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Sovereignty 10

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Ephesians 2:8–10John 14:6Ephesians 1:3–14Acts 2:39John 6:44John 6:65Joshua 24:15Acts 4:12John 15:16Acts 2:47Romans 11:362 Timothy 1:91 Corinthians 3:6–7Acts 16:14Revelation 7:10Romans 8:28–301 Peter 1:21 Corinthians 1:26–302 Thessalonians 2:13Acts 13:48Deuteronomy 30:19Romans 10:13Psalm 3:81 Corinthians 2:7–8Matthew 22:141 Kings 18:21Matthew 24:22Revelation 19:1Acts 4:27–28Acts 11:17–18Romans 11:5–6Romans 3:27Mark 4:26–28Luke 10:20–22Series on SovereigntySalvationSovereigntyGraceGod's WillSovereignty of GodPurposeGod's GloryChoicePridepredestinationGod's CallGod's PurposewillForeknowledgeObligationSalvation belongs to GodCall upon the LORDSovereign graceGod's choiceGod's good pleasurePredestinedSovereignty over salvationGood pleasureMeritAbundant gracePredestined to salvationGod drawsBoasting excludedTo God be the glory
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Notes & Transcripts

Sovereignty 10

Having attended this fellowship for over 15 years, in all that time I have never heard any teaching on a regular part of church life: the church lunch. So I thought that I would correct that omission this morning. So, … there is going to be a church lunch; …. and you are faced with the dilemma: what am I going to make? Now, you don’t have to make anything at all; you could buy something from the supermarket, let your wife see to it, or not take anything along. It is totally up to you. It is your choice [P] – you may recall that I spoke about “choice” last time, sometimes called: “election”. If it was a condition of church membership to bring something, then it would be an obligation, a requirement, you would have no choice. But it is not like that, it is totally up to you. In the area of what you bring to church lunch, you exercise sovereignty. Now just suppose I exercise that sovereignty and make the choice to make some scones. [P] Now, I am faced with another choice: what kind am I going to make? The choice is up to me. I could make savoury scones or sweet: cheese scones or the herb and onion ones, maybe plain scones, maybe with jam and clotted cream. But I exercise my will and decide to make date scones. Why? Because I decide to. But my decision is not arbitrary – I have a reason, see? A purpose. [P] You see? I know that Robin has a preference for date scones, my plan is to make something that Robin enjoys and it is my intention that he eats them. I have planned beforehand – the scones I make are predestined [P] to be eaten by Robin, and by others! Now, before I make those scones I know that Robin likes date scones. That those scones are predestined to be eaten by Robin is based on my foreknowledge [P] of Robin and his preferences. Now my foreknowledge is not like God’s, it is not perfect; Robin may go for the pizza. Robin also exercises a choice as to what he is going to eat. Now if I made the most fantastic scones in the world, too good to resist; then they would deserve to be sampled, Robin would have no choice in the matter it – it would be based on merit. [P] If Robin knew that I had made them especially for him he would feel obliged to eat them [P], even if he didn’t want to. So, if it is by choice [P], then it is not by merit or obligation [P]. Now, I can explain these terms with scones – we understand; the trouble comes when it comes to people – you see? – scones can’t answer back, they are just there to be eaten! Now, please turn with me to Ephesians chapter one, where a number of these terms appear, look out for them as I read: [P] [Ephesians 1:3-14 Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ!, just as He chose us in Him ([P] there is that election, God exercised His sovereignty and made a choice) before the foundation of the world, (and that choice was made before we existed, before the foundation of the world יהוה knew that you would be. That is His foreknowledge, and He chose you especially to be His own! Now, isn’t that precious and wonderful?! As we saw with Jacob and Esau last time, it had nothing to do with them or what they had done, it had all been planned before they or we had done anything – it is predestined [P]) So יהוה chose us in Jesus…. that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love having predestined us to adoption through Jesus Christ to Himself according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace that He bestowed on us in the Beloved. (We saw last time that love chooses. יהוה had a destiny for us long before we came into being. Why? [P] It was His “good pleasure”; “His will” – He is sovereign. “He loves us because He loves us”. He wanted to, so He did. That is the only basis – the will of a sovereign God. What is the purpose? We saw it last week: “for the praise of the glory of His grace” – He did it for His glory! [P]) In Whom (that is Jesus, the “Beloved”) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace, that He caused to abound to us. ([P] God lavishes His grace upon us, we don’t deserve it, He just decides to do it. The consequence of receiving such undeserved mercy is that we overflow with thanksgiving and praise – we glorify God, who is indeed worthy! Hallelujah!) In all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure that He purposed in Him, (See the sovereignty of God?: “His will”, “His good pleasure”, “His purpose”) for the administration of the fullness of times, to bring together all things in Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth, in Him in whom also we were chosen, having been predestined according to the purpose of the One who works all things according to the counsel of His will, (God is controlling all things, working in all things according to His will: “choice”, “purpose”, “will”, “predestined”– they occur over and over again – יהוה is sovereign!) that we who hoped beforehand in Christ should be for the praise of His glory, (the purpose again: the glory of God!) in whom also you, when you heard the word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation, in whom also when you believed you were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of the possession, to the praise of his glory!] And yet again: [P] “for the praise of His glory!” I hope you are beginning to get the message – that is the purpose, the great motivation in all that God does is His glory! So what is this passage in Ephesians talking about? Twice it says: “predestined” – what is it that God has predestined us for? To be adopted, to be sons of God, to be redeemed, to have our sins forgiven, that we should be there in glory praising Him, it is the Gospel of our salvation through faith! There we were dead in our trespasses and sin, facing the death penalty for our rebellion against God and for pursuing our own will and agenda – and God, in His grace saved us. It is talking about salvation. We are predestined to salvation! [P] This has been God’s plan from the beginning. God knew about it from the before the foundation of the world, even before time began! God foreknew – it is based on His foreknowledge: [1 Peter 1:2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and for sprinkling with the blood of Jesus Christ. May grace and peace be multiplied to you.] It is by grace that we are saved, and in the purpose of God this grace was bestowed upon us not only before we saw the light, not only before Adam’s fall, but even before that far distant “beginning” of Genesis 1:1 or that of John 1:1 when all there was, was: “the Word was with God”. And herein lies the unassailable comfort of God’s people: if His choice has been from eternity, it will last to eternity! Nothing can survive to eternity but what came from eternity. We are predestined to salvation! There is a lot of talk today about “destiny”, people are very happy to consider the great things that they are destined for. But some get a bit uneasy when “pre” is put before it. Why? Because we like to think that we control our own destiny. I mean we sing: “I have decided to follow Jesus …” – and that is true, isn’t it? Didn’t Moses say: [Deuteronomy 30:19 “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants,] and Joshua said: Joshua 24:15 But if it is bad in your eyes to serve יהוה, choose for yourselves today whom you want to serve, whether it is the gods that your ancestors served beyond the river, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve יהוה.”] And Elijah to Israel: [1 Kings 18:21 Elijah approached to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping over two opinions? If יהוה is God, go after him; but if Baal, go after him.”] From our point of view we choose [P]; but there is another side of the coin that we cannot view at the same time; it is God’s view, the view that Scripture, God’s Word, presents: God chose us [P]. God chose me! Hallelujah! I don’t know why, but I am so glad that He did! We are convinced that we chose to follow Jesus, that we chose salvation; but Jesus said: [John 15:16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and your fruit should remain, in order that whatever you ask the Father in My Name He will give you.] Salvation is pre-eminently יהוה’s work – it belongs to Him! He is sovereign over salvation! [P] [Psalm 3:8 Salvation belongs to יהוה; Your blessing be upon Your people!] and [Revelation 7:10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”] This will forever be our song in heaven!: [Revelation 19:1 After these things I heard something like the loud sound of a great crowd in heaven saying, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God!] We like to think that salvation is because of my decision, my choice – but the Scripture presents a different view. Talking about the cross, Jesus’ death by which salvation was purchased, the early believers prayed: [P] [Acts 4:27-28 For in truth both Herod and Pontius Pilate, together with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, assembled together in this city against Your holy servant Jesus whom You anointed, to do all that Your hand and plan had predestined to take place.] Jesus’ death wasn’t an accident, satan hadn’t got the upper hand. No, all that took place, יהוה had planned beforehand, He had predestined it. [P] It was God’s plan, a mystery hidden for ages but now revealed to the world. Paul said: [P] [1 Corinthians 2:7-8 but we speak the hidden wisdom of God in a mystery, which God predestined before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew. For if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.] The crucifixion whereby salvation was accomplished, was predestined by God, His eternal plan, right from the very beginning. A sovereign God is working in all things, working them together for good. How we love that verse in: [P] [Romans 8:28-30 And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, for those who are called according to His purpose, because those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son! So that He should be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom He predestined, these He also called, and those whom He called, these He also justified, and those whom He justified, these He also glorified.] But that “good” that He is working, is His predestined purpose. What is that purpose? That we become conformed to the image of Jesus, be His brothers, be justified, made righteous, glorified! Hallelujah! What is it talking about? Our salvation! These passages, along with the one we read in Ephesians 1, are the six occurrences of the word “predestined” [P] in the Bible – and every single one has to do with salvation! Predestination is pre-eminently to do with salvation. [P] We are predestined to salvation! Now let’s have a look at how this works out in practice and have a look at some examples in Scripture. When the Gospel was first preached on the Day of Pentecost by Peter, he wrapped up saying: [P] [Acts 2:39 For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all those who are far away, as many as the Lord our God calls to Himself.”] Who is the message of salvation, the promise of the Holy Spirit for? For as many as the LORD our God calls to Himself. Those that God calls are the ones that respond. It is what Paul said, as we read in Romans 8: “those God predestined, He called”. And the church grew, a few verses down it says: [P] [Acts 2:47 And the Lord was adding every day to the total of those who were being saved.] Who were being saved? – those whom the LORD added. Who did the adding? יהוה did! Salvation belongs to יהוה! He is sovereign over salvation. When the Gospel was first preached to the Gentiles, Peter reported back to the church, who questioned what was going on: [P] [Acts 11:17-18 Therefore if God gave them the same gift as also to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to be able to hinder God?” And when they heard these things, they became silent and praised God, saying, “Then God has granted the repentance leading to life to the Gentiles also!”] Who gave the gift of repentance to the Gentiles? God did! Who would Peter be hindering if he tried to prevent them receiving salvation? God! Who granted the gift of salvation? God! It was all God! Certainly Peter and the other Jewish believers were not too happy with the idea. It was God’s gift, He granted it. It is by His grace – His favour that He decides to give. It is by His will. He decided. He is sovereign! What about Paul on his first missionary journey?: [P] [Acts 13:48 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.] Who believed? Just: “as many as had been appointed to eternal life”; and no more. “Appointed” – appointed by God – they were predestined to eternal life and so believed. I could go on and on; just one last example as Paul took the Gospel of salvation to Europe for the first time: [P] [Acts 16:14 A 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.] Lydia responded to Paul’s preaching of the Gospel – why? Was she especially spiritually sensitive, seeking, full of faith, conscious of her need? Bottom line: the LORD opened her heart to respond. She had a receptive heart because God opened it to the message. Look, we have preached the Gospel out at the prison for years – the same message. Why do some respond sometimes and some at other times do not? The same message is preached, we just sow the seed – it is the LORD that gives the increase. Jesus used this same image: [Mark 4:26-28 And He said, “The kingdom of God is like this: like a man scatters seed on the ground. And he sleeps and gets up, night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows—he does not know how. By itself the soil produces a crop: first the grass, then the head of grain, then the full grain in the head.] I plant some seeds, I have no idea what chemical reactions are going on, let alone control and ordain them. Me worrying at night whether the seed is germinating isn’t going to alter anything, nor me reading a textbook on horticulture. It has nothing to do with me! I cannot bring forth life – only God can! Paul said: [1 Corinthians 3:6-7 I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing it to grow. So then, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who is causing it to grow.] He is sovereign over salvation. [P] [2 Thessalonians 2:13 But we ought to give thanks to God always concerning you, brothers dearly loved by the Lord, because God has chosen you as first fruits for salvation by the sanctification of the Spirit and faith in the truth,] He chooses for salvation. He exercises His sovereignty by choosing. Those He chooses are saved [Matthew 22:14 For many are called but few are chosen.”] It is the chosen, or the elect, who are saved. The Bible tells us that a terrible time of יהוה’s judgement is coming upon the earth in the last days. Talking of this time Jesus said: [Matthew 24:22 And unless those days had been shortened, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, those days will be shortened.] The judgements are so severe that all human life would be wiped out. But the days are shortened so that the elect, the chosen will survive, so that they will be saved. Saved by their own virtue or power, righteousness or cleverness? No, saved because the Saviour comes, the LORD Himself will return for them and rescue, save them. [P] Jesus is the only Source of salvation, it is in Him alone: [P] [Acts 4:12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven that is given among people by which we must be saved.] As Jesus Himself said: [P] [John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.] Salvation is nothing to do with us – it is all from God. The old Miller’s building has just been demolished – but I remember as a young fellow going there with Mum while she bought material to make clothes for my sisters. The waiting was interminable! She would wander from aisle to aisle. Suddenly she wasn’t there! I was lost! Panic! Now I suppose I could have approached an assistant or something for help – but I was a preschooler! I employed a rather undignified but effective technique: “MUM!!” I called and she came, responded to the cry of her child. It is still the only effective technique: [P] [Romans 10:13 For “everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”] You call, He saves. Salvation belongs to יהוה! Salvation is solely and pre-eminently יהוה’s work. But we call on יהוה only because He called us first. There is no other Saviour. Salvation belongs to Him. He is sovereign over salvation. God’s creation is wonderful, but redemption, and the salvation it purchased, are even more wonderful! If His creation brings glory to the Creator, how much more does His wonderful salvation bring Glory to the Saviour! God is sovereign over salvation, the purpose in this salvation, is not primarily my benefit (although I do benefit greatly) – it is that it brings יהוה GLORY! He grants it to those He chooses. That sovereign gift we call grace [P] – we don’t deserve it, but it is freely given by the One who chooses to. Grace is undeserved favour – you can’t earn it, it is not based on merit, on what you deserve. The one bestowing it is not obliged to give it, He doesn’t have to – it is totally at the discretion of the one giving it; otherwise it is not grace. Grace is sovereign grace, totally at the discretion of the one giving it. So for it to be grace it has to be completely the will and the decision of the one giving it, totally up to Him. [P] [Romans 11:5-6 So in this way also at the present time, there is a remnant selected by grace. But if by grace, it is no longer by works, for otherwise grace would no longer be grace.] For grace to be grace it has to be at the discretion of the one giving it. To exercise grace you have to exercise sovereign will. Salvation is by grace, and grace alone: [P] [Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, so that we may walk in them.] It is not from ourselves, not by works. Even the faith by which we are justified, is the gift of God. It is totally grace, totally God! He is sovereign – and as we have seen throughout this series His sovereignty always stems from Him being Creator – He is in control of what He makes, He can do with it as He chooses. Salvation is by grace alone – God’s sovereign grace. Nothing to do with us! We wouldn’t come to God unless He drew us to Himself [John 6:44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. And a few verses down: John 6:65 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.”] Salvation is a wondrous work – the greatest of God’s amazing accomplishments. He is mighty in power and the disciples rejoiced when they saw some of this power at work in them casting out demons – but this is what Jesus said in response: [Luke 10:20-22 “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.” At that very time He rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, “I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. (why did Jesus rejoice? Because their names were written in heaven, they had received spiritual revelation. Why?) Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. (because it was what the Father wanted to do, it pleased Him) All things have been handed over to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.”] There would be no spiritual revelation, no knowledge of Jesus and no knowledge of God apart from the will of Jesus – Him willing to reveal His Father to them. We would have no knowledge of God apart from His sovereign grace in giving us revelation. We read in [P] [2 Timothy 1:9 who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to His own purpose and grace that was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,] – salvation is by sovereign grace, through a sovereign call, nothing to do with our efforts but according to God’s sovereign purpose that was given by grace – because He decided to, and that before time began, based on His foreknowledge. But why grace? Bottom line – because God is sovereign and that is the way He has chosen to do it; but there is a Divine genius in grace. [P] Christianity is unique in that it is the only religion where you do not have to do something; that is not based on your performance. Because you know?, man being what he is, as soon as he does something, he has to crow about it. Performance inevitably results in pride. Grace is the great pride buster? [P] What did it say in [Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace you are saved …… so that no one can boast.] If there is pride in position or status, it is religion, not true Christianity, not the Gospel of grace. It also says that we are saved through faith; but man is so perverse that he boasts about his faith. “I believed!” “He is a great man of faith!” But it says that even that faith is not of ourselves, it is the gift of God. Salvation has to be totally of God or otherwise we would take some credit for it, boast about it. We would take glory to ourselves instead of giving it where it truly belongs: to God alone be the glory! That is יהוה’s great purpose: His glory! Boasting has to be eliminated – and that is the genius of grace – it completely excludes it! Hallelujah! [P] [Romans 3:27 Therefore, where is boasting? It has been excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith.] Salvation is totally of God, totally His sovereign work. We are nobodies, but God sovereignly takes the initiative, chooses us, calls us, justifies us. [P] [1 Corinthians 1:26-31 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 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, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”] It is by His doing that you are in Christ Jesus! Forbid it LORD that I should boast, save in the death of Christ my God. We make our boast in Jesus, in the Salvation that he purchased on the cross! It is all from Him: [P] [Romans 11:36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. (all things includes salvation) To Him be the glory forevr! Amen!]

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