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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Monday, 24 October 2016

James 4:13-17 – The sovereignty of God

James reminds his readers that instead of bluntly stating their own preferences about the future they should remember that the Lord is sovereign over every area of life. As we know, the Bible mentions two different wills of God – there is his revealed will and there is his secret will.

His revealed will is stated in the Bible and it covers a wide variety of things. With regard to the future, he has told us that he intends to bring into existence a new heavens and new earth. Or we can describe the gospel offer as part of his revealed will. And then there are the various commandments he has given for us to obey.

His secret will is concerned with what he has not told us and which he will not tell us. No creature knows the contents of God’s secret will, not even the angels. If they did know, it would not be a secret. This secret will of God includes everything that occurs from the micro to the macro. Every blink of an eye that occurred today was according to God’s secret will. If I decide not to blink for the next three minutes, it is my free choice, but in the process I will have done God’s secret will. This should be very comforting if God is for us because it means that we cannot ever be outside the secret will of God.

People may think this is very unfair, but we operate on this method all the time. Recently I flew on a plane. The airline operated a revealed will with me and gave me instructions on what to do regarding bookings, food, what I could carry and so on. It also had a secret will, the details of which it did not share with me. Was the airline being unfair because it did not tell me the state of the plane, the age of the pilot, the provider of the food, the precise state of the weather every two miles and so on? Did the fact that it did not tell me make me suspicious that it was working against me? Of course not. I assumed that they wanted good for their passengers, whether it was their revealed will or their secret will.


When we think of God’s revealed will and his secret will, we are to remember that in both he works for his own glory and in both he reveals his goodness, his justice, his power and his wisdom. Normally, if I obey his revealed will, I will discover the benefits he has promised and which he brings about through his secret will. If I disobey his revealed will, I will discover the punishments that he will bring about through his secret will.

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