If God Is In Control, Does It Matter What I Do?

Just how much control does God have over our daily lives? It might be helpful to take a look at the Bible, God’s handbook for living, to help us decide. This post is based on the
five main points from a message on this topic by Dr. Robert Jeffress, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas.[1]

God's hand with a remote controler

  • God is in control of everything that happens in His universe/creation

God does have the power to control everything that exists and everything that happens.

Isaiah 45:7 tells us, “I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things.”

Proverbs 16:4 states, “The Lord works out everything to its proper end – even the wicked for a day of disaster.”Ultimately, God is in control of everything, including Satan, Adam and Eve, and even the Jewish and Roman leaders who nailed Jesus to the cross, as well as natural disasters such as tsunamis and floods. He may not cause these things to happen, but He does allow them.

  • God’s plan for His universe extends to every part of every life.

God knows about and could change any aspect of our lives, as shown by the following verses.

Daniel 2:21, “He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others.

Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Psalm 139:16, “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

Acts 4:27-28, “Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.”

  • His sovereignty extends over our choices, mistakes, and failures.

God has the power to accomplish His purpose for your life. His sovereignty extends over our choices, mistakes, and failures. He has a perfect will, and, according to many, also a permissive will, which might be termed “plan B”, to allow for the imperfect actions of mankind.

As a Got Questions article, What is the difference between God’s sovereign will and God’s revealed will? states, ”Because God is sovereign, He must at least ‘permit’ all events and happenings. Within God’s sovereign will, He chooses to permit many things to happen that He takes no pleasure in. Again citing the example of Joseph and his brothers, God chose, by an act of decretive will, to allow the kidnapping and enslavement of Joseph. God’s permissive will allowed the sins of Joseph’s brothers in order to bring about a greater good.”[2]

Ephesians 1:11 describes how all that happens is ultimately leading to His objective, “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.”

  • God’s power does not exempt us from the responsibility for our choices.

Scripture tells us to make wise choices, as in Proverbs 28:26, “Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.”We must still suffer the consequences of our own decisions.

  • God’s sovereignty offers me peace from my past… my responsibility offers me hope for my future

God has the unquestionable power to forgive us and redeem us from our sins, and we are free to choose to follow Him and thereby have a glorious future. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

God is to us as a parent is to a child, but with a difference

These five points help to illustrate the relationship between ourselves and God, a relationship which is in many ways similar to that between a child and a loving parent. When a child learns to ride a bike, the parent watches, guiding the bike’s progress in the early stages, and then deciding when to remove the training wheels to allow more independence. Even after that, the parent is there to provide comfort and a band-aid when the inevitable accident happens.

There is, however, one big difference. The child is aware of the supporting hand, but, with practice, grows in confidence and ability to ride the bike on her own without assistance. By contrast, as each of us grows in our personal, individual relationship with God, we should learn to lean on Him, and to increasingly depend upon Him to guide and support us through life. By creating us with free will, God gives us spiritual independence from the outset, and we need to learn dependence on Him to become spiritually mature.

 

[1]Dr. Robert Jeffress, Although the Script’s Been Written, You Can Still Improvise, January 31, 2016, http://www.firstdallas.org/files/uploads/secondchanceoutlineanswers1-31-16.pdf, accessed May 23, 2019.

[2]Gotquestions.org, What is the difference between God’s sovereign will and God’s revealed will?https://www.gotquestions.org/Gods-will.html, accessed May 22, 2019.

 

5 thoughts on “If God Is In Control, Does It Matter What I Do?”

  1. Very well written. At the risk of sounding Calvinist (nothing against Calvainists but I don’t agree with their interpretation of predestination) I too subscribe to the idea of God having two wills. I see it as an active will and a passive will. His active will states the earth will rotate, the seasons will change, and will work according to his (active) will. His passive will as I see it is where our choice and free will lies. His active will says “these people will be reached”, his passive will says, “Hey, would you like to have a hand in my active will by helping to reach them?” I can respond with yes or no. If I say “no” then he offers the choice to others but they will be reached irrespective of my “no”.

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  2. Thanks Jeremy. I personally don’t agree with the Calvinist view on predestination either, but I am sure God anticipated the Calvinist/Arminian debate, and, had He wanted to, would have settled it with a couple of more precise sentences in His Word. But where’s the fun in that?
    The topic of different wills is a complicated one, since He lives outside of time and so presumably there is no temporal distinction between His decisions. As you say, it would make sense that His will is part fixed (unchangeable) and part flexible to cope with human free-will responses. If He wanted me to drive to Escondido, I could perhaps choose the route, but not change the destination.
    On predestination generally, I read an interesting book, “Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views”, in which William Lane Craig discusses the concept of the Doctrine of Middle Knowledge, where God is aware of all possible counterfactuals and adjusts His creative decree accordingly. As an omniscient being, He can never exist in a state of ignorance, so there is no timing of His responses, just a logical order that provides a sequence.

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