The Sovereignty of God

As I prepare for my upcoming series on the Will of God and the Will of Man, I thought I’d offer here a word in advance on the doctrine of the Sovereignty of God.  This is from Charles Hodge’s Systematic Theology:

Sovereignty is not a property of the divine nature, but a prerogative arising out of the perfections of the Supreme Being. If God be a Spirit, and therefore a person, infinite, eternal, and immutable in his being and perfections, the Creator and Preserver of the universe, He is of right its absolute sovereign. Infinite wisdom, goodness, and power, with the right of possession, which belongs to God in all his creatures, are the immutable foundation of his dominion.

  • Psalm 115:3 “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.”
  • Daniel 4:35 “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?”
  • 1 Chronicles 29:11″Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.”
  • Psalm 24:1 “The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.”
  • Ezekiel 18:4 “Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die.”
  • Isaiah 45:9 “Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’?
  • Matthew 20:15 “Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?”
  • 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.”
  • Romans 11:36 “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”

From these and similar passages of Scriptures it is plain,

  1. That the sovereignty of God is universal. It extends over all his creatures from the highest to the lowest.
  2. That it is absolute. There is no limit to be placed to his authority. He doeth his pleasure in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth.
  3. It is immutable. It can neither be ignored nor rejected. It binds all creatures, as inexorably as physical laws bind the material universe.

This sovereignty is exercised,

  1. In establishing the laws, physical and moral, by which all creatures are to be governed.
  2. In determining the nature and powers of the different orders of created beings, and in assigning each its appropriate sphere.
  3. In appointing to each individual his position and lot. It is the Lord who fixes the bounds of our habitation. Our times are in his hands. He determines when, where, and under what circumstances each individual of our race is to be born, live, and die. Nations, no less than individuals, are thus in the hands of God, who assigns them their heritage in the earth, and controls their destiny.
  4. God is no less sovereign in the distribution of his favours. He does what He wills with his own. He gives to some riches, to others, honour; to others, health; while others are poor, unknown, or the victims of disease. To some, the light of the gospel is sent; others are left in darkness. Some are brought through faith unto salvation; others perish in unbelief. To the question, Why is this? the only answer is that given by our Lord. “Even so, Father, for so it seemeth good in thy sight.”

Although this sovereignty is thus universal and absolute, it is the sovereignty of wisdom, holiness, and love. The authority of God is limited by nothing out of Himself, but it is controlled, in all its manifestations, by his infinite perfections. If a man is free and exalted, in proportion as he is governed by enlightened reason and a pure conscience, so is he supremely blessed who cheerfully submits to be governed by the infinite reason and holiness of God. This sovereignty of God is the ground of peace and confidence to all his people. They rejoice that the Lord God omnipotent reigneth; that neither necessity, nor chance, nor the folly of man, nor the malice of Satan controls the sequence of events and all their issues. Infinite wisdom, love, and power, belong to Him, our great God and Saviour, into whose hands all power in heaven and earth has been committed.

Hodge, Charles. Systematic Theology. Vol. 1. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997. Print.

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