When I was a youth director, every year I had the privilege of leading members of my church overseas on our annual mission project. Every year, prior to my departure, I had the same conversation with a relative about the apparent dangers of air travel and foreign countries. Every year I tried to explain to her that if God wanted to “take me out”, He could do it just as easily in aisle 3 of Wal-Mart as He could on a plane somewhere over the Atlantic. Although there is intellectual consent to this truth, I find my relative is not alone in her thinking. Most Christians, although claiming to believe in a sovereign God – somehow question His sovereignty as it affects their daily life. And if they do not question His sovereignty directly, they do so by allowing worry to infiltrate every area of their life. This contradiction leads me to the question, “How sovereign is God?” In other words, is He in control of things or is He not?
I recognize that my friends who are Christians might be quick to say that He is in control of everything, because the Bible tells them so. It can be easy to understand why my non-believing friends might scoff at that idea – particularly as you watch the evening news and see all the chaos that is around us. With the newspaper in one hand and my Bible in the other – I am learning how to walk by faith (though feebly most days) instead of sight. My physical eyes see one world. His spiritual eyes see another. I’m trying to get more of His vision.
Having said that, I have come to realize that there is no doctrine more comforting to the soul of man than the doctrine of God’s sovereignty. The doctrine of God’s sovereignty simply means that God does WHAT He wants, WHEN He wants, HOW He wants, WHY He wants, WHERE He wants – simply because He is God.
As Psalm 115:3 reminds us, “But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.” As Abraham Kuyper – Dutch theologian & one time prime minister of the Netherlands once wrote, “In the total expanse of human life there is not a single square inch of which the Christ, who alone is sovereign, does not declare,“THAT is mine!”
Proof of His sovereignty is all over Scripture:
- God is sovereign over creation (Genesis 1:1, 4, Acts 17:24). Just ask the sun, moon & stars (Psalm 19:1-6).
- God is sovereign over mankind (Genesis 1:26-27). Just ask Adam (Genesis 1:29-30, 2:5-8, 15-25).
- God is sovereign over the affairs of man. Just ask Joseph’s brothers (Genesis 50:20).
- God is sovereign over the hairs of man (Luke 12:7).
- God is sovereign over the thoughts of man. Just ask the Pharisees (Luke 6:6-11).
- God is sovereign over court decisions. Just ask Pilate (John 19:8-12).
- God is sovereign over the kings of the culture (Proverbs 21:1). Just ask Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:28-37).
- God is sovereign over relationships. Just ask Boaz (Ruth 3 & 4).
- God is sovereign over where we live (Genesis 12:1-9, Acts 17:26). Just ask Ruth (Ruth 1).
- God is sovereign over what we do for a living. Just ask Moses (Exodus 3:10).
- God is sovereign over money.
- God is sovereign over greed. Just ask Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11).
- God is sovereign over clothing. Just ask the wandering Israelites (Deuteronomy 8:4).
- God is sovereign over food and drink (Matthew 6:25-34). Just ask the 5,000 (Matthew 14:13-21).
- God is sovereign over the womb. (Psalm 139:13-16) Just ask Sarah (Genesis 18:9-15, 21:1-3) or better yet, the virgin Mary. (Luke 1:26-38)
- God is sovereign over health.
- God is sovereign over birth defects. Just ask the man born blind from birth. (John 9:1-12)
- God is sovereign over paralysis. Just ask the roofer in Mark chapter 2. (Mark 2:1-12)
- God is sovereign over illness. Just ask Peter’s mother in law. (Matthew 8:14-15)
- God is sovereign over chronic pain. Just ask the man by the pool in Bethesda. (John 5:1-9)
- God is sovereign over disease. Just ask Naaman. (II Kings 5:1-14)
- God is sovereign over “accidents”. Just ask Malchus. (John 18:10) or Just ask Eutychus. (Acts 20:7-12)
- God is sovereign over the weather. Just ask the disciples. (Mark 4:35-41)
- God is sovereign over the clouds. (Isaiah 5:6)
- God is sovereign over the elements. Just ask Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego. (Daniel 3:19-27)
- God is sovereign over angels. (Luke 1:26)
- God is sovereign over Satan (Job 1:8-12, 2:3-6) & his demons. (Luke 8:26-39)
- God is sovereign over sin
- God is sovereign over betrayal. Just ask Judas. (John 18:1-11)
- God is sovereign over rejection. Just ask Peter. (John 18:25-27)
- God is sovereign over genocide. Just ask Herod. (Matthew 2:13-23)
- God is sovereign over tragedy. Just ask Job. (Job 1:13-22, 2:7-10)
- God is sovereign over murder. Just ask Cain. (Genesis 4:5-16)
- God is sovereign over adultery. Just ask Hosea. (Hosea 1:2-3)
- God is sovereign over life. (John 1:3-4, 14:6) Just ask the thief pardoned from the cross. (Luke 23:39-43)
- God is sovereign over death (Acts 17:26). Just ask Lazarus. (John 11:1-46) Or better yet, ask Jesus. (John 20:1-18)
- God is sovereign over salvation. (Acts 4:12, John 14:6) Just ask Zacchaeus. (Luke 19:1-10)
- God is sovereign over time. Just ask Joshua. (Joshua 10:12-14)
- God is sovereign over space. Just ask Phillip. (Acts 8:38-40)
- God is sovereign over eternity. Just ask Him. (Revelation 22:13, John 1:1)
- God is sovereign over the future. (Matthew 16:21-23)
- God is sovereign over animals. Just ask Jonah (Jonah 1:17). Or Balaam. (Numbers 22:23-35)
- He is well aware of birds (Luke 12:6) and when He chooses to end their flights (Matthew 10:29).
- Even the movements of a single fly are under His control. (Exodus 8:31, Isaiah 7:18)
In our fallen world, there will always be evil and as a result – such evil will create events that make us question whether God is able to do anything about it. It can make us wonder whether He cares. We have all heard sentences like “How can a loving God allow _______? (fill in the blank). But just because He does not choose to supernaturally intervene in a particular situation does not mean He cannot. It also does not mean He is impervious to our suffering. God is a cause and effect God. He is a reaping and sowing God. We see this most clearly in the natural law of gravity.
God placed the natural law of gravity into effect and allows that natural law to govern our physical world. What goes up, must come down. If I were to walk off a bridge, I would immediately fall. No one questions that. No one complains that God is unfair when He lets people violate that natural law. You do not hear questions like, “How can a loving God allow that man to fall to his death after he walked off a bridge?” We understand that is the natural consequence of violating that natural law. Can God stop or suspend the natural law of gravity? Absolutely. But does He? Not often. And because He chooses not to, that does not mean He is not sovereign over the law of gravity. It also does not mean He does not care about what is falling. He put the law into effect and we learn best when He does not tamper with those laws. Likewise, it is the same with His moral law.
So, next time you are taking an overseas trip or becoming concerned about when your teenager is coming home with the car, remember that God is sovereign. Whether you lose your job or get diagnosed with cancer, remember that God is sovereign. Next time you lose a relative or lose some money or get a flat tire or get a speeding ticket – remember He is still sitting on His throne and paying close attention. He is simply letting the law do what it does best… point to your need for grace.
Like a Grandmaster of chess, He allows us to make foolish, sinful moves. He is never caught off guard with our poor decisions or their natural consequences. He can even take the most sinister evil move and make good come out of it… eventually (Romans 8:28). Sometimes He even lets us see that good end result this side of eternity. Though He allows us to move some pieces the game will end exactly as He plans. (Gotta read the Bible for that – I am not spoiling that spectacular ending here). And regardless how you may feel, at no point does He stop caring (I Peter 5:7).
God is in complete control of all areas of life and nothing comes across your desk unless it has first been approved at His desk above.
“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:25-34