Some people take God’s sovereignty too far… They make Him directly responsible for EVERYTHING! My problem? Carried that far, it even makes God responsible for that which is sinful – things that violate the very principles that He instituted.
Methinks a much better approach theologically is that within the scope of God’s sovereignty is an area God Himself has identified for human responsibility. It is an area of contingency… an area where human choice has an impact… an area where our decisions make a difference… an area where prayer, obedience or disobedience, influence outcomes!
Because He is God, however, and exists within eternity, and is omniscient (all-knowing), God operates with what theologians call “foreknowledge!” He knows “the end from the beginning.” But to know is not necessarily to control… For example, I recall talking to a friend at a wading pool for a few moments and instructing my little son, who had just gotten dried off and dressed, not to get in the pool and get wet. I heard a sound behind me and didn’t even have to turn around… PJ was in the pool! But my knowing did not mean I controlled his actions.
Today I read an account in Scripture during “Coffee with the Lord” that beautifully illustrates the point I am making… Jesus had predicted His disciples would “fall away” because of Him. Peter, filled with good intentions, vehemently insisted that he would never fall away and deny Jesus! Jesus knowing Peter, however, and speaking from foreknowledge, predicted he would deny Him three times “before the cock crowed twice.” Later, in the courtyard of the high priest, in response to the comments of a servant girl, he denied he knew the Lord. And the rooster crowed! And again when those standing nearby accused him of being a disciple, Peter invoked a curse and denied the Lord… And it happened – the rooster crowed again… And Peter broke down and wept bitterly. (From Mark 14:26-31 and 66-72)
Here’s the deal… Jesus is and was divine – both God and man – He knows all things! He knew Peter, He knew what Peter would do, and He knew even how many times the rooster would crow and in what circumstances. But, Jesus (God) did not control Peter’s actions… Peter’s failure was Peter’s failure! Peter accepted responsibility for it and wept! And Jesus accepted Him and forgave Him!
The lesson? God knows us inside-out! He knows the end from the beginning! He knows us and yet He loves and forgives us. We are responsible for our actions and decisions. He listens to our prayers! He has decreed a place for our choices, our decisions, our obedience or disobedience, and our prayers in His eternal plan and purpose! Praise the Lord!