Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on October 26, 2014
Turn in your Bibles to 2 Corinthians 4:1-8. Today we are examining the doctrine of Irresistible Grace. Irresistible Grace is one of the five points of the Doctrines of Grace, otherwise known as Calvinism. As I stated last week, the five points are Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints. An easy way to remember these five points is the acronym TULIP. Last week we took a long hard look at total depravity, and it was not a pretty sight. We read text like Genesis 6:5.
Paul then says in verse 5, “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake.” So Paul says that we, meaning Christians, believers, go around and proclaim, or tell, unbelievers about Jesus. Specifically that he is the Christ, the Messiah, the one the world has been waiting for, their Lord. SO Paul is saying, he goes around and shares the gospel with the blind, the ones who are under Satan's power, the ones who are dead in their trespasses and sins. It is like Paul is walking amongst the tombs talking to himself. Then what happens?
Verse 6, “For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness,"has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” Where has God said let light shine out of darkness? What is Paul referring to here? Creation. Paul is drawing you attention back to God's work in the beginning.
Why couldn't he see the Kingdom? He wasn't born again. You must first be born before you can see. In that order. Born first, then see the Kingdom. If you haven't been born, you can't see, your blind to it. So how is one born again? Verse 5, “unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” The catalyst of being born is not your flesh. It is not inside of you that causes you to be born. It is God who causes you to be born. Listen to what John says in chapter 1.
The bottom line is that apart from grace, we are dead, unresponsive sinners. We are completely unable to repent and believe in Christ. It is impossible for us to get into Heaven apart from a miracle. And it is God who performs this miracle, not man.
I think it is so interesting, that as our country as slowly decayed spiritually over the years that what has increased more and more is the belief that your faith comes from somewhere inside your cold dead heart of stone. We love to say we are saved by faith and all for God’s glory, and just like Adam and Eve in the garden we look at faith and see that it is good and pleasing to the eye and was say, “MINE!” It is my faith, I get the glory!”
Was that the heart of the Apostle Paul glory? No, it was gratitude. He praised God for the miracle that God performed in his life that caused him to see the surpassing value of knowing Jesus. I can just hear Paul saying, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”
Isn’t God good? Every single one of us deserves Hell. We fully and utterly rebel against our Creator, yet he mercifully, lovingly, graciously breaks the chains of our sin and showers us with irresistible and glorious grace. The gospel is such good news, it is such a treasure this gift of God’s Grace through Christ. With this in mind, let us come full circle and close with Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4:7.
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on October 19, 2014
Turn in your Bibles to Ephesians 2:1-3. Today I will jump right into reading our text, we will pray, and then we will study the scriptures.
Last week, I spent 45 minutes basically reading the Bible to you. If my counting is right, I quoted from 16 different books in the Bible, ten Old Testament and six New Testament. In one sense, it was one of the easiest sermons I had written, because it was just cut and paste. However, in another sense it was painstaking because the whole Bible points to the reality that God is sovereign over everything. I had to leave a lot of text on the cutting room floor. The Bible makes it abundantly clear that God is in control of all things, from the dice in Vegas to the hearts the Kings. It is all under his command. The reason for this is that, once again, God has a purpose, His glory.
With those two weeks under our belt, whether you are ready of not, we will step into the five points of the Doctrines of Grace: Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints. The easiest ways to remember these is the acronym TULIP. Today I am going to cover the doctrine of Total Depravity.
The Beginning of Sin
Total Depravity is about sin. So let us begin at the beginning of sin. Turn with me Genesis 3:1-6
After Satan’s fall, which Jesus speaks about in Luke 10:18, “"I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” Satan shows up in the Soverign Creator’s Garden and tempts Adam and Eve to disobey the Soverign God. Up until this point everything was, according to God, “very good.” The freedom of their will was a freedom from the slavery of sin. In that freedom, Satan tempted Eve and she took the bait. She then offered it to Adam, and he took the bait, and at that moment their eyes were open to good and evil, and they lost their freedom in God and exchanged it for slavery to sin.
The Global Spread of Sin
From that point on, everything changed. No longer was everything “very good.” Everything was very bad. Through the sin of Adam, sin spread everywhere.
The Totality of Sin
If we turn back to Genesis and listen to God’s warning to Adam and Eve about disobeying him, what does he say?
The Desperation of Sin and the Praise of God's Glorious Grace
So where does this leave us? Exactly where God wants us, at a point of desperation. I believe that there is one word that sums up our total depravity, wretched. This is one of the most important revelations any person can have. And this is why Satan hates it. Satan does not want you to know that your heart is desperately sick. He wants to drug you with the world's morphine of self-worth. He wants to keep your from the Great Physician. Satan loves to whisper in your ear, you are awesome. Tickling your ears in his hospice for Hell. And I am here today saying, I will not side with Satan. I side with God's Word. I side with Paul who said:
The Sovereignty of God
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on October 12, 2014
Today we are going to tackle an immense topic, the sovereignty of God. We are examining this because I am, hopefully, Biblically laying a foundation for the next five messages on the Doctrines of Grace, otherwise known as Calvinism. The reason I say graciously is because this journey into the depths of God’s Word, and the truth of God’s Sovereignty is not an easy road. It is a road that will potentially flip your world on its head, but there is no doubt that it is a road worth traveling, and it is a road where the word of God is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.
John Piper, who many of you know I enjoy reading and listening to, said something that resonated with me. He said, “No one is born a Calvinist.” What does he mean by that? He means that knowing God and His sovereign power towards you in your salvation, is not like a great banquet that on day one of your Christian life you feast upon. Instead the Christian walk is more like daily rations. Whereby each day, after God has brought you into his fold, provides you, through his Word, new understandings of His greatness directed towards you. And when you think about your testimony, this makes sense.
We are born sinners. Meaning we are not God centered we are self-centered. Our world revolves around our own control and authority. Then someone preaches the gospel into your life, and for some reason, it splits you wide open and your feel the weight of your sin and your cry out yes to Jesus, “Save me.” In that moment you have no clue what happened. You have no way of explaining why you went from not caring about Jesus, to laying down your life for Him. If someone were to ask you why, what happened, perhaps all you could say is “I was blind, but now I see.” From that point on, you spend the rest of your life trying to figure out what happened to you. This is what we are trying to in the months of October and November, to figure out what happened to us to go from enemies of God to willing to die for Him.
In our short time today, we will barely skim the surface to this enormous topic of God’s Sovereignty. However, do to not be frustrated by this, because we will spend an eternity scratching the surface of the Sovereignty of God. This is because our God is an infinite God. He is immeasurable. His ways are above our ways. He is light unapproachable. He is a God who sits on his throne and demands our worship whereby we cry out “Holy, Holy, Holy.” So do not be frustrated today if it isn’t all clear immediately. Today, just let your heart be drawn into it and let God take care of the growth.
Last week I attempted to show you through Ephesians 1, that God desires you to know that the surpassing power in your salvation belongs to God, not man. And the reason that God desires this is so that you are left with only one option, to praise His glorious grace. The goal of God is to get you to praise Him. God delights in our worship of Him. He wants us to be God centered and worship Him and Him alone. This is what he designed you to do, to see His Glory and proclaim His glory.
So my aim today is to lift God up as high as I possibly can, so that your hearts will sing, in truth, Holy, Holy, Holy. There is only one way in which we can do this, and that is by the Word of God. For the Bible is God’s revelation of Him. Today, I am using more scripture than I ever have. I want the Bible to convince you, not Phil Parsons.
So let us start with the question, what does it mean that God is Sovereign? There are not many place that scripture uses the phrase Sovereign when describing God. One place, however, is Acts 4:24. This was a prayer of the earlier Church after they received their first taste of persecution. Listen to how they addressed God.
So we see God's sovereignty stretching beyond just creating, but also into dieing. He holds life and death in his hands. Is this where the hand of God's power ends? Is this as far as God reaches into the World? Does God set the beginning and the end and stands back and watches to see what happens? No. God's sovereignty goes deeper.
So is there where God's sovereignty stops? Does God just see the World as one giant game of Risk? Does his control end with world events? What about individuals decisions of men, are they under the sovereign hand of God?
Some of you may really struggle with this today, and this is why I wanted to use so many Biblical text. I don't want you to believe God's sovereignty because I say so, but because God says so. And to be honest, as I said earlier, this is just the tip of the iceberg. If there is one thing that God wants to make abundantly clear to you in the scripture, it is that God is in control. Nothing is outside his reach. He is God. I leave you with one of the greatest verses in all the Bible.
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on October 5, 2014.
Today we are beginning a two month sermon series on the Doctrines of Grace. Some of you, if not most of you, have no clue what I mean when I say the Doctrines of Grace. Many of you, however, may recognize them by their other name, Calvinism. What is interesting is when I say Doctrines of Grace, all of us feel comfortable with this phrase, almost like we are sitting in an easy chair. However, when I say Calvinism, you tighten up as if you are sitting on a cold hard bench. So as we start, I want to be abundantly clear that this sermon series is not about labels, it is about the Bible. So do not get hung up on a word and the emotional response a word may cause in you. Charles Spurgeon said this about Calvinism, “It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else.” These next two months I will use the term Doctrines of Grace, instead of Calvinism. The reason is not because of the emotional response, for I am not afraid to call myself a Calvinist, but it is because these five points that I will be discussing are doctrines, first and foremost, meaning that they do not originate from the mouth of Calvin but from the mouth of God, and second these doctrines are all about the Sovereign Grace of God in the salvation of man.
The second thing I want to speak briefly about is how these Biblical truths have shaped my life. Other than the revelation of Jesus Christ, there has been no greater enlightenment in my life than the Doctrines of Grace. There has been an entire re-orientation in how see the world and eternity. These doctrines are not academic to me, they life-changing. Last week we ended on our study on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount by examining Matthew 7:24
Third, I want to say this. There are some people, maybe in this room, who do not believe pastors should preach on such things. That instead we should teach around the Doctrines of Grace, as if we could. This is because they believe Sunday morning is for the unsaved not the saved, and do not want sermons that may rock the boat. Instead they want sermons that tickle ears. Listen to what Paul says to the Church in Ephesus when he is departing.
With that said, today I want to show you using the Bible that God wants you to embrace the doctrines of grace. So turn with me to Ephesians 1:1-23.
So what have we seen in this opening letter? The will of God to chose us before time, and the determination of our destiny as his adopted children, through the blood of Jesus, and our inheritance as God's children we 100% guaranteed. The first 14 verse of Paul's letter to the Ephesians is dripping with the doctrines of Grace. They are inescapable. Paul pushing it into our face forcing us to deal with it. Forcing us dwell upon our salvation in, perhaps an entire new way, a way that may flip your spiritual paradigm.
So the question I have now is why? Why does God, through Paul, reveal to us that our salvation is ultimately dependent on God's Sovereign Grace? Why does he want us to know that the surpassing power of our salvation belongs to God, not man? God doesn’t have to tell us all these things. Remember it is God's inspired Word, he could have left Ephesians 1:1-14 out of the Canon, let these verses fall to the cutting room floor, like so many people. Why can’t he just keep these truths to himself; because they are just too abrasive for our modern day cowboy evangelism? Not only that, look at verse 16-20. Paul says this:
Of all the things Paul could have prayed for, Paul prayed, without ceasing that God would reveal to us the immeasurable greatness of God's power when it came to their salvation. A salvation that began before before the foundation of the earth was laid.
Once again, why? Why do believers, new and old, need to be taught these doctrines. Why is it so important that Paul prays for it without ceasing? Because Paul is pursuing something. He has a purpose, and his purpose is the same as God’s purpose. I want you to look at verse 6, 12 and 14. What do you see?
So in these next two months, my purpose in preaching the Doctrines of Grace is Paul's purpose, and my prayer is Paul's prayer, that you will see that immeasurable riches of God's grace and be left with one option, to praise His Glorious Grace.