God's Sovereignty and Human Responsibility1
This past Friday’s Question and Answer on Light for the Way centered around the relationship between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility. This topic definitely stretches the mind as we try to make sense of what the Bible is saying. To be clear, the Bible is clear. The struggle lies in trying to put all the pieces together of what the Bible says.
As was mentioned in the broadcast, the important mindset we must have is to let the Bible say what it says and not reinterpret what it says simply because we struggle to understand what it says.
As we think about God’s sovereignty and human responsibility, one of the clearest presentations in all the Scripture comes in Acts 13:48. Paul and Barnabas were ministering in Antioch Pisidia. Paul had finished preaching the word, and the result is what Luke records in Acts 13:48. People came to salvation, but not all. Rather, as Luke points out, “as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.” F. F. Bruce summarizes this phrase as “all, in fact, who had been enrolled for eternal life in the records of heaven” (Acts, 267).
There it is! The tension between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility. Only those who were appointed believed. But when these people heard the Gospel and believed, none felt compelled to believe. It was as if each freely chose to believe.
When we come to this subject, we must let the Bible inform our thinking, rather than what we feel or think the Bible should say. Acts 13:48 provides the tension that we must allow to exist in our thinking. We call out to others, begging them to come to Christ - just like Paul and Barnabas. But when they come to Christ, we can rest assured that the reason they did was because God appointed them to eternal life.