God is Sovereign Over Creation

There are two main points that both demonstrate the “Calvinist” view of soteriology is correct. First, God is absolutely sovereign over all creation. God has ordained the future, which must include one’s salvation or condemnation. Second, man is so depraved and helpless that aside from God’s regeneration, we would be entirely unable to believe and repent. Either of these points alone will demonstrate that “it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.”

We will start with the sovereignty of God. This is a long topic so it will likely run several posts.

Before we get started, is is essential to remember that this is the God who died for us. He loves us. I rely on Isaiah 40-45 a lot in here. Chapter 40 starts out with a proclamation of peace and comfort! God’s sovereignty is both scary and comforting. We must come to grips with the sovereignty of God, but we must not consider His sovereignty apart from His other attributes – mercy, grace, holiness, wrath, or justice.

There are two main points about the sovereignty of God that I want to make. The first is to understand that God is free to do as He pleases. He is not constrained by anything other than Himself. The second point is that God actually exercises this freedom by ruling over His creation. Everyone seems OK with the idea that God has the _right_ to rule, but they balk at the idea that He actually exercises this authority. Scripture shows us that He does.

Maybe it’s because I’m a programmer, but when I think of God being “in control” I usually think about someone moving chess pieces, or operating a machine, programming a computer, controlling a robot, etc. But this is not the language of the Bible. God is not a puppeteer. He is a King ruling over His subjects.

Starting out generally, *God does as He pleases in Heaven and on Earth*. God is actively involved in ruling His creation.

Psalm 115:3 “our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.” Unlike the heathen gods, our God reigns from Heaven and acts as He sees fit.

Psalm 135:6 “Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.” Notice that He does what He pleases in heaven _and_ in earth. We should not get the idea that God is ruling in Heaven, and the angels obey Him, but somehow He can’t rule over us. We can disobey His law, but He does as He pleases on the earth.

Daniel 4:35 “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?”

This verse starts by teaching us that God has absolutely no respect for us. We are reputed as _nothing_ before Him. Isaiah 40:12-17 teaches us that the nations are just a speck of dust on the scales, a drop of water in a bucket. He regards us as less than nothing, as meaningless. Isaiah 40:21-26 calls us grasshoppers.

Now remember, this is the God who died for us! When the Bible says He regards us as meaningless, the best way to understand this is that He does not regard our strength, will, etc. We cannot stand up to Him. He is a loving Father to the elect, but we are nothing before our Father and our King.

It’s one thing for God to be ruling in some general, impersonal, indirect way. But it’s not general, impersonal, and direct. *God directs our daily lives despite our plans*. He deals with us in specifics, personally, and directly.

Proverbs 16:9 “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.”
Proverbs 20:24 “Man’s goings are of the LORD; how can a man then understand his own way?”

We do make plans, but God directs our steps. Haven’t you ever been amazed how God has led you, completely without you realizing it at the time, to some place of blessing and sanctification? You look back on all the circumstances and the decisions you thought you were making and you realize that God was leading you here all along. I know I have. You didn’t know where you were going. You had devised your way. But God was directing your steps. He is sovereign over our daily lives. (See also Psalm 139:16).

We can observe God’s direct, personal, specific rule over our lives at an aggregate level, too. A democracy might think it’s all about “we the people”, but the Bible says *God is sovereign over civil government*.

Daniel 4:17 “the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men”.

Do you think God is nervous every 4 years as the election results come in? You think He’s counting electoral college votes? No? Why not?

The Bible says that God gives rule to “whomsoever he will”. Now, what happened to our free will in voting? We don’t believe God is magically changing ballots or sending His angels to stuff ballot boxes or fool with hanging chads.

He sets up rule in this kingdom, anyway, _by ruling over voters_. The election results – which are apparently dependent on millions of indpendent actions by “free moral agents” – are under God’s control. *God rules over the supposedly free will of men* to carry out His plans.

God rules over us even down to our daily lives. He regards us as grasshoppers, as less than nothing. He rules over our “free will”. We don’t get no respect. I don’t know what happened to our self-esteem and dignity, but He doesn’t seems to be too concerned about it! *God has the right to rule over us because He is God. We have no right to question Him*.

Daniel 4:35 “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?”

Not only does God not give us any respect in terms of our strength, our will, or our plans. He also doesn’t take questions. Not only can we not stop Him, we can’t question Him. Job tried, and you see how well it worked out for him!

Romans 9:20 “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?”

Isaiah 45:9 Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?

In Daniel 4:35, we saw that we can’t question God simply because He is powerful and we are not. Isaiah and Paul in Romans go further. It’s utterly inappropriate to question God. We must realize that not only is He strong, _He is our Maker_. He formed us. He has the right to do with us as He sees fit. *His position as Creator gives Him the right to rule*. Our position as the Creation gives us our place as the ruled.

(See also Isaiah 40:12-17, 21-26. Or chapters 40-45 of Isaiah, for a general discussion of God’s sovereignty.)

Because He is the King, and is powerful, and is the Creator, and because we are powerless creatures, *God’s purposes cannot be thwarted*.

Isaiah 43:13 “Yea, before the day was I am he; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand: I will work, and who shall let it?” (or, who can reverse it?) God is God. He is from eternity. He is powerful. He acts and none can reverse it.

Isaiah 46:9-11 “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 the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.”

Sovereignty is an important part of what it even means to be God. There is none like Him. In what way? In that God, and no one else, declares “the end from the beginning” and asserting “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure”. This is part of what it means to be God. He is sovereign. He rules His creation and brings about His purposes.

This passage alone ought to do away with any system of theology that elevates anyone’s will or implies that God takes risks. He declares the end from the beginning. If He has declared it, if He has established His purposes, then how could we thwart that?

Lest we somehow get too comfortable with the idea of God’s sovereignty, or think of Him as a kindly omnipotent grandpa – like an all powerful genie who does good things for us because He can see better than we can – God makes a quite disturbing statement. *God is sovereign over good things and bad things*.

Isaiah 45:6-7 That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

God is not sovereign over just the light. His will and his rule do not stop at “peace”. He creates evil. He causes calamity. He is unashamed – “I the LORD do _all_ these things.”

Remember that tsunami that killed all those unsuspecting people? *God did that.*

Jesus Himself said that God caused a man to be born blind just so Jesus could work a miracle. (John 9). Where was that man’s freedom? This does not sound like the gentlemanly God that Arminianism teaches.

God is sovereign. His rule is not theoretical. He actually rules. It is not general or impersonal either. He rules specifically. He rules over our daily lives. He orders our steps. He is not concerned with our rights; we are nothing before Him. He creates good and evil, sends blessings and calamities. We can’t stop Him, and do not have the right to question Him either.

Next, we will look at some Biblical examples when God makes His sovereign rule obvious – cases like Pharaoh, Job, etc.

Then, we will consider some of the motivations behind God’s actions. We know He does all things after the counsel of His own will, but sometimes He has told us what motivates Him.

Then, I will discuss other things that are true. We must keep these truths in context. God is sovereign, but we do still make choices. We’ll talk about how we still have something like “free will” even though God is sovereign.

I will also discuss how our worldview and our culture militate against the idea of God’s sovereignty, and finally I will draw a few points of application.

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11 Responses to God is Sovereign Over Creation

  1. gayla-p says:

    This is a great post. Thanks! God led me into a true belief and faith in His sovereignty in Nov of last year. I’m still such a novice in my journey, but God has opened my eyes to so much truth. I find it deeply comforting to know that “God is in control” are not meaningless words.

    “Everyone seems OK with the idea that God has the right to rule, but they balk at the idea that He actually exercises this authority. Scripture shows us that He does.”

    This statement is so true. Just reading through the OT this year, I’ve been amazed to see just exactly how He does this. It gives me comfort and does nothing but bolster my faith knowing that things like 9/11 or the tsunami are well in His control. As sovereign, God is the supreme authority over heaven and earth, and all lesser authorities exist either by God’s command or by His permission.

    I look forward to reading more of your posts. :)

  2. Kevin says:

    Hello Robert,

    Good Stuff. I look forward to your application.

    (I didn’t know you were a programmer. Me too.)

  3. Jared says:

    Hmm. I tried to trackback, but it didn’t take apparently.
    Anyways, I linked to your post at The Thinklings.
    You’ve already got one dude there finding this a bitter pill to swallow.
    But, then, you knew that’d happen, didn’t you? ;-)

  4. Darren says:

    Interesting post, Robert, though I do wonder if such statements as this go too far over the line, attempting to demonstrate the point by exaggeration:

    “Remember that tsunami that killed all those unsuspecting people? God did that.”

    The sovereignty of God is and ought to be a pillar of Christian truth. Yet is it not even more vulnerable than Arminian free-willism to every accusation that stems from the Problem of Evil? Most Christians respond to the challenge with “God has given us the freedom to be as evil as we would be.”

    How should Reformed thinkers answer the problem, accounting for the fact that God actively rules over his creation (and, by your account, actively causes bad things to happen to it)?

  5. Robert says:

    I do wonder if such statements as this go too far over the line

    There is no line. God is absolutely sovereign.

    ?God has given us the freedom to be as evil as we would be.?

    That might work for some situations. But no human caused that tsunami. Did it just happen? Is the world drifting randomly like a rudderless ship?

    God is actively ruling over His creation. Our answer to bad things must be the same as Job – Shall we accept good from the Lord, and not evil?

    God is holy, righteous, just, and merciful. He is also sovereign. We know that whatever He does is right, and sometimes the Creator and King of all the universe doesn’t explain to me just what He’s doing any why. When we don’t understand His ways, we have to trust His character.

  6. Sven says:

    “He is a loving Father to the elect”

    Yes, and in fact to everything that he has made.

    (Ps 145:13)

  7. Pastor Art says:

    I do not consider this a “bitter pill” to swallow, as one of your commenters commented about the person who disagreed with you. My comment is posted on my Blog site. It was far too long to post here. This is not the only or best way to look at these matters. Yahweh is a Sovereign, Just, and Merciful King who has given His most beloved creation a terrible gift…Free Will. Visit my blog site, Temple Corners, to read a comprehensive study concerning the Sovereignty of God.
    Pastor Art

  8. MegLogan says:

    Interesting. Vewwy vewwy intewesting. I am still thinking. but I didnt disagree with anything you said. I am still trying to fit the peices into a whole. Because you yourself said that God is soveriegn but he is also just, merciful, graceful… etc. Sometimes I think God is just too big to understand at all I might as well be ignorant, as long as I am able to trust Him what does all this really matter?

    Meg

    Keep posting, I am riveted.

  9. aurelia says:

    Greetings!

    My name is Aurelia. I?m a teacher in Portugal, but I have a problem. My beloved brother has a disease who has not mercy! And I waste all my money with therapy and medicine!
    He love to learn(he has a deep Christian faith) but he have no money and a very few friends!
    The only joy he has is to read(it’s a compulsion).
    Will you please help out his poor and lonely soul by sending him some books. Any books would be greatly appreciated.
    He would really like books about Jesus Christ, any Christian book would be loved.
    Thanks for saving her soul from the hell in which he live.
    I really need a lot of help. I?m starting to think that there is no help for me, too! WE DON’T HAVE A PRIVATE COMPUTER!
    Please please please send me something!Old, even damaged print matterial, anything..

    I thank you your love

    Our address:
    AURELIA PEREIRA
    HABITOVAR AV. ANTONIO SERGIO 3
    3880-047 OVAR
    PORTUGAL

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