Wednesday, August 06, 2014

The Telos of Predestination

Ephesians 1- Sermon Notes from August 3, 2014

         As we have embarked upon this wonderful letter to the Ephesians, we have immediately seen some highly exalted literature. The Apostle is talking about mystery revealed and the inheritance of life eternal, the presence of the Holy Spirit, God’s wisdom and prudence in planning it all out before the foundation of the world and His predestination of us to a glorious purpose.
         The letter is meant to raise our minds and hearts to the glory of God in Christ. It is meant to give us peace that God has planned these things and that they are therefore sure.
         These verses also reveal a God who is totally in control. That, too, is meant to produce peace in us who have become the children of this great and powerful God. And for those of us who are being saved, it is peace to know that God is in control of all things.
         But for those who must know more than God is willing to reveal, these words can be unsettling. If God is in control of all things, then how is man still free? If God predestines His people for adoption, then why did He not adopt others?
         This is why I made the distinction last week between different aspects of God’s will. The answer to the questions of how is man still free and why did God not adopt some people is that God decreed that it would be so. And to some of these kinds of questions, that is the only answer. The final answer if you will. And we must learn to be content when our Father gives us the final answer.
         So we have the decree of God, or God’s decretive will and the commands of God, or God’s prescriptive will. Our job is to what God tells us to do and He has told us a great deal.
         I titled this sermon, the Telos of Predestination. What is the goal of predestination? What is God’s plan in predestination?
         When we think of Predestination, it sometimes trips folks up because they cannot understand the questions above, that man is still free and that God freely chooses whom He will. They are unsatisfied with those answers and so they must twist up doctrines in order to explain that which is not revealed. They may say that God does not know the future. They may say that God has not freely chosen. But far from granting us grace and peace, these are doctrines that disturb the Church.
         In Wisdom, the Westminster Confession of Faith speaks to this.
         VIII. The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care,[18] that men, attending the will of God revealed in His Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election.[19] So shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God;[20] and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the Gospel.[21]
         The confession urges us to use this doctrine with special prudence and care. First, we should not assume that we simply do nothing at all and God does everything. God tells us both that He predestines whatsoever comes to pass AND that we are fully responsible for our behavior. This is true in the little things and how much more so of the great and high things accompanying salvation?
The doctrine taught is meant to give God the glory and produce in us a supreme confidence in God and a proper view of ourselves. I say a proper view of ourselves. This does not mean that we are completely unimportant, either to God, or to God’s purposes in the world, to save the world. We are God’s children and therefore very important to Him. Second, He has determined that He would save the world through the work of His Church. He does this through ordinary means, the preaching of the gospel, and extraordinary means, the new birth in Christ.
So, we must hold to His plans and do that which God calls us to. J.I. Packer has a wonderful little book, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, wherein he exhorts us who believe in God’s sovereignty to preach with the greatest confidence. Our job is to preach and God will add to the number of those being saved as He chooses. Charles Spurgeon believed these doctrines and the Lord blessed his ministry mightily. He was a great winner of souls primarily because he believed that God had predestined his hearers to salvation in Jesus Christ. He was obedient and God received the glory.
What is the end of Predestination?
         What is God doing with us in His wise and prudent plan?
First, He Predestined us unto adoption through Jesus Christ. V. 5- This doctrine is meant to provide peace and assurance. God predestined that you gathered here should be His children. He did this before the foundation of the world. What is the purpose of His predestination? To gain godly offspring. This fits entirely with the plan that God instituted in the garden in the creation of Adam and Eve. Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth with godly offspring. But Adam’s sin created ungodly offspring and God instituted salvation by a Redeemer.
So, it should give us great peace to know that God determined to choose for himself children to adopt. That is a peaceful doctrine.
         Predestined to obtain an inheritance. V. 11
         Second, God, having made us children, chose us to an inheritance. There is a lot wrapped up in this. The inheritance is a full restoration of everything that was lost in Adam. Adam squandered the inheritance, if you will, through sin. But God chose children for Himself and promised them the full inheritance, Resurrected bodies, that will inhabit the land forever.
         To secure the inheritance, He gave us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is here so that we can know that we are God’s children and that He has granted us the promised inheritance.
         God’s Sovereignty- So, in both of these things, our adoption and our inheritance, we see God’s Sovereignty. He did it. He planned it. Why?
For the praise of His glory. V.12
         Third, These things are too high to depend upon man for a suitable outcome. I hope we see this clearly manifested in Scripture in both the Old and New Testaments. In the OT, Israel failed time and again to obtain the promises. But God’s promises were never lacking. He was working out the promise to Abraham of godly seed, like the sands of the sea and the stars of the sky. He was also working on the promise of the land. But now, in Christ, we see these promises expanded. The offspring includes every tribe and tongue and nation. The land includes every square inch of the Earth.
         It is clear that no man, except Jesus Christ, could possibly get the job done. So, God worked it all out and then chose to use us as part of His plan. God’s Sovereignty in this ought not to give us trouble. It is the one thing in all of it that gives us peace.
         [19] So shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God;[20] and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the Gospel.[21]

         The accusation against the doctrine of God’s Sovereignty is that they are harsh, that it reveals a God who chooses a few but looks over the mass of humanity. But this is a false accusation. First of all, mankind has no claim upon God. He does not owe anyone any good thing. Mankind has only earned judgment from God. It is not amazing that any are looked over. From a calculus point of view, ALL should be looked over and judged guilty. What is amazing is that God is rich in grace and mercy and has made a way to call and save many.
         Furthermore, the kingdom of God is not limited to a select few. The Church of Jesus is huge, already nearly a number that cannot be counted. But we can estimate it. There are about 2 Billion Christians in the world. And the church is growing at unprecedented rates. Asia is coming to Christ. Sub-Sahara Africa is coming to Christ. South America is coming to Christ. Hopefully, Western European man will see this, grow jealous and repent soon and return to Christ. But the fact is, that the world is coming to Christ and one day, maybe in a hundred years or 500 years, the number of the redeemed will be so large that we will have lost count. And it will keep growing and growing until every knee bows and every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord.

         So, the doctrine of the elect is not a stingy doctrine. God is rich in mercy and grace and so He has chosen a number like the stars in the heavens, which He knows by name, and the sand of the sea, of which number He alone can comprehend. This is not stingy grace but lavishing grace.

No comments: