The Sovereignty Of God Seen In His
Calling And Converting Whom He Will
Perhaps the most glorious Biblical witness or landmark of God's absolute sovereignty is seen in His power to dominate and subdue the spirits of men in calling and changing whom He will. In today's philosophy it is believed that a rational being is the only one who should decide his or her own interests; that the personal choice automatically then becomes the will of his Maker. Man is said to have a "free will" and that his Maker, though He knows the choice in advance, only knows that choice in advance because He has looked down the centuries to see the choice that will be made, and so that free choice becomes the will of God for the one who made the choice, in the future.
But if you study the scriptures closely and the Biblical witnesses that we have been discussing we find an entirely different picture. Good things that degenerate become the worst. Consider the angels who fell with Satan and Satan himself. Beings who surrounded the very throne of God degenerated to the very servants of evil and wickedness doomed to the Lake of Fire, the place created for their punishment.
From the very beginning fallen man has resisted God's course. Cain purposefully brought an unacceptable sacrifice and even when he could have gone out and gotten a proper sacrifice from his brother Abel refused to do so. He preferred to disobey God, resist and rebel against God rather than make the simplest request of his brother.
Man is so wedded to his lusts and so headstrong in his own will that nothing of the knowledge of God is able to move him. We note in one place in the scriptures that even though an angel stood in the path of one who desired to curse the Children of Israel for monetary gain it did not in anyway alter his desire to do harm to the Jews and he kept trying until he found a way. Balaam finally taught Israel's enemies to lead them into idolatry and so in a sense conquer them.
God could have crushed man from the very beginning when he disobeyed but He did not, and so man has gone from disobedience to disobedience.
To destroy man would have been simple, what God creates He can destroy but to humble a proud and high-minded spirit, to melt a hard heart, to tame and reconcile a rebellious man whose very heart "...is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked..." and who is at enmity with God; to make him alive again to the living knowledge of God, obedient again, this would proclaim the greatness of the sovereign power of God.
Salvation is change. Where there is no change there is no salvation. Only God can generate, and when that creation is dead only God can regenerate. Man has no power to save himself, he cannot humble himself, nor melt his hard heart he cannot reconcile or make peace with God; his heart is deceitful and wicked above all things, and even he does not know himself the depths he can reach.
When the creation is dead it is described as being dead in trespasses and sin and the dead are helpless and hopeless and it is only through the intervention of Jesus that we can be born again. It is His blood that remits our sin, "Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin." Hebrews 9:22.
Consider the intervention of Jesus at the well of Bethesda where so many of the sick and afflicted among the Jews waited year after year for the angel to come down and disturb the waters so that the first to then enter the pool would be healed. It was the intervention of Jesus that brought healing to the impotent man. When Jesus asked him if he would be healed, he could not hear the spiritual meaning only the human, and so answered that he had no man to help him. Where salvation is concerned there is no man to help and man only thinks in terms of man's help. Talk to people and they say they don't know which way to turn, meaning to which man shall I turn. Some even say that they are beyond help, meaning no man can help them. But here Jesus intervened. The man thought he was doomed to forever watch someone else enter the pool before he could get there but God intervened. Jesus did not ask permission, he simply healed him. A precious picture of the irresistible grace of God. It is always God intervening in man's life.
People have said to me that this is forcible salvation and that God doesn't do that. But if a man or woman is in a burning house we do not ask permission to save them. If we are able we simply go in and bring them out. People who are saved without permission do not become angry and run back into the fire. Man maybe saved, so to speak, without permission, but after salvation he rejoices in it; he doesn't become angry and curse God for that salvation.
The impotent man certainly had no angry words for Jesus when he had been healed.
Notice, also, that Jesus did not heal everyone there nor did He ask ever person there if they would like to be healed. He only went to one man and only spoke to that one man and only healed that one man, the one He came to heal. What a picture of that much maligned doctrine of election. God saves who He will. Before the beginning of time God the Father gave certain ones to God the Son and for those He came and died, and it is to those that the Holy Spirit comes with the Word, and they hear it and on the effective date of salvation they are saved. Until that date the elect person is as bound for hell as any lost man or woman ever was or is.
Page through your Bible and see how many lives God stepped into and used simply because it was in His plan to do so. Jacob, a man who was a cheat and deceiver, but God's intervention changed his name to Israel, "the prince of God."
Nebuchadnezzar the heathen king who after eating grass in the fields with the cattle for seven years finally testified that Jehovah was Almighty God and answered to no man and no man could ask Him why He did or did not do a thing.
Then there was Naaman, the Assyrian general who was a leper but God intervened in his life through the testimony of a little Jewish girl who had been carried away from her home as a slave. He was cured and recognized that Jehovah was the only God. God did not heal all the lepers at this time, just one to whom testimony had been carried. "He will have mercy on whom he will have mercy."
He certainly intervened in the lives of His disciples calling them from all walks of life. I do not remember Him ever asking them, "Will you please follow me," and them saying, "Well, maybe." In one instance He simply said, "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men." It is certainly odd that they seemed to understand the spiritual implications of that statement without it being explained. Their spiritual hearing had been opened, they understood.
I know that at one point He did ask them if they would leave Him as others had done, and again I think we can see that their spiritual hearing was working for they asked Him to whom would they go, certainly indicating that they knew He was who He said He was, the Son of Almighty God.
Then there was the Philippian jailer who was about to commit suicide because he thought all of his prisoners had escaped. Paul and Silas stopped him and witnessed to him concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, they preached the Word to him, and he was saved and his house, the Bible tells us. We do not read that the other prisoners or any of the helpers the jailer may have had were saved, just the jailer and his household.
Onesimus, the run away slave, whose life was in jeopardy if he was found, for run away slaves were put to death. Paul found him and taught him and saw him saved. God intervened for whatever reason, His reason, and Onesimus went home to Philemon and since Paul had said that he found him helpful was probably freed and returned to serve Paul.
So it comes to mind here that there is a reason for these things and that that reason is that the same power is needed to sustain and preserve the new creation as there was at the first to do the creation itself. And note the word "preserve" we have "pre-" before and "serve" which is to work for, if He preserves something or someone then it is for a service in the future, a prepared service.
This creation is like a great stone rolling down a hill, it moves inexorably toward the bottom or ending and there is a great proneness in its creatures to rebel against that known end and so fight against God but God has His choice servants, those chosen from before the foundation of the world, they look forward with joy to that moment when the creation will be free from the curse that binds it to the Devil, death and the grave.