Matthew R. Perry

Do You Believe in the Sovereignty of God? Then Plug It In, Plug In

In Uncategorized on November 6, 2006 at 10:53 am

When people ask me when I finish my sermon preparation, I say, “Around noon on Sunday!” They look at me rather funny (though I’m used to that anyway), but I explain, “I study and study and have everything in place, but then God often takes me in a direction related to the text that I did not foresee while I am preaching.” Here is an instance where that happened.

I was preaching on Ephesians 4:1-6 on “Finding and Keeping Our Unity.” Here’s the text:

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit–just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call– one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

The entire first half of Ephesians is setting the doctrinal table, describing all that God accomplished in Christ on the church’s behalf. Then Paul moves into the second major section dealing with applying those truths to our lives.

I couldn’t help but notice that a worthy walk is defined by God’s character as made active in our character “humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (2, 3). Verse 6 then outlines beautifully the sovereignty of “one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (v. 6).

So unity happens when

  • we are plugged into God’s character;
  • we are zealous to keep the unity of the Gospel of peace as revealed by the Holy Spirit;
  • we are unified in the unity of the Trinity

I know that’s not even close to telling the whole story, but here is the crux of the issue: if we believe in the sovereignty of God, then are we humble? Are we gentle? Are we patient? Do we bear with one another? Are we eager for unity grounded in the Gospel? If not, then I truly question whether we believe in the sovereignty of God.

We tend to love this doctrine as just that — a doctrine. We enjoy this way of thinking and may even feel some pride in thinking this way for such a “God-centered doctrine.” The joy we have in this doctrine is made evident when this joy is plugged in to all the members of our heart and mind and soul and strength. How sad when I talk to folks who hold to this doctrine who turn around and tear down another or exhibit pride over someone else who just doesn’t “get” this doctrine by their words or actions.

Let’s just be careful in not relegating the sovereignty of God to a doctrinal belief system rather than a joyful journey.

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