Who Is Sovereign?
So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
In the United States of America, there are currently two prevailing thoughts on the idea of person-hood:
- Man has evolved from a primordial ooze brought about by a “big bang” ex nihilo.
- Purpose: to fulfill his own needs and desires as man sees fit
- Man was created in the image of God
- Purpose: to worship God and have relationship with Him
In the first case, many take the position that man just evolved from lower life forms, such as apes. This particular thought process identifies man as the chief architect over his life, goals, desires, motives, and directions. In other words, it establishes that man is sovereign over his own life, and all life. The complete end of accountability is with himself. This is the model of self-focus.
In the second case, others take the position that man was sovereignly created by God for the purposes and pleasure of God. Rather than having any sovereignty of his own, man is charged with stewardship over what God has created. Because of this, man is accountable to God for everything that is done while man is alive. This is the model of other-focus.
This is effectively a question of sovereignty. Is man sovereign, or is God sovereign?
From the perspective of sovereign man, it doesn’t really matter what man does. There is no afterlife, there is no accountability, there is no real purpose in life. Life is meant to be enjoyed, regardless of the outcome, because there is nothing else. This is the natural extension of this particular viewpoint. And as an added bonus to this viewpoint, there are no consequences to be endured after man has ceased to physically be alive. This viewpoint allows for any and all things to be done while alive.
Additionally, it removes responsibility for actions. Since the chief end of man in this perspective is that he will be growing daisies with his decomposing body, he has the full right to extinguish the lives of others. Since there is no inherent value in life, apart from enduring it until one pushes daisies from six feet under ground, man can say that his body is his own to do with whatever he wants. And while certain actions decrease the success of the propagation of the species (such as the choice of a woman to prematurely end the growing process of a child in her womb), the belief is that enough people will want to continue the process of life so that any particular single decision regarding this matter is not significant and does not directly impact society as a whole.
In the other perspective, because of the position that man has in relation to God, there is great impact and accountability with what man does while he is alive. Man has a specific purpose, and that purpose is expected to be fulfilled by God. There is not only responsibility and accountability to someone other than himself, but carries with it the knowledge that there are consequences to these choices beyond the physical life. There is a sense of eternity in this view, and the consequences of life will follow the person into eternity.
Due to the responsibility for their actions, man is held accountable for his views and actions. With regards to person-hood, this reveals itself as a deep respect for all life, and specifically the life of man, as man is an image-bearer of God. The act of depriving another person of life is very serious. This includes life that is growing but has not yet fully developed. Because of eternity, man must pay very careful attention to how he conducts his life and affairs, knowing that these things will follow him into eternity.
These boil down to a question: Is there life after death (eternity), or is there just death? Is there a God, or isn’t there a God? If there is a God, and man believes otherwise, he is in for a rude surprise once he physically dies. If there is no God, nothing matters, and man can act in any way that he desires (regardless of his desire to act in any particular way, either in partnership with others or in opposition to others):
- The strong can rule over the weak with impunity
- Retaliation is not only allowed but should be encouraged to extend the natural life of man, as laws would only be a false construct of man to control the behavior of others
- Anarchy and emotion will rule over man
- Reason will have no part in deciding whether or not to act in a particular way, as life is over when you die anyway.
- Buy bigger guns – you will need them to fend off the people around you as they seek to acquire your resources and force you to do their bidding
This is not to say that this viewpoint precludes people from acting morally. It is just that since there are no consequences for actions after death, there is no driving reason to do so. And once a situation arises that places the person’s self interests into direct conflict with the interests of others, the average person will choose their own interests (self-preservation) over the interests of others.
If there is a God, and we are accountable for everything we think, say, and do, we had better be ready to give an accounting for what we have done with the life that has been graciously given to us, and face any consequences that our thoughts, words, and deeds may carry into eternity.
The choice is yours. Choose wisely.
A Qualifying Question
Let’s ask a question: Regardless of what we say publicly, do we believe that God is sovereign, or that we are sovereign?
A short prayer of preparation:
Father in Heaven, help me to have a perspective that sees You as my provider, protector, and instructor. Guide me in every way I should go. Help me to see how my actions will affect myself, others, and You. Place within me a desire to see from Your perspective. Guard my heart as I am bombarded with ideas and beliefs that directly or subtly contradict Your word. Help me to have a Kingdom perspective of Your sovereignty and my role as Your child. This I ask in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?