Furthermore, God stretched forth His hand to deliver David from Goliath, Daniel from the lions' den, the three Hebrew children from the fiery furnace; but in the Book of Hebrews we read, "And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented." Then, you ask the question, "Why?" The answer: "God is sovereign, and He exercises His power as He pleases, when He pleases, and on whom He pleases."
Take this example: He let Stephen be stoned to death, as recorded in the seventh chapter of Acts, and then He delivered Peter from prison by His angels (Acts 12). Now, why? The answer is: God is sovereign, and He does everything according to His own will for His own glory. He got more glory out of Stephen being stoned to death, by delivering him out of the hands of his enemies through death. Stephen was delivered, but not like Peter was. He let James be killed with the sword; John, his brother, died a natural death. Here was a man, David Brainerd, whom He let live and preach only seven years. He died with tuberculosis before he was thirty. On the other hand, there was Charles G. Finney whom He let live and preach until he was ninety years of age. Why? The Sovereignty of God.
Why did He let Methuselah outlive all his contemporaries? Why did God enable Samson to have superhuman strength that no other man possessed? Here is one man who makes his millions; here is another who lives in rags. Remember, Deut. 8:l8 says, "But thou shall remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth." Why does God let one man preach the unsearchable riches of Christ to multitudes and then keep another one in seclusion and let him deal with a small number? Why does He put one on a pinnacle and let the world hate him and drive him from pillar to post, and then put another where the world never hears from him? God is sovereign, and sits on the throne, and does as He pleases with His own. Now, my friend, those are truths you can't get around. No, you can't.
In the second place, let me say that God is sovereign in the manifestation of His mercy to the souls of men. Let's face this fact-no man deserves mercy; no individual has a right to God's mercy. As someone has said, "Mercy is that adorable attribute of God by which He pities and relieves the wretched." But face this fact: every individual is wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked (Rev. 3:l7), and deserves to be so because he is totally depraved, wrecked and ruined by the fall. Now, let's face this further fact-everyone who is miserable is miserable as the result of sin and therefore deserves punishment and not mercy. Let me repeat this fact-no individual deserves mercy or it would not be mercy. You deserve to be damned; you deserve the wrath of Almighty God, because "the soul that sinneth it shall die" (Ezek. 18:4). Rom. 3:23 tells us, "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." Therefore all deserve to die, and none deserve mercy.
Now God is sovereign in the exercise of His mercy, or in the bestowal of His mercy upon man; in other words, God bestows His mercy upon whom He pleases and withholds it from others as He pleases. Take the two thieves on the cross. God in His infinite mercy and grace saved one, and let the other one go out under the clouds of the wrath of Almighty God. Take this other illustration: the sentence of death was passed upon Moses for one act of disobedience. He asked God to remove it, but God in His sovereign power said, "No" (Deut. 3:26). But take the case of Hezekiah who was sick unto death. God told him he was going to die; the sentence of death was upon him. He turned his face to the wall, confessed his sins, asked God to spare his life, and God added fifteen years to his life (2 Kings 20:1-6). Now, why did He hear the prayer of one, and not the prayer of the other? Because He is sovereign. This bears out Rom. 9: 15 -- "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." Aren't those gracious truths? But, my friend, the natural man won't have them. You won't have them; no, you won't! You gnash your teeth; you say, "I don't want a God like that." Well, that is the only God I know, and that is the only God I want to worship.
Let's take another illustration. One day the Lord Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry was walking by the Pool of Bethesda, where lay "a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water." There in that large group lay a man who had been a cripple for thirty-eight years. The Scripture says, "When Jesus saw him lie he knew that he had been now a long time in that case," and "He saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?" Then He said, "Rise, take up thy bed, and walk." Christ healed that poor man. Now, why didn't He heal the others? This man seemingly exercised no faith; he had not even asked to be healed. He was not expecting to be healed, but Christ healed him. He did not deserve to be healed any more than anyone else, but God exercised His sovereign mercy on this one poor, miserable cripple while He left all the others in their sick condition. Why did He do it? The only answer is, the sovereignty of God in bestowing mercy.
Remember one thing, friend, God does not have to save you. God does not have to show mercy to you. God has only to let you alone for you to go to Hell. Now, the question is, "Why should God save you?" You don't deserve it; you don't deserve to be saved. You want to be let alone, but for any individual to be saved God has to interpose His sovereign grace and bring you to the place where you want to be saved. I could go on through God's Word and give you illustration after illustration of God's sovereign mercy. For instance, why did He pick out Naaman and heal him of his leprosy and leave all other lepers of his day to die in their disease? It is God's sovereignty.
Now, let's notice again that God is sovereign in the exercise of His love, or the manifestation of His love to the sons of Adam's race. When we say that God is sovereign in His love, we mean that God loves whom He chooses. God does not love everybody; if He did, He would love the Devil. Did you ever stop to think, there is not one thing in any of the fallen sons of Adam's race, there is not anything in any individual, that would attract the love of God? Therefore, God loves whom He will and the cause of this love is found only in God.