Grounded In The Sovereignty Of God ~ Acts 4: 23-37
Peter and John rush back to the now growing body of Christ (their own) and told them what had happened. They began to praise God! The church stopped everything and prayed. How did they ground themselves? (v.24) “Sovereign Lord” (Sovereign despot – denoting absolute, supreme authority). Unlike despotism in this broken world – that always goes sideways and is always unjust – God’s absolute rule is perfect and good. The only Being capable of such control. He made everything! They recalled what David had said about the rulers of the world taking counsel together in Psalm 2.
1 Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? 2 The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, 3 “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.”
4 The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. 5 He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, 6 “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.”
7 I will proclaim the Lord’s decree: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become your father. 8 Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. 9 You will break them with a rod of iron; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”
10 Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. 11 Serve the Lord with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling. 12 Kiss his son, or he will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
The early church saw all the displays of power on the part of the ruling authorities as nothing. They feared the Lord only. Just a few weeks before this, God’s Son had been delivered into (the rulers) hands for execution, but it had all been decreed beforehand by God. Our Lord Jesus would not have suffered a scratch through the conspiracy of human enemies against Him were it not for the determinant counsel of the Father, who ordained from all eternity that the Son should suffer at the hands of these wicked men for our sake.
Those in the early church understood that despite all the antagonistic actions of those authorities, God was still sovereign. God is still in control. (R.C. Sproul). Therefore, they were glad – full of praise – fearing nothing. “When you go through a trial, the sovereignty of God is the pillow upon which you lay your head” (Charles Spurgeon).
Beloved, we must ground ourselves in such sovereignty. I am so thankful for the absolute, despot, sovereign, King of kings, name above all names! When hardships come – and people oppose the Lord and His anointed – look to the sovereign God of the heavens! Root yourself in this truth. Bathe in it! Believe it! When we grasp this reality – and release control fully to Him - everything changes!
1.) Knowing God’s Sovereignty allows you to: Trust
Whom do you serve? What kind of God do you worship? Our theology is everything. The early church knew, from scripture, that this was Adonai (My Lord), El Shaddai (Almighty), Tzevaot (of Hosts), Yahweh (The I AM). Not some demi-god, geographical, golden object, unknowing, uncreating, passion driven, little god. You see, the greater our theology the greater our worship – and therefore the greater our trust.
Think of your relationships. Think of a marriage. If there is a breakdown in trust – there is often a breakdown in communication. I hear couples say, “My spouse doesn’t understand me, doesn’t know me.” Or “I don’t know them – they are not the person I thought.” How does this happen? No communication. What then is the byproduct? No trust!
If you don’t know who God is – you will never trust Him. If you don’t know His character – as the creator of all things, sustainer, infinite, eternal, breaker of chains, the enemy of the wicked, unfailing, full of love and mercy, then you will never trust Him.
Nothing catches Him by surprise. Nothing happens outside of His allowance. Therefore, you can TRUST that whatever comes – you will be safe in His hands. He has a plan – “for He works all things to the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).
2.) Knowing God’s Sovereignty allows you to: Be Bold
(V. 29-31) “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”
Again we see how the early churched was marked with boldness and courage. As we see from trust comes courage. From knowing who God is – comes NO FEAR. Why? Because It is His hand that goes before us. As was told to Isaiah in chapter 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous (victorious) right hand.” “What then shall we say in response to these things? (Name them, church. What scares you? Is it bigger than our God? Is it out of reach from His righteous hand?) If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
3.) Knowing God’s Sovereignty allows you to: Be Unified
(v. 32-33), “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power, the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all.”
The base reason for such extreme unity was their shared theology (who God is). If God is the sovereign ‘despot’ – then what are we? Mere stewards! Oh, Beloved, our understanding of God and what He has done for us complexly, radically changes our view of each other. Not only do we see one another as ‘image bearers’ with extreme worth - but co-laborers, co-servants, all following the head of the church Jesus Christ. We share the same rule for life. The same hope – the same testimony of grace!
Beloved, unity is NOT tolerance – heaven forbid! Unity is agreement on the facts. Unity is (one-mindedness) on the apostle’s testimony, teachings, and nature of God. True unity despises mischaracterizations of God! True unity has a ‘fire in the bones’ for the will of God and a heart AGAINST distortion of the truth.
Therefore, we are unified in that we all are looking to the same place. The same north star. The Sovereign Lord – Yahweh.
4.) Knowing God’s Sovereignty allows you to: Be Generous
The overflow of this ‘knowing’ and understanding of stewardship - brings about extreme generosity. How has God blessed you? Don’t you know God blesses you to be a blessing?
For the Christian – nothing is truly ‘ours.’ It is ALL the Lords. He is the despot! The good and just despot!
He knows your needs. This is not a call to radical abandonment, or communism – this is simply a transformative mindset. How can you bless the church? Are you able to help the needs of those in want? How can you serve? Are you generous with your time? Are you pouring into others? Are you taking care of your fellow brothers and sisters in the faith? Are we as a church?
We are God’s primary welfare system – not the government – and we handle the root causes of things – besides, God’s piggy bank is endless – we need never fear lack of resource with a Sovereign God. “Most Christians salute the sovereignty of God but believe in the sovereignty of man” (R.C. Sproul).
“There has been a wonderful alteration in my mind, in respect to the doctrine of God’s sovereignty, from that day to this… God’s absolute sovereignty… is what my mind seems to rest assured of, as much as of anything that I see with my eyes… The doctrine has very often appeared exceeding pleasant, bright, and sweet. Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God… God’s sovereignty has ever appeared to me, [a] great part of His glory. It has often been my delight to approach God, and adore him as a sovereign God.” (Jonathan Edwards).