God’s sovereignty is the teaching that He possesses all the power to do all things as He is the ruler of all things. He works according to His purpose even if events seem to contradict or oppose His rule. In light of our study in Soteriology, this means that God acted and made a way for us to be saved through the death of Jesus Christ in our place. Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Ephesians 2:4-5 says, But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).” With all the technicalities involved, I understand it this way: God rules everything beyond whatever I can imagine or even begin to imagine. He is the God who created all that I can see, hear, breath, eat and touch. But even though it seems that He is too big for me to grasp, He loves me and wants me to love Him back. This leads me on.
Human responsibility is our side of the story. Though God is sovereign, we are accountable to Him for the actions we make. Romans 3:19 says, Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God.” Romans 2:5-11 talks about their accountability to God and his judgement because of their stubbornness and unrepentant heart. In light of our study of Soteriology, this is our response to God’s wooing of us while we were still unregenerate. In Ephesians 2:1,5, being dead in our trespasses and sins mean being spiritually separated from God. We are not dead and unable for God cannot woo us thus leaving us with a choice of following Him or not. He is not a divine rapist as some may subtly suggest for that erases the idea of God being a loving God. 1 John 1:5 says, “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” Instead we are incapable. Psalm 107:14 says, “He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, And broke their chains in pieces.” We were chained when we were in sin, and we responded to God’s love. For how can we break the chains on our own without Someone who is able break it for us? So I understand human responsibility this way: I was good as dead, bound to receive my punishment. God’s saving grace was just there waiting for me to say yes to it. How can I receive it if I do not agree to receive it in the first place?
But in all of this, it is still about God. We cannot say yes to something if there is nothing to say yes to. We cannot agree to remove our chains if we did not know that we could have it removed by God.
I admit that it is difficult to understand. But Paul clearly affirms His sovereignty and our responsibility in Romans 9:19-23:
19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” 20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? 21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel [a]for honorable use and another [b]for common use? 22 [c]What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? 23 And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,
Brand, Chad, Charles Draper, Archie England et al. Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003.