Sovereignty of God

The Sovereignty/Providence of God

 

I.  God’s Independence/Self-sufficiency

 

Acts 17:24-25 The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.

 

John 5:26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.

Ps. 50:10-12 For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills.  I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine.  If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine.

 

Job 42:2  I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.

 

Ps. 115:3  Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.

Prov. 21:30 There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD.

 

Ps. 135:6 “The LORD does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths.

 

“God does not need us or the rest of creation for anything, yet we and the rest of creation glorify Him and bring Him joy.”  Dr. Wayne Grudem, Bible Doctrine, p. 71

 

II.  God’s Sovereignty/Providence

Sovereignty = God SO VERy REIGNs

 

“God’s providence is his constant care for and His absolute rule over all His creation for His own glory and the good of His people.”  Jerry Bridges, Is God Really in Control?, p. 25

 

“He is able to do all His holy will.”  Dr. Wayne Grudem, Bible Doctrines, p. 98

 

“The sovereignty of God is the exercise of His supremacy.”  Arthur Pink, The Attributes of God, p. 32

“The sovereignty of God has to do with both His will and His power.  The sovereign will of God is the exercise of God’s supremacy in the total course of human events.”  Dan DaHaan, The God You Can Know, p. 48

 

Ps. 103:19  The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all.

 

Isa. 46:9-11 I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.

Dan. 4:34-35 His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing.
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?”

 

“We believe that God upholds and governs all things—from galaxies to subatomic particles, from the forces of nature to the movements of nations, and from the public plans of politicians to the secret acts of solitary persons—all in accord with His eternal, all-wise purposes to glorify Himself, yet in such a way that He never sins, nor ever condemns a person unjustly; but that His ordaining and governing all things is compatible with the moral accountability of all persons created in His image.”  Bethlehem Baptist Church Affirmation of Faith (John Piper, pastor)

 

He is sovereign (“so very reigns”):

A. Over the world continuing to exist.

Hebr. 1:3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.

Col. 1:17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

 

B. Over nature.

Job 37:6 He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’ and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’

Job 38:23-27  Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail, which I reserve for times of trouble, for days of war and battle? What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed, or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth? Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for the thunderstorm, to water a land where no one lives, an uninhabited desert, to satisfy a desolate wasteland and make it sprout with grass?

Ps. 104:14 He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for people to cultivate—bringing forth food from the earth

 

C. Over animals.

Mt. 6:26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

Mt. 10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.

 

D. Over the duration of our lives.

Ps. 139:16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.

 

E. Over seemingly random or “chance” events.

Prov. 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the LORD.

Jonah 1:7  And they said to one another, “Come, let us ncast lots, that we may know on whose account this evil has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah.

Acts 1:26  And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

 

F. The affairs of nations and governments.

Job 12:23 He makes nations great, and destroys them; he enlarges nations, and disperses them.

Ps. 22:28 for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations.

Rom. 13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.

 

G. Over leaders’ hearts.

Prov.21:1 The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.

Ex. 7:3-5 But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in Egypt, 4 he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites. 5 And the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it.”

 

H. Over Satan and the demonic realm.

Job 1:12 The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”

Luke 22:31-32 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

 

I. Over where people are born and live.

Acts 17:24-27 The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.

 

J. Over sin and evil.

Lam. 3:38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?

Isa. 45:7 I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things.

Acts 4:27-28 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.

Prov. 16:4 The LORD works out everything to its proper end— even the wicked for a day of disaster.

Gen. 50:20  You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good, to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

 

God never does evil or is to be blamed for evil, for He is perfect and good in all His ways.  He is right to fully judge man’s sin because He is holy.

Dt. 32:4 He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.

Ps. 145:17 The LORD is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does.

Dan. 4:37 everything he does is right and all his ways are just.

 

K. Over the coming of Jesus and salvation.

Acts 4:27-28 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.

Acts 13:48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.

Romans 9:18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

Eph. 1:4-6 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

Rom. 8:29-30 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

 

L. Over all aspects of our lives.

Prov. 16:9  The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.

Prov. 20:24 A person’s steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand their own way?

Eph.  1:11  He works all things after the counsel of His will

 

 

M. Over circumstances (even the sin of man) working for our sanctification

Romans 8:28-29 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son

Gen. 50:20  As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.

 

N. Over His purposes.

Isa. 46:10 declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,'

 

O. Over Jesus’ return.

Acts 1:11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

 

P. Over the final outcome.

Rev. 21:1-2 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

 

III.  God’s Sovereignty and Human Choices

Though a mystery how it exactly works, God’s sovereignty and human choices are compatible.  Dr. Grudem calls this “compatibilism”

 

A. Pharoah

 

Ex. 9:12 But the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he did not listen to them, as the LORD had spoken to Moses.

Ex. 8:15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was a respite, he hardened his heart and would not listen to them, as the LORD had said.

 

B. Joseph

 

Gen. 50:20  what man meant for evil, God meant for good.

 

C. Judas

 

Jn. 17:12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

 

 

D. Jesus’ crucifixion

 

Acts 2:23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.

Acts 4:27-28 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.

 

"The most evil deed of all history, the crucifixion of Christ, was ordained by God." Dr. Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 326.

 

E. Salvation

 

Jn. 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.

 

Rom. 9:14-23 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." 16So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." 18So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. 19You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?" 20But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?" 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory

 

Rom. 9 shows us that God is sovereign over who is saved.  He has a divine right to save whom He chooses.  Salvation is all His grace.  None deserve to be saved, so it is not unfair that not all are saved.  V. 22-23  even His wrath and judgment shows His glory and mercy because no one deserves grace.

 

And yet, the very next chapter talks about the need for man to believe and to preach:

Rom. 10:13-14 "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."14How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?

 

“Nothing, therefore, happens unless the Omnipotent wills it to happen; He either permits it to happen, or he brings it about Himself.”  Jerry Bridges, Is God Really in Control?, p. 28

 

 

IV.  Results of Understanding Sovereignty

A proper understanding of God’s sovereignty is not meant to frustrate or confuse us, but rather to lead us into greater rest, trust, peace, and confidence in the Lord.

A. Rest

Ps. 31:15 My times are in your hand

B. Worship

Rom. 11:34-36 “Who has known the mind of the Lord?  Or who has been his counselor?” 35 “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?” 36 For from him and through him and for him are all things.To him be the glory forever! Amen.

C. Faith

D. Confidence

Isa. 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

E. Stability

Job 42:1-2 Then Job replied to the LORD: 2 “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.

F. Peace

Phil. 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

G. Obedience

 

“I really have only two options.  I receive whatever comes my way as from God’s hand, or I see myself a victim, and if a victim, there’s someone to blame.”  Pastor Jimmy Bamberg

 

“Though what God does in His providence benefits us, its highest virtue is found in its glorification of God Himself.”  R.C. Sproul, The Invisible Hand:  Do All Things Really Work for Good?, p. 22

To hear more of my heart and journey as I walk by faith, go to www.pastordavidholt.blogspot.com

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