The Sovereignty of God
Every thinking person readily sees that some sovereignty rules his life. He was not asked whether or not he would have existence; nor when, where, or what he would be born; whether in the twentieth century or before the flood; whether white or Negro; whether in America or in China. It has been recognized by Christians in all ages that God is the Creator and Ruler of the universe, and that as the Creator and Ruler of the universe He is the ultimate source of all the power that is found in the creatures. Hence nothing can come to pass apart from His sovereign will; and when we dwell upon this truth we find that it involves considerations which establish the Calvinistic and disprove the Arminian position.
By virtue of the fact that God has created every thing which exists, He is the absolute Owner and final Disposer of all that He has made. He exerts not merely a general influence, but actually rules in the world which He has created. The nations of the earth, in their insignificance, are as the small dust of the balance when compared with His greatness; and far sooner might the sun be stopped in his course than God be hindered in His work or in His will. Amid all the apparent defeats and inconsistencies of life God actually moves on in undisturbed majesty. Even the sinful actions of men can occur only by His permission. And since he permits not unwillingly but willingly, all that comes to pass --- including the actions and ultimate destiny of men --- must be, in some sense, in accordance with what He has desired and purposed. Just in proportion as this is denied God is excluded from the government of the world. Naturally some problems arise here which we in our present state of knowledge are not fully capable of solving; but that is no sufficient ground for rejecting what the Scriptures and the plain dictates of reason affirm to be true.
If the power of an earthly king Is law in his kingdom, how much more shall the word of God be in His! For example, the Christian knows that the day is certainly coming when, willingly or unwillingly, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. In the Scriptures He is represented to us as God ALMIGHTY, who sits upon the throne of universal dominion. He knows the end from the beginning and the means to be used in attaining that end. He is able to do for us exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or even think. The category of the impossible has no existence for Him "with whom all things are possible," Matt. 19:26; Mark 10:27. This, however, does not mean that God has power to do that which is contrary to His nature, " to work contradictions. It is impossible for God to lie, or to do anything which is morally wrong. He cannot make two and two equal five, nor can He make a wheel turn around and stand still at the same time. His omnipotence is as sure a guarantee that the course of the world will conform to His plan as is His holiness a guarantee that all His works will be right.
Not only in the New Testament but In the Old Testament as well we find this doctrine of God's sovereignty consistently developed. Dr. Warfield says concerning the doctrine as it is found there: "The Almighty Maker of all that is is represented equally as the irresistible Ruler of all that He has made; Jehovah sits as King for ever (Ps. 29:1 0). " He goes on to say that the writers rarely use such expressions as "it rains;" they instinctively speak of God sending rain, etc. The possibility of accident and chance are excluded and even "the lot was an accepted means of obtaining the decision of God (Joshua 7:16; 14:2; 18:6; 1 Sam. 10:19; Jonah 1:7). All things without exception, indeed, are disposed by Him, and His will is the ultimate account of all that occurs. Heaven and earth and all that is in them are the instruments through which He works His ends. Nature, nations, and the fortunes of the individual alike present in all their changes the transcript of His purpose. The winds are His messengers, the flaming fire His servant: every natural occurrence is His act; prosperity is His gift, and if calamity falls upon man it is the Lord that has done it (Amos 3:5, 6; Lam. 3:33-38; Is. 47:7; Ecel, 7:14; Is. 54:16). It is He that leads the feet of men, wit they whither or not; He that raises up and casts down; opens and hardens the heart; and creates the very thoughts and intents of the soul." (Biblical Doctrines, art. Predestination, p.9.)
And shall we not believe that God can convert a sinner when He pleases? Cannot the Almighty, the omnipotent Ruler of the universe, change the characters of the creatures He has made? He changed the water into wine at Cana, and converted Saul on the road to Damascus. The leper said, "Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean," and at a word his leprosy was cleansed. God is as able to cleanse the soul as the body, and we believe that if He chose to do so He could raise up such a flood of Christian ministers, missionaries, and workers of various kinds that the world would be converted in a very short time. If He actually purposed to save all men He could send hosts of angels to instruct them and to do supernatural works on the earth. He could Himself work marvelously on the heart of every person so that no one would be lost. Since evil exists only by His permission, He could, if He chose, blot it out of existence. His power in this latter respect was shown, for instance, in the work of the destroying angel who in one night slew all the first-born of the Egyptians (Ex. 12:29), and in another night slew 185,000 of the Assyrian army (11 Kings 19:35). It was shown when the earth opened and swallowed Korah and his rebellious allies (Nu. 16:31-33). Ananias and Sapphira were smitten (Acts 5:1-11); Herod was smitten and died a horrible death (Acts 12:23). God has lost none of His power, and it is highly dishonoring to Him to suppose that He is struggling along with the human race doing the best He can but unable to accomplish His purposes.
Although the sovereignty of God is universal and absolute, it is not the sovereignty of blind power. It is coupled with infinite wisdom, holiness and love. And this doctrine, when properly understood, is a most comforting and reassuring one. Who would not prefer to have his affairs in the hands of a God of infinite power, wisdom, holiness and love, rather than to have them left to fate, or chance, or irrevocable natural law, or to short-sighted and perverted self ? Those who reject God's sovereignty should consider what alternatives they have left.
The affairs of the universe, then, are controlled and guided, how? "According to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His will." The present day tendency is to set aside the doctrines of Divine Sovereignty and Predestination in order to make room for the autocracy of the human will. The pride and presumption of man, on the one hand, and his ignorance and depravity on the other, lead him to exclude God and to exalt himself so far as he is able; and both of these tendencies combine to lead the great majority of mankind away from Calvinism.
The Arminian idea which assumes that the serious intentions of God way in some cases at least be defeated, and that man, who is not only a creature but a sinful creature, can exercise veto power over the plans of Almighty God, is in striking contrast with the Biblical idea of His immeasurable exaltation by which He is removed from all the weaknesses of humanity. That the plans of men are not always executed is due to a lack of power, or a lack of wisdom; but since God is unlimited In these and all other resources, no unforeseen emergencies can arise, and to Him the causes for change have no existence. To suppose that His plans fail and that He strives to no effect, is to reduce Him to the level of His creatures.
Dan. 4:35: 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?
Jer. 32:17: Ah Lord Jehovah! behold thou hast made the heavens and the earth by thy great power and by thine outstretched arm; and there is nothing too hard for thee.
Matt. 28:18: All authority bath been given unto me (Christ) in heaven and on earth.
Eph. 1:22: And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church.
Eph. 1:11: In whom we were made a heritage, having been foreordained according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His will.
Is.14:24, 27: Jehovah of hosts hath sworn, saying, surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass . . . . For Jehovah of hosts hath purposed, and who shall annul it? and His hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?
Is. 46:9, 10, 11: Remember the former things of old; for I am God. and there is none else; I am God and there is none like me; declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure . . . . yea, I have spoken; I will also bring It to pass; I have purposed, I will also do it.
Gen. 18:14: Is anything too hard for Jehovah?
Job 42:2: I know that thou canst do all things, And that no purpose of thine can be restrained.
Ps. 115:3: Our God is in the heavens. He hath done whatsoever He pleased.
Ps. 135:6: Whatsoever Jehovah pleased, that hath He done. In heaven, in earth, in the seas, and in all deeps.
Is. 55:11: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth; it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
Rom. 9:20, 21: Nay but, 0 man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why didst thou make me thus? Or hath not the potter a right over the clay, from the same lump to make one part a vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?
Special thanks to John Koerschgen for making this article available to Sola Scriptura!