“The works of the LORD are great, studied by all who have pleasure in them” (Psalm 112:2).
One of the most elite physics laboratories in the world is in England at Cambridge. It is called Cavendish Laboratory. This Laboratory was founded in 1874 and has been home to some 29 Nobel Prize winners. It was here the discovery of X-rays and electrons occurred. Nuclear fission was 1st experimented with here. The 1st model of DNA was completed here.
Above the entrance to this lab is Psalm 111:2. It wasn’t some crazy Christian students from the 1800’s that put it there; it was put there by the founders of this Laboratory. It is an appropriate reminder to a place where the works of God have been studied for some 137 years.
The psalmist says, “The works of the LORD are great.” He means God’s works are great in number and magnitude and size and abundance. You don’t even have to be a Christian to observe God’s greatness; we learn that in Romans 1:19-20 –
“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”
God’s works are great in design, number, magnitude, and excellence. In other words, how can we put any of it into words?
Job writes, “He does great things past finding out, yes, wonders without number” (Job 9:10).
On another occasion, the psalmist writes,
“O LORD, how great are Your works! Your thoughts are very deep” (Psalm 92:5).
When we consider the works of God, we can get lost in their wonder. They are so great that they are “studied by all.” The saints’ delight is to study God’s works: creation, provision, preservation, salvation, and revelation.
I do not understand professing Christians who don’t want to study the greatness of God – who hate theology. People who love God want to know everything there is to know about someone (e.g., like loving a mate). In his book Knowing God, J.I. Packer writes,
“Today, vast stress is laid on the thought that God is personal, but this truth is so stated as to leave the impression that God is a person of the same sort as we are – weak, inadequate, a little pathetic. But this is not the God of the Bible! Our personal life is a finite thing: it is limited in every direction, in space, in time, in knowledge, in power. But God is not so limited. He is eternal, infinite, and almighty. He has us in his hands; we never have him in ours. Like us he is personal; but unlike us, he is great.” (pg. 83_
Every time you learn something – in history, science, current news, sports, etc. – it is fresh ground for praise.
This question was not emailed or sent to me in a digital format. It was posed to me by my youngest son, Ethan on the way to school yesterday. Our commute to school is about 2 minutes long, and he posed the question about 30 seconds into our drive. Thus, the challenge of answering such a good question in 90 seconds was right in front of me.
And before I share with you my answer, let me encourage you to have ready brief, simplistic answers to difficult questions. This is wise – not just for the small children in our lives who may ask them – but for not being victims of “failing to see the forest for the trees.”
So, back to the question at hand. I am going to answer this in the way I answered it with Ethan. If you are looking for a lengthy response, I won’t give it. Here is how I answered it to my 2nd grader.
“Ethan, you are right, God knew Adam and Eve would sin. God gave them the ability to choose right and wrong in the Garden of Eden. And He knew when He gave them that choice that they would choose to sin, even before He created them.
“That may seem mean or confusing why God would do such a thing. But keep this in mind as well: God didn’t allow their choice of sin to overrule His love for us. He also knew before He created them, and before they even sinned, that He would send His Son to die for their sins. Isn’t that cool that God would provide forgiveness for sins?
“You can’t fool God. He is always ready to meet our greatest needs if we trust Him and follow Him. Thanks for asking that question, Ethan.”
If you have a question you would like to submit to our blog to be answered in the future, please email it to email@example.com or post your question in the comments section.
The heavens are declaring God’s glory (Psalm 19:1). The whole earth is filled with God’s glory (Isaiah 6:3). The animals bring glory to God (Isaiah 43:20). The aim of every sermon is to give light to the knowledge of God’s glory (II Corinthians 4:5-6). If I seek to please man with my preaching, I am robbing God of His glory and fearing man over God.
Psalm 115 is a prayer about the foolishness of glorifying man-made idols, and it begins with this statement – “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!” From the beginning, the psalmist makes sure God understands why he has come to Him – to give Him glory
The spotlight should always be upon God and never upon us. We are never to attempt to rob God of His glory. We ought to loathe the idea of anyone getting glory before God. God will not and should share His glory with another.
Isaiah writes, “I am the Lord, that is My name; My glory I give to no other, nor My praise to carved idols” (Isaiah 42:8).
And later in Isaiah 48:11, we read, “For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.”
God is a God of glory (I Sam 15:29; Ps 24:8). When you think of God, think of glory. When you speak of God, speak of glory. When you draw near to God, draw near to One who is glorious. When you look in the world, you see God’s glory.
God expects and commands all glory be given to Him in everything we eat and beverage we drink (I Corinthians 10:31).
God’s glory is the summarizing answer to all of life’s questions (e.g., “why” questions), and it is also the starting point before all questions are asked (e.g., Why create? Why design?). All – everything – is not for my good but for His glory.
God’s glory always matters. Each of us were made in His image and created to glory Him. Paul reminds us, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (I Corinthians 6:19-20).
And then, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (I Cor 10:31). “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col 3:17).
In Romans 11:36 – “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”
In other words, we are not the center of our own universe; God is.
“The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3).
Do you remember when Jeremiah asked the question about who can know the heart because it is deceitful? This question communicates that no man can understand it, but Jeremiah would go on to say it is God who searches and knows it (Jeremiah 17:9-10). Nothing gets by God.
God in omniscient – He knows all and sees all. As Charles Spurgeon wrote,
“God knows all things naturally and as a matter of course, and not by any effort on his part. Searching ordinarily implies a message of ignorance which is removed by observation; of course this is not the case with the Lord; but the meaning of the Psalmist is, that the Lord knows us thoroughly as if he had examined us minutely, and had pried into the most secret corners of our being.” (The Treasury of David, pg. 258)
There is nothing outside of God’s knowledge. A.W. Pink wrote in his book Gleanings in the Godhead,
“God knows everything; everything possible, everything actual; all events, all creatures, of the past, the present, and the future. He is perfectly acquainted with every detail in the life of every being in heaven, in earth, and in hell. … Nothing escapes his notice, nothing can be hidden from him, nothing is forgotten by him. … He never errs, never changes, never overlooks anything.” (pg. 19)
God never discovers anything. He is never surprised or never amazed. He never wonders about anything nor does He seek information or ask questions. He has never learned and will never have to learn. He knows all things past, present and future, all things actual and possible.
In the western Pacific Ocean sits the Mariana Trench, which is the deepest part of the oceans on the planet. It is deepest at 6.8 miles down (or almost 36,000 feet) in a place called Challenger Deep. It is a place where no sunlight can penetrate (Psalm 139:1-3).
Every word we even consider using God knows. Every word in our vocabulary He knows. Even before our brains began working and coming up with something to say, God knew everything we would consider uttering. Every feeling or idea or resolve or goal or doubt or perplexity is known by Him.
God knows us better than ourselves.
You think He is aware of good and evil in the world? You think He will let evil get away with evil (Exodus 34:7b)? You think He won’t reward those who honor and glorify Him (Revelation 22:12).
The question of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility (aka “free will” or “meaningful choice”) is a question every generation of the church has pondered and inquired about.
It is a biblical tension that we see in Scripture (e.g., Matthew 11:28 – will; I Timothy 6:15 – God’s sovereignty). And because Scripture never contradicts itself (I Corinthians 14:33; Hebrews 6:18), the truth of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility are in no need to be reconciled. You never need to reconcile friends.
It is better to ask the question, “How do these two biblical truths work together” (or “hand in hand” as Randy Alcorn writes) and not a “God’s sovereignty vs. man’s responsibility” question. These two truths are not competitors; they are on the same team.
But we are still left with a need to better understand this tension. Let me give you an example I have found helpful in my own understanding of the question.
I have 3 boys in my home. Our oldest is in 7th grade and our youngest is in 3rd grade. Annie and I are “in the thick and thin” of raising children. It is parenting 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In our home, we have rules, guidelines, expectations, boundaries, laws, etc. We expect our children to obey what we ask of them, because their obedience is a direct reflection of how they think of God (Ephesians 6:1).
And even though they are handsome young men and a joy to be around, these boys are sinners. They don’t always follow our rules; they will choose to disobey at times. They periodically grumble about our expectations of them in our home.
On the other hand, there is no mistake about who oversees the home. Annie and I are the parents. We are the leaders of our home. You might even use the word “sovereign.” The word “sovereignty” implies rule over a domain. Our “kingdom” is the home and Annie and I are sovereign over it.
Yet, our sovereignty in our home does not mean that our children do not have the choice or the will to do what they want. In other words, just because they choose to disobey doesn’t mean we aren’t in charge of our own home.
Part of our headship includes giving them the choice to obey or disobey.
Thus, in the home there is “free will” and sovereignty. They work together. Our boys do not question who is sovereign in the home; and Annie and I do not question whether they have “free will” or not. We are sovereign; our kids have a choice.
God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility is a true partnership.
For further reading on this biblical tension, I would highly commend to you Randy Alcorn’s book on this very subject. There I no book I would recommend before it – Hand in Hand: The Beauty of God’s Sovereignty and Man’s Meaningful Choice.
“There is, certainly, great cause for humility in the thought that he sees all the twisted things about me that my fellow humans do not see (and I am glad!), and that he sees more corruption in me than that which I see in myself (which, in all conscience, is enough). There is, however, equally great incentive to worship and love God in the thought that, for some unfathomable reason, he wants me as his friend, and desires to be my friend, and has given his Son to die for me in order to realize this purpose.” (J.I. Packer, Knowing God)