Steve Sewell, “Get God’s Character Right, You’ll Get His Sovereignty Right”

, posted by Steve Sewell

Get God’s character right, and you’ll get His sovereignty right. God’s character defines His sovereignty, not the other way around.

What separates Calvinists and Arminians, primarily, is our view of God. Calvinists are determinists. There are two groups. One group attempts to harmonize God’s holy and sinless character with their deterministic position. They try — in some way — to reconcile God’s holy character with His predetermined script of all things, including all sin and evil. They attempt to explain how a sinless God can ordain all things and bring to pass all things without Him committing sin Himself. This group is known as compatibilists, or soft-determinists.

The other group makes no attempt to harmonize God’s holy character with their determinist position. They make no bones about their belief that God governs in a manner that makes Him the direct cause of everything that goes on in the world, including all the sin and evil that man commits. They don’t believe that man has a free will, and so everything that happens is preordained by God and carried out by God. They basically believe that whatever God does is good and just and right, no matter what He does. For this group, God’s holy and sinless character has no bearing on how they view God’s sovereignty. This group is known as hard-determinists.

Arminians, on the other hand, believe that everything God does is according to His holy and sinless character. We believe that because He is holy and sinless and pure and righteous and just and good and merciful, etc., there is no possible way that He can be the cause of sin — either directly or indirectly.

Arminians agree that God is absolutely sovereign, that He governs this universe with supreme authority. However, because of who He is, because of His inherent holiness and goodness and hatred for sin, it’s not possible for Him to be the cause of the sinful thoughts and sinful acts of men. Calvinists can try to explain this in any way they want to, but there’s positively no way that a holy and sinless God can be the originator and implementer of sin and evil without Himself being sinful and evil. The two are not compatible, no matter how hard Calvinists try to make it so. In my opinion, there is no greater deception among God’s people than this viewpoint of God.

In order to have a proper viewpoint of God’s sovereignty, we must start with God’s holy character — His Divine attributes. It’s God’s character that defines His sovereignty. Calvinists have it backwards. Since they begin with a particular view of God’s sovereignty, they’re forced to figure out a way to bring His attributes into harmony with it. But again, no matter how they try to explain it, in the end, it still makes God the planner and implementer of all sin and evil.

Calvinists know that we’re instructed as Christians to live holy and righteous lives before Him. They know that God has commanded us to be holy as He is holy (1 Pe 1:15-16). Yet they have a view of God’s sovereignty that has Him orchestrating all the events of the world according to a predetermined plan — which includes each and every sin and evil act. They don’t believe anything occurs that is not by the hand of God.

Do you not see a serious inconsistency between how Calvinists view God and what He requires of us as followers of Christ? If the Calvinist view of God is correct, why wouldn’t being holy as God is holy include our personal involvement in bringing sin and evil to pass? Our character is to be a reflection of His character. How can we reflect God’s holy character on the one hand, while attributing the sin of the world to Him, on the other? Do you not see how senseless and appalling this view of God is?

The wise way to understand and view God’s sovereignty is through the lens of His glorious attributes. We must begin and end with the pure, inherent qualities that makes God who He is. We must view everything through His glorious character. We may not understand how God governs this universe; we may not understand how He carries out His plan for this world; but that’s really not for us to figure out. Our responsibility is to recognize God for who He is in all of His Divine attributes and to realize that it’s not possible for Him to do anything that would violate or contradict those attributes. If we have a viewpoint of God that has Him working against Himself then we know that our viewpoint is wrong.

Our primary purpose as followers of Christ, as His representatives, is to bring glory to God. We do that, first all, by presenting an accurate picture of God, both by description and by our lives. We’re to be passionate about it! This world is full of false gods, but we as Christians have the true and living God. Thus we must be careful to present an accurate picture of the God we worship. We’re to stand against all misrepresentations of God and His character, and speak the truth about it. When it comes to interpreting God’s Word, we must begin with God and His attributes. Everything in the Bible must be viewed and interpreted in light of what we know to be true of God Himself. Once we lose sight of that, misinterpretation of God’s Word is inevitable.

It doesn’t matter if we can’t figure out how God carries out His plan for the world. It doesn’t matter if we can’t fully explain certain scriptures about God and His sovereignty. There are many things about Himself that God has chosen not to reveal. What does matter is that we don’t attribute the sin of this world to God — not in any way, shape or form. What does matter is that we refuse to support any theology that presents our Lord and King in the inconsistent and shocking manner that Calvinism does. What does matter is that we become passionate defenders of truth, and that includes the holy and just character of God.

Calvinists believe that if man had a free will, then God would be limited by it. What is limited is the Calvinist view of God. Mighty is our God who is able to fulfill His plan for this world within the framework of man’s free will. Man’s free will doesn’t limit God, it reveals how powerfully sovereign He really is. That’s the Arminian position.

The foundation of Calvinist theology is the sovereignty of God. If the foundation of any structure is faulty, the whole structure will collapse. Therefore Calvinism must be false because it’s built upon a faulty view of God’s sovereignty. I implore you to reject this view of God! Embrace the holy and pure character of God, and interpret all truth through that lens. Or, more precisely, interpret God’s Word through the lens of God’s character and the truth will present itself.

It’s my conviction that the greatest sin that we can commit as Christians is to attribute sin and evil to the Holy God we profess to know and represent. Those who do will surely give an account for it. Christians, we need to listen to the voice of wisdom. We need to listen to the voice of reason. We need to listen to the voice of truth.

Get God’s character right, and you’ll get His sovereignty right. God’s character defines His sovereignty, not the other way around.

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Get God’s Character Right, You’ll Get His Sovereignty Right