Philippians 1:6 "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you WILL perform it until the day of Jesus Christ"



Monday, February 19, 2007

God's sovereignty

Sunday School yesterday began a discussion about the sovereignty of God. We are studying Ecclesiates, and this is the theme of chapter 6. This is also a subject I have been heavily seeking God about understanding. I am currently reading "When God Weeps" by Joni Erickson Tada and Steven Estes. The most recent chapters that I am reading have really helped me in beginning to understand God and His sovereignty. God's sovereignty, as defined in our SS class, is God being all _________ (fill in the blank knowing, powerful, etc) and God being in "absolute control of the universe at all times." This started the beginning of a discussion on what this means for us. How does this change how we see God and how we respond to Him. Ultimately, does this mean that we can sin, be out of His will, yet still be part of His plan, all the while retaining our our free will to choose right from wrong? While this is one of God's great mysteries, I believe the answer is yes. Tada and Estes clearly agree. They cite various places in scripture where God was clearly in charge. In the book of Job we see that Satan had to have God's permission in order to attack Job. God didn't do it, but He did allow it. And furthur, God is grieved over our sin. He is saddened by how we hurt each other. People that sin do not escape responsibility and discipline even though God allowed it in the first place. Psalm 33:10 tells us that "the Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever. " This comforts me. I can claim this verse and be sure that there is absolulety nothing that can happen to me, or my children, that God isn't allowing, and for our greater good. God knew what would happen in each of our lives before the foundation of the world. Ezekial 20 tells us in verse 26 that God allowed the sin of the Jewish people so that they would be "filled with horror so they would know that I am God." I can only pray that my sin will be used by God to help me hate sin and love God more. Even though we all make our own choices to do right and wrong, those choices are ordained by God. This is a tough concept, but if we allow it to be, it can be a comforting one. "every sorrow we taste will one day prove to be the best possible thing that could have happened. We will thank God endlessly in heaven for the trials he sent us here. This is not DisneyLand-it is truth." This truth about God not only takes the need for worry away, but it frees us up to be forgiving and not forsake bitterness to those who cause us pain. Just as Joseph forgave his brothers for selling him into slavery. Despite to difficult path and the pain he endured, what his brothers meant for evil, God meant for good. (Gen 50:20).

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nice post.

Amy M.

Josh said...

Sandy,

You said:
"Even though we all make our own choices to do right and wrong, those choices are ordained by God."

Yes! God is ABSOLUTELY sovereign, and yet we are TOTALLY responsible for our choices. (How do we know? Because everyone will stand before God to be judged.)

In the case of Job, the text seems to indicate that God did more than just allow Job's suffering. After Satan killed all of Job's livestock and children (ch. 1), Job said:

"The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD." (1:21b)

and then the text says:

"In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong." (1:22)

This is the tension: God ordained the calamity in such a way that he is the ultimate reason for its coming to pass, yet God was not the author of the evil.

I would also contend that the definition of sovereignty you guys used in SS is deficient in one way: Sovereignty includes design as well as control, both of these being grounded in his omniscience and omnipotence.

Joni Erickson Tada is amazing!

brittany said...

I told Larry that I felt like SS yesterday was a "meat and potatoes" kind of lesson. It was AWESOME! I can hardly wait until next week and where it goes. I'm so thankful for our SS teachers and their willingness to dig through this stuff with/for us. I feel/felt blessed.

Gretchen said...

Hey, how about you write on the heaviest possible topic? Hee hee! Just kidding. That was a very good post. I have been pretty much thinking about just this every day for the past 3 years or so.

Did you read Josh's recent post on the topic?

Sandy said...

Gret-yes, I read Josh's post after posting mine! I may have to print off his post and take it to SS class with me.

Jaime Westcomb said...

Sandy,
Don't know if you remember me or not, but I just wanted to say how much I enjoy reading your posts. It's great reading for me, and very insightful.
I love hearing the stories of how your girls have learned spiritual lessons, and how those lessons are seen in their words and prayer. They obviously have a very good teacher!!
On your post about God's sovereignty-I appreciate how you acknowledge that God does not orchestrate evil or sin, but rather allows it. Our God is NOT the author of sin-and I am SO thankful for that!!

Sandy said...

Jaime-I absolulely remember you and your sister being active with our singles group. It seems like that was back when we were going bowling alot??? Thanks for your post.

Josh said...

Sandy,
A professor here happened to give a really practical sermon on the sovereignty of God today in chapel, from Daniel 4. If you go to SBTS.edu and click resources you'll see a link for "Recent Chapel Messages". Click it and look for the February 20 chapel message. The sermon isn't up yet (it was only preached an hour ago), but it should be posted in the next day or so. It's free for download.