Let’s think theologically for a few minutes. Since God is sovereign He can do anything He pleases, right? As the King of the universe and the Creator of everything He has the right to rule His creation. He’s the Boss! Romans 9:21 teaches us of this sovereign right in describing God as the Potter. “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?” The answer demanded is, yes He does.
What about man? Don’t humans bear responsibility for their decisions, good or bad? Yes, they do, but humans are not sovereign over the universe, God is. We have a free will and must bear the responsibility for our choices.
Consider this important declaration of the Apostle Peter in Acts 2:23. Preaching about Jesus Christ, Peter tells Jews from all over the world, “this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.” In this one verse, Peter combines both God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. God knew and predetermined that Jesus had to die for the sin of the world. There was no other way to pay the price for sin. Yet, though God knew and determined Jesus had to go to the cross, both Jews and Gentiles are not let off the hook. Both bear responsibility for murdering the Son of God. God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility are both affirmed in one verse!
So what? What difference does it make? Here are several thoughts on why it matters to believers that both doctrines are equally true:
- You must accept responsibility for the choices you make and the outcomes those choices produce. You can’t blame God for your foolish choices nor can you say, “the devil made me do it.”
- God is in charge of your life and will guide you if you’re guidable. You can be a rebel and fight Him for control of your life but you will make a mess of it. Better to bow the knee before Him and obey His will not yours. That’s what Jesus did in the garden of Gethsemane.
- Our view of evangelism of the lost and worldwide missions is impacted. If God is sovereign, why should we evangelize the lost or send missionaries around the world? Couldn’t God simply save the lost through dreams or angels? Yes, He could but He has chosen to use humans as His witnesses to take the gospel to the lost. We have the free will, however, to choose to obey or disobey God’s command to evangelize the lost.
- These doctrines also affect how we deal with relationship difficulties. If my spouse and I are in conflict, is God, in His sovereignty, using this conflict to cause me to change and thus I should embrace the conflict and welcome it because it’s for my good. If it’s human responsibility, am I responsible for my part in the conflict and need to stop acting like a jerk? Most of you, including myself, would say it’s both. God wants to round off the rough edges of my personality and He uses conflict to do just that. It is also true that I bear responsibility for how I act, talk, and think.
That’s enough heavy thinking for now,