Study 2 – All Christians Believe In The Sovereignty Of God?

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Daniel 4:34-35 – His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing [compared to Him]. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?” (NIV 1984)

If there is there is anything (as small as one maverick molecule) that happens outside the foreordination of God, it therefore happens outside the sovereignty of God. Nothing can happen apart from the sovereignty of God. This includes the efficacious (having the power to produce a desired effect) and permissive (having the power to prevent an undesirable effect) will of God. Permitting something to happen does not necessarily mean He approves of or sanctions it. If anything were to happen outside that sovereignty of God, then God would not be sovereign and thus would not be God.

The question is: if God is sovereign, and if man is fallen, how can He allow people to perish? Does this mean that God is not sovereign (cannot prevent people from perishing) or He is not good (chooses to allow people to perish)? This “dilemma” ignores that fact that God is also totally righteous and just.

No Opportunity For Anyone – God could decide to not give anyone who has fallen an opportunity for salvation. The only objection would be that God is just. God is not obligated to be merciful, because mercy is not an obligation. Justice can be owed but mercy is not obligatory. But God did not choose this.

Just An Opportunity For Some or All – God could provide an opportunity for some or everyone to be saved. But there would be no guarantee anyone would be saved.

Ensures Some or All – God could exercise His sovereignty and ensure the salvation of some or everybody. God did not choose to ensure the salvation of everyone (universalism). This is not Biblical, because we know many will indeed perish. Some will be lost (particularism).

So, we are left with either God provides the opportunity for some or all the fallen to be saved (Arminianism) or He intervenes to ensure the salvation of some of the fallen (Calvinism).

The question is: Does God provide an opportunity for some or all, or does He ensure the salvation of only some?

The primary objection to Calvinism is that it would not be fair for God to ensure the salvation of some but not all. But this is also a problem for Arminianism, because all God does is provide an opportunity (when it is within His power to ensure). Thus, the argument goes there is more of God’s mercy being demonstrated in Calvinism than there is in Arminianism, because there is no assurance that any will take the opportunity.

Arminianism – The opportunity for salvation is given to all, but not all will take it.

  • Calvinism – The salvation of some (but not all) are ensured.

The questions are: Is it an injustice if God ensures the salvation of some but not all the fallen? Or, is God being more merciful by ensuring the salvation of some rather than just an opportunity?

ll are fallen and in rebellion against God. Some are saved, and some are lost. The saved get mercy, the lost get justice. No one gets injustice. Mercy is not justice and it is not injustice. It is non-justice.

Getting back to the so-called dilemma. If God gave some mercy and some injustice, His goodness could be called into question. But God gives some mercy and He gives others justice. So, His goodness cannot be called into question. No one has been or ever will be the object of injustice at the hands of God.

Notes from: Chosen by God, R.C. Sproul

Joyful Prayer in All Circumstances

1 Thessalonians 5:16Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – If we continue in prayer, through the good times and the bad, if we thank God for the good and thank Him for being with us in the bad, we can learn the secret of being joyful always.

My Advice – Don’t let the pursuit of happiness be your primary motivation. It will disappoint you because happiness depends upon circumstances. Rather let the pursuit of joy be your motivation. You can have joy despite the circumstances.

Pay Back or Pay Forward?

1 Thessalonians 5:15Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – Our ways should not be the ways of the world, but the ways of the Lord. Rather than crush a foe, we should try to win a foe. After all nothing is gained by defeating another, but we can gain a friend by winning (not defeating) them over.

My Advice – Don’t seek revenge. This is the way of the world. You are called to be different. Rather, be kind to those who would harm you.

Who You Going to Please?

1 Thessalonians 2:4-6We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts…God is our witness. We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – It seems we live our lives trying to please everyone but God, when pleasing Him should be our first priority. This does not mean that we don’t try to please others (or ourselves) it is simply a question of priority.

My Advice – Live your life to please God first, not yourself or anyone else. You’ll be surprised how pleasing it will be to you too.

Work of Faith, Labor of Love, Enduring Hope

1 Thessalonians 1:3We continually remember before our God your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – Work, labor and endurance, without faith, love and hope are meaningless and unfulfilling.

My Advice – Make sure you give your life to a purpose you love, that increases your faith, and that leaves you with hope.

Since Then

Colossians 3:1, 2 – Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on the things above, not on earthly things. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – Notice the order. If we set our hearts on the things above, our minds will surely follow. However, it is not always the case that if we set our minds on the things above our hearts will follow.

My Advice – Whenever you find yourself setting your mind on worldly principles, check out your heart. Is it still longing for the things of God?

Flight and Fight

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1 Timothy 6:11But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. (NIV 1984)

My Musings – Here’s a novel thought.  How about accepting responsibility, playing by the rules, listening to your critics (they just might be right) and telling the truth.  There will be no need to redefine success or try again.

My Advice – Know when to fight and know when to flight.

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