Sovereignty of God – older version

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Sovereignty of God

God’s Nature

God’s Sovereignty Defined

God is Sovereign. But what does this mean? The word “sovereignty” means “Supreme Authority” and in earthly realms speaks of one who holds the highest place of authority such as a Monarch, or President or Ruler of a province or territory. But consider that when this term is applied to God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, that the meaning takes on a much fuller sense. God is in heaven and having made the world by His own power out of nothing, and is even now sustaining everything by His powerful Word, God is The Sovereign King above all earthly and heavenly powers and authorities. As the Scripture says……

Psalm 103:19 – 19 The LORD has established His throne in the heavens; And His sovereignty rules over all. NASB

God possesses absolute dominion and authority over all things. So He is said to sit on a “throne” in heaven! Just think how ridiculous it would be to say that God created the universe, but He is not in control of what takes place in it. Well the truth is God not only controls nature and history, but He literally sustains the entire universe by his power, and orders the events of his entire creation to accomplish His own purposes and plans. Friends, we must understand that what is happening in the world is happening at the express purpose and will of God, who rules the world and all who are in it. He is “the Lord of Heaven and Earth”(Acts 17:24) and whatsoever happens in the world, happens because God has permitted, indeed He has decreed it to happen (The Decrees of God). Although there is much evil in the world, which God hates, He is allowing these things to achieve His eternal purposes which will, without a doubt, comes to pass. God not only permits the events of human history, but has ordained them from eternity past (Foreordination), and is furthermore actively involved in seeing that they all come to pass (Providence), fulfilling all of His plans and purposes.

Proverbs 16:4 – 4 The LORD has made everything for its own purpose, Even the wicked for the day of evil. NASB

That the divine purpose could meet with frustration is unthinkable, for then it could not be the divine purpose! Failure of God’s purpose is failure of His sovereignty. God cannot be God and NOT be Sovereign, for then He would NOT be God. Scripture is very clear about this! Ephesians 1:11 – 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, NASB Even Satan was created by God to achieve the very purpose for which God made him. Isaiah 10:15 – 15 Is the axe to boast itself over the one who chops with it? Is the saw to exalt itself over the one who wields it? That would be like a club wielding those who lift it, Or like a rod lifting him who is not wood. NASB Isaiah 54:16 – 16 “Behold, I Myself have created the smith who blows the fire of coals, And brings out a weapon for its work; And I have created the destroyer to ruin. NASB   Exposition of 1 Chronicles 29:11-13 Let us closely examine how the Scripture describes this Sovereignty of God. 1 Chronicles 29:11-13 – 11 Thine, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Thine is the dominion, O LORD, and Thou dost exalt Thyself as head over all. 12 Both riches and honor come from Thee, and Thou dost rule over all, and in Thy hand is power and might; and it lies in Thy hand to make great, and to strengthen everyone. 13 Now therefore, our God, we thank Thee, and praise Thy glorious name. NASB A. Thine, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty – What words can describe the greatness of God and His power? Surely we cannot describe the greatness of God because He is infinite and we are finite. Listen to the verse as it speaks of His greatness……His IS the power and glory and victory and majesty…… God is the source of all powerJeremiah 32:17– 17’Ah Lord GOD! Behold, Thou hast made the heavens and the earth by Thy great power and by Thine outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for Thee, NASB God’s is the gloryRevelation 15:3-4 – Great and marvelous are Thy works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Thy ways, Thou King of the nations. 4 “Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? For Thou alone art holy; For all the nations will come and worship before Thee, For Thy righteous acts have been revealed.” NASB He will always prevail with victory against His enemies – Isaiah 42:13 – 13 The LORD will go forth like a warrior, He will arouse His zeal like a man of war. He will utter a shout, yes, He will raise a war cry. He will prevail against His enemies .  NASB The authority of His majesty is the most regal and beautiful, stately and splendid, magnificent  grandeur of all. Psalms 96:4-9 – For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods. 5 For all the gods of the peoples are idols, But the LORD made the heavens. 6 Splendor and majesty are before Him, Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary. 7 Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. 8 Ascribe to the LORD the glory of His name; Bring an offering, and come into His courts. 9 Worship the LORD in holy attire; Tremble before Him, all the earth. NASB B. indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Thine is the dominion, O LORD – The Scripture plainly declares that God created all things and is the Possessor of everything. Since God is the creator of all things, He also is the rightful owner and proprietor of all things. He possesses everything and therefore has a Sovereign Right or prerogative to do as He pleases. Exodus 9:29 – 29 And Moses said to him, “As soon as I go out of the city, I will spread out my hands to the LORD; the thunder will cease, and there will be hail no longer, that you may know that the earth is the LORD’S. NASB Exodus 19:5 – 5’Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; NASB Deut 10:14 – 14 “Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the highest heavens, the earth and all that is in it. NASB Job 41:11 – 11 “Who has given to Me that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is Mine.  NASB Psalm 24:1 – The earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it. NASB Psalm 89:11 – 11 The heavens are Thine, the earth also is Thine; The world and all it contains, Thou hast founded them. NASB The Scripture plainly declares that God rules and does as He pleases with anything and everything that He has made. God is totally free to do whatever He pleases. Daniel 4:34-35 – For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom endures from generation to generation. 35 “And all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, ‘What hast Thou done?’ NASB Psalms 135:5-6 – 5 For I know that the LORD is great, And that our Lord is above all gods. 6 Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps. NASB C. and Thou dost exalt Thyself as head over all. – The Scripture plainly declares that God is the highest authority and that He is the One who establishes all other authority in heaven and earth. Romans 13:1 – 1 Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. NASB God is highly exalted above everything that is. Therefore God exalts Himself above us and everything and commands that we worship Him, because it is right and proper to do so. Consider how appropriate this is? Would it be right for some other being to occupy God’s great seat of authority? Would it be proper for a creature to somehow be exalted above the One who created it? Indeed this cannot be, otherwise He would not be God. This is why idolatry is the great sin of mankind, as we seek to give improper place to some thing other than God who should properly be exalted in our view as King and Sovereign over us! This is high treason against the greatest majesty that exists! Who can speak of what a great sin that unbelief in God truly is? Who can describe the folly and shame that this represents? Shall we slap the hand that feeds us? Shall we rail with clinched fist against the One who holds our life’s breathe in His hands? This is why God exalts Himself above us and commands that we worship Him, because it is right and proper, it is in reality the highest good of the creature to worship and praise the creator! Psalm 97:9 – 9 For Thou art the LORD Most High over all the earth; Thou art exalted far above all gods. NASB Exodus 20:2-3 – 2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before Me. NASB Isaiah 2:11-12 – 11 The proud look of man will be abased, And the loftiness of man will be humbled, And the LORD alone will be exalted in that day. 12 For the LORD of hosts will have a day of reckoning Against everyone who is proud and lofty, And against everyone who is lifted up, That he may be abased. NASB D. 12 Both riches and honor come from Thee, and Thou dost rule over all, and in Thy hand is power and might; and it lies in Thy hand to make great, and to strengthen everyone.  – God in His Sovereignty, dispenses as He pleases to all the peoples of the earth. Here the Scriptures says that God is the one who gives riches to the rich, honor to the honorable, and it is because He is the Ruler of all. Here the Scripture explicitly states that God has the power and the might to raise up or exalt someone, or give them strength. Obviously the inverse is true, if God decides to abase someone and make them weak, that is His prerogative. This is in fact resounded in the Scriptures in many places. God rules His creation, including the earth and men and angels by a mighty Providence. God is Sovereign over the prosperity and poverty of everyone! Exodus 4:11 – 11 And the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him dumb or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? NASB Isaiah 45:7 – 7 The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these. NASB 1 Samuel 2:7-9 – 7 “The LORD makes poor and rich; He brings low, He also exalts. 8 “He raises the poor from the dust, He lifts the needy from the ash heap To make them sit with nobles, And inherit a seat of honor; For the pillars of the earth are the LORD’S, And He set the world on them. 9 “He keeps the feet of His godly ones, But the wicked ones are silenced in darkness; For not by might shall a man prevail. NASB The Scripture plainly declares that God is Sovereign over the life and death of every creature. Man’s days are determined by God, He has set the limit and they cannot be exceeded. No one lives unless God decrees it and no one dies unless God decrees it. He is the Author, Giver, and the Sustainer of every living thing. He holds in His hand the lives of His beloved ones and that of His enemies also! Even Satan the father of lies, the destroyer, owes his next breathe to the Almighty! Job 14:5 – 5 “Since his days are determined, The number of his months is with Thee, And his limits Thou hast set so that he cannot pass. NASB Deuteronomy 32:39 – 39’See now that I, I am He, And there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded, and it is I who heal; And there is no one who can deliver from My hand. NASB 1 Samuel 2:6 – 6 “The LORD kills and makes alive; He brings down to Sheol and raises up. NASB Job 12:9-10 – 9 “Who among all these does not know That the hand of the LORD has done this, 10 In whose hand is the life of every living thing, And the breath of all mankind? NASB Matthew 10:29-30 – 29 “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. NASB The Scripture plainly declares that God Sustains and maintains all things which He has created. Hebrews 1:3 – 3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. NASB Job 34:14-15 – 14 “If He should determine to do so, If He should gather to Himself His spirit and His breath, 15 All flesh would perish together, And man would return to dust. NASB E. 13 Now therefore, our God, we thank Thee, and praise Thy glorious name. – Now here is a proper response to the knowledge of God’s Sovereignty. It is to acknowledge His greatness and power, and to humbly thank Him for WHO He is and whatever we have. More than this we are to praise His glorious name! Psalm 106:1Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting. NASB Psalm 33:1 – Sing for joy in the LORD, O you righteous ones; Praise is becoming to the upright. NASB   Summary In summary we have seen that the Bible clearly teaches that God is Sovereign over His entire creation and that the nature of this Sovereignty is absolute and Supreme Authority, which is exercised over all things He has created. A good summary definition we could us then is given by our dear brother Charles Hodge in His work on Theology, page 440….. “Sovereignty is not a property of the divine nature, but a prerogative arising out of the perfections of the Supreme Being. If God be a Spirit, and therefore a person, infinite, eternal, and immutable in His being and perfections, the Creator and Preserver of the Universe, He is of right its absolute sovereign. Infinite wisdom, goodness, and power, with the right of possession, which belongs to God in all His creatures, are the immutable foundation of His dominion.”   Dear reader, here now the word of the Lord! Deuteronomy 4:39 – 39 Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the LORD, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other. NASB Application How do we apply this doctrine to our life and/or how does it affect us, our thinking and living?

  • We must recognize Him as the Sovereign Authority in our lives by humbly submitting to His will. (Deut 4:39-40, 27:10, Job 2:10,Lam 3:37-41, Jer 44:23, Eccl 12:13-14, Luke 11:28)
  • We must love God in His Sovereignty and find our joy in the fact the goodness of God rules over our lives, decisions, and everything that we have and are! (Matt22:37-39, Rom 12:12)
  • We must realize that trust in God’s Sovereign and gracious hand is a truth of amazing security for us to rest in. (Romans 8:28,8:31)

Why is it important?

  • If this teaching of Sovereignty is true, could anything be more important to the nature of all things than this? (Rev 14:6-7)
  • If this teaching of Sovereignty is true, could anything be more important to the way we live our lives be than this? (Eccl 12:13-14, Prov 1:7, Ps 147:11, Ps 112:1)
  • In having a proper biblical understanding, remember that every theological heresy flows from a misconception of the character and nature of God. Therefore since Sovereignty is a prerogative of the divine nature, it has serious implications in our understanding of God and His Kingdom. (Prov 9:10)

Why is it controversial? The reason that this doctrine is so controversial is that the very nature of sin is a rebellion against God’s Sovereignty. Man naturally resists God’s Authority and has tried to exalt his own autonomy since he first decided to disobey the commandment of God in the garden. Therefore mankind is naturally repulsed by the idea of having someone of higher authority than himself and seeks to usurp that authority continually. This is the great crime of humanity and it is worthy of death. (Prov 29:15, Isa 53:6, Rom 3:10-18, 8:7-8) Sovereignty and God’s Attributes Contemplate how God’s Authority is related to all of His attributes. Indeed they work together in perfect harmony to manifest God’s perfection in every way! Consider just a few! Sovereignty and Wisdom – God uses His authority in accordance with perfect wisdom. God always makes decisions and executes His authority in such a way as to fulfill the eternal counsel of His will. Everything He does seeks to fulfill the purpose for which He planned it. Jeremiah 10:12 – 12 It is He who made the earth by His power, Who established the world by His wisdom; And by His understanding He has stretched out the heavens. NASB Sovereignty and Love – God’s authority is always dispensed with concern for the objects of His love. God is motivated in the exercise of His authority for the benefit and blessing of those to whom He obligates Himself by covenant, indeed to all who fear Him and call upon Him. Psalm 103:11-13 – 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. 13 Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him. NASB Sovereignty and Power – God has an ability to bring to pass whatsoever He pleases so that the use of His authority cannot be resisted. God brings to pass whatever His wisdom and love decide. He who cannot do what He will and perform all His pleasure cannot be God! Isaiah 46:9-11 – 9 “Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other;  I am God, and there is no one like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’; 11 Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man of My purpose from a far country. Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass.  I have planned it, surely I will do it. NASB Sovereignty and Knowledge – When God uses His authority it is always with a perfect knowledge, for He is the source of it. Nothing ever escapes the attention of God or is somehow undone or misguided. God’s authority is always exercised with a complete knowledge of what has happened, what is happening, and what will happen as a result. He never errs, never changes and never overlooks anything! Isaiah 40:14 – 14 With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding? And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge, And informed Him of the way of understanding? NASB Sovereignty and Holiness – When God uses His authority, it is always motivated by a hatred of sin, a spotless purity, and a zeal for His own honor. He expects His creatures to revere His holiness and gives serious warnings and threatenings toward those who fail to honor Him. God must be zealous for His own honor because He is what is truly honorable and MOST worthy of praise and glory. A failure to revere and honor God’s holiness is the very definition of sin itself! Revelation 14:6-7 – 6 And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people; 7 and he said with a loud voice, “Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.” NASB Sovereignty and Righteousness – The foundation of everything that God does is justice. All of His judgments are morally perfect and upright. In fact, God Himself is the very standard or what is just and righteous. God’s authority is always executed in perfect righteousness. Whatever is right, is right because it is approved by God! Deuteronomy 32:4 – 4 “The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He. NASB Consider then because all of these things are true of God, and He is the highest authority, we have ground for tremendous security and exceeding joy! We can rest in the security of God’s righteous judgment and find Him to be a refuge and strength from all the adversity we face. Psalm 5:11 – 11 But let all who take refuge in Thee be glad, Let them ever sing for joy; And mayest Thou shelter them, That those who love Thy name may exult in Thee. NASB Romans 8:28 – 28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. NASB

The Sovereignty of God

God’s Nature

Omnipotence

Consider how God’s power is related to His Sovereignty. If God be All-Powerful, than He has the ability to do as He pleases and is therefore by default the Supreme Authority. Job 23:13 – 13 “But He is unique and who can turn Him? And what His soul desires, that He does. NASB Isaiah 43:13 – 13 “Even from eternity I am He; And there is none who can deliver out of My hand; I act and who can reverse it?” NASB Psalm 115:3 – 3 But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases. NASB Let us see then how the Scripture speaks of God’s mighty power, indeed it describes Him as Omnipotent or All-Powerful. The Scripture plainly declares that God can do anything and nothing is too hard for Him. Jeremiah 32:17 – 17’Ah Lord GOD! Behold, Thou hast made the heavens and the earth by Thy great power and by Thine outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for Thee, NASB Matthew 19:26 – 26 And looking upon them Jesus said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  NASB Job 42:2 – 2 “I know that Thou canst do all things, And that no purpose of Thine can be thwarted. NASB In fact, God had the creative power to make the universe from nothing, and He sustains the same universe by His power. He made the world for His own pleasure and by His own will. Revelation 4:11 – 11 “Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created.” NAS His creation is just a small example of his mighty power. In the creation of the universe, God’s resources were not depleted in any way, they are infinitely vast! Since God therefore created all things, He also transcends them, and His power and dominion are infinitely greater than everything He created! God is actively sustaining everything in creation, He exercises His power in every moment of time, being sure to bring to pass “all His good pleasure.” He made all things with a very purposeful will, and He possesses the power to execute His divine will and bring His intentions to an expected end. He began alone, and created all things out of nothing, and by this great truth is known as “The Almighty.” Isaiah 40:26 – 26 Lift up your eyes on high And see who has created these stars, The One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power Not one of them is missing. 28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. NASB John 1:1-3 – :1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being NAS Colossians 1:16-17 – 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things have been created by Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. NAS Because of this truth it also follows that any power that is in the creation is granted by God. If God made everything out of nothing, than nothing has power unless it has been delegated by God. In fact the Scripture plainly declares that God’s power is far above all earthly powers. Ephesians 1:19-21 – 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. NASB Consider, if someone were more powerful than God, than they would have authority over Him, but this is in fact impossible. Therefore, because God is Omnipotent, He is also Sovereign.

The Sovereignty of God

God’s Nature

Omniscience

God knows everything. Because God is the source of all things, making everything from nothing, He is therefore the source of all knowledge and wisdom. Let us examine a definition of Omniscience to try and understand how complete God’s Knowledge is…AW Tozer writes.… “God knows all that can be known. And this He knows instantly and with a fullness of perfection that includes every possible item of knowledge concerning everything that exists or could have existed anywhere in the universe at any time in the past or that may exist in the centuries or ages yet unborn.” We could add to this that God knows all of the data of every possible cause and effect, feeling and desire, creature, event, and every other thing that can be named. His knowledge is complete and eternal. The Scripture plainly declares that God knows everything…. 1 John 3:20 – 20 in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. NASB Isaiah 40:28 – 28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. NASB Psalm 147:5 – 5 Great is our Lord, and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite. NASB Rarely would someone argue that God does not know the past, but what about the future. Does God know the future? The Scripture plainly declares that God knows the record of the future, in fact the future is the outworking of God’s decrees made from before He created the world. He knew in eternity past the entire record of history for all eternity. Predictive prophecy proves this again and again. God speaks about future events before they come to pass. Consider how many prophecies in the Bible have already been fulfilled! Isaiah 46:9-10 – 9 “Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’; NAS Isaiah 44:7-8 – Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since I established my ancient people, and what is yet to come– yes, let him foretell what will come. 8 Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.” NASB In Psalm 139 the Scripture speaks of God knowing our thoughts and words “before there is a word on our tongue.” Psalms 139:2-4 – 2 Thou dost know when I sit down and when I rise up; Thou dost understand my thought from afar. 3 Thou dost scrutinize my path and my lying down, And art intimately acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, Thou dost know it all. NAS There is nothing that escapes His notice, and nothing can be hidden from Him. He is aware of the events of the past, present, and future as if they were all laid out before Him. As His being is perfect, so is His knowledge. Being perfect in knowledge, He is therefore all-knowing and never confused, misled or surprised. Hebrews 4:13 – 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. NASB Nothing escapes the attention of God. He see all things even the inner thoughts of man. Jesus said that “all of the hairs of our head where numbered,” (Luke 12:7) and that not a sparrow falls to the ground apart from His attention (Matt 10:29). Our very thoughts and intentions of our hearts are “open and laid bare before the Lord.” He knows our thoughts(Eze 11:5) before we even express them. Indeed there is no place where we can hide from God, He sees every hidden thing in full view, and He even understands the intentions of our hearts better than we do. He is God! 1 Kings 8:39- 39 then hear Thou in heaven Thy dwelling place, and forgive and act and render to each according to all his ways, whose heart Thou knowest, for Thou alone dost know the hearts of all the sons of men, NASB 1 Chronicles 28:9 – 9 “As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever. NA Proverbs 5:21 – 21 For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the LORD, And He watches all his paths. NASB AW Pink writes of God’s knowledge of our sins; “Neither the darkness of night, the closest curtains, nor the deepest dungeon can hide any sinner from the eyes of Omniscience. The trees of the garden were not able to conceal our first parents. No human eye beheld Cain murder his brother, but his maker witnessed his crime! Sarah might laugh derisively in the seclusion of her tent, yet was it heard by Jehovah. Achan stole a wedge of gold and carefully hid it in the earth, but God brought it to light. David was at much pains to cover up his wickedness, but ere long the all-seeing God sent one of His servants to say to him, “You are the man!” And to writer and reader is also said, “Be sure your sin will find you out.” (Numbers 32:23) Proverbs 15:3 – The eyes of the LORD are in every place, Watching the evil and the good. NAS Job 34:21-22 – 21 “For His eyes are upon the ways of a man, And He sees all his steps. 22 “There is no darkness or deep shadow Where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves. NASB Psalms 90:8 – 8 Thou hast placed our iniquities before Thee, Our secret sins in the light of Thy presence. NASB S Lewis Johnson summarizes God’s knowledge like this…..

  • Intuitive –  God knows everything by default, His knowledge exists within Himself
  • Simultaneous – God knows everything in one simple act, instantaneously, not gradually
  • Independent – God knows everything apart from any learning, He cannot learn, because He knows all things from eternity, His knowledge comes from Himself
  • Distinct – God knows everything clearly, without ambiguity, specifically not generally, absolute
  • Infallible – God’s knowledge is unfailing, certain, accurate in every detail
  • Immutable – God’s knowledge never changes because He learned a new fact, it is not subject to anything outside of Himself
  • Complete – God’s knowledge is infinite, the scope or extent of it is exhaustive, He knows all things actual and possible, all events, all creatures of the past, present and future

Consider how God’s knowledge is related to His Sovereignty. If God be All-Knowing, than nothing can escape His attention or somehow surprise Him. He is intimately aware of everything at all times, knowing it all from before He ever created the world. God knows everything FREELY because He has willed them to be and has providentially brought them about. Ephesians 1:11 – 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, NASB   Summary – See chart on God’s Knowledge and Power

The Sovereignty of God

God’s Dominion

In Creation

Consider how God’s authority is expressed in His creative works. Imagine the Wisdom of God in all the intricate details of the universe He has made! It is an amazing thing to consider how all the creative works of God exist in such perfect balance to speak a very loud word to us of God’s Wisdom, Power and Beauty! Psalm 19:1-6 – The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. 2 Day to day pours forth speech, And night to night reveals knowledge. 3 There is no speech, nor are there words; Their voice is not heard. 4 Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their utterances to the end of the world. In them He has placed a tent for the sun, 5 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber; It rejoices as a strong man to run his course. 6 Its rising is from one end of the heavens, And its circuit to the other end of them; And there is nothing hidden from its heat. NASB This Sovereignty of God in Creation can be seen in many ways. When God made the world out of nothing, He created out of His own pleasure and will and made the heavens and the earth in all of their varied array in exactly the way he was pleased to do it. Consider the following quote from AW Pink….. “In the great expanse of eternity which stretches behind Genesis 1:1, the universe was unborn and creation existed only in the mind of the great Creator. In His Sovereign majesty God dwelt all alone. We refer to that far distant period before the heavens and the earth were created. There were then no angels to hymn God’s praises, no creatures to occupy His notice, no rebels to be brought into subjection. The great God was all alone amid the awful Silence of His own vast universe. But even at that time, if time it could be called, God was Sovereign. He might create or not create according to His own good pleasure. He might create this way or that way; He might create one world or one million worlds, and who was there to resist His will? He might call into existence a million different creatures and place them on absolute equality, endowing them with the same faculties and placing them in the same environment; or, He might create a million  creatures each differing from the others, and possessing nothing in common save their creaturehood, and who was there to challenge His right?…… Behold then the exercise of Divine Sovereignty long before man ever saw the light. With whom took God counsel in the creation and disposition of His creatures? See the birds as they fly through the air, the beasts as they roam the earth, the fishes as they swim in the sea, and then ask, Who was it that made them to differ? Was it not their Creator who Sovereignly assigned their various locations and adaptations to them!” Whatever God did in creation, he did all alone and consulted no one in its vast design…. Isaiah 44:24 – 24 Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb, “I, the LORD, am the maker of all things, Stretching out the heavens by Myself, And spreading out the earth all alone,” NASB Consider that God has made everything so disproportionate, yet He holds it all in perfect balance! His authority is expressed in every aspect of His creation. Consider “outer space” for example… 1 Corinthians 15:40-41 – 40 There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.  NASB Or the earth….. Proverbs 8:28-29 – 8 When He made firm the skies above, When the springs of the deep became fixed, 29 When He set for the sea its boundary, So that the water should not transgress His command, When He marked out the foundations of the earth; NASB He is the one who endows His creatures with various powers as He see fit. Consider the germ or the ant, the elephant or the whale, or even mankind and angels. Behold with what Wisdom and Beauty God has fitted His creatures to have various powers and freedoms! Genesis 1:20-23 – 20 Then God said, “Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens.” 21 And God created the great sea monsters, and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day. NASB Consider when God placed man upon the earth, the He Sovereignly did it as He saw fit, even determining the exact places where the nations would dwell and the specific time that they would occupy in the annals of History….. Acts 17:24-27 – 24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. NASB Think with what goodness God has made His creation. The birds and bees, and the flowers and the trees, with what beauty He has graced the earth! And what about our bodies? How perfectly suited for our creative minds has He given us hands by which we can do our good pleasure. Or how about the flavor of your favorite meal, and even vittles to fill a hungry belly. Or the tingling rush of a hot fire on a cold winter’s night, or the sweet butterfly kisses of precious young daughter! Oh the magnificence of the goodness of God! Volumes could not contain the expressions of the riches of His kindness to us! If we could spend a lifetime considering the loveliness of God’s creation, how much more lovely is the One from whom it all flows! How vast is the sum of His goodness? With what shall we respond to the Sovereign Majesty and Goodness of God? With simple gratitude and a heart of thanksgiving shall we acknowledge His wonderful goodness to us! 1 Timothy 4:4-5 – 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude; 5 for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer. NASB Now God has done all of these things with great purpose and intricate detail. The Scripture plainly declares that when God has finished with first creation, he will destroy it and replace it with another…..behold then the Supreme Authority of God and His creation……Dear reader I ask you, does not the potter have a right over the clay? Hebrews 1:10-12 – 10 And, “Thou, Lord, in the beginning didst lay the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the works of Thy hands; 11 They will perish, but Thou remainest; And they all will become old as a garment, 12 And as a mantle Thou wilt roll them up; As a garment they will also be changed. But Thou art the same, And Thy years will not come to an end. ”  NASB Isaiah 51:6 – “Lift up your eyes to the sky, Then look to the earth beneath; For the sky will vanish like smoke, And the earth will wear out like a garment, And its inhabitants will die in like manner, But My salvation shall be forever, And My righteousness shall not wane. NASB Behold then that God creates and destroys and does as He sees fit in all the heavens and the earth. It is because of God’s own will and pleasure that He created and that things exist. Revelation 4:11 – “Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created.”  NASB He is the Creator, the Owner, the Governor and none shall say to Him “What hast Thou done?” Daniel 4:34-35 – For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom endures from generation to generation. 35 “And all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, ‘What hast Thou done?’ NASB Another quote from AW Pink….. “Learn then this basic truth, that the Creator is absolute Sovereign, executing His own will, performing His own pleasure, and considering nought but His own glory. “The LORD hath made all things FOR HIMSELF” (Prov. 16:4). And had He not a perfect right to? Since God is God, who dare challenge His prerogative? To murmur against Him is rank rebellion. To question His ways is to impugn His wisdom. To criticize Him is sin of the deepest dye. Have we forgotten who He is? Behold, “All nations before Him as are nothing; and they are counted to Him less than nothing, and vanity. To whom then will ye liken God?”(Isa. 40:17, 18).”

The Sovereignty of God

God’s Dominion – In Providence

The Providence Of God Defined

Indeed the doctrine of God’s Providence is one of the great mysteries of the Bible. However, it is found on almost every page of Scripture. In fact, Providence is assumed and implied constantly by biblical writers, as we shall see. So what does Providence mean, and how is it described in the Bible? The best definition that I have seen of God’s Providence comes from Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology, it reads…… “God is continually involved with all created things in such a way that he (1) keeps them existing and maintaining the properties with which he created them; (2) cooperates with created things in every action, directing their distinctive properties to cause them to act as they do; and (3) directs them to fulfill his purposes.” Now consider just how profound this statement really is…..in so doing we will break it down and look at the biblical evidence of each of its parts. We will start with the first section, it is called “Preservation” …. “God is continually involved with all created things in such a way that he (1) keeps them existing and maintaining the properties with which he created them; Here Providence is described as God’s “continual involvement.” God has not left the world to spin of its own power, but He is constantly maintaining its activity by His own hand… Hebrews 1:2-3 – 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. 3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. NASB Here the Scripture says of God that He “upholds all things.” Could there be a more explicit statement of His “continual involvement?” Well, consider Colossians 1:17…. Colossians 1:16-17 – 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things have been created by Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. NAS Here the context of both the Hebrews and Colossians passages make it crystal clear that the scope of this “Preservation” is “all of the created order of matter and beings.” It would be wrong to think that God is somehow merely holding the planet in orbit, but not men and angels. This is continually affirmed in Scripture….. Acts 17:28 – 28 for in Him we live and move and exist, NASB Job 34:14-15 – 14 “If He should determine to do so, If He should gather to Himself His spirit and His breath, 15 All flesh would perish together, And man would return to dust. NASB Therefore, when we think about God’s activity of Providence in His world, we should think of it as “continual involvement.” God is outside and separate and distinct from His creation, yet He is governing it by a mighty Providence. God is not somehow abstractly intervening in the events of History when He thinks its time to do something, but rather He is literally “the glue which holds it all together” and is constantly at work in the universe to hold everything together. God is not the creation(Pantheism), nor has God abandoned the creation to run by itself(Deism). Rather, God “keeps them existing and maintaining the properties with which he created them.” The second section the is what we call “Concurrence.” It is stated as…. (2) cooperates with created things in every action, directing their distinctive properties to cause them to act as they do; Here we are saying that God “cooperates.” God is not everything, but rather cooperates with everything. He is separate and distinct from everything and further is cooperating with the things He has made is such a way as to “direct them.” This is seen is so many places in the Bible that it can hardly be mistaken. God is literally in control of Nature and History in such a way that He is involved in “every action, directing” them. Let us look at the testimony of Scripture. God’s control of Nature When we speak of God’s control of nature we are saying that He is in control of planetary movements, weather patterns, animals and people, angels and demons, and every creature He has made. At the command of God burst forth the great springs of the deep in the days of Noah. With His voice opened He the heavens to pour down rain for 40 days and nights. Tornado and tempest, lightning and thunder, winds and waves- each one the servant of God sent to do His bidding and performing all His good pleasure. There is not a maverick storm in all the ages that He did not command its every whim! Job 37:1-13 – “At this also my heart trembles, And leaps from its place. 2 “Listen closely to the thunder of His voice, And the rumbling that goes out from His mouth. 3 “Under the whole heaven He lets it loose, And His lightning to the ends of the earth. 4 “After it, a voice roars; He thunders with His majestic voice; And He does not restrain the lightnings when His voice is heard. 5 “God thunders with His voice wondrously, Doing great things which we cannot comprehend. 6 “For to the snow He says, ‘Fall on the earth,’ And to the downpour and the rain, ‘Be strong.’ 7 “He seals the hand of every man, That all men may know His work. 8 “Then the beast goes into its lair, And remains in its den. 9 “Out of the south comes the storm, And out of the north the cold. 10 “From the breath of God ice is made, And the expanse of the waters is frozen. 11 “Also with moisture He loads the thick cloud; He disperses the cloud of His lightning. 12 “And it changes direction, turning around by His guidance, That it may do whatever He commands it On the face of the inhabited earth. 13 “Whether for correction, or for His world, Or for lovingkindness, He causes it to happen. NASB Psalm 135:6-7 – Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps. 7 He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; Who makes lightnings for the rain; Who brings forth the wind from His treasuries. NASB Mark 4:38-41 – 38 And He Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” 39 And being aroused, He rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. 40 And He said to them, “Why are you so timid? How is it that you have no faith?”  41 And they became very much afraid and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” NASB Job 38:12-13 – 12 “Have you ever in your life commanded the morning, And caused the dawn to know its place; 13 That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, And the wicked be shaken out of it? NASB Psalm 103:20 – 20 Bless the LORD, you His angels, Mighty in strength, who perform His word, Obeying the voice of His word! NASB God’s control of events in History Not only does God control Nature, but because of this is “in every action directing” the events of History. The Scripture plainly declares that God is the primary cause behind everything that happens. Lamentations 3:37-38 – 37 Who is there who speaks and it comes to pass, Unless the Lord has commanded it? 38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High That both good and ill go forth? NASB Isaiah 45:7 – 7 The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these. NASB Consider the words of Jonathan Edwards on this matter… “God decreed from all eternity all the evil that He ever does permit, because God’s permitting is God’s forbearing to act or to prevent. It can be made evident by reason that nothing can come to pass but what is the will and pleasure of God should come to pass.” Now the fact that events are seen to be under the control of God is plainly evident in Scripture. In fact this is the main theme of the whole Bible! God is Providentially working His will in all things to accomplish His own purposes for the display of His own Glory, Name and Power! Ephesians 1:9-11 – 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fulness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth. In Him 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, NASB   Examples from the Old Testament Many examples could be cited from the Old Testament, here are a few…..

  • The Creation Account – Genesis chapters 1-2
  • The Flood – Genesis chapters 6-8
  • The Confounding of the Languages – Genesis chapter 11
  • The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah – Genesis chapter 19
  • The Plagues of Egypt – Exodus chapters 7-12
  • The Exodus, Red Sea, Manna, Water from the Rock – Exodus chapters 14-17
  • Mt Sinai and the Giving of the Law – Exodus chapters 19-20
  • Defeat of Sihon and Og – Numbers chapter 21
  • Conquest of Canaan – Joshua
  • Numerous interventions in Judges – Judges
  • Defeat of Sennacherib and 185,000 Assyrians – 2 Kings chapter 19

Now concerning the doctrine of  “Concurrence” , remember that God…. (2) cooperates with created things in every action, directing their distinctive properties to cause them to act as they do; See now from the above passages that the Old Testament is literally riddled with accounts of God’s constant “directing of things to act as they do.” The Scripture plainly declares that God controls the events of History to achieve His own purpose and will. Further, consider that….   God’s providence over the nations is explicitly taught in the Scripture. Isaiah40:22-25 – 22 It is He who sits above the vault of the earth, And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in. 23 He it is who reduces rulers to nothing, Who makes the judges of the earth meaningless. 24 Scarcely have they been planted, Scarcely have they been sown, Scarcely has their stock taken root in the earth, But He merely blows on them, and they wither, And the storm carries them away like stubble. 25 “To whom then will you liken Me That I should be his equal?” says the Holy One. NASB Job 12:16-22 – 16 “With Him are strength and sound wisdom, The misled and the misleader belong to Him. 17 “He makes counselors walk barefoot, And makes fools of judges. 18 “He loosens the bond of kings, And binds their loins with a girdle. 19 “He makes priests walk barefoot, And overthrows the secure ones. 20 “He deprives the trusted ones of speech, And takes away the discernment of the elders. 21 “He pours contempt on nobles, And loosens the belt of the strong. 22 “He reveals mysteries from the darkness, And brings the deep darkness into light. NASB Here is seen God’s Providence over the economic and religious systems of the world…..kings and priests….God is seen to be Sovereign over the wise and the foolish, the strong and the weak…. Job 12:23-25 – 23 “He makes the nations great, then destroys them; He enlarges the nations, then leads them away. 24 “He deprives of intelligence the chiefs of the earth’s people, And makes them wander in a pathless waste. 25 “They grope in darkness with no light, And He makes them stagger like a drunken man. NASB Even the very spiritual darkness of the nations is said here to be God’s doing, as is also the case in Romans 11:32. Here we see also that when a nation becomes great and powerful, it is God’s doing. And when a nation is destroyed, it is God’s doing. This is an irrefutable reality…. God is Sovereign over the nations of the earth! They belong to Him and exist for His purposes and for the good pleasure of His will. This fact is clear from many places in the bible like Psalm 22:28, 82:8 or 47:78 which says…. Psalms 47:7-8 – 7 For God is the King of all the earth; Sing praises with a skillful psalm. 8 God reigns over the nations, God sits on His holy throne. NASB Note then that the Old Testament plainly declares that God providentially directs the outcome of the rise and fall of nations and explicitly teaches that God is constantly directing the affairs of the History of mankind. Examples from the New Testament Consider that the entire life and ministry of Jesus the Christ is a manifestation of God’s Providence in the affairs of History. Examine just a few of the accounts in the gospels….

  • The Virgin Birth of Jesus the Christ – Luke chapters 1-3
  • The Calming of the Raging Sea – Matthew 8:26
  • The Lame Walk – John chapter 5
  • The Blind See – John chapter 9
  • The Dead Live Again – John chapter 11
  • The Resurrection – Matthew chapter 28

Many other examples of “Concurrence” could be cited from the New Testament, here are a few…..

  • The Coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost – Acts chapter 2
  • Numerous Signs and Wonders done by the hand of the Apostles – Acts
  • Peter’s Deliverance from Prison – Acts chapter 12
  • The Conversion and Calling of Saul of Tarsus – Acts chapter 9
  • The Death of Herod – Acts chapter 12
  • The Trumpet and Bowl Judgments – Revelation chapters 7-11, 16
  • The Beast, False Prophet thrown into the Lake of Fire – Revelation chapter 19

Further, think of how God mysteriously works in the free choices of men to accomplish His purposes. This “Concurrence” is most clearly seen in the passages in Acts….. Acts 2:22-24 – 22 “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know —  23 this Man, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. 24 “And God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. NASB Acts 4:27-28 – 27 “For truly in this city there were gathered together against Thy holy servant Jesus, whom Thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever Thy hand and Thy purpose predestined to occur. NASB Note then that the New Testament plainly declares and explicitly teaches that God is constantly directing the affairs of the History of mankind.   What about Evil? Does God cause Evil? Does God ordain evil? Grudem wisely states……. “If God does indeed cause, through his providential activity, everything that comes about in the world, then the question arises…“What is the relationship between God and evil in the world?” Does God actually cause the evil actions that people do? If he does, then is God not responsible for sin? We can begin by looking at several passages that affirm that God did, indeed, cause evil events to come about and evil deeds to be done. But we must remember that in all these passages it is very clear that” …and also the following…..

  • Scripture nowhere shows God as directly doing anything evil but rather as bringing about evil deeds through the willing actions of moral creatures.
  • Scripture never blames God for evil or shows God as taking pleasure in evil
  • Scripture never excuses human beings for the wrong they do.

However we understand God’s relationship to evil, we must never…..

  • come to the point where we think that we are not responsible for the evil that we do
  • or that God takes pleasure in evil or is to be blamed for it.

“There are literally dozens of Scripture passages that say that God (indirectly) brought about some kind of evil. I have quoted such an extensive list (in the next few paragraphs) because Christians often are unaware of the extent of this forthright teaching in Scripture. Yet it must be remembered that in all of these examples, the evil is actually done not by God but by people or demons who choose to do it.”

  • Genesis ch 37-45 … A very clear example is found in the story of Joseph. Scripture clearly says that Joseph’s brothers were wrongly jealous of him (Gen. 37:11), hated him (Gen. 37:4, 5, 8), wanted to kill him (Gen. 37:20), and did wrong when they cast him into a pit (Gen. 37:24) and then sold him into slavery in Egypt (Gen. 37:28). Yet later Joseph could say to his brothers, “God sent me before you to preserve life” (Gen. 45:5), and “You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Gen. 50:20). Here we have a combination of evil deeds brought about by sinful men who are rightly held accountable for their sin and the overriding providential control of God whereby God’s own purposes were accomplished. Both are clearly affirmed.
  • Exodus ch 4-14… The story of the exodus from Egypt repeatedly affirms that God hardened the heart of Pharaoh: God says, “I will harden his heart” (Ex. 4:21), “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart” (Ex. 7:3), “the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh” (Ex. 9:12), “the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart” (Ex. 10:20, repeated in 10:27 and again in 11:10), “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart” (Ex. 14:4), and “the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt” (Ex. 14:8).

What was God’s purpose in this? Paul reflects on Exodus 9:16 and says, “For the scripture says to Pharaoh, “I have raised you up for the very purpose of showing my power in you, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth”’ (Rom. 9:17). Then Paul infers a general truth from this specific example: “So then he has mercy upon whomever he wills, and he hardens the heart of whomever he wills” (Rom. 9:18). In fact, God also hardened the hearts of the Egyptian people so that they pursued Israel into the Red Sea: “I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen” (Ex. 14:17). This theme is repeated in Psalm 105:25: “He turned their hearts to hate his people.”

  • Joshua 11:20… “For it was the Lord’s doing to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle, in order that they should be utterly destroyed” (Josh. 11:20; see also Judg. 3:12; 9:23).
  • Judges 14:4… And Samson’s demand to marry an unbelieving Philistine woman “was from the Lord; for he was seeking an occasion against the Philistines. At that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel”
  • 1 Samuel 2:25… We also read that the sons of Eli, when rebuked for their evil deeds, “would not listen to the voice of their father; for it was the will of the Lord to slay them”
  • 1 Samuel 16:14… Later, “an evil spirit from the Lord” tormented King Saul
  • 2 Samuel 24:1, 1 Chronicles 21:1…Still later in David’s life, the Lord “incited” David to take a census of the people (2 Sam. 24:1), but afterward David recognized this as sin, saying, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done” (2 Sam. 24:10), and God sent punishment on the land because of this sin (2 Sam. 24:12–17). However, it is also clear that “the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel” (2 Sam. 24:1), so God’s inciting of David to sin was a means by which he brought about punishment on the people of Israel. Moreover, Israel.” In this one incident the Bible gives us a remarkable insight into the three influences that contributed in different ways to one action: God, in order to bring about his purposes, worked through Satan to incite David to sin, but Scripture regards David as being responsible for that sin.

In the story of Job, though the Lord gave Satan permission to bring harm to Job’s possessions and children, and though this harm came through the evil actions of the Sabeans and the Chaldeans, as well as a windstorm (Job 1:12, 15, 17, 19), yet Job looks beyond those secondary causes and, with the eyes of faith, sees it all as from the hand of the Lord: “the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). The Old Testament author follows Job’s statement immediately with the sentence, “In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong” (Job 1:22). Job has just been told that evil marauding bands had destroyed his flocks and herds, yet with great faith and patience in adversity, he says, “The Lord has taken away.” Though he says that the Lord had done this, yet he does not blame God for the evil or say that God had done wrong: he says, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” To blame God for evil that he had brought about through secondary agents would have been to sin. Job does not do this, Scripture never does this, and neither should we.   “Elsewhere in the Old Testament we read that the Lord “put a lying spirit in the mouth” of Ahab’s prophets(1 Kings 22:23) and sent the wicked Assyrians as “the rod of my anger” to punish Israel (Isa. 10:5).”   “In many of the passages mentioned above, God brings evil and destruction on people in judgment upon their sins: They have been disobedient or have strayed into idolatry, and then the Lord uses the following to bring judgment on them…”

  • evil human beings
  • demonic forces
  • “natural” disasters

“Therefore, when God brings evil on human beings, whether to discipline his children, or to lead unbelievers to repentance, or to bring a judgment of condemnation and destruction upon hardened sinners, none of us can charge God with doing wrong. Ultimately all will work in God’s good purposes to bring glory to him and good to his people. Yet we must realize that in punishing evil in those who are not redeemed (such as Pharaoh, the Canaanites, and the Babylonians), God is also glorified through the demonstration of his justice, holiness, and power” (see Ex. 9:16; Rom. 9:14–24). End Grudems’s commentary here…..   Distinctions in God’s Will – Is everything that happens God’s will? As we have seen, God’s will is seen as the final authority and the ultimate reason for everything that happens. God’s “permitting” or “preventing” in Providence is the determining factor. But is everything that happens God’s will? This can be a very puzzling question unless you make a distinction which is clearly seen in Scripture. The distinction is between God’s Sovereign will and God’s Moral will. Many times in Scripture we see that God’s desire for our moral conduct is violated by the free choices of mankind, yet God does not prevent but rather permits this to occur. So then it is not His “moral will” that evil should take place, but in His “Sovereign will” He has permitted it to happen. We find out God’s “moral will” by simply reading His “precepts” and “commanded will” about what we should do or how we should behave. We find out God’s “Sovereign will” when events actually happen and the “secret” counsel of God is “revealed”, the things He has planned and “decreed” from all eternity. So when we ask questions like, “Is it God’s will for me to do this or that,” we simply look to God’s revelation in Scripture about what He desires for us to do. But when events actually occur, we see what the secret counsel of God’s Sovereign will, what he has ordained and approved(what He has permitted or prevented to occur) as it is revealed in time and space. Therefore it is important when discussing these matters to make a clear distinction in the “will of God” for the sake of properly understanding one another when we make statements about God’s will. See the table below on the Two Wills of God.”

thetwowillsofgod

Examples of distinctions in God’s will are clearly seen in Scripture or in the world around us. Many times it is NOT God’s will(His moral will, His general desire) for evil to take place, but his permitting and NOT preventing obviously makes it His Sovereign will(His will of Decree or Secret will), that which He determined should happen from all Eternity. Consider the following…..

  • Genesis 50:20 – Joseph and his brothers

Genesis 50:20 – 20 “And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. NASB

  • Acts 2:23 – The murder of Jesus

Acts 2:23 – 23 this Man, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. NASB

  • Genocide in War
  • 911- The Twin Towers

In light of this knowledge, consider afresh the statement we looked at by Jonathan Edwards…  “God decreed from all eternity all the evil that He ever does permit, because God’s permitting is God’s forbearing to act or to prevent. It can be made evident by reason that nothing can come to pass but what is the will and pleasure of God should come to pass.” Know then that the Scripture plainly declares a distinction in the will of God between His Sovereign(Secret or Decreed) and Moral(Commanded or Revealed) will. Finally, we have come to the third part of our definition of Providence which is referred to as “Governement” – (3) directs them to fulfill his purposes.” Grudem further defines this third aspect in the following way…. “God has a purpose in all that he does in the world and he providentially governs or directs all things in order that they accomplish his purposes.” The Scripture plainly declares that everything that happens is happening ultimately under the Sovereign Authority of God as He directs them so that in the end His purposes are fulfilled. Psalm 103:19 – 19 The LORD has established His throne in the heavens; And His sovereignty rules over all. NASB Paul affirms that God works “all things after the counsel of His will” and to His “ends.” Ephesians 1:11-12 – 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. NASB Romans 8:28 – 28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. NASB Romans 11:36 – 36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. NASB The Scripture plainly declares this same truth in the Old Testament. Ecclesiastes 7:13-14 – 3 Consider the work of God, For who is able to straighten what He has bent? 14 In the day of prosperity be happy, But in the day of adversity consider- God has made the one as well as the other So that man may not discover anything that will be after him. NASB Daniel 4:34-35 – For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom endures from generation to generation. 35 “And all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, ‘What hast Thou done?’ NASB Psalms 135:5-6 – 5 For I know that the LORD is great, And that our Lord is above all gods. 6 Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps. NASB And lastly, that “all things” have been placed by God the Father “in subjection” to the Sovereign Authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, God the Son. The Scripture plainly declares that everything in the universe, seen and unseen, is under Christ’s personal dominion. 1 Corinthians 15:27 – 27 For He has put all things in subjection under His feet. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. NASB Ephesians 1:20-22 – 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, NASB Philippians 2:9-11 – 9 Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. NASB   Summary In summary we have seen that the Bible clearly teaches that God is Providentially implementing His Sovereign Rule over His entire creation and that He is directing Nature and History to fulfill His own purposes. His Providence is the greatest display of His Sovereignty(Authority) that exists. Dear reader, here now the word of the Lord! Deuteronomy 4:39 – 39 Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the LORD, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other. NASB One helpful thing to remember is the element of “mystery” in God’s Providence. Grudem wisely states.. “What If We Cannot Understand This Doctrine Fully? Every believer who meditates on God’s providence will sooner or later come to a point where he or she will have to say, “I cannot understand this doctrine fully.” In some ways that must be said about every doctrine, since our understanding is finite, and God is infinite (see chapter 1, pp. 34–35; cf. p. 150). But particularly is this so with the doctrine of providence: we should believe it because Scripture teaches it even when we do not understand fully how it fits in with other teachings of Scripture.” Application How do we apply this doctrine to our life and/or how does it affect us, our thinking and living? We must recognize Him as Providential in our lives by…..

  • Believing He is providential
  • Appreciating His wise providential purposes and rule
  • Being Thankful for God’s good providence
  • Never complaining against His providence disrespectfully
  • Humbly submitting to His will
  • Trusting in God’s good promises to His people

Believing God is Providential Dear reader, consider how you already believe in God’s Providence. Is it not your assumption each time you pray for God’s intervention in your life? Indeed it is, for when you bow the knee or head or heart to Almighty God, you first recognize His Sovereign Authority, then you consider how God has the power and right to change things, and lastly you make humble request for Him to do exactly that. Therefore we are to not only believe that God is Almighty and in control of all things, but our belief should find its rest in trusting God. Isaiah 26:3-4 – “The steadfast of mind Thou wilt keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in Thee. 4 “Trust in the LORD forever, For in GOD the LORD, we have an everlasting Rock. NASB Proverbs 3:5-6 – 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. NASB Appreciation of Providence Dear reader, consider that God is highly exalted and has created us primarily for the purpose of worshipping Him and enjoying Him forever! As the Catechism’s state….. “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever!” More than this, all of the Law and the Prophets says Jesus, is summed up in the great commandment….. Matthew 22:37-38‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.‘  38 “This is the great and foremost commandment. NASB Shall we then love God and not love His Almighty rule over the world? Shall we adore Him with everything that is within us and not worship and magnify the astounding Wisdom of His providence in the world? May it never be! Consider what benefits befall us in God’s providence. Thomas Watson wisely states….“Without this wise providence of God there would be anxiety and confusion in the whole world, just like an army when it is routed and scattered. The providence of God infuses comfort and virtue into everything we enjoy. Our clothes would not warm us, our food would not nourish us, without the special providence of God. And does not all this deserve your admiration of providence?” The understanding of God’s providence should cause us to greatly magnify the honor of His name and worship Him with Holy fear and rejoice with trembling! Psalm 96:9-13 – 9 Worship the LORD in holy attire; Tremble before Him, all the earth. 10 Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns; Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved; He will judge the peoples with equity.” 11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; Let the sea roar, and all it contains; 12 Let the field exult, and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy 13 Before the LORD, for He is coming; For He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, And the peoples in His faithfulness. NASB God rebukes those who do not adore His mighty providence….. Jeremiah 5:22-23 – 22 ‘Do you not fear Me?’ declares the LORD.’ Do you not tremble in My presence? For I have placed the sand as a boundary for the sea, An eternal decree, so it cannot cross over it. Though the waves toss, yet they cannot prevail; Though they roar, yet they cannot cross over it. 23’But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart; They have turned aside and departed. NASB And He commands us to tremble and praise Him because He is highly exalted!   Psalm 99:1-3The LORD reigns, let the peoples tremble ; He is enthroned above the cherubim, let the earth shake! 2 The LORD is great in Zion, And He is exalted above all the peoples. 3 Let them praise Thy great and awesome name; Holy is He. NASB The understanding of God’s providence is worthy of our admiration and praise. It has many glorious benefits upon our life and worship of God. Understanding Providence….

  • Increases our gratitude to God
  • Increases our trust in God
  • Changes the way we view our world
  • It helps understand that evil not outside of the control of God but that He is using it for the ultimate end of all of His good purposes.
  • It causes to rest in God’s promises as we consider future events, knowing that even if we faces dreadful suffering, that God will work it for our good. Romans 8:28

Psalm 23:3-4 – He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me. NASB

  • It helps us to see that God has an ultimate end in everything that is happening and He will indeed destroy evil forever and we will lie down in peace.

Isaiah 11:9They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea. NASB

  • God’s providence is the foundation of Hope because we are looking to that day of glorious rest and eternal happiness and bliss in God’s Heaven.

Revelation 21:3-4 – 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them, 4 and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away. ” NASB Oh Christian consider that His eye is on the sparrow and He watches over you! Yours is a special providence, being in the company of God’s dearly beloved and chosen people! Romans 8:28 – 28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. NASB Thomas Watson further teaches us….“God’s providence reaches to all persons, especially the persons of the godly, who in a special manner are taken notice of. God takes care of every saint in particular, as if he had none else to care for. ‘He careth for you,’ 1 Peter 5:7. i.e., the elect in a special manner. ‘The eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him; to preserve them from death, and to keep them alive in famine.’ Ps 33:18,19. God by his providential care shields off dangers from his people, and sets a life-guard of angels about them. Ps 34:7. God’s providence keeps the very bones of the saints. Ps 34:20. It bottles their tears. Ps 56:8. It strengthens the saints in their weakness. Heb 11:34. It supplies all their wants out of its alms basket. Ps 23:5. Thus Providence wonderfully supplies the wants of the elect.” Let us therefore appreciate God’s providence to the point that we worship and magnify God’s great name because of it, and seek to always acknowledge His “invisible hand” of guidance. Submission to Providence It is important then that we acknowledge God’s good providence by humbly submitting to it. Are we happy that God is in control? Then let us also be happy with what He gives and also with what he takes away. Remember God’s good promise to never allow us more than we can bear, but will bring us safely to His heaven…. 1 Corinthians 10:13 – 13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it. NASB 2 Timothy 4:18 – 18 The Lord will deliver me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. NASB 1 Peter 1:3-5 – 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. NASB John 10:27-29 – 27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. 29 “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” NASB Consider the example of the saints who have gone before us. Even though they faced great trials, and the hand of Providence seemed to be against them at times, yet they trusted God and humbly submitted to His will. Watson quotes again…“God is to be trusted when his providences seem to run contrary to his promises. God promised to give David the crown, to make him king; but providence ran contrary to his promise. David was pursued by Saul, and was in danger of his life, but all this while it was David’s duty to trust God. Pray observe, that the Lord by cross providences often brings to pass his promise. God promised Paul the lives of all that were with him in the ship; but the providence of God seemed to run quite contrary to his promise, for the winds blew, the ship split and broke in pieces. Thus God fulfilled his promise; upon the broken pieces of the ship they all came safe to shore. Trust God when providences seem to run quite contrary to promises.” Abraham – Faithful to God trusting in God’s promise to bless Job – Job worshipped God in the midst of terrible suffering and pain at the hand of Providence.… “Even though He slay me yet will I praise Him.” Job 1:20-21 – 20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” NASB Joseph – Faithful to God in the midst of terrible hardships and suffering. Daniel – Faithful to God in the midst of great suffering and pagan culture and temptation. Paul – Endured tremendous suffering and persecution yet persevered to the end Never Complaining against Providence Would you be content to rule the world on your own? Do you suppose you have a wiser plan than God? Would not God and His world be better off you were at the helm? This is utter folly, and we all know it. Why then would we complain disrespectfully against God’s wise providence? Shall the clay say to the potter, why did you make me like this? Shall the dog bite the hand that feeds it? If we raise compliant to God about the circumstances of our life, let us be sure to do it seeking consolation and comfort, and never speaking a cross word or in anger against God’s Holy counsel, lest we find ourselves deeper into the pit of suffering. Consider the words of Thomas Watson…. “Let us be content that God should rule the world; learn to acquiesce in his will, and submit to his providence. Does any affliction befall you? Remember God sees it is that which is fit for you, or it would not come.” Philippians 2:12-16 – 12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. 14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing; 15 that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, NASB We must come to that place of humble submission to God where we realize He knows far better what we need than we do ourselves. The circumstances which God has ordered for our life are indeed that which works for our highest good and God’s greatest glory! Matthew 6:31-34 – 31 “Do not be anxious then, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘With what shall we clothe ourselves?’ 32 “For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. NASB Being Thankful for Providence Dear friends, consider in the goodness of God to us, how we ought to be thankful! God has promised that every single thing in our lives will ultimately work for our good. Consider that if God would not spare His own Son, but gave Him for us, won’t He then also give us everything we need? Romans 8:31-32 – 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? NASB If God will give His people a Kingdom when they die, will He not also give them daily bread while they live? If Jesus would suffer and die to bring me to Himself, will He not also hear my prayer when I cry to Him for help? Indeed He will, more than that, he will crown me with eternal life and grant me to see His glory forever more in His glorious Heaven, what more could I have from the good hand of Providence! Learn then, that it is fitting for the upright to praise God! Thanksgiving to God is pure praise! It is direct honor to God who gives us life and breathe! Psalm 50:23 – He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me; And to him who orders his way aright I shall show the salvation of God.” NASB For those who know the goodness of God, we have no other response but the high praises of our King! Thanksgiving is the blood that runs through the veins of a saint! Praise is the garment that fits handsomely on our backs! Psalm 145:9-10 – 9 The LORD is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works. 10 All Thy works shall give thanks to Thee, O LORD, And Thy godly ones shall bless Thee. NASB Consider that the mouth of the wicked is filled with grumblings and murmuring and complaining! But this is not fitting for a saint! The wicked cannot praise God, neither are they thankful. The poison of asps is on their lips, and with the tongue they profane the name of God! Psalm 33:1-5Sing for joy in the LORD, O you righteous ones; Praise is becoming to the upright. 2 Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; Sing praises to Him with a harp of ten strings. 3 Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy. 4 For the word of the LORD is upright; And all His work is done in faithfulness. 5 He loves righteousness and justice; The earth is full of the lovingkindness of the LORD. Let us therefore give God the thanksgiving and praise which is due to Him! That no matter what cup He gives us to drink, no matter what bitterness of soul should afflict us, no matter what great trial may befall us or try us, that we shall stand in the company of the saints, with the glorious praise of God in our mouth, knowing that He shall give us nothing but that which works for our good! It is God’s will that we should give Him thanks in every circumstance! 1 Thessalonians 5:18 – 18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. NASB Ephesians 5:20 – 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; NASB Trusting in God’s Providence When we consider the promises which God has made, we should be encouraged in our faith to rest in God’s providence. God is in control, and we can rest knowing that He will bring about our good and His glory! Thomas Watson gives this encouragement…. “Therefore, Christians, believe that God loves you, and that he will make the most cross providences to promote his glory and your good.” As the scripture says, God will care for us and meet our needs. Psalm 37:3-7Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. 4 Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. 6 And He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your judgment as the noonday. 7 Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him; NASB Jesus often says when confronting our fears, “Do not be afraid,” and this is often followed by assurances of His presence with us. Indeed we have nothing to fear if we love God, everything will work for our ultimate good. Luke 12:32 – 32 Do not be afraid , little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom. NASB Consider God’s Providence in you being saved? Consider how He brought you to Himself?

The Sovereignty of God

God’s Purposes

The Display of His Glory and Excellence – The Ultimate End

God has many purposes for which He made the creation. Indeed everything He has made has a specific purpose to fulfill in the grand scheme of His plan for the ages. Everything has a very wonderful and awesome reason for existing, and all things ultimately work out into conformity with the purposes of God as we have seen. In fact everything that God does has its own purpose. Proverbs 16:4 – 4 The LORD has made everything for its own purpose, Even the wicked for the day of evil. NASB Consider these verses in Ephesians 1……. Ephesians 1:11-12 – 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. NASB In these verses, the salvation of the saints is seen to be “predestined according to God’s purpose,” but notice that this is not God’s highest purpose. Oh no, here it says that the predestination of salvation is “to the end that we……should be to the praise of His glory!” Learn then that the salvation of men is NOT God’s highest purpose, but it is works to the higher purpose of the “praise of the glory of God!” So when we ask the question, what is the highest purpose of God in creating all things, what do you suppose would be the answer? What purpose is it which makes all purposes subservient to it? What is the chief end for which God created all things? I think it can be most clearly summed up in the statement… God's Ultimate Purpose

Dear reader, God is a being of such awesome wonder and infinitely profound beauty that the expression of His being is the highest and most glorious idea or concept that can be conceived. Further, the experience of knowing God in an intimate personal relationship is the most fulfilling and exhilarating reality that exists, and it is the highest purpose for which mankind was created. As the Westminster Catechism states, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” The Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians …… 1 Corinthians 10:31 – 31 Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. NASB Here the Apostle sums up all our human purposes, he says “whatever you do…..do it all to the glory of God!” Dear Reader, here we have purpose, here we have meaning! This is in fact also what the Lord Himself taught us when He gave us the great commandments. He said all the Law and Prophets depend on these two commandments. In other words, you can sum up the entire Old Testament in this…… Matthew 22:36-40 – 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him,  “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  38 “This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 “The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  40 “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” NASB Here Jesus tells us the chief purpose for our existence. It is to “love God”, to worship Him with everything that is within us. Consider the meaning of worship, “to ascribe worth or value to something” in relation to God’s highest purpose. God seeks to manifest or show forth the Excellency of His character, and we are commanded to “love Him and praise Him and revere Him.” This is why sin is such an abominable failure on the part of mankind, because he thereby fails to glorify God, the highest purpose for which he was made and also the highest purpose God has for making Him.  This is also why one sin is considered a violation of the whole law… James 2:10 – 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point , he has become guilty of all. NASB   God’s highest purpose is NOT the salvation of Mankind Many people have the mistaken idea that God’s highest purpose is the salvation of men. This is a false idea and foreign to the Bible’s teaching. They reason that since we are created in God’s image and are therefore the pinnacle of God’s creative works, that for mankind to fall into damnation is the worst conceivable idea. But consider that God has ordained the fall of mankind from eternity, for His own Immutable purpose and by His eternal Decree. It was always His purpose for mankind to fall, so that he could redeem some to eternal life and others would be damned. You say, how can you be so sure these are God’s purposes? Well that’s easy, this is “in fact what happens” or to put it another way, it is God’s Sovereign will. It is what unfolds in the course of history therefore it is the outworking of the Sovereign Decree of God. Not only is this reasonably inferred by common sense, but the Bible plainly states that God is responsible for the fall….and has planned redemption from before the world began… Romans 11:32 – 32 For God has shut up all in disobedience that He might show mercy to all.  NASB 1 Peter 1:20-21 – 20 For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you NASB Many also claim that it is God’s will that all men be saved. In this they quote….. 1 Timothy 2:3-6 -3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony borne at the proper time. NASB Consider though that if it were God’s highest purpose to save all mankind, then that is exactly what God would do. Not only this, but God would not have shut all men up into disobedience if He desired to save them all but could have simply prevented the fall from happening. This He could have done in many ways, not the least of which would be that He could have just NOT created the tree of the knowledge of good and evil or given a law not to eat from it. 1 Timothy 2:4 then, is just an expression of the moral will of God. God does not delight in the death of anyone(Eze 18:32), even hardened sinners. However, He will see to it that hardened sinners are judged and damned because this purpose displays the Excellency of His goodness, justice and wrath. So even though in His moral will He does not delight in the death of the wicked, in His Sovereign will He will make sure it happens. God allows what He hates to accomplish what he loves. Consider the following quote from John Piper…. “The misery and the suffering that judgment brings upon the impenitent, in and of itself, does not delight the heart of God. He is not malicious or bloodthirsty. That’s what Eze 18:32 is warning us NOT to believe about God. Rather, when He brings judgment on the impenitent and unbelieving and wicked, the delight that He takes in that act is delight in the vindication of His justice and His truth and righteousness, and the value of His name which has been profaned by unbelievers. God’s heart is capable of grieving over the misery and the sin, considered in and of itself, of any unbelieving lost person(Eze 18:32), while at the same time rejoicing and exulting exuberantly in the vindication of His righteousness and His name as He destroys them in hell(Deut 28:63). If that does not fit together in your own mind and heart, you are finite and God is infinite, do not shape God into your limited image, let the Holy Scriptures stand, and may God build His true character in your heart and in your eyes.”….from “The Pleasure of God in all He does” sermon Feb 1, 1987 God Could have Prevented the Fall God’s Glory displayed in all things Consider then, how God displays His Glory in all things. In the bullets below are listed a few of the Divine Excellencies which are seen in the works of God.

  • In the creation of the universe – Power, Wisdom, Beauty, Perfection
  • In providence  – Power, Wisdom, Grace, Mercy, Patience, Omnipresence
  • In the salvation of His people – Love, Grace, Mercy, Goodness, Justice
  • In the damnation of the wicked – Goodness, Justice, Wrath, Power

Dear reader, when you consider the Almighty power and Wisdom of God, the proper response is worship and awe! Surely we see then that the Scripture plainly teaches that “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.” That God is indeed the beginning, the middle and the end of all that He has purposed to do. Romans 11:33-36 – 33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! 34 For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? 35 Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? 36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. NASB There are actually numerous biblical texts which explicitly state that God seeks His own glory. In fact, there are so many, it would be exhausting just to list them all much less examine them. But here are a few….. Isaiah 48:9-11 – “For the sake of My name I delay My wrath, And for My praise I restrain it for you, In order not to cut you off. 10 “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. 11 “For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; For how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another. NASB Isaiah 43:7 – Everyone who is called by My name, And whom I have created for My glory, Whom I have formed, even whom I have made. ” NASB Jeremiah 13:11 – 11’For as the waistband clings to the waist of a man, so I made the whole household of Israel and the whole household of Judah cling to Me,’ declares the LORD,’ that they might be for Me a people, for renown, for praise, and for glory; but they did not listen. NASB Psalm 106:7-8 – Our fathers in Egypt did not understand Thy wonders; They did not remember Thine abundant kindnesses, But rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea.  8 Nevertheless He saved them for the sake of His name, That He might make His power known. NASB Romans 9:17 – 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” NASB John 7:18-19 – 18 “He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. NASB Matthew 5:16 – 16 “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. NASB John 12:27-29 – 27 “Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. 28 “Father, glorify Thy name.” There came therefore a voice out of heaven: “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” NASB John 17:24 – 24 “Father, I desire that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am, in order that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me; for Thou didst love Me before the foundation of the world. NASB 1 Peter 4:11 – 11 Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God; whoever serves, let him do so as by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. NASB Learn then, the Bible plainly declares that chief among the purposes of God is the pursuit of His own glory and the fame of His great name!   The Plan of Redemption, the Gospel and Missions Consider then how God, in His infinite Wisdom, has planned the outworking of History to achieve this great end of displaying the Glory of His Name! As we look at Scripture we see that even from the earliest sections of Scripture, God is speaking of His plan to “save and redeem”. Genesis 3:15 – 15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel. ” NASB We see over and over how God is working out His plan for the ages. Consider how the Scripture plainly teaches that it was always God’s plan for mankind to Fall, for Jesus to die upon the Cross, and for God to redeem for Himself a company of people whom He has “destined for Glory.” Many of the events were said to have been “predestined according to God’s purpose” and done by the “predetermined plan” of God. The Bible is replete with such texts! Ephesians 1:11-12 – 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. NASB Acts 2:23 – 23 this Man, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. NASB Acts 4:27-28 – 27 “For truly in this city there were gathered together against Thy holy servant Jesus, whom Thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever Thy hand and Thy purpose predestined to occur. NASB Ephesians 1:3-6 –  4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. NASB Ephesians 3:11-13 – 11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. NASB Titus 1:1-2 – 1:1 Paul, a bond-servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, 2 in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, NASB 2 Timothy 1:9-10 – 9 who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity NASB If these things be true, and they are, consider how God’s plan must have a means by which it is carried out. Now this could not be more clear in Scripture. The Bible plainly declares that the Gospel message is the means by which God’s purpose to redeem is carried out in this late age. This is why the church is charged with the great task of evangelizing the nations(missions), for the sake of God’s great name, and for the Lamb to receive the reward of His suffering. Since God has created both mankind and angels as morally capable, He has also made them subject to His standards of morality. Therefore both mankind and angels will stand in judgment before God, and are accountable to God’s Sovereign Authority. 2 Peter 2:4 – 4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; NASB Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 – 13 The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. 14 For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil. NASB God expects His creatures which He has made for His own purposes, to live according to God’s own moral character, perfect, pure and Holy. Because mankind has fallen short of the glory of God(His perfect moral character), this has brought about the great need of redemption, which God has planned for long ages past. This we call the “Plan of Redemption.” In this late age, the Plan of Redemption is now coming to pass by the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, (who is the perfect sacrifice for the sins of mankind and God’s required redemption price), as the purpose of God in redemption is accomplished by His calling out of His people from every tribe and nation. Romans 3:23 – 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, NASB Romans 16:25-27 – 25 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, 26 but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; 27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.  NASB Through this gospel(the message of the person and work of Christ), the judgment of God for the sins of mankind has been cancelled, for all who believe. By this faith they enter into a state of redemption having the debt of sins paid, as God’s wrath and judgment were satisfied at the cross, Christ Jesus Himself having fulfilled the law of God(God’s perfect moral character) and paid the just penalty for the wages of sin. This we call “Justification by Faith.” Romans 3:21-27 – 21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. NASB Because of this great work, God has exalted Christ Jesus the incarnate Son of God and the man, to be the Sovereign King and Judge of the living and the dead. Therefore all people in every age and generation, all nations and peoples will be subject to the Sovereign Authority of Christ and will bow the knee before Him in judgment at the consummation of God’s plan for the ages. Ephesians 1:20-23 – 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 2 Timothy 4:1-2 – 4:1 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: NASB Philippians 2:9-11 – 9 Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. NASB This message of the Gospel then is the means by which God is bringing to pass His eternal purpose in Christ to redeem. This is why missions is a key element of God’s glory in the church. We must bring the Gospel to the far corners of the earth to fulfill the command of God in missions. Consider how the following Scriptures relate to this matter. Mark 16:15 – 15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. NASB Ephesians 3:8-11 -8 To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things; 10 in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our LordNASB Matthew 24:14 – 14 “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come. NASB Romans 10:14-15 – 14 How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things!” NASB So then God fully intends to save all those whom He has planned or purposed to save. This He will accomplish by His great missionary people, the GentileChurch. But consider the certainty of the salvation of God’s people. If God has planned to save all of the people whom He will save, what do you suppose will be the result? Consider that He will save all of the people whom He has intended to save, and will not lose one, but every last one WILL be saved. John 6:37-39 – 37 “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. 38 “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. NASB Revelation 5:9-10 – And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy art Thou to take the book, and to break its seals; for Thou wast slain, and didst purchase for God with Thy blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. 10 “And Thou hast made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.” NASB Christ did indeed SECURE the salvation of His church. John 19:30 – 30 When Jesus therefore had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished !” And He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit. NASB In all of this great plan to redeem, God’s people magnify the glory of His grace in salvation. All of God’s redemptive works throughout history are working to the end OR the ultimate purpose of the praise of the glory of God’s Excellency and nature as God our Savior. 2 Corinthians 4:15 – 15 For all things are for your sakes, that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God. NASB Ephesians 1:4-6, 11-14,18 – 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation —  having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. NASB Even the very state of being to which God’s people are destined is said to be “glory!” Ephesians 1:18 – 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, Romans 9:23-25 – 23 And He did so in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, 24 even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. NASB    

The Sovereignty of God

God’s Purposes – God’s Decrees and Foreordination

The Certainty of God’s Purposes Being Fulfilled

Now it is clearly evident that if God is indeed all-powerful and all-knowing, and that He is governing His creation by a mighty Providence, and that all of this is happening according to God’s plans and purposes, that these purposes are immutable(unchanging and certain). The Bible plainly declares that God purposes will be established in History, His plans and counsel are certain. Psalm 33:11 – 11 The counsel of the LORD stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation. NASB Proverbs 19:21 – 1 Many are the plans in a man’s heart, But the counsel of the LORD, it will stand. NASB Hebrews 6:17 – 17 In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, NASB Now this matter is all related to the Sovereign Authority of God. If God is Omniscient and Omnipotent, He must have Sovereignly decreed everything that happens. He has “declared” OR “proclaimed” as a matter of His Counsel and Will everything that comes to pass. This we call the Decree” of God. This is because God’s plans cannot be thwarted or hindered, because by His invisible hand He carries them out in History by His Providence. The Bible plainly declares that God has declared the end from the beginning and that all His Holy counsel will be established in History. God will bring to pass what He wills, His Sovereign Decrees. Isaiah 46:9-11 – “Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’; 11 Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man of My purpose from a far country. Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it. NASB Consider the words of the Westminster Shorter Catechism on the Decrees of God….. Question 7: What are the Decrees of God? – Answer: The Decrees of God are, His eternal purpose, according to the counsel of His will, whereby, for His own glory, He hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass. Ephesians 1:9-11 – 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fulness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth. In Him 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, NASB Whatever comes to pass has been eternally Decreed by God. This means that God has “approved” of all of the events of History, (in the ultimate sense of permitting or preventing them). This we call “Foreordination.” God has “Fore” (from before time began),“ordained” all that ever does come to pass in History. Consider how Jonathan Edwards has described this….“Whether God has decreed all things that ever come to pass or not, all that own the being of a God, own that He knows all things beforehand. Now, it is self-evident that if He knows all things beforehand, He doth approve of them or doth not approve of them; that is, He is either willing they should be, or He is not willing they should be. But to will that they should be is to decree them.” Numbers 23:19 – 9 “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? NASB Another quote from Jonathon Edwards explains God’s Decrees in relation to the problem of evil, “God decreed from all eternity all the evil that He ever does permit, because God’s permitting is God’s forebearing to act or to prevent. It can be made evident by reason that nothing can come to pass but what is the will and pleasure of God should come to pass.” (Job 12:13-22, Prov 8:14-16, Isaiah 40, Acts 2:23, 4:28) Learn then that History is the product of God’s eternally wise planning, creative purpose, providential preservation, and common grace. God fills space and time with his presence, sustains it, and gives it purpose and value. The omnipresent and omnipotent One is Lord of time and history, not vice versa. God does not negate time but fulfills it. In it His purposes are accomplished. Isaiah 14:24-27 – 24 The LORD of hosts has sworn saying, “Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand, 25 to break Assyria in My land, and I will trample him on My mountains. Then his yoke will be removed from them, and his burden removed from their shoulder. 26 “This is the plan devised against the whole earth; and this is the hand that is stretched out against all the nations. 27 “For the LORD of hosts has planned , and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back?” NASB  God's Decrees The Nature of God’s Decrees and Foreordination When we consider the Decrees of God, His eternal purposes and plans, let us not forget the very nature of God. It is evident that God’s attributes help us to define and understand His purposes. In relation to His Decrees then we must remember that God’s nature is…..

  • Holy – God is perfect and absolutely pure
  • Omnipotent – God is all-powerful and free to do all His Holy Will
  • Omniscient – God is all-knowing having perfect knowledge of past, present and future events
  • Omnipresent – Exists in all space in every moment of time
  • Eternal – God has always been, IS now, and always will be
  • Self-Existent – God is the source of all beings, things, knowledge and power
  • Sovereign – God is the supreme authority and no one can overrule His Decrees
  • Wise – God’s plans all work together in harmony to accomplish His purposes
  • Just and Righteous  – God never does anything that is evil, unjust or unrighteous

Therefore in light of God’s nature, let us consider the nature of His purposes or His Decrees. God’s Decrees are ….

  • Glorious – The end or final cause contemplated in all God’s Decrees is His own glory. Because God is infinite and perfect, it is plain that the revelation of His glory and excellency as God is the highest purpose that can exist, and that all other purposes of creation are properly subordinate to that end.

Romans 11:36 – 36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. NASB

  • Many and one – They are all reducible to one eternal purpose. All of the manifold events of History form one great purpose or plan. Because God’s knowledge is perfect of past, present and future in one simple thought, He therefore necessarily approves of the plan which he has made in its fullness, from beginning to end. Consider this quote from Hodge…. “It is inconsistent with the idea of absolute perfection, that the purposes of God are successive, or that He ever purposes what He did not originally intend: or that one part of His plan is independent with other parts. It is one scheme and therefore one purpose.”
  • Free – They are free and sovereign, determined by the counsel of His own will. Another quote from Hodge…. “God adopted the plan of the universe on the ground of His own good pleasure, for His own glory, and every subordinate part of it in reference to the whole. His decrees are free, therefore, in a far higher sense than that in which the ordinary purposes of men are free.”

Psalm 135:5-6 – 5 For I know that the LORD is great, And that our Lord is above all gods. 6 Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps. NASB Isaiah 46:10 – 10 Declaring the end from the beginning And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’; NASB Isaiah 40:13-14 – 13 Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, Or as His counselor has informed Him? 14 With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding? And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge, And informed Him of the way of understanding? NASB

  • Relate to all things – They comprehend all events. Whatever God does, He certainly planned to do and whatever God permits He certainly planned to permit. This is necessary from Divine Foreknowledge. Nothing can happen that God did not know from eternity, and therefore nothing can happen that God did not intend. It is plain that if God is providentially controlling Nature and History, that His purposes and plans are equally comprehensive.

Psalm 139:16 – 16 Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Thy book they were all written, The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them. NASB Matthew 10:29-30 – 29 “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Isaiah 22:10-11 – 10 Then you counted the houses of Jerusalem, And you tore down houses to fortify the wall. 11 And you made a reservoir between the two walls For the waters of the old pool. But you did not depend on Him who made it, Nor did you take into consideration Him who planned it long ago. NASB

  • Immutable – His plans are perfect and therefore cannot change. This is to say that whatever God has determined will come to pass, because He has also determined the means by which they come to pass.

Jeremiah 4:28 – 28 “For this the earth shall mourn, And the heavens above be dark, Because I have spoken, I have purposed, And I will not change My mind, nor will I turn from it.” NASB Psalm 33:11 – 11 The counsel of the LORD stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation. NASB

  • Inclusive of the ends and the means – God ordains all of the means by which His purposes are established. Since God’s purpose is being carried out in an infinitely complex world of causes and effects, the ends of His purposes include all of the manifold happenings of causes and effects to accomplish them. Therefore it is plain that His eternal plan included all of the means by which His ends are attained. Consider the Westminster Confession on Providence, articles 1, 2 and 3…..

Westminster Confession on Providence 1. God, the great Creator of all things, doth uphold, direct dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by his most wise and holy providence, according to his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will, to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy. 2. Although in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the first cause, all things come to pass immutably and infallibly, yet, by the same providence, he ordereth them to fall out according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently. 3. God, in his ordinary providence, maketh use of means, yet is free to work without, above, and against them, at his pleasure. Consider how even the free choices of people ultimately accomplish the eternal purposes of God. These choices of people are the means to fulfilling God’s Decree. This can be seen in many places and events in Scripture. Acts 4:27-28 – 27 “For truly in this city there were gathered together against Thy holy servant Jesus, whom Thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever Thy hand and Thy purpose predestined to occur. NASB Ephesians 3:11– 11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, NASB

  • Efficacious – God’s Decrees will surely come to pass. Consider how predictive prophecy has proven this time and again.

Daniel 11:36 – 36 “Then the king will do as he pleases, and he will exalt and magnify himself above every god, and will speak monstrous things against the God of gods; and he will prosper until the indignation is finished, for that which is decreed will be done. NASB Lamentations 3:37-38 – 37 Who is there who speaks and it comes to pass, Unless the Lord has commanded it? 38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High That both good and ill go forth? NASB Isaiah 25:1 – O LORD, Thou art my God; I will exalt Thee, I will give thanks to Thy name; For Thou hast worked wonders, Plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness. NASB Consider how the Decrees of God speak to the certainty of all of His promises and threatenings in the Bible. When God threatens the wicked with destruction, He is not playing games. He will bring to pass what He threatens, should they not heed His warnings. Psalm 145:20 – 20 The LORD keeps all who love Him; But all the wicked, He will destroy.  NASB Genesis 6:13 – 13 Then God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth. NASB Matthew 10:28 – 28 “And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. NASB And when God promises to bless His own people, He will surely do it. The promises of God are as sure as the sun is bright! God will bless His people, and they will glorify Him for it. This is all according to God’s eternal purposes which He has purposed in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:28 – 28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. NASB 2 Corinthians 1:20 – 20 For as many as may be the promises of God, in Him they are yes; wherefore also by Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us. NASB 1 Peter 1:3-6 – 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. NASB Consider if God has purposed to save you dear Christian, what will be the outcome?

Divine Sovereignty and Prayer

One common objection to the idea of the foreordination of all things is the argument that if all things are decreed or ordained from before time, that there is therefore no reason to pray because we cannot change the outcome of events. It is evident from the things that we have been learning that this cannot be true, for God has decreed and foreordained all things, and yet has told us to pray and made prayer a means of communication with Him and a means by which His Sovereign will is to come to pass. A few thing to consider in this matter are….

  • Prayer is fundamentally an acknowledgment of God’s Sovereignty
  • Prayer is a humble expression of our dependence
  • Prayer changes things as we see them in time and space

Prayer is fundamentally an acknowledgment of God’s Sovereignty – Prayer is first for the honor and glory of God. Consider when you pray the fundamental thing that you recognize is God’s Sovereignty, His power and will. You are firstly (1) recognizing His being and seeking to align your own thinking and willing to His divine purposes, and secondly (2) making an appeal to His power and ability to meet your needs and wants. Matthew 6:8-13 – 8 “Therefore do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need, before you ask Him. 9 “Pray, then, in this way: (1)  Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. 10’Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. (2)  11’Give us this day our daily bread. 12’And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13’And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen. NASB Therefore in prayer we are not seeking to be the divine authority and tell God how to run His world, but in humble acknowledgment of His Sovereignty, appeal for His willingness to care for us and meet our needs and desires. Consider when you pray for your needs to be met, you are not seeking to inform God of your needs, for Scripture says He already knows them, but you acknowledge God’s ability to meet those needs. Further when you pray for someone to be saved, you acknowledge God’s Sovereign authority to save and grant repentance and regeneration (spiritual life) to a sinner who is dead in transgressions and sins. If you do not believe this, but rather believe that God has already done everything needed for someone to be saved, and He is  waiting for them to respond, then why do you pray and appeal to God for someone’s salvation? Prayer is a humble expression of our dependence on God – Consider here the posture of prayer. When we pray we humble ourselves before God and seek His approval, and His acknowledgment of our dependence. We do not seek to dictate to God what His Divine will ought to be, but rather seek to know His all-wise and powerful, loving and good will so that we can align our thinking with it. Shall we dictate to God what He is lacking in His wise plan? Shall a worm of the earth tell the Almighty God how to better govern His world? Silliness! Consider that prayer is rather a confession of our weakness, at times even our helplessness to help ourselves, so we appeal to the Almighty for His gracious hand! Consider further that there is nothing in us to merit God’s favor, but rather a long list of sin and rebellion against Him by which His holiness could be provoked and our destruction secured! Therefore the posture of prayer is obvious, it is one of submission to His Holy will and humble dependence on His gracious hand of provision for our needs. As the Scripture plainly declares, He supplies our need. Acts 17:24-25 – 24 “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 neither is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all life and breath and all things; NASB Consider the tax gatherer and the Pharisee of Luke 18, which prayer was heard? Luke 18:9-14 – 9 And He also told this parable to certain ones who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray , one a Pharisee, and the other a tax-gatherer. 11 “The Pharisee stood and was praying thus to himself, ‘God, I thank Thee that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax-gatherer. 12’I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ 13 “But the tax-gatherer, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ 14 “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who humbles himself shall be exalted.” NASB James 4:10 – 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you. NASB Learn then that prayer bows itself before the Sovereign Authority of God seeking to submit itself to God’s loving grace and provision! Prayer changes things as we see them in time and space – The Scripture plainly declares that God responds to prayer and acts either in favor or denial of our requests. James 4:2b – You do not have because you do not ask. NASB Consider that often times in Scripture God makes conditional promises based on the prayers and obedience of His people to His commands and or warnings. 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 – 13 If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, 14 and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. NASB This kind of interaction between God and mankind is evident in many places in Scripture. But does the fact that God responds to prayer and free choices of mankind negate the fact that all things are foreordained? It is plain that these are both expressly taught in Scripture. The fact is that prayer and free moral choices are the means by which God brings to pass His Sovereign will when prayer and free moral choices are involved. God has ordained or approved of the reality that in time and space as we pray and make choices that these bring to pass His plan for the ages. Divine Sovereignty and free moral agency exist side by side on the pages of Scripture. One common example is the story of Jonah. Consider how that God is providentially ruling over the sea and the weather, because of Jonah’s disobedience. When the men in the ship realize this, they pray to God for deliverance, and they are saved by throwing Jonah into the sea. Then, Jonah is swallowed by a fish and prays to God for deliverance. Then God hears Jonahs prayer and the fish spits him up onto dry land. Jonah 1:4, 14-16, 2:1, 10  – 4 And the LORD hurled a great wind on the sea and there was a great storm on the sea so that the ship was about to break up….. 14 Then they called on the LORD and said, “We earnestly pray, O LORD, do not let us perish on account of this man’s life and do not put innocent blood on us; for Thou, O LORD, hast done as Thou hast pleased.” 15 So they picked up Jonah, threw him into the sea, and the sea stopped its raging. 16 Then the men feared the LORD greatly, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows. 17 And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights. 2:1 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the stomach of the fish, 2 and he said,…..10 Then the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land. NASB What Scripture reveals to us, and what Jonah himself realized, was that God was bringing about his plan through the willing choices of real human beings who were morally accountable for their actions. In a way not understood by us and not revealed to us, God caused them to make a willing choice to do what they did. See also 2 Chronicles 33:10-13, Acts 2:23, 4:27-28 Learn then that the Scripture plainly declares that God’s Sovereign Authority in the outworking of events is accomplished as He interacts with the prayers and free choices of moral agents. Divine Sovereignty and free moral agency exist side by side on the pages of Scripture. Oh the wonderful mystery of God’s eternal purposes and His Providence working in the choices of millions of people everyday! It is plain then that we should live our lives in such a way that we humbly acknowledge the Sovereignty of God and His Lordship and entreat Him often for an understanding of His will and requests for our needs and desires. This we should do in a humble dependence on His gracious love and a knowledge of His desire to be our God and meet our needs so that we will glorify Him and thank Him for His goodness and Mercy! Deuteronomy 4:39 – 39 Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the LORD, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other. NASB

The Sovereignty of God

In Salvation

God’s Sovereignty In Salvation

In a discussion about God’s Sovereignty in regard to salvation several things must be considered.  This matter includes not only the nature of God, but also the nature of man. Since mankind has fallen into sin, it is necessary for Him to be saved, thus the doctrine of Salvation. What follows then is a discussion of how God’s Eternal purpose in Christ to redeem His people from their sins comes about. How is it that redemption takes place, and what are the issues involved as they are described in the Bible. It must be understood that God is not only Sovereign in Creation and in Providence, but also in the application of redemption. All of these things happened according to God’s purpose in Christ. Matthew 1:21 – “And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins. NASB 2 Timothy 1:9-10 – 9 who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, 10 but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, NASB It is important to understand that the Bible has much to say about this doctrine of Salvation. In order to understand biblical teaching, and because of much false teaching and controversy through the years of Church history, these matters have been broken down into categories which help us to clarify the issues. These include but are not limited to…..

  • God’s Nature
  • Man’s Nature
  • The Nature of Salvation
  • The Nature and extent of the Atonement(Christ’s physical death)

These categories exist because of the way the Bible presents the different teachings about salvation.

The Doctrine of Salvation in Church History

There have been many and varied controversies down through the history of the church, not only with the doctrines of salvation, but with all doctrines. This is because of the obvious war against the truth being waged by the enemy of the Church, even Satan himself. This happens chiefly through the diabolical efforts of false teachers, who either, knowingly or ignorantly, distort and pervert the truth. 2 Peter 2:1-2 – 2:1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; NASB These false teachers take advantage of immature Christians with little knowledge of the Bible. The Bible plainly declares that those who are led away by false teachers are “children” and “barely escaping those who live in error.” It is incumbent then and therefore for Christians not to be led astray from the truth by false teachers and false doctrines, but rather very discerning about it, so as to grow up in their salvation and in the knowledge of God and our precious salvation in Christ. 2 Peter 2:18-19 – 18 For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, 19 promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. NASB Ephesians 4:14-15 – 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, NASB However, one great benefit of the controversies caused by false teachers is that it helps the Church to clarify the truth and to closely examine biblical teaching. In examining the doctrine of Salvation in Church history, a brief overview of the major controversies will help us to clearly see the matters at stake, so we can examine the Bible closely to understand its clear teaching.

Pelagius and Augustine

One of the first major controversies on the doctrine of salvation was one introduced by a man named Pelagius. Pelagius was born in England in 354 A.D. and was an ascetic monk there. He later became a popular teacher in the church in Rome. Pelagius was the author of many false teachings summarized below…..

  • He denied Original Sin –
    • Mind, will, emotions were not corrupted by the Fall
    • Man had natural ability to obey God’s commands
      • Man’s will is not in bondage to sin
      • Man could attain Heaven by good works(salvation was by Law or Gospel)
      • Divine Grace is not necessary for Salvation
      • Sinless Perfection could be attained
      • Prescient View of Predestination
      • Christians can lose salvation

The chief antagonist of the Pelagian doctrines was Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo. Augustine opposed Pelagianism, teaching that man’s nature is corrupted by the Fall, including all of Adam’s progeny, and that man’s will is in bondage to sin, (being dead in transgressions and sin), and that Divine Grace in Regeneration was necessary in Salvation. Augustine taught that Salvation was totally God’s work and that He was due the Glory for it. The chart below pictures the contrast of the two teachings. table-doctrine-pelagianism-august Pelagianism became a doctrinal system held by many in the early church. But after close scrutiny in many church councils, it was condemned in 416 and 418 at the Councils of Carthage, which assembled to take action concerning the errors of Caelestius, a disciple of Pelagius. It denounced the Pelagian doctrines of human nature, original sin; grace and perfectibility, and fully approved the contrary views of Augustine. Further, the Semi-Pelagian teaching was also condemned as heresy in the second Council of Orange in 529 A.D. The Council of Orange dealt with the Semi-Pelagian doctrine that the human race, though fallen and possessed of a sinful nature, is still “good” enough to able to lay hold of the grace of God through an act of unredeemed human will. The Council held to Augustine’s view and repudiated Pelagius. Pelagianism as a structured heretical movement ceased to exist after the 6th century but its essential ideas continue to cause disputes and controversies throughout the history of the Church and even today. Luther and Erasmus The German Reformer Martin Luther had a profound affect on the Church. His efforts, along with those of Calvin, Zwingli and others, literally spawned the Protestant Reformation. Of course the main issue at stake with Martin Luther had to do with salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. However, during his ministry he dealt with many doctrinal issues, bringing much needed reform to almost every area of theology. As Luther was in the course of his ministry, a sharp disagreement arose between himself and a Roman Catholic teacher by the name of Erasmus. This disagreement focused sharply on the doctrines of man’s nature and human freewill. On September 1, 1524, Erasmus published his treatise On the Freedom of the Will. In December of 1525, Luther responded with The Bondage of the Will. Luther took the position defined by Augustinian theology which had been the historic position of the church officially for some 1000 years. This position of course was established at the second Council of Orange in 529 A.D., but had always been the view of the Church, being clearly defined in the Bible. Erasmus took a position that was Semi-Pelagian in nature, maintaining that man morally able to respond to the gospel without the need for Divine Grace. table-erasmus-luther Whenever a discussion of Human Freewill comes into focus, the basic issue revolves around man’s nature. Several questions arise in this matter because of the clear teaching of Scripture and the sinful desire of mankind for Autonomy, his desire to be subject or accountable to no one but himself. Some of these questions are……..

  • Is man’s will totally free, or somehow limited in his ability to make free choice?
  • Was mankind created morally able to do good and evil, and how was this affected by the Fall?
  • Can mankind respond to the Gospel on his own without the need for Divine Grace or enablement?
  • What role does freewill play in Predestination?
  • Once man/woman are saved or regenerated, are they now able to good and evil?

The chart below shows discussions about man’s nature and its freedom in different states.

State of man in history

Morally Able to do

Inclined by Nature to

GOOD

EVIL

GOOD

EVIL

Created

yes

yes

no

no

Fallen

no

yes

no

yes

Redeemed

yes

yes

yes

no

Glorified

yes

no

yes

no

Again the controversy over the doctrines of salvation rages on in the Church some 500 years later. These same issues and doctrines are closely related to the arguments between Calvinism and Arminianism. We will deal will these issues and questions with a detailed biblical analysis below. Calvinism and Arminianism As with Luther, the French Reformer John Calvin had a massive impact on the Church. His ministry was based in Geneva, Switzerland during the 16th century.  Calvin was born in 1509 and lived until 1564. He is the author of his “Institutes of the Christian Religion,” known as one of the foremost theological works in Church History. In 1559 he founded the GenevaAcademy, a BibleSchool which emphasized the principle of Sola Scriptura and placed a strong focus on the Authority of Scripture.  Calvin placed a strong emphasis on God being the center focus of all reality, and taught that all teaching and preaching should be centered in and defined by the nature of God. He is the father of the Reformed Faith and many attribute the subsequent development of Presbyterianism to the efforts of John Calvin. The controversy between Arminianism and Calvinism arose in Holland in the early 1600’s. The founder of the Arminian party was Jacob Arminius (1560-1609). He studied under the srict Calvinist Theodore Beza at Geneva and became a professor of theology at the University of Leyden in the Netherlands in 1603. Gradually Arminius came to reject certain Calvinist teachings. The controversy spread all over Holland, where the Reformed Church was the overwhelming majority. The Arminians drew up their creed in Five Articles, and laid them before the state authorities of Holland in 1610 under the name Remonstrance, signed by forty-six ministers. The Calvinists responded with a Counter-Remonstrance. But the official Calvinistic response came from the Synod of Dort which was held to consider the Five Articles from November 13, 1618 to May 9, 1619. There were eighty-four members and eighteen secular commissioners. The Synod wrote what has come to be known as the Canons of Dort. These are still part of the church confession of the Reformed Church in America and the Christian Reformed Church. They state the Five Points of Calvinism in response to the Five Articles of the Arminian Remonstrants. So the so-called Five Points were not chosen by the Calvinists as a summary of their teaching. They emerged as a response to the Arminians who chose these five points to oppose. The chart below shows the Five Points displayed in the helpful acronym TULIP. This TULIP is an easy way to break down the main doctrines of Salvation that relate to Sovereign Grace.

table-tulip

Calvin, Arminius, or the Bible?

Who is Calvin? What is Arminius? They are simply men who have labored to try and serve the church as teachers. It is a matter of utmost importance that we view the Word of God as God’s own self-revelation to us His people and understand the importance of deriving our understanding of truth from Scripture, with a reliance upon the Holy Spirit for true spiritual discernment. Therefore it is important to acknowledge that however helpful men may be in helping to clarify doctrinal issues, it is the Word of God which is true and only by the Holy Spirit can it be properly understood. It is important that we not follow men, but our allegiance focus on Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:12-13 – 12 Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” 13 Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? NASB Calvinist or Arminian? Another problem that arises in this type of discussion is one of labels such as “Calvinist” or “Arminian.” This issue is that many times one may be typified by the label, such as “Arminian”, but the person applying the label does not really know the true meaning of the term, nor do they understand the doctrinal issues at stake. In discussion, a person may be labeled a “Calvinist”, yet those giving the label and the one being labeled have different views of meaning of the term “Calvinist.”  This can create tremendous confusion when trying to discuss biblical doctrine and understand God’s Holy truth as many of these issues can be quite controversial and emotionally charged. An even greater problem is one of ignorance of Holy Scripture. One might endeavor to discuss these matters at length, but not really have a good grasp on the issue in the Bible, not having looked closely at all of the Bible references, in their context, to gain a proper understanding of the issue at hand. When this happens, we are left to trying to grasp supernatural Divine realities with our natural earthly understanding, and the matter becomes one of human appraisal of wisdom and truth, instead of Divine revelation of heavenly Light. The Scripture plainly declares that such matters are grasped only by spiritual discernment, not by mere human powers of reason and logic. 1 Corinthians 2:11-14 – 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. 14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. NASB Therefore it is important on these matters to rely upon God for insight into these high and Holy things. Anyone who has looked closely at the matters of the doctrine of salvation knows the difficulty in trying to grasp the words of Scripture on some of the finer details of Sovereign Grace.

Why is this important? What is at stake?

Consider that this controversy has arisen several times over the course of Church history as we have pointed out. Each time the debate intensifies as the matters are defined more clearly and we are exposed more comprehensively to the words of Holy Scripture. Now if these issues continue to arise and create controversy over biblical teaching, and the Church convenes with large counsels of Bible scholars to make confessions of orthodoxy and pronounce judgments against heresy, then this alone may speak to us about the serious nature of the matters at hand. It is imperative that we guard the truth of God’s Word, especially knowing the schemes of Satan and false teachers, working diligently to pervert the teaching of Scripture and assault the truth of God’s Word with “destructive heresies.”(Gen 3:1-4, 2 Pet 2:1) Moreover, we are exhorted by God in Scripture to “contend earnestly for the faith,” and not to succumb to the false teachers who seek to distort the truth. Jude 3-4 – 3 Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. NASB The matters which are at stake in these doctrines of salvation are of grave importance. The heresies which continue to re-emerge again and again in the Church, attack the very heart of the Gospel itself. These heresies are not “Theological or Christological”(about God or Christ’s nature), but are Soteriological(about Salvation), meaning they focus on the work of Christ and how it relates to mankind. A major problem in the modern Church in regard to this matter, is one of indifference when it comes to the truth of God’s Word. Many Christians would rather not even try to understand these issues because of the difficult nature of grasping matters of Predestination. I have identified several reasons below which are stated for an indifference to understanding these matters.

  • Controversy – It is not worth arguing about.
  • Work of Study – It takes to much work to understand.
  • I am only human and can’t grasp God’s mysteries – Too hard to understand.
  • Offense of Sovereign Prerogative – Some cannot accept the clear Sovereign rights of God presented in the Scripture feeling that their autonomy has been stolen.

The problem here is obviously one of indifference, if not a severe lack of honor and respect toward God and His Holy Word. Consider, if God deems these matters of such importance that He speaks volumes about it in Holy Writ, then it is incumbent upon us to “hear and understand”, and also to “take heed” to the things which God has spoken. Moreover, we are to love the Word of God, for it is God’s revelation of Himself to us. Dear reader, what has plagued our hearts so severely that we do not earnestly desire to lay hold of God’s awesome and wonderful Word which He has so freely given us? Is it not the great delight of our hearts? Consider the Words of the Psalmist and His relationship to God through Scripture. Psalm 119:97-104 – 97 O how I love Thy law ! It is my meditation all the day. 98 Thy commandments make me wiser than my enemies, For they are ever mine. 99 I have more insight than all my teachers, For Thy testimonies are my meditation. 100 I understand more than the aged, Because I have observed Thy precepts. 101 I have restrained my feet from every evil way, That I may keep Thy word. 102 I have not turned aside from Thine ordinances, For Thou Thyself hast taught me. 103 How sweet are Thy words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104 From Thy precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way. NASB Dear reader, if God’s Holy Word is not worth contending for, then what is? And if we need to study and examine the Word many times to grasp some of its truths, why would we consider that anything less than a Divine privilege? I am concerned that many modern Evangelicals would rather sit in front of the TV eating “bon bon’s” and be instructed by the devils in Hollywood, then spend time examining Holy Scripture to mine its precious truths. Should not we also expect the Word to be a mystery from Heaven requiring Divine revelation to grasp? Indeed we should, for it cannot be apprehended by mere human powers of reason and logic. And if we examine Holy Scripture, and there encounter a Sovereign God who has made everything for His own purpose, including ourselves, and He likens us to clay in the hands of a potter, should we not willingly surrender to His Divine molding to shape us into a vessel for His own purpose? Or shall we find ourselves rebelling against the King of Heaven in protest that He has no right over us because we a free to do our own will? Shall the clay protest against the potter about its purpose for existence? This is the very argument of Paul in Romans chapter nine. Romans 9:19-21 – 19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” 20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? 21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use, and another for common use? NASB No Middle Ground Now when we come to doctrines in the Bible, one great tool of the enemy is to make an issue unclear so that we cannot discern the truth. This is especially important on the issues related to Predestination. But consider that on any one point of these doctrines, they are either true or not true, indeed that cannot be somewhere in the middle. Notice how with these issues below, they are either one way or the other, but cannot be somewhere in the middle.

  • Total Depravity – Either man is able to understand and believe the Gospel apart from Divine Grace OR He is unable and must have Divine Grace to be enabled
  • Unconditional Election – God elects people to salvation conditionally OR unconditionally
  • Eternal Security – Either a Christian can lose his salvation OR he cannot

Calvinism and Arminianism Defined

Let us look at the controversy here and it will become clear just what is at stake. God has said volumes about these matters in Scripture and we should therefore pay careful attention to the words of Scripture in regard to these matters. The chart below will bring some clarity as to what matters were being debated by the Remonstrants and the Calvinists at the Synod of Dort in 1619. table-arminianism-calvinism So by examining the controversy, the issues of biblical teaching in regard to Predestination and Salvation become clear as we see the different sides taken in the matter. It becomes clear that there is more at stake then just one or two issues but the nature of Man and of Salvation and saving Grace come into sharp focus.

The Sovereignty of God

In Salvation

The Doctrine of Salvation in the Bible – What does the Bible say?

As we examine these matters in the Bible, it is important to try to use biblical and relevant terms as much as possible in our discussion. This is because the Bible is very clear about defining its terms used to describe things, therefore when we use biblical terms we have biblical definitions which bring meaning to those terms.   TULIP is not the best  In seeking to use biblical terms, and terms which describe the issue at hand, it becomes evident that the TULIP acronym does not really describe the issues at stake very clearly. Therefore I have chosen other terms to describe the same Five Points which better describe the heart of the issue at hand. These five terms are….

  • Natural Ability or Natural Inability
  • Prescient Election or Sovereign Election
  • Universal Redemption or Particular Redemption/Definite Atonement
  • Human Resistance or Effectual Calling
  • Falling from Grace or Eternal Security

The chart below presents these terms in contrast for clarity of the issues. fiveimportantdoctrines Having now used more relevant and biblical terms about these matters, let us now look to the Bible for clarity on these issues.

The Sovereignty of God

In Salvation

Human Ability or Inability – What does the Bible say?

The bible makes it very clear that “no one is good, no not one.” Jesus said, “there is only one who is good, God.” It is no secret that from the earliest time in their lives people sin against God. An observant look at young children will tell us this. But the Word of God has confirmed it again and again. People are steeped in sin from birth (Ps 51:5). It is the natural state of mankind, that we are sinners, fallen short of God’s required standard (Rom 3:23, 5:12). Mankind fell into sin and darkness when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit and transgressed against the Law of God (Original Sin). Because of this, Mankind’s rebellion corrupted his entire being, body and soul (mind, will, emotions). In fulfillment of God’s Word, they died, both spiritually and physically (the aging process began), they no longer had communion with God, no longer did we naturally understand the things of God or even have a desire to do so. Mankind is therefore described as “dead in transgressions and sins” (Eph 2:1, Col 2:13), in need of new life to be resurrected from the deadness of sin. The truth is, mankind neither pleases God nor seeks after God, and that in his natural state does not even possess the ability to savingly understand the things of God(that is the spiritual matters of the kingdom of God relating to man’s need to be saved and God’s provision to save Him). naturalhumaninability Examine the chart above very closely. Pay attention to the biblical words used to describe man’s condition.   Unable to See, Hear, or Understand When the Bible speaks of man’s fallen nature, it speaks of man’s inability by using words like, “cannot.” It is not that man “will not”, but that he/she “cannot” see or hear or even understand the Gospel. The Bible plainly declares that mankind has a natural inability to see, hear, or understand, the things of God. Jesus makes it clear that mankind has an inability to See the Kingdom apart from regeneration. John 3:3 – 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” NASB A. unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God – Here Jesus states that unless one becomes “born again”, that is regenerated by God, he “cannot see the Kingdom of God.” The word “cannot” speaks of man’s ability, not his willingness. 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 – 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. NASB This is also affirmed by Paul, in the passage above. A. our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing – Here is a clear biblical statement about those who are not saved and their ability to see the Gospel. Paul clearly says the Gospel is veiled to them. The purpose of a veil is to keep one from seeing. This evil work is attributed to Satan(the god of this world in the next verse). B. in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ – Again he affirms his statement that the Gospel is veiled stating that their “minds are blinded.” This means that they cannot see(blinded) in the minds(understand), a typical biblical idiom to understanding. They cannot see with their minds because they are blinded by Satan. The “light of the Gospel” does not enlighten the mind of the unbeliever. Further, it is the Gospel of the “glory of Christ” to which they are blinded. They do not see the beauty and treasure of Christ, because they do not realize who He is or their need to be saved because they cannot see these things, they are without understanding apart from grace.   chart below presents these terms in contrast for clarity of the issues. Likewise, in the passage below, Jesus makes it clear that mankind has an inability to Hear His Word. John 8:43 – 43 “Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. NASB A. you cannot hear my word – Here Jesus makes a clear statement about the ability of the ungodly Pharisees to hear His words. He says they “cannot hear.” The word “cannot” speaks of man’s ability, not his willingness. He points out that they “do not understand”, because they “cannot hear.” This is a theme in the teaching of Jesus. In the passage below He tells His disciples that the reason they understand the Kingdom and others do not is because it only comes by divine enablement, saying they do not know because it has “not been granted” to them. Matthew 13:10-13 – 10 And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” 11 And He answered and said to them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. 12 “For whoever has, to him shall more be given, and he shall have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. 13 “Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. NASB In the passage below, Paul makes it clear that mankind has an inability to Understand. 1 Corinthians 2:14- 14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. NAS A. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him –  Here Paul makes it clear that in his natural state(this is in contrast to the spiritual man who has the Spirit, after regeneration, v-12, v-16), mankind “does not accept the things of God” because they are “foolishness” to him. His understanding is so corrupted that the idea of God, sin, being saved and reconciled are “foolish” ideas because his thinking is corrupted. B. and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised – Here Paul describes why man’s thinking is corrupted, it is because he “cannot understand the things of the Spirit of God.” The word “cannot” speaks of man’s ability, not his willingness. Although because he is unable he is therefore also unwilling, as it states, he “does not accept.” This is because he does not have the Spirit (given at regeneration) by which he can “appraise” spiritual things.   Mankind is in rebellion against God and enslaved to sin Paul makes it very clear that mankind is in a state of rebellion against God naturally. The Bible plainly declares that mankind is in rebellion against God. Romans 3:9-12, 18 – 9 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; 10 as it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one; 11 There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; 12 All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one. ” 18″There is no fear of God before their eyes.” NAS A. There is none righteous, not even one; 11 There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; 12 All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one. ” 18″There is no fear of God before their eyes – Here Paul describes mankind in several ways in relation to God….

  • None righteous
  • None who understand
  • None who seeks for God
  • All have turned aside
  • None who does good
  • None who fear God

He makes it very clear that this is not a general statement about most people, but twice he says, “not even one.” These are plain clear statements expressing mankind’s rebellion against God’s Sovereign authority, even going so far as to say that no one even seeks after God.   In the passage below, Paul describes mankind as prone to evil. Indeed unregenerate persons have an inability to submit to God and are therefore in rebellion against Him and have their minds set on the sinful nature. Romans 8:5-8 – 5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. NASB A. because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so –  The natural state of all men is in the “flesh.” This speaks of man’s “sinful nature” or his natural state of sin. Here it is clear that mankind is in rebellion against God by the words “hostile toward God.” Man has hostility toward God, this is rebellion against God’s Sovereign authority. Paul makes this even clearer when he states that the flesh “does not subject itself to the Law of God.” Instead of submission it is rebellion. Further this is because of his inability, stating plainly that the flesh is “not even able to do so.” “Able” speaks of ability not willingness. B. and those who are in the flesh cannot please God – Paul further clarifies this rebellion by stating that the flesh has an inability to please God. He states, that “those in the flesh”, that is (“not born again”), “cannot please God.” The word “cannot” speaks of ability not willingness.   The Bible plainly declares that mankind is enslaved to sin, their hearts being deceitful and desperately wicked(Jer 17:9). This is to say that Man’s will is “bound to sin” and naturally prone to evil because he is in the flesh. Sin is a willful transgression of the Law, therefore when man sins, he does so willingly. This speaks of man’s will, his choices about his moral conduct. In the passages below it is clear that man’s will is not free but instead in “bondage to sin.” John 8:34 – 34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. NASB Romans 6:6 – 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; NASB Romans 7:14 – 14 For we know that the Law is spiritual; but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. NASB Titus 3:3-5 – 3 For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. 4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, NASB This idea is further clarified in passages that state that “no one does good” of his own. Until one is cleansed by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, they are simply unable to please God in any sense, being slaves to sin. Romans 3:12 – 12 All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one. ” Isaiah 64:6 – 6 For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. NASB Romans 14:23 says, “Whatever is not from faith is sin.” It is clear therefore that the natural person, apart from the regeneration of the Holy Spirit (being born again), abides in a sinful and rebellious state in relation to the Holy God, and is therefore “by nature, an object of God’s wrath.” Ephesians 2:3 – 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. NASB   Having pointed these things out, consider the chart below. Does it seem true that man is “naturally able” to understand the Gospel apart from divine grace?  And if man “cannot understand” the Gospel, how then can he believe it?     The fact remains that divine grace is necessary for man to understand and believe the Gospel. This is called regeneration. We will discuss this at length below.   A couple of supporting statements clarifies for us an Augustinian view of Salvation.   Westminster Confession of Faith – Of Free Will 3. Man, by his Fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.   Synod of Dort – ARTICLE 3 Therefore all men are conceived in sin, and are by nature children of wrath, incapable of saving good, prone to evil , dead in sin, and in bondage thereto; and without the regenerating grace of the Holy Spirit, they are neither able nor willing to return to God, to reform the depravity of their nature, or to dispose themselves to reformation Not sick, but Dead Consider how the Bible describes the radical corruption of sin in mankind. It clearly describes he/she as corrupted in their whole being. Mankind is not good, cannot do good, hates the light of God’s truth, drinks in sin like water, has both a defiled conscience and mind, and cannot please God or subject himself to the law of God. Romans 7:18 – 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. NASB Isaiah 64:6 – 6 For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. NASB Job 15:14-16 – 14 “What is man, that he should be pure, Or he who is born of a woman, that he should be righteous? 15 “Behold, He puts no trust in His holy ones, And the heavens are not pure in His sight; 16 How much less one who is detestable and corrupt, Man, who drinks iniquity like water! NASB John 3:19-20 – 19 “And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. 20 “For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. NASB Titus 1:15 – 15 To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. NASB Romans 8:7-8 – 7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Sin has so corrupted the nature of mankind that he has a natural inability as we have pointed out. It is not that he has been seriously hurt in the battle with sin, but has been slain by it, mortally wounded, killed.  When the Bible describes the state of man’s natural condition, it uses imagery that shows man’s complete inability to respond to anything apart from a divine working of new life. The Bible plainly declares that mankind is “dead in transgressions and sins” and wholly unable to respond to spiritual things. Colossians 2:13 – 13 And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, NASB Ephesians 2:1-2 – 1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. NASB A. you were dead in your trespasses and sins – Here is the former state of the Christian believer – DEAD! And that, in “transgression and sins!” This is a theme in the teaching of the Lord Jesus who frequently refers to unbelievers as “dead” and in desperate need of regeneration. This is the reason for the great need of REGENERATION, without which “no one can SEE the kingdom of God.”(John 3:3-6, John 6:65) Here is seen the consequence of sin and transgression, DEATH! Not that they were physically dead, but in that wretched state of spiritual death which rendered them helpless to hear or understand the things of God and His kingdom (1 Cor 2:14, Rom 8:5-8). Here is the definitive statement in the bible on depravity or natural inability. John 5:21-24 – 21 “For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes. 22 “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, 23 in order that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. 24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. NASB Matt 8:22 – 22 But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me; and allow the dead to bury their own dead.” NASB Luke 15:24 – 24 for this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; , 32’But we had to be merry and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.’ ” 1 John 3:14 – 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. NASB Consider how this image of a dead person corresponds to our sinful state apart from regeneration by the Holy Spirit. A dead person cannot see, hear, move, talk, think, understand, or respond to any kind of stimulus in any way. They are wholly unresponsive and unable to change. John 11:43-44 – 43 And when He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.”  44 He who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings; and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” NASB Romans 5:6 – 6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. NASB Jeremiah 13:23 – 3 “Can the Ethiopian change his skin Or the leopard his spots? Then you also can do good, Who are accustomed to doing evil. NASB Consider the statement of Albert Barnes on man’s dead condition…. “A corpse is insensible. It sees not, and hears not, and feels not. The sound of music, and the voice of friendship and of alarm, do not arouse it. The rose and the lily breath forth their fragrance around it, but the corpse perceives it not. The world is busy and active around it, but it is unconscious of it all. It sees no beauty in the landscape; hears not the voice of a friend; looks not upon the glorious sun and stars; and is unaffected by the running stream and the rolling ocean. So with the sinner in regard to the spiritual and eternal world, he sees no beauty in religion; he hears not the call of God; he is unaffected by the dying love of the Saviour; and he has no interest in eternal realities. In all these he feels no more concern, and sees no more beauty, than a dead man does in the world around him. Such is, in fact, the condition of a sinful world. There is, indeed, life and energy and motion. There are vast plans and projects, and the world is intensely active. But, in regard to religion, all is dead. The sinner sees no beauty there; and no human power can arouse him to act for God, any more than human power can rouse the sleeping dead, or open the sightless eye-balls on the light of day. The same power is needed in the conversion of a sinner which is needed in raising the dead; and one and the other alike demonstrate the omnipotence of him who can do it.” Plainly stated mankind is dead and in need of new life. Therefore in order for our sinful state to be corrected, we must resurrected from the dead, something which is obviously attributed only to God. The Bible plainly declares that salvation is a resurrecting work, accomplished wholly be the monergistic work of God, whereby God infuses life into the dead and regenerates them granting them spiritual life. Ephesians 2:5 – 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), NASB John 5:21 –  21 “For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes. NASB Therefore, when the Bible describes our salvation, it attributes the saving process wholly to the work of God, and speaks about the inability of man to even come to Christ apart from divine grace, and the impossibility of mankind being saved apart from God’s saving work of regeneration. John 6:44,65 – 44 “No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day, 65 And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father.” NASB Matthew 19:23-26 – 23 And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 “And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”  25 And when the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?” 26 And looking upon them Jesus said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  NASB Titus 3:5 – 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, NASB Furthermore, when the Bible describes our salvation, it attributes the saving process wholly to the work of God, and speaks about God’s divine enablement as a monergistic work. Deuteronomy 30:6 – 6 Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, in order that you may live. NASB Ezekiel 36:26-27 – 26 “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 “And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. NASB 1 Peter 1:3 – 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, Matthew 11:27 – 27 “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son, except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father, except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. John 3:27 – 27 John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing, unless it has been given him from heaven. NASB

The Sovereignty of God

In Salvation

Regeneration – What does the Bible say?

When we think about the biblical word “regeneration”, we must consider first its nature. Regeneration is a word derived from its root, “genesis” or “generate” meaning beginning or create. It is “re” or “again generation.” Plainly said by the apostle Paul….. 2 Corinthians 5:17 – 17 Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. NASB When anyone is born again by the Holy Spirit, he/she becomes a “new creation” of God. They are recreated by the supernatural creative power of God. This is why Paul says in Galatians 6:15 that the true substance of saving faith is not a human work, but the work of the creative power of God. Galatians 6:15 – 15 For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. NASB Salvation, then and therefore is supernatural. It is a work performed by God, transcending the earthly abilities of any man. So we see then that salvation is first the work of God, and it then results in many diverse blessings and benefits of which mankind is a partaker. Let us then consider the following definition of Regeneration…… “A sovereign act of God, performed by the Holy Spirit, in which the sinner is given the capacities needed to understand, believe, and enter the Kingdom of God by God given faith and granted eternal life. His/her mind and will are divinely enabled to comprehend sin and righteousness and judgment. His/her spirit is resurrected from its natural dead state, restoring communion with God who is Spirit. It is a fundamental change in the nature of mankind having the very nature and eternal life of God implanted into the human soul. At this time the Holy Spirit enters into the being of mankind performing this transformation eternally.” Let us consider the nature of regeneration from biblical texts. As we survey these Bible texts, consider how they are all pointing to the supernatural and Sovereign work of God in salvation. Regeneration is the act of God, not of human doing 1 Peter 1:3 – 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 1 Peter 1:23 – 23 for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God. NASB James 1:18 – 18 In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we might be, as it were, the first fruits among His creatures. NASB Ezekiel 11:19-21 – 19 “And I shall give them one heart, and shall put a new spirit within them. And I shall take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20 that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances, and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God. Regeneration changes the mind and will Ezekiel 36:26-27 – 26 “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 “And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. 1 John 3:9 – 9 No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. NASB 1 John 5:18-21 – 18 We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him and the evil one does not touch him. 19 We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. 20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding, in order that we might know Him who is true, and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. NASB 1 John 5:4 – 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world —  our faith. NASB 1 Corinthians 2:12-16 – 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. 14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no man. 16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ. NASB Regeneration raises mankind’s dead spirit to eternal life and implants God’s nature into him/her Colossians 2:13 – 13 And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, NASB Ephesians 2:5-9 – 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, that no one should boast. NASB Ephesians 4:24 – 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. NASB John 5:24 – 24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. NASB John 6:39-40 – 39 “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. 40 “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” NASB Regeneration then, is the very nature of salvation itself. It is the saving act of salvation, performed by God, whereby salvation is applied to the elect in time and space. It is the point in time when the called of God are supernaturally transformed by God. This is why the Bible says we were saved “by the washing of regeneration.” Titus 3:5 – 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, NAS Furthermore, this is the very reason why Jesus emphatically stressed, “You must be born again” to “enter the Kingdom of God.” The Bible plainly declares that no can see or enter the Kingdom of God apart from the supernatural creative power of God in Regeneration. John 3:3-7 – 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ NASB A. Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  – Here we may see , God Himself, in the flesh, speaking to man about how to see His Kingdom. Here is where Christianity becomes very exclusive, “unless” Jesus declares. That is, in no other way but this way, can you “see the Kingdom of God.” The word “cannot” speaks of man’s inability, not His unwillingness. Mankind has an inability to see the Kingdom of God without the supernatural creative power of God in the new birth. People who are dead in trespasses and sins have no capacity of sight, hearing, or understanding of the Gospel. (1 Cor 2:10-14, 2 Cor 4:3-4, John 8:43, Matt 13:10-13, Romans 3:9-12, 18, 6:16, 7:14) B. he cannot enter the Kingdom of God – The kingdom of God is here rightly understood as God’s salvation wherein one enters into a justified state of being having one’s sins forgiven and satisfied upon the merits of Christ alone. One “cannot enter” or possess this saving work of Christ apart from the divine grace of Regeneration. C. You must be born again – Consider, God has come in the flesh and given us understanding. Here he says to us, “You must be born again if you want to see or enter the Kingdom of God.” Here then the repetition by which the Savior speaks this very important word, “you MUST” says He, be “born again.” The analogy of birth and new life Consider that Jesus uses the analogy of birth. A person no more had some choice in the matter of their natural birth as they do their spiritual birth. We did not choose to be physically alive, and we did not choose to be born, it is something that happened to us. This Sovereign work of God is performed by God before any person has capacities to even see, hear or understand the Gospel, being dead in sin. A person’s ability to receive Christ as Savior and believe the Gospel are granted by the Sovereign choice and resurrecting ability of God. John 1:12-13 – 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. NASB John 6:44 – 44 “No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. NASB Romans 9:16 – 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. NASB Matthew 11:27 – 27 “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son, except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father, except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Lazarus had no capacities to raise himself from the dead, nor did he possess the ability to resist the powerful Word of God to be resurrected (John 11:43). This is clearly portrayed in the prophecy of Ezekiel where the nation of Israel will corporately be raised from their spiritual death and brought into the glorious Kingdom of God in the Day of their restoration. Ezekiel 37:11-14 – 11 Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope has perished. We are completely cut off.’ 12 “Therefore prophesy, and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD,” Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel. 13 “Then you will know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves and caused you to come up out of your graves, My people. 14 “And I will put My Spirit within you, and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, the LORD, have spoken and done it,” declares the LORD.’ NASB Do babies resist being born? Do people being raised from the dead resist the free gift of life? Have they even the ability to do so? The answers is of course, no! People do not resist this regenerating work of God because it is this work whereby God overcomes the resistance of the fallen human nature by giving them the capacities to understand their dreadful state of death and their great need to be saved by God’s power and free grace. Acts 10:44-45 – 44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. 45 And all the circumcised believers who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out upon the Gentiles also. NASB Acts 13:48 – 48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. NASB   Regeneration is an invisible work of which we only see the results over time When someone is born again, we are not always immediately aware of it because we only see what happens after someone gets saved. There is an obvious change that happens in the life as we see God’s power changing us(sanctification). But we were not aware when the secret power of God actually resurrects someone from spiritual death and grants them new life. John 3:8 – 8 “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” NASB Wayne Grudem explains this very clearly in chapter 34 of his Systematic Theology….      “Exactly what happens in regeneration is mysterious to us. We know that somehow we who were spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1) have been made alive to God and in a very real sense we have been “born again” (John 3:3, 7; Eph. 2:5; Col. 2:13). But we don’t understand how this happens or what exactly God does to us to give us this new spiritual life…… Because regeneration is a work of God within us in which he gives us new life it is right to conclude that it is an instantaneous event. It happens only once. At one moment we are spiritually dead, and then at the next moment we have new spiritual life from God. Nevertheless, we do not always know exactly when this instantaneous change occurs. Especially for children growing up in a Christian home, or for people who attend an evangelical church or Bible study over a period of time and grow gradually in their understanding of the gospel, there may not be a dramatic crisis with a radical change of behavior from “hardened sinner” to “holy saint,” but there will be an instantaneous change nonetheless, when God through the Holy Spirit, in an unseen, invisible way, awakens spiritual life within. The change will become evident over time in patterns of behavior and desires that are pleasing to God. In other cases (in fact, probably most cases when adults become Christians) regeneration takes place at a clearly recognizable time at which the person realizes that previously he or she was separated from God and spiritually dead, but immediately afterward there was clearly new spiritual life within. The results can usually be seen at once—a heartfelt trusting in Christ for salvation, an assurance of sins forgiven, a desire to read the Bible and pray (and a sense that these are meaningful spiritual activities), a delight in worship, a desire for Christian fellowship, a sincere desire to be obedient to God’s Word in Scripture, and a desire to tell others about Christ. People may say something like this: “I don’t know exactly what happened, but before that moment I did not trust in Christ for salvation. I was still wondering and questioning in my mind. But after that moment I realized that I did trust in Christ and he was my Savior. Something happened in my heart.” Yet even in these cases we are not quite sure exactly what has happened in our hearts. It is just as Jesus said with respect to the wind—we hear its sound and we see the result, but we cannot actually see the wind itself. So it is with the working of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.”   Regeneration precedes faith Many times we fail to understand the Bible about this because of how the experience happened to us. Again Grudem explains… “The idea that regeneration comes before saving faith is not always understood by evangelicals today. Sometimes people will even say something like, “If you believe in Christ as your Savior, then (after you believe) you will be born again.” But Scripture itself never says anything like that. This new birth is viewed by Scripture as something that God does within us in order to enable us to believe. The reason that evangelicals often think that regeneration comes after saving faith is that they see the results (love for God and his Word, and turning from sin) after people come to faith, and they think that regeneration must therefore have come after saving faith. Yet here we must decide on the basis of what Scripture tells us, because regeneration itself is not something we see or know about directly:” We heard the Gospel and then we believed, at least it seemed like that is what happened. But we were not aware that our belief was the granting of faith to us by God’s Sovereign choice and the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit in the new birth. But that is in fact what happened. We only learn of this great truth after we examine Holy Scripture and understand the process of salvation. Jesus made this very clear….. John 6:63-65 – 63 “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. 64 “But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. 65 And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father.” 66 As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew, and were not walking with Him anymore. NASB Here Jesus explains that the reason many people do not believe. This is why he says in verse 65 “for this reason I have said to you”, referring to verse 64 where he says “some of you do not believe.” The Bible plainly declares that the reason people do not believe is because saving faith has not been granted to them by God. Matthew 13:11 – 11 And He answered and said to them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. NASB And to those who believe the Bible plainly declares it is because it has been granted to them by God. Philippians 1:29 – 29 For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, NASB This is also clearly seen in the salvation of the Apostle Paul(Acts 9:18) or of Lydia in Acts chapter 16. Acts 16:14 – 14 And a certain woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.  NASB

The Sovereignty of God

In Salvation

Sovereign Election – What does the Bible say?

The Bible plainly declares that God chooses who will be saved. This is called “election” and refers to God’s electing certain individuals to salvation and that this happened before He ever created the world. This is taught in many places in the Bible.

John 15:16 – 16 “You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give to you. NASB

Ephesians 1:3-6 – 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. NASB

Titus 1:1-2 – 1:1 Paul, a bond-servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, 2 in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, NASB

2 Timothy 2:10 – 10 For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory. NASB

2 Thessalonians 2:13 – 13 But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. NASB

1 Peter 1:1-2 – 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in fullest measure. NASB

Matthew 11:27 – 27 “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son, except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father, except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.

This teaching in the Bible is closely related to the idea of “predestination”, another concept clearly presented in the Bible. In fact, “predestination” is a Biblical word which refers to the fact that God has set the destiny of His chosen people from before the beginning of time. This is presented in many places in Scripture.

Acts 13:48 – 48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. NASB

Romans 8:28-30 – 28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; 30 and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. NASB

Romans 9:22-25 – 22 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? 23 And He did so in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, 24 even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.  NASB

Therefore when we speak about the doctrine of “election” or “predestination,” we must realize that this is a Biblical doctrine which occurs many places in the Bible. Rarely does anyone deny this teaching, but there is much controversy over the nature and basisof it.

  • Who does God choose and why?
  • On what basis does God choose? Is it because of some foreseen act or faith of people, or is it because of His own free and sovereign purpose?

These questions and more will be addressed below.

Election is unconditional

When we speak about election being “unconditional” we mean that our election by God is “not conditioned” upon anything that God sees in people which makes them worthy of His choosing them, or somehow merits His choice of them. Scripture never speaks of election in this way. Rather it speaks of God’s “free and sovereign grace” when discussing what motivated His choice. Salvation is by “grace alone”, not on the basis of any human works or merit. The word grace means unmerited favor and speaks about God’s freely bestowed gift of salvation. Titus 3:5 – 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, NASB 2 Timothy 1:9 – 9 who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, NASB If grace could be merited, it would “no longer be grace” but God would owe us salvation. Romans 11:5-6 – 5 In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice. 6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace. NASB Even the faith by which we believed is seen to be “the gift of God” and we are specifically told is it “not of ourselves.” Ephesians 2:8-9 – 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, that no one should boast. NASB Scripture speaks in this way as to exalt God’s free and sovereign choice in the matter so that we glorify Him for His “freely bestowed” grace and so that we do not “boast” or somehow take credit for the fact that we have been saved. Notice in the passage in Ephesians below the Scripture plainly says that “He predestines us…according to”….

  • to the kind intention of His will
  • to the praise of the glory of His grace
  • it is freely bestowed

Ephesians 1:4-6 – 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. NASB The Bible plainly declares that we are in Christ by God’s choice and His doing so that we will not boast or take credit for our salvation because of our wisdom, strength or heritage  in any way. 1 Corinthians1:26-31 – 26 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, 29 that no man should boast before God. 30 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, 31 that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.” NASB The Bible plainly declares that we are chosen by God not on the basis of our own will, but on the free mercy of God. Romans 9:10-16 – 10 And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; 11 for though the twins were not yet born, and had not done anything good or bad, in order that God’s purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls, 12 it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” 14 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! 15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. NASB John 1:12-13 – 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. NASB In fact, the Gentile nations of the world were kept in darkness until God desired to reveal Himself to them, even though they were not seeking for Him(Rom 3:11). Isaiah 65:1 – “I permitted Myself to be sought by those who did not ask for Me; I permitted Myself to be found by those who did not seek Me. I said, ‘Here am I, here am I,’ To a nation which did not call on My name. NASB   Election and Foreknowledge The biblical word “foreknowledge” is often used in connection with election. Both Peter and Paul say that foreknowledge is connected to our election. 1 Peter 1:1-2 – 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in fullest measure. NASB Romans 8:28-30 – 28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; 30 and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. NASB Occasionally someone will suggest that God’s election is based on His “foreknowledge” of who will believe. This view suggests that God simply looks into the future to see who will believe, and He chooses those whom He sees choosing Him. If divine foreknowledge simply means God’s knowledge of what will happen in advance, then this view may seem correct. But that is not the biblical meaning of “foreknowledge.” [Gk. – prognosis] John MacArthur speaks of this……“When the Bible speaks of God’s foreknowledge, it refers to God’s establishment of a love relationship with that person. The word “know,” in both the Old and New Testament, refers to much more than mere cognitive knowledge of a person. Such passages as Hosea 13:4-5; Amos 3:2 (KJV); and Romans 11:2 clearly indicate this. For example, 1 Peter 1:20 says Christ was “foreknown before the foundation of the world.” Surely this means more than that God the Father looked into the future to behold Christ! It means He had an eternal, loving relationship with Him. The same is true of the elect, whom we are told God “foreknew” (Romans 8:29). That means He knew them–he loved them–before the foundation of the world.” Hosea 13:4-5 – 4 Yet I have been the LORD your God Since the land of Egypt; And you were not to know any god except Me, For there is no savior besides Me. 5 I cared for you[knew you-NKJV] in the wilderness, In the land of drought. NASB Amos 3:2 – 2 “You only have I chosen[known-NKJV] among all the families of the earth; Therefore, I will punish you for all your iniquities.” NASB Romans 11:2 – 2 God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel?” NASB As a matter of fact, consider that in the same context of 1 Peter chapter 1, Peter speaks of our election being “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father” (v-2) and also speaks of Christ being “foreknown before the foundation of the world” (v-20). But consider that elsewhere in the New Testament where Christ’s election as Savior and foreknowledge of His cross are mentioned, that is said to be “by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God.” Here foreknowledge has a much fuller meaning than just “a prior knowledge”, but rather a predetermined plan in which Christ is “foreknown,” that is, “chosen, elect, planned to be the one” by God. Further, Acts 4:27 says that His cross was predestined by God to occur. In these contexts consider that foreknowledge is the very decree and foreordination of God. Acts 2:23 – 23 this Man, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. NASB Acts 4:27-28 – 27 “For truly in this city there were gathered together against Thy holy servant Jesus, whom Thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever Thy hand and Thy purpose predestined to occur.” NASB Therefore when we speak of the biblical word “foreknowledge” we see that it has a much fuller sense than just prior knowledge. Consider these words from Zodiates NT Word Study…… 4267. proginôskœ; fut. prognôsomai, 2 d aor. proégnœn, from pró (4253), before, and ginôskœ (1097), to know. To perceive or recognize beforehand, know previously, take into account or specially consider beforehand, to grant prior acknowledgement or recognition to someone, to foreknow. (I) Used of mere prescience, to know before (Acts 26:5; 2 Peter 3:17). (II) Used of God’s eternal counsel it includes all that He has considered and purposed to do prior to human history. In the language of Scripture, something foreknown is not simply that which God was aware of prior to a certain point. Rather, it is presented as that which God gave prior consent to, that which received His favorable or special recognition. Hence, this term is reserved for those matters which God favorably, deliberately and freely chose and ordained. (A) Used of persons, to foreknow with approbation, to foreapprove or make a previous choice of, as special people (Rom 8:29; 11:2). (B) Used of events, to previously decide or plan, to foreknow for God is to foreordain 1 Peter 1:19,20 presents Christ as the “Lamb of God foreknown from the foundation of the world” (a.t.). He is said to be foreknown because God had planned and determined in His eternal counsel to provide His Son as a sacrifice for His people. Certainly more is meant than that God knew ahead of time that Christ would so come and die. God’s foreknowledge is given here as the cause for His Son’s sacrifice — because He planned and decreed it. (C) In Rom 8:29, in relation to believers, proginôskœ occurs with the verb proôrise, aor. act. indic. of proorízœ (4309), to predestinate. Foreknowledge and foreordination are logically coordinate. The former emphasizes the exercise of God’s wisdom and intelligence in regard to His eternal purpose and the latter emphasizes the exercise of God’s will in regard to it. What He has decreed is what He has decided. This foreknowledge and foreordination in the Scripture are always unto salvation and not unto perdition. Therefore, it should be said that the Lord never foreordains someone to be lost. Rather, He foreordains unto salvation those whom He specially considered and chose in eternity past (see Matt 7:23; John 10:14; Rom 11:2; 1 Cor 8:3; Gal 4:9; 2 Tim 2:19; Sept.: Hos 13:5; Amos 3:2). Any thought of the lost being appointed or ordained unto condemnation should be understood as an act of passing over in which the lost are permitted to suffer the consequences of their choice of sin (1 Peter 2:8). The salvation of every believer is known and determined in the mind of God before its realization in time. Thus, proginôskœ corresponds with the idea of having been chosen (eklégomai [1586], to choose) before the foundation of the world mentioned in Eph 1:4 and logically precedes the action indicated by proorízœ. Proginôskœ essentially entails a gracious self- determining on God’s part from eternity to extend fellowship with Himself to undeserving sinners (Rom 8:29). (from The Complete Word Study Bible and The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament Copyright © 1991, 1992, 1994, 2002 AMG International, Inc.)   Election is a theme in God’s plan and appears throughout the Bible The doctrine of election is not just a New Testament reality, but does in fact appear throughout the Scripture as it characterizes the way God deals with man. Consider this brief definition of election from the Nelson’s Bible Dictionary…… ELECTIONThe gracious and free act of God by which He calls those who become part of His kingdom and special beneficiaries of His love and blessings. The Bible describes the concept of election in three distinct ways. Election sometimes refers to the election of Israel and the church as a people for special service and privileges. Election may also refer to the election of a specific individual to some office or to perform some special service. Still other passages of the Bible refer to the election of individuals to be children of God and heirs of eternal life.(from Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Copyright © 1986) Election therefore, is a method of God for selecting specific individuals for His own purposes, and usually provides special services that they will perform and bestows upon them special privileges of which they alone are the beneficiaries. God chose Noah to build and ark out of gopher wood so that he and his family could be saved from the flood, when the entire population of the whole earth was to be destroyed by God, and also possessed a faith that became for him and his family eternal salvation. Hebrews 11:7 – 7 By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. NASB God chose Abraham from among the Gentiles in Chaldea to bring Him into the Land of Canaan, and to be the ancestor of Christ, and a “father of many nations,” through whom “all the families of the earth would be blessed.” Genesis 12:1-3 – Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you; 2 And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; 3 And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. ”  NASB Nehemiah 9:7 – “Thou art the LORD God, Who chose Abram And brought him out from Ur of the Chaldees, And gave him the name Abraham. NASB Joshua 24:2 – 2 And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘From ancient times your fathers lived beyond the River, namely, Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, and they served other gods. NASB God chose Moses to be the deliverer of Israel from the cruel labor of Pharaoh. Exodus 3:10 – 10 Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.” NASB God chose Israel to be delivered from the cruel labor of Pharaoh, in order show them His mighty deeds in delivering them, and to bestow upon them the special privileges of His covenant relationship with them, and to even make them recipients of eternal life through Christ and heirs of the Gospel. Consider that in the calling of Israel out of Egypt, they were given the specific privilege of bringing forth the Word of God and also the Messiah Himself. Deuteronomy 7:6-8 – 6 “For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. 7 The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, 8 but because the LORD loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the LORD brought you out by a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. NASB Isaiah 41:8-9 – “But you, Israel, My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, Descendant of Abraham My friend, 9 You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, And called from its remotest parts, And said to you, ‘You are My servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you. NASB Isaiah 44:1-3 – “But now listen, O Jacob, My servant; And Israel, whom I have chosen:  2 Thus says the LORD who made you And formed you from the womb, who will help you,’ Do not fear, O Jacob My servant; And you Jeshurun whom I have chosen.  3’For I will pour out water on the thirsty land And streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring, And My blessing on your descendants; NASB Consider in the election of Israel by God, just a few of the following special privileges and services to which they were appointed by God. (Rom 9:3-5)

  • To be the nation through whom the Messiah would come
  • To be the people through who God would give the Word – Law and the Prophets
  • A personal relationship with God as He led them by prophet and fire and cloud
  • To be heirs of Salvation by grace through faith, through God’s promise to them
  • The Levitical Priesthood and the service of worship to God, even the “Shekinah” glory
  • To be the nation who would inherit the promised land and the Kingdom on earth

Romans 9:3-5 – 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, 4 who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, 5 whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. NASB And this is just a few of those chosen by God in the Old Testament. Now consider, Gideon, Samson, David, Solomon, and many, many more who by no doing of their own, became the recipients of God’s special favor(grace), having been specifically picked out by God for His service and the privileges that come along with it. But this is not just an Old Testament concept, appearing clearly in many places in the New Testament in the conversion of some, and also being clearly taught in NT doctrinal passages as the very ground of Salvation. People get saved and come to Christ because they have been elected by God beforehand for this privilege. Romans 11:5-6 – 5 In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice. 6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace. NASB God chose to save Cornelius and his family. Consider the account of Cornelius in Acts chapter 10. In this account, God Sovereignly saves Cornelius and his family and friends in a very specific and unusual way. Notice several things in this account which are initiated by God to save this Gentile Roman centurion.

  • God gives an Angellic vision – v-1-8
  • specifically sending him to Peter, even telling him where he is staying
  • verse 22 says “he was divinely directed by a holy angel to send for you”
  • he needs the Gospel to be saved
    • God prepares Peter by heavenly vision – v-9-16
    • God sends Peter specifically to Cornelius – v-17-23
    • Peter preaches the Gospel – v-34-43
    • God Sovereignly imparts the Holy Spirit to the whole crowd(Cornelius’ relatives and friends) – v-44

God chose Saul of Tarsus, not only for salvation, but also to be His Gospel messenger to the Gentile world. Even in the midst of Saul’s vicious hatred of the Church, God chooses him out to be saved. Acts 9:13-17 – 13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Thy saints at Jerusalem; 14 and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call upon Thy name. ”  15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; 16 for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.” NASB God chose Lydia to be saved. Lydia’s regeneration is clearly described in Acts chapter 16. Acts 16:14-15 – 14 And a certain woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. 15 And when she and her household had been baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us. NASB God chose the disciples to be saved. He specifically tells them that they did not choose Him, but that He chose them. Consider how the Bible describes their election to Salvation. John 15:16,19 – 16 “You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give to you…. 19 “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. NASB John 6:70 – 70 Jesus answered them, “Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?” NASB The New Testament speaks again and again about the election of the church to salvation. The very word “church” is a word which means to “call out of.” [Gk. ekklesia] 1 Peter 2:9 – 9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; NASB Mark 13:20 – 20 “And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect whom He chose , He shortened the days. NASB Colossians 3:12 – 12 And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; NASB God reserves the right to choose whomever He will for His own purposes. This is seen in many places in Scripture. Here are a few examples. Luke 1:30-31 – 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary ; for you have found favor with God. 31 “And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. NASB John 5:5-9 – 5 And a certain man was there, who had been thirty-eight years in his sickness. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, “Do you wish to get well?”  7 The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Arise, take up your pallet, and walk.”  9 And immediately the man became well, and took up his pallet and began to walk. NASB Acts 10:40-41 – 40 “God raised Him up on the third day, and granted that He should become visible, 41 not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us, who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. NASB

Romans 9

An Exposition – God’s Free and Sovereign Grace

Romans 9 – Outline

  1. Paul’s Sorrow over Israel’s present rejection of Christ 9:1-3
  2. Paul enumerates Israel’s privileges and blessing  9:4-5
  3. God’s Sovereignty in salvation and in judgment explained in the cases of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Esau, and Pharaoh 9:6-17
  4. God shows mercy and judgment according to His own sovereign purpose, and none have a right or power to find fault with His decisions 9:18-21
  5. God’s grand design in the dispensing of judgment and mercy 9:22-24
  6. The prophets predicted the calling of the Gentiles and their salvation, and the rejection of the Jews 9:25-29
  7. The faith of the Gentiles and the stumbling of the Jews 9:30-33

Romans 9:1-5 – 1 I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, 4 who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, 5 whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen. NASB

  1. 1 I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart.

Paul’s sorrow over Israel’s rejection of Christ, as a corporate body. Note the context of the passage carried over from Chapter 8, the salvation of the called and elect, 8:28-32. From this it is clearly seen that the context of Chapter 9 is the salvation of individuals, not corporate callings or privileges, and also in verses 9:30-32.

Albert Barnes – The chapter, therefore, has not reference to national election, or to choice to external privileges, but has direct reference to the doctrine of the election to salvation which had been stated in chap. 8. To suppose that it refers merely to external privileges, and national distinctions, makes the whole discussion unconnected, unmeaning, and unnecessary.

  1. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh,

Paul’s sorrow is so severe that he is willing to trade his faith for Israel’s acceptance of Christ. Here is the deep and godly compassion of a man who believes in God’s Sovereignty through and through.

  1. 4 who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, 5 whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.  –

Paul here enumerates the great privileges which belong to Israel and yet means to show that in spite of all of these, they are lost in regard to salvation. This is the reason for his sorrow. He will show in this chapter that salvation is rooted in a divine privilege which is given to individuals based on nothing more than God’s free and sovereign grace. It is not according to works(v-11,16,31-32) or according to man’s will(v-16), but according to God’s free and sovereign design(v-8,11,15-18,21-24,28-29)

Romans 9:6-9 – 6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; 7 neither are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “through Isaac your descendants will be named.” 8 That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. 9 For this is a word of promise: “At this time I will come, and Sarah shall have a son.” NASB

  1. 6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed.

God’s promises to Israel in His Word have not failed but are being realized even now by those whom God has called.

  1. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; 7 neither are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “through Isaac your descendants will be named.” 8 That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. 9 For this is a word of promise: “At this time I will come, and Sarah shall have a son.”

Salvation is not based on Abraham’s heritage – Isaac was the promised one and came by supernatural appointment, Ishmael was a product of fleshly efforts, not God’s supernatural desig

Romans 9:10-13 – 10 And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; 11 for though the twins were not yet born, and had not done anything good or bad, in order that God’s purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls, 12 it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” NASB

  1. 10 And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac;

Salvation is not based on Isaac’s heritage – Both Jacob and Esau had one father, but only one was chosen by God for His redeeming privileges

  1. 11 for though the twins were not yet born, and had not done anything good or bad, in order that God’s purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls, 12 it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

Salvation is not based on good or bad works, but is according to God’s purpose in election, and because of Him who calls. – Rom 11:5, Eph 1:4-6, 1 Thess 1:4, 2 Tim 1:9

Romans 9:14-15 – 14 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! 15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” NASB

  1. 14 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be!

God is not unjust. Consider why Paul raises this question.

  1. If Paul had designed to show that salvation was based on man’s will, he would have never brought this up, for no one would try to charge God with injustice, and would not feel like there rights were being violated.
  2. Paul brings up this matter anticipating the readers accusation of God being unjust because the matter of salvation is by God’s choice , not by human effort(v-11,16,31-32) or human will(v-16).
  1. 15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”  –

The dispensing of God’s mercy and compassion is according to His own free will.

  1. Those who receive the mercy of salvation, receive it by “God’s purpose according to His choice”(v-11) and by His own free grace(otherwise it is no longer grace).

Romans 11:6-8 – 6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace. 7 What then? That which Israel is seeking for, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened; 8 just as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, Eyes to see not and ears to hear not, Down to this very day.” NASB

  • The choice of His will to dispense mercy to one and not the other is the reason for Isaac’s blessing(not Ishmael’s), and Jacob’s blessing(not Esau’s). It is not based on their heritage, or works, or their human willing(v-16).

 

Romans 9:16-18 – 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” 18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. NASB

  1. 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.

Consider the “it” in verse 16…..what is “it” referring to? “It” refers to the dispensing of God’s mercy and compassion.

  1. “It” refers to the dispensing of God’s mercy and compassion to the children of promise, (not the children of the flesh), v-8.
  2. “It” refers to the dispensing of God’s mercy and compassion to those God has chosen v-11, not because they have one father Isaac, or because they do good or bad.

Here “it” does not depend on man’s will BUT on God who has mercy. This verse plainly states that salvation does NOT depend on man’s will but on God’s FREE mercy.

  1. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.”

Paul reasons that God did as He willed with Pharoah,(and this was not unjust, for it was God’s privilege and right), and His purpose was to show His power in judgment over Pharoah and His ability to harden Pharoah’s heart in order to accomplish His purpose. This purpose was the fame of God’s name which He clearly accomplished both in that day(Num 14:15, Eze 20:9, 14, 22, Psalm 46:10) and to this day.

Proverbs 21:1 – The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes. NASB

  1. 18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.

It is re-asserted(verse 15) that God dispenses His mercy to whomever He “desires” or wills. But what of this statement, “He hardens whom He desires.” Who shall charge God with injustice? And by what power shall His Sovereign authority be overruled? By what court shall you arraign or try God?

Romans 9:19-21 – 19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” 20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? 21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use, and another for common use? NASB

  1. 19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?”

Paul again anticipates an argument from those who would charge God with injustice. Here the argument is, if God is free in the dispensation of His mercy and in the execution of His judgment, then why does He blame men for their wrongdoing? Consider….this argument would never be raised if Paul were reasoning that salvation(the dispensing of God’s mercy) was according to the will of man, or that its rejection was because of the stubborn will of man.

  1. 20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it?

Here Paul shuts the mouth of anyone who would dare challenge the design and purposes of God. He reasons that God is the Creator, and has the Sovereign Prerogative to do as He pleases with what he has made.

  1. 21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use, and another for common use?

Here it is affirmed that God has a “right over the clay.” Clay here is analogous to “people.” Here “honorable use” speaks of the privileges of eternal salvation(v-22-24) and “common use” speaks of those “vessels of wrath, prepared for destruction.” This is a very humbling and fearful concept indeed. Dear reader, NOW is the day of salvation, the free offer of the Gospel is extended to you! Why will you be destroyed? Repent and trust Christ by faith and you SHALL be saved!

Romans 9:22-24 – 22 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? 23 And He did so in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, 24 even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. NASB

  1. 22 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?

Here is the second point Paul uses to answer the objection of verse 19. The first point was, “the potter has a right over the clay.” And here then God is “willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known.” Further He is “enduring with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction.” God is willing to permit sin in His creation for at least four  purposes here;

  • To demonstrate His wrath
  • To make His power known
  • To display much patience with the vessels of wrath
  • To make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy

Here the Sovereignty of God over evil in His world is clearly seen. God will do as He pleases with the wicked, and He will do it for the purposes of revealing His Goodness to His chosen vessels of mercy. This as an answer to the objection in verse 19, “why does He still find fault,” is a crystal clear statement of God’s own Sovereign and Free right(or prerogative) to do as He pleases with His creation.

  1. 23 And He did so in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy

Here is given the reason why God “demonstrates His wrath, power and patience” with the wicked. It is to “make known” or to DISPLAY “the riches of His glory” to His own “vessels of mercy.” Note then, that the vessels of mercy should look at the destruction of the wicked and stand in awe at the wrath, power and patience of God in dealing with them. The Bible plainly declares that God’s purpose in the destruction of the wicked is to display His glory.

  1. which He prepared beforehand for glory, 24 even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.

Here it is stated that God “prepared beforehand for glory” the vessels of mercy, that is, His church, the saved, the elect, the called, the foreknown remnant of Jews and the foreknown people who have received mercy from among the Gentiles. Consider that the Bible plainly declares that God PREDESTINES the vessels of mercy by “preparing them beforehand for glory” and that this is God’s work, He prepares, and this according “to His own purpose and grace” (2 Tim 1:9). Also, consider what they vessels of mercy have been prepared for, GLORY! Prepared for GLORY! We become partakers of the nature of God! (2 Pet 1:4)

Romans 9:25-29 – 25 As He says also in Hosea, “I will call those who were not My people, ‘My people,’ And her who was not beloved, ‘beloved.'” 26 “And it shall be that in the place where it was said to them, ‘ you are not My people,’ There they shall be called sons of the living God.” 27 And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, it is the remnant that will be saved; 28 for the Lord will execute His word upon the earth, thoroughly and quickly. ”  29 And just as Isaiah foretold, “Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left to us a posterity, We would have become as Sodom, and would have resembled Gomorrah.” NASB

  1. 25 As He says also in Hosea, “I will call those who were not My people, ‘My people,’ And her who was not beloved, ‘beloved.'” 26 “And it shall be that in the place where it was said to them, ‘ you are not My people,’ There they shall be called sons of the living God.” -‘

Here the prophecy of Hosea is fulfilled in God’s choosing of certain Gentiles to be saved and to receive the designation, “my people” and also “the sons of the living God.” Paul uses this to show that Israel(the sons of Abraham) did not corporately receive the promised blessing of salvation, but only a believing remnant of Jews did along with a believing remnant of Gentiles. Here the point of verse 6-7 is re-affirmed,

Romans 9:6-7 – it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; 7 neither are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants NASB

It is rather the ones who are “according to the purpose of God’s choice” (verse 11), and the ones “on whom I will have mercy” (verse 15,18), and the people He has “prepared beforehand for glory” (verse 23) who are the recipients of His promise of salvation.

  1. 27 And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, it is the remnant that will be saved; 28 for the Lord will execute His word upon the earth, thoroughly and quickly. ”  29 And just as Isaiah foretold, “Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left to us a posterity, We would have become as Sodom, and would have resembled Gomorrah.”

Here Paul re-affirms the fact that only a remnant of Jews will be saved, and that at the mercy of God, for if God would not have graciously “left a posterity,” the Jews would have been destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrah.

Romans 9:30-33 – 30 What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; 31 but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 just as it is written, “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.” NASB

  1. 30 What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; 31 but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works.

Because Israel sought to BOAST in their own HERITAGE(being Abraham’s seed), and in their own ability to be righteous before God by WORKS(keeping the Law), they have been corporately cut off from the blessing of salvation. They should have rather glorified God for His mercy by humbly acknowledging their dependence on God by FAITH, and trusted in His righteousness, provided by CHRIST ALONE, to be considered JUSTIFIED in God’s sight.

  1. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 just as it is written, “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.”

They stumbled by rejecting Christ the Messiah, instead of believing in Him, who alone merited the righteousness of God for sinners. Here is the reason Paul weeps in verse 2.

God is Sovereign in the Dispensing of His Grace

This is to say that God is the authority when it comes to who receives grace and who does not. If it was not this way, man would be “sovereign” in this matter and could therefore boast. But then grace would no longer be grace, it would no longer be “freely” bestowed to whomever He wills to have mercy upon, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy.” (Rom 9:15)

Luke 4:25-28 – 25 “But I say to you in truth, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land; 26 and yet Elijah was sent to none of them, but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 “And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”  28 And all in the synagogue were filled with rage as they heard these things; NASB

This idea is seen in many places in the Bible and concerns matters much broader than just salvation.

1 Chronicles 29:11-13 – 11 Thine, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Thine is the dominion, O LORD, and Thou dost exalt Thyself as head over all. 12 Both riches and honor come from Thee, and Thou dost rule over all, and in Thy hand is power and might; and it lies in Thy hand to make great, and to strengthen everyone. 13 Now therefore, our God, we thank Thee, and praise Thy glorious name. NASB

Exodus 4:11 – 11 And the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him dumb or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? NASB

Isaiah 45:7 – 7 The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these. NASB

God Sovereignly bestows the revelation of Salvation on whomever He wishes Salvation is a revelatory process and comes by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. The way God saves is by regeneration(being born again). See the above lesson on Regeneration. Now consider how Jesus rejoices in the fact that some have this revelation from God and some do not.

Matthew 11:25-28 – 25 At that time Jesus answered and said, “I praise Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou didst hide these things from the wise and intelligent and didst reveal them to babes. 26 “Yes, Father, for thus it was well-pleasing in Thy sight. 27 “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son, except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father, except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. NASB

Or even more than this, consider that the Scripture plainly declares that God is responsible for the blindness of some.

Romans 11:7-10 – 7 What then? That which Israel is seeking for, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened; 8 just as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, Eyes to see not and ears to hear not, Down to this very day.” 9 And David says, “Let their table become a snare and a trap, And a stumbling block and a retribution to them. 10 “Let their eyes be darkened to see not, And bend their backs forever.” NASB

Isaiah 6:8-10 – 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” 9 And He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do not understand.’ 10 “Render the hearts of this people insensitive,, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Lest they see with their eyes, Hear with their ears,, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed.” NASB

Now, specifically in regard to salvation, since man is dead in trespasses, and has a Natural Inability to even know or understand the Gospel, it is clearly seen that God fulfills the electing process through the work of Regeneration. This is accomplished by His own free and sovereign dispensation of the revelation of sin, righteousness and judgment, which He gives to His elect and by which they are brought to the point of repentance, faith and conversion. Consider the following quote from Hodge……Theology pg 441 #(4)

“God is no less sovereign in the distribution of his favours. He does what He wills with his own. He gives to some riches, to others, honour; to others, health; while others are poor, unknown, or the victims of disease. To some, the light of the gospel is sent; others are left in darkness. Some are brought through faith unto salvation; others perish in unbelief. To the question, Why is this? the only answer is that given by our Lord. “Even so, Father, for so it seemeth good in thy sight.”

In summary, we can say that God has had a special love relationship with the elect from all eternity,(foreknowledge), and this love relationship is His choosing them for salvation. The ultimate question of why God chose some for salvation and left others in their sinful state is one that we, with our finite knowledge, cannot answer. We do know that God’s attributes always are in perfect harmony with each other, so that God’s sovereignty will always operate in perfect harmony with His goodness, love, wisdom, and justice.

Reprobation If God does elect people to be saved from out of the whole of humanity, then He obviously passes over those He does not choose. This is called Reprobation. Consider this definition from Grudem….. “When we understand election as God’s sovereign choice of some persons to be saved, then there is necessarily another aspect of that choice, namely, God’s sovereign decision to pass over others and not to save them. This decision of God in eternity past is called reprobation. Reprobation is the sovereign decision of God before creation to pass over some persons, in sorrow deciding not to save them, and to punish them for their sins, and thereby to manifest his justice.”

The Scripture speaks of this reality in many places. Here are a few…(Rom 9:17-21, Ps 92:5-7)

Romans 11:6-8 – 6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace. 7 What then? That which Israel is seeking for, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened; 8 just as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, Eyes to see not and ears to hear not, Down to this very day.” NASB

1 Peter 2:8 – 8 and, “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense”; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed. NASB

The fact is this is a very terrible thing to consider but is nonetheless true. The reality of Hell and Damnation is in fact a horribly difficult matter to consider, but it is nonetheless still a part of God’s eternal plan by which He is glorifying His own nature as God. Reprobation and Damnation are purposes of God which serve His higher purpose of the manifestation of His Glory(see page 23 above). The Scripture is clear about this matter.

Exodus 9:16-17 – 16 But, indeed, for this cause I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you My power, and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth. 17 Still you exalt yourself against My people by not letting them go. NASB P

Proverbs 16:4 – 4 The LORD has made everything for its own purpose, Even the wicked for the day of evil. NASB

Nevertheless, there is a very real sorrow on the part of God when people perish.

Ezek 18:32 – 32 “For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord GOD. “Therefore, repent and live.” NASB

Grudem comments… “But it might be objected at this point, if God genuinely feels sorrow at the punishment of the wicked, then why does he allow it or even decree that it will come about? The answer must be that God knows that this will ultimately result in greater glory for himself. It will show his power and wrath and justice and mercy in a way that could not otherwise be demonstrated. Certainly in our own human experience it is possible to do something that causes us great sorrow but which we know will result in long-term greater good. And so, after this faint human analogy, we may somewhat understand that God can decree something that causes him sorrow yet ultimately will further his glory.”

Election comforts, produces thanksgiving and glorifies God and His people

For those whom God has chosen, election is a very comforting thing because it speaks to us about the certainty of our salvation. If God has chosen to save us, then who will thwart His intended purpose? The fact is, no one will because our salvation is rooted in the eternal counsel of God’s decree from before the world began. 2 Timothy 1:9 – 9 who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, NASB Ephesians 1:4-6 – 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. NASB Romans 8:30-35 – 30 and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? NASB When we consider that our salvation is rooted in the free and sovereign purpose of God, we should rejoice with much thanksgiving, for we were not worthy to be saved but, on the contrary should have rightfully perished because of our sin and rebellion against God. So then, we exult and rejoice in this amazing grace, which has come to us and set us free from sin and death. We should glorify God for our salvation and proclaim His goodness by thanking Him because of it. 2 Thessalonians 2:13 – 13 But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. NASB Psalm 65:4 – 4 How blessed is the one whom Thou dost choose, and bring near to Thee, To dwell in Thy courts. We will be satisfied with the goodness of Thy house, Thy holy temple. NASB Psalm 106:4-5 – 4 Remember me, O LORD, in Thy favor toward Thy people; Visit me with Thy salvation, 5 That I may see the prosperity of Thy chosen ones, That I may rejoice in the gladness of Thy nation, That I may glory with Thine inheritance. NASB   Election should encourage Evangelism We should be zealous to preach the Gospel and evangelize people because God has promised to save people from every tribe and nation, indeed from every language and ethnic group in the world. Revelation 5:9-10 – And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy art Thou to take the book, and to break its seals; for Thou wast slain, and didst purchase for God with Thy blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. 10 “And Thou hast made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.” NASB When we see Paul in his missionary journeys in the book of Acts, we see him being encouraged by God to evangelize in certain areas because of God’s election of people there. Acts 18:8-11 – 8 And Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his household, and many of the Corinthians when they heard were believing and being baptized. 9 And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent; 10 for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city. ”  11 And he settled there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. NASB Paul later reminds us that he does everything he does for sake of God’s elect, the church whom he so zealously sought to save by his relentless preaching of the Gospel. 2 Timothy 2:10-11 – 10 For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory. NASB Further, Paul, after reasoning in Romans chapter 9 that God elects according to His own free and sovereign purpose, explains that people get saved when they call upon the name of the Lord. He explains that we must preach the Gospel in order for God’s purpose in election to be accomplished saying, “How shall they hear without a preacher?” Romans 10:12-15 – 13 for “Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things!” NASB

From the Canons of the Synod of Dort

Consider a few statements from the Synod of Dort…..   ARTICLE 7.  – Election is the unchangeable purpose of God, whereby, before the foundation of the world, He has out of mere grace, according to the sovereign good pleasure of His own will, chosen from the whole human race, which had fallen through their own fault from the primitive state of rectitude into sin and destruction, a certain number of persons to redemption in Christ, whom He from eternity appointed the Mediator and Head of the elect and the foundation of salvation. This elect number, though by nature neither better nor more deserving than others, but with them involved in one common misery, God has decreed to give to Christ to be saved by Him, and effectually to call an draw them to His communion by His Word and Spirit; to bestow upon them true faith, justification, and sanctification; and having powerfully preserved them in the fellowship of His son, finally to glorify them for the demonstration of His mercy, and for the praise of the riches of His glorious grace; as it is written “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will — to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” (Eph 1:4-6). And elsewhere: “And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” (Rom 8:30).   ARTICLE 8. – There are not various decrees of election, but one and the same decree respecting all those who shall be saved, both under the Old and New Testament; since the Scripture declares the good pleasure, purpose, and counsel of the divine will to be one, according to which He has chosen us from eternity, both to grace and to glory, to salvation and to the way of salvation, which He has ordained that we should walk therein (Eph 1:4,5; 2:10).   ARTICLE 9. – This election was not founded upon foreseen faith and the obedience of faith, holiness, or any other good quality or disposition in man, as the prerequisite, cause, or condition of which it depended; but men are chosen to faith and to the obedience of faith, holiness, etc. Therefore election is the fountain of every saving good, from which proceed faith, holiness, and the other gifts of salvation, and finally eternal life itself, as its fruits and effects, according to the testimony of the apostle: “For he chose us (not because we were, but) in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” (Eph 1:4).   ARTICLE 10. – The good pleasure of God is the sole cause of this gracious election; which does not consist herein that out of all possible qualities and actions of men God has chosen some as a condition of salvation, but that He was pleased out of the common mass of sinners to adopt some certain persons as a peculiar people to Himself, as it is written: “Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad — in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls — she (Rebekah) was told, ‘The older will serve the younger.’ Just as it is written: ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.'” (Rom 9:11-13). “When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.” (Acts 13:48).   ARTICLE 11. – And as God Himself is most wise, unchangeable, omniscient, and omnipotent, so the election made by Him can neither be interrupted nor changed, recalled, or annulled; neither can the elect be cast away, nor their number diminished.

The Sovereignty of God

In Salvation

Effectual Calling – What does the Bible say?

As we have seen, Salvation is actually a supernatural work of God which is accomplished by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. This is because mankind has a Natural Inability to see, hear or even understand the Gospel (see the above on Natural Inability). More than this, God unconditionally elects those who will be saved, and he does this from before the beginning of time (see above on Unconditional Election). This is to say that election is not conditioned upon any response in man but happens because of the free electing grace of God. People get saved in time and space, because God has chosen them in eternity past and regenerates them in the course of their life. John 3:3 – 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” NASB 2 Thessalonians 2:13 – 13 But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. NASB Therefore it is necessary, since Salvation is a supernatural work which is initiated by God in election and brought to pass by the new birth, that the outworking of this election have, some point in time and space when it comes to fruition (Regeneration). This is actually a process of “drawing” and “calling” which happens by the Holy Spirit. The Bible plainly declares that those whom God has elected and predestined, are “drawn” by God to Himself. John 6:44 – 44 “No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. NASB Jeremiah 31:2-3 – 2 Thus says the LORD, “The people who survived the sword Found grace in the wilderness- Israel, when it went to find its rest.” 3 The LORD appeared to him from afar, saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness. NASB Exodus 19:4 – 4’You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself. NASB Not only this, but when speaking of the Church and those who are the recipients of salvation, the Bible plainly declares that they are “called” by Him at some point in their life. This obviously gives light to the fact that God is the initiator in the process of salvation. Romans 8:28 – 28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. NASB Romans 1:5-7 – 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles, for His name’s sake, 6 among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; 7 to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. NASB Romans 9:23-24 – 23 And He did so in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, 24 even us, whom He also called , not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. NASB 1 Corinthians 1:9 – 9 God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. NASB 1 Corinthians 1:23-24 – 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. NASB 2 Thessalonians 2:14 – 14 And it was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. NASB 1 Timothy 6:12 – 12 Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. NASB 2 Timothy 1:9 – 9 who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, NASB Hebrews 9:15 – 15 And for this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, in order that since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. NASB 1 Peter 5:10 – 10 And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. NASB And more than this, our salvation is spoken of as a “calling” by God. This speaks of a divine favor or privilege which has been given to all the saints. Romans 11:28-29 – 28 From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; 29 for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.  NASB 1 Corinthians 1:2 – 2 to the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling , with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours: NASB 1 Corinthians 1:26 – 26 For consider your calling , brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; NASB Ephesians 1:18 – 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling , what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, NASB Hebrews 3:1 – 3:1 Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession. NASB   All the Elect will be Saved In fact, the Bible plainly declares that everyone whom God the Father chooses for salvation will absolutely be saved and glorified in the end. This is because the purpose of the Sovereign God to save His own people, whom He elects, predestines and calls, cannot be frustrated but rather God works everything after the counsel of His own will(Eph 1:11), especially His plan of redemption. Consider how this is clearly portrayed in the words of Jesus in John Chapter 6. John 6:37-39 – 37 “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. 38 “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. NASB Jesus emphatically states the certainty of the salvation of ALL that the Father has given Him. Oh what comfort for the saints! What certainty upholds their salvation, even the purpose of the Sovereign Almighty God. This will be examined further under the doctrine of Eternal Security. This idea is repeated by Paul when speaking of those who were being saved in Acts chapter 13. Acts 13:48 – 48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. NASB Question – How many believed? Answer, “as many as had been appointed to eternal life.” This is repeated again in Romans 8:30 where Paul tells us that ALL who have been predestined will in fact be Called, Justified and Glorified. Romans 8:30 – 30 and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. NASB   The Golden Chain In Romans Chapter 8, we have a passage which is referred to as “the Golden Chain of Salvation.” This is because of the profoundly assuring and comforting words which express the purpose of God in Salvation there. Romans 8:28-30 – 28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; 30 and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. NASB Here we see several truths which undeniably show us the Effectual Calling of God upon His saints. Notice first that God is the active protector and divine initiator of His eternal blessing of salvation upon those whom He has called. Romans 8:28 – 28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Here we see that “God is causing all things to work together” “to those who are called.” Surely this is foremost a statement about God’s purpose to save them. He will cause all things to work for their good until they are finally saved. In this causing He will certainly draw them and regenerate them and bring them to “Conversion”, even to a saving repentance and faith in Christ. 1 Peter 1:3 – 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  NASB Philippians 2:12-13 – 12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. NASB Second, we see that those who are “foreknown” (foreloved) by God, He has predestined them to be like Christ. This is absolutely a statement about salvation for no one can be like Christ until they are ultimately glorified by God at the resurrection. Romans 8:29 – 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son…. NASB See here that those whom God has “foreknown”, have been “predestined,” that is, their  “destiny” has been pre-determined by God. This is taught in many places in Scripture. Ephesians 1:5-6 -5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.  NASB Ephesians 1:10-12 – In Him 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. NASB Thirdly, notice how a brief order of the process of salvation are brought to light in verse 30. Romans 8:30 – 30 and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. NASB See here that those whom have been predestined, are called and that these are brought to Justification because the calling by the Spirit effects salvation in them. Thus it is an “Effectual Calling.” Through the revelation of the Spirit, those who are called are brought to a place of willing response to the Gospel, by the enabling of the Holy Spirit in regeneration. Jesus speaks of this in John Chapter 6.… John 6:65 – 65 And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father.” NASB We also see this “Effectual Calling” at work in many who were saved in the narrative passages in the Book of Acts. Paul, Lydia and Cornelius are a few examples (see page 58 above).   Is Grace Irresistible? First, it can be plainly reasoned that because salvation is a supernatural work of God, given to those whom He has elected and predestined in eternity past, and because they will ALL eventually come to saving faith by the working of the spirit in effectual calling and regeneration, that none will or can, resist the Spirit’s work in the saving process. Deuteronomy 30:6 – 6 Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, in order that you may live. NASB Second, is it not plain that because regeneration precedes faith, and that regeneration is actually a divinely initiated and supernatural work of God which changes the human mind and will and raises the sinner from spiritual death to life, implanting the very nature of God into them, that this is a divinely powerful work of the Creator God which is accomplished according to the good pleasure of His will and cannot be thwarted by the creature. Titus 3:5 – 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, NASB Ezekiel 36:26-27 – 26 “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 “And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. NASB Consider this quote from David N. Steele… “The gospel invitation extends a call to salvation to every one who hears its message. It invites all men without distinction to drink freely of the water of life and live. It promises salvation to all who repent and believe. But this outward general call, extended to the elect and non-elect alike, will not bring sinners to Christ. Why? Because men are by nature dead in sin and are under its power. They are of themselves unable and unwilling to forsake their evil ways and to turn to Christ for mercy. Consequently, the unregenerate will not respond to the gospel call to repentance and faith. No amount of external threatenings or promises will cause blind, deaf, dead, rebellious sinners to bow before Christ as Lord and to look to Him alone for salvation. Such an act of faith and submission is contrary to the lost man’s nature. “Therefore, the Holy Spirit, in order to bring God’s elect to salvation, extends to them a special inward call in addition to the outward call contained in the gospel message. Through this special call the Holy Spirit performs a work of grace within the sinner which inevitably brings him to faith in Christ … “Although the general outward call of the gospel can be, and often is, rejected, the special inward call of the Spirit never fails to result in the conversion of those to whom it is made. This special call is not made to all sinners but is issued to the elect only! The Spirit is in no way dependent upon their help or cooperation for success in His work of bringing them to Christ. It is for this reason that Calvinists speak of the Spirit’s call and of God’s grace in saving sinners as being ‘efficacious,’ ‘invincible,’ or ‘irresistible.’ For the grace which the Holy Spirit extends to the elect cannot be thwarted or refused, it never fails to bring them to true faith in Christ!” Lastly, let us consider what we have learned. Are people saved because they have chosen to follow Christ because they were wise enough to choose Christ, or because God has chosen to save them before they were born and had done anything good or bad? Romans 9:11 – 11 for though the twins were not yet born, and had not done anything good or bad, in order that God’s purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls, NASB And what does this say about people’s ability to resist the Spirit’s work in salvation? Could Paul have chosen not to be God’s appointed instrument to take the Gospel to the Gentiles? Acts 9:13-17 – 13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Thy saints at Jerusalem; 14 and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call upon Thy name. ”  15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; 16 for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.” NASB Galatians 1:15-16 – 15 But when He who had set me apart, even from my mother’s womb, and called me through His grace, was pleased 16 to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, NASB Could Jeremiah have decided not to be God’s prophet to the nations? Not hardly…. Jeremiah 1:4-5 – 4 Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, 5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”  NASB With this in mind, let us consider again whether or not we would take a Semi-Pelagian or an Augustinian view of this doctrine.

humanresistance-effectualcalling

Let us consider that in the final analysis, no one who is saved would have it any other way. Are not the saints eternally grateful that God has effectually called them to Himself? Will they not rejoice forever in Heaven that Salvation Belongs to the Lord and glorify Him for saving them by His free grace! Indeed they will.

The Sovereignty of God

In Salvation

Particular Redemption – What does the Bible say?

When considering whether or not God’s work of redemption is Universal or Particular, we must consider the language of Scripture. Either it will bear out one or the other, for they cannot both be true. Surely we are aware of the overwhelming amount of Scripture which describes the benefits of the atonement being the definite possession of the believers, the Church in particular, and the sufficient work of Christ which affords the elect Church of God all of the promises of Reconciliation and eternal blessing from God. Because of the merit of Christ’s Atonement upon the cross at Calvary, all of this belongs in particular to the Church. [Us, We, Our, They] Matt 1:21 – 21 “And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins.” NASB John 10:11 – 11 “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. NASB Acts 20:28 – 28 “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. NASB Romans 5:8-11 – 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. NASB Romans 8:31-33 – 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies NASB 2 Corinthians 5:21 – 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. NASB Galatians 1:3-4 – 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us out of this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, NASB Galatians 3:13 – 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us —  for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” NASB Ephesians 1:7 – 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, NASB Ephesians 5:25 – 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; NASB Colossians 1:13-14 – 13 For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. NASB Titus 3:5-6 – 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, NASB Hebrews 10:14 – 14 For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. NASB 1 Peter 2:24 – and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. NASB 1 John 1:7 – 7 but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. NASB All of these verses, and many more, make it abundantly clear that Christ’s work does definitely secure for the Church in particular, all the benefits of Reconciliation to God. This fact is not normally disputed by anyone.   Universal Atonement? It is rather evident in Scripture that the benefits of the Atonement are NOT afforded to the unbeliever. It is only those who believe who are Justified. Romans 3:21-24 – 21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; Surely salvation is given to those for whom God has purposed it from before the beginning of time and it is brought to pass in time and space through the Effectual Calling of the Spirit culminating in Regeneration. Romans 8:28-30 – 28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; 30 and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. NASB This activity of God brings the sinner to Repentance and Faith(being virtues given to them by God), and this results in Conversion, Justification and Imputation, and ultimately Sanctification and Glorification. Thus at the point of Repentance and Faith, the sinner is Justified having his/her sins Propitiated(God’s wrath satisfied), and Expiated(our guilt removed), and the righteousness of Christ Imputed to them. Romans 3:25-28 – 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. 27 Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. 28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. NASB These benefits which have been above described are afforded to the believer, who have the merits of the precious blood of Christ applied to them and are thus SAVED and JUSTIFIED. Romans 5:9- 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. NASB But how do we interpret passages of Scripture which seem to imply that the Atonement was Universal in its scope? Are we to believe that the benefits of the Atonement of Christ extend even to the unbeliever? Did Christ actually die for the specific sins of non-elect people? Let us look at these. John 1:29 – 29 The next day he saw Jesus coming to him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! NASB If God has in Jesus Christ “taken away” the sins of all non-elect people, then how can He punish them in hell? Surely it cannot mean that He has taken away their sins, it must mean something else, for they will all be punished in Hell, and this at the perfect and good justice of God. 1 John 2:2 – 2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. NASB 1 John 2:2 cannot mean that the specific sins of the all the people in the whole world have been “propitiated,” for propitiation is the satisfaction of God’s wrath for sin, and Scripture makes it very clear that apart from saving faith, sinners are doomed for the wrath of God. If one would take John 1:29 and 1 John 2:2 to mean the benefits of the Atonement extend to all people everywhere, then why is it necessary to preach the Gospel, because people would already have their sins “taken away and propitiated” and there would be no need for repentance and faith. Therefore, it must mean something else or have some other application which is consistent with all of Scripture. Hebrews 2:9 – 9 But we do see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. NASB If Christ has already “tasted death for everyone,” then why is there any need at all for anyone to die. Is it not rather plain that this “tasting death” is not sufficient to cover or Atone for the sins of non-elect people, for they will actually “taste death” themselves. Hell is a reality which portrays that the Atonement is not benefiting the non-elect in the same way it is benefiting the elect. 2 Corinthians 5:19 – 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. NASB 1 John 4:14 -14 And we have beheld and bear witness that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. NASB Here again we have Scriptures which some will say shows that Christ’s Atonement is for the “whole world.” But this is refuted in the simple question of what is implied but such foolishness. Is the whole world of people reconciled to God through Christ in a saving sense, so that they all go to Heaven and escape the wrath of God? Of course this is not true. Also, then, is Jesus the Savior of the whole world of people in the sense that they have received salvation from sins and are reconciled to God? Nothing could be further from the truth. It is evident then that all these passages must have some other meaning than the implied meaning that the specific sins of unbelieving people are atoned for by Christ’s physical death.   Sufficient but not Efficacious When we speak of how the death of Christ should be viewed concerning the sins of the non-elect, we must understand that the Bible never makes any statement that talks about he specific sins of unbelieving people has being atoned for by Christ’s death. Rather, it speaks of “the sins of the whole world” or “the sins of the world,” grouping all sin together in one heap. But when speaking of the elect, the Scripture affords all the benefits of the Atonement to them, specifically talking about the actual sins of each individual. Ephesians 1:7 – 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, NASB This is because the benefits of the Atonement are afforded to the believers through their belief in the Gospel. And this is in fact the free offer of the Gospel that goes out into “the whole world.” The death of Christ becomes efficacious for those who believe, but remains non-effectual for those who do not. Romans 3:22-24 – 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; NASB The passages which refer to Christ’s death as universal in scope clearly mean that His death was sufficient to atone for [all sins of all time of all people], but only becomes efficacious or effectual for those who believe the Gospel and thus receive eternal salvation. Because of Christ’s perfect unblemished sacrifice, His death is infinite in its ability and strength to atone for “the sins of the whole world,” but this Atonement is only applied through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.  Therefore, it is clear that the Bible plainly declares that redemption is afforded in particular to the elect Church of God only, and by God’s foreknowledge and predestination, they ALL come to this saving faith by the effectual calling and regeneration of the Spirit.   Particular Redemption can be reasoned from the Decree When God planned to redeem a people for his very own, and this through the Atonement, He definitely had the sins of the church in mind. This is in fact what the Covenant of Redemption was. It was an agreement between the members of the Godhead to carry out the eternal plan of redemption through the role of each. The Father planned redemption (Election), the Son purchased redemption(Atonement), and the Spirit applied redemption(Regeneration). Thus the Church is saved by the Decree of the Eternal God. 2 Timothy 1:9 – 9 who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, NASB Consider a few questions when you think about God’s plan to redeem and His subsequent Decree to save His elect.

  • Does the atonement definitely secure salvation for the elect?
  • Did God enable salvation for all men or accomplish it for His Church?
  • Did God plan to redeem more than the elect number within the Church, those who have been called out?

God did in fact plan to save the Church as we have pointed out. This can be clearly seen in the outcome of all of History. In the end, the Church will be called effectually by the Spirit, fully redeemed and reconciled to God, and have fellowship with God in Heaven forever. This shows the exact purpose of the Decree of God from eternity past. This is because whatever comes to pass has been eternally Decreed by God. This means that God has “approved” of all of the events of History, (in the ultimate sense of permitting or preventing them). This we call “Foreordination.” God has “Fore” (from before time began),“ordained” all that ever does come to pass in History. Consider how Jonathan Edwards has described this….“Whether God has decreed all things that ever come to pass or not, all that own the being of a God, own that He knows all things beforehand. Now, it is self-evident that if He knows all things beforehand, He doth approve of them or doth not approve of them; that is, He is either willing they should be, or He is not willing they should be. But to will that they should be is to decree them.” When we ask the question, “who does finally get atoned for?”, the answer is very clear, the believer in Christ. Therefore, we see that in the end, the benefits of the Atonement are efficacious for the believers only. The redemption which is in Christ Jesus is a Particular Redemption. This is clear from the outcome of History, which is equivalent to the original intention of God’s plan, His eternal Decree by which He caused all things.   Christ’s Priesthood is Exclusive It is plainly evident that Christ is not interceding for unbelievers. If He were, they would have an advocate with God and the benefit of this would be perfect mediation between God and man. But this is in fact NOT the case. The Bible plainly declares that Christ’s sacrifice (the Atonement) benefits only the believer in Christ. Hebrews 10:10-15 – 10 By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; 12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. 14 For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. NASB When Jesus prays for the Church in His High Priestly prayer, He clearly does not pray for the world, or the unbelievers, but for “those whom you have given me” only. This is because this is a prayer of intercession which will in fact be answered by the Father absolutely and completely in the course of time. John 17:9-20 – 9 “I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom Thou hast given Me; for they are Thine; 20 “I do not ask in behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; NASB Other verses also make this clear, that His intercession is for the believers only. Romans 8:33-34 – 33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. NASB Hebrews 4:14-15 – 14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. NASB Hebrews 7:25 – 25 Hence, also, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. NASB

The Sovereignty of God

In Salvation

Eternal Security – What does the Bible say?

Someone may ask, “is my salvation secure, or can I lose it.” As you read on we will answer this question in detail, but for now let us say that if it depended on us, or our ability to “remain faithful” to God, we would be hopelessly lost. Who is it that possesses such mighty strength in themselves as to never fall away or sin against God? Which one of us stands in the great hour of temptation except by the keeping power of God? The truth is that Christians stand in the faith not by their own strength, but by the power of God. Your salvation is secure not because you have great faith, but because your faith is in the One who is Great! If you belong to Christ, He will not leave you or forsake you, rather being the Good Shepherd, He will “lose none of all that the Father has given” him. He will see to it that you make it to Heaven’s door, and you can rest assured that you have eternal life if you have been born again as He commanded. The Bible plainly declares that those who truly believe will in fact Persevere to the end by Christ’s power. Colossians 3:3-4 – 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. NASB 1 Peter 1:3-5 – 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. NASB Consider these words of Peter. He says that God has “caused us to be born again to a living hope” and that this was to “obtain an inheritance.” Here is seen a twofold purpose of God in saving us, that we would have a “living hope” and that we would “obtain an inheritance.” This means that God expects us to have a hope in the future inheritance in Heaven which is alive, and vibrant and sure, because of the One who has caused it. But so as to make the ground of this hope solid, he tells us, “who are protected by the power of God through faith.” Now here we have living hope and are assured that this inheritance is ours! Who shall thwart the mighty power and purpose of God to protect us through faith, so that we will, in the end, receive the promised inheritance? None indeed! Could there be words which describe a more secure foundation of our hope? Note well dear Christian who it is that keeps you in the day of doubt and trouble.   They Shall Never Perish In teaching of Jesus, he has very clearly designed to encourage us that we shall not fall away, but be kept by Him until the day of safety. Consider the heavenly words of John 10….. John 10:27-29 – 27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. 29 “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” NASB What Jesus is dealing with here is the infallible security of those whom the Father has given to Him (v-29), “they shall never perish.” Here the Lord makes some astounding statements about the security of the believer and their final perseverance. Here Jesus makes an emphatic statement that “His sheep, shall never perish” and that because He has given them “eternal” life. What else could the Lord have designed to say here except that our salvation is secure and that we “shall” live forever? However, in order to emphasize the strong nature of His statement he says, “no one shall snatch them out of my hand.” Here we see that His hand is what keeps us, and His point is He will keep us unto Himself and none shall pull us away or snatch us away. If this were not enough to convince us of this security, He says, “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” Learn, the guarantee of the final perseverance of Christ’s sheep is secured not by human power, but in the hands of the Father and the Son, and because of the great power of God, none shall be lost but rather kept forever, having eternal life. The Bible plainly declares that the final perseverance of the saints is not in human hands, but in the hands of God. This is common in the teaching Jesus. Consider what He said in John 6 about “those whom the Father had given Him.” John 6:39-40 – 39 “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. 40 “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” NASB Here Jesus clearly says of everyone “given to Him by the Father,” that He will “lose nothing,” and will in “raise them up at the last day.” Again He makes emphatic statements about the security of the one who “believes in Him” (v-40). The point here is “He will lose nothing,” it is in “His” hands. And what is more, they will be resurrected and live forever, “I will raise it up on the last day.” He also describes the quality of the life He gives as “eternal” and repeats for emphasis, “I myself will raise him up on the last day.” Those who pervert this text to say something other than the clear infallible nature of the security of the believer discourage the saints and lie about the truth of their security. Dear Christian, hold firmly to this promise of our Shepherd, He will see us through to the end and we shall never perish!   The Saints will Persevere The New Testament writers made this doctrine very clear. We have already examined the teaching of Peter above, but consider some statements from the Apostle Paul and even the Apostle Jude, the brother of Jesus. In Romans chapter 8, Paul makes the security of the believer to rest wholly upon the nature and purpose of God. Consider that great statement in verse 1… Romans 8:1-2 – 1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. NASB Here Paul speaks about the nature of Christ’s atoning work and the state of the Christian’s justification. We are “not condemned” by God’s Law but rather “set free” from that Law having the debt of sins completely paid and the matter settled. This is what it means to be a Christian! Or consider the profound truths exposed about our security and final perseverance in the Golden Chain, verses 28-30. Romans 8:28 – 28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Here the saints are seen as called to God’s purpose, in which He is causing all things to work together for the good of. Shall God cause all things to work together for the good, and then finally fail to bring us to the end of it? Not hardly! Romans 8:2929 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; Is it not profoundly clear in this statement that our “destiny” shall be conformity to the “image of Christ?” It is and this is our destiny, we shall be like Him in the end and share in His glory! This is confirmed elsewhere in Paul. Philippians 3:20-21 – 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself. NASB What is more is that the calling and the foreknowledge and the predestination all have an end. This end is made crystal clear in verse 30, “glorification.” Romans 8:30 – 30 and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. NASB The saints whom God has called, foreknown and predestined, shall be “glorified.” These are the ones whom He elected from all eternity, shall we now think that they will be lost? Impossible! Jude, the brother of our Lord makes a similar statement. He speaks of the keeping power of Christ and relates this to our final salvation. Jude 24 – 24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, 25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. NASB The Bible plainly declares that it is God who “keeps us from stumbling.” This means that God makes us persevere so that we do not finally fall away. This is in view in the following statement, “to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless.” Here again we see the divine nature of our salvation, we are “blameless” or guiltless in His presence because “He is able” to make us guiltless. We have had the guilt of all of our sins washed away by the powerful blood of Jesus so that we stand in His presence blameless! Dear saint, here is your rest, it is the shadow of the mighty cross of Jesus! Romans 8:31-34 – 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? NASB Learn, the saints will persevere to the end and be glorified in the presence of God because of God’s Almighty power, His immutable purpose to save His elect, and His all-sufficient sacrifice of atonement at Calvary!   Does secure salvation depend on man or God? We are the sheep, He is the Good Shepherd. He will lose none of all that the Father has given Him (John 6:39). It is Christ who keeps us, and our assurance is rooted in His sovereign love and His mighty power to keep us and give us eternal life! John 10:27-29 – 27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. Notice these works are attributed to Him, not to us. We are saved because He has caused us to be born again (1Pet 1:3), and we are protected by His power (1 Pet 1:5), sustained till the end blameless (Jude 24), and further in Hebrews 10, we are made perfect forever by His sacrifice. Hebrews 10:14 – 14 For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. NASB The security of our salvation does not rest on our ability, but on God’s. Perseverance is the work of God in salvation, not man. This is what is meant in the phrase, “the Sovereignty of God in salvation.” We are saved by God’s Sovereign electing love and power, not our human ability to keep ourselves from falling. If salvation depended on us or our ability, we would be hopelessly lost. True believers persevere by God’s power. This is crystal clear in the following Pauline passage. Here Paul speaks of God’s ability to “sanctify us entirely,” and to “preserve our whole being,” and to present us “without blame” at “the coming of our Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 – 23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass. NASB This is emphatically clear in verse 24 where attributes all this work to God and His faithfulness. The security of salvation rests firmly on the faithfulness of God, not man. This is exactly Paul’s point. He makes a very similar statement in 1 Corinthians. Here he says God shall “confirm us to the end, blameless.” 1 Corinthians 1:7-9 – 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who shall also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. NASB The Bible plainly declares that our final perseverance is a matter of God’s faithfulness. He makes a very similar statement in Philippians. Philippians 1:6 – 6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. NASB Dear saint, do you need more evidence that your salvation is secure? Believe God’s promise! However much more is to be found. Consider that John the Apostle speaks also directly to this point when he tells us that Jesus, “the one who is born of God, keeps us” and “the evil one does not touch him.” 1 John 5:18 – 18 We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him and the evil one does not touch him. NASB The Bible plainly declares that the Satan cannot cause us to habitually sin so as to fall away from the faith because Christ is the One who “keeps him.”   Sealed by the Holy Spirit The New Testament makes it clear that regeneration is an irreversible act of God (see pgs. 49-52 above). If you are born again, you cannot be unborn. Someone will ask, what about those who believe for a while, but later commit apostasy and turn from the faith? We will answer that specifically below. Indeed the scriptures declare that having believed the gospel we are “sealed” with the Holy Spirit, guaranteeing that we will inherit the kingdom. In these passages, it speaks of the Holy Spirit being the earnest or deposit, which is the guarantee of redemption. You cannot lose your salvation because God will see to it that you remain in Christ. Salvation is not something you lose, it is an eternal relationship with God you have entered into because of His mighty power and calling. You have become a child of God, because the Holy Spirit has transformed your being (born again), implanting the life of God into your being, and sealing you for the day of redemption, if you are in Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 – 21 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, 22 who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge. NASB Here Paul speaks of being “sealed” by the Spirit, and he says of this that it is a pledge. In other words, it is an earnest, a down payment toward the full payment of redemption. The Greek word here for pledge is “arrhabon” and means “a pledge, part of the purchase-money or property given in advance as security for the rest:–earnest.” Therefore this is to say we are guaranteed by God to be redeemed. Paul makes similar statements as these in Ephesians. Ephesians 1:13-14 – 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation —  having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. NASB Paul again tells us of this “sealing in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise” and tells us that this is a pledge of our inheritance. Because you have received the Holy Spirit to indwell your being, you are guaranteed the outcome of redemption. This is clear from the statement “with a view to the redemption.” The sealing of the Spirit is unto the redemption. This is clear also in Ephesians chapter 4. Ephesians 4:30 – 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. NASB Here Paul describes our sealing as being for the purpose of redemption. The Bible plainly declares that Christians are sealed by God for the end result of being redeemed. The final perseverance and salvation of true believers in Christ is certain. John 5:24 – 24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. NASB   Eternal Security is evident because of Election The primary reason that you have been saved is because God chose you for salvation from the beginning (2 Thes 2:13). If you are in Christ, you’re the “elect” or “chosen” of God. For this reason, you WILL persevere till the end of your life in faith and repentance. God will so work that those whom he has chosen for eternal salvation will be enabled by Him to persevere in faith to the end and fulfill, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the requirements for obedience. The scripture makes it clear that those whom God has predestined, He will also glorify in the end. This is the purpose of predestination. We were predestined to receive the “inheritance” in Heaven and to share in the glory of God there as well. Romans 8:30 – 30 and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. NASB Romans 9:23-24 – 23 And He did so in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, 24 even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.  NASB Ephesians 1:11-12 – In Him 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. NASB Because God has chosen us from before the foundation of the world, He has also effectual called us by the Spirit, and brought us to the new birth (Regeneration). The result of this is conversion, where by the divine gift of grace we received power to repent of sin and faith to understand and lay hold of the Gospel. The result of this is a persevering sanctification of the Spirit which results in glorification, the redemption of our bodies at which time we become immortal and incorruptible. Consider the wise words of R.L. Dabney on this matter……. “The perseverance of believers follows from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father,” which was the ground of their being chosen unto salvation. The Scriptures make it plain that the reason why God ever determined to save any man was not His seeing in him anything good, attractive or extenuating, but something without, known to His wisdom, which was to God a good and wise reason to bestow His eternal love on that particular sinner (Rom. 9:11, 16). This sovereign and unmerited love is the cause of the believer’s effectual calling. (Jer. 31:3); (Rom. 8:30). Now, as the cause is unchangeable, the effect will be unchangeable. That effect is, the constant communication of grace to the believer in whom God has begun a good work. God was not induced to bestow His renewing grace in the first instance, by anything which He saw, meritorious or attractive, in the repenting sinner; and therefore the subsequent absence of everything in him would be no new motive to God for withdrawing His grace. When He first bestowed that grace, He knew that the sinner on whom He bestowed it was totally depraved, and wholly and only hateful in himself to the divine holiness; and therefore no new instance of ingratitude or unfaithfulness, of which the sinner may become guilty after his conversion, can be any provocation to God, to change His mind, and wholly withdraw His sustaining grace. God knew all this ingratitude before. He will chastise it, by temporarily withdrawing His Holy Spirit, or His providential mercies; but if He had not intended from the first to bear with it, and to forgive it in Christ, He would not have called the sinner by His grace at first. In a word, the causes for which God determined to bestow His electing love on the sinner are wholly in God, and not at all in the believer; and hence, nothing in the believer’s heart or conduct can finally change that purpose of love.” Nothing could be more clear about this matter than the statement in Romans chapter 8. Here Paul reasons from the Election of God and the Priesthood of Christ that we shall in no way ever be separated from His divine love. Romans 8:33-35, 37-39 – 33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? …….37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. NASB Is it not abundantly clear that whole point of these above verses is the Security of the Believer? Further, is it not also clear that the strength of this security rests wholly on God’s Almighty power to keep us for salvation (v-31) and because of Christ’s ministry of intercession (v-34)? The true believer will never be separated from the love of God in Christ. This is because the love bestowed by God upon His chosen people is an eternal love, it is everlasting. Jeremiah 31:3 – 3 The LORD appeared to him from afar, saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness. NASB This everlasting love is the meaning of the word foreknowledge in regard to predestination. Foreknowledge is a “loving beforehand” by God. See lesson pgs. 55-56 above. The Covenant of Redemption makes certain the Security of the Believer Consider for a moment what we refer to as “The Covenant of Redemption.” This is an agreement between the members of the Godhead in eternity to carry out the plan of Redemption. Effectively, the Father has planned redemption (2 Tim 1:9) and elected from all eternity the individuals(Eph 1:4) He intends to give to the Son as a gift(Titus 1:2). The Son agreed to take on the human nature (Col 2:9), purchase redemption at Calvary (Heb 10:7-9), and mediate between God and those whom He has chosen (Rom 8:34). The Holy Spirit agreed to apply redemption to the elect through effectual calling and regeneration and bring them faithfully to the end of sanctification (perseverance) which we call glorification, which is also a work of the Holy Spirit. This Covenant of Redemption is the first cause of salvation and holds within it the fulfillment of salvation, glorification in Heaven forever. The Bible plainly declares that the reason the saints persevere until the end is because it is God’s purpose from the beginning to save forever. This is very clear in the following biblical statements. Hebrews 7:25 – 25 Hence, also, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. NASB John 6:39-40 – 39 “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. 40 “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day” NASB It is self evident from the nature of God’s knowledge (Omniscience), the fact that He knows the whole record and human history from before time, that what the Father planned in redemption He also carried out by His Providence in time and space, and that the Son and the Spirit fulfill their role in the plan of redemption, so that the plan of redemption meets its expected end. Therefore, the specific individuals which the Father gave to the Son will definitely and absolutely see the glory of the Son in Heaven in fulfillment of the agreement between the members of the Godhead John 17:24 – 24 “Father, I desire that they also, whom Thou hast given Me , be with Me where I am, in order that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me ; for Thou didst love Me before the foundation of the world. NASB

thecovenantofredemption

What Eternal Security is Not

It is true that all who truly believe, will in fact be saved and brought safely to Heaven by God’s power. But the distinguishing marks of a true believer are seen in the obedience which comes from faith and perseverance to the end. To this end, the Bible plainly declares that if we do not continue in faith and obedience to the end, we prove the reality that we are not truly born again. Colossians 1:21-23 – 21 And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, 22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach —  23 if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister. NASB The Bible is filled with warnings of falling away and exhortations to “hold fast” the faith we are professing. We should not get the notion then, that if our salvation rests firmly in Christ’s hands, then we can live any way we want to live or go about our sinful selfish way and still inherit the kingdom of God. God forbid! Did Christ die for nothing? Will you now trample the grace of God and the blood of Christ, which He so freely offered to you? Although we are kept by God’s power, the gospel commands us to “prove our repentance by our deeds”, and warns that if we do not persevere in faith, we shall be lost. We must endure in faith to the end if we are to be saved. Our perseverance in faith is proof positive that we have been saved. Not that we live in sinless perfection, but rather that we continue in repentance when we sin and humbly seek God’s forgiveness through Christ when we fail. There is a reality in true faith which “holds fast” to Christ as to give proof that it is real. We are obligated to obey Christ if we are to see Heaven. 1 Corinthians 15:1-3 – 15:1 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. NASB Hebrews 3:14 – 14 For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end; NASB Mark 13:13 – 13 “And you will be hated by all on account of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved. NASB Eternal Security then is not fire insurance. It is not an assurance for anyone who professes faith in Christ, who is accepted into the fellowship of saints shall be eternally secure and gain entrance into Heaven. Our Lord frequently warned His disciples of the serious consequences of departing from the faith and lapsing into a fruitless lifestyle. He taught them that the nature of true saving faith included perseverance in His Word and teaching. Jesus gave distinguishing marks that identified true disciples from mere professors. This was usually en exhortation to persevere to the end in obedience and faith to the end. John 8:31-32 – 31 Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” NASB John 15:1-2 – 15:1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit.  NASB The contrast of a life of true saving faith which bears the fruit of righteousness, and a life of complacency which accompanies mere profession is seen clearly in the teaching of Jesus. His teaching is seasoned again and again with exhortations to bear fruit and warnings against a fruitless lifestyle which is not motivated by true love and devotion to Him which only looks like faith but has no product. It is the product or fruit of faith which Jesus holds out as a distinguishing mark of saving faith. John 15:5-8 – 5 “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. 8 “By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. NASB This is very clear in the Parable of the Sower. Here only the soil which brings forth the fruit, is the portrayal of saving faith. Here it is clearly seen that a distinguishing mark of true saving faith is a perseverance which brings forth fruit. Matthew 13:18-23 – 18 “Hear then the parable of the sower. 19 “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. 20 “And the one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word, and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 “And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 23 “And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit, and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.” NASB Another way to say this is that perseverance is the distinguishing mark of true saving faith. It is clear in Scripture that when one falls away from the fellowship of believers to pursue a life of sin and unbelief, and does not bring forth the fruits of righteousness and obedience that they have committed Apostasy.   What then is Apostasy? Apostasy is generally defined as the determined, willful rejection of Christ and His teachings by a professing Christian. John Murray wisely states about this condition…. “It is in fact possible to give all the outward signs of faith in Christ and obedience to Him, to witness for a time a good confession and show great zeal for Christ and His kingdom and then lose all interest and become indifferent, if not hostile, to the claims of Christ and of His kingdom.” This condition is clearly seen in Scripture. Even Israel was at certain points in their history clearly portrayed as having forsaken and rejected God. In Jesus teaching it is clearly what is portrayed in the rocky places in the Parable of the Sower…. Matthew 13:20-21 – 20 “And the one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word, and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. John  Murray comments on this…. “Some people appear to be converted, they boil over with enthusiasm for a little while, and then suddenly cool off. They disappear from the fellowship of the saints. Others do not show the same enthusiasm; their attachment to the faith of Christ has never been one of very pronounced character. But in the course of time it becomes precariously tenuous and finally the tie is completely broken, they walk no more in the path of the righteous.” Let us not underestimate the lengths and heights to which a temporary faith may carry those who have it. Consider Judas and his fellowship with our Lord and His disciples, how in fact none of the disciples even knew that the whole time Judas had a in genuine faith and was secretly stealing from the money bag. His lack of perseverance in the end showed his true condition and he was lost. He was a mere professor, not a true believer. This matter is also mentioned by Peter and portrayed by the writer to the Hebrews in the form of a warning not to do it. 2 Peter 2:20-22 – 20 For if after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 It has happened to them according to the true proverb, “A dog returns to its own vomit,” and, “A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.” NASB Hebrews 6:4-6 – 4 For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God, and put Him to open shame. NASB John Murray again wisely concludes….. “The Scripture itself, therefore, leads us to the conclusion that it is possible to have a very uplifting, ennobling, reforming and exhilarating experience of the power and truth of the Gospel, to come into such close contact with the supernatural forces which are operative in God’s kingdom of grace that these forces produce effects in us which to human observation are hardly distinguishable from those produced by God’s regenerating and sanctifying grace and yet be not partakers of Christ and heirs of eternal life.” It is clear then and therefore that those who “fall away” in a pattern of continual sin and break fellowship with the Church were never truly “born again.” It is apparent to us that many people will confess Christ with their tongues but deny Him with their life. We may have known someone who supposedly believed and followed Christ, but at some point became disillusioned and turned there back on Christ, falling into a life of self-will and sin again. If God’s Spirit has regenerated us and lives within us, we will bear the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. Good trees bear good fruit and bad trees bear bad fruit. If we have truly believed, there will be a sanctifying power at work in our lives, which will be evident and we will, by God’s good grace, persevere to the end and be saved. We will not shrink back and be destroyed. Hebrews 10:39 – 39 But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul. NASB   1 John and Saving Faith A true Christian has been “born of God”, because God has decided to give Him life, and that life is eternal by nature. When we have been “born again”, we have become new creations with an eternal destiny. You cannot turn from genuine faith, because you are kept by Christ through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Bible never teaches that someone who is genuinely saved, can reject or disengage themselves from Christ. Someone who apostatizes must have had at one time an orthodox and essential profession, but not a genuine new birth. But as John explains of the apostates or antichrists; 1 John 2:18-19 – 18 Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have arisen; from this we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us. NASB If one were “born of God” he could not continue to sin. A proper understanding of salvation issues from the book of first John alone, shines light as clear as a sunbeam on these issues. 1 John 3:6-10 – 6 No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; 8 the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. NASB When an apostate continues in his sin, he shows the reality of his eternal state and divine calling. When one continues in righteousness and truth, their works are the proof positive of saving faith. 1 John 2:29 – 29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him. NASB When an apostate breaks fellowship with Christians, and begins to live in continual patterns of sin, they show themselves to be children of the devil. 1 John 3:10 – 10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother. NASB John makes it crystal clear that the distinguishing mark of true faith is the fruit or product that comes from it. When the product of one’s life is a continual pattern of sin, they manifest that the true nature of their faith is only profession and not the fruit of being “born of God.” 1 John 4:7-9 – 7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. NASB Those who have been born of the divine will, (John 1:13), persevere. Not because they persist in their own spiritual fervor, but because Christ the good Shepherd knows His sheep, and He will lose none that the Father has given Him, but will raise them up at the last day (John 6:39). 1 John 5:18-19 – 18 We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him and the evil one does not touch him. NASB   These truths do not negate our responsibility to continue to have faith and obedience, rather they require it It is important that we do not become complacent by the understanding that our salvation is secure. The scripture warns us over and over again to pursue our faith in Christ. It is filled with exhortations and admonishments to keep our lives free from sin, to be holy and to live after the pattern we were given by Christ. Those who are born of God will persevere till the end and will bear the fruit of the Spirit in their lives. We must therefore be diligent to assure ourselves that we belong to Christ by our willing obedience. 2 Peter 1:10 – 10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; NASB 2 Timothy 2:19 – 19 Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord abstain from wickedness.” NASB Hebrews 6:11-12 – 11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. NASB   The Westminster Confession on Perseverance

CHAPTER XVII.

Of The Perseverance of the Saints.

I. They whom God hath accepted in his Beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace; but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved. II. This perseverance of the saints depends, not upon their own free-will, but upon the immutability of the decree of election, flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father; upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ; the abiding of the Spirit and of the seed of God within them; and the nature of the covenant of grace; from all which ariseth also the certainty and infallibility thereof. III. Nevertheless they may, through the temptations of Satan and of the world, the prevalancy of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of the means of their perseverance, fall into grievous sins; and for a time continue therein: whereby they incur God’s displeasure, and grieve his Holy Spirit; come to be deprived of some measure of their graces and comforts; have their hearts hardened, and their consciences wounded; hurt and prevalancy others, and bring temporal judgments upon themselves.

The Sovereignty of God

In Salvation

Dealing with Difficult Bible Passages

On the issues of Predestination and seeming contradictory passages in the Bible, let us examine these passages briefly to draw some basic understanding of the meaning of such passages as they apply to the doctrine of Salvation. From the lessons which we have learned concerning an Augustiain view of the doctrine of Salvation it has become apparent that God is Sovereign in the Salvation of His own elect people and that their Security is assured because of His faithfulness. These benefits of salvation are wholly the work of God. Election is unconditional meaning that God does not elect people based on some condition present within them or some kind of foreseen faith, but that election is based solely on the free and sovereign grace of God’s own choice, see lesson pgs 53-68 above. The Perseverance of the Saints is assured because of God’s faithfulness to secure to the end the salvation of His elect, see lesson pgs 77-85 above. With this knowledge of the Sovereignty of God in Salvation, let us examine some difficult and even seeming contradictory passages of Scripture.

The Security of the Believer and Hebrews 6:4-6

The issue at hand in this passage is dealing with certain professing believers and there seeming straying from the faith and the elementary teachings of salvation. The writer is concerned with their lack of maturity and is giving reproof (verses 5-11-6:3), and warning concerning the reality of the conversion (verses 6:4-12). This is the context of the passage. The primary issue at hand is not specifically the teaching of the security of the believer, but rather admonishments and warnings to persevere and remain steadfast in the faith. Issues of the security of the believer are only implications drawn from this passage, they are secondary and not the actual substance or teaching herein.   Hebrews 6:4-6 – 4 For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God, and put Him to open shame. NASB A. For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come – The difficulty in the section is that these terms seem to be describing the true conversion of those here addressed. What makes it difficult is the fact that in the case of these, verse 6 says that if they “have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance.” Now if the security of the believer is sure, then this passage would surely contradict it, if in fact these were true believers who fall away. In this case there are only two possibilities of interpretation about these professing believers as follows, either;

  • They ARE actually true believers who fall away from the faith and are lost.

OR

  • They ARE NOT actually true believers and only mere professors who never were truly born again by the Spirit of God in the first place.

Here we will address these two possibilities and consider the context of the passage to see which of these two is the obvious implication of this upon the doctrine of the Security of the Believer. 1) It is abundantly clear from the direct context of this passage that these are not actually true believers and that this is manifested in the fact that they “fall away.” This is clear from verse 9 of the passage which says, Hebrews 6:9 – 9 But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way. NASB Here the writer obviously draws a contrast with the word “but,” and makes it evident that this contrast is between two kinds of people, some who are truly born again (these are described as the ones who have “things that accompany salvation”), and mere professors who are NOT truly born again (these are described as the ones who “fall away”). It is according to reason that true believers don’t fall away but instead they “believe” and are saved, that is what makes them a true believer. This is plain. 2) It is abundantly clear from the context of the book of Hebrews that there are certain professors who are being warned in different sections to persevere in the faith so that they will not come under the judgment of God but will in fact persevere and be saved. This is clear from passages such as; Hebrews 2:1-3 – 2:1 For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. 2 For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, NASB Hebrews 10:26-30 – 26 For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? NASB Hebrews 10:39 – 39 But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul. NASB Hebrews 12:15-17 – 15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; 16 that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears. NASB This passage in Hebrews 6:4-6 is another in this list of warning passages to these mere professors. 3) It is abundantly clear from the context of the whole Bible that the Salvation of the Believer is SECURE, and this is sufficient evidence alone to speak to us about the meaning of this passage. It cannot mean that true believers “fall away” for that would contradict the clear teaching of Scripture in many other places, see lesson pgs 77-85 above. B. The terms used to describe them are not actually terms describing the reality of their new birth and subsequent true conversion, but rather terms used to describe the state and reality of experiences they have had in relation to their being practicing members together within the life of the true Church. The experiences of living within the life of the true Church are testimonies to the veracity and power of the Gospel and this is what is meant by the terms described in this passage, but do not actually point to the reality of regeneration in the life of a true believer, but do in fact describe the experiences of all people who come into close fellowship within the life of a group of true believers. These terms describe the conviction and power experienced within the fellowship of true believers as one enters into the very communion of God and His saints.

  • once been enlightened
  • have tasted of the heavenly gift
  • made partakers of the Holy Spirit
  • tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come

These terms are not used in any other place in the Bible to describe the reality of regeneration. They are employed her to speak about those who seem to make a genuine profession, but in fact prove by their apostasy that they were not truly born again. John MacArthur comments here… “By far the most serious interpretive challenge is found in 6:4–6. The phrase “once enlightened” is often taken to refer to Christians, and the accompanying warning taken to indicate the danger of losing their salvation if “they fall away” and “crucify again for themselves the Son of God.” But there is no mention of their being saved and they are not described with any terms that apply only to believers (such as holy, born again, righteous, or saints). This problem arises from inaccurately identifying the spiritual condition of the ones being addressed. In this case, they were unbelievers who had been exposed to God’s redemptive truth and perhaps had made a profession of faith, but they had not exercised genuine saving faith. In 10:26, the reference once again is to nominal Christians who apostatize, not to genuine believers who are often incorrectly thought to lose their salvation because of their sins.” C. 6 and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, – Notice that this verse does NOT say that it is impossible to be renewed to repentance but rather it is impossible to renew them to repentance. It is not speaking of the reality of being in a state that has no possibility of being renewed, but rather that no efforts from others will have the effect of renewing to repentance. 1)Once someone has lived within the life of the Church, and experienced the power and conviction of the Kingdom of God first hand, and has all the outward signs of repentance and true conversion, and then “falls away” again into sin and obvious unbelief, there will be nothing you can say or do to renew them again to repentance because they have already heard it all and have experienced sufficient evidence of the veracity and power of the Gospel, and yet have rejected the manifold evidences already given. 2) Consider that this cannot be saying that if someone were a true believer, and then “falls away,” that God would not receive them again upon repentance. This would contradict the free offer of the Gospel, and the mercy of God to truly penitent people who desire by repentance to be saved. This would be heresy of the worst sort and would ultimately condemn every true believer to a state of confusion in the process of sanctification. For which of us has not at some point in our Christian life fallen into difficult problems with sin and doubt, even to prolonged times of sinning again and again in the same way, only to have been restored again and again by God’s gracious love and the ministry of the Holy Spirit within us. If this were saying we could not be renewed to repentance after falling away, the question would now become, “To what degree must one fall away in order to reach the state of impossibility of renewal to repentance?” This would be a terrible quandary to try to understand at what point then it is hopeless for those who were once God’s children by adoption, that they have reached a point of no return to which they can be restored by the gracious pardon of God. This would be blasphemy against the free mercy of God! Therefore, this passage cannot be saying that a true believer can fall into this state of being beyond the forgiven love and grace of God. 3) Consider that a true believer proves their repentance and the reality of regeneration in their life by the final perseverance. Romans 8:30 – 30 and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. NASB John 10:27-29 – 27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. 1 Corinthians 1:7-9 – 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who shall also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. NASB In contrast to this truth, those who “fall away” do give evidence by this fact that they were never saved. What happens when they “fall away” is they stop believing, they stop trusting in and agreeing with the Gospel. If they do not persevere, they were never saved. If they “fall away,” they believe no more, thus they are not a true believer. 1 John 2:19 – 19 They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us. NASB Luke 8:13 – 13 “And those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away. NASB 1 John 3:9 – 9 No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. NASB

The Sovereignty of God

Our Response

The Sovereign King

God is in heaven and having made the world by His own power out of nothing, and is even now sustaining everything by His powerful Word, God is The Sovereign King above all earthly and heavenly powers and authorities. As the Scripture says…… Psalm 103:19 – 19 The LORD has established His throne in the heavens; And His sovereignty rules over all. NASB God possesses absolute dominion and authority over all things. So He is said to sit on a “throne in heaven!” Just think how ridiculous it would be to say that God created the universe, but He is not in control of what takes place in it. Well the truth is God not only controls nature and history, but He literally sustains the entire universe by his power, and orders the events of his entire creation to accomplish His own purposes and plans. Friends, we must understand that what is happening in the world is happening at the express purpose and will of God, who rules the world and all who are in it. Psalms 47:7-8 – 7 For God is the King of all the earth; Sing praises with a skillful psalm. 8 God reigns over the nations, God sits on His holy throne. NASB He is “the Lord of Heaven and Earth”(Acts 17:24) and whatsoever happens in the world, happens because God has permitted, indeed He has decreed it to happen (The Decrees of God). Although there is much evil in the world, which God hates, He is allowing these things to achieve His eternal purposes which will, without a doubt, comes to pass. Psalms 135:5-6 – 5 For I know that the LORD is great, And that our Lord is above all gods. 6 Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps. NASB God not only permits the events of human history, but has ordained them from eternity past (Foreordination), and is furthermore actively involved in seeing that they all come to pass (Providence), fulfilling all of His plans and purposes. Proverbs 16:4 – 4 The LORD has made everything for its own purpose, Even the wicked for the day of evil. NASB That the divine purpose could meet with frustration is unthinkable, for then it could not be the divine purpose! Failure of God’s purpose is failure of His sovereignty. God cannot be God and NOT be Sovereign, for then He would NOT be God. Scripture is very clear about this! Ephesians 1:11 – 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, NASB Of course this Sovereignty and Providence of God extends through the entire Plan of Redemption to His blessed and HolyChurch, the faithful in Christ Jesus. The chosen people of God will go free from the slavery and bondage to sin, and Satan the evil world ruler who has bound them for these many years will be dashed under the feet of His saints, whom He has chosen out of the world, and they will receive their allotted inheritance in the Promised Land, even Heaven itself! There they will united to their husband and King, and lie down in peace and rest forever in the Kingdom of God! Romans 16:20 – 20 And the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. NASB 1 Peter 1:3-5 – 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. NASB Revelation 19:5-9 – “Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great.” 6 And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude and as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. 7 “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” 8 And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. 9 And he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.'” And he said to me, “These are true words of God.” NASB Now the fact that events are seen to be under the control of God is plainly evident in Scripture. In fact this is the main theme of the whole Bible! God is Providentially working His will in all things to accomplish His own purposes for the display of His own Glory, Name and Power! God is bringing His world to an expected End, the End which He has purposed from all eternity! At the appointed time, all earthly powers and authorities will be brought into subjection to the Sovereign authority of God, His purposes will be summed up and accomplished, and all will be at rest forever and ever in the Kingdom of God! Isaiah 46:9-11 – “Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’; 11 Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man of My purpose from a far country. Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it. NASB   A Worthy Response How shall we respond to these things we have learned? If God is indeed who He claims to be, The Sovereign Living Lord of Heaven and Earth, then it is only fitting that we respond to His great plans and purposes with a worthy response. That is a response which is proper and altogether worthy of His wonderful Name! Below we have outlined several appropriate responses to this knowledge of God’s Sovereignty.   Godly Fear Because God is the Creator and Sustainer of all that is, it is appropriate to fear Him for His great Power and Majesty! The Bible plainly declares that God is worthy to be feared! Revelation 15:3-4 – Great and marvelous are Thy works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Thy ways, Thou King of the nations. 4 “Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? For Thou alone art holy; For all the nations will come and worship before Thee, For Thy righteous acts have been revealed.” NASB Consider the saints of old and when they happened upon a vision of God they were greatly humbled. Upon seeing a vision of God, in reverence and awe Job exclaimed; Job 42:5-6 – 5 “I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees Thee; 6 Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes.” NASB Or what of Isaiah, when he caught a vision of the thrice Holy God, He recognized his great sins he said; Isaiah 6:5“Woe is me, for I am ruined!, Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips;, For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” NASB Or consider the prophet Daniel, in chapter 8 he sees a vision from God and when it was over he was overcome by it and he said; Daniel 8:27 – 27 Then I, Daniel, was exhausted and sick for days. Then I got up again and carried on the king’s business; but I was astounded at the vision, and there was none to explain it. NASB Or when in chapter 10 he actually see the Lord Himself and tells of that great occasion; Daniel 10:7-12 – 7 Now I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, while the men who were with me did not see the vision; nevertheless, a great dread fell on them, and they ran away to hide themselves. 8 So I was left alone and saw this great vision; yet no strength was left in me, for my natural color turned to a deathly pallor, and I retained no strength. 9 But I heard the sound of his words; and as soon as I heard the sound of his words, I fell into a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground. 10 Then behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. 11 And he said to me, “O Daniel, man of high esteem, understand the words that I am about to tell you and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.” And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling. 12 Then he said to me, “Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words. NASB Daniel was afraid of God, and rightly so! A mere sight of Him can kill a man! (Exodus 33:20). When the Apostle John had a vision of the glorified Christ in Revelation chapter one, he was terrified and said; Revelation 1:17-18 – 17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as a dead man. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, 18 and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades. NASB All of these responses to God have this in common, fear! When a man or woman sees themselves in proper relation to God’s Holiness, the first and proper response is one of deep respect and reverence, even a trembling fear of the purity and Holiness of God. This is because we are sinners and have greatly offended His purity and power, and were it not for His mercy to us, we would be consumed by the fire of His wrath! Therefore in this reverence we are to be thankful that He has shown us mercy and we are to do it with a life lived in reverence to His purity, showing the genuine nature of our respect for His Holy Word and Power! It is this person in whom God delights! Isaiah 66:1-2 – 6:1 Thus says the LORD, “Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? 2 “For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being,” declares the LORD. “But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.  NASB Psalm 34:15-19 – 15 The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous, And His ears are open to their cry. 16 The face of the LORD is against evildoers, To cut off the memory of them from the earth. 17 The righteous cry and the LORD hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles. 18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, And saves those who are crushed in spirit. 19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous; But the LORD delivers him out of them all. NASB Psalm 51:15-17 – 5 O Lord, open my lips, That my mouth may declare Thy praise. 16 For Thou dost not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; Thou art not pleased with burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise. NASB   Worship and Adoration When we speak of worship we speak of ascribing value to something. If someone worships something, they treasure it and adore it and value it to the point of action. When we consider the worship of God, we speak of what is supremely valuable and worthy of our adoration! To say that God is most valuable is an understatement. In fact, God is what brings definition to value. In other words to say that we value God, is to say that we esteem Him, that we estimate Him to be most worthy of our adoration, our praise and even our worship. This is obviously because He is the definition of that which is good, honorable and worthy of high esteem. As the scripture says, Exodus 15:11 – 11 “Who is like Thee among the gods, O LORD? Who is like Thee, majestic in holiness, Awesome in praises, working wonders? NASB Therefore we esteem God above everything else because He is so high above, or so much more worthy than anything else because everything else derives it value in relation to God because He is the standard for what is good or worthy of esteem, in fact He is the creator of everything. Things derive their value based on the purpose for which they were created. Revelation 4:11 – 11 “Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created.” NASB Why is God worthy to receive glory and honor? Because at His will they “exist and were created.” Nothing has its existence except at the will of God. Nothing has its being, except by His design and continued Providence. God deemed it fit and good to create the world and mankind upon it, how could we do anything less than pay Him homage as the high and lofty One. Indeed, anything less than esteeming God above everything else is entirely sinful, in fact this is the definition of idolatry and a violation of the first commandment; Exodus 20:3 – 3 “You shall have no other gods before Me. NASB More than this, sin in actuality is a failure to glorify God or a failure to properly esteem Him. In fact, the very nature of sin is PRIDE, it is self-exaltation. It is to say that our will and our desire is of greater value than God’s will or God’s desire. Rather than esteem Him as Lord and Master (who He truly is), when we sin, we esteem ourselves and our own personal authority as higher than God’s. This is the definition of sin, to transgress the law, character and will of God. Romans 1:18-22 – 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. NASB Therefore we see the great importance of valuing God for who He is, and honoring Him and giving Him thanks for the gracious gift of life He has given us. The utmost importance of this issue cannot be stressed enough and it is made crystal clear in the scripture….. 1 Chronicles 29:11-13 – 11 Thine, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Thine is the dominion, O LORD, and Thou dost exalt Thyself as head over all. 12 Both riches and honor come from Thee, and Thou dost rule over all, and in Thy hand is power and might; and it lies in Thy hand to make great, and to strengthen everyone. 13 Now therefore, our God, we thank Thee, and praise Thy glorious name.  NASB So when we speak of “valuing God” we ought to be moved to the point of worship! That is to the point of ascribing worth and value to God. To open our mouth and proclaim the glory of His greatness and power, and to exalt Him with the words of our mouth and the thoughts and meditations of our hearts! The authority of His majesty is the most regal and beautiful, stately and splendid, magnificent grandeur of all. Therefore we should ascribe to Him praise! Psalms 96:4-9 – For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods. 5 For all the gods of the peoples are idols, But the LORD made the heavens. 6 Splendor and majesty are before Him, Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary. 7 Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. 8 Ascribe to the LORD the glory of His name; Bring an offering, and come into His courts. 9 Worship the LORD in holy attire; Tremble before Him, all the earth. NASB We are to praise Him and give Him thanks! We are to treasure Him and adore for His goodness and power! This is what is appropriate for the creature, to give glory and honor to the Great Creator! Psalm 106:1Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting. NASB Psalm 33:1 – Sing for joy in the LORD, O you righteous ones; Praise is becoming to the upright. NASB

The Sovereignty of God

Our Response – Part 2

The Sovereign King

God is in heaven and having made the world by His own power out of nothing, and is even now sustaining everything by His powerful Word, God is The Sovereign King above all earthly and heavenly powers and authorities. As the Scripture says…… Psalm 103:19 – 19 The LORD has established His throne in the heavens; And His sovereignty rules over all. NASB God possesses absolute dominion and authority over all things. So He is said to sit on a “throne in heaven!” Just think how ridiculous it would be to say that God created the universe, but He is not in control of what takes place in it. Well the truth is God not only controls nature and history, but He literally sustains the entire universe by his power, and orders the events of his entire creation to accomplish His own purposes and plans. Friends, we must understand that what is happening in the world is happening at the express purpose and will of God, who rules the world and all who are in it. Psalms 47:7-8 – 7 For God is the King of all the earth; Sing praises with a skillful psalm. 8 God reigns over the nations, God sits on His holy throne. NASB He is “the Lord of Heaven and Earth”(Acts 17:24) and whatsoever happens in the world, happens because God has permitted, indeed He has decreed it to happen (The Decrees of God). Although there is much evil in the world, which God hates, He is allowing these things to achieve His eternal purposes which will, without a doubt, comes to pass. Psalms 135:5-6 – 5 For I know that the LORD is great, And that our Lord is above all gods. 6 Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps. NASB God not only permits the events of human history, but has ordained them from eternity past (Foreordination), and is furthermore actively involved in seeing that they all come to pass (Providence), fulfilling all of His plans and purposes. Proverbs 16:4 – 4 The LORD has made everything for its own purpose, Even the wicked for the day of evil. NASB That the divine purpose could meet with frustration is unthinkable, for then it could not be the divine purpose! Failure of God’s purpose is failure of His sovereignty. God cannot be God and NOT be Sovereign, for then He would NOT be God. Scripture is very clear about this! Ephesians 1:11 – 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, NASB Now the fact that events are seen to be under the control of God is plainly evident in Scripture. In fact this is the main theme of the whole Bible! God is Providentially working His will in all things to accomplish His own purposes for the display of His own Glory, Name and Power! God is bringing His world to an expected End, the End which He has purposed from all eternity! At the appointed time, all earthly powers and authorities will be brought into subjection to the Sovereign authority of God, His purposes will be summed up and accomplished, and all will be at rest forever and ever in the Kingdom of God! Isaiah 46:9-11 – “Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’; 11 Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man of My purpose from a far country. Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it. NASB   A Devoted Love Because God is infinitely valuable and worthy of worship, it is only appropriate then that we should be devoted to Him with an intense commitment of love. That is why of all the things which God has commanded us to do, He has commanded us to love Him! In fact, when Jesus sums up the commandments, He does it with this great command! Matthew 22:36-40 – 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him,  “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  38 “This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 “The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  40 “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” NASB In other words, says Jesus, this is the meaning and application of the whole Bible for us, to love God! This, says the Lord, is the “great and foremost commandment.” In other words, this is what is MOST important in life, the main thing, the first thing, the great thing, the foremost thing, the thing which is front and above all others. Jesus says “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” The entire Old Testament, all 39 books, all 929 chapters, 23,214 verses, all 590,439 words says Jesus “depend on these two commandments.” Mark 12:33 – 33 and to love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as himself, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices. “ NASB Much more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices, more important than all our religious endeavors, more important than anything else in all the world, is this foremost commandment. What then is this first priority? It is to LOVE GOD. To love God says Jesus, is the reason why we were made. In fact Jesus shows the importance of this in many ways as in Luke 14…. Luke 14:25-27 – 25 Now great multitudes were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. 27 “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. NASB There will be no rivals in God’s kingdom for His esteem and devotion. Jesus says unless He is more important than everything you have, including your family and even your own life, you CANNOT be His disciple! This is why the commandment states, you shall love the Lord your God “with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” This means that we are to love God with everything that is within us. It means we are to devote to Him everything we own and every part of our life.

  • with all your heart – this speaks of our emotions, our inner being is to be wholly devoted to God with strong affection
  • with all your soul – This means, to love God more than our life, to be willing to give up your life to him, and to devote it all to his service; to live for him, and to be willing to die at his command.
  • with all your mind –  We are to love God with our intellect, with all the

powers of our mind, bringing memory, thought, imagination, reason, judgment, and all our mental powers, as willing subjects to bow at God’s feet in adoration and love. To love His Word and His gospel more than we do the vain thoughts of our own minds, the entertainment, comedy and communications of the world, and to give of our time unto the meditation and worship of God.

  • with all your strength –  with all the faculties of soul and body. To labor and toil for his glory, and to make that the most important priority in our lives.

Therefore if we value God because He is supremely valuable, then we must love Him with a wholehearted devotion which manifests the true love that we do have for Him. Good Christian, can we look at your life and see the evidence of your love for God? Or is something in your life competing with Him for your love and devotion? Only when we come to love God with our whole being will we be truly satisfied. Only then will we be content and fulfilled! This is the purpose for which we were made. Deuteronomy 10:12-14 – 12 “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require from you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the LORD’S commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good? NASB   A Commitment to Obedience Now consider with me if God is the Sovereign, the Supreme Authority, if He is the Lord of Heaven and Earth, and He has given us high and holy commandments, our response should then be one of unwavering obedience. If a powerful earthly authority gives us a directive, what would we do? We would obey. How much more should we honor God with obedience to Him? Shall we rail against our maker? Shall we rebel against the King of Kings? God forbid! Listen to the word of the Lord….. Deuteronomy 4:39 – 39 Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the LORD, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other. NASB We are to obey God no matter what as He is the One to whom we will all give an account of our deeds. Even in times of testing when all the world is against us, we should obey God, no matter the cost. This was the response of the Apostles before the Sanhedrin… Acts 5:27-30 – 27 And when they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. And the high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered and said, “We must obey God rather than men. NASB This kind of obedience to God flows from a heart of love toward God. We obey Him because we love Him and we know that His commands are what is best for us. This is clear in the teaching of Jesus…. John 14:15 – 15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. NASB If we truly love God we will in fact obey Him. This is how we prove our love for God, through our obedience to Him…. 1 John 5:3 – 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. NASB Obedience to God is proof positive that we believe He is the Sovereign and that we in fact love Him and honor Him from our hearts!       Faith and Trust Consider dear Christian…..If God is in control, and He is, and He has our best interest in mind, then our life is in the safest place possible. Listen to the promise of God…. Romans 8:28 – 28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Will God actually be faithful to carry out this word? Of course He will, and none of us doubt this. The problem is we have a hard time believing that God could actually love us with a love like this. We realize we are not worthy of His attention and love and so we tend to doubt He will really work everything for our good. But this is in fact the promise of God! It is indeed His expressed intention. Believe dear Christian God has you best in mind, and you can trust Him with everything you are and all that you have! Who could be more worthy of your trust? Psalm 43:5Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, The help of my countenance, and my God. NASB Surely God is worthy of our trust! To whom else shall we go! He is the Sovereign Lord! This is why the Bible calls us to place our trust in Him…..as the Proverbs say…. Proverbs 3:5-6Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. NASB How then should we respond to the fact that God is Sovereign in all things and over all things? We should entrust our lives into His hands and wait upon Him! He will not leave us nor forsake us! He will be our God and He will delight in our deliverance and our peace! Psalm 37:3-7Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. 4 Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. 6 And He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your judgment as the noonday. 7 Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. NASB Psalm 33:18-22 – 18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, On those who hope for His lovingkindness, 19 To deliver their soul from death, And to keep them alive in famine. 20 Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield. 21 For our heart rejoices in Him, Because we trust in His holy name. 22 Let Thy lovingkindness, O LORD, be upon us, According as we have hoped in Thee. NASB

The Sovereignty of God

Our Response – Part 3

The Sovereign King

God is in heaven and having made the world by His own power out of nothing, and is even now sustaining everything by His powerful Word, God is The Sovereign King above all earthly and heavenly powers and authorities. As the Scripture says…… Psalm 103:19 – 19 The LORD has established His throne in the heavens; And His sovereignty rules over all. NASB God possesses absolute dominion and authority over all things. So He is said to sit on a “throne in heaven!” Just think how ridiculous it would be to say that God created the universe, but He is not in control of what takes place in it. Well the truth is God not only controls nature and history, but He literally sustains the entire universe by his power, and orders the events of his entire creation to accomplish His own purposes and plans. Friends, we must understand that what is happening in the world is happening at the express purpose and will of God, who rules the world and all who are in it. Psalms 47:7-8 – 7 For God is the King of all the earth; Sing praises with a skillful psalm. 8 God reigns over the nations, God sits on His holy throne. NASB He is “the Lord of Heaven and Earth”(Acts 17:24) and whatsoever happens in the world, happens because God has permitted, indeed He has decreed it to happen (The Decrees of God). Although there is much evil in the world, which God hates, He is allowing these things to achieve His eternal purposes which will, without a doubt, comes to pass. Psalms 135:5-6 – 5 For I know that the LORD is great, And that our Lord is above all gods. 6 Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps. NASB God not only permits the events of human history, but has ordained them from eternity past (Foreordination), and is furthermore actively involved in seeing that they all come to pass (Providence), fulfilling all of His plans and purposes. Proverbs 16:4 – 4 The LORD has made everything for its own purpose, Even the wicked for the day of evil. NASB That the divine purpose could meet with frustration is unthinkable, for then it could not be the divine purpose! Failure of God’s purpose is failure of His sovereignty. God cannot be God and NOT be Sovereign, for then He would NOT be God. Scripture is very clear about this! Ephesians 1:11 – 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, NASB Now the fact that events are seen to be under the control of God is plainly evident in Scripture. In fact this is the main theme of the whole Bible! God is Providentially working His will in all things to accomplish His own purposes for the display of His own Glory, Name and Power! God is bringing His world to an expected End, the End which He has purposed from all eternity! At the appointed time, all earthly powers and authorities will be brought into subjection to the Sovereign authority of God, His purposes will be summed up and accomplished, and all will be at rest forever and ever in the Kingdom of God! Isaiah 46:9-11 – “Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’; 11 Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man of My purpose from a far country. Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it. NASB   Blessed Assurance Now it is self evident that if God has intended to save us from the beginning, and He has, and that He has now drawn us to Himself and caused us to be born again, surely He will see us through until the end of our life and bring us safely to heaven! Jesus has secured salvation for all who will repent of there sins and obey the gospel by placing their God given faith in Christ! He is the way to Heaven. He is the doorway to God’s presence because He is the only One who has fully met the requirements of God’s Holy justice. Because He has met these requirements, our salvation has been eternally secured. For the one who is in Christ, no more wrath of God remains for sins because it has all been poured out on Christ! Isaiah 53:4-5 – Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. NASB Romans 8:1-2 – 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. NASB We can have assurance because Christ’s work is perfect! Praise God! We have a mediator, a Priest, one who will go between us and God! We have a lamb to sacrifice to cover our sins! Dear friends, if God was willing to sacrifice His own Son for you, won’t he be willing to grant you Heaven? Yes He will, and more than that, we have become joint heirs with Christ in His eternal inheritance! All that Christ has is now ours as well. This is because the work of Christ in securing our salvation is perfect. He is a perfect Priest, the total and complete sacrifice, and His atoning work of propitiation is the full price of all the sins of the world, paid in full. Christ was sent by the Father, to do His will, and to completely provide a way for you and I to be saved. His work is therefore perfectly in accordance with the standard of God. The death of Christ perfectly accomplished the will of God in redemption. Ephesians 1:7-9 – 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, 8 which He lavished upon us. In all wisdom and insight NASB Hebrews 10:14-15 – 14 For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. NASB Hebrews 10:19-23 – 19 Since therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; NASB Colossians 1:21-22 – 21 And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, 22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach NASB Therefore, knowing these things to be true we can rest assured that Heaven has been secured for us, not because of anything that is within us, but because of the great things Christ has done!   Peace and Rest Knowing that God is Sovereign affords us great peace! Romans 8:31 – 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? NASB God is in control of nature and History! He is the Lord of time and eternity! He is the All-knowing, All-powerful King of Heaven! What circumstance in our life shall take Him by surprise or prevent Him from blessing His own people with love and security? His eye is on the sparrow, how much more the sons and daughters of His love! Romans 8:38-39 – 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. NASB Now if God has done all of this for us in Christ Jesus our Lord, we can and should rest in the Lord, knowing it is His good pleasure to give us eternal life and work all things for our good. And in these promises we can rest and have great peace! Psalm 119:165 – 165 Those who love Thy law have great peace , And nothing causes them to stumble. NASB Isaiah 26:3-4 – 3 “The steadfast of mind Thou wilt keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in Thee. 4 “Trust in the LORD forever, For in GOD the LORD, we have an everlasting Rock. NASB Jesus often says when confronting our fears, “Do not be afraid,” and this is often followed by assurances of His presence with us. Indeed we have nothing to fear if we love God, everything will work for our ultimate good. Luke 12:32 – 32 Do not be afraid , little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom. NASB Remember that God in His Providence is ruling over every detail of your life. He will not allow anything except what He designs for your good and your joy, and His own glory! Therefore good Christian, find your rest in Christ, this is His invitation to you! Matthew 11:28-30 – 28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 “Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. 30 “For My yoke is easy, and My load is light.” NASB   Thanksgiving and Praise Dear friends, consider in the goodness of God to us, how we ought to be thankful! God has promised that every single thing in our lives will ultimately work for our good. Consider that if God would not spare His own Son, but gave Him for us, won’t He then also give us everything we need? Romans 8:31-32 – 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? NASB If God will give His people a Kingdom when they die, will He not also give them daily bread while they live? If Jesus would suffer and die to bring me to Himself, will He not also hear my prayer when I cry to Him for help? Indeed He will, more than that, he will crown us with eternal life and grant us to see His glory forever more in His glorious Heaven, what more could we have from the good hand of Providence! Learn then, that it is fitting for the upright to praise God! Thanksgiving to God is pure praise! It is direct honor to God who gives us life and breathe! Psalm 50:23 – He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me; And to him who orders his way aright I shall show the salvation of God.” NASB For those who know the goodness of God, we have no other response but the high praises of our King! Thanksgiving is the blood that runs through the veins of a saint! Praise is the garment that fits handsomely on our backs! Psalm 145:9-10 – 9 The LORD is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works. 10 All Thy works shall give thanks to Thee, O LORD, And Thy godly ones shall bless Thee. NASB Consider that the mouth of the wicked is filled with grumblings and murmuring and complaining! But this is not fitting for a saint! The wicked cannot praise God, neither are they thankful. The poison of asps is on their lips, and with the tongue they profane the name of God! Psalm 33:1-5Sing for joy in the LORD, O you righteous ones; Praise is becoming to the upright. 2 Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; Sing praises to Him with a harp of ten strings. 3 Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy. 4 For the word of the LORD is upright; And all His work is done in faithfulness. 5 He loves righteousness and justice; The earth is full of the lovingkindness of the LORD. Let us therefore give God the thanksgiving and praise which is due to Him! That no matter what cup He gives us to drink, no matter what bitterness of soul should afflict us, no matter what great trial may befall us or try us, that we shall stand in the company of the saints, with the glorious praise of God in our mouth, knowing that He shall give us nothing but that which works for our good! It is God’s will that we should give Him thanks in every circumstance! Ephesians 5:20 – 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; NASB 1 Thessalonians 5:18 – 18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. NASB

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And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. Revelation 21:23