God’s Sovereignty Through the Ages, Part 1
I would hope that all Christians would agree that God is sovereign and that His sovereignty is not somehow connected to humanity’s “free will.” In that case, we must stop to ask whether or not God would actually be fully sovereign? Unfortunately, the way too many Christians are running around today wringing their hands regarding the upcoming presidential election, it makes me think they don’t really have a grasp of God’s sovereignty at all.
The problem comes to the fore when considering man’s alleged “free will” versus God’s sovereignty. I think it fair to say that too many Christians tend to dial God’s sovereignty back to make room for the free will that each person allegedly has within them. I say allegedly because our so-called free will is nothing like the free will of Satan, Adam or Eve before they individually fell from grace. Prior to that, sin was not in them and their free will had not been tainted by the sin that controlled them after they fell and controls us now. Our free will is not the same as the free will exercised by Satan, Adam, or Eve prior to their fall.
Following those three individuals, the only Person who exhibited complete and unadulterated free will was/is Jesus, who was not affected by sin, did not have a sin nature, and therefore remained free of the effects of sin. However, let’s be clear that He was tempted as we are tempted and remained completely free of sin (Hebrews 4:15).
I cannot imagine what it must have been like for our first parents, Adam and Eve. Here they were, enjoying life essentially without constraints, sin, or death. There was no sin nature within them because it had not been created because they had not yet rebelled. Try to imagine if you can what life was like for them then, before they fell. Now consider what life became for them following their rebellion.
Imagine living the rest of your life – hundreds of years – knowing what you had and what you became. Moreover, imagine watching the world change during those hundreds of years you lived. You learned very quickly what pain was all about – both physical and emotional. You learned and clearly understood that what you did so effortlessly prior to the fall now required hard work, fatigue, sweat, pain, and aging. You actually need to rest from your work to regain your strength. It seemed all so unnatural compared to what it was before. That wasn’t the way things were meant to be in God’s Creation but Adam and Eve ruined it.
Today, even Christians cannot fully appreciate what life was like for Adam and Eve. We have ourselves and our sin natures and the only thing we can compare it to is other people who seem “worse” off than we are because of the way they have chosen to live their lives.
The other day, I watched a documentary on the largest jail (not prison) in America, which is located in Dade County, Florida. This particular jail holds up to 8,000 inmates. The other thing my wife and I watched were two episodes of “Call the Midwife.” The third thing that happened is that our cat brought in a bird he had capture and my wife and I watched it die as she tenderly held it in her hands.
Why are these three things connected? Because they are all the result of sin. The 8,000 inmates who exist in terrible conditions in the Miami-Dade Jail appears brutal. Fighting is how life is maintained through the pecking order or “code” of conduct. A new inmate is introduced into one cell that already has 16 to 23 inmates and the pecking order must be reestablished. There is one toilet and inmates remain in that cell all day. For possibly two hours each week, inmates are allowed “outside” which is still a caged area that is open to the air. Fights occur on a daily basis with numerous inmates being sent to the hospital for their injuries.
“Call the Midwife” is a British show based on the true life memoirs of a midwife in the early 1900’s of England. The pain and suffering that many go through barely making ends meet is starkly contrasted with the love and care offered by the midwives themselves to their patients. There is death, emotional pain, suffering, and in spite of all that, the miracle of birth.
The third thing that occurred was the death of a bird. One of our cats was simply doing what he is programmed to do; hunt. When we first adopted him, he hunted anything that moved. It was normal to come home to find dead mice, voles, snakes, and lizards. Every once in a while, a bird would be brought into the home, some still very much alive. We did our best to capture everyone and set them free from the confines of our home. One time, I went out front to get the mail and saw what I thought was a dead baby squirrel, so newly born that it was covered by fuzz, not even actual hair! As I bent to pick it up I realized it was still breathing though deep in sleep!
We called our daughter who worked at a Vet’s and asked what to do. We also looked on the ‘Net to figure things out. Between the ‘Net and our daughter, we learned that we needed to feed it Pedialyte to keep it from dehydration. We also found a local veterinarian who took in wild animals and said we should bring the squirrel over. Even though it took nearly an hour to get there, we were very glad to do it and very glad the baby squirrel had a new home where it would be well cared for as it grew into adulthood.
Had it not been for original sin embraced by our first parents, there would be no jails, “Call the Midwife” (if it existed at all), would highlight only wonderful stories of love and laughter. Beyond this, cats would not hunt other creatures for sport.
We’ve really done a job on God’s Creation, haven’t we? Because of us, it would appear that things were totally ruined. But that is giving humanity way too much credit. While we certainly have despoiled God’s Creation, He knew this was going to occur from before the foundations of the earth. With that in mind, He could have easily canceled Creation before He began it but chose not to do so. He could have also made it impossible for any of His creatures to rebel.
I believe God followed through with His plans because He wishes His sovereignty to be on public display to all aspects of His Creation. While redemption is a large part of proving that sovereignty, His highest purpose in watching His plans unfold has to do with who He is and His character. Offering redemption or salvation to humanity and freeing all Creation from the curse that had to placed upon it due to the fall is a very important aspect of God’s sovereignty (as well as His character), and all of Creation needs to be aware of it. However, what is even more important than the unfolding drama of redemption (as W. Graham Scroggie calls it), is for all of God’s Creation (especially those which are fallen and unrepentant), to know and understand that He and He alone is God and in spite of so-called free will (or anything else), God’s will and purposes are achieved every step of the way.
There is nothing humanity can do to diminish or offset God’s sovereignty and we’d best come to terms with that as quickly as we can. In this series, we are going to rely heavily upon the Bible to tell us what we need to know about God and His sovereignty – two things which are inseparable because they go hand in hand. It is important for our own spiritual health that we attack this issue head on because it will help us understand our tendency to think too highly of ourselves individually and humanity overall.
The sovereignty of God means several things. First, it means that His will is always accomplished. Second, it means that nothing Satan or humanity can do will hamper God’s sovereignty. Third, it means that while God has chosen to invite us to become partners with Him in the carrying out of aspects of His will and sovereignty, this does not mean that if we drop the ball, somehow or in some way, God’s will is not carried out.
Christians today are very “busy” with much that is happening in life. However, I cannot help but wonder if much of our busy-ness is due to our own feelings of self-importance and has nothing to do with God’s sovereign will? It’s worth looking into, isn’t it?
Seeing God’s sovereignty as the antidote for all forms of arrogance, whether in Satan and his angels or human beings, is necessary. We’ll look at various aspects of His Word, including prophetic discourse.
Join me next time as we start with the very meaning of God’s sovereignty.
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