Summary: A sermon on God's sovereignty (Material adapted from Daniel Overdorf's book, What the Bible Says About the Church: Rediscovering Community, chapter 5 Sovereignly Protected, pgs. 119-135)
Daniel Overdorf- A few weeks ago a friend of mine came into my office. Bypassing any greeting or small talk, he jumped immediately to this question: “What do we believe about God’s sovereignty?” I delayed answering by inquiring, “Why do you ask?” “I’m teaching about Esther in Sunday school this week,” he explained, “and the commentaries I read keep talking about God’s sovereignty. I don’t know what to think about it. I think I’m supposed to believe God is sovereign, but these writers keep making it sound like God just controlled Esther and King Xerxes and those other people like puppets on a string. That’s not how it works, is it?” I attempted to answer his question and explained that “we” (meaning the Christian church/ Church of Christ) typically struggle with this doctrine. “I don’t believe we’re just puppets on a string,” I assured him, “but God does hold ultimate authority over everything. In His infinite wisdom, God allows, beneath the blanket of His sovereignty, humans to make choices and to face the consequences of those choices. Regardless of what we choose, however, He continues furthering His world and His people toward His purposes.”
What is “the sovereignty of God?” A simple definition is this: God is the supreme ruler and authority over all things. While the word “sovereign” is rarely used in the Bible, it is still man’s best effort to combine all the attributes of God into just one word. The idea is valid: God is unlimited, absolute, supreme, and sovereign.
God’s sovereignty is on display as one traces the history of God’s people throughout the OT. Though the Israelites often frustrated the Lord with their moral and religious compromises, and though they often faced difficult consequences as a result of their decisions, God kept guiding, leading, and protecting them as He worked out His purpose among them
Many instances but look at 3 from OT:
1. Job- Stephen Hooks says, “First and foremost, the God of Job is sovereign. He rules over the world he has made, and before him everyone and everything bows. In the end, Job is finally reconciled to his Maker by acknowledging God’s sovereignty and bowing before Him in humble submission
Joseph from Genesis- “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20, NIV. 2. This account demonstrates a mysterious tension that often befuddles and divides scholars. On one hand, humans exercise free will in the ability to make choices, and they face the consequences or reap the rewards of these choices. On the other hand, God’s unseen sovereign hand guides people, problems, and circumstances to achieve His purposes
3. Esther- God’s name never appears in Esther. Omission may represent a deliberate attempt by the author to teach something significant about God’s providence: His work does not always appear obvious to the naked eye. God can accomplish His purposes with or without visible miracles. God did not act or speak openly in Esther, but He guided and protected His people with an omnipotent hand. For this reason, Esther has brought great encouragement to God’s people over the centuries, particularly during their dark periods when God seemed absent.
The Bible shows that God is sovereign. God sovereignly protects and guides His people toward His purpose, which is His glory. This truth holds 4 implications for today’s church
Thesis: God’s sovereignty brings out our trust, submission, praise and loyalty
God’s sovereignty brings out our trust
We will not always understand God’s higher ways. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9
Even so, we must trust, regardless of what we see and experience in life, God remains on His throne. “The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD is on his heavenly throne.” Psalms 11:4
Even when God brings trials and suffering, we trust that this is his goodness disciplining us and making us strong. For we remember “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28, NIV. And this, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” James 1:2, 3, NIV.
Concerning the church, we can trust that God’s plans for his church will come to completion. His church will endure. Those who predict the collapse of the church have grossly underestimated God. “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Matthew 16:18, NIV. Since her beginning, the church has faced physical, intellectual, and cultural attack. Yet, she endures. And she will continue to endure