Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Christian living When God is Sovereign in Salvation: The Demands and Delight of Christ

At that time Jesus said, I Praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and You will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and my burden is light (Matthew 11:25-28).
The first part of this passage is a clear affirmation of God's sovereignty in salvation. Jesus' words are dripping with authority. He assures his listeners that "all things" have been handed over to him by the Father, and that "no one knows the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him." The stress is on God's will, not man's will. Jesus is saying, "I and the father are completely sovereign in the matter of salvation." In this passage, the Father does the hiding, and the Father does the revealing. The Father is the instigator of this saving sight. This is all done according to His good-pleasure.

The fact that the Father exercises this sovereignty the way he does is the great delight of the Son: "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth...." Jesus is reveling in the absolute freedom of his Father. Stressed here are the will of the Father and the will of the Son, both of which are completely free, not bound by anything.

Now what is striking about this passage is what comes next. Notice first however, that there is not a parenthetical and editorial note after v. 27 and v. 28 that reads (insert controversial and contradictory tension here). After the crystal clear statement about the sovereignty of God in salvation, and about the choosing of the Father in vv. 25-27, Jesus gives an invitation! He says, "Come!"

He has just affirmed that the only way anyone can come is if the Son wills to reveal the Father, and still he cries, "Come!" Come to Me…Take my yoke upon you…learn from me. These are all commands. He is commanding us to do what only he can enable. Christ delights in the sovereignty of his Father and demands that his followers come. On the basis of Jesus' statements in this passage, it seems that invitation to "come" to Christ is not at odds with a belief that God is the one behind the coming of the person!

Here we have both Divine sovereignty and human responsibility without even seeming contradiction. Therefore, it is imperative that we both affirm the complete and utter sovereignty of God in salvation, and call people to come to Christ. This is what he himself did, and what his true disciples continue to emulate. Jesus' words are a needed antidote both to the affirmation of the first part of this passage to the exclusion of the second, as well as an affirmation of the second part to the exclusion of the first.

God is sovereign in salvation, and man must "come." When these two truths are kept together, fruitful Christian life can take place.

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Says Simpleton is (c) Ched Spellman
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