I have been saved for 51 years. From the time I was saved, I was taught and seemed to grasp quickly that God was totally in charge—that is totally in control. That nothing happened outside of his control. That he could do anything he wanted to do, etc. So, in all of those years, I believe I was taught the principle of sovereignty. However, the word was not used on a regular basis. Now, it seems that the word “sovereign” is used all of the time. Because of this type of thinking, I have become weary of the word “sovereign”. Not because I don’t believe God is in control of everything, but it seems it has become a mantra for living like Christian robots. It appears to me that God designed the world such that he gave us all sorts of choices—what we eat would be among them. Not to say we always make good choices, but are we now saying that we choose absolutely nothing? I could not have chosen a different house to live in? I could not have purchased a different car than the one I bought?
It is interesting that one of my early pastors used to say (often), “We are not robots. God does not reach down, unscrew the lid off the top of our heads and put everything we are supposed to do inside.” I used to wonder why he was so hung up on that because I had already come to believe that it did matter to God where I lived, what I said, what I did, etc. As I look back now, maybe he was just saying that God designed us to be responsible for our choices. I’m not sure. But at this point the word “sovereign” seems to have taken on that very “robot” nature that this early pastor talked about.
As I was studying this morning I came across this quote about the word “sovereign”: “He (God) orchestrates and determines everything that is going to happen in your life, in my life, in America, and throughout the world.” Is this true in totality that he orchestrates and determines everything, and if so aren’t we merely moving through life without responsibility to obey or not to obey God’s leading?
This whole sovereign “no choice” aspect of Christianity is making me lose my salvation. Well, don’t panic! Not really. But it has become an extremely big weight. I’m well aware that God can take my life right now this morning, and I would have no control over that event. However, did he ordain that I fall off a ladder while painting a ceiling this past Saturday morning? (True story and not pretty…Ha!) Don’t get me wrong. I know he CAN knock me off of a ladder. I know that he MIGHT knock me off of a ladder. I’m asking, is everything we do or don’t do already ordained to happen? I can no longer get my head around all of this chosen stuff.
You are thinking accurately. I appreciate your common sense and heart for biblical precision in this whole debate. The question is not whether or not God is sovereign, but what does God’s sovereignty mean? God is sovereign, and as sovereign He is in control. Yet God in His sovereignty chose to give man a responsible free choice.
Free choice brings up the importance of one’s view of faith. Faith is not unfettered choice, for without Holy Spirit conviction we would never make a right choice (Phil. 2:13). But Holy Spirit conviction does not mean we cannot resist Him and reject His leadership (Acts 7:51). Therefore faith is not unfettered choice, nor is it an inevitability. Faith is a responsibility or, we might say, a response-ability that is not a work (Rom. 4:5) but dependence on the Worker—God—who does the work.
Certainly God is all knowing, but foreknowledge does not mean God ordains or decrees or determines everything. If God decrees everything, He is the author of sin. It all gets ridiculous.
To make God decree everything is to make God small, ironically in the name of sovereignty. But God is great enough to give man a free will that’s real without diminishing His control. God is that “big.” He is the master chess player. He can maintain His sovereignty while giving man a real free will, without diminishing either His sovereign position or man’s freedom to choose. This is a much greater view of God than the fatalistic view.
Those who believe that sovereignty means that God decrees everything will like neither your question nor my answer. But if they really believe what they say they believe, they should not get upset. According to their belief, God decreed both the question and the response. So, if they are at all upset, they are really upset with God.
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