Is God Sovereign over Evil?

James 4:13–16

God’s will always comes to pass, but what he commands may not. John Piper explains in this lab that God has two wills: his will of decree and his will of command.

Some questions to ask as you read and study James 4:13–16:

  1. Do you believe God is sovereign over evil?
  2. Watch the lab. According to John Piper, what are the two wills of God, and how would you summarize them in your own words?
  3. Do you know someone who has experienced pain, wondering if God is good? How does God’s sovereignty over evil and suffering bring hope to sufferers?

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Principles of Bible Reading


One way that people love to communicate is to use words and phrases that someone else has said in the past to enhance what they are saying now. We quote others to defend, explain, or confirm what we are trying to communicate.

The biblical authors do this as well. When you see New Testament authors quote Old Testament verses, ask what texts they are quoting to make their point or, when they do not quote a specific text, which texts they might have had in mind. Utilizing cross-references, especially when a New Testament verse or passage cites or alludes to Old Testament passages, helps us to have a fuller understanding of what the authors were trying to communicate.

Most study Bibles have cross-references that connect you to other texts in the Bible that relate in some way to that text. Whether connected thematically or by a common phrase, cross-referencing enhances our study when we take the time to look up the verses.

For Example

  • Those fighting injustice might begin a speech by saying, “I have a dream.” They are not drawing attention to what happened while they slept the night before. Rather, they are linking their situation to the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and to the Civil Rights era. The fullness of what is being said would be lost without thinking of events such as police hosing African Americans in the streets, water fountains for “whites” and “coloreds,” and mass rallies and marches on Washington.