|How do we balance the sovereignty of God with the choices we make in our lives?|
I’ve read several commentaries from “both sides of the aisle” on this passage of Romans. While we don’t necessarily agree on every point, I have found the comments of James MacDonald to provide a fair treatment of the question he proposes – “Am I a puppet?”
In a nutshell, he states that Scripture gives us a clear picture of God’s sovereignty in Romans 9. If you read the words in a straightforward way, Paul is making the case that God chose Abraham and then Isaac – but not Ishmael. God chose Jacob to continue the line instead of the elder brother Esau. Instead of destroying Pharaoh and his people immediately, God chose to use Pharaoh’s hardness of heart to display His awesome power.
Yet throughout Scripture we are encouraged to make choices.
Moses wrote in Exodus 30:19, 20 –
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, 20 loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.
And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve…..But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
And he called to him the crowd with his disciples and said to them, If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
By just looking at a few verses we see both God’s Sovereignty and the choices He allows in our lives. The caution in an either/or position here is that we may gather a stack of Scripture to support one line of thought and ignore the other.
Responding to the Sovereignty of God.
Deuteronomy 29:29 says that “the hidden things belong to the Lord our God, but the revealed things belong to us and our children forever…”
1. I will be obedient when told. (Isaiah 66:2)
2. I will be righteous when tempted
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12
3. I will be submissive when tried.