How Far Does The Sovereignty Of God Extend?

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Hi M____,

I am gratified that you found the article on God’s sovereignty helpful. Believe me when I say that the discussion of God being in total control of every detail, actually working every thought of every man who has ever lived “after the counsel of His own will,” versus God simply allowing man ‘limited free will’ was hotly debated in this household for well over two years. I was of the same opinion that we have ‘limited free will’ that entire two years. My middle son, Dallas, had read what I considered at that time a piece of ‘scientific’ drivel, about something called ‘fractals’. It was a scientific book on the study of chaos. The message of the book was that what appears to be chaos is in reality always, in every case, a very controlled event. No laws are ever broken because “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” That is a law of God that you can take to the bank. It is called ‘The law of cause and effect.’

What we consider incomprehensible details and ‘chaos’ in the lives of billions of humans, are anything but incomprehensible to God. His ‘computer’ (I speak as a fool) is more than able to handle every gigabyte of information thrown at it. It is not only the “very hairs of the heads” of God’s elect that are numbered, it is the hairs of the heads of every man who has ever lived in the remotest regions of time and space that are numbered. It is the sparrows of all time and space that do not fall to the ground without God being aware of it. He tells us how that is: “He works all things after the counsel of His Own will.” It all being “His OWN will means it is all after His plan.

All big events rest upon a multitude of preceding little events. This is both common knowledge and common sense. So yes, God does plan and execute every detail of the lives of every man of all time. This is the simple message of the very hairs of your head are numbered and every sparrow that falls is in His care.”Are you [ humans made ‘in Adam] not of much more value than many sparrows?”

If God declares that he numbers the very hairs of your head and keeps up with such details as dying sparrows, as He himself asks, ‘Are ye not of much more value to our heavenly Father than many sparrows?’ Would God not be far more concerned with every detail of our lives, right down to the number of “hairs on our heads,” to use His own words? How is the ability to “declare how each of us will live” in any way “the reverse” of planning out every detail? In order to be able to “declare how each of us will live,” requires that God planned it so. Your conclusion is scriptural. It is the former:

The scriptures reveal that everything that happens, happens right on schedule:

Gen 18:14 Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.
Exo 9:5 And the LORD appointed a set time, saying, To morrow the LORD shall do this thing in the land.
Ecc 3:1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
Ecc 3:2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up [ that which is] planted;
Ecc 3:3 A time to kill, and a tim e to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
Ecc 3:4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
Ecc 3:5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
Ecc 3:6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
Ecc 3:7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
Ecc 3:8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

All of these emboldened words are the exact same Hebrew word. They are one and all “appointed [ and]… set times” with God. With God everything, good and evil, happens right on schedule because he declares the end from the beginning.

Isa 46:10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
Isa 46:11 Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.

Exactly how much does “My counsel shall stand… I will do all my pleasure” include?:

Eph 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

It is impossible to have more than one sovereign “free will’ in the universe. So who is it that creates and operates all things, both the good and the evil, after the counsel of His own will?

Isa 45:5 I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:
Isa 45:6 That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else.
Isa 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

We do not need to “know God” for Him to be molding us in the image He desires. It so happens that what He desires for us all, is that we all begin as “marred… vessels of clay.”

Jer 18:4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.

Your second question was:

Let’s look at this scripture and see what it really says:

Ecc 9:11 I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
Ecc 9:12 For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.

We just read in Isaiah forty- five that it is God who “creates” all this evil. The Hebrew word in both verses in Isa 45:7 and in Ecc 9:12, is ‘raah’ Strong’s #7451. It means what it says. It means ‘evil.’ ” Man… knows not his time.” To man life appears to be ‘time and chance.’ But God does not take chances. Instead He has decided to “work all things after the counsel of His own will.” “Man may not know his time,” but here is the truth about what God knows about what you and I will be doing tomorrow:

Jas 4:13 Go to now, ye that say, Today or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:
Jas 4:14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away [ Apparently just ‘time and chance’].

But there is someone who does know what tomorrow holds for every one of us. He knows because He it is who is “working all things after the counsel of His own will.”

Jas 4:15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.
Jas 4:16 But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. [“Created of the Lord”]

Man thinking that he has ‘free will,’ does not surprise God. “All such… boasting… and rejoicing is evil” because God “creates good and evil.” “Time and chance happeneth to them all [ all men … (who) know not their time”]. God on the other hand knows exactly “what shall be on the morrow.”

Your next question was:

God does “take responsibility” for this evil. It is orthodox Christianity who wants to keep people from ever seeing that He accepts responsibility for all evil. God admits to “slaying all in whose nostrils is the breath of life” in the flood of Noah’s day. He admits to killing all the people of “all the cities of the plain” when He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. It was God who caused the walls of Jericho to fall, killing all the inhabitants but Rahab the harlot and her family. It was God who plainly tells us that He sent Satan to kill all of Job’s children and to try Job with such misery and pain. It was God who sent an evil spirit to trouble King Saul.” Notice this revealing contrast in two accounts of the same story in scripture:

2Sa 24:1 And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he [“The Lord.”] moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.
1Ch 21:1 And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.

Of course those who are not given faith are inclined to call this a Biblical contradiction. But for those with “eyes to see,” this is a confirmation of the story of how King Ahab was led to go up against the Syrians at Ramothgilead:

2Ch 18:19 And the LORD said, Who shall entice Ahab king of Israel, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead? And one spake saying after this manner, and another saying after that manner.
2Ch 18:20 Then there came out a [ lying ] spirit, and stood before the LORD, and said, I will entice him. And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith?
2Ch 18:21 And he said, I will go out, and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And the LORD said, Thou shalt entice him, and thou shalt also prevail: go out, and do even so.
2Ch 18:22 Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil against thee.

God can honestly say that He Himself did not send these lying prophets, but He nowhere in scripture fails to take the responsibility for all His works. “He works all things [ even lying spirits] after the counsel of His own will.” While the word ‘responsibility’ is nowhere to be found in all of scripture, yet God makes it clear that He is the Great Cause of all things:

Isa 45:5 I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:
Isa 45:6 That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else.
Isa 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.
Pro 16:4 The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.

Man is never held responsible for his evil deeds. God cannot hold man ‘responsible’ for his evil ways because God Himself has thrust a sinful nature upon man because of his extremely weak, earthy composition.

Jer 18:4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.

It is because of this weak and earthy and “marred condition in which man is formed that there is no need to force a man to “Look on a woman to lust after her in his heart.” All men are made to be willing volunteers by God. Because of this, man is not held accountable for what he does while in this “marred vessel of clay” but must give account in judgment.

Psa 51:5 Behold, I [ Adam] was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother [ My Creator] conceive me.

How can I say we are not held accountable? The story of Joseph having been sold into slavery in Egypt explains this quite well.

Gen 45:4 And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I [ am] Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt.
Gen 45:5 Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.

I hope that you can now see that it is not God who fails to take responsibility for man’s weak sinful condition and composition. The problem with placing responsibility squarely where it belongs is not with God or His Word. The problem is entirely with the false doctrines of men.

Here now is your next question:

Make no mistake about it, The only persons who learned from this experience were Abraham and Isaac. God was not wondering what would happen.

Psa 94:11 The LORD knoweth the thoughts of man…

God makes many statements simply for our benefit. Statements like “Adam where art thou?”; and “It repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth”; and “It repentest me that I have set up Saul to be king.” All of these and many more like them are one and all said for our benefit. God Himself created all these evils and all these evil men.

Pro 16:4 The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked [ King Saul] for the day of evil.

Here is your fifth question:

Let us look at that verse in its entirety.

Ecc 7:15 All things have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his wickedness [ All within the sovereign plan of God].
Ecc 7:16 Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself?
Ecc 7:17 Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time?
Ecc 7:18 It is good that thou shouldest take hold of this; yea, also from this withdraw not thine hand: for he that feareth God shall come forth of them all.

“He that feareth God shall come for of them all.” He shall neither “destroy himself” nor “die before his time.” Knowing and understanding the sovereignty of God as Solomon did does not eliminate the need for constant vigilance. “Dying before ones time” is a concern we should all have. Even though we are well aware that no one in history has ever died before his “appointed… time to die,” we should be diligent not to “die before what appears to us to be “before our time.”
Here is your sixth and final question:

It may sound like merely semantics, but God is not holding us accountable, but He has made us to give account. We have had our sins forgiven. Our judgment (which for some is now – 1Pe 4:17) includes giving an account or admission before God of our sins or grace really would be nothing more than lasciviousness. Giving an account of our sins places a discouraging factor in our lives that would not be there if we were not made aware of the justice of God’s judgment. God’s judgments burn out all the sinful ‘wood, hay and stubble’ in the lives of all men who have ever lived on the face of the earth. “The plan that God has designed for us” includes God having us give account for our deeds in the flesh. He being God, and that being His decree, we will be held to give account for the deeds done in our flesh that God Himself made weak. If God made us weak and ‘hard- hearted’, then He is responsible for our sinful nature. We just need to come to see it ourselves.

Rom 2:5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;
Rom 2:6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds [ Greek ergon – works].
Rev 22:12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

I hope this is to your satisfaction. God is totally sovereign in all of the affairs of men, both in the small and in the great.

Eph 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated a ccording to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

I hope you read the entire paper, After The Counsel Of His Own Will.

Mike >

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