God is Sovereign - Man is Responsible - Share the Gospel

Church Family: Does the Bible contradict itself teaching that God is sovereign over salvation while also teaching that man is responsible?

We have seen in Paul’s letter to the Romans, that God is sovereign over salvation. He is King of all. (Rom. 8:29-39; 9:6-29). God has a purpose for every person and He orders and controls them to show His power and to proclaim His name in all the earth. Salvation does not depend on human will or exertion but on God who has mercy (Rom. 9:16).

But wait, Scripture also teaches that man is responsible. As Judge, God holds out His hands to a disobedient and contrary people waiting for them to call upon the name of the LORD, Jesus Christ, to be saved (Rom. 10:13, 21). God holds every person responsible for the choices they make, the paths they pursue and their response to the gospel (Matthew 25; Rom. 2:1-16; Rev. 20:11-13). If someone rejects the gospel, they are considered a faithless unbeliever and they remain under the condemnation of God (Rom. 10:14-16; John 3:17-18; Mat. 11:20-24).
So, God's sovereignty and man's responsibility are both taught consecutively throughout the Bible. They are even taught within the same chapter like Romans 10, and in the same verse like Luke 22:22 and Acts 2:23. Both of these truths are definite and inescapable throughout Scripture and must not compete against one another but instead remain happily united. Biblically, these two truths are clearly taught from Genesis to Revelation. We are all morally responsible before God as our Judge while we are also divinely controlled by God, the King of the universe.

To our limited human minds, these two truths seem mysterious and incomprehensible. Sometimes, we even declare that they contradict each other. However, God’s response through Paul is, “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” (Rom. 9:20) God reminds us as created beings that we are to acknowledge these mysterious truths and rejoice that God is both righteous King and Judge.
Many times we speak and teach and live in a way that we weaken one of these truths by strengthening the other. We will either emphasize man's responsibility in a way that excludes God from being sovereign or we insist on God's sovereignty in a way that destroys the responsibility of man. Both of these are false.

One big question that comes up daily is, how do these truths work themselves out in evangelism? The simple answer is that when you offer the gospel of Jesus Christ to someone, they are responsible for their response to the gospel and at the same time we must remember that God is the One who creates life in the dead heart and brings salvation to that person (John 6:44).

As J.I. Packer wrote, “So far from making evangelism pointless, the sovereignty of God in grace is the one thing that prevents evangelism from being pointless. For it creates the possibility – indeed, the certainty – that evangelism will be fruitful. Apart from it, there is not even a possibility of evangelism being fruitful. Were it not for the sovereign grace of God, evangelism would be the most futile and useless enterprise that the world has ever seen, and there would be no more complete waste of time under the sun than to preach the Christian gospel” (Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, 106).

Go and share the gospel of Jesus Christ knowing that God makes alive and renews hearts of those who formerly despised Him. Our evangelism is effective because God does what we cannot do. We are the instruments of God to dispense the power of God unto salvation.

See you Sunday, offering salvation in the power of Christ: Steve

No Comments