The Sovereignty of God - God or Chance - Solomon Star News

The Sovereignty of God - God or Chance

19 January 2015

In my article two weeks ago, I introduced the subject for our discussion the ‘sovereignty of God.’ Last week, we went on to looked at another important aspect of God’s sovereignty and that is the sustaining action of God in upholding and preserving His creation.

No doctrine is more despised by the natural mind than the truth that God is absolutely sovereign. Human pride loathes the suggestion that God orders everything, controls everything, rules over everything. The carnal mind, burning with enmity against God, abhors the biblical teaching that nothing comes to pass except according to His eternal decrees.

The non-Christian and Atheist would rule out both the creating act of God and His providence. For them, all events are in the hands of fate or chance. Such a view lately promoted by an author who wrote a book about managing crisis. The author says, “You should view and plan for the inevitability of a crisis… out of the strength that comes from knowing you are prepared to face life and believe in the power of the knowledge you possess to predetermines the ultimate outcome.

In Rabbi Kushner’s book, “When bad things happen to good people,’ Kushner asks, “Can you accept the idea that some things happen for no reason, that there is randomness in the universe?” Speaking of the direction of a forest fire takes, he asks, “But is there a sensible explanation for why wind and weather combine to direct a forest fire on a given day towards certain home rather than others, trapping some people inside and sparing others? Or is it just a matter of pure lack?”

Elsewhere Rabbi Kushner reminds us that insurance companies refer to earthquakes, hurricanes, and various natural disasters as “acts of God.” Then he says, “I consider that a case of using God’s name in vain. I don’t believe that an earthquake that kills thousands of innocent victims without reason is an act of God. It is an act of nature. Nature is morally blind, without values. It churns along, following its own laws, not caring who or what gets in the way.”

This is a modern response to the age-old question, “why?” Of course, if one dismisses the whole idea of God, as many do, then there is no other alternative. Many, while not dismissing the idea of God, have fabricated a God of their own speculation. Seventeenth century deism constructed a God who created a universe and walked away to leave it running according to its natural laws and man’s devices. Many people today are practical deists.

Even Christians often think as deists today. Many accept the concept that God is sovereign, but believe that He chooses not to exercise His sovereignty in the daily affairs of our lives. As one writer put it, “We know that God is sovereign, but we also know that, in His sovereignty, God has placed us in a world of sin and suffering from which we have no immunity,” and again, “God’s love…for us, does not place us in a protected position.” While I agree with the author’s basic thesis in her article, that we shouldn’t be asking, “Why?” I am troubled with what I understand her to be saying about God’s exercise of His sovereignty and His care for His people.

In His well-known statement about sparrows, Jesus said, “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…So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-31). According to Jesus, God does exercise His sovereignty in very minute events-even the life and death of an almost worthless sparrow. And, Jesus’ whole point is: If God so exercises His sovereignty in regard to sparrows, most certainly He will exercise it in regard to His children. While it is certainly true that God’s love for us does not protect us from pain and sorrow, it is also true that all occasions of pain and sorrow are under the absolute control of God. If God controls the circumstances of the sparrow, how much more does he control the circumstances that affect us? God does not walk away and leave us to the mercy of uncontrolled random or chance events.

A Christian husband flew in a private plane to another city to give his testimony at an evangelistic meeting, taking his son with him. On the way home they ran into an electrical storm that caused the plane to crash. Both the father and son were killed. A Christian friend, in an effort to comfort the bereaved wife and mother said, “One thing you can be sure of: God had no part in that accident.” According to this friend, God was apparently looking the other way when the pilot got into trouble. A sparrow cannot fall to the ground without our Father’s will but apparently a plane with Christians aboard can.

I read a blasphemous statement by someone who said, “Chance is the pseudonym God uses when He’d rather not sign His own name.” A lot of Christians are doing that for God today. Often unwilling to accept that fact that God is working, because they don’t understand how He is working, they have chosen to substitute the doctrine of chance for the doctrine of divine providence.

Along with the doctrine of chance, many Christians are also buying into the philosophy expounded by Rabbi Kushner that God is good but not sovereign. I met a Christian who speaks of her pain as being utterly frustrating to God and give thanks to God for being her devoted, caring, frustrated heavenly Father. Faced with the dilemma of how a loving, sovereign Father could allow her to experience such agonizing pain, she found relief in the belief that God was indeed frustrated about her pain, shedding tears with her, even as a mother may weep at the suffering of her child.

In fairness to this lady, she suffered excruciating pain for months. As one who has suffered less severe pain, and that only for several weeks at any one time, I realise I have not sat where she sat, I have not had to wrestle to the degree she has with the love of God in the midst of unbearable pain. But, as so often has been observed, we are to establish our beliefs by the Bible, not by our experiences. The Bible leaves us no doubt: God is never frustrated. “No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?’” (Daniel 4:35). It is true that God is involved in an invisible war with Satan and that the lives of God’s people often are battlegrounds, as seen in the life of Job. But even then Satan must get permission to touch God’s people (Job 1:12, 2:6; Luke 22:31-32).Even in this invisible war, God is sovereign.

All people-believers as well as unbelievers experience anxiety, frustration, heartache and disappointment. Some suffer intense physical pain and catastrophic tragedies. But that which should distinguish the suffering of believers from unbelievers is the confidence that our suffering is under the control of an all-powerful and all-loving God; our suffering has meaning and purpose in God’s eternal plan, and He brings or allows to come into our lives only that which is for His glory and our good.

Rev. Eric D. Maefonea