Tag Archives: Sovereignty

“The discerning hand of God” by Charles Spurgeon

“So far as personal sorrows are concerned, it would be a very sharp and trying experience to me to think that I have an affliction which God never sent me, that the bitter cup was never filled by His hand, that my trials were never measured out by Him, nor sent to me by His arrangement of their weight and quantity.

Oh, that were bitterness indeed! But, on the contrary, the prophet here sees the hand of God in all his trials, and I pray that you and I may do the same.

May we see that our heavenly Father fills the cup with loving tenderness, and holds it out, and says, ‘Drink, my child; bitter as it is, it is a love-potion which is meant to do thee permanent good.’

The discerning of the hand of God is a sweet lesson in the school of experience.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “Woe and Weal” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons (vol. 57; London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1911), 99–100.

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“Every atom in the universe is managed by Christ” by Jonathan Edwards

“By virtue of the believer’s union with Christ, he doth really possess all things. That we know plainly from Scripture (1 Cor. 3:21-23). But it may be asked, how doth he possess all things? What is he the better for it? How is a true Christian so much richer than other men?

To answer this, I’ll tell you what I mean by ‘possessing all things.’ I mean that God three in one, all that He is, and all that He has, and all that He does, all that He has made or done—the whole universe, bodies and spirits, earth and heaven, angels, men and devils, sun, moon, and stars, land and sea, fish and fowls, all the silver and gold, kings and potentates as well as mean men—are as much the Christian’s as the money in his pocket, the clothes he wears, or the house he dwells in, or the victuals he eats, yea more properly his, more advantageously more his, than if he could command all those things mentioned to be just in all respects as he pleased at any time, by virtue of the union with Christ, because Christ, who certainly doth thus possess all things, is entirely his, so that he possesses it all, more than a wife the share of the best and dearest husband, more than the hand possesses what the head doth. It is all his.

The universe is his, only he has not the trouble of managing of it. But Christ, to whom it is no trouble, manages it for him a thousand times as much to his advantage as he could himself if he had the managing of all.

Every atom in the universe is managed by Christ so as to be most to the advantage of the Christian, every particle of air or every ray of the sun, so that he in the other world, when he comes to see it, shall sit and enjoy all this vast inheritance with surprising, amazing joy.”

–Jonathan Edwards, “ff – Union with Christ,” in The “Miscellanies”: Entry Nos. a-z, aa-zz, 1-500, in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 13, Ed. Harry S. Stout (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994), 183-184.

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“God uses the winter for His own glorification” by Martin Luther

“Winter looks like death, anger, and everything bad, as compared with the summer, which looks like life, grace, and all good things.

In order that we may become stronger in faith and not doubt that God can easily and with one word create and do all things, David asks us to consider winter as compared with summer.

For in this contrast God portrays what He can do and how He always works. In winter He sends snow, rime, and frost, so that no man can bear it.

Surely nobody could survive a real winter if he had to do without fire and warmth and depend only on the sun, as he does in summer. The whole creation is powerless to make even a grain of wheat grow or any fruit ripen in winter, but God can change the winter, banish it, and bring the summer again, so that one forgets the winter.

And He does this so easily that it costs Him only one word. Shouldn’t you, then, the more easily believe that He can help you out of your winter and all distress, easily and with a single word?…

If God every year helps the entire world out of winter, its annual flood and death, should you not learn from this mighty example of God’s power, performed annually before your very eyes, to trust and believe in Him in every need?

Look how even the godless, who believe in nothing, are able to say in winter: ‘O yes, summer will come again,’ and are convinced that it will not be winter forever.

Therefore you and everyone should learn to say in the midst of his winter: ‘Very well, let there be snow, frost, and freezing. No matter how bad things get, summer will come again. God will not let it snow and freeze forever,’ as we are told in Ps. 55:22: ‘He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.’

And then the psalmist tells us something even more comforting. Snow, rime, and frost, he says, are the Lord’s. He Himself causes them, and they are not controlled by the devil or any hostile force.

He commands them. Therefore they cannot be colder or freeze us more than He wishes or than we can bear, just as St. Paul taught the Corinthians that God does not let us be tempted beyond our endurance but directs the temptation so that we may be able to endure it (1 Cor. 10:13).

If the devil controlled the frost, there would not only be incessant winter and eternal frost with never again a summer; it would freeze so hard that we would all freeze to death in a single day and become nothing but chunks of ice.

But God’s winter and frost are not everlasting. And though the winter is hard and in itself hardly to be borne, still He gives us so much fire, warmth, straw, etc., that we can bear it until the summer puts an end to it…

He uses the winter for His own glorification, so that He can demonstrate His power by so easily transforming such a cold, hard, unfruitful time into a luxuriant, pleasant, and joyous summer.”

–Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 14: Selected Psalms III (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 14; Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 125-126, 126-127, 128. Luther is commenting on Psalm 147:16-17.

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“He is king forever” by Herman Bavinck

“What a father is for his family, what an educator is for the young, what a commander is for the army, what a king is for his people—all that and much more God is in a totally original way for his creatures.

Not just one but all His attributes come to expression in the world and therefore need to be honored by us.

Now ‘kingship’ for one is a glorious divine institution as well. It not only confers on a people a unity symbolized in a person, but as a hereditary kingship it also assumes the character of originality, loftiness, independence, and constancy.

In all this it is a beautiful—albeit a weak—image of the kingship of God.

All sovereignty on earth is derivative, temporary, and limited, and in the case of abuse, more a curse than a blessing. But God is king in the absolute and true sense.

The government of the universe is not democratic, nor aristocratic, nor republican, nor constitutional, but monarchical. To God belongs the one undivided legislative, judicial, and executive power.

His sovereignty is original, eternal, unlimited, abundant in blessing. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords (1 Tim. 6:15; Rev. 19:6). His royal realm is the whole of the universe.

His are the heavens and the earth (Exod. 19:5; Ps. 8:1; 103:19; 148:13). He possesses all the nations (Ps. 22:28; 47:8–9; 96:10; Jer. 10:7; Mal. 1:14) and is supreme in all the earth (Ps. 47:2, 7; 83:18; 97:9).

He is king forever (Ps. 29:10; 1 Tim. 1:17); no opposition stands a chance against Him (Ps. 93:3–4).

His kingdom will surely come (Matt. 6:10; 1 Cor. 15:24; Rev. 12:10); His glory will be revealed and His name feared from the rising of the sun to its going down (Isa. 40:5; 59:19); He will be king over the entire earth (Zech. 14:9).

Also, in this government God deals with each thing according to its kind. God rules over all things conformably to their nature. Consequently, that rule of God is variously represented in Scripture and described with various names.

By his rule He upholds the world and establishes it so that it will not be moved (Ps. 93:1).

He ordains the light and the darkness (Ps. 104:19–20), commands the rain and withholds it (Gen. 7:4; 8:2; Job 26:8; 38:22ff.), gives snow and hoarfrost and ice (Ps. 147:16), rebukes and stills the sea (Nah. 1:4; Ps. 65:7; 107:29), sends curses and destruction (Deut. 28:15ff.).

All things fulfill His command (Ps. 148:8). With equally sovereign power and majesty He rules in the world of rational creatures.

He rules among the Gentiles and possesses all nations (Ps. 22:28; 82:8). He deems the nations as emptiness and less than nothing (Isa. 40:17), deals with the inhabitants of the earth according to His will (Dan. 4:35), and directs the hearts and thoughts of all (Prov. 21:1).”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: God and Creation, vol. 2, Ed. John Bolt, and trans. John Vriend, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 615–616.

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“He is great in little things” by John Newton

“I heartily sympathize with you in your complaints; but I see you in safe hands. The Lord loves you, and will take care of you.

He who raises the dead, can revive your spirits when you are cast down. He who sets bounds to the sea, and says ‘Hitherto shalt thou come, and no further,’ can limit and moderate that gloom which sometimes distresses you.

He knows why He permits you to be thus exercised. I cannot assign the reasons, but I am sure they are worthy of His wisdom and love, and that you will hereafter see and say, He has done all things well.

If I was as wise as your philosopher, I might say a great deal about a melancholy complexion; but I love not to puzzle myself with second causes, while the first cause is at hand, which sufficiently accounts for every phenomenon in a believer’s experience.

Your constitution, your situation, your temper, your distemper, all that is either comfortable or painful in your lot, is of His appointment.

The hairs of your head are all numbered: the same power which produced the planet Jupiter is necessary to the production of a single hair, nor can one of them fall to the ground without His notice, any more than the stars can fall from their orbits.

In providence, no less than in creation, he is Maximus in minimis, ‘Great in little things.’ Therefore fear not; only believe.

Our sea may sometimes be stormy, but we have an infallible Pilot, and shall infallibly gain our port.

I am,

John Newton”

–John Newton, Letter IX – November 27, 1778” in The Works of John Newton, vol. 2, Ed. Richard Cecil (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 247–248.

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“The Lord reigns” by John Newton

“The spirit of the nation seems like the thoughtless mariner asleep on the top of the mast, regardless of the danger which is increasing every day. Yet still I hope there is mercy.

The gospel spreads– grace reigns– the number of praying souls are upon the increase and their prayers I trust will be heard.

We are sure that the Lord reigns, that the storm is guided by the hands which were nailed to the cross, and that as He loves His own He will take care of them.

But they who have not an ark to hide themselves in will probably weep and wail before the indignation be overpast.

Blessed be God for the prospect of a land of peace where sin and every sorrow will be excluded. There we shall have a day without cloud and without night. The sun shall go down no more, the voice of war shall be heard no more.

The inhabitants shall feel pain no more, shall weep no more, shall go out no more. Then no more unsanctified, and therefore no more unsatisfied desires.

Oh what a state of love, life, and joy when we see Jesus as He is! And by beholding are changed into His image and made according to the utmost capacity of our natures perfectly like Him.

Well it shall, it will come, it approaches nearer every hour.

Love to Mrs. Bull, Tommy, Mr. Fordham, not forgetting Mr. Goode when you see him.

I am your sincere friend and brother, servant and fellow pilgrim,

John Newton
Hoxton, July 26, 1781”

–John Newton, “Letter LV” in Letters of the Rev. John Newton (London: Hamilton, Adams, and Co., 1847), 124-125.

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“God is King” by Herman Bavinck

“God is King: the King of kings and the Lord of lords; a King who in Christ is a Father to His subjects, and a Father who is at the same time a King over His children.”

–Herman Bavinck, Ed. John Bolt and trans. John Vriend, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 2: God and Creation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 593.

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