God’s Sovereignty and Man’s Responsibility
Translated by Allan Liang
The Bible talks about both God’s sovereignty in controlling our things, including our actions (Acts 17:28) and thoughts (Exodus 7:3), as well as the total responsibility of man for his thoughts, words and actions. However, the precise interaction between the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man cannot be explained clearly as this already has exceeded the limits of our minds. Light is composed of both waves and particles, and according to quantum mechanics and the uncertainty principle, no one can fully explain why light is composed of both waves and particles, but because of the support from experimental evidence, we have accepted the truth that light is made of both waves and particles. Likewise, someday in the future, when we are face to face with God, God will clearly explain to us the “quantum mechanics” of theology, and how God’s absolute sovereignty interacts with man’s responsibility. For now, we just need to accept, according to the revelation of the Bible and by faith, the reality of God’s supreme rule and man’s responsibility. Today, many people fall into two very different dilemmas because of not being able to completely accept these two realities at the same time. Some people excessively emphasize God’s sovereignty, and blame God, thinking that if I sin, it is God who made me sin and it is his fault, and has nothing to do with me; or perhaps passively think, I’ll wait until God chooses me to become a Christian, I’m certainly not going to take the initiative to believe in Jesus. Others excessively emphasize the responsibility of man, and only know of trusting in oneself and one’s own strength, not knowing how to rely on God; whenever life is not going as wanted, they will be frustrated at God for not caring, and will not see any hope. Healthy Christians will see clearly that both God rules sovereignly and man needs to accept responsibility. Today’s Scripture allows us to clearly see these two points. Firstly, God is in control of everything. Jesus told the disciples to prepare the feast for the Passover; everything that the disciples experienced went according to Jesus’ arrangement (verse 16). When Jesus ate the supper, he knew who would betray him (verse 20). More so, Jesus pointed out long ago, the Bible wrote and God the Father predestined this, that the Son of Man will die. This entire process was controlled by God, and was previously arranged by God. Jesus was not betrayed, arrested and killed without knowing - he did not unexpectedly die for us sinners. Jesus voluntarily laid down his life and willingly was arrested (John 10:18), according to his and his Father’s plan, in order to bear our sins and die in our place. If today we have received kindness from another person, for instance, if we were supposed to be let go, but our boss kindly let us stay, or in the wilderness, a stranger comes to help fix our car which won’t start up, we will definitely be filled with thanksgiving, how much more so, in response to the boundless grace of Jesus Christ! Furthermore, as God controls all things, we will always have someone behind our backs and we will not need to despair. Although the coronavirus is ravaging the world, I know that my life is in God’s hands, if God does not want me to die, even if thousands die on my left and ten thousands on my right, I will not suffer any harm. Even if I suffer all kinds of trials, God is in control, and he will protect me so that I am not crushed (2 Corinthians 4:8). Although Jesus was in control of all things and in this passage of Scripture, controlled the matters of his death, and long ago predestined that someone would betray him, but woe to the man who betrays the Son of Man (verse 21), he will be held responsible for his betrayal of an innocent man. Because it is evident that Judas was not coerced by Jesus, Jesus did not say to him, “you must betray me, and if you do not betray me, I will harm your entire family.” Judas freely chose to betray Jesus. Because it was a free choice, he must take responsibility for his actions. I once talked with some young people in the church, “as you guys grow older, your parents should gradually give you more freedom; but more freedom means more responsibility, you must properly use your right of freedom and earn your parent’s trust in order for them to give you more freedom.” Freedom directly corresponds to responsibility. Today, we sin because we freely choose to sin, we reject Jesus because we freely choose to reject him, and we must be responsible for our free choices and not blame God. But please notice that God is full of grace and mercy, and with open arms, he wants us to repent and submit to him, as he wanted Judas to have. Jesus knew that Judas would betray him, yet still washed his feet (John 13:2,12) and used love to move him, and furthermore, gave him the final warning (verses 20-21). But Judas was totally indifferent. Today, Jesus is still holding his open arms before you, as long as you are willing to believe in him and repent, Jesus will accept you. Will you be like Judas, who was indifferent to the love and warnings of Jesus? Judas never looked back and did not accept the warnings of Jesus, because he had already hardened his heart to betray Jesus. Today, when we set our minds on sinning, we have become slaves to sin, and are chained by sin. Even if you falsely pray, it will be to no avail, and do not blame God for not helping you, because you have already made up your mind to reject the help of God. Please pray and meditate: What does God’s sovereignty mean to you? How much thanks do you have toward Jesus? Have you had times where you made up your mind to forsake God, but blamed God for not helping you?