'sovereignty of God' vs man's free will - who's really in control in the earth?

Started by DiscipleHeLovesToo, January 03, 2015, 10:47:04 AM

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DiscipleHeLovesToo


one of the most divisive differences of understanding in the body of Christ today is the concept of God's 'sovereignty', which i believe most would agree deals with how much direct control God exercises over the world and people in it.  at one end of this debate is the concept that God is in direct control of everything to the point where our free will choice has been predetermined by Him, although i think few would argue for this extreme.  on the other end of this debate is the concept that God has the ability to control everything, but has limited the control He exercises in the world to the point where He is just a Spectator, although i think few would argue for this extreme either.

so my intention with this thread is to look at what God has said in His word about this.  word studies, teachings of church leaders of the past and present, even people's individual experience influence how the Bible is interpreted, but i hope that all who post will provide scripture to support their beliefs in each post; ideally offering at least two complete scriptures, taken in context (in the poster's view), where God is either speaking directly or is speaking through the writer (versus the Bible relating man's opinion), and harmonized with the whole of scripture (in the poster's view) to support each post.

'for the record', I believe that God has the ability to control  everything, but has limited His control over the earth by delegating control in the earth to people in flesh bodies; however this does not mean that God is just a Spectator.


Gen 1:26 KJV
(26)  And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

'Let us make man...and let them have dominion...over all the earth' - this statement is without restriction, and in my understanding delegates control over the earth to people in flesh bodies.  this is not to say that God does not have ultimate control over everything, but that He will not directly exercise that control in the earth independent of the free will choice of people in flesh bodies.  He does seek to influence people in flesh bodies to make the right decisions, but limits His methods of influence to His situational leading as confirmed by His revealed written word, the bible; in other words, God does not use experiences, good or bad; or the opinions of church leaders, etc. to influence people to make the right choices - He has limited Himself to His revealed written word as the sole means of influencing people (as His leading must always harmonize with and be confirmed by His revealed written word).  His revealed written word is that portion of the Bible that each person has gained understanding of through meditation (on His written word) and through fellowship with God.

the best example i know of to illustrate this is the hierarchy of government in the US.  the federal government is 'sovereign', in that no other government in the earth has authority over the US federal government.  however, the federal government has delegated authority over some areas of government to the states; and in these areas has limited it's exercise of ultimate control, by its own law (the 'word' of the federal government); in these areas, the federal government will not exercise control, no matter how much the federal government disagrees with the states' decisions in these areas.


Deu 30:1-20 KJV
(1)  And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven thee,
(2)  And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul;
(3)  That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee.
(4)  If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee:
(5)  And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers.
(6)  And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.
(7)  And the LORD thy God will put all these curses upon thine enemies, and on them that hate thee, which persecuted thee.
(8 )  And thou shalt return and obey the voice of the LORD, and do all his commandments which I command thee this day.
(9)  And the LORD thy God will make thee plenteous in every work of thine hand, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy land, for good: for the LORD will again rejoice over thee for good, as he rejoiced over thy fathers:
(10)  If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.
(11)  For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.
(12)  It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
(13)  Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
(14)  But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.
(15)  See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;
(16)  In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.
(17)  But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them;
(18 )  I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it.
(19)  I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:
(20)  That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.



Psa 78:40-41 KJV
(40)  How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, and grieve him in the desert!
(41)  Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.



so there's a few scriptures to support my understanding that God is not exercising direct control in the earth


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Rom 8:1-17 KJV
(1)  There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
(2)  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
(3)  For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
(4)  That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
(5)  For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
(6)  For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
(7)  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
(8 )  So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
(9)  But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
(10)  And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
(11)  But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
(12)  Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
(13)  For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
(14)  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
(15)  For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
(16)  The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
(17)  And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.



Psa 37:23 KJV
(23)  The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.


Pro 14:12 KJV
(12)  There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.


Jer 10:23 KJV
(23)  O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.


so God seeks to influence people through His 'situational' leading; indeed the devil also seeks to influence people through his 'situational' leading - but we are in control of the earth through our choice of who we are influenced by.  God gave people in flesh bodies unrestricted dominion over the earth; people use that authority for both good and evil - bad things that happen are not evidence of God using sugffering to teach us, but rather the result of people using their authority in the earth for evil by following the devil's situational leading rather than following God's situational leading in a given situation.  we can recognize God's leading by our knowledge of His revealed written word to support a given decision we make; we can recognize the devil's situational leading through the absence of God's revealed written word to support a given decision we make (such as basing a decision on 'common sense' or on the opinions of church leaders, or experience, etc.).

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2Ti 3:16-17 KJV

(16)  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
(17)  That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.



Isa 28:9-11 KJV
(9)  Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.
(10)  For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:
(11)  For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.


1Co 1:20-31 KJV
(20)  Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
(21)  For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
(22)  For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
(23)  But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
(24)  But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
(25)  Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
(26)  For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
(27)  But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
(28)  And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
(29)  That no flesh should glory in his presence.
(30)  But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
(31)  That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

so God has given us His revealed written word alone to teach us; not common sense, or word studies, or commentaries, or opinions of church leaders; these things have a place as helps to receiving revelation from God as to what His word (the Bible) actually means, not substitutes for His word.

ok; what do you believe about the sovereignty of God, and why do you believe it?  i would appreciate it if you would first post what you believe and why you believe it rather than attempt to  correct my understanding; then provide correction if you feel led to do so :)

-------[/size][size=78%]and i really hate this unwanted font size change that seems to happen randomly as i type - if i missed an instance of this, please ignore it...:)[/size]


Joh 17:3  And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

Katana

Quotethis statement is without restriction, and in my understanding delegates control over the earth to people in flesh bodies.


You make too much out of this verse. To have "dominion" only means authority to do with them as man sees fit, not that he has dominion in the divine sense, or that God refrains from taking action on anything (though, this is prior to the fall, and so I would not use this verse to justify something like animal abuse). It also does not even mean here that man has an obligation to care for the entirety of nature's needs (as if man is responsible to make sure every animal on the face of the Earth is fed), as God very clearly does this Himself. Not just of animals, but of all natural events, His hand is behind everything, and nothing happens that He does not will. The withholding of rains is God's doing. The giving of rains is God's doing.  God "covereth the heaven with clouds, who prepareth rain for the earth, who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains. He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry" (Psa 147:8-9). All the animal world "wait all upon thee [God]; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season. That thou givest them they gather: thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good. Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth" (Psa 104:26-30). There are no exceptions here. There are no creatures of any kind that do not receive their daily bread from the Lord, or are killed by the Lord, or are given life but by the Lord. Even the lowliest sparrow does not fall without our Father (Matt 10:29).

And this includes men who, though they are of much more value than any sparrow, nevertheless their "days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass" (Job 14:5). All blessings, whether spiritual or carnal, are from the LORD:

Joh_3:27 John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.

"Promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down ones and setteth up another," (Ps. 75:6, 7)

The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up. The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up.
(1Sa 2:6-7)

And every tragedy, no matter by whose instrumentality, is the righteous will of the LORD:

Job_1:21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.

QuoteHe does seek to influence people in flesh bodies to make the right decisions, but limits His methods of influence to His situational leading as confirmed by His revealed written word, the bible;


If I am understanding you correctly, you are saying that God only uses the written (or maybe spoken as well?) word of God to influence people. Yet if God limits Himself to "situational leading," then what does it mean when it says "and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost" (1 Co 12:3)? Now either the Holy Spirit plays a part in our salvation, or He does not. But we cannot say that God limits Himself only to external messaging-- that is, of making use of human reason, making an appeal to the mind-- if the Holy Spirit is involved and working within us "both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Php 2:13). This also contradicts Romans 9:16 which says; " So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy." Since if salvation is a matter entirely of the will (the mind making choices), or of works (the running) if you are a Roman Catholic, it does not follow that it is of "God that sheweth mercy."

Also note one final passage in John 6. Here Christ explains to the unbelieving Jews the reason for their unbelief:

"But there are some of you who do not believe." (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father."
(Joh 6:64-65)

Now if it is true that God only makes use of "situational leading" using the spoken or written word of God, it does not follow that the reason for their unbelief was that belief had not been "granted" by the Father. It should be said that the reason for their unbelief can only be that they, having just heard Christ preach, having come to him physically and seen what He does, misunderstood or rejected Him, and that is why they do not believe. But, instead, Christ declares "But there are some of you who do not believe. THIS is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father," and in another place in this same Gospel Christ tells them that His sheep "hear my voice," and that they who do not hear are "not of my sheep," thus further reinforcing the difference between the damned and the saved. Not that the former were dumber than the latter, or were less righteous than the latter, but because God gave His grace to one and not another.

Quote(19)  I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:


Choosing is not really at issue here, since man has, by nature, an ability to choose whatever he wants. Morally, however, he cannot choose anything but evil, since it is said of him:

"What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God."
(Rom 3:9-11)

God gives us the law and tells us what is our obligation to do, yet, at the same time, we cannot keep our obligations thus necessitating a savior and His grace. Hence Augustine's famous prayer which upset the Pelagians, "Oh God, grant what Thou commandest, and command what Thou dost desire". And this with all support from the scripture:

Eze_36:27  And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

Joh_15:16  Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

Php_2:13  For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

Thus God both commands us which we, by nature, cannot keep, and grants what we had no power to do. Hence the throwing of our crowns at the feet of Christ in revelation. Because our "perseverance" is not our own, but God, who merely crowned His own good works in us.

QuotePsa 78:40-41 KJV
(40)  How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, and grieve him in the desert!
(41)  Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.


You leave this verse alone, but give it your own sense, that God has "limited" Himself. But here it says that man limits him, which cannot be literally meant, and it would contradict these scriptures, which make plain that God both wills and performs what He wills, whatever He wills, in heaven and in the Earth: Psa_135:6; Isa_46:10; Dan_4:35; Rom_9:19; Eph_1:11.

The meaning of this verse must be as Gill understands it, from his commentary on this same verse:

"and limited the Holy One of Israel; or "signed" (d) him; signed him with a sign, so the Targum; they tempted him by asking a sign of him, as Jarchi interprets it; insisting that a miracle be wrought, by which it might be known whether the Lord was among them or not, Exo_17:7, with which compare Mat_16:1, or they set bounds, so Kimchi; to his power and goodness, saying, this he could do, and the other he could not; see Psa_78:19, and so men limit the Lord when they fix on a blessing they would have, even that, and not another; and the measure of it, to what degree it should be bestowed on them, as well as set the time when they would have it; whereas the blessing itself, and the degree of it, and the time of giving it, should be all left with the Lord; who knows which and what of it is most convenient for us, and when is the best time to bestow it on us.

(d) התוו "signaverunt", Pagninus."

Quoteso God seeks to influence people through His 'situational' leading; indeed the devil also seeks to influence people through his 'situational' leading - but we are in control of the earth through our choice of who we are influenced by.  God gave people in flesh bodies unrestricted dominion over the earth; people use that authority for both good and evil - bad things that happen are not evidence of God using sugffering to teach us, but rather the result of people using their authority in the earth for evil by following the devil's situational leading rather than following God's situational leading in a given situation.  we can recognize God's leading by our knowledge of His revealed written word to support a given decision we make; we can recognize the devil's situational leading through the absence of God's revealed written word to support a given decision we make (such as basing a decision on 'common sense' or on the opinions of church leaders, or experience, etc.).


All the verses you cite to support this remark are all, actually, on my side. For it is said that all those who are "led by the Spirit," not by "human reason." And the other verses state that it is not in man to direct his own footsteps. But according to you, men direct their steps, and it is God who merely spectates and judges.

Lastly, you say here that "bad things that happen are not evidence of God using sugffering to teach us," yet this contradicts this verse:

Rom_8:28  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Now if bad things are the devil's doing, which God has no power over, it cannot follow that "all things work together for good" for the Christian, as some things merely work together for bad, even death and damnation, in your world, as the Christian lives on the edge of a cliff, and is not held in the omnipotent arms of God. What happens to him depends on the whim of men, or of his own whim, which can destroy or save him, depending on the darkness that is in their mind. And the scripture also explicitly states: "But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons" (Heb 12:8). And again, "The LORD trieth the righteous," plainly meaning that the righteous are not free of suffering and trials (Psalm 11:5). And this done, naturally, that we may be conformed into the image of His Son in the same way that gold is purified through fire.

I will also make this last argument: The devil and the evil deeds of men serve God just as well as the works of righteous men. Observe,

Compare these two verses:

1Ch_21:1 And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel./2Sa 24:1 And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.

Another example:

"And the LORD said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner. And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the LORD, and said, I will persuade him. And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so." (1Ki 22:20-22)

The example of Job has already been mentioned, as the acts of the devil and of the evil men are ascribed to the righteous doing of the LORD who "takes" what He had given.

A last example, the selling of Joseph into slavery by his brothers:

Gen_50:20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

How does God remain clean of the evil deeds of evil spirits and of men, and yet be the first cause of it? Because what they mean for evil, God does for righteous and holy ends. It is a question of motivations. For example, 1) The devil wants to destroy, and thus he tempts wicked men; 2) men do evil, perhaps, because of jealousy and wickedness, and thus they willingly go forth when pricked; 3) but God works all for holy ends. Thus the former remain dead in their guilt, but God reigns supreme over all acts. Hence we read that the men who crucified Christ did so as they were both "foreknown" and "ordained" to do so, and yet are counted as "wicked":

Act_2:23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:

"For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done." (Act 4:27-28)

I like the way Augustine explains this also. From Chapter 33 of his book On the Predestination of the Saints, the chapter is titled "It is in the Power of Evil Men to Sin; But to Do This or That by Means of that Wickedness is in God's Power Alone."

"What is the meaning of, as concerning the gospel, indeed, they are enemies for your sake, but that their enmity wherewith they put Christ to death was, without doubt, as we see, an advantage to the gospel? And he shows that this came about by God's ordering, who knew how to make a good use even of evil things; not that the vessels of wrath might be of advantage to Him, but that by His own good use of them they might be of advantage to the vessels of mercy. For what could be said more plainly than what is actually said, As concerning the gospel, indeed, they are enemies for your sakes? It is, therefore, in the power of the wicked to sin; but that in sinning they should do this or that by that wickedness is not in their power, but in God's, who divides the darkness and regulates it; so that hence even what they do contrary to God's will is not fulfilled except it be God's will. We read in the Acts of the Apostles that when the apostles had been sent away by the Jews, and had come to their own friends, and shown them what great things the priests and elders said to them, they all with one consent lifted up their voices to the Lord and said, Lord, you are God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein; who, by the mouth of our father David, your holy servant, hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the peoples imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the princes were gathered together against the Lord, and against His Christ. For in truth, there have assembled together in this city against Your holy child Jesus, whom You have anointed, Herod and Pilate, and the people of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and counsel predestinated to be done. See what is said: As concerning the gospel, indeed, they are enemies for your sakes. Because God's hand and counsel predestinated such things to be done by the hostile Jews as were necessary for the gospel, for our sakes."

All events, therefore, are for "our sakes," since they are under the control of God in order to work together for the good of God's elect. If any events are random, then, so also is their consequence.







DiscipleHeLovesToo


"i hope that all who post will provide scripture to support their beliefs in each post; ideally offering at least two complete scriptures, taken in context (in the poster's view), where God is either speaking directly or is speaking through the writer (versus the Bible relating man's opinion), and harmonized with the whole of scripture (in the poster's view) to support each post."


you certainly don't have to honor my request, but it will help me to understand your views if you do.


please quote me directly and answer what i actually said, not what you think i meant.  if you need clarification, by all means ask.


rather than immediately attempting to correct what i said, it would help me to understand you if you first state your own understanding, and provide scripture that you stand on for this understanding. 


remember that this is just a discussion, not a competition; let's try to keep things focused on the scripture and not on each other's perceived errors.
Joh 17:3  And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

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