Do you believe that God is the ultimate and final power over all things? Is God sovereign?
According to Scripture, God is the superior or supreme being. Describing the God we encounter in the Bible, one has written, “God does whatever he chooses to do, whenever he chooses to do it, wherever he chooses, involving whomsoever he wishes to involve.”
The sovereignty of God answers the question, “Who or What is in ultimate control?” Many people feel that life is generally a matter of good luck or bad luck. “Que Sera, Sera” — “whatever will be, will be?” But are we victims of fate?
God’s description of His sovereignty
“… I am God, and there is no one like me, declaring 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’; … Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it” (Isaiah 46:8-11).
God said, “Have you not heard? Long ago I did it; from ancient times I planned it. Now I have brought it to pass …” (II Kings 19:25). According to Scripture, God “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?” (Daniel 4:35).
The God revealed in the Bible is repeatedly recognized as absolutely sovereign over everything. The Psalmist declared that, “the Lord does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and in their depths” (Psalms 135:6).
How extensive is God’s sovereignty?
“The Lord works out everything for His own ends, even the wicked for a day of disaster” (Proverbs 16:33; Ephesians 1:11). According to Jesus, if the birds are fed, it is the Father who feeds them; if the flowers grow, it is because God grows them. Jesus says, “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father” (Matthew 10:29).
God’ sovereignty is also exercised over man’s salvation. Our choice to receive Christ is preceded by God’s choice of us for His salvation — a choice that does not include everyone. Scripture specifically says, “All who were appointed to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48). The apostle wrote, “… God has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires” (Romans 9:18).
How do you respond?
It should be encouraging to know that God has a plan that will conquer what feels like the chaos of human history. It should draw us to worship our great God. Although some view a sovereign God as too threatening and humbling, the alternatives are far more discouraging. To say there is no God, or that God does not care or stands helpless on the sidelines, leads to fatalism and despair.
Others reason, “If God has control over everything that happens — is he not a cosmic puppeteer pulling our strings when he wants us to dance?” This is not the way the Bible describes God. Scripture will not tolerate any view of God’s sovereign control that diminishes human responsibility.
“At no point whatsoever does the remarkable emphasis on the absoluteness of God’s sovereignty mitigate the responsibility of human beings who, like everything else in the universe, fall under God’s sway. We tend to use one to diminish the other; we tend to emphasize one at the expense of the other. But responsible reading of the Scripture prohibits such reductionism.” (D. A. Carson).
Like God’s sovereignty, the responsibility of man includes the details of life. “I say to you,” Jesus declared, “that every careless word that men shall speak, they shall render account for in the day of judgment” (Matthew 12:36).
According to Scripture, our decisions constitute real causes that produce real effects — for which we will be held accountable.
The wise teacher wrote, “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).