Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Sovereignty of God ...part 1

You speak a lot about man's choice/free will.  I've never studied Calvinism or Armenianism, I just know basically what they are.  My thought/question about free will is this.  Is not God's will sovereign over man's?  Here's where I'm coming from:  I know we have's obvious scripturally and experientially;  but check out Matthew 16:13 -17 (you've referred to it several times in a few of the Acts teachings which kind of started me thinking along this line), specifically where Jesus tells Peter he did not get revelation from flesh and blood but from God...

Before getting into God’s ‘sovereignty’ and how it relates to Matthew 16:13-17, let me say this about ‘free will’ which was instituted by God when he created Adam. 

1. Man is made in God's image, and God has free will to choose.
2. God proves this point by giving mankind the ability to choose to obey His command to eat of the tree of knowledge or not.
3. God gave him freedom, but with the freedom came responsibility and consequences—this is how life works to this day—and it is the definition of GRACE!

Genesis 2:16-17
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Although mankind always tries to get around this creation principle/law that God set up by blaming others and not wanting to deal with the inevitable consequences of our actions, we can't—it’s the spiritual law of sowing and reaping!

Galatians 6:7
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

Here are a couple other passages about free will (there are 17 of them):

Leviticus  22:18, 21, 23
Speak unto Aaron, and to his sons, and unto all the children of Israel, and say unto them, Whatsoever he be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers in Israel, that will offer his oblation for all his vows, and for all his free will offerings, which they will offer unto the LORD for a burnt offering;

And whosoever offereth a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the LORD to accomplish his vow, or a free will offering in beeves or sheep, it shall be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no blemish therein.

Either a bullock or a lamb that hath any thing superfluous or lacking in his parts, that mayest thou offer for a free will offering; but for a vow it shall not be accepted.

Leviticus  23:38
Beside the sabbaths of the LORD, and beside your gifts, and beside all your vows, and beside all your free will offerings, which ye give unto the LORD.

So when it comes to man making choices [of his own free will], God does not override man's will.  Ever!

Even so, God is so powerful that he can allow every, and all, men to do whatever they choose to do (i.e., obey him or not) and still accomplish his purposes! No man will stop his eternal plan and purpose for his creation—He is wise!

Romans 16:27
To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.

1 Timothy 1:17
Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Jude 1:25
To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

God's ‘sovereignty’ (not a bible word, but it IS a bible principle...Romans 11) simply means that he reigns supreme over all and his will will be accomplished! God himself chose not to override the free will he gave man!

Why? Because LOVE can only be based on the ability to choose, and cannot be forced. We are not robots or androids—we are ‘man,’ made in his image. So because God is free to choose, he made us the same way!

God makes decisions based on sound reasoning (sound mind) and wisdom, and he expects man to do the same as him!

His overall will shall be accomplished whether or not individual men co-operate or not. He gives us the choice!

Now then, what about Peter’s revelation from God, the Father?

Matthew 16:13-17
When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

The question now is how did God the Father reveal it to Peter?

Let's go back to an earlier passage and look at another account.

Matthew 11:25-27
At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.

In the context, what were these things that God the Father revealed to babes (those with childlike faith in Israel), and at the same time hid from the wise and prudent (the unbelieving intellectual religious leaders)?

Well look in the preceding verses:

Matthew 11:20-24
Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.

So in the context, the Lord did mighty works (miracles/signs/wonders), yet Israel would not believe him!  It was these mighty works that the Son of God did that should have been enough proof from God, the Father, to Israel that Jesus was the Christ!

But, how was Israel to know that these works pointed out Messiah/Son of God?

Through his word! God already told Israel in the law/prophets that when Messiah comes he would do these mighty works.

Isaiah 35:3-6
Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.

When Israel saw Jesus do all these (that's why he and later, his apostles, did these specific types of miracles), they were to know that he was the Christ, the Son of the Living God! 

So it's no marvel that earlier in the passage from Matthew 11 this account takes place:

Matthew 11:1-6
And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities. Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.

Notice that John, expecting the kingdom to come right away, lost confidence when he went into prison.  So he sought re-assurance that Jesus was truly the Christ by sending two of his disciples to Jesus.  The Lord answered that inquiry by telling them John needed to remember—shew again—the mighty works that he was doing to verify who he was!

John, like all of Israel, needed to believe what Isaiah 35 said about the identity and works of Messiah.

By the way, notice that the Lord ends this passage by saying "blessed" is he that is not offended in me. What is He saying? Well, for a Jew in Israel to believe ‘on him,’ brought on offense (one of the reasons that John was in prison); to believe ‘on Jesus of Nazareth’ was to be alienated and persecuted by other Jews.  But if that Jew took the offence and believed the word of God and the works, he would be blessed!

Matthew 13:20-21
But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.

John 16:1
These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.

God sends his word to us and we either endure it or are offended by it!

Now back to Matthew

Matthew 16:15-17
He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

So how did God "reveal" this to Peter?  Look at the preceding verses.

Matthew 16: 5-12
And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. 6 Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.  And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

Notice 2 things: the Lord speaks about "doctrine" and the "miracles" of the loaves and fishes.

He told them to beware off the teaching [doctrine] of the religious leaders that deny that he was the Christ, and he told them to believe his mighty works [miracles] as proof from God that he was!

John 4:48
Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.

1 Corinthians 1:22
For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:

That's the whole purpose to all the miracles—to prove that Jesus was the Christ.

So as Peter remembered/thought upon/meditated upon  the miracle of the loaves and fishes being multiplied and as he ALSO remembered God's word—Christ's doctrine [teachings]—he believed and confessed!

Psalm 23
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Therefore, his revelation, comes not from flesh and blood (human origin), but from God's word and the miracles!

John 5:36
But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.

John 9:4
I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.

John 10:25, 38
Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me.

But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.

John 14:10-11
Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.

Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.

It was through God's word and the miracles that God proved that Jesus was His Son.


That was then—Times Past.  But what about now!  Today?

To be continued…

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