The age-old debate of free will vs. sovereignty in salvation continues to rage on. In my own personal experience, the heated conversations usually end with someone throwing up their hands and saying, "Well, if that's really what God is like, then no one stands a chance. How fair is that?" For some reason, a sovereign God who works as He pleases is offensive to the human mind.
Or perhaps it's only to the American, whose mind is so firmly set on freedom that any implication that man is truly not free but dead to sin causes an involuntary gut reaction.
It's funny how we are such a young nation, but freedom flows through our veins. Recently, my sister was in Russia picking up one of her adopted daughters and she was given a clear picture of the ugly American. She told me that in Russia, the people live for the government. They are under the government's rule and have no rights but the rights given to them by the government whenever the government feels like doling them out. That's why court dates come and go, depending on whether or not the judges feel like working.
In America, however, the government exists to serve the people. We have rights and we demand that they be exercised and upheld. If the government doesn't act quick enough, we'll get rid of them and replace them with a better and more attentive civil servant. So when an American tries to act like they are in America, when in reality they are in Russia, the term "ugly American" comes into play.
I think you get the picture.
I heard John MacArthur once say that God's sovereignty is better understood and accepted outside of America. His point was that because we are so ingrained with the concept of choice and freedom, that we cannot grasp a sovereign concept - only democracy. Choice. Freedom. Rights. Justice.
But when we seek to understand God better, we absolutely must set aside our preconceived ideas and let His Word reveal truth.
For example, wives, do we really need to submit to our husbands? I mean, come on, some of us make more money than our husbands, we do more than our husbands around the house and we’re probably even smarter than them. When that scripture about submitting was written, it was a different time, a different culture. Women have evolved – we’re doctors, lawyers, merchants and chiefs now. Men and women are created equal and though we wouldn’t go so far as to say men should solely submit to us, we certainly think that God no longer requires women in general to be subservient to their husbands. Right?
When we reason like this, we quickly forget that the reason we as women struggle with the whole submission concept goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. When Eve sinned, the consequence was the fact that women would forever desire to rule the roost, but God would not change His mind on home leadership. It has nothing to do with culture, education or income. It has everything to do with order, God-given roles and sin.
Back to sovereignty. The angered response to a Biblical defense for sovereignty in salvation is, “Then we’re simply puppets. No one is responsible for their own actions because they don’t truly have a choice.”
Technically, they are right. We don’t have a choice because DEAD PEOPLE CAN’T CHOOSE ANYTHING!
It’s a matter of perspective.
If you start with a living, breathing, logical, healthy, smart, rational human being, then it isn’t fair that he doesn’t get a choice. If you put a plate of spaghetti and a New York strip steak in front of this man, he should be able to make an educated choice. Do I want carbs or protein for dinner?
But if you start with a dead body – do you really want me to describe a dead body here or will you take my word for it…he’s dead – and give him the choice of spaghetti or steak, guess what he’ll choose every time. That’s right – nothing, because he’s dead.
Now, bring this dead man back to life and set a beautiful plate of beef tenderloin, mashed potatoes with gravy, French cut green beans and a warm roll in front of him, and do you really think he’s going to be angry because you didn’t wake up the dead body next to him and feed him as well? No, he is going to gratefully dine on your generosity and when the meal is done, he’ll ask you what you would like him to do next. Right?
Okay, enough for tonight…trust me, folks…I’m not done yet…