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Justice, Mercy, & Grace

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
November 23, 2020 12:01 am

Justice, Mercy, & Grace

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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November 23, 2020 12:01 am

If you think God owes people mercy, you're no longer thinking about mercy. Today, R.C. Sproul considers the relationship between God's mercy and justice in the doctrine of election.

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Is further to say that most Christians believe that God is sovereign people mean by saying they believe the sort of God that they believe in God has authority over his creation. But as soon as you asked the question about the sovereignty of grace.

That's when people start jumping off about because they don't want to believe that God has the authority to grant his mercy and grace as he will yet it was God who said to Moses, I will show mercy on whom I will show mercy so early on in Scripture God is declaring his sovereignty over salvation. Welcome to Renewing Your Mind on this Monday timely web in the this week we are pleased to bring you several messages from Dr. RC Sproul series on predestination and if you're tempted to jump off the boat is RC mentioned in that brief clip that we urge you to stay on board, we think you'll find this study helpful and encouraging them to give you little commercial start off with because so many people been asking me about this in the studio audience at the lecture that I have written a book for laypersons on this doctrine of election, entitled chosen by God, and it really surprised about that book. For this reason, when I wrote it I felt like I'm probably speaking to the choir here and that the only people who ever will read this book will be people who are already persuaded of the doctrine of predestination and maybe will have some value to shore them up and help them go a little deeper into it, but what has actually happened has completely amazingly I have literally on speaking literally now heard from thousands of people who have told me that the reading of that book persuaded them to change their mind on this doctrine and that they now embrace the historic Augustinian view of that and that is please me greatly and what they have said, and this is the feedback I'm getting from the layperson is that the book is help them understand many of the difficult questions that attend this doctrine. So I just mentioned that to you in passing, but I mentioned in our last time as we were looking at Romans nine that Paul anticipates the biggest objection that people raise against the doctrine of election, namely that this would cast a shadow on the righteousness of God. It would make God seem to be somehow on Jost and Paul raises the question in Romans nine is there on righteousness in God and he answers his own question by saying absolutely not. And then verse 15 of Romans chapter 9 says this for he says to Moses, I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion. So then this is the conclusion it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs God who shows mercy now in circles in which I travel and hear about discussions on the doctrine of predestination or of election. Sometimes the lingo and the language the nomenclature that I hear out there is that the Augustinian doctrine of election notice of not calling it the Calvinistic doctrine of election because that raises the hackles on everybody's neck because Calvin is been so maligned that again. I want you to know that Calvin really did not write a flat match on this doctrine and what he did write it already been written in greater detail by Luther and earlier by Augustine and it's more appropriate to identify this historic position with Augustine than it is with Calvin so often in the nomenclature of those who discuss this doctrine. They will refer to doctrines surrounding the concept of election as the doctrines of grace. I like that designation because it puts the accident were the law because the focal point of the biblical doctrine of election is the concept of the grace of God. Let's start there today. What are we talking about when were talking about grace grace is defined most simply by the phrase on merited favor that is when we receive grace from God.

We receive a blessing or a favor or some benefit from his hand that we have not deserved. We have not earned. We have not merited it comes up gratuitously simply from the wideness of his mercy to us now again this is where Paul directs our thinking when the question is raised is there on righteousness in God and he says absolutely not.

And then he immediately reminds the Roman Christians who are to receive this letter in this epistle from his hand of what God had already revealed in the Old Testament to Moses, where God said, I will have mercy upon whom I will have mercy and I will have compassion upon whom I will have compassion that the first thing we have to understand about God's grace is that grace is sovereign grace is something that God is never obligated to give God doesn't owe anybody grace.

Think about this for a moment if God owed us grace. It wouldn't be grace, justice, justice is something that is due as a reward or as a punishment for certain forms of behavior. Grace is not required, and God always and everywhere reserves the right of what I call cosmic executive clemency. This is executive privilege on his part. He can be merciful, to whom he wants to be merciful that he can withhold his mercy or his grace.

From whomever he decides to withhold that mercy for whatever reason he is inclined. So to do in order to accomplish his purposes. Not our agenda. Now Paul, at least in the English translation memory from asked this question were look at again. Is there unrighteousness in God and ask that question is to answer it. The answer is absolutely no there is no unrighteousness in God. But let me just play with this tweak this a little bit and asked the question somewhat differently.

Is there no one righteousness in God.

The answer to that question is yes, there is no one righteousness for more specifically non-justice in God not notice I didn't say unrighteousness for injustice. I said no unrighteousness for non-justice not not just playing games here with this, but I want to take some time to explain what I'm talking about here. I'm going to my blackboard and I'm going to ask my students out there listening on the radio to use their visual imagination. Now and try to imagine this handsome man to have the people where laughing when it is going to the blackboard, which is really a green board that I have my piece of chalk and I'm going to draw a circle, as if I were to make a happy face and I'm going to put this word in that circle, justice, or if you want (inside the circle righteousness. Melissa circle in which I put the word justice or righteousness represents a concept.

The concept of just mass or righteousness if you will know if we have a category called justice or righteousness than anything that is not a part of this circle. Anything that falls outside of this circle would be what we call non-justice for non-righteousness + with rev.

These two categories, justice and non-justice for righteousness and non-righteousness. Those are mutually exclusive categories. Those circles cannot overlap or intersect because non-justice refers to everything outside of the circle for the category of justice with me.

So for okay now I'm going to put a second circle on my board, only this time I'm going to put that circle on the outside of the perimeter of the first circle so that the first circle is now inside the second circle now. Everything in the second circle the outer circle is still non-justice or non-righteousness. Now I'm going to just a little bit more artwork and this is all you have to do now with your imagination is that I'm going to draw a vertical line at the top of the two circles that splits in half.

The outer circle just a short little line that divides the top half of the outer circle.

I hope this descriptive enough for you to visualize and then at the bottom.

I'm going to draw another vertical line like that so that now my outer circle has been divided into two half circles looks like a crescent moon not done that for this reason, even though this outer circle represents the category of non-justice.

There are different kinds of non-justice to kinds of non-justice that are most important for our consideration in their crescent to the right. That is one half of that outer circle.

I'm going to write the word injustice in the other crescent on the left.

I'm going to write mercy or grace. But if you can visualize this little diagram that I've made for you.

Let's talk about it for a minute.

The whole point of this picture is to explain this simple idea that there different kinds of non-justice and different kinds of non-righteousness, injustice or unrighteousness. Those are categories of evil, and they are absolutely antithetical to righteousness for justice. If God ever did anything that was unjust or unrighteousness, or in just gave he committed an injustice against anyone. He would no longer be a righteous God, he would no longer be good.

Woody now the other side of my second circle has the category of mercy for grace. Is there anything wrong with a holy, righteous, God being gracious or being merciful, that would not be evil for a just and righteous being to grant mercy or grace because grace and mercy are good things that are not bad things.

Whereas unrighteousness is bad, that I sent picture make another picture on the board listened to any real simple. I'm going to write a bunch of stick figures on my blackboard and display my artistic skill or lack of it where we have a group of say seven or eight little stick men on the board and these these figures represent a group of people.

Now when we talk about the doctrine of election. We understand that some people receive the grace of election and some do not. So I'm going to just take my piece of chalk and draw a circle around four of these people in the group and then I'm going to put a circle around the rest. Now in the first circle are the folks who receive grace.

The other group receive from God's hand justice that is the elect receive the grace of God. The non-elect receive the justice of God by going too fast.

The elect receive grace or mercy. The non-elect receive justice smell so far, has anybody in my picture been a victim of God's injustice or unrighteousness. Of course not. And this is what Paul is getting at here. When he asked the question, is there unrighteousness of God.

The question is asked because God's grace is not given equally to everybody and since God gives a gracious gift to Jacob that he doesn't give to Esau. This seems like it's not fair because the protest goes like that if I give grace to one person, then I must give grace to everybody else. Right is not the way we think that's the American way.

That's the Democratic way, but let's take an analogy drawn from prisoners who had been convicted of murder in the 1st, and the governor of the state decides to execute executive clemency and to pardon one of those criminals know that criminal does not deserve to be pardon he deserves to be executed. He has escaped justice and he's received mercy. Now suppose the governor does not choose to pardon the other convicted murderers and they are punished, have they been unjustly punished course not. They receive justice, the other person received grace not asking this is it necessary if the governor pardon is one that he must therefore pardon all I would ask you by what law is it so that if one receives mercy.

Everybody has to receive mercy that would be true only if justice requires it, but were not talking about justice here were talking about non-justice were talking about mercy were talking about grace and this is what Paul is reminding the readers of Romans very emphatically that God had already said this to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy and I will have compassion upon whom I will have compassion. This is one of the most crucial concepts to understand about biblical Christianity.

In this one. Few of us really ever grasp because as I've said before, I've never met a Christian who said to me, they did not believe in the sovereignty of God. Every Christian will say yes. I believe in the sermon God. But when you begin to probe people and asked them how they understand the sovereignty of God. It takes about five minutes before there's not very much sovereignty left people mean by saying they believe the sermon God that they believe in God has authority over his creation, or that he has power over his creation, and those are aspects of God's sovereignty, but as soon as you asked the question about the sovereignty of grace. That's when people start jumping off the boat because they don't want to believe that God has the authority or the right to grant his mercy and grace as he will. And that's what's at stake in this discussion and no if God were committing an injustice in all of this I could understand the wailing and protest of it all, and of God looked at a world filled with innocent people and decided to save some, and damn others. There would be injustice in God. There would be on righteousness in God but only once in all of history has God ever punished an innocent man, and that was only after that innocent man willingly for the sake of the elect assumed the culpability of the sin of his people and once the sin your sin. My sin was transferred to Jesus. Jesus in the sight of God is no longer innocent. He's innocent in and of himself, but by amputation. He's now the quintessential embodiment of evil. In one sense, the most obscene concentration of wickedness that ever occurred on this planet was on the cross.

When Christ took sins of millions of people on his own person on his own back and it was only after that transfer, for which he was willing to submit that God punished him.

So in reality, God is never ever punished an innocent person because it would be unrighteous and unjust for God to do that God doesn't do that. And so when we think about this difficult question of election and of God's choosing. You have to understand that when God makes his decision and he is contemplating those whom he will save or not say he is contemplating them as fallen people.

God's question is not am I going to rescue some innocent people and allow other innocent people perish, but his question is just like the governors question and going to exercise grace and mercy to some guilty people and the rest of the people allow them to receive my justice to see the beauty in this is that in God's sovereign election, both his marvelous grace and mercy are manifested and his relentless commitment to justice is also made manifest the biblical doctrine of predestination that this perhaps is the most difficult theological concept we have took to wrestle with. It seems to pick what we think is fair against the perfect sovereignty of God. But as we heard the doctor.

RC Sproul explained today, those objections fall flat. God is never unfair, wearing portions of this helpful series by Dr. Spruill this week on Renewing Your Mind. I hope you'll be able to join us each day.

RC had the rare ability to take complicated theological concepts like this and make them easy to grasp his series on predestination is no exception.

We like to send you the complete series to just contact us with a donation of any amount to look at ministries and you can do that by going to Renewing Your Mind.org and therefore today this is an online offer only.

Again the web address Renewing Your Mind.org every two years later ministries conducts a poll to see what Americans think about Jesus, the Bible truth and ethics. The results of our most recent state of theology survey are in the they bear out what Dr. Sproat was talking about today. One of the questions we posed was this God chose the people he would say before he created the world 50% disagreed, while 26% agreed. That means that a majority of Christians in America think that God limits his sovereignty when it comes to salvation.

That's why we emphasize these theological concepts that are greatly misunderstood in the church, we encourage you to explore the results of her most recent poll that you can do that by going to the state of theology.com before we go today. Here's RC with a final thought force. Grace is an easy concept to define as unmerited favor to get that idea from our brains into our bloodstream is one of the most difficult tasks in the Christian life and to get it to stay there the stick. There is even more difficult and I like to say to my students in the seminary that the minute you begin to think that God owes you mercy or owes anyone mercy let a bell go off in your brain. Let an alarm buzzer sound a warning that says to tilt. You are no longer thinking about mercy because again mercy that is required is not mercy. If we think that God owes us grace. Thinking about grace were now thinking about justice and the other thing I say to my students as I've said to you, though never asked God for justice. You might get it because the worst thing you can ever happen to me would be to receive the full measure of God's justice from his hand. The only way I can draw a breath in this world and the only way I can even hope of going to heaven is by his sovereign grace.

Some argue that if God's election is not based on anything we do must be fickle in cruel or serious accusations that kind of thinking questions the very goodness of God. So join us tomorrow as RC examines the reasons why God gives grace to some and not others. That's Tuesday on Renewing Your Mind


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