What we mean by the sovereignty of God is captured in paragraph 3.2 of The Bethlehem Baptist Church Elder Affirmation of Faith. The dozens of biblical passages used to support this paragraph are found in the online version.
3.2 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.
Why does it matter whether we believe this? Ten reasons.
1. The good news of God’s substituting his Son for us on the cross depends on it.
“Truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.” (Acts 4:27-28)
2. The perseverance of the saints in the fear of God depends on it.
“I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me.” (Jeremiah 32:40)
3. Progress in holiness now, and the final perfecting of the saints in the end, depends on it.
“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13)
“But you have come to Mount Zion . . . and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect.” (Hebrews 12:22-23)
4. The assurance of God’s final triumph over all natural and supernatural evil depends on it.
“I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.’” (Isaiah 46:9-10)
5. The comfort that there is a wise and loving purpose in all our calamities and losses, and that God will work all things together for our good, depends on it.
“Though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love. . . . Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?” (Lamentations 3:32-38)
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” (Genesis 50:20)
6. The hope that God will give life to the spiritually dead depends on it.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:4-5)
“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)
7. Well-grounded expectation of answered prayer depends on it.
“Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.” (Romans 10:1)
“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. . . . For the promise is for . . . everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” (Acts 2:38-39)
8. Boldness in the face of seeming hopeless defeat depends on it.
“Be of good courage, and let us be courageous for our people, and for the cities of our God, and may the Lord do what seems good to him.” (2 Samuel 10:12)
“Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him, for there are more with us than with him.” (2 Chronicles 32:7)
9. Seeing and savoring the revelation of the fullness of God’s glory depends on it.
“But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ . . . What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power . . . [acted] in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy?” (Romans 9:20-23)
10. Praise that matches the fullness of God’s power, wisdom, and grace depends on it.
“Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. . . . We will bless the Lord from this time forth and forevermore.” (Psalms 115:3-18)
“Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised.” (Psalms 96:4)
The doctrine of God’s sovereignty is an anchor for the troubled soul, a hope for the praying heart, a stability for fragile faith, a confidence in pursuing the lost, a guarantee of Christ’s atonement, a high mystery to keep us humble, and a solid ground for all praise. And oh so much more. O Lord, turn this truth for the triumph of your saving and sanctifying grace.
Confident and comforted with you,
By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: www.desiringGod.org. Email: mail@desiringGod.org. Toll Free: 1.888.346.4700.
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Publication date: July 6, 2011