11
Jan
09

how sovereign is God?

So, CrossPoint, what do you think of the Shema?

For those of you who do not attend CrossPoint, I introduced my 2009 theme last Sunday.  We will be spending the year studying and applying the Shema to our lives.  If you would like to follow the message series you can listen to the podcasts under the CrossPoint links.  The messages are usually posted by lunchtime on Monday.

One way we worked with the Shema was by learning to say the first sentence in Hebrew:

shemalinee•chad      Adonai      ‘E•lo•hey•nu       Adonai     Yis•ra•el    She•ma’

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.”

God gave the Shema to His people because He wanted them to remember He was the only God.  He was sending His people into a polytheistic land, a place where the inhabitants believed in many gods.  God wanted to remind His people there was only One God and that He was that God.

The central truth in saying that God is One is acknowledging that God is sovereign.  Since there is only God, then He must be in control of all things.  Thus, God is supreme.

The Shema is a statement of faith.  It is a pledge of allegiance to God.  When one prays through the Shema they are proclaiming unswerving faith in the One and Only God.

Which leads me to ask you how sovereign is God?

I guess your answer depends on how you define sovereign. This is how I defined the sovereignty of God at CrossPoint last weekend:

When we say God is sovereign, we are talking about the supremacy of God, the kingship of God, the god-hood 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, who does as He pleases with the people on earth, so that no one can stop Him or say to Him, “What do you think you are doing?”
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 no one can defeat His counsels, thwart His purpose, or resist His will (Psalm 115:3).
To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the Ruler of the world, the King of the Kingdoms, the President of the nations, the Prime Minister of the empires, the Governor of the states, the Mayor of the cities, setting up kingdoms, overthrowing empires, and determining the course of dynasties that pleases Him best.
To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the only Potentate, the only King and the only Lord.
The Sovereignty of the God of Scripture is absolute, irresistible, and infinite.
When we say that God is Sovereign we affirm His right to govern the universe    which He has made for His own glory, just as He pleases.
When we say that God is Sovereign we affirm that His right is the right of the Potter over the clay.
When we say that God is Sovereign we affirm that He is under no rule or law outside of His own will and nature, that God is a law unto Himself, and that He is under no obligation to give an account of His matters to any (from A. W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God).
Sovereign is an interesting word.
It can be used as both a noun and a verb.  The noun “sovereign” means “king”, “master” or “absolute ruler”.  As a verb “sovereign” means “to rule.”  Thus, to say God is sovereign is to say that God, as Ruler, rules over everything.
There is nothing in life that is above or beyond or before or after God.
There is nothing more powerful than God.
There is no one more knowledgeable than God.
There is nothing that happens without God either ordaining it or without God allowing it to pass through His permissible hands.
That is what it means to say God is sovereign.

So, based on that definition, how sovereign is God?  Is he partially sovereign?  Is He very sovereign?  Or, is He totally sovereign?

If God is not totally sovereign we are sunk.  If God is not in control of all things, then we are in trouble.  If God is partially or only very sovereign, then we’ve got a problem.

One clear way to understand the sovereignty of God is to say God either ordains or allows all things to happen.

Whatever comes your way was designed by God or was permitted by God.  That understanding allows you to praise God in victory or defeat, in success or failure, in health or sickness, in life or death, in good times or bad, in all things.

Since God is sovereign, then that means God reigns supreme regardless the circumstances.  For if He is not God in the bad circumstances then neither is He God in the good circumstances.  If He is not God of both, then He is not sovereign. Therefore, when we say “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one” we are saying God is sovereign.

So, again, I ask you, how sovereign is God?  At CrossPoint we teach and believe that God is totally sovereign.

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4 Responses to “how sovereign is God?”


  1. January 12, 2009 at 11:38 am

    Ryan, it helped me (not being familiar with much of the rules of Hebrew) to know from your earlier teaching that the words are to be read from right to left. It is powerful and unifying as well as our family readings of the One Year Bible. The definition of sovereignty our Lord gave you evoked personal worship of Him. I was floating by paragraph 3. It is similar to Anne Graham Lotz’ definition of God’s character (touched on in an earlier blog) to me and that stirred up much worship of Him and conviction as well. I’m so thankful we serve a Holy and Just God. The comfort I receive in the truth of His total and complete sovereignty (not fathomable in our finite minds) is unmatched by anyone or anything. I may need a bit of reminding at times but He is always faithful to do that out of His love through people and circumstances. When I am faltering, weak and/or confused, nothing compares to knowing that truth. (Rom. 8:28 & Jer. 29:11). Nothing.

    Also, looking forward to group discussions on the Spiritual Disciplines book. The leadership structure of our church is such a great model that seems to work very well. And, it was very neat to hear testimony of God moving through ministries and hearts, specifically related to the bold truth you spoke regarding mourning the loss of loved ones for a time longer than God appreciates; especially since those dear ones reached each of our ultimate end for which we are practicing as believers in Jesus Christ. It is tempting to deify humanity and humanize deity. Those are hard truths. It is for me, especially having been spared much human loss close to me. I cannot imagine it. I know I’ll have my turn to experience it. But, aren’t we robbed of present joy through worship and sacrifice TODAY when our desire for human presence and comfort overrides our desire for Him? He did create us afterall.
    Be blessed y’all.

  2. January 12, 2009 at 11:47 am

    I said: “I may need a bit of reminding at times but He is always faithful to do that out of His love through people and circumstances.”

    Forgot to note: And through personal reading of His word.

  3. 3 Searching
    January 12, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    Brother Ryan, as I read through your difinition of sovereignty I find that we do not differ so much in our understanding of sovereignty afterall. I think where we may differ comes down to two words within your definition; causes and allows. Probably in as much as Arminious and Calvin differed, I suppose. 😉

    Excellent blog and sermon!

    My wife and I have already begun to recite the Shema in Hebrew first and last thing each day. And you know what the most fascinating aspect to me has been? I find myself reciting to myself all DURING the day. Wonderful admonition, just wonderful! I do hope the church accepts your challenge and makes it a part of their day.

    God bless you and peace!

    Soli Deo Gloria!

  4. January 12, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    Chandra, there is a thread that runs through the DNA of CrossPoint leaders that runs like this: IT’S NOT ABOUT ME. Watch closely. The people you serve with in LC are bent on the glorifying God in all matters, while they stay out of the way.

    Searching, you always bless me. The more I learn about GOd the more I realize I must decrease while He increases. And, the SHEMA will change your perspective. Keep praying through it.


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