God's Purpose in Election Stands (Romans Sermon 64 of 120)
April 03, 2005 | Andrew Davis
God's Purpose for the World, Election, Predestination
I. The Magnitude of this Issue: Our Concept of God Himself
Take your Bibles if you would and look with me at Romans 9, going back into Romans 9:10-13, and really just zeroing in this morning on verses 11 and 12 at some key phrases. And as I was thinking about this section of Scripture, I was thinking about the incredible importance of the things that we're learning, and it made me meditate on the value, the priceless value, the precious value that we place on knowledge and that's true in really every area of life. Think about the stock market, for example, what would you give for a hot tip of a company that's just going to sky rocket over the next year? Hopefully, you wouldn't give too much, or you may end up like Martha Stewart in prison. But some special information can be incredibly valuable when the time comes to invest. Or you think about horticulture, gardening. What were the pilgrims willing to give for Squanto's information on natural fertilizer for the native crop of corn? Their lives depended on it. And so that information was valuable. Or you think about parenting? What would a new mother give to talk to her mom, the first time she's holding a baby with croup. What do I do? Give me a book, somebody who knows what to do. It's scary. The middle of the night, three in the morning and your mom's probably the only one who's willing to receive a call for croup at three in the morning.
But that information is valuable and precious. Or you think about college, what are you or your parents willing to pay to get you an education? The high price of information and knowledge, what are you willing to give?
Or I think about the Central Intelligence Agency. They have satellites up in the air that can read your license plate from outer space. What did they pay for that information? Not that that per se is of any interest to them. I hope it's not, but that information is there. And there are people that are willing to risk their lives to get that information, get information like that back to the United States Government.
Or think about the realm of sports. I was talking to Catherine Craig as I was walking in here about her brother-in-law Roger Craig, who invented the split-fingered fastball. You probably didn't know that. But Roger Craig invented the split-finger fastball, which drops like something falling off a table looks like, a fastball 90 % of the way and then just drops. It resuscitated Roger Clemens' career, it gave him like four more Cy Youngs after he left the Red Sox. So, the split-fingered fastball, inside information.
But of all of that information, may I tell you there is nothing that compares with knowing God. With knowing Him as he really is, not an idol, not a misunderstanding, not a Sunday school instruction that is off, but the true God, the God of the Bible. It says in Jeremiah 9:23-24, "This is what the Lord says, Let not the wise man boasts of his wisdom or the strong man most of his strength or the rich man most of his riches, but let him who boasts, boast about this, that he understands and knows me that I am the Lord who exercises kindness, justice, righteousness on earth. For in these I delight, says the Lord."
I want to know God, I want to know Him as He really is. And the only way for me in these doctrines such as unconditional election, is to stay, very close to the text to try to understand it phrase by phrase and that's what we're going to do today. We have a pretty simple and straightforward task.
II. Context: Paul’s Argument to this Point
We're going to be looking very carefully and very meticulously at verses 11-12 to try to understand the doctrine of unconditional election, and how it is that God's purpose stands. Now, let's understand the context. Paul's argument up to this point has been focusing on a potential crisis of confidence concerning the Word of God. Has the Word of God failed? The case study or the issue has to do with the Jews, as a people, as a nation, the chosen people of God, benefited and blessed with so many things are. It seems that they universally (not totally because there's a remnant), but for the most part rejecting the Gospel of Christ. And Paul is finding this in city after city as he goes throughout the world, wherever there was synagogue he goes in and preaches the gospel and for the most part, the Jews were rejecting their own Messiah.
And that brought believers to a potential crisis of confidence in the Word of God itself. Has God's Word failed concerning the Jews. And so, he asked that question in verse 6, and he gives a stunning answer. Absolutely not, God's Word has not failed in that most of the Jews are rejecting Christ. Why not Paul, why has God's Word not failed, in that most of the Jews are rejecting Christ? Well, because not all Israel, are Israel. Nor are they... Because they're physically descended from Abraham, are they his spiritual children, the children of the promise.
Paul's point is that God never intended or promised eternal salvation to every individual physical descendant of Abraham, he never promised it. So his word is not on the line here when Jews are rejecting Christ. His point is that there is a spiritual Israel, within physical Israel, and to them God had intended and made the promises. Now, in order to prove this, he's brought out two case studies showing that this concept should be well familiar to the Jews. They knew that Abraham was the father of many nations, but only the Jews were the chosen people of God. They were the one line. And so they were used to it right away with this issue of Isaac and Ishmael.
Isaac represents the children of the promise, those who are reckoned as Abraham's children, they're called God's children, they are the children of the promise. Those, however, who are the natural children, children only through the flesh, born biologically through Abraham, they are represented by Ishmael. So, you have Isaac and Ishmael, children of the promise, children of the flesh. The key difference is God's direct and supernatural involvement in making his children his own. And so the Scripture says, "At the appointed time, I will come and Sarah will have a son." As I explained at that point, it isn't just that God is going to come and celebrate with them, He's going to come and do it. By His supernatural power, Isaac will be born. He's a child of the promise.
Alright, case study one. But case study two is brought up because of a gaping hole, a loop-hole in case study one. And what is that loop-hole? Well any Jew worth his salt would be able to say, "Now, isn't it obvious why Isaac was chosen and Ishmael not? Ishmael's mother was a Gentile, Hagar the Egyptian. You haven't proven anything." So alright. Well, let's go to case study number two. Let's look at Jacob and Esau. Now Jacob and Esau's a much better case study because what are you going to say now? Look what it says in verse 10. "Not only that, but Rebecca's children had one and the same father, our father Isaac, yet before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad, in order that God's purpose in election might stand. Not by works but by Him who calls she was told, the older will serve the younger. Just as it is written, Jacob I loved, and Esau I hated." God therefore, rules out any possibility of a distinction between Jacob and Esau. One father, one mother.
The Greek implies one act of marital relations. Out of that one act of marital relations between a married couple, the patriarch Isaac and his wife, Rebecca, you get the twins. How could there possibly be a distinction? And frankly, before they had even done anything, they're still in the womb, they've done no deeds good or bad, she was told the older will serve the younger. And so Paul's overall point is God's Word has not failed because not all physical descendants of Abraham was intended by God, and His promises. There's a spiritual Israel within the physical Israel, God never promised all Israel eternal salvation through faith in Christ and so therefore, mission accomplished, we can have confidence in the Word of God. But God intends to say more than that to us, he actually intends to explain how individuals are in each of the categories, and that's where our minds start to get blown. How does an individual end up in the spiritual Israel, or in the physical Israel? And that's what's going to occupy us, over the next many verses. And he's zeroing in on that right here in verses 11-12, And all we can do, as far as I'm concerned, is to try to understand this doctrine verse by verse, even at this point, phrase by phrase.
III. “God’s Purpose in Election”
"Yet before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad…" [Listen], "in order that God's purpose in election might stand, not by works, but by Him who calls she was told the older will serve the younger." So what we're going to do is look at these phrases very carefully. First, "in order that God's purpose in election might stand." Now what does this mean? Well literally, the Greek says, "According to His electing purpose" or "according to the electing purpose of God," "God's electing purpose," or "his purpose in election." Of course election is a choosing out of a larger group. When you go to the poll, the ballot box, in November, you're electing somebody by choosing one or a certain number out of a larger group. That's what election is. So, it's a choosing out. God's purpose in election therefore is before us, trying to understand what this is.
Now, first of all, we have to know that our God, the sovereign of the universe, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, is a purposeful being. Everything has a purpose, a sparrow doesn't fall to the ground apart from the purpose of God. Everything fits in to God's purpose in the universe. He's a purposeful being. To me, that's encouraging. That means that history has a purpose. I mean, all of world history has a purpose, unlike unlike Darwin and the natural extensions of that in that there's really no purpose and we're just heading toward a dark, cold, oblivion. There actually is a purpose in history, and that's encouraging.
Secondly, there's a purpose in my own history. Isn't it encouraging to know that things happen in your life for a purpose too? It's not just random misery that's happening to you. I was looking at the ad recently for the iPod. Maybe some of you have the iPod, that little white box that... When I was growing up, there was the transistor radio that size and life was random. That's their expression. Life is random. Have you seen this? Life is random. What it means is, you can put in 240 songs, and it will mix them up for you, and you're never sure which one's coming next. Kind of exciting.
Life is random so you're never quite sure. So it's kind of like you're the manager of your own radio station, and you get to filter out all the songs you don't like, but then you don't know what order, because the little random chip inside is going to decide which one comes next, and you know why, because they're going to make a philosophical statement. Life is random. I'm wondering how iPod has the right to tell us what life is. I wish they'd just sell their products, but they're telling us what life is and they're telling us life is random. Life has no purpose, it just kind of comes at you, you're never sure, there's nothing to it. I say no. I say life is not random. Frankly even the iPod is not random. You choose the songs that go in it, right? You're kind of electing the songs that go in to begin with, so it's not that random but anyway. You know what an iPod in which you don't get to choose the songs is called, it's called the transistor radio. Right? And it just kind of comes at you in the order that it comes and you just accept that. At least I did, when I was growing up.
But anyway, let's try to understand, therefore, what is God's purpose in election? Let's try to understand some passages that will give us some insight into what this might be. What is God's purpose in election? Go back one chapter, to Romans 8:28-30, in which we get this same word, this idea of purpose. Romans 8:28-30. It talks about purpose, and it says there, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his what his purpose." There is the same word. Those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose. Well, what is that purpose? Well, the very next verse, begins with the word for, so it's going to tell us what that purpose is. "For, those God foreknew, He predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those He predestined, He also called, and those He called, He also justified, and those He justified, He also glorified."
Now, what I get out of this is that this thing called purpose rules over everything in salvation, it's bigger and more important than any and every component part of your salvation. Because of purpose, God, foreknows, because of foreknowledge, He predestines. Because of predestine and predestination He calls and on it goes. But it all starts with purpose. Purpose then rules over the whole thing. What is this purpose, what would it be? God's purpose is the basis of our entire salvation. That's what it's getting at. Now, look at another verse with me. Flip over to 2 Timothy 1:9. I know it's going to take time for you to get there but you guys are good at Bible drills. So, just flip on over there and let's look at 2 Timothy 1:9, and there, the apostle Paul is going to give us an insight into this purpose, also the same Greek word. There it talks about, "God who has saved us and called us to a holy life, not because of anything we have done, but because of His purpose," there's that word, and grace. "This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time but it has now been revealed and made known through the appearing of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ," our Savior Jesus Christ."
Now, the key issue, first and foremost… Note when God's purpose was established, it was established before the beginning of time. It was a before the beginning of time purpose. God's purpose was set therefore, before the beginning of time.
Secondly, we see that God's purpose is totally centered in the person of Christ. There's no purpose in the salvation apart from Christ, it's all in Him. It's grace and mercy given us in Christ.
So, it's a purpose intensively focused on the second person of the Trinity. Jesus Christ.
Third, we see an absolute harmony between God's purpose and His grace, the grace really is a servant of the purpose. God has a purpose and then the grace comes to accomplish that purpose. He has saved us, it says there and called us to a holy life. Not because of anything we have done, why but because of His purpose and grace.
Fourth, we see also that God's call to us in Christ Jesus was part of that purpose. It says, "He has saved us and called us to a holy calling," another translation has, "not because of our works but because of His own purpose and grace, which He gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and it has now been revealed by the calling of the preaching of the gospel of Christ." So the hearing of the gospel, like even for some of you this morning, the hearing of the gospel for the first time perhaps is part of God's purpose. It's all part of the whole thing. All right, let's look at another passage. Look at Ephesians 1:4-6. We're learning about what God's purpose in election might be. Ephesians 1:4-6. And there's some other verses in Ephesians 1 we'll look at as well. Well let's start at Ephesians 1:4-6.
I'd actually like to begin at verse three, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ." It should start with praise, brothers and sister shouldn't it? We'll just take a short cut. That's the purpose, okay, that's it. That we would praise Him, that we would honor Him. That's the purpose. But anyway, let's go on. Look at verse four. "For He chose us in Him," that's election. He chose us in who? "In Christ before the creation of the world." Again, just like 2 Timothy, it happened before time began, "to be holy and blameless in His sight." Well, that's the end of it. That's how we're going to end up holy and blameless in His sight.
"In love, He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ in accordance with His pleasure and will." That's another way of saying His purpose, His pleasure is his purpose and vice versa. "To the praise of His glorious grace." Did you hear that? That is the ultimate end, the goal, the result that His glorious grace would be praised. And then again, look at verse 11-12 in that same chapter. "In Him, we were also chosen." There's that word election again the choosing. "In Him, we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will, in order that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be for the praise of His glory." So, there he's explaining the purpose. Now, here's what I take out of all these verses and especially here in Ephesians. God's purpose in election is so big, it compasses all the component parts of election or of salvation, all of it fit into the overall purpose. God has a purpose.
Paul also says in Ephesians, that God's purpose is a free and sovereign purpose, in which he does everything after the council of His own pleasure and will. It is not governed therefore by anything outside of God, it's all within Him, not governed by stuff coming from the outside in to God, but it's inside God.
Now unconditional election alone makes that purpose stand. Only unconditional election, can accomplish that purpose. He says, In order that God's purpose in election might stand, it says, in Romans 9, passage we're looking at. Stand means, stay, be firm, that it might continue and be established. It's a direct contrast to the problem concerning the Word in which they're worried that God's Word has not stood. "What then shall we say?" He says In Romans 9:6, "It is not as though God's Word has fallen or failed." he says, no, no, no, "God's Word stands and God's purpose stands." "In order that God's purpose in election might stand." That's what he's getting at. Unconditional election, therefore, is the only thing that will make His purpose stand and be established.
Our Salvation Was Accomplished for God’s Glory
Now, what is that purpose? I already gave you a hint, but what is the purpose? Well, I think there are two aspects of it that come together and really are one. In salvation, God desires His own glory above all things. That He would get the glory, that He would get the credit, that He would be seen to be a glorious and majestic and powerful Savior, that is His central purpose that He gets the glory.
But secondly, and very much related to that is that the elect would get the joy and none of them would be lost. That those with whom He has connected his name, he's put his name on them, he's tied his reputation to them that not one of them would be lost, but all of them saved. And the only way that can happen is with unconditional election. You see it? First and foremost that God would get the glory for salvation. What do I get out of that? Well, to me I get that God's glory, rules over all things, every aspect of my salvation. He created me for his glory, and He is redeeming me, saving me for His glory, also.
Isaiah 43:6-7 puts it this way. "Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth, everyone who is called by my name," there's the name, "called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made." We are created and then recreated or born again for His glory. Also as we already said in Ephesians 1, it says, "He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ in accordance with His pleasure and will," verse six, Ephesians 1:6, "To the praise of His glorious grace." That's it, that's His purpose. When we get on the other side of Judgment Day and we are standing in His presence and seeing the vision of God and we know who we were and we know that we were saved, all saved people will be praising His glorious grace, and none of us will be boasting in ourselves.
So he's got to save us in a way that that will happen. He's got to work out a plan of salvation in such a way that we cannot boast at all, not even a little. And so for the purpose of His glorious grace. Again, Ephesians 1:11-12. "In Him, we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who are the first to put our hope in Christ might be," and here it is again, "for the praise of His glory."
Go back now to Romans 9, and let's zero in on this and try to understand it. What I get out of this is that the saving work of God must be completely of God's own power and accomplishment so that no one may boast before Him. God's glory is most clearly displayed in the universe in this, the salvation of sinners by His own power and grace. That's the clearest display of God that there is in the universe and He's going to put Himself on display and save us in such a way that when all is said and done, we will be praising His glorious grace. That God alone would get the glory for it, and that we would get the joy.
Now concerning the Glory of God, John Piper put it this way. "God's purpose is to be known, and enjoyed and praised as infinitely glorious in His free and sovereign grace. He explains by infinitely glorious, I mean, beautiful and immeasurably great. By free, I mean that all the final reason for everything, for all events in the universe is in Himself, and not in another."
Piper puts it this way. "The decisive influence of all that happens in the world is God's. He works all things, not just some things, after the council of His own will. He alone in the universe has the freedom of ultimate self-determination. He's the only one that gets to do that. He's the one who gets to say "I am who I am." He's the only one. We all are connected to Him. And by sovereign, I mean nothing can thwart what He most wants to do. And what does He most want to do? Glorify himself in saving his children. And that's the beauty of it. Election, unconditional election, accomplishes this purpose of God, because it thwarts all human boasting and it protects us from the inherent sinfulness and weakness within us."
Suppose God just gets you started and says, "Okay I gave you a good start, now go for it." Where is your assurance? "Will you finish the journey? I tell you, you won't. But even if you did, at the end, would you not boast in yourself and in your own strength and in your own power? God will say no to either one. He wants you saved, He wants you there, He wants you to be with Him where He is and see his glory, He wants you there. The only way He can accomplish that is if it totally depends on Him. If he is the ground, the power, the strength for that salvation. And when He does, and when your eyes are finally opened, they will be. All of our eyes will be opened ultimately on judgement day, you will say, "To God alone be the glory." And that's what you will say on judgement day.
And so, God's purpose in election. He wants to get rid of boasting and so, He chooses accordingly. Listen to 1 Corinthians 1:1 and following. There it speaks of God's election and it goes even to the socio-economic level of the people H's choosing. Remember that? "Not many of you are wise, not many were influential, not many were of noble birth." Look at yourselves he says. Corinthian church, you guys aren't the creme de la creme here, you're not the best of the best. Why? Why did God do that? Well, He explains it. "He chose the lowly things of this world, and the despised things, and the things that are not, to nullify the things that are." Why? "So that no one may boast before Him. It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus," isn't that plain?
"It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, Who has become for us wisdom from God, that is our righteousness, holiness and redemption, and therefore, as it is written, let him who boasts, boast in the Lord." So I think you should boast, I think you should boast a lot. Just not in yourself. I think you should boast in God, your Savior. I think you should post in Christ and what He did. Go ahead and boast. But don't boast in yourself. As it says in Romans 3:27, "Where then is boasting? It is excluded." And concerning the certainty of our salvation, can I tell you, unconditional election alone guarantees that. What do I mean? Well, if God is basing your standing on something inside of you, you are insecure. Don't you see that? If He's basing it on your faith, how do you know you're going to continue believing. If He's basing it on some pattern of righteousness? How do you know you're going to keep doing it or perhaps you thought all He needs is just one time, and that's enough. Wow, that's a powerful moment to cover all of your sins. If it's in you, then you are, I tell you, insecure, and you have no guarantee that you will finish this journey you're on.
D. James Kennedy, gave a beautiful illustration. Suppose you were trying to get across a 100 foot wide chasm, 5000 foot drop. And you have an incredible rope that's tested to hold two thousand pounds, and a 100 foot wide chasm, you have 50 feet of rope. You have yourself a problem. But your friends say, "That's all right, I've got a spool of thread here that can make up the difference. Why don't we tie the thread on the end of the rope and just cast the thing across, and then we'll go. What do you say?" And you say, "No way." And so, what's the matter, don't you trust your rope? Of course I trust the rope, it's the thread I don't trust. We say, alright, 50/50. Okay, suppose you had 90 feet of that good solid rope and only 10 feet of thread, what then? Would you be confident? Would you go ahead and walk across? Alright, alright, how about 99 feet of good, solid rope and one foot of that thread? Do you get the point?
Spurgeon put it this way. He said, "If only one thread of my garment of salvation comes from me, I am ruined." You have no security if it depends on you, but if it depends on God, you're going to heaven and that's the great joy. Unconditional election, accomplishes this.
If God, John Piper put it this way, "If God did not elect unconditionally, then God would not be free, He would not be sovereign, and He would not be glorious." He would not be free, because then men would determine their own election, not God. He would be bound, not free and would have to conform to what they decided.
Secondly he would not be sovereign because instead of doing successfully, what He most wants to do, God would be thwarted, again and again by self-determining man. He would want to save people and be unable to do it because they would make the final decision. And not glorious, because God's absolute freedom and sovereignty are the essence of His Glory. If God did not elect unconditionally, then some attribute of man would be the final determiner of salvation and there could be, first of all, no guarantee of final salvation, and second of all, a ground of boasting on Judgment Day. "At least I believed." "At least I walked the aisle or at least I did the thing I was supposed to do. And the others didn't." You see the ultimate ground would be in you, and you could boast and He will not have it. And so God's purpose in election is that He alone be glorified and that you will most certainly be saved.
IV. “Not By Works”
Now, what does it mean when it says, "Not by works?" Well, Paul repeats this issue. Already he told us that Jacob was chosen over Esau. It says, "Before the twins were born," what "or had done anything good or bad." I would think that would cover it, don't you? But He comes back again to it, "In order that God's purpose in election might stand, not by works." He says it twice. Why? Well, because we have tricky lawyer like minds that are always looking for loopholes. Say okay, alright, "We see that Jacob and Esau hadn't done any works yet, but maybe there's the issue of foreseeing good works. Maybe God is able to look ahead into the future and see the kind of lives that Esau and Jacob would live and on the basis of foreseen good works, He would choose, He would elect.
And so Paul rules that out. He said, "Not by works." Not past work, not present works, not future works, not good works and not bad works. No works came into election at all. It is totally unconditional, it's not based on works at all. Not because of Esau's bad works, because he traded his birthright for a bowl of stew. And God looking ahead through the hazy corridors of time saw that and said, "No, He's out." Not by bad works, neither by good works, looking ahead and seeing that Jacob valued the promises of God or was a man of prayer or wrestled with the angel or any of the good things that he did. Neither one, not by works.
Brothers and sisters. This is so hard for us to accept. It is so tough. It is woven in to the fiber of our rebellion against God, that we are self-determining independent people and we get to choose and therefore good things that happen to us happen at least in some degree, because we did something good. So, I was thinking about that incredible theology in the Sound of Music, the musical? Remember Julie Andrews? And I used to love that. I think musicals are a little odd. Why do people burst out into song at key moments? But anyway, there you are in the middle of an everyday life situation and you just burst out in song. Well this was a very significant moment though, because Captain von Trapp and Maria are... They finally realize they love each other, are going to get married. So they're out there in the kind of gazebo or something, and they just realize that they're going to get married. And she's thinking theologically at that moment.
She's ruminating on how this might have happened and what does she say? Well, she sings, "Perhaps I had a wicked childhood, perhaps I had a miserable youth, but somewhere in my wicked miserable past, there must have been a moment of truth. For here you are standing there, loving me whether or not you should. So somewhere in my youth or childhood I must have done something good." Oh boy. "Nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could. So somewhere in my youth or childhood I must have done something good."
Can I tell you, God will have none of this. He's not going to have it. In the end, we will not say that. We're not going to say, "At least I such and such." We will not say it, we will understand this doctrine in the end. I know it's hard now, but in the end we will see it all was from God. It's not somewhere in my youth, or childhood, I must have done something good. It's ruled out. By the way, there are devastating consequences of conditional election. It breeds arrogance. If it's because you did something good that God picked you, then it makes you arrogant, or it breeds insecurity. God saw something good in me, but I better keep doing it or He'll throw me away. Either way, God no longer gets the glory and you no longer get the joy.
V. “But Because of Him Who Calls”
Well, there's one last obstacle to remove. And that's the idea of foreseen faith. I say, "Okay, maybe it's not by works, but maybe let's zero in on this issue of faith maybe the issue is that God looking down through the hazy corridors of time wasn't looking at this point, at works anymore, but now He's looking through the hazy corridors of time and He is looking for faith. And He is, Aha, discovering faith in people He's going to create later. Discovering it as though surprised. Looking down through the hazy corridors of time, He's finding something. He's finding faith inside you. I think that Paul's diction rules this out. Throughout the book of Romans, the contrast is usually, not by works but by what? Faith, isn't it. Not by works, but by faith.
Listen for example, even in this chapter, Romans 9:32. Why not, "Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works." Faith/Works, that's the contrast, right? Or in Romans 4:2-3, it says, "If in fact Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about, but not before God. What does the scripture say? Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness." So wages/works contrasted to faith, and again, even better perhaps in Galatians 2:16, "We know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ" Works/faith. "So that we also have believed in Christ Jesus in order to be justified by faith and not by works of the law." Faith/works. "Because by works of the law, no one will be justified." The contrast is usually faith and works, isn't it? But that is not the contrast here.
Now, John Wesley taught that God looking down through the hazy corridors of time, saw that you someday would believe and chose you on that basis. This is what Wesley said, John Wesley. "“In a word, God, looking on all ages, from the creation to the consummation, as a moment, and seeing at once whatever is in the hearts of all the children of men, knows everyone that does or does not believe, in every age or nation. Yet what he knows, whether faith or unbelief, is in nowise caused by his knowledge. Men are as free in believing or not believing as if he did not know it at all.”
Basically Wesley is saying that God doesn't create faith, He doesn't give it, it just is and He discovers it. And when He discovers it, then He justifies you, based on it. Paul's syntax removes that forever. The dichotomy here is not by works, but by faith, it doesn't say that, it says, Not by works but by Him who calls. You're not left with faith here you're left with God. God and God alone is what you end up with this..
Him Who Calls
Do you see it? And I know it says, Him who calls. So it wants to talk about the calling and that's fine, because that call is a sovereign call. He speaks into darkness, and says, "Let there be light, and there's light." He speaks in into Sarah's dead womb and says, "Let there be Isaac and there's Isaac." He speaks into Lazarus's dead tomb and says, "Let there be life and Lazarus comes to life." He speaks into your dead soul and says, "Let there be faith and there's faith." Yes, that's the call of God, but he doesn't even mention that. It's not by works, but by the call, it doesn't say that. It says, "Not by works but by Him who calls." You end up with God. So what then is the basis of our salvation? God and God alone. That's it.
He wasn't looking at you when He chose you. He wasn't seeing something about you and choosing you. Now you say, "Well over and over it talks about justification by faith." Well let me tell you something, you are justified by faith. Justification is conditional. Did you not know that? You have to hear the gospel and believe it in order to be justified and if you hear the Gospel and do not believe you will not be justified. Your justification is conditional on faith. But your election isn't. It's based on God. The one who chooses, the one who calls.
Now, what application do we take out of this? Well, some people say that election makes us arrogant. I don't understand that. Do you? What arrogance do you get out of this? "At least I... " At least I what? What do you have to boast about? Nothing. I think the other way of looking at salvation leads to arrogance. Because there's something inside you that God's choosing. But this, what can you do, except say, "Thank you God. Thank you for saving me. I didn't deserve it, but thank you." Total humility in salvation. The doctrine of unconditional election has tremendously, a tremendously humbling effect on us. Julie Andrews cute little theology is gone forever. Sing the song, but don't believe it. Don't even sing the song. Don't believe it, it isn't true. God gives it by grace, you don't deserve it. The ultimate ground of our standing before God is God and God alone. We were chosen in spite of what we are and do and not because of it. Forever then, give all credit and glory to God for every aspect of our salvation. You don't believe so that you will be elect. You were elect so that you would believe. That's the doctrine here.
So therefore, secondly, we get total security of salvation. Because election is unconditional, it never has nor ever will it be dependent on our righteousness. Therefore, salvation is totally dependent on the unchanging character of God. If you're having a bad day, confess your sin, but don't be insecure in your standing before God. Your election was never based on your works. It's based on God, therefore, the fountain of energy and will and determination for your Christian life is not in yourself, but in God. Look at verse 16 of our same chapter. "So then it does not depend on man who wills, or on man who runs, but on God who has mercy." You see, same thing, you end up with God.
Thirdly, confidence in evangelism? Sin does not disqualify anyone. We talked to all different kinds of people at the health fair yesterday. I thought about this verse frequently. Doesn't matter what you've done, you're not disqualified. God wasn't looking to you anyway in election and so you can tell me about what you've done sexually or what you've done with drugs or alcohol. The people you've hurt, the crimes you've committed. I will not say thereby you cannot possibly be elect. It doesn't work that way.
And so we have confidence in election that no sin pattern is ever so great that God's grace and mercy cannot forgive. Look at the Apostle Paul. Paul said, "Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor, and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus." Oh boy. Faith came with the package. Yes, it did. It was poured out on me as a gift. "And here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the worst. But for this very reason, I was shown mercy, so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on Him and receive eternal life." You know, no amount of sin disqualifies you. God's grace is so powerful, you can be saved. Look at what happened with Paul.
And finally, isn't it obvious? Praise him, praise His glorious grace, worship Him, give Him thanks today. Be cheerful today, be happy and content today. Rejoice today. Be secure and strong today. Give Him thanks and praise today. Smile. Praise the Lord. Sing. Even if you don't like singing, sing. You get one more chance in the worship service in about one minute, give Him praise, and glory and honor. He has saved you, He is saving you, He will save you. Because of His purpose and His grace. Close with me in prayer.