Suffering and the Sovereignty of God

Many people are wrestling with the impact this coronavirus pandemic has had on their lives. Others are speculating about how our lives will change for better or worse afterward. Everyone has questions, and believers may be wondering, “Why did God let this happen?” This week, Gary talks with Keith Holloway, Senior Director of Missions Development at World Challenge, about why God allows suffering in our lives.

Gary Wilkerson: Hello everybody. Gary Wilkerson here. You may look behind me and see, this is a very, very different location than where we normally are on our podcast. And if I gave you three reasons to guess why you're seeing a different setting and why my friend, I'm about to introduce, Keith Holloway, is on the other screen, is obviously because of the stay-at-home orders. We are all having to do that. But not only is that one change, there's even a probably more profound change in what we're about to do today and over the next 10 to 12 weeks, Lord willing, is a bit of a shift in the Gary Wilkerson podcast. The shift from something that has been more pastoral care, counseling, issues of how to help someone who is on drugs, how to help a marriage, dealing with your own health issues, dealing with exercise issues, sort of that... we were really gearing in on the first year of the Gary Wilkerson podcast, that you might become whole, W-H-O-L-E and holy, H-O-L-Y, complete in Christ spirit, soul, and body. So, there's that sense of God caring for the fullness of the man and talked about some issues maybe that aren't talked about in churches or from the pulpit or books, quite as much is the fullness of health.

One of the things that I've noticed is that I think I've become most healthy when I am most in tuned with God. When I am seeking a space, when I'm studying scripture. I can look to counseling and I do. I've been to the counseling before, probably need a whole lot more. And I obviously, I haven't spent a year on this podcast talking about some of those deeper issues, those issues of the counsel of the heart without caring deeply for those issues... but one of the things that I recognize as I get older, the more I have, I guess what A.W. Tozer calls the knowledge of the Holy, the more I go into the depth of knowing the nature and character of God, the more it transforms my life. Seeking my own glory seems to diminish the glory of my life. Seeking God's glory seems to enhance the revelation of his glory in my life. And I see things more glorious in my life, not that I get more glory, but God is more glorified in my life. So, I've asked my dear friend of what? How long, Keith? 40 years or has it been that [crosstalk]?

So, I've asked Keith to come on. I really trust his understanding of the Word of God, of theology, of doctrine, of the nature and character of God. He has challenged me on some really deeper issues. And when I say deep, I don't mean book smart, I don't mean lifeless doctrine, I don't mean bookworm-ish theology. I mean life-giving theology. Things that are the hidden things. The Bible talks about that proverb where God gives wisdom to the king, God has wisdom, but the king's heart searches it out. And so, Keith has searched that out. Keith is one of the directors of our mission programs. Keith helps create, really, the poverty solutions aspect of World Challenge, helping... probably now, hundreds of thousands have been touched and impacted by the teaching, the life transformation and so many salvations, and churches planted, primarily in Africa, but in Cambodia, Southeast Asia, all around the world.

So not only is he a theologian, but he's a missionary. And not only is he a theologian and a missionary, but he's my friend as well. And he's married and has, how many kids do you have Keith?

Keith Holloway: Six.

Gary Wilkerson: Six kids, that is incredible. And your favorite in-law? How many of your kids are married, of your six kids are married?

Keith Holloway: Four out of the six.

Gary Wilkerson: Four out of the six. And out of those who got married, do you have a favorite son-in-law or daughter-in-law, out of all them? Setting you up here, you have to say the right one.

Keith Holloway: No.

Gary Wilkerson: No? Oh man. What-

Keith Holloway: You don't have any Bible verses to support that other than, we are to owe no man anything but love. So, I love all of them.

Gary Wilkerson: All of them. That's sweet. Well, can you tell the audience what I was hinting at, at least? What I was fishing for there?

Keith Holloway: Sure. Sure. Most people probably don't know, but my oldest son married to your only daughter, and they are building their family. They have one son, Oliver. And we're blessed to have had this. It's not something that we planned. Right? We just let everyone know, we did not do any kind of parental marriage agreement or covenant. But it worked out that way, and it's been a blessing to each of our families.

Gary Wilkerson: Yeah, yeah. It wasn't planned but I don't know if I ever told you this or not, Keith? But it was prayed for. Keith's son, Ryan Holloway, was my... and this is Keith, I don't know if I mentioned your last name, Keith Holloway from World Challenge. Excuse me. Keith's son, Ryan Holloway, when I was pastoring at Springs Church here in Colorado Springs, was our worship leader and still is the worship leader at Springs Church. So, my daughter who works for me at World Challenge and Keith's son who works for Springs Church as a worship leader, they have a lovely family and just are so deeply in love with the Lord. It's great to see another generation being raised up in the things of God.

Good, Keith. So, is there anything that I missed on things that would help people be aware of who you are?

Keith Holloway: No, I think you've covered that well.

Gary Wilkerson: Okay. All right.

Keith Holloway: We've got a relationship. We've been a lot of places and we've done a lot of things, and God has kept us as friends for, as you say, close to 40 years. 25 of that has been, for me, actually as a staff member under you at World Challenge. It's been a blessing to my life and to my family. And I'm happy to be with you again today. Theology is important. It's important to me. I think it should be important to most everyone, but it simply means the study of God. We're to go beyond, just the reading and the casual glance at the things of God. We have to study deep and pray hard, and we've got to dig out treasures. And this is a good time in our lives and in the global situations to see and hear what God is saying. And somethings we need to remember and somethings we need to hear new. So, it's a good opportunity for us to get together and to share. And I'm excited about what God's going to speak through both of us and through his Word as we study together.

Gary Wilkerson: Good. Good. Thanks. Thanks Keith. Thanks for being on today.

So, let's go ahead and start digging right in. We are in the midst of a viral crisis around the world. 40,000 at the time... I'm recording this with you, 40,000 plus Americans have passed away from the coronavirus, and 100 and—I can't remember—150,000 or so... 160,000 or more around the world. And it's affected every nation. I've been in 72 nations; you've been in many as well, and so we have friends around the world that have been hospitalized and suffering from this. I think we're in a season right now where, as bad things that are happening and difficult things are happening, that there is an opportunity in the church for us to maybe awaken from a nominal, hyper-faith and prosperity, feel-good, social-club church. The motivational messages that come on Sunday mornings, those aren't cutting it anymore. People are realizing it's like, “Okay, you promised me everything's going to be a blessing, and this is the year of favor, and this is the year of prosperity, and this is the year of transfer of wealth,” and all those things that many people call ‘prophetic messages’ to the church. And then, those who aren't in the prophetic stream of things are oftentimes coming to church life or the pulpit with lighter touch things, just feel-good messages.

And so, I think people are hungry for something deeper now. And maybe even of the hand of God being somewhat involved in this to some degree. We'll talk about that as well, what your feelings on where God is in the midst of this. But I think there's a potential here for the church to be revived, come into a move of holiness, come into a season of revival and spiritual awakening. And not just more souls—I believe that will be the case, and that would be great—but more depth as well, more breadth and more depth. So we're in a season right now where people are looking for answers, and I'm afraid sometimes the answers end up becoming like “Don't fear” or “You're going to be okay” or “God's with you.” And all of those things are amazing. Love them. But I think we go a little deeper and see “Who is God, and what is he doing in a season like this?”

So, I just wanted to start with in times like this, there's people are suffering. Do you think people have any interest in knowing why these things happen or where is God in the midst of all these things?

Keith Holloway: I do think they have that very thing, Gary. Let's be honest, sometimes, we may, ourselves, ask, what in the world is going on, and why these things are happening? I recently ran across an interesting article from Hugh Whelchel, who is the Executive Director of the Institute of Faith, Works and Economics. And he had put out a... it was an article I read but it happened a few years back, but he did a national survey, and asked people in the survey, if you could ask God one thing, what would you ask him? And the number one reply that came back was, why is there suffering in the world? I found that interesting even though that's a few years ago, and surely now, with the circumstances what they are, people are wondering, people are asking, and they're seeking. And unfortunately, I think what they can find, would run the gamut of answers. And it's incumbent upon us to know what the Bible says about who God is and how he works and acts through mankind. And yeah, I think that question of why is there.

Gary Wilkerson: Yep. All right, let's go into some of the... do you have a grip on, what are some of the answers people have when they asked that question?

Keith Holloway: Answers as to?

Gary Wilkerson: To... So, you said that study asked that, why is there suffering? What do you think are some of the predominant answers that are most commonly given? Or what are some of the answers you would give to why God... why is there suffering in a world that God created?

Keith Holloway: Right. Well, I think to keep it in the proper perspective, I think we obviously have to go back and look at things from the beginning. When we that hold to a biblical worldview, we hold that the Bible is God's word, that it is true, it is sound, it reflects who he is. It reveals who he is to us. As we get to know who God is and how he works on the earth, we gain understanding of the past, the present, and the times to come. So, in Genesis, it lays out, I think, the premise of this, and essentially, it's just the fall of man. That time period of initial creation, creation itself was a revelation of who God was. And remember, I read this the other day, I found it interesting... remember as he was going through the six days of creation, at each day, He would review the work of his hands and He would say, it is good. And He went through those days of process creation, and then He looked at everything and He said, it's good, it is very good. And so, that goodness is the goodness of God. It was reflected in creation. It was reflected in the creation of man. Goodness was the ultimate that's being reflected.

His plans, his purposes and his intents, were good. They were meant to reflect who He is, to those that were on the Earth, and those that would come. Many people look at that and say that was a time of innocence. It was a time of original creation, but in original creation, there was original sin. So, I think that suffering began when Adam and Eve, operating in their own free will, chose to sin against the commands of the Lord. And the commands that God gave also reveal that He is God, that He is the Sovereign. He is the one that issued those decrees or the commands. It's an extension of his power and authority, and they chose to disregard that. And so, yeah, the suffering, I think, has its origins in that original sin. And it has fallen upon man himself from Adam until now, but it also fallen upon creation. All creation, we know, out of Romans says that creation is groaning, it's under the weight of corruption and decay. It's a progressive thing that’s happening, and I would say that creation itself is longing to be made right because it's suffering. It's not as it was originally intended.

Gary Wilkerson: Right. Yeah.

Keith Holloway: That's where I see the suffering beginning is through the sin of man.

Gary Wilkerson: Yeah, the why or where does suffering come from? Where does viruses come from? Where does cancer come from? Where does earthquake come from? Where?

Let me throw out a little bit of the world view I have on that, and then you push back. And that's one of the things I want to mention too, as over the next 10 to 12 weeks as we're talking Keith. Even though we're on the same staff and been friends for 40 years, this is not like, we are presenting World Challenge doctrine, this is our hearts, our view of scripture. And so, we can go back and forth a little bit. We don't have to agree. I know we were talking last week, and there was one item, and I'd like to talk about that today, that we didn't see necessarily eye to eye on, and I'd like to learn from you about, that iron sharpening iron. So, this is not just a... we're not doing our World Challenge confessions or doctoral statement here.

So, I think there's four possibilities. They're probably a lot more, but these are categories that I see. That suffering, things like cancer or sickness, things like various diseases or earthquakes or famines, tsunamis, can either come from... some people say they come from nature, and that has sub-categories, nature as under a deism, that God created the world. They call it the watchmaker, he made the watch and just let it tick. And sometimes, it decays and sometimes the clock strikes six the wrong way. And bad things happen because that's just how creation has unfolded over time. So that's deism.

And then, there's of course, atheism, which believes everything is just chance and random. There was a big bang and things heated up and then melted down, and then formed into globs. And then life came on that and just stuff's going to happen. And there's no rhyme or reason. There's no meaning. There's no purpose behind it all, which is why a lot of atheists end up in despair.

Then there's more of the... I would say the theistic view of chance and nature, is that God in his sovereign will, chose to create an earth that just has natural elements to it. Two winds and fronts are going to hit in a tornado will be caused by that. God didn't necessarily up in heaven stir his finger around and all of a sudden there's a tornado. The earth, the tectonic plates hit one another, and they shake. God didn't necessarily push his hand down on it and metaphorically, lay a hand on it, and cause the earth to shake. And so, there's this theistic view that even though God's not distant from it, he's part of it. He's not actually forming it; he's just letting nature run his course.

The other one is sin. Sin entered Earth and there was a fall, and because of the fall, there's now difficulties. We can read, maybe a little bit later if we have some time, in Romans 8:20 about subjecting things to futility. And that even the Earth is groaning, so there's that sense that because of sin. The third one is man's fault because the curse of man that's in that Genesis... you were referring to the Genesis 3 passage there.

So that all falls on... So, there's chance, there's sin, there's man, and then, the fourth one is Satan. So, Satan is devious, wicked, evil, out to kill, steal and destroy, therefore he causes earthquakes, he causes famines, he causes sin, he causes wars, he causes disease. And so, there's four views. The fifth one, I think, is the one I take. And it's all four of those elements are actually functioning. Satan is ravishing out of evil, that God did not create evil. Satan is the one who creates evil. Man joins in with Satan as partner. Sin as caused the effect of the fall. And then, the one that I don't believe is chance. I don't believe things are just random. I don't believe in a deism. I don't even believe in an absentee theism, where it just so happened that these two tectonic plates rubbed together and caused an earthquake. I believe the fall is part of that, sin is part of that, man is part of that, Satan is part of that.

But I do believe, and I think you do too, correct me if I wrong, that God is over all that, nothing happens that's outside of his stewardship. Nothing's outside of his knowledge, wisdom, and I would even say, control, I guess. That word scares me a little bit, but I would say, even, God is controlling things. So that's -- I'm sorry, I went on a little long there. If you caught all that, where would you be, in line with that or not aligned with that?

Keith Holloway: No, I would align with that, Gary. As you said, option five is all of the above. God, Satan, nature, man, those are all sources of negative things, the challenges that come on the Earth. Many may be struggling with the idea that God, and we have to be careful here that we don't attribute things to God that maybe are not to be attributed... But simply as possible sources, I agree with those four. When you think of suffering or you think of... or maybe you think this way. When you think of suffering, when people ask the question, why? They're trying to gain a bigger picture than what they currently have. They're trying to seek something outside of themselves. And for us that hold to a biblical worldview, we would say then that that is certainly God. And we come to put our suffering into the perspective of his sovereignty. And I think that that's vital. I know it has been for my own life. But I think that it's vital for everyone to see that suffering has to be seen, has to be lived through under that sovereignty of God.

I was referring back again to Hugh Whelchel, but he made a statement in his recent article this year about “Why Easter Matters to Me More Than Ever Before.” He made this comment that says that you'll never be able to walk through the valley of the shadow of death and fear no evil unless you believe in God's sovereignty. And I would agree with that statement. So, I don't know, maybe we want to look at a few issues related to sovereignty to be able to try to see ourselves and help others to see, perhaps, from the scriptures. I think people would struggle when they think of God causing things, God being the causative force that brings this evil or wickedness or pain and suffering onto people.

Gary Wilkerson: Yeah, let's definitely go to scripture because when you throw that out there, you're even going to have some people want to turn us off right now. They're going to say like, “I don't want to hear that.” So, hold on, because I think everything you're saying has very solid scriptural background to it, and it's clearly stated in scripture. And even if you disagree with that right now, hold on and just see what the scriptures have to say, and how we're interpreting scripture. Then as you're listening, you judge that.

You're talking about... Just a real quick comment on Psalm 23 there. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil." That scripture starts off, "He makes me lie down in green pastures." "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want." It starts off so peaceful, so therefore you think, “Okay, I can have peace for that.” So, in a time like coronavirus, that first half of that sounds very exciting. You know, “I'm not going to have any... I'm just going to lie down in green pastures, and there's a table set up.” And all of a sudden, it shifts, “—a table in front of my enemies.” Well, a table in front of earthquakes, a table in front of suffering, a table in front of cancer, a table in front of losing... Well, I think both of us have—we've lost children in childbirth or in miscarriages. So, we're suffering. So, there's that shift that into—he walks into the valley of the shadow of death, and I will not fear evil. And so, there's something, and maybe we'll get into it in another podcast...

To me there's a purpose for the valley of the shadow of death. There's a purpose for the table being set before me. And who set the table? We didn't set it; God set it. And where did he set it? In the presence of our enemies. And so, there's a purpose for our enemies. There's a purpose for suffering. And again, the Bible's clear on that. And so, we're going to talk today about sovereignty and suffering. We're going to go about another 10 minutes. And then, we're going to break for today, and then, we're going to come back and talk more, a little bit about sovereignty and suffering.

So, let's take a shot at, in the next 10 minutes, of giving a bit of a definition and some biblical references to the sovereignty of God. And then, I have a couple of verses that I would like to look at as well that talk about the sovereignty of God being... the One, everything submitted under that, and even the divine purposes of suffering, and the difficult things we see around us. So, yeah, give us a shot at, a little bit about sovereignty of God.

Keith Holloway: Sure, when I approach this topic, I feel something of like, maybe what Job felt. In Job 38, the Lord answered Job and said, “Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” We have to be careful to think that we have a corner on knowledge when it comes to these high and lofty concepts. And yet, God being a God who reveals himself, speaks to us and He speaks to us as God. We so use the word and we so, are comfortable with the concepts of God, that we sometimes miss the depth and the impact behind that fact. I guess, Easton's Bible Dictionary gives a definition that I like, that says, that his sovereignty is his absolute right to do all things according to his own pleasure. Of course, that echoes for us today, like from Ephesians chapter 1. But there's also another definition that I like as well, and it's a little more expanded. It just says, it's God having supreme power and authority to govern with complete control over all things without any interference from outside sources.

And so, when we think of suffering and sovereignty, I think it's the word sovereignty we begin to struggle with. Perhaps we could benefit by just saying today, suffering in light of God's ultimate control. You're talking about Psalms 23, “I will fear no evil.” Why? “Because thou art with me.” And it is God setting us in a place, he has all things under his control, all things are under his sovereignty. I know one of the points that I wanted to share, if you'll permit me, Gary, is just to say that in light of sovereignty, I think coming to that point of control, we sometimes might think that God having sovereign authority or sovereign control means that he is the author of everything that happens under his control. And I think that we find that under the sovereignty of God and under the control of God, God gives man free will. And then man chooses to do things, say things that are opposite of God's nature, opposite his plans and purposes. He didn’t really-- He wasn't the author of what man does, but things are still under his authority.

So, when we look at suffering and today with all the suffering, people are wondering why? Why me? Why now? Why this? My business, my retirement, my children's health, so forth and so on. If we don't have a biblical worldview, if we don't have a solid view of who God is, and the fact that He is in control, then we'll find ourselves tossed, and we'll find ourselves even in a, I think, a greater place of suffering. Because there is a suffering that happens in the mind of man, in that core of us, our mind, our will, and our emotions that can often way exceed any kind of physical suffering. So coming to that sovereignty, it reminds me that God again states in the Bible, and of course, we believe the Bible is the infallible Word of God... Jesus said that these are words that have Spirit and life, but He says that in Deuteronomy 4:35, “the Lord himself is God.” It just states that as an absolute. It's not really open for discussion. But there was no room to misunderstand, the Lord himself is God, and there is none other besides him. It speaks of the singularity of God, but it speaks of his ultimate sovereignty.

And again, I think I mentioned to you when we were talking a few days ago about Genesis chapter 1. When God was revealing himself through his creative power, and was saying, what I have done is good, it was the intents and purposes of God to do good, and to have that constant reflection of his nature. So, we have to be careful when we look at God and say, God causes evil, God is the author of sin and sickness and disease and affliction. I think we have to separate some of that authorship of that. And still see that God declares that He is God. He is good and that his plans and purposes are good.

Gary Wilkerson: The definition there, nothing happens outside of his desires in a sense... I'm not saying He desires evil. And I think that you're clarifying that very powerfully there, that God is not the author of sin. God is not the creator of evil. He gave angels and man free will, and there was a turning from God. And yet, God is not... and I think this is where, we were talking about this again last week. Where you were wondering... I think we were seeing things a little bit differently as like... I was look at that none of that stuff is like, caught God by surprise, and all of a sudden he said like, oh shoot, I was planning on a good Earth and it turned bad, so now let me scramble, maybe we can send the Son down there, and he can live for a while and you think that would work.

My take on it was that the way the world is today with sin, suffering, Satan alive and active for at least until he's bound, that that is the way... it's hard to say, that is the sovereign will of God. Because if he is in charge of all things, then that's the way things are. And I'm not saying he is in charge of sin; I'm agreeing with you there. But I'm saying, he... it's like, what we were talking about earlier, man is culpable for his sin, Satan is the creator and instigator of all evil and wickedness, and the fallen world, the creation groans, all of those things happen, but all of them happen under the banner of God.

So, these things are, not only are they... Here's my take on it, not only did they not surprise God, they were ultimately a part of God's plan. He has a plan and purpose for all these things. And if we understand that then we're not living under the realm of a sovereign Lord who gets caught off guard, and maybe is surprised by the doctor saying you have cancer or a brain tumor, or not surprised by your city being hit by a tornado. He's not surprised by those things, but he actually has glorious plans and purposes. Although Satan is the tool like he was with, and I am not even sure that tool is the right word. Satan was the propagator of the actual cause of Job's children's death and Job's disease. It wasn't like God had some disease in his hand and went, here you go Job you get that disease and here's your sons, I'm going to kill all of them. Satan was the instrument. So, for me there's such a great joy and comfort and peace, not just in somebody telling me “be peaceful,” in the midst of horrible things or you're going to make it through. Or even worst, this prosperity gospel that's so heretical, you're not going to be touched by this, you have... no weapon formed against you shall prosper, which is biblically true, but that doesn't mean that you're not going to be affected by these various things, these four elements, plus God overseeing all those things.

So, do you think that God was surprised that the world turned out the way it was?

Keith Holloway: No. No. I think we can know for sure. Part of his attributes is that he's all-knowing. And he knew the end from the beginning, and he knew in the beginning, the end. And that is part of his sovereignty, that all things are under him, and all things are seen and known by him. I think that when we look at the issue of suffering and people are trying to make sense of it all. I know that this is maybe like Sunday school 101, but if we don't have a working knowledge, if we don't have a personal daily exposure to the Word of God, if we're not having the counsel of the Lord brought to us and revealed to us by the Holy Spirit from the Bible, then we find ourselves, I think, very suspect in these kinds of times. We can fall prey to every wind of doctrine, so to speak. We can believe all the conspiracy theories, and we can be diverted, we can be distracted. We can, maybe even just out of human curiosity, find ourselves spending more time trying to search ID2020 and so forth and so on, to captivate our mind. When in fact, if we dive into and we dig into God's Word, we'll find God is saying from Genesis to Revelation, I am God, I am good, but equally I am just.

And there are consequences to sin. There are consequences to the fallenness of man and creation that happened. And I think a follow-up question that people have say, okay, so what you're saying then is that this suffering that I'm going through right now that's on the face of the Earth, there are four possible sources, but if I work through those things, you're saying, ultimately, all of that, still comes under his sovereignty. And we would say, yeah, absolutely. I’m reminded... I don't know. Not everyone would go to Job at a time like this for encouragement, but I think because I'm such a pragmatic kind of a guy... and I do want to be careful that we don't find ourselves, Gary, doing what the scripture prohibits and that is being pastors or ministry leaders and speaking things to people that would just superficially help them. We want to try to open some things up, not that we're looking for everyone to agree. But even if we could instigate a curiosity, a hunger for people.

So, I went to Job looking at that. And what I found in Chapter 37 is, says, “Stand still and consider the wonderful works of God … These wondrous works of Him who is perfect in knowledge … He is excellent in power, In judgment and abundant justice. He does not oppress.” And that captivated me because it's saying that God in his sovereignty, he knows all things, he knows every person today. He's intimately acquainted with your sorrows. He's bearing your grief. He knows the number of hairs on your head. He knows everything about you. And if we again, find our comfort in Genesis' revelation of God, He is good. And his plans and purposes are good. You say, but this is not good, it's not fun, it's not good, it's devastating. Sure, these are the evidences of tragedies and mishaps that happen, and this has taken over the world. But it does not change the fact that God is eternal, and eternally, his attributes remain the same. Fact, being eternal is one of his attributes.

And this is a place where we have to step out and say by faith, I'm going to believe what God say's about himself. That he is a good God. Yes, the Bible says here, he is excellent in power. He has all power. Well, why doesn't he step in and change things? Just the snap of his finger, he could put everything right. Because there are plans and purposes of God that we don't see. We don't always understand them. And we see through a glass darkly, but our dark glass doesn't mean that God is darkened. He is always revealing. He said, I am light and in me there is no darkness. And I think, so much, that he has revealed himself so clearly that he does not oppress, he does not lay sickness and disease and infirmities. He does not originate those things on people. They are not tools that he puts on people in order to teach and to train them. Can we be taught and trained through our difficult times and our tragedies? Absolutely. Because God can take what the devil meant for evil and he can turn it in for good. And Paul said that in Romans, that all things work together for good. The good, the bad, the ugly. They all work together for our good to those who love God and are called according to his purposes.

So, there has to be an accounting that we make of saying, I'm man, you're God. I want to understand you, I want to follow you, but there will be somethings I don't know, I don't see, I don't understand, things I don't agree with. But he's revealed himself, and another aspect of his attributes is that he is immutable, he his unchanging. So, the way he revealed himself in Genesis and the way he described himself and the way he related to Adam and Eve, is the same way he desires to relate to us today.

Gary Wilkerson: That's powerful, Keith. Yeah, thank you. I believe and I'm going to wrap things up here. I believe that we want, whether we know it or not, we want a God who is more sovereign than we believe he is, than we think he is, not less. I think our flesh, our carnal nature wants God to be less sovereign and us to be more sovereign, us to be a little more in control. Our free will to be a little stronger than maybe it actually is, so that we can determine our own futures. We can confess our own futures. We can will our way into things. We can work our way into things, rather than trusting in the good and great, immutable, unchanging, all wise, all knowing, all presence everywhere at all time, almighty. Even when we were talking about sovereignty of God here today, I was reading something recently that says many of the words that we see in scripture that use the word, sovereign and almighty, the translation from the Hebrew is a similar word, that sovereign that means almighty.

We want a God who's almighty. I don't want a God... it doesn't matter what I want, God is God. But I want to know the God of the Bible, that God of the Bible is not in a hand-to-hand cosmic battle with Satan on equal footing as if God is sovereign and so is Satan, or free will has given Satan a determinative factor in all events and all people's lives. I think that the determinative factor is God and God alone. And Satan is certainly at war at that determining factor of God, but it's not tit for tat. It's not yin and yang. It's not equal ground. Satan is minuscule compared to the sovereign power of God.

So, let's pause here for a while. We'll take a quick break. We'll come back, for us it will be a few seconds, for those listening it'll be next week. But come back next week because we're going to continue talking about... next week, Keith, let's talk real definitively. You give us a definition, let's repeat the definition of sovereignty. Let's look at a few more scriptures, and then, let's talk about suffering. And again, I want to talk about Genesis 3, Romans 8, and maybe look at Job a little bit more. And so, we'll do that when we come back.

Keith, thanks for joining me, and I'll look forward to talking more with you real soon. Okay?

Keith Holloway: Thanks Gary.

Gary Wilkerson: Bless you, buddy. Talk to you later. Bye-bye now.

Key Questions from the Podcast

  • Why is there suffering in the world?
  • What does it mean that God is sovereign?
  • Is God really good?

 Notable Quotes from the Podcast

…there's a purpose for the valley of the shadow of death. There's a purpose for the table being set before me. And who set the table? We didn't set it; God set it. And where did he set it? In the presence of our enemies. And so, there's a purpose for our enemies. There's a purpose for suffering. – Gary Wilkerson

[Hugh Whelchel] made this comment that says that you'll never be able to walk through the valley of the shadow of death and fear no evil unless you believe in God's sovereignty. And I would agree with that statement. – Keith Holloway

Bible Verses Referenced in the Podcast

Genesis 1, Deuteronomy 4:35, Job 1:6–12, Job 2:1–6, Job 37:14–23, Job 38:1–2, Psalm 23:1–5, Isaiah 54:17, Romans 8:20–23, Romans 8:28, 1 Corinthians 13:12, 1 John 1:5 Revelation 20:1–3

Resources Mentioned in the Podcast

More Episodes From This Series:

About Keith Holloway

Keith Holloway is the Senior Director of Missions Development at World Challenge. Keith is a CHE trainer, facilitator, and a member of the Global CHE Network’s Representative Council. He and his wife Maureen live in Colorado Springs; they have six grown children and seven grandchildren. 

About Gary Wilkerson

Gary Wilkerson is the President of World Challenge, an international mission organization that was founded by his father, David Wilkerson. He is also the Founding Pastor of The Springs Church, which he launched in 2009 with a handful of people. He has traveled nationally and internationally at conferences and conducted mission ventures such as church planting, starting orphanages, clinics, feeding programs among the poorest of the poor and the most unreached people of the earth. Gary and his wife Kelly have four children and live in Colorado Springs, CO.

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*Inadvertently attributed to Hugh Whelchel on the podcast