Sunday, 17 November 2013




 There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD. 

Many people - probably all of us  - often come to the Bible presupposing that it is a difficult Book to understand. While the Book itself does admit that there are some things hard to be understood (2 Peter 3:16) yet it does not say either "all things" or "impossible to be understood." Any difficulties/Bible must be viewed as hurdles to be overcome rather than excuses to stay away. Difficulties/Bible are there to drive us to God in prayer, pleading that the Spirit/God will graciously lighten/eyes: the truth God is seeking to communicate to us. It will greatly reduce this sense/difficulty though when we learn some very fundamental principles in Bible interpretation.

These are not merely rules of Bible interpretation - hermeneutics - which are many (AW Pink lists 30 in his great book on the subject) but vital principles which can never be violated. You cannot rightly understand a passage/scripture if you take a passage/verse and put a rendering upon it which denies/contradicts any of these principles. We are going to look at a few of them over the next few Bible studies. Easily remembered and ought always be applied.
[i] God is always sovereign
[ii] Man is always responsible (Coming soon)
[iii] Bible is always right (Coming soon)
[iv] Judge/all the earth always does right (Coming soon)
[v] Flesh always profits nothing(Coming soon)
[vii] To be spiritually minded: always life & peace. (Coming soon)

Today's unchangeable principle : GOD IS ALWAYS SOVEREIGN

No new thought to us as Calvinists.
No real difficulty grasping/truth.
Do not deny it/play it down. 

I have preached other occasions on some of its proof texts, so this is may be old ground again, but we cannot propose a series like this one and  not merely forgo mentioning this truth or even have it stand at the first/greatest principle to observe.

If we cannot exhaust this subject in many sermons, then we will hardly do so in 1 sermon, so there are here just a few very basic thoughts to establish the principle. 
3 thoughts:


A/ What do we mean by the Sovereignty/God?
Put into God's mouth the words of the man/parable: Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? (Matthew 20:15)
Not despotism of an monster on the loose who delights/absolute tyranny etc., but the Greek word despot is used (2 Peter 2:1) denoting One who has absolute sway without regard to the thoughts/decisions of any other being in the entire Universe.
His will extends over all His creatures whether they are happy with the thought or not.
Extends over 3 periods/time: Past/present/future and over 3 sphere's existence: Heaven/earth & hell.
It extends over everything ever thought/spoken/done.
There are no God free zones. God's fingerprints are everywhere, in every incident which ever comes to pass.

Next week's study brings another principle into play (man's responsibility) but these two truths must not be merely stated together but be seen to harmonise.

B/ Why is God sovereign? Because He cannot be anything else.
Being King/Universe is not what God does. It is what God is.
To be anything else/less would mean that He is not God. Part/His Being. 
If any could stay His hand (Daniel 4:35) or resist His will (Romans 9:19) or frustrate His purposes (Isaiah 14:27) then there is no God which is the claim of atheism. 
A Supreme Being must be supreme!

C/ God has not and cannot limit His sovereignty in any way.
Such would be to deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13)
Man's responsibility cannot infringe on God's sovereignty.
To interpret man's responsibility as man acting totally independently of God leads to a shared sovereignty and makes man as God (Satan's lie: Genesis 3:4)

D/ So this truth of Divine Sovereignty is a basic Bible truth.
It is stamped on every last page/Bible.
Whenever something is thought or said or done even by the most wicked beings - even the very demons/hell - observe the sovereignty of God who ordained the event and yet kept Himself pure from any defilement in it.


A/ We have it openly declared in clear statements/doctrine.
Already referred to this but note the clear references: Daniel 4:35/Romans 9:19/Isaiah 14:27/Ephesians 1:11/Proverbs 21:1 and Proverbs 21:30 etc., Fundamental verses.
Look at this last verse (Proverbs 21:30)
 Interpret any passage and conclude: there is wisdom or understanding or counsel against the Lord, and what have you done?
In effect: Made God a liar. Contradicted: Spirit/Truth who inspired the writers/Bible.
Put your own thoughts above those of Him who knows everything.
Placed crown/Deity upon your own brow! 
These verses are pivotal for correct understanding.

B/ Bible often acknowledges the sovereignty/God in individual passages.
At times, you really do need to be blind to miss it.
Read phrases like the following: 
The Lord stirred up both for good (Haggai 1:14) & evil (1 Kings 11:14)
He turned their heart to hate his people (Psalm 105:25)
Does not soften the blow to say that God gave them permission.
True, yet such permission could have been withheld: He suffered no man to do them any wrong (105:14)
Either way: 100% based on His sovereign will.

C/ Let's stay with Proverbs 21:30 again. Key verse.
Aptly sums up the whole position.
I see in the Bible 2 times (at least) where either the word "determined" or "counsel against the Lord" is used.

At once, this seems to challenge Proverbs 21:30 where there is said to be no such thing.
What do I do? Ans:- immediately reconcile the two. God cannot contradict Himself:

[i]  In Acts 3:13 [God] hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go.  
See what efforts Pilate made to carry out his desires. Knew the issues. 
But there is another determining factor and it is greater than his. 
Luke 22:22 Truly the Son/Man goeth, as it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed! 
Determined by who? Ans:- God Himself.
What did Judas in the wickedness of own his heart do? 
Ans:- Whatsoever thy [God's] hand and thy [God's] counsel determined before to be done. (Acts 4:28) 
Same thought: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: (Acts 2:23) 
A sovereign God succeeds where man fails. 
Indeed a sovereign God actually uses the rebel to fulfil His sovereign purposes and hence the claim/Proverbs 21:30

[ii] Again in Psalm 2:1 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed.  
Here is strictly speaking counsel against the LORD. 
But does it succeed? 
Judge from the laughter/God (v4) that its chances/succeeding weren't very good and again they were only fulfilling the will/God as Acts 4:25-30 amply proves. 

D/ Sometimes events happen in the Bible and there are no clear markers as in other occasions.
Indeed the emphasis may be upon man's responsibility and free moral agency.
A change/emphasis is a different thing to a contradiction.
Absence of repentance in the advice in Acts 16:30-31 does not mean it was not there.
God's name is not mentioned once in whole Book/Esther, yet see how many "coincidences" dovetail with stunning precision and  try to tell me that God was not in sovereign control.

E/ Proverbs 21:30 still stands firm. 
From God, through God and to God are all things (Romans 11:36) 
Good deeds or bad etc.


A/ Although it takes greater faith to be an atheist or a denier of the Sovereignty/God yet at times (especially when the going really gets tough) we must accept it by faith. 
The fact is clear: The why? (or the Why me?) not so clear.

B/ We do not have full access to all the information here/now.
Why not? Not able to bear it (John 16:12)
Must content ourselves now to know that even the most appalling of things if they happen to us were ordained/God. 
For us to say as Jesus said: Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight. (Matthew 11:26) 
We may know now that whatever it is, if we love God & are called according/His purpose, then it is working together for our good. (Romans 8:28)
God has a recipe and in that recipe some bitter herbs are necessary ingredients.
We may rest assured though, that He does give grace for every trial which He sends in our direction and we are the better for it: Good for me that I have been afflicted. (Psalm 119:71)

C/ The Lord Jesus gave us a great promise to hold unto:
What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. (John 13:7) 
Doesn't that sound like One who is perfect control of all things?
Not a politician's bluff - but the Sovereign God reassuring us that all is safely and eternally under His sovereign control.
You cannot interpret/Bible correctly and deny this great awe inspiring truth. 

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