Summary: God is Sovereign in Calling, in Choosing, in Preserving.
“For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things that are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, that no man should boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, that, just as it is written, ‘Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord’.”
To be sovereign is to be supreme in power; superior in position to all others.
In reference to the sovereignty of God, Thiessen determines, “The sovereignty of God is not an attribute, but a prerogative of God arising out of the perfections of His nature”.
In other words, God is sovereign in choice and action, and is not bound by some rules of office, heavenly policy manual, or church tradition and dogma. His sovereignty, says Thiessen, arises out of the perfections of His nature. That is, God makes His own decisions and they are perfect and righteous decisions, always.
This sovereignty is expressed best by God Himself in Exodus 33, where He agrees to show Himself to His friend, Moses, and declares, “…I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.”
As sinful men, we try to put all of God’s ducks in a row for Him. “Well, the Bible says not to do this, and to do that, and this is what an evil man looks like, and this is what a righteous man looks like, and so, staying true to Himself, God must punish this one and show mercy to this one, and bless this one, and withhold blessing from that one.”
Then all of a sudden God pours out mercy on the undeserving, and we jump back in shock crying ‘unfair! unfair!’
But God says, “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.”
In His sovereignty, He can supercede the Law without violating it, because He is not the Law and He is not bound by the Law. He wrote the Law. Jesus demonstrated His preeminence over the Law when He said repeatedly, “You have heard that is was said…” and then quoting one of the ten commandments, then following it with, “…but I say to you…” and superceding the Law with His own words.
So although the decree of God is that the one who sins shall die, in His sovereignty He holds that Law in abeyance until the proper time, and then sends His anointed One to pay the penalty for all, so that out of His will to show compassion and mercy, the dead can now live.
Let’s take this to the Corinthian church now and see how God’s sovereign will was working in their lives, and also in ours.
GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY IN CALLING
Let’s look back briefly at the first half of this chapter in I Corinthians and remind ourselves of the manner in which Paul has been addressing his readers. He has said in verse 4 that he thanks God always concerning them, because of the grace of God he has witnessed being extended to them through the giving of knowledge and the exercise of the spiritual gifts among them, and for their obvious eagerness to see the revelation of Jesus Christ.
That would be a reference to the very thing we eagerly await; His return.
The true church of Jesus Christ has eagerly awaited His return ever since the apostles stood on the Mount of Olives and watched Him ascend out of their sight.
From that day onward, the heart’s cry of every true believer in Him has been, “Come, Lord Jesus, Come!”
Yet while we know that He could call His church to Him at any moment, our charge is to continue the work as though He will not come for many years.
When I was in Bible College we were in a class on Eschatology, which is just a fancy word for the study of the last days.
One student, in the course of class discussion, asked our Professor what he would do if he could have it on good authority that Jesus was coming back tomorrow.
Without pause the teacher said, “I’d plant a tree”. The class grew silent as we all had to let his meaning sink in. He was saying that the calling of the Christian is not to stand and sky-gaze, waiting for Jesus to break through the clouds; but to go about the work of ministry as though the salvation of future generations depends upon his proclamation of the good news.