Updated: Feb 10
This article continues our Series on Sanctification.
In the First Part we looked at the severity of our depravity and the extent of God’s grace shown.
In the second part we will look at the bad/troubling circumstances we face in the world. You might be wondering, how does this relate to sanctification?
Firstly, this part is included to ensure that we can clearly see God’s love and grace for us and that we need not doubt it. To solidify the extent to which He loves us we will look at how He cares for us and we will look at our troubles we have here on earth.
Secondly, troubling circumstances is also a means by which God changes us.
Don’t read this and think that I want to make life about you, since we all know that it’s not the case. This is just to help those who in knowing their total depravity is not sure whether God still cares or those that are worried about the world and the troubles around them each day and ask the question, "Where is God?"
1. God cares about you and your problems
Looking at the second chapter Exodus we see four distinct actions God does when we cry out to Him:
'During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.'
Exodus 2:23-25 (ESV)
We often wonder if the promises in the old covenant is still applicable to us today. It definitely is.
'And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise. '
Galatians 3:29 (ESV)
We are heirs of all of the promises made to Abraham. This will be studied in more depth in the future parts but take this truth and make it yours. God will still perform these four actions when we cry out to Him. Let’s look at some verses that highlight each of these facts:
God heard and remembered
'The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.'
Psalms 34:15,17 (ESV)
Before we continue let’s look at the two scriptures that highlight the fact that we are heirs of Abraham and through Christ we received the same promises he did.
'For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. '
2 Corinthians 1:19-20 (ESV)
'To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, "And to offsprings," referring to many, but referring to one, "And to your offspring," who is Christ. '
Galatians 3:15-16. (ESV)
Jesus is the final receiver of all the promises of God. He received all the promises made to Abraham and He received it on our behalf to our advantage as His elect. In Jesus we meet all the conditions of all the promises. Hence, we can receive them. Thus, just as He remembered the promises made to Abraham, he will remember all of the promises made in Christ and through Him our promises will also be heard and remembered.
God saw and God knew
God sees everything that happens. The slavery, the persecution and all the things happening to us. The enemies of Christ try their best to convince us that God does not see what is happening. This exact problem or occurrence is seen in Psalm 94:
'...and they say, "The Lord does not see; the God of Jacob does not perceive." He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see?'
Psalms 94:7,9 (ESV)
The ‘they’ are the wicked and evildoers. Thus, it becomes clear God definitely, see our troubles and hear our cries for help.
God knew their suffering, their inabilities, their future transgressions and also our sin. ' declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,''
Isaiah 46:10 (ESV)
Yet He calls us His own. You see if you then worry about committing too much sin or that God will not hear you because of what you have done you are mistaken. You don’t receive these things, because you do good things. You receive them because you are the offspring of Abraham, a child of God. God knew his plans for them and so He does for us.
2. God uses our circumstances
To see how God uses our circumstances we will look at Gen 45:
'So Joseph said to his brothers, "Come near to me, please." And they came near. And he said, "I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors.'
Genesis 45:4-7 (ESV)
There are two clearly distinct actions in the above passage: the brothers sold Joseph and God sent Joseph. They meant it for evil and God for good. They did it out of hate and God did it out of love.
'As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. '
Genesis 50:20 (ESV)
It is necessary to understand that even though God worked their evil actions to benefit an entire nation, it does not free them of the sin they did. They are still responsible, and God is still Sovereign. As mentioned earlier this topic is best explained in the book of A. W. Pink ‘The Sovereignty of God’. What I want to highlight here is the fact that God uses our circumstances and situations, whether they look bad or good, to glorify Himself the most and in turn bring us from one glory to the next closer to Him the all sufficient, most glorious being. Maybe now we can rejoice and find joy in our trials and troubling circumstances of this age, as seen in the verses below:
'Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. '
James 1:2-4 (ESV)
'In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. '
1 Peter 1:6-7 (ESV)
3. He promises to bring it to an end
A final assurance for our troubling circumstances is that God promises us to bring them to an end:
'He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." '
Revelation 21:4 (ESV)
Now knowing this, in part 3 we will look at the tremendous amount of grace we received, by looking at our identity, which we were given when we ought not to have received it.