Two Takes on the Sovereignty of God: Divine Puppeteer or Sovereign Stage Director?

July 23, 2019

Acts 9:10-19

In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”

“Yes, Lord,” he answered.

The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands onhim to restore his sight.”

“Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”

But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.


God is not a puppeteer, but he is an amazing stage director. Puppets have no will of their own. Their movements are never left to chance. Actors, on the other hand, must learn a script. They must be trained in the art form. They can take cues or reject them. An actor can heed the directors command or do something completely different. The best actors become so immersed in the script and trained in the mind of the director they can improvise in the moment to effect an outcome never seen before but only imagined in the heart of the director.

Some think of the sovereignty of God as though God were a divine puppeteer. There is no effect God does not cause; no outcome he did not predestine. People, like puppets, have no free will. Some of the smartest theologians in the room believe this. I do not claim to be among them, either in intelligence or in belief. I think of the sovereignty of God as though God were a Divine Stage Director. There are infinite effects from manifold causes; thousands of possible outcomes not predetermined yet neither unforeseen. He has complete control over every aspect of the production, but he chooses to work with actors who have a mind and will of their own. He expects the cast to know the script(ure) by heart and to intuit His mind from hours and hours of practice through the gift of the Spirit. God’s chief desire is willful obedience inspired by holy love yet his will cannot be thwarted even by total insurrection and the most heinous rebellion.

The amazing thing about God as Sovereign Stage Director is he is directing billions of different stages all at once and as though they were in one great theater. No matter what forgotten lines or errant improvisations or outright deviations from the script, one thing is for certain—the outcome: The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.

I see the dramatic plot and the simultaneous sequencing unfolding in today’s text (and yesterday’s, and tomorrow’s) through the lens of God as Sovereign Stage Director. Or were Paul and Ananias just the puppets of a predestined plot? Read it back through and see what you think.




What is your sense of God’s sovereignty—is God a Divine Puppeteer or more of a Sovereign Stage Director? How might you become a better trained actor?

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt

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