• Brian O'Kelly

18 - Does God Intervene in the World?


18 – God’s Sovereignty vs Man’s Responsibility (Part 3)

Does God Intervene in the World?

1. God's sovereignty over rulers

1.1. He can raise up or depose rulers

1.1.1. Dan. 2:21 And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings;

1.1.2. Dan. 4:17 In order that the living may know That the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, Gives it to whomever He will, And sets over it the lowest of men.’

1.2. Can direct their decisions


1.2.1. Pr. 21:1 The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.

1.2.2. Ex. 4:21 And the Lord said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do all those wonders before Pharaoh which I have put in your hand. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.


1.2.3. Rev. 17:16-17 And the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire. 17 For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled.

1.3. Though God can and often does direct rulers, He is not the author of every political development

1.3.1. Hos.8:4 “They set up kings, but not by Me; They made princes, but I did not acknowledge them.

1.4. nor does he approve every decision of rulers, though He remains sovereign over the ultimate outcome of events

1.4.1.1. Isa.54:15 If anyone does attack you, it will not be my doing; whoever attacks you will surrender to you.

1.4.1.2. Isa 37:36 Then the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies!

1.4.1.3. Ps.46:6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

2. God's rule over particular circumstances

2.1. He governs the elements of nature

2.1.1. Mark 4:41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

2.2. He can and sometimes does thwart plots of evil men

2.2.1. Ps.21:11 Though they plot evil against you and devise wicked schemes, they cannot succeed.

2.2.2. Acts 23:14 They went to the chief priests and the elders and said, “We have taken a solemn oath not to eat anything until we have killed Paul.

2.3. He turns evil acts to good purposes

2.3.1. Gen.50:20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

2.3.2. Ps. 76:10 Surely your wrath against mankind brings you praise, and the survivors of your wrath are restrained.

3. God's particular rule in the lives of believers

3.1. By giving commands

3.1.1. John 8:31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.

3.1.2. Matt.28:19-20 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

3.2. By inward direction

3.2.1. Phil.2:13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

3.2.2. Jer.31:33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.

3.2.3. Rom.8:14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.

3.3. By providences

3.3.1. I Cor.16:9 because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.

3.4. By chastening

3.4.1. I Cor.11:32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.

3.4.2. Heb.12:7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?

4. God's "drawing" of sinners

4.1. God's desire for all to be saved

4.1.1. He died for all

4.1.1.1. I John 2:2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

4.1.1.2. I Tim.2:6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.

4.1.1.3. 1 Tim 4:10 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.

4.1.2. All are called to repent

4.1.2.1. Acts 2:38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit

4.1.2.2. Acts 17:30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.

4.1.3. He desires that all would repent

4.1.3.1. II Pet.3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward [c]us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

4.1.3.2. Ezek.33:11 Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’

4.1.3.3. I Tim.2:4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

4.2. How God draws sinners

4.2.1. John 6:44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.

4.2.2. By display of grace

4.2.2.1. Ps.145:9 The Lord is good to all, And His tender mercies are over all His works.

4.2.2.2. Matt.5:45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

4.2.2.3. Rom.2:4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

4.2.3. By manifestation of truth

4.2.3.1. Rom. 1:19-20 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,

4.2.3.2. II Cor.4:2 But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.

4.2.4. By conviction of sin

4.2.4.1. John 16:8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

4.2.4.2. Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

4.2.4.3. Acts 7:54 When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth.

4.2.5. By appeal to man's self-interest

4.2.5.1. Persuasion

4.2.5.1.1. Acts 2:40 And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this [l]perverse generation.”

4.2.5.1.2. Ezek.33:11 Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’

4.2.5.1.3. Luke 13:3 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.

4.2.5.1.4. Acts 9:5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”

4.2.5.2. Pressure of circumstance (Jonah/Prodigal Son)

4.2.6. By Encouraging a "godly sorrow"

4.2.6.1. II Cor.7:10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

4.2.6.2. Acts 11:18 When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”

4.2.6.3. II Tim.2:25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth,

4.2.7. Helping a willing but weak faith

4.2.7.1. Mark 9:24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

5. Man's resistance of God's rule

5.1. God draws animals irresistibly, which is a major difference between men and beasts

5.1.1. Jer.8:7 “Even the stork in the heavens Knows her appointed times; And the turtledove, the swift, and the swallow Observe the time of their coming. But My people do not know the judgment of the Lord.

5.1.2. Isa.1:2-3 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! For the Lord has spoken: “I have nourished and brought up children, And they have rebelled against Me; 3 The ox knows its owner And the donkey its master’s crib; But Israel does not know, My people do not consider.”

5.2. Those "given" Christ by the Father came to Jesus

5.2.1. John 6:37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will [f]by no means cast out.

5.3. However, they were already those who were God's faithful prior to Christ's coming

5.3.1. John 17:6 “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.

5.4. and were capable of falling away

5.4.1. John 17:12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

5.5. God's predestination did not determine man's choices, but the consequences of man's choices

5.5.1. Isa. 65:12 Therefore I will number you for the sword, And you shall all bow down to the slaughter; Because, when I called, you did not answer; When I spoke, you did not hear, But did evil before My eyes, And chose that in which I do not delight.”

5.5.2. Isa. 66:3-4 “He who kills a bull is as if he slays a man; He who sacrifices a lamb, as if he breaks a dog’s neck; He who offers a grain offering as if he offers swine’s blood; He who burns incense, as if he blesses an idol. Just as they have chosen their own ways, And their soul delights in their abominations, 4 So will I choose their delusions, And bring their fears on them; Because, when I called, no one answered, When I spoke they did not hear; But they did evil before My eyes, And chose that in which I do not delight.”

5.5.3. Jude 4 For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

5.5.4. I Pet.2:8 “A stone of stumbling And a rock of offense.” They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.

5.5.5. Rom.8:29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

5.5.6. Eph.1:5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,

5.6. Inequality of result is man's doing, not God's

5.6.1. Ezek.18:25 “Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair.’ Hear now, O house of Israel, is it not My way which is fair, and your ways which are not fair?

5.7. Man resists God's sovereignty to his own hurt, but does so nonetheless

5.7.1. Prov.1: 24-25 Because I have called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded, 25 Because you disdained all my counsel, And would have none of my rebuke,

5.7.2. Prov. 1:29 Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the Lord,

5.7.3. Isa.65:12 Therefore I will number you for the sword, And you shall all bow down to the slaughter; Because, when I called, you did not answer; When I spoke, you did not hear, But did evil before My eyes, And chose that in which I do not delight.”

5.7.4. Jer.32:33 And they have turned to Me the back, and not the face; though I taught them, rising up early and teaching them, yet they have not listened to receive instruction.

5.7.5. Luke 7:30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.

5.7.6. Matt.22:3 and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come.

5.7.7. Matt 23:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!

5.7.8. Acts 7:51 “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.