Does God control everything?

Do you believe that God is the ultimate and final power over all things? Is God sovereign?

According to Scripture, God is the superior or supreme being. Describing the God we encounter in the Bible, one has written, “God does whatever he chooses to do, whenever he chooses to do it, wherever he chooses, involving whomsoever he wishes to involve.”

The sovereignty of God answers the question, “Who or What is in ultimate control?” Many people feel that life is generally a matter of good luck or bad luck. “Que Sera, Sera” — “whatever will be, will be?”  But are we victims of fate?

God’s description of His sovereignty

“… I am God, and there is no one like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done. Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all my good pleasure’; … Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it” (Isaiah 46:8-11).

God said, “Have you not heard? Long ago I did it; from ancient times I planned it. Now I have brought it to pass …” (II Kings 19:25). According to Scripture, God “does according to his will in the host of heaven, and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off his hand or say to him, What have you done?”  (Daniel 4:35).

The God revealed in the Bible is repeatedly recognized as absolutely sovereign over everything. The Psalmist declared that, “the Lord does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and in their depths” (Psalms 135:6).

How extensive is God’s sovereignty?

“The Lord works out everything for His own ends, even the wicked for a day of disaster” (Proverbs 16:33; Ephesians 1:11). According to Jesus, if the birds are fed, it is the Father who feeds them; if the flowers grow, it is because God grows them. Jesus says, “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father” (Matthew 10:29).

God’ sovereignty is also exercised over man’s salvation. Our choice to receive Christ is preceded by God’s choice of us for His salvation — a choice that does not include everyone. Scripture specifically says, “All who were appointed to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48).  The apostle wrote, “… God has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires” (Romans 9:18).

How do you respond?

It should be encouraging to know that God has a plan that will conquer what feels like the chaos of human history. It should draw us to worship our great God. Although some view a sovereign God as too threatening and humbling, the alternatives are far more discouraging. To say there is no God, or that God does not care or stands helpless on the sidelines, leads to fatalism and despair.  

Others reason, “If God has control over everything that happens — is he not a cosmic puppeteer pulling our strings when he wants us to dance?” This is not the way the Bible describes God. Scripture will not tolerate any view of God’s sovereign control that diminishes human responsibility.

Great summary

“At no point whatsoever does the remarkable emphasis on the absoluteness of God’s sovereignty mitigate the responsibility of human beings who, like everything else in the universe, fall under God’s sway. We tend to use one to diminish the other; we tend to emphasize one at the expense of the other. But responsible reading of the Scripture prohibits such reductionism.” (D. A. Carson). 

Human responsibility

Like God’s sovereignty, the responsibility of man includes the details of life.  “I say to you,” Jesus declared, “that every careless word that men shall speak, they shall render account for in the day of judgment” (Matthew 12:36).  

According to Scripture, our decisions constitute real causes that produce real effects — for which we will be held accountable.

The wise teacher wrote, “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).

Steve Cornell 

This entry was posted in Christian worldview, Christianity, Discouragement, Doctrine, Eternal security, Evil in the world, God, God's Patience, God's control, God's Heart, God's Will, Sovereignty, Suffering and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

46 Responses to Does God control everything?

  1. ~W says:

    You said: “…a choice that does not include everyone.”

    Both 1 Tim 2:4 and Rm 11:32 say otherwise! “all men”

  2. Josh says:

    W,

    If Jesus died for everyone, no one would go to hell. His death was sufficient for all, but only effective for His elect.

    • Marie says:

      no, this is not true. Jesus died on the cross for everyone. It is a free gift to us that we have the opportunity to get to heaven, reciceved when we acept Him into our hearts as the Lord our Savior. Those who go to hell chose to not accept god into their hearts to save them.

  3. Josh says:

    W,

    Here is the best closing statement I have ever heard on God’s sovereignty in salvation.

    http://bloodtippedears.blogspot.com/2008/05/james-white-who-controls-salvation-man.html

  4. ~W says:

    Josh, you said: “If Jesus died for everyone, no one would go to hell.”

    With all due respect, that is not only false, but ludicrously incongruent with what Jesus taught (Come to me ALL who are burdened…, etc.) Each human person has the free will to take refuge in Jesus. In God’s omniscience, he knows who will do so, but he does not in any way choose, designate or assign who will do so. This would be contrary to his nature of perfect agape.

    • B says:

      It seems to me that even the fact that God merely knows what will happen makes God the deciding factor in the person’s salvation anyways. If He knows, then He could make everyone in a way that they would choose to follow Him. Or else, He could make the world in such a way that everyone would follow Him.

      Also, it has to do with a concept in the legal system called double jeopardy. This concept mirrors God’s justice. God would be unjust if he punished for the same crime twice. If he punished Jesus for everyone’s crime, then God’s wrath has been satisfied for everyone, and therefore, it cannot be poured out on anyone. However, only if God’s wrath was not satisfied for certain people, would he be able to pour it out on those people. It works this way, because if it didn’t no one could say that Christ died on their behalf.

      It makes no sense for a judge to tell a person that their fine/penalty has been paid, but they must pay it again. If it was paid, then it just cannot be paid again. If God’s wrath was poured out and satisfied on Christ for a person, then it cannot be poured out again because that would imply that it was not satisfied the first time.

      • reyjacobs says:

        “It seems to me that even the fact that God merely knows what will happen makes God the deciding factor in the person’s salvation anyways.”

        Nowhere in the Bible does it say God knows everything that will happen. This is a lying doctrine. Now, of course, several passages have humans confessing to God “Lord, you know everything” — but this is human confession to God not God speaking of himself, firstly. Secondly, such are figures of speech. I might be very impressed with your smartness, and say, “wow, B knows everything!” yet I don’t mean it literally.

        God knows everything in the sense of knowing everything that can be known, not in the sense of literally knowing everything. Past and present are knowable. The future is not — not exhaustively. That passage in Isaiah where he says “Declaring the end from the beginning” will be trotted out against me, but in context this is only about his PREDICTING based on the STUBBORNESS of Israel that they would have to be sent into Babylonian captivity. He even explains (in that context, context is king) that the way he knew what would happen in the future was because “I knew the stubborness of your hearts.” He didn’t look into some divine magic ball and see the future exhaustively!!!! No, he predicted (just as we predict) based on known information.

        Further, look at the stories in the OT where God is surprised, or where God clearly doesn’t or didn’t know something about the future. The Calvinist will have to tell us this is all “accommodative language, fitted to our imbecility” — perhaps its the other way around, when God is said to know everything, isn’t that the “accommodative language”? People want to believe he knows the future exhaustively, because that silly notion gives them a sense of security. There’s your accomodation. But if he knew everything exhaustively then prophecies would not be hedged in with conditions, if you do this then this, but if not then this.

      • reyjacobs says:

        “God would be unjust if he punished for the same crime twice. If he punished Jesus for everyone’s crime, then God’s wrath has been satisfied for everyone, and therefore, it cannot be poured out on anyone. “

        This is unbliblical argumentation. Jesus in the Bible is a SACRIFICE not a penal execution swap. That is, he was not PUNISHED for your sins — he was SACRIFICED for your sins. A sacrifice must in some way be offered or accepted by the one who is to receive the benefit. The most obvious way to do this is for the worshiper to CONSUME the sacrifice. Hence the reason why Jesus says “Unless you EAT my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life in you.” This idiotic notion that everyone Jesus died for is instantly saved just because he died for them is not Biblical because Biblically he is a sacrifice not an execution swap. The punishment you supposedly deserve isn’t even crucifixion to begin with but hell, and therefore his crucifixion as an execution swap wouldn’t even work! Sacrifices are mysterious things, however, and how and why they work rests entirely in the mind of God — they’re nonsensical in other words — so the question of why Jesus’ sacrifice can save people from hell cannot be answered. Yet the fact remains that Biblically he is a sacrifice and a sacrifice must be accepted somehow.

      • reyjacobs says:

        “It makes no sense for a judge to tell a person that their fine/penalty has been paid, but they must pay it again.”

        Again, this is biblically unsound argumentation. Nowhere does the Bible say Jesus paid our debt. In Matthew 18, he speaks of it being “FRANKLY FORGIVEN” — that is, being dismissed without being paid. In that same parable, he speaks of the Sovereign’s ability to UNFORGIVE the debt if the forgiven person does not make the proper response to his forgivenness. That is, the Sovereign frankly forgave a servant a huge debt, but the servant instead of forgiving his fellow servants went and choked them saying ‘pay me now’ and this made the Sovereign mad, so he unforgave the man and put him in debtor’s prison! Jesus concludes that God’s forgiveness of us works the same way! No, if that is the case, then Jesus did not PAY our debt on the cross — the cross merely was an appeal by Jesus to the Father to forgive the debt (it was NOT payment). Based on that appeal the Father forgave the debt (yes, of everyone) but only those who make the proper response will keep that forgiveness and the rest will be UNFORGIVEN.

  5. Josh says:

    We are dead in our sin, rebellious towards God, enslaved to ourselves. Unwilling and unable to turn to Jesus. We all deserve hell. That would be the fair thing. Every single person should go to hell for their sins.

    BUT, God who is rich in mercy and grace, CHOSE to save. God “ELECTED” a people for Himself in eternity past. This choice that God made was “UNCONDITIONAL”. This means that there was nothing in us that moved God to choose us. We were all actively rebelling against God and dead in our sins. No one would have chosen God, had He not first Chosen us.

    “Unconditional Election” is taught throughout the Bible. (John 6:44; John 6:65; John 6:70; Acts 13:48; Eph.1:3-6; Eph. 1:11; Rom.8:29-30; 1Thess.1:4; 2Thess 2:13-14; 2Tim. 1:9-10) Just to name a few.

    The entire chapter of Romans 9 teaches us about unconditional election;

    Verse 10, “…when Rebecca had concieved children by one man, our forefather Isacc, 11)though the twins were not yet born and had done nothing neither good or bad- IN ORDER THAT GOD’S PURPOSE ACCORDING TO ELECTION SHALL MIGHT CONTINUE, NOT BECAUSE OF WORKS BUT BECAUSE OF HIS CALL. She was told, ‘The older will serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob I loved, Esau I hated”.

    15) I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.16) SO THEN IT DOES NOT DEPEND ON HUMAN WILL OR EXERSION, BUT ON GOD WHO HAS MERCY.

    Unconditional election is a fact from Scripture. God choose who He would save in eternity past, before anyone was born. And the rest of mankind He PAST OVER, LEAVING THEM IN THEIR SIN AND REBELLION.

    Election never sent anyone to hell, but it did bring a great multitude to heaven who otherwise would never have been there.

    God does not choose to send people to hell. They choose that themselves. He simply allows them to have what they want.

    CONCLUSION: God choose unconditionally in eternity past those He would bring to faith and save. God did not chose to save everyone. Those people God did not choose, He simply past over, leaving them in their sin and rebellion towards Him.

    One group God gives His grace. The other group gets His justice.

    Jesus says to the Jews in John 10:26, “You do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep.” He does not say, “You are not my sheep because you do not believe.” Being a sheep is something God decides for us before we believe. It is the basis and enablement of our belief. We believe because we are God’s chosen sheep, not vice versa. (See John 8:47; 18:37.)

    1.) You show me in your own words where the Bible teaches libertarian free-will?

    2.) You show me in your own words where the Bible teaches Election based on foresight? (Actually that would mean people elect God)

    Good luck.

  6. Josh says:

    W,

    Before you respond to me, please watch the previous video I posted above from James White(if you haven’t already). And, before you respond, please watch this additional short clip…

    http://bloodtippedears.blogspot.com/2008/06/mark-driscoll-total-depravity-and-gods.html

  7. ~W says:

    “You show me in your own words where the Bible teaches libertarian free-will?”

    You need look no further than Genesis. We are created in the image and likeness of God. God has “libertarian free will.” Sin did not remove our free will. If it did, that would mean that God had stopped loving us, which is ridiculous. Perfect love does not limit others. And God is perfect love. (something I’m not sensing on this blog!)

    • B says:

      God is also omniscient. Does that mean we are omnisicent because we were created in God’s image? You need a more convincing argument than that.

  8. Josh says:

    W,

    Ok, I have my Bible and I am ready to go. Please give me a specific verse and chapter that denotes libertarian free will.

  9. Josh says:

    W,

    Well, it’s late and I probably will not be back on here until Saturday or Sunday. So I leave you with this…

    We have freedom to do what we want to do…and what we want to do is determined by our nature….And by our nature, we are dead in our sin (Eph 2:1). A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot produce good fruit (Matt 12:33). Unfortunately, we are all born with this bent away from God…and do not posses the ability or the desire to deny ourselves and follow Christ. The mind of the flesh cannot submit itself to God (Romans 8:7-8). Jesus even teaches in John 6:44, 65 that we cannot even come unto Him unless He enables us. 1 Cor. 2:14 teaches that the natural man cannot understand spiritual things, they are foolishness to him. Romans 3: 10-18 teaches that we all have turned aside and no one seeks after God and no one can understand. 2 Cor. 4:3-4 teaches that the gospel is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot respond to the gospel. John 8:34 teaches that we are slaves to sin.

    All these verses teach the absolute opposite of libertarian free-will. They all denote inability with words like: Bondage, slavery, cannot understand, does not seek, cannot come unto Me, blinded, dead in sin etc…

    You said, “God has “libertarian free will.” Sin did not remove our free will.”

    If you cannot sin in heaven, do you still posses libertarian free-will? And if you cannot sin in heaven (because you are free from sin, hence truly free) does that mean God is limiting you and not being loving to you?

    I was in your shoes not too many years ago. I denied the doctrine of election. Today, by God’s grace, I see the doctrine of election as one of the most humbling doctrines in all of Scripture. My story is similar to John Piper’s: http://bloodtippedears.blogspot.com/2007/12/john-piper-free-will.html I hope you took the time to watch the 3 videos I posted. They are very good. Take care.

    I’ll be praying for you, W.

    Blessings,

    Josh

  10. Amad says:

    You say that our choice to receive Christ is preceded by God’s choice of our salvation. The Bible directly contradicts this. Jesus died for the whole entire world (John 3:16) and God wants all people to be saved (2 Peter 3:9). I know that not all people get saved, but God wants all people to be saved. You take your interpretation of God’s sovereignty way too far. You are implying that God wants some people to go to hell. We do deserve hell, but God does not want us to go there.

    • B says:

      John 3:16 clearly is not teaching that God loves everyone in the world. Merely, that he loved all types of people in the world. 2 Peter was written to Christians, and so to say that God is waiting for all people in the world to come to repentence, he would be waiting a really long time to send his Son again. “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. ” He clearly is talking to Christians. If the object of his patience are the Christians, what would lead you to believe that the rest of the sentence is talking about everyone in the world?

      • reyjacobs says:

        “John 3:16 clearly is not teaching that God loves everyone in the world. Merely, that he loved all types of people in the world.”

        If there is no type of people that he doesn’t love, then he must love everyone, for in order to single a person out and say “I don’t love that person” you must have a criteria for not loving them, i.e. they must be a member of a type that you don’t love. Your interpretation makes God’s mind into mushy nonsense.

    • Janna Walters says:

      I know I am commenting on old post but I agree with your statements… .When people are saying God is ‘iin control’ i belive it’s wrong as can be!!!! That would take away free will!! And that Election doctrine is awful!!! So damaging to teach it!

  11. bob says:

    RE: ‘Although some feel that a sovereign God is too threatening and humbling, the alternatives are discouraging. To say there is no God, or that God does not care or stands helpless on the sidelines, leads to fatalism and despair.’

    -You started to develop a good argument, but lost it here. ‘the alternatives are discouraging’ yes, lets all belive in something cos otherwise we’ll just ‘despair’. this just reinforces the view that christianity is a crutch for people who cant deal with the harsh reality that life can suck sometimes.
    cheers

  12. rey says:

    While men slept the enemy (devil) sowed tares (false doctrine) in the master’s field (scripture). The reapers (readers) must first bind the tares to be burned (i.e. Rejected in their minds) and then and only then bring the wheat into the barn. Even the interpretation of this parable which is found in Matt 13 is a tare. If you take note of the context this parable of the tares comes in a series of parables about seed=word, including the parable of the sower. Dionysius of Corinth understood it in 170 as relating to textual corruption of the scriptures, but by 180 the false interpretation had been added (and used by Ireneaus) that the wheat and tares are people rather than words. Do you believe what the false interpretation in Matt 13 says, that God sowed his people in the world and God sowed his people in the world? Its incompatible with Arminianism and Calvinism and every other understanding of Christianity!

  13. Jas says:

    Actually, I find this teaching liberating! Since God is in ‘control’ over everything…then I guess He wouldn’t mind me stepping out and killing someone tomorrow. Further more…I shouldn’t be held accountable for that action either…because He willed it..and If He wills it..who are we as men to setup ‘justice’ for my actions?! Just out of Curiosity…… Isn’t the nature of God ‘Justice’ as well? So you are telling me..He permits and wills things He sent His son to destroy??? Hmm.

    I’m not a bible scholar like you all…but it seems to me something is out of balance somewhere. I do know of the scriptures you referenced..but I also know where God said ‘I wished that none would perish” and ” whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved!” and ” Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.’ Seems to me that’s a decision! But again… I am no scholar. It can be a whole lot easier to blame God for actions, and the state of the world. I guess it does bring some peace and comfort to know…we are not in control.
    A decision indeed is a powerful thing. Adam and Eve made a decision….not sure God would bring justice on something He permitted in the first place???

    I thank God He said He will never leave me nor forsake me! And it’s in that hope..that He left His holy Spirit here…gives me great comfort. To guide, to lead, to comfort, to correct, to intercede, and to guide. NOT to program my mind where I have no control.

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  15. cristina says:

    Nowhere in the Bible do we see that God loves the reprobate, in fact there is quite a lot of evidence of the contrary.
    many people confuse God’s longsuffering towards the wicked with His blesssing toward them…
    God never blesses the wicked and whatever they receive is only to their own destruction.
    The situation with His elect is different, He loves them unconditionnally because of His grace and even though He sometimes punishes them they are always loved by Him, they are His children.
    So yes, some people are made to destruction only
    and some people are made for salvation by grace

    • markblock says:

      I wouldn’t want to worship that God. The God I read in the Bible is love. No loving God would make people with the intent of sending them to hell. It’s not about free will. It’s about love.

  16. cristina says:

    You guys can have a stuffed plush God powerless spectator of world events but My God is GOD.
    All powerful
    Sovereign in EVERYTHING
    Loving only His children
    Holy
    Just with the wicked… aha, you deserve hell
    Merciful with His elect… and who can blame them?
    Working all things to His Glory
    and the good of His beloved

    Isaiah 40:15, 17, 18, 25, 26
    Isaiah 66: 1, 2
    etc

    read the Bible folks not some fairy tale about Dummy the Playdough

  17. davidbibee says:

    Great post! I think this was a wonderful handling of this! Praise be to our Sovereign King! Merry Christmas!

  18. Jas, thank you also. as Al thanked you.

    Calvinists view God’s sovereignty as being ‘controlling’ instead of being in control.

    I can be in control of where the bus i am driving is headed. but the passengers in the seats might sing, tell scripture to each other, curse, steal, do drugs, read a book, murder, anything. but i am still in control of the bus’s direction. I am not controlling the passengers many many choices, only where they will end up when the ride is over. but I am also in control in that i could stop the bus, roll the bus, blow it up, hit a jump, get gas, kick everyone off, welcome someone on, etc.

    I dont think God is controlling everything actively in everyone’s life. I believe his hand hovers over it, to intervene if he so desires.

    If God’s hand WAS controlling everything, then he did all the good and all the bad, and can have fun being mad at himself if he is Just.

    • davidbibee says:

      I am certain that this is a definite misreading of the teachings of historic Calvinism. As the Westminster Confession states: “God the great Creator of all things upholds, directs, disposes, and governs all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by his most wise and holy providence, according to his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will, to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy.”

      Prov. 16:9- In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD determines their steps.

      Eph. 1:11- “[God] brings about everything according to the perfect counsel of His will.”
      And Calvin himself said, “By predestination we mean the eternal decree of God, by which He determined with Himself whatever He wished to happen with regard to every man.” (and this was not meant as simply referring to salvation itself)

      The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Abstract Principles also contain the historic teaching of Calvin: “God from eternity, decrees or permits all things that come to pass, and perpetually upholds, directs and governs all creatures and all events; yet so as not in any wise to be the author or approver of sin nor to destroy the free will and responsibility of intelligent creatures.”

      Belgic Confession article 13: “We believe that this good God, after he created all things, did not abandon them to chance or fortune but leads and governs them according to his holy will, in such a way that nothing happens in this world without his orderly arrangement.
      Yet God is not the author of, nor can he be charged with, the sin that occurs. For his power and goodness are so great and incomprehensible that he arranges and does his work very well and justly even when the devils and wicked men act unjustly.”

      According to Calvin (and I would say Scripture), everything that happens occurs because God has specifically ordained it to occur, either causing it to happen directly or allowing it to happen (as in the case of sin) for the purposes of His ultimate glorification. He is not the author of sin, but only allows sin to occur for His ultimate purposes. It is a much more involved process than a more passive guidance.

      • david, id like to comment on this:

        ” The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Abstract Principles also contain the historic teaching of Calvin: “God from eternity, decrees or permits all things that come to pass, and perpetually upholds, directs and governs all creatures and all events; yet so as not in any wise to be the author or approve of sin nor to destroy the free will and responsibility of intelligent creatures.” ”

        If God permits, then he is not determining. He may be saying “yes, those things I shall permit, as they can fit into my overarching plan for the universe” without actually directing each detail in the matters permitted. acceptance is not the same as causing. but also in this statement, if God “upholds, directs and governs all creatures and all events” in a way that determines the details, then he is the cause of those happenings. sin, or holy obedience/action.

  19. I would also like to say that many replies given to the non-calvinist over God’s control vs controlling nature bring up tons of false dichotomies. saying things like “your God is not in control” or “then God doesnt get what God wants” There are plenty of things that have happened on earth that were not God’s desire. He even states in the OT that “and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command or decree, nor did it come into my mind”

    calvinists and non calvinists often operate with different definitions of the same words.

    • davidbibee says:

      I think that God actually does ordain that sin occur through the use of secondary causes. For example, God caused David to take a census (which God had previously forbidden), and then punished him for the sin. And later we find that it was Satan who tempted David to take the census (2 Sam. 24:1; 1 Chron. 21:1). It was God ordained that David commit that action, and He either caused Satan to tempt David so that he would do what God wanted (I think it is fair to assume that God directly caused Satan to do this because 2 Sam. says that God directly incited David to take the census, which occurred through the avenue of Satan’s tempting). God is not guilty for being the author of sin because of this. David knew that God had commanded him to not take a census, Satan tempted David, and God “permitted” David to yield to his sinful nature and took a census. God was still behind that because He had a reason for David’s action. David is still responsible for the sin, God is still blameless in His doings, and everything that happened occurred because God wanted it to occur.

      This is a fairly short, but powerful discussion about this topic by Jonathan Edwards called “Is God Less Glorious because He Ordains that Evil Be?”: http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/conference-messages/is-god-less-glorious-because-he-ordained-that-evil-be

      In response to the Greg Boyd article, this is a discussion about how Paul was absolutely discussing both corporate and individual election, including eternal salvation; one cannot separate election to a “vocational” position (being a light to the world) and the salvation that would also have to be present. If you are to be a light to the nations as God’s covenant people, then you also have to be a recipient of the covenant benefits, which includes salvation. Those elected to salvation are elected to a vocational purpose, and those elected to a vocational purpose are elected to salvation. The author is refuting a different author than Greg Boyd, but the ideas presented are the same:
      http://www.monergism.com/Schreiner%2C%20Thomas%20-%20Corporate%20and%20Individual%20Elect.pdf

      Good discussion, sir! I am glad that we have been able to consider these things with grace, as brothers!

  20. reyjacobs says:

    Calvinists have grossly perverted the meaning of ‘sovereign’ and based an entire Christian-in-name-only religion around that perverted definition of this word. No sovereign micromanages everything in his realm, but (obviously) delegates authority. Even the Roman emperors, as power-mad as they were, delegated authority to prefects who governed the various provinces.

    • davidbibee says:

      The issue is not whether anyone thinks Calvinists have perverted the word sovereign or not, but whether Scripture actually teaches if God controls everything or not. Apparently He “micromanages” everything, including the death of sparrows (Matt 10:29), the outcome of casting of lots (Prov. 16:33), who will receive salvation (Rom. 9:11-24, Eph. 1:3-14, John 6:65, Acts 13:48), when disasters occur in cities (Amos 3:6), the exact time when each individual person will die (Job 14:5), what each person does in their life (Prov. 16:9), etc, etc.

      I actually think this is the basic point of all Scripture:
      his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
      and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;
      all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
      and he does according to his will among the host of heaven
      and among the inhabitants of the earth;
      and none can stay his hand
      or say to him, “What have you done?
      -Daniel 4:34-35.

      God does exactly what He wants with every person, so that His plans would be fulfilled. And He is a just and righteous God in all that He does.

      11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

      14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion,[b] but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

      19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? (Romans 9:11-24)

      • reyjacobs says:

        “The issue is not whether anyone thinks Calvinists have perverted the word sovereign or not” — yes it is. Primarily because Calvinists love to play word games, and whenever anyone dissents from their absurd views, they say “So you deny God is sovereign?” They make their entire system to rest on the abuse of one word, so don’t deny that this is indeed the issue.

        “, but whether Scripture actually teaches if God controls everything or not. Apparently He “micromanages” everything, including the death of sparrows (Matt 10:29), the outcome of casting of lots (Prov. 16:33), who will receive salvation (Rom. 9:11-24, Eph. 1:3-14, John 6:65, Acts 13:48), when disasters occur in cities (Amos 3:6), the exact time when each individual person will die (Job 14:5), “

        Inasmuch as it is logically silly and ridiculous to believe that God would create the world as a giant puppet show in which he controls everything (there would be no point) these statements obviously must be viewed as poetic hyperbole.

        Further, we know that there is a water cycle. It rains — water collects in rivers and ponds — it evaporates because of the heat of the sun — it condenses in the atmosphere — it rains again. Science has explained it all as a natural phenomenon subject to the laws of physics. Therefore, when the Bible speaks as if God is actively doing it all, he maketh the rain to fall and collecteth the waters into rivers, and calls them forth to heaven again, and sends them back to the earth — we must interpret it not that he is actively doing it but that he has set it in motion by creating the laws of physics which keep the system going. To interptet it otherwise would just be silly.

        PLUS — AND THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT — THERE IS a difference of intepretation between portions of the Old Testament and Jesus on the matter of how God uses the rain and the sun. God may have made the sun stand still to allow his people to smite more of the heathen according to the author of Joshua — but to Jesus he causes the sun to shine on the good and the bad equally. God may withold the rain from the wicked nation according to the author of Kings or Chronicles — but to Jesus he sends his rain on the just and the unjust. Jesus presents a more scientific view of the sun and rain, even if he still uses poetic hyberole, and in doing this he has sanctified our progression to a more scientific view of the same.

  21. “”Again they object: were they not previously predestined by God’s
    ordinance to that corruption which is now claimed as the cause of
    condemnation? When, therefore, they perish in their corruption, they
    but pay the penalties of that misery in which Adam fell by the
    predestination of God, and dragged his posterity headlong after him.
    Is he not, then, unjust who so cruelly deludes his creatures? Of
    course, I admit that in this miserable condition wherein men are now
    bound, all of Adam’s children have fallen by God’s will. And this is
    what I said to begin with, that we must always at last return to the
    sole decision of God’s will, the cause of which is hidden in him.”
    (Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3:23.4)

    “Still, it is not in itself likely that man brought destruction upon
    himself through himself, by God’s mere permission and without any
    ordaining. As if God did not establish the condition in which he wills
    the chief of his creatures [Adam] to be! . . . For the first man fell
    because the Lord had judged it to be expedient; why he so judged is
    hidden from us. Yet it is certain that he so judged because he saw
    that thereby the glory of his name is duly revealed.” (3:23.8)”

    Calvin’s words.

  22. I want to offer this explanation, as i think it is said much better than I could say it myself. David, I hope you would read it in its entirety.

    http://www.gregboyd.org/essays/essays-predestination-free-will/how-do-you-respond-to-romans-9/

    I am only pointing to this presentation and argument. I am not arguing for Greg Boyd’s views as a whole.

  23. David, I would also like to share this with you.

    http://truthmagazine.com/archives/volume31/GOT031014.html

    I am being completely honest, and without a commitment to my persuasion for the sake of pride or anything like that. I only am thinking as I am because it makes the most sense to me. However, If the Bible preaches Calvinism as you say, then I must come to see its truth.

    I have come to feel it is not truth, but I only want to talk about these things because I DO want the truth. I am sorry if I have been offensive. I would be happy to hear your thoughts on these two articles I posted. Do you feel that they may be offering explanations worth considering? Because they seem possible to me.

    Alastair

    • davidbibee says:

      Alastair,

      Don’t be concerned that I have been offended! Nothing you have said is offensive in the least! I want everyone to seek after the truth because that is the most important thing! Having become fully convinced that the Bible does teach God’s sovereignty in all things, I have no problem discussing it!

      Regarding the truth magazine article you sent, I would have to agree that these verses cannot be said to conclusively prove the doctrine of total depravity (or total inability as it is also known), but I wouldn’t necessarily appeal to these verses to teach this doctrine to someone in the first place. I think that there are more compelling verses that show that we are incapable/unwilling to choose God, and incapable/unwilling to choose good.

      For example:

      What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written:
      “None is righteous, no, not one;
      no one understands;
      no one seeks for God.
      All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
      no one does good,
      not even one.”
      (Romans 3:9-12)

      “Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.”
      (Romans 14:23)

      So, each person is not righteous, does not understand, does not seek God, does not do good, and is considered morally worthless; and, whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. Faith, we know from numerous texts is how we are saved, but as Eph. 2:8-10 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” So this salvation by grace through faith isn’t something that we conjure ourselves. Faith isn’t what we add to the process of our salvation but, rather, is something that God has given as a gift to us. And without faith, nothing we do can be considered free of sin, or good.

      I think this verses alone show that we are unwilling and incapable in and of ourselves to seek after God, necessitating a move by God towards us to free us from ourselves, allowing us to then turn to Him. “And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father”(John 6:65). “And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48). And with Lydia it is said that the Lord “opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul” (Acts 16:14).

      Concerning our salvation, Paul went on the most wonderful tangent in Eph. 1:

      Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

      In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
      (Ephesians 1:3-14 ESV)

      And if I may use one more long quote (though I would hope you would make time to read through the entire article):

      Biblically, the difference between these two conceptions of how God in love relates to fallen human beings may be pinpointed thus. Arminianism treats our Lord’s parable of the Supper to which further guests were invited in place of those who never came (Luke 14:16-24; cf. Matt. 22:1-10) as picturing the whole truth about the love of God in the gospel. On this view, when you have compared God’s relation to fallen men with that of a dignitary who invites all needy folk around to come and enjoy his bounty, you have said it all. Calvinism, however, does not stop here, but links with the picture of the Supper that of the Shepherd (John 10:11-18, 24-29) who has his sheep given him to care for (vv. 14, 16, 27; cf. 6:37-40; 17:6, 11f.), who lays down his life for them (10:15), who guarantees that all of them will in due course hear his voice (vv. 16, 27) and follow him (v. 27), and be kept from perishing forever (v. 28). In other words, Calvinism holds that divine love does not stop short at graciously inviting, but that the triune God takes gracious action to ensure that the elect respond. On this view, both the Christ who saves and the faith which receives him as Savior are God’s gifts, and the latter is as much a foreordained reality as is the former. Arminians praise God for providing a Savior to whom all may come for life; Calvinists do that too, and then go on to praise God for actually bringing them to the Savior’s feet.

      So the basic difference between the two positions is not, as is sometimes thought, that Arminianism follows Scripture while Calvinism follows logic, nor that Arminianism knows the love of God while Calvinism knows only his power, nor that Arminianism affirms a connection between believing and obeying as a means and eternal life as an end which Calvinism denies, nor that Arminianism discerns a bona fide “free offer” of Christ in the gospel which Calvinism does not discern, nor that Arminianism acknowledges human responsibility before God and requires holy endeavor in the Christian life while Calvinism does not. No; the difference is that Calvinism recognizes a dimension of the saving love of God which Arminianism misses, namely God’s sovereignty in bringing to faith and keeping in faith all who are actually saved. Arminianism gives Christians much to thank God for, and Calvinism gives them more.
      -JI Packer, Arminianisms
      http://www.reformedliterature.com/packer-arminianisms.php

      Whether we one may contend if God actually controls meaningless things, though I would say that Scripture says he does, I think it is beyond any doubt that He does actually determine everything important that happens in our lives, specifically whether or not we will be saved. As Jesus said in His high priestly prayer: “I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours” (John 17:9). He made it clear that His sheep were given to Him by His Father beforehand, and that they would hear His voice and receive eternal life (John 10:27-29).

      I’ve gone on long enough I think! I hope that some of this is helpful. That article by Packer is quite long, but very good. He sure has a way with words! And again, thank you for the cordial discussion! It is nice when there can be discussions of things like this without the unfortunate tendency by many to resort to name-calling and pronouncements of damnation!

      David

    • davidbibee says:

      And so we don’t continue to clutter this blog with our back and forth, I created a discussion page on my own blog for this purpose: http://thebereanway.wordpress.com/calvinism-discussion/

    • Anonymous says:

      “I have come to feel it is not truth, but I only want to talk about these things because I DO want the truth.”

      I do not believe truth resides in our feelings but rather truth is found in propositions which are revealed in the Holy Scriptures. If one truly wants the truth he will eventually have to put his emotions in the back seat and allow the scriptures to speak for themselves. When this happens that person will no longer be an Arminian. I speak from experience.

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