Grace Bible Church

Preaching the Living Word through the Written Word













Grace Bible Church, Gillette, Wyoming

Pastor Daryl Hilbert


I.     INTRO


A.    No doctrine is more despised by the natural mind than the truth that God is absolutely sovereign. Human pride loathes the suggestion that God orders everything, controls everything, rules over everything. The carnal mind, burning with enmity against God, abhors the biblical teaching that nothing comes to pass except according to His eternal decrees. Most of all, the flesh hates the notion that salvation is entirely God’s work. If God chose who would be saved, and if His choice was settled before the foundation of the world, then believers deserve no credit for their salvation. But that is, after all, precisely what Scripture teaches. (MacArthur, God's Absolute Sovereignty)

B.    After seeing that God the Creator is necessarily sovereign, we observed God’s description of His sovereignty from Scripture.

C.    God’s sovereignty has been defined as God’s established plan of all things from the beginning, which He carries out according to all that He purposed and desired.

D.    If God is sovereign over all things, is He also sovereign over salvation? At the onset, it appears reasonable to conclude that if God is sovereign over all things, then He is also sovereign over salvation. But if God is sovereign over all things including salvation, how can man be a free moral agent who is responsible for his own actions? Scripture must be the authority that we appeal to in order to understand such difficult questions.




A.    God has the sovereign right to choose as He pleases. To be consistent with God’s sovereignty, God has the right to do as He pleases in everything. Salvation therefore must be included in this sovereign principle. Being sovereign in Himself, God acts in accordance to His sovereign nature in every area, including salvation (Ep 1:4; Ac 13:48).

B.    Man is incapable in himself to seek God. Scripture teaches that when Adam sinned, mankind died spiritually (Ro 5:12; Ep 2:1-3). To be dead spiritually is to have no relationship or desire for God and spiritual things (1Co 2:14a). In fact, God and spiritual things become foolishness to the spiritually dead person (1Co 2:14b). Scripture itself teaches that “there is none who understands, there is none who seeks after God” (Ro 3:11; Ps 14:1-3).

C.    Salvation becomes dependent upon God. If man is spiritually dead and cannot seek God, then it must be God who awakens him (Ep 2:5), draws him (Jn 6:44), and gives him saving faith (Ep 2:8-9). Therefore man’s salvation must be from the Lord (Jon 2:9).

D.    Not all men are saved. Every believer, no matter which theological background, knows that all men will not be saved. Since it is God who must act on behalf of the spiritually dead, and since all men will not be saved, then it is understood that God saves some but not all.




A.    A pinnacle passage that explains sovereign election is found in Ro 9:22-23. Though the context of Romans nine is in regard to the election of Israel, it also describes God’s sovereignty in election in general. Paul uses several illustrations to explain God’s sovereignty: 1) Jacob and Esau (Ro 9:10-13), 2) hardening of Pharaoh’s heart (Ro 9:17), and 3) the potter and clay (Ro 9:19-21).

B.    In addition, Paul makes several statements in regard to God’s sovereign election. These statements are consistent with all that the Scripture has revealed about God’s sovereignty.

1.     God’s sovereign choice according to His purpose will stand (Ro 9:11b).

2.     God’s sovereign choice is not based on man’s works but on God’s call (Ro 9:11c).

3.     God’s sovereign choice does not depend on man’s will, but on God’s mercy (Ro 9:16).

4.     God’s sovereign choice decides to harden or show mercy (Ro 9:18).

C.    In addition to these illustrations and clear statements about God’s sovereign choice in salvation, Ro 9:22-23 explains God’s purposes for His sovereign election.

1.     God’s main purpose is to glorify Himself. This is not a sinful self-glory but a truthful assessment revealed especially to His vessels of mercy. God is glorified when He manifests His sovereignty and divine nature (cf. Ro 1:20).

2.     God glorifies Himself when he demonstrates His wrath and power (Pr 16:4). Though God also demonstrated His long-suffering (“endured with much patience”) on the “vessels of wrath,” they have been ultimately prepared for destruction.

3.     However, this particular point must not exceed biblical truth or violate God’s nature. When it says that the “vessels of wrath” have been prepared for destruction, it does not imply that God made them sinners or did so for the purpose of His wrath. On the contrary, the “vessels of wrath” are such because of their own sinfulness and rejection of God.

4.     All men are born sinners with a sinful nature (Ro 3:23; Ep 2:2-3; 4:17-19; Col 1:21). By the necessity of God’s righteousness, all sinful men are under the condemnation and wrath of God (Ro 6:23; Ep 2:3). It is with this understanding that the “vessels of wrath” have been prepared for destruction. Their due recompense stems from their own sinfulness. Furthermore, the vessels of wrath continue in their sin and continue to be prepared for destruction. Literally they “have been and continue to be prepared (perfect participle - katartizō) for destruction.”

5.     What then is the difference between the “vessels of wrath” and “vessels of mercy” if they are both under the condemnation of God? The “vessels of mercy” are those who God has sovereignly chosen to receive His mercy. Had God not intervened, all would remain “vessels of wrath” in and of themselves.

6.     God intervened to elect some as “vessels of mercy” so that He might “make known the riches of His glory,” namely His mercy. This intervention took place before the foundation of the world in order to guarantee God’s election (Ep 1:4; 2Th 2:13; 2Pe 1:1-2). A different word is used for “prepared” in regard to the “vessels of mercy.” It is the Greek word proetoimazō and means to prepare beforehand for one’s own purpose. So the “vessels of mercy” have been sovereignly chosen beforehand to be the ones to receive God’s unmerited favor and mercy. To these alone are made known “the riches of His glory.”

7.     According to God’s sovereignty, He chose to allow some to remain in their sin for the punishment of their own sin. Likewise, He also chose some to come unto Christ as Savior, who was Himself punished for their sin (2Co 5:21).

8.     In this way, both shades of God’s attributes are displayed, that is, His righteous indignation as well as His righteous mercy. It is to His glory to exercise His wrath upon those who deserve it. It is also to His glory to exercise His mercy upon some who do not deserve it.

9.     God’s sovereignty in the salvation of the elect is explained with the same definitive consistency as the rest of Scripture. Ep 1:11 states, “also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.




A.    Our hearts may still cry “foul!” Would this not suggest that no one can resist God’s sovereign will? If no one can resist God’s sovereign will, why does He hold them responsible?

B.    Paul answers that expected question (Ro 9:19). His answer is characteristic of the sovereignty of God taught in Scripture. It is characteristic of the answer of God to Job’s question. It is simply, God is sovereign, He has the right to do all He pleases, and He cannot be questioned (Ro 9:20-21). But He does nothing to violate His own righteous or holy nature. All His ways are blameless (Ps 18:30; De 32:4).

C.    Furthermore, God does not put evil in man’s heart or tempt him to evil. Therefore, man is accountable to God for his own sinful thoughts and actions.

D.    Though God is sovereign enough to use man’s evil to bring about His own purposes, it does not make God culpable for man’s sin. Man alone is culpable for His own sin regardless if a sovereign God allows him to carry it out and use it for His purposes. God is a sovereign and holy God who is righteous in both using man’s sin for His purposes and punishing the sin.




Grace Bible Church · 4000 E. Collins Rd ·  PO Box #3762 · Gillette, WY · (307) 686-1516