By Pastor Al Austria
What does it mean that God is sovereign?
Theopedia.com defines Sovereignty of God as the biblical teaching that all things are under God’s rule and control, and that nothing happens without His direction or permission.
In R.C Sproul’s article he entitled, “How would you define the Sovereignty of God?” it said, “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.”
“He rules what He owns!” This phrase touches every aspects of the meaning of sovereignty. Which means, God’s control and rule are not only in creation and in sustaining all creation (Colossians 1:16-17), but also in salvation, which sadly being opposed by a number of professing believers (from another belief system) who emphasize more on the free will of man in choosing God, than on God being free in choosing those who will be saved.
The Bible explicitly talks about God’s sovereignty in salvation. In Ephesians 1:4 and 11 which says, “4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. 11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,” We can see God’s sovereignty in electing those whom He will save according to His will. Quoting from John MacArthur, he said,”Certainly He did not choose certain sinners to be saved because of something praiseworthy in them, or because He foresaw that they would choose Him. He chose them solely because it pleased Him to do so. God declares “the end from the beginning . . . saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all my good pleasure’” (Isa. 46:10). It means, He is not subject to others’ decisions. Furthermore, His purpose for choosing some and rejecting others are hidden in the secret counsels of His own will.”
Nevertheless, I don’t want to set aside the truth that the Scripture affirms both God’s sovereignty and human responsibility. Man is responsible in how he responds to the gospel. John 3:16 says, “ For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” But then again, it is God who grants the faith needed for man to believe as what these verses are saying. “No one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father.” (John 6:65). “Nor does anyone know the Father, except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him” (Matt. 11:27). “To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:” (2 Peter 1:1)
It is also God who grants or gives to the Son, who will respond and who will be saved, which is a combination of the truth about God’s sovereignty and human responsibility. “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” (John 6:37).
In application, the truth about the Sovereignty of God if believed and trusted with full conviction, will greatly impact how one views life and all of the suffering that comes along with it. Preacher C.H Spurgeon once said, “There is no attribute more comforting to His children than that of God’s sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe trials, they believe that sovereignty has ordained their afflictions that sovereignty overrules them, and that sovereignty will sanctify them all.”
As a personal testimony, if I have not known the beauty of the sovereignty of God, I would have condemned myself and question the goodness of God. For the things that happened to me a few years back, when I lost my job, when my visa has expired and at the same time suffering from tremendous pain caused by ulcer. Add to that, our resources are dwindling. But amidst this agony, it is knowing and believing that God is sovereign, that He is in control (of why this is happening and the end and outcome of this), it puts hope in my heart and in mind that all things work together for good for those who love Him and called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
“God owns what he makes, and he rules what he owns.” This amazing truth about God’s sovereignty is the truth to hope for, to trust on and to live by.