Discussions of the sovereignty of God

Discussions of the sovereignty of God in the lives of men, and looking into the Scriptures to see how God actually hardens some men against Himself as part of His overall will and plan for His creation, will generate questions regarding just to what extent man possesses a free will. To be sure, no man has ever prevailed against God. God’s sovereign plan for His creation goes forward exactly as He intends, and that sovereign plan centers on the life, death, and resurrection from the dead of His Son Jesus Christ.


Some refer to God’s allowing suffering and destruction to occur in the lives of men as His “permissive” will, meaning that God knew these things would happen, and He did not stop them from happening, though He could have. However as we have seen from the Scriptures before, when suffering and tragedy come into our lives as believers, God’s word promises that these things are working together along with everything that comes into our lives for our ultimate good and for our future glory together with Christ in Heaven (Romans 8:28). For believers, and only for believers, the troubles and sufferings that we endure, all of which have been allowed to affect our lives by our sovereign God, will all be made to achieve for us an eternal measure of glory that far outweighs the grief and burden of the troubles themselves (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).


When we consider the idea of man’s free will and just to what extent man has a free will, let us consider the many Scripture passages that clearly demonstrate that our sovereign God does indeed intervene in the lives of men to make them conform to His overall plan and purpose for His creation. Some He hardens against Himself (Romans 9:18). Paul spoke of these individuals as “vessels of wrath prepared for destruction” (Romans 9:22).

We have seen examples from the Old Testament in the lives of several kings of the ancient world where God hardened these kings, making them oppose His will, so that He could demonstrate His power and His Name would become known by prevailing against them.


In contrast to those whom God hardens against Himself, He chooses to show mercy to others. Paul spoke of those who receive God’s mercy as “vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.” (Romans 9:23-24).


Also in the lives of those of us who receive His mercy, God may at times bring about circumstances that will force us, against our own wills, to comply with His sovereign will. We have seen this clearly demonstrated in the life of Jonah. Everything that is recorded in the Scriptures is recorded to reveal to us as God’s people something of the ways of our sovereign God, including the ways that He works in the lives of His servants to accomplish His will through them.


Our God is sovereign over all of His creation, and He has a plan for every individual, whether they are among those of us who receive His mercy, or they are among those whom He hardens. We have seen from the Scriptures that God motivates men, even forcefully overcoming their own wills, in order to bring them, their thoughts, their intents, and their actions into conformity with His own sovereign will, plan and purpose.

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