I heard a man recount the story of his conversion a couple of weeks ago, and it was impossible for him to speak more than a few sentences without breaking into praise again and again at just how great and awesome and majestic and holy and wonderful our God truly is. And if you were to hear this man's testimony (I tried to get a copy of the audio, but they didn't record it), you would understand why he felt compelled to glorify God's Name like that. "I was not looking for God," he said on more than one occasion. "I didn't care a thing about church...I wasn't even curious...I had friend that tried to tell me about Jesus for sixteen years and I never cared a bit." He did finally go to church with his friend - "just to get him off my back" - but said that, even then, "I was bored and not paying much attention to what the young preacher said."
And yet at some point during that service, the man said that "all of a sudden it hit me like a lightning bolt. I saw the filth and evilness of my sins before a holy God and simply had to scramble out of the pew and rush to the pastor and ask him how to receive the forgiveness offered in Christ." He said, "I did not leave that church a changed man that day. I left that church a new man! God birthed a new person that day! I went in not caring a thing in the world about Him - not seeking Him at all! I came out in love with Him, having been given a new heart and a new spirit!"
The man's testimony of how God saved him sounds just like Ephesians 2:1-10, Romans 3:10-26, and Ezekiel 36:25-27. In passages like those, we are shown how salvation must be a sovereign work of God in producing a new heart and imparting new desires because "no one seeks for God" (Romans 3:11). If God doesn't "birth new people" by the power of the Holy Spirit, then they will never run to Him in faith. That's why even faith itself is called a "gift of God" in Ephesians 2:8. And there's just something about finally understanding God's sovereignty (the fact that He in in control of all of this) in this work that causes people to burst forth in praise to Him!
King David had a similar experience in 2 Samuel chapter 7 - in the passage that we call the Davidic Covenant. It is there that God tells David of all of the amazing good that He is going to accomplish in building David a house - or dynasty. And after God tells him all this, David breaks out in praise and thanksgiving, saying at one point, "Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have brought about all this greatness, to make your servant know it. Therefore you are great, O LORD God" (vv. 21-22).
I see in David's praise of God's greatness there in 2 Samuel the same thing that I heard in the man's testimony a couple of weeks ago. David understood that he was nothing before God got a hold of him, and that every good thing that had happened had all been God's doing. He confessed that he understood that God had brought it all about "because of His promise and according to His own heart" and "therefore your are great, O Yahweh God."
When I talk with people about the doctrine of God's sovereignty - mostly in the context of ideas like election, predestination, and the new birth - I am often asked the question, "Why should any of that matter? What difference does it make if I believe that God did it all instead of what I have always been taught?" My first answer is always that what we believe about salvation ought to be only and exactly what the Bible says about it, and the Bible consistently and strongly teaches all of these doctrines. But in addition to the simple concept of "the Bible says it, therefore I believe it", I also always point out this very effect that I have been writing about: people that finally come to understand how much God has had to be in control of their conversion (because of their own spiritual blindness, sin hardened heart, and enslavement to their fleshly nature) cannot stop praising Him for being such an awesome God!
In other words, accepting the Scripture's teaching regarding the sovereignty of God, and embracing it as the story of how God brought you to life, always abounds to the glory of the God who did it! Truly, our God is a great and majestic and holy and perfect and just and compassionate King who pours forth His grace and mercy on His people and lifts them up so that they may have joy in His presence and sound forth His praises and His truth to the end of magnifying His glory and His fame and His worth to every corner of His creation. To God be the glory! Amen.