For those who are familiar with the Arminian/Calvinist debate, you can see where this is going from the title. A few months ago I came to accept Calvinistic theology, from all points of TULIP to the five Solae. For today’s post, I want to talk about God’s sovereignty. For those that don’t know, you may be questioning why Arminian or Calvinism have to deal with God’s sovereignty.
First, lets define what it means to be sovereign. According to Merriam-Webster, the word sovereign “describes power: to have sovereign power is to have absolute power—that is, power that cannot be checked by anyone or anything.” There you have it folks. If God is sovereign, than He has absolute power and His power cannot be checked by anyone or anything.
Lets take a look at the Scriptures, from the Word of God Himself. Starting in Romans 9:13-16, 18 (ESV) it reads, “As it is written, ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.’ What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For He says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy… So then He has mercy on whomever He wills, and He hardens whomever He wills.” Again, there you have it. Straight from the Scriptures.
God’s power cannot be checked by anyone or anything. Not on human will or exertion, but on God’s decisions alone. That brings me to my first point: we cannot choose God, but rather God chooses us. Arminians believe in conditional election; that is, God elects people based on a person’s will. Lets think about that for a moment: if God’s salvation for people is dependent on people’s ‘free will’, than that would make God not… sovereign. God’s power cannot be hindered by human will, and God’s salvation for His people are not dependent on anything, especially human will, but rather God’s own merciful decisions.
So, I have a questions for all Arminians: Do you believe God is sovereign? Arminians also believe that God’s grace is resistible. They believe that God offers His grace to all, but people can choose to accept it or not. Once again, this theology makes God not… sovereign. God’s redeeming power is not dependent on other person’s decisions. If we go by the definition that Merriam-Webster provided and the one described in the Bible, than God’s power is not dependent on people’s so called ‘free will’.
My next has to deal with point five of TULIP: Perseverance of the Saints. For those that don’t know, this means that the elect of God cannot loose salvation. Arminians believe a person can loose salvation after too much sin or after apostasy. However, this is not the case. In Ephesians 1:13-14 (ESV), Paul writes, “In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of His glory.” Because you were the elect of God, you believed in Him. The moment you acknowledged your salvation, the Holy Spirit sealed you. He guarantees our salvation until we die or until the return of the Christ.
But when it comes to God’s sovereignty, if people can resist His salvation or turn away from Him, that would again make Him not sovereign. Some might ask about those who claimed to be a Christian, but fell away. I believe that if you truly love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, then you won’t fall away. You can’t fall away. For those that did, I believe they never truly loved God to begin with. Just imagine it for one moment. God chose you to be a Christian. How are we able to resist that or fall away from that? We can’t! It is impossible. Why? Because God is sovereign.
There is an argument that some Arminians use when it comes to God’s sovereignty. They claim that God can decide to not exercise complete control and that it is His sovereign choice. After reading an Arminian blog to hear their side, I saw something that was… something else (and in a negative way). It read, “In order to rescue God’s character, the Arminian, while holding to a strong view of sovereignty, will posit that God sovereignly limits Himself.”
Two things popped out to me. The first was when it read, “in order to rescue God’s character.” Lets stop right there. God does not need our rescuing. He is sovereign over ALL things. If you don’t like the way He chooses to do things, or if you don’t like His character as it is, than you don’t truly follow God. We have no right to question our Creator’s decision. Because He called you, you love Him. You can’t question Him on that. Don’t try to rescue or change His character from what it really is.
The second thing is that God’s power is not limited, now or ever. God’s decisions don’t limit Himself. Because He is sovereign, He can choose to do whatever He wants. God doesn’t contradict Himself. Just because He doesn’t do something, doesn’t mean that He can’t do it. He chooses to do something or not to do something.
I will admit that God’s decision to not be involved in every situation is not entirely false. Yes, humans have free will to some degree. I can choose to go to McDonald’s or to Chick-Fil-A. Well… maybe that’s a bad example. My point is that God will have His way with certain aspects of our lives, and definitely with our salvation. People claim that if God has complete control over everything, than He is an evil God for creating sin. That’s not true. Human rebelled against God from the beginning. God decided to use His great and sovereign power to rescue the elect. That is far from the so called “evil God” that Arminians claim that we worship.
I believe with all my heart that God is sovereign over all things, that He is a great and amazing and powerful God, and I believe that He is a good God. I find assurance that He will guarantee my salvation until the day I join Him again. I love God and thank Him for choosing me to be apart of the Elect. I hope that you have found something from a new perspective. Until next time, Soli Deo Gloria!