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Bible Dictionaries

Holman Bible Dictionary

Sovereignty of God

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The biblical teaching that God is the source of all creation and that all things come from and depend upon God (Psalm 24:1 ). Sovereignty means that God is in all and over all.

Creative Sovereignty God is the Lord of creation, the source of all things, who brought the world into being and who guides His creation toward a meaningful end. God's creativity is not the result of chance or randomness. It holds promise and purpose which God intends.

Moral Sovereignty God's sovereignty, His authority over creation, is grounded in God's essential nature which is moral. God is to be obeyed not simply because He is mighty but because He is righteous (Psalm 50:6 ). God judges His creation on the basis of His profound moral character. He is both the source of all creation and the source of all goodness.

Transcendent Sovereignty God's sovereignty is transcendent, beyond our complete comprehension (Isaiah 6:1 ). God is separate from His creation and works in ways that human beings do not always understand. Transcendence is closely related to God's holiness, His surpassing moral purity and essential otherness. See Holy .

Purposeful Sovereignt God's sovereignty moves toward a particular end, a specific purpose (Philippians 2:13 ). God's purpose is to bring His creation—His whole creation—to fullness and completion, to fellowship with Him: “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19 ). The kingdom of God is the end toward which God moves His creation.

Sovereignty and Freedom Divine sovereignty does not mean that everything which occurs in the world is God's will. God has created a world in which freedom is a real possibility. His permissive will provides for human freedom and the laws of nature. This freedom means that sovereignty must always be distinguished from “fate” or “destiny,” the belief that everything which occurs in the world has been predetermined, scheduled in advance, by God. That view, carried to extremes, makes human beings pawns or puppets of a mechanical universe in which all choices are made in advance and where freedom is not possible. Yet the gospel suggests that human beings find genuine freedom, not in doing everything they wish, but in submitting themselves to the sovereign will of God, the rule and reign of God in their individual and collective lives. The sovereignty of God involves God's self-limitation in order that His creation might also choose freedom in Him.

Sovereignty and Providence God guides, sustains, loves, and longs to have fellowship with His creation. He reveals himself as a parent in love and in relationship with humanity. He “has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4 ). God has chosen to participate in human history to care for human beings in their strengths and their weaknesses. “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 NIV). Those who belong to God will not be immune from suffering; they will not be spared the brokenness which life brings to all persons. The people of God may, however, find spiritual resources and strength to persevere in time of trouble. The sovereign God of the universe chose to identify with His creation in the cross of Christ. There is no greater example of his care for His creation. See God; Providence .

William Leonard

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Sovereignty of God'. Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991.

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