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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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SALVATION AND SOVEREIGNTY

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV)

In this verse is one of the great mysteries that theologians and believers have argued about for centuries. How far do man’s will and God’s sovereignty go in determining the salvation of the Christian?

Salvation is certainly a demonstration of God’s glory. We know that God is absolutely sovereign over everything that exists because He created anything that does exist. (Colossians 1:16 ESV) God’s salvation through Jesus Christ is also evidence of the degree to which that sovereignty stretches. Jesus said:

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HATE GRACE?

Charles H. Spurgeon

Charles H. Spurgeon:

“We are sure that the Gospel we have preached is not after men because men do not take to it. It is opposed, even to this day. If anything is hated bitterly, it is the out-and-out Gospel of the Grace of God, especially if that hateful word, Sovereignty is mentioned with it! Dare to say, “He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy, and He will have compassion on whom He will have compassion,” and furious critics will revile you without stint! The modern religionist not only hates the doctrine of Sovereign Grace, but he raves and rages at the mention of it! He would sooner hear you blaspheme than preach Election by the Father, Atonement by the Son, or Regeneration by the Spirit!

If you want to see a man worked up till the Satanic is clearly uppermost, let some of the new divines hear you preach a Free-Grace sermon! A Gospel which is after men will be welcomed by men—but it needs a Divine operation upon the heart and mind to make a man willing to receive into his utmost soul this distasteful Gospel of the Grace of God! (1891, Sermon #2185)

Jerry Bridges on the Sovereignty of God

Trusting GodJerry Bridges:

One of our problems with the sovereignty of God is that it frequently does not appear that God is in control of the circumstances of our lives. We see unjust or uncaring or even clearly wicked people doing things that adversely affect us. We experience the consequences of other people’s mistakes and failures. We even do foolish and sinful things ourselves and suffer the often bitter fruit of our actions. It is difficult to see God working through secondary causes and frail, sinful human beings. But it is the ability of God to so arrange diverse human actions to fulfill His purpose that makes His sovereignty marvelous and yet mysterious. No Bible-believing Christian has any difficulty believing that God can and has worked miracles— instances of His sovereign but direct intervention into the affairs of people. Regardless of our theological position regarding miracles occurring today, we all accept without question the validity of the miracles recorded in Scripture. But to believe in the sovereignty of God when we do not see His direct intervention— when God is, so to speak, working entirely behind the scenes through ordinary circumstances and ordinary actions of people— is even more important because that is the way God usually works. (Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts)

Suffering and Sovereignty

R.C. Sproul:

“The suffering of the Christian or anyone else in this world is never ultimately an accident. All suffering is within the pale of divine sovereignty. All suffering comes within the broader context of the sovereignty of God.” (Reason to Believe: A Response to Common Objections to Christianity)

Pondering God

From the desk of R. C. Sproul:

“Most Christians salute the sovereignty of God but believe in the sovereignty of man.”

“Men are never duly touched and impressed with a conviction of their insignificance, until they have contrasted themselves with the majesty of God.”

God’s Sovereignty

Quoting Darrin Brooker:

Regrettably, the sovereignty of God is an issue little talked about in our day. The truth of the matter is that many people are selective in the areas they think and believe God to be sovereign. Oftentimes, these same people will boldly assert that their ‘free choice’ was the causal agent of their conversion and not the effectual calling of the Holy Spirit in fulfilling God’s decree of election. It is essential that this error be pointed out as such because, simply put, if we do not regard God as the ‘determining’ cause of our salvation then we do not regard God as sovereign in all things. (Rom. 11:36) Jonathan Edwards once said that the sovereignty of God will be “the stumbling-block on which thousands fall and perish; and if we go on contending with God about his sovereignty, it will be our eternal ruin.” If we do not exalt God as sovereign, and sovereign in all things including the salvation of His people, then we knowingly usurp the glory due His name.

For the true believer, God’s sovereignty is the greatest of all comforts and not some antiquated, theoretical doctrine, as many would have it portrayed. We should feel secure in the fact that God chose a people unto salvation before the creation of the world; that He sent His Son to secure that salvation through His death on the cross; and that He sent His Spirit to effectually call and eternally seal those for whom Christ died, in order that none of them should be lost. (Eph. 1:3-14) Dear friends, what greater comfort could there be than knowing our salvation, from beginning to end, rests fully in the hands of Almighty God?

Do You Reject God’s Sovereignty?

From the pen of Loraine Boettner:

Although the sovereignty of God is universal and absolute, it is not the sovereignty of blind power. It is coupled with infinite wisdom, holiness and love. And this doctrine, when properly understood, is a most comforting and reassuring one. Who would not prefer to have his affairs in the hands of a God of infinite power, wisdom, holiness and love, rather than to have them left to fate, or chance, or irrevocable natural law, or to short-sighted and perverted self? Those who reject God’s sovereignty should consider what alternatives they have left. (Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, 32)

Loraine Boettner: Do You Reject The Absolute Sovereignty Of God?

Quoting Loraine Boettner:

“Although the sovereignty of God is universal and absolute, it is not the sovereignty of blind power. It is coupled with infinite wisdom, holiness and love. And this doctrine, when properly understood, is a most comforting and reassuring one. Who would not prefer to have his affairs in the hands of a God of infinite power, wisdom, holiness and love, rather than to have them left to fate, or chance, or irrevocable natural law, or to short-sighted and perverted self? Those who reject God’s sovereignty should consider what alternatives they have left” (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, 32)

The United States Congress Proclaims A Day Of Thanksgiving In 1783

1783

By the United States in Congress assembled.

A PROCLAMATION.

Whereas it hath pleased the Supreme Ruler of all human events, to dispose the hearts of the late belligerent powers to put a period to the effusion of human blood, by proclaiming a cessation of all hostilities by sea and land, and these United States are not only happily rescued from the dangers distresses and calamities which they have so long and so magnanimously sustained to which they have been so long exposed, but their freedom, sovereignty and independence ultimately acknowledged by the king of Great Britain. And whereas in the progress of a contest on which the most essential rights of human nature depended, the interposition of Divine Providence in our favor hath been most abundantly and most graciously manifested, and the citizens of these United States have every possible reason for praise and gratitude to the God of their salvation. Impressed, therefore, with an exalted sense of the magnitude of the blessings by which we are surrounded, and of our entire dependence on that Almighty Being, from whose goodness and bounty they are derived, the United States in Congress assembled do recommend it to the several States, to set apart the second Thursday in December next, as a day of public thanksgiving, that all the people may then assemble to celebrate with one voice grateful hearts and united voices, the praises of their Supreme and all bountiful Benefactor, for his numberless favors and mercies. That he hath been pleased to conduct us in safety through all the perils and vicissitudes of the war; that he hath given us unanimity and resolution to adhere to our just rights; that he hath raised up a powerful ally to assist us in supporting them, and hath so far crowned our united efforts with success, that in the course of the present year, hostilities have ceased, and we are left in the undisputed possession of our liberties and independence, and of the fruits of our own land, and in the free participation of the treasures of the sea; that he hath prospered the labor of our husbandmen with plentiful harvests; and above all, that he hath been pleased to continue to us the light of the blessed gospel, and secured to us in the fullest extent the rights of conscience in faith and worship. And while our hearts overflow with gratitude, and our lips set forth the praises of our great Creator, that we also offer up fervent supplications, that it may please him to pardon all our offenses, to give wisdom and unanimity to our public councils, to cement all our citizens in the bonds of affection, and to inspire them with an earnest regard for the national honor and interest, to enable them to improve the days of prosperity by every good work, and to be lovers of peace and tranquillity; that he may be pleased to bless us in our husbandry, our commerce and navigation; to smile upon our seminaries and means of education, to cause pure religion and virtue to flourish, to give peace to all nations, and to fill the world with his glory.

Done by the United States in Congress assembled, witness his Excellency Elias Boudinot, our President, this 18th day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-three, and of the sovereignty and independence of the United States of America the eighth.

Jonathan Edwards On The Sovereignty Of God

Jonathan Edwards

Quoting Jonathan Edwards:

The Sovereignty of God is the stumbling block on which thousands fall and perish; and if we go contending with God about His sovereignty it will be our eternal ruin. It is absolutely necessary that we should submit to God as an absolute sovereign, and the sovereign of our souls; as one who may have mercy on whom He will have mercy and harden whom He will.

The Issue Of Sovereignty

Signing of the Declaration of Independence

Quoting Steven Groves:

The United States is a sovereign nation. Sovereignty is a simple idea: the United States is an independent nation, governed by the American people, that controls its own affairs. The American people adopted the Constitution and created the government. They elect their representatives and make their own laws. The Founding Fathers understood that if America does not have sovereignty, it does not have independence. If a foreign power can tell America “what we shall do, and what we shall not do,” George Washington once wrote to Alexander Hamilton, “we have Independence yet to seek, and have contended hitherto for very little.” The Founders believed in sovereignty. In 1776, they fought for it. (Excerpt from: Understanding America – Why Does Sovereignty Matter to America?)

God Is Sovereign!

In the following video, R. C. Sproul discusses the sovereignty of God and its application to understanding grace:

Arthur Pink On The Sovereignty Of God

Arthur W. Pink

Quoting Arthur W. Pink:

Divine sovereignty is not the sovereignty of a tyrannical Despot, but the exercised pleasure of One who is infinitely wise and good! Because God is infinitely wise He cannot err, and because He is infinitely righteous He will not do wrong. Here then is the preciousness of this truth. The mere fact itself that God’s will is irresistible and irreversible fills me with fear, but once I realize that God wills only that which is good, my heart is made to rejoice.

God’s Sovereignty

Jonathan Edwards

Quoting Jonathan Edwards:

“From my childhood up, my mind had been full of objections to the doctrine of God’s sovereignty, in choosing whom He would to eternal life; and rejecting whom He pleased. . . . But I have often, since that first conviction, had quite another kind of sense of God’s sovereignty than I had then. I have often since had not only a conviction, but a delightful conviction. The doctrine has very often appeared exceedingly bright and sweet. Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God. . . . And wherever the doctrines of God’s sovereignty with regard to salvation of sinners were preached, there with it God sent revival.”

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