I was asked this question on an international flight by a Chinese woman who had grown up under communism. For the first 20 or so years of her life, she had been taught there was no God, but for the last 10 years, she had been reading about various religions and beliefs, and she honestly wanted to know why I worshipped God.

I spent the next two hours telling her everything I could think of to help her understand the uniqueness and character of the God of the Bible, and to explain why the God of Christianity is, in fact, the one true God. At the time, I hoped and prayed that I gave her some pretty solid answers, but if I had it to do over again, I would simply focus on the sovereignty of God.

 

Why? Because it is the sovereignty of God that sets Him apart from all other gods.

So what does the phrase "God is sovereign" really mean?

If you were to look up the word "sovereign" in the dictionary, you would find words and phrases like "superior," "greatest," "supreme in power and authority," "ruler," and "independent of all others" in its definition. But the way I like to explain God's sovereignty best is simply to say, "God is in control."

There is absolutely nothing that happens in the universe that is outside of God's influence and authority. As King of kings and Lord of lords, God has no limitations. Consider just a few of the claims the Bible makes about God:

  1. God is above all things and before all things. He is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. He is immortal, and He is present everywhere so that everyone can know Him (Revelation 21:6). 
     
  2. God created all things and holds all things together, both in heaven and on earth, both visible and invisible (Colossians 1:16). 
  3. God knows all things past, present, and future. There is no limit to His knowledge, for God knows everything completely before it even happens (Romans 11:33).  
  4. God can do all things and accomplish all things. Nothing is too difficult for Him, and He orchestrates and determines everything that is going to happen in your life, in my life, in America, and throughout the world. Whatever He wants to do in the universe, He does, for nothing is impossible with Him (Jeremiah 32:17). 
  5. God is in control of all things and rules over all things. He has power and authority over nature, earthly kings, history, angels, and demons. Even Satan himself has to ask God's permission before he can act (Psalm 103:19).  

That's what being sovereign means. It means being the ultimate source of all power, authority, and everything that exists. Only God can make those claims; therefore, it's God's sovereignty that makes Him superior to all other gods and makes Him, and Him alone, worthy of worship.  

Just as peasants always bowed before their king for fear of offending the one who had the authority to take their life, God's sovereignty compels us to bow before Him. But unlike corrupt earthly kings who abuse their authority to terrorize their subjects, God rules in love. He loves you and wants the best for you.

Romans 8:28 promises that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.

That's an amazing promise not only because it demonstrates that an all-powerful God cares about you and me, but because it cannot be fulfilled unless the One Who gives it is all-knowing, all-wise, all-powerful, and all-loving. The promise itself is a testimony to God's sovereignty.

But God makes that promise, and millions throughout history have testified to its truth because God has proven His ability to back it up time and time again.

Think about the implications of that promise. Because God is sovereign and He loves you, nothing will ever come into your life that He does not either decree or allow. Consequently, no matter what you face in life, you can take comfort in the fact that God is sovereign.

Whether a loved one lies in a hospital bed, your child is living in rebellion, you lose your source of income, or the nation is at war, God is in control. And He is constantly working all things together for good. Somehow, He takes all the events, all the situations, all the people, the prayers, the relationships—everything involved in whatever pleasant or difficult situation you're in—and works them together for good.

So the next time you bow your head to pray—when you're in a jam or need to ask God for something—remember that you're talking to the One Who has power over the entire universe. He controls everything from the tiniest atom to the largest galaxy.

Approach Him with the respect, awe, and wonder that He deserves, but also approach Him with confidence knowing that He can answer your prayer. And know also that because He loves you, He will answer your prayer—in the way He knows is best.



About the author: Chip Ingram is President of Walk Thru the Bible in Atlanta, GA, and Teaching Pastor of Living on the Edge, a national radio ministry. Excerpted from EdgeNotes, the bi-monthly newsletter of Living on the Edge; excerpts from the book God As He Longs For You To See Him. Used with permission. Copyright 2004 by Chip Ingram. All rights reserved.

 

Walk Thru the Bible partners with the local church worldwide to teach God's Word in relevant ways for lasting life change. To fulfill this mission, Walk Thru the Bible creates and distributes high quality, award-winning resources in a variety of formats, helping individuals "walk thru" the Bible with greater clarity and understanding. Walk Thru the Bible seminars are taught in over 45 languages by more than 50,000 men and women in over 90 countries; Living on the Edge radio ministry broadcasts on more than 800 radio outlets reaching nearly one million listeners a week; and more than 100 million devotionals have been packaged into daily magazines, books and other publications that reach over five million people each year. Walk Thru the Bible was founded in 1976 and is based in Atlanta, GA.