Tuesday, October 24, 2006

America Eats Its Christians

America is a great country. There just aren't many places in the world where you can publicly call the national leader an "idiot" and expect to live through the night. Not only can you do that here, but you can do it on national television without fear of reprisal.

Our host of rights, privileges and freedoms still make this the only place even the most liberal democrat will ever want to live. It is those very rights, privileges and freedoms, however, that can make being a biblical Christian a hazy concept for some. Take for instance the sovereignty of God. The whole concept of sovereignty is foreign to most of us. We have never served under a king or a military dictator or in some totalitarian regime. We the people vote for those we want to lead us . And gosh darn it, if they step too far out of line, we'll get rid of 'em! We have a voice in what does and does not become law and we can change what the schools teach our children.

Our rights, privileges and freedoms go beyond the political realm. We chose where we will live, what career we will pursue and we can even terminate the life of an infant in the womb if we so choose. Yes free will is apparently alive and well in the good ol' U. S. of A.

"But wait a minute", you say, "as Christians we understand the sovereignty of God. We believe that God is in control"! I ask you then, "is God in control of everything"? I have found that even the most ardent Arminian will proclaim that God is sovereign. When pressed about election, reprobation and predestination, however, they hit the brakes . . .hard. It seems that this is the only area where Arminians seem to agree with Calvinists that the words, "all", "whole" and "every" do not mean "total and without exception" when it comes to biblical idiom.

The "free will" advocate often claims that God voluntarily restricts His sovereignty where salvation is concerned so as to not interfere with man's freedom to choose. In the words of the Apostle Paul, "God forbid"! Can you imagine what would happen if God voluntarily restricted any of His other eternal attributes? Suppose He voluntarily restricted His omnipotence for a few minutes. Can you imagine the carnage? What if He turned off His omniscience for a little while?
Why would relinquishing His sovereignty over the actions of men be any different? Could God restrict His power over who is saved and have any real expectation that anyone would ever receive His precious gift of eternal life?

Interestingly, our American mind-set allows God to orchestrate everything right up to the point of decision. God may do everything necessary to get the Gospel in front of the sinner, but from there he's on his own. God can sovereignly manipulate the circumstances that drive the sinner to seek His help. God can allow any number of emotional, physical or financial calamities to strike and drive him to church or a Christian friend, but the "decision" is his. Suddenly, BAM, all on his own the unregenerate sinner realizes what the answer to his problem is and through the agency of his own free will he elects Jesus as his own personal lord and savior! Now that's democracy in action. The sinner is informed on the issues. He listens to Jesus' campaign speech. He believes Jesus' promises to fix his problems and he runs right down the aisle and casts his vote for the "King of kings"!

There are a few problems with this scenario. For one, it fails to consider the sinner's state prior to casting his "vote". Romans 3:10-12 states:

"As it is written:
'There is none righteous, no, not one;
There is none who understands;
There is none that seeks after God.
They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.'

The Word of God makes clear that prior to salvation we are God-haters, idolators and self-deifying. Does such a person truly have the desire to choose God unaided? Can a spiritually dead, stone-hearted God-hater suddenly change parties just because he changed his mind?
Is there no catalyst outside of his dead self that must first give him new life which gives him operational ears that he may hear and decide? Must not God grant him repentance as
II Timothy 2:25-26 teaches?

Consider what the sinner is likely to hear in the American church today. Will he hear that he was born a sinner and that he stands justly condemned for both his own sins and that which he inherited from the first Adam? Will he learn that he is without Christ and is an alien from the commonwealth of Israel, a stranger from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world (Ephesians 2:12)? Will he learn that he needs the righteousness of Jesus Christ to be accounted to him, else he perish? I'm willing to bet my right to vote next month that he's more likely to hear about how God wants him to prosper, how much authority he has or how he can claim his victory.

Let's face it, we are Americans. We're powerful, we're intelligent, nobody dictates to us! Even God "Most of the Time Almighty" must respect our right to choose. We put a man on the moon and we can't make a simple decision whether to follow Christ or not?! That's un-American! Well, write to your congressman, start a petition, protest, call Jesse Jackson. Give "free will" a chance!
Here is the truth. God's sovereignty is His eternal attribute. He said:

"I am the LORD, that is My name;
And My glory I will not give to another . . ."
(Isaiah 42:8)

God would no more restrict His sovereignty than we would convert to communism. Man is born a sinner(see Psalm 51). He can no more "decide for Christ" in his unregenerate state than a dog can decide not to return to his own vomit. Sin is man's nature until he is reborn via the Holy Spirit and then given the gift of faith to believe the Gospel.

God has made it crystal clear for those who are not too American, too proud, to hear it that those who are and will be His children are ". . . born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor the will of man, but of God" (John 1:13). That "it is not of him who wills, nor him who runs, but of God who shows mercy . . . Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens" (Romans 9:16; 18). These edicts have been unimpeachably handed down by the Author and Finisher of our faith of whom Scripture declares, "No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, 'What have you done'"(Daniel 4:35b).

So, my fellow Americans, like Bob Marley you may decide to "Get Up, Stand Up . . . Stand up for your rights". Our eternally sovereign God, however, reserves the right to veto your bill as soon as it reaches his desk.

"I know that You can do everything,
And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You . . .
I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear,
But now my eye sees You.
Therefore I abhor myself,
And repent in dust and ashes."
(Job 42:2; 5-6)


B. L. B. B!

(Be like the Bereans, Baby!)


Christo-Ranter said...

Can I publish this over at Pulpit-Pimps?


Anonymous said...

I want to know what is your interpretation of the words of our Lord when he said, "all things are possible to him who believes" and "fear not, believe only," Your faith has saved you" and so forth. Curious

Keith L. Tolbert said...

All thing are possible to him who believes. The question is: "how does one come to the point of believing"? The Bible's answer is that God regenerates (gives life) to the spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1-5) and then gives them the GIFT of faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Keith L. Tolbert said...

Please do, Christo-ranter!