jesus in Revelation (e.g. Rev. 22:13).
And in Him All Things Hold Together
Jesus Christ is not only the Creator of all of creation, but he is the sustainer of it all as well. Hebrews 1:3 says “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.”
The mighty power of Jesus which created the world with a word so that the universe leapt into existence, also is the same word that continuously since the creation sustains the universe by the same power.
The power of Jesus Christ is staggering when looked at in this way. Compare the fact that on the cross, not only could he have called down a legion of angels to save him, but he could have withheld his sustaining power from the universe and it would have all ended.
Even science is at a loss to explain how the universe is held together. Scientists don’t understand how the nucleus of an atom holds together. In describing the phenomenon, they call it “The Strong Nuclear force.” Here is how scientists from the Astrophysics Group of the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab describe it:
“The Strong Nuclear Force (also referred to as the strong force) is one of the four basic forces in nature (the others being gravity, the electromagnetic force, and the weak nuclear force). As its name implies, it is the strongest of the four. However, it also has the shortest range, meaning that particles must be extremely close before its effects are felt. Its main job is to hold together the subatomic particles of the nucleus (protons, which carry a positive charge, and neutrons, which carry no charge. These particles are collectively called nucleons). As most people learn in their science education, like charges repel (+ +, or – -), and unlike charges attract (+ -).”
We as Christians know who made and sustains the Strong Nuclear Force, gravity, the electromagnetic force and the weak nuclear force—Jesus Christ.
Consider what 2Peter 3:5-7, 10 says: “For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. …But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.”
Did you catch the emphasis on the effect of the Word of God in those verses? By God’s word the world was formed. By God’s word the world was flooded. By God’s word the world will be destroyed.
All the Lord has to do is remove his sustaining hand from this universe and all of creation will cease!
George Gamow, one of the founders of the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe wrote, “The fact that we live in a world in which practically every object is a potential nuclear explosive, without being blown to bits, is due to the extreme difficulties that attend the starting of a nuclear reaction.” Gamow, recognizes the power of the Strong Nuclear force that keeps all of us alive.
Think of what will happen when the Lord who made the force removes his hand! John MacArthur writes, “Jesus must be God. He made the universe, existed outside and before it and preserves it.”
Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of the Colossian believers for a minute. They were being pursued, on one hand, by those who denied the deity of Jesus Christ. Paul set out to demolish that idea and leave them no other alternative than to see that Jesus is God.
On the other hand, they were also being influence by Jewish influences that said that Jehovah God was the creator of the universe and that he is to be worshipped, not Jesus. Paul, likewise demolishes the idea that Jesus is anything other than God himself.
Yes, God made the universe and God sustains it, and yes God is to be worshipped. But God has been revealed in his Son Jesus Christ. To worship God while denying His Son is unacceptable.
Colossians widens our understanding of Jesus Christ. We begin to see a glimpse of Who it was when John saw the risen Lord in Rev. 1:10-18. May God give us greater insight into the glories of Christ, or Lord.
In his famous hymn “This is My Father’s World”, Maltbie Babcock wrote these comforting words:
This is my Father’s world, O let me ne’er forget/ That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet. This is my Father’s world: The battle is not done; Jesus who died shall be satisfied, And earth and heav’n be one.
This stanza pulls together two truths that confront us in this world—“the wrong seems oft so strong” and “God is the ruler yet.” In the next three post I want to address this from the biblical perspective of Psalm 75. Over each of the next three posts I will lay out a total of Nine Ways in Which the Sovereignty of God in Dealing with the Wicked Affects Our Attitude Toward our Present Circumstances. Let’s begin…
1. It Makes us Aware That God is Always Near Us (v. 1A)
Psalm 75:1a “We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks, for your name is near.”
The reason for the psalmist’s thankfulness was that the “name” of God was near. The “name” of course, points to the presence of God himself. David wrote about this nearness in Psalm 139:1-12 when he spoke of the Lord intimately knowing mankind from when he knit us in our mother’s womb as well as every other aspect of our lives. There is nowhere that we can hide or be hidden from his presence.
This is a comforting reality in times of need and pain. God really is right here with us. He hears your prayers. He sees your enemies as they attack. He sees it all.
2. It Gives us a Thankful Heart (v.1b)
Psalm 75:1b “We recount your wondrous deeds.”
Along with his nearness was a legacy of remembering that brought forth a thankful heart.
Remembering and reciting aids in developing a thankful heart. We are forgetful people, aren’t we? The Lord knew this, and so he constantly calls his people throughout the Scriptures to remember, even instructing them to set up memory aids, special dates, rites, and festivals. In the Church Age, Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper to be done “in remembrance of him.” Why? Because as monumental as the cross of Christ is for our eternity, we still forget about it if left to ourselves.
Psalm 78:4 speaks about the need for parents to recite these memories to their children. It says, “We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.”
We can grow anxious and weary when we forget that God is in control. We can begin to see ourselves as helpless, awash in the chaos of the world, victims of chance. But if you sit down and read through the pages of Scripture, you will quickly begin to see that God has always been in control. Reminding yourself of this fact will change your outlook radically.
3. It Teaches Us Patience (v. 2)
Psalm 75:2 “At the set time that I appoint, I will judge with equity.”
Here we have a change of speakers—the song has moved from Asaph speaking (or the priest who led the singing) to God himself speaking. The Lord says that “at the set time that I appoint…” This language in Hebrew refers to seasonal time, not clock time. Clock time spins fast. Seasons don’t work by a clock. Fruit doesn’t ripen according to your watch. God doesn’t punch-in to work.
Let there be no mistake, God will judge—he says so. But he will judge at the set time that he appoints. We can’t say “Amen” to God’s sovereignty and then be impatient when he doesn’t act on our schedule, can we? We can’t be like Martha, Lazarus’ sister, who got so upset that Mary wasn’t helping her prepare the food in the kitchen that she stomped right into the middle of Jesus’ teaching time and demanded that the LORD command her sister to help her! It appears Martha thought Jesus needed a little help leading the world. He doesn’t.
When you become impatient and wonder when God will judge, remember that God is in control as he has always been. Be still and know that he is God.
“Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments!” (Psalm 112:1, ESV)
There used to be a time when people would speak in reverential tones of certain men and women as “God fearing.” This person was known for living a life that was pleasing to God, and was utterly trustworthy and faithful. You would not find a God-fearing man or woman in the company of certain people, or involved in sinful activities and conversation.
God-fearing people were thought of this way because society in general knew what the Bible said. They knew what God expected of men, but they knew that most people only paid lip-service to what the Bible said. But a God-fearing man or woman was different.
Easton’s Bible Dictionary defines the fear of the Lord like this: “It is a fear conjoined with love and hope, and is therefore not slavish dread, but rather filial [fatherly] reverence.”
We notice here a mixture of fear and love, and it is connected to a fatherly love which is co-mingled with respect. Charles Bridges defined fear of the Lord in a similar manner. He wrote, “[The fear of the Lord is] that affectionate reverence, by which the child of God bends himself humbly and carefully to his Father’s law.”
Bridges, like Easton’s definition, uses the Father and child imagery to help define the fear of the Lord, writing of the child of God and his heavenly Father. This image of God as Father is replete throughout the Bible.
Fear the Father as Creator
In Deut. 32:6 it says, “Do you thus repay the Lord, you foolish and senseless people? Is not he your father, who created you, who made you and established you?” (ESV). Just as a father provides, protects, and leads his family, so too the Lord had done the same for Israel. But shockingly, Moses’ words reveal that Israel was acting like an ungrateful and rebellious child that has no fear of breaking his rules nor of disrespecting him before the watching world.
The prophet Isaiah also testified against this lack of the fear of the Lord in Israel at a much later time. In Isaiah 1:2 the prophet brought the Word of the Lord saying, “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord has spoken: “Children have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me.” (ESV). Notice what the Lord says here—he has reared and brought them up. This reality should have brought him that fear we are looking at. They should have loved and respected him, but they did not.
In Isaiah 64:8,the prophet used the father metaphor alongside another picture of God as a Potter. In this passage, it says, “But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” (ESV). This text looks forward to the coming Millennial Kingdom when the heart’s of God’s people shall turn and embrace the Messiah that they have rejected.
We see in these words the recognition that the Lord has made them and he is free to do with them as he sees fit. One day Israel will humble itself before the Lord in national contrition and joyful submission. God can do what he wants because he is not only Father, but he is Potter, who has made the clay into whatever he sees fit.
Fearing the Father as Wisdom
Probably most familiar to us is this aspect of the fear of the Lord as the beginning of wisdom. Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” (ESV). When we consider the fear of the Lord as Father and Creator, we can better see why to reject the Lord and His commands is foolish. A child, who has little strength, wisdom, experience, power, and influence is foolish to put off the care and counsel of a father who gives these to his children.
When the Lord spoke to Job and began prodding him to answer his questions, like a child who quickly has learned that he is over his head, he simply put his hand over his mouth. This is wisdom, knowing that the Father knows best and that our finite minds cannot begin to grasp his infinite plans for us.
Fearing the Lord as Judge
This is very different from the idea of fearing the Lord as Father and Creator. It is the fear that comes when a wayward child has been disobedient and has turned aside from the father’s ways. It is also the fear that does not come from a child of God, but from the fool that despises the Lord and his commands. It is not a true and pure reverential fear mixed with love, for there is no such love in the rebellious creature. This fear is a craven, slavish fear that the disobedient slave has when he fears his master will discover that he has been stealing from him secretly. Except our Lord is not blind to those that have offended him.
An example of the wayward who fear the Lord is found in Ezra 10, where the people have come to understand their disobedience in intermarrying with the pagan nations around them, something God had expressly forbidden Israel from doing. In verses 1-4 we read that the fear of the Lord (“trembling” in v. 3) has led to repentance and obedience. But the wicked fear the Lord in a different way, a way which is fearful of judgment to a point, but will not lead to any true changes in their lives.
Belshazzar did not repent when he saw the hand of God writing on the wall. He trembled in fear, but did not turn from his sin (Dan 5:9). When Paul preached the gospel before Felix, the Acts 24:25 says he was “alarmed” about the coming judgment, but he did not repent. And when James speaks about the demons believing and shuddering, we do not say that they have repented of their wickedness (James 2:19)!
Proverbs 28:1 says, “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion” (ESV). The wicked flee from a judgment that will one day overcome them. They cannot escape the Lord’s righteous judgment. But the righteous do not flee the Lord even though we fear him. He fears him with reverence as our Father and Creator.
Fear and love meet in the fear of the Lord. He is our Father, Creator, and God. These should endear him to us and motivate our hearts toward worship. If they don’t, if we need manipulation, fear of judgment or punishment, we are not children, but slaves. Children don’t have that sort of fear of a righteous Father. They love him, respect him and desire to please him.
 Quoted by Bruce Waltke in NICOT, Proverbs 1-15, p. 101.