Sovereignty of God

Does Belief in Divine Sovereignty Deter Prayer?

Some Christians think that a belief in God’s absolute sovereignty discourages a healthy prayer life. In reality, though, God’s sovereignty provides us with some of the greatest motivations to pray. I’d like to highlight just two of those motivations from Proverbs 21:30-31:

There is no wisdom and no understanding and no counsel against the LORD. The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but victory belongs to the LORD.

God’s Sovereignty Keeps us from Despair.

At first glance, verse 30 appears to describe a sinless environment. Only in a world without sin can it be said, “There is no wisdom, understanding, or counsel against the Lord.” Such a condition existed prior to the fall and will exist after the return of Christ. In contrast, we see plenty of opposition to the Lord in our day. In the language of Psalm 2:2, “The kings of the earth take their stand, and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against His Anointed” (NAS).

However, Proverbs 21:30 is not teaching the absence of opposition to God. Actually, it’s teaching the non-existence of human wisdom, understanding, or counsel that can prevail against the Lord (see NIV, NLT, ESV). It’s expressing the same truth expressed by the Scripture writer in Psalm 33:10-11: “The LORD nullifies the counsel of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation” (NAS).

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From the Archives – Of God and Basketball Victories

On the evening of March 30, 2002, in the city of Atlanta, Georgia, the Indiana Hoosiers upset the Oklahoma Sooners in a “Final Four” contest of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Following the game, Indiana coach, Mike Davis, credited God for giving Indiana University the victory. “I have a lot of people praying for me,” he told the press, “God has placed His favor on me.”

Let me be the last to object to any praise going to God in the media. A man steps up to the microphone and declares that God factors into his view of the world, including the world of basketball—I’m with that! I lauded Mike Davis’ courage to proclaim his faith to the world on that occasion and I laud him still.

But I must admit, as a man of faith, that I’m growing increasingly uncomfortable with the array of athletes and coaches announcing through a microphone their euphoric gratitude to God moments after an athletic victory over their opponents. My discomfort has nothing to do with bringing God into the sports world—he’s there anyway, kudos to those who acknowledge reality. My discomfort stems more from the message that seems to be subtly communicated by such public expressions of divine adulation.

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Coronavirus: Thoughts on God’s Responsibility & Purpose

These are sobering, uncertain, and anxiety producing times. I can recall nothing this severe in my lifetime. The coronavirus is a danger unlike anything our nation has faced for many decades. Some have likened it to conditions during World War II, and I can well imagine that to be the case. Nearly everyone is concerned about scarcity of supplies as they survey empty store shelves. Many are afraid of sickness and possible death. Others are panicking about the sudden evaporation of their retirement accounts. Fortunes have vanished in a moment. Some fear the break-down of law and order with rioting and looting. Gun sales have soared over the past several weeks. News report usually begin with pandemic updates along with accusations, finger-pointing, and blame-shifting. As Christians, we need to listen less to the voices around us, and more to the wisdom of God. Thinking biblically is the best remedy for our fears.

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We May Be Confused, but God Isn’t

"There is so much that we don’t understand. There is so much that we are incapable of understanding. So rest is found in trusting the Father. He is not confused, and he surely does have your best interest in mind. Yes, he will ask you to do hard things and he will bring difficult things your way, but he is worthy of your trust and he loves you dearly." - Paul David Tripp

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The Well-Meant Offer: God Begs the Wicked to Repent (Ezek 33:11), Part 5

Two Practical Applications

What bearing do our exegetical conclusions from Ezekiel 33:11 have for our understanding of God’s disposition toward the lost and the well-meant offer of the gospel?

God Prefers Mercy Over Judgment

The Scriptures clearly teach that God angry with the wicked every day (Psa 7:11), and he will eventually judge every impenitent sinner (Rom 2:5-16; 6:23; Rev 20:11-15). Moreover, when the Lord Almighty enacts justice, he finds a holy and righteous satisfaction (Exod 34:7; Deut 28:63; Jer 9:24; Ezek 5:13; Rom 2:4-16; 3:24-26; Rev 15:3; 16:7).

Nevertheless, Ezekiel 33:11 teaches us that God’s wrath and judgment are his “strange” or “alien” work. In contrast, God’s love and salvation are his “proper” or “more natural” work. God prefers the repentance and salvation of wicked over their demise. “In a vehement protest,” says Leslie Allen,

Yahweh objects to being cast solely in the role of punitive destroyer. It does not express his ultimate will, which is to bestow life on those who turn from the bad lifestyle that occasioned the punishment. The judgment was a means to this very end.20

The Preacher’s Compassion is Not Blind!

In an article entitled “The Language and Theology of the ‘Free Offer,’” Paul Helm disagrees with John Murray support of the well-meant offer, and he sides instead with John Gill. Helm asserts,

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