God is Sovereign

Bob RoaneJesus Christ, Loving and Trusting God, Safety and Security in Christ

Our God is in heaven; He does whatever pleases Him….I know that You can do all things; no purpose of Yours can be thwarted….Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. (Psalm 115:3; Job 42:2; Proverbs 19:21)

A Definition

The sovereignty of God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is the truth that He is the Lord over His creation. As sovereign, He exercises His rule. His rule is exercised through God’s authority as King of kings and Lord of lords, His control over all things, and His presence with His repenting and believing people and throughout His creation. God’s personal name, Yahweh, expresses this sovereign rule over all human powers, rulers, and authorities. Because the Lord is one God in three persons, His sovereign control is not mechanical, but is the loving and gracious oversight of the Father-King of creation and redemption.1

Joseph was the Hebrew prince in Egypt and his jealous brothers had schemed to harm him. But God intended it for good and turned the brothers’ cruel actions to a good outcome, accomplishing the saving of many lives.2 The Lord does that kind of thing all the time in our world. That’s why God’s sovereignty is such a comforting truth to Jesus’ followers.

Three Reminders

  1. The Lord is still in charge of His universe. And He’s got the whole world and us in His hands.
  2. The current disasters in the world and in our individual lives will pass away, like all previous disasters.
  3. Now is our opportunity to be God’s Christ-like children in a fallen world. By the Holy Spirit’s help, we are to shine for the Lord and offer everyone Jesus’ wonderful words of life.

Scripture says: Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And holding it forth to others.3

Quote from J. I. Packer

The quotation below comes from Packer’s 1959 lecture to college students gathered in London for a Missions Conference of the Inter-Varsity Fellowship. It’s not out of date and I used it again with new people recently.

I do not intend to spend any time proving to you the general truth that God is sovereign in His world. There is no need. For I know that, if you are a Christian, you believe this already. How do I know that? Because I know that, if you are a Christian, you pray, and the recognition of God’s sovereignty is the basis of your prayers. In prayer, you ask for things and give thanks for things. Why? Because you recognize that God is the Author and Source of all the good that you have had already, and all the good that you hope for in the future. This is the fundamental philosophy of Christian prayer. The prayer of a Christian is not an attempt to force God’s hand, but a humble acknowledgment of helplessness and dependence. When we are on our knees in prayer, we know that it is not we who control the world. It is not in our power, therefore, to supply our needs by our own independent efforts. Every good thing that we desire for ourselves and for others must be sought from God, and will come, if it comes at all, as a gift from His hands. If this is true even of our daily bread (as the Lord’s Prayer teaches us), much more is it true of spiritual benefits. This is all luminously clear to us when we are actually praying. Every time we pray, we are confessing our own impotence and God’s sovereignty. The very fact that a Christian prays is proof positive that we believe in the lordship of our God.4

More Scriptures

Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.

This is one of the best-known and best-loved verses in Scripture and rightly so. But many Christians misinterpret it, claiming that God guarantees us all the “good” things we want in this life: families, jobs, health, wealth, unhindered happiness, etc. But as the surrounding verses in Romans 8 make clear, “good” is primarily being with Christ our Lord eternally and being made like Him more and more in this life. Peter says, “In keeping with God’s promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.” Praise the Lord, He works in our lives now and gives us many blessings now, but the best is yet to come.

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no human mind has conceived
the things God has prepared for those who love Him. (1 Cor 2:9)

Daniel 4:35 All the peoples of the earth don’t add up to much compared to the Lord. He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back His hand or say to Him: “What have You done?”

King Nebuchadnezzar II was the greatest military leader of the Neo-Babylonian empire. He was warrior who exerted great power and command, re-building Babylon and re-establishing polytheistic religious worship. He ruled from 605 to 562 BC, expanding his kingship and military might. The Lord was patient with Nebuchadnezzar, but the king was arrogant, self-centered, and hard-hearted toward God. So the Lord removed the king’s reasoning and humiliated him. After time passed, God restored Nebuchadnezzar’s sanity, and the king meekly acknowledged that Lord’s higher Kingship cannot be overcome and Nebuchadnezzar spoke the words recorded in Daniel 4:35.

We learn from Daniel 4 that God humbles proud people. That’s stated often in the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation. The Lord gives us a new clarity when we bow before Him. He helps us to see all of life and its issues better. He helps us see ourselves, other people, our problems, and our past, present, and future better. Everything gets clearer the closer we get to God. In truth, we are weak and perishing creatures and awareness of God’s sovereignty should drive us to seek Him earnestly and gladly live under His loving lordship.

All praise to God, who reigns above, The God of all creation,
The God of wonders, power, and love, The God of our salvation!
With healing balm my soul He fills, The God who every sorrow stills,
To God all praise and glory!

Continued at God is Sovereign (in the Book of Proverbs).

Notes (various Bible translations used): 1 Adapted from John M. Frame, class notes, 1979.     2 Gen 50:20.    3 Phil 2:14-16, quoting Deut 32:5.     4 Adapted from Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, 1961 edition, p. 11-12.