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Archive for March, 2010

The Effectiveness of our Prayers  -I Kings 8

Those who deny the sovereignty of God over individuals in an attempt to elevate the autonomous free will of man deny this belief in their prayers. We see an illustration of a proper understanding of the relationship between sovereignty and prayer at Solomon’s dedication of the temple. He not only prays that God will respond to the people in a certain way when they repent, but Solomon can also pray, “The LORD our God be with us, as he was with our fathers. May he not leave us or forsake us, that he may incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his rules, which he commanded our fathers” (I Kings 8:57-58).15 Solomon sees the responsibility of the people to repent but also sees the truth that God will bring about the repentance. God is sovereign and people are responsible.

The objection is often voiced: “If God is sovereign, then why bother to pray?” A.A. Hodge answered this question with another question:

If God has eternally decreed that you should live, what is the use of your breathing? If God eternally decreed that you should talk, what is the use of your opening your mouth? If God has eternally decreed that you should reap a crop, what is the use of your sowing the seed? If God has eternally decreed that your stomach should contain food,  what is the use of your eating? 

In order to educate us, [God] demands that we should use the means, or go without the ends that depend upon them. There are plenty of fools who make . . . the relation . . . of God to the time-life of man an excuse for neglecting prayer. But of all the many fools in the United States, there is not one absurd enough to make the same eternal decree an excuse for not chewing his food or for not voluntarily inflating his lungs.16

Instead of asking “Why bother to pray?”, it would be better to ask, “If God is not sovereign over the affairs, intentions, plans, abilities, wills, and desires of man, then how can we pray? Why should we pray?”

Consider the prayers we make for God to save a lost individual. John Piper writes that those who wish to deny or lessen divine sovereignty

. . . do not believe that God has the right to intrude upon a person’s rebellion, and overcome it, and draw that person effectually to faith and salvation. They do not believe that God has the right to exert Himself so powerfully in grace as to overcome all the resistance of a hardened sinner.

Instead, they believe that man himself has the sole right of final determination in the choices and affections of his heart toward God. Every person, they say, has final self-determination in whether they will overcome the hardness of their hearts and come to Christ.17

If it is said that the most that God can do to save a man is to restore a certain measure of enabling grace (which God does for all men everywhere), then all men are brought to a similar point. No one is actually saved but all men are brought to a position of “savability” – so as to make it possible for the soul to act on its own so that salvation is the result. This means that the ultimate reason one person repents and another does not cannot be found in God. How can we pray to God for salvation when God has already done all that He can/will do for an individual?

One will answer that we can pray that God would plant in the lost soul an inner unrest and longing for Christ. That may be so but if God can do so without impinging on the free will of man, then how strong can that longing be? First, for a lost man to experience “unrest” and “longing” for Christ implies that he is at rest without Christ and currently longs to remain apart from Christ. Therefore, any action on God’s part would violate this current condition.18

Furthermore, there are two levels of longing: strong enough to draw a person to Christ and not strong enough to do the same. If the longing is strong enough to lead that person to pursue Christ, then why not plant that level of longing in all? Which of the two longings should we pray that God implant in a person’s life? If we pray for the strong longing, we are praying for God to do an effectual work in someone’s life, which is Calvinistic. If we pray for the weaker longing, then we are praying for an ineffectual longing that leaves a person in their sin.

In this case, one must either accept God’s ability to move effectually in the hearts of men or accept that he cannot effectively pray for his friends and family.

 

 

(15 It is noteworthy to add that all people pray in a Calvinistic sense that God has the ability and desire to act upon the free will of men. We pray that God will “open his eyes” and “make him uncomfortable” and others such acts. God must do something if anyone is to be saved. The question then becomes to what extent does God move and to what end are His movements effective. 16 A.A. Hodge, Evangelical Theology (1890; Reprint, Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1976), 92-93, as quoted by Sam Storms, “Prayer and Evangelism Under Gods Sovereignty,” in Thomas Schreiner and Bruce Ware, ed. Still Sovereign: Contemporary Perspectives on Election, Foreknowledge, and Grace (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2000), 318. 17 John Piper, The Treasures of God (Portland, OR: Multnomah, 1991), 224-225. 18 Sam Storms, Chosen for Life: The Case for Divine Election (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2007), 208-209.)

By Jeff Spry (www.monergism.com)

***This will begin a new blog series on the Sovereignty of God.  This topic has been highly mis-understood throughout much of evangelicalism.  Some will say they believe that God is sovereign, yet deny its many implications.  Others will completely deny God’s Sovereignty because of it’s implications.  We hope that you will stick with this extensive study on the Sovereignty of God.  We will be including resources from a variety of Theologians and Authors, that will hopefully be able to answer many of the misnomers and questions that you may have***

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The Nullification of Covetousness (Exodus 34)

 

An amazing story is told in Exodus 34 that seems is almost made in passing and easy to miss. Moses is discussing the various feasts ordained by the Lord. In giving instructions regarding the Feasts of Weeks, we read the following: 

You shall observe the Feast of Weeks, the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the year’s end. Three times in the year shall all your males appear before the LORD God, the God of Israel. For I will cast out nations before you and enlarge your borders; no one shall covet your land, when you go up to appear before the LORD your God three times in

the year (Ex 34:22-24). 

Let’s put this in perspective.14 The modern equivalent to this would be for the U.S. government to halt all action and transactions, all banks to shut down, all military maneuvers and operations to cease, all military personnel to be furloughed, all businesses and educational institutions to shut down, and for every single citizen to gather for one giant Christian assembly three times a year. Can you imagine how vulnerable America would be for those three occasions? 

However, this that is exactly what God commanded Israel to do and He promised they would be safe during these special times. How? God would not allow anyone to covet them or their lands, much less invade and take over. God could make that promise because in His sovereignty, He has the power to restrain people not only from doing something, but even desiring to do it.

(14 Adapted from Jerry Bridges, “Does Divine Sovereignty Make A Difference in Everyday Life?” in Thomas Schreiner and Bruce Ware, ed. Still Sovereign: Contemporary Perspectives on Election, Foreknowledge, and Grace (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2000), 300.)

By Jeff Spry (www.monergism.com)

 

***This will begin a new blog series on the Sovereignty of God.  This topic has been highly mis-understood throughout much of evangelicalism.  Some will say they believe that God is sovereign, yet deny its many implications.  Others will completely deny God’s Sovereignty because of it’s implications.  We hope that you will stick with this extensive study on the Sovereignty of God.  We will be including resources from a variety of Theologians and Authors, that will hopefully be able to answer many of the misnomers and questions that you may have***

Read Full Post »

The Sovereignty of God

 

The Hardening of a King’s Heart (Exodus 4-14)

 The story above is even more amazing when you consider all that took place prior to its occurrence. The “evil boss” in the story above was the most powerful man on earth – Pharaoh of Egypt. After God revealed His total plan to Moses in the conversation at the Burning Bush, Moses continued to doubt. He offered up the excuse that people would not listen to him (Ex 4:1) and that he was not a good speaker (Ex 4:10). Finally, Moses just said, “Please send someone else” (Ex 4:13).

 Moses ultimately relented and obeyed the command of God. As he traveled, God continued to give Moses assurance by revealing even more of His plan. God told Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go” (Ex 4:21, emphasis mine).

 After the long journey to Egypt, Moses met with his brother Aaron and appeared before Pharaoh. In this initial encounter, events transpired just as God told Moses they would. We read that Pharaoh responded to Moses’ request by saying, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and moreover, I will not let Israel go” (Ex 5:2).

 Moses and Aaron took this response as vindication of the Lord’s control over the situation. Immediately, the brothers said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God, lest he fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword” (Ex 5:3).

Moses saw the hand of God in Pharaoh’s initial resistance and also in Pharaoh’s act to compound the Israelites’ troubles. After meeting with Moses and Aaron, Pharaoh told his taskmasters, You shall no longer give the people straw to make bricks, as in the past; let them go and gather straw for themselves” (Ex 5:7ff). After this cruel act, the Hebrews were troubled and met with Moses and Aaron. They complained about Moses “interfering” with their lives. However, Moses understood that all that had transpired did so at the bidding of the Lord. The Bible says that “Then Moses turned to the LORD and said, ‘O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me?’” (Ex 5:22). Moses understood that God had said He would harden Pharaoh’s heart and not send Israel away and God did just that. Therefore, the worsened plight of the Israelites is an “evil” from God.9

 Many will say that Pharaoh hardened his own heart. Before Moses even completed his journey, God revealed that His intention was to bring His wrath upon the Egyptians. Contrary to popular opinion, God was not “forced” to bring about the ten plagues by Pharaoh’s stubborn heart. Instead, God reveals from the outset that His plan was to harden Pharaoh’s heart. In the same passage at the burning bush, God reveals His endmove:

 When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. Then you shall say to Pharaoh, “Thus says the LORD, Israel is my firstborn son, and I say to you, “Let my son go that he may serve me. If you refuse to let him go, behold, I will kill your firstborn son.” (Ex 4:21-23).

 God tells Moses that many miraculous things are going to take place – not because God is responding to Pharaoh’s power but because God has already planned to unleash His wrath on the people.

 Furthermore, after Pharaoh’s initial rebuff, Moses gets a “fresh start.”10 In Exodus 7:2-4, God repeats the words of 4:21. God repeats His instructions to Moses and Aaron, saying, “You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall tell Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go out of his land. But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, Pharaoh will not listen to you.”

After the well-known incident of Moses’ staff turning into a serpent, the narrator of Exodus tells us that “Still Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the LORD had said” (Ex 7:13; emphasis mine). This is a fulfillment of the prediction of verses 3-4. As such, “since this refusal is the intended result of God’s hardening in 7:3- 4a, it would be unwarranted to construe 7:13 as anything other than a fulfillment of God’s hardening of Pharaoh’s heart.”11 The natural assumption is that the narrator had the opinion that God is the one at work from the beginning to the end. Also, we believe God is at work in order to fulfill His grand purpose, as seen earlier, “The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD” (Ex 7:5).

 After the two meetings between Moses and Pharaoh had gone exactly as God told Moses they would, the prerequisite for the soon-coming demonstration of God’s power had been met. After these two events, God tells Moses “Pharaoh’s heart is hardened; he refuses to let the people go. Go to Pharaoh in the morning . . . ” (Ex 7:14-15). It is at this point that the plagues begin and Pharaoh’s heart is already hardened. 

  •  Plague #1: water to blood. “Pharaoh’s heart remained hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the LORD had said” (Ex 7:22; emphasis mine). 
  •  Plague #2: frogs. The king promised to let the people go if the frogs would be removed. Moses allowed Pharaoh to name the time for the removal of the frogs. Once they were gone, “Pharaoh saw that there was a respite, he hardened his heart and would not listen to them, as the LORD had said” (Ex 8:15; emphasis mine). 
  •  Plague #3: lice. The magicians could not replicate this act and confessed God was behind it (Ex 8:18-19). However, we read that “Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the LORD had said” (Ex 8:19). 
  •  Plague #4: flies. Again Pharaoh lied to gain relief and once the flies were gone, “Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and did not let the people go” (Ex 8:32). 
  •  Plague #5: death of cattle. There is no remorse from Pharaoh but after hearing that “not one of the livestock of Israel was dead . . . the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people go” (Ex 9:7; emphasis mine). 
  • Plague #6: boils. There was no interaction between Moses and Pharaoh. The narrator simply writes, “the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he did not listen to them, as the LORD had spoken to Moses” (Ex 9:12; emphasis mine). The effect of uniting “The Lord had spoken” to “The Lord hardened” is to show the relationship between the two and the previous instances where the phrase was used (plagues 1, 2, 3). The relationship between the times where God explicitly does the hardening and where the hardening was done passively and where Pharaoh hardened his own heart is confirmation that these three expressions all respresent the results of God’s initial, expressed intention to harden Pharaoh’s heart for His own divine purposes.12 
  •  Plague #7: hail. Again Pharaoh promised to let the Jews go. Moses prayed and the hail went away “so that you may know that the earth is the Lord’s” (Ex 9:29). However “when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunder had ceased, he sinned yet again and hardened his heart. . . . So the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people of Israel go, just as the LORD had spoken through Moses” (Ex 9:35). Three things:13

 -The purpose of exalting God’s right and power over the earth is achieved not only in the plagues but also in their removal.

 -In hardening his heart, Pharaoh is said to have sinned. God found fault with Pharaoh and his hard heart. We might find it unfair for God to do this but Paul anticipated this objection in Romans 9:19 (in which Paul directly refers to this very passage of Scripture).

 – This is the last time we read “as God had said.” It has occurred six times since the announcement by God in 4:21 and 7:3. The repeated reference back to these predictions has shown that the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart was understood by the narrator to be God’s work from the very beginning

  •  Plague #8: locusts. Before the eight plague, God told Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may show these signs of mine among them . . . and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson . . . and . . . that you may know that I am the Lord” (Ex 10:1-2). This statement is explicit. It also reveals another purpose for these plagues and the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart – the future benefit of Israel’s faith in God. After the plague was lifted, we read that “the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the people of Israel go” (Ex 10:20). 
  •  Plague #9: Darkness. The Lord sent three days of darkness on Egypt. Pharaoh allowed all the Jews to leave Egypt except for their flocks and herds. But “the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let them go” Ex 10:27). 
  • Plague #10: Death of the firstborn. Finally, Moses was told of the death of Pharaoh’s son and all the firstborn of Egypt. At the end of the instructions, God told Moses, “Pharaoh will not listen to you, that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt” (Ex 11:9). The purpose remains the same – God’s glory. In Ex 11:10, the narrator says that Moses and Aaron “did all these wonders before

Pharaoh,” which functions as a summary of all the plagues together and recall once again the predictions of 4:21 and 7:3. The point is that “all the miracles” (not just half, as some say), did not move Pharaoh’s heart because God was hardening Pharaoh’s heart.

After the tenth plague, Pharaoh allowed the Hebrews to leave. However, we read that God warned Moses about Pharaoh’s plan. God told Moses that “Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, ‘They are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD” (Ex 14:3-4). In 14:5, we see that the “mind of Pharaoh and his servants was changed toward the people.”

In 14:8, “the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the people of Israel.” God comforted Moses and the Israelites by saying “I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen” (Ex 14:17-18).

The result is well known: “Israel saw the great power that the LORD used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in his servant Moses” (Ex 14:31). God’s final aim, revealed at the very beginning, was fulfilled. His power was demonstrated and His might and glory were lifted high.

(9 John Piper, The Justification of God: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Romans 9:1-23 (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1993), 162. 10 Piper, The Justification of God, 163. 11 Piper, The Justification of God, 163. 12 Piper, The Justification of God, 165. 13 Piper, The Justification of God, 168.)

By Jeff Spry (www.monergism.com)

 

***This will begin a new blog series on the Sovereignty of God.  This topic has been highly mis-understood throughout much of evangelicalism.  Some will say they believe that God is sovereign, yet deny its many implications.  Others will completely deny God’s Sovereignty because of it’s implications.  We hope that you will stick with this extensive study on the Sovereignty of God.  We will be including resources from a variety of Theologians and Authors, that will hopefully be able to answer many of the misnomers and questions that you may have***

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The Sovereignty of God

 

The Plundering of the Egyptians (Exodus 3, 12)

Jerry Bridges asks us to picture ourselves in this situation:

You are the latest generation in your family to work for a cruel boss. It is the only life you have ever known. Your salary puts you below the poverty line. You are discriminated against and oppressed by this boss to the point where you are nothing more than a slave. Multiple generations of your family have worked for this company but now the day has come when you are able to leave this company.

However, there is a problem: you have no financial resources, no way to make the long trip to your new life, no funds to start over in this new location. Therefore, you are stuck. You cannot leave. So you go to this boss who has so severely mistreated you and ask for money for the trip. Amazingly, your boss doesn’t just give you a little money to help you on your way. Instead, he gives you so much money that you are now rich and he is poor.8

That might happen in a Disney® animated movie but could it happen in real life? Yes it can. In fact, this story did happen in real life (of course, the details are slightly changed). We read this story in the Book of Exodus. The Israelites are the oppressed people and Pharaoh is the oppressive boss. God gives the command to the Hebrews to leave Egypt and Pharaoh eventually says, “Get out.” However, the Israelites have nothing to make this journey possible. God knows this and handles the situation for their benefit.

In the well-known story of Moses and the Burning Bush, God reveals His plan to Moses:

I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. . . . I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians . . .

I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand. So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all the wonders that I will do in it; after that he will let you go. And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and when you go, you shall not go empty, but each woman shall ask of her neighbor, and any woman who lives in her house, for silver and gold jewelry, and for clothing. You shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians. (Ex 3:6-8, 19-22)

Remember, all of these words came before Moses reluctantly returned to Egypt. Yet God revealed all that would happen. The Lord told of His plan to strike the Egyptians, after which He told Moses that Pharaoh “will let you go.” It is definite in the mind of God. God also says that He “will give [Israel] favor in the sight of the Egyptians.” God is saying that He will actually invade the minds and hearts of these pagan peoples and turn their affections favorably towards the Jews. It appears that this turn of the heart will be to the point that the Egyptians will be given almost all the treasure of Egypt. Did this come to pass? Later in Exodus, we read:

The people of Israel had also done as Moses told them, for they had asked the Egyptians for silver and gold jewelry and for clothing. And the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. Thus they plundered the Egyptians (Ex 12:35- 36).

The Egyptians did something completely contrary to normal behavior. They freely gave their slaves whatever the slaves asked for to the point of being “plundered.” They did what they did freely (“they LET them have what they asked”). Yet it was God who put this in their hearts to do so.

(8 Story adapted from Jerry Bridges, Is God Really In Control? Trusting God in a World of Hurt (Colorado Springs, NavPress, 2006), 39-40.)

By Jeff Spry (www.monergism.com)

***This will begin a new blog series on the Sovereignty of God. This topic has been highly mis-understood throughout much of evangelicalism. Some will say they believe that God is sovereign, yet deny its many implications. Others will completely deny God’s Sovereignty because of it’s implications. We hope that you will stick with this extensive study on the Sovereignty of God. We will be including resources from a variety of Theologians and Authors, that will hopefully be able to answer many of the misnomers and questions that you may have***

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The Sovereignty of God

 The Restraint of Evil (Genesis 20)

God moves in people’s hearts to bless His people and fulfill His purpose. God also restrains people from evil. We see this in the life of Abraham. Abraham, the great example of faith, feared for his own life in the presence of King Abimelech. Abraham lied and said that Sarah was his sister, not his wife (Gen 20:2). Because of this lie, the king moved to take Sarah as his wife.

 God, however, did not allow this to happen. God came to the king in a dream and revealed to him that “Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her” (Gen 20:6). God did nothing to hinder the king physically or circumstantially. The impedance was all in Abimelech’s mind. God protected the purity of Abraham’s promised son by His sovereign power.

 

The Unintended Benefit of Evil Intentions (Genesis 45, 50)

Joseph’s brothers hated their younger sibling and sold him into slavery. Years later, after much had transpired, they brothers met their long-lost sibling once again. However, now Joseph had risen in power over Egypt, used by God in a great way to save the nation of Israel. Joseph could do as he wished with the men but he realized God’s purpose in all that had happened in his life. He told his brothers, “So it was not you who sent me here, but God” (Gen 45:8). Later, he revealed to them that “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” (Gen 50:20).

 It is important to note what Joseph did NOT say. He did not say that God took the brothers’ sinful acts and turn it around, making lemonade out of lemons. He also did not say that God intended to whisk Joseph off to Egypt first-class and have him rise to power in some other way until Joseph’s brothers messed the initial plan up.

 Instead, Joseph tells us that it was God’s intent to have Joseph sold into slavery to bring about a later good for all the people of Israel. God was working sovereignly in Joseph’s sale into slavery and his long prison term on trumped-up charges. God’s sovereignty does not mean that we will never endure pain or suffering. However, it does mean that God is in control of all our pain and suffering and He has a purpose in it. God will not be reduced to a role of mere contingency.7

 

(7

D.A. Carson, How Long, O Lord? Reflections on Suffering and Evil (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic,2006), 183.)

 

By Jeff Spry (www.monergism.com)

 

***This will begin a new blog series on the Sovereignty of God.  This topic has been highly mis-understood throughout much of evangelicalism.  Some will say they believe that God is sovereign, yet deny its many implications.  Others will completely deny God’s Sovereignty because of it’s implications.  We hope that you will stick with this extensive study on the Sovereignty of God.  We will be including resources from a variety of Theologians and Authors, that will hopefully be able to answer many of the misnomers and questions that you may have***

 

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The Sovereignty of God over Man 

 

The Sovereign of all other “Sovereigns”

 

In our democratic nation, most of us have virtually no concept of a true sovereign ruler. Our leaders are in positions of power because we put them there.5 However, in the days of the Old and New Testament, people knew quite well the power of a sovereign ruler. Kings held all life and power in their hands.

 

Yet, even with all this power, we read in the Scriptures that “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases” (Proverbs 21:1). In Solomon’s day, there was no Congress to pass laws he did not like or a Supreme Court to restrain his actions.6 The king’s word was final and authoritative. Yet, this passage teaches that the stubborn will of the most powerful man on earth is easily turned in the direction desired by the Lord. If God is not sovereign over mankind (including kings), then how can this verse be true in any sense of the word?

 

In Deuteronomy, we read that “Sihon the king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him, for the LORD your God hardened his spirit and made his heart obstinate, that he might give him into your hand, as he is this day” (Deuteronomy 2:30). This king exercised his kingly right to deny access to the land he ruled. However, we read that God had a purpose in this: God hardened the heart of the king so that this king might be defeated and subjugated to the Israelites.

 

A similar incident is found in Israel’s conquest of the Promised Land. We read that “Joshua made war a long time with all those kings. . . . it was the LORD’s doing to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle, in order that they should be devoted to destruction and should receive no mercy but be destroyed, just as the LORD commanded Moses” (Joshua 11:18-20).

 

The heart and mind of the most powerful people on earth are fully malleable in the hands of an omnipotent sovereign God. Using an argument from the greater to the lesser, if God has the right, power, and inclination to deal with kings this way, then He has as much right, power, and inclination to lesser men. We see this in other passages:

 

  •  The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps (Proverbs 16:9).
  •  Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails (Proverbs 19:21).
  •  I know, O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps (Jeremiah 10:23).
  • A man’s steps are from the LORD; how then can man understand his way? (Pro 20:24).

 

(4 Norman Geisler, “God, Evil, and Dispensations” in Walvoord: A Tribute, Donald Campbell, ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1982), 102-103, as quoted in James White, The Potter’s Freedom, 54-55. 5 Of course, the ultimate reason is the sovereign control of God over nations (as we learned in chapter two). 6 Jerry Bridges, “Does Divine Sovereignty Make A Difference in Everyday Life?” in Thomas Schreiner and Bruce Ware, ed. Still Sovereign: Contemporary Perspectives on Election, Foreknowledge, and Grace (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2000), 300.)

 

By Jeff Spry (www.monergism.com)

 

 

 

***This will begin a new blog series on the Sovereignty of God.  This topic has been highly mis-understood throughout much of evangelicalism.  Some will say they believe that God is sovereign, yet deny its many implications.  Others will completely deny God’s Sovereignty because of it’s implications.  We hope that you will stick with this extensive study on the Sovereignty of God.  We will be including resources from a variety of Theologians and Authors, that will hopefully be able to answer many of the misnomers and questions that you may have***

Read Full Post »

The Sovereignty of God over Man

 

Common Objections

 

The rebellion is usually couched in terms used to protect the dignity and freedom of man. Man is at the ready to lead in a fierce battle to protect the autonomy of man. While God needs no help, I posit that a greater cause is always to ensure the dignity and freedom of the Lord, over and above our own. For that reason, this point is the turning point in the discussion. If you assert God’s absolute freedom, ability, and power in this created order, you will not be able to retreat when the discussion turns to God’s sovereignty over the rest of His creation – humanity

 

There are several common objections that are raised when the discussion turns to God’s sovereignty over man. A few of these are:

1) If God is absolutely sovereign over man, then man cannot be responsible for his actions.

2) God values man’s free will so much that He would never violate man’s free will. 3

 

We see these objections in the following statement:

 

God will save the greatest number of people that is actually achievable without violating their free choice. A loving God will not force anyone against their will to love Him or to worship Him. Forced love is not love; forced worship is not worship. Heaven will not be composed of robots. . . .

3 Two other common objections:

 “If God is absolutely sovereign over man, then there is no need for man to do anything” and “If God is absolutely sovereign over man, then man is not truly free.” We will answer these objections in later chapters.

In short, God will not save people at all cost – not if it is at the cost of their freedom and dignity – for that would mean at the cost of their humanity. . . . Those whom God can lovingly persuade have been foreordained to eternal life. Those whom He cannot, are destined in accordance with their own choice to eternal destruction.4

 

If we are to dispel these objections, we must accomplish the following:

 1) Prove that the Bible teaches the sovereignty of God and the moral responsibility of man.

2) Prove from the Bible that God does interfere with the thoughts, motives, attitudes, and decisions of men.

 

Therefore, we now turn our attention to numerous passages that will accomplish this task. We will see in the passages that follow that man is morally responsible before a sovereign God and that God often “meddles” with the alleged autonomous free will of man.

 

Passages that Teach God’s Sovereignty over Man

We have examined numerous passages that clearly teach God’s sovereign control over the cosmos, history, the created order, and even “coincidences.” There are just as many passages in Scripture that deal with God’ sovereignty over man as there are for His sovereignty over nature and circumstances. Remember, even God’s direct sovereignty over nature has a indirect impact on man. Consider the implications of God’s control of forces of nature like hurricanes and earthquakes. However, we see from numerous passages that God also intervenes directly in the hearts, minds, and lives of men and women.

 

By Jeff Spry (www.monergism.com)

 

 

 

***This will begin a new blog series on the Sovereignty of God.  This topic has been highly mis-understood throughout much of evangelicalism.  Some will say they believe that God is sovereign, yet deny its many implications.  Others will completely deny God’s Sovereignty because of it’s implications.  We hope that you will stick with this extensive study on the Sovereignty of God.  We will be including resources from a variety of Theologians and Authors, that will hopefully be able to answer many of the misnomers and questions that you may have***

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