Settled Sovereignty

J.C. Ryle writes:

Of all the doctrines of the Bible none is so offensive to human nature as the doctrine of God’s sovereignty. To be told that God is great, and just, and holy, and pure, man can bear. But to be told that ‘He has mercy on whom He will have mercy’ — that He ‘gives no account of His matters,’ that it is ‘not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that shows mercy’ — these are truths that natural man cannot stand. They often call forth all his enmity against God, and fill him with wrath. Nothing, in short, will make him submit to them but the humbling teaching of the Holy Spirit.

Let us settle it in our minds that, whether we like it or not, the sovereignty of God is a doctrine clearly revealed in the Bible, and a fact clearly to be seen in the world. Upon no other principle can we ever explain why some members of a family are converted, and others live and die in sin — why some quarters of the earth are enlightened by Christianity, and others remain buried in heathenism” (J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels; underlining mine).

Though an unbeliever, J.C. Ryle rightly says that the sovereignty of God in salvation is a truth

“that natural man cannot stand”

and that it

“[calls] forth all his enmity against God, and [fills] him with wrath.”

Ryle states that the “natural man cannot stand” God’s sovereignty. In Scripture a natural man is an unregenerate man. Thus, Ryle ought to consider men like John Wesley to be unregenerate since Wesley clearly hated God and His sovereign dealings with mankind. But Ryle believed Wesley to be a true Christian, so I suppose Ryle’s words here don’t really mean much.

Ryle’s description here would accurately describe John Wesley and your typical garden-variety Arminian.[1] It also describes all Calvinist or Reformed persons who believe they were saved while they, too, were venting their rage and shaking their fist at God. In other words, these Calvinists believe they were regenerate while their attitude was exactly like Paul’s objector in Romans 9:19-20.

[1] An “Arminian” is my theological shorthand term for those who believe (among other things) the autosoteric LIE that Jesus Christ died for everyone without exception and that God is unjust in His sovereign dealings with sinners in salvation and damnation.

Ryle said:

“Let us settle it in our minds that, whether we like it or not, the sovereignty of God is a doctrine clearly revealed in the Bible, and a fact clearly to be seen in the world.”

The sovereignty of God is clearly revealed in the Bible. Ryle is correct. The reason this doctrine is disbelieved by the natural man is NOT because it is murkily revealed in Scripture or difficult to understand. Not at all. The reason it is disbelieved is because the natural man does NOT believe that such a God who sovereignly saves and damns, exists. But He DOES exist, and so they will shake their God-hating fists at Him for sovereignly loving and hating (Romans 9:11-14) and also for “[making them] like this” (Romans 9:18-20).