The Sovereignty of God

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The sovereignty of God is one of those theological concepts that can be difficult to understand. It can lead to common questions like: Does God control everything I do? What about free will? If God is sovereign, why does He allow evil? If God has preordained everything, what difference does prayer make?


I like to think about it by remembering the root word sovereign, which is commonly ascribed to a king or, according to Merriam-Webster, someone who has “supreme authority.” In the New International Version of the Old Testament, most uses of the word sovereign are translated from the Hebrew word Adonai, a name for God that can also be translated “Lord,” which in English means “a ruler by hereditary right or preeminience to whom service and obedience are due.”


While an earthly king may rule over a defined geographic area for a finite period of time, God rules over the entire universe for all time. When He created the universe, He set into motion the stars, the planets, and the laws by which the created world operates—like gravity (Col. 1:16-17).


God also created humans. And because He loves us, He gave us free will—the ability to choose whether or not we will follow Him. That means, even though God is sovereign, He’s not a puppet master. Like an earthly king, He has authority over His creation, but He doesn’t exercise control over every decision we make.


At the same time, God did not simply create the universe and sit back on His hands. He is actively involved in bringing about His ultimate plan for humanity (Eph. 1:9-10), which will culminate in a new heaven and new earth (Rev. 21:1-6). Even the most powerful forces of evil cannot thwart His plan.


He also has a plan for your life. God loves you and cares about the smallest details of your life, but He will not barge in and take over your free will. This is where prayer comes in—He wants us to reach out to Him. If you submit to His will, He will order your life in such a way that His plan for you will be worked out (Rom. 8:28). So when we pray “Thy will be done,” we are acknowledging God’s sovereignty and giving up our own free will in order to allow Him to work out His will in our lives.


If you’d like to know more about the sovereignty of God, take some time to read the Bible passages cited above. Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you what it means to surrender to His will. We at Just Between Us (JBU) have also put together a list of articles here that we think will encourage you as you seek His plan for your life.


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