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The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: In What Sense Is God in Control of Things? (Sovereign)

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Don Stewart

The God of the Bible is sovereign. This means that He has an absolute right to govern His creation as He pleases. God has perfect knowledge and perfect power with which He controls everything.

Scripture emphasizes the sovereignty of God.

All Things Are In His Control

The Bible makes it clear that all things are under God's control. The psalmist wrote.

Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land (Psalm 95:1-5).

Although the world is in a seemingly chaotic state today, God is still in control of events.

All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does what he wills with the host of heaven and the inhabitants of the earth. There is no one who can stay his hand or say to Him, "What are you doing?" (Daniel 4:35).

Jesus illustrated this truth in a parable.

Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous? (Matthew 20:15).

Paul wrote to the Romans.

Even before they had been born or had done anything good or bad (so that God's purpose of election might continue (Romans 9:21).

God possesses this absolute right by virtue of His character. He has complete ownership over everything and all things depend upon Him for their existence and their continuance. Therefore it makes no sense to criticize His ways.

Jesus Taught The Sovereignty Of God

Jesus taught that God the Father was absolutely sovereign in all things. He prayed the following.

Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in your sight (Matthew 11:26)

The Death Of Jesus Was In The Sovereign Plan Of God

The death of Jesus, for example was in the eternal plan of God.

This man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law (Acts 2:23).

There Is No Fate Or Blind Chance With God

The biblical teaching on the sovereignty of God refutes any idea of blind chance, or fate controlling events. God works all things according to His will. In the Scripture there are numerous examples of God's overruling power in both heaven and on earth.

In him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will (Ephesians 1:11).

Isaiah wrote.

The LORD of hosts has sworn: As I have designed, so shall it be; and as I have planned, so shall it come to pass (Isaiah 14:24)

God's Work Has Its Basis In His Sovereignty

God's work is based upon His sovereignty. Scripture says.

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake (1 Peter 1:18-20).

The purposes of God were determined before time began.

The Sovereignty Of God Is A Reasonable Truth

Not only is the absolute sovereignty of God a Scriptural truth, it is also a necessary deduction of any proper concept of God. If things are not regulated by God, but merely occur by blind chance, then chance is superior to God. Any limitation of God's sovereign control causes more problems than it solves.

It Is A Difficult Truth

Although the sovereignty of God is a biblical and reasonable truth, it is also a difficult truth. Part of the difficulty lies in how God can be in absolute control and, at the same time, humanity can make genuine choices. Each of these truths is clearly taught. Scripture never tries to reconcile them. They are taught side by side. Consequently there is some mystery in the doctrine of God's sovereignty.

God's Sovereignty Is A Comforting Thought

The doctrine of the sovereignty of God is a comforting truth to believers. Realizing that God is in charge of everything brings comfort in light of problems that occurs. Believers understand that God is still in control of the situation though we may think the situation is out of control.


The idea of God's absolute sovereignty or control is one of the central truths of Scripture. The Bible is clear that God is in control of all things. Scripture never teaches that things occur by fate or blind chance.

The study of the sovereignty of God is a difficult truth to understand. It is hard to grasp how can be in absolute control and, at the same time, how humans can make legitimate choices. Yet this is the clear teaching of the Bible. This is one area that Scripture never tries to reconcile. Believers, therefore, should accept the fact that God's sovereignty and human responsibility are both true even though it cannot be understood how they work together.

The doctrine of God's sovereignty is comforting to the believer. Since all things are under his control each believer is secure in his protection. Nothing will happen to any of God's children without the knowledge and consent of God.

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