THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD
by Lasaro Flores
by Lasaro Flores
As I have said before, every doctrine in the Bible in some way or another magnifies the Grace of God, which is connected with the Sovereignty of God. Therefore, no matter how hard proud religious man tries to exalt man’s idol of their so-called “free will”, it has to fall upon its face before the Sovereignty of God, as “Dagon was fallen upon his face to the earth before the ark of the LORD” ( 1 Samuel 5:3, 4). God is Sovereign, meaning that God does as He pleases with whomever, whenever, wherever, and however; and there is absolutely not a thing anyone can do about it. All things, whether animate or inanimate, are under His sovereign control; for as the inerrant Holy Scriptures tells us: “Our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased” (Psalm 115:3); “Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places” (135:6). Furthermore, we read: “And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” (Daniel 4:35), and this because He “worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Ephesians 1:11).
Now, it would be impossible to treat in a detailed and exhaustive manner with the doctrine of the Sovereignty of God by the means of this newsletter via e-mail; therefore, primarily I will be dealing with the Sovereignty of God with respect to the salvation of man from their sins and the consequences of it. Generally, man, including religious man, will concede that God is Sovereign over many areas of His creation, but to say that He is also sovereign over the salvation of sinners, many will react with vehemence because their pride will not allow for God to have the ultimate say-so with their salvation. But, beloved, we cannot get away from, or deny, that the Holy Scriptures makes it very clear that because “salvation belongeth unto the LORD” (Psalm 3:8) and “is of the LORD” (Jonah 2:9), “then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy” (Romans 9:16). That is why the Gospel of Salvation in Christ Jesus is called “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24) simply because, as we’ll see later on, Grace has to do with the Sovereignty of God.
Of course, I am conscious that to many the doctrine of the Sovereignty of God in Salvation is a harsh and hard doctrine to accept, and this because they can’t see that God, who “is love” (1 John 4:8, 16), and “delighteth in mercy” (Micah 7:18) would make His salvation dependent on His sovereignty and not on the “free choice” of man! This could be for two reasons: First, they have been taught a one-sided view of God with respect to His attributes and have accepted them without a personal examination of the Holy Scriptures to see if is true (cp. Acts 17:11); or secondly, they willfully reject them even though they cannot Scripturally deny that God is Sovereign over all things, including our salvation! But no matter how much opposition or denial there is to this glorious doctrine, the Divine answer to man’s so-called “free will” is this: “For (God) saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy” (Romans 9:15,16); and that, my dear reader, is the PERIOD of the whole matter; for as Paul answers in the same chapter those that oppose God’s Sovereignty: “Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?” (Vv. 19-24).
The tragic thing is that many will react to the Sovereignty of God in salvation like those in John chapter 6: Briefly, there you see those that did not like what the Lord Jesus was telling them, and so they reacted accordingly. In verse 44 He says that “no man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day”. Here He makes a very definite statement with respect to the Sovereignty of God in drawing (Greek: lit. to drag) those that come to Him for salvation. Furthermore, what He continues telling these individuals causes even some of His disciples to be offended (v. 61) and to say, “This is an hard saying; who can hear it” (v. 60)? But again He repeats what He said in verse 44 thusly: “And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father” (v. 65). What was the reaction of these individuals? “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him” (v. 66). In other words, because these disciples in hearing that, or hearing it at that time what the Lord Jesus was teaching, would not submit to the Sovereignty of God, they turned away from the Lord and they no more walked with Him. To put it this way: Not only did they reject the Sovereignty of God, but also they rejected the Lord Himself because of their pride. This, my dear reader, is the danger of the false doctrine of the so-called Free Will of man!
different is the doctrine of the Sovereignty of God to those that are
God! “It is written in the prophets, And
they shall be all taught of God.
Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath
learned of the Father, cometh unto me” (v. 45). We can put it
To them the truth of the Sovereignty of God is not a harsh and hard
but a most sweet and precious doctrine that draws them to the Lord
Jesus “with cords of a man, with bands of love”
(Hosea 11:4), as honey does the bee! In other words, the doctrine of
Sovereignty of God is not for pushing man away from God, but to humble
for it is only the humble and broken hearted that will be willing to
themselves to Him who holds our salvation in His hands that will
from Him who also is “the God of all
grace” (1 Peter 5:10), and apart from the Grace of God there can
salvation at all! You can see, then, that the Sovereignty of God in our
salvation assures that we come to Him casting ourselves and trusting
His Grace alone in Christ Jesus, and not on anything that we claim we
our own; and this, beloved, we are taught of God, and not by the
commandments of men.
Let us now consider why the doctrine of the Sovereignty of God is not a hard and harsh doctrine to those that are taught of God; even though they understand that because God is sovereign, He does as He pleases in our lives, including things that are not palatable to the “flesh”, or things that will cause suffering in our lives. Yet, notwithstanding that the child of God may experience tragedy in their lives, as David, Job, Eli, and others did, they can still humbly submit to His sovereign Will, no matter what! In David’s case, much of his suffering was brought about due to his sin, yet God of His sovereign mercy did not deal with David as he deserved (notwithstanding 2 Samuel 12), as he confesses in Psalm 103:10, “He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities”; or Job, after he lost everything, including his children, yet he confesses, “Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” (1:20-22). But also, don’t forget Eli, whose sons God had determined to kill for their sin, and the means utilized was the negligence of Eli in not disciplining his sons, as we read, “In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house: when I begin, I will also make an end. For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not”… Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the LORD would slay them”; nevertheless, we read of Eli: “It is the LORD: let him do what seemeth him good” (1 Samuel 3:11-13; 2:25; 3:18).
Yes, the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ can submit to the Sovereignty of God in his/her life; for in knowing that God is in control in ALL things in their lives, including their salvation, is a solid foundation to stand upon because it will NEVER, EVER break beneath them! The preciousness of it is brought out by the wonderful promise of Romans 8:28 – “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose”. As we make the following observations, may our lips burst forth with praises as we sing with the Palmist: “Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake…But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased” (115:1, 3). Oh, yes, we can rejoice for this wonderful truth: That absolutely nothing, or anything, that takes place around us, or to us, is by accident or chance, but we have a God "who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Ephesians 1:11); “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen” (Romans 11:36).
Now, the first observation we make is that the saint of God derives PEACE from the Sovereignty of God. There is much around us that take place, or that we may experience in our lives, that will cause us to worry and make us to be very anxious. It might even be that in our waking hours we find ourselves in an emotional turmoil that at nights we can’t even have a peaceful sleep! We are constantly troubled about everything because we see ourselves so helpless to do anything about it. Primarily, the reason for such a state is because our eyes are focused on the situations or circumstances we find ourselves in. All we see are the dark clouds and the strong winds of the storms and have forgotten the promise of our Lord: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). In fact, the Lord Himself tells us that we would have those “pressures” that would have the tendency to rob us of the peace that the Lord promised us: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation (pressures): but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (16:33). On the other hand, when the believer keeps his eyes on Him who is in control of all things and that absolutely nothing takes place apart from Him of Whom it is said, “one of them”, i.e. a sparrow, “shall not fall on the ground without your Father” (Matthew 10:29), then the promise of Philippians 4:6, 7 will be true: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus”. In other words, beloved, do not worry, or be anxious “for nothing”! Why does he say “nothing”, and not “every thing”? Simply because as far as God is concerned, anything that can happen to any one of God’s people IS ”nothing”! Also, we have to keep in mind, that not only we are not to worry, “but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God”; and in doing so, this is our confession that our God is in control and works all things together for our good, resulting in His peace guarding our hearts and mind in Christ Jesus! Hallelujah!
Secondly, we observe that the Sovereignty of God gives us COMFORT. There are times that the child of God may go through much suffering and affliction that they will be tempted and to even question, “Where is God when I needed Him the most?” Yet, beloved, throughout Scripture it is made clear that suffering and affliction is ordained by the heavenly Father for His children. At times it is necessary, not simply because of our sins, but also to prove our faith and to be conformed to the image of His Son. Consider the following Scriptures: "Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word” (Psalm 119:67); “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son…” (Romans 8:29); “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6, 7); “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (2:21); “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters. Yet if any man suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf” (4:12-16). Yet, fellow believer, all of these sufferings are not by accident; for we told: “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator” (v. 19). The COMFORT comes, not simply because we are delivered from them, but in spite of it we are comforted IN them, knowing that He is in control! “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).
Also, in the third place, we observe that the Sovereignty of God gives us ASSURANCE. Of course, we have to keep in mind that this assurance does not come because we feel good or that it is some sort of an emotional high; on the contrary, the Word of God refers to it as a “full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:22), meaning that we believe God and what He says in His Word; and He most definitely says that He is in control of all things, no matter what! Therefore, we can rest assured that if we “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7), then “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). There might be times that it seems that ALL things are contrary to what God says in His Word, yet in knowing that He “changes not” (Malachi 3:6) and “with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17), and that He Himself says: “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things” (Isaiah 45:7), that makes it very clear that whatever we go through in our lives, it comes from the hand of God according to His sovereign purpose; and knowing this, then we can say with Job: “The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD…What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (1:21; 2:10). Oh, may we learn to sing with the Psalmist: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me…Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever” (23:4, 6).
Furthermore, in the fourth place, we observe that the Sovereignty of God gives us BOLDNESS. In fact, I would say that this is the result of having the PEACE, the COMFORT, and the ASSURANCE mentioned previously; for in having them means that we are walking with God and so we will “be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might” (Ephesians 6:10). Now, this boldness will be true in three particulars: 1) In resisting and overcoming the devil: “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4;7); “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death” (Revelation 12:10); 2) In not being afraid of man: “In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me” (Psalm 56:11); “So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Hebrews 13:6); and 3), faithfully witnessing to the Gospel: “Many of the brethren in the Lord…are much more bold to speak the word without fear” (Philippians 1:14); “They were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31). Knowing, then, that since God is in control over the devil and that he can only do what the Lord permits him to do (refer to Job 1 and 2), and that God also is in control of the outcome of wicked man’s plans against His people (Psalm 3:6 – “I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about”; Romans 8:31 – “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?”, and that He also is in control of the results of His Word, as He promises in Isaiah 55:11 – “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it”, it goes without saying that we can stand with all boldness against the wiles of the devil, against all the schemes of the wicked, and against all opposition to His Word, for “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Romans 8:37).
beloved, we can truly rejoice in the glorious truth of God’s
much more in knowing that our salvation is according to His Free and
Grace because it simply pleased Him to save us with an everlasting
even though we were not worthy of it and much less deserve it.
same PEACE, COMFORT, ASSURANCE and BOLDNESS that fills our lives as we
with the Lord, will also fill our hearts and minds because we are “persuaded,
that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor
things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any
creature, shall be able to separate us
from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans
39). So the further that we study the humbling truth that our salvation
connected with the absolute Sovereignty of God, may it fill our hearts
gratitude and love towards Him for including any one of us in the
purpose of His “so great salvation” (Hebrews
2:3) and to make us “accepted in the
Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6), the Lord Jesus Christ, our precious
Redeemer. What greater ROCK can we stand upon for eternity than “Jesus Christ”, who is “the same yesterday,
and to day, and for
ever” (Hebrews 13:8)! Amen.