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. It 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. ~A.W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God (quotes to follow also from this work)
I can’t help but agree with this. We live in a day where the mention of “Sovereignty” is indeed viewed as foreign. The theology of our time is bereft of the full-orbed teaching of His Sovereignty, and the resulting apologetic is similarly flawed. Since the theology is lacking, the apologetic is lacking – because theology drives apologetic.
The Sovereignty of God. What do we mean by this expression? We mean 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, 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 (Psa. 115:3). To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is “The Governor among the nations” (Psa. 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.
Were we to truly recover this central doctrine in our thinking, our preaching, our teaching, and our apologetic, the impact would be astounding. Instead of arguing to a general conception of a general deity, we would argue from the inspired revelation of the utterly, absolutely Sovereign Lord of all creation. Instead of compromising with the world’s wisdom, we could be demolishing their arguments with the foolishness of the Gospel.
How different is the God of the Bible from the God of modern Christendom! The conception of Deity which prevails most widely today, even among those who profess to give heed to the Scriptures, is a miserable caricature, a blasphemous travesty of the Truth. The God of the twentieth century is a helpless, effeminate being who commands the respect of no really thoughtful man. The God of the popular mind is the creation of maudlin sentimentality. The God of many a present-day pulpit is an object of pity rather than of awe-inspiring reverence.
It truly staggers me when I see the attempted defenses of a sovereign God, as made by those who very obviously do not see Him so. As I saw an atheist comment, “If God is so great, why do you make so many excuses for him?” While it wasn’t his intent, I’m sure, I was reminded of the many, many times I’ve seen men ignore God’s sovereignty and “help Him out” by unpainting Him out of some corner. Frankly, God doesn’t need excuses. God doesn’t need you to make Him look good by someone’s subjective standards. On the contrary, “God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent.” What saddens me is the sight of a putative Christian apologist bending over backwards not to offend someone with the Bible. If it didn’t offend the sensibilities of the natural man, they would all love the message, wouldn’t they? Yet, as we are well aware, they do nothing of the sort.
To say that God the Father has purposed the salvation of all mankind, that God the Son died with the express intention of saving the whole human race, and that God the Holy Spirit is now seeking to win the world to Christ; when, as a matter of common observation, it is apparent that the great majority of our fellowmen are dying in sin, and passing into a hopeless eternity; is to say that God the Father is disappointed, that God the Son is dissatisfied, and that God the Holy Spirit is defeated. We have stated the issue baldly, but there is no escaping the conclusion. To argue that God is “trying His best” to save all mankind, but that the majority of men will not let Him save them, is to insist that the will of the Creator is impotent, and that the will of the creature is omnipotent. To throw the blame, as many do, upon the Devil, does not remove the difficulty, for if Satan is defeating the purpose of God, then, Satan is Almighty and God is no longer the Supreme Being.
Now, I hope you see what is being said. To deny the sovereign purpose of God is to duplicate the sin of the pharisees in mistaking the work of God for the work of Satan. It is a topsy-turvy condition, where you turn the word of God on it’s head. I might add, it is also a condition where you turn directly to the world, adopt it’s standards, and then call it ‘Christian’. To use a “free will defense”, is precisely the same, in principle. In that case, you are attributing the sovereignty to who? Certainly not God.
I’ll leave you with this, which should sum up his point quite nicely (and mine, as well). Notice that God’s attributes are all intertwined in this view, and that God’s sovereignty has a real, full-orbed effect on theology when viewed as Scripture presents it. Whatever the objector may say, may claim, or may insist upon – God is sovereign over his life, his circumstances, and his surroundings. Nothing is left to him, save that which God ordains. From this position, we may rightly say that there is no proper argument save that which acknowledges God in His proper place, and is grounded in the sole revelation of that enthroned Lord.
To declare that the Creator’s original plan has been frustrated by sin, is to dethrone God. To suggest that God was taken by surprise in Eden and that He is now attempting to remedy an unforeseen calamity, is to degrade the Most High to the level of a finite, erring mortal. To argue that man is a free moral agent and the determiner of his own destiny, and that therefore he has the power to checkmate his Maker, is to strip God of the attribute of Omnipotence. To say that the creature has burst the bounds assigned by his Creator, and that God is now practically a helpless Spectator before the sin and suffering entailed by Adam’s fall, is to repudiate the express declaration of Holy Writ, namely, “Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee: the remainder of wrath shalt Thou restrain” (Psa. 76:10). In a word, to deny the Sovereignty of God is to enter upon a path which, if followed to its logical terminus, is to arrive at blank atheism.
The Sovereignty of the God of Scripture is absolute, irresistible, 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. We affirm that His right is the right of the Potter over the clay, i. e., that He may mold that clay into whatsoever form He chooses, fashioning out of the same lump one vessel unto honor and another unto dishonor. 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.
Sovereignty characterizes the whole Being of God. He is Sovereign in all His attributes. He is Sovereign in the exercise of His power. His power is exercised as He wills, when He wills, where He wills. This fact is evidenced on every page of Scripture.