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    by Stan Smith

Just How Sovereign is God?
Date Posted: July 14, 2021

It's one of my favorite topics -- the Sovereignty of God. I am so enamored with it that I put the "S" in Sovereignty as a capital letter. That is, this "Sovereignty" so far outweighs any other "sovereignty" that it is in a class by itself.

Of course, anyone who reads the Bible knows that God is sovereign. I mean, it says it, right? It doesn't take a Bible scholar to read and understand, "[Jesus Christ] is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords" (1 Timothy 6:15), just as an example. The word is there. The concept is clear. It's a given that God is sovereign. But most people will only include the lowercase word. Why?

Well, we have this problem. It is what the skeptics deem the Achilles heel of Christianity. It's the problem of evil. (By "evil" we mean anything unpleasant, painful, or morally bad.) We have this crisis, you see. If there is evil in the world of any kind, then what does that tell us about God? Well, the skeptic would say (by an illogical leap) "There is no such being" (not realizing that such a leap gives them no basis on which to say there is anything evil in the world at all). But the thinking person would say, "Well, it leaves us with two possibilities. Either God is not sovereign, or God is notgood." That can be formed in a couple of ways, of course. He's not omnipotent or not omni-benevolent. That sort of thing. But it's all the same in the end. Either God is unable or unwilling to do anything about it. In answer to this conundrum, the standard Christian response goes something like this: "God is doing the best He can." Seriously, that's the common response.

Here's the typical thinking. God is sovereign, not Sovereign. Christians will affirm God's sovereignty because it's in the book, but the position they often take is that God sovereignly limited His Sovereignty to allow for Man's Free Will and, as such, is now only functioning with limited sovereignty. And somehow that is the basis of comfort offered by a host of Christians to those who are suffering from evil in its various forms. "God is doing the best He can."

Strange. When I read my Bible, I don't see that at all. I can only guess that this conclusion that "God is doing the best He can" and the idea that God has limited His Sovereignty for Man's Free Will comes from a philosophical argument because it certainly isn't a biblical argument. Here's the biblical argument:

Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?" (Lamentations 3:37-38).

"I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted" (Job 42:2).

"I am the LORD, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things" (Isaiah 45:6-7).

"Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father" (Matthew 10:29).

Here, you want a jolt? If you're of the mind that God has surrendered some of His Sovereignty for Man's Free Will, consider this. We know that Jesus was crucified by the command of Pontius Pilate. Here's the question. Where did Pilate get the authority to kill the Son of God? According to Christ, "You would have no authority over Me at all unless it had been given you from above" (John 19:11). Now that's quite a statement, isn't it? Pilate was not operating at the behest of the Jews. He was not serving by the command of Caesar. Pilate ordered Christ to be crucified under the authority of God. That is, God issued the command, approved the order, said "Make it so."

The list is much, much bigger than this. Biblically, it is huge. All biblical indications are that God works all things according to the counsel of His will, and "all things" is not limited to "those things outside of Man's Free Will". Instead, "The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps" (Proverbs 16:9). God allows evil for His good purposes and intends it that way. Instead of sovereignty, the biblical indications are that God is Sovereign -- without exception.

Now, you'll have to decide if you're going to go with the biblical account or with some other version. And you'll certainly have to decide whether or not it is possible that a Sovereign God can still be good while allowing evil in its many forms to exist. But you'll be hard-pressed to decide that the Bible teaches limited sovereignty ... because I can't find it in there and I don't think you can either. Going with the explicit over the implicit, I don't think there is a biblical argument for limiting God's Sovereignty. So, here's where I end up. Given that God is defined as both Absolute Sovereign and the definition of Good, what can I conclude? I can only conclude that my comprehension of evil (in all its forms) is flawed. And if Romans 8:28 is accurate, it would seem that that would be the correct conclusion.

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Biography Information:
Born and raised in a Christian home, I've been treated to immersion in the Word and squandered it. 'But God ...' I love the phrase. God has been faithful when I was unfaithful. At every turn He has crowded me to Him.

I'm married with four grown children and (currently) four grandchildren. My wife and I live in sunny Phoenix by choice. I hope to encourage people with my words and to share with others what God has shared with me.

For more writings you can see my blog at birdsoftheair.blogspot.com.
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