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If God is Soveriegn, What Then?
Bless the Lord!
If God Is Sovereign, What Then?
Psalm 103:19-22
 
I'm going to ask you a question and preface it by daring you to be honest.  If you're like me there is sometimes a difference between what I know I'm supposed to say and what I'm thinking inside. 
 
So with this question, I want to ask you to be honest, and the good news is I'm not going to ask you to answer aloud.  You can just keep the answer between you and God.  By the way, He knows whether or not you're being honest so you are just as well to be honest anyway!
 
Here's the questions:  When you read or listen to the Bible, are there ever times when you try to come up with reasons to not believe what you hear?  For instance, we read, "I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me." 
 
Now if that is true, then there are some things I have no excuse to not be doing, so I've got to come up with some reasons to not believe that.  At the very least, I have to try and explain those verses in some way other than what they say.  That must have been for the first century Christian, and therefore, it no longer applies. 
 
Or in the original language, the words meant something else and we have just misinterpreted it!
And if I can't do that, then I have to come up with some other reason to not believe it!
 
 
Such is the case with a verse from our text this evening.  See if you can figure out which verse I'm talking about. 
 
Psalm 103:19-22
 
I'm talking about verse 19.  Humanly speaking, there are at least as many reasons not to believe this verse as there are to believe it. I say that because this verse teaches a doctrine that many find troublesome and that is the doctrine of the sovereignty of God.
 
Just so we are all on the same page, let me define the word sovereign. The term “sovereign” refers to a king or a ruler. To be sovereign is to have authority in a particular realm. Sovereignty, then, is the rule a king has over his kingdom or realm.
 
So notice, the verse says that God is sovereign, His kingdom rules over "all".  That means he rules all things, including everything known to us and that which is unknown. His throne is settled and established. It cannot be shaken by the affairs of men. His kingdom rules over all.
 
Now, there are a lot of reasons for us to believe that.  We could look at creation and see the order and handiwork of God.  We could look to the stars and planets and sun and moon and observe the ebb and flow of the tides, and it's not hard to see God's rule and reign. 
 
There is too much order and design to ignore it! We may not know or understand how he does it, but most of us don't question that He does it, and does it well!
In fact, we would have to say if He didn't do it, then it would all come crashing down and collapse on itself.  And even that in the farthest reaches of the universe and beyond, He put it all together and it's really not hard to believe that.  After all, somebody designed it and maintains it and cares for it and we believe, without reservation, that God is responsible.  He is sovereign over the universe.  He rules over all.
 
But over on the other side, there are some reasons to doubt that.  It's not much of an issue for us in the grand, eternal, majestic side of things.  Where it becomes an issue is more on the personal side. 
 
It's fine to speak of the stars and God's rule in the heavens.  We can leave that with God because we know we have nothing to do with the stars anyway. But to say that God is in charge of all that happens to me-the good and the bad, the happy and the sad, the positive and the negative-and that he is working out his plan that somehow includes everything that happens to me-to suppose that he works out the details of my life and gives me what is best for me every day-that’s another story.
 
When there is trouble, we want to know who is running the show. A few days ago I went to Lowe's to purchase a new garbage disposal.  I wanted to know if the drain pipe that connects to it was the same size as the one I was replacing.  A lady was at the register in the plumbing department and it was obvious she was busy with some task. 
 
When I asked her if she knew what size drain pipe the disposal required, she told me she didn't know, and by the way she said it, I knew she wasn't going to find out either. 
She didn't know anything about the drain pipe sizes, and yet she works for the company in the section of the store that sells the supplies for the very question I was asking.  And I didn't ask her, although I wanted to, "Well you work in this area and you've got on a name tag that identifies you as the person in charge.  If the person running the show doesn't know what's going on, then please tell me, who does?"
 
That’s what sovereignty is all about. It answers the question, “Who’s running the show?” A great deal is at stake in the answer to that question. That’s why A. W. Pink said very succinctly, “To say that God is sovereign is to say that God is God.”
 
So let's take a few moments to consider "who's running the show".  Our verse says, "The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.”
 
Let me give you
 
1.  Three Reasons To Doubt God's Sovereignty
 
And please understand, I'm not trying to be disrespectful or irreverent.  I'm just trying to look at the verse honestly.  For instance, If God is Sovereign, please explain
 
- The Problem of Unexplainable Catastrophes
 
What about all those strange events like freak accidents and natural disasters that are usually identified in the fine print of an insurance policy as “acts of God.”
 
I'm talking about things like volcanos erupting and destroying villages. Things like deadly snowstorms and hurricanes and tornadoes and famines and earthquakes and tsunamis and diseases.
 
Those kinds of things are happening all over the world and that happen so frequently, we hardly even pay attention to the reports any longer.  Or unless it occurs close to home.  Then it gets our attention and we shake our heads and wonder why.
 
Why? Why them and not me? Why me and not them? Why here and not there? Why this particular trailer park and not the one a block away?  Why does a tornado hit and elementary school and not a prison?
 
Why does this Sovereign God spare some and not others?  And if He's so good, why does anybody ever have any tragedy or trouble?   And I don't care how much of a Bible scholar or theologian you are, about the best answer anyone can ever come up with is, "I don't know."
 
So if you choose to believe God is sovereign, you have to deal with the problem of unexplainable catastrophes. 
 
Number 2, if you choose to believe God is sovereign, please explain
 
- The Prosperity of the Wicked
 
Some things that happen to us are explainable but still undeserved.  We didn’t deserve to have our marriage break up. 
We didn’t deserve to be cheated.  We didn’t deserve to lose our job. We didn’t deserve being abused as a child.  We didn’t deserve to have our children end up on drugs. 
 
And yet, you and I both know a lot of people who fit in that category.  They are good people who love and serve the Lord, and yet their lives have been filled with pain and disappointment and heartache.
 
And to complicate things, we all know people who are as far from God as they can be, and yet they never seem to have any problems.  In fact, their lives are filled with comfort and happiness.
 
These are the kinds of things that have always bothered God's people.  For instance, read Psalm 73 and see what Asaph said about how he envied the wicked because they get away with murder.
 
“For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked” (Psalm 73:2).
 
And as he studied the Bad Guys, they seemed so carefree, so happy. They act like they don’t have a problem in the world. They’re living on Easy Street. If they want to swear, they swear. If they want to rip someone off, they do it. They thumb their noses at God. Then he said, “This is what the wicked are like-always carefree, they increase in wealth” (v. 12).
 
The good die young, or so we’re told, and the wicked live to be 85. Where is justice? And where is God when his people are backed against the wall?
 
 
And you want me to believe God is sovereign and that “His kingdom rules over all” while I'm getting kicked in the teeth and the sorriest folks on planet earth are doing better than I am? 
 
Third reason:  If you choose to believe that God is sovereign, then you've got to explain
 
- The Paradox of Sovereignty and Free Will
 
Have you ever thought about the fact that if God is sovereign and in control of my life, if He rules over all, then how come I still get to make decisions?  How can I truly free will if God is Sovereign? 
 
From our limited, finite, human point of view, it just doesn't seem like both of those things can co-exist.  I can either be a puppet or I can be a free agent, but I can't be both.
 
And the frustration of trying to figure that out san really complicate a lot fo other things in your life.  After all, if God is sovereign, then why do I need to pray? He’s got it all figured out anyway. He's going to do what He wants to do.  So if God is sovereign, why not just kick back and watch TV? Why do anything?
 
Now, I bring up these objections simply to say, "If you are going to choose to believe in the sovereignty of God, then there are some difficult things to deal with.  And I will tell you that there are and have been many thoughtful believers, including our best theologians and spiritual leaders, who have wrestled with questions and issues like these for thousands of years.
 
So where do we turn for help in believing? Or how do we keep believing in a God like that in a world like this?  I'm not going to pretend I am smart enough to answer all those concerns and I've got it all figured out.  But I will tell you, as you wrestle with those issues, there are some thing you have to keep in mind, or you'll get way off track.  So let me suggest
 
2.  Three Crucial Considerations
 
First of all,
 
- There are two wills at work in the universe
 
Theologian Donald G. Barnhouse said, "In the beginning there was only one will-God’s. When there was only one will, the universe was filled with peace and harmony. But now Satan, whose will is completely opposed to God’s will, has been set free to roam about the universe, working his diabolical deeds. Ever since Lucifer fell from heaven and became Satan, there has been another will in the universe. A will opposed to God as completely as one can ever be opposed to another.
 
God is light.
Satan is darkness.
 
God is truth.
Satan is a liar.
 
God is the source of life.
Satan brings only death.
 
And now, in this age of two wills, there is untold misery and heartache. Satan committed the first sin. He led the first rebellion.
He engineered the first temptation. He was in the Garden of Eden. He was there when Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss. He roams the world today like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). He stirs up trouble, makes false accusations, and incites us to commit every sort of evil deed.
 
He is a world-wrecker and a home-destroyer. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). He comes to steal your purity, your honesty, your integrity, your decency, your kindness, your compassion, your generosity, and every other godly impulse. He intends to destroy your friendships, your home, your career, your godly ambitions, and he certainly wants to destroy your marriage and your family.
 
He’s taken dead aim at your church too. He wants to stir up controversy, hatred, division, strife and quarreling so that churches split, Christians become bitter, friends part ways, pastors give up and churches blow up. He does all that he does so that God’s work might come to an end and he might remain the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Never forget that “the Evil One controls the whole world” (1 John 5:19 NCV).
 
When we see the troubles and heartaches and struggles in home and marriages and churches a marriage on the brink, we need to remember that Satan has his evil hands at work in that situation. We fight back through prayer and spiritual warfare because that’s what this is.  It is true spiritual warfare.
 
 
It is Satan striking a blow against God and His followers and family and we need to ask the Lord to deliver us from his power.  Why? 
 
Because God is sovereign, even over the devil.  So why doesn’t he destroy him? Just give Him time and He will. Until then we live on the battlefield of a vast spiritual conflict between God and Satan, between good and evil. We happen to be on the winning side, but that does not mean we won’t suffer casualties as the battle ebbs and flows.
 
Not only are there two wills at work in the world,
 
- There are Two Ways to Look at Life
 
You can look at life from from the bottom-up or from the top-down. From the top down means to start with God and then go to the problems of life. From the bottom up means to start with my problems and then work upwards to God.
 
Most of us instinctively start from the bottom and go up if we can. What difference does it make? Only all the difference in the world. Maybe the difference between keeping your faith and losing it. The difference between joy and bitterness, between self-pity and victorious faith.
 
If you start with you, you’ll end with you and be no better off. If you start with God, you’ve started in the only possible place to find any lasting answers. This may be the central message of the book of Job. In the beginning Job faces unimaginable loss, a series of catastrophes that left him scratching his sores on the ash heap, with a wife urging him to curse God and die.
The largest part of the book is a dialogue with his friends over why these things have happened. 
 
Here’s the most amazing fact. Job never finds out why God chose him for such suffering. His central question remains unanswered. He apparently never finds out about Satan’s part in the whole scheme. So in terms of specific answers, he is left in the dark.
 
But by the end of the book there is a huge difference. When he at last bows before the Lord, he acknowledges God’s sovereignty. “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you” (Job 42:2 NLT). I suppose the question might be put this way:
 
Am I willing to believe that God knows what he’s doing in my life when I don’t have a clue?
 
There are two wills at work in the world, there are two ways to look at life, and thirdly,
 
- There Are Two Choices We Can Make
 
In his book “If God is in Charge,” Steve Brown tells the story of a class his associate pastor was teaching in which he said that God is sovereign, God is love, and no matter how bad things get, Christians should praise him. He went on to say that the real test of praise is not when things are going good but when they are going bad.
 
During the question and answer period, a man raised his hand and said, “I just can’t buy what you say about praising God in the midst of evil and hurt. I don’t believe that when you lose someone you love through death, or you have cancer, or you lose your job, that you ought to praise God.”
The associate pastor offered a simple yet profound answer. “What other alternatives do you propose?” The question begs for an answer. If God is not sovereign, then who is? If God is not in control, who’s running the show?
 
But the good news is this. Our God is in control. “The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.” I admit that it doesn’t always appear to be so. But it is true.
 
There are two choices we can make. We can reject God’s sovereignty, which ultimately leads to despair and frustration, or we can bow before him in humble submission, which leads to praise and freedom.
 
If God is sovereign, what then? 
 
Notice the final three verses of the psalm
 
verses 20-22.
 
verse 20 - since God is in control, let the angels praise him.
 
verse 21 - Since God is in control, let the heavenly hosts praise him.
 
verse 22a - Since God is in control, let all his works praise him..
 
verse 22b - Since God is in control, let everyone praise him.
 
Only one question remains. How can we be sure that what God has in mind for us is good? 
We can know that primarily because of His track record.  We have seen Him in action.  We have read about it in the Bible, we've listened to the testimony of others and we've experienced it for ourselves. 
 
It is an old and oft-told story, the one about a young boy who worked for days building a toy boat. One day he took the boat down to the creek to see how it would float. When a puff of wind blew the boat out of reach, the boy ran alongside the creek crying for his boat to return. But soon it drifted out of sight.
 
Day passed, then weeks. A long time later the little boy was walking in the city and came upon a pawn shop. In the window he saw his toy boat. Someone had found the boat, taken it out of the water, and sold it. The boy ran inside, found the owner, and said, “Sir, you have my boat in the window. I made it myself.” The owner said, “If you want your boat back, you will have to do as all the customers do and buy it.”
 
Over the next few days the boy did odd jobs around the neighborhood. He mowed grass, carried out garbage, walked dogs, washed cars, and painted fences, saving every penny. When he finally had enough, he went back to the store, hoping his boat was still there. Paying his money, he reclaimed his boat. Walking out of the store, he was heard to say, “I made you. I lost you. I found you. I bought you. Now you are mine forever.”
 
So it is with God. He made us, we left him, he found us and bought us with the price of Jesus’ blood. Now we are his forever.
 
That’s God’s track record. “What then shall we say to these things? ´╗┐If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)
 
So far from being a cold, hard doctrine, the sovereignty of God fills the believer’s heart with comfort. In this world with so many questions, we know with certainty that his throne is in heaven, he rules over all, and he loves us so much that he gave his Son that we might have everlasting life.
 
He who upholds the universe holds me in the palm of his hand. He who guides the stars guides my life too. He who knows all things from beginning to end knows me. And I entrust my life to him.
 
Therefore, I will bless the Lord, O my soul, and with all that is within me, I will bless His holy Name!
 
Let's pray. 
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