by Rob Jensen
Sovereign means principal, chief, or supreme. When we use the word in relation to God, it takes on a whole new level of meaning that we as mankind can have difficulty reconciling in our finite minds. This attribute is the attribute that is an umbrella over all other attributes. God’s omniscience, omnipotence, love, holiness, and any other attribute is related to the fact that He is supreme or chief in that area. If God lacks anything in any one of these areas, He is not sovereign, and He would not be God.
Many times, we think of God’s sovereignty in terms of salvation and that is a common course of thought, which has brought about many disagreements in churches regarding man’s free will and God’s election. Does man have a free will or is God sovereign? Yes.
But let’s take a step back and view some of the areas of sovereignty throughout the Bible.
1) God was sovereign in His creation. When Jason Lisle was here he gave us a glimpse of God’s sovereignty in creation, particularly in astronomical areas. As was pointed out, in Psalm 147:4 we read, “He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them.” Yet, as Genesis 1 points out, God spoke this into being out of nothing. But not only that, as we see in Colossians 1:17, God sovereignly holds all things together through His Son.
2) God is sovereign over human governments. In Romans 13:1 we are told, “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.”
3) God is sovereign over each individual:
- Birth - Psalm 139:13: “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.”
- Knowing us personally - Psalm 139:1–3: “O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways.”
- Knowledge of our thoughts and speech - Psalm 139:4: “Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O LORD, You know it all.”
4) God is sovereign in His Word:
- Isaiah 55:11: “So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”
- 2 Timothy 3:16–17: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
5) God is sovereign in His salvation:
- 2 Thessalonians 2:13: “But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.”
- Ephesians 1:11: “Also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.”
The beauty of God’s sovereignty in salvation is that we don’t have to live under a set of rules and regulations that may change or cause us to lose what we have. Part of His sovereignty is in truth. It begins in the fact that there are no other gods and hence no competition in regard to a question of another way of salvation or another competing belief. In Isaiah 45:5–7 we are told:
I am the LORD, and there is no other; besides Me there is no God. I will gird you, though you have not known Me; that men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun that there is no one besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other, the One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these.
God’s sovereignty in salvation also guarantees that He will secure the salvation He has provided to us. In John 10:27-29 Jesus says:
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.
So as Paul wrote to the Thessalonians we can have comfort in our salvation as we strive by His Word:
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word (2 Thessalonians 2:16–17).