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Grace in Eternity

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
April 11, 2020 12:01 am

Grace in Eternity

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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April 11, 2020 12:01 am

The book of Romans is filled with lofty theology and soaring doxologies for the God who reigns over all and works all things for His glory. Today, Steven Lawson continues his overview of the doctrines of grace in Romans to focus on God’s sovereign election and Christ’s definite atonement.

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In Romans 1129 Paul says that the call of God is revocable. That is a strong word. My friend, it cannot be altered, it cannot be changed as those whom God chose in eternity past, it is certain that at the appointed time under the appointed means God will bring them to himself, that is a strong word but will be studying God's sovereignty and salvation today is Dr. Steven Lawson continues his series, foundations of grace over the past few weeks here on Renewing Your Mind. Dr. Lawson is been tracing passages that show us arson. God's election and how God calls people to himself today will see that the apostle Paul shuns a bright light on these doctrines of grace, we find ourselves in this series on the doctrines of grace in the book of Romans. This is about as good as it gets. James Montgomery Boyce once said, if the Bible is a ring.

The book of Romans is the diamond on that ring and he went further and said the apex cut of that diamond is Romans chapter 8. That's exactly where we find ourselves as we begin now this new segment in this series.

The apostle Paul is the writer of the book of Romans, and he is the avid defender of sovereign grace. He understands well. He was saved by sovereign grace on that road to Damascus. He was not looking for Christ. He was not looking for the gospel. He was looking to persecute the church and in a moment the Lord appeared to him, not Tim off his high horse and he became a trophy of God's grace and it was said to him that you are a chosen instrument of mine from the moment of his conversion Paul understood that he had been sovereignly chosen by God, not only for service but for salvation and throughout his ministry as he preached and he talked this was ever at the forefront of his teaching, and as we read the book of Romans we read loud and clear.

This truth of the sovereign grace of God, not to this point we have already looked at the doctrine of total depravity or radical corruption, and we want to now in this session talk about the doctrine of sovereign election.

This is a towering tree that is taught throughout the Bible, but here in the book of Romans, it receives special attention in Romans eight, nine and 11, Paul narrows his focus upon this truth of the unconditional sovereign election of God of individual sinners from before the foundation of the world. If you have your Bible, I would invite you to turn with me to Romans chapter 8 and verse 29. There are more verses that I'm going to be able to cover in the frustration for me is is that I'm not going to be able to get my arms around everything that I want to say to you, but working to cover the mountain peaks and it really begins in Romans chapter 8 and in verse 29. This golden chain of salvation in verse 29 for those whom he foreknew he also predestined and in verse 30 and continues those whom he predestined he called in those whom he called he justified, and those whom he justified, he glorified what is so beautiful about these verses is a begins in eternity past and it consummates an eternity future that this covers the full span of God's salvation and in eternity past these two words for new and predestined just leap off the page and we need to discuss this as we begin our our thoughts on sovereign election. I know what some people think when they come to verse 29. They go oh I know what this means. This means God looks down the tunnel of time to see who will choose him. And then God. Upon seeing that God will choose them back with all heard that strawman of an argument and I want you to know.

Nothing could be further from the truth and fact that idea is really grounded.

I think in paganism and ingest idolatrous thought that has no basis in the word of God whatsoever and only give you a couple reasons why. First of all, God has never looked into the future and learned anything that would be such an idolatrous demeaning view of God that there is some knowledge outside of God that he is acquiring as he looks into the future. Know the fact is God is omniscient and God knows everything immediately, eternally, perfectly and so God is never learned anything further.

This is for those whom he foreknew this does not say what he foresaw is has whom he foreknew if it said what that would be dealing with events and circumstances and conversions, but it does not say what it's whom its individuals. And the reality is that the word for knowledge means those whom God previously chose to love the word knowledge means to love in Genesis 4, verse one. Adam knew his wife and she conceived and gave birth to a child. The word no even beginning in Genesis and all the way through the Bible is synonymous for whom God chose to love in an intimate personal way. My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me and I given to them eternal life.

The word for added as a prefix means whom he chose to live previously and we know from the rest of the Bible that that refers to before the foundation of the world. So in Romans 829 Paul makes a very strong statement that those whom God previously chose to love and in the next chapter in Romans nine he will say Jacob I loved, and Esau I hated.

And from foreknowledge and predestination in the word for predestination means that the destination is determined before the journey begins it literally in the Greek means to mark out the horizon in the future. In other words, you know, the destination and it is already determined before you ever arrives there and so predestination follows foreknowledge in the sense that predestination makes it either revocable. It cannot be altered or changed so in Romans eight very strong statement on the sovereign electing love of God whom we come to Romans nine, it actually becomes much stronger. In fact, Romans nine is the Mount Everest on this subject.

And while some people can make an individual verse say something other than what it really says it's impossible to reroute an entire chapter in the Bible and cause it to say other than what it says in Romans chapter 9 Paul makes as strong a statement series of statements as we find anywhere in the Bible and beginning in verse 11. I'm going to have to just select some individual verses here. Trust me, I wish I could pull over and do the whole series on Romans chapter 9 but just to to gather some of the key thoughts in verse 11 we read, for though the twins were not yet born and execute freight not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God's purpose according to his choice would stand, not because of works but of him who calls.

Nothing could be any clearer than what Paul is saying here that before Jacob and Esau were even conceived in the womb, God had already made a determinative choice by which he would choose one for salvation, and the other would be passed over for this salvation in verse 12. The next verse. It was said to her, the older will serve the younger. And this shows how unexpected God's choices are because we would have thought the older would have been chosen in the younger would have been passed over at the normal birth order was that the blessing would go to the older son. But here God reverses and it just shows that God's ways are above our ways and his thoughts above our thoughts. In verse 13, just as it is written, Jacob I loved in and Esau I hated heat. He loved Jacob and set his heart upon Jacob and not because of anything good in Jacob verse 11 made that clear.

This originates in the heart and the mind and the will of God alone.

God did not love Jacob because of Jacob. God loved Jacob in spite of Jacob actually what I don't understand is how God could love Jacob I do understand how God could hate Esau, because Esau was a sinner just like you and me and there was every reason for God holy God to to reject Jacob and to pass him over. Then in verse 14 what shall we say then there is no injustice with God is there and Paul answers with the strongest negatives in the entire Greek language make annoyed tone, may it never be an end, Paul raises an imaginary objector who would say well that's not fair will what's not fair is for Jacob to go to heaven. What is fair is for Esau to go to hell you and I do not want fair. We do not want justice with God. We want mercy and grace from God. And so Paul exposes the fallacy of someone's thinking if you were to say well that's not fair for God to choose one and not the other will what's not fair is for God to show mercy to any if God were to show mercy to just one. It would be amazing Grace that he has chosen a vast number so large that the apostle John could not even counted when he was in heaven. And so he says in verse 15.

I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.

This is God speaking and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion and what this is something is that God is absolutely free to bestow his mercy upon whom ever he so chooses, because no one has a claim to his mercy.

We only have a claim to his wrath. In reality we all are deserving wrath for God to give mercy that means he is free to bestow such compassion on whom ever he would so choose.

And then in verse 16 in Romans nine he says so then it does not depend on the man who wills are on the man who runs but on God who has mercy that verse is so crystal clear is not hard to understand is just hard to swallow. That is an enormous portion of theology that says bottom line for all of our salvation. It did not depend on us. It depended entirely upon God. And so it did not originate with our will making a choice to believe in Jesus Christ. We did choose to believe in Christ but only with the faith that God gave us and we'll talk about that later, but it originated not in our will within time, it originated with God's will in eternity past everything is is originating with God and that's why in Romans 1136. Later he will cite for from him and through him and to him are all things to God be the glory forever and ever. Amen. So everything is proceeding from God in eternity past, and then in verses 17 and 18 we see what a discriminating choice. God is made for the Scripture says to Pharaoh for this very purpose. I raised you up to demonstrate my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth, so he has mercy on whom he desires and he hardens whom he desires.

It's it's in the hands of God to do what pleases him. And what most honors him and God chooses to pour out mercy on some and God chooses to pour out grass on others and then in verse 19. You will say to me then and Paul anticipates another imaginary objector. He's a very skilled debater, Paul, and so it says if you say I know what you're thinking you will say to me then why then does he still find fault for who can resist his will and Paul comes down hard on that question in verse 20 and 21 as if to say who are you who do you think you are to call God into account you have crossed the line with God.

Your question is too arrogant and it is too brazen.

You just stop and go no further and so he will say in verse 20. On the contrary, who are you, oh man, who answers back to God and that was God doesn't owe you an explanation for why he does what he does and why he does it dissenting molded will not say to the molder. Why did you make me like this sort is not the potter have a right over the clay to make from the same lot one vessel for honorable use and another for common use and here Paul uses the imagery drawn from the book of Jeremiah chapter 18, in which all humanity is pictured like clay martyred and defiled it and and plagued with sin and God is the potter who can fashion out of this clay whatsoever pleases him.

And so God is pictured here as fashioning vessels of honor and vessels dishonor for common use, and God can use one to glorify himself by putting his mercy and grace on display and God can bring glory to himself with the other by putting his wrath and his patients on display in verse 22 of this monumental chapter we read what is God although willing to demonstrate his wrath and to make his power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction and he did so to make known the riches of his glory upon vessels of mercy, which he prepared beforehand for glory. Even us, whom he also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. You know, there are some clever people who try to reinterpret this is saying will this is not God choosing for salvation is God choosing for service alone and say there's far more going on here than being a nursery worker were talking about eternal destinies were talking about being a vessel of grace or a vessel of wrath and the issue here is God choosing to give salvation to those whom he has chosen to save and passing over the others and allowing them to remain in their sin and to receive the due penalty of their sin as they justly deserve run as chapter 9 is the Mount Everest in the Bible on this doctrine of sovereign election.

He continues into Chapter 11. In verse two. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew or do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah how he pleads with God against Israel know those whom God foreknew it is. It is in the ear revocable sovereign choice that he has made.

In fact, in verse 29 he will say for the gifts and the calling of God are ear revocable that that is a strong word. My friend EE cannot be altered, it cannot be changed.

Those whom God chose in eternity past, it is certain that at the appointed time under the appointed means God will bring them to himself and then in Romans 11 verses five and six.

He speaks of God's gracious choice in Romans 11 verse seven he talks about those who were chosen, they have obtained it and the rest were hardened, but I think this gives us a sampling very quickly of God's sovereign election. In the book of Romans so much more can be said that not only do we see sovereign election.

We also see definite atonement and I would have to quickly look at it. Some of these verses, but I would bring to your attention. First, in Romans four verses 23 to 25 it says he who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification, who is the hour. Well, it's very obvious in this context the hour refers to believers. He doesn't speak of the world, he doesn't speak of every person that he speaks of those who are justified and those who have a right standing before God, and it is these for whom Christ died, Christ died for his sheep he died for his church.

He did not die for the whole world. If he died for the whole world and the whole world would be saved as we come to Romans chapter 5 we we see in verses 12 to 21 Adam in the second Adam, the first Adam represents all humanity and what he did has affected the whole human race. When he sin we all sin. But there is the Lord Jesus Christ who is the second Adam and what he has done has affected his people and what he did was to die upon the cross for the sins of his new humanity. Those who are chosen and those who are elect, but an even greater argument comes in Romans chapter 8 we read that if God is for us, who is against us. Verse 31 he who did not spare his own son, but delivered him over for us all. So the question is who is the us all well in the context in the Bible student can easily see that it refers to those who are foreknown. Those who are predestined, those who are called justified and glorified. In fact, he goes on to identify them in the next verse who will bring a charge against God's elect. God is the one he justifies it was the one who condemns Christ Jesus is he who died who intercedes for us. You see the intercession that Christ is making right now at the right hand of God the father is for believers only had John 17 nine says I do not intercede for the world. I intercede for those whom you have given me and those for whom Jesus is interceding at the right hand of the father are the very same ones for whom he interceded upon Calvary's cross that there is a continuity in his intercession between his heavenly intercession at the right hand of the father and his earthly intercession as he died upon the cross for the sins of his people in Romans chapter 8 it is crystal clear that those for whom Jesus died are those whom the father chose and gave to him and not a drop of his blood was wasted upon the cross that Jesus did not die in vain for any further whom he died.

All for whom he bore their sins upon the cross, he is taken that sin far far away and there is now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. What a glorious truth, it is that not only has the father chosen us before time began, but the sun has also died for us and it was a triumphant victorious death upon the cross, not one drop of defeat there at Calvary. All for whom Christ died will receive the fullness of the riches of his grace, God gives great understanding into these verses because they are verses that honor and glorify God the father and son. We should finish where we began with a quote from bully James Montgomery Boyce. If the Bible is a ring. The book of Romans is the diamond on that ring and the apex cut of that diamond is Romans chapter 8 Dr. Steven Morse. It is been our teacher today your on Renewing Your Mind showing us the beauty of the gospel from the book of Romans. Each Saturday we returned to Dr. Lawson series, foundations of grace. New Testament the doctrines of grace teaches that, apart from Jesus were dead, a nurse, unable to save ourselves. We see clearly that our creator must give us hearts of flesh rather than hearts of stone. If were to have a right standing before God.

Learning about God's sovereignty of salvation brings us joy and comfort in you can request this 24 message series by Dr. Lawson well-suited to use our way of saying thank you for your donation of any about to look at her ministries. There are a couple ways you can reach us to make your request, you can go online to renewing your mud.org or you can call us at 800-435-4343. What a way to look at her ministries has produced hundreds of resources to help you learn about the doctrines of grace. One of those resources is table talk magazine. Each issue deals with a particular theme in this month's theme is on misunderstood Christian doctrines also for daily devotions in table talk and other articles that will help you grow in your knowledge of God and his holiness. You can learn more when you go to table talk magazine.com will in order for the gospel to reach someone they have to first hear about it. But how does it get from the ear to the heart Dr. Lawson will explain better the pages of Romans next week here on renewing the mind, we hope you'll join us


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