God who reigns supremely, sovereignly and faithfully
God who reigns supremely, sovereignly and faithfully
St John’s Toowoomba, Lord’s Day 22 October 2006
Scripture Readings 2Chronicles 20:1-12; Isaiah 45:9-13;
In one of his letters to Desiderius Erasmus, the man Luther deeply admired for his insight in theology and doctrine, and who also played an enormous role in having the Bible available in German to the German people, once receive a letter from Luther with these words in it: "Your thoughts of God are too human."
Upon deeper investigation one would probably find that the most dishonouring and degrading conceptions of the rule and reign of the Almighty are now commonplace in many pulpits. To countless thousands, even among those professing to be Christians, the God of the Scriptures is quite unknown. Preaching in many cases is focussed on man and his needs, whilst the attributes of the Person of God are only mentioned in as far as they could contribute to the improvement of man.
I was told that a scholar in the languages of the Bible studied different translations carefully. Comparing the translations with the original languages, he found that the modern translations in numerous cases translate the Scriptures in such a way that the emphasis more and more fall on the object and not on the Subject. In other words, as man’s philosophy about this Word and himself developed, translators of the Bible kept up by beginning to place man closer to the actions in the narrative of the Bible, while God as the Subject is not the centre anymore.
The same can be said about some hymns sung by Christians all over the world these days. It is amazing to hear that many songs centre upon man and his needs. God the Father and the Son Jesus Christ in some cases become an add-on to the life of the person, instead of the sinner who sees his position before the throne of God as that of a sinner deserving death, but instead receiving grace and who now serves God as a bondservant to the glory of the Father.
God rebuked apostate Israel “…you thought I was altogether like you.” (Psalm 50:21). Maybe this will be the charge against an unfaithful Christendom who perhaps made an image of God according to their own image.
We will not be able to rightly serve God if we do not rightly know God. We cannot make a stereotype of God and then worship it. God is only to be worshipped as He revealed Himself. But before we know how He revealed Himself by studying his Self-revelation as found in the Scriptures, we would commit idolatry. This is the challenge of the church today: to first of all introduce people to God as He revealed Himself. In this we need to be very diligent; it is not something that can be added later on after we introduced a watered-down Gospel and worship.
God reigns supremely
It is hard for modern man to comprehend the unlimited power of the omnipotent God. To some that means that such a God might invade the fortress of man’s "free will" and reduce him to a "machine." This idea then lowers the all-effective Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ to a mere "remedy," which sin-sick souls may use if they feel to do so; and they weaken the powerful work of the Holy Spirit to an "offer" of the Gospel which sinners may accept or reject as they please.
We assume that heathen outside of Christendom form "gods" out of wood and stone, but millions of heathen inside the Church manufacture a "god" according to their own mind. A "god" whose will is resisted, whose designs are frustrated, whose purpose is checkmated, possesses no title to Deity, and is so far from being a fit object of worship, merits nothing but contempt.
Let’s look at what the Bible teaches about God: He is the Potter, we are but the clay in His hands to be moulded into vessels of honour, or to be dashed into pieces (Ps. 2:9) as He pleases. So trivial and powerless is man compared to the Most High, Scripture says the God laughs:
The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. (Psalm 2:4)
The absolute and universal supremacy of God is affirmed in many scriptures.
Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. (1 Chronicles 29:11-12)
Listen, “You are the ruler of all things”, present tense; not "will do so in the Millennium."
“O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand You. (2 Chronicles 20:6)
Before Him presidents and popes, kings and emperors, are less than grasshoppers.
But He stands alone, and who can oppose Him? He does whatever He pleases. (Job 23:13)
The God of Scripture is no make-believe monarch, no mere imaginary sovereign, but King of kings, and Lord of lords. Job says:
; “I know that You can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. (Job 42:2)
All that He has purposed He does. All that He has decreed, He performs. “
Our God is in heaven; He does whatever pleases Him.” (Ps 115:3)
Why? Because: “There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord.” (Proverbs 21:30)
God’s supremacy over the works of His hands is vividly depicted in Scripture. Lifeless matter, irrational creatures, all perform their Maker’s command. Look at the story of Jonah: God controlled the tempest. The used the situation to lead the sailors to fear Him. God sent the fish, spoke to fish and Jonah was vomited out when and where God wanted. God controlled the hearts of the Ninevehites and the repented. God sent the wonder plant for Jonah and took it away as He wished.
God’s supremacy is also demonstrated in His perfect rule over the will of man.
The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; He directs it like a watercourse wherever He pleases. (Proverbs 21:1)
Romans 11:36 teaches that God “ … works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will.” And further: "For of Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen". Men may boast that they are free agents with a will of their own, and are at liberty to do as they please, but Scripture says to those who boast
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13,15)
The children of God have a sure resting-place for their heart. Our lives are neither the product of blind fate nor the result of unpredictable chance, but every detail was ordained from all eternity and is now ordered by the living and reigning God. Not a hair of our heads can be touched without His permission.
; In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. (Proverbs 16:9)
What assurance, what strength, what comfort should this give the Christian! "My times are in your hand" (Ps. 31:15). Then let me "Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him" (Ps. 37:7).
God who rules sovereignly
The sovereignty of God may be defined as the way in which the supreme God exercises of His supremacy. It is the Supreme God in action. It is of little comfort if we only we would know God as supreme if we do not understand[RS1] the way in which God acts supremely, showing his deeds in sovereignty.
There is only One who[RS2] is really Sovereign: God.
God is infinitely elevated above the highest creature, He is the Most High, Lord of heaven and earth. Subject to none, influenced by none, absolutely independent; God does as He pleases, only as He pleases always as He pleases. None can stop Him, none can hinder Him. So His own Word expressly declares: "My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure" (Isa. 46:10).
; He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?” (Daniel 4:35)
; He alone is God
Divine sovereignty means that God is God because He alone is God. He is on the Throne of the universe, directing all things, working all things "after the counsel of His own will" (Eph. 1:11).
Charles Spurgeon preached a sermon on Matthew 20:15 and said about God:
There is no attribute more comforting to His children than that of God’s Sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe trials, they believe that Sovereignty has ordained their afflictions, that Sovereignty overrules them, and that Sovereignty will sanctify them all. There is nothing for which the children ought more earnestly to contend than the doctrine of their Master over all creation—the Kingship of God over all the works of His own hands—the Throne of God and His right to sit upon that Throne.
; On the other hand, there is no doctrine more hated by worldlings, no truth of which they have made such a football, as the great, stupendous, but yet most certain doctrine of the Sovereignty of the infinite Jehovah. Men will allow God to be everywhere except on His throne. They will allow Him to be in His workshop to fashion worlds and make stars. They will allow Him to be in His almonry to dispense His alms and bestow His bounties. They will allow Him to sustain the earth and bear up the pillars thereof, or light the lamps of heaven, or rule the waves of the ever-moving ocean; but when God ascends His throne, His creatures then gnash their teeth.
, and weTruth is the Bible proclaims an enthroned God, and His right to do as He wills with His own, to dispose of His creatures as He thinks well, without consulting them in the matter.; Here sinful man is silenced. He turns then it is that we are hissed and execrated, and then it is that men turn a deaf ear to usthe Gospel, for God on His throne is not the God they love. .
But it is God upon the throne that we love to preach. It is God upon His throne whom we trust.
Psalm 135 proclaims:
The Lord does whatever pleases Him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths. (Psalm 135:6)
God is unrivalled in majesty, unlimited in power, unaffected by anything outside Himself. But we are living in a day when even the most "orthodox" seem afraid to admit the proper Godhood of God. ;
There is a notion these days subscribed by some theo-logians that God can be surprised by what happens some days. He does not really know everything, and He has not planned everything. He has to deal with problems and solve them as they come. This they say, makes God more approachable to human beings. They argue that if God is too perfect, too knowledgeable, too almighty, man will be afraid of such a God and never worship Him. He has to be somewhat human for humans to comprehend Him. What nonsense! What blasphemy!
God’s sovereignty and our responsibility
Others are not happy with a sovereign God because they say it robs man of his responsibility., whereas But human responsibility is based upon Divine sovereignty, and is the product of it.
God sovereignly placed Adam in the garden of Eden and made a covenant with them, making them responsible upon a conditional footing. God could, if He so willed Had He so pleased, He could have placed put them in a situation where they had no responsibiblty. him upon an unconditional footing. He chose to set man in Eden on the basis of creature responsibility, so that heAdam and Eve stood or fell according as he measured or failed to measure up to his responsibility obedience to his Maker. Adam stood accountable to God by the law which his Creator had given him. Here was responsibility, unimpaired responsibility, tested out under the most favourable conditions.
Now God was not under any obligation to create; but it was right because He did so. God is sovereign. His will is supreme. He is a law unto Himself, so that whatsoever He does is right. ; And woe to the rebel that calls His sovereignty into question:
Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘He has no hands’? (Isaiah 45:9)
Again; the Lord God sovereignly placed Israel upon a conditional footing. The 19th, 20th and 24th chapters of Exodus is a clear proof of this. God gave to them certain laws as stipulations of his Covenant with them, and made national blessing for them dependent upon their observance of His statutes. But Israel was stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart. They rebelled against their God, forsook His law, and turned to false gods. The consequence was that Divine judgment fell upon them, they were delivered into the hands of their enemies, dispersed throughout the earth, and lived under the heavy frown of God’s displeasure.
Jonah tried to flee from God and his responsibility. He though he succeeded, he thought he could do his own thing and perhaps thwart the plan of God. He exercised his responsibility, but he failed.
There is perfect harmony between the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of the creature. There is no point where God’s sovereignty stops and mans responsibility begins.Many have most foolishly said that it is quite impossible to show where Divine sovereignty ends and creature accountability begins. Our responsibility begins rests in the sovereign ordination of the Creator. As to His sovereignty, there is not and never will be any "end" to it! We cannot limit God’s sovereignty just because we cannot understand it!
; Sovereign grace in Jesus Christ
In his mercy God saves His elect based upon an unconditional footingdecree. ; In the Everlasting Covenant Jesus Christ was appointed astheir Head, took its their responsibilities upon Himself, and worked out a righteousness for the eleectm which is perfect, which is impossible to be dissolved, and eternal. Christ was placed upon a conditional footing, for He was "made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law," only with this infinite difference: the others failed, He did not and could not. And who placed Christ upon that conditional footing? The Triune God. It was sovereign will that appointed Him, sovereign love that sent Him, sovereign authority that assigned Him His work.
Certain conditions were set before the Mediator. He had to be made in the likeness of sin’s flesh; He had to magnify the law and make it honourable; He had to bear all the sins of all God’s people in His own body on the tree; He had to make full, atonement for them; He had to endure the outpoured wrath of God; He had to die and be buried. On the fulfilment of those conditions He became to be the Firstborn among many brethren; He was to have a people who should share His glory.
Blessed be His name forever, He fulfilled those conditions, and because He did so, ; the Father is bound, on solemn oath, to preserve through time and bless throughout eternity every one of those for whom His Son mediated.
Because He took their place, they now share His. His righteousness is theirs, His standing before God is theirs, His life is theirs. There is not a single condition for them to meet, not a single responsibility for them to discharge in order to attain their eternal bliss, “…because by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” (Hebrews 10:14)
; Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” (2 Timothy 2:19)
Our blessing is dependent upon what Christ did for us. The foundation on which God’s elect stand is a perfect one: nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it (Eccl. 3:14). Here, then, is the highest and grandest display of the absolute sovereignty of God. Indeed, He has mercy on whom He wants to have mercy, and He hardens whom he wants to harden. (Romans 9:18).
This, my dear brother and sister is the message of grace from the only, true and Sovereign God. Those who do not accept the grace provided in Jesus Christ do not find salvation; they stumble over the stone that brings salvation. Those who do not bow under the sovereignty of the Sovereign God and argue their own authority and sovereignty are crushed by the Sovereign God. ; Don’t question God. Just bow very lowly and accept the grace He provides in Jesus Christ. Without Christ there is no life; in Him we have life. Thank God for his sovereign grace displayed in his Son. Amen.
God rules in faithfulness
Unfaithfulness is one of the most outstanding sins of these evil days. In the business world, a man’s word is, with exceedingly rare exceptions, no longer his bond. In the social world, marital infidelity abounds on every hand, the sacred bonds of wedlock being broken with as little regard as the discarding of an old garment. In the ecclesiastical realm, thousands who have solemnly covenanted to preach the truth make no scruple to attack and deny it. Nor can reader or writer claim complete immunity from this fearful sin: in how many ways have we been unfaithful to Christ, and to the light and privileges which God has entrusted to us! How refreshing, then, how unspeakably blessed, to lift our eyes above this scene of ruin, and behold One who is faithful, faithful in all things, faithful at all times.
Know therefore that the Lord thy God, He is God, the faithful God (Deut. 7:9).
This quality is essential to His being, without it He would not be God. For God to be unfaithful would be to act contrary to His nature, which were impossible:
If we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown himself. (2 Timothy 2:13)
If we believe not, yet He abideth faithful; He cannot deny Himself (2 Tim. 2:13). Faithfulness is one of the glorious perfections of His God’s being. He is as it were clothed with it:
O Lord God Almighty, who is like you? You are mighty, O Lord, and your faithfulness surrounds you. (Psalm 89:8) O Lord God of hosts, who is a strong Lord like unto Thee? or to Thy faithfulness round about Thee? (Ps. 89:8). So too when God became incarnate it was said, Righteousness shall be the girdle of His loins, and faithfulness the girdle of His reins (Isa. 11:5).
Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. (Psalm 36:5)
What a word is that in Psalm 36:5, Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; and Thy faithfulness unto the clouds. Far above all finite comprehension is the unchanging faithfulness of God. Everything about God is great, vast, incomparable. He God never forgets, never fails, never falters, never forfeits His word,. To every declaration of promise or prophecy the Lord has exactly adhered, every engagement of covenant or threatening He will make good,
God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should change his mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill? (Numbers 23:19)for God is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man, that He should repent: hath He said, and shall He not do it? or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good? (Num. 23:19). Therefore does the believer exclaim, His compassions fail not, they are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness (Lam. 3:22, 23).
Scripture abounds in illustrations of God’s faithfulness. More than four thousand years ago He said, While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease (Gen. 8:22). Every year promise. In Genesis 15 we find that JehovahGod declared unto Abraham, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. (Genesis 15:13-16)
Thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them. . . . But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again (vv. 13-16). Centuries ran their weary course, but . Abraham’s descendants groaned amid the brick-kilns of Egypt. Had God forgotten His promise? No, indeed. Read Exodus 12:41 declares “At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the Lord’s divisions left Egypt.” (Exodus 12:41)
, And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt. Through Isaiah the Lord declared, Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel (7:14). Again centuries passed, but When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman (Gal 4:4).
God is true. His Word of Promise is sure. In all His relations with His people God is faithful. He may be safely relied upon. No one ever yet really trusted Him in vain. We find this precious truth expressed almost everywhere in the Scriptures., for His people need to know that faithfulness is an essential part of the Divine character. This is the basis of our confidence in Him. But it is one thing to accept the faithfulness of God as a Divine truth, it is quite another to act upon it. God has given us many exceeding great and precious promises, but are we really counting on His fulfillment of them? Are we actually expecting Him to do for us all that He has said? Are we resting with implicit assurance on these words, He is faithful that promised (Heb. 10:23)? There are seasons in the lives of all when it is not easy, no not even for Christians, to believe that God is faithful. Our faith is sorely tried, our eyes bedimmed with tears, and we can no longer trace the outworkings of His love. Our ears are distracted with the noises of the world, harassed by the atheistic whisperings of Satan, and we can no longer hear the sweet accents of His still small voice. Cherished plans have been brother or sister in Christ has betrayed us. We are staggered. We sought to be faithful to God, and now a dark cloud hides Him from us. We find it difficult, yea, impossible, for carnal reason to harmonize His frowning providence with His gracious promises. Ah, faltering soul, severely-tried fellow-pilgrim, Should it happen that our trust in Him is shaken, listen once again to seek grace to heed Isaiah 50:10,
Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God. (Isaiah 50:10)Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of His servant, that walketh in darkness and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God. When you are tempted to doubt the faithfulness of God, cry out, Get thee hence, Satan. Though you cannot now harmonize God’s mysterious dealings with the avowals of His love, wait on Him for more light. In His own good time He will make it plain to you. What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter (John 13:7). The sequel will yet demonstrate that God has neither forsaken nor deceived His child. And therefore will the Lord wait that He may be gracious unto you, and therefore will He be exalted, that He may have mercy upon you: for the Lord is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for Him (Isa. 30:18).
Thy testimonies which Thou hast commanded are righteous and very faithful (Ps. 119:138).
God’s faithfulness is sometimes shown to us by withholding from us the worst. God has not only told us the best, but He has not withheld the worst. He has faithfully described the ruin which the Fall has effected. He has faithfully diagnosed the terrible state which sin has produced. He has faithfully made known his inveterate hatred of evil, and that He must punish the same. He has faithfully warned us that He is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:29). The Bible does not Not only does His Word abound in illustrations of His fidelity faithfulnessin fulfilling His promises, but it also records numerous examples of His faithfulness in making good His threatenings. Every stage of Israel’s history exemplifies that solemn fact. So it was with individuals: Pharaoh, Korah, Achan and a host of others are so many proofs.
This fact is something Christians today cannot get their heads about: And thus it will be with you, my reader: unless you we have fled or do flee to Christ for refuge, the everlasting burning of the Lake of Fire will be your our sure and certain portion. God is faithful.
God is faithful in preserving His people. God is faithful, by whom ye are called unto the fellowship of His Son (1 Cor. 1:9). In the previous verse promise was made that God would confirm unto the end His own people. The Apostle’s confidence in the absolute security of believers was founded not on the strength of their resolutions or ability to persevere, but on the veracity of Him that cannot lie. Because Since God has promised to His Son a certain people for His inheritance, to deliver them from sin and condemnation, and to make them participants of eternal life in glory, it is certain that He will not allow any of them to perish.
God is faithful in disciplining His people. He is faithful in what He withholds, no less than in what He gives. He is faithful in sending sorrow as well as in giving joy. The faithfulness of Ggod is a truth tomust be confessed by us not only when we are at ease, but also when we are smarting suffering under the sharpest rebuke. Nor must this confession be merely of our mouths, but of our hearts, too. When God smites us with the rod of chastisement, it is faithfulness which wields it. To acknowledge this means that we humble ourselves before Him, own that we fully deserve His correction, and instead of murmuringrebellion, thank Him for it. God never afflicts without reason. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you (1 Cor. 11:30), says Paul, illustrating this principle. When His rod falls upon us let us say with Daniel, O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto Thee, but unto us confusion of faces’ (9:7)
I know, O Lord, that Thy judgments are right, and that Thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me (Ps. 119:15). Trouble and affliction are not only consistent with God’s love pledged in the everlasting covenant, but they are parts of the administration of the same. God is not only faithful notwithstanding afflictions, but faithful in sending them. The will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes: My lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him nor suffer My faithfulness to fail (Ps. 89:32, 33). Chastening is not only reconcilable with God’s lovingkindness, but it is the effect and expression of it. It would much quieten the minds of God’s people if they would remember that His covenant love binds Him to lay on them seasonable correction. Afflictions are necessary for us: In their affliction they will seek Me early (Hos. 5:15).
God is faithful in glorifying His people. Faithful is He which calleth you, who also will do (1 Thess. 5:24). The immediate reference here is to the saints being preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. God treats with us not on the ground of our merits (for we have none), but for His own great name’s sake. God is constant faithful to Himself and to His own purpose of grace: “whom He called. . .them He also glorified” (Rom. 8:30). God gives a full demonstration of the constancy of His everlasting goodness toward His elect by effectually calling them out of darkness into His marvelous light, and this should fully assure them of the certain continuance of it. The foundation of God standeth sure (2 Tim. 2:19). Paul was resting on the faithfulness of God when he said, I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day (2 Tim 1:12).
The apprehension ofWhen we begin to understand this blessed truth will preserve us from worrywe will begin to understand to place our cares in his hand. To be full of care, to view our situation with dark forebodings, to anticipate the morrow with sad anxiety, is to reflect upon the faithfulness of God. He who has cared for His child through all the years, will not forsake him in old age. He who has heard your prayers in the past, will not refuse to supply your need in the present emergency. Rest on Job 5:19, He shall deliver thee in six troubles: yea, in seven there shall be no evil touch thee. Policarp, church father in Smyrna when facing the flames of the stake declared that the God who had cared for him over 95 years will surely care for him in his dying moments.
The apprehension of this blessed truth will check our murmurings. The Lord knows what is best for each of us, and one effect or resting on this truth will be the silencing of our petulant complainings. God is greatly honoured when, under trial and chasteningdisciplining, we have good thoughts oftrust Him, vindicateassert His wisdom and justice, and recognize His love in His very rebukes. The apprehension of this blessed truth will beget increasing confidence in God. Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well to Him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator (1 Pet. 4:19).
When we trustfully resign ourselves, and all our affairs into God’s hands, fully persuaded of His love and faithfulness, the sooner shall we will be satisfied with his providence and realize that He doesth all things well.
Hymn No: “