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God’s Sovereignty: Faith or Fatalism (Acts 23)
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2012
Posted by: Eureka Primitive Baptist Church | more..
450+ views | 40+ clicks
Does the penetrating knowledge that God knows and controls the future lead to a fatalistic worldview; a worldview where one’s actions and decisions are disregarded and thought to be irrelevant? Unfortunately, there are philosophies, ideologies and religions that would answer in the affirmative, agreeing that God’s sovereignty renders the decisions and actions of men void of any importance.

The religion of Islam is fatalistic, believing that all events that occur, good and evil, are according to Allah’s predetermination: “Say: ‘Nothing will befall us except what God has ordained’” (Sura 9:51).

Fringe groups and certain sectarian branches of Christianity have also misunderstood and abused God’s sovereignty so as to denounce the “liberty or contingency of second causes.” In this erroneous view of Christianity, prayer, evangelism, obedience, etc. is unimportant and unnecessary.

No one believed and trusted in the sovereign rule of God over creation more than Paul the Apostle. However, Paul’s belief in God’s sovereignty did not make Paul see life fatalistically, as if God had no purpose or delight to work through human decisions and actions.

For example, in Acts 23 Paul is incarcerated in Jerusalem for preaching the gospel. But God reveals to Paul that he will testify of the Lord, not only in Jerusalem, but at Rome in the future (Acts 23:11). For Paul, this message was to comfort him in knowing that his life would be protected from the Jewish leaders who desired his ultimate demise.

Later in the chapter, however, Paul’s nephew overhears of a plan by a group of zealots to assassinate Paul. More than forty persons vowed neither to eat nor drink until they had killed Paul. Once Paul is informed of the treacherous plot, he sends his nephew to expose the murderous scheme to a chief captain in the Roman army. The captain then acts to accordingly to protect Paul from the conspiracy of the Jews and Paul is delivered from death. God, true to his word, delivered Paul, but God delivered him through the actions and efforts of men.

As we observe Paul’s faith in God and His sovereign control, he was not lead to act indifferently or stoical to the situation. Paul pursued a course whereby he might be delivered from death. He acted with purpose in light of God’s purposes. As Christians we believe that God is sovereign and He declares “the end from the beginning and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” (Isa. 46:10).

In light of God’s sovereignty, we respond obediently with faith to life’s difficulties with the encouragement that a sovereign God often works through our will and actions in accomplishing His will. We do not simply wait to see which way the cookie crumbles, but humbly walk and respond in faith to God revealed word and remain encouraged that God is ultimately over all.

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