As I reflected on last night’s study, along with the tension of covering much material far too quickly, I believe I left some confusion about the sovereignty of God. So let me attempt to un-muddy the waters for you.
When we speak of the sovereignty of God, we are saying that God is in control, governing every circumstance of life. There is nothing that escapes His control and dominion. The life of Nebuchadnezzar was an excellent illustration of this truth (Dan. 4:35). We find this truth throughout the pages of Scripture:
- God is sovereign over nations (Ex. 12:35-36; Ezra 1:1; Mt. 2:14-15; Rom. 13:1-4).
- God is sovereign over nature (Job 37:3, 6, 10-13; Is. 45:7; Amos 4:7).
- God is sovereign over physical health, life and death (Job 2:9-10; Mark 1:33-34).
- God is sovereign over Satan (Mt. 4:10-11; Jn. 16:33; Rev. 20:7-10; note also that while Satan was the one who afflicted Job with illness, He attributes that illness as being from God).
- God is sovereign over individual’s lives (Prov. 16:9; 19:21; Eccl. 7:13; 2 Cor. 8:16-17; Js. 4:13-15).
- God is sovereign over salvation (Rom. 8:28-30; Eph. 1:3-6).
- God is sovereign over sin (Gen. 50:20; Acts 4:27-28; Rev. 17:17; John Piper’s sermon series “Spectacular Sins and Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ” is particularly helpful in understanding this truth).
All these verses, and many more combine to paint a picture of the absolute control, authority, and governance of God over all His created world. (Another very helpful resource on this topic is Jerry Bridges’ book, Trusting God; I have read and referred to it many times and am always challenged and encouraged by it.)
That was what I was trying to say last night. And where I got side-tracked, creating confusion, was how men attempt to discover and know that sovereignty, which is where the terms “preceptive (moral) will” and “decreed will” entered the discussion. I should have just left that out — while a related topic, it is not central to the discussion of God’s sovereignty. [If you wish to read more about how to discover God’s will, read either Garry Friesen’s Decision Making and the Will of God (the older version is better than the newer version) or Garry Gilley’s Is That You, Lord? (a more concise explanation of the same topic covered by Friesen).
I hope that helps a little.
Then as I was reading my Bible this morning, I was struck by the repeated emphasis in the passages I was reading on the holiness of God. They are not inherently connected to each other, yet the themes of the greatness of God and His holiness run through them. This is what I wrote in my journal about God’s holiness as it was revealed in what I was reading
- The motive for obedience to God is because His people have been set apart to Him (Dt. 14:21). The reason Israel had strict dietary laws was because they were holy to Him — set apart to His purposes, which is still true for believers (and me!) today.
- In a similar vein, Isaiah notes that God says, “I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness…” (42:6). The purpose of His calling is to produce righteousness (cf. also Titus 2:14); the authority for His calling men to that righteousness is His position as Lord (Yahweh — the covenant God of Israel). Yet in His authoritativeness, He also provides the ability for His people to be righteous.
- His holiness is revealed to His people to evoke praise and gratitude (Ps. 99:8-9; 100; 103:1). We dare not come to His Word or presence only with a desire for knowledge and not also a corresponding zeal for worship and gladness in Him.
Lord, give me a yearning for You today — not for Your benefits alone, but because You have created me to enjoy You and Your perfections.