The Sovereignty of God
To Be, to Act, to Speak.
What does it mean to be Sovereign?
Our dictionaries use some of the following synonyms to describe the principle of sovereignty: Supreme, absolute, unlimited, unrestricted, boundless, ultimate, total, and unconditional.
These words have been invented to describe the rule of an earthly king, and are therefore still to some extent subject to the laws of humanity and of this natural world. There are things a man cannot rule over, and never will subdue to his domain, no matter how much earthly powers he may come to possess.
When it comes to God, however, the term Sovereignty takes on a whole new meaning, and one that we as humans can barely grasp with our finite understanding as being a part of a temporary world – He transcends all human logic, supersedes any natural and spiritual laws, and has no rule or authority to bow too! He is SOVEREIGN in all of His Being!
We are creatures of the natural, born into a natural world that influences and governs our lives by the laws of its dominion.
When we, however, come to meet God, our vision changes, and we are given eyes to see the immense Greatness of the Creator, and His limitless sphere of reign and of possibility. From that moment of time, we find ourselves in agreement with Him and with His reality, and in disagreement with the natural world and its limitations.
No wonder then that the “natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit, nor can he, for they are spiritually discerned”, and no wonder that those in the Spirit find themselves to being contrary to those who are in the flesh.
God is a Sovereign Being. He answers to no one except Himself, He follows no rules, but makes the rules. He does not serve anyone but is served. He does not obey man but calls a man into obedience to Him. He does not fit into our human reason or will, but calls men to receive His Mind and to submit themselves to His will.
He is unrestricted and unbound, and yet many times mere men will still attempt to confine God to their reason and to subdue Him to their will, even if it means using His own Strength against Him, in an attempt to “outwit” Him.
As un-logically as this may sound, it is in many ways a daily practice for many Christians who aim to strong-arm God into performing their will. They use whatever means possible to attempt to “force” God to do what they want to be done.
Have you ever heard people say,
“God You have promised in Your Word that ….. and because You cannot lie, I stand on Your Word, and I remind You of what You have said, and I hold You to it, and therefore You will perform it!”
Maybe you have not, but I have heard people praying along these lines many times, even if not using the exact same words.
They attempt to have their way, even if it means ‘twisting’ God’s arm to get it, irrespective of whether it would be His will or not for them to have what they ask for. They behave as though He has no choice, nor any will, as if what He said to others, simply belongs to them also!
Instead of submitting themselves to His will and asking for His will to be done, they lay down the laws and remind Him of His promises to others, not for a moment considering that those promises were conditional to the life and the walk of those to whom they were made!
To people such as these, God is not Sovereign, nor Almighty! They have no fear of Him and see Him as a servant to their will and to accomplishing their desires – A god who has to jump to give them what they want, when they want it and with the least possible delay in doing so.
God has no equal!
He is GOD ALMIGHTY and He answers to no one! Not even where His Word is concerned. He owes no one anything, and all that has ever being received by Him was received by a pure act of Grace and Mercy! He is no one’s servant, no one’s slave and He is controlled by none other than His Own will!
We also find this humanistic approach towards God in many of today’s modern-day salvation theories, where people are taught to load the entire responsibility of their salvation upon God, once again by holding Him as a‘hostage’ to “His Word”.
Millions of people are taught that they have no obligation towards their eternal destiny and that they are free to live their lives on earth as earthly and worldly as anyone else around them, while being perfectly entitled to become partakers of Eternal Life with Him, because of what HE HAS DONE, and because of what HE HAS SAID AND PROMISED.
Again such people are ignoring the Sovereign and present will of God by attempting to hold Him, hostage, to “what He has said”. They do not consider that He has changed His will on various occasions in times past, where He, in fact, did the very opposite things than what He had promised to do, as a direct result of the unfaithfulness of the people towards Him, whom He had made these promises to.
They serve a god who serves them and who has to do what he said, irrespective of what they may do or say. A god, who, in their eyes, has no sovereignty at all!
The entire Spirit of the Word, however, goes against the grain of such foolish reasonings – We read time and time again how God purposes, destines and works all things in accordance with His presently revealed will.
There are numerous examples which clearly points this out, that can be found throughout Bible history. One, which now comes to mind, is recorded in John chapter 3 tells of the conversation which Jesus had with Nicodemus the Pharisee.
“Jesus answered him, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, that unless a person is born again (anew, from above), he cannot ever see (know, be acquainted with, and experience) the Kingdom of God.
Nicodemus said to Him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter his mother’s womb again and be born?
Jesus answered, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, unless a man is born of water and [[a]even] the Spirit, he cannot [ever] enter the kingdom of God.
What is born of [from] the flesh is flesh [of the physical is physical]; and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Marvel not [do not be surprised, astonished] at My telling you, You must all be born anew (from above).The wind blows (breathes) where it wills; and though you hear its sound, yet you neither know where it comes from nor where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.
Nicodemus answered by asking, How can all this be possible?” John 3:3-9 AMPC
In one instant swoop Jesus removed every foundation of eternal security which Nicodemus had established in his lifetime!
As a Jew, he had been brought up as an heir to the promise of salvation by being an heir of the covenant that God had made with Abraham. He had been taught to keep of the Law and the Prophets.
The Scriptures and his adherence in following and obeying them, had been the very pillars that would secure his eternal salvation before the Throne of God.
Yet now Jesus came, proclaiming to be a Messenger of God, telling him that there was only one way to enter the Kingdom of God, and that was “to be born again”? He immediately inquired about “how it should be done?” He was anxious to know!
“How do you do that, it does not make any logical sense, must I then enter my mother’s womb again? How can I, so how do I do this? How do I get myself “born again”.
The more he heard, the more he realized that what Jesus was talking about was something that he (Nicodemus) could not do or accomplish, but that it was something that could only be accomplished by God through His Grace and mercy being poured out upon a man or a woman’s life!
Jesus removed every possibility for a man to be able to enter the Kingdom of God by any means – whether, through following the Scriptures, daily prayer, good works, or living a noble life – Nothing could qualify man for salvation except a work of Grace by the Spirit of Grace alone – The Father would have to draw each one unto His Son to be cleansed by His Blood, the Holy Spirit would have to come to bring them to Life, in His Life, and give birth to His New Spirit-Life in them, that would cause them to have eyes and ears in the Spirit to be able to live in God’s Kingdom, and to become a living part thereof.
Salvation is a pure Sovereign act of God, extended to whosoever He ‘willed’ it to be extended!
Paul further underwrites salvation as God’s Sovereign work, when the Holy Spirit inspires his writing in Romans chapter 9 –
“I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose.”
So it is God who decides to show mercy. We can neither choose it nor work for it.
For the Scriptures say that God told Pharaoh, “I have appointed you for the very purpose of displaying my power in you and to spread my fame throughout the earth.” So you see, God chooses to show mercy to some, and he chooses to harden the hearts of others so they refuse to listen.
Well then, you might say, “Why does God blame people for not responding? Haven’t they simply done what he makes them do?”
No, don’t say that. Who are you, a mere human being, to argue with God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, “Why have you made me like this?” When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into? In the same way, even though God has the right to show his anger and his power, he is very patient with those on whom his anger falls, who are destined for destruction. He does this to make the riches of his glory shine even brighter on those to whom he shows mercy, who were prepared in advance for glory,” Romans 9:15-23
The Truth about salvation is simply this –
- The Scriptures in themselves cannot bring us salvation.
- Our prayers (although they may be heard by God and may the vehicle to bring us to salvation – Acts 10:4) in themselves cannot automatically bring us salvation, simply because we prayed them.
- Our confessions(though they may be Scripturally correct) cannot save us because we have confessed them – Salvation is not in the power of our words or our confessions, they in themselves will not open the Heaven’s to us.
- Our works cannot save us, no matter how wonderful and noble they may be(although God may notice them and they may lead to our salvation – Acts 10:4), they in themselves cannot assure us the Gift of salvation.
There is only One Way we can be saved and that is by a Sovereign act of God’s Grace!
The Spirit of Grace needs to come into our lives and become our Life!We need to be born of the Spirit, and God’s Own Spirit of Grace, in all of His Being and with all of His attributes needs to become the very Life-Breath of Himself in us – We need to walk in Him, move in Him and have our being in Him, because of Him having His Life-Being in us! We need to be joined in Him, Unified with Him and become One with Him in every aspect of His Life and Being.
The Spirit of GRACE needs to permeate us so that we may be vessels filled with His Grace, filled with Him and His Being!
Even when it comes to salvation itself, Jesus explains to Nicodemus, ‘the man of the Scriptures’ (Pharisee), that salvation can only come by a Sovereign act of God in being ‘born again’, and given new Life by the Spirit of Grace in order to have eyes to see the Kingdom and to become a partaker of the Spiritual Kingdom of God.
This must surely have been a shock to this man of the Scriptures, who had his whole life held onto the Scriptures as the security for his own salvation, to hear that salvation was outside of his control! That it was a Sovereign act of God and not something he could ever “make happen”. He had been taught that he, as a son of Abraham, and a son of the covenant would have eternal life as a result of that covenant if he continued to follow the Scriptures and lived in accordance with them! It must have been a further shock to realize that God could raise up for Himself children from stones if He wanted to and that He was not bound to receive anyone into His eternal Kingdom, whether they were a covenant child or no covenant child!
Another prime example found in the New Testament is the story of Peter, recorded in Acts chapter 10 –
“He saw the sky open, and something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners. In the sheet were all sorts of animals, reptiles, and birds. Then a voice said to him, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat them.”
“No, Lord,” Peter declared. “I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure and unclean.”
But the voice spoke again: “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.” The same vision was repeated three times. Then the sheet was suddenly pulled up to heaven.” Acts 10:11-16
What God was saying to Peter was, “I AM Sovereign, never mind what you have learned from the Scriptures, I AM here now and I AM commanding you to do as I AM instructing you!”
Peter was soon to learn that the Vision was related to the salvation of the Gentiles, a concept completely foreign to the Jews, as the Gentiles were regarded as unclean and without hope of salvation, not even to be spoken too, never mind to have any association with. Had he decided to stick with the Scriptures and ignored God’s Heavenly Vision and command, the gentile world may have been kept in darkness for generations to come!
Then we see Jesus!
In the eyes of the Pharisees, He kept breaking the Law and going against the Scriptures! He did things they had been taught by Scripture should never be done, and for that they condemned Him as a heretic, unable to discern the Father Himself is present in Christ, working His Own works, unrestricted and without any bounds, Sovereign in His Being! The Law and the Scriptures were never written for God to keep – They were written for mankind to keep! There is no Law whereto He bows!
When Jesus led of the Spirit would allow God to have His free will and reign, no Law could be greater than the Presence of God Himself working in Christ. The same was true for Peter, he had to explain himself when he returned to Jerusalem, yet the only explanation he could offer was that he had been led and followed where the Holy Spirit was leading him to go!
We can never hope to “bind” God with anything, not even with His Word. We are subject to Him! He is subject to none!
Now again, we may have those who will use ‘Scripture’, to point out that God has elevated His Word above His Name – and yes! He has! But do we understand what that means? Do we understand that what He says in regard to that is that His Word is His Bond to those who love Him? Do we even begin to contemplate that “His Word” is that which He speaks to us personally? Do we understand that His Word is never without condition for us?
God is never a “victim” of His Word.
He gracefully shares His Word and we may have the full assurance that He will perform His Word by His Own free will and choice. We benefit from His Word when we also accept Him and His will, and willingly choose to live our lives in harmony with Him.
~ Johann van der Hoven
Johann van der Hoven is in South Africa. He has been serving the Lord in ministry since 1991 and has hosted numerous apostolic revival meetings in South Africa and in South America. He also currently pioneers a organic church planting movement across South Africa. For more information about him and his ministry visit Fellowship of Believers or Revival.