Those who respond "yes" [to God controlling everything] will point to the characteristic of His Sovereignty, saying it means God has supreme power, authority, and control over His creation. They will cite Scripture they believe points to God's sovereignty over nature and nations. They will quote Bible verses they say validate God's sovereignty over history and the affairs of men. And, ultimately, they will say that even if something bad happens... It was God's WILL! God can use everything and everyone for His purpose, and therefore that means that He controls things by His will. So, I knew -- for me -- I had to determine what this concept of God's sovereignty had to say about whether or not He controls everything.
But here is an astounding thing that I discovered when I first tackled this dilemma ... I looked up "Sovereignty" in the Dictionary and got this definition: jurisdiction, rule, supremacy, dominion, power, ascendancy, domination, authority, control, influence. I thought, "Okay, that is how the secular world defines sovereignty. How is it defined in Strong's Concordance?", which is an index to the Bible that lists words, and allows one to compare how that word is used in different passages, and to see different meanings, depending on the context. Well, guess what? I went to my well-worn Concordance... and the word sovereign wasn't listed! You know how you try to justify something that doesn't seem possible?
When the Concordance went from the word, southward to the word sow, I found myself repeating the alphabet to make sure I wasn't looking in the wrong place. Surely this couldn't be! But there it was ... Neither sovereign nor sovereignty were listed in Strong's Concordance. So, what does that say when a well-trusted and accepted reference book doesn't even acknowledge the concept of sovereignty? This well-respected book provides an independent check against translations, and offers readers of the Bible an opportunity for greater, and more technically accurate understanding of the Scriptural text (from both the Hebrew and Greek perspective) -- yet how was I supposed to understand text that seemingly didn't exist?
Now, I was faced with an even bigger dilemma! One of the primary arguments that God is in control of everything has been the characteristic of His Sovereignty... yet, that word doesn't seem to be used in the Bible?!?! How can that be? This quandary demanded more research, and I was actually amazed to find the following information.... The words sovereign and sovereignty do not appear in the 1611 King James Bible at all! (MY CAVEAT: I am not advocating a "King James only" interpretation. I merely reference it because it is the oldest among the Bible versions in use today and it is the interpretation/translation used by the Concordance, which is the most utilized reference book for defining words in Scripture).
I discovered that sovereign and sovereignty appear sporadically in the ESV and Amplified versions (written in 1971 and 1965, respectively). Sovereignty appears eight times in the New American Standard version (published in 1971), although it refers to the LORD God, only twice. But the word sovereign appears 297 times (I looked it up on biblegateway.com) in the NIV translation, written in 1973, and nearly all usages refer to the title, "Sovereign LORD".
So, by now I'm curious as to what appears in the King James instead of this word sovereign. What I found was that "Sovereign Lord" in the NIV replaced the use of "LORD God" in the King James. Apparently, the translators of the 20th Century NIV decided to translate the word LORD as Sovereign. This word, LORD, was translated in the King James Bible from the Hebrew Adonai (meaning Lord, Master) and Jehovah (meaning Lord). When I compared the Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible (and written and completed before Christ was born!), with every occurrence of the NIV's Sovereign LORD, I found the various terms "Master and Lord", "the Lord thy God", "O Lord, King of gods", or simply "Lord".
So, let me make my position clear ... Every time you read “Sovereign God” in the NIV Bible, it actually should read “Lord God”. The original Hebrew did not mean "sovereign" and that was a translator’s decision. And while I cannot explain the reasoning behind this recent mis-translation, I can definitely see how assigning the word "Sovereign" has resulted in a faulty doctrine. Let me elaborate...
So, once it was decided that God would actually be called sovereign, then His sovereignty became an established theological characteristic according to the NIV Bible, and is actually listed in Theopedia (a conservative, evangelical, Christian encyclopedia) as an official characteristic of God. So, man's ignorance of the Hebrew language, along with religious tradition have actually created a false doctrine of God's "Sovereignty", which now translates into His control of everything because of our 21st Century dictionary definition of what "sovereign" means -- refer back to the third paragraph.
But regardless of whether you are willing to follow the argument I've presented on the historical mis-translation or not, I still want you to understand why I feel it is important you recognize that God is NOT in control of everything. Let me start by asking you a simple question ... If you think God IS in control of everything... how has the world come to be in such bad shape? Why isn't God controlling His world better? Surely, He doesn't approve of the wickedness, crime, and perversion we see in the world today?
And if you truly believe He is All-Powerful, and has the power to prevent the evil, why do we continue to see such evil being perpetrated by humans? Take, for instance, the recent viral videos of innocent people being assaulted for no reason by roving gangs intent only on causing harm [or death]. Or consider the increase in child molestation and torture; or the hate crimes and racial prejudice resulting in burned synagogues, and crimes against religious organizations. Do you think it's God's will that His people suffer torment and agony? If He is in control of everything, then why doesn't He stop these things from happening? And, as it is oftentimes preached, if there is a purpose for His good in these horrible situations, does that fit your impression of God -- that He would let such pain and humiliation be inflicted upon one of His creation to serve His own purpose?
Now, let me break down my own thoughts ... Yes, God has infinite Power and CAN control anything He wants to. But He used His free will to create us in His image. Put in very simple terms, if God has free will, then so do we, because we are made in His image. But it is quite evident that it is our free will that has caused the world to be in such bad shape. It is the decisions we make to follow either our flesh or the temptations of the Enemy -- instead of following Lord God-- that result in the pain and misery on this earth. Could He have made us to be creatures that automatically follow Him in every circumstance? Absolutely! But how would that have glorified Him? Wouldn't we all just be robots then? And how does that glorify God? He wants us to choose [out of our own will] to glorify Him.
Ultimately, our free will results in a decision either to be loyal to Him, or to follow a path to rebellion. (And there's another facet to this question of free will -- Satan was created by God as Lucifer, and he used his free will to make a decision to rebel. And he is trying to convince us to do the same).
Here's what we need to understand ... What we see on earth is man using his free will to disobey God to serve his own selfish desires. Think about this --- If everything was "sovereignly" controlled by God, then there would be no need to pray, no need to give financial offerings, no need to even live right — because whatever happened would be what God wanted regardless of our efforts. In effect, if God controls everything, why even bother to pray? After all, wouldn't God just make things happen for the best anyway?
Now, you could say, "But God is all-powerful. He is able to intervene in human affairs, and my prayers can help convince Him". Yes, our prayers rising to Heaven can, and do, result in God intervening in our lives. But God has given us His power, too, through the Holy Spirit, and the authority to use it! Jesus makes that very clear in Luke 10:19 ... Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.
Yet we doubting and faithless Christians do not believe this word from our Savior! Oh, we have no problem believing that God exists -- but all this other stuff about demons, and spiritual attacks, and supernatural forces of evil; well, that's outside the box that we've put God and ourselves in. But the ancient Jews, to whom Jesus was talking to in Luke 10:19 knew exactly what He was referencing. "Serpent" referred to a deadly, subtle, malicious enemy; and "Scorpion" symbolized torment and wrath. Yet, we choose to ignore Jesus's gift [to us] of authority over both, and over ALL the power of the enemy! These terms and symbols are all dealing with the supernatural, spiritual realm. Jesus has given us authority and power to resist them, and yet we limit ourselves to praying and asking God to handle it for us, and then wondering why He let us down!
Can you consider the possibility that He doesn't want to be the "medicine cabinet God" that handles everything for us? Can you see that the next time we encounter an attack by the enemy, we have the choice to continue to just sit back and ask God to take care of it for us -- OR we can choose to use the power and authority Jesus has given us over ALL the power of the enemy, and handle it ourselves? I'm going to ask you to answer this question: Which glorifies Him the most? -- evil forces on the earth continue to torment and attack us over and over because we never stop them; we just wait for God to answer our prayers ... OR, we declare to the spiritual realm that we are using our free will and our authority to call upon the mighty Name of Jesus [and are using His power that abides within us] to wage war as part of His Kingdom servants on this earth.
My spirit gets a very clear picture --- God doesn't want to be in control of everything! He wants a partner, not a puppet! He made us in His image and He wants us to act like it! He sent His Son into this evil world , and transferred His power to Jesus to establish God's Kingdom on earth. Then Jesus transferred His power to us, and here we are 2,000 years later, with scarcely an idea that we possess that power, let alone know how to use it. It is not God's will that the world be in the shape it is in, nor that we suffer in our lives from all the slings and arrows of the enemy.
Will there be things outside our control, even if we use the power assigned to us? The answer is yes. The Prince of this world still has his power, too. But I don't think Jesus wanted us to believe that God would control everything. Jesus, Himself, was God ... and He could have called down a legion of angels to stop his crucifixion and controlled the whole outcome. But He came to our realm to show us the way to fight in the spiritual war that started in Heaven and continues to this day on earth. He used the Power and Authority given to Him by God to heal the sick, bind and cast out demons, and spread the word that the Kingdom of God (God's heavenly government) was here to take back territory. It's time we use our free will to work with God and take control of our lives!
This concept that God is sovereign over every thing on the earth must be understand in the context of how it weakens the power and authority of the Believer. In case you haven't noticed, Evil is growing and expanding in the earth. Humans are not prepared for just how bad it's going to get, and if you're expecting God to make it easy for us, then you haven't been reading the Bible. Our free will choices have led to this wicked state of affairs, and there is an accounting that will take place. We have no time to spare! Let us step into our God-given power and authority, and our true identities in Christ, recognizing that our deliverance from the evil of this world is not guaranteed until the moment we are face to face with our Savior. Jesus didn't experience His own deliverance from the Evil, but He glorified the Father with His choices. AND NOW we have the opportunity to declare His Glory, His Judgment, His Grace, His Mercy, His Power, and His Love so that the lost may decide to choose Him over Satan's false promises. We are made in the image of Jesus! Let us walk out this life like our Savior did!
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Romans 14:12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.