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10 Facts about Divine Election

This Sunday morning I’ll preach, God willing, on 1 Thessalonians 1:2-5.  Paul had heard of the effects of the gospel in the Thessalonian believers’ lives.  The fruits of their faith, love, and hope confirmed to him “their election of God” (v. 4).  I want to make some statements about the biblical teaching of election as I preach but I don’t intend to spend a major part of the sermon on it.  So I’m placing some thoughts here so those who wish can go over them at their convenience.

These statements are simple, and that is on purpose.  I usually think in pretty simple terms, and I think it helps the average person to see a complicated concept like this presented as clearly as possible.

They are also presented without much in the way of comment, explanation, implications, logical conclusions, etc.  I don’t intend to try to explain or defend the doctrine of election, just state facts.

There is one clarifying point I’d like to make.  There are three categories of election in the Bible.  God elected the nation of Israel for His special favor and blessing.  God elected people to offices or positions, the supreme example of which is Jesus’ election to be the Messiah.  And God elected individual lost sinners to be saved.  It is mainly this third category of election that I am writing about here.

1.  Election is in the Bible.

I count 19 occurrences of words in the vocabulary group associated with election (elect, election, chosen) that clearly refer to individual salvation.

Key verses include Romans 8:33; Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 1:10.

2.  Election is an act of God.

God is the subject.  If God does it, it is good and should be accepted and revered.

3.  Election is a choice.

There’s no way around this.  The word “elect” in Greek is eklegomai and means to choose or select.

4.  Election favors some and not others.

Using the other categories of election as examples, God chose Israel and not other nations.  God chose Jesus and not an angel or another man.  And in the category of salvation, God chose “the elect” and not everyone.

5.  Election is based on God’s sovereign will and pleasure, not on anything we do.

Ephesians 1:4-5 says of God’s election of believers, . . . 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 . . .

1 Peter 1:2 says we are elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.  God’s foreknowledge in the Bible is not merely His awareness of what will happen in the future.  It is a knowledge that views something or someone in the future in a positive way.  See Acts 2:23.  God did not only know ahead of time that Jesus would die, He ordained it. His plan for Jesus to die was not conditioned on what someone else would do. Regarding our individual salvation, God did not merely know ahead of time that we would believe and base His election on that.  His foreknowledge is not merely cognitive.  It is determinitive.

6.  Election does not preclude human responsibility.

It is the responsibility of Christians to preach the gospel to every creature.  It is the responsibility of sinners to repent and believe.

7.  Election is a source of assurance.

See Romans 8:28-39.  Verse 33 says, Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect?  The implied response is, No one, and the stated reason is that the ones God has elected, He justifies.

8.  Election is not Calvinism, it is Biblicism.

Whether you embrace or eschew the label of Calvinist, believing in election does not make you one.  If you are a Biblicist you will accept and embrace the truth of God’s election.

9.  Election forces us to accept things about God that are uncomfortable to us and don’t make sense to us.

People struggle to understand how God could elect to save some and not others.  If we attempt to shape God’s character, decrees, and acts in ways that fit our finite logic and feelings, we will be frustrated or will redefine the terms to our satisfaction.  To do so is to diminish the nature of God.  We must be willing to accept who God is and what He does as the Bible presents Him.

10.  Election glorifies God.

Ephesians 1:6 states that our election and predestination is to the praise of the glory of his grace.

It is not our place to dispute election, nor to make it any greater or any less than what it is.  It is not necessary for us to grasp it or to make sense of it.  God is eternal and sovereign, and what He does is right and just.  He is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).  He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4).  You must give diligence to make your calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10).  All are true.  Our place is to say what Paul did in Romans 11:33 after he expounded the truth of God’s election of the nation of Israel, Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

A Prayer of Response to God’s Everlasting Love

God’s love for you is everlasting.  He shows His love in ways that span past, present, and future.  He depicts and describes this love for His people, Israel in Hosea 11.  He loves His people, believers in Christ, in these ways as well.  In my message on August 17 on God’s Everlasting Love, I talked about eight ways God shows His everlasting love, then ended with this prayerful response to these ways God loves us.  You may wish to use this to guide you as you respond to your loving God.

Father,

You love us with everlasting love.

When you call us, help us to answer.

When you teach us to walk, help us to take steps.

When you show us the sickness of our sin and offer to heal us with forgiveness, help us to admit our need and accept your healing.

When you gently draw us, help us willingly come close to you.

When you feed us with spiritual food, help us to receive it and grow.

When you chasten us, may we not stiffen ourselves against it, but be changed by it.

When we realize how you agonize over us, help us want to please you, not cause you more pain.

When we begin to grasp what you have promised us, may we live in confident expectation that you will complete what you have begun.

Lord, we want to know you.  You are love.  You loved us and gave Yourself for us.  You love us with everlasting love.  May we love you more and more. 

Amen.

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2014 in Prayer

 

The Music that Moves Me

I find that there are different types of music that engage my mind and move my heart toward worship and spiritual encouragement in our Lord’s Day gatherings.  Here are some categories, how they impact me, and examples from a recent service at Calvary.

  • A grand worshipful anthem – A “big” song presented by a full choir and orchestra or sung by the congregation exalts my thinking toward the great and profound truths of the character and works of our infinite God. Music like this lifts my thoughts and my soul heavenward, and causes me to praise God with my whole being.  Last Sunday we were led to sing the simple chorus, He Is Lord, then segued into Holy is He and great is His glory; Holy is He and worthy of our praise.  I stand in His presence amazed and crown Him with worship and praise!  Holy is He, Holy is He, Holy is He.  Then we worshiped with the traditional, majestic  hymn, Holy, Holy, Holy, with the choir singing a descant of Holy is He on the final stanza.

  • A personal testimony – Whether an individual or group shares this type of song, or we sing it as a congregation, I find that when songs about great truths are followed by thoughtfully articulating our personal response to those truths, I am deeply moved. An example of this is after worshiping God’s holiness, the choir encouraged us to Look Up in faith to God, then the congregation sang as our testimony, You are my strength when I am weak, you are the treasure that I seek, you are my all in all.  Seeking you as a precious jewel, Lord to give up I’d be a fool.  You are my all in all.  Jesus, Lamb of God, worthy is your name.  Jesus, Lamb of God, worthy is your name.  I am also touched in heart when a soloist or small group presents a tribute to the Lord in song that is unmistakably personal to them.  A married couple sang last Sunday, God will make a way, when there seems to be no way.  He works in ways we cannot see.  He will make a way for me.  He will be my guide, Hold me closely to His side. With love and strength for each new day He will make a way, He will make a way.  This was clearly their own testimony, and was powerful to hear.

  • Personalization of a profound truth – I love it when a song guides me in praising God for a profound theological truth that intersects and transforms my life. In our evening service last Sunday we sang, His robes for mine, O wonderful exchange! Clothed in my sin, Christ suffered ‘neath God’s rage. Draped in His righteousness, I’m justified.  In Christ I live, for in my place He died.  I cling to Christ and marvel at the cost: Jesus forsaken, God estranged from God. Bought by such love, my life is not my own:  My praise- my all- shall be for Christ alone.

  • Edification and exhortation – There are some songs that tell us how to think or what to do. When we sing them, we are encouraging one another in our Christian lives.  I love to hear our church family mutually edify one another with this kind of song.  Two young ladies encouraged us last Sunday to Bow the knee; Trust the heart of your Father when the answer goes beyond what you can see. Bow the knee; Lift your eyes toward heaven and believe the One who holds eternity. And when you don’t understand the purpose of His plan, In the presence of the King, bow the knee.

  • Responding to the sermon – I suppose I am moved by this kind of song because I spend the week studying the Word and then sharing the truths I have learned and encouraging our people to believe them and live by them, and I choose songs to end the service that convey our personal response to those truths. I end the sermon, pray, then invite people to respond with the thoughts contained in the closing songs. Last Sunday’s message was about Help for Our Half-Hearted Attempts to Know God, from Hosea 6.  We ended with the thought that if we will contemplate God’s love, we will love Him in return and will want to pursue knowing Him.  We responded first with a song that presents the greatness of God’s love, Here is love, wide as an ocean, loving kindness as a flood: When the Prince of Life, our ransom, shed for us His precious blood.  The chorus exults, Oh, how marvelous, oh, how glorious is my Savior’s love for me.  We then ended with our response to God’s unfathomable love:  More love to thee, O Christ, More love to Thee!

Every Sunday as we lift the final stanzas of the morning’s musical worship, I walk to the back of the auditorium and into the Atrium to be ready to greet people as they exit.  But I always stop and stand in the back before going out the door.  I listen to God’s people sing.  And I am moved.

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He Is Lord  
Marvin V. Frey. Traditional. Arranged by Shelly Hamilton. © 2010. Majesty Music, Inc. 

Holy Is He 
Claire Cloninger, David T. Clydesdale. © 1985. Word Music. 

Holy, Holy, Holy
Reginald Heber. John B. Dykes. 

Look Up 
Lauri Lou Jones. Ron Hamilton. Shelly Hamilton. © 2014. Majesty Music, Inc. 

You Are My All in All
Dennis L. Jernigan. © 1990. Shepherd’s Heart Music.

God Will Make a Way
Don Moen. © 2006. Integrity’s Hosanna Music. 

His Robes for Mine
Chris Anderson. Greg Habegger. © 2008. churchworksmedia.com. 

Bow the Knee 
Chris Machen. Mike Harland. Arranged by Tom Fettke. Mac Lynch. © 1997. Centergetic Music. 

Here Is Love
Steve Cook. Vikki Cook. © 2003. Sovereign Grace Worship. 

More Love to Thee  
Elizabeth P. Prentiss. William H. Doane. 

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2014 in Church Life

 
 
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