SOVEREIGNTY IS CONSISTENT WITH HISTORY
The doctrine of election is not a hard doctrine to explain…. but hard to accept. To which I would say “I find that rather strange, considering the amount of emphasis and attention it gets throughout Scriptures.” Many good intentional Christians see this doctrine as some kind of amusement ride. “Round and round she goes where it stops nobody knows” That’s a disingenuous view on the doctrine of election; it makes God out to be some madman or a kill joy, control freak or loose cannon. Who picks randomly as if He is Thanos clicking his fingers in “Infinity War”
This should not be the Christian worldview of this
wonderful doctrine of God.
Is sovereign election hard to understand in our
finite minds? Yes!
But this doctrine only lines up perfectly with the attributes and character of God since He spoke all things into existence. God is at the beginning of history, taking charge of it. God is at the center of history at the cross of Christ, taking charge of it. God is at the end of history in the returning of Christ, taking charge over it. There is not one millisecond, one hour, one day, one month, and one year, of your past, present or future, which God is not sovereignly over it, taking charge of it. In these next three chapters Paul explains the doctrine of sovereign election as it pertains the nation of Israel and the church. God’s chosen nation of Israel to taste Christ, but there is going to be a large circle of people who won’t taste that redeeming grace. The same is true in the church. A small circle of people will taste and find joy in His salvation, but a larger circle of people won’t. Not because they are not worthy of such grace as you received, but because of their love for the things of darkness. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.” John 3:19-20
The more you study the doctrine of election the more you become grieved for the lost, the unregenerate man and woman. As believer we are never to become callous or cold towards those who unsaved and in a state of unbelief. This doctrine should put a deeper burning for the lost in our hearts and passion to reach the nations for Christ. Men like: Luther, Calvin, John Knox, J C Ryle, Richard Baxter, John Bunyan William Carey, Andrew Murray, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards….and…. Spurgeon did not shrink from this task but gloried in it. He declared. "I do not envy Gabriel his crown when God gives me souls. I have thought that I would rather be here to talk with you and point you to my Master's cross than be up there and cast my crown at His feet. For surely there can be no joy in heaven greater than the joy of doing the Master's will in winning souls for Him." Spurgeon delighted in earnestly pursuing the salvation of lost sinners. “If I was saved by a simple gospel, then I am bound to preach that same simple gospel till I die...” Elsewhere Spurgeon forcefully said. "If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for."
For Spurgeon, no exertion was too excessive for the
rescue of a soul from damnation.
This doctrine doesn’t make us passive, but passionate for lost sinners….. Family, co-workers, friends, and every contact we have with image-bearers of God. We are always to be ready for an open door so that we can speak of His grace in the gospel to unregenerate hearts. The more I study God and His attributes, the more I become sensitive to those who are lost.
to the saved and the lost with the gospel.
Look what Paul starts off by saying “I am speaking the truth in Christ.” (v1) That is kind of weird, because when was Paul not speaking the truth. But what is before us is unbelievable for you and me to hear. Paul knows the heaviness of this doctrine and he also knows many will have a hard time understanding this biblical truth. So he affirms what he is saying is the gospel truth and he does this by calling upon Christ to be his witness to what he is about to explain in the coming chapters. We see this same confession when he gave the charge to pastoral ministry to Timothy, “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” 2 Tim 4:1-2. What is Paul saying? He brings Christ into the conversation as a witness to what he is about to explain because it’s hard to accept. Not only that…… He also says my “conscience” this is our right and wrongs, our smoke alarm to what is true and what is untrue. Paul is saying, “My conscience bears witness to this truth, and it’s crystal clear and ready to speak His truth into your hearts.” Not only does he call upon….. Christ and his conscience, but he calls upon the Spirit, his inner man telling the truth. (v1)
What is Paul making clear that isn’t a lie? That God’s sovereignty is consistent with History. And this produces in Paul a passion for the lost to hear the blessed gospel that saves sinners.
Paul Anguish (v2)
Paul had a great sorrow for those without Christ, not just any sorrow, but a “GREAT SORROW”.
“Great sorrow” it’s to the point of having a deep pain that won’t go away, it’s an exceeding sorrow, an enormous heart breaking sorrow. It’s a sorrow that is so heavy it is like having birth pains. “When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.” John 16:21. It’s the same sorrow the disciples had when Jesus told them He was going to be leaving them. “But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, 'Where are you going?' But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.” John 16:5-6. See! This isn’t a fleeting emotion that Paul is having; this is a deep continuous sorrow. Paul says, “Unceasing anguish in my heart” this means its tearing him apart at the deepest of roots. His unceasing grief for the lost is at his core, this is the epicenter of his heart, for the lost. Paul is a man of joy but also a man of deep sorrow. This isn’t uncommon for those who love sinners. “And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest." Matt 9:35-38
“He felt compassion” out of the bowels…..this deeper than the heart, this is to feel something in the “pit of your stomach.” To feel something in the seat of your emotions, this is how Christ felt, and this is how Paul felt, to those outside the covenant blessings of the gospel. This how Paul feels as he explains these next three chapters of his letter. Just like Paul we are to be moved to tears for the lost, our affections are to be directed towards them with the gospel. Are you there yet? I fear some days I’m not, as Paul confesses here. This is where I need to continually pray that God would remove the crust from heart to get to this place of brokenness in my soul for the lost. We need to ask God for this heart, not a heart that wants to fight, debate, but have passion for the lost.
A heart like Nehemiah, “And I said, "O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father's house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses. Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, 'If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.' They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man." Now I was cupbearer to the king.” Neh 1:1-11. This was Nehemiah’s anguish, this is Paul’s anguish, and this should be the churches anguish.
Paul’s Affection (v3)
Here is why Paul has such great sorrow for the lost. (v3) This is a hypothetical comment, very similar to Paul’s rhetorical questions he asked at the end of chapter eight. (8:35-39). There is nothing he can do to make this happen, but this breaks his heart and wishes they knew Christ if it meant he could give up his own relationship with Christ. Do you realize what Paul is saying here? Paul is wishing he was “accursed” or better yet “an anathema” for the sake of his brothers, his kinsmen.
This means that Paul is wishing…….
He is damned to Hell.
He be sent to destruction
He is plunged into the lake of Fire.
He faces the full wrath of God.
He would be the object of God’s wrath.
Paul wishes that he could become those who would face such destruction. “If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come!” 1 Cor 16:22. Moses felt the same way when the people of God sinned against God. “So Moses returned to the LORD and said, "Alas, this people has sinned a great sin. They have made for themselves gods of gold. But now, if you will forgive their sin—but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written." Exo 32:31-32. It is for such as Moses and Paul to realize, and to dare to utter, their readiness to be wholly sacrificed for the sake of those whom God has entrusted to their love. Like Moses, Paul is saying I wish that I could be “cut off, separated for Christ. But Albert Barnes said, “It would be ungodly and absurd. No man has a right to be willing to be the “eternal enemy” of God; and no man ever yet was, or could be willing to endure everlasting torments.” Paul knows this can’t happen….. because his heart is screaming from the roof top he wish he could. But his head is telling him that impossible, because nothing can separate our relationship in Christ! Nothing. But there is no denying that Paul’s heart feels the heavy sorrow and burden for his countrymen, the people that are around him. The very ones…. who hated, beat, stoned, and threw him into jail during his missionary journeys. He loved them because he knew what was at stake; the soul of a man or woman. Paul is willing to go to the Lake of Fire so they could drink from the river of Living Water.
Are you here with Paul in his burden for lost kinsmen? We have blood relatives…..mother, father, children, aunts, uncles, grandparents, in-laws, people closest to you. There are so many without Christ, there are many who even confess in Christ but bare no fruit. This is why we bring the gospel
Paul Assessment (v4)
Paul emphasizes 8 privileges that God gave the Jews, which make this burden all the more real for Paul. And the same could be said of you and me as we look inside the church of any age or generation.
Adoption……now this isn’t the same thing we see in the adopting grace of the gospel, being justified by Christ in redemption. This is the provisions a Father has for his first born son, God showed His care of Israel, than all other nations. “Out of Egypt I called My son.” Matt 2:15. Israel missed this call to enjoy His adoption and this brought great sorrow to Paul, they squandered their privilege.
Glory……. this is the outshining of God’s revelation over Israel; His special display of His glory was given to them alone. God’s glory is so brilliant that human eyes are not permitted to behold it, yet God allowed His glory to dwell in the midst of his people Israel. The “shekinah glory” that blazing light that manifested God’s glory and made Him a consuming fire. Ezekiel 10; Luke 2:8-9
The Covenants……. God’s contractual relationship with the nation of Israel. With Adam, Noah, with Abraham, Isaac, with Jacob, Moses and David.
The Law…… God gave the Law to Israel to guide and direct God’s people accordingly, whether it was Ceremonial sacrifices or Temple Law, moral and civil law and so on.
Worship……. The Israelites had been given service to God. All there worship was to point to future joy in Christ in redemption. There teachings of worship were to shape and strengthen their devotion towards God.
Promises….. They were the only ones who were told constantly about the coming Messiah to save them from their sins. The coming Messiah was given to the Israelites. This promise was given to the Jews going back in the Garden found in Genesis 3 before it ever came to you and I.
The Patriarchs…… Abraham who was told “And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” Gen 12:2
A nation that would be “If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.” Psalm 139:18
The Christ……The line of the Savior would come from this bloodline of Jacob’s son Judah. In Matthew’s Gospel we avoid the genealogies section, but it’s here for a reason. “Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way.” Matt 1:1-18. For the Love of Christ was to be their greatest passion as they hoped in the Messiah through the blood line of the Jews.
The nation of Israel had everything they needed to live, work, worship, and anticipate the coming of their redemption. But they chose to squander these privileges; blessings that no one else had in the Old Testament. God was expecting far more from the Jews, but they did nothing with this truth that was given to them as a people chosen by God.
Is the church any different in the New
Covenant of His blood?
Having this special adoption in His Son, entering into the glory of God through the gospel
The covenant in His blood
The Scriptures as our way of life and godliness
The understanding of genuine worship
The eternal promises of God
The examples of those who gone before us and around us today.
The gospel of Christ
My burden and fear is the same as Paul’s, there are many why have tasted, profess Christ, but are lacking the eternal promises in these last days. Jesus said, “Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, 'Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out. But the wise answered, saying, 'Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.' And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, 'Lord, lord, open to us.' But he answered, 'Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.' Matt 25:2-12
The Scripture is very clear about the lost and the Apostate, “How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant…” Heb 10:29. This was Paul’s burden….knowing the truth of God’s sovereignty, predestination, foreknowledge, election, justification, sanctification, and glorification. It is these Biblical Truths are what spurred Paul to have heart with a deeper love and burden for the unregenerate.
Paul’s Adoration (v5)
Paul greatest joy in this burden he carried was his love for Christ and God’s sovereign plan being consistent with history. Paul goes from sorrow to great joy in Christ because Jesus is “Incarnate Deity” a declaration of His deity. (v5) A God who is “over all” which means “to have charge over, authority over” Our God is over everything/ over it all.
Christ is at the top, this is His sovereign Lordship, He is over…….
Over all…but it still doesn’t change the burden Paul/the church should have for the lost? It increases our love for Christ and our urgency to reach the lost. This should be our heart as well! I for one do not know who the elect are in Christ and either do you. And that truth alone should burden your soul for the lost all the more; to go forth and tell others about this divine saving grace and coming judgement. With the hopes that they respond to the gospel as you did when He saved you by His divine grace. As Spurgeon believed strongly in this evangelistic thrust. “He saw it as his chief purpose in preaching: "If I was saved by a simple gospel, then I am bound to preach that same simple gospel till I die, so that others may be saved by it. When I cease to preach salvation by faith in Jesus, put me into a lunatic asylum, for you may be sure that my mind is gone." He remained faithful to this mission throughout his ministry.”