One God: Of, Over, Through, and In
Note: This article is adapted from a sermon I preached four years ago following the 2008 election. While the statistics reflect the situation from that time, the original theme remains relevant: “To show that, even in the midst of discouraging times, God is still in control.” –M.M.
It has been an interesting week. This country has seen some major changes. It has been 14 years since the Democratic Party has controlled both houses and the presidency. President-elect Obama is the first African-American candidate to win a presidential election, the first senator elected since John F. Kennedy in 1960, and the first democratic candidate since Jimmy Carter in 1976 to receive more than 50% of the popular vote. California passed legislature that prohibits same-sex marriage, and the stock market continues to spiral. With the lingering war in Iraq, the daunting economic crisis, the country sinking into moral decay, and several other pitfalls littering the path, Americans are anxious to see what will become of our country.
For Christians, perhaps the greatest concern is (or at least should be) the apparent moral decline. Proverbs 14:34 says, “Righteousness exalts a nation, / But sin is a reproach to any people.” This raises questions like “Where will we be in 10-20 years?”, “What kind of environment will our children grow up in?”, “Where is God in the midst of all this?” These are difficult to answer, but the Bible offers encouragement and hope: God is still present, and He is in control—no matter how discouraging the future appears to be: “[There is] one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph. 4:6). In context, unity among Christians is being discussed in this passage, and “one God” means one source, one origin, one recipient of worship. Yet, this verse also provides reassurance for the weary and encouragement for the downcast.
God is the God of all. In context, the fourfold use of “all” specifically applies to “all” believers—not necessarily “all” mankind. Yet, the principle that God is the “God and Father” of all creation is Biblical. This means He is all-powerful. He is the Creator—the “Father” of everything (Col. 1:16; Acts 17:28). We—as Christians—however, gain hope from the fact that we maintain a relationship with God that no one else does. We are His adopted children (1 Jn. 3:1; Eph. 1:3-7). He is the “Father of all” and is, thus, all-loving as well as all-powerful (Jn. 3:16). God knows the future may look grim from our perspective, but He is powerful enough to take care of us and loves us so much that He will bless us. He is the “God and Father of all.”
God is over (or above) all. This phrase is also used in Romans 9:5 “of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.” “Over” implies God’s all-powerful and all-knowing nature. Nothing surprises or conquers Him. Though the Father has delegated His authority to Christ (Matt. 28:18), yet He is still over all (1 Cor. 15:27). If God is over all, does that leave any room for the Christian to worry? No! He is in control. He directs people (and presidents). The Bible indicates that “the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men” (Dan. 4:17; cf. Acts 17:26-27). He controls all (1 Cor. 10:13; Rom. 8:28). Though God wants us to be concerned about our futures, He does not want us to worry. If we simply insure that we are living under God’s authority, He will take care of everything else. He is the “God and Father over all.”
God is through all. This is evidence of His omnipresence—that He is all-present. God is everywhere. He is not confined to our natural world, but He does have the ability to “enter” it. In Ephesians 4:10, it says that Christ fills “all things.” He fills all things through His influence over all things. It is the same with God the Father. Everything around us declares God’s pervading presence. It cannot be denied. He knows what is going on in earthly kingdoms: “And He changes the times and the seasons; / He removes kings and raises up kings; / He gives wisdom to the wise / And knowledge to those who have understanding” (Dan. 2:21; cf. Rom. 13:1-7). Moreover, He knows what is going on in our lives personally (Matt. 6:25-34). Knowing this, we can echo Paul: “What shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:31-32). God is the “God and Father through all.”
God is not simply working through all, He is working in all. To clarify, God does not work in sin. He does, however, maintain a connection with what is good; He is, specifically, in us—Christians. Though God does work in other people and various circumstances, He most perfectly accomplishes His purposes in us—those who know Him and do His will (Jn. 14:23; Phil. 2:12-13). The greatest good that can be accomplished in America (and in the world) will not be through God’s providential work in society but in the lives of His saints. Do we worry about our country, our government, the present, or the future? We need not be distressed, because the Bible tells us that nothing can separate us from the love of God—and that is what is most important (Rom. 8:38-39). That love, however, is found only in Jesus Christ. If we are in Christ, God is in us. He may not promise us tomorrow, but He does promise eternity (Jn. 3:16). He is the “God and Father in all.”
There is one God, and that God is of all, over all, through all, and in all. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present, and all-loving, and He is waiting to work in our lives. God is in control—of all people, all decisions, all nations. Let’s not worry! Instead, let us continue to trust in the one God and Father and live under, through, and in Him.