Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility (Matthew Sermon 45 of 151)

Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility (Matthew Sermon 45 of 151)

February 09, 2003 | Andrew Davis
Sovereignty of God, Conscience

Introduction: Mysteries of our Faith

We'll be looking this morning at a majestic section  of the Scripture, Matthew 11:20-24. There's so much in here.  In 1951, a British survey ship named The Challenger, sailing over the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean and found the deepest part of the ocean ever measured. They used wide band sonar and found it to be 35,639 feet, a little under seven miles. Nine years later, human beings we wanted to go down there and look around. I can't imagine having seven miles of water over my head. But some courageous men from the US Navy got in on the Bathyscaphe Trieste, and descended down and found it actually to be a little deeper than originally measured, 35,813 feet, in that little sphere. If you take a steel ball of two pounds and drop it over the Mariana Trench, it'll take 64 minutes to reach the bottom. That's the depth of the ocean at that place.

We may have reached the depths of the ocean, but we will never reach the depths of the wisdom and the knowledge of God nor will we reach the depths of his love for us in Christ. Scripture testifies plainly to these truths. In Romans 11, after Paul has written all of these chapters of doctrine that he himself did not fully understand, I can assure you, he said, "Oh, the depths of the riches, the wisdom, and the knowledge of God, how un-searchable His judgments and His path beyond tracing out, who has known the mind of the Lord? Who has ever been His counselor? Who has ever given to God that God should repay Him? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen." He says that the knowledge and the wisdom of God are un-searchably deep. If we were to combine all the string in our pocket and tie it together, we could not plumb the depths of the wisdom and the knowledge of God.  So also, is the case when we come to His love for us in Christ. For it says in Ephesians, that Paul prays that the Ephesian Christians may know how wide, and long, and high, and deep is the love of Christ. And that they may know that love that surpasses knowledge. Just think about that for a moment, to know something you can't know. What that means is that we're going to search out and study some things that are going to overwhelm us. We're going to reach the limits of what we can understand. We're going to say, "I don't get it," but here it is in the text. I think that may happen for some of you today — that you might know the infinite depths of the wisdom and the knowledge of God, and that you may also know the infinite depths of His love for us in Christ, that you may be humbled and brought to your knees, as I was, with tears in my eyes, saying, "Thank you, God, for saving me."

Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility 

We come to one of the mysteries of our faith, and that is the relationship between divine sovereignty and human responsibility. You wonder, how did we find this in Matthew 11? It's been there all along. No, this is not Romans 9 or some of those other passages like Ephesians 1, but there it is. I can assure you that we will not completely in the end be able to resolve this. Augustine and Pelagius debated over this. Luther and Erasmus debated over this. Whitefield and Wesley debated over this. Others have debated over this, and we're not going to finally resolve. There's a danger to going beyond what Scripture says, to try to push our understandings so that we can click it into a neat system, and that won't happen and shouldn't happen; but I think there's also a danger in going short of what Scripture says, too.

I would like to go as far as the Scripture allows. Then when we reach the end of our wisdom, when we have no more string in our pocket to drop down the plumb line, and we realize that it's still too deep for us, then we can just fall on our faces and worship God, and say, "The secret things belong to God, but the things revealed to us and to our children forever." That's what we seek to do today. We are going to try to understand the relationship between divine sovereignty and human responsibility. When you walk out the doors this morning at the end, will you fully understand and grasp, will you comprehend it? I don't think so. But I think you'll have a sense of the scope of it better than you did before, and that's my prayer. 

As I look at the text, I realize that you've got to see it in context, as always. Realize the context of anything in the Gospel of Matthew is the kingdom of heaven. You want to understand the Gospel of Matthew. Understand what it means when Jesus says, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." We've been talking about this, and I never tire of reminding you that that is the unifying theme. It is the big picture. Matthew seeks to present Christ as king. It's hard for us as Americans to really understand what that means. There is, of course, a direct relationship between kingship and sovereignty. As a matter fact, another word for a king is a sovereign. Our understanding of the kingdom of heaven really ties in directly to our understanding of the sovereignty of God. They're really one and the same. We pray frequently, “our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, that is thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.” This is what we're praying, we want God's will to be done, here, in this church. We want His will to be done in our hearts. That's what it means, the kingdom of heaven. We've been seeing Jesus unfolding the kingdom of heaven. He's been giving his credentials as His right to rule. We see it from the beginning in His birth and His genealogy. He has the pedigree, as a descendant of David. He is a Son of David, He's a son of Abraham, also through whom it was spoken, all peoples on earth will be blessed, through Abraham. Jesus is definitely the fulfillment of that promise to Abraham. God had His eyes on the entire world, and as this descendant of Abraham, the Son of Abraham, came, He is that fulfillment. He is the way that through Abraham and through His seed, all nations on earth would be blessed.

He is also the son of David and therefore, the recipient of those covenant promises made to David. He is the Davidic king. The genealogy has its place. In the account of the virgin birth in Matthew 1 it is revealed for us that Jesus is no mere human king. He's not just another David, He is God in the flesh. We have there, again, another mystery we will never be able to plumb the depths of, the mystery of the incarnation, how Jesus can be fully God and fully man together. After that, we see the unfolding of Jesus' ministry, and how He proclaimed very plainly, "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." He seeks to explain what that means. The kingdom of heaven therefore, is something we must enter. We're not born into it, we're born again into it. We must at some point, enter the kingdom through repentance and through faith. Repent and believe the good news. What is the good news? It is the kingdom, the good news is the kingdom, and the kind of king we have in that kingdom, that's the good news.  He preaches in Matthew 5, 6 and 7, The Sermon on the Mount, which is kingdom life: how we enter, how we live once we've entered,  and what it is,  this kingdom life through the Sermon on the Mount. Then He gives His evidence, His credentials in the miracles, and it's an incredible display of power.We're going to talk about it here in this text, because it's very relevant, Jesus gives us credentials.

As He's unfolding His right to rule, we are now getting in chapter 11, and we'll get again in chapter 12, human responses to that. Basically, we're starting to get the returns back on election night, but we're going to find out that people are rejecting Christ. We're going to find out that they are not entering the kingdom of heaven, that they are rejecting Him, that they are not repenting and believing.  Jesus is dealing with that here in verses 20 through 24 especially, for the first time. He's dealing with the issue of why it is that people do not repent, why they turn away and what are the ramifications.

Within  verses 20 through 30, we have three basic sections. From verse 20 through 24, Jesus denounces the cities in which His miracles had been performed because they did not repent.  From verses 25 through 27, Jesus is praising His father for His sovereignty, "I praise you Father, Lord of heaven and earth because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, this was your good pleasure."  We see divine sovereignty right at the center of the passage and then at the end, again, human responsibility, where Christ reaches out and invites sinners to come, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." The most beautiful invitation you'll ever see Christ give and perhaps the most beautiful in all of Scripture, an invitation to come into the arms of a gentle and loving Savior, and your sins will be forgiven. At the beginning, we have human responsibility — Jesus holds these cities accountable for their failure to repent. They should have repented. The evidence was sufficient, the miracles were enough, and they're accountable for their repentance and they will pay for it on judgment day. It's a very serious word on human responsibility. If you hear the Gospel, if you have evidence presented and you do not repent, you will be held accountable for that human responsibility.  So  at the beginning and at the end of this section, human responsibility and in the center of the text, divine sovereignty. The beauty of this is that they just flow together without any kind of controversy or difficulty in Jesus' mind. He's teaching it all. He doesn't have any stumbling block over it, it's not a problem for Him, as a matter of fact, He rejoices in it and praises His heavenly father. My desire as a pastor is to get myself and also by the power of the Spirit, to that same point that Jesus was at, so that you can embrace and love sovereignty, the way that Jesus did and understand it the way He did.

Woe to Jewish Cities

Let's look in a little more carefully now at verses 20 through 24, in which Jesus speaks a word of woe to these cities: Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum. Reading again, it says, "Then Jesus began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles had been performed because they did not repent. Woe to you, Chorazin, woe to you Bethsaida. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum will you be lifted up to the skies? No. You will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day, but I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the Day of Judgment than for you."  We have Jesus in a prophetic role here, speaking as a prophet of God, speaking even more than as a prophet of God, but speaking actually as the judge of all the earth, before whom all nations will be gathered and He will separate them, one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. This is the judge of all the Earth.  John chapter 5, "All of judgment has been entrusted to the Son, so that all may honor the Son even as they honor the Father." This is the One speaking a word of woe over these Jewish cities.

It's a terrifying thing that He's saying to Capernaum that they will go down to Hades. That's a terrifying word of judgment spoken by Jesus. He denounces them, it says in verse 20. It's a strong word in the Greek, a word of rejection that He speaks of in this prophetic word of woe. Now, first of all, you must realize, this is a word of grace from Christ. You might not think it, but realize that they have not been condemned yet. There is still time. This is a word of warning from a prophet of God, even more a word of warning from the Son of God. It is grace from God to tell us this ahead of time, isn't it? We don't deserve it. He doesn't have to do this, but He does, and He presents to us, as a people, a word of warning ahead of time, and so He is gracious in this way. He doesn't owe us anything. He doesn't owe, certainly, sinners, repeated and pointed and careful warnings, and we get that in Scripture, don't we? One warning after another.  God is therefore very gracious, using this warning, a stern word of warning, to wake us up from our sin, that we might repent and come into faith.

Now, what cities is He denouncing here? These are Jewish cities — Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum. They were communities clustered there in the north of the Sea of Galilee. They constituted together, essentially, Jesus' home base. This is where He lived during the years of His ministry. This is where He came back, even though He said the Son of Man had no place to lay his head, yet it's spoken of Capernaum that He returned to His hometown. This was His home area, not Nazareth, but Capernaum and this is the area that He based all His ministry in.  Jesus did most of His miracles, pouring out a river of display of the power of the kingdom of God. The people here saw things no one had ever seen before. Here, He healed the blind man by spitting on his eyes, and here He walked on water, and here, He fed the 5000 in Bethsaida.

We don't know really anything about Chorazin except that Jesus did miracles there.  Capernaum,  however, we know more about than any of these small towns. Jesus performed more miracles at Capernaum than any other city. He did more of His teaching at Capernaum than any other place. They got to see Him live here. He appeared in the synagogue and began His ministry in that area by driving out a demon, and they were astonished at the power that He had simply to speak to a demon, and the demon must obey. 

Here, He healed Peter's mother-in-law.  Peter himself lived in Bethsaida, as did Andrew and Peter, it was their hometown, but Capernaum is where his mother-in-law lived. Here, huge crowds of people thronged to Him and Jesus did so many miracles in Matthew 8 that he doesn't even describe them all. He just said He healed many people, everybody that was brought to Him, He healed them all.

In John Chapter 4, Jesus healed the royal official son, and here was where and four men brought a paralyzed man lying on a mat. They went up on the roof and dug a hole in the roof because they could not get through the throng. They lowered the paralyzed man right in front of Jesus. He is looking up a hole in the roof and down comes the paralyzed man, and it says when Jesus saw their faith, He said to the man, "Your sins are forgiven." The people were offended. How can this mere man forgive sins, and He said, "Which is easier, to say your sins are forgiven, or to say rise and walk? But so that you may know that the son of man has authority on Earth to forgive sins, He said to this paralyzed man, ‘Rise up and walk.’’’ and the man got up and walked. The people were astonished and they were filled with awe and  praised God, who had given such authority to men, and then they went about their business. They went back to fishing. They went back to their homes, they went back to their lives, and they did not repent, despite the wide open invitation Jesus gave, "I have power to forgive sins. Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is here." They did not, they went back to their lives, they did nothing. There wasn't an organized movement of resistance to Jesus in Capernaum. It wasn't where He met His staunchest resistance, that was Jerusalem. It was just a matter of indifference, they just didn't care. Jesus had had His 10 minutes of fame, and now, it's back to business as usual. Oh, the incredible power of the status quo. It's like a strong gravitational pull; it pulls you back to your everyday life. The people should have said, "Wait a minute, wait, wait. What did we just see?" "What was that?" “The world will never be the same again, because this man has entered and has done this miracle. There is forgiveness of sins through Him.” They should have flocked to Him, but instead, there was indifference, and therefore, the cause of judgment is failure to repent. It is indifference.

In verse 20, Jesus began to denounce the cities, in which most of His miracles had been performed because they did not repent. Jesus told a couple of parables about this. In Matthew 22, Jesus spoke to them in parable saying, "The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. Then he sent some more servants and said... Tell those who have been invited, that I've prepared my dinner, my oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered and everything is ready, come to the wedding banquet." But they paid no attention and went off. One to his field, another to his business. Indifference, business as usual, that's all. Again, in Luke 14:16-20, Jesus replied, "A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet, he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited. 'Come now, For everything is ready'. Doesn't that sound like, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand? Come now. Now is the time to enter, everything is ready.” But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, "I've just bought a field and I must go see it, please excuse me." Another said, "I bought five yoke of oxen and I'm on my way to try them out. Please excuse me." And still another said, "I just got married, so I can't come."

Indifference. It is the world's number one response to the Gospel. Not hatred, not persecution, that takes too much effort, too much energy, just indifference. "I'm glad for you, that you found something that works for you," that kind of thing. And so, they go about their lives, indifference and Jesus denounces them for this very reason, because they did not repent. Jesus is speaking most strongly, therefore, about a sin of omission, about something that wasn't done and what should they have done? They should have repented.

 It goes on today. Have you ever shared the Gospel with somebody, you present it and say, "Well, it all sounds reasonable. But what do you think is evidence that Jesus has risen from the dead? Well, what do you think?" "Well, I think He probably rose from the dead." "Really?" "Yeah." "What are you going to do in response?” "I don't know, nothing." There's no change, just indifference. They come into the same word of woe that Jesus gives in this text, failure to repent. Indifference is the scourge of the Gospel, and it's already been prophesied that it's going to go on to the very end, to the end of the world, to the second coming of Christ. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the son of man, for as in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, right up to the day Noah entered the ark. They paid no attention and did not know anything about it, until the flood came and swept them all away. That's how it will be at the coming of the son of man.  This indifference, this who-cares attitude, about Christ will go on to the end of the world. But the judgment for Capernaum and Chorazin and Bethsaida is increased. It's greater, and why? Because they had revealed to them miracles from Jesus Christ Himself. The judgment on these cities is far greater because of the miraculous display and preaching they had than it would have been if they'd never received it. This is a vital principle. The greater revelation of God that you have received and still don't repent, the greater your judgment on Judgment Day. It's what the text is teaching. The more truth you get, the more revelation, the more things flow to you from God, and you still don't repent, the greater your judgment on Judgment Day.  

Jesus had given them everything. He'd given them His own incarnate presence, He'd given them miracles, He'd given them teachings. They, as Jewish cities, had a whole heritage of law and prophets, the written word of God. They had the godly Kings like David and Solomon and Hezekiah, and they had all that heritage and history. They had what God did amazingly, restoring the Jews back after the exile. All of these things just increased their judgment because they did not repent. They had the miracles. Jesus intended the miracles to have converting power.  In John 14:11, Jesus speaking to His own disciples said, "Believe me, believe me when I say that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me, or at least, believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves."  Jesus clearly felt that the evidence of the miracles was sufficient for you to believe the Gospel and repent. But they did not. Jesus compares these Jewish cities to some Gentile cities, and not just any Gentile cities, these were especially bad ones in the Jewish mindset: Tyre and Sidon. These are some of the worst Jewish cities, as far as the Jews were concerned. In the Old Testament, Tyre was a byword for Gentile wickedness. Now, initially, with Hiram, King of Tyre, they had a good relationship with the people of God. Hiram sent down cedar logs to help David build his castle, his palace, and then later, Solomon also received from Tyre, cedar logs to build the temple itself. Initially there was agood relationship, but when Judgement fell on Jerusalem through the Babylonians, the people of Tyre celebrated;  they were excited about that.  Ezekiel, the prophet, condemns them for that.   In Ezekiel 26-28, it's all about the wicked prosperity of Tyre. Tyre was a trading place, it had a great harbor and there were a lot of ships that went back and forth. It became a symbol later on in the Book of Revelation for Babylon. A prosperous Gentile place, where there was lots of money, lots of commerce, lots of great things going on, and no God at all, a place of wickedness. Jesus says that even the prosperous demonic  King of Tyre, is said to be Satan, the cherub in the garden of Eden, himself in Ezekiel 28. Beautiful  until wickedness was found in him. Jesus says, those cities are better than you, Jewish cities and they'll do better on judgment day than you.

Then there's Sodom. When you think of Sodom, what do you think of? It's really just a symbol of wickedness. Jesus says, "If I had done the miracles in that place in Sodom that you saw, Sodom would still be here today. Tyre and Sidon, if they had seen the same miraculous display you did, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes." He is shaming these Jewish cities and showing their judgment. The greater revelation of God you have received, the greater your responsibility. From whom much is given, much is required, that's the principle, Luke 12:47-48. And what does this teach you? Not everyone is punished the same amount on Judgment Day. There's a lot of theology here.

In Dante's Inferno with the Circles of Hell, the lower you go, et cetera, it gets worse and worse.  The concept of variability of judgment on Judgment Day is coming right off this text. There's different levels of punishment. Now you say, "Wait a minute. Why punishment?" First of all, understand, there's no innocent natives.  You don't repent from good deeds, you repent from sin, and so Tyre and Sidon needed to repent and they would have repented if they'd seen the miracles. They're not righteous, they'll still be judged. But it's even worse for these Jewish cities. What about America? What kind of spiritual advantages have we had? We have more translations of the Biblein the English language than in any other language. More Bibles, more Christian publishing houses and books and spiritual aids, and Christian radio and more ministries,  more para-church work, more good solid churches, more good preaching. There's been more revivals in America than any other country by far, a pouring out, an effusion of the Holy Spirit. More missionaries have gone out from these shores numerically. God has done unbelievable work in this country. What then, for those that do not repent as Americans? What will it be for them, to have received all of this truth and still not repent? Jesus says your judgment is great. If you hear all of this and you do not repent. 

Why Didn’t God Save Tyre, Sidon & Sodom?

Now we come to the crux of the matter. It's a hard question. Some say it shouldn't be asked, but I'm going to ask it. Why then did He not do the miracles in Tyre and Sidon? Why did He not do them in Sodom, if they would have repented? It's a hard question, isn't it? First of all, understand the divine perception of Christ, let's remember who we're talking about here.

 I love history, I really do. One of the favorite things that historians like to do, is to write alternate histories. In other words, to go back to a moment. You know how for one of a nail, the kingdom was lost, that kind of thing? What if the nail hadn't been lost, then what? What would have happened? I read an article  a while ago about general Albert Sidney Johnson who was a great Confederate general who died needlessly on the Shiloh battlefield.This man makes the case that if Johnson had not bled to death needlessly, (it was a really pretty minor wound) that the South would have won the Civil War. He traces all back to that one moment that the man didn't have his surgeon with him to put a simple field tourniquet on and then unfolds from there a whole alternate history. It's mere speculation.  All we can do is speculate, what would have happened if.

Every Christmas, a movie comes on, that really gets into this whole thing. It’s a Wonderful Life, in which the angel Clarence comes and shows George Bailey what the world would have been like without him. He gets to go back to, not Bedford falls, but Potters-ville and everything's changed. Why? It's an alternate history. It's an alternate approach, something that didn't really happen, but this is what it would have been like if you'd never been born. But I say to you that both of these things are mere speculation. When Jesus says it, it's not mere speculation, is it? This is the incarnate Son of God and this is His divine supernatural knowledge, and He's speaking about a Gentile city, and He's saying, "I'm telling you what would have happened if I had done this up there, they would have repented in sackcloth and ashes." He's also speaking back in time, 2000 years ago. "Sodom, if I had been there, they would have repented." It would still be here today. We're dealing with a fact, and it staggers me to think of the omniscience of God.  God not only knows what was, what is, and what will be. He also knows what might have been, what might be now, and what might be in the future if things go differently than He had ordained. He knows everything.

I like chess.Each side gets 16 pieces, 32 pieces, 64 squares, and all that. Do you know how many games can flow out of that arrangement? Literally, I think it's just about infinite. God knows all the possible chess games. He's got chess figured out.  I have a book  about chess about three inches thick about the subject of various chess openings. Some people make a full-time living just studying these openings and the branches out. If the person moves the pawn there and the knight comes down, then this happens. You go off into a whole area of development that way. Not only does God have chess figured out, He has human history figure out. Literally, infinite alternate universes that never happened, if this had gone on, and that had gone on. This is the omniscience of God. Not only does He know how many hairs are on your head, He knows all of this. And what is He saying? He's saying, "Those cities, Tyre and Sidon would have repented, if I had gone and done those same miracles there." Why didn’t he?

Let's eliminate some reasons. Number one: It was not too far to go, about 30 miles to Tyre. He wouldn't have had to travel across Asia and then take a boat. We're talking 30 miles up the road. As a matter of fact, in Matthew 15, He was there. He was in the city of Tyre and he did not do those miracles there. It's not because it was too far to go and it's not because it would not have succeeded. Some people say, "Well, some people don't hear the Gospel, and they don't get it because God knows that if the gospel is preached there, they'll just reject, and so He doesn't send the Gospel there." It's not what Jesus says. What would the outcome have been according to Christ? A revival to end all revivals. They would have set a record for revival, they would have repented in sackcloth and ashes. It's not because it wouldn't have succeeded and it's not because Christ lacked the power to do miracles in the Gentile territory. In Matthew 15, Jesus goes to Tyre and a Syrophoenician woman comes and confronts Him. Jesus doesn't answer her a word, doesn't say a thing to her. The disciples say, "Send her away for she keeps crying out after us." Jesus says, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel." He was giving an explanation for why He's not speaking to this woman. The woman comes, and in effect, throws herself on the tracks of the oncoming train and says, "I'm not moving until you deal with me. My daughter is suffering from demon possession." He says to her, "It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to their dogs." She answers back, one of the great answers in all history, "Yes, Lord. But even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master's table, isn't there some extra that could fall off the table for me?" He says, "Go home, your daughter's healed." Jesus certainly did not lack power to do miracles, but He did not pour out the miracles in Tyre and Sidon that He did in Capernaum.

 And it's not because He has no concern for Gentile nations. Perish the thought, because He's already said through Abraham, all the peoples on Earth will be blessed. He says through Isaiah, God the Father, speaking of God the Son, “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Israel and bring back those of Israel that I have kept. I will make you a light for the Gentiles that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.” He cares about Gentiles, He cares greatly about them. Why then, didn't He do the miracles up there? I don't know, but God is sovereign and He can do what He chooses. He can do miracles or not do miracles. He can come and preach in your town or not. He doesn't owe us anything. He doesn't owe us a hearing of the Gospel.

Secondly, understand His plan, His plan was always to the Jew first, and then to the Gentile. It's the way He ordained, and so He was not going to do miracles in Tyre and Sidon because He was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.

God's sovereignty. What are implications of this? We like to think of God as up in heaven doing absolutely everything He can do to save absolutely every single individual sinner. Is that true? Does not this text remove that forever?  Our God is powerful and He can do anything. So I reach the point even while preaching to you now where I just say, "Thank you, God for saving me, thank you for saving me. What did I have to offer to you? You didn't have to do these things for me. Thank you for your sovereignty. Thank you for your mercy. Thank you for giving Christ. Thank you for the river of miracles and then I read about it and I believe it. Thank you for your mercy and your kindness.

Application

 Can you embrace this God? Understand where we're at. I wish I could just keep going because in verse 25, "I praise you, Father, I praise you for your sovereignty, I praise you that you're a Lord of heaven and Earth." Can you do that? I think that's what entering the kingdom is all about. Ultimately, we're going to have an ever increasing sense of God's rulership, ever increasing sense of His sovereignty and His might and His power. I want that. I actually want to have the same reaction in my heart that Jesus had at that moment. I want to rejoice in God and what He does.  I'm urging you to embrace the sovereignty of God, delight in it, and thank God for your salvation. If you are saved today, it's because of the sovereign mighty grace of God. It's because of His mercy to you in Christ. Nothing you or I did could ever merit it. We don't deserve it. Secondly, can I urge you to pray for blessed America? For blessed America, for your neighbors, for your relatives, for your family members, perhaps, for co-workers who have heard the Gospel again, and again, and still have not repented. Fear for them and tell them the danger that they're under according to this text, of great judgment from God if they do not repent. Thirdly, can I urge you, don't presume on God. Remember who He is. He is sovereign and powerful. I heard something a while ago that bothered me. I understand the spirit behind it, but it bothered me. It was talking about the wickedness and immorality, ever increasing immorality in our country, and the preacher said something like this: “If God doesn't destroy America soon, He'll owe Sodom and Gomorrah an apology.” That is blasphemous. He doesn't owe Sodom and Gomorrah a thing.  He can do what He chooses with America. But understand this, He is holy, and He's as holy now as He was in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah. He's the same God, and He doesn't owe Sodom and Gomorrah an apology, and He doesn't owe America another day to repent, either. This is the sovereign hand of God and so we must not presume on that.

If you are here and you've never come to faith in Christ, don't walk out of here without repenting and trusting Christ. Don't walk out of the doors presuming that you'll have another time to repent some other day. You don't know that. God hasn't promised it to you and He doesn't owe it to you. If today, you hear Him say, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest," do not harden your heart, but come.

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