Is God Sovereign?

Is God the reason for all the bad stuff that happens to you?


A friend of mine lost several million dollars in a bad investment. He is well into his seventies and this was his retirement money, so this was a big blow.

What happened? He took some bad financial advice and put his money where he shouldn’t have.

But my friend doesn’t see it like that.

He told me, “God is in control. I guess he didn’t want me to have all that money.”

In other words, God is to blame for his loss.

When I heard this I was too stunned to speak, but my friend was just getting warmed up.

“I’m like Job who suffered at God’s hand. At least I can say, ‘God gives and God takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.’”

Well, isn’t that just swell?

As I have said elsewhere, Job was wrong. God does not give them take away (Rom 11:29).

Today I want to address three more lies or half-truths that may need to be rooted out of your belief-set.

Lie 1: God is in control of everything

There is perhaps no more damaging lie than the belief that God is in control of everything and the cause of everything happens to you. You hear stuff like this all time:

“I got cancer but God is sovereign. He permitted this to happen to teach me something.”
“God took my baby. I guess he needed another angel in heaven.”
“I lost my job. Perhaps God took it because I was enjoying it too much.”

Statements like these are ignorant. How many people did Jesus give cancer to? How many people did he rob or kill? Jesus did none of these things yet some think his Father does them on a regular basis.

Jesus went around healing the sick, raising the dead, and preaching good news to the poor. If God were making people poor, sick, or dead, then the Father and the Son are a house divided. But he isn’t and they’re not.

If God was in control of everything, then he would be responsible for all the evil in our world – all the wars, killings, disease and destruction.

Contrary to what some misguided souls in the Old Testament might claim, God is not the author of evil. In him there is no shadow at all.

The Bible never says God is in control. Instead, it says things like this:

We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. (1 John 5:19)

Much of the world is under the influence of evil. It remains captive to what the New Testament writers called “the power of darkness.”

Yes, Satan was defeated and disarmed at the cross, but his influence persists wherever the light of the gospel does not shine.

The problem with thinking “God is in control” is it makes us passive spectators in the ride of life. We’ll just sit there and take whatever life hands us saying, “C’est la vie. God is in control. It’ll work out.”

Can you imagine how short the New Testament would be if Jesus and the apostles believed that?

God redeems and heals but it’s a mistake to think he is the source of every bad thing that happens. The idea that Satan is his sheepdog or that the devil has to get God’s permission to harm us is totally unscriptural.

God is not responsible for everything that happens to you.

The good news is that his sphere of influence increases when we shine in a dark world. He has given us his authority to resist the devil and his evil influence. We have been empowered to heal the sick, raise the dead, drive out demons and otherwise reveal the gospel of his kingdom in dark places.

Lie 2: God is sovereign

My bankrupt friend wrote off his loss saying, “God is sovereign.” In other words, it was God’s divine and mysterious will for him to lose his money. He was not saying “God is king” – no argument there. He was saying, “Everything that happens is God’s will.” Again, this is simply not true.

Consider the following:

–    It was not God’s will for Adam to eat from the forbidden tree (Gen 2:17), but Adam ate
–    God is not willing that any perish (2 Pet 3:9), yet people perish
–    God commands all people everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30), yet many don’t

You don’t have to read more than three chapters into the Bible to realize that Almighty God, the Supreme Ruler of all, does not always get what he wants. How is this possible? This verse explains it:

The highest heavens belong to the Lord, but the earth he has given to man.  (Psalms 115:16)

God is Lord of the universe but we are little lords of our own little worlds. This is God’s gift to us – the freedom to choose how we live. The problem is, we often make choices contrary to God’s will.

Why do you think Jesus taught us to pray “Let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”?

The “God is sovereign” mantra is trotted out nearly every time something bad happens but it’s just not true. The word “sovereign” is not even in the Bible!

Is God sovereign? Not in the sense that he always gets what he wants. His will is not always done. But the good news is that he will write the final chapter of human history and for those who trust him all things will work out for good.

And the really good news is that we can walk in the will of God here and now with the aid of the Holy Spirit.


Lie 3: God could’ve stopped this from happening but he didn’t

A boy takes a loaded gun to school and God doesn’t stop him. An earthquake flattens a city and God apparently does nothing.

What kind of God is this?!

The “God could’ve stopped this but didn’t” chestnut is another way of saying, “This bad thing is God’s fault. He allowed it to happen.”

Like all the lies on this page, there’s a measure of truth behind this.

Everything that happens happens because God gave us the freedom to do what we like, even the freedom to hate him, kill our brothers, and then blame him for what we did.

Of course, we look like fools when we do this. We act like Adam who blamed his wife and blamed God and took no responsibility for his sin.

We are masters at playing the blame game. When something bad happens we blame our genes, our parents, our spouses, or our kids. We blame the government, the system, immigrants, Communists, so we might as well go the whole hog and blame God.

“I got sick. God allowed this to happen. God is at fault.”

Jesus, on the other hand, never blamed anyone. He just took people’s messes and fixed them.

Believe the lie that God is behind everything that happens and you’ll end up in the ash heap of life licking your wounds and examining your navel like a perplexed Job. You’ll bend over whenever the devil wants to kick you.

Who wants to live like that?

The truth is God doesn’t always stop bad things from happening; the good news is that sometimes you can.

You can bring the weight of his purposes to bear on your circumstances by trusting in him. You can walk through the valley of the shadow of death without fear knowing that he is with you.

Life doesn’t have the last word when you’re walking in the spirit.

A simple test

To see how well you are getting this, ask yourself this question: Which of the following Jesuses is found the Bible?

  • Jesus #1 sat around powerless, making excuses and doing nothing to help those who had been made sick by God
  • Jesus #2 went around in the power of the Spirit doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil

Hopefully you know the second Jesus is true (see Acts 10:38). Yet many of us look more like the first Jesus. We’re not walking in the power of the spirit, but we’re making excuses. Chief among them is this one, “God is in control. It’s his fault, not ours.”

I don’t write this to condemn you but to make you angry at Satan’s lies.

James said “resist the devil and he will flee from you.” It really is that simple. We resist, he flees.

But he won’t flee and we won’t resist if we think God is doing the devil’s work and making us sick, killing our kids, and robbing us blind.

God is not making you sick and poor! He is not the reason you lost your money, your job, your marriage, or your kids. These are the tragedies of a fallen world. But the good news is that one greater than Adam has come and he has given you authority to proclaim the good news of his kingship to all creation.

  • Are you sick? Talk to your sickness about Jesus by whose stripes you are healed (1 Pet 2:24).
  • Are you poor? Talk to your bank account about your King who became poor so that through his poverty you might become rich (2 Cor 8:9).
  • Have you been robbed, discouraged, and beaten by life? Then be like David and strengthen yourself in the Lord your mighty God (1 Sam 30:6).

Jesus did not come to explain why God never lifts a finger to help. Jesus came to reveal God our Father and Helper. He came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).

In his name go and do likewise.


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136 Comments on Is God Sovereign?

  1. You would be politely asked to keep quiet about this at my old church…the last conversation I had with my pastor regarding this issue ended up with him telling me that the problems of the world have a purpose because they bring us closer to God. I used to believe that reasoning, but now my eyes have been opened to the Truth of who my Abba really is. That explanation could be likened to me breaking my son’s two kneecaps so that he must be totally dependent on me. That’s twisted.

    • That is indeed twisted, Diana. Can you imagine Jesus “comforting” the lepers with that carnal philosophy?

      • David Fredrickson // October 14, 2022 at 10:19 am //

        Dear Paul
        You are simplifying highly complex theology. Your theology offers absolutely NO HOPE for a terminally sick Christian. FACT. Sickness affects us all … no exceptions! Although God heals ABSOLUTELY! but not everyone. Some of the most outstanding men and women of Faith have died of sickness even though they have preached your theology. I however know what your saying… you are however trying to explain a theological Mystery. “We have the power on Jesus name to heal everyone but not all are”
        Noone can fully understand God as Jobs friends discovered!

      • Sickness is a tricky subject. Hand on heart, I don’t know why some people are healed when I pray while others aren’t. I discuss this question elsewhere, but in the article above my focus is on the oft-heard line that God is sovereign and the cause of every bad thing that happens to you. That issue is not complicated at all.

        Regarding Job’s friends: Elihu had an excellent understanding of God’s character and he was instrumental in setting Job free from some unhealthy beliefs.

    • Elmer GG White // April 28, 2020 at 1:58 pm // Reply

      Esteemed Dr. Ellis, from your article:

      Posted on January 4, 2013 by Paul Ellis // 265 Comments

      There is perhaps no more damaging lie than the belief that [Jesus]God is in control of everything and that He is the reason everything happens
      This is the end product (fruit) of those who find it inconvenient or impossible to deny self by camping on Matt 17:5 and 28:18. God does not owe you the ability to stop contradicting the Son or the ability to stay within the Son’s teaching, 2John 1:9-11.

      Tell me how miserably you haved sinned against this teaching:

      “All authority has been given to Me(God) in heaven and on earth” –Matt 28:18 , some hideous, “damaging lie” huh?

      Please show the non-control and non-sovereignty in these words which are Spirit and Life.

      I wonder what your judgement will look like given your defiling words. Don’t beg for cool drop of water on yer tongue.

      Am I believing a damnable lie by camping on these verses? One of us has been sent strong delusion, believing an uber-lie, and that someone will be damned, 2Thess 2. Can you tell who it is?

  2. Wonderful article. God was really speaking through you today. If God was responsible for everything that happens and got his way all of the time, what would be the need for His Grace in us?
    I am dealing with a wife mired in adultery right now who convinces herself that God sent this other man to her. She says that God gives and He takes away. Horrible lies of this world’s prince.

  3. Another excellent post, Paul! This is a home run.

  4. Thank you so much. This is one topic that used to make me so queasy. Just because God is all powerful does not make Him some demented puppet master pullling the strings of humanity directing both the evil and the good. There are some out there that make God a slave of His own sovereinty wher He “has-to” actively direct everything.

  5. Thanks, Paul! Another great truths explained in the context of our present misguided world of distorted philosophy! Let light shine that darkness flees! 🙂

  6. Superb, really excellent article. I used to believe the lie that God is in control of everything. I realized it was the Devils lies that kept me from operating in the authority that Christ won for me at the cross. This doctrine makes the Church passive and weak, when we have the same power that raised Christ from the dead living inside of us. Thanks Paul.

  7. Lori Dillon // January 4, 2013 at 8:17 pm // Reply

    A while back I wanted to ask a question of you but hated to ask because at that point none of the articles ( that I had read by you) seemed to relate to my question…NOW it has been answered…THANK YOU! = D
    This is also used when people are talking of the doctrine of predestination. Something I REALLY have an issue with as well. I would enjoy reading what you have to write about that subject .
    Thanks also for the article by Andrew Wommack.

  8. Simply because “when pastors pray for the sick and the sick person does not get well and the pastor is ashamed of himself and thinks his faith is very small” gives the pastor a “right to say ‘it is not God’s will’ for you to get well.” Come on pastor! Healing is not based on your faith or on you! ….

    Having said that, last year I got robbed. my wallet pick pocked from me. it was a moment where I ask God “why did this happen to me?” and the carnal mind reasoned “you haven’t prayed enough”. i lost a good amount of money from the robbers. It was bearable. but what if something more serious happen? our flesh finds comfort when it finds logic. and most of the time, we blame God because. the worst I asked – “maybe because i did not tithe?” LoL

    – grace and peace

    oh by the way, did I mentioned that I got a new job that pays really really high?

    • Elmer G. White // April 25, 2020 at 2:47 pm // Reply

      God does not owe any man good health. It is His grace that gives you your next heartbeat.

      Preachers that obligate people to pay tithe are spiritual criminals. There are no Levitical priests around to accept farm stock and produce which is what Israel gave. We do not attack a king, seizing his valuables, and offer our war-booty to Melchizidek, who brings wine and bread out of a tenple, as in Uncle Abrahams one instance of tenth-giving. Modern religionists twist scripture for big buck$ and the scam usually works on people. God also does not owe the preacher sense enough to stop robbing people using lies, nor does He owe the poor sap the discernment to realize he is being robbed by said preacher.

      God does not owe people comfort or high paying jobs either.

      • Stephan IChooseJesus // April 27, 2020 at 7:26 pm //

        But God promised comfort and healing. God is not some indifferent being. He is our Father and is as Jesus is. So look to Jesus and you know what the will of God is. I agree with you about the tithing scam though.

  9. I’ve been battling this lie for a while now. One of the things I’m failing to understand is this: If God desires for us to live within His will, and the fall was due to the choice that Adam and Eve made to live outside of Gods will – doesn’t that make the death of ressurection of Jesus Gods plan b? If you need a plan b then doesn’t it follow that something has occured that you weren’t expecting or anticipating?

    • No, for the Bible speaks of God’s eternal purposes (e.g., Rev 13:8). God’s decision to endow Adam with free will fully knowing the consequences of that act, tells us that God was prepared to die rather than live without us.

  10. jeremypenwarden // January 5, 2013 at 2:19 am // Reply

    I agree with all you say Mark. However, I also think that God IS in control sometimes. Let me explain. We recently looked into upgrading to fibre broadband. However, the costs would be at least £150 for upgrade plus new router. So I decided to keep with the old system. Today, we’ve had some problems with our broadband and I got fed up and decided that I would upgrade because that would solve the issue. I found that my ISP has a six day promotion with free upgrade and free router. It ends on 6th.

    Had I not had the problem, I’d never have heard of the promotion. So I feel that God was in control of the situation and worked these things together to give me a good outcome. I really do not want to throw that baby out with the bathwater.

  11. An excellent article! It has taken a while to get to this point of clarity, but I now realize that if you buy in to these lies, you’re subtly buying into resignation…..and resignation is not faith, It’s a thief. And when we see the truth, we find out who God is, and that He is much better than we all thought.

    • How can you have faith in a god that is NOT in control of anything? Can His will and plans can be perpetually thwarted by beings he created (e.g. the devil or weak mortals)? If the condition of the earth and the salvation of humanity is reliant on imperfect vessels and our level of faith or ability to muster up “power” (whose power is it anyway?), then we’re all in trouble.

      Out of God’s mouth comes man’s destiny (lam 3:37,38), He directs our paths (Gen 45:8; ecc. 7:13-17; Prov 16:33, 21:1). We breath only because God allows it (deut. 32:39; 1sam 2:6,7; James 4:13-15).

      We have faith BECAUSE God is in control (Matt 19:26; Luke 1:37), and He can take care of His people (Matt 5:45, 6:26, 6:30, 10:29, Is 45:5-7; Rom 9:18)

      • If Job was “blaming” God, then he would have been lying, yet the Bible says he did not sin (Job 1:21,22). God is ALL powerful (2Chron 20:6; Prov 21:30; John 19:10,11) and is holding everything together (Col 1:16-17; Ps 33:9-11).

        That is the God I believe in.

      • The Bible also says Job was bitter (Job 3:20, 27:2), self-righteousness (Job 13:19, 32:1-2), and longed for death (Job 3:21, 7:15, 17:13). So go figure.

        No one is saying God isn’t all-powerful. I’m saying he’s not all-responsible. Big difference.

  12. Paul, what a great reminder! I just came across this scripture in Psalms 115:16, and it really sums it up well, doesn’t it?

    Paul referred to Satan as the “god of this age” (2 Cor 4:4) and even Jesus called him “the prince of this world” (John 12:31).

    I think this “God’s in control” mindset is so pervasive and creates such passive Christianity. Thanks for helping to get this message out.

  13. Rick Shafer // January 5, 2013 at 3:16 am // Reply

    This fantastic! At last, an intelligent argument against our own stupidity. We simply cannot accept and maybe even believe that the ways of God are just so simple. Once one first sees that the first reaction is ” nah, that can’t be right”. Then we continue in frustration and pain. All we have to do is simply say, “but what if it is right”; how can I ‘get in on this’. The Cross changed the world, history, man forever. The power of “His stripes to heal”, the power of His blood to remember our sins past, present and future NO MORE is outstanding. It is so very simple once you see it and you can only see it in the Word Itself your eyes opened by the Spirit that lives within you. Once you begin to see the “mystery of Godliness”, the over 900 references to Jesus in the Old Testament, the beauty of the Hebrew language and how it even points to Christ, once all that comes you will feel as if a cleansing waterfall as just hit you; your eyes will open to the little treasures hidden which when known become the blood line to Jesus and the Cross. We humans seem to have to make the simple complicated simply because “it can’t be that simple” Come away and be surprised and refreshed in the simplicity of The Father, the Son and the Spirit. Come away and LIVE!

  14. If the prophecy were fulfilled there would be nothing unjust nothing filthy, a man had the ability to seal the prophecy and was told not to. You and I have that same ability, Rev 21:9

    Some basic logic ,truth and lies. You decide! Death has been overcome.
    Cancer = death = Lie ?
    Your treasure is in Heaven.
    Bankrupt = destitute = Lie ?
    Paul its like this I really believe ! so it is impossible for me to be sick or poor or an orphan, I am victorious in all things and cannot fail , only because I live in him,I am no longer my own , I am dead but I live in his promises.

    The devil is unable to take your authority you can only give it away! How do you do this ? easy you believe the lie! Paul if I am misguided please help me. Resting….

  15. YES YES YES! I wish this was being preached in the pulpits across America and abroad. I know so many pastors are well intentioned and many just have not gotten this truth…. yet. Many find this so controversial but when I first heard it while listening to Andrew Wommack it was life changing. I am believing and praying that the Pastor of my own church will have a light bulb moment and begin to lay hold of this truth and truly receive it. It is amazing to me that my church and many Christians I know say they are believing God for healing but the next second they are accepting of all the crap that Satan is dishing out on them and perceive God is the one responsible. I hate it when I hear people say “God is trying to teach the something.” As if God is inflicting sickness, or a family members death or financial loss upon them. What a horrible thing to believe! I just had a fellow staff member who only 2 days ago lost their 14 year old daughter. She had been missing and later that night they found her in the woods behind their home. She had died as a result of some freak accident. Thankfully she had a close relationship with the Lord and is with Him. I know this family is experiencing unimaginable pain right now as are their two younger children who are students of mine. Unfortunately I know that many of those I work with have the mindset that God is Sovereign and I am certain that many of them attribute her life being taken ultimately as part of Gods plan. I have run up against this when praying/believing for fellow staff for healing when they were sick. Sometimes I just want to say, if you believe that God has inflicted you with this sickness or disease why pray at all, why seek a doctor if this is part of Gods plan and His sovereign will for you? There is a Christian song that apparently the writer pulled from the book of Job (you touched on it) One repeating phrase is “He gives and takes away”. Whenever I hear this song I literally talk back to it. It misrepresents God and the person who wrote that song really did not comprehend what they were reading. I think it is probably easier for a new Christian who has not been brought up in the church and drenched in doctrine to recognize this truth and change what they believe about God. Like Andrew says “Some people won’t allow the Bible to get in the way of what they believe.” Sadly, they have accepted a view of God that is false and it does seem to paralyze and render them passive as well as useless.

  16. Another very insightful article. I am struggling with this one. Some deists believe that God ‘wound up’ the universe like a clock and then just stood by to watch. It seems that to say God is not sovereign reducers Him to a role of mere bystander. Couldn’t it be argued that God is in control of all and has a say in all? Everything that happens, good and bad, must filter through His hands first. He doesn’t ‘make’ bad happen (that is Satan), but He allows it. His reasons are often beyond our comprehension. He says His thoughts are not our thoughts; His ways are not our ways. Bottom line question: How can I trust a God who is not in control? Not trying to be argumentative. Just confused. Thanks.

    • Laura, the Bible itself says God is not in control of everything that happens, so it’s meaningless to speculate that he is. Where we can rest is in the understanding that God works all things together for good to those who love him (Rom 8:28). If you love him, then you have good grounds for trusting him. If you don’t love him and don’t trust him, well, he won’t force himself on you. That’s not his way.

      The scripture you mention about his ways not being our ways is trotted out whenever something cannot be understood – “God is so mysterious everything is just a big mystery.” But that’s not what Isaiah was talking about when he wrote Is 55:9. That passage is a direct reference to the new covenant which was something those under the old covenant could not have imagined – it was beyond their comprehension – except with the aid of the Holy Spirit.

      • Thanks, Paul. This makes sense. I went back and read Isaiah 55:9 in its fuller context. You are right. But if God is not in control of everything that happens–i,e., Satan is the prince of this world–it is because He has chosen to give Satan this authority. It is not because Satan stole a march on Him and gained the upper hand without God’s allowing this to happen. The Bible makes the end of the story clear: God will ultimately defeat Satan. Wouldn’t you agree?

      • God wins, yes definitely! That’s the good news.

        But I would not say God gave Satan anything. Jesus said the devil is a thief (John 10:10). Thieves steal. They take what is not their own. Satan fixed his eyes on what God had and said “I will have that for myself” (see Is 14:13-14). This is a picture of rebellion, not God designating authority. True, Satan could not have done this except that God has blessed us with freedom. But if we use our freedom to steal and kill and generally do things contrary to God’s will, we can’t honestly blame God for that can we?

        The history of the world: God gave earth to mankind; first Adam gave it to Satan; last Adam took back what the devil stole.

    • chrisvanrooyen // January 5, 2013 at 10:16 am // Reply

      Hi Laura.
      Giving up control and giving up authority do not happen simultaneously. You can give up control but still have all authority. God has done the same. In effect he still has control as he has the authority to take it back. The awesome thing is that we also in his Son have this authority. You can trust God!!! Hope this helps you.

      • Chrisvanrooyen~Thanks for sharing your insight to help clarify the issue for me. This is pretty much how I understand the issue. It is what I was trying to get at when I said things like ‘God allows’, but perhaps my wording took minds along a different path. Some of the finer points that many of us actually agree on may get lost in the semantics. Many of us sharply disagree over other points. But one thing all of us in this forum seem to agree about is that God is love and is infinitely trustworthy. Thanks again. -Laura

    • May I ask a different question, one that plagued me for years. “How can I trust a God that says He is loving, kind, good and perfectly just, if He is also the guy who is directing all the awful things in my life to happen, or at least giving the stamp of approval via “allows”?” Either God is who He says He is, all those wonderful character traits, or He is a demented liar who says one thing yet participates in the evils of this world. There is a great difference in God being all powerful and His being a slave to that power and “having” to act. God has the ability/power to kill every person on this planet but He does not. No one ever questions that. So why do we think that God is actively or passively participating in cancer, natural disasters or untimely deaths? I find no comfort with the idea of a God who is so in “control” that He caused the bad things in my life to happen. God steps back and lets sinners sin. If He can do that without insulting Himself or His sovereignty then why “must” He play dictator with other areas of badness?

      • Hi Colleen, I understand what it is to feel plagued by something. I wonder if we are a little on the same page after all. You say ‘God steps back and lets sinners sin.’ I agree. I don’t think God is bad in anyway, or that He sins or tempts us to sin. That is contrary to the Bible. But in stepping back and to allow sin, He in essence is allowing all the bad that goes along with it. We are in a fallen world, and the consequence of Satan’s sin is Adam’s rebellion; and a consequence of Adam’s rebellion is a world filled with pain. But God has allowed all this. (He can even use it to make us stronger) But His desire is to redeem all of His creation and deliver us from this pain, and from the enemy who rules this world. I am only expressing this as my understanding. I certainly don’t have all the answers. I learn a lot by reading others’ inputs and am glad it is all under the umbrella of grace!

      • Hi Colleen, God has given every person free will. This is the freedom to choose to do good or evil whatever the consequences. For God to play dictator in evil is violating people’s free will and against the character of God. Instead, what God actually does is He uses the evil things that happen and make them into something good that benefits us, however improbable that is. Pastor Prince explains that very simply in a sermon and I quote “If Satan throws lemons at you, God catches the lemons and make them into lemonade for you. “

      • Hey all, I know I’m a bit delayed in finding this article but how I see it is: My dad teaches me to drive, gives me a car but also warns me of the dangers of driving. I go and drive and have an accident. Is it my dad’s fault? Nope. Could he have prevented it? Yes but only by locking me in my room forever which he wouldn’t do because of my free will. This is a fallen world in the middle of a war and not a perfect playground…yet 😉

  17. This is one problem i’ve been having with a friend from Brazil. She said she used to be a christain and now agnostic. She keeps asking me if there is God, why is evil rampant on earth? I wish she could read this

  18. I use to get email alerts as comments were made on one of your articles. How do I start getting them again?

    • Lori, there’s a little box you need to tick when commenting that says, “Notify me of follow-up comments via email.”

      • Lori Dillon // January 7, 2013 at 1:25 pm //

        THANKS! I see it now! I must have known to click it at one time then forgot about it later. Probably ‘God’s will’ … ; ) ; )

  19. In 1977 as a very young believer The Lord woke me with a dream about my Mom’s bank getting robbed. I was going to go hang out at her bank the next day as I was recovering from a car accident and surgery on my femur, I didn’t move very well. Anyway, I prayed a prayer something like this. “God, please don’t let that happen and if it does please don’t let me be there.” I told my Mom in the morning and she was trying to explain dreams to me. When we got to her bank (she was the branch manager of a very large savings and loan;) she told her employees about my dream and went over the security measures concerning bank robberies. There was a substitute teller that day and asked my Mom if she could take her lunch an hour early, Mom asked me and I told her I didn’t care, so our lunch was delayed. When it came time for our lunch we went 2 blocks down the road. When we started back we both noticed white cars parked on the sidewalks (this was Peachtree Street in Atlanta) we knew it was not normal. Welp! The bank was robbed when we were at lunch. I couldn’t walk fast was on crutches because I had 3 screws in femur and k-rod. The CEO and other upper management wondered about it all. The robber went in with his gun and made everyone get on the floors and demanded money. My Mom’s under-study lied to the robber and said she didn’t have keys to safe. He took all the money out of their teller drawers. Not much time past and I asked The Lord why he didn’t stop it because I asked “please don’t let this happen.” He told me he couldn’t stop it because the man had predetermined to rob that bank and his mind was fixed to do it. But he could get me out of there. The Lord is so sweet! That was almost 40 years ago and he periodically gives me dreams and visions to warn me or teach me or just because he wants me to know what’s up. Just thought I would share. PS. Do you know any good churches in Pinellas County/Tampa Bay Area that teaches like you. Thanks

  20. Paul, thank you for your further explanation in response to my question. I think I can see what you are saying and will have to give that perspective further consideration. Bottom line, even though right now I know only in part, what I know in full is that God is trustworthy. I may not fully understand how He works, but I know that He does work all together for good, for His redeemed ones.

  21. Great Article Paul ! i have a Question i ‘ve been wanting to get some answers , perhaps it has something to do i mean it fits well with this article ,, it is that ( if God who is Omni present , who sees everything helicopter view , it always startles me when i think the time He sees the gunman walk into the school , let me get it clear , i don’t beleive He causes it , no no ,,, i use to beleive like that but no more ,,, So now going back to what i was saying He is Almighty , all powerful He can smack the guy dead before, or twist his mind or whatever , just when He sees the guy shooting , but then He dosn’t do anything just stands there and watches ?? on the other hand many times He protects Us ! , and We Testify also one of His name is God Our Protector ! that is who He is ! so is He missing some Events ? if He is Our Protector , and We Sing Worship Songs about it ? this I don’t get ! and what does this phrase really mean , could it have any connection with what i asked ? and How ? (Life Dosn’t have the last word when your walking in the Spirit )

    a week ago a Pastor’s 7 yr old Child Died in his arms as She had a sudden Asthma attack , i don’t get it ! yes he did say that The Lord gave and The Lord took away , yet he also said that God is not the aothor of death it is the devil , , i Personally have been listeneing to Andrew womack the last 2 years I agree on the way he teaches , I also agree with this Article , it just i cannot connect these 2 dots together ,, God is Our Protector , yet ooppps ! i didn’t protect You there ? not sure how to understand this ! perhaps you have some answers , thanks You Paul ! I love Your Articles !

    • Sarah, I wrote the article to address the lie that says God is to blame for all the evil we do to each other. God is omnipotent and all powerful but he cannot stop us doing what we want to do without taking away our freedom. God’s gifts are irrevocable.

      That said, I understand your perplexity on the protection issue. Camilla and I along with our first-born would literally be dead if not for divine protection, so yes, I do believe that God protects us. Yet there are many saints who seem to die for lack of protection. I cannot connect these dots together either. It puzzles me. I know it’s God’s will for everyone to be healthy, yet not everyone is. Many I pray for do not get healed. I can’t figure that out and as far as I know Jesus was the only one who healed 100% of those he prayed for. We’re all still learning here.

      • maybe it has something to do with the tasks we have been assigned while we are here in this body…? Jesus said the man was born blind not because of his or his parents’ sin – but so the work of God might be displayed in his life (john 9:3)… and then He continues to say we must carry out the tasks assigned to us… eph 2:10 reiterates this also…
        before i understood grace and could see Jesus in the OT, i used to wonder why God didn’t let moses live to enter the promised land… when all he did was strike the rock (the cult/religion i grew up in said that God punished him because he was a murderer). i was comforted when i got the revelation: he had completed the task he was assigned… 😉

      • I really liked your article and appreciate the clarity on the “God is in control” mindset, but you really lost me on the healing and prosperity implications.

      • So you’re saying God neither makes us sick nor heals us?

  22. After a church class that is held in someones home by a minister w/a strong Holy Spirit presence we end w/ going into foyer, and the minister prays with each person individually. It is small (only about 6 people) but there was strong Holy Spirit presence. Some may think this is weird but after we were all done, we noticed a small mouse lying motionless in the foyer entrance. . My first response was excitement of “lets lift it up” (at least worth a try?) and escort out the front door. None of us want our houses overrun by rodents but this was one little mouse. The minister quickly picked it up in embarrassment and threw it in the trash with disgust. There was nothing disgusting about this little creature to me and considering that it appeared when everyone was in a raised consciousness, I looked at it as a perfect opportunity put before us and I was upset to have missed that. I emailed one of the people that I know best with my thoughts about the little creature and this was the response that I got:
    “Please do not worry and give it to God. Everything happens like it happens for a reason, it’s in God’s divine order. I don’t think there is anything wrong with having an appreciation for God’s creations. I get a thrill out of things people would never even notice. Please
    remember death is not a negative thing, it’s spirit has moved on with God and this is okay”

    I don’t understand everything but I don’t agree at all w/this persons take on things. Maybe I should just let it go yet I still want it known that I don’t buy into this type of thinking. Do you think this would be a good article to send to her or do you think there is something in your articles that would fit the situation better (she spoke of God’s divine order)? Or am I out of line and a little nutty? If you think I’m nutty though, I won’t buy that either.

  23. Richard Conley // January 8, 2013 at 5:04 pm // Reply

    That is the most ridiculous thing I have every heard. Whoever wrote this must not have a full copy of the bible or believes only certain parts are true. God is not sovereign? You better pray He is or you can have no certainty of God ever ultimately accomplishing His plan….
    Please who ever wrote this, out of Christian love I say this to you, you have gone beyond the irreverence for a Holy God. If you do not like the God ALL of the bible talks about it is not the God of the bible you worship but an idol one made in your own image.
    In Christ,

    • Richard, no one is disputing that God makes all things work together for good to those who love him. I suspect you read neither the post above nor E2R’s comment policy. In future, please keep comments short (<250 words) and comment on the post, not merely what you think the post says. Thanks.

  24. I think your friend who lost the millions is actually in the best place. Abiding Life Director, Mike Wells wrote; “I actually believe that the Lord, on occasion, has allowed me to be cheated, stolen from, have money misplaced, and even to have it fly out a window or drop down a sewer. Why? We can say that our security is in Him, that we believe in His provision, and that we are living under His control. However, our reaction to money lost is an indication of where we really stand in relation to those things. When I give and give liberally, I am in faith. I have control over the giving. However, theft is uncontrolled giving without the consent of my will. It is giving what I had not planned to give. It is giving what I had laid aside for use I predetermined. If I react negatively when it disappears, what does that reveal about my heart? I am living under His provision, and as the Scripture says, “The Lord gives and Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Your friend will be fine as I’m sure he knows it is the Lord’s responsibility to look after him. He will pray as we do, “Give us this day our daily bread”.

    • Stewart, with respect, this is exactly the sort of half-baked, wishy-washy, covenant-mixing doctrine I want to combat. It is fatalism dressed up with Christian jargon. Live like this and you’ll never resist the devil when he comes to rob, steal, and destroy. Why would you – it’s all God’s will!

      If God allowed thieves to steal, they wouldn’t be thieves.

      • Laura Sande // January 9, 2013 at 3:11 am //

        Could it be that both of you have glimmers of truth in what you are saying?

        God didn’t cause the money to be stolen, but He can certainly bring the best out of bad situations for those who put their trust in Him. Bad things, while not from God, do have the fruit of refining our perspective and encouraging more dependence on Him. The Scripture says that even Jesus Himself learned obedience through the things He suffered while on earth.


      • Yes, Laura, God is a great redeemer, able to take our broken lives and make something beautiful out of them. My point in this post is simply that God’s not the one who breaks us. He doesn’t break our bodies, our health, our bank accounts or our wills. But he is more than able to pick up the shattered pieces and restore us.

      • In response to Stewart… I can’t imagine my own earthly father thinking like that. Even though the topic is mostly about money. I still cannot fathom my dad saying to me his earthly daughter that God “allowed” certain things to take place in my life. That God would allow(even cause) me to become deathly ill at 8 years of age and see another child younger than I suffer and die in the room right beside me. That somehow God allowed if not put his stamp of approval on it? That HE would allow a group of girls to brutally bully me for over a year because I stuck up for another girl they were abusing and because I was not one of them racially. That He allowed someone to rob from me at age 15 and be assaulted at 19 so that I would somehow feel secure in Him? Thankfully I don’t attribute any of those things to the loving God I serve. He did not put me through (allow or permit) all of that to happen to me. It was satan that set out to steal from me, to harm me if not destroy me. There is NO darkness in Him (Jesus)!

      • Laura Sande // January 9, 2013 at 8:12 am //

        Similarly, Amy, I struggle to think that God allowed my husband to die the horrible and traumatic death he died. But then again, either He allowed it or He was powerless to stop it. I honestly cannot figure out which is worse! It has been a longtime struggle, trying to figure all this out. All I can do is rest in a love that I can bank on even though I don’t understand all the in’s and out’s of how it works. Hope you can find rest as well. If something works in your heart and mind and there is scriptural support for it—and the end result is a viable relationship with God—just hold to it, that’s what I would say. We are all imperfect and will not arrive at the same understanding of these issues.

      • It is a wonderful thing to have the peace of God Paul. To be able to go through cancer (yes with all the prayer support including healing prayer), or lose millions and actually learn what it is to live like a sparrow. (It could be a great blessing for your 74 yr old friend to have this revelation with Jesus before he exits this earth). To not fear because you know there is nothing that the nearness of Jesus will not overcome. I have chosen to live like I have a God who is in control and there is nothing that comes to me that has not passed through His hands first. It is interesting that the ghastly things Amy has shared happening to her in her youth, did not stop her from receiving the revelation Christ somewhere in the midst of that? Could it be that God with His IQ of Trillions, actually uses what Satan means for evil, for His purposes?

      • Yes, Stewart he does. He is truly a great redeemer, able to take the messes of our lives and make them beautiful. As he says, “I am making all things new.” Satan must feel like an absolute fool to see his diabolical plans constantly frustrated by the Lord and those who trust him.

  25. Paul, in the case of your friend, there seems to be a false dichotomy in relation to God’s “part” in the matter. There are two possibilities: either God causes/wills everything to happen or he doesn’t. The way I understand it is that the former includes the latter. If my son wants to do something that is not aligned with my will (e.g. color on the walls with a permanent marker) his ability to go against my will (not coloring on the walls with a permanent marker) doesn’t mean that I don’t have control over him and that I’m not sovereign over him. I can see him uncap the marker and either 1) take the marker from his hand and stop him or 2) I could do nothing. No matter what happens, I’m still in control.

    The same for God. If you say that God isn’t sovereign, then he doesn’t control creation. That’s not what Psalm 135:6 says.

    I do agree there is a line here between saying that God, since he is completely sovereign, would be responsible for evil and would therefore not be good.. While I don’t believe that to be the case that God directly created evil, I do believe that he had to be aware of it before he created the world… if he wasn’t aware of it, then he wouldn’t be all-knowing or perfect. Ultimately, though, while evil does exist, it is under his control — Psalm 146 and Job 5 let us know that God thwarts the plans of the evil, and Lamentations 3 (vv 22-24) tells us that we are not consumed because of his mercy and grace. Far smarter people than myself have addressed that.

  26. I think I am beginning to understand this for the first time!

    Can you explain God hardening Pharoah’s heart – it seems He was in control of him and his actions, etc. You have probably addressed it somewhere else, perhaps? Maybe you could direct me to another post touching on that..Thank you!

  27. Richard Conley // January 9, 2013 at 8:16 am // Reply

    Paul, Thank you for your response. Your last comment to Stewart you said, “If God allowed thieves to steal, they wouldn’t be thieves.” That is exactly the opposite thing taught in Gen. 50:20 God did allow Joseph’s brothers to to be kidnappers and liars. Did it absolve the brothers from guilt? NO. But did it happen as an act of a Sovereign God to accomplish the saving of a nation? Yes. It may not be immediately apparent how God is using your friend losing his money, but to say that God isn’t ultimately in control over that and using it for His glory is something else. I would in love caution anyone who would say that.

    • Gen 50:20 You plotted evil against me, but God turned it into good, in order to preserve the lives of many people who are alive today because of what happened.

      Joseph’s brothers wanted to murder him but sold him into a life of slavery. Can you imagine being betrayed by your own family? Yet out of this atrocious evil, God brought good and saved many lives. This is just one out of many brilliant examples in the Bible of Romans 8:28. God can bring good out of the evil men create for he truly is a great redeemer! But you are sadly mistaken if you think God desires to murder and enslave people to bring about his larger purposes.

      It is such a cop-out to say “God allows evil.” The truth is, God hates sin so much he died to end it’s terrible reign. He suffered the brutality of the cross to show us how much he hates sin, yet there are passive souls out there who let sin and evil run rampant saying, “It’s okay, God allows it, it’s all part of his great plan.” This is fatalism, it’s a doctrine of demons, it’s anti-Christ, it is opposed to the gospel and I hate it with a passion for it suggests my loving Father is not who Jesus says he is.

      • To take this a bit of a different direction, what if our unqualified definitions of what is ‘evil’ and what is ‘good’ aren’t exactly square with God’s? We define death and sickness as ‘evil.’ But the OT indicates God sent sickness to people. He also struck them down in death. So was He the hand of evil in these cases? Or were sickness and death not evil in these cases? I know about old vs new covenant (and read the Wommack article cited in the blog above), but what about NT examples like Ananias and Sapphira? And doesn’t God discipline us through suffering? Jesus Himself learned obedience through suffering. In short, is suffering always ‘bad’?

      • You raise a lot of big questions here, many of which are addressed in posts found in the archives. You can also use the search box at the top right of this site. But just to address one point, no, God never, ever, ever disciplines us by inflicting suffering on us. The word “discipline” literally means “training” and Paul said, “All scripture is useful for training so that the man of God may be perfect or thoroughly equipped” (my paraphrase of 2 Tim 3:16-17). If the Holy Spirit can use the Bible to teach you everything you need to know, why would a good God resort to inflicting suffering on his kids?

      • Paul, while I really appreciate your taking the time to respond to my question…and I like the sounds of your explanation (I have an earthly father who was always gentle in his instruction and would like to know that God is the same)…I struggle with unqualified statements about how God does or doesn’t work. I hope He never would bring us pain; but if it were ultimately for our good, I can see how He may. I have to shrug and hope you are right. It would make me feel less anxiety if you were! Thanks again.

      • Laura, when uncertain about the character of God, look to Jesus. How many people did Jesus curse with sickness, suffering, or pain? Zero. How many sick and hurting people did Jesus heal? 100% of those who came to him. Jesus is the express image of the Father (Heb 1:3). I don’t know why some believers suffer and die and I’ve seen a few. I have many questions about these things. But I’ve also seen many people healed. If it helps, I encourage you to separate your uncertainties from your certainties. One thing I am 100% certain about, is that it is always the Father’s will to heal and bless us. He is a good Father. The very best!

      • Wow…I learn tons not just from your posts but your replies as well! Awesome stuff.

      • nickvahalik // January 10, 2013 at 8:19 am //

        How is it a cop-out if it is true? If the Lord restrains evil, then how can it be said that he doesn’t allow it. After all, what do we deserve since we are sinners who deserve nothing but his wrath and judgement?

      • It’s a cop-out because it promotes passivity. Can you imagine Jesus going up to lepers and saying “God allowed this illness”?! No! The Bible says such folk were “oppressed by the devil” (Acts 10:38) and Jesus went around destroying the devil’s works. If God had allowed (meaning given implicit permission) to what Jesus was opposing, the Father and Son would be opposed in purpose. They most definitely were not. Jesus said, “I only do what I see my Father doing.” Since Jesus healed the sick, what does that tell you about the Father? It tells you he is NOT that thrilled about sickness, it is NOT his will, and he’s looking for kids who are keen to see his will done on earth as it is in heaven.

        I guarantee you, those preaching “God is in control of everything” are the same folk who are not healing the sick, driving out demons, raising the dead, etc. They’re too busy arguing about words that aren’t even in the Bible. Anyway, gotta run. The harvest is white, etc. etc.

      • nickvahalik // January 10, 2013 at 10:55 am //

        Paul, this passage from John 9 (vv1-5) contradicts what you are saying. In this passage, the man’s blindness from birth perfectly serve’s God’s will. Because Jesus states that sin doesn’t play a factor, what are we left with as a cause? Did the Devil strike him blind? Possibly. Remember that God has struck other people blind as well. Jesus is clearly doing the will of God by removing the man’s blindness — but he also clearly states that his man’s blindness serves God’s purpose. Which God very well could have struck him with!

        Clearly something like blindness (which we’d all agree we’d never want to happen to us) can be used by God whether it is for 3 days (in Paul’s cause in Acts) or for part of a lifetime, in this section in John. Why not cancer?

      • Nick, it’s a bit of a stretch to link congenital blindness to the temporary loss of sight Paul experienced as a result of seeing a bright light. You may blame God for Paul’s blindness, but he himself did not (see Acts 22:11).

        The passage in John 9 illustrates my point perfectly. On the one hand, you have some people asking questions (“Who sinned? Was this his parent’s fault?”) and doing NOTHING to help. On the other hand you have Jesus who says, “Assigning blame is not important. See this instead as an opportunity for the work of God to be made manifest in his life.” So we can follow those who ask questions and do nothing, or we can follow Jesus who does what he sees his Father doing and heals the sick.

        Suggesting that God made this man blind so that many years later Jesus could heal him is bizarre. It’s also unbiblical. According to Acts 10:38, sickness is a form of oppression. It is a work of the devil. The devil is God’s enemy and he’s our enemy. God’s enemy does not ask and does not have God’s permission to do the things he does. If he did, he wouldn’t be God’s enemy. God is not the author of evil and he only gives good gifts. So no, I don’t think he gives anyone cancer either.

        Jesus came to destroy the work of the evil one (1 John 3:8) and one way he did that was by healing the sick. Go and do likewise.

  28. this has always been a hard thing to grasp,itslike a tennis game.but since God is a gentleman,he wont interfere,yet sometimes it is hard understand.

    • God is a gentleman? Where do we get these ideas? I love the take someone (Bill Johnson perhaps?) said about that – tell Saul that God was a gentleman when He knocked him to the ground as he journeyed to Damascus and blinded him for three days…

      • I use the term gentieman to simply express his nature.kind loving etc he has anger he has wrath but he is love,and it seems there are times when people get a wake call like paul..

      • Come to think it Peter had a couple of wake up calls to.

  29. Behind all this lies one question for me – why did God (who is omniscient) create Satan in the first place?

    • To give humanity choice. Without choice God would have been creating an multitude of slave robots who had no alternative but to “love” and follow HIm. There is no real love in preprogrammed reactions.

    • I don’t believe that God put Lucifer in the garden to tempt Adam and Eve. I believe because he was an angel he was placed their to minister to the needs of Adam and Eve and serve them. I think it was in the garden that Lucifer perceived he could rise above his own position and be as powerful as God. (Here is where the gift of choice, not being a puppet or robot is quite obvious.)Lucifer chose a different path than what he was created for, and set out to deceive mankind. He is not God’s equal in power. God could obliterate him in a NY minute. I don’t believe God created Satan to be what he is today. Anymore than I think God created Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson or Hitler to end up doing what they did. They were given free will.

  30. I guess we all have different ideas as to what ” in control’ actually means. I liked that analogy that God is in charge, but not in control. Overall, God is sovereign and He is in charge, but He is not in control, in that we have free will, and since we have free will, we can choose wrongly and behave inappropriately. Also, if the powers and principalities also have free will and choice, which I believe they do, their choices will affect us in the physical realm as well, and i am of the understanding that the evil we see in this world is a direct result of that. I think you said Paul that God is not sovereign, but can He not be sovereign and still not control every detail? Does sovereign not mean “over all” and the highest rule? That sort of sovereign i do believe he is. Just not the sort of sovereign that micro manages His creation.

  31. Dont let seemingly obscure passages confuse us when we have immensely clear and simple passages to set things straight…

    Everything can be settled with just one statement.

    3 John 1:2 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

    That is God’s will, and it cant get any clearer than that.

  32. 4So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. 5And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. 7And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. 8So it was not you who sent me here, but God. -Gen 45. Joseph keep on saying here that it was God who sent him in Egypt. I like your post Paul but I’m a little bit confused here. Stay blessed.

    • Hi Rene,
      The modern “God is sovereign” doctrine comes straight out of Israel’s ancient history. Back then, the Israelites had virtually no conception of Satan and his ways. Consequently, they tended to blame everything that happened – good or bad – on God. Job is a prime example of this and even today, despite Paul’s exhortation in 2 Cor 2:11, some read Job with the understanding that Satan was on a mission from God! (If you need more on this, I recommend this book.)

      So what are we to make of Joseph’s words? I’ll give you four alternatives and you can choose:
      (1) I’m wrong and God really is the author of evil – selling Joseph into slavery was his express will
      (2) Joseph was wrong in thinking God that had caused him to be sold into slavery
      (3) Moses was wrong in writing up the story in such a way to cause some (not me!) to think that God had set up the slavery thing

      Now I could pull rank here and say “He who is least in the kingdom is greater than any legend from the Old Testament” simply because we’ve seen Jesus and they hadn’t, but this would only add fuel to a fire I have little interest in fighting. So let me offer a fourth alternative:

      (4) Joseph was not saying, “It was God’s will for me to be sold into slavery”; he was simply saying, “What you clowns meant for evil, God used for good because he’s a good God, a great redeemer, and that’s what he does.” This was certainly Jacob’s understanding for he told his sons to ask forgiveness for “the sins and the wrongs they committed.” He didn’t blame God. Neither did his brothers for they wondered “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?”

      Jacob didn’t blame God, the brothers didn’t blame God, it’s not clear that Joseph blamed God, and I certainly don’t blame God. Rather I give him all the praise and glory for weaving the evil plans of men into his eternally good purposes. He truly makes all things work together for good to them that love God and who are called according to his purposes.

    • What I see here is a man who loved God, that no matter what life had thrown at him, or whatever evil prevailed against him, Joseph still CHOSE to trust God, and in that trust honored Him wherever life found him. God did work it out for good.

      God gave man free will to do as he/she pleases, be it obey or disobey God. God is not responsible for our actions. Yet out of them, He is most certainly in control. After all, nothing catches Him off-guard. Nothing surprises Him.

      How we respond to the evil in this world reveals our faith. It is a matter of faith. By choosing to believe that God is in control and sovereign does not mean I blame him for the evil that comes along. We are in a fallen world and even Christ has promised trials. But I can trust that something will come out of it. I can still choose life because of it.

  33. Richard Conley // January 10, 2013 at 1:49 am // Reply

    Paul your argument is not sound in Gen. 50:20 You said “God turned it in to good” The word “turned” is not in the text nor is there a Greek word in the text that implies God reacting to the brothers action. The Greek word could mean plan, intend, meant. I couldn’t find a reputable translation that used the word”turn”. Quit adding to the word of God to fit your theology. God does not react to man, He is omniscient, omnipotent. There are plenty of text in the bible that say man is moved by God.

    • I was paraphrasing to bring out the connection with Romans 8:28. I really didn’t think, if pressed, that you would blame God for selling Joseph into slavery! Since you do, I don’t know what to say other than what I have said above.

      • Richard Conley // January 10, 2013 at 12:55 pm //

        Yes Paul I would blame God, He had a plan to use that to save a nation. Just as He had a plan to used Assyria to judge Israel in Isaiah 10:5 and following. I am not trying to be hateful and please know that I am not intending to be. But to deny God is in complete control but just reacts to our silly choices paints a picture of a weak god that is not omniscient or omnipotent and hence not God.

      • …and a God who is ultimately responsible for all the evil in the world, is not good.

        You seem to think that a God who is secure enough to give freedom to others is weak. On the contrary, this is a sign of great strength. And since he knew in advance that the choices of mortal men would result in his death on the cross, it is also a sign of great love. God is good ALL the time.

    This is such a hot topic within the church. We grew up in the Reformed/Calvinist faith and let me tell you, you could practically get stoned for not seeing God in CONTROL of EVERYTHING.

    I LOVE my Calvinist brothers and sisters … my whole family practically still is. My husband and I just don’t see it that way anymore.

    I think the easiest way to explain it is …
    ~We are not robots who God just sovereignly controls, for that is not love. If you had the choice at your child’s birth to implant a chip into them that would make them behave at all times and love you at all times … would you chose that? Or would you be raising a robot?For isn’t it within our free will that love can be true? If we were God’s robots that He just controlled, that would not be “real” love, but controlled love. He wants us to chose Him freely.
    ~Think of God’s authority like an owner/renter. God is the owner of the property (earth). He owns everything and created everything. But … he gave authority of that temporarily to the renter (man). The renter has basic rights and privileges of the property now because he is in charge. The owner can not just barge in without permission. He has given up his “control” to the renter within the agreement, yet he still owns the property. (mind you … God gave this right to Adam … who gave it to Satan … who Jesus had to come to get it back … and NOW it is back in the hands of REDEEMED man)

  35. We put together a whole SOVEREIGNTY section on our website as we were trying to figure this all out. Go to: Click on: “SOVEREIGNTY” … scroll down (it’s a great collection). Paul … could we add this article? THANKS!!! 🙂

  36. If you trace back to where this doctrine started you will find out that John Calvin wrote a book on the Sovereignty of God after he had a doctor friend of his burned at the stake because he did not believe the way Calvin did. In essence he said that if it wasn’t Gods’ will to burn the friend at the stake He (God) would have stopped him. The NIV who takes out the word al=mighty God and puts in sovereign Most of the translators were Reformed/Calvinist Or Presbyterian.

  37. I am getting hung up a bit on saying God is not sovereign. Ultimately I believe He is. However, perfect love requires choice/free will. We have free will, angels and demons have free will and because of this the world is broken. My pastor Greg Boyd teaches a lot on this. Knowing that God does not cause human tragedy has freed me up. The world wasn’t supposed to be this. Our image of God shapes our attitudes of Him. If we believe God is capricious, distant, causes tragedies, how can we see Him as beautiful and someone that we can embrace? and ultimately as someone who really loves us? To know what God looks like we need to look at Jesus. Jesus is the exact representation of God (Hebrews 1:3). So getting back to sovereignty…He has given us choice and so has I guess in a way limited himself for a time. I believe He does restore, redeem and make beautiful things out of the tragedies and pain of this world….

  38. jeremypenwarden // January 10, 2013 at 8:40 pm // Reply

    Jennie has got Mark 9:3 wrong. Jesus says that it was not his or his parents sin. Full stop. New thought. BUT that the works of God be displayed in his life I say be healed.

    God didn’t make him blind. That was the devil. This scripture shows the impative for us to go around doing good healing all opposed of the devil because God is with us. It does now say that God makes people sick in order to show how good He is when He fixes it.

    • i was paraphrasing… and i was not implying that God made him blind – sorry if the way i wrote it was misunderstood (technically, there is no punctuation in the original greek)
      this verse also shows us that sickness is not necessarily the result of sin… that God makes all things (the good, the bad, and the ugly) work together for good… and no matter what condition people are born with or into – Jesus can change them! 😉

      • Lisa Jane // August 21, 2014 at 2:51 pm //

        Exodus 4:11 The LORD said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the LORD?
        Very confusing, this.
        Even more confusing is the “God as Gentleman” thing. What if you’ve been praying and declaring the Word for healing for years whilst suffering extraordinarily. What’s gentlemanly about not coming through for someone who is inviting you into the midst?

      • Lisa Jane, you may be interested in this post on Exodus 4:11.

  39. In my last comment I meant to say. you sure opened up a can of worms, IN any case I see it as the floating question [ why?]. LIKe the kid that keeps asking why? In any case it, God has the last word.His ways are higher then ours.


    • Because I’m sleeping.

    • oh my word really!? I feel sorry for you Paul. No you don’t need to publish this. Just wanted you to know I empathize with the pressure. Keep up the good work and thank you for the articles.

      • Thanks Colleen,
        I have to moderate the comments otherwise these threads would degenerate into brawls, such as you find on Facebook, and shameless advertising. I try and approve comments as they come in but some mornings I find 20-30 waiting to be approved. It’s not hard – just a click of a button. Short comments are easily approved. Essays are easily deleted.

  41. God is all powerful and has the ability to control everything down to minute levels. Does this mean that He is a slave to His power? Does He “have-to” micro manage just because He has the power to do so?
    I have the authority(power) to schedule my family’s life down to 15 minute increments but I don’t. Does that mean I’m not actually managing my family? Am I any less Mom just because I don’t plan our lives out that way?
    Is God any less the all powerful God because He does not direct everything, all-the-time, on the atomic level? Is He a slave to His own power?

  42. The shepard uses his hook to protect from predators,give us a tap every once and a while when we need it, and the hook to rescue us, a old friend of mine use to say [you know they dont call us sheep for nothing] which I thought kind of fit in the debate.

    • chrisvanrooyen // January 11, 2013 at 10:34 pm // Reply

      Sheep are the dumbest animals but ask any sheep farmer and he will tell you they have one natural skill , and that is to find the hole in a fence, a way of escape .No wonder God compares us to sheep

  43. chrisvanrooyen // January 11, 2013 at 8:09 pm // Reply

    You can only make sense of any scripture when looking at it through Gods eyes, these eyes see all, his perspective is not ours. when we have his perspective on things we live in him and he lives in us. The more you get to know him the more will be revealed to you , there are no contradictions only the our inadequate point of view
    Gods ways are not our ways we interpret things in the moment and do not see the past the present and future simultaneously.
    Someone close to you may be suffering from cancer you only see the present and your emotional response is determined by what you see or experience God sees and experiences the past .present and future at the same time.You would be feeling heartbroken and frustrated. God may be feeling hopeful due to the past, Heartbroken and frustrated because of the present .Also ecstatic and joyful because of the future . It is difficult for us to comprehend this mixture and emotion ,But we judge God !! .
    Your Father does not live in the moment his main focus is on your awesome destiny that nothing , not even you can take out of his hands.
    This is only one small way in which Gods perspective differs from ours we serve a awesome God.
    Scripture is never wrong it is preserved by the Creator of the universe.
    If scripture is in error who is Jesus.

    • Re: someone suffering from cancer…if that’s the case with regard to God’s perspective, then why did Jesus heal ALL who were oppressed of the devil (Acts 10:38)? If I am to believe that all of it is God’s will, which I don’t have the power to understand, then I should never ask for healing or seek medical attention…that would go against God’s will.

      • chrisvanrooyen // January 12, 2013 at 2:39 pm //

        It could never be Gods will that you be sick , but it may be his will , that you persevere through it and still have faith in God, if you do this you you do not only bring great Glory to God but make the works of the devil impotent to achieve their purposes. It may also be Gods will that you receive a Miracle this also brings Glory to God . Why God decides either way I will leave you to work out .
        Jesus healed all who were oppressed of the devil but not all he healed were oppressed of the devil !!!!
        The man was not born blind because of sin.
        This is a very common way to misinterpret scripture and leads to all types of strange doctrines,
        To illustrate in Revelation when searching for someone to open the scroll , It is stated that none could be found but then the exception is stated. The exception to statements usually bring great revelation.These exceptions are not always given but require diligent study to find.

        Healing in the new testament says more about salvation than healing Jews believed that sickness was a result of sin .In healing Jesus illustrated the salvation he would bring the forgiveness of sins . this rattled the Jewish authorities.

        Please read again carefully what I have said. You seem to be making incorrect assumptions.

    • Until you watch someone in severe pain and watch them dwindle down to a person who may not resemble their former self,I don’t think you would be saying this.Cancer is evil.God has nothing to do with that horrible disease.Sorry I am still reeling from the pain of it in my life.It is so horrible I would not wish it on my dog.So tired of this teaching in the body.Why can”t people get this.

      • chrisvanrooyen // January 14, 2013 at 5:30 pm //

        Sandy until you see a innocent man beaten beyond recognition as human , and crucified you will not understand God. You do not have the things off God in mind or alternatively you do not understand them. Jesus said we should follow his example and lay our lives down . And i can assure you I am well acquainted with human suffering. Off dishing it out and of being on the receiving end.

      • Suffering with disease is not the same as suffering persecution. they can not be put in the same category.Yes we suffer persecution for the gospel.Jesus died (yes, I am aware of Jesus suffering beyond what we could comprehend) for cancer. The two are not to be put in the same “suffer” for Jesus. this is where the church misses it.

  44. I always thought it was the divine nature of Christ that allowed him to perform miracles. Now I see the necessity of him also being fully man to have authority/dominion. Thanks for the great article.
    I think it’s interesting how Acts 10:38 emphasizes Jesus’ earthly title, Jesus of Nazareth. The anointed and empowered MAN that went around destroying the works of the devil. Of course, He also had to be born without a sin nature (He is also fully God) to not be under the dominion given away to the devil by the first Adam.

    • chrisvanrooyen // January 13, 2013 at 5:56 am // Reply

      Great insights.Per
      Revelation also states it required a Man to open the scrolls. Someone to stand in Adams shoes and fix things Adams attempt at self sacrifice was flawed. Christ the perfect sacrifice .

  45. Paul, can you explain the blinding of Saul (Paul) on the road to Damascus in terms of God’s sovereignty? What I mean to say is, Jesus said that all authority was given to Him, and then told the disciples to use that authority. Please share any insights you have on this.

    • Sorry, Diana, I don’t understand your question. Do you mean to ask, why did Paul go blind? The answer is: he saw a bright light. “My companions led me by the hand into Damascus, because the brilliance of the light had blinded me” (Act 22:11).

      • Sorry Paul, I’m having trouble wording my question. Andrew Wommack teaches on the authority of the believer, how the authority was given to mankind in the garden, how Jesus had to be fully God and fully man in order to get back authority. On the road to Damascus, it appears that God intervened (not as a man) and allowed the brilliant light to blind Saul. It seems as though He set up the situation to bring about Saul’s conversion. I know that Saul could have still rejected Jesus being the Messiah, but God did intervene, and I’m asking if you have any insights on this. Because this would be an example that I think believers would use to argue their belief on the “hypersovereignty” of God (ie: God made me sick to teach me something, God allowed the death of that loved one to get my attention, etc.)

      • Is your question, Does God intervene to bring about his purposes? Yes, often. What happened to Saul was dramatic but think about what happened to yourself when you were born again. Was that any less dramatic? Everything changed. Formerly you didn’t mind sin, now you do. Formerly you didn’t care for the things of God, now you do. Formerly you saw Jesus as an historical figure; now he is the living Lord of your life. The conversion of every sinner is a miracle. No one can say “Jesus is Lord” except that the Holy Spirit intervenes and gives that revelation.

        I’m not sure what this has to do with the post though. The point of the post is, “Not everything that happens is God’s fault or will.” But I would certainly say that “some things that happen are his doing/will” and your conversion is your own best example.

        I am well aware that some straw-clutchers would use Saul’s conversion as evidence in support of their hyper-sovereign beliefs. I am not such a person. It’s a ridiculous argument: “Saul saw God shining bright and went blind. Therefore God gives us cancer and AIDS and kills our kids to teach us stuff.” As Wommack says, “How dumb can you be and still breath” to believe something as foolish as that?

  46. When I was at my daughter and son in law’s house this summer they had the nerve 😉 to put my granddaughter in her own bed for the night. She had been getting in bed with them and they felt she wasn’t getting the rest she needed and was being cranky in the mornings. My granddaughter felt that this was a tragedy. I could hear her from down the stairs as her dramatic cries were filling the whole house. I had to go up the stairs to ask my son in law a question. When she heard my voice she cried out my grandma name…”EEMIE? EEMIE? COME GET ME!!” My son in law laughed. I had to hurry down stairs because, although I KNEW this was a good thing, I DID want to rescue her. She thought it was an awful thing but it WAS good for her and she was better the next morning. HOWEVER, had my daughter and her husband broken my grandaughter’s legs to make her stay in the bed or destroyed her pet dog to punish her for not sleeping in her bed THAT would have been abuse! Things may happen that WE think are awful that ARE good for us. HOWEVER, things like diseases, disasters or death? And if WE wouldn’t do them to ‘teach’ our kids how can we think that God would ‘teach’ or ‘discipline’ us in THAT way?
    I’m not sure how much this has to do with the original post but I thought of it while reading some of the comments! : )

  47. for those of you who insist that God is ultimately responsible for causing or letting evil things happen in this world, i would ask you this: do you also think God was responsible for the excruciating and horrific death Jesus suffered? i don’t know about you, but one of the most eye opening experiences i had when i was being saved was that I was responsible for the things He went through… and He loved me so much that He didn’t blame me for it either.

    • jeremypenwarden // January 18, 2013 at 11:44 am // Reply

      Isaiah 53:10. It was the will of The Lord to crush him.

      • yes, it pleased the LORD for him to be crushed… but then keep reading that verse: “if he rendered himself as a guilt offering he would see…” there was a free will choice of a man to be made. Jesus said no one could take His life from Him… but He laid it down voluntarily. He had authority from His Father to give up His life. (john 10:18) it was Jesus as man that did this – because God cannot die… and it was man that was required to make the guilt offering – because God does not sin. as LORD, it pleased Jesus to allow Himself to be crushed… so that you and i and everyone else wouldn’t have to be…

      • jeremypenwarden // January 19, 2013 at 11:26 pm //

        Jennie, you have to be careful not to twist scripture. Isaiah says ‘it pleased The Lord to crush him’. That is active not passive. It means that God did the crushing. So you must not change the scripture by changing the ensemble of the verb which twists the meaning to something else.

        This is not a matter of ‘either or’ but ‘both and’.

      • Well Jesus and God are the same being so I wouldn’t see this as God acting on Jesus. Look from the outside in as the prophet was doing when he recieved that prophecy it would look like God acting against the man who was suffering. However after the events we see that God was submitting or allowing Himself to be crushed for our sakes.

      • chrisvanrooyen // January 19, 2013 at 2:13 pm //

        Great until we see the cross as a great achievement and not a tragedy we testify that God is a loser .

      • i understand what you are saying jeremy… the hebrew language is not as concise as the greek is… and it uses past and present tense only… 😉 i read this great sermon by john piper about is 53:10… and agree with both of his conclusions: God’s pleasure was not in the crushing itself, but what was accomplished by the crushing… and that Jesus’ voluntary suffering was for His Father’s glory. both reasons are anchored in love… God’s love for men and Jesus’ love for His Father’s name and glory. 😉
        one of the ways i look at it is this: God is Life. He is wholeness, perfection and love… death, sickness and pain do not come from Him… but they are perversions of the good things that God created (because i believe that satan has no power to create anything – he just takes everything good that God created and perverts it into something that is the opposite!) everything that is of God will last forever (things like: faith, hope, love…God’s righteousness and holiness… the spirit of a person who is born-again)… death, sickness and pain will not last forever, because they do not originate from Him – they are the perversions of the good things that are, and they do not contain Life. that being said, i am not saying that God didn’t use death, sickness and pain in Jesus’ crucifixion… but because of love, Jesus willingly gave Himself up to them and suffered every curse that was brought about since the fall of adam – to redeem us from them. like david killing goliath with his own sword of judgement, Jesus disarmed satan by using satan’s own weapon of death – by dying Himself and then being raised to Life… death is not from God, but Jesus used death against itself to destroy its power over us… perhaps that is how all things that are evil are destroyed in the end…?

      • jeremypenwarden // January 21, 2013 at 9:31 pm //

        It is dangerous to read the KJV without understanding the English of the day. It translates verse 10 as ‘it pleased The Lord to crush him’.

        But ‘it pleased me to do this’ has no sense of pleasure or enjoyment. It simply means it was my choice or decision, freely and without compulsion. Today wee old simply say ‘I decided to do this’.

        Modern translations say ‘ it was the will of The Lord to crush him’. So you cannot conclude that the Father took any enjoyment or pleasure from the event. That is simply a mis-translation.

  48. jeremypenwarden // January 19, 2013 at 11:37 pm // Reply

    Go back to verse 4. Jesus was ‘smitten by God’ .

    Then verse 5 Upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace. The only entity that could have chastised Jesus is Father God.

    Coleen says that God was submitting or allowing himself to be crushed as if some impersonal force was doing the crushing. But that does not make sense. Isaiah is clear that the One doing the crushing is God.

    I think that Coleens comment opens up an even bigger can of worms as she appears not to understand yet the doctrine of the Trinity namely one God in three Persons. At the cross, Jesus the Son takes on the sins of the world and then God the Father punishes Jesus as if he were the sinner. Jesus takes full responsibility for our sins and God does to Jesus what he would otherwise have done to us.

    • Ok I was writing on the fly and did not quite think my responce all the way through. However God smiting Jesus on the cross does not translate out into the perverted view of sovereignty that the above article teaches against.
      Where I was coming from was that Jesus and the Father are one however my brain stopped there in the story and “forgot” that God had to seperate Himself from Christ once our sins were upon Him. Hence why Jesus changes speech forms and says “My God, My God” instead of calling Him father. So in part God was acting on Jesus, yet all parties were in full agreement and in submission to the action. So Jennie is in part correct without our sins there would have been no need for crushing.
      no can of worms just a tangled tongue and a sleepy brain 🙂

  49. Ps Joseph Prince has an excellent analogy to explain “10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him” and here it is:

    One day, while he and his wife and daughter were finishing up their shopping, the little one got sleepy, so daddy carried her in his right arm, while carrying goods in the other arm. About halfway, his arm began to get numb with fatigue. Now, it would be an easy thing to just put the kid down and ask her to walk, but upon looking at the sleeping child on his arm, (get this) it pleased him to “crush” his right arm, rather than put his daughter down and disturb her rest.

    Now, since we know that Christ is described as God’s Right Arm, we can conclude that it pleased God to crush Him, because He knew it would lead to our shalom.

    There is a saying, you will never know how much God loved you, until you know how much God loved His Son, because He gladly gave Him up for you.

    • jeremypenwarden // January 23, 2013 at 6:32 am // Reply

      Joshen, You’re taking the King James English which means one thing and reading it as if it were modern English thus totally changing its meaning. It does NOT mean to ‘take pleasure in’. Simply that it was his will to do it.

      ESV translates the verse Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him.

      You may be able to conclude that it pleased God to crush Jesus from other scripture, but not from this one.

      • Jeremy I think you are misunderstanding Joshen is saying. It wasn’t the “I’m really enjoying hurting Jesus” kind of pleased. It was “My love & pleasure for this event(what it is accomplishing- not the ouch itself) is overridding the temporary pain that is going on” kind of pleased.
        That’s my take on the explanation which sounds a lot like your view too, just worded differently.

      • the king james isn’t the only version that uses the word “pleased” (isaiah 53:10)
        i find that looking up a word’s meaning in its original language often helps (-i like to use bible suite by biblios)… because, like you have mentioned, a translation often reflects the word usage of its day. and that is why it is important that we follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit to lead us in our understanding… He teaches us all things (1 john 2:27)

  50. Sefetse Kenneth // February 6, 2013 at 12:17 am // Reply

    Write a book,sound teaching

    • I agree. This isn’t clear enough. Do I get angry at sin like the Father, or do I receive freely like the Son, or do I smooch in love and grace like the Holy Spirit?

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