If God is so powerful and so good, why do bad things happen?

 “SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD”

“Alleluia, for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.”

There are basically two aspects in any definition of sovereignty. In order for anyone to be a king he must possess, (1) Absolute Authority, and, (2) All Power. A king must have the right to rule, and the ability to carry out his will. God said through Isaiah, “.. for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me .. My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” Isa. 46:9-10. Our God is a unique King in that his reign is eternal, “..the LORD sitteth King for ever.” Psa. 29:10.

A — DEFINITION OF SOVEREIGNTY:

“That the great God, blessed for ever, hath an absolute power and right dominion over his creatures, to dispose and determine of them as seemeth him good. Elisha Coles, God’s Sovereignty.” P 1.

B — PLACE OF SOVEREIGNTY:

We are not to think necessarily that sovereignty is an attribute of God. It is the conclusion of all His attributes. When we read that God is holy, just, love, gracious, merciful, all-wise, all-powerful, yea, all the works of God we see displayed, we reckon that He is sovereign! This is of extreme value to the child of God, to know there is no greater than his God.

“Although the sovereignty of God is universal and absolute, it is not the sovereignty of blind power. It is coupled with infinite wisdom, holiness, and love. And this doctrine, when properly understood, is a most comforting and reassuring one. Who would not prefer to have his affairs in the hands of a God of infinite power, wisdom, holiness and love, rather than to have them left to fate, or chance, or irrevocable natural law, or to short-sighted and perverted self? Those who reject God’s sovereignty should consider what alternatives they have left.” Loraine Boettner.

All of the works of God described in the Bible indicate that He is sovereign and that he has such authority and power, even as we are told in our text, “..the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” When John, in the Revelation, saw inside heaven he saw, “the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb.” Rev.21:22

FOUR (4) AREAS SHOWING SOME OF THE EXTENT OF GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY:

I — CREATION:

God has Creator rights. He is God and has created man. Man is his possession, and He has the right to determine everything to befall him. He made certain men to be recipients of His grace and goodness, and some to receive his righteous judgment. Paul likened God to the potter and warns man against warring against His right. “Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? Rom. 9:20-21. Some have been “..fitted unto destruction, while others are “vessels of mercy..” V 22-23.

When God created all things, it was before all things, thus no one had the place of advisor to Him. He created so many stars; so many planets; the world; man, and there were none to aid in any of it. The Psalmist said, “The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land.” Psa. 95:5. Jeremiah said, “Ah Lord GOD! thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power, and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee.” Jer. 32:17

God created all beings but some have fallen. Let us be sure that this does not make God the author of sin, for, as man, they fell from their created state. This includes all false gods. But God is over them, whether they be angels, demons, or the god of this world, the devil. The Psalmist said, “..thou are exalted far above all gods”, Psa. 97:9, and again, “.. our Lord is above all gods,” Psa 135.5, and also“O give thanks unto the God of gods.” Psa 136.2.

Man was created from the dust of the earth, and woman from His rib. Their substance, shape, and form were created for His own purpose. We are told, “My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there were none of them.” Psa 139:15-16.

Man’s begetting is of God. No man wills his own birth. Solomon said, There is, “A time to be born.” Eccl. 3:2. It is quite obvious that man cannot chose his color, his country, his tribe, or the time of his coming forth. We are told that God, “male and female created he them.” Gen 1:27. He has the right and power to give life and take it. It is all the doing of the sovereign God.

II — THE NATIONS:

Jeremiah said, “Who would not fear thee, O King of nations.” Jer. 10:7. David also said, “..let men say among the nations, the LORD reigneth.” 1 Chron 16:31. God’s hand is in the creation of nations as well as in their destruction. Job said, “He increaseth the nations, and destroyeth them; he enlargeth the nations, and straighteneth them again.” Job 12:23. The nations were created and placed in their locations by this Sovereign God, for He “..hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.”Acts 17:26

God established the nation of Israel, and raised up the Egyptians to enslave them. By His mighty hand, however, he delivered them at the Red Sea, and God drove out nations before them. He increased Israel with numbers and blessings, and caused them to flourish in the promised land. When they violated the covenant, he cast them off. God raised up Babylon into a great nation, but also brought about the Medes and Persians to destroy it. After they ran their course, the great nation of Greece was raised up to destroy that nation. They reigned until the Roman Empire conquered the world, until they too were destroyed. It would be difficult indeed to deny the work of the sovereign God among the nations.

III — KINGS AND KINGDOMS:

God is said to be King throughout the scriptures. His Son, the Lord Jesus, is seated on the right hand of the Father on His throne, and He is said to be “Lord of lords, and King of kings.” Rev 19:16. God’s kingdom rules over all kingdoms. We are told, “The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.” Psa 103:19. The king of Babylon, while walking through his palace, boasted of his kingdom, that he had built it by his power and for the honour of his majesty. While the word was still in his mouth, a voice announced that his kingdom had departed from him, and he was driven into the fields to eat grass as oxen. When he was restored, he blessed the most High, and extoled His kingdom, saying, “And 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 4:28-35. These were the words of one of few absolute rulers on the earth, and very evident that God is sovereign over the greatest of earthly kings.

The beast, written by John in the Revelation, is described as a very powerful enemy of God, yet he is dependent upon God Himself for his temporary success. Ten kingdoms were united under this beast, and we are told of God’s part in their accomplishment. “For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.” Rev. 17:17. The devil and all his cohorts could not advance one step without the enablement of this all-powerful God. God has raised up His own enemies, and is the one to finally put them down.

IV — SALVATION:

Man may fight against God but he cannot win over Him. He often uses evil man to accomplish His will in the battle. Jesus is said to have been slain from the foundation of the world, and the cross is one of the most credible evidences of Gods Sovereignty. “Crucify him, Crucify him”, was their cry, but when they nailed Him to the cross, they did not realize they were fulfilling God’s will for His Son. Peter said, “Him (Christ), being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” Acts 2:23. But this God of all-power was not defeated in this evil act, for the Lord Jesus was raised from the dead. By it the devil was defeated and all his ministers of (self) righteousness.

Judas, the one who betrayed him, had betrayed himself, and met his just due. John wrote, “..Jesus knew from the beginning .. who should betray him. And he said, .. no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father .. Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil (i.e., slanderer) .. He spake of Judas .. for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.” John 6:64-71. Our God cannot fail, lie, or sin, neither is He frustrated at man’s failure.

God is the dispenser of His sovereign grace and mercy. “For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy .. and whom he will, he hardeneth.” Rom. 9:15-16, 18.

Our God has chosen people in Christ, and He chose them before the foundation of the world. Their names are written in the Lamb’s book of life, and in His time, effectually calls them unto salvation. Others he leaves to themselves, and we are told He has this right as Creator. This determination of God was made before they were ever born, before they had done good or evil. Esau and Jacob, twin sons of Isaac and Rebecca, one blessed, the other rejected, is a case in point. “For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth.” Rom. 9:11

Pastor Henry Mahan says this of sovereignty:

A doctrine is not true because I believe it or because you believe it, it is true only if God says it! I do not ask whether you believe what I preach, perhaps you do not. But I ask you to search the Scriptures and determine whether these things be so. I am not afraid to submit my belief in God’s immutable sovereignty, man’s total fall and ruin, God’s elective grace, Christ’s effectual atonement, the Spirit’s invincible call, and the perseverance of the sheep to the word of God.

We say Amen to this word, and while this message is limited, the sovereignty of God is not. The scriptures tell us that he is sovereign over all. By himself He created this universe, fashioning it according to His own purpose. This includes man and all God’s dealings with him.

He is over the nations, creating them, and has destroyed them according to His will. Nebuchadnezzar, an absolute monarch, when boasting of his self-made kingdom rather than give God the glory, was reduced to a near animal. After his understanding returned, he gave testimony to God as over all. God raises up kingdoms and puts them down.

He is sovereign in salvation, having chosen His people, sending His Son to die for them, and then calling them out of the world. He gives them eternal life, and they shall never perish under His guarding hand.

Many Christians have doubts about God’s sovereignty. Yet there is one aspect of the Christian life where they profess, maybe unknowingly, that God is sovereign. They may say, as many do, “God has done all He can do, now the rest is up to you.” How contradictory! They may stand on their feet and deny this blessed, comforting, enabling doctrine, but when they bend the knees in prayer, asking God to save, do they not realize they are calling on a sovereign God, who only has the right and the ability to save? Are they not asking their limited God to go beyond His limitation? The question is, If God has done all that He can do, why pray to Him? But we pray knowing He is the only one who can do what man cannot otherwise do. This power belongs to God, and not man.

SOVEREIGNTY BELONGS TO GOD

Man’s will has never determined one single event in the world’s history and never will. God’s will alone determines events and brings them to pass. It is true that men do act according to their choice, will, intellect, and reason; but this is not the whole truth. The whole truth is that every event, circumstance, opportunity, happening, and thought, whether good or bad, that influences and motivates man’s choice is foreordained of God. Sovereignty is the prerogative of God alone. Man is God’s creature. There is no such thing as an independent creature. There is no such thing as a free creature. All created things are totally dependent upon and absolutely subject to their Creator’s will. If God is the Creator of this universe, He is sovereign over it; and if He is not sovereign over the universe, He is not its Creator. –Pastor Scott Richardson

Ah, Children of the living God, believe in His sovereign right and power, that He is able to do all things according to His will, and give praise from the lips of his saving ability, which is the testimony of us all. And do not despair of circumstances, for this great God can overcome them with the greatest of ease. For we know that “..all things work together for good, to them that love God, and are the called according to his purpose.” Rom. 8:28.

Either God is in absolute control of all things or he is not. If he is not in absolute control of all things, then he is not God and does not deserve to be worshipped as God. I fully agree with C.H. Spurgeon who wrote, “There is no middle ground between the absolute sovereignty of God and total atheism.” Believers rejoice to know that God our Father rules everywhere. –Pastor Don Fortner)

We must look to Jesus, our substitute for sin, the author and finisher of our faith, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Let us not think that our God is unapproachable, for in Jesus Christ we have access to the Father. Therefore salvation is nigh thee. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.

For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he might grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and heights; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. Eph. 3:14-21

H L  - http://www.mountainretreatorg.net/bible/sovereignty.html

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