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The Return of the Seventy-Two

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
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September 11, 2022 12:01 am

The Return of the Seventy-Two

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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September 11, 2022 12:01 am

Not only did Jesus teach the doctrine of election--He rejoiced in this truth. Today, R.C. Sproul continues his exposition in the gospel of Luke, examining a surprising prayer of Christ's that should cause us also to rejoice that we have been granted the grace to trust in Him.

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Coming up next on Renewing Your Mind… As we will see today on Renewing Your Mind, the Scriptures give us clear, direct, and solid answers.

We're continuing Dr. R.C. Sproul's series through the Gospel of Luke today, and we'll pick up in chapter 10, verse 21. Before I look at the text this morning, I want to ask you a simple question. If you are a Christian, surely you have relatives or friends that you know who are not believers. And you know people who have heard the same gospel that you have heard, that gospel to which you responded positively and affirmatively and cherish in your heart, while others that you know have rejected it out of hand. So, my question is this. Why is it that when you heard the gospel, you said yes, and your friend said no?

Let's consider some of the options for a second. Is it because you are more righteous than your friend? I hope that's not your answer. I trust that that's not your answer, because if it is your answer, it's the wrong answer. Second of all, maybe it's because you're more intelligent than your friend who has rejected it. Again, that's probably unlikely. And even if it were the case, we would have to ask from whence cometh your intelligence.

Is that something that you earned or merited by your study for which your friend is lacking and negligent? I hope that's not your answer. I hope your answer in part is at least informed by the bulletin of our church.

We're on the back page every week. We print the solas of the Protestant Reformation, including our doctrine of Scripture, our doctrine of justification, our doctrine of Christ, and the fourth sola sola gratia, which teaches that our salvation rests solely on the work of God's grace for us and in us. The only correct answer we can give to the question why you're a believer and your friend isn't is there but for the grace of God go I. We are not believers based on any merit of our own but purely by the grace of God. Now, those friends that you may be thinking of or relatives who are presently unbelievers may still become believers before they pass away, and we hope that that will be the case.

But what we're looking at here is, in a very practical sense, the doctrine of election, that doctrine that produces so much controversy. In fact, every time I preach on it or near it, I fully expect to lose half of this congregation. And in fact, two weeks ago, I did preach on it with respect to the joy that Jesus told us to have, that our names are written in heaven.

And so far, most of our congregation is still with us. But now, I want to look at this text because as I said, in my opinion, it's the most strange prayer the New Testament ever records coming from the lips of Jesus. We're told in verse 21, in that hour, Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit. In fact, if you look at this brief passage, you will see that it is Trinitarian through and through. It has reference to the Father, reference to the incarnate Son, and here, reference to the Holy Spirit, by which Jesus is moved on this occasion to a profound sense of joy. Now, remember, there wasn't three weeks between what Jesus said here and what He said in the previous line that I preached on three weeks ago here. We've had that gap in time.

There was no such gap when these statements were made. And remember, Jesus was telling His disciples that they shouldn't be rejoicing in the power that they had received from God, but rather that their names were written in heaven. And now, after speaking about their joy, the Spirit visits Jesus in a unique way and producing an extraordinary sense of joy in our Savior. And here comes that strange prayer. Under the Spirit's leading, Jesus says, I thank you, Father. That's this translation. Other translations read, I praise you Father. So, we don't know for sure whether Jesus' prayer at this point is a prayer of praise or a prayer of thanksgiving, but in either case, the sentiment is the same. Here, the text says, I thank you, Father, for what? First of all, He identifies who the Father is, Lord of heaven and earth. You're my Father, and you are Lord.

You are Adonai. You are the sovereign one, not only over heaven, but over earth and everything in it. By your providence, you govern all things. And so, as Jesus makes this prayer of praise or thanksgiving, He acknowledges the sovereignty, the absolute sovereignty of His Father over all things.

And here is the crux of the matter. Thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and the prudent and revealed them to babes. Here is Jesus before His death, before Jonathan Edwards lived, before Paul even wrote Romans.

Jesus already understood the doctrine of election, and Jesus rejoiced in it. Notice He doesn't come to the Father, the sovereign one of heaven and earth, and say, Why, Father, are there so many people to whom I preach who walk away in unbelief? Isn't there anything more you can do to help these people come alive in faith and embrace the gospel of the kingdom that I've been preaching to them? Father, why don't you save them?

Instead, to our apparent astonishment, Jesus thanks the Father not only for not opening the eyes of the unbelievers, but He thanks the Father for concealing the truths from them. I've had people say to me, Oh, I believe in predestination, but not double predestination. I believe that, yes, God does from all eternity elect some people unto salvation, but He leaves the rest to themselves and gives them the opportunity to come.

There's no flip side to election. There's no such thing as reprobation. There's no such thing that from all eternity God has decreed that certain people will indeed be passed over. This is one of the most difficult aspects of the doctrine that we have to deal with, is it not? I think we would agree that God has the power and the authority to save everybody. But I think we also agree that He does not use that power or that authority to save everybody. One friend of mine who is a theologian with whom I have profound disagreements has gone on record for saying that God saves as many people as He possibly can. And I say, Oh, you're a universalist.

He said, Oh, no, no, no, no. As he says, the Holy Spirit is a gentleman, and God will never bring somebody to faith who doesn't want to come. To do so would be to violate the human will. I said, if that's the case, you are a universalist in the other direction because nobody would come unless God the Holy Spirit gives them the disposition so to do, which is as clear a teaching that we ever get from the Lord Jesus. But what I'm saying here is God, for His eternal purposes, looks at a fallen humanity, what Augustine called a mass of perdition, and He chooses to give justice to some and mercy to others. He chooses to give the grace of salvation to some and to withhold it from others.

And of course, the protest that you hear all the time about that is the exclamation, that's not fair. But God is not an entitlement deity. He knows that no sinner deserves salvation. No sinner even deserves the opportunity for salvation. The only thing that we've ever deserved from God, dear friends, is eternal damnation because by nature we are in revolt and in rebellion against His authority and His sovereignty.

He owes us nothing. That's the essence of grace is that it's undeserved and that it is unmerited altogether. And so when we think that God owes us something, we either don't know who we are or we don't know who He is. And now the question is, why does He give grace to some and not to others?

The answer is, why not? As Paul anticipated the response to that when he spells this out in Romans 9, he asks the rhetorical question, what then? Is there unrighteousness in God? What then? Is God not fair?

What then? Is God unjust? And he reminds his readers of what God had said to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.

That's God's prerogative. And so for His eternal purposes and ultimately for His glory and for the glory of His only begotten Son, God from all eternity has a plan of salvation by which He intends to work in space and time to bring some sinners to repentance, to faith, and to salvation. And He plans to open their eyes to reveal to them the sweetness and loveliness of Christ.

If you see the loveliness of Jesus this morning, I ask you, where did that sight come from? You know, like Paul on the road to Damascus, he saw the light, not because he was looking for Christ. He was looking to destroy Christ.

He had no interest in the kingdom of Christ other than to extinguish it. But God in His sovereign mercy threw him to the ground and revealed to him who Jesus is. Now, obviously, God didn't do that for Pontius Pilate.

He didn't do it for Caiaphas. But He did it for Saul of Tarsus, and He did it for me. But again, it's not simply that God doesn't reveal Christ to everyone in a passive manner, but He actually conceals Christ from people. That's the hard part. As we will see later, God willing, as we look at the parables that are in Luke, that the parables had a double-edged purpose to reveal the truth to some and to conceal it from others. And this is where we struggle.

But here's what I want us to get this morning if you don't get anything else. Jesus praised God and thanked God, not only for revealing it to some, but for concealing it from others. How can He do that other than the incarnate Son of God's sheer delight in the perfection of His Father and of His Father's plan for which the second person of the Trinity and the third were in full agreement with the Father from all eternity and even in His incarnation and witnessing and feeling and receiving the fury of the rejection of people against Him?

Even then, Jesus knew that the Father's will was being accomplished and He could delight in it. Again, I thank you, Father, that You have hidden these things from the wise and the prudent. Particularly the wise and the prudent are the ones who are mentioned.

We talk about the intelligentsia. You think of all the brilliant scholars in the world today who, with magnificent acumen and academic brilliance, are blind to the basic truths of God. I'm thinking of two well-known naturalist philosophers and scientists, both of whom teach that the universe came into being from nothing. One of them says that the universe not only can come into being from nothing, but certainly will come into being from nothing. That gives an awful lot of power to nothing.

Now, the other one is even perhaps more famous. When asked about how it was possible for the universe to come into being from nothing, he answered this question by saying that it started with fluctuations, and out of the fluctuations ultimately came the Big Bang. Now, the question obviously that any schoolboy would want to raise his hand if he heard this professor, a little third-grade Johnny would raise his hand and say, Excuse me, sir, but what was it that was fluctuating? And this naturalist would have to say, Well, nothing, of course.

But when nothing starts to fluctuate, you better look out because a big explosion is about to come on its heels. I mean, this is nonsense. This is absolute nonsense by unbelievably learned and brilliant people that the world considers wise and prudent. And Jesus says, I thank you that you've kept it from those people who are wise in their own conceits, who set their own minds above the wisdom of God, who have no fear of God in their hearts. Thank you, Father, for hiding these things from them and revealing them to babes.

Then he says, Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in your sight. When we ask the question of the Scriptures, why is it that God chooses to save some but not all? The answer that the Scripture gives is for the good pleasure of His will.

Now, I believe that every word of sacred Scripture is inspired by the Holy Ghost, but I also know that sometimes the Holy Ghost has to condescend to our weakness of understanding and stoop to our frailty of mind and sometimes even give Himself or our benefit over to redundancy. I ask the question, is it really necessary for the Scriptures to speak of God's pleasure as being a good pleasure? What other kind of pleasure could it possibly be? Anything that pleases God, anything that gives pleasure to God is good. God doesn't have an evil pleasure, only a good pleasure. But here it is again, it seemed good in your sight. Now, Jesus is not suggesting that the goodness and righteousness of election was something that was only apparently good to God.

It just seemed to be good. No, this is just simply a manner of speaking as it were, because obviously whatever seems to be the case in the divine scrutiny is indeed the case, not simply a matter of external appearance. Then Jesus goes on to say, all things, everything, all things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father and who the Father is except the Son and the One to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. People don't really know who God is until the Son reveals to us who He is. And the Son wills to reveal the character and nature of the Father to His people.

Nobody really knows who Jesus is except the Father and those to whom the Father is pleased to reveal Him. You know, this church is 16 years old now, and I preached one series here through the book of Acts, but this is the fourth gospel that I've been preaching through in the last 16 years. And some people have asked me, isn't there anything else in the Bible besides the gospels that you keep preaching through the gospels?

Well, I can tell you this, if there were a fifth one, that would be next, God willing, because you can't get too much Jesus. And the gospels focus their attention on who He is, and this is why we're here, to learn of Him, to know Him, to adore Him, and to serve Him. Then He turned to His disciples and said privately, blessed are the eyes which see the things that you see. Do you realize how blessed you are, John, Peter, James, Thaddeus? Let me tell you how blessed you are that prophets and kings in the Old Testament desired to see what you see, and they have not seen it, and to hear what you hear and haven't heard it. If Jesus were here this morning, He could say to you, blessed are you who have understood what you understand. Blessed are you who hear what you have heard, because there are millions of people in this world today who have never heard it, never understood it, never seen it, and what a blessed thing it is that you get to hear it. Every Sunday morning, every time you open your Bible, every time you get on your knees, this is our joy, unspeakable joy for which we've done nothing to earn it. There, but for the grace of God, go we. And those of us who are the recipients of that unspeakable joy have our marching orders, don't we? We have an immense responsibility. We've heard these things.

We've experienced these things, and we must share and explain these things to a lost and dying world. We've studied from Luke chapter 10 today here on Renewing Your Mind as we continue Dr. R. C. Sproul's sermon series through Luke's Gospel. Every Sunday, we return to Luke so that by the end of the series, Dr. Sproul will have covered the entire book. A helpful study companion for you is Dr. Sproul's commentary on this Gospel.

In 600 pages, R.C. traces the record of Jesus' life as told by Luke. This digital download will help you understand how the life and teachings of Jesus apply to your life. Drawn from decades of careful study and delivered from a pastor's heart, Dr. Sproul's commentary is readable, practical, and thoroughly Bible-centered. Request a digital download when you give a donation of any amount to Ligonier Ministries. Our offices are closed on the Lord's Day, but you can give your gift and make your request online at At Ligonier Ministries, we're aiming to develop the world's largest library of discipleship resources faithful to the historic Christian faith. In the next three years, our goal is to distribute this trusted teaching to the world's top 20 languages in an effective and sustainable way, and your gifts make that possible. So on behalf of all of my colleagues here at Ligonier Ministries, thank you. I'm Lee Webb. Thank you for joining us today, and I hope you'll come back next week as we continue Dr. Sproul's series through the Gospel of Luke, here on Renewing Your Mind.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-26 17:53:24 / 2023-02-26 18:01:04 / 8

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