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Does God’s Sovereignty Matter In Politics? Part 3

Adam Dean comments
| Faith

The first and second articles in this series have been primarily concerned with poor reasoning or faulty arguments for voting in certain ways because of God’s sovereignty. But pointing out bad arguments doesn’t necessarily yield the correct answer, and although some light has been shed on how to make decisions based on God’s Word, a positive understanding of how politics and voting should be considered in light of God’s sovereignty must be provided.

Thus far, no thorough explanation or Biblical exposition of sovereignty has been needed or given, but now a Biblical definition of the doctrine of sovereignty is necessary. God’s sovereignty is His right and freedom to do whatever He pleases wherever and whenever He pleases and in whatever manner He pleases, and is further the exercise of this right and freedom in all things at all times. This has always been a controversial doctrine, for it is the confident assertion of the truth that God is God and man is not, and man desperately desires to be his own god.

The controversy has not ever been due to lack of the Biblical witness on this matter, for Scripture is overflowing with abundant evidence and clear statements of God’s sovereignty. In 1 Chronicles 29:11-12 David speaks before Israel concerning the Almighty and says “Thine, O Lord is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all.”

God owns everything, He reigns over everything, He has power over everything, and greatness and strength are His to give (or take away). In 1 Samuel 2:6-8, Hannah prays to God, thanking Him for giving her a son and speaks of His majesty and sovereignty, “The Lord killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up. The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up. He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the Lord's, and he hath set the world upon them.”

Hannah knew who God was and understood the necessity of His power and will for everything that occurs. Her words are simply the truthful admission that it is God who gives life and takes it away, that He is at work in giving people power and influence or stripping them of all ability, that it is God who raises up kings and rulers.

Daniel attests to this as well in Daniel 2:20-22, “Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him.”

In Psalm 115:3, the Psalmist contrasts the pagan gods with the one true God and says “But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.”

Psalm 135:5-6 says “For I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods. Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.”

Hear what the Psalmist says in Psalm 33:8-11, “Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast. The Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect. The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.”

Likewise Isaiah 14:24 & 27 say “The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand… For the Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?”

This is the consistent witness across the Scriptures, in the New Testament as well. Paul says in Ephesians 1:11 “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will”.

In Romans 9, Paul describes God as the potter and man as the clay. Paul explains that God has the authority to set man’s destiny and that He exercises it with impunity.

God has authority over all and orders all of creation as He chooses. He plans the course of history and he guides the actions of men. It is God who decides the future and no-one can change His plan or prevent His will from coming to pass. God does whatever He pleases, and everything that He pleases He does. Not even the most powerful men in history, past, present, or future, can withstand His instruction for it is from God that they derive their power in the first place.

It is not the primary purpose of this article to discuss whether, in light of what Scripture has to say about God’s sovereignty, man has a free will or to explain how man’s responsibility and God’s sovereignty can co-exist. Because it is an important issue, here are a few Bible passages which speak of man’s responsibility: Exodus 7:3 which can be compared to Romans 9:17; 2 Samuel 16:10; and Acts 2:23 which can be compared to Luke 22:22. Recall that the first article in this series also mentioned the latter two verses and explained how God’s sovereignty neither justifies man’s sin nor relieves him of his responsibility before God.

The Westminster and London Baptist Confessions of Faith explain this in more detail (see chapters 3, 5, & 9 in both), and for additional information on God’s sovereignty see here and here.

One of the fundamental applications for the sovereignty of God (not just in politics or voting but really in every facet of our lives) is that when Christians take God’s sovereignty and His work in history and plan for redemption seriously they can rest in peace knowing that Christ’s victory in history is assured. What need have Christians to be afraid of earthly rulers, of tyrants or criminals, or of floods or catastrophes when they know that God is sovereign over them all and that nothing happens that is not under His rule or in opposition to His plan?

The previous article in this series explained that the law of God is the basis for man’s decisions, that man has a duty to obey God and apply His Word to every area of life. Man’s duty is not to control the future, to ensure certain outcomes by whatever means necessary. History is God’s story to write. Because God is sovereign, man can rest assured that God will write His story as He intends, and this frees man from the burden of believing that he himself must do everything. The Christian who understands God’s sovereignty can do his duty before God and then peacefully leave the results to Him.

Christians ought to be the most calm and unburdened of all people in this manner, knowing that because God is the one who orchestrates history and arranges their lives in matters both large and small they can rest in peace with the knowledge that God’s will is always done. The Christian should not vote (or act or speak) out of fear of what may or may not happen should his efforts fail. Instead, the believer should vote and fulfill his duty as God commands and then rely on God to bring the fruit (Matthew 6:25-34, 1 Corinthians 3:6-7).

Author

Adam Dean

Adam Dean has a desire to faithfully apply the Law-Word of God to every area of life, starting with his "corner of the Garden" in Texas where he works as a security officer and lives with his wife, Maria.