God Is Sovereign


A.     Introduction:  We have begun a series on the character of God.
     1.     Our theme is:  God is good and good means good.
     2.     We base that on Jesus, the complete revelation of God. John 14:9; Heb 1:1-3
          a.     Jesus said God is good.     Good = what Jesus did.Matt 19:17 Acts 10:38
          b.     Jesus repeatedly said He did the works of His Father. John 14:10
     3.     In the past several lessons, we have clearly established the fact that tests, trials,
          and suffering do not come from God.
     4.     They are here because sin is here; they are the result of living in a sin cursed
          earth dominated by satan, and interacting with people influenced by him.
     5.     In this lesson, we want to deal with the sovereignty of God.
          a.     We explain a lot with that phrase; do we really know what it means?
          b.     Here is how we often use the word sovereign in reference to God:  God can
               do whatever He wants to do -- good, bad, right, or wrong -- and it's OK
               because He's God and He is sovereign.  That is wrong!!
B.     Let's talk about the sovereignty of God.
     1.     The word sovereign means:
          a.     Above or superior to all others; chief; greatest; supreme.
          b.     Supreme (highest) in power, rank, or authority; independent of all others.
     3.     Sovereign does not mean:
          a.     Arbitrary -- guided by ungoverned will, impulse, or judgment; selected at
               random or without reason.
          b.     Capricious -- apt to change suddenly; changeable; fickle.
          c.     It does not mean     God can do whatever He wants even though it is
               irrational and contradicts His Word because He is God!!
     4.     There are some things God cannot / will not do.
          a.     He cannot lie. Heb 6:18
          b.     He cannot deny Himself -- His nature or His character. II Tim 2:13
               1.     He cannot deny His own nature. (Norlie)
               2.     He cannot prove false to Himself. (Williams)
          c.     He does not change. James 1:17
          d.     He does not violate free will. II Pet 3:9; Luke 13:34; Mark 6:5
     5.     The fact that God is sovereign means:
          a.     He is the greatest power in the universe, and He is in complete control.
          b.     Nothing happens without His knowledge or permission. (Remember what
               it means that God permits: He permits people to sin and go to hell -- it
               doesn't mean He will it or commissions it.)
          c.     All the catchy little cliches we have about God give us the wrong slant.
               1.     For example:  everything in my life comes through His hands of love.
               2.     There is a subtle implication that God is behind it some how.
     6.     This is the sovereignty of God. Eph 1:11
          a.     For as part of God's plan we were chosen from the beginning to be His,
               and all things happened just as He decided long ago. (Living)
          b.     In union with whom we were made God's portion, since we had been     
               foreordained in accordance with the purpose of Him who in everything
               carries out the plan of His will. (Williams)
          c. In Him it was our lot to be called, singled out beforehand to suit His
               purpose, for it is He who is at work everywhere, carrying out the designs of
               His will. (     )
     7.     God has a plan which He is carrying out.
          a.     He is gathering to Himself a family of sons and daughters who are
               conformed to the image of Jesus. Eph 1:4,5; Rom 8:29
          b.     Because God is sovereign, all powerful, in complete control, He can cause
               everything to serve that plan, that purpose.
     8.     Let's refresh our memory as to why God allows evil.
          a.     Remember that suffering is here because of sin; it will not go on forever.
               1.     When Jesus comes back to earth, pain and suffering will cease.
               2.     In terms of eternity, 6,000 years of human history is very little.
          b.     When human history is finally wrapped up, it will be a monument for all
               eternity to what happens when men choose independence from God.
               1.     Could God stop it all right now?  Certainly -- He is God Almighty
               2.     But, He is allowing human independence to run its course -- men
                    really do have free will.
               3.     And, God has made provision for those who come to faith in Him.
          c.     When our path takes us through difficult times it is because:
               1.     That's life. John 16:33; Matt 6:19
               2.     Our foolish choices -- Israel in the wilderness.
               3.     We are on the way to a better place and this is the only route to it --
                    Oregon Trail; Israel on the way to the Promised Land.
               4.     There are those in the wilderness who need our help. II Cor 1:6; 4:15                                   
          d.     God, who is omniscient (all knowing) and omnipotent (all powerful) is
               able to take the bad, the evil, the suffering, and cause it to serve His eternal
               purposes, and bring great good out of it all.

C.     One of the greatest promises God has given us in found in Rom 8:28
     1.     Rom 8:28 is one of the most misunderstood verses in the Bible.
          a.     People use it as an explanation for evil: God brought this into your life
               because He's going to work it for your good.(No!! Evil is here because sin
               is here.)
          b.     People use it to try to determine God's will from their circumstances.
               1.     Because this happened, it must be God's will for my life.
               2.     Then, they respond passively instead of resisting satan.
     2.     God has promised to take genuine evil and bring genuine good from it.
          a.     We know that God is always at work for the good of every one who loves
               him.  They are the ones God has chosen for his purpose. (Cont. Eng.)
          b.     We know that God makes all things work together for the good of those
               who love Him and are chosen to be a part of His plan. (New Life)
          c.     In your distress consider this also:  when we love God we can be assured
               that God will make everything we experience to fulfill his purpose for us.
     3.     We need to understand that God has a will and a plan for our lives.
          a.     God's will = His desire; It is clear from the Bible that God's desire for man
               (apart from man's free choice) is sonship and blessing.
          b.     God's plan = what He does with human choice as He seeks to bring His
               will to pass.
          c. Rom 8:28 expresses that idea.
               1.     God's will = good for His children.
               2.     God's plan = taking the "all things" that result from human choice
                    and causing them to serve His purpose = good.

D.     The Bible is filled with examples of God taking genuine evil and bringing genuine
     good out of it.
     1.     The story of Joseph  Gen 37-50
          a.     Joseph's jealous brothers sold him into slavery, but he ended up second in
               command in Egypt, and saved their lives and the lives of many others.
          b.     Notice, God was with Joseph throughout his ordeal helping him. Gen
               39:2-5; 39:21-23; 41:39-45;51,52
          c.     At the end of the story, Joseph made an interesting comment: Gen 50:20
               1.     His brothers did genuine evil, but God brought genuine good out of it.
               2.     Did God send Joseph's trouble in the sense the word is often used?
                    a.     Would be a violation of house divided principle. Matt 12:24-26
                    b.     What Joseph's brothers did to Him was evil in intent and action.
                    c.     The NT comment about Joseph tells us that God delivered
                         Joseph out of his afflictions. Acts 7:9,10
               3.     Gen 50:20 -- As far as I am concerned, God turned into good what
                    you meant for evil, for He brought me to this high position I have
                    today so that I could save the lives of many people. (Living)
          d.     When Joseph said God sent me (Gen 45:5;7) he meant:  God was in such
               complete control of the situation, it was as though He sent me.
          e.     Remember Ps 105:17-19 -- God's test in Joseph's situation was His Word.
          f.     This is a stunning example of God's sovereignty:  God didn't sent Joseph's
               trouble, He turned it into great good and He cushioned Joseph in and
               through the ordeal.
     2.     The crucifixion of Jesus
          a.     What was done to Jesus was an evil act carried out by wicked men inspired
               by satan. Luke 22:3; Acts 2:23; I Cor 2:8
          b.     Therefore, we know it was not have been willed or commissioned by God.
          c.     Yet it is an example of God's sovereignty:  He knew it was going to
               happen, and caused it to serve His purpose by turning it into a great good.
          d.     Acts 2:23 -- delivered = given out or over; surrendered.
               1.     But He was betrayed, permitted by the counsel and foreknowledge of
                    God, and you wicked men seized Him and put Him to death on the
                    Cross. (Norlie)
               2.     God knew that all this was going to happen, but still you are the ones
                    that arrested that man, killing Him by crucifying Him. (Edington)
          e.     Acts 4:28 -- determined = to limit in advance; to determine before; used in
               Rom 8:29,30; I Cor 2:7; Eph 1:5;11
     3.     Israel at the Red Sea
          a.     God had to take Israel across the Sinai Peninsula
               1.     It was not a good trip; mountainous and dry; Mt. Sinai = 7,400 ft; 1" to                     8" rainfall per year.
               2.     Two ways God could lead them -- both difficult, but God took them
                    the best way. Ex 13:17,18
          b.     When they reached the Red Sea they were trapped by Pharaoh and his
               armies = genuine evil.
          c.     But God turned it into genuine good -- parted the Red Sea, destroyed their
               enemies, and gave Israel another demonstration of His mighty power.
          d.     Yes, but wasn't it bad to kill all those Egyptian soldiers?
               1.     Being an enemy of God and His people is not a good place to be --
                    and that is good for us!
               2.     Remember the plagues in Egypt?  How they were a demonstration of
                    God's power both to Israel and to Egypt?
               3.     Those demonstrations of power led some Egyptians to be converted.
                    Ex 8:19; 9:19-21
               4.     How many death bed conversions (thief on the cross experiences) do
                    you think there were among those soldiers?

E.     Conclusion:
     1.     God is sovereign.  He is the greatest power in the universe.
          a.     He is in complete control; nothing happens without His knowledge or
          b.     He can and does cause everything to serve His purposes -- He works all
               things after the council of His own will. Eph 1:11
          c.     He is able to bring genuine good out of genuine evil.
     2.     People often say: You can never tell what God is going to do -- that's not true!
          a.     You can always know what God is going to do!!  Work in your situation:
               1.     To cause it to serve His purposes.
               2.     To cause it to work for good.
               3.     To make you more like Jesus.
          b.     You may not know exactly how, but you can know exactly what He is
               going to do.
     3.     Why does all this matter?
          a.     You cannot fully serve in a loving relationship with someone you don't
               completely trust. Ps 9:10
          b.     If you don't understand what it means that God allows, you'll be fearful,
               bitter, or passive.
          c.     One reason for defeat in the lives of Christians is we don't understand the
               way all this works.
               1.     Suffering and evil are facts of life.
               2.     Rather than complaining about it, being passive, or trying to figure
                    out why, perhaps you need to learn to respond in a way that will bring
                    God's help to you --count it all joy. James 1:2
          d.     You need to know that God is sovereign -- nothing can come into your life
               of which God is not aware, and for which He does not already have a plan
               to bring genuine good.
     4.     Once again, we find that God is good and good means good.

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