God’s Sovereignty in Salvation
L. R. Shelton, Jr.
We begin today a series of messages on the subject, God’s Sovereignty in Salvation. This blessed and glorious truth as revealed in God’s Word has been upon my heart and I feel impressed to preach upon it at this time.
To me there is no truth in God’s Word that is any more precious than this blessed truth of God’s Sovereignty in salvation. This is a teaching, a truth, that glorifies God, exalts His name, gives Him honor, magnifies His grace, proclaims His supremacy and shows forth His power to all the universe. It is a truth that declares that God is on the throne working everything after the counsel of His own will. It is a truth that magnifies all of His attributes from His holiness to His wrath and gives great grounds for praise and thanksgiving from those who are made heirs of God and joint-heirs with the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Word of God abounds with Scriptures that set forth the glorious God, the sovereign God, who reigns over all this universe today and who has all things under His control from the president of these United States and the Arabian oil sheiks, to the sparrows that fly in the sky and the fish that swim in the deepest ocean. Proverbs 21:1 tells us that “the kings heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.”
Listen to how this great truth is set forth in 1 Chronicles 29:11-12! “Thine, O Lord is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory and the majesty: for all in the heaven and all in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all... and thou reignest over all.” Did you catch the beauty and glory of this? Our God, the God of the Bible, the Living God, is right now reigning over all His universe, His creation and He is Lord over all! What a comfort to the hearts of His people is this great truth in these days in which we are living!
Therefore is this not a great truth that each and every one of God’s blood-bought children should earnestly contend for? That God is King, Lord over all the works of His own hands; that God sits upon the throne of His universe and has the right as King and Lord to sit upon that throne and do as He pleases? This is the way the Bible pictures Him. He says, “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” (Isa 46:10). “He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand” (Dan 4:35). “Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places” (Psa 135:6).
Because of this then I, for one, rejoice in God’s absolute sovereignty, for it means that God is God in fact as well as in name; that He is on the throne of the universe, directing all things, working all things “after the counsel of his own will” (Eph 1:11). This to me is a sure resting place in Christ for my heart and life. For this reason I can know that the events of my life are neither the product of blind fate or the result of capricious chance, but every detail of it was ordained from all eternity, and is now ordered by the living and reigning God.
You see, dear friend, the bible says that not a hair of my head can be touched without His permission (Matt 10:30), and my times are in His hand (Psa 31:15). So what assurance this is to my heart and to all of those who know the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity and truth.
With this introduction, let us look then at our subject which will be engaging our attention for the next few weeks on this broadcast. Our subject is: God’s Sovereignty in Salvation. In approaching it, I feel led to go into it showing God’s order in salvation as it is revealed in God’s Word. The Lord has been pleased to open this to our hearts from His Word in such a way that we might understand it and rejoice in so great salvation that He has been pleased to give us in Christ.
Let us keep in mind that God’s salvation in Christ comes to us as a free gift of sovereign grace, and that this elective grace springs from the fountainhead of God’s everlasting love which provided an everlasting salvation through the blood of the everlasting covenant, by which God has bound Himself to undertake for those for whom Christ died.
These three truths concerning God’s everlasting salvation in Christ are brought out in Scripture. Listen to Jeremiah 31:3! “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee.” God’s love toward His people, His elect, is an everlasting love; it had no beginning and it has no end. Now listen to Isaiah 45:17! “But Israel shall be saved in the lord with an everlasting salvation.” Here we find that the salvation that God gives us in Christ is everlasting; it had no beginning and it has no end, for it is as eternal as God is eternal. Then look at Hebrews 13:20 which reads: “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant.” We see here that God has a covenant, a covenant of grace, and that it is an everlasting covenant ordered in all things and sure and cannot be broken; for He who made it is Truth and cannot lie, and is omnipotent; He therefore has the power to carry it out in all of its many details.
So we see then that God’s love for sinners from “everlasting to everlasting;” which shows that in the mind of God every sinner whom God ever saves He knew in eternity; He loved in eternity; He elected in eternity. This truth is set forth in Romans 8:28-34 in these precious words: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” Therefore we would understand from these scriptures that the sinners for whom Christ died have been the object of God’s love from eternity.
Also, not only has God loved these elect sinners from eternity, but He has loved them with an everlasting salvation. You see, dear friend, the salvation of sinners dates back to the cycles of eternity, for we are told in Revelation 13:8 and in 1 Peter 1:18-20 that Christ was slain for them before the foundation of the world. Listen to these scriptures in 1 Peter: “Ye know that ye were... redeemed... with the precious blood of Christ... a Lamb without blemish and without spot; who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.”
Then we notice that God’s Everlasting covenant which was made with the Lord Jesus Christ, who sealed it with His blood at Calvary by the eternal Spirit (Heb 9:14), dates back in the counsels of the Godhead before time even began.
Therefore, every sinner who is ever saved was an object of God’s love, a recipient of God’s covenant with Christ before man was ever created. This precious truth is brought out in 2 Timothy 1:9 in these words: “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”
This to me is grounds for praise and thanksgiving that I have been loved of God in Christ before the world began and have been an object of His grace before I was born. This humbles me at His feet crying “why me Lord? for I deserve nothing but hell.”
To go further into our subject and to open this truth up a little more and shed more light upon it; let us, before we close this first message, how you God’s golden chain, or as I call it, a golden chain made up of eight links, which reaches from eternity past to eternity future which shows God’s order of our salvation as it comes down to His elect in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Remember that if any of these links were broken or left out, the whole would fall. We will not be able to go into much detail on any one of these points today, but will cover them all in detail in the up-coming messages.
first in God’s order as set forth in His Word, is His counsel or His decrees. Scripture sets forth that God “Works all things after the counsel of his own will” (Eph 1:11), and there in that counsel He decreed all that he would do in creation and in salvation. Listen to Isaiah 46:9- 10: “I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” An example of this is recorded in Acts 2:23-24 where brother Peter on the day of Pentecost told the Jews that they had killed God’s Christ because He had been delivered to them “by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.” In other words, they had carried out what God had decreed in His counsel would come to pass in time, that Christ would die upon the cross for poor sinners.
The second link in our golden chain as set forth in God’s Word is His foreknowledge. We read in 1 Peter 1:2 that all the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia had been “elected according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” God’s foreknowledge always refers to God’s foreknowing persons, not events. Also God foreknows what will be because He has decreed what shall be (Eph 1:11; Acts 2:23).
The third link in our golden chain as set forth in God’s Word is His election of grace. This is set forth in many places in His Word, but one scripture will be sufficient today. Let us look at Ephesians 1:3-4: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him.” This election of grace (Rom 11:5) means that God chose before the foundation of the world a certain number out of Adam’s condemned race to be saved, a number that no man could number out of all nations, and kindreds, and people and tongues (Rev 7:9), who would be the objects of His redeeming love and grace for eternity. In our next message we will go into the basis of this election and show why it was necessary.
The fourth link in our golden chain as set forth in God’s Word is God’s predestination. In Ephesians 1:11 we read that “We have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his won will.” This word “predestination” means that God has ordained all the means and ways that His people would hear and receive the Gospel of the grace of God in Christ (Rom 8:29-30; Eph 1:4) and all the events in their lives.
The fifth link in our golden chain as set forth in God’s Word is His effectual calling. This call of God to salvation for His elect is a calling that is effectual and cannot be resisted. In Romans 8:30 it follows God’s predestinating and is issued by the Holy Spirit from the Word of God and results in the New Birth. It is a holy calling (2 Tim 1:9); it is a high calling (Phil 3:14), and a calling unto fellowship in Christ (1 Cor 1:9). It is a calling of grace and is received and obeyed by all of God’s elect.
The sixth link in our golden chain as set forth in God’s Word is justification (Rom 3 and 4). Under this blessed subject comes repentance and faith, and the setting free of the condemned sinner by the grace of God through the righteousness of Christ and His substitutionary death upon the cross.
The seventh link in our golden chain as set forth in God’s Word is sanctification; for those for whom Christ died, He makes holy. Listen to 1 Thessalonians 4:3 and 7: “This is the will of God, even your sanctification... for God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.” Yes, dear friend, we know our justification by our sanctification, by being conformed to Christ in holiness. God never has and never will give a salvation that says we can go on living in sin and yet be saved.
The eighth and last link in our golden chain as set forth in God’s Word is glorification (Rom 8:30). This is the end of it all when we shall at last be like Christ in heaven with our new bodies and then God’s salvation in Christ for His people will be complete. That is the reason I believe the Bible teaches the perseverance of the saints, for our Lord himself said, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). John 10:27-28 also says: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”
Let us praise the Lord then, that from His eternal counsel to our complete salvation in glorification in heaven, God has planned and purposed it all and to Him to be the praise and glory forever and ever, amen.
We began a series of messages last week on the blessed and glorious truth from God’s Word on God’s Sovereignty in Salvation. That God’s Word teaches this gracious truth is everywhere present upon the pages of Holy Writ, and especially in that portion of Romans 9 where brother Paul reasons with the Christians at Rome concerning God’s sovereignty in the lives of His creatures.
There he sets forth the twin sons of Isaac as examples of God’s sovereignty and God’s sovereign right to do with His creatures as He deems wise. We read, beginning at verse 11, these words: “For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth; it was said unto Rebecca (Isaac’s wife) The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” Then the question is asked, “Is there unrighteousness with God?” because God in His sovereignty chose one for eternal salvation and not both? No, because God had said to Moses in Exodus 33:19 that this was the way He acted at all times: “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” He even goes further in Romans 9:16 and says: “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.”
Brother Paul shows us further in verse 17 that God had acted this way in regard to Pharaoh and he quoted from Exodus 9:16. He says, “For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.” Therefore brother Paul draws a conclusion in verse 18, that since God acts this way in regard to His creatures as He deems wise, then, “He hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.”
As we go further into this 9th chapter, brother Paul anticipates another question in verse 19. “Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth God yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?” The man asking the question is saying, “If God then does as he pleases, has mercy upon whom He pleases and hardens whom He pleases, then why does God find fault with me seeing I cannot resist His will and do as I please? Why then does He still find fault and blame me for sinning?”
Brother Paul comes back in verse 20 and reasons with this ma-I believe out of a heart of love; not a heart of cold, hard doctrine, but a heart of love. Listen as he answers Him “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why has thou made me thus?” This is what he is saying: “Dear friend, you are but a mere man, how can you criticize and contradict and answer back to God when He is the Creator and has worked everything after the counsel of his own will? He does with His own as He pleases (Matt 20:15). He did not make you a sinner; you became a sinner in Adam and by your own depraved heart; you have rebelled against God, so how can you blame God for your condition? What you should do is fall at His feet crying for mercy.”
But brother Paul goes further and reasons with him in verse 21 by asking him another question. “Hath not the potter,” who is but a mere man like yourself, “power over the clay,” which he molds to make, “of the same lump... one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?” If he, a mere man, can do this, then surely God as Creator has the right to do the same with His creatures; and this is what he says God does in verse 22. Listen: “What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?” Just as the human potter has power over the clay, to do with it as he pleases, so God as the sovereign Creator of the universe has the power over His creatures to do with them as He pleases. In this connection we must remember that God can only act in a righteous way toward His creatures (Gen 18:25; Rev 19:2).
I have tried to open up these scriptures to you showing that God’s Word teaches that he is sovereign in all of His operations. He does not do after the devices and purposes of men, but He does according to His own will and purpose and all men everywhere are under God’s control and doing His will whether they acknowledge it or not. You see, dear friend, I am trying to lay out before you what God’s Word teaches, how He acts in regard to His creatures. This is not my doctrine, my teaching, but what God’s Word teaches, therefore I believe it and must proclaim it.
This great truth is not a damnable doctrine, or a doctrine of devils as some call it, but it is a truth everywhere spoken of in God’s Word and it behooves us to search it out, acknowledge it, and bow to the sovereign Lord as he is revealed in Christ. The reason I love to preach about this great truth; the reason I love it and bow to it, is because it honors and glorifies my risen Lord and shows Him to be on the throne ruling as King.
Listen as we buttress this great truth with other portions of God’s Word and show you the sovereignty of God as it is revealed in God’s Word.
You see, dear friend, the sovereignty of God means the supremacy of God, that is, that He is the only God and the Supreme Ruler of the universe. We read this in Isaiah 44:6 and 8: “Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel and his redeemer the Lord of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.” Then He asks in verse 8, “Is there a God beside me?” Then He answers Himself and says, “Yea, there is no God; I know not any.” This means then that He is absolute lord over all and therefore tells us in Exodus 20:3, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”
Again the sovereignty of God means the kingship of God, that is, as the Supreme Ruler of the universe, He sits on the throne as absolute Monarch. This is stated in Psalms 103:19: “The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.” Therefore being King, He says, “As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God” (Rom 14:11). And as Philippians 2:9-11 puts it, “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Again, the sovereignty of God means that He is the Most High God (Gen 14:19), the Creator, who upholds “...all things by the word of his power”(Heb 1:3). Also as Daniel 4:35 says, “And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” Dear friend, these were the words of one of the greatest kings that has ever lived, he was King Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon. And why did he speak these momentous words? because God had struck him down in his pride (Dan 4:33) so that “...he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws.” And he stayed in this condition for seven years. But when God was pleased to restore him, we hear not pride, but praise and he gives God, the sovereign God, glory. Listen to verse 34: “And at the end of the days, I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation.”
I believe, dear friend, that every one who comes to bow at the feet of God in Christ acknowledging His Lordship and Sovereignty will be like Nebuchadnezzar; they will praise Him and give Him glory that “He doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth... and those that walk in pride he is able to abase” (verse 37). I could give hundreds of Scriptures to bring out this great teaching of God’s sovereignty in all His greatness, but these are enough to establish our subject.
To sum this up then, is to say that God’s purposes and plans are executed irrespective of the will of man, for “He worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Eph 1:11). On the basis of His sovereignty, God does as He pleases, what He pleases, how He pleases, and none can stay His hand, none can turn Him aside, none can thwart Him and none can hinder Him. So divine sovereignty means that God is God in fact as well as in name, and He is on the throne of the universe reigning at this hour in all the affairs of the world and in the lives of his creatures.
To me this is one of the most precious truths in God’s Word: that the God of the Bible, the Living God, the One who died in my place as my substitute, the One who rose from the dead as my justification, the One who now lives in my heart as my indwelling salvation, is the sovereign God of the universe. He is the One who loves and watches over me and if God be for me, who can be against me (Rom 8:31)?
So we see then that God’s sovereignty in salvation is based upon the sovereignty of God, that God does as he pleases with His own.
Another basis on which the sovereignty of God in salvation rests is man’s total depravity. You see, if God in his sovereignty had not elected a certain number of Adam’s race to be saved and redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, then no man would have ever been saved. Why? Because man in his natural state is totally depraved, dead in trespasses and sins and would not and could not have sought the Lord in salvation (Eph 2:1-3; 1 Cor 2:14; Rom 3:10-18).
There is another reason why I praise the lord for His election. It is not a truth that debases God, but gives Him praise and glory because it is His elective grace. It is, “o the praise of the Glory of His grace wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved” (Eph 1:6). And Romans 11:6 puts it: “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.”
You see, dear friend, the Word of God pictures man as being totally depraved. That is, that man by his fall in Adam became spiritually dead. We read in Ephesians 2:1 that man is dead in trespasses and sins and must be made alive by the operation of the Holy Spirit before he can believe to the saving of his soul. Every man out of Christ is dead; he is alive to the world, but he is dead spiritually.
The Word of God declares in 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 that man is blind, spiritually blind, and therefore cannot perceive the awful state that he is in apart from the effectual working of the Holy Spirit in his heart and life. Being blind, he loves sin according to John 3:19, and hates the things God loves which are righteousness, and holiness; and loves the thing which God hates and that is sin. Being blind, he cannot see the kingdom of God, but must be born again by the Holy Spirit to enter in (John 3:5).
Again the Word of God also declares that spiritually man is totally corrupt according to Isaiah 1:5-6: “The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.”
I ask, “How can a blind, dead, corrupt sinner believe?” The answer is in the negative; “he cannot apart from the grace of God.”
You see, dear friend, God-knowing from eternity that man would sin and become totally depraved in all his faculties and knowing that man left in this sinful state would never come to Christ for salvation-elected, or chose a number that no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, set his love upon them, and gave them to Christ as His special ones, His Bride, His church; and Christ in turn pledged Himself to become sin for them and to pay their sin-debt in full (Rev 7:9; Jer 31:3; John 6:37; 10:27-28; Eph 5:23-33; 2Cor 5:21).
Also God, knowing that they of themselves in their natural depraved state would never have power to come to Christ and be savingly joined to Him, sent the Holy Spirit to effectually call them, and free their wills so that they would savingly believe in Christ.
Yes, the Holy Spirit makes God’s elect willing in the day of His power (Psa 110:3) to lay down their arms of rebellion, turn to God from their sins, seek the face of God in Christ for His mercy and salvation. He grants them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth and gives them saving faith, the faith of Christ, to believe that Christ died in their place and paid their sin-debt in full (Acts 5:31; 2Tim 2:25; Eph 2:8-9; Titus 3:4-7).
All of this is to the praise of the glory of God’s grace and gives Him all the honor and all the glory for saving poor sinners (Eph 1:6).
There’s not a sparrow nor a worm
But’s found in God’s decrees;
He raises monarchs to their thrones,
And sinks them if he please.
If light attend the course I run,
‘Tis he provides those rays;
And ‘tis his hand that hides my sin,
If darkness cloud my days.
When he reveals the Book of Life
O may I read my name
Among the chosen of his love,
The followers of the Lamb!
We continue today our present series of messages on God’s Sovereignty in Salvation.
To me there is no greater teaching of God’s Word that comforts the heart, quiets the soul and gives God the glory for all things, than this truth: that God is on the throne, ruling all things after the counsel of His own will (Eph 1:11). In the midst of our present-day darkness in religion, in the church, in our homes, in every stratum of society, in our government and among the nations, God’s children can rest with perfect peace in the Lord Jesus Christ knowing that God is on the throne and all is well because our Heavenly Father is in control of all things.
Though the world is panic-stricken for fear of what is coming upon this earth, the Word to the believer, the true child of God is: “Fear Not!” Why? Because all things are subject to God’s immediate control. All things are moving in accord with His eternal purpose, and therefore, all things are working together “...for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28). It must be so, for Romans 11:36 tells us: “of him, and through him and to him are all things.”
If we look at the sad darkness of our day and try and work back to God, then everything will seem to show that God has no connection with the world at all. But, dear friend, begin with God and work down to the world and much light will be cast on the problem. Listen now! Because God is holy, His anger burns against sin; because God is righteous, His judgments fall upon those who rebel against Him; because God is faithful, the solemn threatenings of His Word are fulfilled; because God is omnipotent, none can successfully resist Him much less overthrow His counsel; and because God is omniscient, no problem can master Him and no difficulty can baffle His wisdom. It is because God is who He is and what He is that we are now beholding on earth the present conditions.
But, dear friend, your heart and mine can only rest upon and enjoy this blessed truth of the sovereignty of God over all of His operations, as faith is in exercise. Faith is ever occupied with God. Faith endures “...as seeing him who is invisible”(Heb 11:27); endures the disappointments, the hardships, and the heart-aches of life by recognizing that all comes from the hand of Him who is too wise to err and too loving to be unkind.
Yes, when we are occupied with the God of the Bible as He is revealed to our hearts from His Holy Word in Christ, then we will receive all that enters our lives as from His hand. Then no matter what may be our circumstances or surroundings, we shall be enabled to say like the Psalmist, “The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places” (Psa 16:6).
Listen now as we go into our subject today which is: God’s elective grace in salvation. When we look at that precious truth in God’s word we read it loud and clear that election is a choice, and is based on a person’s capacity to make a choice and his right to choose. Therefore, according to the Word of God, God’s election is founded upon His sovereignty, which is His prerogative right to choose or not to choose as He pleases. That He chooses one and leaves another is His prerogative right, for He is God.
That all men deserve hell for their sin of unbelief and rebellion against God is everywhere taught on the pages of Holy Writ. That no man deserves to be saved is also everywhere taught in God’s Word. So if God chooses some to salvation and passes by others and lets them go to the hell they deserve, then He does no man an injustice because all deserve hell. Yet on the other hand, if God had not chosen some to salvation, then no one would have ever been saved because all men are dead spiritually and would not and could not have come to Christ for salvation without God’s effectual call of grace by His Holy Spirit.
On the other hand, if God had provided salvation for all men without exception and left it to their free will to be saved, still none would have been saved because man by nature hates God and will not come to Christ without the irresistible power of God’s Holy Spirit.
Also is as we are told today, God has provided salvation for all men and that God has done all He can do and now it is up to the sinner to act, then God would be disappointed because he would completely fail in His attempt to save fallen mankind, and Christ would have died in vain.
But, thank God He did not leave His plan and purpose of redeeming fallen man in the hands of fallen men, or to the will of depraved mankind. No, God’s Word teaches otherwise. God-in His infinite wisdom and grace, before the foundation of the world, before He ever created man, before He ever spoke the world into existence, before He ever created an angelic being, when there was nothing but space; God-knowing that after He created him and placed him in the garden of Eden man would fall-foreknew and elected or selected, or chose, a number that no man could number out of all nations and kindreds and people and tongues; and he wrote their names in the Lamb’s Book of Life, according to Ephesians 1:4 and Revelation 13:8. Then God, in this Book of predestination, ordered and ordained the means of bringing them to Christ, for the Scripture says in Acts 13:48: “As many as were ordained to eternal life believed.”
Yes, election means to choose; it is the act of God in choosing a person for salvation as we read in 2 Thessalonians 2:13: “We are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning Chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” It is the selection by the divine will of certain individuals for eternal salvation, while leaving the others. It signifies, “to pick out from among.” It is God’s choice of some individuals from among the human race, which is already His own by creation, for special favor.
Remember that according to Psalms 25:8 God is good to all His creatures; according to Zephaniah 3:5, He is just to all His creatures; according to Matthew 5:45, He is merciful to all His creatures and according to Romans 2:2, 11, He deals impartially with all His creatures. But where He chooses to bestow His special favor upon some, He exercises His sovereign right of choice. If all men hate Him and spurn his love, is God unrighteous to leave them to their just punishment? The answer according to Romans 2:3-8 is no. If, when all men are His enemies, He chooses certain ones and determines to take away their natural resistance and bring them to submission to His grace, is God unrighteous then, to save certain ones and to leave the rest in their own way? The Biblical answer is no! For if God had not in his sovereign grace done this, then no man would ever be saved.
Let us turn now to the Word of God itself and hear God Himself telling us that He is the God of election. Let me repeat something I have said before: this is not my doctrine, my teaching, but the teaching of God Himself, and I have found that it is not what I say about God’ election that men hate, but what God Himself says that they hate.
Take your concordance and look up the words, choose, chosen, elect, election, calling appointed, ordained, predestination or predestinate and you will be literally amazed as to how many times these words are used to show forth this precious Biblical truth of God’s sovereignty in salvation.
In reference to the nation of Israel in the Old testament we read in Deuteronomy 7:6, “For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.” Again in Psalms 33:12 we read, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.” And why did God choose this one nation of Israel from among all the nations of the earth, to reveal Himself unto and leave the other nations in darkness? The answer is found in Deuteronomy 7:7-8. “The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor chose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: but because the Lord loved you.” Yes, God’s choice of a nation or an individual is found only in Himself, His will and His counsel.
This same blessed truth is brought out in the New Testament in Ephesians 1:3-6 in the words spoken to the Ephesian christians and also to us: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ: according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world.” Now watch verse 5 and you will hear the same thing God told Israel, that it was in love “He predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ himself according to the good pleasure of his will.” Nothing could be plainer than this: that God in love, according to His own good pleasure and grace, graced us in the beloved because He loved us.
Also, in John 15:16 we read this same truth: “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit.” Yes, God chooses and then we are made willing in the day of his power.
Again in 1 Corinthians 1:27-29 we read of those whom God has chosen. “God hath Chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence.”
We see here then that the Biblical teaching of God’s sovereignty in salvation is a humbling truth because it leaves man at the feet of a sovereign God who elects us, calls us and saves us; not because of who we are and what we have done, (because we are hell-deserving sinners) but only as it has pleased Him to do so.
That God has an elect people is clearly set forth in Romans 8:33 in these words: “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect?” Yes, all saved souls are God’s elect; He knew them and loved them in eternity as set forth in 2 Timothy 1:9: “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our own works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.
To show that this election was based upon God’s will and God’s choice and not the will of man is set forth in Ephesians 2:8-9 where we read that grace and faith is God’s gift; and as Titus 1:1 tells us, the faith with which we believe is “the faith of God’s elect.”
The majority of Christendom today does not believe in the Biblical teaching of God’s sovereignty in salvation, His elective grace, they will not allow themselves to believe that God acts as he pleases and not according to the will of His creatures. Then the majority of those who believe that God’s Word teaches election try to explain it away by saying what God foreknew those who would believe; therefore he elected them to salvation. But, dear friend, if this were true then God would simply endorse man’s will, thus making man’s will sovereign.
But this thing dissolves completely under the light of John 16:8-9. Speaking of the Holy Spirit, our Lord said, “When he is come, he will reprove the world of sin... of sin, because they believe not on me.” I ask, “How could God choose a man whom He foreknew would believe when man is an unbeliever by nature and has to have the Holy Spirit give him faith if ever he believes?” No, God chooses a certain sinner to salvation out of free grace found only in His own heart and then He sends the Holy Spirit to convict that man of sin and give him the faith of God’s elect. That God’s people were elected according to the foreknowledge of God is Scriptural, according to 1 Peter 1:2; but this electing was not because of any work of believing that we would do, but because God loved us in Christ.
Again Romans 11:5 tells us that “There is a remnant according to the election of grace.” God’s election is known only to Himself and it is all of grace and nothing in the sinner. But the capstone of all Scripture on the doctrine of election is found in Acts 13:48 where we read: “and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” So we see that God’s elect believed to the saving of their souls because they were ordained, and not that they were ordained because they would believe in time.
So then God’s election is God’s choice of a sinner to salvation as set forth in 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14. “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
I have not exhausted all the Scriptures that bear upon this subject, but have surely touched on enough to show that this precious truth is truly Biblical truth.
If you will write me, I will send you a little booklet entitled <MI>God’s Indisputable Sovereignty<D> that lists all the Scriptures on this precious truth.
Space and duration God does fill,
And orders all things by his will,
Respecting all the holy seed,
Chosen in Christ their blessed Head.
God’s jewels of election-love
Were sanctified in Christ above;
In oneness with his nature pure,
Joint-hears with him for evermore.
This is the fourth message in this present series of GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY IN SALVATION.
Today let us sum up our previous messages on this subject. In them we showed you that salvation is of the Lord from start to finish, wholly of God’s grace and given to God’s elect before the foundation of the world according to 2 Timothy 1:9. We showed you that God’s election is God’s choice of a sinner, as set forth in 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 in these words: “Who hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Did you notice those words: chosen to salvation, chosen through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth, called by our gospel, called to the obtaining of glory, the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ?
Believers then were chosen before the foundation of the world; they were chosen for adoption in Christ as sons of God according to Ephesians 1:4-5 and Romans 8:15. Also the source of their election is God’s grace and not human will according to John 1:13, Titus 3:5 and Romans 9:11. They are given by God the Father to Christ as the fruit of his death, all being foreknown and foreseen by God according to John 17:6.
Therefore, election means that God has singled out certain ones to be objects of His saving grace, while others are left to suffer the just punishment of their sins according to Romans 9:22-23. It means that, before the foundation of the world, God chose out of the mass of Adam’s fallen race a certain number, and predestinated them to be conformed to the image of His Son according to Romans 8:29. This great truth is clearly set forth in Acts 15:14 in these words: “Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.”
You see, dear friend, back in the eternities when God had finished His election of grace, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Triune God-head, gave his Word; that He would become responsible for the salvation of the elect, that He would become their Surety, their Representative, their Substitute and the Mediator of the covenant. According to Isaiah 49:1 He agreed to take all responsibility for all their sins, transgressions, trespasses, and to become sin for them. He, who knew no sin, Himself, became sin so that they might become the righteousness of God in Him according to 2 Corinthians 5:21. He said to the Father, “I will pay to Thy justice all that is owed; I will pay it with the price of my own precious blood on the cross.” In other words, the Son said, “I will undertake for them; I will become what they are, that they may become what I am; Righteousness.” Christ said, “Lo I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God” (Psa 40:7,8).
Dear friend, to confirm that what I have just told you is true, listen to our Lord’s words in His High Priestly prayer of John 17:1-2! He says, “Father, the hour is come, glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: as thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.” Did you notice those words: “To as many as thou hast given him”? So we see then a certain number was given to Christ by the Father and to them Christ said He had power to give eternal life.
Also in verse6 of John 17 we hear our Lord saying to the Father: “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.” Again we see that a certain number had been given to Christ and to them He had given His Word. Also look at and listen carefully to His prayer: “I pray for them”-and for whom was He praying? Those whom the Father had given Him. And what did He say? “I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.” So we hear our blessed Lord praying not for the world, but for those whom the Father had given Him out of the world.
This same truth of a certain number being given to Christ by His Father and for that number, His elect, He would die is seen again in John 6:37-39. Our Lord is hear speaking to those who followed Him after He had fed them with the five loaves and two small fishes. Listen to what He said: “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.” Hear again our blessed lord’s Word and remember, He cannot lie. All which God the Father had given to Him, He said, “I will lose none, but will raise them up at the last day.”
Yes the Word of God is true; our lord Himself confirms it: that a certain number of the election of grace had been given to Him in eternity, and He in eternity pledged to give Himself for them and in time to come to bear their sins in His own body upon the tree. For this I praise the Lord. Remember, as I told you before: this is not my doctrine, my teaching; this is God’s Word and I believe it; therefore I must preach it to give out the whole counsel of God.
Now there yet remains One Person of the Godhead who was in that counsel who was to pledge Himself for the elect to whom the Father had given to Christ: He was God the Holy Spirit.
You see dear friend, all three of the glorious Godhead are interested in our salvation, for all that we have is from God the Father, through God the Son and by God the holy Spirit. so since the Father had elected his chosen people and gave them to Christ to be his bride, and since the Son pledged Himself to pay their sin-debt in full, so the Holy Spirit said in that eternal counsel, “I pledge myself to become responsible to call them out, to reveal to them their depraved condition, their lack of righteousness, and their need of a substitute, and will bring them to Christ for salvation. Furthermore, I will become responsible to get them all safely home at last around thy throne and there will not be the loss of one of them.”
This great truth is brought out so clearly in John 16:7-15 where our lord promised that when He went to the Father He would send the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, and that He would perform that work of calling out those whom the Father had given to Christ. Listen to our Lord’s Words: “It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.” Praise the Lord for the Holy Spirit’s work in salvation, for without it we would be eternally lost.
This work of the Holy Spirit in calling out God’s elect is a work that He alone can do. It is his work to convict, convince and convert. It is His work to break up the sinner’s heart and reveal unto him his lost, utterly undone, guilty condition before God. It is His work to release the depraved will of the sinner, that is, to make him willing in the day of His power(Psa 110:3) so that the poor sinner can repent toward God and believe savingly in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Listen now to what I have to say. There are many, many truths that grow out of this truth of God’s grace I desire to bring them out before I close this series of messages; but I believe I should right in this fourth message bring this thought before you and it is this: that God’s Word, Biblical Truth, tells us that man is a responsible creature. He is responsible to God for all of his acts, all his deeds, and all his thoughts from the cradle to the grave.
Yes, there are two great systems of truth revealed in God’s Word, and I believe and preach them both and they are these: the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man. In this series of messages I am laying the stress upon God’s sovereignty, but this does not mean that I believe that man is a robot and is not responsible to God for his actions. No! For I was made to own and acknowledge under Holy Spirit conviction that I had to repent because God commanded me to repent and that I had to flee from my sin and my evil way because God had commanded me to turn to Him from sin. I was made to see and understand that I had to believe to be saved. I had to come to Christ for salvation, and if I did not get to him, then it was my fault and not God’s fault.
I see in God’s Word, God’s great invitation to every man, for we read in Revelation 22:17 these words: “The Spirit and the bride say, come. And let him that heareth say, come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.” And to this invitation as it goes forth ever man is responsible to respond. But in the same Bible I am taught in Romans 9:16 this truth; “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.” And according to John 1:13, we are born again, “...not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
So I see in one place providence presiding over all; then I see in another place that man acts as he pleases, and that God has left his actions in a measure to his own will. But if I were to declare that man is so free to act that there is no control of God over his actions, I would be driven to the very gates of atheism and despair. Then on the other hand, if I should declare that God so overrules all things that man is not free enough to be responsible, I would be driven to the gates of fatalism.
Therefore these two truths remain: God’s predestination and man’s responsibility. They are taught in God’s Word whether anyone believes them or not. They are not inconsistent or contradictory, but the fault - we do not believe them-lies in our weak judgment and our ignorance of God’s Word. If I find taught in one part of God’s Word that everything is foreordained-and that is true-and if, on the other hand, I find taught in God’s Word that man is responsible for all his actions-and that is true; then it is only my folly, ignorance, blindness, and stupidity that leads me to imagine that the two truths are irreconcilable. You see, dear friend, God in his sovereignty has made man a responsible creature; and moral inability because of sin, does not relieve me of my responsibility as God’s creature.
I also want us to remember that in salvation, God never violates the will of man in bringing him to Christ. What God does by His Holy Spirit is to free the depraved will of man that he may believe savingly. Psalms 110:3 tells us that He makes us willing in the day of His power. Our wills are free in respect to making decisions everyday of our lives, but they are not free in choosing Christ and closing in with Him savingly. Why? Because our wills are governed by our understanding and it is spiritually darkened (Eph 4:18), also by our affection and it is prostituted because of sin (Isa 53:2). Therefore if God the Holy Spirit did not free our wills, then we would be lost forever. It is He who grants us repentance to the acknowledging of the truth (2 Tim 2:25).
The question is asked, “How does the Holy Spirit do this?” I will, the Lord willing, go into detail in our next message showing you the effectual call of the Holy Spirit to each elect sinner’s heart and His working repentance and faith in that heart, but for today I will briefly give you this much.
The first thing that God does to the elect sinner is to brood over him by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit plants the Word of God in his heart (1 Pet 1:23) and with the Word He divides asunder the soul and the spirit, according to Hebrews 4:12- 13, letting the light of the glorious gospel of Christ shine into that heart to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor 4:3-6). Then the sinner sees himself in that light of God’s glory, and he comes to know himself, his sin, his guilt, and his judgment, and he comes to long after the Lord Jesus Christ (Psa 42:1). The Holy Spirit works in his heart confession and repentance and brings him by faith into fellowship with God the Father, through God the Son on the basis of the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Holy Spirit, by His influence and power, so works on the will of that depraved sinner until his will is freed to close in savingly with Christ.
For this work of God the Holy Spirit I daily praise Him, for without it your speaker would have been eternally lost.
Deep in the everlasting mind
The great mysterious purpose lay,
Of choosing some from lost mankind,
Whose sins the Lamb should bear away.
Them, loved with an eternal love,
To grace and glory he ordained;
Gave them a throne which cannot move,
And chose them both to means and end.
In these he was resolved to make
The riches of his goodness known;
These he accepts for Jesus’ sake,
And views them righteous in his Son.
No goodness god foresaw in his,
But what his grace decreed to give;
No comeliness in them there is
Which they did not from him receive.
Faith and repentance he bestows
On such as he designs to save;
From him their soul’s obedience flows,
And he shall all the glory have.
It is with much fear and trembling that I come before you today with the next message on the general theme THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD IN SALVATION. I know that only by the enlightening power of God the Holy Spirit will any of us understand these gracious truths and praise the Lord for them. As I Cor. 2:14 tells us, “...the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
It is because of this sad state of depravity that every man is in by nature, that the Holy Spirit must work if any soul is to be saved. There must be, in the very nature of the case, the irresistible call, the effectual call of God the Holy Spirit, to the depraved sinner or no man would be saved. The Scriptures plainly declare that “there is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God” (Rom. 3:10-11). Again we read in John 5:40 “Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.”
Therefore, because man’s will is depraved, he will not come to Christ, much less seek after Him; and because Rom. 8:7 tells us that “...the carnal mind is enmity”-in active rebellion-“against God: not subject to the law of God, and neither indeed can be” by the natural reason or determination; then God the Holy Spirit must make us willing in the day of His power or we would never be saved.
The salvation of every sinner is by blood and by power; it is the shed blood of our Lord Jesus Christ at the cross and by the power of the Holy Spirit working in us to convince us of our need of that precious blood which alone can cleanse us from all our sin. It is because of the work of the Holy Spirit in us to free our wills so that we can savingly close in with Christ, that we know our election of God. This truth is set forth in I Thess. 1:2, 4 in these words: “We give thanks to God always for you all...knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.” How? The next verse gives us the answer. “For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance” (verse 5).So this brings us to our message for today. How does the Holy Spirit work in us to free our wills so that we can savingly repent and believe, yet, at the same time does not violate our wills? Dear friend, will you listen as we go into our subject for today?
The Holy Spirit, as we showed you in our previous message, was a Party in the eternal counsel of the Godhead and pledged Himself to call out the elect of God, those whom the Father had given to Christ, and for whom Christ as the Lamb of God gave Himself on the cross of Calvary. The Holy Spirit then knows who the elect are and therefore calls them unto Christ with that irresistible or effectual call that frees the sinner’s will to close in savingly by faith with Christ.
The Scriptures very plainly show us that there is a two-fold call that goes out to every sinner under the sun so that none are without excuse. The first or natural call can be resisted because it is an outward call; but the second or spiritual call cannot be resisted because it is given by the Holy Spirit and is inward in the heart.
In Rom. 1:19-20 we read: “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.” This is that outward call of nature that all men receive; and even though God’s mercies are shown daily to the wicked in that as His creatures He supplies all their physical needs, yet they will never hear this outward call so as to bow low at His feet in submission and love Him with all their hearts.
Yet there is another natural call of the gospel which many hear but do not heed savingly because their hearts are still far from God, unbroken, unsubdued, and their wills are still in rebellion against God. It is the general call of the gospel that goes out under the preaching of the Word to every creature. Matt. 20:16 tells us that “...many be called, but few are chosen.” When the gospel is preached or a testimony is given, the call that accompanies it lays the claims of the gospel, and the terms of the gospel, upon the sinner’s heart. It is this general call that the sinner can resist and reject, and it is this call that fills the churches with multitudes of unsaved church members which we find everywhere today. This call may interest the sinner, enlighten his mind, and satisfy his curiosity, or it may be arouse opposition in his mind to it. This call may amuse him and entertain him or ease his conscience and give him a false peace; and the results of such a general call is a multitude of professions, or mental decisions for Christ, or a historical faith in Him, but their hearts are touched. Therefore this external call is insufficient to salvation, yet sufficient to leave men without excuse.
Let me repeat what I have said many times before: dead sinners spiritually are not saved by just giving assent to some questions asked them about the four spiritual laws. They are not saved by making a decision; they are not saved by walking down the aisle and giving the preacher their hand; and they are not saved by their own free will. No! A sinner can only be saved by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit in his heart by His almighty power under conviction.
This brings us then to the second call shown in the Scriptures which is the irresistible or effectual call of God the Holy Spirit. It is an inward call and cannot be resisted because the Holy Spirit gives it only to God’s elect. This outward call of God wonderfully overpowers the heart and draws the will of the sinner to embrace Christ. God, by the outward, blows a trumpet in the ear; by the inward call, He opens the heart as He did the heart of Lydia (Acts 16:14). The natural call may bring men to a profession of Christ; the inward call brings them to a possession of Christ. The natural call curbs the sinner; the inward call changes him because the work is not his own but the eternal work of an eternal God.
That this is a Scriptural truth or doctrine and not my interpretation is everywhere shown on the pages of Holy Writ. Listen to God’s Word! We read in Gen. 12:1-4 that Abraham heard this effectual call of God, left Ur of Chaldees and his idolatrous worship and followed God by faith. Heb. 11:8 says: “by faith Abraham, when he was CALLED to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance OBEYED: and he went out, not knowing whither he went.”
In Genesis 32:24-30 we read that Jacob heard this effectual call when “there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day” and Jacob’s name was changed to Israel, a prince of God, and he followed God all the days of his life.
In Exodus 3:1-6,14 we read that Moses heard this irresistible call and had revealed unto him the great I AM of Scripture, the One who says,” I was, I am, and I shall always continue to be, the same yesterday and today, and forever” and Moses followed God in this way.
In I Samuel 3:1-10 we read that Samuel heard this effectual call of God, bowed to the authority of the Almighty and followed the Lord in sincerity and truth.
In Matt. 4:17-22 we read of the effectual calling of Peter and Andrew, James and John; they immediately left their nets and followed Jesus in the way and became citizens of a new kingdom.
In Luke 19:5-6 we hear our blessed Lord giving Zacchaeus the publican that effectual, irresistible call. He “said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house; and he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully” and our Lord said, “Zacchaeus, today salvation has come to your house.”
We have a beautiful picture of this effectual calling of God to a spiritually dead sinner illustrated in the case of Lazarus in John 11. Lazarus had been dead four days, but when our Lord called him by name, he came forth from the grave even as the elect sinner comes forth from the grave of sin. Listen to John 11:43-44! “Jesus cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth.”
Like Lazarus, every sinner lies dead in trespasses and sins until called by God the Holy Spirit with that irresistible call of the gospel to his dead spirit (Eph. 2:1-3). Our God clearly sets this forth in John 5:25 in these words: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.” Yes, they shall live because it is the Son speaking in the spirit and soul of the dead sinner by the Holy Spirit. And, dear friend, let not either one of us ever forget it: Salvation is of the Lord and He must give this effectual call or no sinner would ever be saved. He must call you by His Spirit. I ask you, “Has He ever called you by His Holy Spirit through His Word?”
Again we read another illustration of this great truth from Acts 9:1-9. There we hear our Lord calling Saul of Tarsus who became Paul the apostle. Saul was on his way to Damascus to persecute the Christians when suddenly he was unhorsed by the irresistible call of God. “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest..and Saul trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” When Saul heard this call he had to fall at the feet of the Lord because the gospel came home to his heart, not only in word, but in the power of the Holy Spirit and with much assurance.
One more illustration will be enough to prove this great truth of the irresistible and effectual call of God. In John 10 we hear our Lord saying in verse 16: “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” Then in verse 26 He tells the Jews that they did not believe, because they were not His sheep; but praise His name he did say in verse 27: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow my me: and I give unto them eternal life.” Also in verse 3 He plainly tells us again that “He calleth his own by name and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him.” Why? “...for they know his voice.”
We understand then that the elect are God’s sheep and when they hear the voice of the Son of God as He speaks to them by His Spirit from His Word; they will hear his voice, turn from their sins, lay down their arms of rebellion, surrender wholly and completely to Him and follow Him in the way.
Let us close this message today by answering the question: “What is the effectual calling of God?” I would say that it is the SWEET CALL OF THE GOSPEL to come to Christ. The freedom of the will is not taken away, but the stubbornness of it is conquered by the grace of God. Psa. 110:3 reads: “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.” Yes, after this call there are no more disputes, the soul readily obeys God’s call.
Next, I would say it is a HOLY CALL. We read in II Tim. 1:9, “Who hath called us with a HOLY CALLING.” Yes it is a holy calling, for by this call God calls men out of their sins; by it they are consecrated and set apart for God. They who are effectually called are separated from sin. You see, dear friend, the God whom we worship is holy, the work in which we are employed is holy; the place at which we hope to arrive is holy; so this calls for holiness. A Christian’s heart is to be the presence chamber of the blessed Trinity; and shall not HOLINESS TO THE LORD be written upon it? Believers are children of God the Father, members of God the Son, and templates of God the Holy Spirit; and shall they not be holy?
It is a holy calling; “for God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness” (I Thess. 4:7). Let not any man say he is called of God that lives in sin. Has God called you to be a swearer, a drunkard? NO! He has called us to be holy.
Again, I would say that it is an IRRESISTIBLE CALL; when God calls a man by His grace, he cannot but come. You may resist the minister’s call, but you cannot resist the Spirit’s call. You see, God’s words are creating words. When He said “Let there be light,” there was light; and when He says “Let there be faith,” it shall be so. He said in Acts 26:19, “I was not disobedient to the HEAVENLY VISION.” You see, dear friend, when the Lord touches a man’s heart by His Spirit and sounds the call of alarm in his soul, he must flee to Christ for refuge from the wrath of God because God has put within him a new heart and a new nature.
In Phil. 3:14 we read that this call is a HIGH CALLING. Listen! “I press toward the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” It is a high calling, because we are called to high exercises: to die to sin, to be crucified to the world, to live by faith, to have fellowship with the Father (I John 1:3). This is a high calling because here is a work too high for man in a state of nature to perform. It is a high calling because we are called to high privileges, to justification and adoption, to be made co-heirs with Christ.
In the next place, I would say that it is a GRACIOUS CALL for it is the fruit and product of grace, that God should call some and not others. Listen to II Tim. 1:9! “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”
Again I Peter 5:10 calls it a GLORIOUS CALL for there we read that “God has called us unto His eternal glory.” Yes, we are called to the enjoyment of the ever-blessed God, for He calls us to salvation; He calls to a kingdom, to fellowship with Himself forever.
Again, it is a call to have FELLOWSHIP WITH CHRIST for we read in I Cor. 1:9 that “God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.”
In the last place, it is an UNCHANGING CALL, for we read in Rom. 11:29 that “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” That is, those gifts which flow from election are unchangeable, for God never repents of giving them to His people. When God calls a man to salvation in Christ, He does not repent of it; He does not change His mind. God does not love one day, and hate the next. God’s call is founded upon His decree, and His decree is immutable, unchanging; God blots out His people’s sins, but not their names.
So you see, dear friend; this truth, this doctrine, this teaching of the effectual calling of God is Biblical and gives God all the glory for saving a sinner.
Remember now, because of the deep depravity of our natural hearts, if God had not elected some, called them, granted them repentance and saving faith, then all would have been lost, for no man in his natural state would ever savingly seek the Lord.
These gracious, precious truths should leave us at His feet crying, “Lord, what will you have me to do? seeing I am in your sovereign hands.”
We continue our series of messages today on the general theme THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD IN SALVATION, under the heading of “God the Holy Spirit Bringing a Sinner to Christ.” I want you to listen as we go into this gracious truth, for we desire to show how God the Holy Spirit brings the elect sinner to Christ.
We showed you in our last message that there must be the effectual call of God the Holy Spirit to the elect sinner’s heart, or that sinner could never come savingly to Christ. This call, we showed you, is a personal call, an individual call; and it is a call to come to Christ; it is a call to close in with Christ and to be joined or married to Him in that gracious union of love which the Bible calls salvation. Dear friend, the way the Holy Spirit does this is to convict the sinner’s heart-and that is why we call it Holy Spirit conviction-that the sinner might be made to see that he is what he is before God: a guilty, lost, hell-deserving sinner; for no one ever gets saved until first he understands that he is guilty; for what need would he have of a pardon if he did not know he was guilty? No individual would be desirous to be delivered from hell if he did not know that he was lost. So it is the Spirit’s work in salvation to bring the sinner to this place by showing him his guilty, lost, hell-deserving condition before God.
You see, the Scriptures declare that God’s elect are no different by nature than any other sinners. They lie buried in the grave of sin, sold under sin, children of wrath, and must be made alive spiritually if they are to enter into the blessings that God has prepared for them from before the foundation of the world and that in the Lord Jesus Christ. You see, they must be persuaded by the Holy Spirit to turn to God in repentance and to look by faith to the Lord Jesus Christ Who died in their place upon Calvary’s cross and Who rose again the third day for their justification. The gospel means nothing to spiritually dead sinners until they are quickened (made alive), and are regenerated by God’s Spirit; and according to Eph. 2:1 this is exactly what God the Holy Spirit does. He quickens us and makes us alive so that now we will seek after the Lord.
The question is then: How does He do it? Will you listen? He does it by granting the gift of repentance and the gift of faith. Acts 11:18 says, “When they had heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.” Ephesians 2:8-9 declares this same truth: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.”
You see, under Holy Spirit conviction, whether it be short or long, the sinner on whom God has set His electing love is made to bring forth fruits for repentance. And how does He do this? Well, in repentance the Holy Spirit’s first work upon the soul is to ILLUMINE that soul; to let the light of the glorious gospel of Christ shine into that heart whereby that soul is illuminated and he sees himself as he has never seen himself before God; he sees himself in the light of God’s Word. By this I mean that the Holy Spirit illuminates the heart according to II Cor. 4:3, 4. He commands the light to shine out of darkness into your sin- darkened heart, to ILLUMINATE it before your very eyes that you will know what God knows: that you are lost and that you are under the wrath of a sin-avenging God. You see, the understanding which is darkened by sin according to Eph. 4:18, must be enlightened; it must be illuminated; and this the Holy Spirit does. And the results are: you, the sinner, become guilty in your own eyes of having broken God’s holy and righteous law, and you come to see that you have always stood guilty in the sight of God. You see, when the light of the glorious gospel of Christ shines into your heart; you begin to see sin as it is in your nature, in your heart, in your words, in your thoughts, and in your deeds. You are convinced by the illuminating power of God’s Spirit that you are a sinner.
I believe Psa. 51:1-6 gives a clear picture of an elect sinner, David, being ILLUMINATED by God’s Spirit as we hear him pouring out his soul before God in confession, and repentance. Listen as we read it! “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.” We see here then in these verses this illuminating of sin to the heart of David. This brought him guilty before God, which is the first essential ingredient to true saving repentance that leads to the sinner who is effectually called by the Holy Spirit to the Lord Jesus Christ. We see then that David confessed, or acknowledged, his transgressions of adultery and murder. He did not hide it, but confessed it; he laid it bare before God; and then he went further and acknowledged that his sin was ever before him. He could not get away from it or take away its guilt. He did not blame it on anyone else but he confessed it.
Next, he confessed that his sin was against God; that truly he had done evil in His sight and that God had seen and had marked his sin. Also he confessed that God was just in bringing upon him punishment for his sin; and that whatever God did to him because of his sin, God was just in doing.
He even goes as far as confessing that sin was in his nature; for he had received it in conception in his mother’s womb. Also, he said in verse 6 that he knew that God required truth in the inward parts, but this he could not bring forth; therefore his cry for mercy from God was NOT based upon his confession. Listen to me now! His cry for mercy from God was NOT based upon his confession; it was not based upon his repentance or on any work that he would perform; but it was based upon GOD’S LOVINGKINDNESS AND TENDER MERCY. You see, only out of a free heart of grace could David be forgiven and cleansed. My friend, this is a truth that every soul is taught under Holy Spirit conviction: that salvation is of the Lord, wholly of grace, freely of grace; and given unto him-not because of who he is or what he has done, but-because God, in love to his soul, died for him upon the cross.
My dear soul, one question in needful right here: Has the Holy Spirit ever ILLUMINATED your heart under conviction so that you, like David, were made to confess you sin before God? If not, then rest assured that you do not have true saving repentance and you have been dealt with by the Holy Spirit in the manner in which He deals with all of God’s elect.
Next: there is also in true saving repentance, HUMILIATION; and this, too, is worked in the heart by the Holy Spirit. By this we mean that the soul who thus sees himself guilty before God, stripped of all his vain boastings, and lays before the throne of mercy pleading like David: “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” As David was humiliated because of his sin, he was brought before God crying for mercy. He did not go to a self-awareness class, to be taught how to “pick himself up by his bootstraps” or to learn his identity that he might stand before men as something. Oh NO! That is what man teaches; that is not what God teaches! We are humiliated before God, and cry like David: “Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.” Lord, if You will hide them from Your face, then I know that they will forever be blotted out and You will see them no more.
Again, hear David as he cries in Psa. 38:1, 4-5 on the same occasion: “O Lord, rebuke me not in thy wrath: neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure...For mine iniquities are gone over my head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me. My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness.” Brethren, that doesn’t sound like an awareness class that man teaches today (an awareness of your good qualities, your good points or your possibilities) does it? That doesn’t sound like David is trying to exert himself as somebody who has learned all of a sudden that he is an important person and so he must live up to his possibilities does it? No it doesn’t! I would say he has learned his roots; he has gone back and found out all about his roots, that they are all planted in sin which is his depraved nature, and he sinned because he was a sinner.
My friend, I get sick and tired of this self-awareness stuff that is poked down our throats today: that all we have to do is to find ourselves and be aware of our possibilities, our good qualities, our good points and to exert our own personalities. But this is not what God’s Word teaches; it teaches us to be aware of the fact that we are sinners, lost and guilty before God; it teaches us that none is good, no not one; it teaches us to find ourselves at the feet of a Sovereign God humiliated because of sin, hating sin and self.
Listen to David pouring out his heart before God as he is thoroughly humiliated because of sin! “Lord, all my desire is before thee: and my groaning is not hid from thee. My heart panteth, my strength faileth me: as for the light of mine eyes, it also is gone from me.” This is not a self-awareness course, brother, like the world would have it! NO! This is an awareness course of what I am before God! I hate myself and repent in dust and ashes.
God brings us by His Spirit in the next place in true repentance to DETESTATION. And by this I mean that you come to detest yourself, your sin, your way and your self-righteousness before God and you come to loathe yourself as Job did in dust and ashes. Our Lord said in Luke 14:26: “If nay man come to me and hate not his own life he cannot be my disciple.” Yes, in true repentance worked in the heart by the Holy Spirit, you come to detest yourself for allowing such rebellion to go up before God from your wretched heart. You come to hate your sinful self; you turn from self with hatred for it; you fight against sin and you speak no more lightly against sin; and you never again, by the grace of God, hold yourself in high esteem.
You now know what you are before God and you know who God is and what He has done for you; you know that what God has done has been out of a heart of mercy, love and grace. You know that it was He who worked in your heart by His Holy Spirit and brought you to Christ and gave you faith to look savingly to Him.
You see, dear friend, this is the way the Holy Spirit deals with every elect sinner and if He has never dealt in your heart like this, then you are still lost in your sins.
Oh let me repeat it again: I don’t go along with all this self- awareness stuff that is promulgated from counselors and preachers today that only builds you up in pride and makes you think you’re “somebody come.” Listen to what God’s Word says about this! Gal. 6:3 reads: “For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.” Also I Cor. 8:1-2 says: “...and we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.” God’s way, dear friend, in dealing with our hearts is to bring us low at His feet in detestation, taking our place before Him as nothing. Abraham said in Gen. 18:27, “I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes.” Job said in Job 42:5-6: “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Isaiah said when he saw the Lord in Isa. 6:5, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” Simon Peter fell down at the feet of Jesus in Luke 5:8 saying, “Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”
I can say from experience that God has His way of humbling your speaker daily and bringing me low at His feet. All He has to do is to let me see the pit from which he dug me, and the rock from which he hewed me. All he has to do is to leave me to myself and I soon see my utter helplessness to keep and lead myself. All he has to do is to take away the awareness of His presence and allow me to wallow in my own thoughts and unbelief; and I soon find myself at His feet as a poor sinner and nothing at all, pleading His strength, mercy, love, grace and the power of His precious blood. I praise Him daily for the awareness of His presence and my need of Him, for I know that without Him I can do nothing.
Again, the Holy Spirit in true repentance brings the elect sinner to a place of TRANSFORMATION. You see, repentance is to leave the sins that we loved before and show that we in earnest grieve by doing them no more. This transformation worked in the elect sinner’s heart by the Holy Spirit in true saving faith and true saving repentance is not partial, my friend, but it is whole; it is complete. Infirmity may mar it, but grace will always be striving against human infirmity; and the man will hate and abandon every false way. Oh, my dear friend, do not say that you ever repented if you still love the drunkard’s cup and the house of prostitution or anybody’s bed besides your own! Do not say that you have repented if you still love your covetousness, your pleasures and your way! Do not say that you have repented if you still have the hateful and hating heart whereby you harbor vengeance and malice against you brother, against you husband, against you sister, against your mother or a friend. This is not the repentance of God’s elect-oh, NO! Do not say that you have repented if you still love the bed of your uncleanness and if you still love your lust! There may be insinuations from Satan to sin, but the true repentant, believing sinner rejects them and agonizes to cast them out. His heart longs to be free from every sin and if he could, he would be perfect. This gracious transformation is wrought in the soul in the new birth as the Holy Spirit gives the sinner a new heart and a new nature, thereby enabling him to repent and believe. Now the sinner is made a new creature in Christ Jesus; thereby old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new.
Now we come to the work of the Holy Spirit in giving the elect sinner saving faith. As the Holy Spirit works in the elect sinner’s heart, He directs his eyes, the eyes of his soul, to the Word of God in the Gospel and to Christ and His precious blood as an object of true saving faith. The sinner reads in Eph. 2:8-9 that it is by grace that we are saved through faith and this faith is not of ourselves but it is the gift of God; it is not of our works lest we should boast. The sinner reads in Gal. 2:20 that the faith by which he is saved is the faith of God’s elect, the faith of Christ. He hears in Rom. 10:17 that this faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God; for you see, the Holy Spirit in saving a soul works in the elect sinner’s heart this saving faith by giving that sinner a desire after and a longing to close in with Christ; receiving Him in all of His offices as PROPHET, PRIEST and KING. Truly the sinner’s heart is directed to look unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of his faith; and by looking to Him, he is saved and kept and led until the Lord brings him into glory with Him in the eternal day. I believe in these three words: “Looking unto Jesus” we find the secret of life, for in all that we have and all that we need, and all that God intends to give us comes to us by looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.
Listen! In looking unto Jesus in the Scriptures, faith learns who He is, what He has done, what He gives, and how His work at the cross and the tomb has brought a complete satisfaction to God’s justice, law and holiness.
In looking unto Jesus crucified, the believing soul finds in His poured-out blood, his very life, a ransom from sin, a complete pardon of all his sins, and peace with God; for Christ made peace for His people by the blood of His cross.
In looking unto Jesus risen from the grave, the believing soul finds in Him Righteousness, justification, sanctification and assurance so that he can walk before God and man with a conscience purged from dead works.
In looking unto Jesus glorified, the believing sinner finds in Christ a heavenly advocate who moment by moment appears in the presence of God for him to pray for him, intercede for him and to plead His precious blood for continual cleansing.
In looking unto Jesus as He is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit from the Word of God, we find a daily transformation of our rebellion with triumph over Satan, sin and the world and a changing from glory to glory in the likeness of Christ.
We keep looking unto Jesus to keep us in His faith to the end; unto Jesus and not to ourselves, our thoughts, our desires, our purposes; unto Jesus and not to the world, to its luster, its joys; unto Jesus and not to Satan in his rage or his flattery; unto Jesus and not to our own meditation, our prayers, our pious conversation or our fellowship; unto Jesus and not to our position in the church, to the name we bear, to the doctrine which we profess; unto Jesus and not to our brethren, their grace, praise, faults and sins; unto Jesus and not to the obstacles which meet us on our journey; unto Jesus and not to the temporal blessings which we enjoy, not to our strength or weaknesses or our sins, but unto Jesus Himself who is the Author and Finisher of our faith.
It is in this way then that the Holy Spirit works faith in us from God’s Word by directing the eyes of our soul unto Jesus and Him alone.
My friend, are you looking away to the Lord Jesus? Has the Holy Spirit thus dealt with your heart to give you repentance in ILLUMINATION, DETESTATION AND TRANSFORMATION? Has faith laid hold of the Lord Jesus Christ and are you looking only to Him for salvation for time and for eternity? What does the Lord Jesus mean to you? If you are looking to Him, He means the whole world to you and you would not part with Him for ten million worlds!
Oh I pray that God by His Spirit has so worked in your soul, dear friend, that the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ has given you the revelation of this precious Savior and Lord and that you are looking unto Him alone only for time and eternity.
Again we come into your home with this series of messages of THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD IN SALVATION which has been a blessing to my heart.
In our message today upon this blessed truth of God’s sovereignty, let us see from God’s Word its practical application and thereby show that it is not a truth to be ashamed of because natural man hates it, but a blessed truth to proclaim, believe, and in which to rejoice; because it magnifies the grace of God and because it is a Biblical truth cast in the light of God’s Word.
The very first truth which we learned in this series of messages was that because of the total depravity of all of Adam’s race, no man would have been saved if God had not elected him, called him, and justified him by His grace in Christ Jesus upon the basis of His substitutionary death upon the cross and the power of His resurrection from the grave (Rom. 4:25). If God had let the human race alone, no man would ever have come to Christ of his own will because we read these words in John 3:19-20: “This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” Did you hear those words: “every one that doeth evil”? And every man, according to Rom. 3:23, “has sinned and come short of the glory of God.” So all men are evil, therefore they hate the light Who is Christ. Another statement made in this verse is that this man who does evil and hates the light “neither cometh to the light.” Why? “lest his deeds should be reproved.”
So every sinner by nature is evil; he hates the light and will not come to the light Who is Christ, except he be drawn by the effectual call of God the Holy Spirit.
In the light of these verses I believe we can then understand much better the words of our Lord in John 6:44 which reads: “No man can come to me, except the Father which sent me draw him.” And how does He do this? by His Holy Spirit Who frees the sinner’s will to close in savingly with Christ.
My friend, do you now see a little light upon the practical application of the truth of God’s elective grace and love in salvation? The sinner, hating God because his deeds are evil, would not come to Christ except electing grace had sent the Lord Jesus Christ to die in his place and pay the sin-debt in full in time upon the cross; and except electing mercy had sent the Holy Spirit at God’s appointed time to effectually call him, draw him, convict him, grant him repentance and faith and save him by His almighty power and grace upon the basis of the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We could go on with Scripture after Scripture showing you the utter helplessness of man to save himself and therefore the need of divine help from above if ever you and I am saved. We could show you from Rom. 8:7 that every soul is enmity against God and therefore would not come to God unless drawn by the Holy Spirit in electing love. In fact, Isa. 55:7 tells us that man in his natural state is going in the opposite direction from God and, according to Luke 19:14, wants to be left alone. Therefore if God did not stop a sinner with His electing love and grace by the Holy Spirit, then no man would be saved.
Dear friend, this is the practical application of this gracious truth; it is a godly truth for which we would daily praise the Lord, because left to ourselves we would be lost forever.
You see, this precious and gracious truth humbles me at the feet of my blessed Lord; for I know-without a shadow of a doubt-that if God in His electing love had not chosen me in Christ before the foundation of the world according to II Tim. 1:9, and unless by His Holy Spirit in my heart in conviction according to John 16:7-11, then I would have been lost forever, for I would never have chosen Him under any condition nor come to Him for salvation.
Another thing we should face as we look at this gracious Biblical truth and it this: salvation is not a question of justice, but of grace and mercy. You hear it said today that God is not just to elect one and to leave another; but dear friend, if it was a basis of God’s justice, then we would all be in hell for that is where we justly deserve to go for sinning against such a holy and righteous God. But I praise the Lord it is not on the basis of justice, but on the basis of God’s grace and mercy. That being so, then we can understand that the reason God chooses one to salvation and leaves another to pursue his own wicked course according to his own will, lies within the realm of the sovereign will of God. You see, God could have left the whole human race to its own wicked course, but He did not. God being sovereign, chose a number that no man could number out of Adam’s race for a bride for His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
I ask the question, “Did God have the right to select whom He would as a bride for His Son?” I ask another question, “Did I have the right, that prerogative right, to choose my own bride?” Sure I did. Out of all the girls I went with in my teen years, I chose Loraine Reeves to be my bride and we were married on the 21st day of August, 1942 and are still together today by God’s grace. So if I, a puny little human being, so insignificant among the little creatures of God, had a right to exercise my will in choosing a young lady that I loved to be my bride, does not the sovereign God of the universe, who made us all, have the same prerogative right to choose a Bride for His Son out of Adam’s hell-deserving race? Sure He does; and He did. Read the 17th chapter of John which is the High Priestly prayer of our Lord. In it the Lord prayed seven times in 26 verses for those whom the Father had given Him to be His bride (vv. 2,6,7,9,11,12, & 24).Let me state another fact about this blessed truth: election does not mean that God refuses to save those who earnestly seek salvation in Christ, because He says “Whosoever will, let him come” (Rev. 22:17). Would God deny that which He has commanded us to do, which is to seek the Lord while He may be found? NO! Election never turned any seeking soul away, because the only reason that a sinner is earnestly seeking salvation in Christ is because the Holy Spirit has been at work in his heart, showing him his guilty condition before God; and therefore the sinner seeks Christ having seen in Him a beauty, a glory, a Savior, a Deliverer that he can find in no one else.
Yes, any sinner who wills to be saved, can be saved because his will is being freed by the Holy Spirit to close in savingly with Christ. I have often been asked the question, “How can I know I have been elected to salvation?” The answer is, “Come to Christ.” If you want Him, come, and His Word says that He will not cast you out. The question you face, dear friend, is: Do you want Christ? If you do, that is a sign that you have been elected. When a sinner comes to the place that he wants Christ more than any other, or anything else, God will save him; for “All that the Father giveth me,” Christ said, “Shall come to me; and he that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37).Let me remind every listener that each and every one of us have the responsibility set before us in Scripture to “love the Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our strength, and with all our mind, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.” If we do not do this, then we have broken God’s holy law and stand under the curse of the law which says the soul that sinneth it shall die.
Knowing our hearts then, we all know that we have not kept God’s holy law in this way, so we abide under the curse of God’s law and His righteous wrath. Therefore, we are responsible to repent of our sins, turn to God from our sins, and seek the Lord Jesus Christ in mercy and faith if ever we are to escape the judgment of God.
We must close in with Christ and seek Him savingly if we are ever to be saved, for we are commanded to do this. This is what I saw and felt after I was awakened to my lost, ruined and guilty condition before God. I felt the keen responsibility that if I did not get to Christ, I would go to hell; yet, on the other hand, I felt and knew that if God would withdraw His Holy Spirit from me, I would still go to hell. But, when I came to Christ, casting myself upon Him in my utter lost condition, God saved me, and revealed His Son in me. Then it was that I could look back over the door through which I entered in Christ, and see written on the inside these precious words: “Chosen in him before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4). I saw then that I had been an object of God’s love from all eternity (Jer. 31:3); and that it was by the cords of divine love and by the tender mercies of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ that the Holy Spirit drew me to Christ. It was the Holy Spirit who opened my depraved heart and showed me what I am by nature and what I am by practice, and the judgment I was under; and then revealed Christ in my heart, showing me that He had paid my sin-debt in full and had pardoned me completely.
This is the reason why, to me, election is one of the most comforting truths of God’s Word, one of the most encouraging teachings; and it is a sure foundation in Christ for me to rest upon. It humbles me at His blessed feet crying, “Lord, why me?” Surely it is a mystery I don’t understand, and never will, because there was nothing in me for God to love, and nothing now, except what He has put in me by His grace. Therefore I praise my precious Lord for all that He has done. Therefore, I trust by the enlightening power of God’s Holy Spirit we have all seen the practical application of God’s elective grace.
Before we close this message, let me deal with each heart who claims to be born again and a true child of God. To whom do you give credit for your salvation? yourself or God? Did you save yourself or did God save you? If you are a true child of God I know you are saying, “God saved me.” I know He did, therefore you believe as I believe, that salvation is of the Lord.
Let me ask you another question, “Do you attribute your repenting and believing to your own wisdom, or prudence, or sound judgment, or good sense? If you are saved you don’t; you give glory in your heart to God because He awakened you and you heard the gospel message-not by chance-but by the grace of God. Therefore you believe as the Word of God teaches that salvation is of the Lord.
Let me ask you another question, “Have you ever got down before God and told Him that while you are grateful for the means and opportunities of grace that He gave you, you realize that you have to thank, not Him, but yourself for the fact that you responded to His call?” I hear you say, “Pastor, those thoughts never cross my mind, away with them, for surely God called me, God saved me, and God keeps me; it is all of Him, all of His grace.” I too know this, therefore you believe that salvation is of the Lord.
So let us praise Him for His work of salvation and give Him all the honor and glory for coming and dying in our place and reconciling us to God by His Spirit through His blood that was shed for us at Calvary.
We conclude this series of messages today on GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY IN SALVATION. I trust that these messages have blessed your heart as they have blessed mine and that each one of us have been strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man because of them.
In today’s message I trust the Holy Spirit will be pleased to show us the reason for the Father’s election of a certain number of Adam’s race to be saved by grace. This reason, I believe, is found in Romans 8:29 in these words: “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate TO BE CONFORMED TO THE IMAGE OF HIS SON.”
From first to last, in all the Scriptures, the only reason we can find that God loved us, elected us, died for us, called us, saved us, justified us, sanctified us, and has kept us by His almighty power to glorify us in heaven is that we might be made like His Beloved Son; so that Christ Himself “Might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
I want you to listen now as we go into the Scriptures upon this gracious subject that gives all the glory unto God for saving any soul from among the fallen race of Adam.
We find in Eph. 1:4 that it was God’s purpose that we which He chose in Christ from before the foundation of the world “SHOULD BE HOLY and without blame before Him.” It is in this way, in holiness, that we are made in the image and likeness of the Son of God of whom the Father said, “This is my Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17).As I said: the purpose of redemption is possession, and the purpose of possession is likeness to Him who is Redeemer and Owner. This likeness can only be in holiness worked in the heart and life by God’s grace through the Holy Spirit, Who is the Spirit of holiness, the Spirit of Christ. Listen to the Scriptures that bring this out. I Peter 1:15-16 reads: “As he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” Yes, we are to be holy because God has chosen us unto holiness, which is likeness to Christ.
I believe it should be brought out here that God has not chosen us because we were holy, or because He foresaw we should become holy, but in order that we might be holy. He has chosen us to holiness as the means, as well as to glory as the end. Therefore whenever election, predestination and calling are spoken of, they are spoken of in this view as having respect to holiness, therefore assuring to us the attainment of holiness. Listen to what I Thess. 4:7 says about our divine calling: “God has not called unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.” So we see that this is a true mark of God’s elect: he who is called by divine grace is called unto holiness, to be made like the Lord Jesus Christ. And, dear friend, if we are not walking in the paths of righteousness and holiness for His name’s sake (Psa. 23:4), then we are surely not His because this is the only path into which we are called to walk.
Also we read in II Cor. 5:17 that the man called by the grace of God to salvation in Christ is made a new creation and therefore he desires to walk by the grace of God “in righteousness and true holiness,” according to Eph. 4:24.Listen again to II Thess. 2:13! “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” You see, when God chose us to salvation, He also ordained the means. This means was through sanctification of the Spirit. What this means is this: that when the Holy Spirit calls one of God’s elect to come to Christ, He sets Him apart to deal with his heart in conviction. He does this through sanctification, that is, He begins to draw him from his sinful ways and sets him apart from sin by the Blood of Christ. You see, God does not save us in our sins, but from our sins. By His Holy Spirit He sets us apart and shows us His hatred for sin and gives us that same hatred so that we will turn unto Him from sin and seek the blood and righteousness of Christ as our only means of escape from sin, its penalty, power and dominion.
This sanctification of the Spirit is unto the belief of the truth (II Thess. 2:13); this belief of our lost, ruined condition before God makes us long and cry after the blood of Christ as our cleansing and the truth of the gospel breaks in upon our souls. We long after and desire to be holy as He is holy, for we see in our Holy God a beauty and a glory that makes us hate sin. We therefore desire that this Holy Being take up His abode in us, and He does in salvation. Our body becomes His temple; and where God enters to rest, to take up His abode, there He sanctifies and makes holy even as He rested from His labors on the seventh day, therefore sanctifying and setting it apart for His use. This is one of the cardinal teachings of God’s salvation that He gives to His elect: “He hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness” (I Thess. 4:7), “to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Rom. 8:29).You see, dear friend, God hates sin; He is infinitely opposed to it; He is a consuming fire against it. I John 3:9 tells us that the soul that is born of God does not make sin the practice and rule of his life any more; as a matter of fact, the new nature, God’s divine nature, that is put in the sinner in salvation does not sin; therefore the power of sin is broken in his life. He cannot make sin the practice and rule of his life because he is the dwelling place of the Most High.
Oh that we would see this blessed truth from God’s Word: that the vessels of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto glory (Rom. 9:23), are vessels sanctified, and made suitable for the Master’s use (II Tim. 2:21), created in righteousness and true holiness (Eph. 4:24). Therefore, “this is the will of God even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour” (I Thess. 4:3-4).Again in II Tim. 2:19 we read, “The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his; and, Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” Here are two seals, one on the other. There is no second seal without the first, or first without the second. Those that are chosen will depart from iniquity, and those that are departing from iniquity are chosen. So, dear friend, if you are departing from iniquity-and this is only by God’s grace-then you can rest assured that you have been chosen. But if you are not departing from every sin, then you have no marks at all of being one of God’s elect.
Listen now! We have drifted to a sad state of affairs in Christendom today, poles apart from this blessed truth: “Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (II Tim. 2:19). No, it is just the opposite: let a man or woman, young person, girl or boy, make a profession of faith in Christ, then he is told that he is saved and saved forever no matter how he lives. In the majority of cases it is still the same old life. They can still smoke like the world, drink like the world, dance like the world, go to the movies like the world, read the filth of the world, lie and steal like the world and carry on business like the world. They don’t love to attend the house of God; they don’t love worship; they don’t love prayer; they don’t love the Word of God to search it out; and they don’t give a penny of their money to promote the cause of Christ here upon earth. Theirs is still the same old selfish, sinful life; and yet they are told they are saved and some preacher will preach them into heaven at their funeral while their souls lie in the burning of hell. Why? because they have never departed from iniquity; they have no desire for a holy life, which is one of the true marks of a child of God. The fact of the matter is, they have missed Holy Spirit conviction and the new birth.
Listen again! This to me is the clarion call of the Bible according to II Cor. 6:14-18: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hat light with darkness? and what agreement hath Christ with Satan? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God: as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God and they shall be my people. Wherefore”-because you are the people of God-“Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleans ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” As I said, this is the clarion call of the Bible: Come out from the world, be ye separated from it, touch not the unclean thing. Why? because ye are a holy people set apart for God’s use.
We are living in a day when anything passes for salvation and nobody seems to cry out against it, because we don’t want to make people mad, or rock the boat; all we want to do is to keep the peace at any cost. But my Lord said that He did not come to bring peace but a sword; to bring a sword against every peace that is not found in Him (Matt. 10:34).Let me blow the trumpet loud and clear today: God’s call in the gospel for salvation in Christ is a call unto _holiness_ to make us in the image and likeness of Christ. Any other call is a false call; and any one who claims to be a child of God and waiting for Christ from heaven and is not fleeing youthful lust; who is not fleeing fornications; who is not fleeing idolatry; who is not fleeing the love of money and the love of worldly things, and who is not fleeing this world with all of its vain glory, is deceived, blinded by the god of this world and doomed and damned in hell. You might ask, “Pastor upon what do you base such a bold statement?” This: Listen to I John 3:2-3! “Behold, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” Watch that 3rd verse! “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as he is pure.” This man who has this blessed hope is not living like the devil in sin, walking after the ways of the world. NO! He that has such a blessed hope, purifies himself; he lives a holy life, even as He who called him is holy.
This same truth of the coming of the Lord and our attitude toward it in holy living is brought out in II Peter 3:10-11, 14: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness...wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless,” that is, walking in holiness.
Listen to one more portion and then we will leave you for now! Heb. 12:10 tells us that God Himself chastens His people for one purpose: “...that we might be partakers of his holiness.” Oh my dear friend, if God is so interested in our holiness and our being conformed to His blessed Son in holiness, should we not be? If we are His children we shall be, for this is the reason He saved us and this is the clearest mark of our election: that we are being changed from glory to glory in the image of Christ in holiness (II Cor. 3:18).Remember what Heb. 12:14 tells us! “Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord.” Dear friend, what road are you walking on today? the road of holiness (Isa. 35) or the road of self will and sin (Rom. 8:7)? Remember God has not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness (I Thess. 4:7).My friend, do you have the one sure mark of God’s election: that is a daily walk in holiness and a desire to be conformed to the image and likeness of Christ? I trust that you do and that you are praising Him Who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
I trust that these messages have been a blessing to you and that this precious truth of God’s Sovereignty in Salvation will be a comfort and a blessing as you walk in this dark world of sin and woe, awaiting the Lord from heaven.
Obtained from Mt. Zion Bible Church (www.mountzion.org). Reformatted by Eternal Life Ministries.
& Articles | Spurgeon
Gems | Pink
Devotional Helps | Puritan Prayers | Inspirational Quotes | Inspirational Poems
Audio Messages | Assurance | Prayer | Praise | About Our Ministry