Who’s Got The Power? (ATP) 

Question: Is God in control on the earth? 

This is another one of those questions whose answer depends on what exactly is meant by control. For that reason, I will cover a few aspects of it.

There are two basic extremes to this question. I believe that both have some validity to them and both have error, which is why, as always, it’s important to try and stay in the middle. The first idea is that God controls (actively) everything that happens. In other words, all that happens He specifically plans out. The other extreme is that He can’t (by choice) do anything because He’s turned all authority and power over to man. Both of these have a hint of truth but neither fully lands on it.

We are called to submit our will to Him. That doesn’t mean that we have all control, just control over our will. It also means that we don’t try and be in control. This is similar to parenting. A child may think they can be autonomous, but the truth is they should not be. Why is this? It’s because a child is often immature without experience and knowledge. Decisions they make may be enjoyable for a while, but ultimately they cause failure. A child may get away with being childlike for a time, but sooner or later (hopefully) they will be made to do what they should. If not, well, the world is full of examples of the negative effects of this. Submission isn’t about the transferring of authority or power, it’s about being useful within a system that is designed to work a certain way. Children that have been trained to be obedient to right things, will grow to be successful and effective adults. The same goes with all of humanity.

This is where we can look at God’s sovereignty. He designed everything to work a certain way, then chose to have us “partake” of it. 2 Peter 1:4 (NASB) says, “For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become PARTAKERS OF THE DIVINE NATURE, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.” Partaking doesn’t set the control, it only allows us to play along. Think of the board game. You make all your decisions as to how you walk through the game, but your ability to win is only found within the confines of your ability to walk through the game according to the rules and boundaries set forth. Sure you can change the rules (in a board game) because its creator isn’t forcing his will. God however, will have His will. He sets boundaries that man or even the devil himself cannot cross. As Acts 17:28 (NIV) says, “For in him we live and move and have our being.” Also Romans 14:11 (NASB), For it is written,


Some have erroneously made the claim that if God is in control, He is doing a horrible job. That is a statement of utmost arrogance and devoid of understanding. We cannot look at a fallen world, that was made with this capacity, that God knew would go that way and automatically assume that He has no say or control within it. If we think that way, then why pray at all? If He has no control, then why seek Him to change something? Romans 8:28 (NASB) tells us, “And we know THAT GOD CAUSES all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” The purpose of prayer is to know the will of God so that we can align our will with it. Not for God’s purposes but for our sake, in order to be the image bearers He made us to be. Philippians 2:13 (NIV) tells us, “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”

Some might say, as has also been said, “God cannot do anything unless we ask Him.” This is to forget scriptures like Colossians 1:17 (NASB) which says, “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” The truth is, we just never see this concept in scripture. We do see time and time again, God doing what He always did, utilizing humans for His purpose because it was His decision to do so and it still remains His prerogative. If He chooses to use angels, He employs them too. Or animals, then He uses them. Waves and the wind, or any other method, God makes the choice. 

There does however remain a truth, God allows man to choose, within a certain measure. He also allows certain processes to continue on without specific control. God, I do not believe causes every wind to blow, or every fluctuation in temperature. If there’s anything creation tells us, it’s that God set things in motion and watches over it. I love the example of conception for reproduction. God hasn’t determined every baby that is born, the parents do that. However, He does determine who they will be, their personality and talents. Those things can of course be shaped by their environment and the choices of the people around them, but God ultimately makes us, us.

These concepts can cause a lot of confusion, in people. The key to remember is that God made us for a purpose and we are in a process of becoming that purpose. Like the apostle Paul said, we have not arrived yet, but we are being perfected. God is moving His creation toward what He wanted it to be through the processes He has chosen. This is why Jesus told us to pray for His Kingdom to come. It puts in us a constant state of longing for the fullness of His redemption in all of creation to be manifest. We should groan and yearn for the fullness of the redemption of creation along with all of creation, just like the Bible tells us to do!

Be Blessed,

Pastor Jeff