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His Throne Rules Over All: Resting in God’s Sovereign Rule, Part 1

Gods sovereign rule

Are you discouraged because of a hardship in your life? Have negative circumstances robbed you of hope? Has something bad happened to you—something it seems God should have either been powerful or caring enough to stop? 

This is the first article in a series about a vital truth: God is sovereign. Whatever you’re going through, I believe this series will encourage you.

Suffering and hardship got the best of me until grasped the truth of God’s sovereign rule. During the years in which I was confined to bed and to a wheelchair, years spent suffering immeasurable physical and mental torment, I was despondent, depressed, even suicidal … until this truth permeated my mind and my spirit, until I rested in God’s sovereign rule.

Whatever you’re going through, don’t miss this vital truth. Whether you’re facing life’s daily challenges or enduring major suffering, understanding God’s sovereign rule will revolutionize your life!

Even if you know what the Bible teaches about God’s sovereignty, it’s always good to be reminded. With each new trial I face, I need a refresher course on God’s sovereign rule. I need to be reminded that He is in control of even this. Nothing gives me more peace and victory in the midst of life’s trials than the foundation of God’s sovereign rule.

If you want to experience peace and be an overcomer in your season of hardship, you must understand that God is sovereign over every detail of your past, present, and future. And you must govern your life accordingly—adjusting your thoughts, reactions, attitudes, and beliefs in response to this truth. When you do, you won’t just survive in seasons of suffering and uncertainty, you will thrive!

Not only does God have power over everything, He rules with infinite wisdom and love. He has the power to determine which difficulties will enter your life, and out of His wisdom and love, He allows only the difficulties that will work for your good and His glory.

If you’re going to know any measure of peace amid a deluge of disappointment, you must view your life in the light of God’s sovereign, loving rule.

If you’re going to know any measure of peace
amid a deluge of disappointment,

you must view your life in the light of
God’s sovereign rule.

Click to tweet TWEET THIS God's sovereign rule

I’ve written about God’s sovereignty in a previous series. The articles were long, though—several thousand words each. And the series included other truths vital to overcoming adversity. In this new series, Resting in God’s Sovereign Rule, I focus just on God’s sovereignty and break the concepts down into smaller, more digestible portions.

In today’s article, I answer a few key questions:

  • What does it mean to say that God is sovereign?
  • Does God alone rule the universe? Is anything outside His authority? Does anyone outrank or overrule Him, even temporarily?
  • Does God have control over all powers, even Satan and demonic powers?
  • Does the fact God governs the universe mean He has control over inanimate objects and all animate things (human beings and animals)?
  • Do trials reach us without God’s appointment and permission?

Enough introduction — let’s begin!

What Does “God’s Sovereign Rule” Mean? 

What does it mean to say that God is sovereign? What effect should it have upon us?

The Biblical definition of God’s sovereignty simply means that His kingdom rules over everything. Psalm 103:19 says,

“The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom [his sovereignty] rules over all.”
Psalm 103:19, NIV

Sometimes the broad, sweeping concepts such as God’s sovereignty are the hardest for my finite mind to comprehend. A simple dictionary definition sheds helpful light on this deep subject.

“Sovereign” means:

  1. The supreme ruler; king or queen … monarch
  2. Having supreme control
  3. Greatest in rank, authority, power
  4. Independent of the control of another; freedom from outside control [1]

God is the supreme ruler of the universe. He has ultimate control over all details. No one outranks Him. He rules independent of the control of any other being, even Satan. Absolutely no one has more control over the events of this world—over the events in your life—than God. In other words, the buck stops with Him.

The Supreme Ruler, In Ceaseless Control

God is the ruler of the universe. Nothing is outside His authority. No one outranks or overrules Him, not even temporarily.

“His dominion is an everlasting dominion. And His kingdom endures from generation to generation. And all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What hast Thou done?’” (Daniel 4:34-35, NASB).

Notice that Scripture says God “does according to His will in the host of heaven.” This means that He has authority over all powers. Colossians 2:10 says that Christ… “is the head over every power and authority” (emphasis added).

We will explore this more in parts four and five of this series, but for today simply note this: God has authority over every being, even over Satan and demonic powers. They never outrank or overrule Him, not even temporarily.

God Created and Sustains the Universe

God created the world through Jesus.

“In the beginning the Word [Jesus] already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. … God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him” (John 1:1,3 NLT).  (See also Psalm 33:6, Hebrews 11:3.)

Jesus’ authority and control over created things did not end upon their creation. The Bible says that:

  • “The Son is … sustaining all things by his powerful word” (Hebrews 1:3, HCSB).
  • “He holds all creation together” (Colossians 1:17, NLT).

Jerry Bridges writes:

All things are indebted for their existence to the continuous sustaining action of God exercised through His Son, Jesus Christ. The so-called laws of nature are nothing more than the physical expression of the steady will of Christ. The law of gravity operates with unceasing certainty because Christ continuously wills it to operate. The stars continue in their courses because He keeps them there. Scripture says, He “brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing” (Isaiah 40:26).

God Governs The Universe

God governs the universe. This means He has control over inanimate objects and all animate things, both human beings and animals.

In scripture, God is called “The Ruler of all things” (1 Chron. 29:12, NIV) and “the blessed and only Ruler” (1 Tim. 6:15, NIV). Not even a sparrow falls to the ground apart from His will (Matt. 10:29).

The prophet Jeremiah asks, “Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it?” (Lam. 3:37).

“Nothing, therefore, happens unless the Omnipotent wills it
to happen. He either permits it to happen,
or He brings it about Himself.”
— St. Augustine

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God Permits and Limits Trials

No trial reaches us without God’s absolute appointment and specific permission. Satan was not allowed to touch Job’s life without God first allowing it—and limiting it. (See Job 1:6-12; 2:2-6) Satan had to ask permission to sift Peter “as wheat” (see Luke 22:31).

Perhaps it seems that God is too loving, too powerful and too good to allow terrible things to enter our lives. God’s omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence seem to contradict each other when it comes to suffering.

“After all,” we say, “God couldn’t know beforehand that a trial is going to occur and still permit it. Either He is so loving that He longs to stop it, but He can’t because but He lacks the power to do something about it—or He has the power, but lacks the love to care.”

As Kay Arthur says in As Silver Refined, let’s follow that line of thinking. Let’s see where it goes. [2]

If God did not permit the adverse situation, who did?

1. Was it fate? Was it an accident? Are we left alone in a chaotic world where nothing fulfills God’s promise to work all things together for the good of them that love Him and are called according to His purpose?

2. Was it Satan? Kay Arthur answers, “If God didn’t control evil, the result would be evil uncontrolled. If bad things come only from Satan and God has no power to stop them and no authority over Satan, then whose hands are we really in?” [3]

God is not “Satan’s clean-up boy,” sweeping up after the devil has done his worst, trying to bring good out of it somehow. [4]

3. Was it a Person? Was it the drunk driver? Did the driver have more power than God? Does God have no ultimate power over that which He has created?

In this line of thinking, the cause—fate, Satan or man—had to overcome God to do it. If this is the case, then somebody or something is greater than God. If it overcame God, then God is not really God.

If you find yourself thinking, “God could not have allowed this,” you’re on the path to a bad outcome. You’re creating a god in your image—one who isn’t God at all.

“See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand” (Deut. 32:39).

God puts to death and gives life. He heals and He wounds. God is in charge of everything.

The rightful conclusion is that there is no other cause but God behind it. Whatever role man or Satan played, they could not have done it unless God gave permission.

In As Silver Refined: Learning to Embrace Life’s Disappointments, Kay Arthur writes,

There is no other cause, and there is no other god… Every disappointment—even if it’s tragic and evil—is His appointment. I may not like His appointment or agree with it, but God is in charge. Nothing happens apart from His permission. He is the ultimate authority, the ultimate cause, and He has the ultimate responsibility for all that goes on. That’s why He commands us, “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (I Thess. 5:18). What possible reason could there be to give thanks in everything if God isn’t sovereign? Why should we thank Him if He isn’t responsible, if He’s not in control? [5]

More Scriptural Evidence

Scripture is full of evidence that no trial reaches us apart from God’s appointment and permission—scriptures such as:

  • Amos 3:6 — “When disaster comes to a city, has not theLord caused it?”
  • Isaiah 45:7 — “I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things.”
  • 1 Samuel 2:6-7 — ““The Lord brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up. The Lord sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts.”
  • Ephesians 1:11 — “[God] works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.”

As 1 Thessalonians 3:3 says, we should not “be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them.”

God may not instigate our trials, but by the time they reach us, they are His will for our lives. Whether the cause of your present trial is a person, Satan, nature, or a seemingly random “accident,” God allowed the trial to reach you because He meant good for you. Like Joseph, you can say, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20).

You and I can thank God today, no matter what we’re facing, because not an ounce of our lives is outside of His control—and He is working all things, even the seemingly senseless things, together for our good and His glory.

More TweetablesTweetables

  • If you’re going to know any measure of peace amid a deluge of disappointment, you must view your life in the light of God’s sovereign rule. Click to tweet Tweet
  • “The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom [his sovereignty] rules over all.” ~ Psalm 103:19 Click to tweet Tweet
  • God is the supreme ruler of the universe. He has ultimate control over every detail. No one outranks or overrules Him, not even temporarily. Absolutely no one has more control over the events of this world and your life than God. Click to tweet Tweet
  • Colossians 2:10 says that Christ… “is the head over every power and authority.” Christ has authority over every being, even over Satan and demonic powers. They never outrank or overrule Him,
    not even temporarily. Click to tweet Tweet
  • “Nothing, therefore, happens unless the Omnipotent wills it to happen.
    He either permits it to happen, or He brings it about Himself.”
    ~ St. Augustine Click to tweet Tweet
  • No trial reaches us without God’s permission. Satan was not allowed to touch Job’s life without God first allowing it—and limiting it. (Job 1:6-12; 2:2- 6) Satan had to ask permission to sift Peter “as wheat” (Luke 22:31).   Click to tweet Tweet
  • Do you think God couldn’t know beforehand that a trial was going to occur and still permit it? That He’s so loving He longs to stop it but lacks the power? Or He has the power, but lacks the love to care? Follow that to its conclusion —> http://bit.ly/2Hdg7nX Click to tweet Tweet

Question: How does the truth of God’s sovereign rule affect the way you view your negative circumstances today?

 

POSTED ARTICLES IN THIS SERIES

UPCOMING ARTICLES IN THIS SERIES

  • Part 5: Do God and Satan Alternate Shifts?
  • Part 6: What Circumstances Does God Control?
  • Part 7: Does God Control Sinful Acts?

_____________

  1. Barnhart, R. K., ed. World Book Dictionary. 2 vols. (Chicago: Doubleday & Co., 1994)
  2. Kay Arthur, As Silver Refined (Colorado Springs, CO: WaterBrook Press, 1997), 125
  3. Ibid., 125
  4. Joni E. Tada and Steve Estes, When God Weeps (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1997), 84
  5. Arthur., 126

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