Dr. Ray E. Heiple, Jr.
God’s Sovereignty – Your Greatest Delight!
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28NKJV
Again this week we focus on part of Question 45 of the Larger Catechism, which asks, “How doth Christ execute the office of a king?” It gives the answer, “Christ executeth the office of a king, in calling out of the world a people to himself, and giving them officers, laws, and censures, by which he visibly governs them; in bestowing saving grace upon his elect, rewarding their obedience, and correcting them for their sins, preserving and supporting them under all their temptations and sufferings, restraining and overcoming all their enemies, and powerfully ordering all things for his own glory, and their good; and also in taking vengeance on the rest, who know not God, and obey not the gospel.” Last week we saw how Christ, as king, preserves all of His elect unto salvation. This week we consider the Biblical doctrine of providence.
Towards the end of its answer, the Catechism declares that King Jesus is active right now, “powerfully ordering all things for his own glory, and [his elect’s] good.” Think of that for a moment. The almighty, all-wise, perfectly good, divine, and yet human king of the universe actually orders everything in existence for His glory and for your ultimate good. You, as small as you are, have the attention and concern of the king of everything was, is, or ever will be! If we truly believed this fact with an active and healthy faith, nothing would disturb our peace, shake our hope, or steal our joy. The doctrine of the absolute sovereignty of God – that God has predestined all things, that He absolutely rules over all creation – is truly the most comforting and awe-inspiring doctrine of the Bible!
When Joseph was sold into slavery, falsely accused of attempted rape, and wrongly imprisoned in Pharaoh’s dungeon, what kept him trusting in God and living out his faith was his unshakeable belief in the sovereign reign of God extending even to the sins of wicked men. Thus Joseph confessed God’s greater good purposes in all the sins of his jealous brothers: “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive” (Gen. 50:20). Sinful men meant their wicked deeds for evil, but God ordained and purposed these same acts for good. God reveals to us His power and might in causing even the wrath of man to praise Him (Psa. 76:10). In fact, the greatest act of treachery and evil ever committed on this earth – the betrayal and murder of Jesus Christ – was the very act that God Himself ordained and overruled in order to bring about the greatest act of grace: the salvation of all of His elect. Accordingly, the Scriptures state this amazing truth by setting these contraries (man’s sin and God’s predestination) together to better show forth the awesome power of our sovereign God: “For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur” (Act. 4:27-28). Though Herod, Pilate, the unbelieving Gentiles and Jews do their worst to God’s Son, all that they can accomplish is exactly what God had already planned and purposed since before the foundation of the world: glorifying His Son, saving His elect, and sealing the fate of all of His enemies!
If you are a Christian, know and make it your business to ever more believe, that every single event and circumstance in your life has been placed and is being ordered for God’s glory and for your good! Specifically, God is glorified as you bear up under difficult circumstances and continue to do what is right no matter what the cost. Moreover by His Spirit even the sufferings you are made to endure, and the injustices done to you by the wickedness of sinful men will actually bring you more good, both in this life and in the life to come. This is God’s unchangeable promise to you. Strive to believe it in active and obedient faith and you will increasingly see it come to pass in your life!