Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy,
and whom he will he hardeneth. Rom.11:18

In our day and age a plethora of information and articles are being written on the subject of God’s sovereignty and how it harmonises with the Freewill of man. Every so-called scholar is writing a thesis or dissertation and is seeking to provide some ‘new’ perspective on these ancient doctrines. It is high time that Christians came to the realisation that the sovereignty of God and the freewill of man are doctrines that will never be fully comprehended in this life. It is imperative that the believer realises that these incomprehensible topics must be approached in the same manner as our salvation, and that is by faith. The question, therefore must not be ‘how do I reconcile the sovereignty of God and the freewill of man’ but rather, ‘can I believe that these doctrines as revealed in Scripture are in perfect harmony in the mind of God, though I cannot understand them.’

This text is quite often found in the centre of such discussions and questions as mentioned above. It is so important that the Christian does not simply leap over such ‘difficult’ passages because of the morbid fear of incorrect exegesis, and the labels that are often associated with these studies. Every Word of God is profitable and it is essential that the student of the Bible is willing to simply take God at His Word. So many are trying to add or subtract from the Word, and what is really needed in these days of apostasy, is for God’s people to return to a place of absolute faith in the Scripture.

Our passage above deals with an uncommon subject: ‘the unrevealed will of God.’ We are often confronted with messages and challenges regarding the will of God for our lives but rarely do we discuss the unrevealed will of God. The reality of the situation is that God’s plans, methods and mind is so far removed from our sinful, finite being that we can never in this life plummet the depths, or soar to the heights of his unsearchable knowledge. One of the most encouraging passages of Scripture that I have ever read is Deuteronomy 29:29 ‘The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.’ What a comfort to know that we do not have to have all the answers. We can rest assured that the judge of all the earth will do right (Gen.18:25). As mentioned in our verse ‘he (God) will have mercy on whom he will have mercy’ and that should be satisfaction enough for the faith-filled saint.

Many Christians are quick to accuse God of being unfair or unjust. They say “How could God harden the heart of a sinner?” This question displays a total lack of understanding of God. As a Christian my responsibility is not to figure out God, or pin His existence down to a set of laws or formulas. I am to love Him, obey Him, honour Him and trust that His ways and thoughts are higher than mine (Isa.55:8-9). As humans we are proud and haughty. We like to think that we can calculate the mysteries of God as though we are somehow going to ascend to a higher realm than God Himself. Let us be satisfied in the understanding that we do not have the understanding. This does not mean that we have the liberty to simply coast through our Christian experience without ever increasing in the knowledge of God (Col.1:9), but rather that we would be content to leave the ‘secret things’ to the Lord and His righteousness.

Finally there ought to be a resident joy in the heart of every believer as they rest in the knowledge that God is just and will always do right. There is nothing that will concern or alarm the Christian who is dwelling in the secret place of the most High (Psa.91:1), and secured beneath by the everlasting arms (Deut.33:27).

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About Daniel Kriss

Daniel is pastor at Mount Cathedral Community Baptist Church in Taggerty, Victoria. Daniel has studied theology and has been involved in itinerant preaching since 1999. In 2006, Daniel founded SWAT Camp which helps develop young leaders for Christian ministry. Daniel and his wife Jessica live in Melbourne. You can contact Daniel at


  1. PJ 23 November, 2011 at 8:47 pm - Reply

    Bro Daniel – what I dislike about this post is the way you express your position by marginalising the efforts of others to understand these matters.

    I found this statement particularly hard to take – “Many Christians are quick to accuse God of being unfair or unjust. They say “How could God harden the heart of a sinner?” This question displays a total lack of understanding of God.” — Why is this not a legitimate question to ask? You realise you have just labelled someone who is genuinely seeking to know and understand God’s dealings with man ‘ignorant’. (And you’ve basically de-legitimised anyone with a more Arminian position!)

    And why, may I ask is it “…high time that Christians came to the realisation that the sovereignty of God and the freewill of man are doctrines that will never be fully comprehend in this life?”

  2. JM 23 November, 2011 at 10:36 pm - Reply

    I guess you could ask the question: “How could God harden the heart of a sinner?”

    But wouldn’t you come across scripture like at the start of Exodus 10?

    In verse 1-2 it says: “And the LORD said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants … that ye may know how that I am the LORD.”

    And in Exodus 14:4 “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, that he shall follow after them; and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the LORD. And they did so.”

    Or do these verses not apply to that question?

  3. PJ 24 November, 2011 at 8:06 am - Reply

    @JM – yes, you are correct. My point is that I don’t think someone has a ‘total lack of understanding of God’ for asking that question. I think it is legitimate for a Believer and student of theology to ask the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ questions and we ought not to disparage them from doing so.

    I felt that Daniel’s post belittled those who don’t agree with his view that these are matters we can never comprehend so we should stop trying. A classical Calvinist or Arminian would offer some kind of explanation to the hardening of the heart by God. A Calvinist would probably explain it in terms of total depravity and unconditional election, an Arminian would probably talk about Pharaoh hardening his own heart (Ex 8:15,32).

    I don’t see why it’s a problem for Believers to try and come to some understanding of these texts rather than putting them in the ‘too hard basket’ – some would consider the very character of God to be at stake.

  4. Jason Harris 24 November, 2011 at 9:58 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the post Daniel. I think the key is when you say these doctrines will “never be fully comprehended in this life.”

    The moment we extrapolate from these questions the character of God (God is love and a loving God would never send people to hell forever), we are on extra-exegetical ground and need to tread with a certain trepidation and humility.

    Praying for you with your dad’s funeral, etc.

    • Jeremy Crooks 25 November, 2011 at 1:04 am

      I read Daniels post in the context of the seemingly eternal war between ‘Calvinists’ and ‘Arminians’. To that end I believe it is healthy to accept that we will never fully understand the mysterious ways of the Lord. It does not mean we should not try to understand them with grace and humility – realizing that ‘I don’t know’ is an acceptable answer.

  5. idell50 28 June, 2016 at 2:32 pm - Reply

    I enjoyed your article and found the feeling mutual when you said that Deuteronomy 29:29 was one of the most encouraging verses of Scripture you had ever read. It has been so for me as well. I think you would enjoy a book called “The Crook in the Lot” (the sovereignty of God in the afflictions of men) by Thomas Boston. I recently re-read it after having read it in the 1970s. It is filled with blessed truths and saturated with scriptural examples and verses. Keep writing! ~ Nancy

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