God’s Total Sovereignty Over the Will of Man

In our last article concerning freewill, we dealt with several repudiations of this erroneous doctrine. In this article, we will be dealing with an argument the Arminians have against the total sovereignty of God. Many Christian Churches teach Arminianism today, and thus, it is a very dangerous doctrine for us and our young people, since it is so popular. Saved by Grace by Ronald Cammenga and Ronald Hanko says this concerning Arminians “The principal teaching of Arminianism is that man has a freewill.”[7] Their teaching of freewill is one of the grave dangers of the Arminians, because they say man can accept God by himself. A few denominations that call themselves reformed, that teach the doctrine of Arminianism in some form or another are the United Reformed Church, Christian Reformed Church, and the Canadian Reformed Church. The argument the Arminians pose against the Calvinistic teaching of God’s total sovereignty is that God is sovereign over creation, but man’s will is exempted from that sovereignty. That being said let us take a closer look at this argument.

The first thing that we must notice from this argument is that it is not biblically based. There are many verses in Scripture that clearly state God is in complete control over man’s will. Indeed, examples can be found all over Scripture of God hardening the wicked. For example, God hardened the heart of Pharaoh so that he would not let the people of Israel depart from Egypt. In Exodus 7:3, we read “And I (speaking of God) will harden Pharaoh’s heart.” To point out another example, in Deuteronomy 2:30, we read of how God hardened the heart of Sihon, king of Heshbon. “But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him: for the Lord thy God hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate, that he might deliver him into thy hand, as appeareth this day.” To further prove that God is sovereign over all things, including man’s sin we must look at Isaiah 63:17, “O Lord, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways, and hardened our heart from thy fear? Return for thy servants’ sake, the tribes of thine inheritance.” It is the sovereign will of God working behind man’s sin. That is how sovereign God is! Yet another verse also proves this fact; in Romans 9:18, we read, “Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.” Thus, it is a biblical fact that God is sovereign over creation, contrary to what the man made doctrine of Arminianism teach.

The second thing we must realize is that the doctrine of freewill is not based on the creeds, which we confess and believe. We will first look at what the Belgic Confession says of God’s sovereignty. In Article 13, we read this, “We believe that the same God, after he had created all things, did not forsake them, or give them up to fortune or chance, but that he rules and governs them according to his holy will, so that nothing happens in this world without his appointment.” Nothing can happen in all of creation, including whether or not man can accept God by his own will, without God willing it to happen. Therefore, the Arminians are wrong when they say that man by his own determinate will can accept God. In the Heidelberg Catechism, we also read of how God is sovereign over creation. We find in Lord’s Day 10, Question and Answer 27, that God upholds all, by his divine providence. “What dost thou mean by the providence of God? Answer. The almighty and everywhere present power of God; whereby, as it were by His hand, He upholds and governs heaven, earth, and all creatures; so that herbs and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, meat and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, yea, and all things come, not by chance, but by His fatherly hand.” God is sovereign over all creatures and nothing happens by chance as Lord’s Day 10 states. Therefore, as the Belgic Confession and heidelberg Catechism prove, God is sovereign over all creation and thus, must be sovereign over man’s will as well. From this, we can conclude that the Arminian doctrine of freewill is completely against Scripture and we must cast it off by God’s grace as a dirty rag.

Now there are several objections to the doctrine of God’s complete sovereignty. Some would say, if God is sovereign, he is the author of sin. To those who say this, we must reply biblically; James 1:13 –14, states this, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” Man is tempted by his own sinful nature, but God still sovereignly guides his sin as we stated already above in a preceding paragraph. God does not force man to sin, but he does it by his own sinful nature. Also, we must remember that God is a holy God, knowing no sin. Isaiah 6:3 states this about the holiness of God: “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.” God can do no sin, because he in infinitely holy. Therefore, God is not the author of sin, although he still sovereignly guides man in his sinful deeds.

Another objection to the sovereignty of God is that if God is sovereign, man is not responsible for his sin. This is not true, for when Christ went to the cross it was sovereignly determined by God, but the wicked men who crucified him are responsible for it. We read this in Acts 2:23, which says, “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” The wicked men who crucified Christ are responsible for killing Christ, not God. Also, the apostle Paul deals with this objection in Romans 9: 19 –20, by saying “Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?” This verse clearly proves that God is not responsible for man’s sin, but man is responsible for his own actions. When man sins, he must not blame God for his sin, for he himself is responsible. In addition, God always sovereignly guides the sinner in such a way, so that he is always responsible for his own actions. Therefore, this argument does not stand up to a true analyze of Scripture.

As we have shown in this article, God is totally sovereign, even over man’s will. This is biblically based for God hardens man’s heart. Both the Heidelberg Catechism and Belgic Confession also prove this truth. In addition, we have shown that the objections, which many men would bring up against God’s total sovereignty, are not founded upon the pages of Scripture. Rather, they are just man’s invention. Thus, God is completely sovereign over the whole creation, including man’s will and therefore, we must declare the Arminian doctrine to be a heresy.