Sunday, 1 December 2013

principles 2




  And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

Last study, we concentrated our thoughts on that great truth which is foundational to every other truth/Bible: Sovereignty/God.  We asked and answered a fundamental question last week: Why is God sovereign? Because He cannot be anything else. Being King/Universe is not what God does. It is what God is. To be anything else/less would mean that He is not God.  This study, we must (for the sake/balance) as eagerly proclaim the parallel truth: MAN'S RESPONSIBILITY.

 Although the doctrine/divine sovereignty is a million miles away from the pagan notion of fatalism, yet unbalanced thinking can drive us into the fatalistic camp. Avoid! If your thoughts/divine sovereignty lead you to sit back and simply wait/God to act without the use/means then you have succumbed to fatalistic thinking and you have no support from the word/God.

When we talk about man's responsibility, we refer to  the fact that he is held responsible by God for the things which he thinks/says/does. He cannot blame anyone else, least of all God, even when God displays His sovereign power. This is fast becoming a lost truth not only in doctrine but in every day life. But we want to re-establish it in this message. 


A/ Here is an important truth re: fall/man. Man lost his ability through sin (again: he was responsible for his actions) to serve and please God. Unholy bent/bias towards sin captured Adam's heart when he fell which was also passed on to Adam's seed i.e. the human race.  Three verses put this sinful bias beyond dispute: Genesis 6:5/Jeremiah 17:9/Matthew 7:17-18 

B/ Even though man lost his ability (through his sinful choice) to serve God alright, yet he did not lose his responsibility: an important note. Man cannot sin himself out of responsibility towards God. God cannot surrender up His role as Judge of the Universe.  So man is locked into a situation whereby when he sins - and he always sins willingly - he must be held responsible for his actions & yet he is also a slave to sin. It is this fact which the Lord Jesus highlighted/text. No mitigating circumstances. No clever lawyer to argue man out/his responsibility. Where deeds are reckoned to be sinful, then the doer is held totally responsible.  Consider Cain/Abel: What hast thou done? (Genesis 4:10)  Cain has slain his righteous brother Abel in the field & immediately he is called to account for the fact. He is suitably punished for the deed & the whole tenor/passage is that Cain is guilty. Later testified to in 1 John 3:12  Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous. 

C/ Not only does the Book/God testify to man's wickedness and accountability, but also his own conscience. Conscience is God's fifth columnist within your heart. True, it differs from person/person in its regularity/severity etc., but it still operates. Testifies to the wickedness/man when it is declared to be enough to damn the heathen who never hear the gospel: For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another (Romans 2:14-15) 

D/ The coming Day/Judgement will also bear witness to this great fact. Men will be judged on their secrets (Romans 2:16) Their words - idle/otherwise - (Matthew 12:36) - Their deeds (Romans 2:6) Not only acknowledging them, but giving a full account (Romans 14:12) and receiving punishment for them because held responsible. Just as the conscience often terrifies men here on earth to amazing lengths, what can we say of that Great Judgement Day: And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? (Revelation 6:15-17) A Christian who has his conscience purged/blood of Christ does no so fear that day. His sins are forgiven and so will not be mentioned (Ezekiel 33:16) or even remembered again (Hebrews 10:17) 


Having now established these two great truths (God's sovereignty and man's responsibility)…what happens when they appear to clash? God and man just don't go their separate ways and never the twain shall meet. 

A/ God intervenes in the affairs/men. Indeed: According to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: (Ephesians 1:11) We know that these all things extend not only to good incidents ("Give us this day our daily bread") but even to wicked things. If it didn't, then Romans 8:28 wouldn't be much of a promise. 

B/ OLD CHESTNUT: How can God ordain wicked events without being the author/sin? We know the Cross was ordained/God: For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. (Acts 4:27-28) Cannot be any clearer/plainer. 
God did not make the best of a bad job at Calvary. Whole event was ordained. Christ suffered as it was determined before of God that he would. And yet it would be better for Judas (who betrayed Him) had Judas never be born (Luke 22:22) Again, although Christ was delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: (Acts 2:23)  God's sovereignty and yet man's responsibility were preached with equal clarity and fervently to unsaved people. How reconciled?  Ans:- Although God ordains sinful events, making them absolute certain, yet He never coerces wicked men against their will. We know that often He restrains wicked men (Psalm 76:10) This is a mercy to all - perpetrator/victim alike - but sometimes He just takes the brake off and lets them at it. They are acting freely and so accountably and yet God is using the event for His own righteous ends. May be the same event etc., but they are working from two different standpoints & so one is holy (God) & one (man) is sinful. When Peter spoke of the God ordained betrayal of Christ by Judas, he rightly concluded: Judas by transgression fell (Acts 1:25) Put responsibility were it belonged i.e. on wicked Judas.


A/ The gospel does something before it saves. Tacitly condemns. A man who applies for gospel help admits he cannot save himself (Luke 5:31-32) Other notions keep him from the gospel. A man who seeks/gospel is convinced of two things:

[i] His own sinfulness and accountability:
[ii] His own total and utter helplessness.

We preach both. We believe that even repentance/faith lie beyond sinful man's natural ability (Ephesians 2:1) yet we still (Apostolic succession) urge both upon men. Why?

[i] Inability does not negate responsibility. Man forfeits by his sin his spiritual eyesight etc., Willingly ignorant (2 Peter 3:5) It is not for us to forgo such preaching. God has claims on men whether they can meet them or not.

[ii] Evident that through such preaching that God uses these means to impart the very things he requires. Not for us to work out how or why. Fact: He does: Romans 10:17/James 1:18

B/ When we so preach the gospel, we do so in a way that brings man's responsibility/fore. So we plead with men as responsible beings. We reason with and seek to persuade men (2 Corinthians 5:11) Not just a matter of setting forth a few truths and  let them have them if they will. Men are not robots, void of any responsibility. We seek (by the secret help/God) to galvanise men into evangelical action i.e. to strive to enter in (by faith) into everlasting life. 


 A/ The gospel offer cannot be any wider than it is (Romans 10:13)
No man has the right to assume/no salvation for him. Sin/unbelief holds him back.  

B/ Bible uses language that is consistent with this line/reasoning: Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? (Ezekiel 33:11 ) 

Again: Wicked shall utterly perish in their own corruption; (2 Peter 2:12)
Why be lost? Appeal. 

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