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Embracing the Sovereignty of God

As a missionary serving in Italy since 2007, I've encountered countless moments that have tested and strengthened my faith. In Episode 185 of the “True Life” podcast, I delve into a profound exploration of God's sovereignty, its scriptural foundation, and its undeniable impact on our lives. This episode is a heartfelt exhortation on the teachings on divine authority, personal anecdotes illustrating its power, and an invitation for listeners to deeply engage with the life-changing Doctrines of Grace. Here are some of the takeaways from that episode for you, a friend and partner of the PMc ministry.

sovereignty of God in missions in italy

The Essence of God's Sovereignty

Though most Christians acknowledge the sovereignty of God few, it seems, are those who consider what it means that God is truly sovereign. God alone is truly sovereign. He is the ultimate authority and designer of all that exists. Nothing exists or happens anywhere in the universe apart from His sovereign decree. Knowing this can radically change our approach to life and faith. Only with a healthy understanding of God’s sovereignty can we truly appreciate the beauty of verses like Romans 8: 28 that ensure the believer of the peace and joy available to us amidst the chaos of the world.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. - Rom. 8: 28

Scriptural Insights on Sovereignty

3 examples from Scripture come to mind regarding God's sovereignty on full display. (Countless other examples are there but these 3 come to mind). Joseph’s story of being sold as a slave in the Old Testament, the Apostle Paul’s radical transformation, and the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. These narratives serve as powerful illustrations of God's providential work to weave good from our trials and adversities to fulfill a larger more glorious purpose of His.

I. Joseph Sold as a Slave

So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died: 17 ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.”’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” 19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. 21 So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. - Gen. 50: 18-20

Surely when Joseph was sold as a slave he was feeling alone and forsaken. Perhaps he even wished to just die rather than face a life of slavery. This was a dark time of his life. The pain was not just physical but also cut straight to the heart. His own brothers, family, had forsaken him. His plans for his life were not only disrupted but destined to fail. Or so he thought. As time went on, we can be sure that God consoled his heart as He worked to not just preserve Joseph's life, but actually cause him to flourish in ways not even imaginable to Joseph. The story goes on and Joseph becomes second in command in the land of Egypt. Through the powerful work of God he is preserved to now offer a way of salvation to all the people of God.

Joseph's brothers sinned terribly and were guilty before God for their actions. Amazingly, at the same time, God was at work through their sin to fulfill a greater plan. They meant it for evil, but God meant it for good, not just for Joseph but for countless others as well!

II. Paul Saved in God's Timing

In Galatians 1: 11-16 Paul tells of his sinful ways before being saved. He prided himself in persecuting the followers of Jesus. Paul was a brilliant and skillful man, highly educated. And yet, the eyes of his heart were blind to see the truth that Jesus Christ was the long-awaited Messiah he and his people had been waiting for.

In Acts chapter 7 we hear the beautiful and powerful sermon of Stephen, the preaching deacon. It's a wonderful summary of God's redemptive story beginning in Genesis and culminating in Christ Jesus. What strikes me most here, however, is the sovereign work of God to permit Saul to be present to hear it and yet remain untouched. Saul gave his approval of Stephen's being stoned for what they perceived was blasphemy. Why didn't God choose to save Saul through the preaching of Stephen? To us, this would make more sense. Then Stephen could have helped disciple Paul and together they could have gone on as missionaries preaching the Good News of the Kingdom! Our sovereign Lord, whose ways are not like ours, had a better plan.

But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. 58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. - Acts 7: 57-58

To the astonishment of the entire Christian community, God did plan to save Saul. When Saul was not seeking Jesus, the Lord sought him out and changed his heart in a powerful moment of conversion and rebirth (Acts 9). Paul was made alive to see his sin for what it truly is and to see Christ Jesus for who He truly is as well, the Lord God, who saves according to His sovereign will and timing. Salvation (and God's timing) belongs to the Lord (Ps. 3:8).

III. Jesus Hung to Die Alone and Naked

To all the people looking at and observing the Lord Jesus hanging on the cross, it seemed to be a tragedy and total failure. His ministry was now coming to an end, or so they thought. What they still had not grasped, though Jesus had already indicated his purpose of death and resurrection, was that He was purposefully going to the cross to redeem His elect and to save the world.

this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. 24 But God raised Him from the dead, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. - Acts 2:23-24

What seemed to the world a total loss, was actually a sure victory, triumph, and salvation. Every year at Easter time, the church is powerfully reminded of God's sovereign reign and rule through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Every Lord's Day when the body of Christ partakes of the Lord's supper, God's people are reminded of God's sovereignty and goodness.

The Sovereign Plan and Our Response

The reality of God’s sovereignty calls for a personal response. Recognizing God’s sovereign reign and rule ought to move us toward adoration, humility, a deeper love for God, a strong desire to know God more, and an unshakeable peace.

Our relationship with the concept of God’s sovereignty is not just theological—it is deeply personal and transformative. It drastically changes how we live in a fallen world full of challenges, difficulties, sufferings, and seeming loss and sorrow without end. We have a God who is Lord over it all and whose plans and purposes are far greater than we could ever dream or imagine.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. - Isaiah 55: 8-9
Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. - Ps. 115:3

An Encouragement to the Faithful

In closing, let me encourage you to meditate afresh upon Romans 8:28, which promises that “all things work together for good to those who love God.” If you belong to Christ, this scripture is a great source of comfort, joy, and peace amid life's never-ending uncertainties. God’s sovereign hand is always at work, guiding and shaping His perfect plan for those who trust in Him in life and death. Together, let us embrace God's sovereignty like good soldiers of Jesus Christ.

A Call to Deepened Faith

If you have not yet given much serious thought to the sovereignty of God, let me invite you to stay tuned for more blog posts coming soon on the Doctrines of Grace as we are now doing a teaching series on this for the listeners of our Italian podcast, Vera Vita. God's sovereignty also has much to do with salvation. Let me also encourage you to go through pastor Caleb's course The Doctrines of Grace at the PMc Academia.

Lastly, here are a few books we can recommend to you on this beautiful subject that we know will bless you.


Written by Jesse Schreck | servant of the Lord, founder, director, and missionary church planter with Practical Missions Cohort

This post was based on this video podcast lesson for our local Italian community.


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