Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on November 30, 2014
Today we come to the end of a two month sermon series on the Doctrines of Grace. To end our series I want to review the doctrines, briefly, and then I want to talk more about why understanding these doctrines matter in your day to day Christian walk.
So in review, the Doctrine of Grace are primarily about God's sovereignty in our salvation. Meaning that from beginning to end, it is God who saves. God gets all of credit for for our salvation, and therefore God gets all the glory.
The acronym for the Doctrines of Grace spells TULIP. Let us quickly go over each doctrine. First there is Total Depravity. This doctrine summarizes the Bible's teaching that man is a sinner. That our hearts our desperately sick, that nothing good dwells in us, that every intention of our heart is only evil continually, that all our “righteous deeds” are like filthy rags, that we are wretched; therefore we have no ability in ourselves to save ourselves or come to Christ. Jesus said it very clearly in John 6:44 that , “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.”
Which leads to the next doctrine we talked about, Irresistible Grace. Irresistible Grace is the drawing of a wretched sinner to Jesus by God. It is the shining of the light of Christ into a sinners heart by God. It is the Holy Spirit blowing into our life, birthing us into spiritual life. It is God circumcising your heart. It is God taking out the heart of stone and giving us a heart of flesh. It is God giving us eyes to see and ears to here. It is God opening our hearts to pay attention to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Without the God's overcoming our resistance to Him by his irresistible grace, we are without Hope to repent and place our faith in Jesus Christ.
This begs the question, how does God decided whose life he will pour out His irresistible grace? He does this by His Unconditional Election. This is the “U” in TULIP. Unconditional Election is the understanding that God, before time began, chose whom would be adopted into his family to be holy and blameless before Him. That God chose whom would receive His grace. This decision is a sovereign decision, meaning that God makes this decision with no outside influence. He is the only truly free decision maker in the Universe. God has mercy on whom he has mercy. This is not based on what we do, it is based on God's free, sovereign will.
Next we examined Limited Atonement. This is the Biblical doctrine that Jesus was sent to rescue the elect, the ones chosen by God. This teaches that Jesus actually saved a specific people. That his death was a particular death, with a personal application. Jesus did not die for an opportunity to be saved, but that actually saved people. Limited atonement is the teaching that Jesus came to die for his sheep and that there is no greater love that to lay down your life for a friend.
Lastly, we looked at the overwhelming passages that point to the wonderful truth that when God begins his work in you, He will complete it to the end. This is the doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints, otherwise known as eternal security. This teaches that when you are adopted into God's family, He doesn't later kick you out. He doesn't give you eternal life and then say, just kidding. He doesn't open your eyes, to close them again. He doesn't love you, then send you to Hell. Perseverance of the Saints is the reality of the forever love of God.
These are the Doctrines of Grace. The question we will now address today is, why does it matter? I would argue that it matters immensely. As I stated before, other than my conversion, there has been no greater revelation in my life than the Sovereignty of God.
In this sermon series I have already spoken of two reasons as to why the Doctrines of Grace matter. First, God receives all the glory in our salvation. When we accept the truth of the Doctrines of Grace in our lives we are left with only one response, to praise God for His glorious grace. The second result we examined last week is that the Sovereignty of God is the catalyst to the Great Commission. Like Christ who was sent to rescue His Bride with victory guaranteed, we as his brothers and sisters, take the baton and go to all nations to bring in the sheep that are scattered abroad, knowing that the Gospel is the power of God for salvation and Jesus' sheep will hear his voice.
Today, I want to continue to discuss why embracing the Doctrines of Grace matter. These doctrines are not academic. They are doctrines you should build your life upon. Today, I have ten reasons why I believe that we should care about these doctrines.
We must remember that God's Word is His revelation to man. Jesus tells us in Matthew 4:4 that it is God's Word that is bread to our souls. Jesus then tells us that in John 17 that it is God's Word that sanctifies us. Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 3 that God's word is what equips us and makes us competent for all good works. The Doctrine of Grace is are doctrines of God's Word. The doctrines are not academic, they are much needed rations for this spiritual battle we find ourselves in and we must allow them to have their full effect upon our hearts and minds.
“I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having once believed in Jesus. Such a gospel I abhor.”
I did a lot of driving this weekend and we had a cd with Chris Tomlin's new song Waterfall on it. Perhaps you don't know this but Tomlin is a Calvinist, but in this song he says, your love is like a waterfall. And I was dwelling upon this phrase in connection to my sermon today and I thought, yes this is true, if you see the waterfall like Niagra Falls and not the the Cascades of the Maquoketa. It is the overwhelming and powerful love that pummels us and causes us to respond with reciprical and radical love for God and radical love for others.
I recall one man who told me that he hated the weekends because he was always worried that he would lose his salvation. Whether it be thinking the wrong thought, watching the wrong movie, saying the wrong word, you name it. He never had peace in his heart. Does this seem like freedom? No it sounds like a prison.
And it is from this lowly state that God can begin to use us for His purposes. It is this posture of humility that gives us the ability to wash each other's feet, put other's interest before ours, take the log out of our eye, and acts as a guard against our sinful desire to lord over our brothers and sisters in Christ.
All Christians pray like a Calvinist. Every single one of you. If you wanted to be consistent with your claimed theology of free will, then you would not pray for peace and comfort and revivals and conversions, because free will claims that God has no control over those things. But something deep inside us knows that this is not true. The Holy Spirit groans inside of us to pray for hearts to break for Jesus, and this is a prayer that we need to pray more often.
As we stated earlier, I want us to be praying about the month of December. I want each of us to pray like a Calvinist. Pray that God would open the eyes of your neighbors. Pray that God would draw them to Jesus. Pray that God would cultivate their hearts and make them good soil to receive the Gospel. And pray like you believe He can do it.
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on November 23, 2014
Open your Bibles to Romans 10:13-21. We have designated today as Missions Sunday. It is my hope that in the years to come we will have multiple missions Sundays each year, so that we can continually remind ourselves of the primary commission by Christ to the Church, go and make disciples.
I chose today to be our missions Sunday because last week I concluded my teaching of the specific Doctrines of Grace, otherwise known as the five points of Calvinism. Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints. With this doctrines under our belt I want to now direct your attention to over the next two weeks to the fruit that grows out of embracing these Biblical truths of God's Sovereignty.
I have already spoken of one result of the Doctrines of Grace, that being the praise of God for His glorious grace. This is a product of believing this doctrines because the more we realize that it was God who chose and saved us, the more we glorify him. God does all the work through Christ, therefore God through Christ should get all the credit. I believe this is the chief product of embracing these biblical doctrines; however, it is not the only product of being a Calvinist.
Today we are going to look at another result of believing in the Sovereignty of God, specifically that the Sovereignty of God is the Catalyst to the Great Commission. With that said, turn with me to Romans 10:13-21. Let us read out text, ask God to open up the eyes of our heart, and see what God wants to show us.
The Gospel is the God ordained means of a God ordained end. It is the way by which God achieves the redemption of his sinful, yet elect, children. The Gospel is the ordained net for the elect. This is something people can get hung up on when they are first exposed to Calvinism. They believe that if the elect are 100% guaranteed to be saved, then why share the Gospel with them. This thinking is called Hyper-Calvinism, and it is dead wrong. For Hyper-Calvinism is the view that all who are to be saved will be saved and the Gospel therefore does not need to be offered to the world. Therefore no one is sent, no one preaches, no one hears, and no one is saved.
Make no mistake, Paul was not a hyper-Calvinist. This is obvious by his life and his words. Other than Jesus, Paul was the greatest missionary ever to walk the planet. Just to give you another taste of how passionate Paul was about people believing in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Look with me at Romans 9:1-3.
How many of you can say this? How many of you would be able to say, without lying, that you would spend the rest of eternity having the wrath of God poured out on you, so that your relatives could be with God? How many of you have stayed up late at night in anguish and weeping for the salvation of your neighbors? What would cause Paul to feel such a burden for the lost?
This answer is simple. Jesus Christ. Christ is the cause of this anguish and sorrow. Paul was filled with the Spirit of Christ and therefore what broke Jesus' heart broke his heart. The same Spirit that caused Jesus to lay down his life, caused Paul to lay down his life. Paul's willingness to bear the wrath of God so that others could be saved is exactly what Jesus did when he came to earth and died on the cross. Jesus bore our transgressions and sins and was smitten and chastised by his Father so that we may be healed. Other than Christ, Paul had the most beautiful feet on the planet for everywhere he went he heralded the good news, scattering the seed of the Gospel wherever he went. Whether in the synagogues, in the town square, in prison, or in his home. Paul was a man who loved the lost.
Here is the kicker, if you are an authentic Christian, if you are born again by the Spirit of God, then the same Spirit of Christ that lived in Paul lives in you. The same power that compelled Paul to be willing to go to Hell for the lost, dwells in you, and is ready to be unleashed in your life. The question, is what is holding you back?
In Romans 10:1 Paul reiterates basically the same thing as in Romans 9:1.
I want you to think about Paul's life. From the moment Christ chose him as an apostle, the world hated him. He was beaten, stoned, drug out of town, shipwrecked, whipped, imprisoned, and lied about. Why in the world would he continue to walk down this lonely and difficult path? Because no man is left behind. The foundation to Paul's missiology is God's sovereign election; God's choice of whom will receive mercy. Paul embraces the words of Jesus in John 10:16.
Imagine, the alternative. Imagine if instead of believing in the election of the saints, you believed that it was up to man to determine who is saved and who is not. After getting beat up in one town, would you go to the next? No, you wouldn't. Why go through the trial if there is no guaranteed pay off? But instead think if you viewed each town as a prison, and inside each prison was a POW (prisoner of war) waiting for God's marines to drop in and use the gospel key to unlock the prison's gates. This is how Paul saw the mission field, freeing captives.
It is interesting, the fallacies that humans fall into when it comes to Biblical truth. I would be curious to know how many of you when driving home from one of the past sermons, have said, “If everything is predetermined, than what is the point?” You say this because you think destiny produces apathy. But this is not the case, for destiny does not produce apathy, destiny produces action.
It was the sense of destiny that drove Napoleon across Europe. It was destiny that pushed Michael Jordan to become the best basketball player of all time. The pregame destiny speech is proclaimed in high-school locker rooms across the nation every Friday night. It is destiny that has driven men to ask women out on dates since dating existed. Make no mistake the sense of fate is a very powerful motivator, and this is not by accident. This is one reason why I believe Jesus said these words before he ascended into heaven.
I believe this is why, when looking back on the history of the Church we see a landscape scattered with Calvinist who risked their life for the lost. Sine we are talking about Calvinism let us begin with John Calvin. It is estimated that John Calvin and his spiritual family in Geneva were responsible for planting over 2000 churches in France. Then there was the Calvinist John Eliot, who was the first missionary to the American Indians. He was followed by David Brainerd, whose diary is perhaps the most influential missionary books other than the Bible. It was the book that inspired William Carey, another Calvinist, who is know as the founder of modern day missions. Likewise there is Calvinist, Adoni Judson, who was the first American Missionary to India. Not to mention the missionary George Whitefield, an Englishman, who made multiple trips across the Atlantic to partake in missionary journeys through New England preaching unashamedly the Gospel of Christ to 8,000-12,000 people at a time. And don't forget about David Livingston, the well known missionary to Africa. In all of these men, there was a common thread of Calvinism.
And regarding today, perhaps the most well know Calvinistic preacher, John Piper, is simultaneously perhaps the most missions minded preacher that I know. His passion for global missions is contagious and his book Let the Nations Be Glad has inspired numerous pastors and missionaries in regards to going and proclaiming the Gospel to the lost. One of those people being David Platt, who is another radical Calvinist. Plat just recently became the President of the International Missions Board. He lives and breathes missions, and yet, he is a Calvinist.
I find it interesting that many people like to say that Calvinist don't care about missions. This is absolutely false. The evidence is the exact opposite. For since the beginning of the Church age, it has always been those who believe in the sovereignty of God in the salvation of men that have led the charge to go and proclaim that Gospel to the lost and bring the sheep home.
And this makes sense, for the biggest obstacle of sharing the Gospel is your wrong understanding of how someone is saved. If you believe that salvation comes through your ability convince them to believe, then of course you wouldn't share the good news of Christ because you are afraid of not saying the right thing. But if instead you believed that it is not your words that make disciples, but instead the power of the gospel, then you will sow the seeds wherever you go, for it is your destiny.
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on November 16, 2014
Open your Bibles to Romans 8:28-31. Today we find ourselves examining the last petal our our TULIP, Perseverance of the Saints. For those who are visiting this morning, we have been examining the Doctrines of Grace: Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and now Perseverance of the Saints. And once again, if you are not familiar with the term Doctrines of Grace, you may be familiar with the more common description, Calvinism. With that said, let's get to work. Let us read our text, pray and pursue the Glory of God in His Word.
The Golden Chain of Five Links
But today, I want to examine what holds up verse 28. I want to ask the question, why can Paul say that “all things work together for good?” What is the foundation that is beneath such a extraordinary claim. And this is generally, in my opinion, the difference between a Calvinist and a non-Calvinist. If a non-Calvinist knows that verse 28 exists they love it, who wouldn't? But when they hear it, they don't go deeper, there understanding of verse 28 is about 1 inch deep. I refuse to be the 1 inch deep Church. If you are looking for shallow Christianity, you will have to look elsewhere. I do not want the Sheep the God has brought to this building to remain infants in Christ. I want, and more importantly God wants, mature believers, strong believers, sages, soldiers ready to battle for Him.
So what is the foundation to Romans 8:28? Let me ask you, what word does verse 29 begin with? “For.” I want everyone to hear me. The next time you read your Bible and you come across the word “for” I want you to stop and study. Don't keep reading. Most of the time, “For” is foundational to the promises of the Bible. This is not always the case, but most times it is. So in verse 29, Paul is telling us, get ready here comes the foundation to the extraordinary and wonderful claim of verse 28. Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit is revealing to us the pillars that hold up this overwhelmingly comforting and empowering text.
What makes these links so precious? Think about it. What does the verse say, “those whom he foreknew he also predestined.” Meaning all that were foreknown by God were destined by God. Every single one of them, not one of them dropped out. All who God intimately and relationally knew before existence were all predestined. Likewise, all who were predestined we also called; once again, everyone. Every single one whom God predestined he called. Of those called, all were justified. This is last week's sermon, limited atonement. Those who are justified are the ones called, the ones that are called are the ones who were predestined. The ones that were predestined are the ones he foreknew. Next what do we see? All whom are justified are glorified, once again everyone. No one drops out.
This means that everyone who began down this golden chain of God's sovereign plan made it to the end. God bats 1000. Not one person is lost along the way. This golden chain stretches from eternity past to eternity future, and this chain is the foundation to the most comforting verse in the Bible, verse 28. If God foreknows you, you will be glorified. Another way to think about this wonderful reality is the doctrine that we are studying today, Perseverance of the Saints. Another term to describe it is Eternal Security.
Perseverance of the Saints is the understanding that once you are saved, you are always saved. Or to say it another way, once you are born again, you don’t become unborn. Or to say it another way, once God adopts you, he does not turn around and kick you out of the family. Or to say it another way, once you are justified by the blood of Jesus, you are not later sent to Hell. Or to say it another way, once you are given the gift of eternal life, God doesn’t take it back and say just kidding. However, perhaps we should allow Paul to say it, for he says it in the context of Romans 8. Look at verse 38.
Additional Biblical Support
So let’s ask the question, is this the only place in Scripture that God reveals this truth to us? Of course not. Let’s look at some text.
How Do We Persevere?
The question is how do we persevere? In between justified and glorified in life as a Christian. How do we make it to the end? This is where a lot of people misunderstand eternal security. Many people wrongly see salvation, or justification, as a shot in the arm. By this I mean that they believe that when they initially believe in Jesus this singular decision is a onetime event that cures them of the disease of damnation. They see faith in Christ as a “get out of hell free card.” Because of this wrong understanding, many people believe that if they say a magic prayer, they will go to Heaven. After they say this prayer they can continue in their sin, never read the bible, never go to Church, pray when they are in a pinch, and otherwise have the best of both worlds, this world and the world to come. This is what James calls a dead faith. A faith without any signs of spiritual life.
But that is not how Salvation works. When God opens up your heart to receive the good news of Jesus Christ, you are not receiving a vaccination; you are instead receiving a Physician. A physician that continues to assist you until the end. Turn with me to Luke 22:31. This is a conversation between Jesus and Peter.
Peter is a follower of Jesus. Satan has demanded to have Peter, just like Satan demanded to have Job. Do you recall that dialogue in Job between Satan and God?
What is God’s response to Satan? Go for it. This is so crucial to your walk to understand this. God is Sovereign over the worst mistake of Peter’s life, this was the darkest moment of Peter’s existence, and it was God who allowed it to happen. As Christ was carried off to die in Peter’s place and atone for his sins, Peter couldn’t even find the courage to admit that he knew Jesus. Jesus is personally dieing for Peter and Peter turns his back on Jesus to save his own skin. Remarkably sinful.
But is this the end of the story? Absolutely not! We know that the coward Peter, later becomes an early pillar for the Church, willing to be arrested, beaten and eventually murdered. Why did Peter survive good Friday. Why didn't he throw in the towel? Why did Peter persevere?
Jesus says, “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.” Jesus intercedes for Peter. He approaches His Father and advocates for Peter. God the Son interceding to God the Father for the sake of this pathetic little fisherman. Why? Because this is what Saviors do, they save. The mission of Christ is to rescue sinners, not to merely give an opportunity to be saved. Jesus will complete the mission and bring the elect home. Listen to what Jesus says in John 17:12.
Several times over the last couple years I have drawn your attention to Hebrews 12:2.
Why is this truth so important?
Why is this truth so important? Imagine living your Christian walk always being scared of losing your salvation. Think about this. What guarantee do you have that tomorrow you will wake up a believer? Imagine if every time you sinned you were worried about going to Hell? Does this sound like the freedom that Christ proclaimed? Does this sound like Good news? No it sounds like a Pharisaical prison. Unfortunately so many people are trapped in devil lies, whispering God doesn't love you any more. We should yell Get behind me Satan? For we are sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. So let us end with a doxology from the book of Jude. This is just a fantastic way to end.
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on November 9, 2014.
Today we are continuing through the Doctrines of Grace, otherwise known as Calvinism, and we find ourselves examining the doctrine of Limited Atonement. It is the “L” in TULIP. Having said that, many people do not like the term limited atonement because they believe it is misleading, and I would agree. For it causes Christians to focus on the wrong side of the equation. Other terms that are commonly used instead of limited atonement are actual atonement, particular atonement, and definite atonement.
What does limited atonement mean?
This morning I want to start with a definition, so that you have a category in your mind to place the truth that you will hear through God’s Word. So here is one from RC Sproul.
For those who were with us last week, you can see the very close connection that limited atonement has with unconditional election. I believe these two doctrines rise and fall together, so if you were convinced last week, this sermon is just icing on the cake.
The Decree from Eternity
Last week we examined Ephesians 1:3- 6. Let us look at that text again as we start this morning.
Here is the question we didn’t ask? How is Jesus involved in this choice? What is his role? The first thing we want to nail down is that Jesus was actually present when the choice was made.
Now I want to switch gears and instead of looking back, I want us to look forward. Turn with me to Revelation 5:9-10. This is the picture of the celebration song in Heaven for Jesus in his achievement of accomplishing the work given to him in Ephesians 1. This takes place sometime in the future.
When Jesus came to earth to save, he was not providing an opportunity for salvation; He was on a mission to rescue specific people. There was a definite, particular, actual atonement, or ransom, to be made for a chosen group of people. This is what a ransom is, a full payment for the kidnapped. Jesus paid it all. He actually achieved the ransom. Lets continue to unpack this idea, that Jesus didn't come in general but came specifically.
Old Testament Evidence
We have looked at the beginning and the end. Let us know look at the in-between to see if we see text that support that when Jesus came to die, he came to die for the elect. Let’s start with the Old Testament. First, I want us to think about the old testament? Who is it about? Israel. Who is Israel? God chosen people. The whole Old Testament points to the reality that God limits his redemption. Moses was sent to save Israel, not Egypt, nor any other nation. Judges were raised up to save Israel, not other nations. David was the King of the Jews, not the world. Prophets and Angles were sent to Israel not China. God is a God who limits his grace, you cannot read the Bible and come to any other conclusion.
In Leviticus 16 God is implementing The Day of Atonement. This is a foreshadow of Jesus' atonement. This was the most holy day for the Jews. It was the one day of the year that the High Priest would enter the Most Holy Place in the tabernacle and he would offer a goat to be sacrificed for the covenant people of Israel. This offering was to atone for their sins. This sacrifice of atonement was not for the sins of the world, it was for the sins of the covenant people of Israel.
New Testament Evidence
Lets now turn to the New Testament. Turn with me to Matthew 1:21. I think this text is extremely interesting. For these words come from an angel of the Lord and are spoken to Joseph before the birth of Jesus. This is what God’s messenger says.
Next, lets see what Jesus says early on in his ministry about who he came for. Turn with me to Luke 4:24-29. Listen to what Jesus tells his home town and what there reaction is.
Next, let us look at John 10:14-16. These verses spoken by Jesus, may be the most convincing of them all. I cannot see how one can argue with limited atonement after reading this passage.
Who is Jesus dieing for? The World? No, he is dieing for the nation. Who is the nation? The children of God? Who are the children of God? The ones chosen before the foundation of the world to be adopted through Jesus Christ. The more you have a category for Jesus particular redemption for the elect, the more you will see it everywhere. Turn now to Ephesians 5:25-27. I text that I look at a lot when I am providing marriage counseling to couples.
Why would he do such a thing? Look again at verse 25, “As Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her.” Christ laid down his life for you because he loved you.
And this is why this doctrine is so crucial in your sanctification. Last week we ended talking about how God's love for his elect is an eternal love. We said we need to hear the words from God, “I have loved you forever.” The message of unconditional election is the width of God's love. From forever and to forever. Limited atonement is the depth of God's love. It is God's love in action.
God not only has love for you before time, but he loves you so much that he sent Jesus to die for you. The death of Jesus was not impersonal. It was not Jesus opening up a door and waiting around to see who would chose to walk through, that is not love. No Jesus came and rescued his bride. God chose us personally and sent Jesus to save you, completely. SO once again we will end with Romans 8
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on November 2, 2014
Today we continue our journey through the Doctrines of Grace, otherwise known as the five points of Calvinism. These five doctrines include Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints. The best way to recall these doctrines are through the acronym TULIP. Today we are unpacking the Biblical doctrine Unconditional Election.
First, I want to warn you. Some of you will not like today's message or next Sundays. Something in your flesh will resist the next two doctrines: Unconditional Election and Limited Atonement. Having said this, we still must push forward because I am 100% convinced that scripture is abundantly clear that these two doctrines are true and that they are potentially the most precious of the five doctrines, but more on that later.
Definition of Unconditional Election
To begin today, I want to start with the definition of unconditional election. The reason I want to do this is because I want you to feel your resistance to it. I want you to recognize your desire to not submit to what I believe the Bible clearly and overwhelmingly teaches.
The first definition is from the Westminster Confession of Faith: “By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestined to everlasting life, and others are foreordained to everlasting death.“
Here is a definition by John Piper: “Unconditional election is God’s free choice before creation, not based on foreseen faith, to which traitors he will grant faith and repentance, pardoning them, and adopting them into his everlasting family of joy.”
Circumstantial Evidence of Unconditional Election
To start I want to show you how unconditional election is supported by what we have already learned up to this point. Four week ago, we examined Ephesians 1:1-14, and we saw that God desires us to know the doctrines of grace, so that we praise his glorious grace. God wants us to know that our salvation is entirely dependent upon him, and not us. Why? Because God does not share his glory with man, he does what he does so that he gets all the glory. This is why we were created, to glorify God. In light of this, we would all have to admit that unconditional election gives God 100% credit for our salvation. If God chose us to be saved through Christ before the foundation of the world, than the only person who can get the credit for our salvation is God alone. Therefore, we have to admit that unconditional election best supports the praise of God's glorious grace.
Three weeks ago, we examined God's sovereignty. I quoted several dozens scripture versus from all over the Bible to show you that God is in control of everything; from the dice in Vegas to Geo-political conflicts, it all rests in God's hands and completely under his control. God is eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful, and all present. None of us would deny this foundational truth. The doctrine of unconditional election perfectly aligns with the reality that God is sovereign over all things, including our salvation. Anything other than unconditional election undermines God's sovereignty.
Two weeks ago, we examined the utter sinfulness of man. We looked at text that said that we are desperately sick, that our hearts are stones, that we do not seek God, that we don't understand, that we are enemies of God, that nothing good dwells in us, that we are blind, dead, wretched, that the intentions of our hearts are only evil continually. We concluded that scripture is painfully clear., and we are completely unable to please God and completely unable to place our trust in Jesus due to the totality of our depravity. Therefore, if we can't choose God, the only way for us to be save is if he chooses us first, which is the doctrine of unconditional election.
Last week, we examined Irresistible Grace. Irresistible Grace is the understanding that because of our sinfulness, God must work a miracle in our hearts before we repent from our sin and place our faith in Christ. We commonly call this being “born again.” Without the new birth that comes from the Spirit, no one will see the Kingdom. In our study we looked at two conversion stories, Paul's and Lydia's. Paul was met by Jesus in dramatic fashion or the road to Damascus, and it was unmistakable that Jesus overwhelmed Paul with His grace in a fashion that Paul had no option but to follow him. In the story of Lydia we saw that Paul spoke the Gospel into her life and, “The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.” It was by God's grace that Lydia saw treasure that is Jesus' life, death and resurrection. Once again, if you believe in irresistible grace, you must believe in unconditional election. For it was God who chose them first and gave them eyes to see His Son.
Therefore, even though I am only preaching on unconditional election today, I really have been preaching on it all along, not because I am crafty, but because I am merely preaching what the Bible teaches.
Direct Biblical Evidence of Unconditional Election
With that said, please open your Bibles to Ephesians 1:1-14. As I stated four weeks ago, Ephesians 1:1-14 is perhaps one of the most Calvinistic text in the entire Bible. It is a text that many of you have read, but perhaps you have not pondered their reality. We will use this text to understand that election portion of unconditional election.
Who was Jesus praying for? Those whom God gave him. Peter, John, Thomas, and the rest of His followers. Before these followers placed their faith in Jesus, they were God's. How is that possible? Election. They were God's since the beginning. What about others? Maybe only Paul and the early followers were handpicked?
What Governs God's Election?
With that said, what governs this choice, this election, by God? Many people who want to deny the existence of election recognize that they cannot argue away its existence, because the Bible clearly teaches the reality of God’s choice of man. So what they argue is that God chooses based on man’s choice. So what they effectively argue is that God does not choose, but man chooses. They way they do this is to say that God in eternity looks forward to your existence and sees whether or not you choose him. If you do choose him, then he chooses you. Perhaps I am wrong, but I cannot find anywhere in the Bible that this is taught. The classic verse that these people run to is Romans 8:29.
In addition, the other way to look at it just doesn’t work in the context of the passage. The climax of Romans 8 is God’s unbreakable love for you, not the idea that God has a crystal ball. Not to mention what comes in Romans 9, the next chapter. Romans 9 is the most point blank unconditional election passage in the entire Bible. Even more than Ephesians 1. So let us know look at potentially the hardest chapter in the Bible.
I have only touched the surface this morning on unconditional election. There are so many more passages that I could point to to show you this truth that God has revealed to us in His Word, but time will not allow. So I want to move on to the question, why should we care?
Why should we care?
Unconditional election is not in the dark corners of the Bible. God is not hiding it from you. It is the story of the Bible, God chose Adam, God chose Noah, God chose Abraham, God chose Moses, God chose David, God chose Isaiah, God chose the disciples, God chose me, and I pray that God has chosen you. This is the story of the Bible. This is the Gospel. By God's grace we are saved. We love because God first loved us, and God's Word explicitly tells us this reality reaches into eternity past.
2. Must Beautiful Words in the Bible
I want you to picture yourself sitting on God's lap in eternity and looking into his eyes and saying, “Father.” And Him responding, “Yes, my child?” “How long have you love me?” “Forever. I have loved you forever.”
The doctrine of unconditional election is the deepest regions of the ocean of God's eternal love for you. When we swim into these water the vastness of his love for us is overwhelming. And when I am alone, and scared, and broken, what do I need to hear? I need to hear God words, “I have loved you forever and will love you forever.” These are the sweetest words we will every hear.
I want you to imagine one more thing. Imagine the one you love most being sent off to war. And imagine them writing you a letter, and in that letter it says, “I have always loved you and will always love you.” Now imagine the post master who delivers the mail to your front door, opening up this letter and erasing that sentence. This is what every pastor does when he refuses to teach on the doctrine of unconditional election. He is erasing the most beautiful words in the entire letter. The Bible is God's love letter to his elect, therefore, let us read it and and let the tears of our joy stain the pages.
3. The deeper our roots, the stronger the tree
What sustains you in your walk with the Lord? When the world is shifting to the antichrist, when America is slipping farther into darkness, what is your anchor? Is your anchor your will? If you anchor is your will then the waves of this world will destroy you, because your will is no match for Satan's, the most powerful being God created.
No, you need an anchor that holds. You need a will that is unchanging. A will that is unshakable. A will that is sovereign. The roots of your salvation must reach into the eternity of God's will. If you believe the doctrine of unconditional election and the reality that God has loved you from eternity past, than nothing will separate you from this love.