One of the first books I got after becoming a Christian was by R C Sproul. I can’t remember the title but I called it “A doctrine a day” as on each page he laid out clearly and concisely a key doctrine of the Christian faith. I watched him do a video tour of his study recently. Hanging over the entrance to his office hangs the framed remains of Herman Bavinck’s book “the doctrine of God”. Why? Well, in 1999 Robert Fraley, a man who served with R C Sproul died in a plane crash. He was the agent for the US open winner and golfer Payne Stewart and was accompanying him on the plane when it lost oxygen and crashed. In the wreckage, one of the few things that was found intact was Robert’s copy of “the doctrine of God” by Herman Bavinck. Just over a year after the accident Robert’s wife testified to her late husbands’ last words:
About 16 months ago your radio or TV might have told you there was a jet out of control. That was my life out of control. Your announcer may have said Payne Stewart was onboard. It didn’t tell you the president of my husband’s company was onboard, and that my husband was onboard, too.
I thought back on the night before, which was perhaps about 12 hours before they died. We sat in the bed and read to each other, which was our habit. Robert was reading Herman Bavinck’s The Doctrine of God. He read me the preface, which was about 4-5 pages, and he closed the book. He said, “Who couldn’t believe in the sovereignty of God?” So the next day those were the words that flooded me, not “jet out of control,” but “who couldn’t believe in the sovereignty of God?”
The words in the bible are not a puzzle to be put together by cleaver theologians but truth to be lived out by ordinary believers. This is the case with the sovereignty of God. It is strengthening, encouraging and comforting to know that God is in control. Nothing is outside of his sovereign power and working. Even if everything looks like its falling apart God has his hands around it working all things for the good of those that love him. Of course there are questions but the truth of God’s sovereignty is often a key part of the answer to those questions. If we let go of it we can be swept away in a current of pain and despair. The other key truth that holds us firm through pain and suffering is the substitutionary death and resurrection of Jesus for our sin. If it looks like God doesn’t love us, one look at the cross shows us that he definably does. If it looks like he can’t work all things for our good then one look at the resurrection re-fires our faith.