by Lauren Dyck
“I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the Lord, who does all these things… I made the earth and created man on it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host. I have stirred him up in righteousness, and I will make all his ways level; he shall build my city and set my exiles free, not for price or reward.” Isaiah 45:5-7, 12-13
Consider with me for a moment, the prayers made to God by his children:
“God, please help…”
“God, please heal…”
“God, thank you for…”
Each one of theses statements, and so many of like nature, appeal to the sovereignty of God and the expectation that he is able to do, or has already done, something solely by his ability. We find comfort in the fact that God is in control and, as his children, works all things for our good (Romans 8:28).
I was reminded of this again a little while ago when a post showed up on my Facebook feed that someone had shared, a quote by Barry Bennett:
Why do so many Christians insist that God controls all things when He can’t even control them? He didn’t control Adam. He didn’t control Cain. Exactly who does God control? Was God controlling the storm that Jesus rebuked? Did God make everyone sick that Jesus healed? Was Jesus undoing God’s will and thwarting His control? Does God make you drive the speed limit? Does God make you always act out of love? Did God send the church into all the world with the good news and does He then go and kill those lost people with natural disasters to prove how good He is?
…God is not controlling all things.
It is quotes like this that clearly undermine what God himself says in his word about his sovereignty and control. It causes confusion at best and turns people away from the living God at worst.
“I make well-being and create calamity; I am the Lord, who does all these things…” In this single verse, as found above, we already see the contrast with what God has said and what Mr. Bennett has said.
Several years ago someone else shared a clip where Bill Johnson from Bethel Church in Redding, California, speaks on this topic and uses the illustration of “God’s hands are handcuffed”, and he requires our “permission” to work.
Both of these examples portray a weak God who is only reactionary, thus placing sovereignty into our hands and making an idol of ourselves.
If God is not sovereign, he cannot answer prayers. If he is not in control, he cannot work all things for our good. This reasoning is simple yet so clearly missed in the examples shared here, so let’s for a minute do what they failed to do and search the God breathed word (2 Timothy 3:16-17) to see what God himself has to say about this…
“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” -Job 42:2
“The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein,” -Psalm 24:1
“Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” -Psalm 90:1-2
“Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.” -Psalm 135:6
“The LORD has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.” -Proverbs 16:4
“The LORD of hosts has sworn: “As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand” -Isaiah 14:24
“Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,” -Isaiah 46:8-10
“At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?” -Daniel 4:34-35
“Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?” -Lamentations 3:37-38
“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.” – Acts 2:22-24
“In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,” -Ephesians 1:11
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” -Romans 8:28-30
“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. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.” -Romans 9:14-18
“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” -Colossians 1:16-17
“He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” -Hebrews 1:3
The scriptures leave us no doubt that God is completely in control, in fact, he even purposes to test us in allowing false teachers to teach these false doctrines about himself… “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” -Deuteronomy 13:1-3
It is in his sovereignty that his children take comfort and confidence when we pray, when life gets hard, or when we no longer know where to turn. We can fall on our knees in front of our Holy King of Kings, Lord of the universe and know, that he and he alone is in control of all things and he cares for you!
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” -Ephesians 3:20