Dec

21

2012

Kevin DeYoung|5:33 am CT

God Does As He Pleases

The following is an excerpt from a recent sermon I preached on Acts 5:1-16. The prose has been slightly edited for ease of reading, but I’ve tried to retain the sermonic, spoken feel as much as possible.

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To say that miracles are not the ordinary occurrence of the day or as common as they were in the apostolic era is not to say that they can’t happen. They can. They do. They have. And that’s the point we’re meant to see in Acts 5:12-16. God was building up his church and confirming the gospel message with miraculous signs and wonders.

You see, we come to a fork in the road with this business of miracles. What do you believe about God? Do you have a God who can do as he pleases? If he wants to heal people by having them lie on the ground and a shadow passes over them, then he can heal them. Might there be unexplained phenomenon in the world? Is it possible that science cannot account for everything? Do I believe in a God who must play by my rules or a God who can do whatever he wants?

People often scramble and get embarrassed by the miracles in the Bible: “Um, you know, this is a weird passage and people are dying and judgment is coming and then there are shadows passing over people and they are getting healed. It’s so fantastical. I don’t know.”

This is where we need to come to grips with God as God. I think it was B.B. Warfield who said, who defined Christianity once as, “unembarrassed supernaturalism.” Will you say, “I believe in a God of infinite power. I believe in a God who doesn’t need to conform to my expectations. I believe in a God who can accomplish things that no person or journal or scientific experiment can fully explain. I believe in a God who is really God and can do as he pleases.”

Now none of this means that you have to check your brain at the door or suddenly become irrational. Faith has its reasons. But faith does not bow at the throne of human reason. Here’s where the two paths diverge. If you say, “I don’t know, I need a God who fits in a little bit more with my expectations, sort of a God on my terms.” Well then you’re going to end up rewriting what scripture says. But if you believe in that sort of God—a God who’s God and he can do what he wants–then you’ve opened yourself up to the most important truths in the Christian faith: creation, the incarnation, the resurrection, the second coming of Christ. If the healings and exorcisms are true, then you have a God who can do all that and more.

The bottom line is this: do you have a God who can do as he pleases?

You can listen to the entire sermon and watch the whole thing here.

3 Comments

  1. “do you have a God who can do as he pleases?”

    Much of Christianity doesn’t. If God can do what he pleases, why couldn’t he have let people into heaven without killing Jesus? Clearly there must be some higher framework of rules that God operates in. If God makes his own rules and they could be changed, then why didn’t he and spare Jesus? But I think Kevin has an interesting point here. If God does live in a framework of rules, then it’s really this Framework of Rules that is God.

  2. @ Michael B.

    You make an interesting assertion. I by no means claim to be a Christian philosopher, nor a theologian of any particular degree, but I would like to take a stab at answering your statement.

    You answer Pastor DeYoung’s question with an ambiguous statement: “Much of Christianity doesn’t.” By this, I think you mean that much of Christianity does not have in mind a God who can do as He pleases, and if this is your meaning, I would have to agree with you. Not many people like Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 26, or the Belgic Confession Article 13.

    To attempt an answer to your question: Why couldn’t he have let people into heaven without killing Jesus? I would have to say that you are asking a good question, but in the wrong way. The purpose of Christ’s atoning death goes beyond entrance into heaven, that is to say, heaven is not the primary goal. Our arrival in heaven is the outcome of justification. Firstly, Christ needed to be sacrificed because of who God is. If we accept that God is holy, as the Scriptures teach, and that sin must have blood shed for atoning our holy God’s wrath, then God, in fact, took the only measure to ensure the eternal justification of sinners. So, why did Christ have to die if God can do as He pleases? The answer rests in God’s immutability. He is holy, and righteous, and just.

    So, the “higher framework of rules” that you attempt to subvert God with, is none other than God Himself. God cannot not be God. And we cannot live apart from Him.

    This may not satisfy you, however a more thorough response would be too lengthy for a blog comment.

  3. [...] God Does As He Pleases [...]

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