In his classic book The Sovereignty of God, A.W.Pink explains the Sovereignty of God like this.
“What do we mean by [the sovereignty of God]? We mean the supremacy of God, the kingship of God, the god-hood of God. To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that God is God. To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the Most High, doing according to His will in the army of Heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, so that none can stay His hand or say unto Him what doest Thou?.
Daniel 4 34 At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.
His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation.
35 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?”
Pink goes on, “To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the Almighty, the Possessor of all power in Heaven and earth, so that none can defeat His counsels, thwart His purpose, or resist His will.
Psalm 115 3 Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.
To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is “The Governor among the nations”, setting up kingdoms, overthrowing empires, and determining the course of dynasties as pleaseth Him best.
Psalm 22 27 All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him,
28 for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations.
To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the “Only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Tim. 6:15). Such is the God of the Bible.”
1 Timothy 6 15 God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.
God is ruler of all things – God is Sovereign. But I fear that too often Christians today have lost sight of the Sovereignty of God. We have lost confidence in the fact that God is on the throne, God is ruler of all things, God is in control, God is the boss! There may be different reasons for this. I talked about this last year in the first of our sermons from the Book of Ezra, so let me remind you of the important issues.
1 The problem of innocent suffering.
Suffering like the natural disaster in Haiti. Suffering at the hands of evil men like that of children in Auschwitz and Belsen – the horrors of the Holocaust. How can we believe God is in control, people will ask, when such terrible things happen and there is such awful suffering in the world?
Classically the problem of suffering is expressed like this. If God is all-loving he would not allow suffering. If God is all-powerful he would not allow suffering. But suffering happens – so either God is not all loving or he is not all powerful.
As Christians we major on the God of love. We will defend at all costs the truth that God is love and that everything He does is an act of love. But the result is that especially since the wars of the last century many Christians have a much more vague concept of the Sovereignty of God. To preserve our understanding of the love of God when we see innocent suffering we water down our ideas about God as ruler of all things. Perhaps God isn’t in control quite as much as we thought.
Of course the problem is actually in the formulation of the logical proposal. Its first assumption is that if God was perfectly loving he would stop suffering – and that assumption is wrong. In fact God IS all loving BUT he allows some human suffering for purposes which for much of the time we just can’t understand. The presence of suffering in the world is NOT proof that God is not all powerful. Suffering does NOT negate the Sovereignty of God. In fact, If God was not sovereign in all of His ways this world would be in much worse shape than it is now. If God’s protection and restraining hand was not “sovereignly operating” on this earth – we would all be living in a hell on earth.
But God is Sovereign – ultimately nothing happens on earth unless He has allowed it!
Lamentations 3:37-38, NAS
37 Who is there who speaks and it comes to pass, Unless the LORD has commanded it?
38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High That both good and ill go forth?
And even as people are suffering, the Sovereign God is at work bringing good out of evil. Romans 8:28 assures us,
… we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him who have been called according to his purpose.
2. The question of predestination
The Sovereignty of God is unpopular with some Christians because of the answer it gives to a vital question. Who chooses who is saved and who is lost? Is it the Christian who chooses God? Or is it God who chooses us? Are we predestined to be saved – or do we get to decide for ourselves?
The problem is that some people are so keen to defend the idea of human free will that they diminish the Sovereignty of God. Who chose who? Time and time again the Bible makes clear that God is Sovereign. His grace leads some to believe. In other cases the Bible is specific that God hardens some people’s hearts so that they will not believe and be saved. I don’t want to start any arguments about Pre-destination and free will. Nobody has properly unravelled that dilemma. But I do want to say that so many times the Bible teaches us that God is God – creator and ruler of all things – God is Sovereign!
God is Sovereign even though there is suffering in the world. God is Sovereign even though that gets our heads into a spin about who chooses who is saved – whether we chose God or he chose us. And God is Sovereign whether people choose to submit to that sovereignty or not! God is sovereign. Jesus is not just Lord because we invite him or allow Him to be Lord. Jesus is not Lord only of the people who recognise and submit to His Lordship. Jesus is Lord! Exclamation Mark! God is Sovereign. Exclamation Mark. God is Ruler of all things. God is in control. God is the boss!
God is in control of the big things and God is in control of the little things as well. God rules over men and nations, and God rules over the smallest details of all of our lives. The reality is that it is not the abstract philosophical problem of innocent suffering which causes most Christians to question the Sovereignty of God, but rather suffering in our own lives or in the lives of people we love. It is the illnesses and the accidents and the bereavements which more often cause us to doubt whether God is really in control of our lives. And in truth not many Christians are really distressed by the theological question of predestination or free will. It is events and experiences in our own lives which cause us to wonder whether God really intended that terrible thing to happen to me, or to that person I love. It is when people hurt us or disappoint us that we start to care about whether God is Sovereign or not.
And that is the point where we need to remember that God never promises that our lives will be comfortable or easy. What He does promise is that, however hard life gets, and however much it may appear otherwise, God will never fail us or forsake us. The Sovereign God is completely enough to keep His many promises and God is faithful and He will do so!!!
The Bible declares God’s Sovereignty in so many places!
Proverbs 21: 30 There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD.
31 The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the LORD.
It is God who is in control! Time and again Isaiah reminded the Israelites in Exile in Babylon of the Sovereignty of God.
Isaiah 14:26 This is the plan determined for the whole world; this is the hand stretched out over all nations.
27 For the LORD Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?
So let us be comforted as we listen to two glorious passages which reassure us that God is on the Throne, God is in control. First from the Old Testament.
Isaiah 40:10 See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and his arm rules for him. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.
11 He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.
12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?
Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?
13 Who has understood the mind of the LORD, or instructed him as his counselor?
14 Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way?
Who was it that taught him knowledge or showed him the path of understanding?
15 Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales;
he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.
21 Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
23 He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.
24 No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.
25 “To whom will you compare me?Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
26 Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.
27 Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God”?
28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
And now from the New Testament. Remember how the Early Church reacted when the apostles were arrested for healing the lame man and preaching the gospel. They put their trust in the Sovereign God, Ruler of All
Acts 4 23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:
“ ‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?
26 The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together
against the Lord and against his Anointed One.’
27 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. 29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
1 Timothy 6 15 God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen !!!!