“Sovereign” is not a word that resonates well with modern people, especially in democratically governed nations. Its meaning, “a supreme ruler”, “a monarch” or “a person ruling over the world as the pre-eminent one or as the one with supreme and independent power”, is an intolerable idea to most people of our time. In fact, there is a strong aversion towards the idea of sovereignty in the minds of people. The modern philosophy is that there are no absolutes, even in the spiritual and moral realms; and because of this, monotheistic thinking is highly unpopular everywhere. Nonetheless, we are taught in the Bible that God is sovereign.
In fact, none else is sovereign, in its absolute sense, but God. In the words of Charles Hodge, “Sovereignty is not a property of the divine nature, but a prerogative arising out of the perfections of the Supreme Being.” According to Arthur W. Pink, God’s sovereignty is “the supremacy of God, the kingship of God, the godhood of God. To say that God is sovereign is to declare that God is God.” To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the “only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15).
He reigns supreme, not only in heaven, but also on earth. “Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine” (1 Chronicles 29:11a). He is also sovereign above all His creatures. Not even a tiny atom is allowed to spin out of His design and control. “The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1). These portions of Scripture and many more show us that the sovereignty of God is universal. It extends over all His creatures from the highest to the lowest.
His sovereignty is also absolute. None can limit His authority. “Thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all” (1 Chronicles 29:11b). He doeth His pleasure in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. He “worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Ephesians 1:11). If God is not sovereign over all things, He is not God at all.
Another important aspect of God’s sovereignty is that it is unchangeable or immutable. None can challenge His sovereignty and forfeit it. It is truly unassailable and unstoppable. “Our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased” (Psalm 115:3). The sovereignty of God is limited by nothing outside God. “All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” (Daniel 4:35).
Sovereignty characterizes the whole being of God. The concept of sovereignty encompasses the entire plan of God in all of its intricate details of design and outworking. Although He often allows things to take their natural course according to laws which He designed, it is the sovereign God who is working all things according to His wise plan. His sovereignty also encompasses all His attributes. In other words, He is sovereign in all His attributes. He is sovereign in the exercise of His power, His mercy, His love, His justice, etc.
The doctrine of God’s sovereignty is not a mere abstract, theoretical dogma which is devoid of practical value. It produces a powerful effect upon the Christian’s character and actions.
This absolute, perfect sovereignty of God instils within us an awe-inspiring reverence for Him. It teaches us to fear God. It deepens our veneration of God. It calls us to worship Him in the beauty of holiness and with full preoccupation of His glory. Thus it also prevents our worship of Him from degenerating into a man-pleasing endeavour. Every service we engage in is but a “dead work” unless it be done for the glory of God.
It moulds the affections of the heart and gives a right direction to conduct. It teaches us to adore Him as our Lord at all times, and keep the world and the devil away from our lives. Because we think of Him as our sovereign God, we pray earnestly, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen” (Matthew 6:13).
It lays the foundation for His people’s peace and confidence. They are assured that the Lord God omnipotent reigns supreme; and that neither necessity, nor chance, nor the folly of man, nor the malice of Satan can thwart God’s good pleasure concerning them. It also helps them to have stability in thought and behaviour as they face times of troubles. While it produces gratitude in prosperity and patience in adversity, it affords comfort for the present and a sense of security concerning the unknown future (cf. Psalm 91).
Dearly beloved in Christ Jesus
Greetings to you all in the blessed name of our Lord!
“We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints” (Colossians 1:3-4).
This prayer of Paul to the believers in the Church of Colossae is so meaningful to us when we think of Gethsemane B-P Church. We thank God for a most blessed month whereby I, together with my wife Molly and our two grandchildren, Aquilas and Andrew, could spend in Singapore. We praise God for the opportunity to see and experience your faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and your love for the saints. We lack words to express our heartfelt thanks to you all for the love you have shown towards us through words and deeds. You have showered us with your deeds of love by treating us to delicious meals, and giving us many love gifts. Truly, you have been very kind and exemplary. Above all, we were greatly heartened by the thriving of various ministries of Gethsemane B-P Church, and we praise God at every remembrance of you. May the name of our God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be exalted.
Having known you more closely, we can now pray for you more effectually and with better understanding. We will continue to remember you and will regularly pray for the growth of GBPC and all its ministries.
We request your prayers for us to ever remain true to the LORD and to His Holy Word.
With lots of love and prayers,
Yours in the bond of Christ’s love,
Bishop Dr M. K. Koshy