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Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility

Proverbs 29:1


I take a back seat to no one in declaring the gospel of God’s free and sovereign grace in Christ. Divine Sovereignty, Absolute Predestination, Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints are, in this house of worship, like salt and pepper on the table. We never have a meal without them. These are not things discussed only in the secrecy of the pastor’s study. They are openly declared from the pulpit without apology or abatement. Arminianism is a heretical form of evil that cannot be denounced in terms too severe. However, we must not distort the truth of God and the plain teachings of Holy Scripture, even in denouncing the heresies of Arminian, free-will, works religion.

            Many, attempting to guard the doctrine of God’s sovereignty, have denied the responsibility of men. They reason: — “If we preach that a sinner is responsible to repent, we must declare that he is able to repent. If we teach that sinners are responsible to believe on Christ, we must also teach that they are able to believe.” They deduce, in what appears to be a very reasonable manner, that responsibility implies ability The problem with this reasoning is that it attempts to mold the Word of God to a theological system.

            We must never try to make the Word of God fit into any human system of doctrine or theology. We must build our doctrine upon the plain statements of Holy Scripture. If the plain statements of Scripture contradict, or even destroy our theological system, so be it. If we have to throw away every doctrinal creed, every confession of faith, and every catechism that has ever been written by men in order to be faithful and true to the Word of God, then we will throw them away.

            This is one reason why, in this congregation, we do not require members to sign or agree to a confession of faith. Our creed, our confession of faith is the holy, inspired Word of God. If that seems to others to be too simple, too non-intellectual, or too pietistic, we can live with their disapproval. We bow to and build our doctrine upon the Word of God alone, even when it seems to contradict human reason and philosophy (Isaiah 8:20). — Here are two facts which simply cannot be denied or refuted…

1.    God almighty is absolutely sovereign in salvation. He has mercy on whom he will. He is gracious to whom he will be gracious. He saves whom he will (Romans 9:16).

2.    All men are responsible under God to walk in the light he has given them. The Lord God has fixed it so that those who perish in their sins, those who die in rebellion and unbelief are altogether without excuse (Romans 6:23).

            No one goes to hell by accident! Unbelief is not a passive thing. If you go to hell, you will have to scratch and claw your way there, fighting to your last breath against the light God has given you. Men and women do not go to hell because they are ignorant. People go to hell because they are rebels (Romans 1:18-20). “The wages of sin is death.” You earn that. “But the gift of God is eternal life.” That is his work.





Don Fortner








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