The Sovereignty of God

Note, this article is part of a topical study series.

So what does the common cliché "God is sovereign" mean?? Many Calvinists say that God's will always happens no matter what. Or, in the words of John Calvin "nothing happens but what he has knowingly and willingly decreed". There certainly are aspects of God's will that he makes happen no matter what, like the scattering and regathering of Israel, and the first and second coming of Christ. However, there are aspects of His will mentioned in the verses below that he does not force on us, like purity, thankfulness, doing well, and salvation...


Compare the following two verses:
"For this is the will of God, even your sanctification,
that ye should abstain from fornication:"
1 Thessalonians 4:3
"It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you..."
1 Corinthians 5:1

Unfortunately believers commonly fornicate despite God's clear will for them to abstain from this behaviour. This sin goes back to the church of Corinth and beyond.

Giving Thanks

"In every thing give thanks:
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
1 Thessalonians 5:18

"Do all things without murmurings and disputings:"
Philippians 2:14

We all have been commanded to do ALL things without murmuring (complaining). Unfortunately we often live contrary to the will of God and complain, despite God's clearly defined will "In everything give thanks:..."

"For so is the will of God, that with well doing
ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:"
1 Peter 2:15
"And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee. Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew."
Matthew 26:73-74

Peter himself disobeyed the clearly defined will of God, instead of doing well to silence these foolish people that came against Christ and His followers, he did evil to silence their accusations.


"...not willing that any should perish,
but that all should come to repentance."
Matthew 18:14
"Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven,
that one of these little ones should perish."
2 Peter 3:9
"Who will have all men to be saved..."
1 Timothy 2:4
" them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth,
that they might be saved."
2 Thessalonians 2:10

Unfortunately not everyone will be saved; some will perish. This is clearly against the will of God, who is "not willing that any should perish". We know from the verses above that it is not the will of God that "one of these little ones should perish", not one. Those that perish do so "because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved."

So we see that God has chosen to give us a choice. We are not always forced to do His will, thus we disobey Him.

"...I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing:
therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:"
Deuteronomy 30:19

We cannot save ourselves, but He created us with the ability to choose to turn in our hearts to Jesus, the only one who can save us. Consider the following versus:

"And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel."
Mark 1:15

"And the times of this ignorance God winked at (overlooked);
but now commandeth all men every where to repent:"
Acts 17:30

"...repent and turn to God,...."
Acts 26:20

"...turn ye even to me with all your heart..."
Joel 2:12

When we turn to Jesus in our hearts (repent ye) and believe the gospel, he then saves us from perishing.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
John 3:16

This is the Way God has chosen for men to be saved:

"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life:
no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
John 14:6

Believing the gospel is not a work of the flesh or of the law:

"Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified."
Galatians 2:16

Believing the gospel is an act of obedience in our hearts:

"ye have obeyed from the heart that
form of doctrine which was delivered you.
Romans 6:17

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