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We are only predestined for election; we are not predestined to remain lost, and we all have the responsibility to come. God's divine sovereignty does not violate man's free will, and we should not preach election without calling for a response. There is a tension between God's sovereignty and human responsibility. Scripture shows us that it's not one or the other, it's both working together.
What He Has Done to Make Us One
Our Radical Problem... Our Right Response
But God... By Grace
I Pray You Believe It
If You Could Only Have One Sentence from Your Bible, part 5
If You Could Only Have One Sentence from Your Bible, part 4
If You Could Only Have One Sentence from Your Bible, part 3
If You Could Only Have One Sentence from Your Bible, part 2
If You Could Only Have One Sentence from Your Bible, part 1
Intro to Ephesians: The Call to Make a Difference in a Godless Culture
Father, indeed, we do just want to be with you. We want to also, though, serve faithfully while you've left us here. In that, we also know we can be with you. You have not left us as orphans, but you have given us your Spirit. Even the works you did, you have said greater works than these can we do, both in sheer number in terms of the number of people who will live obediently with you, full of the Spirit, even as your Son Jesus did, and even in the amazing acts, that fallen man would be redeemed, drawn back, forgiven, enabled, and gifted to do the very works of Christ.
Father, we don't ever think anything we would do is great without you, whether that be a gift toward you, a service for you, an offering of praise or of devotion expressed toward you. All we have that is good comes from you. There is no good thing which does not come from our Father, so we just worship you. We thank you that you enable us to be here, not as orphans, but not at home either. We are aliens in a foreign land.
We look forward to that day when the clouds roll back, and this Word we see now in black and white before us is, in the person of Jesus Christ, before us. We look forward to that day when we can embrace him physically, as we even embrace him now in spirit. We continue to worship you with our fullness of our intent and heart and our spirit, and as we study now and continue to worship you in truth. In Christ's name, amen.
Ten days ago, I was in Colorado. I was up there with four or five of my friends from college. The guys I lived with in college were not gentlemen who would be with me here this evening, if you follow my drift. They continue to be guys who are looking for a fullness in life derived from things that are not eternal. We have a great relationship.
They called me about 18 months ago and asked me in February of '94 what I was doing the last week of June in 1995. I was sitting around the house one night, and the phone rang. I answered it, and the lady says, "This is an AT&T operator, will you accept a conference call from Los Angeles, California; Lake so-and-so, Wisconsin; Springfield, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; and Kennett, Missouri?" I knew exactly who was behind this, you know, and where the men were on the other side of the phone. I said, "Certainly." I got on the phone with my college friends.
They then said, "Todd, we want to do this for four days. We've given you 18 months advance notice. Will you join us?" Both not wanting to and not having a previous commitment, we worked out a time we could all meet during those four or five days. We were together in Colorado. I had a number of folks who were good friends here who were praying for me, that God would give me an opportunity to continue to love on these gentlemen with whom God has given me favor. I'm kind of their token Christian they drag along, with whom they enjoy asking questions.
As we sat in the mountains of Colorado and visited, talked, drank coffee, played Hearts, and just generally had a good time, there were different times when somebody would ask a question or would make a statement, and they'd all kind of turn to me. I mean, time after time, I had the opportunity to share with them my worldview and my perspective. How I've matured in my faith. How I've become more convinced of the truths God has given me. We had unbelievable dialogue.
We were in the middle of one of them, talking about how atheism as a worldview has generally failed, and how any philosophy that spins from that is the same, whether it be a philosophy that is vehement in its hatred toward God or whether it's one that just says, "Okay, God exists, but so what?" I explained to them how those basically are accomplishing the same thing, and how they leave you with a nihilist view, basically a hopeless view, of life.
We talked about some different things for a while, and one of them, who is extremely well-read and is in the film industry in Hollywood, he stopped and he said, "Well, you know…" They call me Honus. It was my nickname in college. I'll explain that name because everybody always thinks it's perverse. There's nothing perverse to it. My last name being Wagner, Honus Wagner was a famous shortstop.
If you have his baseball card, you are a rich individual right now. He's the most valuable baseball card known to man. Honus Wagner, number 13 for the Pittsburgh Pirates. There are only four or five of them that are in existence, worth over a half million dollars. Not a bad thing to get with your top baseball card collection, if you want to open one up.
He said, "Honus, I have a problem with what you're saying. You're sitting here explaining this to me and these guys. What these guys don't know is some Christians believe…I don't know whether you believe this or not…that these gentlemen can't even agree with what you're saying unless God does a work in their lives. Unless he elects them and chooses them, they cannot believe."
I thought to myself, and I shook my head. Like I've told you in the weeks we've been together, that is not typically a tactic I take when I'm sharing with some lost people. This friend of mine who knew that would probably be something more difficult, a rabbit trail they could chase, seized onto that and threw that out there. He said, "Do you believe that?" I looked at them, and I said, "I must believe that because that's what the Scriptures teach." I said, "Let me explain that to you a little bit further."
This conversation we were having the last number of weeks together became very practical all of a sudden. I sat there, and I explained to them about how the Scriptures teach that's not just true of them; it was true of me. As I believe this stuff, I don't think I'm better than them. God didn't choose me because I was more moral or because I had the potential to be more good. He graciously, and for reasons that are unbeknownst to me, saved me from a destruction I was choosing, and that they are choosing.
We talked about the different terms the Bible has for them. They argued among them which one they liked best. Someone threw out pagan, someone heathen, someone fool, someone blinded, someone unbelieving. I encouraged them with wretch. It was the one I encouraged them to choose. As I talked to my four wretched friends, I said to them, "Listen, 'twas grace that taught this wretch to fear. Before that, I didn't even know I needed to fear."
These guys scoffed at the things of God. They scoffed at the idea of judgment. They scoffed at the idea that God existed, and it mattered. I just shared with them, "I understand that." I said, "I want you guys to know, and I don't mean this to belittle you, but I've been praying for you. There are a lot of people who are praying for you. I pray that someday God will be gracious in letting you know you should fear and that your fears can be relieved. It's grace upon grace that delivered me."
We need to set some things straight. We're going to tie a cute little bow on this tonight. Not solve it. Not put the age-old debate to rest, because we can't, but give you a few more things that will help you with this understanding of this idea of election: God's choosing, his foreknowledge, his predestination, and his love for us.
Let me say a couple of things I have heard. We even had an analogy, an illustration, a couple of weeks ago about us as a body. If a fireman had come in here and given us a lecture on the dangers of playing with gasoline and matches, and if we all laughed at him, scoffed at him, said he was a fool and it's ridiculous… If, as soon as he walked out the door, we doused each other in gasoline and threw matches on each other…
If he ran out the door and as he left the door, he looked back and saw smoke coming up, we agreed there would not be a single one of us in here who had not received enough enlightenment, enough instruction, to know that what we were doing, whether we believed it or not, was going to lead to our own death and suffering.
If that fireman then would come back inside and would grab several of us, take us out, and save us from the destruction we ourselves chose, nobody would hate this fireman and say, "What kind of fool are you to go in there? What kind of evil man are you just to save 100 and to leave 500 to die?" No, they wouldn't say that. They would say to that fireman, "You were absolutely gracious to save even one, much less 100, or much less a large percentage of those who sought to have themselves destroyed."
A number of people heard that illustration, were somewhat encouraged by it, but they asked this question. They said, "Well, wait a minute. The problem with that illustration is God is not limited like a fireman is limited. God, if he wanted to, could save us all. Why doesn't he save everybody if he's going to save one? If he could save one, he could save us all.
My response to that is twofold. First, ultimately, you are not able to answer that question. God does not give us that answer. Paul, very straightforward-like, in Romans, chapter 9, says, "Who are you, O clay, to tell the potter how to shape you?" Who are we to instruct God? God is sovereign. God chooses. Leave it there and do not try and strip it away from that. We don't know why he didn't choose everybody.
The mystery and the wonder of it all is why he chose even one. What we need to do to make that story complete is to know that fireman took his son with him in that room when he gave the instruction. His son continued to beg those people not to play with those matches and that gasoline. As the people did anyway, the room was consumed. When the fireman walked in, the first person he saw was his son. He determined the last person he would go to save would be his boy. He sacrificed his son so he might pull you out.
I don't know why he didn't choose all. God could, but we know that even in choosing all, God would have left his Son because he had to, because that is justice. Though God is a God of love, he cannot mock his other attribute, which is justice. As he did come in, and as God did save some of us from the destruction we chose, as he sacrificed his own Son in the process, you need to know that those people who were saved from that fire, their lives needed to be changed.
They needed to live in absolute submission, in absolute humility, with a life full of gratitude toward that fireman. They need to go, and their mission needs to be to tell other fools to not play with gasoline and with matches and to tell them the truth that there is destruction which comes. Even when the destruction comes, because you, being a fool, will choose to play with gasoline and matches, if you'll look in the midst of your torment, the door will kick open, and a man will run in.
There will be provision for you if you jump on his back and let him carry you out. You cannot find your way. You are lost in the confusion. You are lost in the smoke. You are asphyxiating, and you are set to die. If you'll look for the fireman, who cares for you, he'll carry you out because he's provided a way. If you will, he used his Son to build a fire break, that all who choose to come behind the Son can be free. Gang, there are a couple of things we need to set straight about this idea of God's choosing and electing us. Let me say this right away.
First, we do not believe in what is called double predestination or equal ultimacy. Double predestination is that God predestined some. The Greek word, again, is proorizó. It's where we get the word horizon from. Before horizon, meaning a boundary. When you look in the mountains of Colorado you can see for miles, but there is an end to what you can see. The end is a boundary. That's horizon.
There has been a predetermined mark that has been set for some. When the word predetermined (proorizó) appears in the Bible, it never once appears in reference to the lost. It only appears in reference to the saved, to the elect. We believe God proorizós because he made a prognosis, because he made a prediction, because the word for foreknowledge is prognosis. The suffix -gnosis means knowledge.
Knowing beforehand, and the full understanding of that in the Greek, simply has the idea of a relationship experienced and actualized. To know beforehand. It's more than just a sense of intellectual familiarity. It is a predisposed love. God had a predisposed love toward some. He chose to love some, so he set boundaries on some, that they might make their way out of the destruction they have chosen for themselves.
He did not set boundaries on others that they may never choose him. You need to know the Scriptures say, "God is not willing that any should perish." That's what it says. God is not willing that any should perish. It is not his desire. It says in Ezekiel 18 and Ezekiel 33 that God takes no delight in the death of the wicked. That is not his desire. It never was. He had determined to let men free.
You need to know that all men, in being free, chose to destroy themselves, and yet those, who by his grace (this is where I cannot explain it) he had a predisposed love for, a relational experience and acknowledged love, he predestined some of those to be saved from that destruction they chose for themselves. Paul tells us, "…and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified." It all appears in Romans 8, and every single one of them is in the past tense.
Gang, that gets us right where we pretty much ended, with the idea that with election and the truth which comes in the Scripture, first, it makes you humble, worshipful, and thankful. Second, it gives you security to know your salvation, as you respond, is secured because God himself will see to it.
You have to ask yourself this question: If you are in Christ, can you lose your salvation? The question is answered this way: Can Jesus sin? Can God lie? No. You're secure. That's why questioning eternal security is not a mockery to man; it is a mockery to God. It says God cannot accomplish what God intends to accomplish, that the sacrifice of his Son was not enough, and it questions when God said, "I choose you, and I have predetermined that you will be saved from the wrath that is to come through the provision which I give." It mocks God's ability.
The question is: Are you one of the elect? Are you one of the saved? That gets you to the third thing. First, that you are thankful, humble, and worshipful. Secondly, that you are secure. Thirdly, that requires a response. Peter tells us to make your calling and election, make your salvation sure by responding. We're going to see an illustration of how you ought to respond today.
Finally, the fourth thing was that just because God does that doesn't mean you shouldn't share the gospel. Like I told these four guys… I didn't stop the conversation when one of my friends said, "Hey, Todd, these guys can't believe unless God lets them." I said, "That's true, but let me tell you what. God is letting them even now." I looked them in the eye and said, "Jesus Christ commands you to repent."
Spurgeon, when he preached, never told a person to come. He never told them they must choose to be saved because he didn't know whether they would make the decision or not. He said, "God commands you to repent and to call out to him for mercy. In that, you will receive it." That's a good way to say it.
I said to those guys, "God calls you to do what he called me to do. The way you'll have an opportunity to know he loves you is because somebody like me will tell you not to play with gasoline and matches. I've been saved from it. I know the fireman. I know the pain you're in, and this is the way out." I never once believed, and it's not ever recorded in Scripture, that those men, should they never make that decision, were not predestined to make that decision.
They were predestined for greatness, but because they were in Adam, they fell from that greatness. They continued, then, according to the law of Genesis, in chapter 1, verse 25, where it says each produced after its own kind. Adam, being a sinful being, produced other sinful beings. That is what the great truth is in Romans, chapter 5, when Paul goes out of his way to say, "Listen, you are no longer in Adam, but now you are in Christ."
What was the phrase I said again and again shouts out at you in Ephesians, chapter 1? It is that you are in Christ. If you are not in Christ, you are in trouble because you are in Adam. In Adam, you are a sinful man. Sinful men run from God. There are those of us tonight who will respond. There are those of us who, before tonight, have responded and said, "Yes, I want to be in Christ."
In coming and responding, by the grace of God that taught our hearts to fear, we'll find that the grace of God relieves our fears in giving us the ark of Jesus Christ that we can climb into to escape the sure destruction that is to come. Do not fall into this trap. We do not believe in equal ultimacy or double predestination. The elect, God predestines to come to him. The ones who are not elect, God puts no rope restraining them. He lets them free, but they continue to run, even as you would run.
The second thing you need to know is God is not the author of evil. When you talk about God being sovereign, he does not intervene to produce sinful activities or attributes. He only intervenes to prevent them. Do you catch that? When we believe God predestines, he is sovereign over all… What the Hindus or the Eastern mystics believe is sin, evil, death, and suffering is all an illusion. You don't need to worry about it. That is a completely worthless philosophy of life because you can't live under it.
When somebody is suffering at the loss of their children, you can't just say, "Listen, evil is immaterial. It doesn't really exist. You don't need to worry about it. Pain is an illusion, so ignore it." I'm going to tell you, there are people who believe that. You just take a simple bowl of boiling oil, and you hold it over their head and say, "Well, if pain is an illusion, then you won't mind me dumping this over your head, will you?" They'll find real quick right there that their worldview, their philosophy, is not livable.
We don't believe evil is nothing, and we do believe God created everything. So, we have a problem. If God created everything and if evil is not nothing, then God must have created evil, right? No. Geisler said it well. Evil is not nothing; evil is no thing. Evil is the absence of what God intended. Evil, if you will, is the hole the moth ate in the wool sweater. It's the absence of good.
Satan is not able to create. He is not the author of anything. God is the author of all that is good. What Satan does is he removes. He rebels against the good which God created. He removes the love God has, and he replaces it with hate. God does not initiate evil. He doesn't create evil attributes and actions. He only intervenes to stop them. We already said we don't believe, then, that God predestines people toward destruction. They choose that. He intervenes to keep everybody from choosing that.
The third thing I would say about that is God has to intervene in some way because the Scriptures say this. Romans 3 says it. John 6. Kurt talked about it a couple of weeks ago, and I think last week he touched on it again. God has to intervene for men to be able to freely choose. There's something about our nature that is so deprived and so depraved we would not choose if God doesn't intervene.
That takes you to the fourth thing. God intervening does not violate your free will. That is the age-old tension. It's this way. God still allows man to freely… When Paul decided in a prison cell in Rome to write a letter to the church at Ephesus, the church of Colossae, and the church at Philippi, he wrote with his own personality.
He never once knew he was writing Scripture that would forever be inerrant and God's Word for his people in generations to come. He wrote it with his own personality, his own style, his own pen, but God sovereignly used Paul in his own free choosing to create that which was perfectly God's production and will.
When men spoke prophetically… Even a wicked man sometimes like Caiaphas, when Caiaphas spoke and said, "It is good for one man to die that all might live," speaking of Jesus. He was the high priest who spoke and said, "Let's kill Jesus so the Romans don't get mad at us and think we're throwing a rebellion and making another king. It's good that one man should die that all might live."
This wicked man who, for selfish reasons, wanted Jesus destroyed spoke tremendous prophetic truth. He freely chose to say that, but it perfectly accomplished what God said would happen. The Scriptures were written even as every individual man wrote in his own prose, his own style, his own way, but God superseded that. Somehow, God's divine hand and sovereign intervention does not violate man's free will. That mystery is only answerable by God and by God alone.
Turn very quickly to Ephesians, chapter 1. This week on Tuesday, July 11, in the little walkthrough in the little daily devotional readings we have in there for you every week, a guy named Phillips Brooks is writing about a verse in there. One of the things he talks about is the fact that we as individuals are so out of touch with the greatness of God's knowledge, we are like a child who walks across a frozen lake. The child has no idea how deep that lake is. In fact, he has no idea, he has no even sense, that the lake is deep. He just walks across it.
That is a lot like us in our relationship with God. We kind of cruise across this life, and we think we should be able to figure God out, but we're like a child who has no idea the depths of the water underneath us. We are just walking across the hard surface. You need to know there is a depth that we, as children of this world, will never fully understand until we see him, until we're fully known. Until we fully know him, even as we are fully known, it says in the Scripture.
In Ephesians you're going to see this again and again. Let's read down to where we were. Starting in verse 3, it 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 blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved."
Those are verses piling on us divine sovereignty. It tells you how he did it in verse 7. "In Him [Jesus] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us. In all wisdom and insight…" That's what he's done for us, and those are clearly some strong verses on this idea of divine sovereignty. Slide right over there to verse 13.
Parallel with it, very near to it, where you just found out you were chosen by God, it says in verse 13 of chapter 1, "In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation— [you also] having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise." When did God's calling and election, when was it made sure in your life? For me, it was in June, summer 1979, up in Minnesota at a camp called Castaway Club, when I believed, when somebody shared with me the same truth I shared with my friends 10 days ago in Colorado.
All I did was I responded, and God calls me to respond. I have to know that having responded, I look back, and I go, "Hey, 'twas grace that taught my heart to fear." Before that I scoffed at men like me. I scoffed at the truth that we share tonight, until God taught my heart to fear. That's a gift, but having been taught to fear, at the same time (we probably can't separate it), I then believed. In believing (human responsibility), I then was proven to be a child of God, whom he had foreknown, predestined, called, justified, and glorified.
Turn with me. I want to show you a couple of places in Scripture that this idea appears back-to-back. We'll nail a couple, working our way back from right to left. Turn to John, chapter 6. I want to show you that the Scriptures leave this tension in your Bibles. When you talk about this idea of election and predestination, do not do it at the expense of understanding that it is completely appropriate to call people to respond. That's what we're called to do.
Look at John, chapter 6, and read with me at verse 40. It says, "For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day." Is that God's choosing or man's responsibility? That's man's responsibility, isn't it? You have to believe in him.
Look right down there to verse 44. Let's read 44 and 45. Jesus says, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day." Now verse 45. "It is written in the prophets, 'AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.' Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me." In other words, you can't do it unless God does a work, but look. Right next to that, in verse 40, you have a verse saying it's your responsibility.
Look at verses 64 and 65. He says, "'But there are some of you who do not believe.' For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him." Christ knew it. Verse 65: "And He was saying, 'For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father.'"
Now look at verse 66. There is some major divine sovereignty right there. Verse 66 says, "As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew, and were not walking with Him anymore." They finally said, "Hey, listen. If I can't come unless you call me, I'm going to go. If you don't call me, I'm never supposed to be here." They can't get off the hook, can they? Jesus just said, "No, you follow. You come."
Jesus said to his disciples in verse 67, "'You do not want to go away also, do you?' Simon Peter answered Him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. And we have believed…" Human responsibility. "…and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.' Jesus answered them, 'Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve…?'" Do you see how he just continues to weave these two ideas?
If you're struggling with this and go, "Well, which is it? Divine sovereignty or human responsibility?" You know what I'll tell you? It's both. You know what I'll tell you if you say, "Well, how does that work?" I'll say, "Ask him, and worship him until you get there." If you're out there today, and you're kind of going, "Well, wait a minute. I want to be one of the elect." I'm going to go, "Fantastic. So did I. He says all who come to him, he will cast out not even one."
It says in the Scriptures that Christ died for all men. It says he's not willing that even one should perish. I would say to you what Peter said. In fact, let's turn there, to the very first sermon. Back to your right, turn to Acts, chapter 2. You'll see the tension again. Look at verse 37. He had just finished preaching the very first Christian sermon, the very first time an apostle spoke with force. He got done, and in verse 37 he said,
"Now when they [the people] heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, 'Brethren, what shall we do?' And Peter said to them, 'Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself.'"
Do you catch it? What did he say the very first day? He said, "Come, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and you'll get rest. Every single one who comes." When you come, it's evidence you were called. "What shall I do then, Wagner? What shall I do? How do I know I'm called?" You know what I'd tell you? I'd tell you to "Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins."
You'll go, "Well, where does it overlap?" I'd say, "I don't understand, but in your coming, it's evidence you were called." In your coming, it's evidence his grace revealed to you truth. In your coming, you worship because the great God, whom you have rebelled against forever, has now wooed you to himself.
It is your great privilege now to go and tell others, because how shall they believe unless they hear? How shall they hear unless they have a preacher? How shall they have a preacher unless they're sent? Having been saved from the fire you yourself set, you are sent to tell others who the fireman is, how he sacrificed his own Son at their expense.
We'll close with one more in Matthew, chapter 11. I want to show you again the tension that exists. It's both. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. What you have to do is resign yourself to knowing God says that apart from his doing an intervening work, no man will come. God does not impose death upon any man. All men choose it. He predestines that some might hit a boundary and bounce back toward him. It says in verse 25 of chapter 11,
"At that time Jesus answered and said, 'I praise Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou didst hide these things from the wise and intelligent and didst reveal them to babes. Yes, Father, for thus it was well-pleasing in Thy sight. All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son, except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father, except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.'"
Divine sovereignty or human responsibility? That is totally divine sovereignty. "Unless the Son chooses to reveal him." Now look right there. The next words out of his mouth are what? "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and YOU SHALL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light."
Are you out there tonight? Are you disturbed by this truth? Are you disturbed by the tension that's in the Scriptures? I think all the great heresies of the past have come when people have camped too much on divine sovereignty and have ignored the Scriptures that clearly teach you are responsible as a human to repent and to be baptized in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. You are told to come. There is not a single one of you tonight that if you choose, cannot come, because that's what Jesus said. "Come."
There's not a single one of you, having chosen that and in coming forward, who will not have been a person he graciously did a work in your life to let you believe what I'm saying even matters. You might be like my friends are currently, to this day, who sat in Colorado, and they looked at me. They didn't want to come because they didn't know they should fear. Even in knowing they maybe should fear, they didn't believe there was a provision that was made. Tonight, if grace is teaching your heart to fear, tonight grace can your fears relieve, you wretch.
D.L. Moody, who we talked about as the man who encouraged Horatio Spafford in his faith, wrestled with this. He understood how men would wrestle with this. When he was looking at the book of Revelation, and he read the very end of the book of Revelation, the last words in the Bible, this was his commentary on what he felt was Jesus' answer to this dilemma.
He said, "How many men fold their arms and say: 'If I am one of the elect I shall be saved, and if I'm not I shan't. No use of your bothering about it.'" D.L. Moody writes, "I have an idea that the Lord Jesus saw how many men were going to stumble over this doctrine of election, so after He had been thirty or forty years in heaven He came down and spoke to John. One Lord's Day in Patmos, He said to him, 'Write these things to the churches.' John kept on writing." Moody writes, "His pen flew very fast. And then the Lord, when it was nearly finished, said: 'John, before you close the book, put in one more invitation.'"
"Men will struggle at this idea of my choosing them, my electing them, my predestining them. Let them know the last words they need to hear are that all can come." Your Bible ends even as mine does. If you'll look at the last words in your Bible, in Revelation, chapter 22, you can see where Moody gets this idea. Men will fold their arms and say….
Some of you out there tonight are going, "Well, wait. I struggle with that. If your friends in Colorado are one of the elect, they'll respond." I want to tell you what was really interesting about this, is none of them struggled with it, even the guy who posed the question. They got over it real quickly because I came right back and said, "Let me tell you what God tells you. It's what he tells me. That is to repent, to come to your senses, and to realize you have a need he can meet."
I said, "You know what he says to you? He says (verse 16), "I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, 'Come.' And let the one who hears say, 'Come.' And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost." Implied: "Come."
"I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book. He who testifies to these things says, 'Yes, I am coming quickly.' Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen."
I say to you tonight: Come and experience the hope that it can be well with your soul. If tonight God's grace taught you to fear, tonight I tell you that through grace your fears are relieved. This Jesus, who loves you, has died that you might know him, that he might give you peace, that you might reign with him in Christ for eternity, that through him, through his blood, you might have the forgiveness of sins, the cleansing of your trespasses.
Next week, here's what we're going to do. This longest sentence of the Bible, this great truth, I'm going to give you an illustration next week of how this happened. I'll show you a place in the Bible where you can see a real clear picture God has given us with King David and one of the sons of Jonathan.
You can see this picture of election and the king calling one who is unable to come before one who should judge him, but who doesn't judge him and instead sits him at his table. You'll see a picture of you in a young man whose name you probably can't pronounce today. That's what we'll study next week, and in doing so, we'll cover the part of this sentence that talks about Jesus Christ and the work he accomplishes.
Then we'll get through this and begin our real charge into Ephesians. We've dealt with this. We haven't scurried over it because you guys can handle this. This is meat, but it's good. You need to know it because it's truth. It's for you to be encouraged by, to be humbled by, that you might worship him and give him thanks, that you can be secure in knowing if you trust Jesus Christ he has put you in eternity in his stead and in his care. He will not fail you.
You should respond to that by telling all to come. That same God who saved you that way commands you to go and tell others. Election never, ever reduces evangelism. The same God who ordains the means ordains the method: for Todd Wagner to go to Colorado and pray and to plead with his friends. Will you do the same? Will you come this evening? I give you that opportunity. Let's pray.
If you're out there tonight, and your arms have been folded and locked. If you have said, "I'm not sure I can ever be one whom God accepts," you have heard the truth of Jesus himself tonight, who said, "Come." He invites you to come and to find rest. If you're thirsty, to have it quenched. If you're hungry, to have your soul fed in the provision of his broken body and in the provision of his shed blood. It says in the Scriptures that Christ died for all men.
It says in the Scripture, the verse we've all memorized Christian or not, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." If you choose, by the grace of God, to believe tonight, if you today will repent and confess the name of the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior and be baptized in him, you will receive the forgiveness of sins. In doing so, you will have proven to yourself that God, for some reason beyond any human explanation, has chosen you. Will you come? Will you confess your need? Will you ask him to be your provision? Do it now in the quietness of your heart.
Lord, I thank you that all who come, you will in no wise cast out. You are not willing for any to perish, and so you save wretches like Todd Wagner, that he might read your truth, that he might share your truth, that he might be somebody who can say, "I was saved by reasons beyond my comprehension," that you might use me as a vessel to share your hope with others.
I thank you for all the ministers who sit out in these pews tonight who share this message of hope on a daily and a weekly basis. Tonight, that some have responded and have come, Father, we praise you that you have done what you have done, that you have done something about our need. You sent your Son to die for us. Then you worked in our lives through your penetrating our hard hearts, our natural man, with your Spirit, in making us men who appraise spiritual things, have chosen truth, and have walked away from the lie our depraved mind would continually choose.
Now all of us who believe this word tonight are no longer in Adam. We are no longer in trouble, but now we are in Christ. As you look at us before you, with your penetrating gaze, those of us who were unholy and blameable have become holy and blameless in your sight for all eternity because we have sheltered in the rock of refuge, to which we may continually go, this hiding place named Jesus.
We thank you, to the praise of your glorious grace. We thank you for the kind intention of your will, that you rushed in, leaving your Son behind, and grabbed us. You indeed are a God who is to be praised. It is well with our souls because we know Jesus. I pray your grace would be on all. Even as John closed the book of Revelation, we close tonight. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with all. Amen.
Most people are desperately looking for answers to such age-old human dilemmas as violence, greed and racism; not to mention personal pain and disappointment with our own duplicity and lack of fulfillment. In this series on the book of Ephesians, Todd Wagner challenges us to open our eyes to the truth that Christ has called us to be part of a completely new society called the Church. Our highest calling then is to be men and women whose lives have been regenerated and empowered through faith in Christ. Our 21st century challenges are not unlike those faced by followers of Christ in first century Ephesus. The Apostle Paul, author of this letter to the Ephesians, emphasizes that the problem with the Church then and today is not that God hasn't given it everything necessary to be successful in its mission. Rather, our problem is like that of a wealthy miser who dies of starvation rather than dip into the abundance of resources at his disposal. Allow yourself to be challenged and encouraged by this ancient letter that adroitly analyzes the plight of Christ's bride, the Church, and then paints a vivid portrait of what we can - and indeed do - look like as His redeemed people. This volume covers Ephesians 1:1 through Ephesians 2:22.