Friday, June 18, 2010

Sovereignty Series - Hide and Seek...Really?

It's been a while since I played a rousing game of Hide and Seek, but I think I remember the basics.  One person counts to a hundred, while the others hide. Then the seeker looks for the hiders and while she is hunting, the goal is to sneak back to the home base, therefore securing a win and the privilege of hiding again in the next round.

Hide and Seek is unfortunately the game of preference when it comes to salvation in the minds of many believers as well. God does the hiding and man does the seeking.  Main support for this theory comes in verses like Isaiah 55:6 - "Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon him while He is near..." and Matthew 7:7 - "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you..."  And then these verses are supported with testimonials about how people "found" God.

Now, I am not discounting the seeking of the Lord and the finding and accepting His gift of salvation.  These are very real things but in order to understand exactly what happens at salvation, we have to start with God instead of man.

We know that in our fleshly state we are dead in our trespasses and sin.  I have tried to make a point that dead people can't really help themselves. Here's another verse to chew on:  "There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God.  All have turned aside, together thy have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one." Romans 3:10-12

So, answer these questions from these verses:  

How many righteous people are there (without the blood of Christ, of course)?  

Right, none.

How many people left to their own accord can understand the things of God?

Right, none.

How many people seek after God?

Again, none.

How many people do good apart from God?

And again, none.

This is a pretty condemning passage, a quote from the Psalms, that Paul uses in his discourse at the beginning of Romans to drive home the point that sin separates us from God and that in and of himself, man has no ability to reconcile that relationship.  That includes even desiring to have a relationship.  

So, why did I feel this emptiness and go searching for God?  Are you denying my salvation experience?

God's Word speaks to that as well. Here are a few verses from the book of John to help explain:

John 1:12,13 - "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name...(if you stop here, you might think that man chose God and God honored that choice, but read on)...who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."

Your bloodline didn't give you salvation.  Your own will didn't give you salvation. Your momma's prayers didn't give you salvation.  Salvation is solely of the will of God.

John 6:44 - "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day."

That word "draw" means drag - we are literally dragged to the Father. Why are we dragged? Because our sin nature pulls in the other direction.  Because we are a dead body.  Because He does all the work...

John 6:65 - "And He was saying, For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father."

Now, in order to believe in a free will salvation, you have to believe that God draws all men, but some men are stronger than God's will.  And you have to believe that God grants for all men to come, and again, some men reject His invitation. But doesn't this last verse imply that God's granting is selective? If it was offered to all, would it be considered "granted"?  Our first verses tell us that salvation comes only through the will of how does that work? He wills it, we get to choose and then He gets credit for granting it but only after we decide whether or not we want it?  Does that make sense?  Remember Romans, no one seeks after God, no one does good and no one is righteous. So how does that man make the choice to accept or reject God's offer of salvation?

Perhaps a more accurate description is this:  Man is dead, God (before the foundations of the world) chose for Himself a specific people, He drags them to Himself, which gives them that longing and awareness, they make a choice to accept His gift of salvation - not because of any good in them, but solely because of the will of God which works within them, and man is saved. So the salvation experience is real and true - the seeking is the desire that God has placed in their hearts - and the end result is the will of God is accomplished through the salvation of His elect children.

What about this verse?  John 8:47 - "He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God."  

What does this mean?  

Or what about this? John 17:9 - "I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours..."

When you understand that there are two groups in this world, those who are "of God" and those who are not, and you understand that the ones who are "of God" are given to Jesus by the Father, for His glory, by His will, then you get a more accurate picture of who you are and who God is.  In the case studies that I have shared, God is in complete control.  Man is not - even when he thinks he is, God still accomplishes his will.  

So why is God suddenly helpless in salvation in the eyes of most believers?  Why is it so important that God be "hands-off" when it comes to salvation?  Is there anywhere else in scripture that He is "hands-off"?  Why in salvation?

As John the Baptist said, He must increase, I must decrease.  We must have a greater view of God and a more accurate picture of ourselves to understand that God is the source of all good and that the only thing that's good in me is Jesus.

1 comment:

  1. Good questions Kristen. When answered honestly, the only conclusion I come to is that man only chooses God when God gives him the desire and ability. The desire and ability are completely in God's hands and He determined before He created the world who He would place that desire and ability to receive Him. Apart from God's intervention, we remain dead in our sins. To say man has the choice whether or not to believe, or to say man has free will, we would have to say God brings us to a state of "dying" so then we can decide whether or not we want to choose Him. Does that make any sense? We are dead. He makes us alive. Period. It's all His work. We are left to simply fall on our faces and thank Him for His mercy. So what do we do with 1 Tim. 2:4 where Paul writes that God desires all men to be saved? And 2 Peter 3:9 that He does not wish for any to perish but for all to come to repentence? I would have to say He does not act on His desire but on His plan, which He made before He created all men. We must let Him be God. His ways and thoughts are so far above and beyond ours...