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Old and New Testament.
Righteousness is the character or quality
of being right or just” and was formerly spelled “rightwiseness,” which
clearly expresses the meaning. God is totally righteous because He is
totally as He should be. The righteousness of God could be succinctly
stated as that which is all that God is, all that He commands, all that He
demands, all that He approves, all that He provides through Christ in the
gospel (Ro 1:16, 17-note).
God is always righteous and His righteousness causes Him to always think
and do what is right or act in perfect goodness in relation to His
creation. He will always do what is right. God’s justice, love & mercy
must be harmonized with His righteousness which cannot be compromised. As
an attribute of God it is united with His holiness as being essential in
His nature (Ps 11:7, Jn 17:25) The book of Romans emphasizes the
righteousness of God and shows that God is righteous in His dealings
with both sinners and believers. The righteousness of God is the starting
point and the theme of the gospel message. God’s righteousness, rejected
by sinning humanity, was perfectly fulfilled by Christ incarnate. It is
imputed to the sinner who repents and believes in the Lord Jesus, and will
be manifested in practical ways in the life of the Christian. The
righteousness of God in one sense it speaks of God’s holy hatred of sin.
In the early 1500s, Martin Luther sat in the tower of the Black Cloister,
Wittenberg, reading (Ro 1:17-note).
That expression ‘righteousness of God’ was like a thunderbolt in my
heart,” Luther later wrote. “I hated Paul with all my heart when I read
that the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel.” Luther saw God’s
righteousness as an unassailable obstacle to eternal life for he was
deeply aware of his own sinfulness, and he knew because of it he was
unacceptable to a righteous God. Therefore, as he read this verse he was
seized with despair. But the second connotation of righteousness in (Ro
speaks of Christ’s perfect righteousness, which is imputed to the account
of the believing sinner (Ro 4:24-note).
When Luther understood this sense of the righteousness provided by God
through the righteousness imputed on a believing sinner's account, he
finally grasped the true meaning of the gospel, and this discovery set
ablaze the Protestant Reformation.
What God Is Like
by J. Hampton Keathley III
by C H Spurgeon
The Righteousness of God
Bob Deffinbaugh, Th.M.
Have you ever been around a child who
asks the probing question "Daddy (Mommy), who made God?" This is a good
question but one which is not easy to explain to a child. The answer of
course is that God did not need to be made because He has always been, and
as you can see the attribute of self-existence is closely related to His
eternality and His self-sustenance (self-sustaining). Stated another way,
God is not dependent upon anything else for existence but has eternally
existed without any external or prior cause. God is the essence of life and
the unending Source of self-sustenance.
The noun aseity (Latin derivation
- a = from + se = oneself) literally means from oneself and so
being from oneself and in philosophy describes that which has its existence
derived from itself, having no other source.
The Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics
and Philosophy of Religion says that aseity is...
The divine property of being completely
independent of everything distinct from God himself. Everything other than
God depends on God, but God depends on nothing besides himself. (Evans, C.
S. Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion. Downers Grove,
Ill.: InterVarsity Press)
God does not depend on any
source for His existence and exists independently of any cause. God is fully capable of existing in isolation
should He so choose. His self-existence is seen in the Name by which He
revealed Himself -- Yahweh (See
study of Jehovah), the One Who is the I am that I am
(Ex 3:14-notes) God's self-existence is a profound mystery that cannot be
understood by finite man but is a truth that renews our mind giving us
comfort, assurance and stability. He is our self-existent sure, stedfast,
stable Rock. God exists independently of all things and
thus will always be there for His people. This truth undergirds the
exhortation to believers to let our "character be free from the love of
money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said,
NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU," (He 13:5-note).
In Acts Paul alludes to God's
self-existence (and self-sufficiency) explaining to the intellectually
curious but divinely foolish pagan Athenians...
For while I was passing through and
examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this
inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ What therefore you worship in ignorance,
this I proclaim to you.24 “The God who made the world and all things in it,
since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with
hands;25 neither is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything,
since He Himself gives to all life and breath and all things. (Acts 17:23,
The psalmist speaks to God's
Before the mountains were born, Or Thou
didst give birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to
everlasting, Thou art God. (Psalm 90:2) (See also Eternal)
Spurgeon commenting on this passage
writes: Before the mountains were brought forth. Before those elder
giants had struggled forth from nature's womb, as her dread firstborn, the
Lord was glorious and self sufficient. Mountains to him, though hoar with
the snows of ages, are but new born babes, young things whose birth was but
yesterday, mere novelties of an hour.
Or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world. Here too the allusion is
to a birth. Earth was born but the other day, and her solid land was
delivered from the flood but a short while ago.
Even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God, or, "thou art, O God."
God was, when nothing else was. He was God when the earth was not a world
but a chaos, when mountains were not upheaved, and the generation of the
heavens and the earth had not commenced. In this Eternal One there is a safe
abode for the successive generations of men. If God himself were of
yesterday, he would not be a suitable refuge for mortal men; if he could
change and cease to be God he would be but an uncertain dwelling place for
his people. The eternal existence of God is here mentioned to set forth, by
contrast, the brevity of human life.
Other Scriptures which allude to God's self-existence include Ps
102:25, 26, 27; Isa 40:28, 29, 30, 31; Jn 5:26; Re 4:10
Spurgeon writes that
Whatever the attributes of God were of old, that they are now; and of each
of them we may sing “As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end, Amen."
J I Packer writes that...
God is self-existent, God has always
been...Our Maker exists in an eternal, self-sustaining, necessary way,
necessary, that is, in the sense that God does not have it in Him to go out
of existence, just as we do not have it in us to live forever. We
necessarily age and die, because it is our present nature to do that; God
necessarily continues forever unchanged, because it is His eternal nature to
do that. This is one of many contrasts between creature and Creator...God's
self existence is basic truth. At the outset of his presentation of the
unknown God to the Athenian idolaters, Paul explained that this God, the
world's Creator, "is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything,
because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else" (Acts
17:23, 24, 25). Sacrifices offered to idols, in today's tribal religions as
in ancient Athens, are thought of as somehow keeping the god going, but the
Creator (the I AM) needs no such support system. The word aseity, meaning
that he has life in himself and draws his unending energy from Himself (a se
in Latin means "from himself"), was coined by theologians to express this
truth, which the Bible makes clear. (J.
I. Packer Concise Theology) (See
limited preview of this book in Google Books -Concise Theology)
(As an aside, there are a number of books available on theology but many are
"deeper" than most individuals would desire to explore. J I Packer's book on
the other hand is sound but succinct and therefore highly recommended if you
are looking for a basic book on theology.)
Ryrie writes that...
God’s eternity and self-existence are
interrelated concepts. Some theologies use the word aseity to
denote self-existence; i.e., God depends a se,
on Himself. If God exists endlessly, then He never came into existence nor
was He ever caused to come into existence. He is endlessly
self-existent...God’s eternality is reflected in Psalm 90:2, “from
everlasting to everlasting,” and in Genesis 21:33, where El Olam, the
Everlasting God, comes from an original form that means “the God of
Question. What is God’s relation to the
succession of events? As an eternal Being He sees the past and the future as
clearly as the present; further, He must see them as including succession of
events, and yet He is in no way bound by that succession. An illustration of
this is found in the heavenly scene in Revelation 6:9, 10, 11 where the Lord
answered the question of the martyrs concerning how long it would be before
they were avenged by telling them to wait until certain events had
transpired on earth.
A ramification. A comforting ramification
of God’s eternity is the confidence that God has never, nor will He ever,
cease to exist; therefore His sustaining, providential control of all things
and events is assured. (Ryrie, C. C. Basic Theology : Chicago, Ill.: Moody
Press) (Notice how the interrelationship of God's attributes [here we see -
eternality, self-existence, self-sustenance, providence, etc] makes it
difficult at times to discuss them from our limited human perspective which
seeks to enumerate them to help understand the inscrutable God. And
ultimately that is the conclusion a study of God's attributes should end -
with the firm conviction that God worthy to be worshiped because of Who He
is in all His manifold, intimately related characteristics. Job who had an
up close, personal encounter with God rightly declared...
Behold, these are the fringes (GWT -
"glimpses", NIV = "outer fringes", KJV = "parts of", YLT = "borders",
of His ways; And how faint a word we hear of Him! But His mighty thunder,
who can understand? (Job 26:14).
Comment: In other words, our eyes
and ears and glorified senses have yet to see our awesome God in His full
orbed splendor and majesty. How much knowledge of God yet remains beyond
what we can see and hear and comprehend in the Scriptures. In a sense, what
we can know now are only glimpses of God, providing merely a whisper
of His presence and power. Recall Job's conclusion to mind the next time you
consider carrying out a pre-meditated willful sin against this awesome God.
And if you are not yet a believer, fall on your knees and cry out for His
gift of repentance and faith in the perfect sacrificial Lamb of God, Who
despite possessing every divine attribute, emptied Himself and died on an
old rugged cross that He Himself had even created...and He did it all for
you, dear reader.
Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall
be saved... (Acts 16:31, cp Ro 10:9, 10-notes)
Paul Enns writes that...
God’s self-existence means “He has the
ground of His existence in Himself.…God is independent in His Being, but
also...He is independent in everything else; in His virtues, decrees, works,
and.… causes everything to depend on Him.” Ex 3:14 emphasizes His self
existence in His identification, “I AM WHO I AM.” The verb to be emphasizes
He has continual existence in Himself. John 5:26 further stresses that the
Father has life in Himself. An unborn child is dependent on its mother for
life; animals are dependent on their surroundings for life; trees and plants
are dependent on sun and rain for life; every living thing is dependent on
someone or something else but God is independent and existent in Himself (Da
5:23; Acts 17:28). (Enns, P. P. The Moody Handbook of Theology. Chicago,
Ill.: Moody Press)
Thomas Oden adds that...
To say that God is uncreated or
self-existent (or self-subsistent) means simply that God is without origin,
that God is the only ground of God’s being, and that there is no cause prior
to God (Tho. Aq., ST I Q7, 8, I, pp. 30 ff.). This insight arises
necessarily out of the awareness that if any effects exist at all, then
there must be causes, and consequently some reality must ultimately be
uncaused, or have the cause in itself (i.e., such a being must exist in
itself, requiring no antecedent cause). This supreme being has not at some
point in time become the Supreme Being, but simply is, and has never been
otherwise. This underived being whose nature is to be, the Hebrews called
Yahweh (“I am Who I am,” Ex 3:14) and Teutonic languages have called God.
God has no cause external to God, and this is precisely what makes God God,
and not something else (Hilary, On Trin. I.5, NPNF 2 IX, pp. 41 f.).
Since God is uncaused, it is better not to speak of God as self-caused,
which, ironically, might seem to imply that before God “willed” it, God did
not exist. God does not come into being because God wills it. Rather, being
is eternally necessary and essential to God’s nature and essence, and God’s
willing is an expression of God’s being (John of Damascus, OF I.9, NPNF
2 IX, p. 12; Tho. Aq., ST I Q19, I, pp. 103 ff.; Calvin, Inst. 3.20
ff.). (Oden, T. C. The Living God : Systematic Theology, vol. I).
Swindoll in his discussion of
God's Name in Ex 3:13, 14, 15 explains that...
The words “I am,” translate the
first-person form of the verb hāyâ, “to be.” The meaning is that God is the
self-existent One. As Ronald Allen states, “He exists dependent upon
nothing or no one excepting His own will.” The words “I am” refer not to
God’s static being but to His active existence. He is actively involved with
humanity, responding to their needs and revealing His person. He exists not
only for His own sake, but also for the sake of His people. God’s active
involvement is made evident by the very context of the passage. “So I have
come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up
out of that land” (3:8). When God said “I am,” He was referring to His
active, life-giving existence. As Walther Eichrodt commented, the words “I
am” mean that God is “really and truly present, ready to help and to act.”
(Swindoll, C. R., & Zuck, R. B. Understanding Christian theology. Nashville,
Tenn.: Thomas Nelson Publishers)
James Montgomery Boice has the
following discussion of "I Am Who I Am"
Since the Bible is a unity we could
answer these questions by starting at any point in the biblical revelation.
We could begin with Revelation 22:21 as well as with Genesis 1:1. But there
is no better starting point than God’s revelation of himself to Moses at the
burning bush. Moses, the great leader of Israel, had long been aware of the
true God, for he had been born into a godly family. Still, when God said
that he would send him to Egypt and through him deliver the people of
Israel, Moses responded, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them,
‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his
name?’ what shall I say to them?” We are told that God then answered Moses
by saying, “I AM WHO I AM. . . . Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has
sent me to you’” (Ex. 3:13-14).
“I AM WHO I AM.” The name is linked with the ancient name for God, Jehovah.
But it is more than a name. It is a descriptive name, pointing to all that
God is in himself. In particular, it shows him to be the One who is entirely
self-existent, self-sufficient and eternal.
These are abstract concepts, of course. But they are important, for these
attributes more than any others set God apart from his creation and reveal
him as being what he is in himself. God is perfect in all his attributes.
But there are some attributes that we, his creatures, share. For instance,
God is perfect in his love. Yet by his grace we also love. He is all wise;
but we also possess a measure of wisdom. He is all powerful; and we exercise
a limited power. It is not like that in regard to God’s self-existence,
self-sufficiency and eternity, however. He alone possesses those
characteristics. He exists in and of himself; we do not. He is entirely
self-sufficient; we are not. He is eternal; we are newcomers on the scene.
Self-existence means that God has no origins and consequently is
answerable to no one. Matthew Henry says, “The greatest and best man in the
world must say, By the grace of God I am what I am; but God says absolutely
— and it is more than any creature, man or angel, can say — I am that I
am.”1 So God has no origins; his existence does not depend on anybody.
Self-existence is a hard concept for us to grapple with for it means
that God as he is in himself is unknowable. Everything that we see, smell,
hear, taste or touch has origins. We can hardly think in any other category.
Anything we observe must have a cause adequate to explain it. We seek for
such causes. Cause and effect is even the basis for the belief in God
possessed by those who, nevertheless, don’t truly know him. Such individuals
believe in God, not because they have had a personal experience of him or
because they have discovered God in Scripture, but only because they infer
his existence. “Everything comes from something; consequently, there must be
a great something that stands behind everything.” Cause and effect point to
God, but — and this is the issue — they point to a God who is beyond
understanding, indeed to one who is beyond us in every way. They indicate
that God cannot be known and evaluated like other things can.
A. W. Tozer has noted that this is one reason why philosophy and science
have not always been friendly toward the idea of God. These disciplines are
dedicated to the task of accounting for things as we know them and are
therefore impatient with anything that refuses to give an account of itself.
Philosophers and scientists will admit that there is much they don’t know.
But it is another thing to admit that there is something they can never know
completely and which, in fact, they don’t even have techniques for
discovering. To discover God, scientists may attempt to bring God down to
their level, defining him as “natural law,” “evolution” or some such
principle. But still God eludes them. There is more to God than any such
concepts can delineate.
Perhaps, too, this is why even Bible-believing people seem to spend so
little time thinking about God’s person and character. Tozer writes,
Few of us have let our hearts gaze in
wonder at the I AM, the self-existent Self back of which no creature can
think. Such thoughts are too painful for us. We prefer to think where it
will do more good — about how to build a better mousetrap, for instance, or
how to make two blades of grass grow where one grew before. And for this we
are now paying a too heavy price in the secularization of our religion and
the decay of our inner lives. (A
W Tozer Knowledge Of The Holy)
God’s self-existence means that he is not
answerable to us or to anybody, and we don’t like that. We want God to give
an account of himself, to defend his actions. Although he sometimes explains
things to us, he doesn’t have to and often he does not. God doesn’t have to
explain himself to anybody. (The
What God Is Like
by J. Hampton Keathley III
Attributes of God - Where Did God Come
From? The Self Existence of God -
by Dr S Lewis Johnson
- Recommended Resource
- includes Mp3, Pdf or MS Word document. This is only one study out of over
100 in depth lectures by Dr Johnson on Systematic Theology including studies
of the doctrines of God, Christ, the Spirit, Prayer, Salvation, etc. (click
for this extensive list)
Is There a Supreme Being? or
the Existence of God
by Dr S Lewis Johnson
Self Existence of God
by J I Packer
The Self-Existence of God
by A.W. Tozer
The Being of God
by Thomas Watson
The Independence or Self Existence of
by D. H. Kuiper
Self Existence of God (Aseity)
by Online Bible Classes
Divine Aseity and Apologetics
by John M. Frame (MS Word Document)
"If I were hungry, I would not
tell thee." (Ps 50:12)
Swindoll writes that...
God has self-sufficient life. He
is not dependent on anyone or anything outside of Himself for the
sustenance of His Being. He was, is, and always shall be. He exists, and
immutably so. The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of life (Rom. 8:2).
Christ is life (John 14:6), and so is the Spirit. Both can impart and
sustain life in others
without diminishing themselves...
God’s self-sufficiency, an
incommunicable attribute, reminds us that He is totally independent of
everyone and everything. Certain people may be called self-sufficient,
but finite humans are always totally dependent on God for absolutely
everything including their next breath (Job 12:10; Acts 17:25). These
incommunicable characteristics are unique to God. So God does not ask us
to possess, develop, imitate, or express His incommunicable attributes.
But He does expect us to grow in knowledge of Him, which includes
learning about His incommunicable attributes...
Our all-sufficient God assures
us that if we take care of His spiritual purposes such as the pursuit of
sanctification (Heb. 12:14), He will provide for all our needs—from
daily food and clothes to our deepest feelings of inadequacy (Matt.
6:25–34; Phil. 4:6–7). We gain this conviction through a right belief
about God’s attributes which undergird His sufficiency for us. Tozer
recognized this fact when he wrote,
“The man who comes to a right
belief about God is relieved of ten thousand temporal problems, for he
sees at once that these have to do with matters which at the most cannot
concern him for very long.”
(Swindoll, C. R., & Zuck, R. B.
Understanding Christian Theology . Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson
Spurgeon commenting on this verse writes
"Strange conception, a hungry God! Yet if such an absurd ideal could be
truth, and if the Lord hungered for meat, he would not ask it of men. He
could provide for himself out of his own possessions; he would not turn
suppliant to his own creatures. Even under the grossest ideal of God,
faith in outward ceremonies is ridiculous. Do men fancy that the Lord
needs banners, and music, and incense, and fine linen? If he did, the
stars would emblazon his standard, the winds and the waves become his
orchestra, ten thousand times ten thousand flowers would breathe forth
perfume, the snow should be his alb, the rainbow his girdle, the clouds of
light his mantle. O fools and slow of heart, ye worship ye know not what!
For the world is mine, and the fulness thereof. What can he need who is
owner of all things and able to create as he wills? Thus overwhelmingly
does the Lord pour forth his arguments upon formalists."
The self-sufficiency Of God
by A.W. Tozer
Of the Sufficiency and Perfection of God
by John Gill
Sovereignty is defined by
Webster's as supreme power especially over a body
politic. It describes freedom from external control or of other controlling influences.
God is the ultimate authority in
every sphere and place. It follows that all creation is subject to Him and
that all creation is
answerable to Him. As an aside, what verb do you see in the word sovereign? "Reign" of
course, and this verb captures the essence of this divine attribute.
Our God Reigns!
Our God Reigns
by Leonard Smith
How lovely on the
mountains are the feet of Him
Who brings good news, good news;
Announcing peace, proclaiming news of happiness:
Our God reigns, our God reigns!
Our God reigns!
Our God reigns!
Our God reigns!
Our God reigns!
He had no stately form, He had no majesty
That we should be drawn to Him.
He was despised and we took no account of Him.
Our God reigns, our God reigns!
It was our sin and guilt that bruised and wounded Him.
It was our sin that brought Him down.
When we like sheep had gone astray our Shepherd came
And on His shoulders bore our shame.
Meek as a lamb that’s led out to the slaughterhouse,
Dumb as a sheep before its shearer,
His life ran down upon the ground like pouring rain
That we might be born again.
Out from the tomb He came with grace and majesty;
He is alive, He is alive.
God loves us so, see here His hands, His feet, His side
Yes we know, He is alive.
1828 Edition of Webster's defines Sovereign as
Supreme in power; possessing supreme dominion; as a sovereign ruler of the
universe. Supreme; superior to all others; chief. God is the sovereign good
of all who love and obey him. Supremely efficacious; superior to all others;
predominant; effectual; as a sovereign remedy."
Easton's Bible Dictionary
says Sovereignty is God's
right to do all things according to his own good pleasure
(Da 4:25, 35; Ro 9:15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23; 1Ti 6:15; Re 4:11).
Unger's Bible Dictionary says that regarding the Sovereignty of God,
He is under no external restraint whatsoever. He is the Supreme Dispenser of
all events. All forms of existence are within the scope of His dominion. And
yet this is not to be viewed in any such way as to abridge the reality of
the moral freedom of God’s responsible creatures or to make men anything
else than the arbiters of their own eternal destinies. God has seen fit to
create beings with the power of choice between good and evil. He rules over
them in justice and wisdom and grace.
M. F., Harrison, R. K., Vos, H. F., Barber, C. J., & Unger, M. F. The New
Unger's Bible Dictionary. Chicago: Moody Press)
Sovereignty of God A. W. Pink. Here is an excerpt to
encourage you to read the entire topic:
The sovereignty of God may be
defined as the exercise of His supremacy...Being infinitely elevated above
the highest creature, He is the Most High, Lord of "heaven and earth. Subject
to none, influenced by none, absolutely independent; God does as He pleases,
only as He pleases, always as He pleases. None can thwart Him, none can
hinder Him. So His own Word expressly declares: “My counsel shall stand,
and I will do all My pleasure” (Is 46:10); “He doeth according to His
will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none
can stay His hand” (Da 4:35-note).
Divine sovereignty means that God is God in fact, as well as in name, that
He is on the Throne of the universe, directing all things, working all
things “after the counsel of His own will” (Ep 1:11-note).
Mark Hitchcock tells the following
Our God Reigns - Ray Stedman, noted
pastor and author, once traveled to England to speak at a Bible conference.
The church sanctuary was filled with people eager to hear this well-known
teacher. The service began with singing and praise to the Lord. One of the
songs was the chorus "Our God Reigns."
Stedman, seated on the platform next to
the pastor, glanced down at the song sheet and began to smile. Then he
started to laugh. The words on the song sheet had been mistyped. The
congregation was belting out "Our God Resigns."
That's one of those funny-but-painful
stories, isn't it? Sometimes we look at the world around us and conclude
that God must have resigned and is no longer seated on His throne, ruling
We need to remind ourselves that God is
indeed enthroned in heaven, reigning over all. And we must never forget that
God is still on His throne, ruling over the nations of the world.
THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD - All the
peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with
the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back
his hand or say to him: "What have you done?" Da 4:35
How blessed that elementary truth- "The Lord reigns!" To know that there
is no chance or accident with God- that He decrees the fall of a sparrow-
the destruction of an atom- the annihilation of a world!
The Almighty is not like Baal, "asleep." "He that keeps Israel" can never
for a moment "slumber." Man proposes; but God disposes. "You have done
it," is the history of every event, past, present, and to come. His
purposes none can change- His counsels none can resist.
Believer, how cheering to know that all that befalls you, is thus ordered
in the eternal purpose of a Covenant God! Every minute circumstance of
your lot- appointing the bounds of your habitation- meting out every drop
in the cup of life- arranging what by you is called its
"vicissitudes"-decreeing all its trials; and at last, as the great
Proprietor of life, revoking the lease of existence when its allotted term
How it should keep the mind from its guilty proneness to brood and fret
over second causes, were this grand but simple truth ever realized- that
all that befalls us are integral parts in a stupendous plan of wisdom-
that there is no crossing or thwarting the designs and dealings of God;
none can say, "What are you doing?" All ought to say, "He does all things
We dare not venture, with presumptuous gaze, to penetrate into "those
secret things which belong unto the Lord our God." In all that is fitted,
in the consideration of this august theme of the Divine Decrees, to impart
encouragement and consolation, let us rejoice; in all that is mysterious
and incomprehensible, let us with childlike reverence exclaim, "Oh, what a
wonderful God we have! How great are his riches and wisdom and knowledge!
How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his methods!
For who can know what the Lord is thinking? Who knows enough to be his
counselor? And who could ever give him so much that he would have to pay
it back? For everything comes from him; everything exists by his power and
is intended for his glory. To him be glory evermore. Amen!"
The contemplation of the Sovereignty of God, formed subject-matter of
rejoicing to the Savior himself in His humiliation– " Even so, Father, for
so it seems good in Your sight!" And what supplied material for comfort
and joy to an Almighty Sufferer, may well dry the tears and soothe the
pangs of His suffering people. Oh, how sinners may magnify their God by a
calm submission to His will; by seeing no hand but One in their trials; in
giving or taking: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will
depart. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the
Lord be praised.!" "Who knows not all in these, that the hand of the Lord
has wrought this?"
Til Death the weary spirit free,
My God has said, 'Tis good for thee,
To walk in faith, end not by sight.
Take it on trust a little while,
Soon shall you read the mystery right,
In the fall sunshine of His smile!
Will it not further help to the
breathing of the prayer, "Your will be done," when I think, in connection
with the Sovereignty of God, of the grand end of His immutable decrees- it
is, "His own glory." "Of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all
things." What more can I desire? "All things." -God's glory and my own
good! "I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me
dwell in safety." Psalm 4:8 (From
THE NIGHT WATCHES by John MacDuff)
Pastor Ray Pritchard writes...
I’d like to begin by talking about the
problem of spiritual indigestion. That’s a brand-new term that I learned
this week after reading a chapter written by Dr. J. Grant Howard, who taught
for many years at Western Conservative Baptist Seminary in Portland, Oregon.
Dr. Howard says that spiritual indigestion happens when we take in more than
we understand. It’s a common problem in conservative churches where we often
measure growth by knowledge. We read books, we listen to tapes and to
Christian radio and TV, go to Bible studies, and we love to listen to good
preaching. We are, he says, overfed and undernourished at the same time.
What happens when we get a case of spiritual indigestion? The pressure
builds up and we sound forth with a doctrinal burp! That’s the sudden
release of a lot of hot air surrounded by noxious fumes. It happens when we
take in but don’t digest the truth, when we listen but never let the truth
change our lives.
God’s Sovereignty is a truth that touches
all of life. It is a truth meant to be digested so it becomes a part of our
very being. We begin with the word itself. The word “sovereign” is both a
noun and verb. As a verb it means “to rule,” and as a noun it means “king”
or “master” or “absolute ruler.” To say that God is sovereign means God is
in Charge of the Entire Universe All the Time. In the words of the
Westminster Confession of Faith, “He ordains whatsoever comes to pass."
Sovereignty: What It Is and What - Let’s begin by acknowledging that this is
not a popular doctrine. You don’t hear many sermons on this subject in most
churches. And most of us would rather hear about love and grace.
It’s also a very humbling doctrine.
Sovereignty reminds us that God is God and we are not. When we think we’re
ready to advise God on how to run the universe, he just looks at us and
says, “How many stripes do you have on your sleeve?” It’s like a person who
visits my house and starts to criticize things. He doesn’t like the color of
the wallpaper, he doesn’t like the decorations, he doesn’t like the way the
purple moosehead hangs over the kitchen table. Once he is finished with his
criticism, only one comment is appropriate. “Mister, whose name is on the
title deed to this house? When you start paying the bills around here, you
get a vote on the decorating. Until then, feel free to say nothing.” That’s
what sovereignty does. It puts us in the place where we feel free to say
nothing about the way God runs the universe.
This is also an exalting doctrine because it gives us a very big God. Many
years ago J. B. Phillips wrote the classic book Your God Is Too Small.
That’s a case where the title told the whole story. Many of us have a
problem because our God is too small. But if you ever understand that God is
sovereign over the entire universe, you’ll never have a small God again.
This is also a mysterious doctrine because it brings us face to face with
the problem of evil and free will. If God is sovereign, why is there evil in
the universe? If man has free will, how can God be sovereign? Christians
have debated these questions for centuries. Suffice it to say that God is
sovereign and you are truly responsible for all the choices you make. Often
we won’t understand how they work together, but they do.
Again, this is a clarifying doctrine. It teaches us that there is no such
thing as luck, chance, fate or coincidence. You can have God or chance, but
you can’t have both. When a cowboy applied for health insurance, the agent
routinely asked if he had had any accidents during the previous year. The
cowboy replied, “No. But I was bitten by a rattlesnake, and a horse kicked
me in the ribs. That laid me up for a while.” The agent said, “Weren’t those
accidents?” “No,” replied the cowboy, “They did it on purpose.” The cowboy
realized that there are no such things as “accidents.” How about you,
Christian? Do you believe that some things catch God by surprise? In the
words of a good friend, “God is too sovereign to be lucky."
Finally, this is an empowering doctrine. If you believe God is sovereign, no
mere human can intimidate you. You’ll respect authority but you won’t cringe
before it. What gave David the courage to go down into the Elah Valley and
face that giant Goliath? He said, “I come to you in the name of the God of
Israel, the Lord of hosts?” David had a God so big that Goliath was like a
midget to him. (Read Pastor Pritchard's entire message and see also his
series of 16 messages on
Our Awesome God)
list of sermons by Dr Pritchard that also
relate to God's sovereignty)
C H Spurgeon summarized God's sovereignty in his introductory
remarks to his sermon on
There is no
attribute more comforting to His children than that of God’s
Sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe trials, they
believe that Sovereignty has ordained their afflictions, that Sovereignty
overrules them, and that Sovereignty will sanctify them all. There is
nothing for which the children ought more earnestly to contend than the
doctrine of their Master over all creation—the Kingship of God over all the
works of His own hands—the Throne of God and His right to sit upon that
Throne. On the other hand, there is no doctrine more hated by worldings, no
truth of which they have made such a football, as the great,
stupendous, but yet most certain doctrine of the Sovereignty of the
infinite Jehovah. Men will allow God to be everywhere except on His
throne. They will allow Him to be in His workshop to fashion worlds
and make stars. They will allow Him to be in His almonry to dispense
His alms and bestow His bounties. They will allow Him to sustain the
earth and bear up the pillars thereof, or light the lamps of heaven,
or rule the waves of the ever-moving ocean; but when God ascends His
throne, His creatures then gnash their teeth. And we proclaim an
enthroned God, and His right to do as He wills with His own, to
dispose of His creatures as He thinks well, without consulting them in
the matter; then it is that we are hissed and execrated, and then it
is that men turn a deaf ear to us, for God on His throne is not the
God they love. But it is God upon the throne that we love to preach.
It is God upon His throne whom we trust. (Divine
Sovereignty - Sermon on Matthew 20:15)
Spurgeon on Sovereignty
We are too insignificant to be of
any great importance in God’s vast universe; He can do either with us
or without us, and our presence or absence will not disarrange His
If the disposal of the lot is the Lord’s, whose is the arrangement of
our whole life?
Alterations and afterthoughts belong to short-sighted beings who meet
with unexpected events which operate upon them to change their minds,
but the Lord who sees everything from the beginning has no such reason
for shifting his ground.
Not so much as a solitary particle of spray ever breaks rank, or
violates the command of the Lord of sea and land, neither do the awful
cataracts and terrific floods revolt from his sway.
Our life is made up of trifles, and if we had a God only for the great
things, and not for the little things, we should be miserable indeed.
We are called in Scripture “a temple”—a holy temple in the Lord. But
shall any one assert that the stones of the edifice were their own
architect? Shall it be said that the stones of the building in which
we are now assembled cut themselves into their present shape, and then
spontaneously came together, and piled this spacious edifice? Should
any one assert such a foolish thing, we should be disposed to doubt
his sanity; much more may we suspect the spiritual sanity of any man
who would venture to affirm that the great temple of the church of God
designed and erected itself. No: we believe that God the Father was
the architect, sketched the plan, supplies the materials, and will
complete the work. Shall it also be said that those who are redeemed
redeemed themselves? that slaves of Satan break their own fetters?
Then why was a Redeemer needed at all?
When God appointeth none disappointeth.
God has a plan, depend upon it: it were an insult to the supreme
intellect if we supposed that he worked at random, without plan or
method. To some of us it is a truth which we never doubt, that God has
one boundless purpose which embraces all things, both things which he
permits and things which he ordains. Without for a moment denying the
freedom of the human will, we still believe that the supreme wisdom
foresees also the curious twistings of human will, and overrules all
for his own ends.
He has fixed the hour of our entrance into rest, and it can neither be
postponed by skill of physician nor hastened by malice of foe.
If the Lord hath done it, questions are out of the question; and truly
the Lord has done it. There may be a secondary agent, there probably
is; the devil himself may be that secondary agent, yet the Lord hath
Nebuchadnezzar was about to carry the Jews away from the land which
flowed with milk and honey to his own far distant country; but the
prophet consoled himself with the reflection that, whatever
Nebuchadnezzar meant to do, he was only the instrument in the hands of
God for the accomplishment of the divine purpose. He proposed, but God
Opposition to divine sovereignty is essentially atheism. Men have no
objection to a god who is really no God; I mean, by this, a god who
shall be the subject of their caprice, who shall be a lackey to their
will, who shall be under their control,—they have no objection to such
a being as that; but a God who speaks, and it is done, who commands,
and it stands fast, a God who has no respect for their persons, but
doeth as he wills among the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants
of this lower world, such a God as this they cannot endure.
If you could have chosen your own circumstances and condition in life,
you could not have made so wise a choice as God has made for you.
The right to punishment is the only right we can now claim upon the
footing of justice. Henceforth we are simply in the hands of God
awaiting his sentence. He may, if he wills, save the entire human
race; if it pleaseth him, he may save none. If so he wills, he may
make this man a monument of mercy, and leave his neighbour to reap the
due reward of his works. This is what God has a right to do, and he
claims his sovereign prerogative.
No doctrine in the whole Word of God has more excited the hatred of
mankind than the truth of the absolute sovereignty of God.
Observe, then, three rights which belong to God,—as Creator; as Judge,
having the right to punish the guilty; and as the God and Father of
our Lord Jesus Christ, having the right to pardon sinners, and to do
it without in the slightest degree violating his justice.
That God rules men as a builder rules his stones and timber, is the
idea of idiots, but that he leaves them men, in full possession of
their freedom, and yet achieves the purposes of his grace, is the
R B Kuiper relates God's
Sovereignty to two ropes....
I liken them to two ropes going
through two holes in the ceiling and over a pulley above. If I wish to
support myself by them, I must cling to them both. If I cling only to
one and not the other, I go down. I read the many teachings of the
Bible regarding God’s election, predestination, his chosen, and so on,
I read also the many teachings regarding, ‘whosoever will may come’
and urging people to exercise their responsibility as human beings.
These seeming contradictions cannot be reconciled by the puny human
mind. With childlike faith, I cling to both ropes, fully confident
that in eternity I will see that both strands of truth are, after all,
of one piece.”
Comment: All natural
analogies of course are imperfect in attempting to define any of God's
perfect attributes. That said, Kuiper's illustration brings to mind a
row boat - unless both oars (God's sovereignty, Man's responsibility)
are effectively engaged in the endeavor, the rowing is ineffective.
Martin Manser on the
sovereignty of God - The fact that God is free and able to do all that
he wills; that he reigns over all creation and that his will is the
final cause of all things. This is often expressed in the language of
God is free
to do all he wills
Psalm 135:6 See also Psalm 115:3;
Isaiah 46:10; Daniel 4:35; Romans 9:19-21
God is able
to do whatever he wills
Luke 1:37 Gabriel speaking to Mary.
See also Job 42:2; Matthew 19:26; Ephesians 3:20
God cannot be
Job 42:2 From Job's prayer of
submission and repentance. See also 1 Samuel 2:10; 2 Chronicles 20:6;
Job 9:12; Ecclesiastes 7:13; Isaiah 43:13; Isaiah 45:9-10; Acts 5:39
God rules and
He is King
Psalm 29:10 See also 1 Chronicles
16:31; Psalm 47:2; Isaiah 6:5; Isaiah 43:15; Jeremiah 10:7,10;
Zechariah 14:9; 1 Timothy 1:17; Timothy 6:15; Revelation 15:3;
He is Lord of
heaven and earth
Deuteronomy 4:39 See also Genesis
24:3; Deuteronomy 10:14; Joshua 2:11; 1 Chronicles 29:11; Nehemiah
9:6; Psalm 121:2; Psalm 134:3; Luke 10:21; Acts 17:24
His throne is
a symbol of his sovereignty
Exodus 17:16; Psalm 45:6; Psalm
93:2; Psalm 123:1; Isaiah 6:1 Isaiah's commission; Isaiah 66:1;
Jeremiah 49:38; Lamentations 5:19; Ezekiel 1:26; Daniel 7:9 Daniel's
dream; Matthew 5:34; Matthew 19:28 Jesus Christ teaches his disciples
about things to come; Acts 7:49; Hebrews 1:8; Hebrews 8:1; Hebrews
12:2; Revelation 4:2; Revelation 20:11
sovereignty extends over all things
He is sovereign over creation
Revelation 4:11 See also Psalm
93:1; Isaiah 40:22; Isaiah 41:18-19
sovereign over human life
1 Chronicles 29:12 Part of David's
prayer on the occasion of gifts being brought to the temple. See also
2 Chronicles 25:8; Luke 1:51-53; Acts 18:21; James 4:15
sovereign over the minutest details of life
Matthew 10:29-30 pp Luke 12:6-7
sovereign in electing his people
Ephesians 1:11 See also Romans
8:29; Romans 9:11,18
sovereign in the life and salvation of his people
1 Corinthians 1:30 See also
Jeremiah 18:6; 1 Corinthians 12:11; Philippians 2:13; James 1:18
sovereign over the sufferings of believers
Philippians 1:29; 1 Peter 3:17
sovereign over world history
Proverbs 21:1 See also Exodus 9:16;
Psalm 22:28; Jeremiah 18:7-10; Daniel 4:35
sovereign over all other gods and over demonic forces
God is supreme over all gods
Psalm 95:3 “gods” are part of the
created order and subject to God's sovereignty. See also Exodus 18:11;
Deuteronomy 10:17; 1 Chronicles 16:26; Psalm 96:5; Daniel 2:47;
defeated through God's sovereign purposes at work in Jesus Christ
Colossians 2:15 See also John
12:31; Romans 16:20; 2 Thessalonians 2:8; Hebrews 2:14; 2 Peter 2:4; 1
John 3:8; Jude 6; Revelation 12:7-10