How can we possibly explain Christians who…
- Forgive ISIS as they’re about to be beheaded
- Exude joy in the midst of life confined in a wheelchair
- Trust again after their mate has been sexually unfaithful
- March into the Coliseum in ancient Rome singing praises to Christ for the privilege to suffer
Someone has wisely stated that we don’t know what we really believe until it’s tested. The history of the Church – both today and in times past – has been grounded in those whose faith and belief have been tested and responded in ways that have astounded the world.
Most of our challenges are not as difficult or as extreme as the ones cited above, but I assure you that we will ONLY pass “our tests” by having the same kind of view of God that these Christians had in their times of crisis. I suggest that we need to rediscover the aspect of God’s character that provides supernatural comfort and hope in life’s most challenging circumstances.
It is only when we understand the sovereignty of God and the reality of heaven that we will experience a comfort and a hope that can weather the worst that this world has to offer.
What is the sovereignty of God? Why is it so important that we believe in this fundamental attribute of God’s character?
“The sovereignty of God is that which separates the God of the Bible from all other religions, truth claims, or philosophies. When we say God is sovereign, we declare that by virtue of His creatorship over all life and reality, His all-knowing, all-powerful, and benevolent rule, that He is, in fact, the Lord of all lords, King of Kings, and is in absolute control of time and eternity. Nothing will come into my life today that He did not either allow or decree for my ultimate good.”
The above quote is written on a white, plastic-covered card and is placed in my Bible as a bookmark. I read it often … I forget it even more often. The sad reality is that much of American Christianity has dethroned God of His rightful rulership and sovereign wisdom. Instead, we’ve reduced the God of Scripture to a self-help genie to fulfill what we have convinced ourselves will make us happy.
The idol that we have created in our minds is a “Jesus” who is a dispenser of health, prosperity, ease, wealth, sexy bodies, upward mobility, and kids that turn out right.
We confuse the blessings with the Blesser. We seek the gifts instead of the Giver.
This self-created “God” sells books and can fill large rooms with false hope, but is a poor substitute for the Living God when suffering, cancer, betrayal, sinking economies and terrorist attacks enter the fabric of our lives.
The sovereignty of God is what makes James 1:2-4 or Romans 5:1-5 make sense. There’s something far more precious than “our comfort” that Jesus is purposefully developing in you and me. And there is a HOPE more wonderful and infinitely better than the “happiness scenarios” that we are so prone to be satisfied with.
Sovereignty only makes sense if there is a REAL heaven.
Heaven is a real place that fulfills the deepest desires of our heart and of our heavenly Father’s. As C.S. Lewis put so aptly, “Our problem is not that we want too much from God; it’s that we want too little.”
We live in a fallen world. Sin and evil are real. But Jesus has defeated sin, death, and evil. He has redeemed us, forgiven us, and seated us in the heavenly places with Him. He is preparing a place for us and will come again. There will be a new heaven and a new earth that will parallel the Garden of Eden and God’s original intent for us to rule, to think, to create, to write literature and music, to live in community, and to enjoy and learn of His love, wisdom, holiness and majesty forever and ever.
God longs for us to trust His Sovereign reign – for this life and the next. He promises to bring order, justice, and restore all that is broken. He asks us to believe in His power and control for this life, and place our HOPE in the guaranteed future we will spend with Him for eternity.
My prayer is that we could see Him as He really is … high and lifted up and yet marvel at His divine condescendence to be a tender Father and intimate friend with ordinary, struggling people like you and me.
Until an accurate view of God is restored in our hearts and minds and in His church, our cries for revival and prayers for transformation will be in vain.
Will you help me restore a Biblical view of God?
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip