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 (Showers of Blessing 6B)
The Sovereign Will
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GOD'S thoughts, Isaiah once humbly remarked, "are not your thoughts, neither are your ways His ways ... So shall My word be that goes forth from My month; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it" (Isa 55:8,11).  In spite of God's word being absolute and that we can never ever resist His will, human choice still plays a part in every conceivable aspect of our lives.

When God created man, He had never designed him to function mechanically.  Knowledge, freedom of choice ... were parts of man.  He was created to be responsible for his life.  For man to disobey God's command by taking the forbidden fruit, would have been incredible, if he had been a programmed machine with absolutely no freedom to choose for himself.

God's election of the Israelites was an explicit expression of the sovereign will.  Yet He left them with a clear task, namely they had a responsibility to obey Him.  In the Sinai Covenant, the interplay of God's will and human responsibilities is vivid.  He alone initiated the process of deliverance.  The people had not in any way contributed to their own salvation.  This was purely the sovereign grace (Exod 19:4).  For the covenant to remain binding between God and them, Moses had to pass from the point of initiation (God) to the receiving end (man).  He further passed from divine love to human responsibilities (Exod 19:5).  God's blessing would come upon them only (Exod 19:6) when their part to the covenant was fulfilled: "You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is mine.  And you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Exod 19:4ff).

The people had many occasions for exercising their freedom of choice.  However, they had to bear the consequences of each of their choices.  " Your eyes have seen what the Lord did at Baal Peor; for the Lord your God has destroyed from among you all the men who followed Baal of Peor, But you who held fast to the Lord your God are alive today, everyone of you" (Deut 4:3f).

Before Moses passed away, he presented these two clear paths again to the people of God - to choose life or to choose death (Deut 27:11ff).  The history of the Israelites tells us that God damned most of them because they were rebellious, in spite of His numerous calls for their return (Heb 3:18; cf Ps 95: 10f).

Thinking that God is the mastermind behind all the things we do makes us lose not only our confidence, but also our hope in Jesus.  The misconception that God damns whomever He wishes, without giving us a choice, breeds fatalism and produces irresponsibility.  It is this long-held notion that has always made man shift his blame onto God.  The reason given being that God is sovereign, and therefore can do what He desires, even to the hurt of His peoples' souls, in this case damnation, and still remains righteous.  Advocates argue that to have an element of human involvement and will in our actions is contrary to God's sovereignty.

Quite the opposite: if God is sovereign, is His sovereignty nullified when freedom of choice is instilled to man?  Certainly not.  Rather the view that man has the freedom to choose falls neatly in place with the entire Scriptures.  If man is a living machine, then this only means that God has caused him to sin.  His incarnation to save man by dying on the cross, is nothing but the most perverted show of greatness.

God tried to restore His people through the work of His Spirit.  But they chose to rebel and grieve the Holy Spirit (Isa 63: 10f, Acts 7:51).  If they possessed no freedom to choose, was it possible at all for them to oppose Him?  Definitely not.  It is precisely because we have this space of freewill that Paul encourages us not to grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:30).  God, being orderly, would not confuse man by giving two contradictory inspirations - motivating man to obey the Spirit and at the same time quenching the very inspiration from Himself.

In fact, we have to do our part to obey God.  To whom we present ourselves slaves to obey, we are that one's slaves whom we obey, whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness (Rom 6:16).  Christ ushers us into Him by His grace through baptism (Rom 6:1ff).  But it would be utterly wrong to assume that we who are in Christ have no part to play in guarding ourselves against sin. "Therefore do not let your mortal body that you should obey it in its lusts" (Rom 6:12).

In conclusion, Jesus came to save us from sins and would not defeat His own purpose by making us sin.  And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey (Heb 3:18)?  The Holy Spirit and power of His truth have already enlightened us.  To sin willfully is to sever ourselves from the grace of God (Heb 6:4ff).