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Sovereignty & Responsibility

by | Jun 20, 2013 | News, Redemption, Theology, Worship

One of the things many struggle to grasp is how divine sovereignty and human responsibility go together.  How can God be in control of the world while at the same time we make choices that we are responsible for?  This question continues to baffle minds and hearts.

We dealt with this briefly in the sermon on Jonah 3 during which I quoted from one of my favorite sermons on the subject by CH Spurgeon.  The following quote makes my mind race and my heart soar.  I hope you are encouraged by it as well.

The system of truth is not one straight line, but two. No man will ever get a right view of the gospel until he knows how to look at the two lines at once. I am taught in one book to believe that what I sow I shall reap: I am taught in another place, that “it is not of him that wills nor of him that runs, but of God that shows mercy.” I see in one place, God presiding over all in providence; and yet I see, and I cannot help seeing, that man acts as he pleases, and that God has left his actions to his own will, in a great measure. Now, if I were to declare that man was so free to act, that there was no precedence of God over his actions, I should be driven very near to Atheism; and if, on the other hand, I declare that God so overrules all things, as that man is not free enough to be responsible, I am driven at once into … fatalism. That God predestines, and that man is responsible, are two things that few can see. They are believed to be inconsistent and contradictory; but they are not. It is just the fault of our weak judgment.

Two truths cannot be contradictory to each other. If, then, I find taught in one place that everything is fore-ordained, that is true; and if I find in another place that man is responsible for all his actions, that is true; and it is my folly that leads me to imagine that two truths can ever contradict each other. These two truths, I do not believe, can ever be welded into one upon any human anvil, but one they shall be in eternity: they are two lines that are so nearly parallel, that the mind that shall pursue them farthest, will never discover that they converge; but they do converge, and they will meet somewhere in eternity, close to the throne of God, whence all truth doth spring.


Taken from “Sovereign Grace and Man’s Responsibility” by CH Spurgeon Aug 1, 1858

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