The Justice, Mercy, and Freedom of God in Election (Romans Sermon 65 of 120)

The Justice, Mercy, and Freedom of God in Election (Romans Sermon 65 of 120)

April 10, 2005 | Andrew Davis
God's Purpose for the World, Sovereignty of God, Election, Predestination

Introduction: “Is that a fact?”

Well, it's a delight to be with you today as we continue our series in Romans Chapter 9. We come to some incredible verses that you've now heard and read twice. One of them in Indonesian and one in English. It reminds me of the two years that I spent with my wife, and our two older children, who were born at the time in Japan. And it says in 1 Corinthians 14 speaking in tongues, if they're not interpreted, our mind is unfruitful. Well, I was at least having some fruitful thoughts, as I was listening to these dear brothers read and to pray in their native language, speak in their native language, and that is how great is God to reach out to so many different people with the same Gospel. Amen?

So that's a delight and we're so glad that all of you who are our international friends are here to worship with us today, we're looking today at the issue of the justice of God in unconditional election. And we're asking the question about unconditional election, and the question that comes to us in the text has to do with Is God unjust, in choosing people unconditionally. But before we even ask that question we have to ask a prior question, is it truth? Is it a fact that God has done this? Is it a fact that God has chosen people from every tribe and language and people and nation, irrespective of anything he saw in them, but just for His own sovereign purposes, is it true?

Spurgeon had an incredible story, an illustration that I thought was remarkable and he was talking about the story of King Charles the second of England, and the philosophers. And they were getting together to discuss some things and King Charles asked one of them "What is the reason why, if you had a pail of water and weighed it and then put a fish into it and weighed it again, that it would weigh exactly the same." Well, the philosophers debated, and they discussed back and forth, Why this would be so. And they had various theories and they were elaborate and they went on and on trying to determine the reason why, and one of them kind of emerged as the best theory on why this was so, but finally, one of them asked a simple question. Well, is it true? And so they got a pail of water and they weighed it and they put a fish into it, and weighed it again and lo and behold, it weighed the same plus the additional weight of the fish. It was not, it simply wasn't true.

Overwhelming Scriptural testimony to Unconditional Election

And so I think before we go on and on debating and discussing and trying to determine about unconditional election, we should ask is it so? Has God actually done this? What does the Bible say? Does it reveal that God has chosen people to be His own? Now, I say to you that the biblical evidence for unconditional election, is overwhelming. There's not a little amount of information about this, there's a lot.

Look right at the verses that precede the ones that were read this morning. Look at verses 10-13. "Not only that, but Rebecca's children, had one and the same Father, our Father, Isaac, yet before the twins were born or have 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."

Well, that would be evidence enough, but God doesn't stop there. There's actually a wealth of evidence that God has in fact elected people. In Romans 8:33, it says, "Who shall bring any charge against God's elect. It is God who justifies who is He that condemns?" Or in Romans 11:5, it says "so too, at the present time, there is a remnant chosen by grace and if it is by grace, it's no longer by works…" a remnant chosen by grace or again in that same chapter, Romans 11:7.

"What then? What Israel sought so earnestly, it did not obtain but the elect did the rest were hardened…" Or again in 1 Thessalonians 1:4 "For we know brothers loved by God that He has chosen you, because our gospel came to you. Not just with words, but with a power with Holy Spirit and deep conviction…" All of that proved to Paul That the Thessalonians, were elect. Or he says in 2 Timothy 2:19 "Nevertheless, God's solid foundation stands firm sealed with this inscription 'The Lord knows those who are his.'" And in another place, John 6:70 after the “eat my flesh and drink my blood” teaching and most of the disciples abandoned Jesus that day, and he asked the 12. What, do you want to go away too? And Peter said, "Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life…" And Jesus's answer to that was, "Have I not chosen you? The Twelve and one of you is a devil." Very clear on the issue of election.

Jesus also in John 13:18. He said at the time of the last supper, "I'm not referring to all of you. I know those whom I have chosen." And he says in in John 15:16 "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, fruit that will last." And then again in that same chapter, John 15:19. "If you belong to the world it would love you as its own as it is you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you." You know, we really could go on and on. There's not a small amount of evidence that this is so.

So it's not like the philosopher debating why if you add a fish to a pail of water it weighs the same as before, it simply isn't so in that case, but this is biblically so. Now an unbeliever will not accept the biblical evidence, but we're not speaking as unbelievers here this morning, are? We're accepting biblical evidence and it's overwhelming that God has chosen people.

Is God Unjust in Unconditional Election?

Now the second question that's before us is, is God unjust in doing this? Now, Spurgeon says, concerning the fact of election, he puts it this way,

"What, then, is the use of our discussing any longer? We had better believe it, since it is an undeniable truth. You may alter an opinion, but you cannot alter a fact. You may change a mere doctrine, but you cannot possibly change a thing which actually exists. There it is — God does certainly deal with some men better than he does with others. I will not offer an apology for God; he can explain his own dealings; he needs no defense from me, “God is his own interpreter, And he will make it plain;” but there stands the fact. Before you begin to argue upon the doctrine, just recollect, that whatever you may think about it, you cannot alter it; and however much you may object to it, it is actually true that God did love Jacob, and did not love Esau."

It's a fact. The question is, as we look at this fact we react to it and we begin to ask the question and the question emerges Is God unjust in doing it, and that's the issue that's in front of us in the text today. The very issue that Paul takes up in the passage. Look at verses 14-18. "What then shall we say Is God unjust? Not at all for he says to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. It does not, therefore depend on man's desire or effort but on God's mercy. For the scripture says to Pharaoh. I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display My power in you and that My name might be proclaimed in all the earth Therefore God has mercy on whom He wants to have mercy, and He hardens whom He wants to harden." Okay the issue of God's un-justice is in front of us and it's going to take us perhaps as much as three weeks to answer the question. It may actually take you your whole lifetime because, you know, you get to the third question. First of all, is it a fact? Is it a biblical fact that God has unconditionally elected people? Secondly, is it unjust? We're going to be looking at that this morning and over the next few weeks.

But the third question is, "How do I feel about it?  Can I accept it? Now obviously, it will not change a thing, in the universe if you can't. It won't. It won't change the fact whether God's done it or not, if you can't accept it now you may say I can't believe in a God like this, you have that right. You have that power to say that. I remember earlier in the church, when we were going through a difficult time working on a doctrinal issue I thought it was appropriate to bring in the evidence from scripture that we do not as a church have the right to grab hold of the church, and do whatever we want with it, we need to follow God's rules in the Bible. And a good example of that is the whole story, of Uzziah? You remember how the ark was put on a cart, contrary to the word of God, they should have been carrying it with poles, and so they put the ark up there on the cart and as they're going, the oxen stumbled and Uzziah reached out and grabbed hold of the arc.

And at that moment, you know, he was just trying to help it seems, at least God struck him dead. David was shocked and it says he was actually angry in the account but I remember we were sitting there in a group of deacons who were trying to discuss something, and one of them had the Bible open and just recoiled like a... You know, when he brings two positive poles of a magnet together just and then he gestured down at the open Bible and said, I cannot believe in a God like that. I found the statement with the gesture together very significant. I can't believe in a God like that. That's really pretty big isn't it? When you say that, that's really shocking, the fact is, God is like that. If it's written in the account that way, he is like that. Now, we may have a hard time understanding why he did that David finally learned the lesson oh, acacia wood poles through the loops on the side. That's how you carry it.

God told us what to do, but the fact is, as we read the Scripture, and we see right in the account, what it says that God... God does, we're at a fork in the road and are we going to get to the point where we say, "I can't believe in a God like this?" And if you do, what have you now? You don't have the bible anymore, all you have is what you can or will or will not believe about it. And that's the whole issue. So ultimately for you personally, it's very important whether you can accept this biblical teaching very important now as people have wrestled with the structured history they have had a variety of emotional responses to it.

John Wesley gives us a good example of a great man of God, who did many, many things for the kingdom of God. Led many into faith in Christ. when he died, I think he held the record for most miles on horseback, something like that. He may hold it still, I don't know, 25,000 plus miles on the back of a horse constantly reading the Bible. He was, as I said, so saturated in the scripture that his blood was Biblean, whatever that means. But anyway just if you cut him he just bled Bible, okay. But in this one matter when he came to Romans 9, he simply could not accept what was plainly written there and he preached a rather shocking sermon against his good friend George Whitfield who did believe what the scripture taught on this. And then this sermon on free grace given in Bristol 1740, he talked about the issue of predestination and election, this is what he said.

"This is the blasphemy clearly contained in the horrible decree of predestination! And here I fix my foot. On this I join issue with every assertor of it. You represent God as worse than the devil; more false, more cruel, more unjust. But you say you will prove it by scripture. Hold! What will you prove by Scripture? That God is worse than the devil? It cannot be. Whatever that Scripture proves, it never proved this; whatever its true meaning be. This cannot be its true meaning. Do you ask, "What is its true meaning then?" If I say, " I know not," you have gained nothing; for there are many scriptures the true sense whereof neither you nor I shall know till death is swallowed up in victory. But this I know, better it were to say it had no sense, than to say it had such a sense as this. It cannot mean, whatever it mean besides, that the God of truth is a liar. Let it mean what it will, it cannot mean that the Judge of all the world is unjust."

Well, our good brother John Wesley’s doctrine is straightened away now, praise God. and I look forward to my doctrine being straightened away too when I see Jesus, because there are flaws in my doctrine I look forward to getting them fixed. I'd fix them today if I knew what they were. All I'm doing is I continue to read the scripture and keep testing, my doctrine against what the Bible says, but if I were talking to our brother John, I'd say "John, it seems that you have some presuppositions, as you enter Romans 9 that are being challenged. Maybe you ought to challenge them, look again."

But I know this, God is not unjust and that is the issue that's in front of us today, the issue of the justice of God.

I. Why the Question “Is God Unjust?” Comes Here

Now, why does it come up at this point? Well, let's understand our context let's try to understand how this statement fits in verse 14. Realize that Paul is addressing a problem in Romans 9. And the problem has to do with the Jews as a whole, as a nation generally rejecting the gospel. Paul is going from place to place preaching the Gospel, in synagogue after synagogue, they are rejecting the Gospel, they are not accepting it for the most part there are some that are accepting as Paul himself did, but for the most part, they're rejecting. Now, why is this a problem? Well, it's certainly a problem for them individually, but it's a special kind of problem in that the Jews were God's special people, they had been given the special privileges which Paul enumerates there in Romans Nine, at the beginning, they were given these blessings and so it seems as though God's word to them his promises to them has failed God's Word has failed because these Jews are rejecting the Gospel and that my friends is a crisis.

If God's word to the Jews has failed. How do you know it's not going to fail toward you? We don't know? And so therefore, this is a crisis of the first magnitude. Paul answers it in verse 6, go ahead and look at it. But there in verse 6, it says, "It is not as though God's Word has failed." Why not Paul? But here's his doctrine, "for not all who are descended from Israel are Israel." There is a larger group of the biological descendants of Abraham or Israel, but then there's a smaller group of spiritual Israel, to whom the promises were made in the center there, and so God never promised that every single physical descendant of Abraham or Isaac, or Jacob would most certainly be forgiven of all their sins and end up in Heaven through receiving faith in Christ. He never promised it. And therefore God's word has not failed and he gives two case studies, of course, Isaac and Ishmael, both of them physically descended from Abraham, but only Isaac, the child of the promise, a picture of God's supernatural work in all of his children.

We are born again by the power of the Spirit we are children of the promise, but Ishmael is a child born in the natural way he's a child of the flesh. And so, you have Isaac and Ishmael, an example of what Paul Is talking about. Then he brings in a better even better case study, case study number two. And that is Jacob and Esau. Because an astute Jewish objector would say, "Isn't it obvious the different between Isaac and Ishmael? Isaac's mother was Sarah, but Ishmael's mother was Hagar, a Gentile? So that's the whole problem there. Alright, well, what are you going to say now, as we look at the case of Isaac's wife Rebecca, she has twins born, in one act of marital relations. Absolutely, at the same moment you've got these two boys Jacob, and Esau born of the same father, same mother in the same womb before the twins were born, hadn't 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." Very, very strong statement on unconditional election. So therefore, not just that God's Word has not failed and that He never promised the whole nation of Israel to receive the blessings of the Gospel, but he actually goes beyond it in Romans 9, to talk not just about a true spiritual Israel, in the center but how they got to be in that set and how the others got to be in the other set, and that's where the rub is. How do the individual destinies, get settled of who is in what category? And so He's going beyond to discuss that in this doctrine, of unconditional election. Now, this election of Jacob and not Esau was done according to Romans 9:10-13 without any reference whatsoever to anything in Jacob or in Esau. He's not looking inside them for their works, he's not looking down the hazy corridors of time in the future for future works.

He's not looking at faith he's not looking at anything in Jacob or in Esau. He looking within himself this is a sovereign thing that he does, he alone. Now as we are looking at this, if this is the proper interpretation a question is going to pop up into your human mind isn't it now that's unfair, it seems in-just there's this matter of injustice with God. And so I think as we look at the questions that are rising up against the interpretation we're given it's good to see if our interpretation is accurate, and so the question floating up at this point actually proves that we've been tracking because you know something, we human beings are used to merit rewarded aren't we? We know that it's called an employer employee relationship.

If the employer meets the conditions they're going to get the reward if they do such and such, they get this and there's no injustice there and so that makes perfect sense, but if this is the case, then that's something we don't have a way to understand, we don't know how that works. And so, the question floating up at this point, verse 14,  "Is there any just injustice on God’ part?" actually proves the interpretation that we've been giving. Also, the same question, verse 19, look down and further in the account. "One of you will say to me. 'then why does God still blame us for who resist his will?'" That floats to the surface when you have a sense of God's sovereignty and his power. And he said, "Well if God can save everybody, why does He find fault with anybody because he could be exerting His will to save them all, that's the question that floats up there.

But we don't have to deal with all of them today. Praise God. We'll get to that one in due time. But this question is the matter of injustice. So, the question kind of proves the acts of Jesus. Now, this is Paul's usual pattern, he will tell us something in Romans he'll bring up a doctrine and then he will turn around and ask a question against his doctrine. Do you know where I think that came from? I think it came from just years on the road. I mean, evangelizing in place after place, in Greek towns in Jewish synagogues these questions came to him.

And he said, "Okay one of you will say to me, now at this point, such and such," because he's been doing this for so long, he knows exactly what people are going to say at these key moments. For example, if you look back earlier in Romans 5:20, Paul has been talking there about the doctrine of God's free, and unconditional grace. We're not justified by works but by grace through faith in Christ. And all of this, and then he makes this wonderful statement that I think about probably every day, and that is "where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more", Romans 5:20. Well, what's going to pop into your devious little tricky mind at that moment? Well, how about Romans 6:1 is a good statement of what might pop into your devious, tricky little mind at that moment. "What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? Doesn't that make sense? He's arguing against this doctrine, and then he's got to deal with the idea, alright if sin abounds, then grace abounds all the more. Let's have lots of grace then, right?

And then he deals with sanctification in Romans 6, or again, he'll do the same thing when he treats about the law. Look at Romans 6:14, He says, "For sin shall not be your master, because you're not under law, but under grace." And so you say, "Oh okay, I know if we're not under law now, then, we can sin as much as we want right? Verse 15, "What then shall we sin because we're not under law but under grace?" How does he answer, "may it never be!" You see Paul's ordinary method here, he'll give you doctrine, and then he will anticipate the questions you are going to think about. Raise them up in his text, write the question and then answer it. And he's doing that exact same thing here, he does it 10 times brothers and sisters.

Ten times in Romans. He raises up a question, then answers it with something like "may it never be," or refutes that question now here, and that way you can see the question then becomes a kind of a backward insight into the text. We have to come up with an interpretation in Romans 10-13 that will lead to the question of verse 14, of injustice and that's exactly what's happening here. Martin Lloyd-Jones put it this way, whatever it is the apostle has been saying from verse 6-13, about God's purpose and the way in which he carries it out, it must be something that on the surface at any rate, makes some people think that God has been unrighteous, and that he is unfair.

So in other words, if you're feeling like this is unfair, then we're right on schedule. Alright, we're right on track. And so it comes up this issue of injustice and why, because it seems unfair, it seems in-just... Unjust that God would, just for his own purpose's, chose some and not others. That's the very issue. Now, how does he answer it? That's what's in front of us now.

II. Paul Reasserts the Doctrine... as an Answer?

How does he answer this question of injustice? Well, it's kind of an interesting mystery. Look at verses 14-15. "What then shall we say? Is God unjust? May it never be!" Or "not at all." Verse 15 is the beginning of his answer, "for He says to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." And you say, wait a minute, that seems to me like a restatement of the same problem, how is that an answer?

How does that solve the problem? That's the very thing I'm asking, how you have mercy on some and compassion on... How does that work? And so we wrestle with this we try to understand, how does verse 15 answer the question of injustice? All it seems like he's saying is I have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I have compassion on whom I have compassion. We want to say, "but that sounds unjust." How have we answered the question? And He states it again very clearly in verse 16. It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort but on God's mercy.

Now, John Piper, he's a pastor in Minneapolis, who I've read a number of his books and some of you have as well. In 1979 a sabbatical year was coming up for him at Bethel Seminary there in Minneapolis and he wanted to take a sabbatical and go to Germany. He wanted to study something in the New Testament, and his supervisor asked him, "Well, what are you going to study?" He said, "I'm going to study one word." "Well what word is it?" "Well it's the word 'for' in verse 15 of Romans 9. I want to understand how 'I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion,' answers the question of an injustice and unconditional election. I just want to know that little word F-O-R, for, at the beginning of verse 15." Now you say "I have never taken a three letter word that seriously, in all my life, to spend almost a year of my life studying to understand how verse fifteen lines up with verse 14." Well, John Piper did, and I actually think that we should take the word of God that seriously, shouldn't we? We should try to understand the flow of argumentation here. I want to know, how is God's statement here in verse 15 an answer to the problem, can we follow his argumentation? Now, what I have done and what we plan... I plan to do this morning for the rest of the morning is just to take a step back and look over the next number of verses, at the array of answers that God gives on this question of injustice.

III. The Six Reasons

There's an array of them, I perceive six. There may be more, but there's an array of issues that float to the surface in these verses, and I think they absolutely deal forever with the issue of injustice with God. And those six reasons are, the nature of God, the nature of justice, the nature of mercy, the nature of sovereignty, the nature of self-revealed glory, and the nature of humanity. These six work together in my mind, at least in my heart, to answer the question I have concerning injustice. I hope they'll do that for you.

Now, what I want to do is just for the remainder of the brief time that we have left this morning, go over these six very quickly, so that you understand what they are. I'm not going to support them with scripture. I'll try to tie them to Romans 9, 14 and following, but I'm not going to bring in other scriptures, at this point to support them biblically. I'm going to do that, I think, God willing in two weeks, next week, if the Lord wills. We'll kind of go together and in our minds and hearts to the top of Mount Sinai where Moses met with God, and made this incredible request, "show me your glory." And that's the foundation of this statement, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy," and we will understand what happened between Moses and God on the top of Mount Sinai to answer this question of injustice.

We're gonna get some of those themes a little bit this morning, and then we'll come back to these six more fully in two weeks and then answer them with supporting scriptures. Okay? That sound good? I hope so, because that's what we're gonna do. But anyway, we're going to work together and in this way I hope after the three weeks, we'll have forever a sense laid to rest that God cannot and is not unjust in this matter.

  • The Nature of God

Let's start with the first one. And that is the nature of God, the New American Standard Bible in verse 14, has it this way. "What shall we say then, there is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be!" Now, I like that translation because the Greek form of the question, and  expects the answer no. In other words, there can't be any injustice with God, can there be? May it never be so within that we have a sense of God and who He is concerning this matter of injustice.

Let's put it, this reason, this simple way, God is not unjust in unconditional election, simply because God cannot be unjust in anything he does, everything God does is just. Everything he does is righteous. God's passion for justice, burns brighter than the sun. And let me tell you, if you have a sense of justice, God gave it to you, because you're created in the image of God. But your sense of justice is like a lit match compared to the raging inferno of the sun. God has that much concern over justice infinitely more than you. So if you are concerned about justice, how much more that God who created you? Can it possibly be that God would be unjust? Is it even in the realm of possibility to consider that the God who has so clearly revealed himself in the Bible could be unjust for even a moment? And what are God's credentials? We'll talk about that in two weeks, but let's bring you to the highest and greatest credential. The cross of Jesus Christ. Some have said that the cross is a measure of God's love and so it is Romans 5:8, God demonstrates His own love for us in this, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

But let me tell you, friends, that was not the only thing God demonstrated at the cross. There was another issue, and the issue was justice. And I mean not the justice of the reprobate, those suffering in hell. Oh no, the issue is the justice of people like David who committed adultery with Bathsheba and had Bathsheba's husband murdered to cover up his sin. How does a guy like that get into heaven? Now that's a question and we could say this: on the love side, God loved us so much that he would rather His son die then that we who are his own, not spend eternity with Him. Amen and it's true. But let me say to you another way, God loves justice, so much that he would rather slaughter His own Son, as our substitute, than let any of us get to Heaven without our sin paid for. How can a God like that, who is so passionately committed to justice. Be unjust about anything? On to the next one.

  • The Nature of Justice

The nature of justice itself. Is God unjust? Another translation would be unrighteous. Well, what is justice anyway? What is righteousness? What is the sense of fair play, where does it come from? Can I tell you that God Himself, alone, is the ultimate standard of justice in the universe? Basically, if God does something, it is by definition, just simply because He did it. God is not subject to some higher standard of justice and righteousness that he needs to obey and follow. All words and deeds, intentions, plans and motives are brought up against this one standard of righteousness who is God Himself. If it lines up with God, it is just and righteous, if it does not line up with Him, it is not just or righteous. And righteousness (and this is from Piper's study, and I think it's true), righteousness consists in valuing properly what is most valuable in the universe. If you value a human life than we need laws to protect it. If we value property we need laws to protect it. What is the most valuable thing in the universe? God's name. His glory. His honor and God values his name, His glory, and His honor above all things, in the matter of unconditional election. We'll talk more about that one. John Piper put it this way.

"God’s righteousness is essentially his unswerving allegiance to his own name and his own glory. God is righteous to the degree that he upholds and displays the honor of his name. He is righteous when he values most what is most valuable, and what is most valuable is his own glory. Therefore God’s justice, his righteousness, consists most fundamentally in doing what is consistent with the esteem and demonstration of his name, his glory. God would be unrighteous if he did not uphold and display his glory as infinitely valuable."

We sinners, you know what we've done? We've stripped God of His glory. We exchanged His glory for man made or human things for idols for all have sinned and what? Fall short of the glory of God, God will have His glory reestablished. And so, unconditional election does that.

  • The Nature of Mercy

Thirdly, the nature of mercy. This one, you can read right out of the text, but you have to notice what's happening. "What then shall we say? Is God unjust? May it never be! For he says to Moses, 'I will have mercy on whom I have…'" Whoa, wait a minute. That was a switch. Just a moment ago, we were talking about justice and now you're talking to us about Mercy? Exactly how does this argument work? Well, we speak in plain terms. Can you imagine standing on Judgment Day and demanding from God, justice? I want justice for what I've done, I want justice for my life.

I don't want any handouts. I don't want any grace, I don't want any mercy, I just want justice, so just give me what I truly deserve and I'll be on my way. Is that what you want? We who are Christians have come to realize that that's not what we want. Justice will condemn us, if not for Christ and His cross. What do you want from God? I want grace. I want mercy. Now let me ask you a question. Can a rebellious sinner, a flagrant transgressor stand in front of a just court and demand mercy?

Can you do that? Do you not, kind of throw yourself on the ground and plead for it, beg for it. You beg for mercy you don't demand it. This is not, then ultimately, a matter of justice, this is a matter of mercy, if it's justice than it's hell but if it's mercy than it's given or it isn't, and that's how it works, the nature of mercy we'll talk more about that one.

  • The Nature of Sovereignty

Fourthly, the nature of sovereignty. Our God is God. He sits on a throne. He's a king. He's not a president, He's not a Prime Minister, He is not subject to cyclical elections, He doesn't care about popularity polls He's never going to send an angel to ask your advice on a matter of state or kingdom, I guess would be the right word. He's not going to ask for that, because He's a king, He's sovereign and the glory of His sovereignty is in making decisions after his own council within Himself, and not surrendering control to created beings. Look what He says in Verse 15, "He says to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I have mercy…" That is sovereignty speaking, and "I will have compassion on whom I have compassion," verse 16. "It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort but on God's mercy." And again in verse 18, "Therefore God has mercy on whom He wants to have mercy, and He hardens whom He wants to harden." Unconditional election then, is not unjust because it best accords with God's proper position in the universe as creator and ruler over all that He's made by electing based on his own internal prerogatives God is upholding His right to reign absolutely over all things.

His name is, "I am who I am, I will be what I will be, I will do what I will do I will have mercy, as I will have mercy, I will harden whom I harden, I will have compassion as I will have compassion, I am who I am." That is the God we worship. Amen and amen. He is a sovereign king, and we honor Him and we worship Him as such, the nature of sovereignty.

  • The Nature of Self-Revealed Glory

Fifth, the nature of self-revealed glory. This is a new one that I thought about and it came to me. What did Moses ask God for on the mountain? Show me your glory. Do you not realize that's probably the boldest request in the history of humanity? Here is a sinner, a murderer standing up in front of a Holy God and saying, show me yourself. Reveal yourself to me.

So, I got to thinking about self-revelation. I got to thinking about friendship. I got to thinking about marriage. Could you imagine a suitor going up to a young lady and saying, "Show me yourself. Reveal yourself to me." She'd probably call the cops. On a more kind of reasonable level as their courting they agree at some point when they stand before God, that they're going to reveal themselves to each other. It's given or it isn't. It's true at a lower level for friendship, right?  Can you demand friendship from somebody? Can you go to another person and say "Be my best friend?" It's not going to work, that's not how friendship works. That's not how relationships work between persons.

My friends, if we who are dust, sinners have the prerogative to befriend or not befriend, to marry or not marry, to reveal or not reveal. How much more the God of the universe has the right to deny this request that Moses made? Moses made a request, God could have said no way am I going to show you that. But instead he says, "I'll give you what you asked. I'll have mercy on whom I have mercy." We'll talk more about that next week. God is willing to reveal Himself to you, isn't that incredible? He's willing to open himself up in Christ but he does that at his sovereign prerogative. It cannot be demanded.

  • The Nature of Humanity

The sixth and final one for today is the nature of humanity. Now, who are we talking about that's got this claim on God? Are the angels asking, is there any injustice with God? No. We are the ones asking. Who is asking this?  We human beings, we created ones.

Now, there's two different ways to look at it. First, Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes, some common use. What does he call us then? We are the clay He's the potter, He shaped us and made us. Do we have the right, as created beings, to look up to our creator and say, "Why did you make me like this?" No, so just even if we were sinless, friends, if we were perfect could we look at something God's done and say, that's unjust? No, you know why because God's ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts, as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are His ways higher than our ways. Do we understand all that God's doing? How much less than could we created beings, to assess him properly, even if we were sinless, assess Him properly, and understand everything He's doing and be in a position then to judge it or assess it? We never will be, he's the creator we are the created.

But that's not the case. We're sinners, actually. How's your sense of justice is it good? Would you put it up there and say I have a perfect sense of justice. I would think not, I would think that we sinners, our justice has actually been somewhat corrupted our sense of fair play, has been somewhat corrupted. We are therefore like blind people who are going to be judging a painting exhibit. We're like deaf people who are going to be judging a piano recital. I think the first one did really well. How can we sinners judge God's justice? How could we possibly do it? Isn't it better for us who are being redeemed and transformed and made more and more like Christ say, "Someday I'll understand this, but I know that when I end up there, I will end up saying, God is just in everything he does." Amen and amen.

IV. Application

Now what application can we take from these six that we looked at quickly? Well, first of all, I hope that what I've been preaching about has kindled inside of you, a sense of worship and awe for our eternal God. God does all of this for the praise of His glorious grace. He does all of this in a magnificent way that He would be honored and glorified. Then worship Him today. Honor Him today. Don't honor the created thing. Don't honor your own reason and your own sense of justice. Honor God, the God of the Bible, worship Him and praise Him.

Secondly, resist all temptation that the devil hands you today or any time to feel inside you that God is unjust. We're going to talk more about that in the future, but things may happen to you, you may lose people or possessions that are valuable to you and you may be tempted by the devil, to say God is unjust in this. It's unfair what he's done. Don't do it. God is always just. He's always righteous in everything He does.

The third one I want to end with today is the issue of missions and evangelism. Will you take a minute and look with me at 2 Timothy 2:10? I'll finish up there. 2 Timothy 2:10. We are about in a few moments, to commission the Haiti mission team and I'm excited about that. I'm grateful for these brothers and sisters that they are going to be going forth from our body to minister in Haiti.

Now let me tell you something, Haiti is one of the most tragic countries I've ever seen in my life. It's very, very tough. There's a darkness over Haiti. A spiritual oppression. Voodoo. Political forces. Evil things swirling around in Haiti. Now, my question is, with what kind of boldness and confidence, will these missionaries go forth apart from God's sovereign grace? Look, what Paul says, Therefore in 2 Timothy 2;10, "Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory." That is Paul's secret of staying power in tough ministry. I'm putting up with anything and everything being chained being beaten everything taken from me for one purpose. And what is that? That God's elect might be saved with eternal glory, He says that right there.

Now, when we send this mission team out they're going out to do a certain thing, it's sure and certain absolutely secure, they're going out that God's elect may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. Isn't that marvelous? There's no uncertainty to it, but if it were based on their efforts and based on the free will and the response of those listening, what are their odds of success? Instead they're going out on a certain errand. Amen. So they're going out with courage, they are willing to endure anything, disease and danger and all kinds of things. They're going to one of most dangerous places in this hemisphere that they might take the gospel of Jesus Christ, and they're going with confidence, I hope that Romans nine, tells them that there's some of God's elect in ever tribe, and language, and people, and nation. Let's go find them, they're worth suffering for. Close with me in prayer.

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