God’s Sovereignty

Recently, while reading Trusting God by Jerry Bridges, I was compelled to assemble a list of the many ways in which God’s sovereignty is seen in Scripture. In his book, Bridges does a marvelous job of taking the reader on a tour of what the Bible has to say about God’s sovereignty, wisdom, and love. Far from a theological discussion or apologetic discourse, Bridges attempts to comfort his readers by explaining how these attributes give us good reason to trust in God in the midst of adversity and suffering. Although I was reminded by many of these verses while reading Trusting God, the purpose of this list is a bit different from the book’s aim.

      In my experience, God’s sovereignty is one of the most unambiguous, yet misunderstood mysteries of God’s incomprehensible attributes. What it means for God to be sovereign and how He exercises that sovereignty over creation has divided the church for centuries. As this debate rages on, and will for many years to come, this is my attempt at clarifying the issue by succinctly stating what God has said about His own governance of all things. Lord willing, this will be a helpful resource for the Humanitas Remedium readers. 

Grace & Peace,

omri 
 

  1. God alone is sovereign. (I Tim 6:15)
  2. All things are subject to the control of Jesus. (Heb 2:8b)
  3. God does whatever He desires without restraint. (Job 23:13; 42:2; Ps 115:3; Isa 14:27; 43:13; 46:10; Dan 4:35; Eph 1:11)
  4. All of God’s working throughout history was determined at creation. (Heb 4:1-4)
  5. God wrote history’s details before they happened. (Ps 139:16)
  6. God is creation’s Provider. (Ps 147:8-9)
  7. God is creation’s Preserver. (Neh 9:6)
  8. God sustains all things. (Heb 1:3; Col 1:17; Isa 40:26)
  9. All occurrences in weather are caused by God. (Job 37:5-13; Ps 147:8; Jer 10:13; Matt 5:45)
  10. God decrees and carries out both good and bad events. (Lev 26; Ecc 7:14; Isa 45:7; 53; Lam 3:37-38; II Cor 5:21)
  11. God causes birth abnormalities and disabilities. (Ex 4:11)
  12. God kills and gives life. (Gen 38:6-7; I Sam 2:6; Acts 12:20-23)
  13. God wills the life and death of animals. (Matt 10:29)
  14. God thwarts man’s plans, but never vice versa. (Ps 33:10-11)
  15. God determines the actions of Satan. (Job 1:12, 36; Lk 22:31-32)
  16. Man’s actions are determined by God’s will. (Prov 16:9)
  17. God, not Joseph’s brothers, sent him to Egypt. (Gen 45:7-8)
  18. God determines what man can and cannot accomplish. (Ps 127:1; Prov 19:21; 21:30; Ecc 7:13; Rev 3:7)
  19. Everything that man possesses is given to him by God. (Acts 17:24-25)
  20. God supplies food for man and increases righteousness in believers. (II Cor 9:10; I Thess 5:23-24)
  21. God makes some poor and others rich. (I Sam 2:7)
  22. All authority is delegated by God. (John 19:10-11; Rom 13:1)
  23. God determines the rise and fall of kings. (Dan 4:17)
  24. God controls man’s heart – volition, emotions, thoughts, and desires. (Prov 21:1)
  25. God fulfills prophecy through men. (Ezra 1:1, 5; Acts 3:18; 4:27-28)
  26. God chose Israel to be His treasured possession. (Deut 7:6-8)
  27. God gave Israel the power to gain wealth. (Deut 8:17-18)
  28. God decides the results of each casting of lots. (Prov 16:33)
  29. Military victories are determined by God. (Prov 21:31)
  30. God causes and prevents pregnancy. (Gen 16:2; 29:31; I Sam 1:5)
  31. God determines man’s acceptance or rejection of sound counsel. (II Sam 17:14; I Kgs 12:15)
  32. God has mercy on some and hardens others, according to His will. (Ex 33:19; Rom 9:14-18)
  33. God chose to save certain people. (I Cor 1:26-31; Eph 1:3-5, 11)
  34. God accomplishes every aspect of man’s salvation. (Mat 1:21; Rom 8:30; Heb 9:11-14)
  35. God causes the new birth/regeneration. (John 1:12-13; Titus 3:4-7)
  36. God personally sanctifies believers. (Phil 2:12-13; I Thess 5:23-24)
  37. God predestined men’s conformity to His Son’s image. (Rom 8:29)
  38. God completes the believer’s salvation. (John 6:39; I Cor 1:8; Phil 1:6)
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    • mike
    • July 19th, 2010

    I wonder how you would harmonize pt.3 and pt. 14 with Moses turning away God’s wrath against the people of Israel in the wilderness. Could I get your thoughts on that.
    Thanks.

    • omri
    • July 20th, 2010

    Great question Mike. The simple answer is that though God said, “let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you (Moses).” (Ex 32:10), essentially, God did what He wanted in eventually relenting when Moses interceded for the people.
    There are at least 2 ways in which this passage should not be taken: First, that Moses’s intercession somehow restrained God from doing what He desired. And second, God’s plan to destroy Israel was thwarted by Moses (see Scripture ref for points #3 & #14).
    If we understand what Scripture teaches in regards to God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility, then it is clear that God will not break His promises, and therefore, uses man to fulfill His purposes. God did in fact intend to consume the idolatrous nation in His wrath, but also desired to act in accordance with Moses’s intercession for them and relent. In time, space and history, He desired both at the appropriate time. Remember, all of God’s working through history was determined at creation (Heb 4:1-4) and wrote the details before they ever happened (Ps 139:16). Therefore, God decreed in eternity how He would function within time.

    This passage does give us a great demonstration of how God responds when men repent and plead for His mercy based on the promises though. Also, DA Carson does an excellent job of explaining this passage in his book “A CALL TO SPIRITUAL REFORMATION.” I’d recommend that book for more on the subject.

      • mike
      • July 20th, 2010

      Thanks for your response Omri. I will try and read that book next once I finish what I have before me already.

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