A Christian’s Responsibility vs. the Sovereign God’s Responsibility! Part 1
Responsibility: the ability or authority to act or decide on one’s own, without supervision
(Ver 1.4) This is Part 1 in a series of basic Bible studies about the Personal Responsibility of Every Christian versus the Divine Responsibility of the Sovereign God. Responsibility is a word that implies authority and ability to make independent decisions. This certainly applies to God, but what about men and women made in the image of God, how would this apply to humans? I personally believe that the word responsibility is potentially more complex than this definition. There are independent abilities of man and there are dependent abilities of man. So responsibilities can be independently assigned or they can be jointly assigned or they can also be corporately assigned to many. There is a popular Christian philosophy being taught in many churches that God is in complete and absolute control of everything that happens in the world. This philosophy relieves all Christians of any personal responsibility, accountability or judgment for doing the wrong things in the world. I truly believe that God in Heaven is sovereign meaning that He is all powerful and is perfectly capable of doing anything that He desires at any time. However, is this the character of God that you know and understand and base your faith upon? Does God force people to do what He desires them to always do? Is God overriding human freewill to manipulate the outcome or destiny of individuals? If a terrorist kills thousands of other people was that the perfect plan of God in action and full manifestation? Does God really control everything that happens to every Christian and non-Christian alike? Is God the Great Puppet Master in the Sky pulling all the strings? I personally do not believe that God is in control of every event in human history. If it was true, then God is the most evil God that I have heard described and that definition would contradict with a God who is named Love!
INTRODUCTION TO THE ERRONEOUS PHILOSOPHY
THAT GOD CONTROLS EVERYTHING THAT OCCURS!
I saw a very ignorant movie last night from Hollywood called The Adjustment Bureau. This movie portrayed a God who manipulated men and women to do what He wanted them to do. It dictated a master plan of a sovereign type of God. If a man or woman strayed from the sovereign plan, they were immediately sent a being to adjust them for change. These adjustment beings would have to manipulate the circumstances surrounding the individual and they would have to change the persons’ mind or thoughts to get them to conform to the good plan of the chairman upstairs. They would have to cause them to go down the right path that they were supposed to go into to be what God had planned for them to do on the earth. This is a very popular religious philosophy taught in many churches. However, any time Hollywood embraces a Christian philosophy it automatically causes me to suspect it is a fallacy of the grandest proportions. But, we still have to balance the fact that after all God is sovereign and you cannot do anything to ever lose your free gift of salvation. It is too bad that this is not what the Bible actually teaches us.
INTRODUCTION TO CHRISTIAN RESPONSIBILITY
I have already said that if God controls everything that it is completely unnecessary for humans to do anything for the perfect will of God to be accomplished in their life. If they wake up with cancer one morning then this was the plan of God for them to die an early painful death. The will of God must prevail so why even go to the doctor to prolong your life? Wouldn’t you be fighting against God by going to the doctor?
We should just blame God if you stay in bed all day and do nothing because this must be the will of God for you. Because it happened it had to be the plan and will of God. But is this what the Bible teaches? There is a very popular Christian extreme belief called predestination. In this belief some were predestined to be saved and others were created by God to go to hell by God’s sovereign choice. In this belief no one has any right to say which place they were made to go for an eternity. But this is a very popular lie from the devil that places no responsibility upon humans for determining the outcome for their lives. it also relieves all of the involvement of the spiritual enemy called Satan and reduces him to be a non-factor in our lives. This is exactly what Satan wants you to believe. This gives Satan free reign over your life and you will blame everything negative that happens to you on God. What a masterful deception this is.
We are about to explore verses in the Bible that teach us differently about the divinely delegated human responsibility that was given to us by a sovereign God. For example look at Hebrews:
Heb 6:4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,
Heb 6:5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,
Heb 6:6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
There are literally many verses in the Bible that I could teach from today, but I will begin speaking about these for now. If a Christian can never be lost after being saved, then why did God write these verses of direct warning to all Christians? To be a partaker of the Holy Ghost is clearly a sign that these people being spoken of were once all Christians. But, by the time you get to verse 6 it says that they have “fallen away” (departed) from Christ and the Holy Spirit. Some Christians read the Bible without thinking about what is said by God. They will see a word like “if” and think that the word “if” means that it is not possible to fall away. But the Greek word translated as “If” (G102) in this verse could very easily have been translated as “When” so do not write it off and think that it cannot happen to you or to anyone else. Therefore, God says there is no further salvation available for them because they would have to crucify the Lord of Glory again and put Him to shame. If you do not understand these verses you better read, study and learn them very soon. These are very powerful words of warning written to ONLY the Church. They were not addressed to the lost unsaved world. If you believe you cannot fall away after you are saved or that it is impossible for this to occur, you may already be on the verge of being deceived. Because of ignorance, potential deception is more likely. This was the first and greatest responsibility given to us by God as a born again Christian believer and that is to remain or to stay a Christian. This means we don’t stray away and get lost from the goodness of God.
These verses list three specific things that you need to remain committed to. First, it says for you to partake of the Holy Ghost. Define the Word “Partake”! Is that God’s responsibility or your responsibility? If I sat a piece of chocolate cake in front of you and said “partake”. What am I asking you to do? To partake is clearly the freewill choice of every cake eater to choose to eat. This is the same for every Christian to receive the Spirit of Christ. Once you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior the Holy Spirit comes inside and abides. To accept and receive the Holy Ghost implies the responsibility for keeping the Holy Ghost resident. I know that goes against what many people try to teach from other verses in the Bible. However, if I gave you $100 today, you could by our own choice throw it in the trash or you could put it in the bank to try to keep it safe. The choice would always be yours to do with whatever you have been given freely. Next it says to taste the word of God. This is not a onetime meal. This must be a continual everyday action of eating God’s Word to make your spirit strong.
When you eat your natural meals, who is it that is responsible for you eating and tasting? Does anyone force feed you or do you freely pick up the fork and do it yourself? How many physical meals do you eat a day? You better learn to eat the Word of God as much as you eat physical food. The physical food of this world is important, but the spiritual food of God is more eternally beneficial. Finally, these verses say to taste the powers of the world to come. This means that we can walk in the power of God right now and that this power is the same as that which we will possess then in that future world. Do you know you have this power right now? Perhaps you will recall what Romans 8:11 teaches us? In this verse God says the same power that raised Christ from the dead now dwells in us and that is a statement that should be believed.
There is an old saying that goes, “with great power comes great responsibility”. This saying goes along with the current state of many nations of the earth who are in possession of weapons of mass destruction that can cause many other people hurt or destruction. God’s power is greater than nuclear power. However, this is the kind of power and responsibility that God is relating to you that you have in the spiritual realm right now. Taste and see that the Lord is good (Ps 34:8) and that His mercy endures forever. These three verses were an introduction to basic Christian responsibilities for us to live by today right now. I’ll list these again later in the lesson for you to take note of them, but let’s move to another perspective to Christian Responsibility.
IS EVERYTHING GOD’S GOOD PLAN THAT HAPPENS TO YOU?
Rom 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
This is a very popular verse of scripture quoted in many churches today by many preachers. It is read at funerals, it is read for divorces, it is read in hospitals after car accidents, it is read at every negative event that occurs in the lives of any Christian believers to provide comfort and to try to justify a greater unknown sovereign plan and purpose of God for the evil that occurred. Because preachers in their ignorance cannot explain these negative and evil events, they attribute them to be for a higher purpose to explain them away. After all they have been taught in seminary that God is in ultimate control of everything that happens in the life of every believer and this is what they were brainwashed to think and believe. This belief gives them religious comfort, relief and solace and it relieves them from learning the truth or for any personal responsibility for what may have occurred that was negative. It is what I will call “A No Fault Religion” philosophy. In this philosophical view whatever happened in my life was certainly not my fault because God is sovereign and must have willed it to occur. What Christians are attempting to do is to take a portion of a verse in Romans and change it to say something that God does not say. This is a major mistake of Bible interpretation that many make. They take things out of context and they miss or ignore the conditions being given in order to qualify for God to cause everything to work out for their good.
Christians try to take a conditional promise of God and make it completely unconditional because of God’s sovereignty. However, this verse says that God will only cause all things to work together for your good if you 1). “love” God and if you are 2). “called” according to His purpose as two major conditions for receiving the promise. But, again people take this as personally including them automatically, but then if you ask them what they were called to do by God; most of them could not tell you. I am called to preach and teach the Word of God, and that is my calling and gifting. So I have a direct and personal answer to that question if you choose to ask me. Now the subject of “being called by God” is much broader than my simply example but this is still certainly a major part to the subject. Regardless of how your were called or what you are called to do, it is still a condition for God to cause all things to work together for your good. Do you understand this?
Also there is the fact that God says to those that “love” Him all things will work out for their good. Many will say I love God and then not understand what this means either. Love is much more than just saying some meaningless words. For example, remember in John 14:15 where Jesus said “If you love me you will keep my commandments”. so do you keep all of His commandment? If not then Jesus implied that you don’t love Him and therefore you don’t qualify for everything to be working together for your good. I hope and pray that you are examining yourself to see if you qualify.
These there is further conditions give to us by God. This verse is also in the context of the two previous verses that it goes along with. These verses are often ignored because they are not understood. The two previous verses are speaking about the personal prayer life of the believer. But this is just not any type of prayer, it is a very specific type of prayer being mentioned, and even though it does not tell you what that type of prayer is you need to figure it out in order to qualify for verse 28. If you do not understand what kind of prayer that is, I’m sorry I’m not going to teach it to you today in this lesson. Just realize if you do not understand it and cannot explain it to me, then you are not doing it and you do not qualify for verse 28 and I’ll leave it at that for now.
If Christians could automatically expect everything that happens to them to become a good thing from God, then why would there be so many other verses in the Bible that instruct us to do something else? It would seem to me that too many Christians are not using a balanced approach to understanding the Bible and that they are ignoring some very important verses in favor of other verses that they like better. I call those types of Christians to be “Trail Mix” Christians. They pick out the pieces of the trail mix they like and throw out the pieces of the trail mix they do not like. Let me give you a quick example of what God says for Christians to do that makes the Christian life conditional with personal responsibilities:
Jas 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
My primary subject today is “Christian Responsibility vs. God’s Divine Responsibility”. Here is God speaking to every Christian with two important instructions. Where does it say that God will resist the devil for you? Where does it say that God will chase the devil away from you regardless of what you choose to do? Where does it say that God will force you to submit to Him? Can you read? Does this mean if you do not do these two things that God will still cause everything to work together for your good? I assume that this is exactly what many Christians want to believe. I personally do not believe that this is the case! I believe that all of God’s promises are always conditional and that you are required to follow His instructions in order to be successful in this life. Can you answer me this question; “Is obedience a factor in this life?” If obedience is a major factor, then doesn’t obedience denote human responsibility and even consequences for disobedience?
Isa 1:19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:
Here is God giving us another clear conditional statement of promise. God says “IF” you do this and that you will get to eat the good of the land. Being obedient is one of the key determining factors to being successful in this life. The other is being “willing” to be obedient. In other words you can do what God says and be unwilling and God will tell you that you do not qualify because you failed in one key step. This is how the things of God work and if you do not believe it you can do without the good of the land. Here in James 4:7 God said first for you to submit your life totally and completely to Him. This is not that hard if you actually do it. I try to get up every morning and pray, “Not my will but yours be done today”. I tell God “I submit my will unto you this day”. I believe that praying and committing your ways to the Lord is the beginning of submitting to Him. Next, God says that you must resist the devil. Uh oh? That is a major problem for many Christians, isn’t it? How do you resist the devil if you do not ever see the devil? Have you ever seen the devil? What happens if you do not resist the devil? Are these words of warning with implied consequences? I think that will be a better series by itself so I will not get into how you resist the devil today. Just realize that these are two personal instructions that have attached responsibilities with them and implied consequences for not doing them. God is not going to do them for you, so you better learn how to do them for yourself. Also note that if you do not do them, then God cannot cause everything to work together for your good either. Since I’m in James, I’m going to stay here and give you another verse with personal responsibilities attached to it:
Jas 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
You see the Bible after telling you to submit to God and to resist the devil says for you to also be a doer of the Word of God. This implies that you must first read the Word of God, then that you study the Word of God, next you must understand the Word of God, and this is based upon the requirement that you remember the Word of God, then you must put the Word of God first place in your life and give it priority and then finally that you will actually do what the Word of God says to do. If you think you automatically do all of this, you are probably already deceived. There is nothing that I just mentioned to you that is automatic human behavior. These are all learned behavioral modifications that you must do to renew your mind to God’s new ways of doing things. God says you can deceive yourself simply by not being a doer of the Word, but you can see that being a doer of the Word requires a lot of effort on your part. Effort implies personal responsibility and again consequences for not participating. If you do not feel this way, then you are in trouble. There is also no way that you can do what you do not know personally. God says in Hosea 4:6, “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge”. This means your lack of knowing can cause many of the negative things to occur in your life that you could have avoided if you only knew how to avoid them. God is saying that all things do not work together to those of His people who do not know the Word of God and do it. Surely you can see why things have occurred in the lives of many people that were very negative and why. Do not think that something negative happening to you is the perfect plan of God. This is what Satan wants you to do. If you do not fight it or resist it and you simply roll over and accept it, you are easily defeated. Negative things can be caused by many things in this world. You might have forgotten to submit yourself unto God. You might have forgotten to resist the devil. You might have not been a doer of the Word of God in the area that you needed to know how to avoid that negative situation. There are really many more factors of Christian Responsibility but I have gone long enough for today. Here is a short list of a Christian’s responsibilities that I have covered today:
- Make an effort and commit to remain a Christian daily
- Partake of the Holy Spirit continually (Praying in the Spirit)
- Continually feed on the Word of God to strengthen your spirit
- Continually taste the Power of God
- Submit yourself unto God
- Resist the devil
- Read the Word of God
- Learn the Word of God
- Put the Word of God first place in your life
- Do the Word of God
- Be willing and obedient to God
These are some of the basic Christian Responsibilities for every one of us to do daily from today’s lesson to help us have positive outcomes in our life. If you do not understand them, then you need to learn them and find out what they mean. If you do not understand what these are, you are free to ask questions, because I at least believe that I understand enough to be a help to those who do not know them at all. What I am attempting to do is to teach Christians that they have a personal responsibility for what happens to them. It is not all up to God and God is not orchestrating everything that happens to you for His perfect plan. If God was doing that, there would be no need for Him to tell you to do anything. God gives us His word so that we can get to know Him personally, His ways, His character, His nature, His love, His grace, His Son Jesus Christ and His divine responsibility. Then God gives us His Word so that we can learn who we are in Christ, what He has given to us and what we are still required to do with His free gifts of grace. These are balanced Christian Responsibilities working with the Divine God Responsibilities in partnership. I will try to continue this series in the future. Thanks for taking the time to study the Bible with me today. God Bless!
Posted on July 20, 2011, in Bible Basics, Bible Study, Understanding and tagged Bible, Christianity, Church, God, Holy Spirit, Interpretation, Jesus, Knowledge, Prophecy, Religion, Revelation, Truth, understanding. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.
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