Almighty Over All: Understanding the Sovereignty of God
Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1999, 184 pages.
When I purchased this book, I thought it was by R.C. Sproul, Senior, but quickly realized it was written by his son, R.C., Junior. But that’s okay, as R.C., Jr. appears to be a chip off the old block, and this is a very fine book on the subject of the sovereignty of God.
Each chapter begins with a citation from the Westminster Confession of Faith, and covers a different aspect of God’s sovereignty, or another aspect of the creation over which He is sovereign. So, God is shown by turns to be sovereign over Eternity, over Nothing (i.e., before the created world), over Authority, History, the Mighty, the Details, Men, the Devil, Suffering, Redemption, Sanctification, and sovereign from Eternity. However, the title of one chapter says He is “Not Almighty Over Himself.” This deals with such speculative conundrums as: “Can God make a rock so big that even He can’t move it”? Sproul recalls bringing up that question to a group of high-schoolers, and was surprised and pleased when a young lady rightly answered, “God can do all His holy will” (page 128). He said that there is “a critical distinction between saying God can do anything, and saying He can do all His holy will” (page 129). The problem with the first statement is that it affirms that God can do things that are against His nature. The issue is the interaction between God’s will and His character. When we say that God is omnipotent or almighty, “we are not saying He can do anything we can say but that he can do anything he wishes” (page 131), and since what God does proceeds out of His holy nature, He will not do anything contrary to it. He is not bound by anything outside Himself, but is “bound only by Himself” (page 133). And this is no limitation in any meaningful sense of the word.
Each of the chapters in the book peels forth another aspect of God’s strength, power, and sovereignty. The chapter titled “Who Saves? Almighty in Redemption” is particularly good. He begins by saying:
Let God control creation, history, suffering, let him even control the path of every electron in the universe, but when it comes to our salvation, we prefer to drive. We want to take the wheel at the intersection of providence and predestination” (page 151).
This of course, as Sproul goes on to say, is sheer folly—and thankfully, not the case. Fortunately, God is in full control of our salvation too, and this chapter sets forth the case.
Finally, in the book’s concluding sentences, Sproul says:
How strong is he? Stronger than all we could ever imagine. How strong was he? Stronger than all that ever was. How strong will he be? Strong enough to bring all things to pass, to conquer every enemy, and to stoop to us who are his children and wipe away every tear. He is coming. And he will come in all his strength and all his glory. Even so, come Lord Jesus (page 184).
Sproul’s book is highly recommended. We can never be reminded too often of the supreme sovereignty and power of our glorious God.
Related Topics: Theology Proper (God)