Sovereignty of God
Sovereignty of God – What is it?
The sovereignty of God represents the ability to exercise His holy will or supremacy. The Most High, Lord of Heaven and earth, has unlimited power to do what He has resolved. Being absolutely independent, God does as He pleases. None can deter Him, none can hinder Him. In His Word, God declares: “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me...I say: 'My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please'” (Isaiah 46:9-10). Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, created architectural works that were classified among the Seven Wonders of the World. Yet he praised the Most High’s sovereignty. “His [God’s] dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation...He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand...” (Daniel 4:34-35).
Divine sovereignty signifies that God is the One who sits on the Throne of the universe. He is God in name as well as in all things, directing all things, and “who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will” (Ephesians 1:11). In his God-permitted affliction, Job acknowledges God’s greatness and splendor in contrast to his pride and sin. “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2). Job finally realizes that God’s purposes are supreme and He is sovereign.
The Westminster Confession of Faith says, "God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, feely, and unchangeably ordain whatever comes to pass."1
Sovereignty of God – What are the Parameters?
While the God’s supremacy is unrestricted, even the sovereignty of God has its parameters. "Ultimately God is in complete control of all things, though He may choose to let certain events happen according to natural laws which He has ordained."2
- God cannot do anything that would deny His own character. Since God is immutable, His words must reflect His integrity (Numbers 23:19). God cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18). In all cases, God not only remains truthful, but keeps every oath and promise He makes.
- God cannot be tempted by evil. There is no element in His nature to which evil can make an appeal (James 1:13). While God will often test us, He tempts no one. In fact, God uses His unlimited power to enable us to resist and escape evil (1 Corinthians 10:13).
- God cannot deny or contradict Himself. God remains faithful to His covenant promises (Malachi 3:6). A promise is only as good as the person who makes it. Like God, His Word is immutable (1 Samuel 15:29). God does not revoke what He has given or discard who He has chosen (Romans 11:29).
- God cannot forgive sin without the payment being made. Because God is just, He cannot simply “wipe the slate clean” (Romans 6:23). Christ cried out in the Garden of Gethsemane, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me...” (Matthew 26:39). Christ had to endure excruciating physical and spiritual agony, God’s perfect justice pronounced on sin.
- God cannot force anyone to love Him or to receive His gift of eternal salvation through Jesus Christ. It is an act of man’s free will (John 1:11–13). When an individual chooses to respond in faith, welcoming Jesus into his life, he becomes a new creation.
Sovereignty of God – How is it seen?
While the sovereignty of God is infinite, the use of His power is defined by His other attributes. Characteristics such as truthfulness, goodness, faithfulness, righteousness, and love define God’s every action. If one attribute were disproportionate or over-emphasized, chaos would result on a universal level.
Consider a god who favored one person over another. God does not favor an individual because of his station in life, his nationality, or his material possessions (Acts 10:34-35). Rather, God’s accepts us by welcoming us into a right relationship by faith in Jesus Christ.
By the sovereignty of God, we have a free will and are able to make choices and decisions that shape our lives. While we do not possess God’s infinite power, we can surrender our hearts, souls, minds to ways that are consistent with His holy will. In this way, we honor the Creator and Sustainer of all things, recognizing God is truly sovereign (Colossians 1:16-17).
1 Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter III.
2 Ryrie, Charles. Basic Theology, 43.
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