In challenging times, we often navigate towards all sorts of measures to help with uncertainty, anxiety, etc. The church historically advocates for prayer, and the support of community, which are indeed very helpful measures. We lean upon these to their fullest extent when stressful and abnormal circumstances arise.
Sunday, I spoke of the necessity of prayer. I’ve asked the church to be in prayer for six specific aspects of our current situation:
- All local, state, and federal authorities
- Healthcare workers/providers at every level
- A calm disposition amongst the people of our nation
- The SBC missionaries around the world
- Global economic stability
- Our church body
These action items are important, and Scripture is replete with the call to prayer. However, there is something more fundamental that undergirds prayer. Something that is often equally as important, yet we neglect to reflect upon. We must keep it central in our minds during abnormal circumstances – the doctrines of God.
Said more simply, the Doctrines of God refer to the nature of God and His work that gives us strength and comfort. So, the challenge for our church during this stretch of abnormality, is to continually think about what type of God we serve. What do we know about God? What makes Him trustworthy?
We know God because He’s revealed Himself and chosen to communicate to mankind. God came down to us in the person and work of Christ and through Scripture. There is much that God chose to keep a mystery, but by His grace, there is much revealed.
One aspect of God’s nature that is important for us to remember during these times are His Words. The Puritan, George Swinnock (1627–1673), is helpful to us in thinking about “God’s incomparable Words.” Swinnock understands God’s Words in terms of their (1) manner, (2) matter, and (3) effects.
The Manner of God’s Words
God is kind to us in the manner by which he speaks. Swinnock argues that when God speaks (in and through Scripture!), He speaks with authority. He speaks with patience across every skill and intellectual level – including children all the way to great theologians. And He speaks in a way that enables us to obey. How does the manner of God’s Word help us in uncertainty? Well, for one, it assures us that He cares for our wellbeing because His promises in Scripture are accessible to all His children. Sunday, I read from Luke 12:22-31 about anxiety. We should be thankful that God, the Messiah Jesus Christ, spoke about anxiety with authority, with accommodation to all types of people, and He has the power to enable us to live without anxiety. Will you reflect upon the manner of God’s Words this week as you face uncertainty?
The Matter of God’s Words
Swinnock further notes that “foreknowledge is a Jewel in God’s crown.” Control is an interesting thing in the life of a Christian. Times of uncertainty will send us back to God, wherein we learn anew that His foreknowledge and control are best because there is certainty in God. I’ve told you often that hope is the confident expectation in the promises of God. God’s Words are pure, and they are certain (Psalm 19). He cares for you, and though there is much mystery to God, we can take comfort in the matter of his words—purity and certainty. Will you reflect upon the matter of God’s Words this week as you face uncertainty?
The Effect of God’s Words
Finally, God’s Words are effective. He deals with the heart. Said differently, according to Swinnick, “God’s words are His works.” God’s words are His works….Have you ever meditated on that reality? Or, how about this…We know God because His works are how He makes visible His Word.
Or, let’s keep it simple…God is active. He doesn’t simply throw out empty words…He moves and accomplishes.
So, we go back to my original claim: Scripture is replete with the call to prayer. However, there is something more fundamental that undergirds prayer. Something that is often equally as important, yet we neglect to reflect upon. We must keep it central in our minds during abnormal circumstances – the Doctrines of God.
Will you do two things for me this week?
- Remember the call to prayer
- AND take time to meditate on the above truths because they are the “how” of your prayers. You pray because there is a God (that we know!) behind the prayers. He hears you. He cares for you. And most importantly, His Words are His works. The works that are for the good of those who love Him (Rom 8:28).
Remain steadfast my friends. Use common sense and be the people of God. Be on the lookout for more communication as we unfold a plan for “church” in the days ahead.