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Mystery of Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility

(Romans 9–10)

In "The American Puritans: Their Prose and Poetry," the following was written about "The Day of Doom" by Michael Wigglesworth (1631–1705), “Eighteen hundred copies were printed at Cambridge in 1662, and not one survives: they were read to pieces. The work was many times reprinted, and may be said to be the first American best seller, to be replaced a century later with, interestingly enough, Benjamin Franklin’s, The Way to Wealth.”

The book is a lengthy poem about the coming Day of Judgment when all mankind will stand before God when they will be called upon to give an account of the life they lived. In a popular easy to be understood way, Rev. Wigglesworth gives the excuses people will give. One of them will be – I wasn’t one of the elect! Wigglesworth’s poetic reply was to ask them how they knew they were not the elect? Why didn’t they respond to the gospel? Why did they not come to Christ? He states:


You, sinful Crew, no other knew
but you might be elect;
Why did you then your selves condemn?
why did you me reject?
Where was your strife to gain that life
which lasteth evermore?
You never knock’d, yet say God lock’d
against you Heav’ns door
Not for his CAN is any man
adjudged unto Hell:
But for his WILL to do what’s ill,
and nilling to do well.

He is saying not to worry about if you are elect, just believe. Why don’t people believe? It is not because they can’t, it is because they won’t. This is Calvinism, pure and simple, with a free offer of the gospel to all, and all are held responsible for their choice.

It has been nearly three months, since we were in the book of Romans. Today, we resume the study. We left off finishing chapter 9 in Romans, which was about election and God’s sovereignty. After a brief review to refresh your mind, we will see that Paul takes us to human responsibility. It is incumbent upon all to repent and believe. How does one reconcile these two concepts? This, my friend, is the question that naturally arises when Romans 9 and 10 are read and will be the theme of today’s message.

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The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches. (Matthew 13:31-32)

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