Just How Truly Sovereign is God?

How powerful is God? Is He 75% sovereign? Is He in control of 98% of things, but there is that 2% over which He has no control? Why would we trust in a God who is less than 100% sovereign and powerful? Only a supremely sovereign God is worthy of worship. Allow me to give you a number of Scriptures that speak for themselves about God’s absolute sovereignty.

Psalm 135:6 say, “Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.” No one can tell the LORD what to do or not do. He alone rules and reigns over all the universe and He does whatever He pleases.

Isaiah 14:27 states, “For the LORD of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back?” This is a rhetorical question asked by the prophet Isaiah that is meant to be answered with a resounding “no one!” There is no power in the entire universe that can turn back God’s ordained purposes.

Again in Isaiah 46:9–10 we find these words: “Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’” God knows the future. Nothing surprises Him. He will accomplish all of his purposes. He alone is the sovereign Lord who has the power to accomplish this.

Daniel 4:35 says, “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?” No one can “stay” God’s hand. No one can come against the King and His sovereign purposes. He will accomplish His will.

In Job 42:2 he says, “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” Nobody can thwart or stop or threaten God’s purposes. This includes the devil as well as humans or any other power. Many people think that the universe is set up like a dualism. That is, God and Satan are equal and opposing forces who are at war with one another and we really don’t know who is going to win in the end. We must remember that Satan himself is still God’s created being and can only do what God permits him to do.

Paul makes this overarching statement about God’s sovereign purposes in Ephesians 1:11: “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.” Notice how this verses says that God works out ALL things—not just some things—according to the counsel of His will.

Now this teaching about God’s absolute sovereignty may unnerve many people because it threatens their autonomy. We often think that we need to be in control and to be the “captain of our own souls”. Yet, He is the Potter and we are the clay. Instead of thinking of God’s sovereignty as something to be afraid of or irritated about, think of His sovereignty as a soft pillow on which to lay your head at night. He is in control. When our crazy world swirls with threats of Ebola, ISIS, economic catastrophes, the upcoming elections, or any stresses in your personal life, remember this: God is still on His throne and He rules all things in His absolute sovereignty and He wins out in the end. The only way we can final victory is through repentance and faith in His Son Jesus Christ! Praise God from whom all blessings flow—including His absolute sovereignty over everything!

Hungering and Thirsting for Righteousness

Most of us have no idea what it means to truly be hungry and thirsty. As Americans we are so privileged compared to most of the world,which lives in poverty and famine and in restrictive governments. Yet, Jesus taught about a spiritual thirsting and hungering after something, which many Christians fail to truly understand. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus begins with the Beatitudes and in Matthew 5:6 He says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

The words “hunger” and “thirst” are in the present tense in the original language, which means they are to be continuous actions. What does it mean to be continually hungry and thirsty? Augustine said these famous words, “God, You made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until we find rest in You.”

In other words, as humans we were created with a spiritual hunger. We were created to worship and love God. And yet because of sin, we find that we have to fulfill that longing in so many other places besides God. But true rest for our souls comes in finding rest in Jesus. C. S. Lewis also said, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

This hunger and thirst for righteousness is not some passing feeling or desire. It is a deep consciousness of our great need to the point of pain. We are desperate. We are hurting for this righteousness. Psalm 42:1–2 says, “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” In Psalm 63:1 we see the desperation and desire for God: “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”

So this righteousness, this desire to live a holy life, this desire for godliness, to look more like Jesus, this longing to be like Christ is a chief attribute of a Christian. He or she pants after it painfully. You won’t stop until you are satisfied. It is constant, it is continuous, it is passionate, it is purposeful, it is persistent, and it is desperate. You hunger and thirst for righteousness. You long to look more and more like Jesus in holiness and right living.

The promise from Jesus is that if you hunger and thirst for righteousness, you will be satisfied. The word “satisfied’ in the original language was used of the fattening of animals. It means to be stuffed and to be completely satisfied.

And notice the wording of Jesus. We don’t produce this righteousness and we don’t fill ourselves. The wording is in the passive voice, which means that God is the one who provides the filling or satisfaction. He alone gives it to us in his grace. You can’t earn it nor work for it nor be good enough for it. You just have to be hungry for it and God in His grace will give it to you.

You may be asking, “How do I know I’m truly hungry and thirsty?” How do I know that I have this longing? There are a few tests or evidences that you can use to determine this. Do you have an appetite for God’s Word? Do you want to immerse yourself in it and devour it and meditate upon it? Do you find yourself thinking about and dwelling upon godly things? What does your mind focus upon? What whets the appetite of your mind? (Philippians 4:8).

Now, here’s another question you may be asking as well: “What if I don’t feel righteous? What if I fail? What if I backslide or go back into sin? Am I truly saved if I struggle with sin and don’t walk in this righteousness? Notice the wording of Jesus very carefully. He does NOT say, “Blessed are they that are full of righteousness.” Instead, He blesses us for the hunger and thirst for this righteousness.

Do you have the desire? Do you have the thirst? That is evidence that God is at work in your life. Is this the cry of your heart from Psalm 73:25–26: “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”