Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Sovereign Over Our Hearts

Since God is sovereign, do we make real choices? How does his sovereignty relate to our responsibility in salvation? Look at 2 Chronicles 30:1-12 for an enlightening piece of this puzzle.

Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem to keep the Passover to the Lord, the God of Israel. For the king and his princes and all the assembly in Jerusalem had taken counsel to keep the Passover in the second month— for they could not keep it at that time because the priests had not consecrated themselves in sufficient number, nor had the people assembled in Jerusalem— and the plan seemed right to the king and all the assembly. So they decreed to make a proclamation throughout all Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, that the people should come and keep the Passover to the Lord, the God of Israel, at Jerusalem, for they had not kept it as often as prescribed. So couriers went throughout all Israel and Judah with letters from the king and his princes, as the king had commanded, saying, “O people of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, that he may turn again to the remnant of you who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. Do not be like your fathers and your brothers, who were faithless to the Lord God of their fathers, so that he made them a desolation, as you see. Do not now be stiff-necked as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the Lord and come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever, and serve the Lord your God, that his fierce anger may turn away from you. For if you return to the Lord, your brothers and your children will find compassion with their captors and return to this land. For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him.” So the couriers went from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh, and as far as Zebulun, but they laughed them to scorn and mocked them. However, some men of Asher, of Manasseh, and of Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem. The hand of God was also on Judah to give them one heart to do what the king and the princes commanded by the word of the Lord.
(2 Chronicles 30:1-12, ESV)

There was a real condition: "if you return to the LORD, your brothers and your children will find compassion with their captors and return to this land. For the LORD your God is gracious and merciful and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him" (2 Chr. 30:9, ESV). On the surface it looks like if we do our part, God will do his (synergism). If you repent to God, God will show you his grace.

Verse ten shows that many would not fulfill this condition and thus find God's grace. "However," verse eleven continues, "some men of Asher, of Manasseh, and of Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem." Praise the Lord! Some men repented! They fulfilled the condition necessary to find God's grace and mercy.

Finally, verse twelve digs down and gets to the bottom of how these men responded differently to this call to repentance: "The hand of God was also on Judah to give them one heart to do what the king and the princes commanded by the word of the LORD." God's gracious hand ultimately caused those "men of Asher...Manasseh, and of Zebulun" and "also... Judah" to fulfill this real and necessary condition of repentence so that they could enjoy his gracious face (monergism).

God is sovereign over repentance. God ultimately controls the hearts of men. We do make real choices that God ordains. Aren't you glad that your life rests in the omnipotent hands of the merciful and gracious Lord Jesus Christ (and not in your own)?! He reigns supreme over whether or not we choose him. Therefore all the credit for man's salvation belongs to him. All glory and honor and praise be to our merciful and gracious and sovereign Lord forever and ever!

"For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen." (Romans 11:36, ESV)
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