Knowing God, part 6
What does it mean to be God? What must be true by necessity if one is to claim the throne of the universe, if one being alone is supreme, the God of gods and the Lord of lords?
As we continue our journey through the attributes of God so that we might truly know Him, properly worship Him, and completely trust Him, sooner or later we must come to the attribute of God’s sovereignty or supremacy over all things and the related attribute of God’s complete freedom of will or choice.
If anything is clear from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21, it’s this – God is God and we are not. His ways are higher than our ways. He is infinitely exalted above mankind, for we are mere creatures made of dust and He is Creator, eternal Spirit, sovereign and free. He is Potter and we are clay. He is always right, always in control and always has the final say in all things. Only God is able “to work all things after the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:11). “The LORD has established His throne in the heavens and His sovereignty rules over all” (Psalm 103:19). As King Nebuchadnezzar painfully learned, “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have you done?’” (Daniel 4:35).
God is Sovereign
God’s sovereignty simply means that He is ultimately in control of all things without becoming guilty of sin or and without making our choices robotic or without meaning. God is sovereign and yet man remains responsible and accountable to Him. These are the twin pillars of Scripture, the two rails of one rail road track running throughout the entire Bible and out into eternity. God was sovereign over the fall of Satan and the fall of Adam and Eve, yet they remained responsible and accountable. God has Satan on a leash, as the book of Job so powerfully demonstrates, yet God was ultimately behind the testing of Job and is able to take him to task for his responses. Satan tempted Job to sin; God tested Job to refine his heart and faith.
Indeed there is great mystery in God being both macro and micro manager of all things that come to pass in His universe, even fashioning the hearts of all men and choosing whom He will save and passing over the rest, yet holding everyone responsible for the light they receive, the sin they commit and what they do with Jesus Christ.
As believers we should never apologize for or resist God’s sovereignty. The fact that our good, holy, all powerful God is also sovereign should bring us great comfort in life’s trials and tribulations. There is no such thing as fate or blind chance or bad luck. Satan is not in control, praise the Lord! There is a master plan, there is a master Planner and everything is going exactly according to plan.
Our sovereign King will one day consummate all things in Jesus Christ, right every wrong, judge every sin with perfect justice and continue to reign from His throne over His eternal kingdom forever and ever. Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus!
God is Free
Many in our town and state and country like to trumpet a supposed free will of man, perhaps more influenced by the Declaration of Independence than the Bible. As hinted at above, this is a deep and mysterious topic of Scripture, for God has not chosen to reveal the exact relationship between God’s will and the existence of evil, yet some things are clear.
When it comes to man’s supposed “free will”, my view is that we are free to choose according to our nature. In this sense, Adam and Eve had free will but lost it when they sinned. After the Fall, no one has a completely free will because our nature is now fallen and sinful and we can only choose consistent with that nature, meaning we can only choose the darkness until or unless God changes our hearts. Sinners are dead in their sins and love the darkness rather than the light. So, sinners are free to sin but even this is under the umbrella of God’s sovereign control and design, as Scripture attests to time and again. Even our apparently free choices are ultimately subject to God’s will. “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).
While men argue and debate and write books regarding the freedom or bondage of man’s will, let us not lose sight of this important truth – God has a free will! God does whatever He wants, whenever He wants and no one can stop Him! He is free to create or not create. He is free to reveal Himself or not reveal Himself. He is free to send Jesus to redeem His elect or not send Jesus. He is free to lovingly choose and regenerate some and justly pass over others. His grace and mercy are free grace and mercy, exercised as He sees fit and for His own glory. He is always Giver and Creditor. We are always debtors and receivers.
Though God is sovereign and free and though there is much evil in His universe at the moment, He can never be accused of evil nor take pleasure in evil. Only fallen angels and fallen, sinful humans can ever be blamed for evil.
To sum up, we can say that God wills what God wills and that His will is ultimately the reason for all things that happen or don’t happen, without God ever being blamed for evil. If the Lord wills, we will live to see tomorrow. If He doesn’t, we won’t.
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Unless otherwise noted, all posts are written by Pastor Chris McKnight