"...and he upholds the universe by the word of his power." (Hebrews 1:3)
Why is this topic so heated? One reason is that we just like to debate. Many people just enjoy having something to disagree about and enjoy playing contrarian on a number of issues. A second reason for debate is that we immediately begin over analyzing and concluding unnecessary things. For example, someone will say, "well, if Christ is completely sovereign over all things, then free will is not real." That is not true. The Bible never teaches that free will is not real. In fact, the Bible teaches clearly that everyone makes decisions and that these decisions and choices matter. However, the Bible teaches clearly that our God reigns. He is not constrained by any outside force. He is sovereign.
This topic should be one of great comfort for the believer, not one for arguments. There are many applications to our lives that this doctrine holds:
1. This doctrine grounds our confidence in the wisdom of God. If God is sovereign, and He "does all things according to the counsel of his will (Ephesians 1:11)," then we should submit ourselves to the wisdom of God.
2. This doctrine eliminates fear about tomorrow. If our God reigns over the universe, and everything in it, then we should not fear today, tomorrow, or next week. Our God controls the future. If we are in Christ, then we can be certain that future has our good in mind (Romans 8:28).
3. This doctrine eases temptations to worry about things I cannot control. We like to control things, but we actually control very little. This doctrine eases our temptation and need to try to control everything around us. God is sovereign, not us.
4. This doctrine propels us to prayer. Far from eliminating our need to pray, this doctrine grounds are hopes in prayer. Our God sits on the throne. He is over all things. If there is someone to appeal to for our needs and to bring our fears to, it is the One who rules over everything. The sovereignty of God catapults us into prayer.
5. This doctrine comforts us in life's bitter trials. When I know and understand that God is in control, I can face anything that comes my way, even suffering. If God does not remove me from my suffering, than He has a loving and wise plan for my suffering. I am comforted in those moments, even when I hurt.
At the end of the day, this doctrine is not for arguing about, it is an anchor for our lives. I want to assert something to everyone reading this, especially the person who professes faith in Christ and belief in the Bible, yet does not believe God is totally sovereign: every true believer holds the doctrine of God's sovereignty. Every single person believes it. How can I make that claim? Because at the end of the day, every believer holds the belief that Christ is returning to consummate the kingdom of God and set it in place for all of eternity. Every believer holds the belief that we will be raised from the grave to live forever with God. If we believe that, then it is the doctrine of God's sovereignty that supports that belief. Without holding to God's complete sovereignty, we have no confidence or guarantee that God can actually do what we say is going to happen. We have no certainty that Christ will return to put his enemies under his feet. We have no guarantee we will be raised from the grave. It is the sovereignty of God that grounds our hope in these things. So every believer holds this doctrine. On our knees we all hold to God's sovereignty, it is why we pray at all. It is only when many rise to their feet that they become "smarter" and begin to question it. Let's rejoice in this wonderful truth and build our lives around it.
A sermon I taught on this topic: The Sovereignty of God Over All Things