commentary: Human Will and God's Sovereignty (Part Three)
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 17-Nov-18; Sermon #1461c; 12 minutes
John Ritenbaugh explains that Protestant reformers by and large understood that there were two aspects—physical and spiritual—of creation. Humans have no part in creating themselves in the image of God in either aspect; God does the shaping and molding. In the spiritual aspect, God alone is responsible for individually calling each person; He also play the dominant role each person's sanctification process. The calling which believers receive is conditional, requiring that each one must live by every word of God (Deuteronomy 8:3. God's called-out ones are responsible for yielding to God's shaping, allowing the Creator to purge out all imperfections. The Father and His son understand the need to rigorously prepare Their people so that each one will fill a specific position in Their master plan. God-designed personalities, having His character, will populate God's family, not self-made personalities created by human will. In faith, we absolutely must yield to Him as He creates "designer personalities" according to His purposes.
When I got into this [human will and God's sovereignty], I did not realize that it played such a significant part in the history of the United States and some other nations as well. And if you are as unaware as I was, I will let you know about this right in the first paragraph.
It is possible that you are entirely unaware that one of the major doctrinal battles that took place during what is called the Protestant Reformation was one between the Roman Catholic Church theologians and those theologians breaking away from its doctoral domination. It was fought over the subject of human will. The issue was never resolved between them, and so, those who became Protestant were put out of, or departed from, the Catholic Church, and continued their own way. And Protestantism played a major role in the founding of this nation. Many of those who founded this nation originally were with those Protestant reformers.
When they either were put out of the Catholic Church or departed from the Catholic Church, it was the Protestant reformers who took the true understanding with them. Central among them was John Calvin, and he is looked upon today as a major founder of what became the Presbyterian Church.
I do not mean that their understanding was perfect, nor do I mean that John Calvin was the only Protestant leader involved, but in overall sense, those reformers did have that specific doctrine pretty well understood. The Catholic Church doctrine was entirely off base. They believe to this day—as a simplified statement—that all one has to do is believe in Christ as savior and set his will to be obedient (as I have been saying), and salvation will be theirs.
It's not like that at all. Let me show you by some clear logic that, if believed, shows that each person must be individually, personally called by the Father or the Son, and mostly by the Father. If it does not come that way—that is, their being involved—one will never get it. (I will not get to that answer in this one commentary.)
Let me make plain that the end result of the Catholic belief is that the person is literally creating himself—because God is not involved in the process that that person believes.
I want to approach this issue from a single point of logic, and that single point of logic requires that the person believes that God means exactly what He says when He stated in Deuteronomy 8:3 (in the Old Testament) that mankind must live by every word of God. People calling themselves "Christian" in our time simply do not do this. How many do you know who keep the Sabbath, keep the holy days? Those are part of the word of God that He commands be kept. That's proof right there that they are off base. Well, they are off base in many places.
In Genesis 1:26—first chapter in the Bible—the Father and the Son are speaking with each other, and One says to the Other, "Let Us make man in Our image." They decided they would do it, and that their creation would be in their image. These Two agree that they will be the Creators. No other living creature of any kind is appointed to that responsibility. How can anybody other than God create even themselves in God's image? That's an impossibility. Not only that, but though God provided the ability to reproduce to each living creature, each creature is limited to reproducing only itself. It follows the universal rule of "kind after kind."
God clearly created a limit to mankind reproducing himself, and what men often overlook is that the creation of mankind takes place in two stages. The first is purely physical, and it prepares mankind for living on earth. The second stage of creation is spiritual and concludes with the original creation, the physical one, being changed to an eternal spirit being, prepared for living and working in that world as the Father and Son are now in. Is there any of us who can make that change from physical to spiritual, from physical life to spiritual life?
If we are going to live with Them, that's what we are going to be. But we have to be prepared by Them to live there.
So mankind is created, both in the original creation and in the secondary creation, to fill a position. II Corinthians 5:17 clearly makes this concluding statement:
II Corinthians 5:17 Therefore [the apostle Paul says], if anyone is in Christ, [listen to this] he is a new creation [Who did that? The man himself, or God?]; old things have passed away; behold, all things [pertaining to that person] have become new.
A converted person is a new creation because he passed into the second phase of creation, and at its conclusion, he is prepared for God's world. No man can do that.
A question to consider is, Does mankind have any creative part in the first creation? Not the least. Adam and Eve were the product of the original creation. Did they create themselves? Do you think God is going to change His way when we get to something that is far, far more complex and far, far, far more important? How could Adam and Eve possibly know what the Father and the Son desired to produce in the first stage and then in the second stage by somebody else?
Consider the spiritual creation for just a moment. How does the spiritual creation, which is far, far more complex and difficult, compare in light of Jesus dogmatic statement in John 15:5 that "without Me, you can do nothing"? And if that doesn't put a cap on that, I do not know..."Without Me [in this creation], you can do nothing." Our Savior says that. We need Him desperately to do the creating. For the humans being created into spirit beings, the Father and Son creating nothing doesn't look very promising. Is the Father's family made up of self-made personalities?
Where is the truthful logic of even those truly called of God designing themselves? It doesn't happen even amongst those who are called of God. And then with great artistry and craftsmanship, despite having no experience in such things, fitting themselves into the Father's and Son's creative goals. Are the goals (of these people who are "creating themselves") precisely the same as God's? I mean, this gets ridiculous. Believing in God is something we can do. But making ourselves into His image?
How much do they know about spirit life? How much do they know about the organizational structure of the God family? How much do they know about how God is going to organize the purpose He is going to launch into immediately after the resurrection—if they created themselves?
Well, I am going to stop there. I'm only halfway through just this thing regarding logic, and of course, backed up by the scriptures as well. But that's far enough.