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The Divine Initiative

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
October 9, 2020 12:01 am

The Divine Initiative

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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October 9, 2020 12:01 am

The Lord does not need us in order to accomplish His plan of redemption. Still, He has appointed our evangelism as His means of sovereignly calling His people to Himself. Today, R.C. Sproul encourages us to embrace the privilege of sharing our faith.

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To say that RC Sproul admired Martin Luther would be an understatement. Hello this is Lee web host of Renewing Your Mind. RC loved Luther's passion for the biblical gospel and his courage to defend it. That's why I think he would thoroughly enjoy a new podcast religion are ministries coming October 10.

It's called Luther in real time.

Take a listen to this. I think you want to subscribe October 10 1520. The Jiminy man places a document in the hands of a monk by the name of Martin Lisa. The most powerful person in the world has declared effectively a heretic. Lisa has 60 days to recount the site communicate with folks doing time to sanity is take exactly 500 years after the events occurred. Join Martin Luther that week by week, in real time as his fight draws closer and closer for the second so I can either save a Christian speak against you.

I cannot find position for five times.

I often wish that God, in real time you pulled because polygamy ministries, the clock starts ticking on October 10 if it's true, but God sovereignly predestines certain fixed number of people to be say is by an immutable decree, then why should we be involved in evangelism may be the most asked question in the topic of predestination. God is in charge of salvation does he really need us to share the gospel with people as well here today on Renewing Your Mind, Dr. RC Sproul has a compelling answer. In fact it's one we can't ignore. Come now to the last of our series of lectures on the theme of predestination and throughout this series.

I've made references from time to time to Paul's teaching on this matter. In his letter to the church of Ephesus, and in this session I want to consider further what we call in theology the divine initiative referring to that first step of salvation that is brought to pass in our lives unilaterally and exclusively by the power of God and we see this in this passage in Ephesians 2 that I have made occasional reference to, and I like to spend a little bit more time on it now, let's look if we may, at chapter 2 of Ephesians where Paul says and you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience, and among them we too all formerly lived in the loss of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. What we find in this passage are descriptive terms of the radical character of man's fallenness with talked about moral inability we have avoided the use of the language of Calvinism, which describes man's situation as that of total depravity, a term that has become very very controversial in Christian circles and is part of the famous acrostic that Calvinist use to delineate the so-called five points of Calvinism, Tulip TULIPT standing for total depravity you for unconditional election held for limited atonement for irresistible grace and P for perseverance of the saints, but usually don't get further than the tea before the controversy boils over and here's one of those occasions where acrostic switcher are little devices that function as aids for our memory sometimes do more damage than they're worth. Because total depravity is a very misleading term. People confused total depravity with what we would call utter depravity that is that man is as bad as he could possibly be anybody who believes that no matter how sinful we are. We can always conceive of ourselves of having done worsens than we have done in the even sin more often than we in fact do so there's not a boss who is utterly the prey, and remember when we speak of sinners and of human corruption were talking about the fall of a creature who was created good and are being created in the image of God is not annihilated or erased even by our sinfulness.

There still tremendous value to human beings and we must do everything we can to protect the dignity of a human thing. The term total depravity was coined to mean that sin affects the whole person that the total absence of our humanity is fallen, that is, our minds are fallen, our wills are falling. Our bodies are fallen, the whole person is caught up in this fallenness.

I prefer to speak of radical corruption. The problem is that turns Tulip in the room looked and ruins the acrostic but I like the term radical corruption because the meaning of radical historically is that it comes from the Latin word products which means in the point of radical corruption is that our fallenness is not just a tangential thing or politically old thing and accidental blemish, that's merely on the surface of our humanity that sin is something that goes to the very core of our existence penetrates to the root of the tree well here in this text Paul is giving some statements that indicate the seriousness of our fallenness where he says you were dead in your trespasses and sins.

Elsewhere he speaks of being under the power of sin in bondage to sin. Children of wrath children of the devil, that sort of thing. It's not a very pleasant picture of natural, fallen man, but again he says that this was our previous state that we were dead in trespasses and sins in which you formerly walked. How did we walk. We walked according to the course of this world. We walked the way the world walks, which is not in the way that God would have us to walk earlier Paul had spoken of the fact that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. There is none righteous, no not one. There's not even who does good, there is none who seeks after God we are altogether unprofitable. We have all gone out of the way.

You remember the Christians were first called people of the way but are natural way is not God's way.

We walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, that is, we were being obedient and loyal, to whom Satan is the prince of the part of the year and we walked according to the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the loss of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh of the mind, and were by nature the children of wrath, even as the rest. That's a very, very grim portrait of man's fallenness. Well the next word I believe is the most important word in the New Testament with respect to this doctrine of God's sovereign grace I think is so important. Harped on this thing so many times that in one class I was teaching a woman went to the trouble and the bother to embroider a sign that spelled out this word for me this word the gospel is only good news when we understand the badness the Gospels only gospel when we first understand the law and our situation under the law.

Here we are dead in sin and trespasses walking according to the flesh, low loss of the flesh and someone walking like those who are under the spirit of disobedience. Children of wrath.God.God who is rich in mercy, not by we who still had an island of righteousness finally lifted ourselves up from our bootstraps or inclined ourselves to change our ways but man who is powerful, morally said no to this wicked course and quicken himself from the dead. That's not what the Bible says it says… Who is rich in mercy has made us alive, quickened us even when we were dead in our transgressions. When I hear evangelical Christians talk about what happens in conversion.

I hear two analogies frequently illustrations designed to communicate to our minds what really happens. Maybe you heard the first goes like this that fallen man is not healthy. He's very very sick.

Indeed he is sick unto death, and he is in the terminal illness Ward of the hospital. There's nothing that man can possibly do to heal himself.

He's almost comatose.

Death is certain unless medicine is administered to that man. He will surely die.

So God provides the medicine God himself pours the medicine on the spoon and God himself comes to that man in his parched lips and his semi-comatose condition as is lying on his deathbed, and he reports that spoon right at the lips of the main but at that moment the man can either accept the medicine or refuse the medicine and if he opens his mouth, God will pour the medicine in his mouth and it will save him but if he keeps his lips clenched tightly. Then he will not receive the necessary cure so that analogy shows that man is in very very serious condition, but he still alive when I hear God saying if he comes into the room after the doctor has pronounced that man dad and he brings them back to life.

The second illustration is like the first time I times we heard the evangelist site that fallen man's condition is like a person who does not know how to swim, who is fallen overboard and is been removed distance from the ship over what she's fallen and he can swim and he's gone down on the water twice and now he's going under. For the third time. In fact, the only thing that's above the surface of the water. The tips of his finger. Unless God throws him a life preserver. He will surely draw and so God throws the life preserver in positions of perfectly so.

The life preserver comes right against the man's fingertips is going on in the water. The last time. All a man has to do is bend his fingers to grasp the life preserver and God will haul him to safety, so that God does 99% but man still has that 1% left that he must do before he is born again what I hear Paul saying here is that God quickens us when we are dead. A better analogy would be that the man has gone under. For the third time and he's at the bottom of the sea and God dives in the water and he takes that dead man that corpse from the bottom of the sea and brings a lot of the dryland and he leans over and he gives him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and he brings his life and that man and that man is restored from the dead.

That's what the Bible is saying about the divine initiative that first step of quickening from the dead from the flesh on the spirit transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light is accomplished by God, not by me and of course after God quickens us then we choose. Then we believe then we embrace Christ, we repent we do all those things because were alive now to the things of God but the first step the initiative, the being made alive from the dead is the work of God in the work of God alone. For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God not as a result of works, that no one should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

I will one of the deepest questions that this racist when we think about this divine initiative. If God is the one who has to rescue that dead man from the bottom of the sea that God is the one who has to let's merely administer medicine but resurrect a corpse than what in the world is the purpose of evangelist is not a question we all think about and raise that in light of God's sovereignty and in light of the whole concept of predestination. If God is decreed from all eternity that certain people were saved and certainly those people will be saved with or without my bearing witness, with or without my preaching the gospel. Why then should we be concerned about evangelism.

My favorite story about this took place when I was in seminary when I was studying in a classroom with Dr. John Gerstner at Pittsburgh seminary who is the king of the predestinarians and were about 20 of us in the class and we were seated in a semi circle and a sorry gentlemen if it's true, but God sovereignly predestines a certain fixed number of people to be say is fine, immutable decree, then why should we be involved in evangelism and he left that question hanging in the air and he started to call on the students to answer the question and I'll never forget how relieved I was because I was at the extreme right of that semi circle and he started on the left side and I for help while I glad I don't have to answer that. So he looks at the first third nieces so well, Mr. so-and-so, what would you say he said for Dr. Gerstner. I don't know.

I've always wondered about that myself so he struck out the ghost of the next ball in the next phalluses breached me all the way down the line and never getting perilously close to me and there was a sense of expectation mounting in the classroom. I felt like Socrates and one of Plato's dialogue work after all these other people these lesser mortals give answers to these profound questions that may sound okay until Socrates speaks it really blows everybody away and not that I'm going to be on Nazi here. Well, sure enough, they went all around the room. Nobody can answer Dr. question, so I came to me when I'm squirming, so I tried to answer questions well and I'm sure this is and what you're looking for Dr. Gerstner. I know that there's something far more profound than this, that must be the answer to this question, but one small reason why we ought to be involved in evangelism is the answer. Well, you know, Jesus commands us to do evangelism does make a gusher started laughing on his diabolical way. They said course, Mistress brought what could possibly be more insignificant reason to do evangelism in the Jesus commands you to slip the Savior said all the Lord God Almighty should either command that you think about moving possibly one small reason why you should be in good boy.

The more he will on those small chair or wait a minute, but I never forgot the point they said the chief reason why we do evangelism. In light of the sovereignty of God is because God is sovereign and God has not only sovereignly decreed the end that is the goal of the redemption of people, but he also has sovereignly decreed the means. Toward that end is chosen, the foolishness of preaching as the means by which he will bring people salvation and he has commanded his church to carry out that program of evangelism and he said what I'll take care of the election, but you do the preaching. You do the witnessing. That is your responsibility that this he need me know he doesn't need me. God doesn't need me to fulfill his plan he could do without me. He has the power to do it without but he is chosen to do it with me and by me and through me in with you and by you and through you.

So we see here that evangelism is first of all, a duty that second of all we need to understand this evangelism is an unspeakable privilege.

What a privilege I was reading a book on fundraising.

I need to read books like that renown and dreadfully dull, boring, and this fellow was writing the book had been ahead of the fundraising campaign for Harvard University and he said there are some fundamental principles you need understand about fundraising and he said the first law is this you have to be aware of the fact that every human being wants to have a significant part in a significant enterprise.

So if you give the people the vision for what you are doing and let them become a part of it. Then they will respond because they want to be a part of a significant cause if you and so course, the author the book saying exploit that, he argues that, keep that in mind, well I think it's true though is that that we want our lives to count. We don't want to be meaningless ciphers in this world we want to participate in significant some of we could say look at my left hand say see that ring that ring indicates that I played for the Super Bowl champions 1975 people really is and how wild Adalat significant lettering like all I do in my life. I don't play for the Pittsburgh Steelers are not a member of the president's cabinet.

All I do is work every day for the King of Kings Saul. I do want to be more insignificant than that. All I get to do in my work I get paid to do this is to work in the most significant enterprise that God has ever created in the ancient world. The word gospel first meant good message or good news, and communications of critical events was a very, very serious matter to the ancient person or the armies would go out into battle and not come back for two years and the people away for two years and not know what I want I will so any time there was a pivotal battle if the forces wonder if they lost they would dispatch a messenger, a marathon runner who would run back to the hometown unless he would run into the town that he would announce the outcome of this decisive battle to the people and the townspeople would have lookouts posted at high points to scan the horizon to watch for the coming messenger and they would see the DOS start the fly long before they would see a person that would get their attention and then stare into the distance and watch the configurations of the basketball and they would watch and the first thing they would see would be the way the feet were pumping up and down as they ran up the mountain and down the other side of the mountain and those who were good at being lookouts could tell before the messenger arrived. Weather was good news, bad news because the man that was running to declare victory would run with his chest on his arms pumping a smile on his face and his feet really going home of your joggers develop the survivals shuffle is best when you're gonna jargon like this before you get off the ground right is Robin Sirota's the survival shuffle is what it's called and I've experienced that more than once.

And that's the way guys who came with bad news would approach the city gates, forlorn, discouraged, cast down, but then you see somebody whose feet were fly and his socks were on fire from the distance with good news and the lookout withdraws out of the air and say we so the prophet says how beautiful on the mountain of the feet of him who brings good tidings who publishes peace. I know that it was God who brought me to Christ, but he used to me who told me the gospel and I will never forget that me in the matter what that man ever does, I will always love him because humanly he cared enough to be the instrument that God was pleased to use to bring me to Jesus Christ. How would you like to know that God used your testimony you act of charity group bearing witness to your neighbor as the catalyst for that person's eternal son. Why evangelize because man is the highest amazing to think about that isn't it. Our meager efforts are used by God to introduce the good news of the gospel to others.

It really is a privilege. As we heard today it first has to be a work of God all week on Renewing Your Mind.

We have aired Dr. RC Sproul's classic series chosen by God and we like to help you in your study by sending you the entire teaching series. When you give a donation of any amount will send you the two DVD set.

Our telephone number is 800-435-4343 or you can make a request to give your gift You may have picked up and listening to today's message that RC was riding on a chalkboard in the that really was one of his trademarks and when you receive this series, you'll actually see him riding on the chalkboard so call us today with your gift of any amount at 800-435-4343 will send you the series chosen by God or web address again is Renewing Your doctrine of predestination can only be understood when we rightly grasp who God is. With that in mind next week. We welcome Dr. Steven Lawson as he teaches his series, the attribute of God.

We hope you'll join us, right here on Renewing Your Mind

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