DIVINE SOVEREIGNTY & MANíS RESPONSIBILITY
(Lesson 12 on Bible Doctrines)
- The more profound a truth is, the more difficult it is to comprehend its total sweep. This is the case with Godís sovereignty and manís responsibility.
- Some Christians emphasize Godís sovereignty, but they overlook manís responsibility, while some limit Godís sovereignty in their effort to stress manís responsibility.
- We must recognize both lines of truth because the Bible teaches both. "In all the Christian centuries men have endeavored to account, philosophically, for the apparent paradox of Godís sovereign election and manís free will, but none have ever succeeded. Both are wholly true, but the connecting and reconciling truth has not been revealed" (C.I. Scofield, Bible Correspondence Course, Vol. III, pp. 444,445).
- SCRIPTURES WHICH TEACH MANíS RESPONSIBILITY
- "Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the LORD GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?ÖCast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the LORD GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye" (Ezek.18:23,31,32). God desires for all sinners to repent and trust Him. The reason many do not is not because God chose not to draw them. The problem is they willfully chose to reject God. Jesus said: "Ye would not!" (Matt.23:37).
- "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" (Matt.23:37). "The yearning of God and the stubborn refusal of man are here put in clear antagonism" Ė A.T. Pierson (The Believerís Life; Its Past, Present, and Future Tenses). " ĎAnd ye would not!í That is the very heart of sin Ė ĎYe would notí; the human will set up against the will of God. The human will set up against the will which had interpreted righteousness, and had expressed to men Godís desire for human happiness and blessedness" Ė G. Campbell Morgan (The Gospel According To Matthew).
- "And ye will not come to me that ye might have life" (John 5:40). Here our Lord is rebuking the unbelieving Jews for their wicked refusal to come to Him for eternal life. "Alas, this is still true of mankind!" Ė C.H. Spurgeon (Spurgeonís Devotional Bible).
- "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely" (Rev.22:17). "Have we not told you ten thousand times over that whosoever will may take of the water of life freely. If there be any barrier it is not with God, it is not with Christ, it is with your own sinful heart" Ė C.H. Spurgeon (Treasury of the NT, Vol. II, p. 301).
- Other Scriptures which teach manís unwillingness to get right with God (II Chron.36:15,16; Ps.81:11; Pro.1:24,25,30; Isa.1:20; 28:12; 30:15; 65:12; 66:3,4; Jer.5:3; 7:13,25,26; 11:7,8; 25:3-5; 11:10; 26:4,5; 29:19; 32:33; 35:14,15; 44:4,5; I Sam.8:19; Neh.9:16,17,29,30; Zech.1:4; 13:10; Rom.10:21; I Tim.2:4).
- SCRIPTURES WHICH TEACH GODíS DRAWING AND CHOOSING
- "Many are called, but few are chosen" (Matt.22:14; cf. 20:16). In the parable of the marriage feast, many were called (invited) to the wedding "and they would not come" (Matt.22:3); they "made light of it" (22:5). Those are "chosen" who put on the wedding garment provided by the King (22:11-14). "They who do not choose to receive the invitation, or to put on the wedding garment, do, in different ways, show that they are not Ďchosení though Ďcalledí" Ė Alexander Maclaren (Expositions of Holy Scripture).
- "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him" (John 6:44). This verse must be studied in its proper context. All throughout the Gospel of John, the Gospel invitation is given to "whosoever believeth in Him" (3:16; 5:24; 6:47). In 12:32, our Lord says, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." No man will ever go to hell because he was not drawn. Sinners go to hell because of their unbelief (John 3:36).
- D.L. Moody on John 6:44 Ė "He is drawing men, but they will not come. God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, and drawing men unto Him. That drawing is going on now, but many a heart is fighting against the strivings of the Spirit. God is drawing men heavenward, and the devil is drawing them hellward" (Select Sermons).
- "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit" (John 15:16). Oftentimes the first part of this verse is quoted, but when the entire verse is read it is clear that our Lord is speaking of service, not salvation.
- "And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed" (Acts13:48). The word translated "ordained" does not mean "predestined." In Acts 13:46 we are told that the Jews had judged themselves unworthy of everlasting life and so Paul and Barnabas turned to the Gentiles, who responded to the word of God, "and as many as were ordained (disposed) to eternal life believed" (13:48).
- "For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinateÖ" (Rom.8:29). Those of us who are saved have been predestinated "to be conformed to the image of His Son" (Rom.8:29). This verse is not teaching that God predestinates some for heaven and the rest for hell. Predestination is always to the special privilege of Christ-likeness (cf. Eph.1:5,11).
"Irresistible grace" is unscriptural because some sinners "do always resist the Holy Spirit" (Acts7:51). God draws "all men" (John 12:32) but only those who believe in Christ will be saved (John 3:16-18).
Pastor James Barker