The Study of God
Exploring God's Authority and Power to Do Whatever He Wishes....
"In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will ...." (Ephesians 1:11)
Can God do anything He wishes? If you are a friend of God, you would probably say, "Yes!" If you view the concept of God as intimidating or even inimical, you would probably respond, "No way!" or, "If he can, he's a first-class tyrant!"
We don't use the words "sovereign" or "sovereignty" very often. What does the phrase "Sovereignty of God" mean? It is the theological verity that God is the Supreme Ruler. On the human level, kings have limited sovereignty, limited authority. They reign over a nation. In the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth is but a figurehead. She has been stripped of virtually all her authority and power. But God is the Supreme Ruler, and, according to the Bible, He has unlimited sovereignty. Fortunately for us humans, He is a good, or benevolent Sovereign. But He is also a holy, righteous Sovereign who requires accountability from all His human subjects. Let us examine some of the areas in which God displays His Sovereignty. He obviously allows evil in His dominion, but He Himself cannot be charged with any evil (Rom. 9:14; 1 John 1:5).
(1) He is said to be the Great King because He is the Creator (Ps. 95:3-5). Yahweh is a great God and a great King above all gods (Ps. 95:3). He possesses the depths of the earth and the heights of the mountains (Ps. 95:4). The sea belongs to Him, for He made it, along with the dry land (Ps. 95:5). For that reason we humans are to sing for joy to Yahweh, our salvation, and praise Him with singing (Ps. 95:1-2). Moreover, we are to bow down to Him and worship Him, for He created us humans (Ps. 95:6). The record of His creation of the earth, the universe, and everything in it is recorded in Genesis 1:1-2:25; Exod. 20:11.
(2) God is Sovereign because He is the Self-Existent One. When Moses asked Him for His name, God replied, "I am being who I am being" (Exod. 3:14). In both instances, the words translate the 1st Person Singular Qal Imperfect of the verb hâyâh´ (1961). The imperfect suggests action that is not complete, entirely appropriate, for God is Eternal, and He will never stop being. God is Self-Existent and not dependent on any other being. He has always existed and will always exist. No one can place any limitations on Him (Eph. 1:11).
(3) God displays His Sovereignty in creating and calling humans to serve whatever purpose He chooses. Before Rebekah's twins were born, and had done anything good or bad, God revealed His choice when He decreed, "The older will serve the younger" (Rom. 9:10-12). God also stated, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated" (Rom. 9:13; Mal. 1:2-3). Moreover, God told Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion (Rom. 9:14-16; Exod. 33:19). God raised up rebellious Pharaoh to demonstrate His own power, and to proclaim His own Name throughout the earth (Rom. 9:17). So it can be said that God extends mercy to whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires (Rom. 9:18). Just as a potter has the authority to take clay and make one vessel a beautiful vase and use the same lump of clay to fashion a commode, so God, as the Supreme Sovereign, has the authority and right to create human beings for whatever purpose He chooses (Rom. 9:19-24).
(4) God displays His Sovereignty in delegating man to excercize sovereignty over the earth and its animals (Gen. 1:26-28; 9:1-6). God's plan was for man to subdue the earth and rule over its animals in a wise and benevolent manner. When man acted independently of God and defied His simple, single restriction (Gen. 2:16-17; 3:1-7), death, disease, and dysfunction entered the human race and defiled the animal kingdom. God placed a curse upon the ground (Gen. 3:14-19), and indeed upon the universe. Entropy began to reign. After the Great Flood, God gave man the authority to eat animals. To prevent animals from eating man, God placed a fear of man within the animal kingdom (Gen. 9:1-5). Man's ability to rule the earth and the animal kingdom well had been compromised, but never revoked.
(5) God displays His Sovereignty in choosing certain individuals, without any merit on their part, to be beneficiaries of His eternal salvation. God chose certain people to be "in Christ" before the world was ever created. Our destiny is to be holy and blameless in His sight (Eph. 1:4; 1 Thess. 1:4; 2 Pet. 1:10). This choice is wholly gracious upon the part of God without reference to any works we have performed (Eph. 2:8-10).
(6) God displays His Sovereignty in assigning the descendants of Jacob, later renamed Israel, to rule over other nations of the earth. God decreed that Jacob, later named Israel, would rule nations (Gen. 27:29). In Christ's Millennial Kingdom, He, the greatest son of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, will rule Israel and the entire earth, assisted by redeemed sons of Israel (Isa. 2:1-4; 60:1-22; 61:5-6; Zech. 14:9, 12-19). In the New Earth, New Jerusalem will be the capital city. The nations and kings of the earth will bring their honor and glory into it (Rev. 21:24-27).
(7) God will display His Sovereignty in that Jesus, God's Anointed King of Israel and King of the Earth, will one day return to earth and be recognized as King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16). He will descend from heaven with His holy armies, and will strike down the rebellious nations, rule them with a rod of iron, and tread the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty (Rev. 19:15-21; Psalm 2:1-12; Zech. 14:1-5; 12-21; Isa. 63:1-6; 2 Thess. 1:6-10).
(8) God will display His Sovereignty in His Eternal Kingdom. God and Jesus will set up their eternal kingdom headquartered in New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:1-22:5). His slaves will serve Him and will reign forever and ever (Rev. 22:3-5).
(9) God will display His Sovereignty in the Eternal Torment of His enemies and all who reject the Good News concerning His Son. This somber truth is recorded in Matt. 25:41; 2 Thess. 1:8-9; Rev. 19:20; 20:10, 11-15.
The Standing Offer of the Sovereign God
God loves mankind. He created us in His likeness and image to have friendship and fellowship with us (Gen. 1:26). The most significant part of that likeness is that He assigned us and empowered us to duplicate His rulership in a limited way. We are to rule over all God's creation here upon earth in a good and benevolent way, just as God does (Gen. 1:26-28).
But when man violated God's limitation (Gen. 2:16-17; 3:1-6), man died spiritually immediately (Gen. 3:7, 8), and physical death resulted in time (Gen. 5:5). Adam passed his propensity to sin and the consequence of death on to all his posterity (Rom. 5:12).
But God in His love sent His Son to earth to become man, live a perfect life, and die for our sins in our place. God's standing offer is that if you believe in His Son, you will be forgiven and share in His eternal life (John 3:16). But if you reject God's Son, God's wrath will remain on you forever (John 3:36).