Sovereignty and Responsibility

Audio For Sovereignty and Responsibility-October 25 2009

Sovereignty is Sanity

God’s Sovereignty and Man’s Responsibility the Problem Solved

How can man be responsible for his sins if God ordains everything a man thinks, says and does?

Purpose: To learn how Scripture harmonizes God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility without compromising God’s holiness and reducing man to a mindless puppet.

1. Concept: Armenian theologians have taught the doctrine of free will as the logical ground for man’s responsibility. They also believe that the doctrine of free will protects God’s holiness. The doctrine of free will states that since God gave man a free independent will and man freely chose to sin then man is the independent cause of his sin. Therefore man’s free will makes him responsible for his sins. Man’s free independent will makes man the author of his sin and not God. Because God is not the cause of man’s sin. If God was the cause of man’s sin then ,in the Armenian mind, that would logically make God the Author of sin.

2. Concept: The Sovereigntist theologians state that Scripture clearly teaches that God ordains all things both good and evil without compromising His holiness and without logically abandoning the doctrine of man’s responsibility.

3. Concept:  Both doctrines cannot be true. The Bible does not teach contradictions.

4. Concept: The Bible teaches that all men are responsible.

Christians are responsible for their lives.

Rom 14:10 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.


Rom 14:12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.

Unbelievers are responsible for their sins.

Rev 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.

5. Concept: The Bible also teaches the absolute sovereignty of God over all things.

Eph 1:11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will,

Rom 11:36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

Rom 9:18 Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.

Rom 9:19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?”

Rom 9:20 But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?”

Rom 9:21 Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?

6. Concept: So much of this false thinking concerning God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility comes from an abysmal understanding of the doctrine of God’s sovereign independence and man’s creaturehood. In other words, this illogical thinking comes from no understanding of the Biblical revelation concerning the Creator/creature distinction. The satanic result of this unbiblical thinking is an exalted view of man and a blasphemous view of God. God is the only One who can be independent because He is not created. He has no cause! On the other hand man is dependent because he is created. God cannot create a creature and give it an independent will because what ever He creates is dependent. God cannot create another God because His creation would have a cause which would make it dependent. God alone is Self-Blessed, Self-Existent, and Self-Satisfied in need of Nothing. All of created reality is dependent on God’s omnipotence.

Job 34:14 If He should set His heart on it, If He should gather to Himself His Spirit and His breath,

Job 34:15 All flesh would perish together, And man would return to dust.

Act 17:28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’

7. Concept: God refers to Himself in Scripture as the Sovereign Potter who makes all men from the same lump of clay. He alone without any influence from the clay or obligation to the clay fashions each clay vessel according to what He wants that clay vessel to be in order to glorify certain attributes of His Holy Being.

Rom 9:20 But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?”

Rom 9:21 Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?

Rom 9:22 What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,

Rom 9:23 and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory,

Isa 29:16 Surely you have things turned around! Shall the potter be esteemed as the clay; For shall the thing made say of him who made it, “He did not make me”? Or shall the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”?

Isa 45:9 “Woe to him who strives with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth! Shall the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ Or shall your handiwork say, ‘He has no hands’?

Isa 45:10 Woe to him who says to his father, ‘What are you begetting?’ Or to the woman, ‘What have you brought forth?’ ”

Isa 64:8 But now, O LORD, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand.

Jer 18:1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying:

Jer 18:2 “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear My words.”

Jer 18:3 Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something at the wheel.

Jer 18:4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.

Jer 18:5 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying:

Jer 18:6 “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?” says the LORD. “Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel!

8. Concept: God has the right to do what He wants to do with His Own creation!

Mat 20:15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’

Pro 16:4 The LORD has made all for Himself, Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom.

Eze 18:4 “Behold, all souls are Mine; The soul of the father As well as the soul of the son is Mine; The soul who sins shall die.

Job 12:16 With Him are strength and prudence. The deceived and the deceiver are His.

Job 34:19 Yet He is not partial to princes, Nor does He regard the rich more than the poor; For they are all the work of His hands.

1Sa 2:6 “The LORD kills and makes alive; He brings down to the grave and brings up.

1Sa 2:7 The LORD makes poor and makes rich; He brings low and lifts up.

Dan 5:23 and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified.

Jer 10:23 O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.

Pro 20:24 A man’s steps are of the LORD; How then can a man understand his own way?

1Co 4:7 For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive?

9. Concept: What is God’s opinion of man?  Biblical revelation strips man of his exalted opinion of himself by divesting him of his pride.  Only the Bible lets God be God and man be man.

Isa 40:15 Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket, And are counted as the small dust on the scales; Look, He lifts up the isles as a very little thing.

Isa 40:16 And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, Nor its beasts sufficient for a burnt offering.

Isa 40:17 All nations before Him are as nothing, And they are counted by Him less than nothing and worthless.

Dan 4:35 All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing;

Job 25:6 How much less man, who is a maggot, And a son of man, who is a worm?”

Psa 8:4 What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?

Psa 103:14 For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.

Gen 18:27 Then Abraham answered and said, “Indeed now, I who am but dust and ashes have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord:

Psa 113:6 Who humbles Himself to behold The things that are in the heavens and in the earth?

Psa 144:3 LORD, what is man, that You take knowledge of him? Or the son of man, that You are mindful of him?

10. Concept: God is not responsible for what He does with His clay creations because there is no one superior to God for God to give an answer to for what He does. Clark states, “ Let us then define the term by saying that a person is responsible if he can be justly rewarded or punished for his deeds. This implies, of course, that he must be answerable to someone. Responsibility presupposes a superior authority that rewards and punishes.” God and Evil p. 34.  This definition does not apply to God.  There is no law that God must answer to or another superior being that is capable of rewarding God or punishing God. God is Ex Lex.  He is outside of Law.  God made laws for men not for Himself. There is no law that God must answer to.

Job 33:13 Why do you contend with Him? For He does not give an accounting of any of His words.

Dan 4:35 All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven And among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand Or say to Him, “What have You done?”

Job 36:23 Who has assigned Him His way, Or who has said, ‘You have done wrong’?

11. Concept: God cannot do wickedness or commit iniquity however He creates men to play the evil characters in His plan of salvation to display His wrath and justice and holiness and He holds His creatures responsible for their sins. How can He do that and blame them for their evil when He decreed their lives and made them vessels of wrath? Is it just then for God to punish a man for deeds that God Himself determined before to be done? The simple answer is that He is the Sovereign Potter and what ever He does by definition is Good and Just and Righteous and Holy because He decrees it for His Glory.  All of History is His Story for His Glory! God cannot sin; He cannot do wrong, period!

Job 34:10 “Therefore listen to me, you men of understanding: Far be it from God to do wickedness, And from the Almighty to commit iniquity.

Isa 10:5 “Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger And the staff in whose hand is My indignation.

Isa 10:6 I will send him against an ungodly nation, And against the people of My wrath I will give him charge, To seize the spoil, to take the prey, And to tread them down like the mire of the streets.

Isa 10:12 Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Lord has performed all His work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, that He will say, “I will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his haughty looks.”

Jer 25:8 “Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Because you have not heard My words,

Jer 25:9 behold, I will send and take all the families of the north,’ says the LORD, ‘and Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land, against its inhabitants, and against these nations all around, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, a hissing, and perpetual desolations.

Jer 25:10 Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones and the light of the lamp.

Jer 25:11 And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.

Jer 25:12 ‘Then it will come to pass, when seventy years are completed, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity,‘ says the LORD; ‘and I will make it a perpetual desolation.

Eze 14:9 “And if the prophet is induced to speak anything, I the LORD have induced that prophet, and I will stretch out My hand against him and destroy him from among My people Israel.

Psa 105:25 He turned their heart to hate His people, To deal craftily with His servants.

12. Concept: What is the basis of responsibility? It is not free will!  Why? Because man’s will is not his own creation. The basis is in God not man. God is God-centered not man-centered. Man is created to be a vessel of wrath or a vessel of mercy.  The clay vessels of wrath are given wills that will cause the clay persons( not puppets) to think, speak and act according to their chosen roles to glorify God’s attributes of wrath and justice and holiness . Conversely, the clay vessels of mercy are given wills that will cause the clay persons ( not puppets) to think, speak and act according to their chosen roles to glorify God’s attributes of mercy and grace and love and righteousness.

The basis of responsibility is not free will but knowledge at a superficial level and at the most fundamental biblical level it has nothing to do with our choice at all. It is based on the imputation of Adam’s sin. In God’s sovereignty He imputed the one sin of Adam to all humanity and made that one sin the legal ground for every person’s condemnation before God. Even though we did not commit that sin God holds everyone responsible for that sin and treats everyone as if they had committed that sin.

Rom 1:19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.

Rom 1:20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,

Rom 1:21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Rom 1:22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,

Rom 1:23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

Rom 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;

The basis for responsibility is the imputation of Adam’s sin not man’s so called free will.

Our responsibility has nothing to do with our choice but God’s sovereign choice to create and outside of you legal, objective problem i.e. the ground of your condemnation, so that He could establish an outside of you legal, objective ground for your justification. The legal ground for your justification is the imputation of Christ righteousness.

Rom 5:17 For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)

Rom 5:18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.

Rom 5:19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.

In  God’s sovereignty He placed all people under the guilt of Adam’s sin.

Rom 11:32 For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.

Gal 3:22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

All of reality is based on One Will and that is not the will of the creature but the Sovereign Will of the Creator.

Rom 9:16 So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.

Rev 4:11 “You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.”

Mat 6:10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.

Rev 19:6 And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!

Summary Statement: Free will is not the basis for responsibility.  Because there is no such thing as an independent will. God cannot create an independent will. An independent creation is a contradiction in terms. That which is independent is not created and that which is dependent is created. Man is the character not the creator of anything because he is not God. The only biblical, logical basis for responsibility is God’s sovereignty. Why? Because God is the Sovereign Creator therefore His created persons must give an account to Him for all their thoughts, words and deeds. Only God has the right, the authority and power to make His creatures the way He wants them to be and to hold them responsible for the way He has made them for His glory.

Until a person understands the doctrine of the biblical Creator/Creature distinction they will never know how man is responsible and God is absolutely sovereign over all His creation. All false thinking concerning the responsibility of man and the sovereignty of God come from an unbiblical view of the nature of God and the nature of man. God can be the only Being that has an independent will i.e. free will. The logic behind this is given in Scripture in that God is not created, He is the only God, and there is no God before Him or after Him. He has no cause. He could not create a Being like Himself because that being would have a cause i.e. a Creator. He is the only causeless Being. Therefore His will is the only independent will because His will does not depend on a superior God that created Him. In addition, there was no one there from the beginning to influence His will. His will is the Only Will that is Self-Determined.

His will has NOTHING to do with His creation; it cannot have anything to do with His creation. It is IMPOSSIBLE! His will for all His creation has no cause independent of Himself because there can be nothing independent of Him; all things depend on Him in order for them to exist. Furthermore, there can only be one will that superintends all things so that all things work together for good. If man had an independent will from the will of God nothing would work together for good. God could not glorify Himself, He would be constantly frustrated, and He could never know for certain if His plans would be fulfilled.

Moreover, we could not trust in His Word because His Word is grounded in His sovereign will to make certain His Word does not return unto Him void.

Satan introduced the idea of man having a free, independent will from God to dethrone God as the sovereign King of the universe and to exalt man so that man becomes god.

The only place for Christian growth and peace of mind and absolute trust in the Lord is for the Christian to bow before the Sovereign King of the universe on His throne reigning over all things and to confess to Him there are not two independent wills reigning in his life. There is only One Will and One Cause behind everything in the Christians life, the Lord Omnipotent reigns.

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