by Mike Ratliff
Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. (1 Chronicles 29:11 ESV)
I was involved in a theological “discussion” quite some time ago in which one who disagreed with the Doctrines of Grace attempted to say that his belief that Man’s Free Will was sacrosanct and God could not violate it was Biblical Christianity. After much consternation and prayer on how to respond to that that I simply told him that he was in unbelief. He shot back that that was not the case! He told me that he had his thinkology all lined up and was in need of nothing more than that. It reminded me of Revelation 3:17, “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” The only ones who enter the Kingdom of God do so on God’s terms not their own. That means that no one comes in on the basis of pride.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3 ESV)
Who inherits the kingdom of heaven, which is the same as the Kingdom of God? Only the poor in spirit enter it. The poor in spirit are the humble who recognize their spiritual bankruptcy before our Holy, Righteous, Just, and Sovereign God. These are the ones who are have bent the knee to their Saviour and understand that their citizenship in God’s Kingdom is on the basis of the Righteousness of their redeemer, not on their own nor on their works nor on their understanding nor on how religious they are. These have been drawn to the Saviour by God, regenerated, and given the gift of faith. They have repented and believed by grace through faith all according to the will of God.
Sadly, for the last few hundred years, the Church’s grasp of God’s Sovereignty has eroded until, at this time it is attacked openly by many who call themselves Christians, but whose theology places Man on top and God as little more than a vending machine who must obey the claims and demands of people or that He has released Man from any requirement to be bound to His commandments, which is the Word of God. In 1930, a book was published by A.W. Pink titled The Sovereignty of God. Here are the first two paragraphs from chapter 1.
The Sovereignty of God is an expression that once was generally understood. It was a phrase commonly used in religious literature. It was a theme frequently expounded in the pulpit. I was a truth which brought comfort to many hearts, and gave virility and stability to Christian character. But, today, to make mention of God’s sovereignty is, in many quarters, to speak in an unknown tongue. Were we to announce from the average pulpit that the subject of our discourse would be the sovereignty of God, it would sound very much as though we had borrowed a phrase from one of the dead languages. Alas ! that it should be so. Alas ! that the doctrine which is the key to history, the interpreter of Providence, the warp and woof of Scripture, and the foundation of Christian theology, should be so sadly neglected and so little understood.
The sovereignty of God. What do we mean by this expression? We mean the supremacy of God, the kingship of God, the godhood of God. To say that God is sovereign is to declare that God is God. To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the Most High, doing according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, so that none can stay His hand or say unto Him what doest Thou (Dan. 4:35). To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the Almighty, the Possessor of all power in heaven and earth, so that none can defeat His counsels, thwart His purpose, or resist His will (Ps. 115:3). To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is “The Governor among the nations” (Ps. 22:28), setting up kingdoms, overthrowing empires, and determining the course of dynasties as pleaseth Him best. To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the “Only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Tim. 6:15). Such is the God of the Bible.
A.W. Pink was right. The assertion of God’s absolute sovereignty in creation, providence, and salvation is basic to biblical belief and biblical praise. We find the vision of God reigning from His throne in Heaven throughout His Word (1 Kings 22:19; Isaiah 6:1; Ezekiel 1:26; Daniel 7:9; Revelation 4:2; Psalm 11:4; Psalm 45:6; Psalm 47:8; Hebrews 12:2; Revelation 3:21). God’s Word persistently makes it known to us, explicitly, that the Lord reigns as king. He exercises His dominion over great and small alike (Exodus 15:18; Psalm 47; Psalm 93; Psalm 96:10; Psalm 97; Psalm 99:1-5; Psalm 146:10; Proverbs 16:33; Proverbs 21:1; Isaiah 24:23; Isaiah 52:7; Daniel 4:34,35; Daniel 5:21-28; Daniel 6:26; Matthew 10:29-31). His dominion is complete. It is total and unlimited. He wills as He chooses, and carries out all that He wills, and none can stay His hand or thwart His plans. He is sovereign over all parts of what we call the temporal and the eternal. He is sovereign over everyday life as well as the miraculous.
God has given His creatures, man and angels, free agency in that they have the power of personal decision. This must be so or we would not be moral beings answerable to God the Judge. The Word of God is clear in distinguishing between the bad purposes of Man and the good purposes of God, who sovereignly overrules human action as a planned means to His own goals (Genesis 50:20; Acts 2:23; Acts 13:26-39). However, Man’s free agency reveals to us a mystery. God has sovereign control over Man’s free actions. This sovereignty is complete, but God has not revealed to us how this can be so. He has left this a mystery. Even so, God is not the author of sin. God has conferred responsibility on moral agents for their thoughts, words, and deeds, according to His justice.
The LORD reigns; he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed; he has put on strength as his belt. Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved. Your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting. The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring. Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the LORD on high is mighty! Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits your house, O LORD, forevermore. (Psalms 93:1-5 ESV)
God’s Sovereignty guarantees the stability of the world against all the forces of chaos. It also confirms the trustworthiness of all God’s utterances and directives and calls for the worship of His people. When Christians are broken in spirit, humble, and meek, God’s Sovereignty is understood to be the source of their joy, hope, and confidence in Him. Those who “have it all figured out” and are “in need of nothing more” have placed their hope in their decisions and religion. Their thinkology to them is what is the source of their comfort and confidence. These things are the fruit of pride and they are deadly in their deception. On the other hand, the Christian is not in God’s Kingdom because of any of these things. Instead, they have entered the Kingdom on their knees, on their face before their Sovereign Lord God, poor in spirit, humble, and meek. They believe, repent, and are justified by faith, all by the grace of their Sovereign God.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Addendum: For further reading, I wrote this piece the day after my grandson was born back in September.