God's Sovereignty

By Jordan Shurmer. Published February 20th 2019

A look into my view of God's sovereignty

Introduction

God's sovereignty is his ultimate control over all things. He does all that he pleases. Nothing happens that he has not brought about. Everything he does has a purpose.

Then Job answered the LORD and said: "I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted."

This is a grand topic, which we will never fully understand. Our minds are finite and small while God is infinite, eternal, immense, and he has chosen to hide many things from us. Yet, he has also revealed many things to us about His power and His activity in the world. As we humbly read His word we can learn amazing truths about the reality he has created.

Seeing God for who he is is not merely an intellectual exercise. These things cause tremendous changes in our lives and the way we relate to God as we grow to understand them.

  • Our amazement and worship of God increases
  • Our trust in God grows, and our prayers to him increase
  • Our confidence in God causes us to be courageous and bold

God’s Universal Sovereignty

God's rule extends to all creation

God is creator, sustainer, and author of all things. Nothing is outside of his oversight and presence. This includes all humanity, every plant and animal, all planets known and unkown to us, all stars and nebulae, every angel and devil, everything that exists.

God’s Effective Sovereignty

God is sovereign _de facto_. He doesn't merely hold power, He exercises his power.

Everything that happens happens because he has willed it. He ordains every event in history, and he has a purpose for all of them. He works all things according to his good pleasure and all things work according to his will.

Sovereign Over Nature

God exercises total control over all of nature.

Everything in nature happens due to God’s activity and involvement. Animals are born and fed by him; snow storms, rain storms, ice storms, and hurricanes are all his acts; stars exist and continue their nuclear fusion according to his will; water to drink, food to eat, sunrises and sunsets, dew, frost, and fog all come from his hand as do earthquakes, famine, blight, and disease.

God is not watching things play out as a distant ruler. He is not like a clockmaker who wound up the Universe at the beginning and then leaves it be to function as he planned. He is intimately involved in every aspect of creation and natural laws.

Sovereign Over History

God orchestrates history for his purposes. By his command nations, kingdom, and empires rise and fall, treaties are signed and voided, wars are won and lost.

History is God’s story being played out in real time. This includes every event whether good or evil. God is not the author of human sin, but it is part of his plan. He does not simply react to bad events after the fact; rather, he has planned them from the beginning, to ultimately bring him more glory. God doesn’t only use evil for good, he plans it for good.

God moves history forward through the actions of many people, but it is ultimately God nonetheless. For example, military victory is brought about only by God’s will. Think of how much history this includes.

After being in exile for years, it was time for God’s people to return home. God ensure that his people were able to get back to Israel. He used Syria and Persia, conquering Babylon, and gave Israel favor with their leaders.

At the turning point of history, the life and death of Jesus, we see God’s sovereignty at work more clearly than ever!

Sovereign over Individual Lives

God rules over our lives

The fact that he rules all of history implies that he also governs individual lives. How else does he accomplish the history shaping other than through the lives of individuals. However, we’re not left to make that inference, we have scripture that are explicit about God’s sovereignty in relation to individual live, like you and me.

Additionally, consider the Spiritual Gifts. These are an integral part of who we are. As christians they form our personality, our decisions, and or interactions with others. These gifts are given out by God according to his good pleasure. They are not merely personality traits and not merely the result of our own decisions, they are also gifts from our Father.

Sovereign over Human Decisions

God governs our decisions, ensuring that his purposes are accomplished in our own decisions

Humans are responsible moral agents, but we must acknowledge that our decisions are not independent of God. God’s purposes stand behind the free decisions of mankind. This can be inferred from the previous claims about His governing of history and individual lives, but we can call out some explicit verses on this more narrow topic as well.

The Human Heart

The good person out of the good treasure in his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Our decisions come from our hearts, and yet God influences and governs the hear.

Pharaoh in the Exodus Story

Pharaoh’s experience in the Exodus story is a clear example of God governing the human heart for his purposes.

Sovereign over Sin

God governs human sin in a way that does not cause him to sin.

We are getting more into the mystery of God’s will. He is able to govern and ordain our sin, and yet he remains pure and sinless. There have been many attempts to explain how this can be, some of them more helpful than others, yet ultimately we must turn to God’s revelation for our understanding and affirm what it affirms.

Some people speak of God’s Decretive will and God’s Perceptive will, or His Will of Decree and Will of Command, or his Sovereign Will and Moral Will. His Decretive or Sovereign will would be what He, in his infinite wisdom, decrees to happen whether good or bad. His decrees must come to pass, but it is not as though He can be charged with wrong doing. This would include what people commonly refer to as God’s Providence and all the things He Ordains to happen. His Perceptive or Moral will, on the other hand, is his revealed desire for how we are intended to act. More on this in my notes on God’s two wills. For the sake of this topic we will leave the explanation of God’s two will aside, and focus on what scripture reveals, rather than how to make sense of potentially contradicting things.

Scripture makes it plain that God is in control of the human heart (see above), which is also deceitful above all things and desperately sick. God gives people over to their sin, makes people wander from his ways, uses wicked nations as his rod of anger, incites Kings to disobedience, sends people through slavery, and plans the unjust death of an innocent man.

David’s Census

Incited by God, incited by Satan, carried out by David, and David is accountable.

Joseph’s Life

Sold into slavery by his brothers, yet at the end of his life gives the credit to God: it was not you who sent me here, but God.

Jesus’s Life

So much of Jesus’s life and death involved sin, and it was all planned by God.

We can see that God is at work in these sinful acts. God does not have his hands tied, even by his own choice. God’s purposes do not fail to come about due to sin, rather God’s purposes succeed through sin. This is an amazing doctrine that can sustain Christians through hard times, persecutions, and life in a fallen world. God is never out of control.

Sovereign in Salvation

God's sovereign good pleasure is the source and driving force behind everyone's salvation

More on this topic in my notes on election, but suffice it to say that God is the primary actor in our salvation. Praise God!

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