The Sovereignty of God – Part I

I came to see the “Sovereignty of God” in my late 20’s. Much of my understanding was learned from a man of the previous generation named Arthur Pink. The title of his book that I read was, appropriately enough, “The Sovereignty of God”. I view this concept of sovereignty as “the right to do as one wills by virtue of the position that one holds”.  Only God holds the infinite position of sovereignty because He is God. Only God is truly sovereign. Isaiah saw it and heard God say this:  “I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God …”  (Isa. 45:5). Paul framed it like this:  “Doesn’t the potter have a right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use?”  (Rom. 9:21). The answer of course, is ‘yes’ He does! He has absolute rights over our salvation, lives, bodies, work, position, finances, children, vocation, plans, marriages, and everything else one might imagine. He is the Lord.

I view this concept of sovereignty as “the right to do as one wills by virtue of the position that one holds”.  Only God holds the infinite position of sovereignty because He is God.

After 40 years of ministry, this teaching has continued to be a great comfort to me. This includes the mystery of grace that has come to me in both my salvation and in the pastoral ministry. Some years ago I almost concluded God was done with me. It may have been a demonic attack but at the time I couldn’t tell if it was God or satan!  The issue was my unworthiness. In a word, it was my sin. How do I pastor a church with the guilt of my past?  It should have been an easy question to answer for a Christian who believes Jesus died for his sins but I just couldn’t get there. I remember waking up very early on a Sunday morning to just seek God for the day. It was then that He came to me by the power of His Spirit and gave me a verse of Scripture that has lingered for years. It was from the text in Exodus where Israel had sinned (again!) and the people were in danger of being destroyed. Moses prayed and God answered. God said He would forgive them again but on what basis?  And why should He forgive them?  Here was the answer:  “And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.”  (Ex. 33:19). Why? As I followed the grace of God up its supernaturally flowing stream, I seemed to catch a glimpse of the very fountain head from whence it flowed!  What is that mysterious origin of grace and mercy?  What is the source?  The answer?  It was sovereignty! He has mercy because He decided to do it and the ones to whom it is granted are sovereignly chosen. They are known only to Him. He doesn’t have to explain it. He is God. Like Moses at the burning bush, I seemed to stand on holy ground. I could get no closer than that. So this I believe with all my heart: I have received mercy. And that mercy is sovereign mercy, and sovereignly given.

And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.”  (Ex. 33:19)

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