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God’s Electing Love

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
February 15, 2024 12:01 am

God’s Electing Love

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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February 15, 2024 12:01 am

Does God love everyone in the same way? Today, R.C. Sproul teaches on the doctrine of predestination, showing that our election is bound up with the special love that the Lord has for His chosen people.

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We love Him because He first loved us, and that's the power or the triumph of His love that triumphs over our hostility, over our estrangement, and brings us back to Himself in a posture and relationship of love. It's not hard to convince someone that God is a God of love. Your unbelieving friends, co-workers, or neighbours likely believe that if there is a God, surely He is loving and surely He'll let them into heaven. And some Christians add further confusion because they only ever speak of God's love, and not of His holiness, His justice, and as we'll consider today, His sovereignty. Welcome to the Thursday edition of Renewing Your Mind, and this week we've been considering the love of God. If you'd like to study this topic further, tomorrow is the final day to request the entire 11-part series Loved by God with R.C.

Sproul when you give a gift of any amount at renewingyourmind.org. So does God love everyone in the same way? Since God is a God of love, does that mean all people will be saved? Here's Dr. Sproul on the sovereign or electing love of God. As we've been exploring the biblical concept of the love of God, we've noted that God's love as an attribute of His character and of His being must be always understood in connection with all the rest of His attributes. And we've seen how, for example, His love is an eternal love, and that His love is an immutable love, and that His love is a loyal love, a steadfast love, and we've looked at various aspects of the way these other characteristics of God help us understand the nature of His love. Today, I want to look at a somewhat controversial aspect of the love of God, in fact, a dimension of God's love that raises such serious questions in some people's mind that they think that the very idea is somewhat self-contradictory. And I'm talking now about the electing love of God, or another way of stating it, the sovereign love of God. Just as God's love is sovereign, so His sovereignty is a loving sovereignty, and when we come up against the biblical teaching of the doctrine of election, those who embrace this doctrine see within it the consummate manifestation of the eternal love of God, while others who resist the biblical notion of election and predestination struggle with the doctrine's thinking that the whole idea that God would from all eternity elect some people unto salvation, but not all, reflects some kind of shadow side to God's character that obscures the very essence of His love. But when we encounter the teaching of election in the New Testament, we never meet it as an abstract idea, but one that is cloaked and grounded in the love of God itself. Let's take a look then at Paul's letter to the Ephesians in the very first chapter where he introduces this concept. In verse 3 of chapter 1, after Paul identifies himself in his greetings, he says, blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.

Now, in this very short paragraph, there is enough content here to keep us busy for weeks and weeks and weeks, and so we're only going to be able to scratch the surface and skate along the surface today as we look at these introductory remarks by the Apostle Paul. The first thing I want us to notice about the text I just read is that Paul speaks of election, of God's choosing people, and he uses the word upon which many Christians want to choke, namely the word predestination. This is why I frequently say to folks who struggle with this doctrine that if you're going to be biblical in your Christian faith, you have to have some doctrine of predestination, because the idea of predestination does not originate with Martin Luther or Jonathan Edwards or John Calvin or Saint Augustine, but rather the concept of predestination is found right here in the pages of sacred Scripture. It is Paul who uses the term predestination and who introduces the concept here.

So if we're going to be biblical, we're going to have to have some concept of predestination. Now, notice the context in which Paul introduces this mysterious idea. Initially, the motif that provokes Paul's statements here has to do with this word blessing. He begins this section by extolling the magnificence of the grace and glory and mercy of God. His first word is this, blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Why does he extoll God in this way, saying blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? Because it is He who has done what? Who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. He blesses God as a direct response for God's having blessed us and having blessed us not tangentially, but having blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Again, when he adds those terms, in Christ Jesus, he's not just throwing away a little postscript here. At the heart of Paul's understanding of the sovereign electing love of God is that it must always be understood in terms of its relationship to Christ himself.

Now, listen to what he says. As he's talking about the spiritual blessings, he says, just as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world. So, he tells us that God sovereignly chooses his people. The us refers to believers here. Just as he chose us in him, again, in Christ Jesus, when?

Before the foundation of the world. For what purpose or to what end? That we should be holy and without blame before him in love. The goal of predestination is our sanctification.

The purpose of God's sovereign election is to create out of this fallen mass of humanity a holy seed, a redeemed portion, a remnant that will fulfill the original purpose of creation, that human beings might mirror and reflect God's own holiness, God's own character. Remember, the first mandate that we are given is you shall be holy even as I am holy. But we are not holy.

We are profane. We're sinners. And from all eternity, God looks down at this race knowing in advance of its corruption, of its fallenness, and is not willing that the fall should be the final chapter to creation. But rather, out of this mass of fallen humanity, he determines by the great love, or with he loves the world, to redeem a portion of these people in Christ Jesus that they might be what mankind was destined to be in the first place, holy and without blame before him in love. Now, I think the love that he's speaking about is not God's love here, but our love that we are to be people who, having been sanctified by the grace of God, are people who love him and stand before him in a relationship of love rather than a relationship of enmity and hostility. One of the hardest concepts it is to communicate to people in our day is that man, in his normal fallen nature, hates God. Not one person in a hundred who is an unbeliever will admit to that.

They will say, well, I'm indifferent, or I don't really believe in God, or I'm not against God. The biblical view of the natural state of fallen humanity is one of estrangement, of enmity, of hostility that beats within the heart of fallen man towards God. But those who receive the grace of God's sovereign love, love him back. Because we love him because he first loved us. And that's the power or the triumph of his love that triumphs over our hostility, over our estrangement, and brings us back to himself in a posture and relationship of love. So we are chosen in Christ, and we are to be presented before him in love.

And listen in verse 5, having predestined us here now to what? Adoption. We are predestined to be adopted into the family of God. This is the beauty of this sovereign electing love. It is a familial love. It is a love that reaches down to fallen enemies of God. As we saw before, this kind of love that David showed towards Mephibosheth, the love for the sake of Christ, God loves us and adopts us into his family.

Now here's the key word here. He adopts us as sons by Jesus Christ to himself. Do you see throughout this text the relationship of election to Christ? Because in the first instance, the object of God's sovereign electing love is not you, and it's not me, it's Jesus. Jesus is the supreme elect person. He is the beloved, and our election must always be understood in terms of being elected in him, just as we are adopted into him by the love of the Father.

Now notice the next phrase, according to the good pleasure of his will. One of the most frequent objections that people raise against the biblical doctrine of election is the idea that God from all eternity decides to choose some people to be adopted while passing over others. The normal complaint that Paul has to deal with in Romans 9 is that this indicates a certain injustice in God, that God is unfair. But from all eternity, he looks down and he sees a race of people, all who are opposed to him, estranged from him, who hate him. And some of these people receive his mercy, receive his grace.

The rest are passed over and receive justice. These people get exactly what they deserve while these people receive mercy. And again, when Paul teaches that in Romans 9, he anticipates the common objection where people say, that's not fair, and Paul says, is there unrighteousness in God?

God forbid. Because the assumption we make is this, that if all are guilty and God decides to spare some, he must spare everybody. And when we think like that, we don't understand grace at all, because we think grace is something that God must show, something that people deserve. Well, if they deserve it, it's not grace. If they deserve it, it's not mercy. The very essence of mercy is found in its unmerited, undeserved character. And so if God spares one guilty person, he's under no obligation to spare all the rest. We understand that even in our human system of clemency.

If the governor or if the president decides to grant clemency in one situation, he's not obligated to free every prisoner from the penitentiary. This group receives justice. This group receives mercy.

Nobody receives injustice. But again, the question is, well, why does God give His grace to some and not to others? It must be because those who receive the grace have done something to earn it.

They've done something that these people haven't. The idea that's most common is that God offers His grace to all of these people, and those who respond to it positively receive it. Those who stiff arm that grace miss out on it. So in the final analysis, the ultimate decision rests down here rather than with God, which is the exact opposite of what the Apostle labors in the ninth chapter of Romans and even here. On what basis does God make this selection? Well, if it's not on the basis of something that we do, if the reason for our election is not found in us, as most people want to believe, which would then make it not gracious, then the charge that comes is not that God's unfair, but that He's arbitrary, that He's whimsical, that He's playing dice with human beings. Well, does the Scripture ever give a reason for why God chooses certain people?

Yes, it does right here. And what it says is that God makes this choice of the objects of His grace according to the good pleasure of His will. That's the hardest point for us to swallow because we want it to be decided by our will. But eternal salvation is determined by the will of God. And again, the charge is, well, if it's not in us, then God is arbitrary. To do something, ladies and gentlemen, in an arbitrary fashion is to do it without a reason.

To do it irrationally, capriciously, whimsically. God has never done anything irrational. God has never been whimsical or capricious from all eternity.

He doesn't know how to be arbitrary. And just because the reason is not in me why I am saved does not mean that there is no reason why I am saved. What if God, to show forth His glory, what if God, to honor the perfect work of His Son, decides to choose from humanity in their fallenness a portion to present to His Son as gifts? Notice how often in the New Testament when Jesus speaks, He speaks of those whom the Father has given Him. And of those whom the Father has given Him, not one will be lost. All whom the Father gives to Christ come to Christ, because that is the good pleasure of His will. Now again, in one sense, the Holy Spirit is stooping to our infirmity to qualify this phrase when speaking of the pleasure of God's will by speaking of the good pleasure of His will.

It should be seen as a redundancy. It should be seen as totally unnecessary, because what other kind of pleasure does God have in His will? Is there ever an instance when the pleasure of God's will is an evil pleasure of His will?

Of course not. The only thing that ever pleases God is that which is good. The only pleasure He has in His will is to do that which is right. And so we are reminded here in the text that God chooses, according to His will, according to His pleasure, which is a good pleasure, and that's why I warn my friends who struggle with this, be careful when you look at God and say, that's not fair, and you look at God and say, there's something wrong with you, God, for manifesting your mercy in this way, where we should be rejoicing in the goodness of this sovereign, electing love. And it is, in the next phrase, to the praise of the glory of His grace. I've never met a person who believes the biblical doctrine of election, who sees that as a ticket or a license for arrogance.

Some people think that that's what the response is. We're saying, well, I'm numbered among the elect, you know, it must be. Again, if you understand this doctrine, you understand you have absolutely nothing of which to boast. But what you praise when you come to an understanding of the sovereign, electing love of God is the glory of His grace. We sing amazing grace as if grace were something that amazed us.

But it's something that we take for granted, and indeed, not only do we presume upon it, but we demand it, thus removing amazement or astonishment from it altogether. But those who understand that their salvation rests in the sovereign love of God and in the sovereign love of God alone sing praises to the glorious content of His grace and mercy. As the apostles would say, Beloved, what manner of love is this that we should be called the children of God? And finally, at the end of this paragraph, By which He made us accepted in the Beloved. See, the sovereign, electing love of God appoints people to be in Christ. And by making us accepted in Christ, He makes us acceptable to God, not because of righteousness that He sees in us, but righteousness that He sees in Christ, who is His beloved, and it is for that reason that our justification is by faith and faith alone, because our justification rests on the righteousness of Christ and only upon the righteousness of Christ. The only way God will save anybody is in the Beloved, who again is the supreme object of His affection. He goes on, In Him that is in Christ we have redemption. Through His blood we have the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace, which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, again according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Himself. The goal of this is the praise of the glory of His grace, and all who have experienced the sovereign love of God and the salvation of their souls will sing for eternity, concerning the glory of that grace.

That was R.C. Sproul on this Thursday edition of Renewing Your Mind. Thanks for listening.

Although the concept of love is rather shallow in the world, seeing the love of God as faithful, holy, electing and eternal, as we've seen so far this week, helps us see the true depth of God's love. That's why I encourage you to continue this 11-part study by giving a donation of any amount at renewingyourmind.org. We'll send you the complete DVD series and grant you lifetime digital access to the messages and the study guide.

You'll be able to easily listen or watch in the free Ligonier app. This offer ends tomorrow, so give your gift today at renewingyourmind.org or by calling us at 800 435 4343. If you've ever heard a sermon on God's love, you likely heard the preacher reference agape love. Tomorrow R.C. Sproul will help us understand what that Greek word means, here on Renewing Your Mind. Copyright © 2020, New Thinking Allowed Foundation
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-15 03:00:52 / 2024-02-15 03:08:50 / 8

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