God’s Absolute Sovereignty

God is SovereignNo doctrine is more despised by the natural mind than the truth that God is absolutely sovereign. Human pride loathes the suggestion that God orders everything, controls everything, rules over everything. The carnal mind, burning with enmity against God, abhors the biblical teaching that nothing comes to pass except according to His eternal decrees. Most of all, the flesh hates the notion that salvation is entirely God’s work. If God chose who would be saved, and if His choice was settled before the foundation of the world, then believers deserve no credit for their salvation.

But that is, after all, precisely what Scripture teaches. Even faith is God’s gracious gift to His elect. Jesus said, “No one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father” (John 6:65). “Nor does anyone know the Father, except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him” (Matt. 11:27). Therefore no one who is saved has anything to boast about (cf Eph. 2:8, 9). “Salvation is from the Lord” (Jonah 2:9). . . .

Moreover, everything that exists in the universe exists because God allowed it, decreed it, and called it into existence. “Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases” (Ps. 115:3). “Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps” (Ps. 135:6). He “works all things after the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:11). “From Him and through Him and to Him are all things” (Rom. 11:36). “For us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him” (1 Cor. 8:6). . . .

Paul anticipated the argument against divine sovereignty: “You will say to me then, ‘Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?’” (v. 19). In other words, doesn’t God’s sovereignty cancel out human responsibility? But rather than offering a philosophical answer or a deep metaphysical argument, Paul simply reprimanded the skeptic: “On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use, and another for common use?” (vv. 20, 21).

Scripture affirms both divine sovereignty and human responsibility. We must accept both sides of the truth, though we may not understand how they correspond to one another. People are responsible for what they do with the gospel—or with whatever light they have (Rom. 2:19, 20), so that punishment is just if they reject the light. And those who reject do so voluntarily. Jesus lamented, “You are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life” (John 5:40). He told unbelievers, “Unless you believe that I am [God], you shall die in your sins” (John 8:24). In John chapter 6, our Lord combined both divine sovereignty and human responsibility when He said, “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (v. 37); “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life” (v. 40); “No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (v. 44); “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life” (v. 47); and, “No one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father” (v. 65). How both of those two realities can be true simultaneously cannot be understood by the human mind—only by God.

Above all, we must not conclude that God is unjust because He chooses to bestow grace on some but not to everyone. God is never to be measured by what seems fair to human judgment. Are we so foolish as to assume that we who are fallen, sinful creatures have a higher standard of what is right than an unfallen and infinitely, eternally holy God? What kind of pride is that? In Psalm 50:21 God says, “You thought that I was just like you.” But God is not like us, nor can He be held to human standards. “‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isa. 55:8, 9).

We step out of bounds when we conclude that anything God does isn’t fair. In Romans 11:33 the apostle writes, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor?” (Rom. 11:33, 34).

– John MacArthur, ‘God’s Absolute Sovereignty

Fridays With Tozer

AWTozerFor the next few weeks, I’ll be posting from A. W. Tozer’s book Knowledge of the Holy.  Tozer opens the book with the following line:  “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”  I agree.  Our view of God determines our eternal destiny!  I encourage you to join with me and read along as Tozer shares some of the attributes of God with us and my prayer is that this will help us view God as He truly is, not as we imagine him to be.

Why We Must Think Rightly About God

O, Lord God Almighty, not the God of the philosophers and the wise but the God of the prophets and apostles; and better than all, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, may I express Thee unblamed?

They that know Thee not may call upon Thee as other than Thou art, and so worship not Thee but a creature of their own fancy; therefore enlighten our minds that we may know Thee as Thou art, so that we may perfectly love Thee and worthily praise Thee.

In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.

The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God.

For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God. This is true not only of the individual Christian, but of the company of Christians that composes the Church. Always the most revealing  thing  about  the  Church  is  her  idea  of  God,  just  as  Continue reading

Spurgeon Thursday

 LABORING AND NOT FAINTING

NO. 1069

 A SERMON DELIVERED ON LORD’S-DAY MORNING, SEPTEMBER 8, 1872,

BY C. H. SPURGEON,

AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.

 

For My name’s sake you have labored and have not fainted.Revelation 2:3.

 

THE Lord  Jesus Christ  never removes His eyes from His Church.  He notes everything  that concerns her, observing not merely the life of her members but their soul’s health, and not merely their health, but the way in which they spend their spiritual strength. He knows their works, He observes their charity, their patience, their zeal for His name’s sake. Seven times in His words to the Churches, He says, “I know your works.” This should make us live with great care, for albeit the whole world is under the eye of God, yet of His Church it is true, “upon one stone there shall be seven eyes.” The full perfection of Omniscience exerts itself upon the Lord’s chosen people. The farmer has an eye to all his estate but his chief care is his own family. And, even so, while the Great  Husbandman  of all creation observes all His works, He chiefly looks upon His own household. “The eye of the Lord is upon them that fear Him, upon them that hope in His mercy.”

Our Lord Jesus, it appears from the text and its connection, notices what it is that His Church cannot bear and He is very glad when she cannot endure false doctrine or unholy living. He would have her never to endure these but to purge herself from them with all strictness. But He notes also, with joy, what she can bear—toilsome  labor, abundant  self- denial, reproach for His sake, persecution and suffering even unto  blood.  In this He sees her love made manifest  and His delight is in her. It appears that our Lord  especially fixes His eyes upon the labors of the Church. What is the Church allowed to be on earth for but that she should labor for her Lord? If there were nothing to be done in this world there would be no reason for her lingering here below. She would be transported  to the better land if there were not great ends to be accomplished by her tarrying here.

She is put here because the world needs her and because God’s Glory is to be revealed through her. She is to be salt to a society which otherwise would be putrid—light  to a people who otherwise would sit in darkness. Consequently a Church which does not labor  misses the chief end of its being—it  is a plant that bears no flower—a vine branch that yields no cluster. Christ observes the labor of His Church and He has special delight in it when it is continuous,  so that He can give to her the double commendation of our text, “You have labored and have not fainted.” Oh, that we might receive this commendation  from our Master’s lips at the last! May He whose blood and righteousness are our only hope of salvation see in us abounding evidences of the grateful  love which He so well deserves at our hands.

We shall, this morning  make persevering service our theme.

I. First I would call your attention  to the text itself, noticing  THE POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE GOOD here combined. “You have labored”—there  is something positive. “You have not fainted”—there  is a negative which helps to make the positive more positively excellent. “You have labored.” We will not consider the original, but we will take the words of our version.

“You have labored.” Now, to labor signifies working with the putting  forth of much strength.  It is work with an emphasis. It means hard work, intense exertion, vigorous action. Men may work, but yet not labor and I fear there are many who claim to be working men who do not often trouble themselves with anything  approaching  to “labor.” There are also working Christians who do not approach to laboring—a  lifetime of such work as theirs would not exhaust a butterfly.

When a man works for Christ he should work with all his might.  Surely we should not offer less love under  the Gospel than was required under the Law, and you know the Law speaks on this wise—“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” Surely Jesus Christ deserves all that—and  when we labor for Him it should not be with the careless indifference of slaves—but  with the ardor of lovers, the devotion of enthusiasts. If any master is to be served badly, let it not be our Master Continue reading