God’s sovereignty, how far does He take it?

Ever read Romans chapter 9? Chris covered it in church yesterday morning. Verse 14 – 18 boiled down to this: God’s sovereign mercying (the comfortable stuff, and yes, mercying is not a word but it fits!), God’s sovereign hardening (the uncomfortable stuff) and God’s sovereign authority (the unfathomable stuff). Be informed by the text,

14 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! 15 For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” 16 So then it {does} not {depend} on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.
18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.

Want to hear the verse in context? Romans 9
What is this about?

The doctrines of Election and Sovereignty can be made out to be very ethereal matters having little relevance to the here and now. The rubber only hits the tar when you apply it to life. So here’s a life example:

A man sitting in a car, a hijacker holding a gun to his temple. There are two things you can know from Scripture regarding this situation:

First, the hijacker will be judged by God and be held personally responsible for his sin. God will never let the unrighteousness of man go unpunished. “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”

Secondly, the hijacker might fire the gun, he might not, either way the outcome exists within the perfect plan of God. There is nothing the hijacker could do to thwart that plan. Nothing at all. His ability to choose doesn’t extend to that. God’s plan always works itself out to the good unhindered. “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good”

Bitter pill? Maybe you’ve come across Open Theism? I’ve been told that guy’s like John Eldredge buy into it. (I read today that he denies Open Theism and I’m probably not going to get around to reading his book so I have no way of checking). Yes, this is a can of worms but consider the alternative. What fits the Biblical model?


7 thoughts on “God’s sovereignty, how far does He take it?

  1. Hi Mark,

    Please give me another “real life” example… Let’s try this!

    What “good” will come out of child molestation? Who is your god trying to “teach something”? The child? Their parents? The perp?

    As a TULIP Calvinist (you sound like one and if I am wrong please correct me) you think that everything that happens will ultimately bring glory to God, right?

    So, can you show me any instance in the Bible where this “higher principle” of Gods love and glory is illustrated? It seems to me your [perverse, IMHO] caricature of God’s love can’t be recognized as such by on any human level whatsoever. Meaning, there’s a complete and utter disconnect between God’s “love” as explained by Calvinism and love as understood and defined by the words of Jesus and scripture as expressed in 1 Cor. 13.

    Jesus came so that we would know God, the Father, right? Does the life of Jesus and anything he said or did “fit the mold” of Calvinism?

    You ask what “fits the Biblical model?”. Well, for a partial answer be assured it’s not Calvinism! :)

    Your friend,

    – Leo

  2. Hi Leo,

    Thanks for the input. mmm, tough example (the child molestation angle). Honesty, I can’t answer it directly.

    I can answer your second point though: Biblical examples abound. The most definitive would have to be that of Jesus Christ dying on a cross as a substitute for the sin of another. It was a wicked act undeniably and intentionally used for the glory of God (I’m guessing you’d agree).

    Thing is God chose to represent Himself through Scripture in this way. As we gauge Scripture we find a God who certainly doesn’t fit the mold of an airy, fairy, benevolent, happy, clappy, spirit in the sky, Santa, with a long beard that seeks peace and universal unity of sugar coated mumbo jumbo. Rather we find a God that loathes sin. A God that is just and condemns men (not their sin) to eternal hell. A God who’s wrath abides on sinners still. And that’s what makes His love and grace so much more amazing, that “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

    This post was angled at sovereignty rather than Calvinism, however you’re close enough in your assessment of me. I think technically I might be called a Amyraldist although I never quiet got the “point” of the distinction and I flip flop between the two.

    Um, I don’t normally answer comments back this long preferring the generic, “Thanks for stopping by” or “That’s nice” responses.

  3. Couldn’t quite help myself but respond to Leo’s comments – Mark, why did you get me into this!

    What good could come out of brutally torturing and mocking a man and then leaving him to die a slow, painful death?

    What love is demonstrated in a father planning the torture and murder of his own son?

    What biblical example is there of this higher principle? Try the cross! This is the place where the justice and the mercy of God meet and His blessed sovereignty triumphs over the wicked intentions of man – I don’t need any more example than this.


  4. Alo Alo

    Goodfellas, Wow what insightful scripts by all 3 of ya!!!

    Leo you have raised a very salient point, one that Calvinism and that style on interpretation I feel falls short on. Hooray for Calvin, his theology has encouraged my study many nights. Fortunately he was a man and so we can know he got stuff wrong!

    Mark and Chris: Does Yahweh desire for man to sin, does he plan it into his life?

    I’ll play my cards here, I think man chooses sin and Yahweh knew what his Free Choice would be.

    Mark please don’t beat me up with that strong delusion script again, haha!

    Love and Gratitude

  5. LEO, it amazes me that you beleive the bible but yet you totaly deny the scriptures to be true
    pslam 19
    The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul;
    The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
    8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
    The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;
    9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;
    The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
    10 More to be desired are they than gold,
    Yea, than much fine gold;
    Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
    11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
    And in keeping them there is great reward

    God owes nothing to the creater,
    and he certianly don’t need are permission from man to guide him.
    God operates on his own free will and nothing else.
    I suggest you go back and read the old testemant,
    you will see the total absolute sovereignty of God in everthing.
    The bible has nothing to do with are will but all about Gods will.


    please show me in scripture where you read.
    I think man chooses sin and Yahweh knew what his Free Choice would be.


  6. Alo Alo

    Dear Randy, draw the concept of man having freedom to choose from the garden song to eat or not to eat was the question and the expression was done in freedom!

    It is not God’s will for man to sin:

    John 3:(King James Version)

    16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
    17For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

    I think the above vs shows continued choice for man.
    I know God is Sovreign and preknows all our free choices!

    Hope that helps


    • Hi MH,

      Thing is that although Adam was created in untested perfection and chose willfully to sin, God’s intended means of salvation had already been decided upon, even before the very creation of the world. Man’s “free choice” works itself out within God’s sovereign plan.

      Need a script? Revelation 17:8 might do it? “The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will wonder when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come.”

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