Election is not the problem…sin is (part ii)

4 11 2006

In Romans chapter 1 the apostle tells us that humanity is ‘without excuse’. There has been much discussion on this post relative to what and how this could be. I thought it might be better to take this text insert it in another post and make some comments relative to the verse. Hopefully this serves as helpful.

In Romans 1 God is clearly angry as “the wrath of God” is being revealed from heaven. Notice the object of this justified anger: “men”. Humanity is in the cross hairs of divine wrath.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness /18

And why? It is because they “suppress the truth in unrighteousness”. Notice that the immediate reason given for unleashing heaven’s judgment upon man is that they are actively suppressing the truth. God is angry because of humanity’s rejection and suppression of his revelation (much more could and probably should be said here…).

Paul goes on to demonstrate how this revelation has been given and the persistent and dedicated truth suppression or rebellion that ensues:

because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them /19

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Election is not the problem…sin is

20 10 2006

I have been thinking a lot recently about free-will, the nature of sin, divine election and so forth. I have come accross this quote by Packer and was greatly encouraged. If you have not read this book, it is a must.

The Bible never says that sinners miss heaven because they are not elect, but because they ‘neglect the great salvation’, and because they will not repent and believe.

The last judgment will abundantly prove that it is not the want of God’s election, so much as laziness, the love of sin, unbelief, and unwillingness to come to Christ, which ruins the souls that are lost. God gives men what they choose, not the opposite of what they choose. Those who choose death, therefore have only themselves to thank that God does not give them life” J.I. Packer, Evangelism & the Sovereignty of God

Blessed by God part iii (Ephesians 1)

10 07 2006

[Included here are sermon notes & application questions from this past Sunday morning at Omaha Bible Church you may listen or download here– ListenDownload]

This is part four of the series on the realities of the blessings in Ephesians chapter one that come to a Christian as a result of who Jesus Christ is and what he does in the life of the believer. The first three blessings were election, predestination, & redemption.

This morning we’ll consider two more blessings, first the believer’s ENLIGHTENMENT. This enlightenment is not transcendental nirvana or heightened reasoning, but rather a special and super natural revealing of who God is and what he does.

This enlightenment is by grace. Notice in verse nine, we are told that this enlightenment was as a result of God acting and making it known. We know based upon Romans that God has previously and continually made himself known, but we the creature look at the creation and say, “What a great creation, let’s worship it!!” According to Romans one this is suppressing the truth in unrighteousness (cf. Rom. 1.18-2.1).

Notice the reasoning why: Ephesians 1:9 according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him

Why does God do this? Why does God do anything? It is for his own good pleasure. This is why we see in the Scriptures saints appealing to God to act based upon his character, for his good pleasure, for his name’s sake. God enlightens us for his own pleasure.

The building blocks are building to a pinnacle. There is a purpose: Ephesians 1:10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him

What is the apex of the divine will? It is Jesus Christ, he is the culminating point, the apex, the pinnacle. Jesus is everything. What is God’s ultimate plan for everything that he can get his arms around (which is everything!!) it is Jesus Christ!! This is the will of God.

Even as we see in Genesis God creating everything for his name’s sake, and here in Ephesians that everything is created for the purpose of exalting Jesus Christ. Here we have the architect of the world turning the light on in our noggins to show us that the reason for everything, the supreme reason for everything is the glory of Christ. God has always been about one thing, he has always pointed to Christ as the worthy object of his affections.

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Blessed by God part ii (Ephesians 1)

2 07 2006

[Included here are sermon notes & application questions from this past Sunday morning at Omaha Bible Church you may listen or download the message here.]

We are all created by God to be passionate. So therefore, we are all passionate about something or someone. This is by divine design. So what is to be the catalyst for our most extreme passion? Well quite simply it is that thing that exalts and glorifies God like nothing else. So therefore, we as believers are to be uniquely and supremely passionate about the glory of God through the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

In the previous post we looked at the first two great realities that should lead to passionate praise 1) Election, & 2) Predestination. Today we’ll look at the third great reality, redemption.

Redemption is a term that means to be bought out of, to be rescued out of bondage. During the time of the writing of Ephesians, historians tell us that there were roughly 60 million slaves in the Roman Empire. Imagine the response of a slave who has been removed from slavery by the paid ransom!? It would be nothing less than passionate thankfulness.

In understanding redemption it is helpful to look at it from the negative side. Consider the plight of the animated corpses in Ephesians 2:

Ephesians 2:1-3 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

Do you see the bondage here? We, without Christ, are living in the mire and muck of the sin dungeon, bound to do whatever our sinful hearts dictated. To the degree that you understand how wretched and miserable of a sinner you are you will understand and appreciate salvation. If you are having flat praise it is because you are unimpressed with grace, unimpressed with the cross, unimpressed with the power of redemption, and over impressed with yourself and your ‘redeeming’ qualities that are not redeemable, but hopeless apart from Christ. Christians love to hear of sin, because it exalts Christ. Non-Christians hate to hear about sin because it exalts a need for Christ.

Notice that redemption, the purchase was made with a cost: verse seven says “through his blood”.

True or False? Salvation is obtained by work.

TRUE! Not our work, but Christ’s WORK. The finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ! The one who gave up his very life to die in the place of sinners! We have no part in our redemption, but Christ working for us, saves sinners.

The magnitude of the cost of God for redemption should be connected with the magnitude of our praise to him for this grace!! This is why flat praise and lukewarmness is systemic of undervaluing redemption.

Redemption is equated with the forgiveness of sins (cf. v.7, and also Col. 1.14). The only way to have forgiveness is to have redemption. Jesus Christ died in the place of sinners and redeemed them, that is he purchased the ransom to extract them from slavery.

This redemption is not potential or possible but certain. Revelation 5.9-10 teaches us that the saints in heaven are singing perfect songs about the reality that God has redeemed sinners and these who are redeemed will reign upon the earth. Jesus Christ actually accomplished something on that cross. He, being the sinners’ substitute, in a point in time, accomplished redemption upon the cross, and then point in time, when he calls us with the gospel (Rom. 8.29) he applies this redemption. Christ did not accomplish redemption for everyone who ever lived only to apply it to those who would believe. Rather, he accomplished redemption for all those whom he chose (Eph. 1.4) and predestined (Eph. 1.5). And then, according to Titus 2.14 the believer’s life has changed!

This redemption is a sufficient redemption. Our Savior, the head of the New Covenant, accomplished perfect and eternal redemption, because the eternal Son has offered an eternal sacrifice to satisfy eternal wrath, to give sinners eternal life through eternal redemption!!

Psalm 107:2 2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say so,

Psalm 111:9 9 He has sent redemption to His people; He has ordained His covenant forever; Holy and awesome is His name.

Is there a better term to refer to our great redeemer than what Paul uses in verse 6? Paul calls Jesus the Beloved.

Application Questions…………………………………..

  1. Define Redemption.
  2. Why is Christ the only one suitable for the accomplishment of redemption?
  3. Identify some aspects of redemption that should fuel and sustain your praise.
  4. How is flat praise connected with undervaluing the redemption that Christ bought?
  5. Identify the competitors to the glory of Christ in your life (i.e. what rivals Christ for his rightful place of supremacy).
  6. What is the root cause of this rivalry?
  7. What will you do to arrest this competitor and replace this with Christ-exalting praise?


Blessed by God (Ephesians 1)

26 06 2006

[Included here are sermon notes & application questions from this past Sunday morning at Omaha Bible Church you may listen or download the message here=>ListenDownload]

Ephesians 1 is a man-humbling, Christ-exalting run-on sentence that serves to distill the praise and power of God. It is interesting to note that it is the theological truth of this chapter is the catalyst for this exemplarily praise.

What has God done? He has blessed us (believers v.1) with every spiritual blessing. This is why his praise is so ardent.

Well, why has he done it? What is the basis for giving believers every spiritual blessing?

The first basis point of why and how God can give us these blessings:

1. Election v.4:

Verse 3 ends with the reality of this grand blessing, and flowing into verse 4 is the causal statement of why…”just as he chose us” You could render this, since, or because, he chose us, or elected us.

When did he do this choosing? The text says before the foundation of the world! God brought this about, and he did it not only before we were born, but before the world was even formed!! Notice he did not do this when we believed, but before not only when we believed, but before the formation of the world!!

Some say if you believe election you will be prideful. Where is the pride so far in this text? Who chose who? God sovereignly apprehends sinners who are dead (Eph. 2.1-3). There is nothing but man humbling God exalting theological realities.

Some say that election is unloving. Notice the word that is so closely affixed to this sentence: love. Election is done in love. The tender mercies of God, lovingly preventing those who are running headlong into hell, even electing them unto eternal life; this is done to the glory of God according to his good pleasure.

2. Predestination v.5

Paul is excited based upon unconditional love. Notice who predestines? It is God. The elect (v4) have a destination, namely to sonship. The sinner is unholy and blameworthy and God predestines them. This is not about odds or probability but about certainty!

What does he predestine believers to? Sonship. It is a good to eradicate the feminist mindset here, there are no daughters of God…in the Greek culture that Paul was writing in, the son was the heir. Do you want the inheritance? You want to be a son!!

If someone says they do not believe in predestination, I would ask them, do you believe in grace? Do you believe in Christ? It is in the Bible! AND the predestination is tied directly to the inheritance. How do you know you have an inheritance? It is because the sovereign God has predestined this to occur. So when people want to take away predestination, know that it is time to roll up your sleeves and fight, because they are attacking your inheritance! Don’t you dare touch my inheritance!! The inheritance that Christ has bought and sovereign grace has applied. This is in accordance with the divine will and agenda.

What is the focus of the divine predestination? Verse 5 tells us that God is the focus of this predestination. Since God is God this makes perfect sense. If he was not God then this would be ridiculous…but he is God therefore it is perfectly sensible. God being supreme in his person and actions is perfectly eligible to receive the ultimate honor and glory.

What is the basis of the election? Verse 5 tells us that he does this according to the kind intention of his will, or as in other passages translating this Greek word, this is done in accordance to his own good pleasure. God gets pleasure in predestination, why are people so upset about it? God receives pleasure in this grand doctrine, why don’t you? At the end of the day God does this for his own pleasure because he likes it. God predestines because he likes to. If you do not like predestination then know that you are fundamentally disagreeing with that which explicitly gives God pleasure.

So why is anyone saved? It is clear that it is not because we choose God but that he chooses his sheep, even before the foundation of the world. There is no free will. Free will is as much of a fictional truth as the fictional movie Free Willy! We have a bound will. Read Romans 6. We love sin and find so many creative ways to sin. If anyone is saved it is because of the sovereign elective grace of God. If there is no election there is no salvation.

Part II will be continued next week.

Application Questions………………………………………………..

-1- Ephesians 1 is one of the supreme explosions of praise in the Bible. However, it is also one of the most theological. Why must biblical praise be connected with correct doctrine?


-2- In light of Ephesians 1 and Paul’s response, what would you say to someone who stated that theology is not practical? In other words, what is the practical application of the theology expressed here.


-3- In verse four of Ephesians chapter one we see that God has actively chosen his saints. What reaction does this reality bring in your heart? Do you like the doctrine of divine election? Why or why not? How do your preferences line up with God’s?


-4- Could any ever be saved (holy & blameless v.4) if God did not elect and predestine sinners to salvation? Why or why not?


-5-There is little doubt that Paul’s understanding and appreciation of these theological truths fueled his praise. What can you do to enhance and sustain your own amazement and delight in the God who gave his only Son to redeem sinners like yourself?