Christians speak often of God’s sovereignty. Reformed Christians speak very often of God’s sovereignty. God’s sovereignty refers to his presence in this world, his authority over this world, and his control within this world. God owns and oversees his creation to such a degree that nothing happens apart from his knowledge, apart from his will, apart from his wisdom. There is nothing we are given that does not in some way pass through his hands.
As we speak of God’s sovereignty we have to ensure that we do not speak of it only theoretically, that we do not relegate it purely to the realm of the intellectual, for it is no mere abstract doctrine but one that is sweet and precious and ought to be close to the heart of every Christian. This is a doctrine that gives us hope in every sorrow, that lends meaning to every pain, that gives confidence in every circumstance.
Perhaps it is good to consider some of what would be true if God is not sovereign.
If God is not sovereign we cannot be confident in our salvation. We cannot trust that his gospel is the only true gospel, that his salvation is effective, that his way is the right way. For if he is not sovereign, the will of another being may supersede his, the plan of another may outrival his, the word of another may take precedence over his. Unless God is sovereign, our very salvation is in doubt.
If God is not sovereign we cannot be confident that there is meaning in our suffering. We have no assurance that the difficulties we endure are actually consistent with his will and that he is actually bringing good from bad, light from darkness, laughter from tears. Unless God is sovereign we have no reason for hope as we look to the future and no reason for trust that God will prove that all we’ve endured is but a light and momentary affliction when compared to the great weight of glory to come.
If God is not sovereign we cannot be confident in evangelism. We will be prone to take credit when others believe the message and prone to take blame when others fail to believe it. We will be prone even to take credit for our own salvation, for if God is not sovereign, than perhaps we are.
If God is not sovereign we cannot be confident that we will remain in the faith. We have no assurance that we will not be swayed by another teaching, that we will not be drawn away by another faith. We have no assurance that God will be proven true when he says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Unless God is sovereign, another powerful being may compel us to reject the faith and be lost forever.
If God is not sovereign we cannot be confident that Christ will return. Though God has promised that Christ will be revealed from heaven and the mighty angels with him, what if another being with greater authority can shut down God’s plan or deny God’s desire? Unless God is sovereign we look to the future with uncertainty rather than confidence, with hope that is shaky and trepidatious rather than firmly fixed.
But if God is sovereign, we can be confident in our salvation, confident that there is meaning in our suffering, confident that our evangelism will be effective, confident that we will remain in the faith, confident that Christ will return, confident in all God is, in all he does, in all he says, in all he has promised. Our faith is rightly fixed in the God who, in the majestic words of the Heidelberg Catechism, “upholds, as with his hand, heaven and earth and all creatures, and so rules them that leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and lean years, food and drink, health and sickness, prosperity and poverty—all things, in fact, come to us not by chance but from his fatherly hand.”