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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Sovereignty and Evangelism

It has been suggested that God is ... mostly sovereign. It has been argued that He sovereignly surrendered His sovereignty to Man's Free Will. It has even been suggested that, as such, now He's ... well ... kind of stuck with it. A friendly commenter here has argued that God does not work all things after the counsel of His will. A well-known apologist argued "God has to play the hand He has been dealt." A well-known professor of theology argued that God is in some sense dependent on His creation. A famous pastor and professor of theology claimed that everything does not happen for a reason, but some evil is random and God cannot or will not interfere. All of these add up to a sovereign not-sovereign. If you're paying attention, that's what's known in Aristotelian logic as a logical contradiction.

So what? What if God did surrender His will to His creation, at least to some extent? What would it matter?

I was thinking about this in church on Sunday because the pastor was preaching a missions sermon. Where would he go? Well, the Great Commission, of course. There we read,
"All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matt 28:18-20)
Now there's a lot to go over here. "As you are going" is the beginning of the commission. Go do it. Do it as you go. Wherever you are, do it. "Make disciples." Not "converts". "Disciples." Genuine followers of Christ. "Of all nations." Not a small task. From every people group on the planet. "Teaching them ..." Again, not converts, disciples. These disciples are to be taught. And not some -- "all that I commanded you." Everything. A lot there. In fact, if you ask me, too much.

This is why the previous statement is so important. "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth." Not some. Not local. Not just "heaven" or "earth". All authority. All authority everywhere. This has a two-fold impact. First, "Go and do all that I've just told you because I said so." He has the authority. He is Lord. We must obey. But the other side is equally important. "Since I have all authority, I have the authority to enable you to pull it off." Now that's a good thing. Because that's a tall order. But, hey, if Christ has all authority, we ought to act on it and we can do so with confidence because He has all authority. We can't fail. There can be no obstructions. As God sends, we can go with confidence, knowing that He will accomplish through us what He intends to accomplish because He has all authority.

Or ... does He? You see, if God is a sovereign non-sovereign, a dependent God on His creation, forced to play the hand He has been dealt, enduring random evil outside of His control, well, then, can we truly believe that "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth"? Because apparently it hasn't.

That was the question. "So what? What if God did surrender His will to His creation, at least to some extent? What would it matter?" Well, for starters, you'd be obeying a command too big to accomplish with no reason to expect success. Evangelism would be a hit-or-miss proposition. Sometimes God could pull it off; sometimes you'd miss out because of random evil. Of course, the good news isn't quite as good as we'd like when the Savior was wrong, though, is it? So there's that, too.

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