Does He, or Doesn’t He?

What the Lord says about himself carries great theological implications. When God says that there is no other god besides him, that is a significant statement. Is it true or is it false? If it is true, it is tremendously important. If it is false, then the God revealed in the Bible cannot be trusted.

Jesus declares there to be only one way to God, through him. Is he correct, or isn’t he? If he is correct, then Christianity is truly the only way. If he is not correct, then he is utterly unreliable.

Or how about this claim in Isaiah regarding God and his sovereignty?

Isaiah 46:9-10

9 remember the former things of old;
for I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me,
10 declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose,’

Contextually, this passage is part of God’s promise to bring someone from the east to accomplish a particular purpose with the people of Israel. That purpose, of course, was accomplished. God did exactly what he said he would do.

But what about the bigger picture. Are these words of God, these claims of God, always true? Does God declare the end from the beginning? Does God accomplish his purposes? These questions are one and the same. Does God accomplish everything he sets out to accomplish or not?

Stop and think of the potential answers, and really let yourself wrestle with their implications. Can you say no? Can you, as a believer, suggest that God fails to accomplish things he sets out to do? What would that say about God? What would that tell you about his claims of his power and knowledge and perfection?

Or dare you say that God sometimes accomplishes his will? What would that mean? What would it mean that, in some instances, God accomplishes what he wants, but in other instances, he just cannot get it done?

Perhaps you want to suggest that, in some instances, God makes sure his plan is accomplished. In others, you might add, God just leaves the outcome to chance or the actions of his creatures. Is that logical? If God knows his creatures inside and out—including their future decisions—can there be a zone in which the Lord still does not declare the end from the beginning? It would seem that, in order to make a part of creation where God does not accomplish his will because of the freedom of his creation, you would also have to limit God’s knowledge of his creatures and of the future. You would have to make God less than God for such a thing to be the case. Regardless of logic, the real question is whether or not Scripture speaks this way of God. Does the word say of God that he sometimes accomplishes his will, that he sometimes declares the end from the beginning, that he sometimes does all that he pleases, but in other cases he does not? Such a claim would be hard to find.

The word gives us some very clear claims of God. HE is God, the one and only. He is over all. HE declares the end from the beginning. His counsel stands. His purposes are accomplished. This is true in big governmental and empire issues. But it must also be true in the day-to-day. This does not mean that we, in our finite wisdom, can grasp those eternal purposes of God. We have no ability to judge the purposes or the practices of the Lord. And we will face hardships we cannot understand. WE will face circumstances we do not like. WE will face pains that we cannot imagine being good. But we must not comfort ourselves with a declaration that God is somehow less than God. WE cannot find comfort in thinking God is less powerful, less knowledgeable, or less active in accomplishing ultimate, perfect, holy good.

The question remains: Is he, or isn’t he? Is God sovereign or not? Is God over all things or not? Does he declare the end from the beginning or not? Does he accomplish his purposes or not? Our answer to these questions, our arrival at the true answer to these questions, our acceptance of Scripture, will have a significant impact on our theology, our understanding of Almighty God.