Meditating on the Word
“In His law he meditates day and night” Psalm 1:2
“Meditating on the Word,” edited by Wayne Burger, is a work of the church of Christ, which meets at 11873 Springs Rd. Unit #250, Conifer, CO 80433. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org – Website: coniferchurchofchrist.com
Vol. 14 No. 7 August 3, 2014
Providence (Part Two)
I need to begin by clarifying a statement that I made in last’s week’s article on “Providence.” I said, “Although the word “providence” is not found in the Bible, the idea is found throughout Holy Scripture.” Two forms of the Greek word translated “providence” (pronoian and pronoias) are found in the New Testament (Acts 24:2; Romans 13:14), but each has reference to man providing something. What we are talking about in these articles is what God provides through non-miraculous means.
The Value of Providence
Please stop and think about the value of God working in your life. That is a tremendous blessing! Life is a struggle. Each one of us has challenges both in our physical lives and in our spiritual lives. But, if we will do what we can do then God promises to work for us. We can succeed! This ought to motivate us to walk as close to God as is humanly possible. Later in this article we’ll see means through which God works as well as some areas in which He works.
Biblical Claims of Providence
There are many, many passages that imply that God works “behind the scenes” in the lives of people and through natural circumstances. In Hannah’s prayer she said, “The Lord makes poor and rich; He bring low, He also exalts” I Samuel 2:7. Job asked, “Does He not see my ways and number all my steps?” Job 31:4. When David was going through difficult times because he had to flee from Absalom he wrote, “I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustains me” Psalm 3:5. Notice that David said the Lord sustains – continuous action. Think about this great promise, “Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken” Psalm 55:22. Again, notice that this promise is for those who have burdens. He exhorts, “cast them upon the Lord because He will sustain you.” Notice the great promise, “He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” If we will do our part, God will not allow us to be shaken.
Think about the promises of care mentioned in the model prayer. “Give us this day our daily bread” Matthew 6:11. How does God do that – miraculously or non-miraculously? We can’t just sit at our table and pray and God will drop a loaf of bread to us, but Christ tells us to pray for our daily bread. Why pray if He does nothing to provide? He asked us to pray, “Do not lead us into temptation” Matthew 6:13. Think about the great promise found in I Corinthians 10:13. “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” I Corinthians 10:13. How is God going to keep us from being tempted beyond what we can handle? Notice the passage says He will provide (there’s the idea of providence). How is God going to provide a way to escape the temptation unless it is through providence? Remember, if we will follow Jesus He promises to be with us forever (Matthew 28:20). Paul entrusted his soul to God and said, “I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day” (the coming Judgment Day). How was God able to guard Paul’s soul? Since He guarded Paul’s soul He will also guard your soul.
Things will happen in our lives that are bad, but remember, “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” Romans 8:28. Notice two great qualifiers: First, God works for those who love Him. Many people claim to love God, but just because they say they love Him, does not mean that they really do or that it is a love that Jesus accepts. Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” John 14:15. Second, for God to work circumstances for good that person must be called (or act) according to the purpose of God. Too often people think they can live like they wish and God will work for them. No, one must be living according to God’s purpose for God to work good from bad events.
More Next Week
Since this morning’s sermon is from Ephesians 4:30 and deals with “Grieving the Spirit” I thought it might be profitable to write about the phrase “Quenching the Spirit” found in I Thessalonians 5:19.
Quenching the Spirit
As Paul closed the book of I Thessalonians he gave a number of short, but powerful commands. One of those commands was, “Do not quench the Spirit” I Thessalonians 5:19. Someone has asked, “Does this mean the same as “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God” found in Ephesians 4:30. That is a good question. I do not believe that they convey the same message.
First, it seems that when the text speaks of “quenching” the Holy Spirit it speaks about what one was doing to the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit. It seems that when the text speaks of “grieving the Spirit” it is broader in application and is not limited to the miraculous activity of the Spirit,” but would apply to anyone who is acting contrary to the Holy Spirit’s desire.
Second, the two words “grieve” and “quench” convey different meaning. “Quench” means to extinguish something. “Grieve” has to do with the way one feels. Those definitions show different actions. When one “quenches” the Spirit he, figuratively speaking, puts out the “fire” the Holy Spirit has created. When one “grieves” the Holy Spirit he simply makes the Holy Spirit sad because of his actions.
Third, “quenching the Spirit” is followed by the phrase “do not despise prophetic utterances” I Thessalonians 5:20. Although the word “prophecy” does not always have to do with the miraculous gift, many times it does. “Prophecy” was a miraculous manifestation of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 12:10). Thus, it seems the context in this little section in I Thessalonians 5 has to do with miraculous measures of the Holy Spirit’s power.
Fourth, it seems to have reference to the miraculous manifestation of the Spirit because we have similar language in another passage. Timothy had a miraculous gift through the laying on of the apostle Paul’s hands (II Timothy 1:6). When one had a miraculous gift, he had the power to use that gift or not use that gift (I Corinthians 14:32). It seems that Timothy was not using the gift that Paul had given him because Paul urged him, “For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands” II Timothy 1:6). Notice the similar language found in this passage and that found in I Thessalonians 5:19. In one we have the phrase “quenching the Spirit” and in the other we have the phrase “kindle afresh.” “Kindle” is a term for starting a fire. “Quench” is a term for putting out a fire.
Fifth, it seems that the larger context running from I Thessalonians 5:12 through 28 deals with how the brethren were to deal with their leaders (v. 12-13). It may be that some in the congregation were not willing to listen to those men who were inspired by the Holy Spirit and that they were despising prophetic utterances. If they were not listening to those who had a miraculous gift, they were “quenching the Spirit” and/or they were despising prophetic utterance – messages which were given by the Holy Spirit. Rather than quenching the Spirit or despising prophetic utterance, they were commanded to “examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good” I Thessalonians 5:21.
Because “quenching the Spirit” had to do with the age of miracles, the passage doesn’t directly apply to us. We can’t quench the Spirit because the Spirit has completed His work of revealing the word through the apostles and prophets (I Corinthians 2:6-13; Ephesians 2:20; 3:3-5). But, today we can grieve the Holy Spirit if we do not follow the will that He revealed. Violation by either “quenching” or “grieving” is a serious matter because it shows that we are not following God’s will. May we live is such a way that we do not grieve the Spirit of God.
Insight – Commitment
The fact that 9,200 people stood in the rain for two and a half hours to watch the Broncos practice July 30th made the news. Would that many people stand in the rain for a two and a half hour Bible study? Which is more important? What is your level of commitment to Christ and how do you show it? Are those 9,200 people more committed to the Broncos than you are to Christ? Remember Jesus said, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” Matthew 6:33.