In the subsequent pages an effort will be made to examine some of the most
perplexing questions that have ever faced mankind. Philosophers and theologians
have wrestled these problems incessantly and in most cases the results have been
little more than confusion. However, the wealth of material which they have
uncovered has been our gain. To each of them we are grateful for the knowledge
and inspiration they have afforded in stimulating us to undertake this vast
project. Our greatest desire is that you too will be encouraged by our words to
concentrate your thoughts on the subject that is without a doubt the most
profound of all times.
It is not our intention to approach an exhaustive treatise on this subject.
Rather we hope to touch upon several of the most important areas in our opinion,
so that you might be well exposed to the doctrine. If our efforts are
successful, you should have an adequate foundation laid in order that you might
intelligently discuss the subject and also have the necessary framework so that
you can continue to build your knowledge of this profound theme.
To think that this work will be approved by the general public is a foolish
expectation. The trend of the centuries has consistently been that of the
exaltation of man and the abasement of God. The intensive research for this
study seems to indicate that this trend has been due to the inability of men to
reconcile the free will of man with the sovereignty of God. Consequently,
scholars seem to have been sidetracked into thinking that God has neglected His
universe, by choice of course. They feel that the Creator has delegated His rule
and authority to the use or abuse of the creature. They have reduced God and His
Divine office to the extent that multitudes of people now have only a
superficial conception of Him. And it logically follows that a superficial view
of God and His holiness always results in a superficial view of sin and it's
consequences in addition to a shallow view of the work of Christ. This in a
small way explains the steady departure from the shelter of truth into the
bitterness of ignorance.
It also seems logical to affirm that a distorted view of God, who is the
Author of the Sacred Scriptures will result in a distorted view of the doctrines
which He inspired. It does seem that those who lean towards the acknowledgment
of the full Sovereignty of God have a more logical and reasonable approach to
the interpretation of the Scriptures than those who emphasize the free will of
man. Those who concentrate their thoughts and efforts toward the propagation of
man and his free will seem to be obsessed with a great deal of emotionalism in
their church services. Speaking on a comparative basis, you normally find very
little doctrine taught in these places.
This basic observation alone indicates that a study of this subject is very
essential, if for no other reason than to be better qualified to evaluate the
varied opinions offered by the array of teachers today. Having revealed some of
the objectives intended in preparing this study, let us approach this Sacred
area with the prayer that you may share at least a portion of the comfort which
we received in it's preparation.
I. HUMAN REASONING
It is generally accepted by most religious circles that the reasoning
faculties of the human mind are untrustworthy. This is especially true when the
mind is employed in the formulation of spiritual truth. Frequently, when a new
idea is expressed, it is accompanied by accusations of being "nothing more
than human reasoning". The mind of the nominal church member is so inactive
due to inertia that he finds it extremely difficult to investigate any ideas
outside the traditional and superstitious realms to which he is accustomed. This
prevailing attitude has all but stopped the progressive discovery of biblical
truth which is so necessary to their spiritual health.
No one will challenge the fact that the twentieth century has demonstrated an
intellectual revolution in almost every field of learning. New fields of science
are being established more rapidly than the most ardent scholar can manage to
efficiently investigate. Even the basic tools such as reading and arithmetic are
being made obsolete by more modern and complex approaches. Whether we like it or
not, this trend is gaining speed and only the imagination can visualize what
lies ahead for the coming generations.
Strangely enough however, the world of religionists is almost totally united
in an attempt to prevent any progress in the understanding of spiritual matters.
It seems unimportant to them that we have better methods of translation and
interpretation than at any time in the past centuries. We have more manuscript
copies, more concordances, more textbooks, and the accumulation of centuries of
scholarship at our disposal. There are textbooks available today which enable
the layman to probe the depths of biblical research in excess of what the best
educated men of a few years ago could manage in a complete lifetime. And yet,
the average church member feels there is more virtue in clinging to the views
propagated by the scholars of many centuries ago than to investigate the claims
of a modern day teacher. This is particularly true when the modern day teacher
proclaims something that is contrary to orthodox views. This dominating attitude
of the nominal churches is nothing more than one of the many facets of
On the surface this situation is very commendable. It is essential that we
acknowledge our finite limitations. The wise man strives to keep a proper
perspective of himself in relation to God. And, this premise is a scriptural one
indeed, for the inspired pages of our text abound with such revelations as,
"The heart is deceitful above all things . . . ." (Jeremiah 17:9);
"yea, let God be true, but every man a liar" (Romans 3:4); and Jesus
said the hour is coming when His very own people would be killed under the
supposition that such deeds would be a service to God (John 16:3). Peter
acknowledged the limitations of the human mind when he cautioned those to whom
he was ministering to recognize that the writings of Paul were "hard to
apprehend" (2 Peter 3:15-16). This apparently was a confession as much as
it was a warning. When Paul admonished Timothy to "correctly cut the word
of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15), he introduced the statement with the word
"endeavor". This implies that an effort is necessary in order to
properly execute his instructions.
Realizing therefore that an experimental knowledge of human nature and the
vivid testimony of Scripture both testify to the inadequacy of human reasoning,
it is good that so many have learned to accept the fact that a more reliable
authority than the mind must be employed in the formulation of the doctrines of
It is proper that we should all possess a full acknowledgment of these facts
for Romans 12:3 indicates that we are not to think too highly of ourselves. This
warning should temper our tendencies to depend too heavily upon our own
reasoning abilities. But on the other hand 1 Corinthians 2:9-16 plainly states
that we are to possess a good portion of spiritual discernment and offers a
practical formula where we may test any idea which might confront us. This leads
us to the conclusion that any doctrine under consideration should be viewed in
the light of these established principles. First, we should not rely on our
reasoning faculties alone, even though they must be employed. Secondly, we are
to test all doctrines with the authority of Scripture, using the spiritual
perception that God has entrusted to us.
Having adequately established the fact that the human mind alone is not fully
reliable in the realm of spiritual things, and having admitted that orthodoxy
fully concurs with this viewpoint, we should now observe a common error embraced
by many who fail to use these guidelines. Their tendency is to usually accept
the extreme position that all reasoning is to be avoided. It is our full
contention through observation that those who reject knowledge strictly on the
basis that it is an invention of human reasoning are grossly guilty of clinging
to views which are unreasonable. I have talked to many people about the
Sovereignty of God. With few exceptions they reject our views, but give no
scriptural basis for their rejection. Their comment is that we propound a system
of human reasoning, while they themselves cling tenaciously to views which are
very unreasonable and illogical.
I fully agree that the limitations of the human mind frequently result in
false conclusions. Yet I would still rather believe that which is reason-able
than that which is unreasonable even if an attempt be made to prove that the
unreasonable is based on a scriptural view. Believing firmly that God is
reasonable, I do not feel that He has ever made unreasonable statements. I do
not believe that He inspired the writers of scripture to record unreasonable
words. As I read the pages of the Sacred Scriptures I find nothing that does not
appeal to my sense of reason. Consequently, I feel that He intended the inspired
words to be reasonable and that they should appeal to us on that basis. If God
did appeal to us on this basis, then how could it be so wrong for us to
reciprocate in expressing our conclusions from the same source of reason to
which God chose to appeal? I would much rather trust the interpretation of
Scripture to the man who is logical and reasonable than to the man who embraces
the unreasonable simply because it is the view expressed by the orthodox
Only the mind that is willing to learn will profit from a study such as this.
If preconceived notions bias your thinking it would be just as well for you to
dismiss this subject at this time. This is a most probable situation in this
present day because of the liberal trend of thought now existing. The average
man feels that "all men are created equal". This is true according to
the United States Constitution, and of course this should be true when speaking
from the social and legal standpoints. However, let us never strive to bind God
to such a rule for God is not and cannot be subject to a law or principle simply
because it appears to have merit in the framework of a human government. In
fact, God's dealings with mankind are frequently antithetical to the pattern of
our more democratic forms of Government. We should endeavor to refrain
completely from the influence of the patterns of society when viewing God's
dealings with mankind.
That God does not cater to the principles which permeate the minds of people
is illustrated in Romans 9:13, "according as it is written, Jacob I love,
yet Esau I hate". Many find it very difficult to believe such a statement
came from God even though it is a matter of record. To refute the idea that all
men deserve complete equality we turn to Romans 9:20-21, "O man! who are
you, to be sure, who are answering again to God? That which is molded will not
protest to the molder, 'Why do you make me thus?' Or has not the potter the
right over the clay, out of the same kneading to make one vessel, indeed, for
honor, yet one for dishonor?" From the same lump of clay comes one vessel
of honor and one of dishonor.
Bearing these preliminary thoughts in mind, let us approach the Doctrine of
the Sovereignty of God.
The profundity of this subject insists that it be approached with reverence.
It is good to be reminded of the words contained in Romans 11:33, "O, the
depth of the riches and the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How inscrutable are
His judgments, and untraceable His ways".
The demand for reverence when approaching this subject is attributed to the
fact that within the confines of God's providence, or His Sovereignty, we
approach the very mind of God Himself, giving entrance into His intents and
purposes for mankind and His plan for the ages.
Before attempting to set down in an organized fashion the teachings of
Scripture on this subject, it would be helpful to present some of the more
common theories held by those who deny the complete Sovereignty of God.
Causalism transfers the freedom of mind to nature, or stated more simply, it
exchanges the providence of God for chance. This theory indicates that the daily
events of life are the result of mere chance or accident. Because of the obvious
inability to explain the cause of certain events it is held that these events
happened as results of accumulated circumstances rather than as the result of a
governing force behind them.
A. To those who uphold this theory, we offer this reply. When the cause
for events which cannot be immediately explained is attributed to chance, it
is nothing more than an attempt to hide behind human ignorance. It is
logical to acknowledge the fact that events do happen which cannot be
explained today; but rather than attribute these occurrences to chance, we
believe that God arranged these occurrences. Those who are familiar with the
tremendous amount of Scripture on this subject are well aware that words
such as "luck", "accident", and "chance" are
nothing more than the revelation of human ignorance. These words are used to
justify or to explain something which cannot be understood, and the student
of Scripture should be careful in his usage of these terms.
B. To lean completely upon chance implies that there is no design to the
physical and moral world. We argue that the progress of the human race and
the material world definitely indicates that a designing mind has planned
it. It is not unreasonable to assume that for every event there is a cause.
The order and design of the laws governing the universe seems to demand that
it was planned and organized. It is completely unreasonable to believe that
all the wonders of our universe are the result of chance or accident.
This theory teaches that God created all things. He then established laws to
govern these things, leaving them to be governed by His established laws. In
other words, God chose to limit His activity in the universe. This view is
expressed by most people who believe that the world is operated by the free will
of man, and that the destiny of man is in the hands of man himself. Basically,
this view teaches that God intervenes only in the so called "big
things" and that He is uninterested in the "little things".
This view was often taught by philosophers. Cicero said, "Even in
kingdoms among men, Kings do not trouble themselves with insignificant
affairs". Fullerton thought there could not possibly be an infinity of
worlds for "Providence could not possibly take care of so many". The
ancient Cretans made an image of Jove without ears for they said, "It is a
shame to believe that God would hear the talk of men". Even Jerome thought
it absurd that God should know just how many gnats and cockroaches there were in
It is not uncommon to hear similar statements today. In the minds of most
people, there dwells the idea that the small details of life are fully
controlled by the free will of man. It is uncommon to find those who believe
that the Sovereignty of God reaches into the realm of the minutest affairs of
people. We must urge against this theory with the following arguments:
A. General control over the course of history and nature is impossible
without also the control of the smallest parts of the picture. Nothing great
has great beginnings. Care for the chain is care for the individual links of
it. Take care of the pennies, and the dollars will take care of themselves.
A spiders web spun across the face of a cave in which Mohammed had taken
refuge so deceived his pursuers that they passed on, leaving the world to
the empire and the religion of the Moslems. The flight of pigeons to the
southwest changed Columbus's course from Virginia to the West Indies. The
breeze warps the course of the bullet. The worm perforates the plank of the
ship. God must care for the least or He does not care for the greatest.
B. The love of God prompts care for the least as well as the greatest. In
the language of love, there is nothing trifling or beneath the notice.
Therefore, Infinite Love must notice even the minutest things.
C. Perhaps the strongest argument in favor of complete Providential care
is the testimony of those who believe strongly in God. Many testify of the
minute details that seemed insignificant, yet later proved to be the working
of God all along. God, who is interested in our welfare through-out the ages
is also conscious of even the number of hairs on our heads. He knows when a
sparrow falls from the air. It is very reasonable to assume that the Creator
of all things should have a definite interest in the things which He
Now that we have dealt with some of the more prominent objections to the
complete Sovereignty of God, we will approach the positive definition of it. The
expression, "the Sovereignty of God" was at one time much better
understood. This is evident by observation of Church History, and viewing some
of the old doctrinal statements and creeds. Today however, the expression seems
to be one of the "old school", and is unknown to most people. It is
sad indeed, for the Sovereignty of God is the key to History, the interpreter of
Providence, the warp and woof of Scripture, and the foundation of Bible
By the Sovereignty of God, we mean the supremacy of God. We mean His Kingship
and Headship. It literally means, "the Godhood of God". To declare
that God is sovereign is to declare that He is God. It is to declare "That
He is the most high, doing according to His will in the army of heaven and among
the inhabitants of the earth, so that none can stay His hand or say unto Him
what doest thou?" (Daniel 4:35).
To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He "is the Mighty, the
possessor of all power in heaven and earth, so that none can defeat His
counsels, thwart His purpose, or resist his will" (Psalm 115:3).
To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is "The governor
among the nations" (Psalm 22:28). He sets up kingdoms, overthrows empires,
and determines the course of dynasties as pleaseth Him best.
To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is "The only
potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of Lords" (1 Timothy 6:15).
Such a God is revealed in the pages of the Sacred Scriptures. However, God is
not described as such in modern times. The God presented to people in this
twentieth century is practically helpless. He is presented as an effeminate
being who commands the respect of no really thoughtful person. Even from the
pulpit, the preacher presents God as one who should be pitied rather than one to
be respected. I heard one preacher, when describing the state of affairs on
earth today say, "Poor God!". The message proclaimed in most churches
today implies that God has failed because mankind has rejected Him. Few people
seem to realize that He is working ALL THINGS according to His own will
God cannot fail. He is not to be pitied but to be praised. It is often said
that, "God is doing His best to save mankind". If this be so, then He
will succeed. To say that God is trying to save all people and then to proclaim
that all will not be saved is to admit that God has failed. This in itself
implies that God is not all powerful nor is He perfect. To say that Satan is
preventing many from being saved is to indicate that Satan is accomplishing that
which God cannot do, that Satan is more successful and powerful than God. To say
that the stubbornness of man prevents him from being saved is to say that man
has thwarted the will and efforts of God. God cannot fail. He cannot begin a
project without seeing it completed. He cannot design a plan only to have it
defeated by some other agency whether it be natural man or supernatural Satan.
He cannot, even in the smallest sense, realize failure in that which lie
attempts to do.
To declare that sin entered the Garden of Eden and caught God by surprise is
to dethrone God. This is to reduce him to the level of finite man Then, to
declare that sinful man has the power and ability to defeat God's plan of
salvation and reconciliation is to exalt man to the place where he can checkmate
God. God is absolute, irresistible, and infinite. He governs all the universe as
He pleases. He has the right as Creator to mold the clay into whatsoever shape
He desires. He is under no rule or law outside His own nature. He is a law unto
Himself. He is under no obligation to give an account of His matters to anyone.
Sovereignty is characteristic of the whole being of God.
God is sovereign in the exercise of His power. He works all things according
to His will. Observe this vivid illustration: The nation of Israel had been in
bondage for hundreds of years in Egypt. Moses was sent by God to lead the
Israelites from Egypt to the land of promise in Palestine. The ensuing events
reveal a feeble attempt of Pharaoh to interfere with the plan of God, so
consequently God stretches forth His hand in power to judge the land of Egypt
with numerous plagues. The words of God indisputably proclaim that the
demonstration of power shown here was for the express purpose of showing His
power to the earth. Referring to Pharaoh, God says, "for this cause have I
raised thee up, for to show in thee my power; and that my name may be declared
throughout all the earth" (Exodus 9:16).
This power turned water to blood and light to darkness. It exercised full
control over man and beast, life and death, and the forces of wickedness and
good. Other Scripture to confirm this truth is found in Exodus 32:11,
Deuteronomy 4:37, and 2 Kings 17:36. These verses, along with many others,
clearly refer to the power of God.
Yet, on the other hand, an event occurred which reveals an entirely different
purpose of God. Not long after the dramatic deliverance of Israel from Egypt,
these same people find themselves under attack by the Amalekites. Did God put
forth His hand to spare Israel and judge the Amalekites? He did not! He rather
decreed that He would, "have war with Amalek from generation to
generation" (Exodus 17:16). Why did God deal differently with the
Amalakites and the Egyptians? Simply because it suited His plan. No other answer
can be given for in each case it is revealed that the intent of God was
Not many years after this great exodus from Egypt, Israel enters the land of
Palestine. The first city approached by them was Jericho. This city fell
entirely to the Israelites by the power of God. His people did not lift one hand
in battle. Yet we find not another city fell in that manner. All the others were
taken by the sword, and in some cases Israel suffered defeat. Why the distinct
difference? Because it suited the plan of God.
Some of the more familiar stories of the Bible reveal the Sovereignty of God
in a very colorful manner. David is given victory over the giant Goliath. Daniel
is delivered from the hungry lions. The three Hebrews are delivered from the hot
furnace of fire. And yet the Bible declares that all the servants of God were
not shown such favor. Hebrews 11:36-37 declares, "others had trial of cruel
mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonments: they were
stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword; they
wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted,
Why were some tormented and others delivered? Why was Stephen stoned to death
and Peter delivered from prison? The only answer is that God is sovereign in the
exercise of His power. He operates the universe as it best suits His plan.
God is sovereign in the delegation of His power to others. He allowed
Methuselah to possess a vitality which enabled him to outlive all his
contemporaries. Imparted to Samson was strength which no other human being
possessed. Israel was given the ability to be wealthy, "But thou shalt
remember the Lord thy God: for it is He that giveth thee power to get
wealth" (Deuteronomy 8:18). The Jews, even to this day, still maintain that
ability; and this is one of the reasons they are disliked by the world. These
basic illustrations serve to show that God exercises full control over the
delegation of His power to others.
Mercy is an adorable attribute of God. It prompts Him to shower His grace on
all His creation. Due to the consequences of sin, no one is entitled to mercy
since true justice demands punishment for sin. However, God does exercise mercy
but according to His own wishes. A striking contrast in the exercise of His
mercy is seen in the experience of two men: Moses, for only one act of
disobedience was denied his request and was sentenced to death. "The Lord
is wroth with me for your sakes and would not hear me: and the Lord said unto me
‘Let it suffice thee'" (Deuteronomy 3:26). Moses was not permitted to
enter the promised land. Rather he died just prior to the entry of Palestine.
His request for a reprieve was denied. On the other hand, let us notice the
experience of Hezekiah: In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death, and the
prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, "saith the
Lord, ‘Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.'"
Then he turned his face to the wall and prayed unto the Lord, saying, "I
beseech Thee, O Lord, remember now how I have walked before Thee in truth and
with a perfect heart and have done that which is good in Thy sight." And
Hezekiah wept sore, And it came to pass afore Isaiah was gone out into the
middle court, that the word of the Lord came to him saying, "Turn again,
and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the Lord the God of David
thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: Behold, I will heal
thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the Lord. And I will
add unto thy days fifteen years." (2 Kings 20:1-6).
Both of these men had the sentence of death pronounced on them. Both prayed
earnestly for a pardon. The Lord answered one and gave him an additional fifteen
years. The other said, "The Lord would not hear me."
What an example of Romans 9:15! "For He saith to Moses, I will have
mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have
Another striking example of the sovereign exercise of the mercy of God is
revealed in John 5:3-9. During one of the feasts of the Jews, Jesus traveled to
Jerusalem. He came to the pool of Bethesda, where lay "a great
multitude" of impotent folk, blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving
of the water. Among all those present there was a certain man which had been
afflicted for 38 years. Out of all those who needed to be healed, Jesus chose
this one man. There is no indication that the man asked Jesus for anything. Yet
he was singled out and healed. The Sacred Scriptures abound with illustrations
to demonstrate that the mercy of God is exercised in a way that is known to only
"A man can receive nothing except it be given him from Heaven"
(John 3:27). This of course includes love. The controversial passage of Romans
9:13 testifies to this fact with great impact, "Jacob have I loved, but
Esau have I hated". Many objectors declare that the original word for
"hated" is not literally "hate" as we know it. If this be
true, we can still be certain that it does not mean "love". It still
reveals a distinction between God's feeling for Jacob and Esau. We feel that
God's love encompasses the universe, but in order to execute his plan for the
universe it is essential that He use His sovereign will in the exercise of His
love, just as it was necessary that He choose Jacob over Esau.
Grace is the unmerited favor of God. Justice knows no pity and shows no
mercy. Grace is a favor of God that is undeserved and unearned. None are
entitled to it. It is a free gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). If none are entitled
to it then none can demand it. The fact that God displays it to some and
withholds it from others reveals His sovereign exercise of this virtue.
Sovereign grace is illustrated throughout the Scriptures. The Gentiles are
left to walk in their own ways while the Jews are given the Scriptures
(Ephesians 2:11-12; Romans 3:1-2). The Jews are chosen to be above all people on
earth. (Exodus 19:5). Ishmael, the firstborn, is cast out while Isaac, the
younger, is made the child of promise. Esau, the generous hearted and the
forgiving spirited is denied the blessing while Jacob, the thief, is the
recipient of the inheritance and is fashioned into a vessel of honor. In the New
Testament, truth is hidden from the wise and prudent and revealed unto babes.
Pharisees and Sadducees are left to go their own way while harlots and publicans
are drawn to God by cords of love. The glorious Son of God was born in a lowly
manger, adored by shepherds, and exposed to poverty.
It is futile for man to attempt to comprehend the Sovereignty of God. Of all
the illustrations cited in this chapter, it is doubtful that man would have
responded as God did, even in a single case. This is not surprising, for Isaiah
55:8-9 indicates that man does not think as God does: "For my thoughts are
not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," saith the Lord. For as
the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and
my thoughts higher than your thoughts."
It is our prayer that the references to Scripture in the paragraphs of this
chapter have served to give you a fair definition of the Sovereignty of God. It
means simply that God is God and that He is "working all things after the
counsel of His own will" (Ephesians 1:11).
"For in Him is all created, that in the heavens and that on the earth,
the visible and the invisible, whether thrones, or lordships, or sovereignties,
or authorities, all is created through Him and for Him, and He is before all,
and all has its cohesion in Him" (Colossians 1:16-17).
This expansive description of the creative work of the Lord Jesus Christ is
breath taking. Ascribed to Him is the existence of all things, and furthermore
the endurance of all things is fully under His control. A close scrutiny of the
Scriptures reveals that the Bible offers no information about conditions prior
to creation. Divine revelation begins with "time" and ends with
"time". Eternity is not a bible theme. Realizing that "time"
did have a beginning, it is logical to assume that there was an existence of God
before time began. With our limited reasoning powers, we will now look into that
In the great expanse which stretches behind Genesis 1:1, the universe had not
yet been born. We can safely say that creation as we know it was yet in the mind
of God. There were no angelic creatures to sing anthems unto Him. There were no
literal creatures to occupy His "mind". There was nothing to occupy
His notice. Our limited mental powers refuse to let us visualize anything except
an inexplicable emptiness. Nothing had yet been created which could influence
He could create anything He desired. He might execute it this way or that
way, or He might choose not to create at all. He could create one world or one
billion worlds. He is omnipotent, and it has always been His nature to
"work all things after the counsel of His own will". In this
pre-creation state, He could choose to create one creature or one billion
creatures. He could choose to place them all on an equal basis or He could
design a different status for each, none of them having anything in common with
the other. No one could challenge His right to do just as He pleases... for
nothing yet existed.
If He chose to, God could have created a universe so infinitely large that
its dimensions could never be grasped by the human mind. Or, He could have
created an organism so small that the most powerful instrument of science could
not detect it. He could create certain creatures whose existence would endure
throughout the ages, or He could create insects that would die within the hour
they were born. He could create the lofty angels or He could create the lowest
reptiles. He could create the huge heavenly bodies revolving in space, or He
could create the minute atom.
Who was there to challenge His sovereignty? It is quite apparent that He
accomplished exactly what He desired to do, for He is omnipotent (all powerful),
omniscient (all knowing), and omnipresent (present everywhere), and nothing yet
existed that could offer interference or influence. The testimony of Scripture
and common sense indicate that He created everything just as He wanted it to be.
Observe some of the phenomena of His creative work. In the air we see birds
flying. In the water we observe the fish. What makes them to be different? It
was God who assigned them to their places. Turn your gaze toward the limitless
expanse of the heavens. "But a different glory, indeed, is that of the
celestial, yet a different that of the terrestrial, another glory of the sun,
and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars, for star is
excelling star in glory" (1 Corinthians 15:40-41).
Why should the sun hold a different glory than the other heavenly bodies? Why
are there such amazing inequalities? One answer adequately explains this,
". . . and because of thy will they were, and are created" (Revelation
4:11). The planet earth is a supreme example of this truth. It is said that
two-thirds of our planet is covered with water. The remaining one-third has huge
areas that are unfit for habitation. Why? Why should one country be more fit for
life than an other. Why is one barren and the other extremely fertile? Why is
one rich in minerals and the other void of them? Why does one have a healthy
climate and the other unsuitable? Why is one saturated with lakes and rivers and
the other a barren desert? Why is one plagued with earthquakes and volcanoes and
the other free from them? Why all the difference? Simply because God designed it
It is very interesting to observe the limitless contrasts of the animal
kingdom. Notice the difference between the lion and the sheep, the bear and the
cat, the elephant and the mouse. The horse, dog, and other animals possess great
intelligence while others are labeled dumb and stupid. Some animals are destined
to be beasts of burden while others are free. Some are fit for food and others
are unfit. Some are very beautiful, while others are ugly. Some have great
strength while others are helpless. Some are fast while others can scarcely
crawl. Some are valuable and others are worthless. Some are capable of living
for hundreds of years and others live only for hours. Some are wild and fierce
while others are tame. Why the difference? Because God willed it to be.
Why should roses have thorns and lilies be without them? Why should some
flowers have a fragrant aroma and others have none? Some bear wholesome fruit
and others poisonous fruit. One can endure frost and another cannot. Some bear
flowers several times annually while others bloom only once every 100 years.
"Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did He in heaven and in the earth, in
the seas, and all the deep places" (Psalm 135:6). It is interesting to note
that the Hebrew word for "deep" as written by David is "tehom".
This word is comparable to the word "abyss" which is the proper
rendering for the bottomless pit of Revelation 20:3. This certainly associates
it with Satan. It is comforting to know that God did as He pleased not only in
heaven and in earth, but in the realm of the evil one also. It is sad to see so
many thousands of churches and ministers teaching that Satan is operating
outside the will of God when the Bible teaches that God is doing His will in
every realm including Satan's.
God's sovereign pleasure is also displayed in the heavenly realm. Some of the
angelic creatures are of higher rank than others. Some are more powerful than
others. We have the arch angel, seraphim, cherubim, principalities and powers of
Ephesians 3:10; rulers of darkness of Ephesians 6:12; elect angels of 1 Timothy
5:21; and others. Why the difference? God has a use for each of course. Psalm
115:3 says, "Our God is in the heavens, He hath done whatsoever He hath
Humanly speaking, doesn't it seem strange that God should give one person
five talents and another only one? Many think it is unjust to see one born
healthy and another sickly. Some have pondered over the fact that Cain, who was
evil, was permitted to live a long life; while Abel, the righteous, was taken in
youth. In spite of the problems faced by society, it is nonetheless true that
some are born white and others of a different color. Why are some born idiots
and others with the mentality of a genius? Why are some robust and full of
energy while others are naturally lazy? Why are some naturally selfish while
others are submissive and weak? Why are some natural leaders and others
followers? The natural mind says all of this is due to heredity and environment.
Heredity and environment cannot account for all of these differences.
Regardless, let us not forget that it was God who designed the laws of heredity
Proverbs 16:4 says, "The Lord hath made all things for Himself, yea,
even THE WICKED for the day of evil". Those who oppose the absolute
sovereignty of God should meditate upon this verse for it declares that God even
made the wicked and designates His reason for doing so. He is God and He holds
the absolute right to do all these things. To murmur against Him is rebellion.
To question Him is to impugn His wisdom. To criticize Him is rank sin. Let us
not forget who He is. Isaiah declared in Isaiah 40:17-18, "ALL nations
before Him are as nothing: and they are counted to Him less than nothing, and
vanity. To whom then will ye liken God?"
In a very basic way we have shown that God exercised His own will in the
creation of the universe. We have presented several situations that can only be
explained by accepting His sovereignty. None of the events cited were intended
to accuse or criticize Him. The illustrations were given to reveal that God has
a reason for everything that He does, The vivid differences in His creatures
indicates the element of design. To illustrate this, we will examine a familiar
aspect of his work, namely the bodies of land and water on earth.
The earth has an area of approximately 197,000,000 square miles. Of this,
water composes about 145,000,000 square miles leaving 52,000,000 square miles of
land. Science has now determined the necessity for this balance. We know that
the amount of rainfall is determined by the ratio of ocean to land, and this on
the square of the factor of increase or decrease. This means that if the ocean
had only half its area, rainfall would be decreased by one-fourth. If this were
true, most of the land area of the earth would be similar to the Sahara desert.
Vegetation would be all but impossible. But on the other hand, if the ocean area
were increased by one-half, the land area of the earth would be nothing but a
swamp. These extreme conditions are observed in a very crude way, by an
occasional drought or hurricane. These events happen for only a short time
however, and things soon return to normal. The fact that they do occur
occasionally does reveal how God has designed the earth to the best advantage of
Another amazing feature of the ocean is the saline content. Life would not be
possible without salt and the ocean fills this need. And yet, the salt content
of the ocean supplies still another need. In the tropics, where ocean water
evaporates so rapidly, the salt content of the water is higher than at the poles
where evaporation is less. The salt content being higher makes the water heavier
and it sinks to the bottom, thereby inviting the water from the poles to rush in
to replace the evaporated water. This partially contributes to the ocean
The ocean currents are vitally important to our existence. One current,
originating at the Gulf of Mexico, and called the "gulf stream" is
seventy miles wide and three thousand feet deep. It rushes like a mighty river
along the coast of Florida and northward parallel to the coast of North America.
This stream originating in the tropics is warm, and carries the warm winds with
it to the north parts of our continent. Without this warm stream the New England
states would be a frozen mass uninhabitable by people. But the design does not
stop there. Up near Nova Scotia this mighty gulf stream meets the mighty
"polar stream" head-on. This polar stream is on its southward journey
to replace the water which evaporated in the tropics. These two mighty forces
meeting head-on cannot cancel one another, so the gulf stream is diverted toward
Europe still maintaining its warmth. It divides at Nova Scotia one branch
directed past the Azores to make these Atlantic Islands habitable, and the other
toward the British Isles, permitting them to be habitable. Without this stream
these areas would be abandoned.
The polar stream on the other hand is not defeated. When it meets the gulf
stream head-on, it dives deep into the ocean and continues its southward
journey. The picture is fascinating. Two mighty rivers headed in opposite
directions, one north and the other south, one riding directly above the other.
One is very warm and the other is bitter cold. The polar stream continues this
southward journey until it reaches the vicinity of the West Indies and there it
comes to the surface again. This cold stream is the only thing that makes the
tropics bearable, due to the intense heat that is there.
The ocean currents are mysterious We can only recognize a few of the many
benefits to mankind, but we can readily see the design of God in them. Most of
the earth's population is unaware of their existence, but God in His creative
act designed them for our well-being. The man who pioneered the study of ocean
currents (oceanography), was led to this study by a Bible verse found in Psalm
8:8, ". . . and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the sea".
Other helpful features of the ocean are recognizable. The healing substance
known as iodine comes from it's great store of wealth. It provides food in great
quantities, and many things of value such as pearls, radium, gold, oil, and
Can anyone deny the sovereignty of God in creation? Not if he is a rational,
unbiased man. Not if he is open to this basic truth, "The Lord hath
prepared His throne in the heavens; and His kingdom ruleth over ALL" (Psalm
"The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens and His kingdom
ruleth over ALL." Psalm l03:19.
Before we approach the subject of the sovereignty of God in action, let us
first suppose that He is not completely sovereign. Let us imagine that He is not
in full control of every move made within the universe. We agree that He is
responsible for the creation of everything. Let us now suppose that after the
initial act of creation, He established laws whereby the universe would be
governed, and then withdrew from His creation, leaving it to be ruled by these
established laws. This is a common theory of some who believe that God does not
rule everything as such.
In such a case, we would be living in a world over which there was no
presiding governor. We would be subject to impersonal laws created and designed
by God. Scripturally speaking, this is not true. This view is completely
materialistic, and hints of being atheistic.
A casual glance at the universe will reveal that if there were such laws,
they are not laws at all . . . for they are very inconsistent and unpredictable.
No two seasons are exactly alike. Suppose God were not controlling the seasons.
The wind might sweep us away. We read in John 3:8, "The wind (blast) is
blowing where it wills, and you are hearing the sound of it". This tells us
that man cannot control the wind. And what about earthquakes? Man is literally
helpless before them. If we deny that God is completely sovereign then we erase
all sense of security. We should rather praise Him for the statement of Hebrews
1:3 (C.V.), "carrying on the universe by his powerful declaration".
This verse declares that it is God who is carrying on the universe. Colossians
1:17 confirms this by stating that "all has its cohesion (held together) in
Suppose God is not in full control over the actions of all people. Many
believe that the "free will" of man prevails over the activities of
man They teach that God cannot or will not intervene in their affairs. They even
teach that the "eternal" destiny of man is in his own finite hands. If
the free will of man were sovereign, he would rapidly return to a state of
barbarism. When you remove divine restraint you commit moral suicide. When you
have a vivid picture of the helplessness of man, you realize that the removal of
divine restraint is not only impractical but impossible. After thousands of
years, man still is only on the verge of discovering himself and the wonders of
The divine sovereignty of God reaches into every area of our lives. Suppose
every farmer suddenly became obsessed to plant the same crop. We might have an
overabundance of corn and no potatoes. Suppose everyone mailed letters only on
Tuesday. This would create chaos for the Post Office Department. Suppose
everyone went grocery shopping only on Friday. I realize that these arguments
are weak and to some even futile, but I wish to illustrate that the sovereignty
of God is so real and personal that it reaches into even the so called
insignificant areas of our lives. I believe the true conception of the rule of
God is to acknowledge that He is concerned with every area of our lives. Some
feel that God is only slightly sovereign. They feel that He intervenes in only
the more important things. I think we will all readily agree that for our
existence here on earth, nothing is more important than the food grown by the
farmer and the merchandising of it to the consumers.
Laying aside the use of logic for the moment, let us now examine the
revelation of Scripture on this subject.
That God rules over inanimate matter is clearly shown in Genesis 1 where God
says, "Let there be light, and there was light". Day after day, in the
Genesis account, we see matter conforming to the wishes of God. We read in the
Psalms, "He spake and it was done, He commanded and it stood fast".
To continue through the Bible we see further proof that God controls all
matter. It seems likely that there was no rain for the first sixteen centuries
after the account In Genesis 1. We read in Genesis 2:6, "there went up a
mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground". This was
likely the means of moisture for the earth. It was probably a form of dew.
Centuries later in the days of Noah, God warned of an impending flood. No one
believed this. Their unbelief was no doubt stimulated by the fact that rain had
not yet appeared to them. However, at the command of God, the rains came.
Genesis 6:17 to Genesis 7:12 gives this dramatic account.
God's power is again demonstrated in the execution of the plagues in Egypt.
Light was turned to darkness. Water was turned to blood. Hail fell at His
bidding. Death came to the land of the Nile at His command. Exodus 9:23-26 says
that God sent all these things. These are not isolated examples. They are from
the abundance of such occurrences found in Scripture. A beautiful verse is found
in Genesis 17:14 where God declares, "Is anything too hard for
At His word, fire and brimstone fell on Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19). The
waters of the Red Sea opened at his bidding. (Exodus 14). At the word of the
Lord the earth opened and swallowed Korah and his company. The furnace of
Nebuchadnezzar, even though it was heated seven times hotter than before, failed
to singe it's victims. The wind and waves obeyed Jesus. The fig tree withered at
the command of the Lord. Diseases were healed instantly. The sun went back ten
degrees on the dial of Ahaz to help the weak faith of Hezekiah. A star heralded
the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. All of this seems to amplify the words of
David in Psalm 147:15-18, "He sendeth forth His commandment upon the earth:
His word runneth very swiftly. He giveth snow like wool: He scattereth the hoar
frost like ashes, He casteth forth His ice like morsels: who can stand before
His cold? He sendeth out His word, and melteth them: He causeth His wind to
blow, and the waters to flow".
Observe Amos 4:7-10, "And also I have witholden the rain from you, when
there were yet three months to the harvest; and I caused it to rain upon one
city, and caused it not to rain upon another city: one piece was rained upon and
the piece whereon it rained not withered. So two or three cities wandered into
one city, to drink water; but they were not satisfied: yet have ye not returned
to Me, saith the Lord. I have smitten you with blasting and mildew: when your
gardens and your vineyards and your fig trees and your olive trees increased,
the palmer-worm devoured them: yet have ye not returned to me saith the Lord. I
have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt: your young men
have I slain with the sword and have taken away your horses; and I have made the
stink of your camps to come up into your nostrils: yet have ye not returned unto
me saith the Lord".
Certainly no one could read these passages and deny the power of God over
A vivid example of God's sovereignty in this realm is found in Genesis 2:19,
"And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and
every fowl of the air: and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call
them". Notice that this was before the traditional "fall of man".
Later, when Noah was leading the animals into the ark God said, "two of
every creature shall come unto thee" (Genesis 6:19-20).
When the plagues came upon Egypt, God exercised full control over the frogs,
insects, cattle, etc. The brute beast of the field as well as the angels of
heaven perform the bidding of God. A cow returned the ark of the covenant to the
Israelites (1 Samuel 6). A raven fed Elijah at the brook Cherith (1 Kings
17:2-4). Forty-two she bears devoured Elijah's tormentors. Dogs licked the blood
of Jezebel in fulfillment of prophecy. The lions mouth was closed fast when
Daniel was cast into the den, but later they devoured his accusers. A fish was
prepared to swallow Jonah. A fish brought tribute money to Peter. A cock crowed
twice after Peter denied the Lord. It is very obvious that God controls
Experience has shown us that very few people will deny the statements of this
chapter thus far. But, when we begin to teach that God is responsible for the
actions of man, we immediately begin to hear cries of blasphemy.
To introduce this section I ask you to consider two alternatives. I realize
that this is human reasoning but we will not attempt to discuss that for which
we have no Scripture to enforce.
GOD GOVERNS, OR HE IS GOVERNED
GOD RULES, OR HE IS RULED
GOD HAS HIS WAY, OR HE DOES NOT HAVE HIS WAY
Our opponents, when they read such statements cry, "this is nothing more
than human reasoning". To a point this is true, but as stated earlier, it
is better to believe in something that is reasonable than something that is
unreasonable. I cannot believe that man is so unruly that the God, who loves
him, cannot save him. I cannot believe that sin is so bad that God cannot do
anything about it, even though He tried. The Scriptures are very emphatic about
the fact that "Christ died for the sins of the world", that "all
will receive justification of life", and that "Christ is the Saviour
of all men, especially of those who believe". When the Scriptures declare
such universal statements as this, I do not feel badly about using human reason
to confirm what God has already said.
The Scriptures declare that Pharaoh was raised up for the purpose that he was
used, namely that he might be an instrument through which God could show His
power (Romans 9:17). John 17 proclaims that Judas was lost in order that the
Scriptures could be fulfilled. Now think of this! If God used these two
"rebels" in order to work out His purpose, is it too much to believe
that He is using all "rebels" for the same purpose? I feel that this
logic is sound.
However, let us forget the human logic and resort to Scripture: "for in
Him we are LIVING and MOVING and ARE" (Acts 17:28). This was not spoken to
Christians but to the Athenian philosophers, Epicureans, and Stoics at Athens. I
believe that in this group of "unbelievers", Paul did not hesitate to
declare that God was responsible for their every move. We confirmed the fact
that Judas and Pharaoh did things which were contrary to God's revealed will to
mankind, but nonetheless Scripture confirms the fact that they executed God's
hidden will. "The disposings of the heart and the answer of the tongue is
FROM THE LORD" (Proverb 16:1). "There are many devices in a man's
heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord that shall stand." (Proverb
19:21). "A man's heart deviseth his way, But the Lord directeth his
steps" (Proverb 16:9).
Many attest to these things by experience. It is also vividly confirmed by
the Bible. In Luke 12 we read of the rich fool. He planned all the things he
intended to do. The most obvious characteristic of his conversation were the
words, "I WILL". After his plans had been made, God said, "Thou
fool, this night thy soul will be required of thee".
"The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of
water: He turneth it whithersoever He will" (Proverb 21:1).
"But He is in one mind, and who can turn Him? and what His soul
desireth, even that He doeth" (Job 23:13).
"The counsel of the Lord standeth forever, the thoughts of His heart
to all generations" (Psalm 33:11).
"There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the
Lord" (Proverb 21:30).
"For the Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? And
His hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back? (Isaiah 14:27).
"Remember the former things of old: For I am God, and there is none
else! I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the
beginning, and from ancient times shall the things that are not yet done,
saying, My Counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure" (Isaiah
These are only a few of the passages proving that God is doing His will. If
He delegates some of His authority, it is not in a haphazard manner, for it is
God's counsel that stands and not that of the men He might have chosen to
delegate any authority to.
I have looked in vain to find one passage that declares that man defeated the
purpose of God. Nimrod desired to build the tower of Babel contrary to God's
wishes but God stopped this. Esau swore vengeance upon Jacob but embraced him
when they met. Abraham desired to take his father Terah to the promised land
against God's wishes but Terah died before he reached Canaan. Joseph's brethren
planned to kill him but God overruled and spared him. Pharaoh refused to release
Israel and he later died in the Red Sea. Haman erected a gallows for Mordecai
but was hanged on it himself. "He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh:
the Lord shall have them in derision" (Psalm 2:4).
Moses utters one hasty word and was excluded from entering the land of Canaan
yet Elijah passionately murmured against God and suffered only a mild rebuke.
Uzzah merely touched the ark and was instantly slain. Yet the Philistines
carried it off in insulting triumph and suffered no immediate harm.
When Jesus was ministering to the people of Capernaum, a profound truth was
revealed. The people of Capernaum did not respond to His teachings. Jesus said
that if the works performed there had been done in Sodom, that Sodom would have
repented. If such a display would have caused Sodom to repent, why did not God
give Sodom such a witness? Jesus chose not to give them the "same"
opportunity that He gave to Capernaum. Why did God choose to favor one city
above another? We can only conclude that God did not want Sodom to repent at
that time. Ezekiel 16:53-55 tells us that Sodom will yet have her opportunity.
Another interesting thought is this. If God knew before hand that Capernaum was
not going to repent, why did He witness to them in the first place? Does God do
things uselessly or foolishly? Certainly not. It was simply His plan to do them
in that manner.
These are only a few of the many references in the Bible to prove that God is
working His plan and nothing in the universe can alter His purpose. Let us learn
to praise Him and fully recognize that He holds everything in His hand. Only by
understanding this can you fully have peace in your heart. It enables us to know
that the efforts of man contribute nothing toward God's plan and that Satan is
not a force that can change anything that God has decreed. This is the greatest
source of comfort and security available to man today.
Suppose for a moment that Satan literally rebelled and left heaven of his own
volition, as tradition teaches. He became one of the most influential creatures
in that he has misled literally millions of people away from God. As a result,
according to the teachings of tradition, most of mankind is unable to avoid the
eternal torment which awaits billions of people. If this is really what
happened, what assurance do we have that another heavenly creature will not
rebel at some future time and lead the universe astray again? If I did not
believe that "all things were being worked after the counsel of His
will" (God's will, not Satan's), then I would have no security at all,
not for the present nor for the ages to come. Let us praise God for all that He
has done, for He said in Isaiah 45:7, "I form the light, and create
darkness: I make peace and create evil. I the Lord do all these things."
Now we will observe the practical application of this great doctrine to
ourselves. To many, the doctrine of the absolute Sovereignty of God is
repulsive. They find themselves unable to comprehend or accept any teaching that
excludes the will of man from being dominant. They feel that to accept the truth
of the Sovereignty of God would take away the responsibility of man and
consequently make God responsible for everything in the universe. Most of these
people have a distorted view of sin. They are prone to live under the weight of
tradition and the misconceptions of society. However, a true view of the
Sovereignty of God will do more to edify a person than any other teaching in
existence. This doctrine alone gives God His true place in the minds and hearts
of believers, and is the only doctrine that exalts Him as the Scriptures do. It
takes away the sorrow and remorse of the human heart and makes the heart delight
in knowing that His will is being done in all things.
Only when we see the truth of God can we see the truth of ourselves. The
Bible gives us several dramatic illustrations of this. In Job 1:8 we read that
Job was an upright man, one that feared God and hated evil. Yet, when Job caught
a glimpse of God he said, "I abhor myself, and repent in dust and
ashes" (Job 42:5-6). When Isaiah saw the Lord he said, "Woe is me! for
I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a
people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of
hosts" (Isaiah 6:5). Daniel 10:6-9 gives a similar example. These
illustrations give us some insight regarding the attitude we should have toward
God when we recognize His Sovereignty.
Generally speaking, the masses of people are unconcerned about spiritual
matters. Above all, it seems that very few people have a reasonable conception
of God. The absurd defiance of God is present on every hand. Romans 3:18 gives a
timely explanation of this, "There is no fear of God before their
eyes". The authority of Scripture is almost completely ignored, even among
those who profess to be the Lord's people. It appears that people have forgotten
that God is to be feared. Proverb 1:7 says, "The fear of the Lord is the
beginning of wisdom". Psalm 103:13 says, "Like as a father pitieth his
children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him".
It would be well for us to distinguish the type of fear to which we are
referring. Godly fear is not a cowardly fear or a fear that creates bondage. It
is rather a fear of reverence. God demands reverence, and logically we should
show reverence to our Lord and Creator. It is a recognition of the Sovereignty
and Majesty of God. Peter said, "Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear
God. Honor the king" (1 Peter 2:17).
This brief treatment of the subject is adequate to reveal that a full
recognition of the Sovereignty of God will take the spotlight off man and place
it upon God. The Bible declares that we are not to fear that which man can do to
us, and yet most people find themselves afraid of their fellow man. The opposite
should be true. When we catch a glimpse of the holiness and righteousness of
God, an attitude of holy fear, or reverence should be created in our hearts and
minds toward Him.
A true recognition of the Sovereignty of God will result in a complete
submission to Him. It is natural for a person to object to difficulties, and for
him to rebel at opposition to his daily course of life. We find that it is
natural to suppose that the things which we have are unconditionally ours. We
feel that our own planning and our own efforts are the reasons why we enjoy
"success". Or, when we experience failure, it is frequently blamed
upon circumstances or upon some other person. When God's Sovereignty is
recognized fully, it then prompts us to completely submit to Him and to accept
the fact that without Him we are nothing. Even the ability a man has to
accomplish anything, even to think, is because of the favor God has shown to
him. The Scriptures declare that God has the right to take the same lump of clay
and make one vessel of honor and another vessel of dishonor (Romans 9:21). In
Genesis 18:21, Abraham said, "Shall not the judge of all the earth do
When Eli was informed by Samuel that his two sons were to be taken in death,
he replied, "And he said, It is the Lord; let Him do what seemeth Him
good" (1 Samuel 3:18). In the period of one day, Job lost his flocks and
herds, and also his sons and daughters, in a cyclone. He said, "The Lord
giveth and the Lord taketh away". And then he said, "Blessed be the
name of the Lord" (Job 1:21).
The supreme example of complete submission to God is seen in the experience
of Jesus prior to His death. He did not look with joy to the cross but yet He
was willing to submit himself to this event. He recognized the merit of
submitting His will to the will of the Father when He said, "Father, if
thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless, not my will, but thine
be done" (Luke 22:42).
The practical outworking of this truth is revealed for us in the writings of
James, "Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a
city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know
not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that
appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say,
IF THE LORD WILL we shall live, and do this or that" (James 4:13-15).
It has been said that man does not find happiness when he is in constant
pursuit of it. Rather, the happy man is the one willing to be unhappy. While
this proverb does not exactly illustrate the principle that we are discussing,
it does help us to know that the happy man is not the one who is doing his own
will but the happy man is the one who is willing to submit his will to God. This
is a full recognition of the sovereign will of God.
Unless a person acknowledges the Sovereignty of God, he will be unable to
understand the depth of Romans 8:28 which says, "And we know that all
things work for good to them who love God". How could we possibly say that
tragedy is good when it creates such sorrow? Only if we believe that God is in
full control of every situation can we believe that all things work for good.
Ephesians 5:20 says we are to give thanks to God always. If we believe that He
controls all things, then it is possible to give thanks for all things.
Philippians 4:4 says we are to always rejoice in the Lord. This is possible if
we trust in His full Sovereignty. But, if we do not completely resign our wills
to His will, and fully trust Him to be in full control of every situation, it is
not possible to believe that all things work together for good; and our
thanksgiving and praise of Him are absent. Strength and security are natural
results of a full belief in his Lordship.
We will close this series of paragraphs, for the present, with a brief look
at the "foreknowledge" of God. Almost every person who is familiar
with the Bible readily agrees that God possesses a foreknowledge of everything
that has been, is now, or will ever be. This is confirmed by many passages of
the Bible among which are "known unto God are all His works from the
beginning" (Acts 15:18); "but all things are open and naked unto the
eyes of Him" (Hebrews 4:13).
If we conclude that God is in full possession of all knowledge then we must
say that He has a full knowledge of the things which are yet future. If He knows
that something is going to happen, then it will happen. Nothing can change it.
His foreknowledge is not conjectural nor is it uncertain, for then it would not
be foreknowledge. It is sure and infallible. Therefore, it is certain that all
things which God foreknows will come to pass. If God foreknew 10, 000 years ago
that you would read this booklet, then your reading it had to happen. Otherwise,
His foreknowledge would have been wrong.
To understand this truth is to realize that nothing happens by mere chance
and the course of your life as well as the course of the world is certain
because foreknowledge indicates that the course is fixed. If it were not fixed
it could not be foreknown. And the fact that it is fixed is so vividly revealed
in Ephesians 1:11, "Being predestined according to the purpose of Him who
worketh all things after the counsel of His own will."