Monday, August 25, 2008
Matthew Henry on God's Sovereignty
To start the week off, I'd like to share a brief clip from Matthew Henry's commentary on Romans 9. This particular chapter in Paul's letter to believers in Rome is the one that started me off on my way to a Reformed/Calvinist view of things. The doctrine of election was initially a difficult one for my human mind to grasp, but once you understand Romans 9, the rest of it begins to make sense. Here's what Matthew Henry said about verses 14-24 . . .
"The apostle, having asserted the true meaning of the promise, comes here to maintain and prove the absolute sovereignty of God, in disposing of the children of men, with reference to their eternal state. And herein God is to be considered, not as a rector and governor, distributing rewards and punishments according to His revealed laws and covenants, but as an owner and benefactor, giving to the children of men such grace and favour as He has determined in and by His secret and eternal will and counsel; both the favor of visible church-membership and privileges, which is given to some people and denied to others, and the favor of effectual grace, which is given to some particular persons and denied to others . . . He quotes that Scripture to show God's sovereignty in dispensing His favors (Exodus 33:19: I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious). All God's reasons of mercy are taken from within Himself. All of the children of men being equally plunged alike into a state of sin and misery, equally under guilt and wrath, God, in a way of sovereignty, picks out some from this fallen apostatized race, to be vessels of grace and glory. He dispenses His gifts to whom He will, without giving any reason: according to His own good pleasure He pitches upon some to be monuments of mercy and grace, preventing grace, effectual grace, while He passes by others. The expression is very emphatic, and the repetition makes it more so: I will have mercy on whom I have mercy. It imports a perfect absoluteness in God's will: He will do what He will, and giveth not account of any of His matters, nor is it fit that He should. As these great words, "I am that I am," (Exodus 3:14) do abundantly express the absolute independency of His being, so these words, "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy," do as fully express the absolute prerogative and sovereignty of His will.
And God is entirely just to do so. This great doctrine gives offense to people, especially in churches whose theology is man-centered, but God isn't worried about who likes it or doesn't like it. He is entirely just. No one will be in Hell who doesn't deserve to be there.
To me, the amazing thing isn't that God elects some to salvation. The amazing thing to me is that He elects to save anybody.