What is the relationship between God's sovereignty and man's responsibility?
This is a question that Christians have wrestled with throughout the history of the church. In this post, I'd like to briefly think about this question as it relates to God's providence and the problem of evil.
Let us begin by considering a question: Who sent Joseph to Egypt? On the one hand, we can say that his brothers sent him to Egypt by selling him to the Ishmaelites (Genesis 37:12ff). Yet, on the other hand, we can say that God sent Joseph to Egypt (Genesis 45:7-8).
Let us also consider another question: Who was responsible for Jesus death? On the one hand, it is clear that Jesus was crucified by the evil acts of lawless men such as Judas, Herod, Pontias Pilate, and the Jews (Acts 4:27). And it is equally clear that these people are held responsible for their actions (Luke 22:22). Yet, on the other hand, everything happened just as God had predestined for it to happen (Acts 2:23, 4:28).
I know that we have only begun to touch the surface of this discussion, but I believe that we can already draw some conclusions. First, God is sovereign over all things--even evil acts such as selling Joseph into slavery or crucifying Jesus. Yet, He never does evil and Scripture never blames God for evil (James 1:13). Second, man is always held accountable for his actions. Joseph's brothers sinned against him. Judas betrayed Jesus.
In response to this mystery, I believe that we should be humbled. Anytime we are confronted with mystery, we should be reminded that we creatures and not the Creator. Our knowledge is limited, while His knowledge is unlimited. We see things dimly, while He sees all things clearly. He is God and there is no other.