The Guiding Hand of God, Part 1

Grace For The Journey

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23Apr  Make no mistake: God is in control of absolutely everything. This teaching of God’s sovereignty is taught throughout the Bible but is especially illustrated in The Book of Proverbs.

Over the next two days we with a study of some of the more powerful statements about God’s sovereignty.  Before we do that, it is important that we understand some basics truths about this subject.

Getting A Biblical Understanding Of God’s Sovereignty

The word means “principal, chief, supreme” . . .

  • It speaks of position – God is the supreme Being in the universe.
  • It speaks of power – (God is supreme in power in the universe).

How He exercises that power is revealed in the Scriptures.

A sovereign could

Be a dictator

(God is not).

Or a sovereign could

Abdicate the use of his powers

(God has not).

Ultimately God is

In control of all things,

Though He may choose

To let certain events

Happen according to natural laws

Which He has ordained.

The sovereignty of God means that He has total control of all things past, present and future.  Nothing happens that is out of His knowledge and control.  All things are either caused by Him or allowed by Him for His own purposes and through His perfect will and timing (Romans 11;36; 1 Corinthians 8:6).  He is the only absolute and omnipotent ruler of the universe and is sovereign in creation, providence and redemption.

What do we mean by the sovereignty of God?  We mean the supremacy of God, the kingship of God, the Godhood 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, no one can restrain His hand, or say to Him, What have You done?’” (Daniel 4:35).
  • 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).
  • To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is “The Governor among the nations” (Psalm 22:28), setting up kingdoms, overthrowing empires, and determining the course of dynasties as pleases Him best.
  • To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the “Only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy6:15). Such is the God of the Bible.

If there is any element of the universe that is outside of His authority, then He no longer is God over all.  In other words . . .

Sovereignty belongs to Deity.

Sovereignty is a natural

Attribute of the Creator.

God owns what He makes,

And

He rules what He owns.

Divine sovereignty is a vast subject . . .

It embraces everything

That comes into

The biblical picture of God

As Lord and King in His world,

The One who “works all things

After the counsel

Of His own will”

(Ephesians 1:11),

Directing every process

And ordering every event

For the fulfilling

Of His own eternal plan.

God’s sovereignty is one of the most important principles in Christian theology, as well as one of its most hotly debated.  Whether or not God is actually sovereign is usually not a topic of debate; all mainstream Christian groups agree that God is preeminent in power and authority.  God’s sovereignty is a natural consequence of His omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence.  What’s subject to disagreement is to what extent God applies His sovereignty – specifically, how much control He exerts over the wills of men.  When we speak of the sovereignty of God, we mean He rules the universe, but then the debate begins over when and where His control is direct and when it is indirect.

God is described in the Bible as all-powerful and all-knowing (Psalm 147:5), outside of time (Exodus 3:14; Psalm 90:2), and responsible for the creation of everything (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1).

These divine traits set

The minimum boundary

For God’s sovereign control

In the universe,;

Which is to say that nothing

In the universe

Occurs without God’s permission.

God has the power and

Knowledge to prevent anything

He chooses to prevent,

So anything that does happen

Must, at the very least,

Be “allowed” by God.

At the same time, the Bible describes God as . . .

Offering humanity choices (Deuteronomy 30:15-19),

Holding them personally responsible for their sins (Exodus 20:5),

Ad being unhappy with some of their actions (Numbers 25:3).

The fact that sin exists at all proves that not all things that occur are the direct actions of God, who is holy.

The reality of human volition

(And human accountability)

Sets the maximum boundary

For God’s sovereign control

Over the universe;

Which is to say

There is a point at which

God chooses to allow things

That He does not directly cause.

The fact that God is sovereign essentially means that He has the power, wisdom, and authority to do anything He chooses within His creation.  Whether or not He actually exerts that level of control in any given circumstance is actually a completely different question.  Often, the concept of divine sovereignty is oversimplified.  We tend to assume that, if God is not directly, overtly, purposefully driving some event, then He is somehow not sovereign. The cartoon version of sovereignty depicts a God who must do anything that He can do, or else He is not truly sovereign.

Of course, such a cartoonish view of God’s sovereignty is logically false.  If a man were to put an ant in a bowl, the “sovereignty” of the man over the ant is not in doubt. The ant may try to crawl out, and the man may not want this to happen.  But the man is not forced to crush the ant, drown it, or pick it up. The man, for reasons of his own, may choose to let the ant crawl away, but the man is still in control.  There is a difference between allowing the ant to leave the bowl and helplessly watching as it escapes.  The cartoon version of God’s sovereignty implies that, if the man is not actively holding the ant inside the bowl, then he must be unable to keep it in there at all.

The illustration of the man and the ant is at least a vague parallel to God’s sovereignty over mankind.  God has the ability to do anything, to take action and intervene in any situation, but He often chooses to act indirectly or to allow certain things for reasons of His own.  His will is furthered in any case.  God’s “sovereignty” means that He is absolute in authority and unrestricted in His supremacy.  Everything that happens is, at the very least, the result of God’s permissive will.  This holds true even if certain specific things are not what He would prefer.

The right of God to allow mankind’s free choices

Is just as necessary for true sovereignty

As His ability to enact His will,

Wherever and however He chooses.

The Biblical Usage Of The Word “Sovereignty” In Reference To God.

The Old Testament word “mallku” is always used in association with the word “LORD.”  It speaks of God as being king and sovereign and of His rule and reign in His kingdom.  Psalm 103:19 is an example of this usage, “The LORD has established His throne in heavens; and His kingdom rules over all.”  The  Hebrew word “Adonai” “Lord” may also express concept of sovereignty.  Another Old Testament passage that expresses concept of sovereignty is 1 Chronicles 29:11,12 – “Thine, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth: Thine is the dominion, O Lord, and Thou doest exalt Thyself as head over all. Both riches and honor come from Thee, and Thou dost rule over all, and in Thy hand is power and might; and it lies in Thy hand to make great, and to strengthen everyone.”

The New Testament word “dunastes” is translated “ruler, official”  (See Luke 1:46-55) from “dunamis” which means “power.”  1 Timothy 6:15 is an example of how the concept of “sovereign” is used, “He is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”  The Greek word “kurios” – translated “Lord” also expresses concept of sovereignty.  Revelation 19:6, “The Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns” and Revelation 19:16, “King of Kings, and Lord of Lords” also teach this truth.

Tomorrow we will see how the biblical teaching of the sovereignty of God encourages us in our daily walk with Him and equips us to live in joy, peace, and satisfaction.

This is God Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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