Share This Episode
The Bible Study Hour James Boice Logo


The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
December 14, 2020 7:00 am


The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 586 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

December 14, 2020 7:00 am

Its a subject often avoided in church. Its one of the most debated topics of Christian theology: its the doctrine of Election. When it comes to salvation, has God really chosen some and not others? Is Gods process arbitrary and should it discourage us from evangelism? In this message, Dr. Boice tackles the tough questions concerning election.

Truth for Life
Alistair Begg
Encouraging Word
Don Wilton
The Truth Pulpit
Don Green
Grace To You
John MacArthur
The Voice of Sovereign Grace
Doug Agnew
Running to Win
Erwin Lutzer

It's a subject often avoid it in church. It's one of the most debated topics of Christian theology. It's the doctrine of election when it comes to salvation has God really chosen some and not others is God's process arbitrary and should discourage us from evangelism in this message. Dr. James Boyce tackles the tough questions concerning election and welcome to the Bible study with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act quickly. The gospel is described in Scripture as a stumbling block is a truth that will confront us and cut our ego to the core and the doctrine of election seems to cut the deepest are we prepared to accept in humility the fact that we have absolutely no part in the work of our salvation is a very wonderful thing to be told as Paul does tell us in Ephesians 13 that God has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. But as soon as were told that we immediately want to ask how it is that these great spiritual blessings come to us all calls and spiritual. He says they're in the heavenly realms. The difficulty is that we are not spiritual and we are not in the heavenly realms where on earth, so he asked how do we make contact with these blessings and how do we come actually to possess them.

Now we can think of a number of wrong ways ways in which we might think they could come to us, but in fact they don't, we could suppose for example that the blessings of heaven might become ours by force that is air up there and we could take them is what Satan tried to do the difficulty of course is that far from conquering heaven. Satan was himself conquered.

God is all-powerful and he is Lord of all we could imagine.

Perhaps we can earn these blessings may be if we would pay for them.

God would be obliged to give them to us the course of difficulty. There is an heavens. Blessings must be purchased with heavens calling and we don't have any spiritual or heavenly treasure to buy them with. Well, maybe we can inherit them as of the one who is currently their possessor dies, laughs, the one that we're dealing with is the eternal God, who does not die does not change. Well we say maybe God's gracious we could just ask for the and get them because we ask that doesn't work either because if were to believe what the Bible tells us about our sin.

We are on such opposition to God. Apart from the work of his Holy Spirit that we basically in a correct way. Never will ask God for anything. So we asked the question how do blessings become ours in that situation.

This is what Paul answers in Ephesians 1446.

He says it's by God's sovereign act that is by God's election. Here's the way he puts for he that is God chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight, and love the predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the one he loves courting those verses and many others route the word of God spiritual Frazier is imparted to us because it pleases God to do so and for absolutely no other reason. I was doctrine of election which Paul introduces here early in the book is a problem for many people that we want to deal with some of the problems people have with it before we do that we need to look at in the broader way that is in terms of the various options that there are where this doctrine of election is concerned, there are three of them exactly the first is a denial of election outright is simply a rejection. The this is any true doctrine for Christians the argument would go. We're not saying that God does not exercise grace and saving men and women to deny election is not to deny grace necessarily the argument would go the God is certainly gracious in making himself known to us, which is not in nature.

God is even more gracious in revealing himself to us personally, which is not in Jesus Christ. God is gracious and explaining the way of salvation in Scripture.

God is even gracious in sending men and women with the gospel of Jesus Christ of a fallen world, to proclaim the way of salvation.

All of that is wonderful. All of that is gracious not say the people who object to election.

That is where grace stops offer is made. Salvation is provided whether the person actually is saved or not depends not upon God but upon human being and the supposed choices for good or supposed ability to exercise faith which human beings according to this theory, I have gospel is preached, but whether we respond to it ultimately is not the doing of God but is something that emerges from our own mind and heart. This is of course a denial of election.

The strength of that position is that it appeals stops in terms of what we want to think about our own natural abilities. We all like to think that were in control of things including spiritual things, but the difficulty is that it runs counter to the explicit teaching of Scripture. Because if there's one thing that is clear when you begin to look at this doctrine in the Bible. It's that the Bible whether we like it or not, does teach election John Stott calls election a divine revelation, not a human speculation Martin Lloyd Jones refers to this teaching is a statement not an argument should JC Ryland great sermon on election has a portion of it, in which he lists 11 tax including Ephesians 1 for the teach election and then in which he challenges his hearers are his readers to consider each of those texts well. It's hard to imagine anybody doing this that is actually studying the text carefully without coming to the conclusion that whether we like it or not election is at least the teaching of the word of God of the second option is to admit election but to understand it as election based on foreknowledge. This is something of a mediating position and it goes like this. God certainly elects salvation because the word of God teaches that he does elect the selection of his is based upon something that he foresees in people to whom the gospel was preached. He foresees perhaps faith that they'll believe and so we elects them salvation on the basis of their faith or he foresees some good in them, which he can plan bring to fruition. And so we elects them on the basis of that good Re: foresees that they will make a spiritual choice choice for godliness is opposed to a choice for ungodliness and so we elects them on the basis of that choice. Well, that's the theory. Difficulty with it. Of course, first obvious difficulty is that if that's what election is it hardly worthy of the name election because this is in the case of God electing anyone at all. This is a question of our electing ourselves the question of God predestined dating. It's a question of our predestinated we're the ones that decide and so God in this system waits upon our decision.

Although he may have made his decision and eternity on the basis of his foreknowledge, but our decision is antecedent to his own. The other objection than the weighty one is this. If our hearts are really is hard, and our spirits are is dead as the Bible declares them to be what possible good could God foresee in those to whom the gospel is preached to see if it were possible to say that individuals of their own free will can exercise that would quality of faith, then they are not depraved as the Bible says they are. There is some little bit of good in them them on the other hand, they are as depraved spiritually as the Bible says they are, then God could wait a million years for human beings to do something that would lead them in the direction of salvation and he would wait in vain because it would not happen.

John Calvin, as you might expect, saw this quite clearly and Calvin in one place, put it like this. How could God foresee that which cannot be for we know that all Adam's offspring is corrupted and that we do not have the skill to think one good thought of doing well, and much less, therefore, are we able to commence to do good, although God should wait 100,000 years for us if we could remain so long in the world. Yet it's certain that we should never come to him, nor do anything else but increase the mischief continually to our own condemnation short the longer men live in the world. The deeper they plunge themselves into their own damnation and therefore God could not foresee what was not in us before he himself put it into us by the way of saying the same thing is to talk about depravity and ask the question how far did men and women fall in the fall is when Adam and Eve sentence.

How extensive was their sin and how far did that corruption extend another have been various theories of the fall. Some have imagined that when Adam sinned man did not fall downward on the contrary, he fell upward.

This is the view of secular evolutionists that man is just getting better and better all the time that would be a nice thing to believe.

Unfortunately only have to read the daily newspaper and recognize that the human race is been around for a long time to understand that's just not so. This second view is that man indeed fell but didn't fall all the way. That is, he didn't fall the whole way to the bottom of the well in the sense that the is hopelessly lost in sin and can do anything for himself, but rather he found in the sensitivities corrupted by sin contaminated by sin, but nevertheless still possesses within him that little spark which is able to latch on to the gospel when the gospel is proclaimed as of the view of Arminians and Pelagius who was even before that accident argument that St. Augustine contended again so strongly in his day and then there's the third view in the third view is that when men fell they indeed felt I felt all way to the bottom and there they lie hopelessly lost in sin until God by grace reaches down and does something in them that is able to leave them out of that hopeless condemnation of sin to faith in Christ. Now the question is what does Scripture teach here.

I remind you of its teaching the Bible says that we are dead in trespasses and sins.

How much good can a dead man do Bible says there is no one who seeks God not seeking God how can we possibly believe in him and the gospel is preached.

Jesus declared no one can come to me unless the father who sent me draws him the father who has sent Christ first was brought then that is election about human ability written in Genesis. The Lord saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time so I asked what good could God possibly see in hearts that are dead in trespasses and sins in which every inclination is only evil all the time.

What good could God anticipate in people who cannot come to him and do not even seek him unless he first draws them to himself. That's a situation as the Bible says that it is in the only way in which any man or woman could ever be.

Say as if God first of all on his own initiative reaches out to them in Jesus Christ provide the way of their salvation and then through the work of the Holy Spirit to open their blind eyes to the truth of the gospel to regenerate their souls and change their understanding. So then by their re-created or spiritual wills. They will respond to the gospel is preached.

Apart from that, all of us. According to Scripture ago, our own way unerringly.

The third position. Of course, is precisely that that God elects, pure and simple. That salvation is from God, from first to last, and that if we respond in faith as we certainly must do it is because God is there beforehand. First of all, leading us to do it, and as a result of that all glory goes to God and not the fallen men and women now as I say to people who object to this are many objections election as a doctor has been around for a long time, and because people don't like it they have invented a lot of objections down through the years, but let me deal with just two of the objection that election is a doctrine is arbitrary and secondly that election if things really happen that way is unjust when people criticize this docket as being arbitrary, what they mean is not that it is arbitrary for man's point of view, but that is arbitrary from God's point of view is it gone for no reason whatsoever, simply chooses one and abandons another in the question might be raised by those who think along these lines, well if he does that by saving one and not another.

Why couldn't he say, the other not the one. Why doesn't he just do it the other way around, or why doesn't he save everybody or why doesn't he say nobody Isaiah soon as we get to that point when we begin to ask the question why of all of this is arbitrary.

Doesn't God save no one at all. We begin to get the answer to the question because in these very verses of Ephesians, Paul says, in speaking of God's election that it is to the praise of his glorious grace soon as you begin to talk about that you're talking not about something which is arbitrary, but that which has purpose God's purpose is to glorify himself through the salvation of some well all right someone says but why does he do it that way. Granted he has to save at least one glorify his grace but in that case, why doesn't he save everyone or why does he save the ones he does know those are important questions, but the point I want to make is that those are questions of an entirely different order. When we ask when we say is God arbitrary election. When we asked why does God save one rather than another were dealing with God's ways we have to admit, quite frankly, that we just don't have the answer to those questions we might have intimations of why we think perhaps God is done it the way he has done it.

We might device theories to explain what God is after this whole great big process of election salvation, which is ultimately the meaning of history, but we don't really know that you see at that point all we are saying and we obviously should say it is that we are not God. We do not think is God thinks we can't know all the God knows and when you're dealing with an endeavor dislodges this.

It's quite understandable that we simply cannot know it all, we have to simply say as Paul does, that God predestined in accordance with his good pleasure and well and we have to let it go at that. There is this other objection. The objection that election is unjust. The argument would go wannabes just has to give an opportunity. Everybody either glass to save all or gas to save no one or we have to throw election out and say the God simply preaches or makes known the gospel in Summerside and some are lost in the basis of their own decision to say. I wonder if having talked about depravity. Anybody really and seriously raise that kind of objection a choice choice. Why we've had a choice.

We exercised our choice of our choice always apart from the grace of God is to reject him to go our own way. As Calvin said, even of God should wait around for 100,000 years, assuming that we could last that long.

We would never choose it. As far as justice goes, what is it that justice requires. In the case of rebellious sinful sinners whose thoughts are always evil all the time. Justice demands condemnation, justice of God is what sends men and women to hell say it's not justice that we want from God's grace. That's what election is all about grace you say but doesn't God have to show soon as you begin to talk. Those ways are not talking about grace anymore.

One has to do something it's not grace. Grace is God out of his sheer good purpose and will saving some talk about the problems election the people see the objections to election people raise. Let me talk as I wrap this up about the blessings of election.

They should be talked about more. Therefore, first of all, election eliminates boasting people imagine it's not like that when Christians begin to talk about election somebody doesn't understand what the Bible teaches about depravity was supposed that for a person to say that he or she is a like this. Just about the most arrogant thing anybody could ever say is almost intolerable for someone to claim that there elect why that is to say they suppose that there is something more valuable about you than somebody else.

Are you done some good that the other person hasn't done yet. You see, that's exactly the opposite of what election means election if it is based on the sheer good pleasure of God means that there is nothing in us. Therefore, far from being a cause for boasting election is actually that which humbles us before God and eliminates boasting altogether. Imagine how it would be if our salvation. In the final analysis dependent upon something that's found in us. There's a person who maintains that then who believes that he or she is saying because of the faith. The exercised what we asked Sunday you're going to stand in heaven we say and they're going to be people who were there with you, and they're going to be other people were not and the question were going to ask you in that situation. Is this how come you're here. How come those other people aren't pleasant.

The grace of Jesus Christ sufficient for them in our person is going to have to say well yes of course it wants and were going to save me since some of those cases wasn't the gospel preached to them so they had an opportunity to believe in our person is going to have to say yes. In many cases the gospel was preached and they did have opportunity to believe.

All right then we come back to your first question, why isn't in a situation like that you are here and they are not at that point the person has to answer something like this they have to say.

Well now I hate. I hate to do this because I'm in heaven, and heaven is a place where people are supposed to be praising God, but you are asking for the truth in your pressing me at this point and so I have to be truthful and I have to admit though I don't like to do that here in heaven.

I would rather you didn't ask me the question, but I have to admit that the reason I am here and they are not is that I had something they didn't have in that thing that I had was faith in you see at that point, however great, however small, we may imagine our faith today that point. Some of the glorious taken away from God and is given the fallen men and women, and there is room for boasting in heaven or may not be much, maybe one half of 1%. Nevertheless, that little bit is what got me here in the lack of it is what kept them out. Election eliminates all of that eliminates boasting in humbles everyone before God. Second blessing of election as election gives assurance salvation.

Suppose were otherwise suppose our salvation.

The final analysis dependent upon us. While it did it would be as unstable as we are we at other times in our lives and we seem to be strong in faith, we find it easy to believe in their other times were shaken. Sometimes things come into our lives and shake us profoundly. If that was the case. Well, then it would just sort of be up for grabs. Whether you and I regardless of what kind of spiritual experience we have ever are going to get to heaven.

On the other hand, you see, if election in the final analysis is grounded in the choice of God that we can rest assured in that because God is immutable. God does not change God's choices strand and they stand only for this life for all eternity. Calvin and his discussion of this text found this doctrine of assurance in the matter of adoption which verse five says is the result of our election God predestined us to be adopted as his sons and daughters through Jesus Christ adopted means being brought into God's family. It means having the ability to call God father well says Calvin.

How can we possibly do that unless we know that we really are saved by God as a result of his election he said in order to be a Christian you have to pray you never going to pray the very first words we have to audit according to the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ are our father and we don't know the God is our father, then those words are hypocrisy, or at best their presumption on though he says you see in order to be a Christian, you have to know you're a Christian, you have to know that depends upon God and not upon yourself. The third blessing of election is that election leads to holiness. Others on the suppose the opposite. They say oh no, it's not that way you see if I'm saying well that I'm saved and there's nothing I can do about it and therefore I can go on and live however I like and if I sin that's all right, God's going to save me anyway work that way because that's not what election is. You notice when it refers to election for the first time in this chapter, Paul says he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight infuses the sin he chose us not to sin.

He didn't choose us to ungodliness. He chose us to godliness and that we are not going on in holiness. We are not growing in grace. We are not chosen because election holiness go together. Ultimately, as many commentators say the only way you can know whether your elect is whether you're actually growing in holiness. As Paul says we will and this is last blessing the blessing that comes from elections relationship to evangelism election promotes evangelism. You say how so how can election promotes evangelism.

If God's going to save them well and you say that I don't have to do anything about it. Now it doesn't work that way either because you see the very fact that God elects people that is very fact that God determines the ends does not mean that God is not at the same time determine the means by which those ends are affected. Those means are part of the election process. God is determined, the mammon and women are to be saved by the proclamation of the gospel says in first Corinthians by the foolishness of preaching men and women believe it's as those who already know Jesus Christ testified to Jesus Christ as those were commissioned to preach the gospel preached the gospel. Men and women are say. So you see far from undercutting evangelism so we don't go to other people with the gospel election actively encourages us because it gives us strength and courage as we go. I asked this question, we go the talk of the people about the gospel and as we go. If God does not elect to salvation. That is, if God does not determine of his own free will, by his own power to bring about that change in men and women that we call regeneration so they respond when the gospel is preached about does not do that and cannot do that without as we might suppose violating the free will of the individual are violating some external moral law. If God can't do that.

How in the world did you and I possibly hope to do it. If God is important where the salvation of the center is concerned. How can you and I be anything other than impotent sin. It wasn't for election.

I wouldn't bother for a second to try to preach the gospel because of God can save them. I know prickly well that I can't just leave it the other way around. If God does the work and if God by that same electing process uses the means and if the means of the sharing and preaching of the gospel and when I take that word and share it with other people.

I can be encouraged and what I do all I don't know who's going to come I don't knows a lack the only way I'm ever going to know that ultimately is whether they responding to one in the Christian life. But I can know that God is going to accomplish his will.

His sovereign evocations will in their lives simply because that will is sovereign and efficacious, so I go that gospel. I say using the invitation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Whosoever will make comment you well come, and take Jesus Christ free and I rejoice as God works to bring that one and that one that one to faith in the Savior, and thus bring all glory to his name spread our father a doctrine like this humbles us we know we like to think that somehow we are more in charge of things and salvation than we actually are the same time when we recognize that salvation is of the Lord.

We acknowledge that that does not therefore mean that we have nothing to do so.

We take up the challenge that you give us with all the more joy you determination knowing that you are pleased through the work of your messengers to save those whom you have determined before the creation of the world to save for the rake is bold in that ministry and turn our eyes increasingly from what we are able to do what you have done the praise of your great glory and eternal grace.

Jesus, you are listening to the Bible study hour with a Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce, a listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals.

The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by.

We seek to provide Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place. Alliance broadcasting includes the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce every last word with Bible teacher, Dr. Philip Reich and Dr. Barnhouse in the Bible featuring Donald Barnhouse.

For more information on the alliance including a free introductory package for first-time callers or to make a contribution. Please call toll-free 1-800-488-1888. Again, that's 1-800-488-1888.

You can also write the alliance at Box 2000, Philadelphia PA 19103 or you can visit us for Canadian smell. Those 2237 Rouge Hills Dr., Scarborough, ON, and 1C, two line 9 ask for your free resource catalog between books, audio commentaries, booklets, videos, and a wealth of other materials from outstanding reformed teachers and theologian.

Thank you again for your continued support and for listening to Bible study

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime