Before I teach on why we should replace “God is in Control” with “God is in Command”, I will give an example of how our relationship with God changes over time as we mature in our relationship.
As many of you know, I was a commercial pilot for seven years, and we use “control” as determining who is in command of the aircraft. So let’s think of God (the Trinity) as initially the pilot and you being the passenger. God as the pilot is like when we are new believers. God is our pilot, and we sit in the seat next to Him (Remember we are seated at the right hand of the Father in Christ Jesus – Ephesians 2:6). We watch what He does, and we don’t have any involvement in piloting the aircraft.
2. You have Control
A. God Becomes the Instructor.
When we become young men and women in God, He wants to teach us to fly in the Spirit, so He changes from the aircraft pilot to the instructor pilot. You then sit in the pilot seat. He now starts to show us (disciple us) what we should do. He then says this: “Handing Over, you have control.” You, as the student pilot says: “Taking Over, I have control.” The instructor pilot then takes his hands off the yoke (the steering wheel if you think of a car), and the student pilot is flying the aircraft. However, at any stage, if the instructor pilot believes the plane is in danger or that he wants to teach or correct the student pilot, the instructor says, “I have control”, and the student pilot says, “You have control”.
B. Maturing in Your Authority.
Now let’s move to multi-crew operational piloting, where the ‘Student pilot’ is not a student but is a fully qualified pilot able to command the aircraft with another pilot. The fully qualified pilot may now pilot the aircraft with the highly experienced pilot (God) accompanying the new pilot (you).
Before the flight begins, the experienced pilot and the new pilot have a conversation, which goes something like this – shortened and amended for simplicity. I will now use God and you instead of an experienced and new pilot.
God: “You are the pilot in command of this flight and the aircraft. We will follow these written procedures (like Biblical commandments). As the pilot not flying, I will do these written instructions, and you, as the pilot flying, will follow the verbal instructions for the pilot in charge.
You: “I am the pilot in charge of this flight and fly the aircraft”.
God: “If there is an emergency, you will remain the pilot in command. I will read the manuals, and you will fly the aircraft. You will give the instructions as pilot flying, and I will follow your instruction”.
You: “Understood, in an emergency, I will fly the aircraft, and you (God) will read me the manuals” (the Biblical promises).
God: “However, if I believe that the emergency requires me to pilot the aircraft, then I will take control by saying, “Taking Over, I have the aircraft”. At that point, I become the pilot flying the aircraft, and you become the pilot not flying”.
You:” If you say, ‘Taking Over, I have the aircraft” ‘I will hand the aircraft over to you and become the pilot not flying and follow the written instructions as pilot not flying”.
3. Reformed Theology Teaching
- God is in infinite control is a cornerstone teaching of Classical/Reformed Theology but is not truth. If God is not in infinite control then other aspects of Reformed Theology fall apart. For example the Reformed Theology that God has predestined some to go to hell. (Which also is not true).
- If God has infinite control then there is no need to preach the gospel,
- When God has infinite control then all sickness comes from God,
- If God has infinite control then all suffering comes from God,
- When God has infinite control then natural disasters all come from Him,
- If God has infinite control then man does not have free will.
4. God is Sovereign
We have seen the incorrect view of sovereignty as God is completely controlling.
He has chosen to not be in control!
The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’s;Psalms 115:16
But the earth He has given to the children of men.
- God made man in His image, and because God has free will (He is sovereign), man has free will.
- He has given man free will and for this reason is not in control
- God is Sovereign and Can Choose to be in Command
- Because we have seen God being in COMMAND we have made the error of saying God is always in control, as if everything is up to God. We may therefore blame disasters as ‘acts of God’ and sickness as the will of God.
- While we are young in Christ we see God in control. Just as parents we take control of everything that our infants need and do.
- When we grow up He wants us to learn about our authority:
I write to you, fathers, Because you have known Him who is from the beginning.1 John 2:13 NKJV
And, I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the wicked one.
I write to you, little children, Because you have known the Father.
5. God’s Goodness or God’s Control
There are times when God’s desire for us to succeed will cause Him to take command of our life, like in the story above. But this is always for our good:
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Here are some examples:
A. The Keeper of the Prison.
God’s goodness may cause him to take action if He considers a person may harm themselves.
And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself.
But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.”
Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas.
And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
Here God takes action to prevent the jailer from harming himself
God may also take command if we are turning from our calling.
Jonah Runs From The Word of the Lord.NKJV Strong’s Introduction of Jonah
Nineveh is northeast; Tarshish is west. When God calls Jonah to preach repentance to the wicked Ninevites, the prophet knows that God’s mercy may follow. He turns down the assignment and heads for Tarshish instead. But once God has dampened his spirits (by tossing him out of the boat and into the water) and has demonstrated His protection (by moving him out of the water and into the fish), Jonah realizes God is serious about His command. Nineveh must hear the word of the Lord; therefore Jonah goes. Although the preaching is a success, the preacher comes away angry and discouraged and he must learn firsthand of Gods compassion for sinful men.
God Is not In control; however, the Lord may restrain us.
Just like the experienced pilot in my starting story, God may take over command of your life to ensure you get back on the correct path:
As [Saul] journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven.Acts 9:3-6
Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
And he said, “Who are You, Lord?”
Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”
So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?”
Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
Ananias could not see the bigger picture of why God was telling him to go to see Saul. Sometimes we just need to believe in the Goodness of God and His protection when we obey His command.
Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.”Acts 9:10-15
And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”
So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying.
And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.”
Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem.
And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.”
But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.
Being a good Father, God may elect to take command out of His love for us to bring us to our destiny. We may think we are on the right track, but God’s ways and thoughts are higher than ours.
“I was in the city of Joppa praying; and in a trance I saw a vision, an object descending like a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came to me.Acts 11:5-10
When I observed it intently and considered, I saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air.
And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’
But I said, ‘Not so, Lord! For nothing common or unclean has at any time entered my mouth.’
But the voice answered me again from heaven, ‘What God has cleansed you must not call common.’
Now this was done three times, and all were drawn up again into heaven.
F. Angels Bring The Command Of The Lord.
Here we see God intervening to bring Cornelius’ household to the knowledge of Jesus.
At that very moment, three men stood before the house where I was, having been sent to me from Caesarea.Acts 11:11-15
Then the Spirit told me to go with them, doubting nothing. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house.
And he told us how he had seen an angel standing in his house, who said to him, ‘Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon whose surname is Peter,
who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved.’
And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning.
G. God Can Change Our View and Redirect our Paths.
God intervened in Peter’s life through a vision because he believed that salvation was only for the Jews. So God took command by granting Peter a vision. We see that God can change our view, but he does not do this unilaterally. He expects us to respond to His direction with a change of thinking.
Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’Acts 11:16-18
If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?”
When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”
6. The Heart of the Father is Command, Not Control
A. We can Motivate the Heart of God by our Faith.
Our love of God will motivate the heart of the Father to bring us Into our destiny:
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.Hebrews 11:6 NKJV
B. Our lack of Wisdom
God doesn’t need to punish us because our lack of wisdom often chastises us.
For example, we are not looking after our vehicle according to the manufacturer’s instructions resulting in the car’s brakes failing and, as a result, having an accident. We need to be careful in instances like this not to blame God, the devil, or other people, but to take responsibility for our actions or neglect.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.Romans 8:28 NKJV
We may not consider the consequences of sin before we act. Sin always has consequences!
Sometimes God will protect us from our sins or mistakes; other times, He wants us to realise the consequences. It’s easy to say at these times; God is in control. Sometimes He is, but sometimes He isn’t.
If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?Hebrews 12:7NKJV
- This discipline is a result of His goodness and so our attitude during this time should be:
But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,Psalm 33:18 NKJV
7. Pre-Incarnate Jesus is in Command Not Control
A. Jesus Did not Say “I am the Controller”.
So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.”Joshua 5:14 NKJV
B. The Army of the Lord is Spiritual and Natural.
And all the people of war who were with him went up and drew near; and they came before the city and camped on the north side of Ai. Now a valley lay between them and Ai.Joshua 8:11 NKJV
And Elisha prayed, and said, “LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.2 Kings 6:17 NKJV
8. We Have Dominion (Command)
God is in control of creation EXCEPT for what He has commanded us to have dominion over.
A. What We Have Dominion Over.
He has given humanity dominion over every living creature, the plants and the trees:
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground. ” Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.Genesis 1:28-29 NKJV
B. We Are Created in His Image.
We have dominion due to being created in the likeness of God.
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the …Genesis 1:26 NKJV
C. God’s Plan.
The foundation of His dominion plan is what He started with – a garden that would provide everything.
Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.Genesis 2:15 NKJV
D. The Concequence of Sin.
Sin entered the world, and the degradation started.
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—Romans 5:12 NKJV
E. Sin No Longer Reigns.
And in its place, grace reigns. (See Sin 102)
so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.Romans 5:21 NKJV
- Creation is expecting the sons of God to mature, because creations is no longer under the weight of sin’s reign. Now that we are in authority again God wants us to take dominion over the earth again (We cannot say God is in control of global warming)
For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.Romans 8:22 NKJV
9. God is Sovereign
Sometimes God’s sovereignty requires He takes command when we don’t want Him to take command.
He does this because He wants us to grow to a new level of maturity and glory.
A. One Example is Suffering
For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.1 Peter 3:17
B. Another Example is Persecution.
having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.1 Peter 3:16 NKJV
10. Kingdom Thinking Shows God in Command
A. God Has Given Jesus Authority in the Kingdom of God.
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.Matthew 28:18 NKJV
B. Jesus Has Given Us Authority.
Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.Luke 10:19 NKJV
11. Authority Structure
- Being in command means Jesus gives commandments, then we in turn take command.
Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.Luke 10:19 NKJV
And heal the sick there, and say to them, The kingdom of God has come near to you.’Luke 10:9 NKJV
12. Prophetic Commands From God
Prophetic words that come from God may be considered commandments in the same way that God instructed Joshua:
Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses.Joshua 1:3 NKJV
We cannot just sit and wait for God’s commands to happen (if God were in control, then God would overrule the person’s free will). We need to do what He says and take command of our life.
© Use by Permission Awakening Impact Ministries / Dr Neville van Eerten 2022