3d - Election, God's Fairness and Man’s Responsibility

Sovereign Grace how do we reconcile them? Man’s Responsibility

Verses that support Sovereign Grace

  • Jn. 6:37 All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.
  • John 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.
  • John 6:65 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.”
  • Jn. 15:16 “You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give to you.”
  • Acts 13:48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honoured the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.
  • Acts 16:14 Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.
  • Gal. 1:15,16 But when He who had set me apart, even from my mother’s womb, and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood . . .
  • Plus account of Paul’s salvation
  • Eph. 1:4,5 He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. 5 In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will . . .
  • In particular: Romans 9:11-24 “...For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills...
  • Romans 11:5-10 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace. What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.” And David says, “Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them; let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and bend their backs forever.”

Verses that suggest God does not have a choice

  • 2 Pet. 3:9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
  • 1 Tim. 2:4 God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Verses that speak of God “forknowing

  • Rom 8:29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren;
  • 1 Pet. 1:1,2 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in fullest measure.

Verses that indicate we have a choice

  • Josh 24:15 “And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
  • Virtually every time the Gospel is preached

Holding Sovereign Grace and Man’s Responsibility in tension

  • David Ruis: “It’s not about balance, I hate the word balance, its about keeping these truths in tensionCatch the Fire, 2005
  • The problem is to not to let go of either truth
  • Dangers of under-emphasis of man’s responsibility
    • become fatalistic
    • fail to preach the gospel (because people are too dead spiritually to respond)
    • lack of evangelism or missions
    • become very passive in the Christian life
  • Dangers of under-emphasis of God’s sovereignty
    • fail to pray for people’s salvation
    • more trust in techniques than the Holy Spirit
    • can become very performance orientated
    • can lead to striving “if you don’t persuade them to accept Christ, then it will be your fault they are in hell”
    • put a guilt trip on parents whose children are not believers
  • We need to make sure we keep hold of both truths
    • “We must chose God, but in the end we discover that it is he who chose us after all” TACF Sunday morning, Sean Connigan, 2003
  • One of the ways of thinking that I find helpful, is that election is “outside of this universe”
    • God chose us before the world was created
    • We will not know exactly who he chose until after this world is ended
    • Within this world, we have absolutely no way of knowing who is elect
      • In some ways this information is “outside of time” because there is no time with God
    • Everybody is a candidate for salvation
  • Other truths are “outside of time” and we handle those ok
    • God knows the exact day we will die—does that mean we can be careless driving?
    • He knows what grades we are going to get—so we don’t need to bother working?
  • Almost every time predestination is mentioned in the N.T., the purpose is to comfort us
    • I am loved and chosen
    • It is not dependent on my performance
    • I do not believe that “double predestination” is taught in the N.T.

Even people who say they don’t believe in Sovereign Grace usually do in their hearts and are quite happy to sing songs like:

Martin Smith (Delirious)
Oh, lead me to the place where I can find you.
Oh, lead me to the place where you’ll be.
Lead me to the cross where we first met.
Draw me to my knees, so we can talk.
Let me feel your breath,
Let me know you’re here with me.
John Newton
Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,
that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
was blind, but now I see.

T’was grace that taught my heart to fear,
and grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear,
the hour I first believed!

Tim Hughes
Beautiful One I love you
Beautiful One I adore
Beautiful One my soul must sing

You opened my eyes to your wonders anew
You captured my heart with this love
‘Cause nothing on earth is as beautiful as you

Tim Hughes
Light of the world you stepped down into darkness
Opened my eyes, let me see
Beauty that made this heart adore you
Hope of a life spent with you
So here I am to worship, here I am to bow down
Here I am to say that you’re my God
You’re altogether lovely, altogether worthy, altogether wonderful to me

Conversation between John Wesley & Charles Simeon

  • “Sir, I understand that you are called an Arminian; and I have been sometimes called a Calvinist; and therefore I suppose we are to draw daggers. But before I consent to begin the combat, with your permission I will ask you a few questions. Pray, Sir, do you feel yourself a depraved creature, so depraved that you would never have thought of turning to God, if God had not first put it into your heart?
  • Yes, I do indeed.
  • And do you utterly despair of recommending yourself to God by anything you can do; and look for salvation solely through the blood and righteousness of Christ?
  • Yes, solely through Christ.
  • But, Sir, supposing you were at first saved by Christ, are you not somehow or other to save yourself afterwards by your own works?
  • No, I must be saved by Christ from first to last.
  • Allowing, then, that you were first turned by the grace of God, are you not in some way or other to keep yourself by your own power?
  • No.
  • What then, are you to be upheld every hour and every moment by God, as much as an infant in its mother’s arms?
  • Yes, altogether.
  • And is all your hope in the grace and mercy of God to preserve you unto His heavenly kingdom?
  • Yes, I have no hope but in Him.
  • Then, Sir, with your leave I will put up my dagger again; for this is all my Calvinism; this is my election, my justification by faith, my final perseverance: it is in substance all that I hold, and as I hold it; and therefore, if you please, instead of searching out terms and phrases to be a ground of contention between us, we will cordially unite in those things wherein we agree.” (Moule, 79f)

Ultimately this is Mystery

Once Saved Always Saved?

  • There are two perspectives that are both true
God’s Perspective both are true Our Perspective
God sees the heart
and knows if a person is truly saved
  We only see the appearance,
like the parable of the wheat and the tares
God chose us and will keep us by his grace and power
It is nothing to do with our performance
  We make a real choice to follow him
From a human perspective people really do fall away
If a person is united to Christ, they can never lose that,
but are secure for eternity
  We can never “see” their unity with Christ, but only the fruit of it
  • If someone who claims to be a Christian goes on to reject Christ, then ultimately they could not have been truly saved
  • However, the Scriptures give us many examples of people who manifested the Spirit externally but were not true believers
    • King Saul prophecied
    • Judas must have healed people
    • Jesus said in Matthew 7:
      1. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’
      2. And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
  • But we can never be sure this side of eternity—It is not uncommon for someone to backslide for years, even decades and then come back to Christ. Only God knows the heart.
  • We are only responsible to respond to what we see:
    • If they are bringing forth good fruit, accept them as a believer
    • If they are living a life of sin, then preach the Gospel to them!