This past week my Bible study group we discussed Romans 9. God’s sovereignty vs. free will that whole debate, you know. Since, we attend the same church and are taught by the same pastor, we mostly agreed. However, towards the end, I mentioned how I believed that God was sovereign over and predestined literally everything even down to the shirt I wear. My friend disagreed with me.
She read Acts 17:26 “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.” And argued that place could mean western hemisphere instead of 1796 Forest Dr. (fake address) and that time could mean born in the 80’s or the internet era instead of June 19th 1982 (fake birthday). My argument was no, that God ordained for me to be born in Aurora, IL on my specific date of birth and to move to Naples, FL about 1 1/2 years later so that I would interact with specific neighbors and classmates and have specific experiences that shaped who I am today and how I affect and interact with people that he now has me interact with, etc. etc.
She argued that if God predestined every little detail, then he also predestines my sin. Oooo…. that made me feel squeemish. And she said she’d need some scripture to back it up. Well, I had a verse in mind but I couldn’t find it. So, I was basically tripped up. And walked away thinking, “Should I really believe that God predestines everything little thing right down to the exact blades of grass that I step on outside?”
After a conversation with my husband and finding of scriptures, studying of online articles and blogs, sections of books by theologians and even a little of the Westminster Confession, my conclusion is yes. Yes, I do believe in God’s Meticulous Sovereignty and it is a wonderful and comforting thing.
So, why do I believe it? First, Matthew 10:29-31, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” So, basically what the verse is saying is that something that costs 1/2 a penny (What costs 1/2 a penny today? Nothing, not even gum… that’s how insignificant they are.) won’t die apart from God’s will. So, if that’s true, then why wouldn’t other seemingly insignificant things be a part of God’s will.
The other most significant verse is Ephesians 1:11, “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,” So does that me literally ALL things, big and small, or all seemingly significant things? If a teenager said, “I did all my homework mom.” Would the mother assume all the homework is done, down to every last problem, or would she assume that most of it is done, and definitely the significant assignments? Personally, I would assume all of it was done, down to the last problem, there’s no reason for me to think otherwise, unless an exception is made.
The other noteworthy and thought-provoking thing that I want to bring up is a quote from R.C. Sproul’s book Chosen by God. “If there is one single molecule in this universe running around loose, totally free of God’s sovereignty, then we have no guarantee that a single promise of God will ever be fulfilled. Perhaps that one maverick molecule will lay waste all the grand and glorious plans that God has made and promised to us. If a grain of sand in the kidney of Oliver Cromwell changed the course of English history, so our maverick molecule could change the course of redemption history. Maybe that one molecule will be the thing that prevents Christ from returning… There are no maverick molecules.” (p. 26-27)
That is quite the powerful statement. This was my thought process:
– How ridiculous. God is more powerful than a dinky little molecule. Of course God wouldn’t let a molecule ruin his plans.
– Well, that’s true, but how does God make sure that a dinky little molecule doesn’t ruin his plans?
– By ordaining and being in control of exactly where that molecule is, at all times, and exactly what it bounces into.
Hmmm… that’s pretty powerful to me. God controls all things so that Christ will return and triumph.
So, what does that do with my sin then? Does God predestine sin? Well, yes. He predestined the sins of Joseph’s brothers when they sold him into slavery so that later Joseph could save his family from famine. God also predestined the most heinous of sin, the death of Christ. (Acts 4:27-28, Acts 2:23) So, God predestines my sin, for a purpose, and at the same time I’m held accountable for my sin. A la Romans 9! “19 You will say to me then, ‘Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?’ 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?”
Let me leave you with this beautiful poem that I found here.
Sov’reign Ruler of the skies,
Gracious, ever wise;
All my times are in thy hand,
All events at thy command.
His decree who form’d the earth
Fix’d my first and second birth;
Parents, native place, and time,
All appointed were by him.
He that form’d me in the womb,
He shall guide me to the tomb;
All my times shall ever be
Order’d by his wise decree.
Times of sickness; times of health;
Times of penury and wealth;
Times of trial and of grief;
Times of triumph and relief;
Times the tempter’s power to prove;
Times to taste the Saviour’s love
All must come, and last, and end,
As shall please my heavenly Friend.
Plagues and deaths around me fly;
Till he bids, I cannot die;
Not a single shaft can hit,
Till the God of love sees fit.
John Ryland (1753-1825)
Note: “”penury” = extreme poverty
Source: The Providence of God by Paul Helm (Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity), 1993.