What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? BY NO MEANS! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. (Romans 9:14-16, ESV)
I read that and think about serving my family, caring for my patients, loving those God has brought into my path, about this whole adventure in South Florida. It’s a LOT of human will and exertion! Is it pointless?
The ninth chapter of the letter Paul wrote to Christ followers in Rome is an inspired analysis of God’s sovereign choice through the span of human history. Paul describes God’s choice of Jacob over Esau, the younger over the older. This choice was made before either boy could be judged by their actions, before the twins were born. He quotes from Malachi: “Jacob have I loved, but Esau I hated.” Pharaoh is nothing more than a backdrop for God to demonstrate his power in the plagues and the Exodus.
We want to push back. Is that fair? What about Esau? Did he get a chance? Why was he even born if he was destined to be hated by God? God hardened Pharaoh’s heart; did Pharaoh still have a choice?
John quotes Jesus: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” (John 6:44, ESV). John chapter six ends with Jesus telling the disciples “Did I not choose you, the twelve?” (John 6:70, ESV)
Spurgeon preached about the relationship between God’s will and man’s will in 1862. The text of that sermon is in the link below. It’s worth reading. I’ll summarize two of Spurgeon’s points.
God is infinite. He is the uncaused cause. He brought into existence everything that is, from sub-atomic particles to billions of galaxies. Could we think to revolt against the Creator and Sustainer, asserting our independence? Paul likens us to a lump of clay, noting the absurdity of our demanding to be made differently. There is an aspect in which human free will defies the nature of created order.
Giving ourselves the right to say ‘NO’ to God takes Him off the throne and sets us on it. If God wills to save us, can we deny Him? God is outside of time, not locked into it as we are. There is a sense in which His will has already been done. He exists the same in every moment of the universe from its inception to its demise. We pray for God’s will to be done in confidence, knowing that it cannot be denied.
We cherish the notion of free will. Must we give it up? Was it ever ours to give up?
Revelations 22:17 says “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” That certainly sounds like it depends on us.
I’ll end this post by coming full circle. I’ve invested the past two decades of my life trying to live the gospel and point others to the Savior of the world. I’ve seemingly been living as though my full cooperation is necessary for God to accomplish His will here and now. Should I take a day off? A year off?
Stay tuned for part two.
http://www.biblebb.com/files/spurgeon/0442.htm, accessed 1/28/17