10 Reasons Why Believing in the Sovereignty of God Matters

There’s an article this month on the Desiring God website titled 10 Reasons Why Believing in the Sovereignty of God Matters.

If you consider yourself to be a follower of Jesus, or someone interested in God in any capacity, I highly recommend that you take a minute and go read it.

The idea that God is ‘sovereign’ is commonly thrown around and disputed in christian circles…

Some will throw the word around without even understanding its meaning, while others will argue about its meaning.

The Desiring God article begins with this definition for ‘the sovereignty of God‘:

We believe that God upholds and governs all things—from galaxies to subatomic particles, from the forces of nature to the movements of nations, and from the public plans of politicians to the secret acts of solitary persons—all in accord with His eternal, all-wise purposes to glorify Himself, yet in such a way that He never sins, nor ever condemns a person unjustly; but that His ordaining and governing all things is compatible with the moral accountability of all persons created in His image.

Do you believe that?

Really?

I struggle to…

I grew up in a stream of christianity that would probably push back against this definition.

As a freshman in college I encountered people who thought and talked this way, and it upset me. I wrestled for years with this understanding of God’s nature and character.

But over the years, my study of the scriptures and my experience with God have led me to confidently affirm this way of understanding God, and that transformation has dramatically changed my perspective as well as my lifestyle.

I want to challenge you: have you ever considered the sovereignty of God? Have you wrestled with it? Are your beliefs on the matter in keeping with the Scriptures, or have you done your best to tag this topic as ‘controversial‘ and avoid it because you don’t like it?

You might be missing out on some of the most exciting Truth in the Bible.

And as Tozer wrote: “What you believe when you think of God is the most important thing about you.

So don’t take it lightly…

Got any thoughts on this?

6 comments

  1. Not to be mean, but I think this is an annoying question. Of course God is sovereign. He made everything. I don’t understand why Christians get in a big bugaboo about this. The frustrating thing is that mostly it’s Christians who insist on THEIR interpretation of what sovereignty means. God created everything, and obviously he has ultimate control over everything. God is big enough, however, to have given us freedom us well. I don’t really know the answer to how much of the universe is open and how much of it is closed; I tend to favor a more open universe. However, it really doesn’t matter that much. God is God, and I am me. What is important for me (and I think for all) is to take ownership of your own decisions, believe that God gives you a will and mind for a purpose, and to trust God and pray for the strength, wisdom and grace to have more of his mind and character here on earth. Anything more is hubris, and really only necessary as an academic exercise.

  2. Hi James,

    Thanks for your comment!

    I guess I just want to ask 2 questions:

    1 – “Of course God is sovereign”.
    -Do you know anyone who would disagree with that? Do you know Christians who would disagree with that? I do. And I see how it effects their lives. And I want them to read the article! And then read their Bible!

    2 – Did you happen to read the article? Your comments seem to be addressing details that the article doesn’t really get into. I found it not to be academic or apologetic, but very nuts-and-bolts practical big-picture.

    Thoughts?

  3. Zack good questions:

    1st: I don’t know hardly anyone who is a Christian (not just a churchgoer) who does not believe in some form of God’s sovereignty. I do know of a few seminary professors who speculate that God may be learning with us as the universe unfolds, and that is an intriguing idea to think about in light of some OT passages (though I do not hold it myself). I know of Christian professors who firmly espouse this view, but it is a distinctly minority view among Christendom. And even then, they are not denying that God controls the universe, but suggesting that God is changing in his interactions with people as life goes along. So with their potential exception, everyone else I know believes that God is sovereign: meaning, that God created the universe and either: 1.) controls and ordains everything or 2.) set things in motion and intervenes and could have total control but allows there to be freedom and change within guidelines that conform to his general plan for the universe.
    In either case, God is sovereign.

  4. 2nd, I did read the article. I think that the point Piper makes at the end is good: realizing and trusting in God as sovereign can be a tremendous comfort in times of testing or in doubt. However, his ten points seem odd in their use of words: when he refers to something “depending on it,” the context of the words of the statement actually refers to “it” depending on God’s sovereignty. As used here, the “it” refers to the passage: “why does it matter whether we believe this?” Most assuredly however, those ten things do not depend on what we believe. Now that is not Piper’s point: however, that is what the grammar of the statement actually implies. What he is implying is that these ten things depend on God’s sovereignty as he has defined in the above paragraph. However, these things do NOT depend on his definition of God’s sovereignty. This use of these words imply that God would suddenly not be God and not be sovereign if it did not conform to the above interpretation: in a sense; God has become dependent on an interpretation!! This is my principle disagreement with all of these types of arguments: Take a passage of scripture: ascribe it to some philosophical definition, then compare it to God and demand that he conform it’s definitions or else he isn’t really God! Ridiculous! This is the ass-backwards way of doing theology. Instead, we should say: God defines idea. What is then the definition of that idea as we look to scripture: the definition does not define God; he defines the definition.

    All that being said, I actually really enjoy the link he gives to the statement from the elders: the links in the passage about sovereignty to the Bible is a nice way to tie it altogether. However, the article itself has little exposition and is unsatisfying and, if I may say so, redundant.

    Finally, my real disagreement is over the OBSESSION that dominates reformed circles about the EXACT definition of God’s sovereignty and THE ABSOLUTE NECESSITY of it being some particular thing. I can barely wrap my head around the idea of God, let alone some particular way he manages the universe: Solomon says, it’s all vanity and chasing after the wind. Or as Paul says, useless debate that leads no one to Christ.

  5. James,

    I love you to death bro, and I wish we could hang out and spend hours waxing theological about these things that are fun to discuss.

    But I have to tell you: over this text medium, your tone sounds like your itching for a fight. You sound very confrontational, and this post was never meant to evoke any such feelings.

    This post isn’t for seminary students who want to discuss the nuance of what ‘sovereign’ means. This is for the MANY people in my life who are going through devastating seasons and giving up on joy. The friends who are in the darkest months of their lives, and have lost perspective, and now struggle to believe that God could possibly be in control of their circumstances — or that He could ever claim to be good if He is.

    I want them to know that God does stand sovereign, even over their darkest day; even over the darkest consequences of their darkest sins.

    He is never taken off-guard. Never surprised. Never needs a contingency plan.

    And to the many pastors I’ve sat under who say that this is too controversial a topic to talk about in any detail: I want them to know that this MATTERS. It is NOT just a philosophical nuance. It is life and death. It is the glue that holds us together in our fragil night seasons.

    The sovereignty of God matters.

    That’s all I’m saying.

    How’s the family?

  6. Zack,
    I apologize if I seem confrontational. I probably was when I wrote this, late at night and just thinking about the question. Thanks for calling me out on it. Sometimes my passion about some particular issue can make me a little bit of a JA. I have a lot of annoyance at a lot of issues in the church, and I am sorry if that came out here. I also teach 70 9th graders physics all day, and perhaps sometimes that leads to a little tension 🙂

    God being in control does matter. But for me the minutiae about what that control means in terms of this event, that cosmic plan, is unimportant. We can’t know why God allows or ordains certain events to happen. All we can know is that he is with us in the pain, that he is watching over us, that he is wiser and works everything out for good, somehow, someway. And we can know that he loves us and will never fail us. He is over everything, and that is important.

    Here’s what I think: God is in control of the universe and my life. Whether that means he ordered every single event or is guiding every event’s impact on me are varying sides of a coin. Different people will find differing interpretations of that sovereignty comforting.

    One other side. Their can be a terrible burden to sovereignty. Somebody who has had their family ripped from them or suffered some horrible catastrophe can find the idea that God ordained that to happen abhorrent, or at the very least extremely painful. It is difficult to explain to Indonesian families who lost people in the 2004 tsunami and now in the earthquake, which together have taken hundreds of thousands of lives, why it is a good part of God’s plan that their relatives had to die, many of them who had never had a chance to hear the gospel. I believe that God is good, but if God owns everything, he truly owns it. That sovereignty has the capability of being both incredibly comforting and truly devastating for a person’s faith if indelicately applied. This is often why I want to stay simple in application of sovereignty: God is who he is. We cannot understand. But we can ask, and we can pray. And he tells us that he loves us. We must ask him daily to reveal that love, for without it we perish.

    I hope my words have been less confrontational in the previous paragraphs. I am sorry for being otherwise. Now onto family.

    The family is doing pretty well. We are helping lead worship in our church, and I am still working teaching physics at school. It is very good, very rewarding work but it is also the hardest thing I have ever done. Being responsible for kids every day is an amazing responsibility that never goes away.

    Congratulations by the way on your child. I do not have any children yet, though I hope to some day. Let me know what you have been up to down there.

    James

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