This is the fourth and final article in this series on God’s sovereignty and voting. The preceding article explained that God’s sovereignty is the foundation for peace in the believer’s life, that Christians can fulfill their duty before God and then rest in the knowledge that God’s plan for the future is certain and that God has everything under control.
There is more to a robust comprehension of the sovereignty of God than merely the peace it gives to God’s people. God’s sovereignty is not only the foundation for rest, it is the foundation for work as well. Because God’s plan for the redemption of man is active in history and is not merely relegated to the eternal realm, and because God utilizes man’s work as the means or tool to accomplish His plan, his work has meaning and can be engaged in with confidence and resolve.
In his article “Vocation and Work”, R. J. Rushdoony explains “Without the sovereignty of God to undergird and ensure the validity and efficacy of a calling, man works in a void, a vast, meaningless emptiness. He floats aimlessly in inner space. Where men believe in the triune God and take time and history seriously as the arena of God's Kingdom work, they can then both work and rest with confidence and peace. Where God is man's Lord and man's ultimate and essential environment, then man is responsible and effective in his actions.
"Where, however, man is without God, his environment becomes a hostile and determinative force, and man is stripped of responsibility. For the godly man, because God is the Lord and the determiner, man is not under the control of his physical environment, and time becomes the partner and aide to eternity. Man then knows he is not alone in what he does, and more is involved in his actions than himself.”
In the previous article it was said that God is completely and totally sovereign over and in control of everything that happens. The Westminster and London Baptist Confessions explain that while God has ordained everything that occurs, there are “secondary causes” for many of the things that happen. God’s work in history is often accomplished via the actions of His people as they obey their Kingdom calling to have dominion over the earth and to build civilizations and societies for the glory of God, to manifest Christ’s Kingship in every area of life (Genesis 1:26-28; see also Matthew 28:18-20 & 2 Corinthians 10:5).
It is precisely because God is actually sovereign that Christians can have confidence that their work has meaning. As Rushdoony said, when man is without God (or if God is not sovereign), his environment is hostile. Not only is he at the mercy of his surroundings, he can have no confidence that his actions have any meaning whatsoever. He may work only to be frustrated by natural disasters or economic turmoil, to have his home or business destroyed. Even if his work is successful, if God is not directing history then man’s work is devoid of meaning or significance.
But God is sovereign, and He is writing history with the growth of the Kingdom and the victory of the Church as His goal. Daniel 2:44 says “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.”
In Matthew 13:31-33, Jesus relates two parables about the Kingdom of heaven. In these parables He explains that the Kingdom of heaven, while starting small, is going to fill the earth and bless the nations. In 1 Corinthians 15:24-26, Paul references Psalm 110 and explains that Christ is reigning and putting His enemies under His feet (this Psalm is also referenced in Hebrews 1:13, 2:7-8, & 10:12-13).
Jesus speaks of the future of the Church in Matthew 16:18-19 and says “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Perhaps one of the clearest statements in Scripture of the Christian’s actions being grounded in God’s sovereignty is in the Great Commission. Matthew 28:18-20 says “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
The command to disciple the nations and to teach people to obey God’s instructions for every sphere of life is predicated upon Christ’s kingship over all, upon His authority over everything in heaven and earth. The Christian’s work is founded upon Christ’s Kingship and God’s sovereign plan for history. It is because God is sovereign that His promises that the Church will storm the gates of hell and the Kingdom will fill the whole earth are certain, and it is upon the certainty of these promises that the Christian’s work, today, has meaning.
This goes beyond just evangelism to all Christian endeavors. God’s plan for salvation is not limited to merely saving souls but is true redemption, the reclaiming of the whole of man for His glory. God’s purpose is not merely to ensure His people’s place in eternity but to restore man to his place of covenant keeping to work and live and build His Kingdom as He directs for His glory.
As David Chilton said, “Once a man has been converted, what then? The gospel has changed him from death to life: he is now supposed to live. He must discover God’s standards for his living in every area–in his family, his work, his everyday activity. Shall we then accuse him of departing from the centrality of the gospel? No! It is the gospel that has made the difference! He is applying God’s standards to his life just because the gospel is central."
So whatever man does, in any field of endeavor, is to be directed by God’s Word and has meaning because God is sovereign. Because history is the “arena of God’s Kingdom work” Christians have confidence that their work is meaningful and will have lasting influence. Christians can work knowing that it is one of the means that God uses to accomplish His plan for victory and redemption.
"God’s sovereignty is the foundation for both rest and work for the Christian." - Adam Dean
Rushdoony ends his discussion of vocation and work by saying “Work only comes into its own when it is eschatological. To build a house, plant a tree, and till a garden has a future orientation. The world was not empty when we came into it, and it must not be more empty for our coming. We work to establish God's ordained future, His Kingdom. Where work is systematically eschatological, it is also blessed. Work must always have a purpose greater than ourselves.”
This series has shown that God’s sovereignty is not justification for choosing wicked leaders nor is it a license to do things that Scripture says is wrong. It has provided a basis for the Christian’s decisions in the Law of God and shown that once the Christian has done his duty according to God’s commands he can rest knowing that God’s plan for history will be fulfilled. It has finally also demonstrated that Christians’ engagement in politics, either by voting or other methods, is not futile because God is sovereign. Man's work is the vehicle God uses to enact His will.
The Christian can vote and engage in political effort with full confidence that his actions have purpose and will bear fruit and then, at day’s end, he can rest from his labor knowing that God is working all things according to the counsel of His will (Ps. 33:8-11 & 135:5-6, Eph. 1:11-12) for the good of those who love Him (Rom. 8:28-39) and for His glory (Is. 43:6-7 & 48:9-11, Matt. 5:16, Rom. 9:17-23 & 11:36, & 1 Peter 2:12; cf 1 Cor. 6:20 & 10:21).