The Sovereign God


This is lesson 8 in the series "The Attributes of God."
 

The Sovereign God

The sovereignty of God carries with it several connotations.

·         God is the most important

·         God has all authority

·         God sustains all things

·         God has the right to command, establish laws and standards, exact obedience, and be final judge

·         God can freely delegate authority as He so pleases

Romans 13:1b, “For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.”

This attribute dispels any notion of God being a distant observer of this world’s events and people.

It is not that God will reign but that He does reign.

It is not that God will be King but that He is King.

Psalm 115:3, “But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.”

This statement has no conditions, no limitations, no qualifying statements. Through prayer we may move God to do something that would not otherwise happen, but if God determines something then nothing can or will ever change its completion.

God is not like a ship’s captain that pushes button and turns wheels hoping to steer the boat onto a right course. Rather, He is the sovereign ruler who does whatever He pleases.

Yes, we have free will; we have the ability to make choices that will affect our and other people’s eternity. But the choices that we have are limited by what God allows. Now God apparently allows quite a bit of latitude since we tend to choose sin so often. But if God determines that something will happen in our lives then that will indeed happen and no amount of free will will alter that.

Isaiah 46:9-11

    9"Remember the former things long past,
         For I am God, and there is no other;
         I am God, and there is no one like Me,
    10Declaring the end from the beginning,
         And from ancient times things which have not been done,
         Saying, My purpose will be established,
         And I will accomplish all My good pleasure';
    11Calling a bird of prey from the east,
         The man of My purpose from a far country
         Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass.
         I have planned it, surely I will do it.

Names of God related to His sovereignty:

·         Adonai (Master or Lord)

·         The Lord of Hosts

·         King

·         King Eternal

·         King of Kings

·         King of the Ages

·         Lord

·         Lord God Almighty

·         Lord Jesus Christ

·         Lord of All

·         Lord of Glory

·         Lord of Lords

·         Lord of our Righteousness

·         Highest

·         The Most High God

·         Shepherd

·         Chief Shepherd

·         Great Shepherd

·         Shepherd of our Souls

·         Commander

·         God over All

·         Head of the Body

·         Head of the Church

·         Leader

·         Lion of the Tribe of Judah

·         Ruler of God’s Creation

·         Ruler over Kings of the Earth

·         Ruler over Israel

 

Satan is called:

·         “the ruler of this world” (John 16:11)

·         “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4)

·         “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2)

But is it God who is the “great King over all the earth” (Psalm 47:2)

 

The first verse in the Bible establishes the primary truth: “In the beginning God…” Here, all priority is defined.

Nothing preceded God and nothing shall usurp Him. The reign of God will go unchallenged.

Isaiah 40:15, Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket,
         And are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales;
         Behold, He lifts up the islands like fine dust.

God’s sovereignty should not be equated with that of earthly kings

 

An Earthly King

God

From an isolated castle

Is among and in His people

Decrees are best guesses

Decrees are based on omniscience

Enforced by his soldiers and minions

Enforced directly by Himself to each person

May decree laws that benefit only himself

All of His decrees will benefit us

May be corrupt

Is never corrupt

May be overthrown by enemies, by revolutions, or by his own inner circle

Can never be overthrown

Authority is probably shared

Authority is absolute

Spends much of his time maintaining his power

Spends much of His time guiding and perfecting us

Average reign of a medieval king was just over 20 years

Average reign of God is just over an eternity

 

Daniel 2:21

It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men and knowledge to men of understanding.

The wicked scorn God’s sovereignty

 

The wicked look at this world and they scorn God.

“How could a loving God let that person suffer and die like that?”

“That guy killed some many people and now he is going to spend the rest of his life in jail with free medical care, a warm bed, and three meals a day. Then he’ll probably die in his sleep. If there is a God then He is certainly unjust.”

“Look at all of the wars, famine, and disasters. Where is God and why doesn’t He do something?”

These attitudes reveal the very heart of people’s arrogance. What person is innocent? Who has suffered more than their sin deserves? For what does the Most High owe anyone?

Lamentations 3:39, “Why should any living mortal, or any man, Offer complaint in view of his sins?”

One day they will be silenced when confronted with the truth of God’s sovereignty as stated in Romans 14:11.

For it is written,
         AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME,
         AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD.

Philippians 2:10-11

 10so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

 11and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

God’s perfect will vs. God’s permissive will

 

Genesis 19

 17When they had brought them outside, one said, "Escape for your life! Do not look behind you, and do not stay anywhere in the valley; escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away."

 18But Lot said to them, "Oh no, my lords!

 19"Now behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have magnified your lovingkindness, which you have shown me by saving my life; but I cannot escape to the mountains, for the disaster will overtake me and I will die;

 20now behold, this town is near enough to flee to, and it is small. Please, let me escape there (is it not small?) that my life may be saved."

 21He said to him, "Behold, I grant you this request also, not to overthrow the town of which you have spoken.

 22"Hurry, escape there, for I cannot do anything until you arrive there." Therefore the name of the town was called Zoar.

God’s perfect will was for Lot to escape up into the mountains.

Lot did not want to go into the mountains; he wanted to go to a small town.

God let Lot go to the small town.

Lot stayed in Zoar a short time and then left because he was afraid.

Lot went to a cave.

Lot got drunk.

Lot was debased.

God, as a rule, never forces us to do anything. However, when we do not do want He wants then usually it will not turn out as best as it could have.

End-time prophecy is assured

 

God has told us in the Bible the exact events and attitudes of the end-times and we can be assured that these will occur exactly as His says because He reigns.

Who can deceive the omniscient?

Who can overpower the omnipotent?

Daniel 4:34-35

         For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
         And His kingdom endures from generation to generation.
    35"All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
         But He does according to His will in the host of heaven
         And among the inhabitants of earth;
         And no one can ward off His hand
         Or say to Him, 'What have You done?'

All Messianic OT prophecies were completely fulfilled in Jesus Christ

 

The 39 books of the Old Testament (OT) were written centuries before Jesus was born.  The OT has around 315 prophecies regarding the coming Messiah. Jesus Christ fulfilled every one of them.  But could many people have fulfilled those prophecies?

Professor Peter Stoner in the book Science Speaks calculated the odds of one Person fulfilling just eight of these prophecies. They were:

·         His place of birth (Micah 5:2)

·         The time of birth (Daniel 9:25)

·         The manner of birth (Isaiah 7:14)

·         How He was betrayed (Zechariah 11:11-13)

·         The manner of His Death (Psalm 22:16)

·         The piercing of His hands, feet and side  (Psalm 22, Zechariah 12:10)

·         The fact that people mocked Him (Isaiah 53, Psalm 22)

·         How He was buried (Isaiah 53:9)

 

He found the odds to be 1 in 1017. To put this in perspective, this many silver dollars would cover the state of Texas two feet deep. Mark only one of these silver dollars. Now blindfold someone and let him parachute and pick only one coin. That this would be the one and only marked coin is the same odds as 1 in 1017.

George Heron, a French mathematician, calculated that the odds of one man fulfilling only 40 of those prophecies to be 1 in 10157. The estimated number of electrons in the entire universe is only around 1079.  

Is God sovereign?

God’s sovereignty means that He can use anyone

 

Because the power and authority to accomplish righteousness comes from God and not from ourselves we can be confident.

Whoever sin has hardened, God can sanctify.

Whoever is depraved, God can glorify.

Whoever is foolish, God can make wise.

Whoever is weak, God can make strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

 9And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness " Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

 10Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

Satan rejected God’s supremacy

 

In Isaiah 14 we see Satan’s attitude when he fell. There are the five I will’s.

    13"But you said in your heart,
         'I will ascend to heaven;
         I will raise my throne above the stars of God,
         And I will sit on the mount of assembly
         In the recesses of the north.
    14'I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
         I will make myself like the Most High.'

All five attitudes show Satan wanting to usurp the authority of God. This was the first sin.

Then in the Garden of Eden Satan convinced Eve and then Adam to have this same attitude of usurping God’s authority.

Genesis 3:5, “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

In both instances it was a case of wanting to pull away from God’s authority and setting themselves up as their own independent authority. They wanted to make their own rules.

Romans 1:25 states this clearly, “For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.”

Every day we have the choice to seek our own interests or to glorify God, to put ourselves or God on the throne.

We cannot serve two masters

 

Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other you cannot serve God and wealth.”

As independent as we may think ourselves to be the truth is that we are always a slave or servant to someone.

We are either serving the Devil or we are serving God.

We can present ourselves as instruments of righteousness or of unrighteousness.

We are designed to obey. May it always be God and His eternal reign that we choose.

What does God’s sovereignty mean to us?

He is not merely a distant observer.

 

Jeremiah 23:23 declares, “’Am I a God who is near,’ declares the LORD, ‘And not a God far off?’” God has His hand in everything so we can be confident that He is always in control and able to heal, provide guidance, support, encourage, and lead us in triumph. God is a king who is deeply involved in every affair under His rule. Even a sparrow can’t fall to the ground without God being aware of it.

God can direct and control whatever He wants

 

Romans 8:28 states, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Notice the key word “causes.” God does not merely hope that the best path for us is available; He is able to cause it to be there if He so chooses.

We never have to be overcome by Satan or by any other evil or sin.

 

Nothing can keep us from doing what is right if we truly want to do what is right. We always have a choice of whether to sin or not to sin, but this is only because God is sovereign.

In medieval Europe a certain man’s village was overrun by barbarians from the north, but having been a citizen of the Roman Empire he still wanted to live under the laws and culture of Rome. But he was unable to do so because the barbarians now controlled him and his village. He had no choice; he had to submit to the ways of the barbarians. In our spiritual battle if we want to serve God nothing can prevent that from happening because God is sovereign everywhere all of the time.

Psalm 97:1, “The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice.”

Discussion Questions

1)      In addition to the ones discussed above, what are some other assurances that God’s sovereignty means to us?

2)      If God is sovereign then why do bad things still happen? Does not this mean that He has relinquished at least a little of His power or authority?

3)      How does knowing that God is in control help us in our struggles?

4)      If God is sovereign then why did He allow sin into the world?

5)      If God is in control then why does not He just come back now and set everything straight?

6)      What are some ways that we can give God greater control of our lives?

7)      Can you think of any examples of God’s sovereignty being demonstrated in any of the people in the Bible?

Situation

George is not a Christian and every time that you try to bring up the Gospel his response is that he would never want to serve a God that allows such horrors as genocide, torture, and war. So if God really is in control, he will say, then He must not care what happens to people and so is not worthy of our worship. The only other option, he will continue, is that God really is not in control and so then how could He guarantee our eternal future? After giving it careful thought, how would you answer George’s contention?

 


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Copyright Bob La Forge 2011        email: bob@disciplescorner.com