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Sovereignty // Tyler Braun

This post is a part of the Sovereignty of God Blog Series going on throughout the months of July and August. You can read about the series and see a schedule of the posts here. You can subscribe to all the posts here.

Today’s post is from me, Tyler, the author of ManOfDepravity.com. You can read more about me here.

I remember asking my theology professor if he had ever changed his opinion on how much sovereignty God exerts. He simply said that he and almost all the rest of the professors changed and continue to change all the time. I think that says volumes about this topic. I certainly want to come to some sort of conclusion, but I also want to recognize that God-fearing, educated, men and women, are unable to land on something and stick with it.

And I think that is what I’ve loved most about this entire series. People from various perspectives and opinions have shared thoughts and have been able to have dialogue about this topic. While the goal should always be to come to know and understand who God is in a deeper way, we should always be able to having a thoughtful, caring discussion.

The Bible says that God causes things to happen, and it also says that God changes his mind. Sure we could come to agree on one of those, and then find a way to explain the other, but let’s be honest…none of the explanations make much sense. Somehow God is both of these things: static and fluid.

The question you ask is: how is that even possible? Can something truly be static and fluid?

And to that I would say: I don’t know, but I think it has to be. Because if the Bible is truly saying that God can cause future things to happen, and God can also change his mind, then clearly he is both.

Romans 8:28 is one of the most popular verses in the Bible. It essentially says that God causes good things to happen to those who love him. This verse only makes sense if God has the ability to cause things to happen. In no other way can you read that verse and believe it to be true.

Jeremiah 3:6-7 is not one of the most popular Bible readings. It essentially says that God thought that Israel would do something, but they did not. This verse only makes sense if God does not know everything, and has not caused everything to be as it is. In no other way can you read those verses and believe it to be true.

As I’ve studied throughout the summer my favorite verse to rely on is Isaiah 55:8 // “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.

I think so much of today’s theology is trying to put God within human limits (and clearly God has done that in some respects through the incarnation), yet God himself has stated that he isn’t like us.

In day to day relationship with Christ I find myself interacting with His sovereignty in these ways:

  • Trusting in faith that he has good for me.
  • Knowing that part of my future is up to me.
  • Relying on the Holy Spirit to show me that good way.

I’d wholeheartedly welcome your thoughts.

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  • http://commentingninja.com Jim

    it seems that we are in the habit of making God into our own image these days

  • http://iamlivingproof.org/ Joseph Louthan

    Tyler,

    Could you expound on your thoughts on Romans 8:28? On the surface, people could take what you have said and think, “Oh, only good things are from God and bad things cannot be used by God.”

    Yet the text reads (in context):
    Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

    My thought on this is that no matter what happens to us, whether it is blessings by God or sin from a broken and fallen world, God will use all things (cf. Genesis 50:20) for our good in order to conform us to the image of His Son (verse 29).

    Am I off?

    • http://manofdepravity.com Tyler

      I think I’d agree with what you said there. We do have a pretty narrow view of what “good” is, so I like your take on it conforming us to the image of Jesus. I’m simply say that if God can really do that, then he has to be in control of some things.

  • http://www.aworshipfulheart.typepad.com Jan Owen

    Tyler, I don’t claim to have an answer as my own theology on the subject can best be summed up with the verse you quoted from Isaiah! But I had an interesting thought as i read your post. I am NOT likening God to man, or man to God, but you stated that the two disparate beliefs about God that we cannot reconcile are 1) God causes things to happen and 2) God changes his mind. We do both of those all the time. The difference is that we are not expected to have perfect knowledge, or especially foreknowledge. But we, as humans, do both of these things. We cause events to take place – to some level and degree. We also change our mind. There can be no discussion of sovereignty without a corresponding conversation about free will. Perhaps if we can mix human free will into this equation it would help us to have perspective.

    Obviously God does not stop every bad thing from happening to us. We are all affected by the free will actions of others and ourselves. As one event occurs, or as one action happens, in our human life, that can change what we decide to do next. I wonder if our actions of free will influence God in any way. It makes sense that it should. If – at a basic level – he punishes evil, and rewards good then that is determined by the free will actions of man.

    A recent example from my own life. Phil and I feel really led to move. We wanted to be farther out in the country. We wanted to be in a home that allowed us more relaxed living – some outdoor living space perhaps. We dreamed that we’d find a small home on the lake. And we did. We were thrilled. It was a small stretch but we thought we could do it with both our incomes. Then we found out we weren’t given a great estimate on payments and the next day they cut three positions at church. That’s about 40% of our staff. In one day. Now it might still be God’s will, or our will even, to move to a more relaxing location. But the actions of others (cutting of positions) caused us to rethink the lake house and frankly we decided we could not move ahead knowing there is a great possibility my own salary may be greatly reduced. So now we’ve had to adapt or we’ve CHOSEN to adapt. Some of the specifics have altered, but the desire is the same. The will is the same, but the details are a bit different.

    Is it possible that the actions of man can affect the move of God’s hand? I think we see that throughout scripture to be true. Does that lessen God’s sovereignty? I don’t think so. I think the problem might be that our understanding of sovereignty is just limited because we cannot fathom the full reality of who God is.

    No real answers, just rambling thoughts.

  • http://godsidekurt.com Kurt Brandemihl

    As we’ve discussed some in our study…while God isn’t like us…He consistently chooses to use language and imagery to declare that in fact He IS like us. Perhaps this really is the foundation to any discussion on Sovereignty…just how much is our God really like us? Throughout the two millennia of our faith tradition we have wandered back and forth on that spectrum. As you say…we cannot know for sure until we meet Him face to face…yet I think all of us have a journey to take on that spectrum. For some I think a journey towards a God like them would be a good one for them to take. (me for example) For others I would argue it would be necessary to journey towards God not being just like them, He isn’t our buddy that we can take advantage of. How we view God definitely influences how we relate with Him and tell others about Him.

    Here are some examples I found from a website;

    Human actions – changed mind, relented, remembered, rested.
    1. Exodus 32:14, “So the Lord changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people.”
    2. 2 Sam. 24:16, “When the angel stretched out his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord relented from the calamity, and said to the angel who destroyed the people, “It is enough! Now relax your hand!”
    3. Gen. 9:16, “When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”
    4. Gen. 2:2, “And by the seventh day God completed His work which He had done; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.”

    Human emotions – sorrow, jealousy, pity, regret.
    1. Gen. 6:6, “And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.”
    2. Exodus 20:5, “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me.”
    3. Judges 2:18, “…for the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who oppressed and afflicted them.”
    4. 1 Sam. 15:35, “And Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death; for Samuel grieved over Saul. And the Lord regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel.”

    Human physique – hands, face, mouth, eyes, arm.
    1. Exodus 7:5, “And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the sons of Israel from their midst.”
    2. Num. 6:24, “The Lord make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you.”
    3. Psalm 33:6, “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host.”
    4. Psalm 34:15, “The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry.”
    5. Psalm 89:10, “Thou Thyself didst crush Rahab like one who is slain;
    Thou didst scatter Thine enemies with Thy mighty arm.”

    Other – Wings
    1. Psalm 57:1, “Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, for my soul takes refuge in Thee; and in the shadow of Thy wings I will take refuge, until destruction passes by.”

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