One of the ongoing debates within Christian circles is centered on the subject of government and authority. Should Christians submit to civil authorities or simply focus on their relationship to the divine King and Ruler—Jesus Christ? In a lawful state where governing authorities are placed into office as those who lead and oversee the people—Christians have a responsibility to submit. However, the Christian is also called to submit to Christ at the same time. So, how does this balance play itself out in the ebb and flow of everyday life?
One of the most difficult things to do as an American Christian is to submit. Red blooded Americans enjoy freedom and abhor the idea of submission, therefore, as a Christian who lives within that culture, it’s often difficult to strike a balance between the freedoms that we do have and the absolute necessity to submit both to Caesar and Christ. One is for our temporal good and the other is for our eternal life. In this life, there are laws and structures of authority that must be followed, and Christians are not to live as lawless rebels while passing through this temporal world.
The Civil Government
Like marriage, the civil government is temporal, but given for a purpose and for our good. According to Romans 13, God instituted the leaders who rule over the people and their authority comes from the Lord himself. The sword (ability to exercise authority and enforce law) has been placed into the hands of the government by God himself. Until such time that the civil leaders ask us to violate God’s law, we are to submit and live in an orderly and lawful manner.
It was Mary Queen of Scots who once remarked, “I fear the prayers of John Knox more than all the assembled armies of Europe.” A study of church history and the Reformation will reveal how John Knox and Mary Queen of Scots clashed, but she feared Knox because of he feared God. When the earthly leaders press the people to live in such a way that would violate God’s law—it’s time to obey God rather than man. We see a clear example fo this in the Scriptures as Peter and the apostles were arrested for preaching the gospel. They were threatened and commanded to cease their preaching. Peter spoke up by saying:
“We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him” (Acts 5:29-32).
The government is instituted by God and points to God as the ultimate Judge, Ruler, and King. Whenever an earthly judge violates his seat and power of authority—we are called to obey God rather than man. Until then, we are to live peaceably in this world as lawful followers of Jesus Christ.
Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor (1 Pet. 2:16-17).
The Divine Government
We live in this world with an eye on the finish line. We don’t live as ignorant nomads, but as servants of God who are merely passing through this temporal world that is currently ruled by God’s sovereignty and divine providence. One day, Christ will return and will make all things new by ushering in his visible Kingdom. Although all authority has already been given to Christ (Matt. 28:18-20), he will one day return visibly and all things including death, the devil, and all ruling authority (including all human beings and angelic beings) will be placed under his divine rule.
Consider the words of the Christmas carol penned by Isaac Watts which states the following:
He rules the World with Truth and Grace,
And makes the Nations prove
The Glories of his Righteousness,
And Wonders of his Love.
How many red blooded Americans will stroll through shopping malls mumbling the words to this classic hymn while believing that Jesus is a King in a storybook sort of way, but he certainly isn’t King in the way that will have an impact on their lives today. At least, that’s they way they think of Jesus (if they think of him at all). If submission is hard for the ruler that you do see, how much more difficult is it for the Ruler whom you don’t see?
This present world is filled with lawlessness and corrupt government. However, even the ruling authorities today point to an eschatological hope that we have in Christ Jesus. We must remember the promise of Isaiah which was penned seven centuries before the birth of Jesus as the prophet wrote, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Is. 9:6). Because this promise is true that one day the government shall be upon his shoulder—we live on this side of the cross in the era of time between the first and second coming of Jesus. Therefore, there is a constant tension between the already and the not yet.
But, because of the promise and the hope that Christ will return and make all things new (Rev. 21), we can sing the words of Isaac Watts during this festive and celebrate with hearts of joy! This temporal world is filled with earthly thrones, but we have joy because one day Christ will bring his throne to a renewed earth and rule his people with Truth and Grace.
Joy to the World; The Lord is come;
Let Earth receive her King:
Let every Heart prepare him Room,
And Heaven and Nature sing.
Certainly kings understand what it means to bear the responsibility of leadership over a nation, over armies, and to consistently be aware of head hunters. That’s why Psalm 127 is unique since it was written by Solomon—both the son of a king and one who succeeded his father David to the throne. What we find in this short psalm is a reminder that we are to work hard for the glory of God and sleep well.
How many people do you know who can’t sleep because they are so worried about their work? Often such people pride themselves in burning the candle at both ends. In our culture of greed, it’s an honorable character trait to work endless hours, go to bed late, and rise up early to continue the labor. The world cheers on that type of unending rat race of selfish ambition.
Solomon understood what it was like to go to bed at night with a nation depending upon him. He understood what it was like to rise up early with people looking to him for firm and consistent leadership. Yet, Solomon in a great stroke of wisdom, pens the following words:
It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep (Pslam 127:2).
Solomon was looked to as an earthly sovereign, but as a child of God he understood that God was the Sovereign King who rules and reigns over the entire world. R.C. Sproul has rightly stated, ““If there is one single molecule in this universe running around loose, totally free of God’s sovereignty, then we have no guarantee that a single promise of God will ever be fulfilled.” Nothing moves or exists without the sovereign decree of God. All things are under the rule of God including, heaven, earth, clouds, rain, snow, ice, bees, bears, locusts, lions, and thrones. God literally holds our next breath in His hands.
If you know anything about American cities, the city of New York is nicknamed “the city that never sleeps.” The city is always full of lights and cars and people. It’s common to see people always moving about—going to work, carrying out their labor, and trying to move up the corporate ladder all hours of the day and night. Often, Christians fall into the trap of eating the bread of anxious toil like the rest of our culture. Charles Spurgeon explains, “Through faith the Lord makes his chosen ones to rest in him in happy freedom from care…those whom the Lord loves are delivered from the fret and fume of life.” 
The Baptist catechism asks a very important question. It asks, “What is the chief end of man?” The answer is provided, “To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” When we rise up early and prepare for work and then go out and perform our labor for the glory of God, we should return home tired and sleep well at night. However, when our labor is carried out with selfish ambition we will continue to work and seldom slow down to sleep and rest in God—who never sleeps.
If we learn to work hard for an honest day’s wage—we can trust in God who always provides for His people (Matt. 6:33). If a person labors for selfish purposes, it naturally produces anxiety and inner turmoil to be successful. The next time you are tempted to think you are responsible to keep the whole world moving forward—remember your body will eventually tell you that you need sleep. It’s a simple reminder that you aren’t God. It’s also a blessing to rest and have assurance that God is never sleeping, He is always alert, and God is able to honor the labor that is carried out for His glory. Each day we should work hard, come home tired, and sleep well.
- Charles Spurgeon, Psalms, Crossway Classic Commentaries, ed. J. I. PACKER, “Introduction,” (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1993), 273.
We live in a dissatisfied culture. Did you know that according to a survey 52.3% of Americans are dissatisfied with their job? According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 15.6 million cosmetic procedures were performed on patients in 2014. One out of every ten people you see on an average day in America is being treated with antidepressant drugs. According to studies, antidepressants rank third in the list of most prescribed drugs by doctors.
We live in a selfish culture. When was the last time you passed by an adult who has Down Syndrome? According to statistics, somewhere near 90-92% of all pregnancies that test positive for Down Syndrome are aborted.
We live in a confused culture. The homosexual agenda in America is another proof that people are simply not satisfied with who they are. People refuse to be comfortable in their own skin. They would rather be homosexual than heterosexual to satisfy their flesh. A growing population of people are going through painful and costly transgender surgeries in order for men to become “women” and women to become “men.” They claim to be pursuing who they’re meant to be. In reality, they’re simply unhappy with who they are and how God created them.
Why are so many people unhappy with themselves? Could it simply be connected to their unhappiness with God?
God is Sovereign Over Your Physical Appearance
I once read somewhere that women spend two weeks per year working on their appearance. How we look matters to us. We spend a considerable amount of time before the mirror changing our hair styles, trying on clothes, and preparing to go out into public. The fact is, we simply are not satisfied with our appearance. Gyms are on every corner because some people want to bulk up. Others use gyms (or weight loss pills) to trim down. While there is nothing wrong with wanting to get in better shape or lose a few pounds, the reality is, we’re simply not satisfied with our appearance.
God created David to be handsome (1 Samuel 16:12), Samson to be strong (Judges 13:5; 16:16-17), but He likewise sent His Son to earth to become a man. In this process, Jesus became a human who was not handsome or brag worthy in the sense of human features (Isaiah 53:2). Jesus accomplished the saving mission of the gospel in a body that was not good to look upon. Contrary to the pictures we see of Jesus, He was not good looking nor was He a Caucasian man with long flowing brown hair. Why do we need cosmetic plastic surgery to “fix” our physical appearances? Are we dissatisfied with how God created us?
God is Sovereign Over Your Lot in Life
I never intended to be a pastor. I had big plans for my future. I was quite certain that I was going to find success. God had other plans for my life. He saved me shortly after graduating college and then placed in my heart this desire to preach and teach the Bible that was inescapable. I’ve had to battle through selfish thoughts of materialism when I see others buying boats, fancy cars, and vacation homes. I went to school with people who are far more successful in life than I am. But I must realize that God has a different plan for my life. I’ve learned to trust Him with my life.
Not everyone is wired to lead a business. Not every child (calm down grandparents) is geared to become the president of our nation. Part of life is learning who God intends for us to be and part of that involves our vocational choices. It would be wise to learn this from an early age and try to be satisfied with how God has gifted us. It’s a foolish and unwise practice to waste your life trying to walk in other people’ shoes. College isn’t for everyone. Not everyone will climb to the top of some vocational ladder. We must learn to be content in who we are and how God has designed us. Jerry Bridges, in his excellent book Trusting God, writes, “Who you are is not a biological accident. What you are is not a circumstantial accident. God planned both for you.” 
God is Sovereign Over Your Physical Disabilities
When Moses complained to God regarding his deficiencies as a public speaker, God responded with a very important statement. He said, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD” (Exodus 4:11)? The world of science often tries to explain physical disabilities by the chromosome numbers and biological traits or scientific theory. The fact remains, if one child is born blind or is later diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, God is responsible for this. God intends to use all physical traits – both strengths and disabilities – for His glory (John 9:1-3).
Has it ever occurred to you that no disease or physical disability catches God by surprise? Is a dwarf to live in perpetual depression because he will never be 6 feet tall? Is a blind lady to waste away in depression because she will never see the light of the sun? Is a young man who was born with a debilitating disease that severely limits his physical body to live in a constant state of depression because he will never play college football? Learning to be satisfied with who you are is based on your satisfaction with God. Are you satisfied with God?
Physical strength and disabilities both come from God. Intellectual strengths and learning disabilities find their source in God. For a man to possess the ability to be a gifted business man, his gifts come from God. For a woman to find her calling in the home with her children does not make her any less important than some Fortune 500 business tycoon. Our steps are ordained by God (Proverbs 20:24). Our days are numbered by God (Psalm 139:16; Job 14:5). Our physical bodies were created by God (Psalm 139:13).
We must learn to trust Him in our strengths and in our weaknesses. We have trouble being comfortable in our skin because we have trouble trusting God. We look at people as deformed or inconveniences, so we disrespect them or abort them. Our culture has missed it when it comes to life. All of life belongs to God. No matter who we are or how God created us, we must learn to do all we can in this life to bring maximum glory to God (1 Corinthians 10:31; Mark 12:30). Jerry Bridges writes:
We can trust God to guide us. He will lead us all the way. And when we stand before His throne we will not be singing about successfully discovering the will of God. Rather with Fanny Crosby we, too, will sing, “Jesus led me all the way.” 
- Trusting God, 177.
- Ibid., 184.
This week has been a very long and exhausting week. I typically update this blog everyday through the week with main articles appearing on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday while DBG Spotlight appears on Wednesday and Friday. However, due to some complications yesterday with my oldest daughter’s health, I was forced to postpone until today.
Last Sunday while I was preparing to preach the evening sermon, my wife called to inform me that our youngest child was being taken to the hospital due to breathing issues from Croupe and undiagnosed asthma issues. After spending the night in the hospital, our son was released the following day. I returned to the office on Tuesday and had a fairly normal week – until yesterday. I woke up at about 5:45am and went downstairs to have coffee and read. This is a typical pattern for me in the morning hours before the house turns into a mini ant colony crawling about with little mouths begging for breakfast at around 7:30am.
At about 6:40am, I heard a loud noise from upstairs that included an initial loud thud followed by some additional banging. I immediately got up and went upstairs to find Karis, my oldest daughter who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes last year, on the floor in the midst of a seizure. What happened next was a full scale operation of my wife and I working to save our daughter’s life. My oldest son helped corral our other children into a bedroom while we worked on her in the hallway of our home. After we gave her an emergency shot in her thigh and had her transported to the hospital by ambulance, she started to bounce back in route to the hospital. It was a terrifying scene to find your little girl in a life threatening state, and one I hope to never see again. Although the day started out with a terrifying scene, we spent the remainder of the day praising our sovereign God for her recovery. We couldn’t escape the obvious providence of God in the entire ordeal.
According to the doctor, if her seizure had lasted for longer than ten minutes, it could have had devastating effects upon her body – perhaps death. As we surveyed the scene and the way it unfolded, it was nothing less than God’s meticulous providence at work. Karis never gets up through the night to visit the restroom. However, yesterday, in the early hours of the morning she was in the restroom when her seizure happened. If she had gone into a seizure in the early hours of the morning in her bed while remaining undetected until breakfast time at around 8:00am, she could have died. It was nothing less than the providence of God that placed her in that restroom (Prov. 16:9).
As I embrace a robust view of God and the meticulous providence of God, it become even more apparent after the dust started to settle on this heart wrenching emergency. As R.C. Sproul has said, “There is no maverick molecule if God is sovereign.”  We know and believe that our God governs the universe (Heb. 1:3). He has the moon, stars, the sun, and the earth all under His divine providential control (Jer. 31:35; Ps. 24:1). We read about how God controls the hearts of kings (Prov. 21:1). We know that God knows how many hairs are upon our head and cares for His children more than the birds that He feeds every morning (Matt. 10:30; 6:25-34). We know that God upholds the world and controls the laws of nature (Heb. 1:3; Ps. 107:25; 78:26). The wind and the waves obey Him (Mark 4:41). Once again, the truth of God’s providence became crystal clear. I was reminded that He is also providentially controlling the restroom visits of my daughter. If she had not been in the restroom, it’s highly probable that we wouldn’t have found her in time.
Abraham Kuyper once remarked, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!”  That includes presidential elections and restroom visits. That includes wars, rumors of wars, and restroom visits. God rules over all things at all times. According to Article 5.2 on Divine Providence, the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith states, “nothing happens to anyone by chance, or outside His providence, yet by His providence He orders events to occur according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently.” Nothing that happens in any of the multifaceted spheres of life is beyond the direct and divine providential ruling power of God. For that, we sleep peacefully and go about life in confidence that God is in charge of everything.
This has been a long and stressful week for our family, but one packed with lessons. At every turn, I see the providence of God. The next time you hear a sermon or read an article about the meticulous providence of God, remember that He controls everything – even restroom visits in the early hours of the morning. He is wise and good, and we can trust Him. His mercies are new everyday. Psalm 115:3 says, “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” Yesterday, He was pleased to preserve the life of my daughter, and I praise Him.
- God’s Sovereignty – Ligonier Ministries
- Abraham Kuyper: A Centennial Reader, ed. James D. Bratt (Eerdmans, 1998), 488.
How many of us are tired of hearing election debates between two parties with red faces fighting it out, each of which are quite sure they have the right answer? Often we hear candidates give speeches about how electing them will lead to greater security! Well, in case you are wondering, I am not referring to national political debates or election campaigns. Instead, I am referring to the doctrine of election as it is revealed to us in the Scripture. While many people have become weary of those who always want to debate and be divisive over the doctrine, rather than down playing it, hiding it, rejecting it, and avoiding it – shouldn’t we give as much attention to the doctrine of election in Scripture as we do other favorite verses such as John 3:16? In fact, isn’t the doctrine of election found at the heart of John 3:16? What exactly did Paul mean when he said he wasn’t ashamed of the gospel? Did he have in mind the doctrine of election? No matter what side of the fence you stand on – Free-Will Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian or Southern Baptist – the doctrine of election, as it is revealed to us in Romans 8, is the backbone of the doctrine of eternal security.
Romans 8:28-33 – And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
The doctrine of election is clearly revealed in two words in this paragraph of holy Scripture – foreknew and predestined. When Paul utilized the word, foreknew, what exactly did he mean? The word, foreknew, is the Greek word, προγινώσκω [proginosko]. This word literally carries three meanings as used in Scripture: 1. to have knowledge before hand. 2. to foreknow. 2a. of those whom God elected to salvation. 3. to predestinate. This is where the two major camps start to divide and throw rocks. The Arminian camp suggests that God was merely looking down through time to see what each person was going to do before predestining that person to salvation. The more Calvinistic camp suggests that this word is not being used in the sense of God looking at the actions of mankind and then reacting to their actions. Rather, they suggest that this word is being used in the sense of God’s eternal decree from before time. They base their decision on texts such as Jeremiah 1 where God had ordained Jeremiah to be a prophet from his mother’s womb.
J.I. Packer, in his book, 18 Words – The Most Important Words You Will Ever Know, writes, “The fact is that the doctrine of election, dealing as it does with the inmost secrets of God’s will, is strong meat: very nourishing to those who can take it, but acutely indigestible to those whose spiritual system is out of order. And the symptoms of indigestion…appear not only when the doctrine is rejected, but also when it is misapplied” (152).
The doctrine of election is based on several key verses in Scripture:
- Deuteronomy 10:14-15
- Jeremiah 1:4-8
- John 6:37-39
- John 6:65
- John 17:9
- Ephesians 1:4-5
- 1 Peter 1:1-2
- Romans 9:11-16
The Baptist Faith & Message says the following on the subject of election in Article V – God’s Purpose of Grace:
Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man, and comprehends all the means in connection with the end. It is the glorious display of God’s sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable. It excludes boasting and promotes humility.
All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.
It seems strange, that in an article on God’s Purpose of Grace, both election and eternal security would be talked about in consecutive paragraphs, or does it? In one paragraph, the divine initative of God’s elective purpose is mentioned and just following that paragraph, the perseverance of those in Christ is mentioned. In reality, the doctrine of election is a beautiful thing in Scripture that should bring Christians together in unity rather than division since that is the way Paul used it in Romans 8:33 and Colossians 3:12. The doctrine of election should cause us as Christians to have a great sense of humility. God never intended the doctrine of election to divide His people and create confusion that blurs the eyes of unbelievers to the gospel. God never intended the doctrine of election to elevate our fleshly pride. Either of these errors is a sinful path that deviates from God’s intended purpose.As we look at Romans 8:28-33 – we see the following pattern: Before Time…..Present Day…..After Time…..Present Day! Paul takes us back behind the curtain of time, closes it to our present day, points forward into the future completed work of grace, and then grabs our attention by causing us to look at the reality of our present situation. However, as he takes us down this roller coaster ride of doctrinal peaks and valleys – we must not miss this grand truth! Not only is the doctrine of election on display in this text, but as a result – the doctrine of eternal security becomes visible to our eyes. Romans 8:28 – All things work together for good to the called ones. (The glory of God)Romans 8:29 – Foreknew (before time): God looks through time and lavishes His divine love on a group of sinful undeserving people. This is backed up by 1 John 4:19.Romans 8:29 – Predestined (before time): God predestined that group of undeserving sinful people to be conformed to the image of His Son. This is backed up by Ephesians 1:3-5.Romans 8:30 – Called (present day): God called that same group of undeserving sinful people to faith in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:28 refers to them as “the called” according to His purpose.Romans 8:30 – Justified (present day): God justified that same group of undeserving sinful people by declaring them righteous based on the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ through His blood sacrifice. It was Thomas Watson who once said, “Let us then ascribe the whole work of grace to the pleasure of God’s Will. God did not choose us because we were worthy, but by choosing us He makes us worthy.“1Romans 8:30 – Glorified (after time): That same group of undeserving sinful people (visible by the reference to “those” in Romans 8:28-30) that God loved before time and chose to lavish His love upon are said to have already been glorified. Paul speaks of glorification in the past tense as if it was already completed. The reason he did so, wasn’t out of error, but to elevate the reality that anyone who was foreknown, predestined, called, and justified by God would absolutely be glorified as well. That truth should cause a great celebration to erupt in our soul!Charles Spurgeon once declared, “I believe the man who is not willing to submit to the electing love and sovereign grace of God has great reason to question whether he is a Christian at all, for the spirit that kicks against that is the spirit of the unhumbled, unrenewed heart.“2God’s will is not up for vote nor is it mutable. God never changes nor alters His divine plan. In the pastoral ministry, I deal with people who struggle with doubting their salvation and even those who think it’s possible to lose their salvation. When I get the privilege, I take them to Romans 8 to show how the doctrine of election is hitched to the doctrine of eternal security. No man can be separated from the love of Christ – if He is in Christ! Are you in Christ?Pastor Josh Buice. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1. A Puritan Golden Treasury, compiled by I.D.E. Thomas, by permission of Banner of Truth, Carlisle, PA. 2000, p. 84.2. Sermons, 5.424.
On a day that has marked the 1 year anniversary of the Haiti earthquake that took the lives of 316,000+ lives and held the memorial service for the Tucson tragedy – we must ask ourselves a very important question! How sovereign is God? The Scripture clearly reveals that our God is sovereign over all things at all times! All of the politicians, including the President of the United States – Barack Obama – quoted Scripture in their speeches. Rather than being ruled by “Mother Nature” as some suggest, this world is ruled by Yehweh – sovereign God! During times like this, it’s extremely important to embrace the sovereignty of God in order that we can find true hope and healing! Whether we are mourning a tragedy sparked by nature or a depraved sinner – God remains upon His throne and is ruling over those events to bring about His eternal glory.
Below you will find an article that I once posted a while back on the subject of God’s sovereignty. While I don’t usually repost old articles – this is one that is very appropriate for this day.
Consider God’s Sovereignty Over Rulers
Romans 13:1 – Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
Proverbs 21:1 – The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.
Paul states in Romans 13:1 that all leaders (rulers) are ordained (appointed) to their positions by God. That statement alone causes us to consider great subjects that are beyond comprehension! As we consider the mysterious will of God – could it be that He actually appointed Hitler to his position? Yes – that is exactly what the Bible is saying. As we survey all of Old Testament history and see how Egypt’s leader – wicked Pharaoh was put in place to demonstrate the power and authority and love of God – the same thing must be true with Hitler.In Proverbs 21:1 – the Bible clearly tells us that the king (ruler) is in the hand of God and He turns them in whatever way they go. In other words, their positions are used to bring about and accomplish the mysterious will of God – in ways that we as mere human beings cannot fully comprehend.
Consider God’s Sovereignty Over Nature
Genesis 1:1 – In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
Exodus 20:11 – For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is . . .
Mark 4:39 – And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
See also: Psalm 83:15; Isaiah 28:2; Isaiah 29:6; Jonah (storm and fish).The Bible clearly tells us that God is the author and creator of all that we see! He created the sky and the earth and all that is contained in them. Not only did God create them, but He rules and reigns over them in so that nothing comes about in nature except it be 100% controlled by God. This involves every rain drop, every light beam, each falling star, each bird in the sky, each bug that creeps across the earth, and all of human beings that He created for His glory. God did not merely create a world like a clock maker creates a clock and then stands back and watches it tick. God created the world and is personally and sovereignly involved with each second of time and movement of His creation on planet earth. Why? For His glory!
Consider God’s Sovereignty Over Salvation
Ephesians 2:8-9 – For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Hebrews 12:2 – Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Acts 13:48 – And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
Acts 16:14 – And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.
John 6:37 – All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
John 6:44 – No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
See also: Jeremiah 1:5; Romans 9; Romans 8:30; 1 Peter 1:2; Ephesians 1:1-14; John 15:16; 1 John 4:19
As we consider the sovereignty of God over salvation, it should be abundantly clear – it is God who takes initiative in the issue of salvation! If it were not for God – wretched sinners would never turn to God. That is what John 6:37 and 44 above are speaking about. It is also abundantly clear through the Scriptures that God’s purpose in salvation is for His glory. Man should not gain the glory in salvation. God’s purpose in saving sinners is for His glory – Ephesians 1:11-12 – In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. A couple of weeks ago, a particular woman was speaking to me about her lost husband. She stated that her husband has no desire to be saved. As I counseled her, I told her that we must continue to pray and share with him the Gospel – but ultimately we must trust in our God who is the one responsible for opening up the heart of individuals to the message of the Gospel. As we consider the salvation of Lydia in Acts 16:14 – we see clearly that God is the One responsible for opening her heart and causing her to accept the things that Paul spoke (the Gospel).
As we consider the truth of 1 John 4:19 – We love him, because he first loved us – we must consider the fact that before the Grace of God upon our hearts – not one of us would have desired to love or worship God! Before God’s Grace – we were happy in our sin and that never changed until God gripped our heart and changed us in the same way He did Lydia, Paul, and others in Holy Scripture. We love Him only because He first loved us.Now, the truth of God’s sovereignty over salvation should never negate the truth of man’s responsibility to repent and turn to Christ in salvation (Ezekiel 18:23, 32; 33:11; John 3:18-19, 36; 5:40; Romans 9:22-23; 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12; Revelation 22:17). Unfortunately, throughout history, some people have made this “logical” error. However, we must understand that God and His mysterious plan of salvation cannot be explained with mere logic! God is way beyond the minds of human beings and our own logical conclusions. The clear and biblical truth of God’s sovereignty over all things (including salvation) should not hinder our preaching of the Gospel, missions, or any other responsibility of man as a free creature of God. We are commanded as God’s creatures to obey Him – and that begins at salvation when we repent and it continues through the Christian life as we preach the Gospel of Christ to all creatures (Matthew 28:18-20).
Therefore, how do we square God’s full and ultimate sovereignty with man’s responsibility to repent and believe the Gospel? What may seem like a friction in Holy Scripture should be considered a limitation of our human minds to reconcile the two rather than a contradiction in Holy Scripture. Charles Haddon Spurgeon once said, “I am not sure that in heaven we shall be able to know where the free agency of man and the sovereignty of God meet, but both are great truths (The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, vol. 51, 50).” E.Y. Mullins once said, “Election…does, when truly understood, fill us with humility and a sense of the manifold wisdom of God in dealing with His free creatures (The Baptist Faith & Message, 81).”
Consider God’s Sovereignty Over Suffering
It is God’s plan that specific people suffer:
1 Peter 4:19 – Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.
Revelation 6:11 – And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
It is God’s plan when specific people will suffer:
Acts 18:9-10 – Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.
NOTE: Paul had already suffered and would later suffer more. God appointed the time of his suffering.
John 7:30 – Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come.
It is God’s plan where specific people will suffer:
Luke 13:33 – Nevertheless I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.
It is God’s plan that specific people suffer in specific ways:
Acts 9:16 – For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.
John 21:19 – This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God.
Jeremiah 15:2-3 – And it shall come to pass, if they say unto thee, Whither shall we go forth? then thou shalt tell them, Thus saith the LORD; Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for the captivity, to the captivity. And I will appoint over them four kinds, saith the LORD: the sword to slay, and the dogs to tear, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the earth, to devour and destroy.See also: The book of Job.As we consider the history of Christian martyrs – it is a joy to know that not one of them died in vain or by accident. While we may not fully understand it, God’s plan is for people to suffer in specific ways for His glory. All through Church history, we see the wicked enemy trying to extinguish the Gospel and His people through persecution, but it never worked. In each Christian that died – it was the equilivant of throwing gasoline on a small flame – it caused the Gospel fire to burn hotter, brighter, and to travel further (ends of the world) for the glory of God.
Conclusion: The study of God’s sovereignty must be approached with great caution. It can, if not guarded against, lead to a consuming fog that a person cannot escape. Some Christians are not profitable to Kingdom work because they are so busy blogging and talking about the sovereignty of God. The truth of God’s sovereignty must be accepted, but it must not prevent a person from a hot passion for God and for missions. If rightly understood – it will prompt Christian worship, service, and evangelism for the glory of God. That is exactly what this truth has done in my personal life and ministry.Many people do not want to accept the full reign of God’s sovereignty as clearly taught in Scripture because of the fact that it literally removes all power and authority from mankind. Those who who deny God’s sovereignty typically have an elevated view of man and a skewed view of God. During times of tragedy and peace – God’s sovereignty should provide us peace and fulfillment knowing that we are not the center of the universe, but He is. As we consider the sovereignty of God over all things at all times – we should be moved to a new and brighter understanding of our God. This understanding of our God – from Holy Scripture – should create within us a heart of devotion and worship! After all – that’s what all of His creation is for – His glory!
Take My Life, and Let It Be – Frances R. Havergal
Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love;
Take my feet, and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee,
Swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my voice and let me sing
Always only for my King;
Take my lips, and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee,
Filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold,
Not a mite would I withhold:
Take my intellect, and use
Ev’ry pow’r as Thou shalt choose,
Ev’ry pow’r as Thou shalt choose.
Take my will, and make it Thine;
It shall be no longer mine:
Take my heart, it is Thine own;
It shall be Thy royal throne,
It shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store:
Take myself, and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee,
Ever, only, all for Thee.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Pastor Josh Buice