Divine Sovereignty vs. Human Responsibility

The success of God’s program does not depend upon our faithfulness in fulfilling our human responsibility. In other words, we can blow it and miss out on the privilege of serving God without compromising the objective, which God will still accomplish. The perfect expression of this principle is found in Esther 4:14 in the charge that Mordecai gives to Queen Esther:

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”


Even though this is an incredibly strong statement of God’s Sovereignty, it is presented in the context of a passionate exhortation to step up to the plate and fulfill one’s God-ordained destiny. We can never fully sort out the tension between these two great principles… except to conclude that God’s Sovereignty can never be compromised. This understanding should protect us against assuming too much of a burden for achieving results in specific areas.

For example, what happens if we fail to take advantage of a witnessing opportunity? Does that mean that we have reduced that person’s percentage of opportunity of coming to know the Lord? Not when we understand the doctrines of election and predestination. Yet we still need to be motivated by the charge of Romans 10: “And how shall they hear without a preacher?” From God’s perspective, resting in His sovereignty actually intensifies our efforts at faithfulness rather than mitigates them.

This point is crucial to avoiding the type of expediency rationale of those who sincerely feel the responsibility for evangelism but choose methodologies that rely on human marketing techniques rather than the simplicity of the power of the gospel message. For they might argue based on the apparent success rate of their efforts (I say “apparent” because man judges based on externals while only God sees the heart) that they are driven to such techniques in order to save the greatest numbers. Personally, I attribute some of the motivation for the seeker service approach to this mentality. What they are missing is a strong conviction in the sovereignty of God and the sufficiency of the foolishness of the preaching of the cross. What time will prove out is that future generations will be injured by this minimalistic approach to communicating biblical revelation without achieving any anticipated gains in the overall number of God’s elect.

Those of us who understand these principles must aggressively speak up… despite the attacks and criticism of naysayers. For who knows whether we have not been providentially granted this discernment “for such a time as this?” Let’s commit ourselves to accomplishing God’s purposes in God’s ways. Another type of inconsistency, which I feel others are overlooking, is the tendency of some Christian leaders to reject some of the foundational aspects of the seeker service movement while remaining impressed with the thinking and writing of many of these prominent leaders. I guess they feel they are separating the wheat from the chaff… but I fear they are just adopting conclusions that tickle the ear but are based on faulty presuppositions. Let’s follow the Apostle Paul’s charge to be careful how we build and what models we imitate when it comes to working on the precious house of God.