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THEOLOGY > God > Providence > Response to Sovereignty 


Three responses will characterize the believer’s reaction to Sovereignty: Acknowledgment, Submission, and Worship.

Acknowledgment is the realization and confession that Providence is indeed the teaching of the Canon. Note that the acknowledgment of Sovereignty is associated with the Canon and the Canon is associated with God; in fact, the Canon is the Revelation of God to man, for in the Bible we read the very words of God that have been given progressively by Him to man. And in the Revelation see: Revelation) God informs us of His Sovereignty (see: God is Sovereign).

So acknowledgment of Sovereignty is anchored in knowledge of the teaching of the Scriptures. Sovereignty is not outside of the Scriptures but is the very essence of the Scriptures; it is the warp and woof of every passage—it is the overarching perspective under which all the words are penned. You cannot peruse Scripture and not be confronted with Sovereignty (see: Scriptural Support for Sovereignty).

To the reader of His Revelation God grants His grace and His illumination; if He does not so bless the reader, then the Revelation remains closed. This principle is found in the words of Jesus to the apostles: “To you it has been given to know” (Mk. 4:11). Jesus informs them that they know what others have not been made to know.

And to those to whom illumination is given by God, they come to know—the basis for their knowing resides in His giving. Thus, before there can be an acknowledgment of Sovereignty, it must be taught by God to the reader from the Scriptures. Acknowledgment then becomes a response of the individual to God and His Word.

Left alone no individual is capable of elevating his thinking to such a glorious level, but with the intrusion of grace the concept of Sovereignty is grasped and embraced. The individual comes to think the thoughts of God. But before the individual embraces the Truth of Sovereignty, he has already been Embraced by Truth. Acknowledgment indicates willingness to be identified with God and His Word, a willingness to identify with the One who has identified with him.

In this sense acknowledgment becomes inevitable for the believer; for he cannot deny what he has been taught, what he has been given. It is impossible for the believer to reject what he knows to be true. Acknowledgment is agreement with God that He is Sovereign, and a confession before the world of the same, a confession that is unavoidable.

Acknowledgment is the recognition that man is not independent and autonomous, but that his existence and the ways of his existence are determined by the King. Confession of Sovereignty dethrones man, humbling his thinking that is sinfully egotistical and causing him to look beyond himself for his true significance.

The acknowledgment also manifests a readiness to accept the element of dogmatism in the concept of Sovereignty, a dogmatism that is at war with secular thinking that looks for syncretism and compromise. In its dogmatism Sovereignty does not allow the believer to consider Sovereignty in some areas, but affirms that Sovereignty extends to all areas. There is no compromise.

Such readiness to embrace God and His Providence brings the scorn of the world, where the only dogmatism is the necessity of equally accepting contrasting options and the discovery of common ground. Such openness is in stark contrast and opposition to the absoluteness of Scripture which is non-debatable.

Submission is the willingness to accept the dictates of Providence on the individual and cosmic level. He reigns in all time and space; at no moment and in no place does He hesitate to rule or abdicate His right to rule (see: All Things). Acknowledgment of the universal dimension of His Sovereignty leads to and requires submission before it. Whether the issue is the shape of my nose or the placement of the stars, assent to His doings is the proper attitude. The believer will submit, sometimes with argument like Job, but he will submit. Long term, no other posture is acceptable. Following the acknowledgment of Sovereignty there is the submission at the throne of the Sovereign.

Even if His doings involve loss, suffering, or possibly death, the words of the believer must be the words of the Lord during His great time of testing: “Not as I will but as You will” (Matt. 26:39), and “Your will be done” (Matt. 26:42). The Son submitted to the Father. Acceptance of the good is without controversy, but when evil comes, beliefs are questioned and the soul struggles (see: Struggling with Sovereignty). But the only option is submission, for all other avenues are dead-end streets. There is no place to hide or escape His rule.

Worship is the bowing of the knee to the One Who rules over all people and Who rules in all things. Religions that have appeared and evolved throughout history testify to the need for worship in the life of the individual. Within the soul of man is the urge to recognize and show homage to something that is superior to man or someone who is higher than man. It is seemingly impossible for men to live and not worship. All cultures attest to this.

But worship takes many forms, and all worship must be evaluated as either true worship or false worship. Jesus spoke of the only acceptable worship:

But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth (Jo. 4:23-24).

True worshipers worship the Father. And the Father is Elohim of Genesis 1:1, the One who said: “Let us make man in Our image” (Gen. 1:26); He appeared to Abraham in Ur and Canaan; to Moses He revealed himself as Yahweh; He made covenant with David, promising the throne of David to the Son of the Highest; and He is the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son who has been highly exalted by the Father and given a name which is above every name. The Father is the God of the Bible. When the seventh angel sounds it is proclaimed of the Sovereign God and His Son: “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Rev. 11:15).

When the announcement of the loud voices was heard “the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God” (Rev. 11:16). It bears repeating: true worshipers worship the Father, the Father who is Sovereign in time and eternity. And on earth and in heaven He is to be worshiped.

In the worship there is not only a display of reverence and awe before the awesome God who is King—the elders fell on their faces—but there is also rejoicing and singing of praises to the One who brings about His way in the ways of the world; the psalmist speaks: “For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with understanding” (Ps. 47:7). The singing is a singing with “understanding”; that is, the singer knows God and knows that He is Sovereign. So the music is not just emotional excitement but is joyous expression of profound knowledge, a knowledge that is an anchor for the soul.

Yahweh reigns;
let the earth rejoice.
Ps. 97:1

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