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Monergism, 1921 BC


Sarai was barren; she had no child.

—Genesis 11:30


Genesis 11:30 tells us, “Now Sarai was barren.” And then the writer repeats himself (just in case you missed it the first time around): “She had no children.” Not to have children in a society where a woman’s value was measured by her fertility was a bitter blow indeed. Sarai must have shed many bitter tears over her inability to bear children. But, paradoxically, her inability in this area was a crucial part of God’s preparation of her for her role in his plan. In order for her to be the mother of the child of promise, it was necessary for her to be unable to bear children without the direct intervention of God.

—Iain Duguid, Living in the Gap Between Promise and Reality: The Gospel According to Abraham (P&R, 1999), 10.

As we learned from Genesis 3, man has, from the beginning, attempted to stand in God’s place. Adam and Eve did it, Cain did it, and about two millennia later, Abraham and Sarah would try to take charge of fulfilling God’s promise.

Today’s text points a finger directly at one of the most important words in soteriology: monergism. The doctrine of monergism states that “the Holy Spirit is the only efficient agent in regeneration—that the human will possesses no inclination to holiness until regenerated, and therefore cannot coöperate in regeneration.” When we think of monergism, we seldom think beyond the specific supernatural act of regeneration. But the monergistic nature of God’s redemptive plan extends to every aspect of our salvation, not merely the present reality, but our future hope, and indeed, to every event in history upon which that plan depends. This is a message that God has declared throughout redemptive history. Two millennia before the incarnation of Christ, he revealed it to Abraham and Sarah in the promise of a seed through whom all the families of the earth would be blessed. But Abraham and Sarah missed it, and the majority of Christians still miss it today.

God kept his promise in the womb of a barren woman. He keeps it still today in the barren hearts of men.

Posted 2011·03·14 by David Kjos
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Posted in: Genesis · Iain Duguid · Monergism · Old Testament Gospel · The Gospel According to Abraham

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