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The Knowledge of the Holy

Greetings All,

     Today's 'thought' goes along with a sermon I preached from Revelation 4:1 this past Sunday, entitled: "The Script Has Already Been Written."  For that verse speaks of God's plan for the future and how it "must" come to pass.
     In this thought A. W. Tozer elaborates on that same topic with his typical clarity. This selection is found in his superb book, "The Knowledge of the Holy."
     Given the world situation at this present time (which seems like a pressure cooker about to explode!) such biblical truths can ease many of our fears, and give us the encouragement we need to look to the future with hope.  Enjoy.

     "God's Sovereignty is the attribute by which He rules His entire creation, and to be sovereign God must be all-knowing, all-powerful, and absolutely free... Only God is free. God is said to be absolutely free because no one and no thing can hinder Him or compel Him or stop Him. He is able to do as He pleases always, everywhere, forever.  To be thus free means also that He must possess universal authority...
     Even to discuss the authority of Almighty God seems a bit meaningless, and to question it would be absurd.  Can we imagine the Lord God of Hosts having to request permission of anyone or to apply for anything to a higher body?  To whom would God go for permission? Who is higher than the Highest?  Who is mightier than the Almighty?  Whose position antedates that of the Eternal?  At whose throne would God kneel?  Where is the greater one to whom He must appeal? (Is. 45:5, 20-21 / 46:5, 8-10)...
     [Yet] if God rules his universe by His sovereign decrees, how is it possible for man to exercise freedom of choice? And if he cannot exercise freedom of choice, how can he be held responsible for his conduct? Is he not a mere puppet whose actions are determined by a behind-the-scenes God who pulls the strings as it pleases Him?
     The attempt to answer these questions has divided the Christian church neatly into two camps [one denying God's sovereignty, the other man's will to choose]...
     Here is my view: God sovereignly decreed that man should be free to exercise moral choice, and man from the beginning has fulfilled that decree by making his choice between good and evil. When he chooses to do evil, he does not thereby countervail the sovereign will of God but fulfills it, inasmuch as the eternal decree decided not which choice the man should make, but that he should be free to make it.  If in His absolute freedom God has willed to give man limited freedom, who is there to stay His hand or say, "What doest Thou?"  Man's will is free because God is sovereign. A God less than sovereign could not bestow moral freedom upon His creatures. He would be afraid to do so.
     Perhaps an illustration might help us to understand. An ocean liner leaves New York bound for Liverpool. Its destination has been determined by proper authorities. Nothing can change it. This is at least a faint picture of sovereignty.
     On board the liner are several scores of passengers. These are not in chains, neither are their activities determined for them by decree. They are completely free to move about as they will. They eat, sleep, play, lounge about on the deck, read, talk, altogether as they please. But all the while the great liner is carrying them steadily onward toward a predetermined port. Both freedom and sovereignty are present here and they do not contradict each other. So it is, I believe, with man's freedom and the sovereignty of God. The mighty liner of God's sovereign design keeps its steady course over the sea of history. God moves undisturbed and unhindered toward the fulfillment of those eternal purposes which He purposed in Christ Jesus before the world began.
     Toward [the fulfillment of all God has decreed and promised] God is moving with infinite wisdom and perfect precision. No one can dissuade Him from His purposes; nothing can turn Him aside from His plans. Since He is omniscient, there can be no unforeseen circumstances, no accidents. As He is sovereign, there can be no countermanded orders, no breakdown in authority; and as He is omnipotent, there can be no want of power to achieve His chosen ends... Within the broad field of God's sovereign, permissive will, the deadly conflict of good and evil continues with increasing fury. God will yet have His way in the whirlwind and the storm, but the storm and the whirlwind are here, and as responsible beings we must make our choice in the present moral situation."

     There are certain things I might phrase a bit differently than Tozer, but his points are well taken. God is sovereign, man is responsible. God decrees and ordains all that happens, yet without ever violating our liberty to choose. His plan will unalterably come to pass -- the ship is going to Liverpool! (to use his illustration) -- but we still have the liberty to make choices for which we will be held responsible (Westminster Confession, Chapter 3, section 1 -- On God's Eternal Decrees).
     To use the words of Revelation 4:1, "Come up here and I will show you what MUST take place after this."  In the end it will all unfold just as God has decreed. This means that when things look out of control (from our perspective) we can be thankful God still occupies the throne of His sovereign rule, and is, "moving with infinite wisdom and perfect precision" to carry out His plan for the ages.

Under the shadow of His wings, Pastor Jeff