God at Work (1)
The works of the LORD are great,
Studied by all who have pleasure in them. Psalm 111.2
One of the more regrettable features of our increasingly secular, materialist, and narcissistic age is the way belief in God’s working in the world has been diluted, if not altogether abandoned, even by those who profess faith in Jesus Christ.
The more secular scientists probe the mysteries of the cosmos, and the more social scientists apply naturalistic methods to understanding human behavior, the less room there is for God to have anything to do. The same is true in the realm of politics. As government has increasingly become the agency of choice for achieving the secular and materialist dream, disciplines such as prayer, and institutions like the Church have receded into the background. The ways and powers of men hold more promise than those of God for our under-the-sun generation.
This vaunting of naturalistic science and humanistic politics has led many to dismiss the belief that God governs the cosmos. And one of the effects of this is to encourage the belief that God is irrelevant to our moral lives as well, and, thus, irrelevant altogether.
Add to this the growing visibility and presence of tares throughout the field of the world, and many people will conclude that God has abandoned the earth to its folly.
But we should understand from the parable of the wheat and the tares that the field of the world is God’s field, and that the Son of Man is at work throughout His field, sowing the good seed of the Kingdom, and bringing forth fruit for His glory. In understanding our secular times, and discerning what we must do, we will be much encouraged by considering all the many ways God is at work in the world, appearances to the contrary notwithstanding.
The secular and naturalistic view of the cosmos and human behavior does not comport well with what the Bible teaches, as we might expect. The Bible teaches that all creation exists and is upheld by the power and for the pleasure of God Almighty, and that He rules over all men and judges them according to His holy and righteous and good Law (Heb. 1.3; Col. 1.16, 17; Ps. 9.7, 8; Rom. 1.18-32; Jms. 2.12, 13). Far from being detached from the cosmos and men, or at best, only remotely involved in their daily processes and activities, God is intimately, continuously, comprehensively, and personally engaged with the creation in all its parts.
The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it (Ps. 24.1). The world is the Lord’s field, which He is working and preparing toward the coming day of harvest. The heavens and even the heaven of heavens belong to Him (Ps. 89.11; Ps. 115.16). He is in through, over, and beyond all creation, and all creation exists in Him and serves His purposes according to His will (Acts 17.28; Ps. 119.89-91).
The Bible consistently speaks of the works of the Lord as matters for His people to understand and remember (cf. Ps. 78.1-8). The works of the Lord are comprehensive of all reality and all its functions, and they speak to us of the character and purpose of God. Whatever the findings of science, and no matter how deeply scientists probe the very fabric of the creation, or politicians extend their tentacles into more and more of our lives, Christians must not allow the promoters of the secular agenda to have the last word on how and why the cosmos is the way it is or should be, or what the role of God is or should be in that vast theatre. To us falls the duty of delighting in and declaring the works of God, and of working with the Son of Man in His labors, so that God may receive the praise and honor which are His due.
The works of the Lord
The works of the Lord are, in essence, three – although under those headings they break down into many, many more detailed and intimate operations. The first of God’s works – His exertions beyond Himself into a realm of space and time of His own constructing – is the work of creation. Out of nothing and into nothing, the God Who has existed from forever called into being the cosmos and all its creatures. All creation is from the mind and hand of God. It exists by His pleasure and power, according to His plan, and for His purposes.
Closely and inextricably associated with creation is the work of divine providence, whereby, as I have suggested, the Lord upholds the creation He has made and everything in it by His Word of power. God rules the world in exhaustive detail, having established it with such order, precision, and elegance that His image-bearers can gain a considerable, though not exhaustive, understanding of how the cosmos works (Eccl. 3.11).
Finally, and central to God’s work in this secular age, is the Lord’s work of redemption. By this great work, centered on Jesus Christ, God is recovering from every sector of His field a harvest for Himself and His glory. Day by day the Son of Man rides out to sow the good seed of the Kingdom and call out from humankind a people to be His co-workers in accomplishing His redemptive agenda.
These are the works of the Lord, which believers are called to delight in and declare. We must not allow the increasing secularism and narcissism of our times to obscure our vision of the works of God. We will be emboldened to sow good Kingdom seed as we understand that, in these under-the-sun days, the good works of God continue, unhindered, unobstructed, and throughout the field of the world. And we are privileged to be co-workers with Him for His glory.
1. It’s easy to lose sight of God’s work in the world in these increasingly secular days. Why is this so?
2. Meditate on Psalm 78.1-8. What was the Psalmist’s attitude toward the works of God?
3. We are called to be co-workers with God by our good works. Can we be as effective as possible in this calling apart from a good understanding of the works of the Lord? Explain.
Next steps – Preparation: How are the works of God evident to you each day? Today, make a point of noting the various works of God – creation, providence, redemption – as you encounter them. Talk with Him about His works.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.