Why the Sovereignty of God matters
If we examine the Bible we see that it clearly teaches that God is sovereign. God is a great King and He rules in and over all that He has made. God has foreordained all that comes to pass. Everything that comes to pass is according to God’s decree. And all that He decreed will ultimately and most certainly comes to pass. God’s will of decree cannot be delayed, detoured or thwarted. It is immutable, unchangeable and fixed. God is sovereign over all things—nature and nations, animals and angels, the devil and demons, wonderful people and wicked people, even disease and death. God’s love, mercy, grace, justice, wrath, etc. are all sovereign and are administered according to His decretive will. To steal a line from Augustine, “The will of God is the necessity of all things”. Put another way, what God wills, will happen and what happens is according to God’s will. This is what the Bible means by God’s will of decree. For example, Ephesians 1:11 clearly teaches God’s will of decree—“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”.
God works out everything, the big picture, the little details and all points in between according to His own wise and good sovereign purposes. Consider Matthew 10:29-30, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.” God micromanages our lives. Theologians would say His sovereignty is meticulous. He doesn’t merely engage us regarding the major issues in our lives. He knows the smallest sparrow and the number of hairs on our heads (for some a very small number). Neither falls to the ground without His notice and in accordance to His sovereign will.
God’s sovereignty is full of irony and stretches the boundaries of our comprehension. For example, in Acts 4:27-28, “For truly in this city there were gathered against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your plan had predestined to take place.” Every grief and woe in our lives must be interpreted through the lens of the cross. For there we see the problem of evil addressed not theoretically but by pointing us to a sovereign God who works all things for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Shocking as it may sound, the most heinous act of evil ever perpetrated on the face of the earth—the murder of the incarnate Son of God—took place according to God’s gracious and predetermined will.
The sovereignty of God is very personal. For example, “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them” (Psalm 139:16). The psalmist tells us our lives unfold, open and close according to God’s providence. As the crafters of the Heidelberg Catechism put it so eloquently back in the sixteenth century, “Providence is the almighty and ever-present power of God, by which He upholds, as with His hands, heaven and earth and all creatures, and so rules them that leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and lean years, food and drink, health and sickness, prosperity and poverty—all things, in fact, come to us not by chance, but from His fatherly hand.” Consider Isaiah 46:9-10, “Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all My purpose.’”
God knows all things and sovereignly superintends all things. God’s sovereignty is absolute. It is from before the creation of the world. It is the ultimate determination over all things and it cannot be overturned. This truth should leave us lost in wonder, love and praise. Yet not everyone welcomes or embraces this classical view (Augustinian/Reformed) of God’s sovereignty.
Let’s play ‘what if’ for a second. If God is not absolutely sovereign then who or what is? Sometimes considering the alternative is illuminating. What are we left with if we deny this bedrock truth. How about chance, fate or some variation of demigods? Everything would be random and capricious with no order or pattern. Any talk of destiny or the future would be absurd. Life would be “a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing”. There would be no viable concept of history as linear. It could only be spiraling or cyclical and out of control. There could be no coherence or meaning in life. Prayer would be an utter waste of time. Hope would be swallowed up by absolute despair. There would be no purpose in life, no heaven when you die, no reason for your birth and no meaning in between. We would all be nihilists. The problem of evil would be unsolvable. To deny the sovereignty of God is to open Pandora’s box or the proverbial can of worms. If God is not sovereign God is not God. If God is not God then there is no God. If there is no God nothing matters. Let us eat and drink and be merry for tomorrow we may die.
However, we believers know God is sovereign because of the word of God, the witness of the Spirit, the outworking of His plan in history as well as in our own lives. This truth is as rock-solid comfort in our lives. What are some of the comforts we receive because God is sovereign?
God’s sovereignty is not the impersonal rule of a tyrant king. The God who holds the whole world in His hands is my Father who adores me and regards me with delight. Since God is sovereign every moment of our lives is filled full of meaning. Nothing is insignificant. We are not left to blind fate or the winds of chance but we have an anchor for our souls. We have an immovable rock to stand upon. Life has meaning and coherence because it is the working out in space and time of His eternal, gracious plan. We have a future and a hope because God is on the throne. We live with security in the face of things we do not understand because we know He does understand and that He is for us and not against us. God’s sovereignty assures us that our sufferings are not punitive but they are redemptive and they deepen our communion with Christ. Eternal life has begun for us and will continue because God is sovereign. Our God is in the heavens and does what He pleases. Hallelujah, our God reigns!