Sovereign is defined as:
| 1. Above
or superior to all others; chief; greatest;
Supreme in power, rank, or authority.
| 3. Of or
holding the position of ruler; royal;
Independent of all others.
That God meets the definition of
sovereign in the first 3 above is readily apparent.
However, many people have
difficulty in either understanding or accepting that God
is "independent of all others." Many people think of
God as being a servant to them. They think he can only
do those things they allow him to do. That he is to be
there at their beck and call, whenever, they need him
and he is there to verify their decisions.
The Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar
learned a hard lesson in God's sovereignty and after the
ordeal said, "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?" God is independent of all others and does
as He pleases, not as man pleases. God does not consult
man in any of his decisions nor does he ask for man's
approval in any thing he does. There are numerous
examples of God's sovereignty that are set forth for us
in the scriptures.
First, God's sovereignty is
illustrated in those he chose to be his servants:
1. Abraham - he was practicing idolatry at the
time God chose him and called him.
2. Moses - he had murdered an Egyptian and was
a fugitive from the household of Pharaoh when God
appeared to him on the backside of the desert.
3. David - Jesse brought seven of his sons to
the feast Samuel had called of which he thought one
would be anointed to be the next king of Israel.
However, the youngest he left behind to feed and care
for the flocks. At seeing the oldest son of Jesse,
Samuel said, "Surely the Lord's anointed is before
him." God rejected all seven and chose David the
youngest son of Jesse.
4. The twelve apostles - Jesus said "you have
not chosen me, but I have chosen you."
5. Jeremiah - God said to Jeremiah in Jere.
1:5, "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and
before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified
thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
6. Saul of Tarsus - The apostles had chosen
Matthias to be the one to replace Judas. Matthias was
considered by the apostles to be a good man and they
chose him. In contrast, the one whom God chose was busy
trying to destroy the church of God, persecuting any
that called on the name of Jesus, "breathing out
threatenings and slaughter" towards any that called on
7. Gospel ministers - In this gospel age God
chooses, calls and sends those he chooses not whom man
chooses, to preach the gospel (Rom. 10:15; Lk. 10:1, 2).
Second, God's choice of Israel to
be the nation to which he established the old covenant
illustrates his sovereignty as we read in Deut. 7:7,
"The Lord did not set his love upon you nor choose you,
because ye were more in number than any people; for ye
were the fewest of all people."
Third, God is sovereign in those
he chooses to be his people as we read in Rom. 9:6-13,
"Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect.
For they are not all Israel which are of Israel: Neither
because they are the seed of Abraham are they all
children: but in Isaac shall thy seed be called. That
is, They which are children of the flesh, these are not
the children of God: but the children of promise are
counted for the seed. For this is the word of promise,
At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son.
And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived
by one, even by our father Isaac; (For the children
being not yet born, neither having done any good or
evil, that the purpose of God according to election
might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It
was said unto her the elder shall serve the younger. As
it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I
hated." Now some would say that God is unrighteous to
exercise his sovereignty in choosing a people and this
is addressed in Rom. 9: 14-16, "What shall we say then?
Is their unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he
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."
Fourth, God is sovereign in the
work of the new birth. John 3:8 teaches us, "The wind
bloweth where it listeth and thou hearest the sound
thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and
whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the
Spirit." Thus, as the wind is independent of man in its
direction, course, origin, and destination, so God is
independent of man in causing us to be born again. Gal.
4:28 reads, "Now we brethren, as Isaac was, are children
of promise. Isaac's birth was by promise from God. It
was by God's will and not man's will. It was at God's
appointed time. It was contrary to nature. Likewise,
our spiritual birth is by covenant promise from God. It
is by God's will and not man's will. It is at God's
appointed time and it is contrary to nature (Eph. 2:1).
Fifth, God makes known the mystery
of his word to whom he chooses. Matt. 11:25, 26 reads,
"At this time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O
Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid
these things from the wise and prudent and hast revealed
them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good
in thy sight."
Sixth, God dispenses spiritual
gifts as it pleases him and not man. I Cor. 12:11, "But
all these worketh that one and the self same Spirit,
dividing to every man severally as he will." Whatever
spiritual gifts we possess is because God in his
sovereignty gave them to us.
Seventh, God directs the field of
labor for His ministers. This lesson is illustrated in
Acts 16:6-9, "Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia
and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the
Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, After they were
come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the
Spirit suffered them not. And they passing by Mysia
came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in
the night: There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed
him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us."
Also we read in Acts 20:28, "Take heed therefore unto
yourselves and all the flock over which the Holy Ghost
has made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which
he has purchased with his own blood."
Finally, we should recognize God's
sovereignty in the affairs of our life as James taught
us in James 4:13-15, "Go to now, ye that say, To day or
to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue
there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye
know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your
life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little
time, and then vanisheth away. For ye ought to say, If
the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that." We
are dependent on him, but He is not dependent on us.
God is sovereign.
Justified - Part 1
"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. For whom he did foreknow, he also did
predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son,
that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called:
and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he
justified, them he also glorified." This passage of
scripture is commonly referred to as the "covenant of
redemption." In our previous essays we have considered
God's foreknowing a people, predestinating those he
foreknew, and calling those he foreknew and
predestinated. In this essay we will begin a study on
God's justifying the people he foreknew.
The word justify means to make or declare righteous or
just. It implies legal status. It is a court room term
and is the result of a court room judgment. It means the
opposite of the word condemn. In order to see how that
we are justified it is helpful to go into "heaven's
court room" and view the judgment of God.
There would be no judgment nor even a court room without
law. Law is the basis for judgment. According to Rom.
5:13, "For until the law sin was in the world: but sin
is not imputed when there is no law." Without law, there
can be no transgression of the law. For instance, if
there were no speed limit then we could drive 100 mph on
the freeway and could not be arrested for speeding.
Law derives from authority. Since God is the creator of
all things, ultimate authority rests with God and He is
the ultimate lawgiver. According to Isa. 33:22, "The
Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is
our king, he will save us." Also James 4:12 reads,
"There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to
destroy: who art thou that judgeth another?" God, as the
only lawgiver, gave commandment to man in the garden of
Eden, "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely
eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,
thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day thou eatest
thereof thou shalt surely die." In giving this law, God
also set the penalty for transgressing the law. The
penalty for transgression is death. Also, according to
Rom. 6:23, "The wages of sin is death..." Sin is defined
for us in 1 John 3:4, "Whosoever committeth sin
transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression
of the law." The penalty of death for breaking God's
laws is more than just death of the body but is set
forth in the following passages of scripture:
1. Rev. 20:11-14 - "And I saw a great white throne, and
him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and heaven
fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I
saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the
books were opened: and another book was opened, which is
the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those
things which were written in the books, according to
their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in
it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were
in them: and they were judged every man according to
their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake
of fire. This is the second death."
2. II Thes. 1:7-9 - "And to you who are troubled rest
with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from
heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking
vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not
the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be
punished with everlasting destruction from the presence
of the Lord, and from the glory of his power..."
3. Matt. 25:41, 46 - "then shall he say unto them on the
left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting
fire, prepared for the devil and his angels...And these
shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the
righteous into life eternal."
The penalty for breaking the law is meted out for every
sin. We read in Heb. 2:2, "For if the word spoken by
angels was steadfast, and every transgression and
disobedience received a just recompense of reward..."
Thus every transgression and disobedience comes before
God for judgment. Every sin is judged by God and his
wrath is executed upon every sin. There is no such thing
as anyone ever getting away with anything before God.
Furthermore sin is more than the outward commission of
sin, but also includes our inward thoughts:
1. Gen. 6:5 - "And God saw that the wickedness of man
was great in the earth, and that every imagination of
the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."
2. Prov. 15:26 - "The thoughts of the wicked are an
abomination to the Lord..."
3. Prov. 24:9 - "The thought of foolishness is sin..."
4. Matt. 5:27, 28 - "Ye have heard that it was said by
them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I
say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust
after her hath committed adultery with her already in
In our next essay we will consider the origin and
extensiveness of sin and consider God as the one who
apprehends us and our sins to bring us to judgment.
- Part 2
In this essay we want to consider the origin and
extensiveness of sin and consider God as the apprehender
of sin to bring us to judgment. In Rom. 5:12 we read,
"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world,
and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for
that all have sinned." God gave the law to Adam. Adam
transgressed the law and died as the result of sin.
However, this sentence of death was more than just upon
Adam, but it was upon all his posterity as well. The
sentence of death passed upon all men, for all men were
in Adam when he sinned. According to Rom. 5:14 Adam as
the head and representative of his race was a figure of
Christ who is the head and representative of his elect
people. In verses 15 thru 19 of this chapter we read of
those things that happened to Adam's race as a result of
the sin of Adam. We read that we are dead as a result
of Adam's offence, and that we were judged to
condemnation because of Adam's offense, and that death
reigned over us because of Adam's offense, and that we
were made sinners because of Adam's offense. Thus we
see that sin in man originated with Adam and this sin
nature and condemnation of sin passed upon all of Adam's
race. David said in Ps. 51:5, "Behold, I was shapen in
iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me." David
pinpointed his being a sinner as starting at
conception. Furthermore, in Ps. 58:3 David affirmed
that we bear the fruit of that sin nature as soon as we
be born. Paul said in Rom. 7:18 that there is no good
thing dwelling in the flesh. Thus sin is pervasive. It
extends into the innermost thoughts of our heart. We
are altogether filthy with sin.
Unlike in man's legal systems which are very
imperfect, God's legal system is perfect. It has no
flaws and results in perfect judgment and justice. In
man's legal system most transgressions of the law are
never apprehended. There are not near enough officers
of the law to identify and bring every transgression of
man's laws to justice. How many times, for instance,
has the reader broken the speed limit for driving and
never been apprehended for doing so because there was no
traffic officer present to witness the transgression and
ticket you? God has no such limitations. He is
everywhere present and no where absent and has all
knowledge. He is the perfect apprehender of His laws
broken by fallen man.
According to Heb. 4:12, 13 God is
a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart and
every creature is manifest in his sight for all things
are naked and open to the eyes of him with whom we have
to do. According to Job 26:6, "Hell is naked before him
and destruction hath no covering." Job also said in
42:2, "I know that thou canst do every thing, and that
no thought can be withholden from thee." This is in
harmony with Ps. 94:11, "The Lord knoweth the thoughts
of man, that they are vanity." Also Prov. 15:26
testifies to the wickedness of our thoughts and that God
knows them, "The thoughts of the wicked are an
abomination to the Lord." Lest we think we are not
among the wicked 1 Cor. 3:20 says, "The Lord knoweth the
thoughts of the wise, that they are vain."
David lamented in Ps. 69:5, "O
God, thou knowest my foolishness; and my sins are not
hid from thee." Jeremiah recorded the words of the Lord
in 16:17, "For mine eyes are upon all their ways: they
are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid
from mine eyes." The Lord said in Matt. 10:26, "Fear
them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that
shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be
known." That nothing can be hid from God is manifest in
Prov. 15:3, "The eyes of the Lord are in every place
beholding the evil and the good."
Thus we are made to conclude that
God knows our every thought and our every action and
thus our every sin. Not one of his laws are ever broken
without his knowing it and without the sin being brought
to the bar of justice for judgment.
In our next essay we will consider God
as the judge over all the earth.