Sovereign is defined as: 

    1. Above or superior to all others; chief; greatest; supreme.
    2. Supreme in power, rank, or authority.
    3. Of or holding the position of ruler; royal; reigning.
    4. 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 his name.
        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 his heart."

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.

 Justified - 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.