Nov 20, 2023
A Sermon Reflection
This past Sunday, as Pastor Arthur exposited Romans 9:9-13, he made the case that the doctrine of election:
gives the believer hope and assurance
is consistent with Biblical history and
is important for us to know in order that we might love God and others better.
He then took us on a journey through the Scriptures to make a compelling case for these points. I highly recommend that you listen to it HERE.
For the sake of this reflection, I want to start with one simple statement, regarding God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility in election, that brought clarity to my mind on this topic.
Pastor Arthur said this, “God only rejects those who reject Him and only chooses those who choose Him.”
Let’s note what is NOT said here. Pastor Arthur did not say, God only rejects those He knows will reject Him. Nor did he say, God only chooses those whom He knows will choose Him.
I believe he intentionally stated this point in such a way to allow for the full measure of both ideas that are clearly stated in the Scriptures.
God is Sovereign in salvation AND man is responsible.
Many struggle with the statement above.
It’s not that we struggle to understand God’s Sovereignty. And, it is not that we struggle to understand man’s responsibility. It’s reconciling how these truths meet that confounds us.
John McArthur brings some clarity here. He refers to God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility (in salvation) as “two parallel truths that are to be affirmed if not fully comprehended.” By this statement, we are encouraged to embrace the mystery of a God who is big enough to be beyond our comprehension.
As Pastor Arthur pointed out, God is Sovereign over all things. And, the Word of God tells us that it’s His world and He does as He pleases (Psalm 115:3). Nothing can thwart His plans (Job 42:2).
And we know that man is responsible. We see, since the Garden of Eden, that man has choices to make and that those choices matter to God.
So, as we reflect on these parallel truths and as we seek to understand how to reconcile God’s Sovereign election and man’s responsibility, how are we to respond?
In a sense, it’s very simple. We must see that God’s part is being Sovereign. He is free to call who He wishes to salvation.
And we must see that our part is responding.
We may not understand fully, but we must respond.
I love the quote that Pastor Arthur shared regarding the necessity of our response in his sermon a couple of weeks ago. These words are from the Puritan preacher Joseph Alliene,
“Do not stand still disputing about your election - but set to repenting and believing. Cry to God for converting grace. Revealed things belong to you; in these busy yourself. Whatever God's purposes may be, I am sure His promises are true. Whatever the decrees of heaven may be, I am sure if I repent and believe I shall be saved.”
I wholeheartedly agree with his assessment!
If you know that God has called you and if you have responded with belief in Jesus Christ, then praise God for saving you by His great mercy! Thank Him for causing you to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus. Thank Him for giving you an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading and for keeping it in heaven for you even as He is guarding you for the fullness my salvation that is still to be revealed (1 Peter 1:3-5). And, present your whole being to Him as a living sacrifice in worship (Romans 12:1)
Embrace God’s precious gift to you and rest in the assurance that His Sovereign Providence has granted to you as you live, more fully, each day, for Him!
But, if this is not your story, if you have not responded with belief, but you are bothered by all this, then I urge you to consider the passage below and note that this is written to those who had seen Christ, but not believed.
“But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:36-40
Consider the Lord’s calling and know that all who the Father has given will come to Christ. Look to the Son. Repent of your sin. Repent of your unbelief. Ask the Lord for saving grace. And, believe on Him for eternal life, trusting in the assurance that He gives to keep you and to raise you up on the last day.
This is an urgent matter of eternity. I pray that you would embrace the truths of a God whose ways you cannot fully comprehend. That you would allow Him to be God - One whose thoughts and ways are far more informed and far better than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9)
And I pray that you would see His goodness - in the ways that He has blessed you, cared for you and provided for you. But I pray, above all that, you would see His goodness in the Gospel of Jesus Christ who died to restore sinners, like you and like me, back to God by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and that you would respond with belief.
““For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”” Romans 10:11
And, if you have questions about any of this, I pray that you would reach out to us at Restoration Church of Sanford. We would love the opportunity to talk through this with you. You can contact us HERE.