The Absolute Sovereignty of God
One of the most indisputable truth claims in all of scripture is that of the absolute sovereignty of God. That the Lord is indeed almighty and sits enthroned at the apex of all creation is a fact worthy of affirmation, if ever indeed there were such a thing. However, while few would attempt to argue against the sovereignty of God, knowing the futility of doing so, we often are guilty of incorrectly and inaccurately applying that truth to our daily lives. Let's look at a few examples:
1. Placing limitations on God's sovereignty
This is one of the most common ways that we error in our thinking about the sovereignty of God. We are willing to concede to it when it makes us comfortable, but then resist acknowledging it when it doesn't fit into our worldview. Here's the problem with that thinking...there is no such thing as partial sovereignty (that's an oxymoron right there!). God is either sovereign or he isn't. He isn't merely sovereign over the things that align with the way WEthink they should be. Rather, he is sovereign over everything. That means that he is sovereign over blessing and provision, but also calamity and dearth; he is sovereign over life, but also death; he is sovereign over granting salvation to some, but also allowing others to perish in their sins; he is sovereign over our obedience, but also our transgression. In ALL things he is sovereign, and yet at the same time, we make choices, and carry the moral responsibility for those choices, in a mysterious way that preserves God's righteousness in his absolute rule over a broken and sinful world.
2. Not trusting God's sovereignty
Another common way that we error is that we often fail to trust God's goodness in all that he ordains. The problem of suffering and evil in the world has always been a stumbling block for man in the way he understands God's sovereign will for mankind. When bad things happen, we are quick to shake our fists at heaven and declare God to be either asleep at the wheel or a moral monster. However, the shortcoming isn't on the part of God, but rather it is within us and our ability to see the "big picture." Scripture reminds us that in all things, God is at work in accomplishing his good purposes for mankind. We need look no further than the crucifixion of Jesus Christ to see a shining example of how God uses seemingly awful things to accomplish that which he has ordained, for our good and his glory. However, just to be sure we get the point, God has given us innumerable other examples within and outside of scripture: the story of Noah, the call of Abraham, the saga of Joseph being sold into slavery...and that's just in the first few chapters of the Bible! In good times and in bad times, we can trust in the goodness of God and rest in the peace of knowing that everything is in his capable hands.
3. Doing our part to "help out"
We are impatient...to put it gently. We all pray like we believe God is sovereign, never failing to take our "to-do" lists before him. And yet, time and again, we no sooner get done asking, and we jump right in and start doing. We fail to trust that God will act, so we don't give him the time or space to act. Even worse, we handle all of our "business" with God in the wrong currency. God uses an economy of grace and we are constantly functioning according to a works-based economic scale...trying to do enough to put God into our debt, so that he owes us one (or maybe even two). God always responds to our wants and our needs, but often just not in the way we desire or in the timing that we would like. However, even in the no's and the (seemingly) late responses, he is at work graciously granting to us that which is best for us. When we are children, we would just assume survive on a diet of candy and McNuggets, but our loving parents forced us begrudgingly eat our vegetables and drink our milk (sans chocolate). In the same way, our loving Heavenly Father is sometimes provides us with the nutrition we need, even if it doesn't taste as good as the junk that we want.
There are numerous other ways we get God's sovereignty wrong, all of the time. The point isn't to shame us for messing up, but rather to encourage us to not fall into these same old traps. God is sovereign...and he is good. He, and he alone, is worthy of our trust and our worship. That's the reminder we see throughout Psalm 33, especially in the last few verses, as David pours out praise and adoration:
"Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you" (vs. 20-22).
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Part 4 - Delighting in God as Sovereign Lord
Questions discussed in this sermon:
1. Why is it fitting for the upright to delight and praise God?
2. What are some of the reasons the Psalmist gives us to praise God?
3. How should our heart respond to the truths of the Gospel?