Election Joy [9-13-20]


Today we're going to consider a challenging Biblical doctrine…God's sovereignty expressed through His electing grace. We begin with two selections from the Gospel of John. These are the holy and sacred words of our Lord Jesus Christ.


John 17:6-19:

“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction,  that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.


John 6:63-71:

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray him.


There's a lot going on here. Let's break it down.


Let's get at the meaning in John 6 by first looking at Acts 11:18:

When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, "Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life."

In other words, the only way a sinner could ever repent is if God grants him or her repentance. That's the grace Jesus expressed to Nicodemus when he talked about being born again. We are not born again through any choosing of our own, but through the electing grace of God. John 1 says, "As many as received him, to them he gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in his name who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man but of God." Faith in God is a gift from God. Amen?


The Bible then says people are incapable of understanding the truth of the gospel. They are incapable of believing on their own. There is nothing in our broken, sinful selves that desires to initiate repentance. When the Bible says we are slaves to sin, it means we lack the freedom to choose repentance; to choose to believe; to choose to be good, decent people. So the only way we can be redeemed is by the work of God. God is the Giver of understanding and repentance and faith. God redeems us from spiritual death. Only God gives sight to the spiritually blind. Only God leads us to the truth. Only God gives us the desire to do good.


Here's something to remember:

IF ANYONE IS EVER SAVED, IT IS BECAUSE GOD OVERRULES ALL THE NORMAL INABILITIES.

That's why we say salvation is all and only from God. It's all grace and it's all God. The profoundest and deepest truth is that none of us would ever choose Christ if God had not first chosen us. Here's something you might

want to write down:

We are saved and we have life because God freely chose to give it to us.

That is election.


Let's draw more out, starting with John 6:64. "Now there are some of you who do not believe, {for Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.}" And then he adds in verse 65:  “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”


Jesus clearly and plainly states that you cannot come to Christ…you won't come to Christ unless God grants you the understanding, repentance, and faith. Salvation is a work of God. It has nothing to do with anything we choose. And so we are left with a question. Why did God do this? Why did God make this choice? Why did God choose to rescue sinners from His just judgment?


The answer to that question is staggering.


First in Titus 1:1, we read, "Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God's elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness."


What's the first thing Paul says? God has called him into service. God had replaced Paul's hatred for Christ with love for Christ and a desire to serve him. And what does Paul say about his service? Here's the staggering part. Paul says he has been called to bring the gospel to the elect so that they can hear it and believe. Let that settle. They are the elect before they believe.


Years ago, there was this wonderful man who was being trained to be a lay pastor. This was back in the 20-oughts. Greg was a lawyer by profession with a heart for Jesus. He was training to primarily preach in small churches without pastors. One semester, he taught a unit on Reformed theology in a church I was pastor at. Greg was a unique, quirky guy. He died 10 years ago. I loved that guy. Anyway, he knew his stuff. And as he taught about election and predestination, I'm told many people in that class had never heard or remembered hearing about such things. I realized I had not spent a proper amount of time preaching these things. There's a balance I had neglected.


As much as possible, it's good for us to wrap our brains around these essential doctrines. Especially now, as so many cultural influences and pressures seem to be eroding a Biblical worldview.


Let's now return to the previous observation. The people to whom Paul preaches are the elect before they believe. Since Paul doesn't know who the elect are, since there is no way to identify them, Paul therefore preaches the gospel everywhere he goes. Since God's sovereign election is known only to God, as God's servant, Paul knows God will use him to bring the gospel to the elect who will believe. That's what hit me hardest as I was working through this message. Evangelism, which is the center of Paul's ministry, is bringing the gospel so the elect can hear it and believe it and live it. I could almost hear the little light bulb go on.


Let's round out this section on election out before moving on. Here's the fullness of what Paul teaches in Titus. He preaches the gospel so the elect can hear it and believe. Then he teaches the Word of God so those who are now believing can grow in the knowledge of the truth into godliness. This is sanctification. And then, Paul tells them about the eternal life to come so that they can live in hope, and hope becomes their great comfort.


Expressed another way:

Election=Salvation→Sanctification→Glorification

The Bible says all this comes from God, who promised it before time began. Hear that. Before time began, God promised that He would save, and sanctify, and glorify believers.


Now here's the big turn. Titus 1:2 says God promised to save sinners and sanctify them and glorify them, before time began. To whom did God make the promise? He didn't make it to sinners. There were none there. To whom did God make the promise?


Let's go back to John 17:9 for the answer:

I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.

That's the key. The Father made the promise to the Son. Salvation comes from God. It is all about His own purpose and it is granted on behalf of Christ. So here's the great depth of the doctrine of election. The Father, before we even existed, before the world existed, says to the Son, "I am going to redeem sinners and I'm going to do it for you. I'm going to do it for you."


We're going to end with a question. Why would God do that? Because He loves the Son. As John 17:25-26 says:

"O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

We see here how Jesus celebrates the mutual love he has with the Father. As that eternal love is expressed in the perfect relationship of the Trinity, that gift of love from the Father to the Son is a redeemed humanity.

To die on the cross for our forgiveness is the crown jewel…it is the ultimate gift…that is an expression of the love of the Father for the Son, to give the work of our salvation to him.

We'll stop here. When we come back next week, we'll pick thing up with marriage customs in Jesus' day. How are arranged marriages analogous to election?










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