One time I was sitting in a class during my theological training and the professor was demonstrating to us the truth of God’s sovereignty. A few years earlier I had grappled with this truth of God’s sovereignty and come to be deeply thankful that God was indeed in sovereign control of all things. But during that afternoon class a question was asked that helped me to see why at one point I feared God’s sovereignty and now why I loved the truth of God’s sovereignty. The professor was specifically addressing how comforting this truth of God’s sovereignty ought to be to each Christian. A fellow classmate raised his hand and sincerely asked something to this effect: “Why should God being sovereign comfort me? I do not see the connection between comfort and knowing God is sovereign.”
That question is a legitimate question. Why should God’s sovereignty be comforting to us? Recently I have been meditating on Ephesians 1 and have been rejoicing in God’s sovereignty. In the original language of Greek, Ephesians 1:3-14 is one long remarkable sentence of God’s revelation. It is a Trinitarian hymn of praise to God the Father for what He has done through His Son Jesus and what the Spirit has applied to those in Christ. A central piece of the praise to the Father is His sovereign control of the plan of redemption for those in Christ. Consider just three truths from this text regarding God’s sovereignty:
1. God “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4a)
2. In love God “predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Chrsit to Himself” (Ephesians 1:4b-5a)
3. God “works all things after the counsel of his will” (Ephesians 1:11b)
Truths one and two regarding God’s sovereignty reach back into the counsels of God from all eternity before time. The third truth shows that in time God’s sovereignty is all encompassing. The question of this meditation is not, “is God sovereign?” I trust that the three points above are conclusive for all of us. The question however is why should God’s sovereignty be comforting to us?
Much could be said from Ephesians 1 on that point. For example, it is a hymn of praise to God because He has “blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). It is clear that God’s sovereignty in this passage is what coordinates and carries out the giving of these spiritual blessings to those in Christ. But there is this phrase that is repeated twice that also reveals why God’s sovereignty is a comforting truth: “according to the kind intention of His will” (Ephesians 1:5, 9). Ephesians 1:11 says this: “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.” What is clear is that God’s will (1:5, 9) and His purpose (1:11) are synonymous. Therefore, God works all things according to the kind intention of His will. What does kind intention mean? It means “good pleasure.” God works all things according to His pleasure. And what kind of pleasure is it? Good pleasure. God’s sovereign will which is being worked out for His children in Christ is according to His kind intention His good pleasure.
So why is the truth that God is sovereign so comforting? My professor kindly answered the student who asked that question and who was obviously doubting that it could be so. In essence, the answer that was given was this: “God’s sovereignty is comforting because as believers we also know from God’s Word who this sovereign God is.” What if God was sovereign but not wise? Or sovereign but impotent? Or sovereign but evil? Then there would be great reason for concern and no comfort at all. But what if God is sovereign and He works all things according to the good pleasure of His will? What if all that He does in His sovereignty is inseparable from His goodness? What if God in His sovereignty has nothing but kind intentions toward you in Christ?
If God’s sovereignty is always carried out according to His kind intentions then there is a deep biblical comfort that can stare anything in the face in this sin cursed world and say “God is good and is up to something good for His glory and my good.” That is the kind of comfort that cannot legitimately be taken away from us. The only way that this comfort could be taken away from us is if we started to doubt what the Bible reveals about the character of God. If we do that then God’s sovereignty does start to seem cold and heartless. But if He has nothing but kind intentions toward His children then His sovereignty and our comfort go hand in hand and to know that God is sovereign is to know something indescribably good.