God the Sovereign Creator: Systematic Theology Part 3

This is part 3 of a 10 part series on the basic doctrines of the Christian faith.  This reformed systematic theology for children was prepared for my own family. Much of the content is based on Bruce Ware’s Big Truths for Small Hearts. This article reviews God as our eternal creator and our sovereign Lord.

God the Sovereign Creator

Who Made the World?

God made everything without using any materials that were already there. Before God created the universe, there was nothing else beside God Himself. God created everything out of nothing, and he created by speaking into existence everything that has come to be.

“By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” (Hebrews 11:3)

In the New Testament, God is Son is the One who actually brought the world into being.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:1-3)

“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.” (Colossians 1:16)

“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.” (Hebrews 1:1-2)

“Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” (1 Corinthians 8:6)

The Father is responsible for all of creation since it all comes “from” him. But the Son, Jesus Christ, is the One “through whom” the Father created the world. The Father spoke, and his Word brought the universe into being.

Even though we are not told much in the Bible about this, we know that the Spirit was involved with the Father and the Son in creation. (Genesis 1:2, 2:7; Psalm 33:6; John 1:1-3)

God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit made the earth. All three persons are involved in our salvation, and all three persons were involved in our creation.

God Rules the World He Has Made

Because God created everything, He also owns everything. God is the rightful owner of everything, and He is also the rightful ruler of everything.

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” (Revelation 4:11)

God provides for everything he has made.

“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:26)

God directs the world to accomplish everything that He has planned for it.

“In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Ephesians 1:11)

“At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?” (Daniel 4:34-35)

God Provides All the Good Things in the World

Every benefit that we receive comes from God Himself.

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me,

bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul,

and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Psalm 103:1-5)

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17)

All that the Father gives us, he gives to us through what Christ has done, and never apart from this. God forgives our sins through the death of Christ. God gives us hope for eternal life through the resurrection of Christ. God provides for our needs through the riches of Christ.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 1:3)

We should not doubt God’s love and His intention to want our best. God is for us.

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32)

God will give His children everything that God knows will truly and eternally be good for them.

“The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” (Psalm 34:10)

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.” (Psalm 84:11)

Our proper response to God’s generosity and grace is thanksgiving.

“When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?” (Luke 17:14-17)

“For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him.” (Romans 1:21a)

The opposite of thankfulness is grumbling, which is utterly sinful.

“Nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.” (1 Corinthians 10:10)

God Controls All the Bad Things in the World

God is just as much in control of bad things that happen in the world as he’s in control of all of the good that takes place.

“See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal;

and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.” (Deuteronomy 32:39)

“The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up. The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts.” (1 Samuel 2:6-7)

“I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things.” (Isaiah 45:5-7)

The one and only true God is in complete control of everything, all that is good and all that is bad.

Some people cannot understand how God could control bad things and not be blamed for that bad. The Bible teaches that while God controls all things good and bad, God himself is good, and he is not bad at all.

“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5)

“For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;

evil may not dwell with you.” (Psalm 5:4)

A word often used when explaining these ideas is the word sovereignty. To say that God rules over all things, both the good and the bad, is to say that he is completely sovereign over them.

It is only because God has complete control over all bad things that we can be sure that those bad things work to bring about some good purpose that God has planned. If God is not in control of bad things, then we would be led to deep sadness, thinking that a bad thing that is happening will serve no good purpose.

Our Responsibility in the World God Controls

Wicked people carry out things to harm others and to bring about what is wrong. God works through those very wicked actions to bring about his good purposes. The wicked people who have done these bad things are rightly guilty of doing what was wrong. But God, who works through what they have done, is worthy of praise since he brings about the good that he has planned through them.

The story of Joseph illustrates several truths. (Genesis 37-50)

Joseph’s jealous brothers sold Joseph into Egypt.
God was involved in sending Joseph to Egypt. (Genesis 45:5-7)
God had the highest responsibility for sending Joseph to Egypt. (Genesis 45:8)
Joseph’s brothers were to blame for what they did, but God should be praised. (Genesis 50:20)

Wicked people, the Jewish leaders and Roman soldiers, were involved in putting Jesus on the cross. But we also must say that God the Father put Jesus on the cross to die.

“Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.” (Isaiah 53:10)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

God is sovereign and in control. We are responsible and accountable for the actions we do. The Bible helps us see that these two things must be kept together. Although we cannot understand this fully, we must believe both of these teachings of the Bible are true.

Pain and Suffering in the World God Controls

Suffering is not something good that lasts forever.

God’s original creation was good and only good.

“And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.” (Genesis 1:31)

In heaven that is coming, all evil, suffering, and pain will be done away with completely.

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 22:1-5)

Suffering is often planned and used by God to bring about good.
  • Suffering can sometimes be God’s tool for judgment to those that oppose Him. (Numbers 16:31-50; Isaiah 10:5-19)
  • Suffering can sometimes be God’s tool to call back disobedient children. (Proverbs 3:12; Hebrews 12:10)
  • Suffering can sometimes be God’s tool to help believers grow their faith in God. (Romans 5:3-5; James 1:2-4)
  • Suffering can sometimes be God’s tool to show our human weakness so God’s strength and glory might be displayed. (2 Corinthians 4:8-12, 12:8-10)
  • Suffering can sometimes be God’s tool to allow believers to better help others who have experienced similar suffering. (2 Corinthians 1:3-7)
  • Suffering is part of being a follower of Jesus, being willing to suffer for His sake. (Matthew 5:10-12; John 15:18-20; Philippians 3:10; 2 Timothy 3:12)
God has promised His children that everything in their lives, including suffering, will be used for their good.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

God commands us to give Him thanks in our suffering.

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

“Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:20)

God is more concerned with our character than with our comfort, with our holiness rather than our happiness.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)

“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

We should pray for God to remove our suffering while we pray for God to help us accept our suffering.

“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

Summary of Our Sovereign Creator

God created everything out of nothing. All three persons of the Trinity were involved in creation. Because God created everything, he rules over everything also. He is our sovereign creator.

Every good thing in this life comes from God. God is in control of everything that is good and everything that is evil. While God controls all things good and bad, God himself is good, and he is not bad at all.

God is sovereign and in control, and we are responsible and accountable for all our actions. Evildoers are rightly guilty, and God is deserving of all praise.

God does use suffering for His good. Suffering will not last forever. God will create a new heaven and earth that will be free from all pain and suffering.

 

Basic Christian Beliefs Series

Part 1Who Is God?
Part 2What Is the Trinity?
Part 3God the Sovereign Creator
Part 4Our Human Nature and Sin
Part 5Person of Jesus Christ
Part 6Works of Jesus Christ
Part 7Holy Spirit
Part 8Our Salvation
Part 9Church of Jesus Christ
Part 10Second Coming of Jesus Christ

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