SHINE THE LIGHT

THURSDAY - DAY 4

WHO DO YOU SAY I AM? PART FOUR

Our Mark passage today speaks about Jesus being Lord of the mountain top and the valley – that He is LARGE and IN CHARGE and the ultimate sovereign Ruler and King of all. For us to fully understand this big idea, an understanding of the SOVEREIGNTY of God is a must, because Jesus is God.

JESUS is LARGE + IN CHARGE

The SOVEREIGNTY of God is the fact that He is the LORD over creation; as SOVEREIGN, He exercises His rule. This SOVEREIGN control is not impersonal or mechanical, but the loving and gracious oversight of the King of creation and redemption.

The term SOVEREIGNTY is rarely found in recent translations of Scripture, but it represents an important biblical concept. A SOVEREIGN is a ruler, a king, a lord, and Scripture often refers to God as the one who rules over all. His most common proper name, Yahweh (see Ex. 3:14) is regularly translated as LORD in the English Bible. And LORD, in turn, is found there over 7,000 times as a name of God and specifically as a name of Jesus Christ.

So, to discuss the SOVEREIGNTY of God is to discuss the LORDSHIP of God—that is, to discuss the Godness of God, the qualities that make him to be God. The major components of the biblical concept of divine sovereignty or lordship are God’s control, authority, and presence.

SOVEREIGN CONTROL

 His control means that everything happens according to HIs plan and intention. Authority means that all His commands ought to be obeyed. Presence means that we encounter God’s control and authority in all our experience, so that we cannot escape from His justice or from His love. When theologians talk about “divine sovereignty,” they usually have the first of these in mind, His control. Indeed, the Bible teaches that God controls all things. He has an eternal plan for all of nature and history (Ephesians 1:9–11). When God meets with Moses in Exodus 3 and reveals His name Yahweh, that name, God’s Lordship, reveals to Moses that God, not Pharaoh, rules over the affairs of Egypt and Israel:

But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand. So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all the wonders that I will do in it; after that he will let you go. (Exodus 3:19–20)

I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the LORD.’” (Exodus 6:7–8)

Note the last four words of this promise: because God is Lord, the sovereign, He will certainly deliver Israel from Egypt and bring His people into the promised land. Nothing can stop the Lord from fulfilling His promise.

SOVEREIGN AUTHORITY

But God’s sovereign lordship is more than control. It also embodies His authority: what the Lord commands, His creatures must do. In the Decalogue, the covenant which Moses delivers to Israel after God sovereignly redeemed them from Egypt, God begins by identifying himself as Lord (Exodus 20:1–2) and on the basis of that identification, goes on to utter His ten commandments. It is because God is the sovereign Lord that we must obey Him (John 14:21; Matthew 7:21–22; Luke 6:46). Because He is Lord, His authority is absolute. That means:

  • we should not waver in our obedience to Him (Romans 4:16–22)
  • His lordship transcends all our other loyalties (Matthew 10:34–38)
  • that His authority over us exists in all areas of human life, not just in the areas that we arbitrarily call religious or sacred (Colossians 3:17, 24)

SOVEREIGN PRESENCE

The third attribute that defines God’s sovereign lordship is His covenant solidarity with His creation, which I often abbreviate by the term presence. In Scripture, the covenant Lord is one who takes people to be His own (Exodus 6:7; 2 Corinthians 6:16). He declares this intention often in Scripture. When God takes us to be His people, He fights our battles, blesses us, loves us, and sometimes (as a loving Father should) gives us special punishments for our sins (Amos 3:2). He summarises all this by saying that He is with us. He places His name upon us (Numbers 6:27) so that He dwells with us and we with Him. In the OT, He fulfils His presence with Israel in the tabernacle and the temple. In the NT, He dwells with us particularly in Jesus, “God with us,” Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23). He “tabernacles” with us (John 1:14). And after His ascension, He sends the Holy Spirit to dwell in us as his temple (1 Corinthians 3:16).

But God’s presence is not only with His chosen human beings. For God’s whole creation is also in covenant with Him: He is the Lord of all creation. His presence is everywhere, or as theologians say, He is omnipresent (Psalm 139; Acts 17:28).

So even though Scripture teaches that God controls everything, we should not think of His sovereignty as an impersonal, mechanical determinism. God’s sovereign lordship is deeply personal. As Lord, God not only controls everything but also utters commands, words of life, that graciously govern the ongoing life of His creatures. And as Lord He has made a sovereign commitment to be “with” those who are His. Indeed, God’s sovereignty is a broad concept, including all that God is and all that He does, even embracing His love.

Adapted from article entitled “THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD” by John M. Frame of The Gospel Coalition