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Sovereignty

Sovereignty

I want to begin today speaking on Subjects of the Sovereignty of God. The Subjects to be dealt with are Adoption Predestination, Election and Foreknowledge.

Normally, when you see the word "sovereignty" repeatedly referred to in messages preached or printed, it is a pretty good indication the preacher is a Calvinist. I receive a monthly periodical which is full of the word in its contents as well as in the advertisements for various Churches. Church names like "Sovereign Grace Baptist Church" and Bible Colleges emphasizing "Sovereign Grace" are indicators of Calvinistic Doctrine.

John Calvin did not found Presbyterianism, however, the doctrine of Presbyterian Churches is traced to the Westminister Assembly which was held in England from 1643-48. One of the chief products of this Assembly was the Westminister Confession of Faith, embodying the teachings of John Calvin and his successors. The Westminster Confession reflected John Calvin's system of predestination theology which has been summarized in five points by the acronym of TULIP. Total Depravity of man, unconditional election, limited atonement, ,irresistible grace and perseverance of the saints. While there are at least 2 points of the tulip which are Biblically correct, we do not call ourselves 2 point Calvinist. Calvin did not discover those great truths for us, therefore we are not indebted to him in that sense. For example: Belief in the Total depravity of man was believed and preached centuries before Calvin as well as was Perseverance of the Saints. I believe those two points, however that does not make me a 2 point Calvinist. I might add that most Calvinists that I speak with became Calvinistic after their conversion. I also have spoken over the years with many of those who were taught Calvinistic TULIP doctrine that were emotionally distraught because in their heart they had a desire to be saved. Sadly though, they were confused and plagued by thinking that they could not become a Christian because they might not be one of the elect. Many of them would thrill to believe "Whosoever will may come," but were taught only those who are "Elect" will be saved. The Calvinist doctrine of election becomes a stumbling stone to faith. FRIEND, IF YOU HAVE A DESIRE TO BE SAVED. YOU MAY

"The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as men count slackness: but is long suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" 2 Peter 3:9.


Adoption

The first Subject concerning the Sovereignty of God that I want to address is ADOPTION. Romans 8:15,23 state, "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of Adoption, whereby we cry, Abba Father." "And not only they, but ourselves, waiting for the Adoption, to wit, the redemption of the body."

By Definition, Adoption is a definite act of God whereby God sets a goal for the believer. It is a definite act of the sovereign God. It has nothing to do with the power or will of man. ADOPTION MEANS TO BE "SON-PLACED" NOT "SON-MADE'. Every believer is made a son at the moment of salvation, however, we are waiting for the Adoption according to Romans 8:23 quoted above. Ephesians 1:5 says, "Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of His will."

We believers have not arrived at the goal but one day we will. Notice Eph.2:7 "That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus." This will be realized and experienced by all the redeemed when we are SON-PLACED, that is, receive the ADOPTION.

In Romans 8:23, notice that we "have the first-fruits of the Spirit" (pardon, forgiveness, acceptance, sanctification, security, peace) however, we are "waiting for the adoption" and then he explains what Adoption is "the redemption of the body". Well, the body of the believer is not redeemed until it is changed like unto His glorious body. That is what is spoken of in 1 Corinthians 15:35-57 and again in 1 John 3:1-3.

Phil.3:21 says, "Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself" WE HAVE REDEEMED SOULS IN UNREDEEMED BODIES, BUT WE ARE WAITING FOR THE ADOPTION, THE REDEMPTION OF THE BODY! Some teach that the new birth and adoption mean the same thing. That is not Scriptural. The NEW BIRTH took place when I received Christ. Adoption will take place when I receive my NEW BODY.

Adoption is a goal that God has predetermined for the Believer based on the NEW BIRTH. God will Adopt none except the REDEEMED. ARE YOU SAVED? "FOR WHOSOEVER SHALL CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD SHALL BE SAVED." ROMANS 10:13


Predestination

Last week I dealt with the Subject of Adoption, pointing out that it means "son-placing" not "son-making". (you may request previous articles) Today, I begin with the subject of predestination, The subject of Predestination as taught by some leaves many dangling over hell without hope because of an improper interpretation of the Scriptures concerning the object or goal of Predestination. THE GREATEST ERROR IN THE CALVINIST TEACHING OF PREDESTINATION IS IN THE GOAL OF PREDESTINATION. Let me explain: Nowhere in the scriptures are we predestined to be saved.

Predestination does not have salvation as a goal. In other words, God hasn't Predestined us to be saved, He has Predestined those who are saved to be ADOPTED! Please look at Ephesians 1:5, "Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself according to the good pleasure of His will." The only way to confuse the goal of predestination is to confuse Adoption with Salvation! They are not the same. The same thing happens when Predestination and Election are made to mean the same thing. They are not the same as you will see later.

The meaning of Predestination: To predetermine beforehand the farthest extent. Let me explain: An airline predetermines to sell tickets to anyone who wishes to go to Atlanta for a price of $100.00. Not everyone will want to go, however, those who wish to go can walk up to the counter, buy the ticket and the airline's obligation is to get them to the destination. The airline did not determine who would go, only that those who chose to go would arrive at the destination. Listen to 2 Peter 3:9 "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." Also look at 1 Tim.2:3-4 "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."

I will come back to this subject next week. Listen to Romans 8:29 ,"For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren." That does not tell us that God predestined anyone to be saved! It does tell us that God predetermined to conform those who believe on Christ to the image of His Son. Hence, the goal of predestination is not salvation, rather conformation. More to follow. Meanwhile, Are you saved? Do you know it?

As I stated in the last article. Predestination has conformation as its goal, not Salvation. In other words, God did not predestinate the Believer's Salvation. He predestinated the Believer's conformation to the image of His own Dear Son!

Predestination is a divine act of God in which He makes the goal, Adoption, certain for the Believer.

There are those who interpret Ephesians 1:4 to mean that God chose some to be saved and some to be lost. The book of Ephesians is dealing with the body of Christ, the Church. In that book "Church" is found nine times and "Body" is found nine times. In Ephesians, the Believer is not dealt with as an individual, rather a member of the body. The whole book deals with the corporate body, not the individual. It is the Church, the Body that is chosen in Christ! He is not teaching that God chose individuals for Salvation. He is teaching that before the foundation of the world, God decided to have a Church, Body of Believers, whose foundation would be "in Christ". God decided before the foundation of the world the destination of the Church. He did not decide on the destination of each individual person. The moment a person receives Christ, that person is predestined to heaven, never before! "But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name." John 1:12.

Taking this line of thought and looking at Romans 8:28-39 it is again obvious that a Body called the Church is being spoken of rather than individuals. Notice in those verses "we",  "the called" , "many brethren" , "us all", "God's elect" are used. Please watch closely: Before the world existed, God in His divine foreknowledge and purpose predestined to bring a group of people into a special relationship with Himself. This special relationship was planned by God and was to be accomplished in this manner:

  1. Them He called
  2. Those who respond then are justified and then
  3. Those who are justified are glorified.

Verse 33 states , "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect (corporate body, not individual) it is God that justifieth?" Again, predestination is not individual! It is a collect Body of respondents who hear the call, believe on Christ, are justified and then glorified! Peter said in 2 Peter 1:10, "Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure:" If it is not up to man to respond to the call, why must he "give diligence"? Here again, predestination and election have to do with a corporate body, the Church. God has not predetermined who will be one of the elect. He has however predetermined to make all those who respond to the call one of the elect. If you have heard the call of the Gospel and have been convicted of your sinful condition, and then have received Jesus Christ as your Savior, you my friend, have become predestined to be conformed to His image!

In Acts 16 when the Philippian jailer asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" Paul and Silas did not reply, "Well now, you must be one of God's elect or you can never be saved. Why Mr. jailer, you can't even believe the gospel if you aren't predestinated." What they said was, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved..." John 1:12 says, "But as many as received Him, to them save He the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name."

Paul in Romans 11:14 talking to the Gentiles spoke of provoking "to emulation them which are my flesh (Jews) ,and might save some of them."

2 Thess. 1:8-9 "In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power."

The burden is always on man to believe. Though God is sovereign, He would never command all men everywhere to repent and believe and then fix their heart so they could not repent and believe! How then can 2 Peter 3:9 be interpreted when it is said, "God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance"? Since God is sovereign and can do anything He wills to do and here He is not willing that any perish, Why is He charged by some to will some to salvation and some to damnation?

A Preacher I know who goes into the state pen to preach monthly gave this illustration recently. "Suppose I go up to an inmate and describe a delicious meal my wife is preparing at home. Everything this inmate loves and craves is being prepared. After I have described the feast, I invite him to go eat with me knowing full well he cannot come." That is exactly what we are asked to believe by those who preach what we would call Hyper-Calvinism. The sinner is invited to come to Christ, but cannot.

Another look at 2 Thess.2:l0 reveals the burden of belief to be on man, not God: "And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause (they did not believe) God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."

There will be no one at the Great White Throne Judgment who can say to God, "I wanted to believe and be saved but you didn't choose me. You predestined me to be lost."

Friend, If you want to be saved, you can, for "God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."


Election

There are numerous passages in the Bible which should or could be read in regard to the subject of Election. Romans 9: 6-24 are very often referred to on the subject. It must be realized that the Bible is not a revelation of what God knows, but rather the revelation of what He wants to reveal to us. Of course, there are some things which finite minds cannot know.

Let me remind you again of the definition of Adoption: A divine act of God whereby God sets a goal for the Believer, Eph. 1:5 Likewise the definition of Predestination is A divine act of God whereby God makes that goal (adoption) certain for the Believer. Also Eph 1:5.

Definition of "Election": A divine act of God. Whereby God, for reasons known only to Himself, in the blessing of mankind, sets to one side all firsts, and chooses all seconds. Romans 9:11. "For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calleth;"

The Bible speaks of about the elect of God, and God's elect. When we read the phrase "God's elect", it is not just a statement of fact. It is a title of dignity and was only spoken of those who were believers.

It should also be noticed that "elect" is always used of a corporate body, not individuals, In Romans 9, Jacob represents Israel as the people of God spiritually and Esau (flesh) the world. (Esau sold his birthright because he was ruled by the flesh.)

It should also be noticed that Romans 9:12 shows that election in the case of Jacob and Esau had to do with serving not saving. "It was said unto her, (Rebecca) The elder shall serve the younger."

If we apply the hyper-Calvinist teaching to Jacob and Esau, you have Jacob saved and Esau lost, however, that is not the case because the Election here is not of salvation but of service. Esau did not lose his sonship. He lost his birthright and the blessing of the firstborn! The election was according to the foreknowledge of God, who alone knew that Esau would despise the birthright and forfeit the blessing.

Just in case you read verse 15 which says in part "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion...", you need to also read Romans 11:32 where we see ,"For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all." Election does not teach that God limits the atonement, or limits His mercy. Mary said in Luke 1:50, "And His mercy is on them that fear Him from generation to generation."

Remember that the definition of "Election" is A divine act of God, whereby God, for reasons known only to Himself, in blessing of mankind, sets to one side all firsts, and chooses all seconds. There are numerous examples of this principle in the Holy Scriptures,

Of all nations, Israel is God's elect. The Church which is His body is God's elect.

The word "Election" is used 27 times in the Bible and is used in connection with God's people as well as a few times relative to Jesus Christ. Now notice here a few examples of the Election principle in the Scriptures:

  1. The first Adam was set aside and the Last Adam (Christ) was established as we see in 1 Cor.15:45, 47 "The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit." v47 "The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven."
  2. Cain and Abel. Cain and Abel had both heard and known the way to approach God. Abel chose the right way, and Cain chose the worldly way. Abel came with blood and Cain came with bloodless vegetables. Cain the elder was set aside and Abel the younger was chosen.
  3. Ephraim and Manasseh. Isaac wittingly put the right hand of blessing on Ephraim's (the younger) head, for purposes known to God in setting aside the elder and choosing the younger. It had nothing to do with salvation. It had to do with nations.
  4. The Old Testament Law and the New Testament Sacrifice of Christ. Heb. 10:5-9 tells us that "...Wherefore when He cometh into the world, He saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me) to do thy will, 0 God. Above when He said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; then said He, Lo, I come to do thy will, 0 God. He taketh away the first that He may establish the second." According to the principle of Election, God set aside the Old Testament law and established the way to heaven through the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus Christ!

The Election principle has nothing to do with the individual's Salvation! The Election principle has to do with corporate groups such as nations shown in the Old Testament set aside and the Nation of Israel chosen and in the New Testament The Church or Body of Christ chosen and all others rejected! If you are saved, You are one of the Elect! If you have never accepted Christ, You elect yourself to be lost! Acts 13:46 "...It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you (Jews): but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles."


Foreknowledge

The three previous subjects that I dealt with , Adoption, Predestination and Election are acts of God. Foreknowledge is not an act of God. It is an attribute of God.

Romans 8:29 "For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren."

I Peter 1:2 "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied."

Acts 2:23 "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain."

Romans 11:2 "God hath not cast away His people which He foreknew.."

It simply means to know beforehand! God knows everything in the present tense. To Him there is no new learning. He has always known everything past, present and future. Before there was a planet named earth, He knew it as though it had always existed. Before there was a man on the earth, He knew every man as though he had always existed.

Some people think that because God knows everything, He must be responsible for everything. This is not true! God knows who will be lost and who will be saved, however, He doesn't pick and choose who will be saved. FOREKNOWLEDGE IS NOT AN ACT OF GOD! Please read Psalm 139:1-8. Foreknowledge is a divine attribute of God whereby God sees everything in the present tense. There is no past, present or future with God. Neither is there time or space with God. He is infinite and we are finite. He has no limitations. We are limited. Foreknowledge belongs to the realm of the infinite and only God is infinite! Satan is not infinite! He wished to be and even boasted to be. Read Isaiah 14:12-17. In verse 14 notice he said "I will be like the most High." Friend, no one including Satan will be like the most High!

God is not in heaven trying to come up with a strategy to outwit the devil. God knows the beginning from the end. There is no such thing as God being surprised! He never learned anything new. He never forgot anything. God has always known everything from beginning to end! Please read Romans 11:33-36

God knows what your response to His Gospel will be. That doesn't mean He chooses for you. In fact, He knows the fate of every single person who has ever existed or ever will exist. John 1:11-12 says, "He came unto His own, but His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave lie the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name."

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