May 2013 • Volume XIV, Issue 13
God’s Way Is in the Sea (2)
God’s way with the church and
the believer is "in the sea" (Ps. 77:19) because we are not
privy to the contents of His eternal decree. The
incomprehensibility of God’s decree is itself a reflection
of the incomprehensibility of God. His ways are higher than
our ways (Isa. 55:9) for we can not know the Almighty unto
perfection (Job 11:7). Full, exhaustive knowledge of
Jehovah’s decree is as impossible as full, exhaustive
knowledge of God Himself. Thus the apostle extols God’s deep
riches (Rom. 11:33): "For of him, and through him, and to
him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen" (36).
As if puny, puffed up man, with
false views of his own wisdom and importance, could know
God’s inscrutable ways! The Almighty is not to be put in the
dock by the grasshoppers and worms of the earth to answer
for His doings!
This vital distinction between
the omnipotent Creator and the impotent creature also means
that God’s way is in the sea for Satan, too. Formally, he
knows more of the Lord’s way than we do, being much older
and more clever than we are, but he is still only a
creature. Even for the holy angels, God’s footsteps are not
known. Michael, Gabriel and the heavenly host learn from
Jehovah’s dealings with His church (Eph. 3:10; I Pet. 1:12),
for, though they dwell in heaven, they are decreed not
It is no wonder, therefore,
that frequently we do not know the details of God’s plan or
why He does what He does. Sometimes, with hindsight, we
understand later; in heaven, we will understand a lot more.
For now, the Bible gives us the broad framework of God’s
work on earth with His church in Jesus Christ. We have
biblical principles to understand Jehovah’s dealings with us
and this is one principle: God’s way is in the sea!
Scripture is clear but specific events in Jehovah’s
providence are not always so.
All this means that we must
never give way to despair. Elijah lamented that "the
children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down
thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I,
even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it
away" (I Kings 19:10). Elijah wanted to resign his prophetic
office, but the Lord informed him of the remnant of 7,000 in
Israel (18). God’s way is in the sea!
Jacob protested to nine of his
sons, "Me have ye bereaved of my children: Joseph is not,
and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these
things are against me" (Gen. 42:36). The patriarch’s faith
was weak here, since "If God be for us, who can be against
us?" (Rom 8:31) and God was working all things for good
Remember Asaph’s anguish: "Hath
God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his
tender mercies" (Ps. 77:9). Do not despair, beloved. God’s
way is in the sea. You do not know what good He is working.
Do not try to second guess the Almighty!
Instead of despairing, in all
circumstances (especially the most difficult) our calling is
to trust Him (Ps. 37:3-5; 46:1-3). We can rely on His
goodness, wisdom, faithfulness and covenant mercies to work
all things for His glory and our good.
If you seek guidance and
support in a difficult situation, do not act according to
mystical intuitions or any sinful feelings. Remember your
calling, the role in which God has placed you. Apply the ten
commandments, the summary of His moral will for your life.
Seek first His kingdom and righteousness (Matt. 6:33).
The truth that God’s way is in
the sea means that it is not only an unknown way (Ps. 77:19)
but that it is also a redemptive way, as the context teaches
(14-16, 20). By a redemptive way, we do not mean that our
struggles redeem us, as if we paid the price for our
delivery from sin. Rather, God applies the benefit of our
redemption in Jesus Christ by faith through our various
God’s way with us is designed
and results in our sanctification, His bringing us more and
more out of the bondage of our sin. Through his afflictions,
Asaph was brought to holy meditation (10b-12) and restored
to God’s worship (13). This is Jehovah’s goal in His
dealings with us, too. Bearing this in mind is half the
When we encounter difficulties,
we must not think, "But I am a good person and I don’t
deserve this!" Remember that "there is none that doeth good,
no, not one" (Rom. 3:12). All that we deserve or merit of
ourselves is hell, but by God’s grace our earthly
afflictions are not punishments but trials, to test and
Just as Israel had to go
through the Red Sea to reach the promised land, so too we
must tread this unknown, sanctifying way as the only way to
glory—Thy way is in the sea! God leads His "people" (Ps.
77:20) through the sea and to the blessedness of heaven
in the church. Israel journeyed through the wilderness
together. This is the way—God’s way—for His people to keep
us on the right path.
Moreover, God leads His
"people" through the sea and to the blessedness of heaven in
the church guided by faithful church leaders: "Thou
leddest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and
Aaron" (20). These two Old Testament office-bearers are
examples to church office-bearers today. We must follow the
teaching and example of faithful church leaders as they
guide us on God’s way in the sea (Heb. 13:7, 17, 24).
Through the preaching of His Word and biblical guidance from
church overseers, our heavenly Father applies His redemption
to us and guides us to glory.
The truth that God’s way is in the sea also involves
the ungodly. Pharaoh misunderstood this, thinking that he
too could pass through the Red Sea, but Pharaoh’s way was in
the sea in a different sense! Just as the Egyptians were
crushed at the Red Sea, so reprobate wicked men and angels
are destroyed by Christ’s cross. Rev. Stewart
A brother from Brazil asks,
"What is the unpardonable sin?"
It is probably best that I
quote the three main passages in Scripture on this sin. The
first text is Matthew 12:31-32: "Wherefore I say unto you,
All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men:
but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be
forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the
Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh
against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him,
neither in this world, neither in the world to come." It is
important to understand that Jesus spoke these words in
response to the wicked claim of the Pharisees that He cast
out demons in the name of the prince of demons.
Hebrews 6:4-6 also speaks of
this sin: "For it is impossible for those who were once
enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were
made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good
word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they
shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing
they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put
him to an open shame."
Finally, there is I John
5:16-17: "If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not
unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for
them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I
do not say that he shall pray for it. All unrighteousness is
sin: and there is a sin not unto death."
On the basis of these texts, we
may come to some conclusions. Jesus does not accuse the
Pharisees of the unforgiveable sin. But He warns strongly
against it, because they had come very close to committing
it. They had blasphemed Christ when they accused Him of
casting out devils in the name of Satan. Jesus says that
that sin can be forgiven. But the danger was real that the
Pharisees would not only blaspheme Christ, but would
blaspheme the Spirit of Christ, whom the Lord poured out on
the church at Pentecost. Thus the unpardonable sin is the
sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
Hebrews 6 teaches that the sin
against the Holy Spirit is committed by someone in the
church and under the preaching, for the Spirit works in
connection with the preaching. In fact, those of whom
Hebrews 6 speaks lived for some time in the church and
enjoyed, though only outwardly, the blessings the Holy
Spirit gave to the church. They had experienced in some
measure the blessedness of heaven. They knew not only what
the blessings of salvation are, but had even seen how great
and wonderful they are. They knew of the work of the Holy
Spirit in the church and how He brought the blessings of
Christ’s work to the church. They could see the priceless
value of this blessedness. They spoke of their own
participation in the work of Christ’s Spirit and joined the
church in worship, prayer, singing and confessing the faith.
So close were they to true and
full salvation that Arminians have used this text as proof
for the falling away of real saints. But the Arminians are
mistaken, even though the text tells us how close to the
blessedness of salvation people can come, such as those who
have been born and raised in the church, and have lived in
it for many years.
The sin of those who leave the
church and repudiate their profession is a terrible one:
"they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh." Christ
was once crucified on Calvary. He was crucified because
neither the Jews, nor Herod, nor Pontius Pilate would
confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God,
the only Saviour.
Those who commit the
unpardonable sin do not leave a faithful church for a less
faithful church. They do not leave the church to live
outside the church. They leave the church and openly speak
against what they once confessed. They deny that Jesus
Christ is God’s eternal Son. They deny that salvation is
only to be found in Him. They ridicule the faith of the
saints, mock Christ, speak sarcastically about salvation,
laugh at the "foolishness" they once professed, and even
persecute God’s people if they have opportunity. They want
everyone who knows them to understand that they want nothing
to do with the Christ preached in the church. That is
crucifying the Son of God afresh.
John tells us that we may not
pray for one who has committed the unforgiveable sin. The
admonition implies that it is possible to tell when one
commits this sin. Other sins committed by those from the
church may be brought to God with the prayer that the sinner
repent. But from this sin there is no repentance.
That is understandable.
Confession of sin is the way of repentance and fleeing to
the cross of Christ. But vilifying a Saviour whom they once
confessed as their Lord is to shut the only path that leads
to repentance and forgiveness. No man will go for
forgiveness of sins to the One whom he mocks as an imposter.
The Scriptures are even
stronger. The Scriptures tell us that it is "impossible" for
such a man ever to come to the knowledge of his sin, see its
horror, repent of it and flee to Christ for pardon. God does
this. He makes repentance impossible for such a one.
This too is in keeping with
God’s way of working. When people who once confessed Christ
fall away from the faith, God cuts them and their
generations out of His olive tree (Rom. 11:17-21). God does
not return again and again to apostate people, apostate
families and apostate nations.
One more remark must be made.
There may be times in the lives of Christians when, in
moments of distress and depression, they lose their
assurance of salvation and wonder whether they have
committed the unforgiveable sin. Some can become very
agitated over this question. But they must not despair, nor
live in fear and doubt. One who commits the unpardonable sin
is not one who is agitated about the question, nor concerned
about the answer. The very anxiety that some experience when
asking themselves this question and the very fear that they
may have committed the sin is, paradoxically, the proof that
they have not done so. If they had, they would be cold and
hateful about the matter. They would not be consumed with
worry and terror. They would laugh at their former
foolishness. They would have no concern about the question.
When doubts and fears assail our soul, it is good to
confess our sins, humble ourselves beneath God’s mighty
hand, confess also the sin of doubting (for sin it is) and
flee to the cross for refuge. God, in His own time and way,
will take His trembling child into His everlasting arms and
speak peace to his soul. Prof. Hanko
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