Summary: The word “sovereign” is both a noun and verb. As a verb it means, “to rule,” and as a noun it means “king” or “absolute ruler.” To say that God is sovereign is to say that God is in charge of the entire universe all the time.
Our Sovereign God
I came across a couple of children’s prayers this week.
Johnny had been misbehaving and was sent to his room. He emerged a couple minutes later and informed his mother that he had thought things over and had even said a little prayer. The mother was very happy and said, “If you asked God to help you not misbehave, He will help you.” To which Johnny replied, “Oh, I didn’t ask Him for help with that, I asked Him to help you put up with me.”
A little girl, dressed in her Sunday best, was running as fast as she could, trying not to be late for Sunday School. As she ran she prayed, “Dear Lord, please don’t let me be late!” As she was running and praying, she tripped on a curb and fell, getting her clothes dirty and tearing her dress. She got up, brushed herself off, and started running again. This time she prayed a little bit differently: “Dear Lord, please don’t let me be late…but don’t shove me either.”
This girl understood our topic for today very clearly. She knew that God is in control of everything!
The word “sovereign” is both a noun and verb. As a verb it means, “to rule,” and as a noun it means “king” or “absolute ruler.” To say that God is sovereign is to say that God is in charge of the entire universe all the time. The Westminster Confession puts it like this: “He ordains whatsoever comes to pass.”
In a nutshell, God’s sovereignty means that He is absolutely free to do as He pleases and to demonstrate His absolute control over the actions of all His creatures. Or, to put it another way, He permits, for reasons known only to Himself, people to act contrary to His revealed will, but He never allows them to act against His sovereign will.
This is seen clearly in the following verses:
“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21)
“Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it?” (Lamentations 3:37)
“You ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’” (James 4:15)
“I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2)
“Our God is in heaven; He does whatever pleases Him.” (Psalm 115:3)
What Sovereignty Is
Let me give you 5 practical truths related to God’s sovereignty.
The sovereignty of God is a very humbling doctrine. Sovereignty reminds us that God is God and we are not.
It’s an exalting doctrine because it gives us a big view of God. Many of us struggle because our view of God is too small.
It’s also a mysterious doctrine because it brings us face to face with the problem of evil and free will. If God is sovereign, why is there evil in the universe? If humans have free will, how can God be in control? These questions have been debated for centuries and perhaps I’ll preach on them in the future. For our purposes this morning, suffice it to say that God is sovereign and you and I are fully responsible for all the choices we make.
It’s a clarifying doctrine because it teaches that there is no such thing as luck, chance, fate or coincidence. You can have God or chance, but you can’t have both. It reminds me of the cowboy who applied for health insurance. The agent asked him if he had had any accidents during the previous year. The cowboy replied, “No. But I was bitten by a rattlesnake, and a horse kicked me in the ribs. That laid me up for awhile.” The agent said, “Weren’t those accidents?” “No,” replied the cowboy, “They did it on purpose.” He recognized that there is no such thing as an “accident.” How about you? Do you believe that some things catch God by surprise?
Finally, this is an empowering doctrine. Since God is in charge, no mere human can intimidate you. You can live your life with boldness and confidence, without fearing anyone or anything. Since God is sovereign, we can trust Him with our lives.
A Press Release
I want to read part of a press release to you this morning. Please turn in your Bible to Daniel 4, where we find one of the few chapters in Scripture written by someone considered to be on the outside he was neither a Christian nor a Jew.
If you recall from a couple weeks ago, Nebuchadnezzar was the guy who led the Babylonian army to Jerusalem and conquered it. This all took place during the time of Jeremiah the prophet. Once Jerusalem was destroyed, and many people were deported to Babylon, Jeremiah sat down with tears in his eyes and wrote the book of Lamentations. Now, we come to the Book of Daniel. The events of this book take place in Babylon and describe how God’s people fared in this foreign country.