THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD IN OPERATION
"For of Him, and thro’ Him, and to Him, are all things:
to whom be glory for ever. Amen" (Romans 11:36).
"When all Thy mercies O my God
My wondering soul surveys,
Transported with the view I’m lost
In wonder, love and praise."
THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD AND THE HUMAN WILL
"It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of
His good pleasure"
Since writing the above we have
read an article by the late J. N. Darby entitled, “Man’s so-called freewill,”
that opens with these words: “This re-appearance of the doctrine of freewill
serves to support that of the pretension of the natural man to be not
irremediably fallen, for this is what such doctrine tends to. All who have
never been deeply convicted of sin, all persons in whom this conviction is
based on gross external sins, believe more or less in freewill.”
GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY AND HUMAN RESPONSIBILITY
"So then every one of us shall give account of himself to
I. How is it possible for God to so bring His power to
bear upon men that they are PREVENTED from doing what they desire to do, and
IMPELL to do other things they do not desire to do, and yet to preserve
II. How can the sinner be held responsible FOR the doing
of what he is UNABLE to do? And how can he be justly condemned for NOT DOING
what he COULD NOT do?
III. How is it possible for God to DECREE that men SHOULD
commit certain sins, hold them RESPONSIBLE in the committal of them, and
adjudge them GUILTY because they committed them?
IV. How can the sinner be held responsible to receive
Christ, and be damned for rejecting Him, when God FOREORDAINED him TO
 Gordian knot: 1. An intricate knot
tied by King Gordius of Phrygia and cut by Alexander the Great with his sword
after hearing an oracle promise that whoever could undo it would be the next
ruler of Asia. 2. An exceedingly complicated problem of deadlock (The American
Heritage Dictionary, ed).
The terms of this example are
suggested by an illustration used by the late Andrew Fuller.
GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY AND PRAYER
"If we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us"
1 John 5:14
"God in His sovereignty has ordained that human destinies
may be changed and moulded by the will of man. This is at the heart of the
truth that prayer changes things, meaning that God changes things when men
pray. Some one has strikingly expressed it this way: ‘There are certain
things that will happen in a man’s life whether he prays or not. There are
other things that will happen if he prays, and will not happen if he does
not pray’. A Christian worker was impressed by these sentences as he entered
a business office, and he prayed that the Lord would open the way to speak
to some one about Christ, reflecting that things would be changed because he
prayed. Then his mind turned to other things and the prayer was forgotten.
The opportunity came to speak to the business man on whom he was calling,
but he did not grasp it, and was on his way out when he remembered his
prayer of a half hour before, and God’s answer. He promptly returned and had
a talk with the business man, who, though a church-member, had never in his
life been asked whether he was saved. Let us give ourselves to prayer, and
open the way for God to change things. Let us beware lest we become virtual
fatalists by failing to exercise our God-given wills in praying".
OUR ATTITUDE TOWARD GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY
"Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in Thy sight"
"A little bird I am,
Shut from the fields of air;
Yet in my cage I sit and sing
To Him who placed me there;
Well pleased a prisoner to he,
Because, my God, it pleases Thee.
Nought have I else to do
I sing the whole day long;
And He whom most I love to please,
Doth listen to my song;
He caught and bound my wandering wing
But still He bends to hear me sing.
My cage confines me round;
Abroad I cannot fly;
But though my wing is closely bound,
My heart’s at liberty.
My prison walls cannot control
The flight, the freedom of the soul.
Ah! it is good to soar
These bolts and bars above,
To Him whose purpose I adore,
Whose Providence I love;
And in Thy mighty will to find
The joy, the freedom of the mind."
Note how Old Testament prophecy
also declared that “the Spirit of the Lord” should “rest upon Him, the spirit
of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of
knowledge and of the fear of the Lord” (Isa.11:1,2).
DIFFICULTIES AND OBJECTIONS
"Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear
now, O house of Israel; Is not My way equal? are not your ways unequal?"
"But, O my soul, if truth so bright
Should dazzle and confound thy sight,
Yet still His written Word obey,
And wait the great decisive day."—Watts.
Romans 5 :8 is addressed to
saints, and the “we” are the same ones as those spoken of in
Concerning the rich young ruler of whom it is said Christ “loved
him” (Mark 10:21), we fully believe that he was one of God’s elect, and was
“saved” sometime after his interview with our Lord. Should it be said this is
an arbitrary assumption and assertion which lacks anything in the Gospel
record to substantiate it, we reply, It is written, “Him that cometh to Me I
will in no wise cast out,” and this man certainly did “come” to
Him. Compare the case of Nicodemus. He, too, came to Christ, yet there is
nothing in John 3 which intimates he was a saved man when the interview
closed; nevertheless, we know from his later life that he was not
For a further discussion of John 3:16 see Appendix 3.
THE VALUE OF THIS DOCTRINE
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, And is
profitable for doctrine, For reproof, for correction, for instruction in
righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, Throughly furnished unto
all good works"
2 Timothy 3:16, 17
"Why was I made to hear His voice,
And enter while there’s room,
When thousands make a wretched choice,
And rather starve than come?
‘Twas the same love that spread the feast,
That sweetly forced us in;
Else we had still refused to taste
And perished in our sin."
"Death and plagues around me fly,
Till He hid, I cannot die;
Not a single shaft can hit,
Till the God of love sees fit."
"Ill that He blesses is our good,
And unblest good is ill,
And all is right that seems most wrong,
If it he His sweet will."
"Ye fearful saints fresh courage take
The clouds ye so much dread,
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings o’er your head."
"Halleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth" -
"The Lord, our God, is clothed with might,
The winds and waves obey His will;
He speaks, and in the shining height
The sun and rolling worlds stand still.
Rebel ye waves, and o’er the land
With threatening aspect foam and roar,
The Lord hath spoken His command
That breaks your rage upon the shore.
Ye winds of night, your force combine—
Without His holy high behest
You shall not in a mountain pine
Disturb the little swallow’s nest.
His voice sublime is heard afar;
In distant peals it fades and dies;
He binds the cyclone to His car
And sweeps the howling murky skies.
Great God! how infinite art Thou,
What weak and worthless worms are we,
Let all the race of creatures bow
And seek salvation now from Thee.
Eternity, with all its years
Stands ever-present to Thy view,
To Thee there’s nothing old appears
Great God! There can be nothing new.
Our lives through varied scenes are drawn,
And vexed with mean and trifling cares;
While Thine eternal thought moves on
Thy fixed and undisturbed affairs."
"Halleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth" (Rev. 19:6).
THE WILL OF GOD
THE CASE OF ADAM
The Meaning Of "KOSMOS" In John 3:16
"Kosmos" is used of the Universe as a whole: Acts
17:24 - "God that made the world and all things therein seeing that
He is Lord of heaven and earth."
"Kosmos" is used of the earth: John 13:1;
Ephesians 1:4, etc., etc.- "When Jesus knew that his hour was come that He
should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved His own
which were in the world He loved them unto the end." "Depart out of this
world" signifies, leave this earth. "According as He hath chosen us in
Him before the foundation of the world." This expression signifies,
before the earth was founded—compare Job 38:4 etc.
"Kosmos" is used of the world-system: John 12:31
etc. "Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the Prince of this
world be cast out"— compare Matthew 4:8 and 1 John 5:19, R. V.
"Kosmos" is used of the whole human race: Romans
3:19, etc.—"Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to
them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the
world may become guilty before God."
"Kosmos" is used of humanity minus believers: John
15:18; Romans 3:6 "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me
before it hated you." Believers do not "hate" Christ, so that "the world"
here must signify the world of unbelievers in contrast from believers
who love Christ. "God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world."
Here is another passage where "the world" cannot mean "you, me, and
everybody," for believers will not be "judged" by God, see John 5:24. So
that here, too, it must be the world of unbelievers which is in view.
"Kosmos" is used of Gentiles in contrast from
Jews: Romans 11:12 etc. "Now if the fall of them (Israel) be the riches of
the world, and the diminishing of them (Israel) the riches of the
Gentiles; how much more their (Israel’s) fulness." Note how the first clause
in italics is defined by the latter clause placed in italics. Here, again,
"the world" cannot signify all humanity for it excludes Israel!
"Kosmos" is used of believers only: John 1:29;
3:16, 17; 6:33; 12:47; 1 Corinthians 4:9; 2 Corinthians 5:19. We leave our
readers to turn to these passages, asking them to note, carefully, exactly
what is said and predicated of "the world" in each place.
1 JOHN 2:2
"He is the
propitiation for our (believing Israelites) sins".
prophesied that Jesus should die for that) nation".
for ours only".
for that nation only".
for the whole world"— That is, Gentile believers scattered throughout the)
gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad".
It is true that many things in
John’s Epistle apply equally to believing Jews and believing
Gentiles. Christ is the Advocate of the one, as much as of the other. The same
may be said of many things in the Epistle of James which is also a
catholic, or general epistle, though expressly addressed to
the twelve tribes scattered abroad.