Friday, January 30, 2009

God’s Sovereignty and Man’s Responsibility

By A. W. Pink - October 1946

"And she said unto them, Get you to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you; and hide yourselves there three days, until the pursuers be returned: and afterward may ye go your way" (Jos 2:16). It is striking to behold the blending together of Divine power and human precaution all through this incident. The grand truth of Divine preservation is typically illustrated, yet that preservation was accomplished by the use of means at every point: Rahab's by obeying the orders she received, her house because of the cord in her window, and the spies by concealing themselves in the mountain. Let those who teach the "eternal security of the saints" see to it that they present it with the safeguards by which God has hedged it about. True, the accomplishment of His eternal purpose of grace is not left contingent upon the acts of the creature; nevertheless, He who has ordained the end has also appointed the means by which that end is reached. God has not promised to conduct any one to Heaven without the exercise of his faculties and the discharge of his responsibility. He deals with us throughout as moral agents, and requires us to heed His warnings and avoid that which would destroy us (1Co 9:27).

Committing my soul and its eternal interests into the hand of the Lord by no means releases me of obligation. "He who has fixed the limits of our life, has also entrusted us with the care of it; has furnished us with means and supports for its preservation, has also made us provident of dangers, and that they may not oppress us unawares has furnished us with cautions and remedies. Thus, it is evident what is our duty." That, my reader, is a quotation not from the Arminian John Wesley, but from the Reformer, John Calvin! ― Alas that so many who claim to be Calvinists lack his wisdom and balance of doctrine. The truth of Divine preservation is not designed as a shelter for either laziness or licentiousness. God's promises are made to those who honestly strive against sin and mourn when tripped up by it, and not to those who take their fill thereof and delight therein―for He undertakes to keep His saints in holiness and not in wickedness. If God has turned our feet into that way which leadeth unto life, we must continue therein. Otherwise, we shall never reach our desired destination. Only those who press forward to that which is before reach the goal (Phi 3:14).

Saving faith is far more than an isolated act. It is a spiritual principle which continues to operate in those to whom it is communicated. Divine preservation works through Christian perseverance, for grace is given us not to render our efforts needless, but to make them effectual. God does not carry His children to glory in a state of passivity, but works in them both to will and to do of His good pleasure (Phi 2:13)―to hate and fear sin, to desire and strive after holiness, to heed His warnings, to shun the things which would destroy, to keep His commandments. The Christian must continue as he began, for Christian perseverance is the maintaining of godly affections and practices. We are indeed "kept by the power of God," yet "through faith" (1Pe 1:5); and therefore, so long as the flesh is left in us, and we in the world, we are required to attend unto that exhortation, "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God" (Heb 3:12) ―for the verses which follow solemnly remind us that many of those who came out of Egypt never entered Canaan! "They could not enter in because of unbelief" (Heb 3:19).

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