The sovereignty of God, at least in how it relates to human free will, is a challenging topic with a variety of ways that people understand it. Rather than rehashing what others say about this, I would like to briefly express what I have come to believe about the subject. I believe that God is sovereign, he is a ruler with absolute power and knowledge. As sovereign, he is answerable to no one, especially to his human creations. He made us, and he does not owe us an explanation for how or why he did so; as much as we might like one.
Is Sovereignty Fair?
The ninth chapter of Romans is especially clear on God’s sovereignty. In particular, as it concerns what he is doing with us. There are some people that God has destined for glory. And others that he destined for destruction. And that destiny is not based on what we may, or may not, have done. It is solely based on his sovereignty. He chooses and rejects whom he wants to.
Is that fair? From a human perspective, maybe not. We would like to think that God would reward or punish us based on our actions. And typically, our views of heaven and hell reflect that. Be good, and paradise awaits you. Be bad, and face eternal punishment. But God is not like us, and we err when we try and see him as such. God is much more than I can conceive of, and judging him according to human standards is ludicrous.
Is God’s Choice Arbitrary?
I do not profess to understand God’s purpose in creation. But I am reasonably certain that it was not so that he could have a heaven full of people to reward and hang out with for eternity. There certainly seems to be an easier way to accomplish that. Scripture tells us that, as believers, we are his children. And that seems to be not just for this life, but also for the future that awaits us. And if that is so, then God most likely chooses those who have the characteristics he wants, based on this life.
God is sovereign and can arbitrarily choose whoever he wants. But the Bible is clear that faith plays a role in the selection. While some see faith as something we do and lump it with ‘works’, the Bible pretty clearly distinguishes between the two (i.e. Romans 3:28). It seems that faith is what God wants. And all who will live a life of faith in him will be chosen.
Sovereignty and Faith
Some will argue that God gives faith to those he wants, but that would seem to be at odds with the repeated calls for us to have faith; calls that seem to indicate some personal responsibility. It seems more in line with scripture to see faith as something that is natively within me. Besides, if God wants all of us to be saved, and he is responsible for supplying the faith, why doesn’t everyone have faith?
My faith, however, does not obligate God in any fashion. He is sovereign, and if, in his sovereignty, he decides to select the faithful and reject everyone else, that is his right. In no way does my faith impinge on God’s sovereign choice, or force him to act on my behalf.
- The Doctrine of the Sovereignty of God (7/2/2015) - God is sovereign, and has a plan and purpose for his creation that will be accomplished. But his plan takes into account his foreknowledge of our choices.
- The Doctrine of the Trinity (12/26/2016) - The Trinity is a uniquely Christian doctrine, teaching that there is only one God, but in three persons having one essence.
- The Doctrine of Election: Who Are the Elect? (2/8/2019) - The doctrine of election is confusing and lies at the heart of many theological disputes. It simply refers to God's choosing of his people.
- The Doctrine of the Kingdom of God (2/22/2019) - What is the Kingdom of God that is spoken of so much in the New Testament. It is the spiritual rule of God in the life of believers.
- The Doctrine of Prayer: What Is Prayer? (9/6/2019) - The doctrine of prayer looks at what the Bible has to say about prayer. Why do we pray? Does it accomplish anything? What is its purpose?
- The Doctrine of Hope: What Is Our Hope As Believers? (5/22/2020) - The doctrine of hope is an important one for believers. Hope is the earnest expectation of what God has in store for us. And hope holds us steady today.
- Aseity, the Self-existence and Eternally of God. (9/4/2020) - One of the attributes commonly associated with God is aseity. That God is a self-existent necessary being who is eternal.
- The Doctrine of Predestination? (9/3/2021) - The doctrine of predestination is hotly debated. But it is not really that complicated. It simply refers to what God has decided beforehand.