The Permission Seeking God

At every stage of life, we each know the annoying nature of having to ask permission from a higher authority. As a child, we longed for the days when we could eat as many cookies whenever we wanted, ignite fireworks in the most confined of places, and entertain ourselves with whatever mediums that suited our fancy. Those pesky parents were regularly serving as annoying guardrails as they reminded us they could care less about what Johnny’s parents let him do because they weren’t Johnny’s parents. We dreamt of a day in which we would no longer have to succumb to needing anyone’s permission. As we grew older, we realized that requiring a permit to meet our desires never went away. The teachers threatened detention, the police officers decelerated our pace, the government indulged upon our paychecks, and the boss expected punctuality. Even as we progressed through life, we realized that someone is always keeping us in check at every level. The boss always has a boss. Even if it is a board of trustees holding a long leash, at some point, every head honcho can be called into question by some governing authority. The president himself can even be vetoed by a conglomeration of senators whom he bested in the primaries and general election. If the president himself can be called into question, who is immune from such scrutiny?

For many of us, we don’t even think God is immune. When you listen to us speak of God, we often characterize him as needing our permission. When confronted with a situation that we dislike, we either question the will of God or use the devil as a scapegoat. When facing a moral crisis in our culture, we blame the lack of voter turnout for the current direction of an administration. When our theological biases are challenged, we avoid certain verses of Scripture and base our positions on our feelings. God couldn’t be like “that.” Why? Because a God like that doesn’t meet our expectations. We speak as if God is awaiting our approval. In essence, our resentful opposition to his methods indicates that we believe we deserve the right to make the call more than God does. Our displeasure in his actions makes a passive-aggressive case for our own sovereignty over the Sovereign God.

God is not seeking our permission. God is sovereign.

The Sovereignty of God

Out of all the attributes, I do not believe one is as hotly-contested as God’s sovereignty. We were taught as children that the whole world is in God’s hands, and we each believe that to some extent. How he exerts his control is what divides the Church into some of the most warring factions present throughout religious history. Believers all hold that God is in control but by how much?

The sovereignty of God means that God has the sole authority to have complete control over the universe.

Jesus possesses all power in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18), and no one on earth has access to a fraction of it unless God wills it (Rom. 13:1). He is utterly unique in his claim to authority. He has asked permission from no one, and no one can strip him of it. That authority provides him complete control over all creation. If there is anything that is beyond his control, that will prove he is not God. The entity able to escape the grasp of this God would actually steal the title away with such a blatant usurpation.  

God’s sovereignty guarantees that his agenda will go through regardless of our decisions.

You and I can get it together and join his cause or be left in the dust. His plan isn’t dependent upon a revolutionary band of willing participants. He is not antsy about the outcome. God is entirely sovereign over creation. He rules over all (1 Chr. 29:11), and no purpose of his can be thwarted (Job 42:2). “The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all” (Ps. 103:19). The LORD does whatever he pleases in heaven and on earth (Ps. 135:6). God is the one who holds our very breath (Dan. 5:23), and you can guarantee that not a single inhale or exhale takes place without his provision.

God is uniquely sovereign over history. While the constant ebb and flow of mankind’s advances and setbacks never cease to baffle us, God maintains the charted course without once being surprised at the developments. “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, ‘What have you done?’” (Dan. 4:35). God can turn even the king’s heart whichever way he so desires (Prov. 21:1). God’s throne trumps every other throne as he positions all into and removes all from authority (Rom. 13:1). It is essential for us all to know “that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men” (Dan. 4:17).