The Attributes of God
by Arthur Pink
The SUPREMACY of God
In one of his letters to Erasmus, Luther said, "Your thoughts of God are too human." Probably that renowned scholar resented such a rebuke, the more so, since it proceeded from a miner's son; nevertheless, it was thoroughly deserved.
We too, though having no standing among the religious leaders of this degenerate age, give the same charge against the majority of the preachers of our day, and against those who, instead of searching the Scriptures for themselves, lazily accept the teaching of others.
The most dishonoring and degrading conceptions of the rule and reign of the Almighty are now held almost everywhere. To countless thousands, even among those professing to be Christians, the God of the Scriptures is quite unknown.
Of old, God complained to an apostate Israel, "You thought I was just like you" (Psalm 50:21). Such must now be His indictment against an apostate Christendom. Men imagine that the Most High is moved by sentiment, rather that actuated by principle. They suppose that His omnipotence is such an idle fiction that Satan is thwarting His designs on every side. They think that if He has formed any plan or purpose at all, then it must be like theirs, constantly subject to change. They openly declare that whatever power He possesses must be restricted, lest He invade the citadel of man's "free will" and reduce him to a "machine." They lower the all-efficacious atonement, which has actually redeemed everyone for whom it was made, to a mere "remedy," which sin-sick souls may use if they feel disposed to; and they enervate the invincible work of the Holy Spirit to an "offer" of the Gospel which sinners may accept or reject as they please.
The God of this twentieth century no more resembles the Supreme Sovereign of Holy Writ, than does the dim flickering of a candle resembles the glory of the midday sun. The God who is now talked about in the average pulpit, spoken of in the ordinary Sunday School, mentioned in much of the religious literature of the day, and preached in most of the so-called Bible Conferences is the figment of human imagination, an invention of mushy sentimentality.
The heathen outside of the pale of Christendom form gods out of wood and stone--while the millions of heathen inside Christendom manufacture a God out of their own carnal mind! In reality, they are but atheists, for there is no other possible alternative between an absolutely supreme God, and no God at all. A God whose will is resisted, whose designs are frustrated, whose purpose is checkmated--possesses no title to Deity, and so far from being a fit object of worship, merits nothing but contempt!
The supremacy of the true and living God might well be argued from the infinite distance which separates the mightiest creatures from the almighty Creator. He is the Potter, they are but the clay in His hands, to be molded into vessels of honor, or to be dashed into pieces (Psalm 2:9) as He pleases. Were all the citizens of Heaven and all the inhabitants of the earth to combine in revolt against Him, it would occasion Him no uneasiness, and would have less effect upon His eternal and unassailable Throne than has the spray of Mediterranean's waves upon the towering rocks of Gibraltar. So puerile and powerless is the creature to affect the Most High. Scripture itself tells us that when the Gentile heads unite with apostate Israel to defy Jehovah and His Christ, "He who sits in the heavens shall laugh" (Psalm 2:4).
The absolute and universal supremacy of God is plainly and positively affirmed in many Scriptures. "Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the splendor and the majesty, for everything in the heavens and on earth belongs to You. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom, and You are exalted as head over all. Riches and honor come from You, and You are the ruler of everything. In Your hand are power and might, and it is in Your hand to make great and to give strength to all." (1 Chronicles 29:11,12).
"Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns!" (Revelation 19:6) note, "reigns" now, not "will do so in the millennium." "O Lord God of our fathers, are not You God in Heaven? and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand, and no one [not even the Devil himself] can stand against You!" (2 Chronicles 20:6). Before Him presidents and popes, kings and emperors, are less than grasshoppers.
"But he stands alone, and who can oppose him? He does whatever He pleases" (Job 23:13). Ah, my reader, the God of Scripture is no make-believe monarch, no mere imaginary sovereign, but King of kings, and Lord of lords! "I know that You can do anything and no plan of Yours can be thwarted." (Job 42:2); or, as another has translated it, "no purpose of Yours can be frustrated." All that He has designed He does. All that He has decreed He performs. "Our God is in Heaven; He does whatever He pleases." (Psalm 115:3) And why? Because "there is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the Lord" (Proverbs 21:30).
God's supremacy over the works of His hands is vividly depicted in Scripture. Inanimate matter and irrational creatures, all perform their Maker's bidding. At His pleasure the Red Sea divided and its waters stood up as walls (Exodus 14); the earth opened her mouth, and guilty rebels went down alive into the pit (Numbers 16). When He so ordered, the sun stood still (Joshuav10); and on another occasion the sun went backward ten degrees on the dial of Ahaz (Isaiah 38:8). To exemplify His supremacy, He made ravens carry food to Elijah (1 Kings 17), iron to float on top of the waters (2 Kings 6:5), lions to be tame when Daniel was cast into their den, fire to burn not when the three Hebrews were flung into its flames. Thus "the Lord does whatever He pleases in Heaven and on earth, in the seas and all the depths." (Psalm 135:6).
God's supremacy is also demonstrated in His perfect rule over the wills of men. Let the reader ponder carefully Exodus 34:24. Three times in the year all the males of Israel were required to leave their homes and go up to Jerusalem. They lived in the midst of hostile people, who hated them for having appropriated their lands. What then, was to hinder the Canaanites from seizing their opportunity, and during the absence of the men, slaying the women and children and taking possession of their farms? If the hand of the Almighty was not upon the wills even of wicked men, how could He make this promise beforehand, that none should so much as "desire" their lands? Ah, "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord; He directs it like a watercourse wherever He pleases" (Proverbs 21:1).
But, it may be objected, do we not read again and again in Scripture how that men defied God, resisted His will, broke His commandments, disregarded His warnings, and turned a deaf ear to all His exhortations? Certainly we do. And does this nullify all that we have said above? If it does, then the Bible plainly contradicts itself. But that cannot be. What the objector refers to, is simply the wickedness of man against the external Word of God; whereas what we have mentioned above is what God has purposed in Himself. The rule of conduct He has given us to walk by, is perfectly fulfilled by none of us. His own eternal "counsels" are accomplished to their minutest details.
The absolute and universal supremacy of God is affirmed with equal plainness and positiveness in the New Testament. There we are told that God "works all things after the counsel of His own will" (Ephesians 1:11)—the Greek for "works" means "to work effectually." For this reason we read, "For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things; to whom be glory forever. Amen" (Romans 11:36). Men may boast that they are free agents, with a will of their own, and are at liberty to do as they please, but Scripture says to those who boast, "Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will--we will live and do this or that." (James 4:13-15)!
Here then is a sure resting-place for the heart. Our lives are neither the product of blind fate, nor the result of capricious chance. Every detail of them was ordained from all eternity, and is now ordered by the living and reigning God. Not a hair of our heads can be touched without His permission. "A man's heart devises his way--but the Lord directs his steps" (Proverbs 16:9). What assurance, what strength, what comfort this should give the real Christian! "My times are in Your hand" (Psalm 31:15). Then let me "Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him" (Psalm 37:7).