Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Sovereignty of God

We continue our examination of the "Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God's Plan of Salvation":
Article Seven: The Sovereignty of God
We affirm God's eternal knowledge of and sovereignty over every person's salvation or condemnation.
We deny that God's sovereignty and knowledge require Him to cause a person's acceptance or rejection of faith in Christ.


    Here we have yet again an instance in which the authors of the Statement affirm a point in one breath and then deny it in the next. Here they claim to believe in God's "sovereignty over every person's salvation or condemnation," and then immediately after deny that it requires Him "to cause a person's salvation or condemnation." But to be sovereign means to exercise effective control. Either God is in control or He is not. What we suspect the authors intended to say is that God voluntarily relinquished His sovereignty so that the will of the individual sinner is the decisive factor. God, then, is no longer sovereign in any meaningful sense of the word.
    When we say that God is "sovereign" we mean that He is the all-powerful King and Creator of the universe.
        "For the Lord is the great God,
         And the great King above all gods.
         In His hand are the deep places of the earth;
         The heights of the hills are His also.
         The sea is His, for He made it;
         And His hands formed the dry land."
                        (Ps. 95:3-5; NKJV)
The Bible makes it clear that God is in control of the physical universe:
        "He has made the earth by His power,
         He has established the world by His wisdom,
         And has stretched out the heavens at His discretion.
         When He utters His voice,
         There is a multitude of waters in the heavens:
         And He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth.
         He makes the lightning for the rain,
         He brings the wind out of His treasuries."
                        (Jer. 10:12,13).
Moreover, God is in control of human history as well:
        "For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
         And holy is His name.
         And His mercy is on those who fear Him
         From generation to generation.
         He has shown strength with His arm;
         He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
         He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
         And exalted the lowly.
         He has filled the hungry with good things,
         And the rich He has sent away empty."
                        (Lu. 1:49-53)
What this means in practice for the believer is that "all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose" (Rom. 8:28).
    God is a righteous King, and He aims to enforce justice. Hi is the One
        "Who made heaven and earth,
         The sea, and all that is in them;
         Who keeps truth forever,
         Who executes justice for the oppressed,
          Who gives food to the hungry.
         The Lord gives freedom to the prisoners.
         The Lord opens the eyes of the blind;
         The Lord raises those who are bowed down;
         The Lord loves the righteous.
         The Lord watches over the strangers;
         He relieves the fatherless and widow;
         But the way of the wicked He turns upside down."
                        (Ps. 146:6-9)
God's power is invincible. Nebuchadnezzar was brought to acknowledge that
        ". . . His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
         And His kingdom is from generation to generation.
         All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing;
         He does according to His will in the army of heaven
         And among the inhabitants of the earth.
         No one can restrain His hand
         Or say to Him, 'What have You done?'"
                        (Dan. 4:34b,35)
        "For I know that the Lord is great,
         And our Lord is above all gods.
         Whatever the Lord pleases He does,
         In heaven and in earth,
         In the seas and in all deep places."
                        (Ps. 135:5,6)
        "There are many plans in a man's heart,
         Nevertheless the Lord's counsel – that will stand."
                        (Prov. 19:21)
In summary, we have been "predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will" (Eph. 1:11). " . . . for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13). And how does this impact the salvation of individuals? "And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed" (Acts 13:48b).

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