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In reading over this sermon again, some of these applications in the life of the believer are amazing, and good to reiterate. These things cannot be stressed enough. God is to be glorified, revered, submitted to in His sovereignty. As Edwards puts it, “He demands it of you.” In fact, he goes on to say, “If we go on contending with God about His sovereignty, it will be our eternal ruin.” To call God “Lord” is the same as calling Him your Sovereign. If He is your Sovereign, the One who rules your life, then you must submit to the Scripture in this, as terrifying the truth of His absolute sovereign might and power in salvation may be. I have taken the titles for each of his applications and explained them so as to make them a little more accessible to people who may have a hard time reading Edwards’ work (totally understandable).

By God’s sovereignty in salvation, by God choosing whom He is pleased to save of His own free will, we learn:


1) How absolutely dependent we are on God alone for our salvation.

2) With great humility to adore the awful, terrifying, and absolute sovereignty of God.

3) To attribute our salvation to grace alone and no other reason in us or outside of God’s grace in Christ.

4) What cause we have to admire the grace of God, that He should bind Himself by covenant to us whom He has chosen for salvation, that He should have mercy on any of us.

5) To guard those who seek salvation from two opposite extremes: presumption and discouragement.

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1) How absolutely dependent we are on God for our salvation.

We are dependent upon Him even for our faith to believe in Christ. If the Lord has mercy on whom He has mercy, and hardens whom He hardens by His sovereign will, then exactly what is that mercy He has on some? Obviously it is salvation, but at what point does it start? It is the fulfillment of the great prophecy in Ezekiel 36:26-27 that says, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” Specifically, He is merciful upon us by creating light in our hearts, cutting through to the very core of who we are, where our desires lie, breaking through with the light of the Gospel, and changing us from the inside out, not the outside in.

Prior to belief in Christ, we rejected God, and were dead in sin, enemies of God, turned away from Him, wanting nothing to do with Him. This is what a sinner is, someone who has rejected and profaned the name of God, by thoughts and intentions of the heart, manifested in evil works. The level of depravity in our hearts is so great, that it literally takes an act of God (the Holy Spirit) to give us willing hearts that submit to Him in love. Apart from this grace, we would pursue sin and its delights straight to hell.

Had God not sovereignly cut into my life and turned my heart from rebellion to love for Christ, I would be forever lost, and God justly would have sent me to hell because I would have chosen to go there. My natural bent was toward sin, and sin I did. No good proceeded from me (that was acceptable to God) until Christ intervened in my heart, giving me the eyes to see and ears to hear the beauty and call of Christ to salvation. God went in before my desires and changed them so that I loved Christ and hated the sin I was in. And so it continues to this day, imperfectly. God chose to change me from the heart, I did not of my own natural desires choose Him. God has to do a supernatural work in us so that we desire Him. Apart from this we are hopeless to believe in Christ because it foolishness to those who are perishing, and all of us who believe were at one time perishing, under the condemnation of God’s wrath. Unless God intervenes with sovereign, free grace made possible through the cross of Christ, we are all hopeless. It is a wonder He has mercy on any, and yet what a merciful God He is in the Person and work of Christ! And this grace itself is sovereignly dispensed upon whom He chooses to dispense it. This is the conclusion of Romans 9:18. God does as He pleases in the heavens, and none can stay His hand or say to Him, what are you doing? (Daniel 4:35). We are absolutely dependent on God not only for redemption itself, but also for the faith in Christ to attain that redemption! (Edwards quote, paraphrased)

2) With great humility to adore the awful and absolute sovereignty of God.

This is not an easy teaching of the Scripture. It takes some people years and years to work through these things. It is one of the most difficult. But do not give up. God’s design in it is to humble us, in order that we see God as THE LORD, the sovereign of the universe. We have nothing to boast in except the cross. This is exactly what that means. The cross saved us, it did not just make us savable. This teaching shows us the greatness of His power and the greatness of our need. And in seeing the level of our need contrasted by His sovereignty, and how it would have been right for God to let us go our own way into eternal darkness, we stand in wonder and awe at His glory revealed in the mercy of Christ on poor souls like us.

When Isaiah went before the throne of God in Isaiah 6, he was one of the most righteous in all of Israel. And yet, Isaiah’s response before God was, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” He saw the sovereign might and power of God right before him, and he shuddered. He trembled in fear by seeing Himself in comparison to such majesty, might, and raw sovereign power, and he knew he should die instantly and justly before such a wonderful, terrifying God. Isaiah’s only hope was the pure, absolute, sovereign mercy of God, and the Lord dispensed it to him. God is fully just and fully merciful all at the same time, what a wonder!

When Moses was in the desert on the side of the mountain in Exodus 33, he said to God, “Please show me your glory.” The Lord’s response to him was, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” The essence of the glory of God and the essence of His name is that He is sovereign (i.e. “I AM WHO I AM,” (Exodus 3) and “I have mercy upon whom I have mercy” (Exodus 33), both being the essence of the name of God as explained by God Himself), and He reveals that sovereignty to fallen men in the dispensing of mercy upon whom He pleases by His good will and pleasure. We should stand in awe that this sovereign and powerful God whom we have provoked by trampling upon His glory does not obliterate us at this very moment for the way we treat Him. Praise God for the work of Christ to turn away this wrath against His people! And we know it would be right for us to be obliterated in hell forever. And yet, in Christ, He has shown us such wonderful mercy that words fail to describe. It is mercy beyond comprehension, so much that it will take all of eternity to unpack and we will never come to its end.

3) To attribute our salvation to grace alone and no other reason in us or outside of God’s grace in Christ.

This is such an important thing to learn from God’s sovereignty. Why did you believe while someone else did not who heard the same Gospel message? What made you to differ in your state toward God over someone who shakes their fist in rebellion to God and runs from Him at every turn? Was it something within you naturally? Did the desire for Christ originate in you? If it was within you by nature, how can you boast in Christ alone, and say, “All glory to God” for your salvation? I have hit on this before in other blogs, but this is so extremely important to stomp out our wicked pride and self-righteousness, especially among those who claim Christ as Savior. We have nothing we can boast in, not even our faith, as said above. It is Grace Alone that made us to differ from those who reject God. We would have and did, prior to conversion, reject God. It is the grace of Christ in the work of His life, death, and resurrection that makes us to differ from the unbeliever. We are no better, but are sinners saved by sheer free grace alone.

4) What cause we have to admire the grace of God, that He should bind Himself by covenant to us whom He has chosen for salvation, that He should have mercy on any of us.

How beautiful is the grace and mercy of God, when contrasted with His wrath and justice! When you see what you are being saved from, only then can you really appreciate the enormity of the work it took to redeem us and we see how great the character is of the Person who performed that work. And Christ is that Person! He stepped in the way of awful wrath so that we could have Him as our treasure forever. God’s absolute sovereignty should cause us to stand in praise and tears at the mercy we have found in Christ. What a wonder God. To Him be the glory, now, and forever!

5) To guard those who seek salvation from two opposite extremes: presumption and discouragement.

God’s sovereignty in salvation is meant to guard us from two natural extremes of the human heart: pride, or fear and discouragement.

We should never presume on the mercy of God, that we may attain to it whenever we so please. God is sovereign in the dispensing of mercy and if you put off the pursuit of salvation through Christ, you may never attain it. If you say in your heart, “Right now, I want to pursue what I want, and I’ll get to God later,” it may be He lets you go into eternity just like this, only with no hope of returning. Turn to God and cry out for Him to have mercy on you now! Today is the Day of Salvation. The Scripture says, “Today, if you hear His voice do not harden your hearts.” Also, do not take advantage of the grace of God because it is infinite so that you can continue in your sin. Do not say in your heart, “Because God is infinitely loving, I can do what I want and he’ll forgive me.” There are strong warnings against this in the Scripture. It may be possible that because you care nothing for the things of Christ and continue in your sin unaffected by God’s grace, you have not been truly converted. In fact that is likely the case. A converted heart is a heart that loves Christ and loves the things of God, albeit imperfectly. Do not presume on the grace of God.

However, the other natural extreme is to despair of any hope in salvation at all because of the greatness of your sin. God is almighty and powerful and able to save because Christ’s blood is infinitely sufficient to cover a multitude of sins, no matter how great. He did not spread His arms out on the cross and shed His blood willingly for nothing. He did this very thing to provide payment for sinners who were without hope. To say that your sin is too great to be forgiven is to deny Christ as sufficient to save you. You are saying that Christ is unable to rescue you from the depth of your sinning. You are elevating your sin above the level of God and making it an ultimate thing. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved! His blood can cover infinite numbers of sins, no matter how big and how great.