Its an interesting question. I get very suspicious when I hear that radio DJ’s are saying “There’s no verse in the Bible saying, ‘God is in control of everything.'”
That’s true and not true at the same time. The background is the shooting at the movie theater. Two issues arise, and I suspect they arise from the same source.
first, the issue is that Christians were at a midnight movie showing of a violent movie. It looks bad to the world, and presents a bad witness. for starters, the world immediately starts questioning, “What were so-called Godly people doing at a midnight movie showing?” The world has the right to ask that question, as many Christians are asking the same question. It’s a sad reflection upon todays Christianity that so few Christians feel a need to eschew worldly entertainment. It’s even sadder that unsaved worldly people can recognize this is not appropriate behavior for Christians, and that so few Christians recognize it as well. I suppose we should be glad it was not a nightclub serving alcohol this happened at.
Second, the proud boastings of the Christian survivors of that shooting. It is a fact God preserved your life. But… there is also no verse in the Bible that says you are guaranteed safety from death because you are a Christian. On the contrary, Paul spoke of his willingness to die for the Gospel. And as his end approached, he welcomed it in his second epistle to Timothy.
Apparently, some so-called Christians are claiming that their faith (or “word-faith”, I suspect) protected them from all harm – that because they are born again- they were spared. Were any of the victims of that shootings born again? You may be boasting of an unconscious superiority over the slain and injured because you think you’re born again. And again, you’re assuming that those who were shot and injured, or killed, were all unsaved, despite Jesus warning in Luke 13:1-5 that we are not to interpret death and injury from misfortune to be the result of sin.
Did these same Christians puff out their chests on 9-11 and justify themselves saying, “God protected me! At least I wasn’t a sinner like those thousands who died in the Twin towers!!!” How many saved people were in those towers, I wonder? If it fits demographics, I guarantee that at least 2% of those people in the Trade Center were saved, and now walk streets of Gold. Yes, I know, most of Christianity thinks the number of saved in the US is higher than that. With so few churches preaching repentance as part of the salvation message, I guarantee the number is 5% or lower. The number in one analysis of statistics provided by Operation World revealed only 2 to 3% of the World’s population is saved.
And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? 3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. John 9:1-3 (KJV)
Dennis Costella was struck and killed when a car hit him while he was out walking. Can the average Christian claim a superiority to Mr. Costella? He was a tireless advocate of Fundamentalism, of trying to get Christians to wake up and live Godly lives as the Bible commands us, and not worldly lives. The same verses that Christians misquote to prove their superiority would certainly apply, and possibly more so, to Dennis Costella. Not to mention the millions of Baptist martyrs who died for doctrines such as Believer’s Baptism, and Church Ordinance instead of Church Sacrament.
The point is, Dennis Costella did something for the faith. He wrote, he spoke, he visited, he rebuked wordliness when he saw it, he enjoined Christians to live separated, Godly lives – the things the Bible commands us to do. If anything, he should have had more reason to be safe from harm than the worldly christian who watches tv, listens to rock and roll, and attends midnight showings of movies – in other words, someone who gives no evidence of being a Christian in the eyes of the world besides wearing the occaisional T-shirt with a trite “christian” saying upon it. Costella gave evidence by his life and work of being a saved believer of Jesus Christ.
And the same to be said for those Christians imprisoned, burned alive, drowned, tortured on the rack, placed in freezing stone cold prisons, stripped naked and exiled in the winter to perish from the elements – all because they believed in a literal interpretation of the Bible, and recognized that Baptism should only be done to repentant born again adults. Millions of Christians have died for the faith. Many die every year for their faith around the world every year. Shouldn’t they have been protected as well if your doctrine is true? Alas, it is not true – it is a false doctrine. Demonstrateably so, because we are to accept Jesus Christ by faith. And if Christians were protected from all calamity and evil, then EVERYONE would be trying to be Christians, and it would be impossible to accept the Lord’s propitiatory sacrifice by faith.
We live in a blessed time (for now) when we can actually have a building publically with a sign on it that says “Baptist”, and not have to hide for fear of the sword! It’s only been possible to do that for 300 years! And what do we do? See midnight showings of movies with ungodly subject matter. What good could a movie whose first showing is at midnight be??? If a movie were made of the life of John Bunyan and released in the theaters, would it be premeired at midnight, I wonder? Or Hudson Taylor, or… you get the idea.
However, I do get suspicious of anyone who says “there is no verse in the Bible saying ‘God is in control.” Yes, if you’re looking through a concordance, you’re right. The Emergent Church is quick to find any excuse they can make to attempt to limit the power of God in people’s mind. It’s like the Rabbi who wrote the books on good things happening to bad people, saying “God is limited.” Maybe the God you believe in as a reform Rabbi, but the God of the Bible is not limited.
The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand: 25 That I will break the Assyrian in my land, and upon my mountains tread him under foot: then shall his yoke depart from off them, and his burden depart from off their shoulders. Isaiah 14:24-25 (KJV)
These are not the words of a limited God. These are the words of a God with immense power.
And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. 5 But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him. 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? 7 But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows. Luke 12:4-7 (KJV)
God is aware of every bird that flies, every person, every dog and cat. That’s what the bible means by Omnipotent. Job understood this!
Then Job answered the Lord, and said, 2 I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee. Job 42:1-2 (KJV)
Jeremiah faithfully recorded the words of God…
Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? 24 Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord. Jer 23:23-24 (KJV)
So, yes, there is no one verse that says “God is in control”, literally and word for word. There are many verses that tell us thus, spoken in different words. But again, no guarantee exists that Christians should have their lives preserved from tragedy. God may choose to spare your life, for His own good reasons – but Almighty God is under no obligation to preserve your life. Especially if you choose to spend your Christian liberty in things that will keep you from growing or prospering as a Christian.
If the point of the DJ’s was that these Christians were wrong for their boasting, they were correct. I don’t listen to contemporary Christian radio, so I missed the conversation. And I don’t want to misrepresent someone.
Today we need to be sure of our knowledge of the Bible. It seems as if the foes of the Bible are multiplying faster than true Christians are. So today, more than ever, a Christian needs to be able to understand clearly the doctrines of the Bible, and even point out in the Bible where they are! Because they question. Oh, they question. They question and challenge, and quickly raise every example of crooked reasonings that exists – straw men, bad and forced analogies, emotionally charged words, proof by selected instances, appeals to emotion, suggestion by repeated affirmation, misrepresenting an argument, and more.
We worry about a Jehovah’s Witness coming to our door – I worry about the person in the pew next to me being Emergent, sitting there smiling in a Baptist church, not believing any of what he hears in a sermon, but there because Brian Maclaren has a master plan for how to make all churches emergent. Or the kids in the youth group who have read Velvet Elvis and Love Wins. I worry about the Deacon reading books by T. D. Jakes, which aren’t overtly charismatic, but enough smatterings of that doctrine are present to subtly influence – seeds planted that will blossom and grow next year. I worry about the church adopting Church Growth strategies to boost membership. I worry about the Youth Pastor, with his goatee and earring. And none the wiser, because few pastors will warn, despite Biblical command and example. We perish for lack of knowledge.
So, if I understand what the DJ’s were saying correctly, they’re right. Christians at midnight movie theaters should not boast that God saved them, but instead rejoice that they were spared.
He ruleth by his power for ever; his eyes behold the nations: let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah. Psalms 66:7 (KJV)