The Sovereignty of God–Loraine Boettner

Posted: July 25, 2009 in doctrine, General Discussion, Mentors, Scripture, Theology
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Every thinking person readily sees that some sovereignty rules his life. He was not asked whether or not he would have existence; nor when, where, or what he would be born; whether in the twentieth century or before the flood;  whether in America or in China. It has been recognized by Christians in all ages that God is the Creator and Ruler of the universe, and that as the Creator and Ruler of the universe He is the ultimate source of all the power that is found in the creatures. Hence nothing can come to pass apart from His sovereign will; and when we dwell upon this truth we find that it involves considerations which establish the Calvinistic and disprove the Arminian position.

By virtue of the fact that God has created every thing which exists, He is the absolute Owner and final Disposer of all that He has made. He exerts not merely a general influence, but actually rules in the world which He has created. The nations of the earth, in their insignificance, are as the small dust of the balance when compared with His greatness; and far sooner might the sun be stopped in his course than God be hindered in His work or in His will. Amid all the apparent defeats and inconsistencies of life God actually moves on in undisturbed majesty. Even the sinful actions of men can occur only by His permission. And since he permits not unwillingly but willingly, all that comes to pass including the actions and ultimate destiny of men must be, in some sense, in accordance with what He has desired and purposed. Just in proportion as this is denied God is excluded from the government of the world. Naturally some problems arise here which we in our present state of knowledge are not fully capable of solving; but that is no sufficient ground for rejecting what the Scriptures and the plain dictates of reason affirm to be true.

If the power of an earthly king Is law in his kingdom, how much more shall the word of God be in His! For example, the Christian knows that the day is certainly coming when, willingly or unwillingly, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. In the Scriptures He is represented to us as God ALMIGHTY, who sits upon the throne of universal dominion. He knows the end from the beginning and the means to be used in attaining that end. He is able to do for us exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or even think. The category of the impossible has no existence for Him “with whom all things are possible,” Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27. This, however, does not mean that God has power to do that which is contrary to His nature, or to work contradictions. It is impossible for God to lie, or to do anything which is morally wrong. He cannot make two and two equal five, nor can He make a wheel turn around and stand still at the same time. His omnipotence is as sure a guarantee that the course of the world will conform to His plan as is His holiness a guarantee that all His works will be right.

Not only in the New Testament but In the Old Testament as well we find this doctrine of God’s sovereignty consistently developed. Dr. Warfield says concerning the doctrine as it is found there: “The Almighty Maker of all that is represented equally as the irresistible Ruler of all that He has made; Jehovah sits as King for ever (Psalm 29:10). ” He goes on to say that the writers rarely use such expressions as “it rains;” they instinctively speak of God sending rain, etc. The possibility of accident and chance are excluded and even “the lot was an accepted means of obtaining the decision of God (Joshua 7:16; 14:2; 18:6; 1 Samuel 10:19; Jonah 1:7). All things without exception, indeed, are disposed by Him, and His will is the ultimate account of all that occurs. Heaven and earth and all that is in them are the instruments through which He works His ends. Nature, nations, and the fortunes of the individual alike present in all their changes the transcript of His purpose. The winds are His messengers, the flaming fire His servant: every natural occurrence is His act; prosperity is His gift, and if calamity falls upon man it is the Lord that has done it (Amos 3:5, 6; Lamentations 3:33-38; Isaiah 47:7; Ecclesiastes 7:14; Isaiah 54:16). It is He that leads the feet of men, wit they whither or not; He that raises up and casts down; opens and hardens the heart; and creates the very thoughts and intents of the soul.”

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Comments
  1. Historic Protestant says:

    Amen! Praise Him, for He is the one and only God!

  2. Randy says:

    Amen and amen!

  3. Phil says:

    I respectfully submit the following…

    I vehemently disagree with this statement in the article, “…He is the ultimate source of all the power that is found in the creatures. Hence nothing can come to pass apart from His sovereign will;…” First, if God was the source of ALL power found in the creature, then God would be the source of our sin, because we are under the power of sin until we accept and receive Christ. Secondly, if God’s soveriegn will brings about everything, then, again, God would be the source and author of sin and He, of course is not. Finally I would make a distinction between God’s “will” and his “knowledge”. I think the appropriate statement would be, “nothing can come to pass apart from His sovereign knowledge (not will)”.

  4. Bill says:

    I would say that God is not limited in anything. Nothing in the universe happens apart from God allowing it to happen. Satan could do nothing to Job (a righteous man) apart from what God permitted. So ultimately nothing, even the sin WE commit is allowed to happen apart from God allowing it. Do you believe God has ever been surprised? I would say not. Every breath we breathe is borrowed from God.

    Psalm 115:3
    Isiah 46:10
    Jeremiah 32:27
    Daniel 4:35
    Lam 3:37-38
    Amos 3:6-7
    Romans 11:8
    Exodus 4:21
    Eph. 1:5

    That’s just a few verses that speak on God’s soveriegnty in alot of different areas. I know it’s hard for us understand the soveriegnty of God in all things when we’ve been taught differently most of our lives. But if we will take out “our” opinions and study the word we’ll come to the same conclusion……..Nothing happens outside of God allowing it.

  5. Dave Jenkins says:

    Phil,

    Thank you for taking time to respond to the article. A quick suggestion for you and then onto your comments on the article. You said, “I respectfully submit the following”, and then “I vehemently disagree with this statement in the article.” Your opening remarks started off well but then you relegated your respect to the author by vehemently disagreeing with the author. Your response references no Scripture so I am left to think that you gave your opinion rather than Scripture. Perhaps this is the “word of Phil?” Your appeal to yourself as an authority is telling as the article seeks to establish the Lord as the King of Kings. With that said I will still deal with your objections even though you did not actually engage the Scriptures or the article for that matter.

    You quoted, “He is the ultimate source of all the power that is found in the creatures. Hence nothing can come to pass apart from His sovereign will;…”” Your response to this was, “First, if God was the source of ALL power found in the creature, then God would be the source of our sin, because we are under the power of sin until we accept and receive Christ. Secondly, if God’s soveriegn will brings about everything, then, again, God would be the source and author of sin and He, of course is not. Finally I would make a distinction between God’s “will” and his “knowledge”. I think the appropriate statement would be, “nothing can come to pass apart from His sovereign knowledge (not will)””

    Do you believe that God is the Creator of all things? Do you believe that He can use even sin to accomplish His Will? For example in the life of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob did they not sin and God used their sin to cause growth in godliness? Or what about when you sin do you believe God can use your own personal sins and use them for His glory? Genesis 50:20, “20As for you, you meant evil against me, but(A) God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people[a] should be kept alive, as they are today.” Certainly you would have to agree in the life of Joseph what was meant for evil God used for His glory. Joseph was unjustly enslaved, and put in a pit where his character was refined. Did God use that time in Joseph’s life for His own glory? My point is ALL of your comments undercut what the Bible says about God’s sovereignty, and His attributes.

    You said, “First, if God was the source of ALL power found in the creature, then God would be the source of our sin, because we are under the power of sin until we accept and receive Christ.” Your first mistake is equating the sovereignty of God with sin. Has God at any point ever sinned? Your argument is an argument from silence since God is neither the author of sin; nor the approver of sin. God is holy and this is at the forefront of His attributes. To argue or even suggest that “if God was the source of all power found in the creature then God would be the source of our sin, because we under the power of sin until we accept and receive Christ?” It wasn’t because of the creature that sin entered the world but because of man’s rebellion. Read Romans 5:12-21 and tell me how did sin enter the world? Read Genesis 3 how did sin enter the world? It was not through the creature that man was enslaved to sin but because of Adam’s rebellion. Furthermore we don’t “accept and receive Christ” because that makes salvation man centered and salvation does not originate with man but with the God of all grace (1st Peter 5:10). Salvation begins with God and ends with God- man’s only role isn’t to accept it but believe it. It wasn’t ever by accepting the “Lord” that man was ever saved but by believing. Romans 10: 8But what does it say?(K) “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9because, if(L) you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and(M) believe in your heart(N) that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”

    You said, “Secondly, if God’s soveriegn will brings about everything, then, again, God would be the source and author of sin and He, of course is not. Finally I would make a distinction between God’s “will” and his “knowledge”. I think the appropriate statement would be, “nothing can come to pass apart from His sovereign knowledge (not will)”.

    First you never established your first premise which means you can’t even begin to build your second point which is also logically flawed. Your argument consists of an “if and then statement”, if God is sovereign then God would be the author of sin”, which again dismisses the fact that God is holy. You derived your argument by putting your thoughts on top of the article without even considering the article.

    Its rather ironic actually that you “vehemently disagree” but “respectfully submit” your thoughts. The arguments that you make are not biblical they are thoroughly secular in nature. Do you think that you are the source of knowledge?” By the arguments you make and the thoughts you put forth you clearly have a problem Phil. You are not your own Savior but by laying your thoughts on top of what this article argued for you did not argue against anyone who responded to you but against God and His Word. By doing so you made yourself your own savior and your own judge and jury. Is Truth really your own? Can you determine was is true when you don’t even consider the Biblical record on God’s sovereignty? You see the real problem is that you are religious without Christ. You argued for sovereignty all your own apart from God. By doing all of this you set yourself up a “savior” and committed idolatry. The only proper response is to actually believe that God is actually sovereign and involved in the daily affairs of His creation which is what the Scriptures clearly teach. You either believe God at His Word or you don’t. Either way that’s between you and the Lord.

  6. Phil says:

    Bill, there is a difference between God allowing evil and God willing evil. I’m just saying that God cannot will evil since He is righteous and holy.

  7. Phil says:

    Bill, I agree that God allows evil. There is nothing in your response that I disagree with.

  8. Phil says:

    Dave, I would submit that you can vehemently diagree with someone in a respectfull manner. I can support my position with scripture – see below.

    God is not the SOURCE of ALL power FOUND in the Creature (words capitalized for emphasis). You don’t have to go very far in the Bible before you come across a verse to support the pervious statement. Genesis 6:5 “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” If the power in man is evil all the time than the source of that power cannot be God, since He is not the author of sin.

    James 1:13, claims that “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;” what is the source of that tempting, it certainly is not God, so there must be aniother power in man other that God’s power.

    All I am saying is that God does not will, ordain or decree evil, because that would then make God the author of evil. I do however believe He allows evil such as in the case of Job. Again let me reiterate, I believe God “allows” sin, but I do not believe He “wills” sin.

  9. Dave Jenkins says:

    Phil said, “Dave, I would submit that you can vehemently diagree with someone in a respectfull manner. I can support my position with scripture – see below.”

    Thank you for taking time to respond to my comments. Your response shows several things to me. 1) You don’t listen, 2) You don’t consider others thoughts, and 3) You don’t think before you speak. I say this because 1) You did not even interact with what the article said and you did NOT even acknowledge a thing I said but merely “offered a rebuttal”. It is obvious to me that your only interested in your opinion and not the Truth of Scripture. As I did last time I will at least interact with your thoughts with Scripture IN CONTEXT!

    Phil said, “God is not the SOURCE of ALL power FOUND in the Creature (words capitalized for emphasis). You don’t have to go very far in the Bible before you come across a verse to support the pervious statement. Genesis 6:5 “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” If the power in man is evil all the time than the source of that power cannot be God, since He is not the author of sin.”

    Genesis 6:1—8 focuses on the wickedness of humanity by giving a specific list of descendants in chapter 5. This is immediately followed by a short passage that explains why God sent a flood to punish the whole of humanity. This passage concludes by recognizing that, in contrast to everyone else, Noah finds favor in God’s sight. Genesis 6:5 specifically deals not with the power of God but with the universal intensity and pervasiveness of human wickedness. This essentially demolishes your argument that “God is not the source of all power found in the Creature”. Your argument is a fallacy because power is not in the creature but in the Creator. You fail once again to deal with the context of the passage which is why you misinterpret the passage. This again shows what I said at the beginning that you wrote a response only to appease yourself not to deal with the Truth of God’s Word.

    You said, “James 1:13, claims that “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;” what is the source of that tempting, it certainly is not God, so there must be aniother power in man other that God’s power. All I am saying is that God does not will, ordain or decree evil, because that would then make God the author of evil. I do however believe He allows evil such as in the case of Job. Again let me reiterate, I believe God “allows” sin, but I do not believe He “wills” sin.”

    James 1 1:2-18 deals with the testing of faith and teaches how trials test faith in order to make spiritual pilgrimages complete. James 1:13-18 describe s the process of temptation. James turns to the other side of trials namely, when testing becomes temptation. You said, “What is the source of that tempting, it certainly is not God, so there must be another power in man other than God’s power.” James 1:13 teaches that God tests his people as He did with Abraham in Genesis 22, Israel in Exodus 16:4, Hezekiah in 2nd Chronicles 32:11. All of this shows that God uses trials to strengthen faith but he never tempts people or lures them into sin. God cannot be tempted because he is unreservedly good, which means he never entices human beings to sin or to seek to harm their faith. Tempted comes from the Greek word peiarzo and is the verb form of the noun translated trial (Gk. Peirasmos) in James 1:12 but the context teaches that different sense of the word are intended. God brings trials in order to strengthen the Christian’s faith. He never tempts, however, because he never desires his people to sin. Christians should never blame God when they do wrong.

    You said, “All I am saying is that God does not will, ordain or decree evil, because that would then make God the author of evil. I do however believe He allows evil such as in the case of Job. Again let me reiterate, I believe God “allows” sin, but I do not believe He “wills” sin.”

    Your argument is circular in nature. You claim, “if God does not will, ordain or decree evil then that would make God the author of evil.” You fail at a fundamental level to understand that God uses evil for His own purposes as He did in the case of Job (though you said you believe this you actually dismissed it by your statement referencing Job). I say this because you cannot say God does not will ordain or decree evil and then say out of the other side of your mouth that your claim makes God the author of evil. You cannot have it both ways. Either you believe that God is good and sovereign or you do not. Either you acknowledge that He is the Creator and you are not or you don’t. You cannot have it both ways like your statement claims. The Lord gave permission to Satan and He was orchestrating the affairs that happened to Job. As I said above God uses trials to strength their character. Read the end of Job- how does it turn out?

  10. Phil says:

    Hi Dave,

    Sorry for taking so long to respond to your last post, I’ve been away from home and other things are on mind at the moment.

    I wish I could help you see my point of view from my original post, but you seem intent on ignoring my presuppositions. Also you are attacking me personally when you say I don’t listen, I don’t consider other’ people’s thoughts and I speak before I think. I don’t see why you need to make those attacks when you can just state your position and let it go. Personal attacks don’t add you constructive criticism and are actually destructive.

    Let me address your last posting…

    First I wanted to address your sweeping statement that I am taking verses out of context. I am a contextualist also and I do believe that scripture should be interpreted lierally and contextually. I agree with your interpretations of the veses within their context, but I also feel that my usage of the verses to prove my points was not taking the verses out of context. It appears we disagree with my usage of the verses, and that’s okay we can eagree to disagree I am not going to lob personal attacks at you. In the contrary I am going to respect you as a brother in Christ, even if I disagree with certain parts of your postings.

    Since I believe my verses were not taken out of context and can accurately be used in making my points against part of Boettner’s artcile I don’t see why I should rehash what has already been said.

    I would like to address your last paragraph. In it you stated that my argument is “circular in nature”. You then proceed to state my argument correctly that if God willed, ordained or decreed evil then that would make God the author of evil and of course God is not the author of evil. Dave, you then state that the following…

    “You fail at a fundamental level to understand that God uses evil for His own purposes as He did in the case of Job (though you said you believe this you actually dismissed it by your statement referencing Job).”

    Let me agin state that I believ god “uses” evil for His purposes, I just don’t believe He “wills” evil as Boettner stated in his article. It appears to me that there is a misconception about the meanings of the words, “use” and “will”, so I would like to look at those meanings frtom a dictionary. The definitions are taken from dictionary.com.

    Will – “The mental faculty by which one deliberately chooses or decides upon a course of action”

    If God wills evil then He deliberately chooses evil. I don’t believe that is the case as I’ve shown in my previous postings.

    Use – “to avail oneself of; apply to one’s own purposes”

    If God uses evil then He “avails” Himself of and applys His “own purpose” to” a previous act of evil” That means that, in the case of Job, God availed himself and applied His own purposes to Satan’s act of evil.

    I would like to further explain the difference by stating the following verse: Genesis 50:20 which explains nicely the point I’m trying to make, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” In this verse we see the beautiful story of Joseph and his brothers reconciliation. Joseph’s brothers when they sold him into slavery meant evil, but God’s purposes for Joseph were meant for good. This story shows to me and hopefully toi you Dave that God did not will or decree or rodain the evil intent of Jospeh’s brothers, but he “used” ior “allowed” it for his good purpose. Notice “good” purpose, not “evil” purpose.

    This story of Joseph also explains the other point I was trying to make before and that is that God is not the source of all power found in His crteation. For if God was the source of the evil intent (which is a form of power) in Jospeh’s brother’s heart then He would also nee to be the sourc of that evil heart and we know that God is not the source of evil, but the source of good.

    Dave, I hope I have explained my position well enough for you. If not please feel free to correct me, but do so in a non attack mode 😉 God bless you brother Dave.

  11. Phil says:

    Please forgive me for all the typos in my last posting 😦

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