I recently had a set of conversations about how much control God holds. Let’s take a look at this subject. To start we have to define terms. “In control.” What does that mean? Does it mean that God will make our decisions for us? No, it doesn’t; we have been given free will as part of our humanity. We make our own decisions, with some nudging, and sometimes, what I believe to be rare cases, some heavy nudging such as when scripture tells us that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. Pharaoh was still free to make his own choice, but the possibility of choice was limited by God.
On an everyday basis, or better, as a norm: we are a free will creation and capable of our own decision making action. God does not normally attempt to overtly control that.
We would be correct in saying that the offer of redemption, the preaching of the Gospel, even the act of accepting or rejecting God’s gracious offer of salvation is purely and solely on our shoulders. We are free will creatures with the innate ability to make a free choice in this matter. The Calvinistic teaching of predetermination is simply a farce. We are not predetermined to salvation or a lost state, to be clear in my position, but we are free to choose. Now, that choice only comes after God calls us to repentance and gives us faith enough to believe for it and to accept it — and further scripture is clear that said choice will be amply given to ALL men (not just all elect men as Calvinism teaches).
Deuteronomy 30:19 (NET)
Today I invoke heaven and earth as a witness against you that I have set life and death, blessing and curse, before you. Therefore choose life so that you and your descendants may live!
Here we see that Life and Death, Blessing and Cursing have been put before us and we have the free choice ability to choose. It even comes with a hint: choose Life!! But, in the end, the choice is ours to make and is not coerced.
We need to know and stand on the truth that God is IN CONTROL of everything, as opposed to God CONTROLLING everything. We need to be careful not to place God in an Open Theism position of LOSING power, or not having ultimate power (omnipotence), over all things. In other words, if it were God’s will to stop the wars, COULD He? Juxtaposition that thought with this: does God actively cause the wars?
My position is that He most certainly could stop the wars. He does not have a lack of ability to do something. He is all powerful. He is sovereign in all things. But He is not involved in running the wars
Why doesn’t he stop the wars and the hunger then? Because the earth was created perfect and He gave man dominion and delegated control in this earth.
In Psalm 82:6 He calls us ‘gods.’ This word is ‘elohim.’ It is a word that is used for God Himself, as Supreme Deity. It is also a word used for ‘gods,’ which means rulers and judges. It is also used for the angels sometimes (usually archangel who have assignment over things in the earth). In other words we are part of the council of the elohim. We have dominion, given by God, to rule and judge in this earth. We have responsibility and must answer to Him.
Genesis 1:28 (NET)
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply! Fill the earth and subdue it! Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and every creature that moves on the ground.”
We rule and have dominion in this earth. God delegated that authority to us. He delegated control of this earth to man. And man THEN sinned and fell. The earth ‘cracked.’ The curse came into the earth and tainted it. When we fail to walk in the blessing (see Duet 30:19 again), then we choose to walk in the curse. When we choose to not bless the earth, then we allow the curse to run rampant.
This is why there are wars and hunger and hurt. This is why there is sickness and disease and deformity. God did not make the person born without limbs to exist that way, but they are a product of a cursed earth and the problems that man introduced into it.
And because God delegated that authority to man, He will not go back on His word and His plan and take that authority back since we didn’t use it to its fullest potential. Rather, He sent His only Son to offer us redemption and salvation. In this redemption is a plan for sanctification, for a cleansing of our tainted soul. In salvation our spirit is transformed, instantly, and we become His. He seals us with the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption. But our souls are subject to sanctification — a learning and growing process wherein we learn how to be more like Christ.
We messed up the earth. We caused the problems. We have the authority to do something about it but we have mired for centuries and have fallen to our carnal natures. God will not step in and clean up the mess — regardless of how much we know Him to be Love. His perfect nature does not allow for mistake; His giving us dominion and the results therein are all known to Him. And He is using all of this to teach us, to train us, to sanctify us in Christ.
God most certainly is IN CONTROL. He is not actively moving in certain situations the way man would think He should because He gave us the delegated authority to rule in this land. This is the land that we decided should be. We were given Blessing and Cursing. We wander back and forth between the two. Even those of us who know better.
So it is man who allowed a world where wars exist, where hunger exists, where abortions murder millions of children. Man has dominion and has the full resources to stop all this. But we don’t because as a humanity we are selfish and we do not care about others to any large degree compared to how we care about self. We are a selfish creature. We were given a free will and we embraced sin. And God could have made us to that this freedom didn’t exist and we couldn’t choose sin, but what He seems to have wanted was a creation that could FREELY choose Him.
Scripture absolutely does not say that God is not in control.
Scripture absolutely does say that God is in control.
There is no way around that this is scripture if truly searched. It is there so strongly that the Calvinist can overcorrect and wind up in a TULIP world where God’s control is so exacting that man really doesn’t have a choice. But then scripture destroys that thought as well.
We cannot approach scripture with a presupposition. We can’t say: “wars exist and God doesn’t stop them, therefore since God is Love He must not be ABLE to stop them.” This is a bad hermeneutic and will lead to bad theology (like Open Theism). Don’t allow the unbeliever’s hard questions to shape your theology. Wars exist because of man’s sin and his selfish desires (after all, what is a war but someone who is willing to kill because the other guy believes differently; it’s all about control).
When talking about being “IN CONTROL” we have to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water. Simply because God delegated control to man does not mean that He no longer has that control; it simply means that He CHOOSES not to use it in favor of giving us dominion in this domain. He chooses not to do certain things to allow us to grow and learn and change.
He most certainly could wipe this entire planet out, people and all, and start all over again. But He created us with a free will and allowed us to mess the whole thing up. But He is still IN CONTROL of the whole ball of wax, or He wouldn’t have been able to send His Son to die for our sins; It would be meaningless that Jesus died if God was not the perfect Judge who could ACCEPT Jesus’ death as an acceptable sacrifice; it would be an evil world if the devil had ANY power to win over God — but no, God is IN CONTROL and the devil does not have a chance.
I’m hoping that I have conveyed an understanding of what “IN CONTROL” means. I pray this article clears up some misconceptions. And if anyone has embraced Open Theism I pray that they see the error in that philosophy and run from it. It damages who God is. It dements the power that He has. It takes away from His sovereignty, which the scripture clearly speaks of.
Ephesians 1:11-12 (NET)
11 In Christ we too have been claimed as God’s own possession, since we were predestined according to the one purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will 12 so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, would be to the praise of his glory.
God accomplishes ALL THINGS according to His will. His will included our free will (see Duet 30:19 again), and He will not step on that delegated dominion. But His will is wrapped around the whole so that His will shall be done. Not our individual actions, per se, but the redemption story as a whole. Whosoever will accept the gift of salvation shall be saved for eternity. But NOTHING shall interfere with God’s will of eternity. Even though Calvinism demented verse 11’s “predestined” word doesn’t step on verse 12’s “we set our hope on Christ.” Our hope wasn’t set for us, but we were given a free will to choose.
And the fact that we have a choice at all speaks of God’s ultimate CONTROL in ALL THINGS.