Is God sovereign? That’s a no brainer to answer but the difficulty comes in when we define the nature and extent of it. Some believe that if God is not in direct control of every aspect of life that he is not sovereign at all. Others believe that God’s sovereignty doesn’t need to control every aspect of life to achieve its ends.
How you view God’s ultimate purpose in creating mankind will likely color your answer. If you believe that God created the world and humans to bring glory to himself, then it’s easy to see why he would want to control every aspect of our lives and leave nothing to chance.
If you see God’s ultimate purpose was to give himself to human kind so as to enter into a relationship with him, then you are more likely to see God as providing some room for true freedom to make choices.
Without getting into the philosophical nature of choices if they are free if God knows what we will do beforehand, let’s look at a couple of examples in the Bible if we can see some clues as to the answer.
The first clue comes in creation. God creates this wonderful world and garden and then creates man without a woman. Then God remarks that it is not good for man to be alone which is unusual. With all the rest of creation God puts into place methods of procreation but not man.
The first thing that God says about himself is that he is plural. There is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit that exists in a beautiful, uniquely harmonious relationship that they have been enjoying for eternity. God does not exist outside this relationship. Thus in making man alone, man realizes that he is alone and needs a counterpart. The most beautiful garden and easiest life is nothing if not shared. So God makes woman by taking a part of man.
Even in giving life to man, God breathes life into Adam which is unique from what he did to the other living things. God gives something of himself to be in relationship with man. Man gives something of himself to be in relationship to the woman and his first words upon seeing Eve reflect that:
The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”
Next we see that daily, God would walk with man during the cooler hours. We don’t know what this was actually like but it reflects a growing, loving relationship where man got to know God not as an source of information but as a friend.
Did Adam glorify God by acknowledging his greatness? There is not doubt as God unfolded things to Adam and Eve that they would have done so. Worship flows naturally from those who know God.
But God’s desire wasn’t for Adam to hold worship services but to know God and spend time with him. Even God’s command to them did not include worship or a demand for glory. In fact, God told them to be fruitful and multiply. He wanted more people to enter into a relationship with.
When God created the tree of knowledge of both good and evil, God gave man a choice because no relationship is valid unless freely entered.
Thus God’s sovereign purpose in creating mankind was to have a relationship with him and give God an opportunity to give of himself to us. That is the pleasure of God. The 100% giving of self is also reflected in the trinity.
Since God must always act in accordance with his nature and character, the freedom to choose and enter into relationships flows from who God is. Thus God’s sovereignty makes room for us to freely make decisions so that his sovereign purposes can be accomplished.