This booklet, The Sovereign God and Man’s Will, presents in printed form three lectures under the heading The Sovereign God and the Free Will of Man — Whose Will is Truly Sovereign? The Evangelism Committee of the First Protestant Reformed Church of Holland, Michigan, sponsored these lectures in February of 2003 for the annual Winter Conference.
In choosing this topic, our church did not want to indicate that we have had a change of heart, or that we have any doubts about God’s sovereignty. On the contrary, we continue to proclaim unequivocally the biblical truths of His sovereign will and counsel as set forth in the Word of God and our Reformed confessions (the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of Dordrecht), in opposition to all and any humanistic principles of free-willism.
Fact is, however, that this distinctive Reformed voice concerning the God who is sovereign and whose grace is particular is no longer heard in many Reformed churches. They have lost their Reformed distinctiveness. In one form or another, they have joined their mainstream Arminian brethren, adhering to the popular gospel that God wants to save everyone. Their teaching is that a person has the choice and ability to accept what is offered in the sacrifice of the Savior. Salvation depends on a person’s will, which can be influenced by sufficient encouragement and urging. The Reformed truth that prior to regeneration by the Holy Spirit we are so corrupt that we are wholly incapable of doing any good and inclined to all evil is in essence denied.
This denial came to the foreground already in the fifth century with the conflict between Augustine and Pelagius, and in the seventeenth century with the Arminians (Remonstrants) against the Calvinists. Today this controversy has increased and intensified, for the free-will message is heard almost everywhere. Recently an outright attack on Calvinism came in a seemingly lucid book entitled What Love Is This? Its author, David Hunt, alleges that Calvinism misrepresents the love and character of God. However, in his own attempt to demonstrate what the Scriptures have to say about the love and character of God, Hunt pulls many texts out of their context, and thus ends up with an exegesis that is not in keeping with the whole of the Word of God. Not surprisingly, Hunt’s bibliography includes critical references to writings by professors David Engelsma, Herman Hanko, and Herman Hoeksema.
Both in their proclamation and in their writing, the Protestant Reformed Churches in America have long taught the truth of God’s sovereign will and the depravity of man’s will. This is a fundamental truth, the importance of which can hardly be overemphasized. We made it, therefore, the focus of our 2003 Winter Conference, and now, with this booklet, make the fruit of that effort available in printed form.
We are indebted to Prof. Herman C. Hanko for his lecture on Predestination and the Will of Man, and his sermon on I Peter 2:7, 8 — Zion’s Cornerstone: A Stone of Stumbling; to Prof. Robert D. Decker for his lecture on God’s Grace and Man’s Will; and to Rev. Carl J. Haak for his lecture on The Law of God and Man ‘s Will.
In seeking to promote the cause of the truth of our Lord Jesus Christ and the glory of His holy Name, we pray that this booklet will greatly benefit the reader.
Table of Contents
Predestination and the Will of Man – Prof. Herman C. Hanko
The Truth of Predestination
The Sovereignty of God in Predestination
God’s Sovereignty and Free Will
God’s Sovereignty and Sin
Zion’s Cornerstone: A Stone of Stumbling, sermon by Prof. Herman C. Hanko
A Terrible Rejection
A Sovereign Cause
A Blessed Truth
God’s Grace and Man’s Will — Prof. Robert D. Decker
Testimony of the Reformed Confessions
Testimony of Scripture
The Response of Faith
The Law of God and Man’s Will — Rev. Carl J. Haak
The Question We Face
The Law of God as the Expression of God’s Will
God Maintains His Law
God’s Law and the Cross
Man’s Will as Seen in the Light of God’s Law
The Wonderful Work of Grace in Conforming our Will to God’s Law