Berean Baptist Church > Blog > Sovereignly Ordained by God

Can we say that all things are sovereignly ordained by God? I am responding to a sentence I read that was written like this: “Because all things in creation are sovereignly ordained by God…” Who wrote the sentence is not important as it pertains to this conversation. How do you answer this question? Clearly, we believe there is a God. And we believe this God is sovereign. So, from those two points, can we conclude that “all things are sovereignly ordained by God?” What’s next? We need to define “ordain.” Merriam-Webster defines ordain as “to establish or order by appointment, decree, or law.” So the question must be: Are all things established or ordered by a divine decree from God? What say you? Wait, wait, that’s not how we answer such a question. Instead, we must ask: Does the Bible teach that all things are established or ordered by divine decree from God? If we ask the question any other way we may go down a road we don’t want to go down. Did God ordain the systematic elimination of six million Jews between 1941 and 1945? Emotionally, it is inconceivable to think of Yahweh ordaining the destruction of those Jews—yet, the same God ordained the destruction of the inhabitants of the Promised Land.

We need to ask: Does the Bible teach all things are ordained by God? Do the Scriptures teach this level of ordination such that we can say “all things”? God ordained that Judas be the betrayer. I think that is very clear. God ordained that His Son be crucified. Peter says it was the predeterminate will of the Father (Acts 2). But does ordaining some things mean ordaining all things? In 1 Thessalonians 2:18, Paul says, “Satan hindered us…” Did God ordain this hindering, or did God permit Satan to hinder Paul? Is there a difference? Yes. Permitting is much different than ordaining. Ordaining makes that one the ultimate causal agent. Permitting does not, but it still shows that God is sovereign. Does God, at times, use Satan like a puppet? Yes. We must declare that there are times when God ordains things that are difficult to wrap our conscience around, but does this mean “all things”? In John 5:40, Jesus says, “you refuse to come to me that you may have eternal life.” You refuse. Is it really refusal if God ordained it? This is hard. In Matthew 23:37, Jesus says, “How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” Is God conflicted? Is He frustrated that He did not ordain what He now desires? Certainly not. The only thing I can conclude is there must be some things that are not ordained by God, or God is the causal agent of their unwillingness to come to Christ. It is impossible for God to be the causal agent of sin.

Could I be wrong? Absolutely. Could it be God sovereignly ordains all things? Yes. But I am not ready to use that language without more clarity from the Bible.