SOMETHING TO PONDER

salvation 2

Dear Friends,

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?

*********

Comments welcome!

 

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9 thoughts on “SOMETHING TO PONDER

  1. God is the potter. We are the clay. There is no spark in us unless God puts it there. He literally drags us to salvation.

  2. A God that is truly sovereign can allow free will. One that isn’t, could not give us real choices and would have to force our every move, our every thought, in order to maintain control. It’s absolutely true that he must enlighten us, but also absolutely true that we have self determination and can choose Him or against Him. The problem with saying that God absolutely controls everything is that is makes God a sinner. In fact, if He forces me to sin, it ultimately makes Him the only sinner.

    • Hello friend,
      I believe that God is truly sovereign and He is not the source of evil. He is completely holy and just. He cannot sin, nor does He force anyone to sin. In fact, it’s just the opposite. I can sin just fine on my own. That is the point. God merely has to leave me on my own, and I would do what comes naturally – turn away from Him and perish in my rebellion. Because that is who I am (or was), I would be completely accountable for it.
      Yet in God’s mercy, He has chosen to save His elect from eternal despair and snatched us from our own path to destruction.

      To say that God controls everything does not mean that I believe He is the source of sin, but He does exercise his passive will (what He allows), or His sovereign will (His intervention). Nevertheless, He is in complete control.

      What you touched upon is something else to ponder: Does God’s work ever “fail”? Maybe good topics to discuss in the next few posts.
      Thanks for your input!

  3. With regard to the doctrine of salvation: That, my sister, is the difference between God’s efforts ( grace ) and man’s efforts ( works ).

    If election means that God does the choosing, then those who are chosen have nothing to stand on except God’s mercy…and they will be VERY grateful for their salvation the more and more they realize just what He did for them.

    If election means that man has the final say in his own salvation, then he potentially has something to boast about ( his correct choice in choosing Christ, while the other guy didn’t ) and his salvation does not directly depend on God’s mercy… it depends on something that he did to gain it. Salvation then becomes a reward and not a gift freely given; Not of grace, but of works. Please see Romans 11:5-6.

    IMO, Romans chapters 1-3 are very explicit and condemning, as well as John 3:18-21. Man, in his “default” condition, will not come to God for any reason, except to ask Him to yank his worthless hide out of Hell fire. The only thing unregenerate man cares about, as I see it, is his own selfish and sinful habits, and doesn’t really care for the things of God…hungering and thirsting after righteousness is a thing of the new nature, not the old, so the nature must be changed, or God will not be able to trust and have a heart to heart relationship with those He saves from His wrath. Praise God for your change in desires, because if you truly do desire righteousness, then it means you are His!

    Back on track:

    God is in charge, and He calls the shots…He chooses, not us. His children just reflect His choice, by doing the things that Christ’s sheep do from their new heart, not their old. As I see things, people can belabour the point all they like, but to me, if God isn’t responsible for doing everything necessary to bring His child to Himself, then salvation relies on something they did…and to me, that is merit and that is works.

    God is sovereign, and over much more than just the things mankind “lets Him be sovereign” over:

    ” and all the inhabitants of the earth [are] reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and [among] the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” ( Daniel 4:35 )

    As I see it, if more people understood this, they would fear and respect God much more than they currently appear to.

    Good post Margo. 🙂

    • Very well put, Dave

      The more I study about the sovereignty of God, the more amazed I am about who He is. Our Total depravity in need of our merciful God is the right order of things, and I don’t believe we will ever understand His greatness this side of Heaven.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to post!

  4. Pingback: WHAT’S SO IRRESISTIBLE ABOUT GRACE? | Ministry in Words

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