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God Is Sovereign!

Updated: Nov 18, 2023

The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all.

-- Psalm 103:19 --


When a king is sovereign, he has complete reign over everyone in his kingdom. The king exercises supreme authority within the borders of his kingdom and expects all of his subjects to be loyal to him.


Since God created the heavens, the earth, and every living creature, including human beings (Genesis 1-2), He is sovereign over His entire creation – every galaxy, star, planet, tree, plant, animal, sea creature, bird, and human being! There are no exceptions.


Whether or not you are a believer, God has complete sovereignty over you. Psalm 103:19 says, The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all. The apostle Paul gave this charge to Timothy - I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will bring about at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen (1st Timothy 6:13-16).


The Divine Attributes of God

God's attributes define His divine character based on what He reveals to us through His Word - the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments. No attribute can exist without His other attributes. For example, God is love doesn’t mean that God is not just. These two attributes were displayed on the cross when Jesus Christ, out of His infinite love, satisfied the infinite justice of God by bearing our sins and paying the full penalty for them. Here are a few of His divine attributes.


God is Full of Glory – He possesses infinite beauty and greatness.

  • Psalm 19:1 - The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.

  • John 1:14 - And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.


God is Good – He always acts in accordance with what is true and right.

  • Psalm 34:8 - O taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

  • Luke 18:19 - And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone."


God is Holy – He is infinitely blameless, faultless, morally pure, and completely separated from sin. God cannot and does not sin!

  • Exodus 15:11 - Who is like You among the gods, O Lord? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, Awesome in praises, working wonders?

  • 1st Peter 1:15-16 - but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”


God in Immutable – His being, purposes, and promises never change.

  • Psalm 102:26-27 - Even they will perish, but You endure; And all of them will wear out like a garment; Like clothing You will change them and they will be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will not come to an end.”

  • Hebrews 6:17 - In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath.


God is Infinite – He has no beginning and no end. He is unlimited with respect to time because He created time (Genesis 1:3-5).

  • Deuteronomy 33:27 - “The eternal God is a dwelling place, And underneath are the everlasting arms; And He drove out the enemy from before you, And said, ‘Destroy!’

  • Psalm 90:2, 93:2 - Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God… Your throne is established from of old; You are from everlasting.


God is Just and Righteous – All of His judgments are infinitely perfect and righteous.

  • Deuteronomy 32:4 - The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He.

  • 1st John 1:9 - If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.


God is Love – He infinitely, affectionately, and sacrificially loves us.

  • Deuteronomy 10:18 - He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing.

  • 1st John 4:16 - We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.


God is Omnipresent – Since God is unlimited with respect to time, He is also unlimited with respect to space. Since He does not have dimensions or size, God is always present everywhere.

  • Psalm 139:7-10 - Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me.

  • Hebrews 4:13 - And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.


God is Omnipotent – He has unlimited power and is able to accomplish anything in accordance with His will.

  • Exodus 15:6 - Your right hand, O Lord, is majestic in power, Your right hand, O Lord, shatters the enemy.

  • Acts 2:24 - But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.


God is Omniscient – His knowledge is perfect and limitless.

  • Job 37:16 – Do you know about the layers of the thick clouds, The wonders of one perfect in knowledge.

  • 1st John 3:20 - God is greater than our heart and knows all things.


The divine attributes of God point to the fact that there is nothing in all of creation that falls outside His sovereign control. Nothing occurs without His permission. God gave Satan permission to test Job (Job 1:12). Pilate's authority to crucify Jesus or release Him came from God (John 19:10-11). God’s sovereignty means that He has unlimited power and authority to do anything He desires within the confines of His infinitely holy nature.

  • Psalm 115:3 - But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.

  • Psalm 135:6 - Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.


Human Responsibility

Unlike the other creatures, God created man in His image, according to His likeness. He gave him rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth (Genesis 1:26). Genesis 2:20 says, The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field. The man possessed intelligence and was responsible for ruling over what God created.


God’s sovereignty over humankind does not free people from taking responsibility for their actions, thoughts, and sins. God gave the man (Adam) a very simple command and the consequences for disobeying His command: The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17). The man along with his wife (Eve) chose to disobey this command. They were cursed and cast from the garden (Genesis 3). Sin entered into the world resulting in the condemnation of death to all humankind (Romans 5:12). Another example is found in Deuteronomy 30:15-19. God gave the Israelites a choice to keep His commandments, statutes, and judgments so that they may live and enjoy the blessings in the land that they were about to enter and possess. They will perish if they choose to turn their hearts away from Him and worship and serve other gods. People are responsible for obeying the gospel - “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36).


Charles Ryrie expressed the following in his book on Basic Theology: The sovereignty of God seems to contradict the freedom or actual responsibility of man. But even though it may seem to do so, the perfection of sovereignty is clearly taught in the Scriptures, so it must not be denied because of our inability to reconcile it with freedom or responsibility.[1]


God Is Not Responsible For Sin

There is this misconception that says, if God is sovereign then why does He allow sin and suffering? Here is the short answer: we are sinners living in a fallen world! God did not allow Adam and Eve to sin. He is infinitely holy and blameless. God does not sin nor does He cause people to sin. Adam and Eve chose to disobey God (Genesis 3:1-13). God could have stopped them but He chose not to. Their choice to rebel against His command did not surprise Him. He already had a plan in place for their salvation and well as the salvation of all of their human descendants throughout the centuries. In Genesis 3:15, God told the serpent (Satan - see Revelation 12:9) that He will put enmity (i.e. personal hostility) between the serpent and Eve, between the serpents seed and Eves seed. This enmity will bruise the serpent on the head; the serpent will bruise the enmity on the heel. Jesus is that enmity. The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 5:17-22, For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.


God chose not to stop Adam and Eve from disobeying His command, resulting in condemnation to all men, so that He could demonstrate His abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness through His only begotten Son (John 3:16), Jesus Christ our Lord.

  • Romans 3:23-25 - For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed.

  • Romans 5:8 - But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.


Why does allow suffering and death? Again, we are sinners who live in a fallen world. Romans 6:23 states, For the wages of sin is death... God created man before the fall (Genesis 3) to live forever in His presence. But God is holy. He cannot look at and approve sin (Job 13:23-24; Psalm 34:16; Habakkuk 1:13). As a result of their sin, Adam and Eve were cast from the garden. Eve will bring forth children in pain. Adam will have rule over her and will toil for food from the ground that God cursed all the days of his life (Genesis 3:16-17). Adam will work hard the rest of his live then return to the dust from which he was taken (Genesis 3:18-19). The Psalmist wrote, As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, Or if due to strength, eighty years, Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; For soon it is gone and we fly away (Psalm 90:10).

  • Romans 5:12 - Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.


This is not just physical death as a result of our shortened life spans, but eternal death - separation from God for all eternity. The second half of Romans 6:23 is but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. God sent His only begotten Son into the world so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).

  • John 3:36 - He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.

  • 1st John 5:11-13 - And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.


Conclusion

The sovereignty of God and human responsibility are both taught in the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments. Some overemphasize God’s sovereignty over human responsibility while others overemphasize human responsibility over God’s sovereignty. This often happens when people try to reconcile apparent contradictions (not real contradictions) using assumptions based on their theological background (Calvinism, Arminianism, etc.). There are some things that we cannot fully comprehend in our sinfully flawed human minds. However, For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:9). When it comes to trying to understand the things we cannot comprehend, take comfort in the fact that these things are true because God is truth (Isaiah 65:16; John 14:6), His Word is truth (Psalm 119:160; John 17:17), and His ways and thoughts are infinitely higher than our ways and thoughts.


References

[1] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999), 49.


Unless otherwise noted, all scripture cited in this post is taken from the New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update.





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