God’s Sovereignty in our Choices
Insert: Story of some things that went very wrong in my life (see “About Me”). What do we do when people let us down? Or when terrible things happen? How do we interpret our experiences? Is God in the picture? If God is in the picture, what does that mean for how we respond?
We must recognize God’s sovereignty in history and in our lives so that we can live trusting in Him.
God’s sovereignty and omniscience is evidenced in His activity in the betrayal of Christ and His choice of a replacement. Acknowledgement of this is seen in the requirements the apostles used for replacing Judas and in seeking God’s decision.
- I. God’s Activity even in the Betrayal of Christ (15-20a, 25b)
A. “the Script had to be fulfilled…spoke beforehand” (16) Direct ref to Judas (16-19,25b) “It is written” (20)
B. Setting: upper room, after Jesus had appeared to them over 40 days, waiting for Baptism of Holy Spirit. Mention the significance of the 120 (3, 12, 70,120). One of the 12 had betrayed Jesus (one who had shared in the ministry), but the Scriptures had said this would happen and that it would serve a purpose. Description of what happened to Judas (bring in details from Mtt 27) chief priests bought field in his name and he hung himself. Later rope was cut/ he was thrown down.
C. Example: Joseph was betrayed. What his brothers meant for evil and what was a bad situation, God meant to do good with it. He ended up saving many people. Sometimes, we don’t know what God does with a bad situation in our lifetime.
D. Do we trust that God is working in the midst of betrayal or tragic circumstances? Whatever people choose, God is still ultimately in control (Jer 18). God wants the good of all (1 Tim 2:4), but people can still turn from him and do damage. When this happens: trust knowing He knows what is happening and is working even in the most difficult circumstance.
- II. The Special Requirements for Replacement: a Witness to Christ’s Ministry and Resurrection (20b-22)
- A. “Let another take his office” (20b) One of men in Jesus’ ministry from Baptism until ascension (21-22)
- B. Go through the reasons why there needed to be 12 (12 tribes, symbolic of the church being the new Israel, 11 just not complete to Jewish mind). Requirements center on Christ: was the candidate there for Jesus’ ministry? Did he witness the resurrection? Notice how the requirements are centered in Christ and specific to the calling. Paul was not one of the 12, but is called an apostle (especially to Gentiles) and fulfills the requirement of witnessing the resurrection. He comes after the Holy Spirit comes to earth.
- C. When my dad was called to the ministry, there were several road blocks: he was in grief counseling over the loss of a child and the counselor dissuaded him from making big life changes, he did not have his college degree yet (needed Talbot), was making a lot of money as a business man. Yet, knowing he was called and that God was ultimately in control, he went for it. He trusted God was above his circumstances and acted in faith.
- D. In light of the Scriptures and God’s sovereignty, the apostles kept their focus on Christ and did not despair (hopelessness not sadness) over Judas. They moved forward. Don’t despair, trust and move forward. But according to:
- III. God’s Choice (23-26)
- A. “they prayed…which…you have chosen” (24) “cast lots” (26)
- B. When the disciples moved forward, they did so with God’s choice in mind. They had two equally qualified candidates, but left the ultimate decision up to God who knew their hearts and knew who would be right for the job. They Pray (significance and power of prayer). Here they cast lots. This was something they did in the OT (description) and something they are doing now before the Holy Spirit has been given to them. Now that we have the promised Spirit, we don’t need to do that.
- C. Mette’s story (Her psychic brought her to the Lord and the Lord took her away from the psychic)! She trusted God who knew the heart to get out of a bad situation and moved forward at His call.
- D. When we move on, do we let God decide where we go or what we do? How mindful are we of His activity? When we make decisions, how much control do we hand over to God who is ultimately in control?
Conclusion: People do terrible things that can do much damage and leave behind hurt, grief and anger. Judas betrayed the Son of God. And yet, God knew Judas would betray Christ and orchestrated the salvation of the world through the death of Jesus. God knows all the evil that is happening and will happen in this world and He is at work in that too. How do we live in the reality of God’s sovereignty? We do not need to be consumed by evil as we rely on God and move forward knowing He is at work and acting with confidence when we know what we are called to do. When we don’t know, be confident He does!
My teacher (a Westminster grad) thought I overemphasized God’s sovereignty and did so at the expense of our choice. I disagree. While I believe my sermon does emphasize God’s sovereignty, it brings out how God is not only ultimately in control (in our choices), but how our choices should be informed by who God is. I did this because I believe God’s sovereignty is the focus of this particular passage as well as how we as the church actively depended on this in prayer. Still, as an Arminian, I will take my teacher’s suggestion as a compliment.