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Charismatic Puritan

Right doctrine leads to right thinking, and right thinking leads to right living.

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Location: Gaithersburg, MD, United States

Jealous for the truth, beauty and majesty of our glorious risen Savior.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Sovereignty and Responsibility

First, I would like to say that I invite and appreciate comments on what I write here. I have no formal theological training, and so expect that I will make mistakes and say things that are in error. I ask you, whoever you are, as a brother or sister in Christ, to help hold me accountable to the truth of God’s Word.



Human responsibility and divine sovereignty must be correlates in the relationship with God. This is an extension of the relationship of Father and Son within the Trinity. Christ was completely responsible for His actions and His submission to death on the cross was a totally voluntary submission. Yet simultaneously, His heavenly Father had complete sovereign control over the situation, including Christ’s choice, so that the Father’s plan for redemption would be executed perfectly. Jesus’ choice was a completely voluntary choice end God’s control was a completely authoritative control. This is necessary, for if Jesus went to the cross by coercion or manipulation, or was somehow programmed to do so, such that His choice was not autonomous, then His death was murder; and if Jesus went to the cross without total assurance of His Fathers complete control over all things, and the knowledge that God would accomplish His plan of redemption, then Jesus’ death was a hopeful suicide. As it is, because these two seemingly opposed principles are actually, mysteriously, correlated, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was a propitiating sacrifice: propitiation being God’s sovereign response to Jesus’ willing self-sacrifice, and Jesus’ submission to death being His voluntary action in response to the knowledge of God’s sovereignty.

This correlation of autonomy and sovereignty exists for us who are in Christ as well as those in the world. The significant difference is that, because we are set free from sin in Christ, we have the choice to obey God or not. This freedom is given by the regeneration of our hearts and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Prior to that miraculous conversion we are completely enslaved to sin and our choices, though completely ours for which we are fully responsible, can only be sinful. In both situations, regenerate in reprobate, God is sovereignly, mysteriously, works all things such that our individual choices accord His master plan. Ultimately, our “free will” is a subordinate free will, which exists only within the context of God’s sovereignty. So then, we are equally responsible as God is sovereign, yet the mystery is that His sovereignty is “more equal.” No human action, despite the fact that the human agent is completely responsible, occurs outside of the context of God’s authority such that God would be wondering or anticipating the results. This must be! For every human action, from a single breath to the most historic achievement, all occurs within the context of complete dependence on God to sustain the existence of the universe.

How glorious is this? You and I are free to act as we choose, yet not one of our choices, though they be opposite God’s will and therefore sin, could ever thwart God’s sovereign design for all time.

1 Comments:

Blogger Rob Wilkerson said...

Diane! What a perceptive and accurate post here. I liked it so much I reposted it today with some prefacing comments. Check it out here.

26/10/05 10:05  

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