Salvation belongs to the Lord (Ps. 3:8; Jonah 2:9; Rev. 7:10)
Reading what many people are writing – Christian people, to be specific – concerning yesterday’s Presidential election is quite interesting. Many, many Christians, especially those who did not vote for President Obama, have been declaring the sovereignty of God in this election. We read much about how this is part of God’s eternal plan and about how God sovereignly orchestrated the events of yesterday in order to fulfill that plan. Let’s examine the statements a little closer.
How could God sovereignly orchestrate the electoral results? Didn’t people walk into polling places, complete their ballots, choosing based upon their own preferences and desires – and didn’t they do so willingly, volitionally – “freely?” If their decisions were willing, volitional ones based on their own conscience – how could God sovereignly orchestrate the events of yesterday? As of this moment, the results show 59,631,249 people voted for President Obama. That means that many people made decisions of their own will do vote for him. Now, is this the way God sovereignly oversees His Creation – where He allows events to happen and then “responds” and makes it part of His eternal plan? (which is what many people really mean by stating God’s sovereignty concerning the election) No, the Bible says God has determined the end from the beginning and no one can frustrate His plan (e.g. Isaiah 46:9-10, Daniel 4:34-35). Therefore, if the election yesterday was God’s plan – how did it happen? Over 59 million people made decisions – choices – yesterday. How does that fit into this plan? If this were God’s eternal plan, how did over 59 million people become participants?
Because God is sovereign.
That may seem basic, but one must think about the implications – how and why did 59 million people choose President Obama instead of one of the other candidates? Was God just gnashing his proverbial teeth, hoping that 59,00,000 people would do what he desired them to do? No. One must think carefully – and biblically – about this issue? How did all those people – 59 million of them – make willing, volitional, “free” decisions that would fulfill God’s eternal plan? The biblical answer is because God decreed those decisions in eternity and caused them to occur in time and space. This is how God providentially governs His Creation – the God of the Bible is not the God of the Deists (think Thomas Jefferson), a God who created all things, set Creation in motion and has stepped back and just watches.
We must go back further. Why was President Obama up for re-election in the first place? Over 69 million people voted for Mr. Obama. If they had not done that, he would not have been on the ballot yesterday and his re-election would not have been part of God’s eternal, sovereign plan.
We must go back even further. How did he get on the ballot in 2008? Through the means of the willing choices made by voters in the primary process.
We must go back further. How did he get involved in the primary process? Because he was a Senator from Illinois, voted into office by the people of Illinois through all their willing choices.
We must go back further. How did Mr. Obama become known on a national level? Through his speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Why was he chosen to give that speech? Why not someone else? That speech catapulted Mr. Obama to national visibility. Willing, volitional choices had to be made by certain powers-that-be in order for Mr. Obama to have given that speech.
We could engage in nearly infinite regress here but hopefully the point has been made. An untold number of ”free” choices had to be made for the events of yesterday to come to pass. They could only have come to pass – a number of decisions which we cannot imagine – in order for the voters of the United States to have re-elected Mr. Obama yesterday. Those decisions, however, were not outside the will of God – and God did not merely “permit” or “allow” these decisions. All the decisions through history that people have made were pointing to the events of yesterday. God is not just a deity who throws all the events and choices of history into a cosmic vat, stirring them with the ultimate spoon, hoping they mix together to accomplish His will. God actually decrees and controls man’s decisions. Yes, He does.
One need not object, saying that man is thus not held responsible as a moral agent (a “robot,” or a “puppet,” to use common objections) if God decrees his choices. One need only read one Old Testament passage (Isaiah 10:5-19) and one New Testament passage (Romans 9:6-24) as a primer, because there are many more concerning the issue of God’s control of man’s decisions and man’s moral responsibility for those decisions.
To sum up our first point- yes, God was sovereign yesterday and His sovereignty could only have been manifest because He had ordained not only the outcome of the election, but the means to that outcome – a nearly infinite number of choices made by people over many years and many different circumstances.
It is not uncommon to see such statements made by Christians, especially in light of events that occur which are what people consider less than favorable. Events such as Presidential elections (whether or not one objects to or affirms yesterday’s results), natural disasters, illness, unexpected death and so on are taken under the heading of the sovereignty of God in order for those affected to receive some degree of comfort – and biblically, they should.
It is quite interesting to see Christians proclaiming God’s sovereign authority and His ordination of events occurring in history – events that include “free” choices made by men – with regard to all arenas of life and society except one, which is the most important one of all: the salvation of sinners.
What is the most important “choice’ a person will make in his or her life? The decision as to trust or not trust Christ. To follow or not follow Christ. To believe or not believe. To come to Christ or leave one’s back turned to Him. Those are all entailed in the same choice, by the way. Many, many who are now affirming God’s exhaustive sovereignty over history – said history necessarily including man’s willing, volitional choices – will affirm it in all areas of history except (except!) the salvation of sinners.
We are told by these people that God has opened the door to salvation for all but that whether or not a man walks through that door is completely up to him – up to his own “free will.” We are told God woos, entices, beckons but does not – indeed cannot, because man’s “free will” has to be preserved at all costs – do anything to actually effect or ensure anyone – no one, not even one person – comes to Christ. We are told that God cannot intervene in a person’s life and change their nature so that instead of hating God, they would love Him. We are told that God cannot intervene and give a person sufficient faith in order that they not only believe, they willingly believe. We are told that God cannot intervene in a person’s life and create sufficient faith and repentance such that a person cannot do anything other than come to Christ. We are told that no matter how much God may desire to save a person, He will not, cannot, indeed must not intervene in the life of an unwilling person to save him from the horrors of Hell. We are told that God has sovereignly decided to not be absolutely sovereign in the saving of sinners. Why? Because that would interfere with man’s “free will.” ”Free will” must be preserved at all costs – even at the cost of “God’s unconditional love” for every single human being such that He expresses that love by not intervening to prevent a person’s condemnation -is that the biblical teaching?
Is the inconsistency clear here? If one is willing to ascribe God’s superintending of “free” human choices and actions, such as those of the men who wrote down revelation from God that we know as “the Bible,” if one is willing to affirm God’s exhaustive sovereignty over yesterday’s Presidential election and all the events and decisions in human history that brought us to this point, why are people not willing to say the same about God’s exhaustive sovereignty in the salvation of sinners? If every other decision or choice a person makes in his life falls under the sovereign decree of God – where is the biblical exemption with regard to a person’s choice to follow Christ?
The Bible states that every person is conceived in sin and is a rebel against God. The Bible states that every person by nature is a child of wrath, is a hater of God, has a heart that is wicked beyond comprehension and does not obey God because he cannot obey God. The Bible says that faith that saves is a gift from God. The Bible says repentance is granted by God. The Bible says God brings people from death to life as an act of His sovereign grace. The Bible says these people who are brought from death to life truly, truly believe because that belief is their own belief, given to them as a gift and they believe because they want to believe and are not compelled against their will to believe. The Bible says that this saving work begin in a sinner’s life as a gift from God will be carried through to completion.
It is wonderful, to be sure, seeing all the proclamations of the absolute sovereignty of God popping up all over cyberspace last night and today. In the big picture, though, the Presidential Election and God’s sovereignty over it are not the most important issues we must address. The most important issue is a man’s salvation or damnation. God is absolutely sovereign over that area, as well. Let us all be consistent in applying the clear biblical teaching with regard to salvation belonging to our Lord. Praise God He is sovereign in the salvation of sinners.