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The Sovereignty of God
1. What does the word, "sovereign," mean?
According to the dictionary the word means:
2. Is the word, sovereign, found in the Scriptures?
Neither the word nor its derivative, "sovereignty," is not found in the King James Version but both are found in later versions. Sovereign- 1 Timothy 6: 15 Sovereignty- Psalms 103: 19; Isaiah 17: 3; Daniel 4: 31, 36; 5: 18; 7: 27; 11: 4
3. Is God sovereign?
Yes, God is sovereign in regard to all creation. He chief, supreme, not contingent on anything, eternal and efficacious in carrying out His purposes. Gods purposes can not be thwarted by man. Isaiah 46: 9-10; 40: 17; Ephesians 1: 11
4. What is the definitive passage regarding the sovereignty of God?
Chapter 9. 10 and 11 of Romans is the definitive passage. The next several questions are a brief commentary of these chapters.
5. What advantage did Israel, have over the other nations?
Much, Israel had Gods law, the covenants, temple services, the promises, the adoption as sons, the patriarchs and provided the lineage of Christ. Romans 9: 1-5
6. Did the word of God fail and was God shown not to be sovereign because most of Israel rejected God?
Absolutely not, the children of God are according to promise, that is Gods will, and not according to the flesh, the will of man. The children of Israel presumed because they were physical descendent of Abraham that they would be the children of God but God regards the children of promise as His descendants. The fact that they rejected God demonstrates they were not children of promise. Romans 9: 6-9
7. Why did God select Jacob over Esau?
The purpose of the selection is to show that Gods choice is not according to works of righteousness but, in accordance with the thesis of the book of Romans, Gods chooses to save those that believe. God had every right to choose Jacob, but he did not cause Esau to give up his birthright. Romans 9: 10-13; 1: 16-17
8. Did God coerce Pharoah to act in opposition to his will in the release of Israel?
First: we should note that God did harden Pharoahs heart, but Pharoah also hardened his own heart. God did not force Pharoah to act contrary to his will.
Second: God hardened Pharoahs heart by giving him opportunity to make the right choices.
Third: God had every right to do with Pharoah as he would, but He did not make Pharoah do evil. Pharoah was acting in a way he felt consistent with his best interest.
Fourth: the purpose of the story is to show that God will have mercy on whom He chooses. God has chosen to have mercy on those that believe in Him and His Son. Romans 9: 14-18; Exodus 8: 32
9. What does the passage regarding the potter and the clay demonstrate?
First: God has the absolute right to use His creation as He will and man should not question His motives.
Second: God never acts contrary to His nature. Third: God knew before their creation that certain ones, the majority of Israel after the flesh, would choose the path of destruction. Even so, God uses these to accomplish His purpose in regard to those who were not considered His people, the Gentiles. Fourth: God does not arbitrarily choose, even though it may seem so. God is not a respecter of persons. Romans 9: 19-29; Jeremiah 18: 1-12; Acts 10: 34-35; Deuteronomy 10: 17
10. Why did most of Israel not find God?
Israel did not find God because they sought Him through works of righteousness rather than through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus was a stumbling block to them. Romans 9: 30-33
11. What specifically did they fail to believe?
They failed to believe that Jesus died and arose from the dead. Instead they were trusting in their ability to keep the law and thereby be pleasing to God. Romans 10: 1-12
12. What can Israel not claim?
First: they can not claim they were not warned because from Moses to Malachi God was warning them.
Second: Israel can not claim they did not understand because the Gentiles were able to understand and
Israel was in an more advantageous position.
Third: Israel can not say that God rejected them because
God has reached out to them always and because a small part, a remnant, of Israel was saved. Romans 10: 13- 11: 10
13. Was the stumbling of Israel intended to result in their final condemnation?
No. First: the rejection by Israel was being used by God to bring the rest of the world into a relationship with Him. Second: it is possible for Israel to return to God. Romans 11: 11-24
14. What is the ultimate purpose of God?
The ultimate purpose of God is to show mercy to all. Romans 11: 25-36
15. Is God sovereign in regard to salvation?
Yes God is sovereign. He purposed to save mankind through Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world. Out of love for the world, God gave His Son to taste death for every man. The Holy Spirit was sent to guide the apostles into all truth concerning Jesus and to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgement. God ordained that the good news of Jesus Christ should be preached to every creature. God is working in man both to will and to do His good pleasure. God gives the right to become children of God to those who receive Christ and believe in His name. Certainly God is sovereign in
regard to salvation! This is fully in accord with the dictionary definition of sovereign and with its use in the definitive passage Romans chapter 9, 10 and 11. But there are others of a Calvinistic persuasioning sovereign has a different more one-dimensional interpretation. John 1: 12-13; Ephesians 1: 3-4; John 3: 16; 16: 8-10, 13; Mark 16: 15; Philippians 2: 12-13;
16. What according to the Calvinistic persuasion does sovereign mean?
The following is a quote from a pamphlet, "Gods Sovereignty In Salvation," by Rev. Steven Houck. "For it is the very will and purpose of God that determines the existence and course of all things. His will is so sovereign that He has determined just exactly what has come to pass in this world. God has determined and appointed absolutely everything." The Reverend is confusing sovereignty with absolute determinism. The two are not synonymous. Yet when we turn to the Scriptures we find that God "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." However many will be lost; and the Calvinist tell us that is Gods will because He determines everything. God, on the other hand, says He desires all to be saved. My friends the Calvinist position may not be a necessary conclusion. Sovereignty is not necessarily determinism, but determinism is sovereignty. A pig is an animal, but not all animals are pigs.
17. Is a Sovereign God limited in any respects?
Yes. For example, it is impossible for God to lie. Why? Because it is contrary to His innate nature. "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all." Hebrews 6: 18; 1 John 1:5
18. Can God be limited in other ways?
Yes. God can choose to limit himself. In His great mercy, He has chosen to reckon the righteousness of Christ to those that believe.
19. If man is not lost because God desires it, why are so many lost?
Man will be lost for the same reason Israel was lost, they did not believe in God. We use "believe" in the full or complete sense as did James in his letter. But isnt faith a gift of God? Yes, it is. So are we back to square one. Well, not necessarily, because faith is also a command of God and a response which man makes. So the question becomes why does God enable some to believe and not others? Why does God open the heart of some and not others? Why does God give grace to some and not to others? Both Peter and James give the answer, "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble." Jesus said if anyone would come to Him, he must deny himself, die to himself and follow Him. My friends, man will be lost because he will not humble himself. He will not give up his ideas, his importance and his world-view. He will not humble himself so that he may receive the grace of God. God grace unto salvation has appeared to all men. It is not Gods will that any one be lost. God has done everything necessary for all men to come to faith. If they do not it is because they will not humble themselves. 1 Timothy 2: 3-6; Titus 2: 11; Matthew 16: 24-25; Acts 18: 27; 1 Peter 5: 5-6; James 4: 6
20. In regard to salvation, did God provide for some, the elect, and not others?
My friends, the Scriptures do not support the idea that God wills the death of man, as His purpose for good includes all.
21. Does God predestinate some to eternal life and others to eternal damnation?
There are only a very few Scriptures that speak of predestination. Lets examine those.
Some have confused election and predestination. Election is the act whereby God chooses men for Himself, whereas predestination is the predetermination of the eternal circumstance of election: conformity to Christs image, adoption as sons and inheritance
22. God is all knowing or omniscient. Does Gods omniscience indicate that He determines all events?
Certainly not. We can all think of scenarios in which a knowledge of events allow us to know the outcome but does not indicate determinism is at work. Man is limited by the three dimensions of space and the dimension of time. God knows no such limitation. He sees the end from the beginning. Isaiah 46: 9-10
23. How will God demonstrate His sovereignty in the future?
All the creation is accountable to God. He has appointed a day in which He will judge the world through Jesus Christ. We must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ that we shall be recompensed for deeds done in the body, good or bad. Even the angels who left their first estate are kept in the bonds of darkness until the judgement. Acts 17: 31; 2 Corinthians 5: 10; Jude 6
24. How does God demonstrate His sovereignty at the present time?
He upholds all things by the word of His power and works all things after the counsel of His will. Ephesians 1: 11; Hebrews 1: 3
25. Does the sovereignty of God preclude man from making choices in his life?
Absolutely not! Adam and Eve were presented with a choice, to eat or not to eat. The following verses list some choices that were made by various ones. Ruth choose to remain with Naomi. Esther choose to go to the king uninvited. Some say that man has free choice when God supposedly irresistibly changes the heart and mind to desire one option. I can not agree. Call it what you will, but that is not choice. Joshua said, "choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24: 15, 21, 22; Judges 5: 8;Proverbs 1: 29; Isaiah 7: 15,16; 65: 12; 66: 3; Matthew 23: 37; Romans 10: 21; Ruth 1: 15-18; Ester 4: 18
26. Does the Sovereignty of God mean that God is responsible for every facet of mans existence?
God denies that He tempts man to sin, yet man is tempted. Certainly God is not responsible for sin nor its consequences. James 1: 14-15; 1 John 1: 5
The sovereignty of God is a complex and difficult subject. A subject we should approach with caution. The best approach appears to accept the Scriptures at face value even if statements are paradoxical. Assumptions that are inconsistent with these plain statements, God is not a respecter of person, God does not tempt man to sin or God is light, are suspect. Ironically the ones who talk most about the sovereignty of God, are the very ones who limit the exercise of His will by equating sovereignty with a one-dimensional absolute determinism.
My friends, each of us has a choice, will we follow God or will we follow self. God has made it possible to come to Him. He asks us to deny ourselves and take up our cross even as Jesus denied Himself to take on the form of man. "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let the one who hears say, Come. And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost."
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