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Grace in the Law

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
May 16, 2023 12:01 am

Grace in the Law

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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May 16, 2023 12:01 am

God chose to save His people--not because we have so much to offer Him, but in spite of the fact that we have nothing to give. Today, Steven Lawson shows how God's sovereign grace and love are intertwined in the book of Deuteronomy.

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The Lord did not set His love on you, or choose you, because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you are the fewest of all peoples. Now, please note, God didn't choose them because they had so much to offer God.

No, they had so little to offer God, is why He chose them, and we know that in 1 Corinthians 1, verse 26, He says, not many mighty, not many noble, as He called and chosen, but He's taken the base things of the world, the despised, the nobodies, the nothings of the world, so that when He uses us, greater glory goes to God, not to us. If someone asked you to prove from the Bible that God is totally sovereign over salvation, where would you turn? Perhaps you would look to the book of Romans, or the words of Jesus in John 6, but would you ever turn to the book of Deuteronomy?

Hi, I'm Nathan W. Bingham, and thank you for joining us today for Renewing Your Mind. This week, Ligonier Teaching Fellow Stephen Lawson is helping us better understand the doctrines of grace, and is demonstrating that these truths are not restricted to certain books of the Bible or particular proof texts, but can actually be found in both the Old and the New Testaments, in fact, in every book of the Bible. And today, he turns our attention to Deuteronomy, which makes it clear that it is God who saves, and He is redeeming a particular people for Himself.

Here's Dr. Lawson. The book of Deuteronomy is a very important book in the Old Testament. In fact, it is from this book that Jesus quotes more than any other book. It could be argued that the book of Deuteronomy was our Lord's favorite book of written Scripture during His earthly ministry. As we look in the book of Deuteronomy, which is a series of sermons that Moses delivered to the people of God before they would cross the River Jordan into the Promised Land, and as you recall, Joshua would be their leader, and Moses would not be allowed to continue with them.

There are also historical accounts. There is also the reissuing of the law, but there are also the sparkling diamonds of the doctrines of grace that shine through this book. And in particular, I want to direct us in this session to seven different passages in the book of Deuteronomy, and I'd like to take them as they unfold in this book. So, I want you to come with me to chapter 2 and verse 30, Deuteronomy chapter 2 verse 30, and I want you to see the sovereignty of God over the human heart, because there are some people who say, well, God is sovereign, just not over the human heart, that that is the one area in the universe in which God is excluded, and man solely has his own sovereignty over his own life.

Well, that just doesn't hold the test of Scripture. And in Deuteronomy chapter 2, and in verse 30, we read a very straightforward text, in which Sihon, king of Heshbon, was not willing for us, the us refer to the people of God, to pass through his land. They're in route to the promised land, having come out of Egypt and away from Mount Sinai, and they're wanting to pass through this particular portion of land. But the king was not willing for the people of God to pass through his land.

We ask the question, why? Why was he unwilling? Why was he so stubborn and obstinate? And Moses records the answer for us, something that human eyes could never see, but God's omniscience sees this because God caused it. So please note, for the Lord your God hardened his spirit and made his heart obstinate.

Who did that? Was it the devil that did that? Was that he himself that did that, this king? No, very clearly in the passage it says that God hardened his heart, and God made his spirit obstinate, and for a reason, in order to deliver him into your hand as he is today. So, I want you to note that not only does God have the whole world in his hand, he has every heart in his hand. Proverbs 21, verse 1, you want to write that verse down, says, the heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord.

Like rivers of water, he channels it whichever way he will. It's not just that God has believers' hearts in his hand, he has unbelievers' hearts in his hand, and he channels those hearts whichever way he will. So, we begin our look at Deuteronomy with that very strong passage of Scripture. Next, I want you to look, if you will, in chapter 4 and in verse 37, Deuteronomy 4, verse 37, and we see the sovereign election of God, because he, referring to God, loved your fathers, therefore he chose their descendants after them. Here very clearly is God's sovereign choice based upon his unconditional, eternal love. Sometimes people think of the doctrine of election as a harsh doctrine, or a cruel doctrine, and maybe sometimes for many of us, the first time we heard it, it sounded that way, but upon deeper reflection and more careful study, we see that the doctrine of election is one of the most loving doctrines taught in the entire Bible, because left to ourselves, we would never choose God. How loving of God to choose individual sinners for himself. If God didn't choose, then no one would ever choose God. If God did not choose us, we would have never chosen him, but God wanted us for himself. And so, very clearly here, we also see that love and choice are used virtually synonymously in this particular passage.

To love is to choose, and to choose is to love. That's what we read later in Ephesians 1, verse 4 and 5. In love, he predestined us to the adoption of sons.

And in Romans 8, verse 29, the word foreknowledge just simply means whom he previously chose to love with a distinguishing love. So, Moses, here in the book of Deuteronomy, records this jewel for us. Come with me to Deuteronomy 7, verses 6 through 8.

And here we will very clearly see the doctrine of God's sovereign election and sovereign choice. We read in Deuteronomy 7 and in verse 6, For you are a holy people to the Lord your God. Now, question, how did they become a holy people? How did they become a holy possession to the Lord? Did this originate with them? Were they smarter than the other nations?

Were they any better than anyone else on the face of the earth? Well, Moses will tell us now how it was that they became a holy people to the Lord. Notice what is next. The Lord your God has chosen you. This is why you're a holy people. And please note also from this verse that God has not only chosen us for heaven, He's chosen us for holiness. He's not only chosen us for a place, He's chosen us for purity. All who are chosen for heaven give evidence of their election by a changed life, as they live now a pure and holy life.

So, look at this again. For you are a holy people to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession. What a special thing it is to be chosen by God. He hasn't chosen us to simply put us on a shelf over in the corner someplace and to be distant from Him. He has chosen us to be His own possession. And the image there is that He would hold us in His own hand.

He would hold us very close to Himself. He's chosen us for His own possession. Now notice He says, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. Please note, He does not choose all the peoples on the face of the earth to be His own possession. He has chosen us out of all the peoples of the earth. It's like when David went down to the riverbed to select five stones.

Those weren't the only five stones in the riverbed. But He chose these five to suit the purposes that would carry out the bringing down of the giant Goliath, right? Well, He has chosen His people out from among many possibilities. Out from among many people, He has chosen the few.

That's what He has said. And also note, the next verse, how loving and gracious and kind of God this is. The Lord did not set His love on you or choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. Now, please note, God didn't choose them because they had so much to offer God. No, they had so little to offer God is why He chose them. And we know that in 1 Corinthians 1, verse 26, He says, not many mighty, not many noble has He called and chosen, but He's taken the base things of the world, the despised, the nobodies, the nothings of the world so that when He uses us, greater glory goes to God, not to us. I mean, if we were the richest, the smartest, the most handsome, the most beautiful, and God worked through us, on the whole, people would say, no wonder the church is so great.

Look what God had to work with. But when God takes leftovers, like you and me, and I hope I'm not hurting your feelings right now, not many mighty, there are a few that excel in the things of this world, but James 2 will say God has chosen the poor to be rich in faith. These are God's lottery picks.

These are God's first round draft picks. Those that the world has passed over, that's whom God has chosen. And this principle is very clearly taught here in Deuteronomy 7 as it relates to the nation Israel. God chose the nation that was, in essence, the smallest, not the largest. It says He chose you not because you were more in number, but please note, but because the Lord loved you. The reason originated in God Himself. The reason did not originate in the people of God. The choice originated within the heart and in the mind and the will of God. It's a very humbling truth. It's also a very encouraging truth that we can be rejected by the world and passed over by the world, but we have been chosen by God, and we are the ones that God has chosen to work with.

He reached past others who had far more going for them in order to reach to the bottom of the barrel to pick us up and to make us trophies of His grace. There's one more thing that I want you to notice in this verse, again, how synonymously love and choice are used. Would you please note this reads, the Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number, etc., but because the Lord loved you.

Here, love and choice are used interchangeably. And again, it speaks to how kind and gracious and compassionate the doctrine of election is that God would make this choice, and He has set His heart of affection upon us. How could we ever doubt the love of God for us? Because before the foundation of the world, He chose us in love.

He has been loving us for a very long time. And so, Deuteronomy 7 verses 6 and 7 are just simply wonderful passages of Scripture. Now, if you would, go back to Deuteronomy 7. I just wanted you to see this, and in verse 8, it just says, the Lord brought you out by a mighty hand.

Do you see that? Deuteronomy 7 verse 8, those whom He chose are the ones whom He brings out of bondage. All those whom He chose are those who are brought out of bondage. In this case, out of Egyptian bondage, but it serves as the picture for the greater spiritual deliverance of all those who have been chosen by God before time began. He has brought us out of this evil world system.

We're in the world, but we're not of the world, are we? And He has brought us out of darkness, and we are now in the light, and we are walking in the light. And by bringing us out of where we once lived and how we once lived, we make our election sure by the transformation of our life. It's not that our changed life earns our salvation, it's our changed life proves our salvation. And we're saved by faith alone in Christ, but faith is never alone.

Faith always has a twin brother or a twin sister, and it's good works. And we are saved by grace through faith unto good works. And so here, Deuteronomy 7 verse 8, I just didn't want you to miss this, that all those who are chosen are those who are brought out. Now, come to Deuteronomy chapter 10, and I want you to note verses 14 and 15, and we see again the truth of God's sovereign election. Behold, which means don't miss this, behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the highest heaven, the earth and all that is in it. So, this vast domain is all in the hand of God.

But now, He makes a very limited statement. He owns the heavens and the heights of heavens and all of the earth, but now He narrows the focus. Yet on your fathers did the Lord set His affection to love them, and He chose their descendants after them, even you, above all peoples as it is this day. He's got the whole world in His hands, and yet out of the entire world, He has chosen to set His affection upon His chosen ones. He shows a general love for the world. He causes the rain to fall and the just and the unjust. He allows them to enjoy music, allows them to be married, allows them to have the pleasure of having children and grandchildren.

God is good even to the unconverted. But to those whom He has chosen, He has a very special love. It's a redeeming love.

It's an electing love. He loves us in ways far beyond what He loves those who are passed over. And He loved us and chose us.

This says above all peoples. And please note again how love and choice are used interchangeably here in this Deuteronomy 10, 14, and 15 passage. Those whom He loves, He does so because He's chosen them. And those whom He has chosen, He does so because He has loved them with an everlasting love. Alright, come to Deuteronomy 29 and verse 4.

And why do some believe? Why do others not believe? Yet to this day, Deuteronomy 29, 4, the Lord has not given you a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear. This presupposes that unless the Lord does it, you cannot believe and you cannot know that your spiritual eyes are blind until God gives you eyes to see. Your spiritual ears are deaf until He gives you ears to hear His call and to really hear the truth. And your heart is hardened and unbelieving until the Lord gives you a heart to believe. What an extraordinary statement of the sovereign grace of God.

Who is it who has made a difference among us? It is the Lord who makes the difference among us. And those who are passed over, He simply allows them to remain in their sin. It is their own sin, their own choice. But those who are believers do so because the Lord has worked in their heart to do so.

Let me put it to you this way. Everyone in hell is there by their own choice. Everyone in heaven is there by God's choice. Everyone in hell is there because that is the choice they made.

They have chosen to reject the gospel. But those who are on the narrow path headed to life and who are in heaven are there because of God's distinguishing choice. That He wouldn't let us remain where we were. That He intervened into our life and drew us to Himself and He did it with cords of love. Now one more passage, Deuteronomy 30 verse 6. This is an important passage.

I love this text. We'll conclude this session with this verse. Moreover, the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul in order that you may live. Spiritual circumcision is the work of God within the heart. This is not talking about physical circumcision.

Not all Israel is Israel. This is referring to those who are spiritually circumcised. Physical circumcision gets you nothing. Hell is full of people with a physical circumcision. Just like hell is full of people who have been baptized.

That won't get you anything. God must circumcise the heart. And, to be circumcised in the heart means that the sharp two-edged sword of the Word of God has been applied by the power of the Holy Spirit to pierce through the hardness of your heart and cut you to the bone and open you up and allow you to see yourself as God sees you. And, when God opens you up with spiritual circumcision, he takes out your heart of stone, that rotten, filthy, stinking heart with which you were born, obstinate, resistant, without any spiritual life. And, when the truth of God came to you, it was like water on a duck's back.

It just went away. But, when he takes out that heart of stone, he then does a heart transplant and he puts in a heart of flesh. And, it's a heart that's alive. And, it's a heart that has a pulse for God.

And, it's a heart that is receptive to the things of God. And, what you once hated, you now love. And, what you once loved, you now hate.

And, it's a total reversal of affections and desires and a total change of worldview. And, now you see God in everything. And, now you see your purpose is no longer to live for yourself, but to live for the glory of God. This is what God must do. And, so look at this verse again. Deuteronomy 30 and verse 6, the Lord your God will circumcise your heart. This is an inside job that God alone can do.

This is the new birth. And, when God does this, you've got to see this in verse 6, you then love God. Before he circumcised your heart, you didn't love God. You were resistant to God. And, the moment he circumcised your heart, you now love God and not just with a little love, with all of your heart and with all of your soul.

Notice it says, in order that you may live. Before this happened, you weren't living. You just had an existence.

You were just here occupying space. You were, you were just a shell of an empty person without God in your life. Oh, you may have known about God, but you didn't know God. And, you didn't have life. In fact, you were spiritually dead and you just had a mere empty, hollow existence. But, when God circumcises the heart, he gives you a new heart.

And, he puts his life within you. And, now you love God and you love him with all your heart and soul. You now seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. You now take up your cross and you follow the Lord Jesus Christ. This is a work of sovereign grace. This is a work that only God can do. And, all those who are in the kingdom of God have had their hearts pierced and circumcised and cut to the bone with deep conviction, but also with great regeneration, according to his eternal purpose and plan. That was Ligonier Teaching Fellow, Dr. Stephen Lawson, from his Old Testament volume of his Foundations of Grace series.

This particular series has been helpful for many Christians to help them see that the doctrine of God's sovereignty and salvation is not something unique to the New Testament or even the writings of the Apostle Paul, but is found throughout the entire Bible, including the Old Testament. So, if you'd like to continue studying with Dr. Lawson, for your donation of any amount, we'll send you his complete Old Testament volume. It is 14 messages on two DVDs for your donation of any amount. And, when you give your gift at, in addition to sending you this DVD set, you'll receive digital access to all of the messages, as well as the study guide. So, visit and give your gift today, or call us at 800-435-4343. Today is the last day that we're making this Old Testament volume available for your donation of any amount, so I'd encourage you to visit Moving on from the Old Testament, for the rest of the week, Dr. Lawson will consider the doctrines of grace as they're found in the New Testament. So, join us tomorrow here on Renewing Your Mind. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-16 03:44:10 / 2023-05-16 03:53:08 / 9

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