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.