In some evangelical circles, it can feel like you are saying a naughty word when you mention “good works.” I understand, however, why Christians start fidgeting whenever these two words combine. Because of legalism, poor teaching, and unbiblical emphasis on works in the equation of salvation, the alarm bells begin to go crazy inside of many Christians when they hear someone explain that our actions really do matter.
When I was 19-years-old, a deep fear came over me that I might waste my life. I had just spent the last four years of high school goofing off, living wild, partying with friends, and basically ignoring God. In our senior class yearbook, I was voted with the best laugh. That was my legacy thus far. Thankfully, however, God was not laughing with me or ignoring me.
If you listened to the world, you’d come to the conclusion that the earth was made through a big, random explosions and through the course of time, organisms slowly evolved into all that we see before us. Random, dumb luck is the reason you and me are breathing oxygen this very moment. And if everything happened by luck, then there can’t really be any true meaning to life – only subjective meaning created in each individual rather than objective, global meaning applied to every human by a higher power.
Prayer is an amazing act. It is literally a conversation with God where we can pour our hearts out to him, thank him, intercede for others, and listen to what God is saying to us through the impressions the Holy Spirit places on our hearts and minds.
I met Michael while working at a Christian drug rehab center in Cleveland, Ohio. He was a coworker of mine, and he has one of those testimonies you’ll never forget. But there was one part of it that has especially stuck with me.
There is a common desire in people for a plot. Everyone seeks to find the rhythm to the pages their life is written upon. We all seek to understand the themes of life, whose who in the character list, and what part are we to play in the show unfolding before us.
5 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. – 2 Corinthians 5:1-10
Agreeing on one definition and explanation regarding the sovereignty of God is not going to happen amongst all Christians.
An Arminian and a Calvinist or a Charismatic Christian and Reformed Christian are simply not going to agree on the finer parts of theology, though we should all be united around the gospel of Jesus Christ.
There is one biblical truth, but in our sinfulness and limited knowledge, humans will always struggle with grasping God’s Scriptures perfectly, especially when it comes to difficult doctrines like the sovereignty of God.
While agreeing on all the finer points of how God’s sovereignty actually operates is impossible amongst different theological camps, a slightly easier task should be agreeing on a right response to the sovereignty of God. While the Bible is certainly the place to look if you want to form doctrines and beliefs, it is also the place to look when we need to know how to live and actually serve God with our actions.
The Bible not only teaches us about the sovereignty of God and what it is, perhaps more importantly, it also teaches us how to rightly respond to God’s omnipotence.
So here are 4 of the most common ways to rightly and wrongly respond to the sovereignty of God.
“And when the LORD your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—with great and good cities that you did not build, 11 and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant—and when you eat and are full, 12 then take care lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 13 It is the LORD your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. 14 You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you— 15 for the LORD your God in your midst is a jealous God—lest the anger of the LORD your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth.” –Deuteronomy 6:10-15
“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” -Romans 6:1-2
Why can’t we understand God completely?
It would be a great travesty if we were able to understand God completely.
Life is more than confusing. With all its twists and turns and movements without knowing where we are headed, it is no surprise that at times we wish we could fully understand what God is doing in our lives. If only we could know what he is up to, we reason, then we would be able to trust his love for us.