“And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath …” -Luke 4:28
How bitterly human nature dislikes the doctrine of the sovereignty of God.
We see this in the conduct of the men of Nazareth, when our Lord reminded them that God was under no obligation to work miracles among them. Were there not many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah? No doubt there were. Yet to none of them was the prophet sent. All were passed over in favour of a Gentile widow at Sarepta. Were there not many lepers in Israel in the days of Elisha? No doubt there were. Yet to none of them was the privilege of healing granted. Naaman the Syrian was the only one who was cleansed. Such doctrine as this was intolerable to the men of Nazareth. It wounded their pride and self-conceit. It taught them that God was no man’s debtor, and that if they themselves were passed over in the distribution of His mercies, they had no right to find fault. They could not bear it. They were ‘filled with wrath’. They thrust our Lord out of their city, and had it not been for an exercise of miraculous power on His part, they would doubtless have put Him to a violent death.
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 hath mercy on whom He will have mercy’ – that He ‘giveth no account of His matters’ – that it is ‘not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy’ – these are truths that the 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 Ghost.
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.
*Excerpted from Day By Day With J.C. Ryle: A New Daily Devotional of Ryle’s Writings by J.C. Ryle (Christian Heritage, 2011).
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