Christians have always confessed that God is totally, completely, and exhaustively sovereign over all things, including you and I, and over both good and evil.
Because we live in a democracy where people govern themselves, the theme of sovereignty, or absolute authority and control, often confuses and angers some people. Many people, even some Christians, struggle with the fact that God has ultimate and exhaustive authority, and control, over all things.
God Is Lord And King
Maybe a better way to describe this attribute of God is to think of God as Lord or King. Rarely, if ever, does the Bible use the word “sovereign”, but all over the Bible we see that God is the supreme King and Lord.
Awe, Not Argument
Although some disagree with this teaching, God did not show us this quality of Himself as a theory to ponder, or a proposition to be debated—it is meant to be a truth to comfort and a mystery to spur worship.
In a world, and with sinful bodies, like ours, why wouldn’t we want to serve, love, and worship a God that controls, rules, and directs all things? Because God is good, we know that He also controls, rules, and directs all things for good.
To see why this truth is such a comfort for God’s people, let’s look over just two of the areas of life over which God is king: salvation and suffering.
These are the two areas of God’s sovereignty that people struggle with the most, but once we see what the Bible says we have reason for hope and comfort—and ultimately worshipful awe.
Salvation Is Of The Lord
First, God is the sovereign king over salvation. We will dive deeper into the specifics of this teaching later in this series, but for now, it is just important to see the big picture of God’s lordship over our salvation.
Humans love to think we are in control, over our lives, money, looks—but we especially think we have ultimate control over our souls:
“I am the captain of my own soul” as one famous poet put it. But to our dismay, the Bible paints a more helpless picture of human freedom.
Yes we can make choices on our own, and yes we can know the difference between right and wrong; but the Bible says that we are all slaves of sin, spiritually dead, and born with an inclination to rebel against God and find satisfaction and meaning in anything but Him.
Although we like to think otherwise, we are actually totally unable and unwilling to choose God because of our love affair with sinning!
That’s why we need an all-powerful God to save and free us from our slavery—because we could never free ourselves! Because we could never choose God because we always choose sin, in love God chose to save some people from their love affair with sin and adopt them into His family (Eph. 1:3-5).
Because we could never pay the sin-debt we owed God, or remove His wrath against us, God the Son became a human and lived the perfect life we should have lived and died the death we should have died in order to win salvation and love for God’s chosen people.
Because we could never believe in Jesus because we are so blinded by sin (2 Cor. 4:4-6), God sends the Holy Spirit to remove our blindness and gives us spiritual life so we can see the “glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6) and believe the Gospel. Because we still struggle with sinning even after we believe in Jesus and would fall away if it were up to us, God promises to never leave or forsake us and gave us the Holy Spirit in order to keep us believing in Jesus forever (Jude 24-25).
You see, the only reason we became, and remain, Christians is because God is in total control of our salvation!
God Meant It For Good
It’s easy to see why God’s sovereignty over salvation is such good news, but what about when suffering comes?—because it will! You might say, “Sure God makes sure I get to Heaven, but what happens until I get there?”
This is a very good and extremely common question that every Christian asks at some point. But far from being contradictory to suffering, the fact that God is sovereign over salvation makes suffering make sense—even necessary!
Romans 8:28 is one of the greatest promises of the entire Bible, and many Christians understandably love to quote it. Who wouldn’t be excited that “God causes all things to work together for good for those that love him, who are called according to his purpose”?
But what most people don’t know is that the Apostle Paul wrote this promise to make sure that the suffering Christians to whom he was writing were encouraged to persevere through the “nakedness, famine, and sword” he mentions a few verses later at the end of the chapter.
Just as great of a promise as 8:28 is given in 8:32: “How could he who did not even spare his only Son not with him graciously give us all things?”
What Paul is saying is that God did the hardest thing in the universe by sacrificing His beloved Son Jesus, so naturally God will make sure His promises are fulfilled. He sovereignly predestined us, justified us, and glorified us (8:29-30), so God will use anything—even suffering!—for His glory and our good.
Suffering Saints By Sovereign Grace
Therefore, because we have seen that God is sovereign over all things, even salvation and suffering, we can confidently and joyfully say, “Salvation is from the Lord” (Jonah 2:9), and “What you meant for evil, God meant for good” (Gen. 50:20).
Because we have seen that God is King over His creation, even evil, we can know and be patient and joyful when we suffer because we can know that God is good, and God is in charge; therefore, every suffering we must endure on Earth is ultimately under the reign of our Father, the good and powerful King.
Because our God is sovereign, we can be confident that all of His covenant promises will come to pass: to save us, to sanctify us, and to work all things for His glory and our good.