I’ve noticed lately that there is a trend for those who label themselves “reformed” to push the sovereignty of God so much as to become almost unbiblical about it. Now up front I realize that the intentions are meant well, as God IS sovereign over all things and it is promising to see a large movement of Christians pushing such a glorious truth. However, it seems to be so emphasized that many of the promises that God has given his children have lost their assurance. Let me explain:
Consider the following verses:
“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Cor 9:6).
“One gives freely, yet grows all the richer
another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.
Whoever brings blessing will be enriched,
and one who waters will himself be watered” (Proverbs 11:24-25)
This is not the prosperity gospel but a simple promise that God takes care of those who are generous. Should we give to get rich? No. Will God bless those who give bountifully? Yes….and for some reason that makes many of us a little uneasy. I hear over and over again the warning that God is not bound to do so, or that he is not obligated to reward our “work” and we cannot “put God in a box” regarding the reception of blessing in giving bountifully. My response is I think we are missing the point. Instead of trying to protect the sovereignty of God here, let his promises be! It is a promise which should give us assurance in giving freely.
“But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments” (Psalm 103:17-18)
What a glorious promise! Those who fear God, keep his covenant, and remember to do his commandments have the assurance that their children will walk in the same path. However, again I hear over and over that if my assurance of my children fearing God is based on my “works” of fearing God and doing his commandments, that I am making salvation a works based religion and God is not obligated to save my children. It is said if I have to remain faithful, then it is not grace. My response is that it is not “works” based, but a clear promise that God has given. Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone, however, this promise is telling me of God’s faithfulness to generations……why do we have to give disclaimers instead of just accepting what he is telling us?? What is the big deal with us being faithful and confident that his steadfast love will be to our “children’s children?”
“For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:11-15).
Simply put, obedience to Christ in history produces fruit in eternity. Simple. So what is my response to this verse????……to be obedient and also strive for this eternal fruit. However, again, I hear over and over that God is not obligated to give you any “rewards” as his grace and salvation is enough, or that seeking rewards from God for our “works” comes from a misguided motivation. My response is that the verse states that the the work we build on the foundation (Christ) that survives will be exchanged for reward. Simple. Why the disclaimer in order to protect the sovereignty of God?
Reformed Christians (really all Christians) should be opposed to the prosperity Gospel as well as salvation by works. Amen. But we should not overemphasize the sovereignty of God such that it suppresses or creates doubt as to his very own promises. He is not the god of Islam such that he cannot be “bound” and in the end even if the scales tip your way he can still damn you. We should not think of the Triune God in such a way that he can freely choose all that he desires, even to break his own promises given to those who are his. His promises are Yes and Amen. He cannot lie. Therefore, his promises should not be questioned. He is sovereign and does all that he pleases (Psalm 115:3), and when he gives promises, they should not be met with our disclaimers.