How does it make you feel to think of someone besides yourself having complete power over your life?
The sovereignty of God is a stumbling block to those who do not believe. For a person who does not know God, why would they want to recognize the control of an unknown? For the believer, however, the sovereignty of God is a great comfort.
To be sovereignis to have supreme power and authority. The fact that God is sovereign is clearly stated in scripture, in many verses. Here are just a few:
1 Chronicles 29:11-12 – Yours, 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; Yours is the dominion, O LORD, and You exalt Yourself over all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone.
2 Chronicles 20:6 – And he said, “O LORD, the God of our fathers, are You not God in the heavens? And are You not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand so that no one can stand against You.”
Psalm 115:3 – But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.
Acts 17:24-26 – The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation.
Job 42:2 – I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.
Proverbs 21:1 – The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes.
A.W. Tozer, in his book The Knowledge of the Holy, states that in order for God to be sovereign, three other things must be true:
1. He must be all-knowing
2. He must be all-powerful
3. He must be absolutely free
He says it this way:
Were there even one datum of knowledge, however small, unknown to God, His rule would break down at that point. To be Lord over all the creation, He must possess all knowledge. And were God lacking one infinitesimal modicum of power, that lack would end His reign and undo His kingdom; that one stray atom of power would belong to someone else and God would be a limited ruler and hence not sovereign. Furthermore, His sovereignty requires that He be absolutely free, which means simply that He must be free to do whatever He wills to do anywhere at any time to carry out His eternal purpose in every single detail without interference. Were He less than free He must be less than sovereign.
In order for a person to come to Christ, we must accept that He is sovereign. We must give up trying to control our own life, and surrender to God’s control. And in God’s infinite wisdom, we do this by obeying His command to believe.
The doctrine of divine sovereignty, in our human understanding, cannot reconcile with the free will of man. If God is sovereign how can we exercise free will? And if we have no free will, why are commanded and urged in scripture to “believe” and “receive” (actions of the will)?
I love Tozer’s answer: God sovereignly decreed that man should be free to exercise moral choice, and man from the beginning has fulfilled that decree by making his choice between good and evil. When he chooses to do evil, he does not thereby countervail the sovereign will of God but fulfills it, inasmuch as the eternal decree decided not which choice the man should make but that he should be free to make it. … Man’s will is free because God is sovereign. A God less than sovereign could not bestow moral freedom upon His creatures. He would be afraid to do so.
That being said, salvation is an act of God, not an act of our will (Ephesians 2:8-9). God moves in our heart, and we respond to Him. I think of it as a door. Before salvation, we are on the outside of the door. God is calling to us, urging us, convicting us, and we must respond. We must open the door by believing and receiving, so in our perspective at that point, we are acting in some way to obtain salvation. But when we walk through the door and into God’s salvation, we look back and can see clearly: I did nothing. Salvation is all of God. I had no strength, no power, no life by which to walk through the door. It was God who saved me. Our perspective has changed to see salvation for what it is: God’s gift by grace, through faith which is also gifted to us, for a dead person cannot believe anything.
Consider the three areas upon which God’s sovereignty rests: knowledge, power, and freedom.
Is it not in these that we struggle the most with accepting and recognizing God’s sovereignty over our lives? And is it not in these that so many refuse to surrender to God at all?
We are confident in our own knowledge.
We believe we have power to control our own lives and destiny.
We want to be free to do as we please.
Salvation means accepting that I can know nothing of God except what He reveals to me, and that my limited human knowledge is not enough to get me to heaven or sustain me through life.
Salvation means accepting that I am no longer trying to control my own life, and that my destiny is in God’s control.
Salvation means accepting that I am no longer free to please myself, but I live to please the God who saved me.
Our children’s pastor puts it in simple terms when explaining salvation to children: We want God to be the boss of us.
The sovereignty of God is really beyond human understanding. How can He have ALL knowledge, ALL power, and COMPLETE freedom to do whatever He wills to do? But accepting this by faith is key to our spiritual journey. It gives us confidence to trust that whatever comes into our life, it did not surprise God, and He is not without the power to sustain us in that situation. It gives us peace that He is at work in our life, directing our steps. And it gives us hope that even if this life is challenging, bumpy, and hard, there is purpose at work.
As believers, we love to quote Romans 8:28. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
These are comforting words. But they hinge on the sovereignty of God. God can only cause all things to work for good, if He can cause all things! The very context of this verse declares God’s sovereignty.
Read verses 29-30: For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified; He also glorified.
Paul defines for us what is the “good” for which God causes all things to work: our being conformed to the image of His Son, and ultimately, our glorification!
What hope! God’s sovereign plan is at work, to bring us to our destiny as believers: to live eternally with Christ, after a lifetime of being conformed to His image.
The God who controls everything, and rules supreme is on His throne.
He is at work in my life, sovereignly working out His plans and purposes to conform me to Jesus.
He loves me unconditionally … and I can trust Him to work all things for good.
He is so worthy of our lives and our worship!