His Sovereignty - Our Thankful Dependence
Sometimes the topic of the sovereignty of God can trip people up. Sometimes we take offense at the notion that God is sovereign over everything, even my free choices. So I'm a robot? one might ask. Offense or confusion can easily lead to arguments and division.
It ought not be; we preach the sovereignty of God to Christians for encouragement that goes to the very base of our souls. What's the way forward? As with most any issue, it's best to start with Jesus, and with the cross, and work our way out from there.
At the cross, Jesus atoned for our sins, with his blood. That atonement in blood enacted a new covenant - "This is my body, given for you . . . This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood" (Luke 22:19a, 20b). The Old Testament foretold what God would do in this new covenant: "I will write [the law] on their hearts" (Jeremiah 31:33), and Ezekiel 36:25-27: "I will sprinkle clean water on you . . . and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules."
Note what this implies. Before Christ, we were bound, unable to go beyond what our hearts wanted. We were free in our choices, but bound in our choices by the limitations of what our hearts would and could want. We were free - to choose whatever our hearts were capable of choosing. But this did not include joy in the Lord. God caused this, by giving us new hearts. The gospel is not good news about an offer of grace; it's news of events so sovereign and so complete, they included the giving of a NEW heart, one that finally desires what it should desire. Thank God that He is so sovereign, and so good, that He would leave nothing to chance, and save us to the uttermost.
When we think about how helpless and needy we were, we should probably feel some retroactive fear. But also great thanks. And the Bible prescribes for us how to express that thanks: by talking about it, and by keeping on depending upon Him for grace (Ps. 116:12-14). Reflecting on His sovereign work in us should deepen, not cheapen, our thanks and dependence, by His Spirit.