The Absolute Sovereignty of God & the Non-elect

By James Nyahuye Guyo

Luke 22:22, “”And truly the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!”

John 17:12, “”While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.”

John 13:26-27, “Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it .” And having dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly.”
1) Introduction:
Judas Iscariot was born to his parents and Judas also had a grandmother and grandfather. They had high hopes for him as their son and grandson respectively. Judah’s mother nursed him, changed his diapers (did not have our kind-Procter and Gamble had not yet been formed, but you get the point). She was joyful when he was born. He was a cute little boy with a lot of life ahead of him-very good life ahead of him at least it seemed to them by many accounts of human judgment. Judas had hopes to raise his own family too like every boy on his street I presume-they did not have metrosexuals then. But whilst all this was happening-Judas did not know that He had been raised for a different mission. He had been raised for the glory of God. Like Pharaoh, Judas also had this written on his resume, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.”

2) Judas did not know that he was raised for this very purpose-of betraying the Son of God. That God may demonstrate His power in him. God appointed him to be the instrument of His Son’s betrayal. To which the Son of God would come and say, Luke 22:22, “”And truly the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!” Jesus said, “He has to go.” Go where? Go to the cross. But Jesus how? By the way that has been appointed. Appointed/determined/decreed by whom? Not by the Devil, not by the Holy Angels, not by His parents-Joseph and Mary, but by God. God determined it. What does it mean to determine. It is the Greek word-Horizo-which was transliterated and migrated into English as horizon. IT means to mark out the boundaries or limits-as the horizon is the line at which the earth’s surface and the sky appear to meet. It means to decide, to predetermine, to ordain, to appoint. So, what did God predetermine? He determined by His own counsel that Christ would die by crucifixion for the salvation of His people through the hands of sinful man. Acts 2:22-23, “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know–– Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;” Also Acts 4:27-28, “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together; to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.”” The Greek word translated determined before is proorizo. It means to appoint before hand-to decide before hand-to predestinate. And so Jesus was delivered-that is, crucified by the predetermination of God. The template of His death was designed by God (every detail of it) and the resources to carry out that purpose were provided by God. Before any building can be constructed engineers come up with a detailed plan and quantity surveyors determine the resources needed to accomplish the project. Judas, the chief priests, Pilate, Herod were all part of the resources that God raised for this very end. Jesus had to be crucified by the hands of sinful men and not hands of holy and righteous man. Jesus was the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world and sin entered into the world by God’s decree and purpose that His Son may be lifted up by these kinds of men. If you are following God’s argument you cannot come to any other conclusion.

3) They (Judas, the Chief Priests, Pilate, and Herod) had no way to avoid it. They could not decide to go on vacation on the beach and leave this work undone. For the hour of the cross was appointed from eternity. God had fixed the date, time and the people with godly precision. Judas had to do it. His will (whether free or not) could not stop him from doing what God had determined to be done. He was appointed to this task. He had no power of contrary choice for to say so is to say God is resistible. When God said –let there be light. The light did not say-wait a minute- not at the moment. No, the command was irresistible. The scriptures say- and there was light.

Brother Job knew what many in the sovereign and even reformed people do not understand. This is what Job knew of God even though Job did not have the book of Job written to read and learn from it. Job 42:2, “I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.” No purpose of God can be thwarted and God always accomplishes His good pleasure. And His good pleasure was determined from eternity.

4) And God accomplished His good pleasure through the instrumentality of Judas. God is the one who raised the whole line of Judas’s family. All his fore parents before him were raised that Judas maybe raised-they could not catch pneumonia and die. They could not catch TB or any of the diseases that would threaten their lives. Their teeth could have cavities, but they could not die without offspring. God kept them and fed them and He made sure they continued to have children. Judas’ mother had to conceive-her womb could not be closed like that of Sarah until Judas showed up on the scene. God was not passively doing this. He was actively working as the Lord Jesus Christ said of His Father. In John 5:17, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” God was moving heaven and earth to the finale on the cross. The Devil was in on this and God was moving him too. He had very specific instructions. He knew He was going to enter someone like Peter if not Judas. But He overheard the conversation between the Lord and the disciple that Jesus loved. “Then, leaning back on Jesus’ breast, he said to Him, “Lord, who is it?” And here is Jesus’s response. John 13:26-27, “Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it.” And having dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly.” Jesus pointed to the disciples and to the Devil who was supposed to betray Him. Judas could not resist-it was impossible-Devil could not resist either. Both their wills meant nothing. God’s sovereignty was ruling and over ruling and moving every minute detail. What is Satan doing at this place anyway? Why was He not messing with the Canaanites or the Samaritans at this time? What business of his was it that he should show up where the Lord was gathered with His disciples? Answer: He had to be there only by God’s sovereign determination, will, purpose and power. Judas, the Devil and their sin were servants in God’s hands to do His bidding. And so there he was and so Jesus-the Son of God-who had all power and authority gave him and Judas instruction-listen to this: “And having dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly.”

5) The Devil immediately enters Judas Iscariot. The work that he has to do needs more than Judas. It needs the Devil because this story does not begin here. IT has roots in the events of the Garden. The serpent has come to bruise the heel of Eve’s seed-Jesus Christ. And so Jesus commanded Judas and the Devil to expedite their mission-to keep the schedule of His crucifixion on time. That is absolute and unrivaled sovereignty. You will not see it if you are beholden to this human responsibility and human will stuff. Human responsibility and human will accomplishes nothing and you will miss glorious theology of God’s sovereignty. Human responsibility does not mean that sinners have power to accomplish anything useful by themselves. It just means God makes man accountable for things that He determined for them to do-things that He appointed for them. God hardened Pharaoh’s heart and yet made him accountable for resisting that which he could not do-obey. Pharaoh could not obey God because it is God who makes one to obey God and yet God made Pharaoh accountable for something that He could not do and He destroyed him. All these people seem to be doing things freely and yet God non-invasively moves them and everything to their appointed end. The Devil has to march at Jesus’ order-whatever you do-do it quickly was the command. Even the Devil did not have the free-will to delay or say no. For He knew exactly who had commanded Him and so he obliged because God is irresistible and Jesus is God.

6) So, what am saying? I am saying God is absolutely sovereign. He is the first cause of all things and in all things. It was not sin for God to appoint the Devil and Judas to do His bidding in the crucifixion of Christ. That shows us that God is untouchable. His ways are past finding out. God cannot sin. God is not a man. He is not a creature. Only moral creatures sin (Angels and man). God is holy, righteous and immutable. His judgments and His ways are holy and righteous even when they are contrary to our silly sensibilities of moralism. Sinners know nothing of righteousness. It is God who determines what is righteous. Whatever God does is righteous because it is God who does it. If God does anything it is righteous. God is righteous even if He does not do anything. If God decrees for there to be sin-it is righteous for Him to do that-but it is sin for you to sin and so it was sin for the Devil and Judas-and yet it is God who purposed it. But that is not fair-why then does He still find fault-whoever resisted His will? Answer: “But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it , “Why have you made me like this?” Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?” What is God saying? He is saying a creature has no right to question Him period-end of story-full stop. All these doctrinal formulations around the sovereignty of God are designed to provide a soft landing about God’s sovereignty-to make it pleasant to the taste and soft to the touch-to put some Nivea lotion on it. The arguments are designed to make something of the clay-when God has said-the clay has no power of self-determination and is nothing. It is clay-a product of dust and can be trampled upon.

So, back to Judas:
1) Why did Judas betray Jesus? Many, many professing Christians and sadly a lot in the camp of those who profess that God is sovereign will say-because of his human will and human responsibility and will even go as far as to say-Judas could have repented. What a false statement. Let Jesus answer that question. John 17:12, “”While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.” Just from this verse we learn a number of important things from Jesus. 1) Those the Father gave to Him He kept and He kept them in “Your name”-the name that God gave Jesus, which is Jesus-all of God’s people are kept not by their diligence-but are kept in His name. 2) None of those that the Father gave to Jesus were lost-because Jesus kept them, 3) The son of perdition was lost-lost where? To go to Hell. Why? 4) That the scripture might be fulfilled. So, Judas could not repent and be saved because that would have broken scripture and Jesus said-scripture cannot be broken. Judas was not among those given by the Father to be saved or kept by Jesus. Judas was no worse sinner than Peter who denied Jesus three times. Judas had the money bag but he did not buy a Bentley with it. He was no different from all the many folks on Wall Street and politicians. He was a hustler-He was sent to Hell not because he loved money-but because he was not elect. Here is Judas’ problem again and it was a serious problem. According to Jesus-Judas never was chosen to be saved by Jesus Christ. He was a Son of perdition-one destined to destruction -that is one who was predetermined to go to Hell. But Judas’ parents did not know that and Judas did not know that either. They too like every parent thought they had a nice kid who was doing what other kids in the neighborhood did. Play and steal from their neighbors once in a while. So, to Steve Larson’s tweet that, “man come to heaven by God’s sovereign will and go to Hell by their own will.” That is a patently and theologically false statement. People go to Hell like Judas because they are sons of perdition, they were not given to Christ, Christ did not die or intercede for them and so that the scriptures may be fulfilled.

2) Judas had a Priest problem, an election problem and a clay problem. I said earlier that Judas was no worse than Peter and yet Peter in spite of his problems with foot and mouth disease was saved. Why? Because of this right here. Luke 22:32, “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me , strengthen your brethren.” Peter had an intercessor. He had a Mediator between Him and God. A mediator whom the Father hears and loves-Jesus Christ. A mediator who prayed for Him. Peter had election going on for him and his hope was not in his repentance but in that He was given to Christ and Christ kept Him and Christ interceded for Him.

3) Judas on the other hand was clay prepared for destruction. He missed only by one verse to be a vessel of honor-there is a thin line between love and hate. Judas was in Romans 9:22, “What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,” And Peter was covered by Romans 9:23, “ that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory.” Peter was prepared as a vessel of mercy whilst Judas was a vessel of destruction-Son of perdition. Judas had a clay problem that He could not fix by His own will. This level of discussion is over and above human responsibility. If anyone drags human responsibility at this level of discussion then they do not understand what is being said. This is the arena of God’s sovereignty and humans are not invited here. So, Judas had to go because God from eternity wrote down the name of Judas and said-it is he who would betray His Son-he is the son of perdition.
Cause and Effect and not Compatibilism:
1) A lot of people who hold to a very low Sovereignty will say-see God’s sovereignty and human responsibility side by side. God’s sovereignty contains, establishes and enforces human responsibility. This is about first cause and secondary cause. It is about cause and effect. Here is Luke 22:22 again, “”And truly the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!” The first part of Jesus’ statement establishes the first cause-God’s determination of how the Son goes and the second part establishes the effect and result of it-the instrumentality of the secondary cause and the responsibility brought upon the secondary agent for doing what God predetermined and moved them to be done. The first cause establishes what the secondary does and never vice versa. The secondary cause because they are limited in power and knowledge thinks everything that they are doing is uncaused. They do not feel any violation of their will, but that does not remove the reality that God is constantly violating their will to move them exactly where He wants them to go. God is always violating people’s will when we ask Him to convert them to Christ. But He does not need us for that to happen. “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.” Proverbs 21:1. And it is this that many do not understand. God does not make secondary agents responsible because He was not involved in their actions as many assume-as that would make Him unfair. What people miss is that it is part of what it means to be sovereign to make someone accountable for not performing something that they are not able to do. Or to cause them to perform something that He moved them to do by His hand and yet still charge them guilty. God always stirs the hearts of Kings to go to war but make them responsible for it-Isaiah 10.

2) God moved David to number His men in Israel and yet God chastised David for doing something that He made him to do. In 1Sam 24 we are told that God was angry at Israel and so the scriptures say: “Again the anger of the LORD was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, “Go, number Israel and Judah.” It is the LORD-the first cause who moved David to number Israel (1 Chronicles 21 reports that it is the Devil that moved him-but at God’s instruction-still God is the first cause of that cascade of actions or events). David numbers Israel and yet God comes and punishes David for doing something that God moved David to do. That is cause and effect. David did not even know that God is the one who moved His heart to number Israel and yet God made David responsible for a sin that He caused Him to do. Listen to David’s response: “And David’s heart condemned him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the LORD, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done; but now, I pray, O LORD, take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly.” David assumes the responsibility of doing something that God made Him to do. If David had any power he would have stood up on his hind legs and protested, but no. God made him responsible and accountable for his actions. This my friends is pure and unadulterated sovereignty. This is not compatibilism.

3) Sadly and unfortunately this kind of Sovereignty has been muted in most pulpits and that is why people who think they know something about sovereignty get shocked when they begin to hear it and realizing that compatibilism is a very muted and lowest form of God’s sovereignty. Humans have no space that they are free from God. God controls everything about them and yet He still makes them responsible for things that they do.

4) So, what can also learn from this? We learn that God is absolutely sovereign and because of this sovereign power that He makes men responsible. I do not at all deny that men are not responsible. The question is why are they responsible for things that God causes them to do? Answer: Because God is sovereign and men are not. God is not waiting for man to act and then He responds. God does not respond to anything. He is always the first mover and so what we see are cause and effects. Human actions are not the first cause of things. They are only effects of the One who works all things according to the counsel of His own will. The one who says, “Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’ Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it.” Isaiah 46:10-11.

5) The other important lesson is that many church people think that they are better than Judas. They think they could have pulled this off differently than Judas did. They think they are able to repent by their own power. No man can turn by themselves unless God turns them. Human will is powerless and impotent. And that is why those who understood their impotence prayed thus, “Turn us back to You, O LORD, and we will be restored; Renew our days as of old,” Lam 5:21. It is sheer arrogance on the part of men to exalt man’s will over God’s sovereignty. They do not compare and do not exist on the same page. Professing Christians do not realize that the only reason why they stand is because God was pleased in Himself to not make them vessels of dishonor-to make them sons and daughters of perdition. And that is to say-the difference between you and Judas is not in you but in grace not that you acted good and diligently on your human responsibility. The difference between you and Hell is Jesus Christ the High Priest of our confession. The difference between two lumps of clay is Jesus Christ and Him alone. It is in Him that we were chosen, in Him justified and accepted by God as vessels of mercy. Forget your will-it belongs to the realm of flesh and the Lord says of the flesh, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.”” John 6:63
Amen!

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