commentary: Human Will and God's Sovereignty (Part One)
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 06-Oct-18; Sermon #1455c; 15 minutes
John Ritenbaugh speculates about a prophecy in Zechariah 13:2-5, which concerns prophets or church leaders who, coming to feel ashamed of their false teachings, will later claim they were farmers rather than ministers. Most of the billion nominal 'Christians' have no understanding that (1) the reason for the estrangement between God and man is that man does not believe God, (2) God never lies and the Scriptures do not contradict themselves, (3) nobody seeks God on his own, (4) mankind so hated the Creator that they put Him to a vicious death, (5) the Father clearly gave the Son the authority, power, and privilege to choose who would be in God's family, and (6) every calling is personal and individual rather than collective. The Father calls or chooses those He wants; the Son places them at specific places within the body, approving some and rejecting others.
After hearing David's sermonette, I began to recall some other sermons and so forth that we had at the Feast. Actually, my thinking regarding this commentary began with Richard's sermon on the Day of Atonement, when he was talking about those things there—Limited Atonement. But anyway, the package that I put these all in just happened to make me think that maybe there something is going to happen down the road—I'm talking about years away—that we are going to need the instruction that we are receiving right at this time, so that we will be prepared for some inexplicable things that God does, at least to our understanding.
So, my commentary here is not a normal commentary. It's more like a sermonette, and I plan on giving more in this regard. I think my sermonette here will probably touch on more on Richard's than anybody else's, but even there I am going to approach this a little bit differently.
I'm going to read you a prophecy that is still a long time off from being fulfilled, but it's coming. It describes punishment for false prophets for when they preached sermons that consisted of many lies, but nonetheless moved people to believe the lies (which they accepted) and thus found themselves involved deeply in idolatry. This sort of preaching is happening right now, and it's been happening for hundreds of years, but it's continuing right on, on the scene right under our noses. In fact, the bulk of the preaching is of this sort that is in "Christian" churches.
This prophesy that I am going to read shows how go how far God is willing to go to wipe out idolatrous preaching. It seems as though the overwhelming bulk of Christian's today are its victims. The prophecy comes from Zechariah 13:2-5:
Zechariah 13:2-5 It shall be in that day,” says the LORD of hosts, “that I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they shall no longer be remembered. I will also cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to depart from the land. [He is talking about Israel there.] It shall come to pass that if anyone still prophesies, then his father and mother who begot him will say to him, ‘You shall not live, because you have spoken lies in the name of the LORD.’ And his father and mother who begot him shall thrust him through when he prophesies. [They do that to their own children, who are adults.] “And it shall be in that day that every prophet will be ashamed of his vision when he prophesies; they will not wear a robe of coarse hair to deceive. But he will say, ‘I am no prophet, I am a farmer; for a man taught me to keep cattle from my youth. [lying about what their real occupation was; you see that preachers are going to deny what they did by preaching lies that they died for.]
Well, I am going to explore a bit more regarding the human will by asking a few questions and giving some brief, easily understood and true answers from scriptures. These things regarding human will are of no small importance because Christianity claims just under one billion members worldwide. Most of them are conversions that took place as a result of human will. Very, very much of that impressive figure became members not being divinely called, but through the exercise of their human will, thus continuing the self-deception that they are bona fide Christians. If the times are what we think, they are setting themselves and us up for some fearsome persecutions. We must be prepared.
I will repeat principles that I gave on the Last Great Day. Our story begins in John 8, when Jesus shocked the Jews listening to Him when He declared to them that they were not free, but were enslaved people that needed to be set free by Him. They completely misunderstood that Jesus was implying a spiritual enslavement. He was teaching, as both Richard in his sermon on the Day of Atonement and the opening to my Last Great Day message, were teaching that salvation is limited to those specifically called and sanctified for salvation, and denied to all others. That flies right in the face of Protestantism, who believe they are free to volunteer their services to God according to their will.
Now, perhaps many do this sincerely. I think the overwhelming majority of them do it sincerely, not realizing how ill equipped they are spiritually by still being enslaved through their inborn anti-God and anti-law carnality, thus bypassing the benefits of the born again adjustments that God benefits those He calls with into His service. Those benefits are absolutely necessary, as God clearly reveals, especially clearly in the New Testament.
Recall the foundational principles I established at the beginning of my Last Great Day message:
1) The estrangement between God and mankind has a simple cause. Mankind doesn't believe God, and a large portion of mankind will not accept this simple truth unless they are specifically called.
2) God never lies under any circumstance. Therefore, scriptures never contradict each other in any portion of the Bible. If you get into a talk session with somebody, they will say, "Yeah, but it doesn't say this here (or whatever) that contradicts?" No, they do not contradict.
3) God dogmatically claims in Romans 3:10-11—this will knock your socks off—that nobody on their own truly seeks Him specifically. God dogmatically says that. It is a truth that mankind is so confused about God, he doesn't know how many off the specific characteristics or purposes, out of the multitude of gods available, to seek out.
I overheard during the Feast of Tabernacles somebody who said—and he was serious in the way that he said it—that he had just read that such and such a source said there are at least a million gods being worshipped on earth, different gods besides Jesus Christ and His Father.
If men knew the true God and His overall purposes, they would also know that nobody is going to force themselves off on Him, thus determining who's going to be in His family—in His kingdom—and ruling on their own standards. Can you imagine God accepting something like that?
Here is a question that needs to be answered by one who volunteers to serve God: How can a person born from the womb with a carnal mind have free will when he is born with a mind that is not subject to God's law—nor can be—unless God deliberately adjust the person's mind in his calling, in order to give the person understanding and a willingness to submit to God's law? Brethren, that's an impossibility!
4) Mankind, deceived by its carnal nature, so hated the Creator God and Savior, they put Him to a vicious death. They didn't recognize Who they had there. Here was God in the flesh with them, and they did what mankind always does. They put God to death. You see? In the crowd at Jesus' crucifixion, those who demonstrated this reaction to Him clearly perceived Him not for what He truly was in nature, but as a competitor for the position they thought they held in the people's minds.
5) It is the clearly named Son who gives those who do honestly receive Him the right, the authority, the power and the privilege to be in God's family and kingdom—so says John 1:12-13, and he adds in that same verse (verse 13) that these are not born or generated by the will of the flesh, but of God. That cuts everybody else out except those that God does honestly call.
6) Recall that in John 17:20, both the Father and the Son, who together are of one and the same mind, call and choose those They want. That is very clear. The Father's calling of people is personal. He calls those individuals personally so that they will be drawn to the Son. The Bible clearly shows the Father calls those He wants, and the Son chooses then the placement the called one is established into within the church, as He did when appointing the apostles. Then He clearly said, "You haven't chosen Me; I appointed you."
What is human will? I will end with this. It is the faculty of choice God placed within the body to enable a person—all persons—to have direction for living life. Choice is the immediate cause of all action. Remember, human will is the faculty of choice. Choice is the immediate cause of all action, and choice is an interesting word because it automatically implies approval of some and rejection of other courses of action. In other words, I am saying a man is always free to reject a call that was not honestly given by God.