The Sovereignty of God – Practically
Unfortunately the first few paragraphs of this post are spent discussing something fairly divisive and I know a number here may disagree entirely, and I am open to comments and correction. Please know that I do not view myself as above correction, and I welcome any iron sharpening iron. However the last few paragraphs should be read, even if you disagree with the first few.
Does anyone look at the sovereignty of God practically anymore? It really is disturbing how polarizing this issue is. It seems as though many would view the sovereignty of God as meaning virtually nothing, except that God has allowed things to happen therefore He is passively sovereign. Others seem to view God as sovereign over every decision choosing more than just the outcome from each decision or action, but actually choosing the action taken as well. This view the supposed ‘high view of God’ is often espoused around here (that is SA). Unfortunately the first view might as well be deism, because it is not Christianity, and the second view is fatalism, or as some call it hyper-Calvinism and entirely removes the responsibility of man. I understand the hyper-Calvinist can usually find some way to explain that man is still responsible within their theological construct, but it requires some serious explaining.
What is true concerning sovereignty?
First with regard to salvation, it requires the action of God to make a totally depraved heart seek or open itself to Him. (It would surprise many to know this is the Wesleyan position as well as the Calvinist position). This is a sovereign action, and if God does not act, there is no chance for salvation. God is sovereign over salvation… period. However because He is sovereign does not mean He is irresistible. If I am feeding my son and he appears that he is going to throw his food on the floor, I am sovereign over him and can stay his hand, or I can let him let it fly. It is not my will that he fling oatmeal across the dining room, but if I let him throw it so that I may discipline him so he will not do it again, does that make me any less sovereign? Of course not, I chose to allow it, in order that I may discipline him so he would not do it again. Again my will is that he not throw oatmeal, but I will exercise sovereignty by using his disobedience to bring him under proper submission to my will. Nonetheless, his throw was his choice, an act of his free will. At the same time I was entirely sovereign over that action. In fact it could be said that being sovereign over his free will was a greater exertion of power than had I denied him free will and simply stayed his hand. Did I choose what he would do? No he chose, however knowing my son I had foreknowledge that the oatmeal was going to fly, and in my sovereignty I allowed it, for my own purpose in order that I would be able to discipline him and actively change his intentions for the next time he had oatmeal.
I hope that made sense. A high view of God is view that shows His sovereignty over the free will of man. Not that he continually controls the actions of all men, but that He works all things for the good of those who love Him. God is active in creation, sometimes He intervenes and actively controls a situation, and at other times He removes His hand from a situation in order to serve His purposes.
If we, whether we lean toward an Arminian or Calvinistic understanding of sovereignty, believe that God is sovereign over the affairs of man, and that He is active in the causes and effects that make up life then we should look very carefully at some cause and effect scriptures.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
Looking at 1 John 1:9 and believing that God is sovereign and His word is true, then clearly if sin is confessed, we will be cleansed from unrighteousness. Cleansing meaning, purged, removal of impurity, etc… If God indeed is sovereign the reality of your confession can be determined by the reality of your cleansing. Have you been cleansed? If you believe God’s word to be true, and God to be sovereign then you must look at every cause and effect relationship in the bible in that light. If any man be in Christ he is a new creature… Logically if any many is not a new creature he is not in Christ. This sounds very simple, but begin applying it to all passages and you will find that many of the promised results of obedience are not evident in your life. If God is sovereign, and He is, and the promised results of obedience are not evident, then the only conclusion can be that the cause, or obedience, is not manifest in your life.
This all seems like a big ‘no duh’, and it should. But do not ever dare read the scriptures without examining yourself. Do you have rivers of living water flowing out of you? Are you a new creation? Are you actually cleansed from sin? Is the old man dead? You must answer these questions and see if you are in the faith.
Then again, if God is not sovereign, then you can disregard the cause and effect altogether, but if God is not sovereign then He is no God.
I apologize this may be one of my lamer posts, but I published it anyway.