One of the statements I hear most often from Christians is that God is in sovereign, that He is above all creation and governs all things as He sees fit. Webster’s Dictionary defines the word “sovereign” (adj). as “having supreme rank, power or authority”. The Bible testifies this of our great God:
“Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps” (Psalm 135:6).
He “works all things after the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11).
“From Him and through Him and to Him are all things” (Romans 11:36).
So here’s my question:
If we truly believe that God is sovereign, wouldn’t that mean that we believe He is sovereign over everything?
If there is any area of which God is not in control, wouldn’t that make Him less than God?
If you answered “yes” to either question, wouldn’t God’s sovereignty also include His sovereignty over matters of salvation?
Yet, when referring to predestination, many people (among whom are godly leaders I respect, I might add) have made a statement that goes something like this:
Let’s say God, from eternity past, was able to look into the future and see that someone will want to be saved upon hearing the gospel. Then based on this foreknowledge, God decides to save him or her.
Upon first reading, this seems very reasonable, until you consider the perspective a little more closely.
If I can say that I am saved because I had anything to do with my own salvation, including the choice to follow Him, wouldn’t that be a salvation based on my own merit? After all, in this scenario, I wouldn’t be saved unless I FIRST decided to follow Him.
Who is the one reacting to the other in this scenario? Is it God or man?
What’s more, if I were left in my natural state, without the Holy Spirit, I would have never chosen God, nor ever will:
“The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” (1 Corin. 2:14).
I don’t deny the theological discussion that could arise from these questions. Many could point to scriptures that seem to put the responsibility of salvation squarely on man’s shoulders, such as the numerous passages that call the sinner to repent and be saved. The irony is that although it is God’s initiative to save, He nevertheless uses the earthly means to do so. He uses the preaching of the gospel and call to repentance to woo the sinner, to stir his heart, and to open his ears to respond. I’m not writing today to contemplate the mystery of predestination vs. free will, but simply to challenge two areas of our thinking: our view of God, and our view of man.
Of God, again, is he sovereign over all? Can man, at any point ultimately override what God will or won’t do?
What of man? What do we really believe his natural condition to be? Do we believe he is inherently evil or do we think there is a glimmer of goodness in him, (even if a tiny bit), to FIRST reach up to God for salvation?
A reading of Ephesians 2:1 says, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience”
The word for “dead” in the Greek translation of this passage is the word “Netros”, which means “a corpse. (Strong’s concordance, P. 49, Greek Dictionary)
If “dead” means “dead”, (not swooning, or kinda weak, or even trying real hard to be alive), then the consequent questions we must then ask would be:
Can the dead raise themselves?
Can the dead recognize abundance of life?
Can the dead, who are blind, give themselves sight?
Can the dead, who are deaf, give themselves hearing?
I’m gonna take a stab at this and say, um… no.
But let’s say we did have a tiny bit of (spiritual) life within us, just enough to raise a cold, perishing hand to God for salvation.
Wouldn’t you still have to ask who put that spark within us?