009 - 11 - Lesson 11: The Sovereignty of God

The Theology of God  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Is everything that happens the will of God? Yes – but in a highly qualified sense. It is important to see the different senses of the “will of God” in Scripture.

The Purpose of God

Sometimes the Bible speaks of the will of God in the sense of his divine purposes, that which God determines to do, like creation (Rev. 4:11 ) and redemption (Eph. 1:7-10). It also involves God’s providential rule over creation (James 4:13-15). This is what most people have in mind when they say, “It must have been God’s will.”
Revelation 4:11 ESV
11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”
Ephesians 1:7–10 ESV
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
James 4:13–15 ESV
13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
The theological system known as Calvinism contends that God directly determines everything that happens and man doesn’t have free will.

The Precepts of God

Sometimes the Bible speaks of God’s will in the sense of his precepts or commands – what God prefers will happen, but which we must accept or reject. This is why the Bible says we can “do the will of God” (Matt. 7:21; 12:50).
Matthew 7:21 ESV
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 12:50 ESV
50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

The Permission of God

Obviously, not everyone accepts the preceptive will of God. God permits them to do otherwise – and this is the permissive will of God (Acts 14:16). The Bible teaches that sometimes God wills/desires/wishes/prefers one outcome, but permits free creatures to choose another (1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9).
Acts 14:16 ESV
16 In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways.
1 Timothy 2:4 ESV
4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
2 Peter 3:9 ESV
9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

God’s Sovereignty and Human Freedom

God made the sovereign decision to give us freedom. “Man’s will is free because God is sovereign. A God less than sovereign could not bestow moral freedom upon His creatures” (Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, p. 111).
Because of his omniscience and omnipotence he can weave our choices into his rule (Gen. 50:20).
Genesis 50:20 ESV
20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
God will eventually crush all rebellion (1 Cor. 15:24-28).
1 Corinthians 15:24–28 ESV
24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.
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