Doctrine | God
What does the Bible teach about God?
Question | How does God relate to all things?
Answer | God is the supreme and sovereign, owner and ruler of all that He has made. He determines the order and directs the affairs of all things according to His good plan.
Scripture | Acts 17:26-27a And he (God) made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him.
Explanation| Remember, we’re still looking at God and His creation. We’ve already seen how He has made all things, and why He has made all things. Now, with this question, we learn what God’s relationship is like to everything He has made. Some of what we’ll look at below will overlap with truths we’ve already seen, or with truths we’ll see in later questions. And that’s okay. Not only are all of the truths of God connected, but we need to be reminded of them often! So, how then does God relate to all things?
God is the supreme and sovereign, owner and ruler of all things. These four words help us understand God’s position in relation to His creation. He is supreme, meaning, nothing in all of creation—no one and nothing—is higher than Him. He is sovereign, meaning, nothing in all of creation is outside of His control. He is owner, meaning, nothing in all of creation belongs to someone or something else—everything and everyone belongs to Him (Job 41:11). And, He is ruler, meaning, nothing in all of creation has dominion or power over Him, beside Him, or apart from Him. In short, God not only has authority, He is the authority over all things.1 Now, we do see some form of these descriptions of authority in creation, especially within human relationships. For example, God has established human kings (and governmental leaders) to provide rule and order to nations.2 He has also entrusted each one of us with a measure of ownership over personal property (which includes animals in our care). Further, whether it’s within a nation, city, business, family, or church, God has also instituted various positions of management, leadership, and direction. However, even though we see examples of similar positions of authority within His creation, we must recognize that God is the one who has created them all and is over all of them. No other position of authority is over God. And, no other position of authority is over all other positions of authority like God is.3 This has always been true of God, and will always be true of Him. There is never a time when He is not in control of all things. Even when it seems like things are out of control. Even when it seems like someone else is in control. Even when it seems like others will always be in control. Even when it seems like some misuse or abuse their control. God is still in control over all things—always and at all times and forever.
God determines the order and directs the affairs of all things. Describing God in this way helps us understand His action in relation to His creation. He is over all things. But He’s not simply in a position. He’s not simply sitting on His throne. He’s active. He is actively making use of His position. His activity includes both His plan for all things, and His carrying out of all His plans. What this means is that God isactively involved in His creation. He didn’t make all things then walk away, leaving creation to fend for itself. (What a mess that would be!) Further, He isn’t intermittently or haphazardly involved in His creation, either. He doesn’t start, stop, then pick it back up again. He doesn’t forget about His creation, nor does He sleep or go on vacation.4 He is always involved. There’s never a time when He’s not involved in directing all that He has made. When we say that God determines the order of all things, we mean that He’s not simply busy, but that He has actively planned for all things. He has determined what a thing should be, how a thing should relate to everything else, and what sort of goal a thing should pursue. When we say that God directs the affairs of all things, we mean even further that He is actively working to bring about His plans for the things that He has made. What does this include? All things! But the Bible also gives us many examples—from the wild animals that give birth (Job 39:1-4), to the daily provision of common birds and flowers of the fields (Matthew 6:26-30); from nations rising and falling (Job 12:23), to the moments of our lives from conception to death (Psalm 139:16); from the beginning of all things (Genesis 1:1), to the ending of all things (Revelation 21:1-8). And, what is God’s goal? Well, remember from our last question: God’s highest purpose for creation is His glory. So, how He relates to His creation—both His position over and activity in—is for His glory. But, even further, we learn in the New Testament that what this looks like specifically has something to do with Jesus Christ. Meaning, the Bible tells us that God is working in all things to ‘unite all things in’ Christ, which certainly includes seating Him above ‘all rule and authority and power and dominion,’ and putting ‘all things under His feet.’5 And what is the result? That in everything Christ ‘might be preeminent.’6
There’s one more phrase in our answer above that I want to highlight—’according to His good plan.’ God is good. But can you imagine what it would be like if He wasn’t? Think about this: what if God was over all things, but wasn’t a good God? Thankfully, that isn’t the case! He is the owner and ruler of all things as a good God. He determines and directs all things as a good God. He has a good plan and is working in His creation ‘according to His good plan.’ He’s not mean, and He’s not a trickster. He knows what is best and is working in and through all things to bring His good plan to pass. Now, look at our verse for this question. What do you see? First, we see that God determines and directs where and when we live on ‘the face of the earth.’ But also, second, why is God so directing our lives? So that we would ‘seek God’ and ‘find Him.’ God is actively working in our lives so that we might come to know and to love Him, to trust and to obey Him!
This is what the Bible teaches about God.
1 Isaiah 43: 10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. 11 I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior. 12 I declared and saved and proclaimed, when there was no strange god among you; and you are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and I am God. 13 Also henceforth I am he; there is none who can deliver from my hand; I work, and who can turn it back?”
2 Romans 13: 1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. (See also, Daniel 2:20-22)
3 Daniel 4: 34 At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; 35 all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?” 36 At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and splendor returned to me. My counselors and my lords sought me, and I was established in my kingdom, and still more greatness was added to me. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.
4 Psalm 121: 1 I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? 2 My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. 3 He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. 4 Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. 5 The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. 6 The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. 7 The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. 8 The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.
5 Ephesians 1: 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making knownto us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth… 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
6 Colossians 1: 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For byhim all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.