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THEOLOGY > God > Providence > Knowledge of Sovereignty 


KNOWLEDGE OF SOVEREIGNTY

Knowledge of Sovereignty arises from the Creation around us and the Creator above us. The initial knowledge is elementary, and imperfect in the sense that it cannot be comprehended properly; the fuller knowledge is revelatory, illuminating, convincing, and undeniable.

Information communicated by Creation impresses the onlooker and thinker with a God-concept, even with a rudimentary impression of the type of God who is, but profound insight and understanding of Divine Sovereignty flows from an experience of grace coupled with the Revelation of Scripture. Merely from an observation and consideration of the natural world it is impossible to arrive at an accurate understanding of Sovereignty as taught in the Scriptures.

THE CREATION AROUND US

Creation speaks of Sovereignty (Providence is the exercise by God of His Sovereignty) because God has not left Himself without a witness in His Creation.  Scripture attests to this: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Ps. 19:1); the psalmist adds that each day and each night are speaking and revealing knowledge (v. 2), and there is no place where these combined voices are not heard (v. 3). Thus, Creation preaches of God, and the constant message is heard by all the inhabitants of earth. So, a God-concept is communicated to man every day and night by that which surrounds him, and the communication cannot be avoided because of its pervasiveness.

According to Paul in Romans God's “eternal power and Godhead” are “clearly seen,” meaning that the visible provides insight into the Invisible—Creation affirms the Creator and in part teaches about the Creator—so man is “without excuse” (1:20). An impression of the God who is and the type of God who exists is communicated to man by every facet of the Cosmos. It is a communication of information, and the information informs of the fact of God and also something of the nature of God.

But that which is communicated by nature, is always corrupted by the sinful state of man’s thinking. Since Eden man’s cognitive process has been impacted by the state of sin which was imputed to the race because Adam ate what was forbidden, so all thinking is defective. Within man does not reside the capability to interpret correctly and fully that which is communicated to him from the outside. Information comes to man from the Creation around him but its impact is lost because the information is not processed in such a manner so that man realizes and correctly utilizes its message. Man reflects upon what he receives, but the reflection is flawed.

Man has knowledge of God but because of man’s sinful mind the knowledge is suppressed in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18), resulting in futile thoughts and darkened hearts (Rom. 1:21). Reflecting this flawed thinking, the glory of God is transferred from “the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man” (Rom. 1:23). Substitution is continually being made: man makes a god in his own image or in the image of some part of the creation that is around him. Instead of God and his glory being the center of man’s thinking, man deifies himself and aspects of nature, producing gods of stone or wood; to these he bows down—the gods that man has made become the god of man. Even homage may be given to Mother Earth. Thus, man cannot arrive at a true understanding of God and His Sovereignty from reflecting on nature, especially when his reflecting culminates in worship of nature.

While man does not have full knowledge of God, he does have simple knowledge of Deity communicated to him from what surrounds him. Within man is the abiding conviction that there is Someone who is greater than him and also that that Someone is in control of all things. In other words, there is the notion that some type of God exists and that in some fashion the is Sovereign. Natural man speaks of a sort of providence without understanding the Sovereignty of the Scriptural teaching. All cultures have religion.

THE CREATOR ABOVE US

Man needs a normative guide outside of himself because within him there is not the capacity to think correctly about what is around him. It is not that the surrounding message is flawed but that man is flawed. He reflects, but his thinking is malfunctioning.

There is the need of a fuller and more compelling revelation—a Revelation that is not mediated through nature and necessitates man’s comprehension of nature but one that is directly from God, an infallible Word that cannot be refuted or denied but must be believed, and a Word that is explained to man by the working of grace and a Word that brings life to the mind.

Transformation of the mind is essential and can only be accomplished by the Divine work of grace, which is a gift that comes with compelling dunamis. Understanding must be imparted so that one can see Creation and understand Creation, not as a natural man but as a spiritual man. Man needs regeneration in order that the mind may be illuminated; in fact, until there is regeneration there is no illumination. In order for Creation to be understood, the Creator must renew the mind and grant understanding to the mind of the believer.

The Creator’s grace enables one to grasp the revealed Scriptures, revealed and given to man so that man will have an infallible knowledge. In the Scriptures, and only in the Scriptures, one learns and is taught the Sovereignty of God, and it is only by grace and because of grace that the individual can be embraced by the Truth of Sovereignty.

From this new comprehension of Sovereignty, the believer is enabled to appreciate properly the message proclaimed by Creation. And it is really only from the standpoint and knowledge of the Scriptures that one is equipped to listen to and understand the communication found in nature. This means that the Creator comes to man insuring that he correctly understands His Creation and the message it is preaching, a message of Theistic Sovereignty.

Sovereignty “speaks for itself that no one can really believe this with his heart and confess it with his mouth except the person who knows himself to be a child of God. The faith in providence [sovereignty] stands in the most intimate of relationships with the faith in redemption” (Herman Bavinck, Our Reasonable Faith, 182).

Once there is the experience of Grace, then the message of Creation is heard in fullness and clarity; that is, the observation of nature confirms to the believer what grace has brought to the understanding (see: Understanding – Factual and Redemptive). It is not that nature adds to Grace, but that nature does not contradict what Grace teaches and that nature is made understandable by Grace.


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