You're saying that you're better than everyone else. You're God's elect. No, no, that's the exact opposite of what we're saying, really.
We were never better than anyone else. It's because God had distinguishing grace to save me. He was good to me when I did not deserve it. Welcome to the Truth Pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Hello again, I'm Bill Wright. We're continuing a message titled, Chosen. Ephesians chapter 1 makes clear that God chose those He would save from before the foundation of the world. This doctrine of election has divided churches for a long time, but there's no question what scripture teaches. Last time, Don gave us the first two of four aspects of election, the praise for election and the proof of it.
On today's program, Don will discuss its power and purpose. You'll be reminded just how powerless we were to participate in our own salvation and how gracious God is to save any of us at all. Have your Bible open to Ephesians chapter 1 verses 3 and 4 as we join Pastor Don Green now continuing to teach God's people God's word from the Truth Pulpit.
2 Thessalonians chapter 2. 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 verse 13 says, We should always give thanks to God for you. Why do you give thanks to God, brethren beloved by the Lord? We should give thanks to God for you because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. We thank God because he is the one who had the idea, who set the purpose to bless you with salvation. And so we thank God for you, you Thessalonians, because he determined to do good to you, and we give thanks to the one who delivered the gift, and he chose you from the beginning. And beloved, these things are basic grammar. The subject is God.
The direct object is you. God did the choosing upon you, not vice versa. That is the clear teaching of Scripture. One more passage that stands out in its clarity on this issue. Turn over a few pages to the right or scroll down a couple of books to 2 Timothy chapter 1. 2 Timothy chapter 1 in verse 8 where Paul tells Timothy for the good of the Christian church and strengthens Timothy to fulfill his calling about which Timothy had become fearful. Paul speaks to him, to strengthen him, to encourage him, to help him to stand. And he says in verse 8, Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, not by anything that we did, not that we deserved it, not because of our merit, not in response to our faith.
That's not the initiating cause. He saved us and called us according to his own purpose and grace, which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity. Why can Timothy be bold? Why can he be unashamed?
Why can he go from fear to courage in the face of opposition? It's because he is operating in the power of the choice of God, the predetermined eternal purpose of God to give success to the gospel. Because God is working out his eternal purpose through his people, through the proclamation of the gospel, and Satan and all the hosts of hell cannot stop its immovable force of power. And so Timothy, be strong.
Stop looking at the world around you. There is an eternal purpose at work that God the Father will most certainly bring to pass. And so we see that God is the initiating cause in salvation. We believe in response to his choice of us, his prior choice of us. Election was unconditional.
It was based on the purpose of God. Now, some people will resist this and say, you're saying that you're better than everyone else. You're God's elect.
No, no, that's the exact opposite of what we're saying, really. What we're saying is that as Christians, we were never better than anyone else. And if we're in the family of God, it's not because of anything in me. It's because God had distinguishing grace to save me. He was good to me when I did not deserve it. I'm not better than the next man. If I'm in grace, if I'm in Christ, it's because God did something gracious to me and I give him thanks for it.
It is not a ground of boasting at all, except to boast in Christ and to boast in God and his goodness and favor on an unworthy sinner like me. It's not because one man was better than another that God made his choice. It was according to his purpose. Now, some people say, that's unfair. What about those who never had a chance? Well, that objection forgets a couple of things.
Three things, at least. First of all, it forgets that salvation belongs to the Lord. That salvation is God's gift to grant. And so we have no claim on the gift of salvation. No one does. God would have been perfectly just to have folded his arms, as it were, and says, I'm not going to give it to anybody.
And no one could have complained about that. No one has the right to bring God to the bar of their justice and put him on trial. Perish the thought. Repent of the wickedness that is implicit in that, is what I would say. Who is man to say, God, you should have done it differently?
Are you kidding me? Salvation belongs to the Lord. It also forgets, that objection forgets, the biblical teaching that all men are corrupt. It forgets that there are none who seek for God. That all have turned aside.
Together they have become useless. Men reject, it says in Romans 1, they reject the testimony of creation that is around them and says, I will not give thanks to this God. And they're culpable for that. Well, if they reject the testimony that's given to them, how can anyone say that God is being unfair to them? The ground for their refusal to come to Christ is found in their own desire.
I don't want that. I will not have him reign over me. And their choice is imperfect, consistent character with what they want. There is no such thing as somebody coming and knocking on the door of heaven and God saying, no, you're not elect.
I won't let you in. There's no one like that because no one seeks for God. And so salvation belongs to the Lord.
All men are corrupt. And so God is not unfair. Can you imagine? Think about this with me. I want you to see if that objection is sustained if people refuse to back away from it and deliberately and high-handedly accuse God of unfairness. Here in Scripture, in Ephesians chapter 1, and what we as the people of God rightly do is we see that God has been gracious where he didn't have to be and we give him thanks and praise for it. That's the right way to respond to what the Bible says about this. Oh, God has been so good to countless numbers of people.
How good and how gracious he is. Bless his holy name. And that's the right biblical response to this teaching. Comes along someone who rebels against this and says, that's unfair. God is unjust. And the very thing that should cause men to praise him for undeserved grace, they turn into an accusation of injustice against him.
That's wicked. That is utterly wicked to speak that way about God. And that which should cause him to be praised becomes that which men blaspheme his name for. Fairness, justice, a violated law would require all of us to be judged eternally. That would be fair.
That is what would be just. That God saves any, testifies to his grace. That God saves many, testifies to his abundant grace. That he saved us, brings us to praise.
God, thank you. Whatever else you did with the rest of the world, you've been good to me. And I bless your name for it. You've washed me of all my sins. You determined before time began to be good to me and you carried out your purpose. And you'll keep it to the end.
Oh God, thank you. Let's go to a third point. The power of election. The power of election. Whose power was behind election? Whose power was behind the choice? Was it ours or was it God's? Look at verse 4 and just let the text speak for itself. Leave aside presuppositions. Leave aside questions that you can't answer.
And just look at the simple, monosyllabic clarity of the text itself. He chose us in him. God is the subject.
We are the direct object. Your status with God depends on the choice that he made, not on the choice that you made. The fact that we are in Christ, receiving his blessing, points back.
There is an unbroken chain stretching all of the way back behind that black curtain, reaching into the foggy mists of ancient history and going further beyond the horizon of eternity past and woven through all of that as God's purpose to bless us in Christ because he chose us way back then. We didn't do that. We had nothing to do with determining and influencing his choice. And so your status with God depends on the power of his choice, not yours. People become Christians because God ordained for that to happen. Not because... We've taught on this in 1 John 2, if you want to go back and look at those messages on the first two verses of 1 John 2. It's not that Christ died and then left it up to men to decide and stood back and wasn't involved in it. Christ died to secure redemption, to make it certain for us. Christ's death was a carrying out of that purpose of God.
I say this reverently and boldly at the same time. God would have been foolish to have approached salvation that way. God would have been foolish to say, I have this eternal plan and Christ is going to die and now I'm going to leave it up to you to decide if you want it or not.
No one would have done it. No one would have come because no one seeks for God. And so the power of salvation from beginning to end belongs to the God who ordained it. And to reverse that understanding is to turn the spiritual universe on its head. It is to reverse where praise belongs. Now, what about that view that we alluded to earlier that God looked down the corridors of time, saw that we would choose him, came back and confirmed it?
Well, there's two aspects to that. Let's look at the text itself in Ephesians chapter 1. You must see basic language in the text. God did not make this confusing. God did not make this unclear or complicated. It is right there for simple eyes with a simple believing heart to read and understand. Verse 4, he chose us in him before the foundation of the world.
Verse 5, he predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to himself. According to what? Here it is. It says it right here. According to the choice that we would one day make? No.
No, no, no, no. That is not what the text says. That's what people like to insert into the text, but that's not how we receive the Word of God. We don't make it say what we want it to say.
We receive it on its terms and let it dictate to us what is the truth and what we should believe. He predestined us to adoption according to the kind intention of his will. Not mine.
Not yours. It's according to the intention of his will that he predestined us, that he chose us, and because his will was kind, therefore we bless his holy name. Where would that person down the corridors of time, where would he get that faith to begin with if his heart is thoroughly corrupt? There's none righteous, no, not one.
There's none who seeks for God. Where would his faith come from? For God to see it and confirm it and elect him on the basis of that.
This totally falls apart. I don't want to be in an imaginary universe, do you? I want to be in the universe where the Bible says is true. I want to be in the realm where Scripture speaks and says God gets all of the glory, and I gladly say God forbid that I should boast of anything. Of anything.
Of anything. Can I show you one more verse just to reinforce this in your mind? John chapter 1 verse 12.
But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in his name, who were born. Where did it come from? Where did their spiritual life begin?
What was its originating fountain? They were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man. The will of man is excluded, but of God. So, you say, but I believed. Yes, that's right, you believed. In time, you believed. Somehow, someway, the gospel was brought to you in the deadness of your sins, and the Spirit of God worked and opened your heart, and worked faith and repentance in your heart in a way that you willingly responded to God. But that response of faith was a result of a prior choice and a prior work of God on you that left to your unaided, wicked will, you would not have chosen on your own. And so, we believed willingly, gladly, but we believed because God was carrying out an eternal purpose that he had set in motion long before, and if he had not helped us, we would not have believed.
That's the point. And so, God gets all of the glory. One hundred percent to zero.
And I can't speak for you, but that is exactly where I want the scorecard to read. To God be the glory, great things he has done. As the great man John the Baptist said, as you recognize and as you understand and embrace these things, oh, he must increase and I must decrease.
That's the proper response to this truth. Now, we've seen the praise of election. It all goes to God, the proof of election in various texts of Scripture. We've seen the power of election.
Now we see the purpose of election. In verse 4, he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that. He did it so that we would be holy and blameless before him. He did it, beloved, to set us apart for him, so that we would belong to him one day in eternity without any moral defect. Totally perfected in love, we would belong to him then in perfection and we would be his. We would be the bride of his son, Jesus Christ, forever and ever, amen. To be holy and blameless in his presence, that's why.
Here on earth, we get a foretaste of it. The power of sin has been broken, not eradicated, but it's broken. We now love him. We now respond to him with a heart of flesh instead of rejecting him with a heart of stone.
It started now. It's going to be perfected in eternity. That's why. Salvation transforms you now and ultimately brings you to perfection in eternal glory. That's why he did it. It pleased him to do so. He is made a people for his son. And that people of which you and I, who are Christians, are now apart. We belong to him. We belong to Christ. We will love and glorify and ascribe praise to him because he is so preeminently worthy. That is the great test privilege of salvation.
To, as it were, take the crown off and fling it at his feet. Oh, glory to you, oh Christ. Not to me. Praise you for your gracious choice, not for mine. We who were destined, in one sense, left to our own devices were plunging into eternal destruction. And now we are plunging toward eternal perfection.
Do you see, beloved, I beg you. Do you see how that shapes your priority in life? If God has given us such a great salvation, our first and singular defining priority in life is to praise and worship him.
Nothing else matters by comparison. Our God, my God, has been good to me, and therefore he has complete ownership of all of my affections and all of yours. He has claim on all of them, and it should just be our desires to make our affections evermore line up into a single desire to praise him. Loving this God who chose us and saved us becomes the defining priority in life.
Secondly, this speaks not only to our priority of worship, it also speaks to our security. Understand that this doctrine of unconditional election means that you're perfectly secure. God chose you before you had done anything good or bad. Therefore, there is nothing good or bad that you could do to alter the direction of his purpose for your existence. God chose you before your birth. He will keep you after your death, and he won't let anything in between reverse his choice simply because your Christian obedience is imperfect.
It was never about your obedience to begin with, beloved. This was about the choice of God that he determined to set his affection upon you. The very root of why we can be confident is found in the fact that God's purpose for us was outside of anything in us. It was rooted in his will. It pleased him to choose us. And since it pleased him to choose us, it obviously will please him to keep us. Nothing will separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. He set his purpose from eternity, and now he's carrying it out. And if you're in Christ, you're secure.
Nothing can change that. God has already settled his purpose and determination to bless you forever. Praise be to his name. Our priority is worship.
Our security is perfect. And now, thirdly, our humility. Set aside any sense of pride, any sense of merit, any sense of, I deserved this. Set all of that stuff aside. Repent and say, Oh God, I just bow low in worship before you.
You did this out of the goodness of your heart, and I'm grateful. That's where the true doctrine of election will lead you. From beginning to end, salvation is the work of God and God alone. And as Pastor Don Green said today on The Truth Pulpit, praise God that it doesn't depend on us. Well, Don, in your experience as a pastor, how often do questions and reservations about the doctrine of election and predestination come up?
Well, Bill, that's an excellent question. You know, it really came up more in the early days of Truth Community Church than it does now when we've more established in our doctrinal foundation. The beauty for me as a pastor is this.
The Bible raises this issue, and the Bible answers it. And all I need to do is teach scripture verse by verse and let God have his say. My friend, as you have listened today and as you listen in the coming days, let God's Word have the final say in your life and in your convictions, and you'll find that as you do, he'll lead you into the truth. Thanks, Don. And friend, we invite you to visit thetruthpulpit.com. There you'll find information about free CDs of any of Don's teaching and also a link to Don's Facebook page. That's all at thetruthpulpit.com. And now for Don Green, I'm Bill Wright. See you again next time as Don continues to teach God's people God's Word from the Truth Pulpit.
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