THE FOREKNOWLEDGE OF GOD One of the most vexing questions mooted in theological circles deals with the reconciling of God*s foreknowledge and His sovereignty. Throughout the picture, Jackson's dependence on God is shown, but never more strikingly that in the early morning hours of July 21st, 1861 prior to the First Battle of Bull Run. God is sovereign over both life and death. I have a difficult time comprehending that. PHIL: So in a sense, when we confess Jesus as Lord, we’re confessing that He is sovereign. Dr. Sproul considers these questions in this message as he teaches us about the relationship between human freedom and "God's Sovereignty." JOHN: I really see You as sovereign and I repent in dust and ashes. I determined the end at the beginning, which is to say that whatever God purposes is what will happen. Dr. Sproul considers these questions in this message as he teaches us about the relationship between human freedom and "God's Sovereignty." People can take one of two extremes in regard to this question. These same kinds of testimonies are found in the Bible, perhaps none more profound than the prophet Isaiah’s account of his life-changing encounter with the sovereign Lord. And that, I think, is the heart of God. God determined that when He laid out the plan. And a God who is not sovereign can’t do that. Apart from God, there was nothing. JOHN: Yeah, because we are the means. “My husband and I have been through trials we never thought we’d go through. He says, “You can’t even say you’re going to live outside the purpose of God.” Right? God’s sovereignty is self-determined, and this fact is emphasized three times (v. 5, 9, 11). PHIL: Well, I’ve got to say from my own testimony, it’s hard to appreciate how mind blowing this concept is to someone who’s never really thought of it. PHIL: Yeah, James seems to be rebuking people in that context for careless speech. And so that verse starts out “I am God,” and nobody else, or no other being is God, which means I don’t have any competition. And one of them said to me, “We had people in this group who were suffering from panic attacks, heart – racing heart palpitation, I mean, it was literally terrifying these people to think that Satan was in charge.”. You were a big help in answering some of my doubts about being saved. Evil is a matter of ontology (being). PHIL: Ultimately if God is sovereign, this is His plan. Under the sovereignty of God’s authority, no man or thing is exempt from the exertion of His authority, nor can they alter the principles by which His authority is exerted. Why should I then – why do we need to proclaim the gospel? II. That’s simply saying that government as a reality, as a social reality is ordained by God for the wellbeing of man. You are welcome Nick. You know, we can’t – you know, it’s a mature thing, I think, for people to get to the point where they realize that. Sovereign was a designation of the person who reigned, the – the single ruler, the king, the monolithic power, the unilateral authority and that is essentially what to say God is sovereign means, that He is the sole ruler, He is the sole authority. Last week I told you about the little 3-year-old. JOHN: Phil, I think this is really an important thing because that question is raised all the time and rarely answered. God is sovereign in creation. Not man, not demons, not Satan. I mean, it was pretty direct when He drowned the whole world. JOHN: No, and that’s right. But the Proverbs are saying what you think is purely random, what you think is purely chance has been predetermined by the Lord. All of us have encountered the disastrous results of doing our own thing. Some emphasize the sovereignty of God to the point that human beings are little more than robots simply doing what they have been sovereignly programmed to do. The first step in understanding the compatibility between God’s sovereignty and human will is to recognize that they are not mutually exclusive, and Scripture makes this absolutely clear. 9:20). One of the – one of the areas where I think a lot of people seem to struggle with that is human government. I don’t know how that harmonizes and I always end up at this point. JOHN: Well, Phil, thank you very much for all of your input and your insights and we can – we can do the best we can to understand these things and leave the rest to that time when we shall know as we are known. JOHN: Yeah, and another way to express sovereignty in that sense is to say that Jesus is Lord. Are there realms in the created universe where God does not govern? While the sovereignty of God is infinite, the use of His power is defined by His other attributes. God’s sovereignty in the matter of salvation, that’s a sticking point for many people. And there was no Plan B and there was not second string. Did He know that all things were within the sovereign purpose of God? PHIL: And their – the titles, you put them – in fact, I have them next to each other on my shelf and it sounds like they’re taking opposite positions. Please contact the publisher to obtain copies of this resource. You go back to the fact that you rejected. That God does not prevent evil from existing seems to call into question His omnipotence or His benevolence. So I – I think Christian people need to get to the point where instead of seeing the sovereignty of God as some kind of intrusion or – or some kind of impossible thing to explain, they need to see the sovereignty of God as the most encouraging, hopeful, blessed of all realities that you’re never – you’re never able to drift from His control, which is driving you to the purpose. How that harmonizes with the sovereignty of God in saving some is – is beyond my comprehension. JOHN: Why – why did He save me? JOHN: It is, it is. No thanks. He loves me; He loves me not.” In response, some people have insisted that God has the right to do whatever He pleases and it is none of our business to find fault with Him—a point that Paul himself anticipates (Rom. No evil is indirectly caused by God. Question: "What is the difference between God’s sovereign will and God’s revealed will?" JOHN: Why wouldn’t it apply? PHIL: And then the New Testament parallel to that verse we started with in Isaiah would be Ephesians 1:11 which says, “God works all things after the counsel of His own will.”. If He does, then why didn't He? And, in fact, it’s impossible to reconcile that view with this text from Isaiah 46. Think of it this way. It’s not. 4) Sometimes, I would explain; sometimes, I would simply say, “I owe you no explanation.” 5) This illustrates the concept of sovereignty, but God’s sovereignty is much greater. If God is God, and He is, and if you go back before anything existed when all there was was God, the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, it – it would be obvious at that point that whatever was going to happen from creation on, would be what God wanted to happen. You sin under the freedom of your will or for, if you want to call it, under the bondage of your will to sin. How do we answer these questions? Traditional theism insists that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent—all powerful, all knowing, and everywhere present. It needs to be said at that point that doesn’t mean that God motivates everything that happens, He doesn’t – doesn’t motivate evil, He doesn’t cause evil, He doesn’t do evil. And He allowed it so He could put His grace, mercy, kindness, forgiveness and redemption on display. Sproul, along with Richard Phillips and Steven Lawson, unfolds the riches of God's rule over creation. PHIL: Yeah, I’ve often said you have to give the open theists at least some credit for their consistency because they – they start with a notion that God is not sovereign and that is what it takes you to, the idea that God doesn’t even know what’s going to happen in the future. The sovereignty of God has been taught and preached, largely in an abstract way—but little has been done to explore the applications of this doctrine for life, and (therefore) for counseling. The second thing is that even the elect can’t be saved apart from the proclamation of the gospel because faith comes by hearing. Both are true. Daniel 1:8-16. JOHN: It is free in the sense that it can choose its sin. Asked by greg b #615188. These are the questions that find their answer in Scripture. Sovereignty of God is the Christian teaching that God is the supreme authority and all things are under His control. 3. Thus, when the biblical facts warrant them, we can embrace incomprehensibles in the Bible an… PHIL: His plan, in that case, might involve my discipline. Well, it is an incomparable privilege to be here with you. “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.”. The sovereignty of God means that as ruler of the Universe, God is free and has the right to do whatever he wants. As I said at the beginning, you know, this is the most encouraging doctrine of all. The execution was entirely His. That doesn’t mean we tolerate the evil and the wickedness in the leadership. I was looking for definitions on the sovereignty of God and the providence of God, and couldn’t really find one that would make me understand the difference between the two terms. The movie follows the rise and fall of Civil War hero General Thomas Jackson, and does not try to hide his Christianity. Was Caesar in power at the time of Jesus? She even said, “No more – you know, no more shots, no more pricks and pokes and, you know, treatments,” and all of that. PHIL: That, I think, is the most amazing thing about the – the sovereignty of God, how He does make even the wrath of men to praise Him. Satan killed your pastor to – to cancel out a divine plan? Who were the audience of the captivity narrative? Within the sovereignty of God or outside the sovereignty of God, the answer to that would be within the purposes of God, those men were where they were. Since His written revelation teaches concepts that appear to be mutually exclusive, we must realize that with God both truths are friends, not enemies. How they going to preach until they’ve been sent? And I suppose it’s the hardest and most obvious question of all about God’s sovereignty. PHIL: And it isn’t just saying that He knows it, either, is it? The sovereignty of God is one of those theological ideas that causes some significant challenges in the lives of believers. PHIL: All right, you said there’s nothing God is not sovereign over. JOHN: Yeah, it kind of reminds you of the story of Joseph, doesn’t it? PHIL: And in the punishment of evil doers, His justice is put on display. A God who doesn’t know the future can’t do that. JOHN: I think it is everywhere in Scripture. He then said, “Everyone who raised his hand to the first question should also have raised his hand to the second question.” He went on to argue that if there is a single molecule in the universe running around loose, totally free of God’s sovereignty, then we have no guarantee that a single promise of God will ever be fulfilled. If he does not, he’s fully culpable. The doctrine of God’s sovereignty is sometimes abused by well-meaning believers who affirm the doctrine but abuse it in different ways. That was – that was a very direct, sovereign act. “Hello, Pastor John! Nowhere in the Bible are we encouraged to be passive and inert. A. PHIL: So, we can’t maybe give a complete answer, why is there evil, but certainly one of the reasons is so that God can destroy it and glorify Himself in doing so. If you ever use the word, it’s only a word that accommodates ignorance. God has revealed these attributes about Himself so we can know who He is. In God’s loving purpose, all things have been designed to lead “to the praise of the glory of his grace” (v. 6, 12, 14). The idea that “God is in control” seems like it honors God because many mistakenly think that absolute control over everything at every moment is a fundamental requirement for God to be God. JOHN: He is sovereign, and it is His plan that He would be glorified in judgment as He would be glorified in salvation. These are common questions and they all share the same fallacy, right? God meticulously planned each day of Kaleb’s life in such a way that He received maximum glory. You know, God loves you – you hear this all the time – unconditionally, and, you know, He wants to save you and He wants to do all these things for you. The only thing it should do is give us greater reason for expressing our adoration for who God is. JOHN: No. Your gift enables our worldwide outreach. And so when you look at the problem of evil, you don’t ask well this seems unfair to me because of how – of how it affect me, or how it affects people. And by the way, that entire theology, as heretical as it is, came into existence to get God off the hook for evil. We’ve talked about the doctrine of election, and most recently the problem of apostasy. We were so burdened by the fact that Satan might come in the house and kill your baby, you know, cause your baby to be smothered. Yes, He did. “Where was God when this happened? Answer: When we talk about free will, we are usually concerned with the matter of salvation. He had resigned himself to the “sovereignty of God.” ... Deuteronomy, chapter 28, should forever settle this question for all who believe the Word of God. There are dangers, aren’t there with this doctrine? But look, if the Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world, if – if God planned the death of Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world, before anything was ever made that was made, then He must have planned for sinners to be redeemed, which meant that He must have put into the plan the allowance for sinners to fall. But this is also true of evil powers and corrupt regimes that violate the very principles of government itself; these are also under the sovereign government of Almighty God. And I – I’ve said this through the years in my teaching that when the Lord Jesus came into the world, He could have done all kinds of things to demonstrate His deity. in all its fullness to as many people as possible. And these came into being ex nihilo—out of nothing. I mean –. JOHN: He was. That God does not prevent evil from existing seems to call into question His omnipotence or His benevolence. The relationship between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility is not instantly obvious, and at first glance it seems paradoxical. You know, I would go so far as to say chance doesn’t exist, it doesn’t exist. What always interests me is how the New Testament says, “Honor those that are over you in the Lord. 09-29-96 Sunday School That’s about the best introduction I ever had in my life. The first thing out of her mouth – she’s got tubes and wires and it’s horrendous – she says, “Oh, John, how’s your knee?” She’s asking me how my knee – and we began to talk, and there’s literally joy in her heart because as horrible as it is, young wife, young mother, four children about to be motherless and she’s going through the ravages of this cancer. You can deal with anything in life if you have that sense of what Scripture reveals, that God is in charge. God is displaying Himself to the holy angels, God is displaying Himself to – to the saints in His full glory. You even can go back and say, “What about the pagans? JOHN: We know why it happened because Satan came to God and God – and said, “Yeah, Job only serves You because You bless him.” And He said, “I’ll prove different.” God was proving a point to Satan, we know that, Job never knew that. JOHN: Yeah, that is the most dramatic – that ninth chapter is the most dramatic chapter on sovereign election where he even talks about vessels fitted to destruction and – and the Lord saving whom He will, hardening whom He will. Many are ready to concede that God is sovereign over the … owner and possessor of heaven and earth." PHIL: God had a plan that was good, and He used it for good. God's will is the final cause of all things. Plus it was all in the predetermined counsel and foreknowledge of God that it was working out that way and He saw it that way. PHIL: So it is true, in a sense, in fact it’s true in the most fundamental sense to say that when I sin, I do so freely and not under compulsion? And I said, you know, this – this sort of mass movement over here, what – what brought you here? JOHN: Yeah, it is. It says, “The heart of man plans his way –. But Daniel got some sovereignty lessons from God concerning the ... we are only scratching the surface. JOHN: “You meant it for evil, and God meant it for good.”. Mysteries are forced upon us by the facts of God’s Word; we are not inventing them ourselves. If God ordains who is going to be in control in the government, why should I vote? It is to say that He controls all the contingencies. 13:3; 1 Peter 2:14). JOHN: Yeah, Luther said that. Log In PHIL: Yeah. The preacher fell over and died. I see it as more the control of all the things that are going on. He’s sovereign over absolutely everything. Sometimes I say it’s a book about the sovereignty of God, which leads to a question from Massiel in the Dominican Republic. And his mother wrote the most beautiful, beautiful tribute to God for giving that little Malachi to them for three years and celebrated his home going and celebrated him being in the presence of Christ. Proverbs 16:33, and you can explain this one for us. Well, let’s do talk then about the sovereignty of God in salvation. PHIL: Yeah, I would say the answer to it is the cross. God still uses the means of those who believe in Him to be the agents by which He brings His elective purpose to pass. (3:1). JOHN: Yeah, Open theism that God – God doesn’t know the future, that He doesn’t know the end from the beginning, didn’t plan the end from the beginning. I’m at the hospital in the children’s ward with mask on, and gloves cause I can’t go in without it and we’re talking about that with two parents of a 3 year old. They’ve been at this now two years plus, they’re months from the cross and the true believers are a small little group. Submit to those who are over you.” And He was talking about those very men, those very pagan-to-the-core men. If one attribute were disproportionate or over-emphasized, chaos would result on a universal level. Here’s the most evil act –, PHIL: — ever perpetrated by the hands of evil men –. God is the “first cause” of all things, but evil is a product of “second causes.” In the words of John Calvin, “First, it must be observed that the will of God is the cause of all things that happen in the world: and yet God is not the author of evil,” adding, “for the proximate cause is one thing, and the remote cause another.” In other words, God Himself cannot do evil and cannot be blamed for evil even though it is part of His sovereign decree. PHIL: — on that issue they were saying the same thing. Because if you say, “No, He’s not in control of everything,” then you’ve got a God who lacks power over something and if you say, “Yes, He is in control of everything,” you run right up against the problem of evil. But at the same time, Phil, and I think this is so important, this is where you – you find some solid footing in a very difficult quicksand when you realize that you go back to human responsibility. God is sovereign in redemption, a fact that explains why we thank God for our salvation and pray to Him for the salvation of our spiritually lost friends. Augustine and many medieval thinkers believed part of the mystery could be solved by identifying evil as a privation of the good, suggesting that evil is something without existence in and of itself. If – if God chooses whom to save, why should we do evangelism? It’s a form of the word “sovereign.” Sovereign was a designation of the person who reigned, the – the single ruler, the king, the monolithic power, the unilateral authority and that is essentially what to say God is sovereign means, that He is the sole ruler, He is the sole authority. If you just take the words of Jesus, “The gate is narrow, the way is narrow, few there be that find it.”. Paul commands his Philippian readers to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. You don’t sin under divine compulsion. Reformed theology, on the other hand, insists that no event happens that is a surprise to God. Sovereignty is the absolute, unfettered right to decide when and how—and if—to use that power. Her confident faith was God has a purpose in this and I rejoice in His purpose. But there are all those other contingencies in which, while He’s not directly in the act itself, He is working all of those things to His own end. But you can pick your poison. PHIL: Yeah, you mentioned Joseph earlier. But the bottom line, maybe a good place to start would be to say, “I would much rather know that God is in charge of everything than to think that He’s not. In fact, there were so many of them in one group that I was asked if I would go to the choir room at our church, at Grace Church, and meet a choir loft full of these people who had just come over from this other Charismatic Church. And you come back again to the personal accountability issue that every sinner is held responsible for his own unbelief. JOHN: And as it turned out, they were young couples whose parents were the staff of that church. If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) So far from being a cold, hard doctrine, the sovereignty of God fills the believer’s heart with comfort. In God’s higher rationality, things that we think must be either-or can in reality be both-and. The Next 500 Years: 2017 National Conference, Show Me Your Glory: Understanding the Majestic Splendor of God, La Biblia de Estudio de La Reforma, Spanish Edition, Naming Ligonier the Beneficiary of a Bank or Investment Account, Gifts That Provide Income and Tax Benefits. God’s sovereignty is not an easy issue, is it? But at its heart, it is saying nothing different from the assertion of the Nicene Creed: “I believe in God, the Father Almighty.” To say that God is sovereign is to express His almightiness in every area. But if I’m obedient and do it, maybe God uses me as the means to that person’s salvation. And they ask the question, “Are only a few going to be saved?” So we all have to start there, and we say, “Okay, look, not everybody is going to be saved.” And then the question has to be asked, “By whose determination is that true?” The only possible answer is God. She’s saying, you know, “Curse God, and die.” And he’s not – he can’t figure out a reason for this. Framework for understanding God’s sovereignty in our earthly lives comes in the next lines. 3. If I’m disobedient, I can’t say, “Well, it doesn’t matter, it wasn’t supposed to be me. I mean, you don’t escape –. I will be asking you to look at a few Scriptures together as we go through this study - and let me say that we're not looking at any main passages of Scripture, as we haven't been doing really in these studies in the last few weeks. This seems to be the sticking point for a lot of Christians, that if God is sovereign over salvation, the ramifications of that for them are very difficult because it means if God’s not going to save everyone, why? What is God’s will for our lives? It’s one of these Christian Living articles I wanted to share with you today. God’s telling me to tell you this guy is going to be a great preacher around the world. Does God have the ability to save everyone? If I – if I am disobedient, He has a plan even for that, that doesn’t justify my disobedience. The human mind cannot grasp why God allows evil and suffering; instead, we are called to have faith and trust in God's goodness and love. He basically healed people. God is sovereign, and in His sovereignty He displays His majestic glory. As you may be aware, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into full effect on 25th May 2018. JOHN: Right. This article is also available and sold as a booklet. Election is therefore a gracious (and not just a sovereign) act. His power, knowledge, and presence ensure that His goals are met, that His designs are fulfilled, and that His superintendence of all events is (to God, at least) essentially “risk free.”. 28 He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace. Think about this, I would say chance doesn’t exist in – in even the simple things like casting lots. The question assumes that prayer is one-dimensional and is defined simply as supplication or intercession. But do you have any idea –. Third, in relation to civic power and authority, there is the question of God’s sovereignty in the determination of rulers and government. God has – so you grew up, nice Christian boy in a nice Christian family thinking that everything was kind of flying around in a random world and God somehow intervened here and there and saved a few people to take them to heaven. Fatalism would be the assumption that things are going to be whatever they’re going to be, just because they’re going to be that way. Everyone ends up with the question of God’s sovereignty and the question of evil; denying calvinism does not get you out of the dilemma. You know, even the good that man does is filthy rags, Isaiah says. Rather, God’s sovereignty means that in the end, sin doesn’t have the last word. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. How will they hear without a preacher? So it’s clear that God is sovereign, but how does that not make God then somehow responsible for what happened, JOHN: I like what somebody said, “The devil is God’s devil.”. Now all of this is a bit misleading as an introduction to Romans 9. The attributes of God are things we can know about God. They were attributes of God before anything was ever created. It speaks first of position (God is the chief Being in the universe), then of power (God is supreme in power in the universe). (Jonathan Edwards, Selections, 58–59) A Brief Overview of Romans 9. What was the purpose for which God allowed evil? It applies in any situation. And you mentioned that if we’re not careful, we can look at this doctrine in a way that makes us too passive or lacking in empathy. So the question really is, why did God allow evil? The definition of free will that creates controversies with those like me who believe in the sovereignty of God over the human will — not just a general statement about the sovereignty of God, but God’s sovereignty over the human will — that definition is this: man’s will is free if he has the power of ultimate self-determination. JOHN: It means absolute rule. 91:1). PHIL: Now, is this one of those issues that’s clear in Scripture or somewhat mysterious? God desired to see Job grow in his understanding and relationship with Him, and; God held divine intention for Job’s example to be immortalized in Scripture for the development of future believers. We talk about the providence of God. What kind of a God opens up the ground and swallows people. You know, I don’t – I don’t need to manifest righteousness to show a transformed life because God’s going to save who He’s going to save. 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Plan through human means and instrumentality in the created universe where God does not cause God to allow evil ``... All share the gospel as the first wave of gospel preachers after the Lord instantly obvious, and hope. Places the limitations upon the attack re going to redeem the world Scripture or somewhat?. Be sovereign most typical wrong response to the email address you provided reality, as a reality... That there ’ s sovereignty and human responsibility is not a power is! – can you be a Christian family, so there ’ s sovereignty has nothing to do.. God allowed evil that to me as why He didn ’ t there with this doctrine goodness! Of Christ between God ’ s seat with us as passengers questions we knew people going!