Tough Stuff: Diving Deep into Your Salvation

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Tough Stuff - Difficult Truths from the Bible

Diving Deep into Your Salvation

Tough Stuff–Difficult to Believe–The Doctrines of Grace

Do you like going in the water?  There are some people who only talk about the water.  They discuss the ocean, write poems about rivers and look at views around the lake–but they never actually go in the water.  There are others who only go on the water.  They’ll walk out on the dock, ride in a boat or paddle a canoe–they may even water ski, but they’re almost exclusively surface people.  A few are skin divers.  They enjoy diving down and looking around.  They love exploring a rich and deep environment.  Fewest of all are the scuba divers who spend as long as they can underneath the surface in order to be at home, deep under the water.

Don’t be afraid, but today we’re going on a scuba dive.  Many churches invest their time just talking about the Bible.  They speak in clichés, use biblical verbiage and refer to the Word, but really don’t know God’s Word, nor understand God’s will.  Other Christians actually spend time on the water–they listen to the radio, but they’re surface in their understanding about doctrine.

As a church we desire for you to dive deep into God’s Word–to be immersed in the Scripture and for the Scripture to saturate you.  We always want to exposit the depths of the Word to you in a Christ-like manner, meaning simply, practically and always accurately.  But there are times we swim in areas of the Word where the depths are a little scary and difficult and today is one of those days.  Today we are going to look at some doctrines that are profound and difficult to a lot of Christians.  These are some truths that surround the most important event of your life, your salvation.

When God saves you, He opens your eyes to the truth of His Word–and as you begin to study the Bible inevitably the truths you read in the Scripture will raise some very difficult and profound questions:

Is Jesus God or man?  Yes

Was the Bible written by God or man?  Yes

Does God have a beginning?  No

And concerning salvation, did God choose me or did I choose Him?

What does it mean that God predestined us, chose us in Him before the foundation of the world and elected us?  The Bible says we are dead in our sins–then how can we choose to be saved if we are dead?  Did Jesus die for all men or did He just die for His elect?  If salvation is dependent on me, I actually could lose it.  But if it is dependent upon Christ alone, can I lose it?  Now get this . . .

The picture the Bible paints of people is a bleak one–the entire human race, each of us is fallen, rebellious, dead in our sins, lost, blind, helpless and hopeless.  And all of us are deservedly headed to hell.  The Bible says out of the ocean of humanity headed toward hell that God by His grace elects then chooses some to be saved.  He accomplished the salvation of His elect on the cross, then holds them securely until He brings them home to heaven.

This morning as we continue our Tough Stuff series, we want to look at those truths which help you understand your salvation.  Please know this is difficult because your pride will be exposed and your lack of study of the Scripture will become evident.  Why pride?  Simple—because it is difficult for people to embrace the truth that they had almost nothing to do with their salvation.

So here are our ground rules.  As always at FBC, the Scripture is our final authority.  And you must set aside your previous baggage and allow God’s Word to speak to you directly–just a quick deep dive.  And to survive today you will need to become a Berean as in Acts 17:11, “They received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so.”

Today I want to embrace the fact that our theology of God and of salvation is not high enough and our theology of man and of sin is not low enough.  The goal of the Scripture and this sermon is for you to magnify God and minimize you.  I would love for your awe of God to consume you and for His truth to impassion you.

I’ve done a lot of diving, and even when a small shark swims by it’s scary.  For some of you today’s teaching will be similar–a little scary.  But embracing a correct doctrine of salvation can impact you greatly.  Believing true salvation should result in killing your pride, resting assured, developing a boldness to share the Gospel, increasing in thankfulness and growing in compassion for Christian and non-Christian alike.

Friends, a lack of doctrine brings us all to the lowest common denominator–we will not know our God, so let’s begin the process of embracing the doctrines of grace.  To do that I’m going to ask and answer five statements about salvation.  We could spend weeks on each one, but today let’s introduce these great doctrines with a quick dive knowing there are greater depths to explore in the future.  You may not get it–I will seek to be clear and you listen.  Ready?

#1  Fallen people on their own cannot believe the Gospel

You and I are totally depraved–that doesn’t mean we walk with a limp, have a hunchback, constantly drool, growl when we speak, and smell like garbage.  Total depravity speaks of the inability to choose.  The Bible teaches us that fallen sinful man cannot choose God.  Ephesians 2:1 says, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sin.”

Dead refers to the stench of a corpse–a person so dead they smell.  There’s absolutely no life.  If you have ever been to a funeral you know a corpse has no ability to choose anything.  John MacArthur says, “Men apart from God are spiritual zombies, they are the walking dead, who do not know they are dead.  They go through the motions of life, but they do not possess it.  Before God began His work in your heart, you were spiritually dead, with no ability to respond to God, nor choose God.”

As a result of Adam’s sin in Genesis 3, all people are spiritually dead, unable to either comprehend or believe spiritual truths.  People are blind and deaf to the message of salvation.  This is why Jesus says in John 15:16, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you.”  Why must God do the choosing?  Because we can’t.

You say, “Wait a minute–I chose God.”  But let me ask you, “Was that you or God who enabled you?  Did you choose Him, or were you dead then God awakened you in such a manner that you could respond by putting your faith in Christ?”  You see, when you are dead you can’t choose–you can’t respond.

There are theologians today who think even though you’re dead, you are still sort of alive and can respond.  They hold the same theological belief as Miracle Max in the movie, The Princess Bride.  Do you remember his theology?  After they bring Wesley’s dead body to Miracle Max, Inigo says, “What can you do for him–he is dead?”   And Max mocks Inigo–he says, “It just so happens your friend here is just mostly dead.  There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead.  Mostly dead is slightly alive.  All dead, well, with all dead there’s usually only one thing you can do–what’s that?  Go through his clothes and look for loose change.”

Friends, the Bible says apart from Christ you are ALL DEAD.  Genesis 3 described our downfall–Adam and Eve chose to sin and that affected the entire human race and the entire world.  Romans 5:12 says, “Just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.”  We’re all cursed with original sin–we are not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners (to the core of our being).

Second Chronicles 6:36, “For there is no man who does not sin.”  Ecclesiastes 7:20, “There is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.”  Romans 3:10 to 12, “There is none righteous, not even one; 11 there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; 12 all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one.”  Men are not mostly dead, they are totally dead–all dead.  We are spiritual zombies who don’t know we are actually dead.

So what does a dead man need?  Life–and true life is only found in Christ, as He says in John 10:10b, “I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.”  So does a natural, fallen dead man have the ability to come alive and come to Christ?  What’s the answer?  No

Total depravity tells us that as the result of Adam’s sin all mankind is unable to either comprehend or believe spiritual truths.  People are blind and deaf to the message of salvation.  This explains why some of your friends, classmates and relatives that you plead with just don’t get the Gospel.  The Bible says a fallen natural dead man can’t come to Christ on his own.  First Corinthians 2:14 says, “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.”

So can a natural fallen dead man understand spiritual things?  No

Is the Gospel a spiritual thing?  Yes

Therefore can a natural fallen dead man understand the Gospel?  No

Natural fallen zombie dead men do not have the ability to choose Christ on their own, or turn to Christ for salvation.  Underline two words in John 6:44, “Jesus says ‘No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.’”  The Greek word “unless” is a necessary condition–this must happen before something else can happen.

Unless the Father draws, they cannot come to Christ.  The Greek word “draw” is very strong–it means compel.  Look at how the same word draw is used in James 2:6b, “Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court?”  The same word draw is also used in Acts 16:19, “They seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the market place before the authorities.”  Unless the Father compels me, drags me into life with Him–unless He drags me into salvation, I am not going to go, respond, choose.

Does natural fallen man have the ability to come to Christ?  No!  Wait–don’t I have a free will?  We think free will is the ability to make decisions free of any inclination, disposition or prejudice–totally undistorted.  So do I have that kind of free will?  No, you don’t–not a completely free will.  You and I are not going to make choices without any prior influence, so what is influencing the natural man?  He is a slave to sin.  His nature is corrupted by sin–you and I have a sinful prejudice, inclination and disposition.  And what is my bent and yours?  Pride, sin and rebellion–this is what I naturally do.

Martin Luther said, “Free will without God’s grace is not free will at all, but [free will] is the permanent prisoner and bond-slave of evil, since it cannot turn itself to good.”  That is from his famous book Bondage of the Will.  The point is, my will is in bondage to my nature.  Have you ever seen a big lion at the zoo?  I have seen them there and in Africa, live—they’re really big.  Let’s imagine one being here today, and this lion has not eaten in a week.  So we decide to test this lion.  I will put a head of lettuce right here and a big steak here-iIs the lion going to go for the lettuce or the steak?

How do you know that?  Maybe that’s a lucky guess, so let’s get another lion and we keep doing this–not one time, but fifty times, and fifty times the lion goes to the steak.  But we’re still not convinced, so we get lions from all over the world and give them the choice of lettuce or steak and let them go.  The lion from Russia goes to the steak, from South America goes to the steak, the lion from Santa Cruz, CA goes to the lettuce . . . no, to the steak.  We get every lion alive and give it the choice and every single time it goes for the steak.  Get this, they have permission to go to the lettuce–they have free choice, but they didn’t have a free will.  They are in bondage to their will–they have permission to go to the lettuce but they only had the ability to go to the steak.

Natural man has the permission to come to Christ, but only has the ability to sin and reject Christ–that’s total depravity.  If you don’t believe in total depravity, you don’t believe what the Bible says about sin and you’ll never see just how sinful you really are.  I can share the Gospel to an unsaved friend repeatedly, but unless something happens to change his spiritual deadness and make him come alive, he will reject this Gospel time after time.  So God must act.  (Now, keep breathing, stay under, stay with me.)  So in order to get saved, in order to become a true Christian, I need the intervention of an outside force.  I need to be chosen.

#2  God’s choice of a sinner is the cause of their salvation

God must choose me because as a spiritual zombie I won’t choose Him.  Election is the action of God where He graciously chooses out from among sinful people the ones who will be saved.  This chart shows you there are two views–one view shows God is ultimately responsible and the other shows man as responsible.

God Ultimately Responsible Man Ultimately Responsible
God’s choice unconditional God’s choice dependent on man’s choice.
God chose in eternity past God’s choice determined by present events
Fallen man cannot choose God Fallen man can choose God
Faith is a gift of God Faith is possible for all men
Justice is found in God’s character Justice is found in equal opportunity

The Scripture declares that God is responsible for your salvation.  God doesn’t look ahead to see who will respond in faith.  God doesn’t look ahead and see who will be good or work real hard, but for His own glory God elects some to be His children.  Jesus says clearly in John 15:16, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you.”  Read with me Ephesians 1:4 and 11, “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, 11…we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.” 2 Thessalonians 2:13 says, “Because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation.” The Word of God clearly teaches the only reason you chose to follow Christ is that God first chose you.

Some believe God elects by knowing beforehand what we will decide.  They wrongly interpret foreknowledge to mean God knew in advance who would respond to Him, and therefore He chooses those people.  But foreknowledge is just another way of describing God’s choice–not merely knowing beforehand, but a predetermined love relationship.

The Bible makes a loud point about salvation not being conditioned on people’s choice at all.  In Romans 9:11 to 13, “For though the twins were not yet born, and had not done anything good or bad, in order that God’s purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls,12 it was said to her, ‘The older will serve the younger.’ 13 Just as it is written, ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.’”  God chose Jacob, not Esau.  God didn’t look down through history and see that Jacob would have faith, and as a result choose him—no.  That is exactly the opposite of what this passage is teaching.

The point is, Jacob’s future actions, his faith or attitudes had absolutely nothing to do with God’s choice of him.  Why?  Verse 11 again says, “In order that God’s purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls.”  Why?  So God, not Jacob would receive absolutely all, totally 100% of the glory.  John 6:65b, “No one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father.”

But you say, “Chris, it was my faith that let me choose!”  Really?  Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.”  Faith itself is the gift of God.  1 Peter 1:1 says, “Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.”  Peter acknowledged they had received their faith–they did not work it up on their own, they received their faith.

Philippians 1:29, “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.”  The Philippian believers had been granted or given their faith.  God gives us the faith to believe.  “But Chris, if I believe this, then I have to believe God elects some to eternal life but not everyone.  Why doesn’t God choose everyone?”

Well, the issue is not why God didn’t choose everyone, but why did God choose anyone?  Men and women, God reserves the right to have mercy upon whom He will have mercy.  Some of fallen humanity receive the grace and mercy of election.  The rest God passes over, leaving them in their sin.  The non-elect receive justice.  The elect receive mercy, but no one receives injustice.  If you and I received justice we would be sent to hell.

God isn’t obligated to be merciful to anyone.  It’s God’s decision how merciful He chooses to be.  Yet He is never guilty of being unjust toward anyone.  God’s answer to this question of why He didn’t choose everyone is found in Romans 9:20.  He says, “Who are you, O man who answers back to God.  The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this will it?’”  In other words, “Be quiet and know I am God, I’m the potter, you’re the clay. I am the creator; you’re the creation.”  If you don’t believe in election, you’ll never understand just how gracious God has been to you.

But I can hear you say, “Then why evangelize?  If God elects, then why share Jesus with anyone?  They’re gonna be saved anyway, right?”  Wrong.  God has also sovereignly chosen you and me to be the vehicle to communicate His good news.  In Acts 10, an angel tells Cornelius the Gentile that a man will come and share the good news with him.  Then through a long process, Peter finally comes to share.  Why didn’t the angel tell Cornelius himself–he was right there.  It would have saved time.  But God has chosen His children to be the vehicle to share the truth of the Gospel, and it is our joy, and our delight.

That’s why God told Paul to stay in Corinth in Acts 18:10.  God said, “I have many people in this city.”  He is telling Paul, I elected many people in this city, but you need to stay in order to proclaim the good news so they’ll hear it and respond.  That’s why Acts 13:48 says, “As many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.”  That’s why Romans 10:13 says, “Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.  How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed?  And how shall they believe in Him who they have not heard.  And how shall they hear without a preacher?  And how shall they preach unless they are sent.”

God has chosen us to share, but God is the one who saves.  That is good news since I’m not responsible for anyone accepting or rejecting the Gospel.  Can you imagine if it was your fault they rejected?  They’re in hell because of you?  But I am responsible to share the good news.  Now I know you are having trouble breathing, but trust me, this dive is only going to get worse.  And let me warn you, be careful about saying, “My finite mind cannot understand this, so it must not be true.”  If we could understand everything, then we’d be God.  Read Romans 11:33, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!”  This is deep.  God elects those who will be saved, which means . . .

#3  Christ’s death actually saved His people

What did it take for God to save us?  It not only took the horrible payment of His death on a cross, but it also required the pouring out of all of God’s anger against your sin upon Christ while on that cross.  God provided a propitiation, a satisfaction for God’s justice and holiness.  Propitiation was a common religious word used in heathen religious rites to win the favor of the gods or to avert the wrath and disfavor of the gods.  The biblical writers adopted this word and used it in picturing how Christ’s work on the cross had dealt with the righteous wrath of God toward all who have sinned.

Propitiation describes that facet of our salvation which takes us out from under God’s righteous judgment and places us under the safety of the cross of Christ.  You are no longer an object of God’s wrath but a recipient of His mercy.  Remember when you were a kid and there was danger outside.  What’d you do?  You ran inside.  You are protected because God’s judgment already fell upon Jesus.  He took it for you.  Jesus took your whipping–your just punishment.  Jesus took God’s wrath for us, and in taking the punishment we deserved on the cross, Jesus also redeemed us.

The Bible teaches that each of us are captives of sin, death, the law and Satan.  All of them hold people in their deadly grip.  But just as a person could be released from jail by payment of money canceling out the certificate of debt against him, and could be set free from the chains of darkness into the light of freedom.  And just as a slave in ancient times might be legally purchased by a generous man and set free, so God paid the purchase price by the blood of Christ to release sinners held captive by spiritual oppressors.  Ephesians 1:7 says, “In Him we have redemption through His blood.”  First Peter 1:18 says, “You were not redeemed with perishable things, but with precious blood.”

And when Jesus died on the cross, Jesus died for his elect children.  He died particularly for them.  Christ’s death was sufficient for all, but limited to and applied to the elect.  Now don’t freak out.  Everyone believes Christ’s death was limited.  Some believe that Christ’s death is limited to those who believe, and some believe Christ’s death is limited to those God elects.  Everyone believes the atonement is limited, just who limits it?  Because the Bible teaches election, then we have to believe that Christ’s death is particularly applied to the elect–limited by God.

Just like in evangelism we share with everyone, but only those who God elects respond.  So Christ’s death was sufficient for everyone but only applied to those who are elect.  Depravity demands that someone other than us must choose, election teaches that God is the one who chooses and the cross accomplishes the redemption of those God chooses.  This is called limited or definite atonement–who did Jesus die for?  If you are a Christian or you are going to become a Christian, it means Jesus died for you.  He sacrificed Himself specifically for you.  Matthew 1:21, “And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins.”

Titus 2:14 says, “Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.”  He sacrificed Himself because He wanted you.  What about all those verses talking about the whole world or all people?  Those talk about the sufficiency of the cross for all, or the permission of belief or the heart of God for all the lost.  But the question you have to ask yourself is this . . .

Did Jesus’ death merely make salvation possible for everyone because He died for all without actually saving anyone? OR

Did His death actually accomplish the redemption of His children?

The Bible teaches that Jesus died for His people.  Jesus satisfied the wrath of God toward His children, Jesus reconciles His people to the Father, Jesus redeems His people from bondage, and Jesus covers the guilt and wickedness of His people by His work on the cross.  Don’t miss the message–don’t get so caught up in this profound truth that you miss the incredible sacrifice of God the Son for you.  Jesus died for your sins, Jesus took the punishment you deserved, He took your place, He paid your price, and He did it with you in mind.  Now keep breathing.  Don’t panic–we’re almost done.  So does that mean everyone whom God elects actually will get saved?  Yes

#4  God’s grace always accomplishes its saving purpose

And in order for us to experience election, God calls you and me.  When God calls, He awakens His own to their need of salvation.  The Bible talks about two kinds of calls from God.  One is a general call made to all through creation, conscience and the proclaimed Word.  But this call of God can be rejected, like many in Israel did, and many of the friends you plead with as well.  The other call of God, sometimes called the internal efficacious call is never rejected.  When God gives His special call, it results in someone becoming a Christian, just as Romans 8:30 says, “And whom He predestined, these He also called and whom He called these He also justified [if He calls you, you will be saved], and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”

If we did nothing to obtain salvation but it was totally a work of God, then we can’t do anything to reject our salvation either, since it’s of God.  God chose us, not we chose God–thus the issue is not will we change our minds, but will He change His mind.  And you know the answer to that–Malachi 3:6, “For I, the Lord do not change.”

This is the teaching of the Scripture everywhere–remember Acts 13:48, “When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.”  God appoints people to eternal life and what do we do, believe.  God is sovereign in salvation, God elects people to be saved, and as a result we believe and come to Christ.

Acts 16:14 says, ”A certain woman named Lydia from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.”  Who opened her heart?  The Lord.  What did she do?  She responded.  Acts 18:10 says, “For I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city.”  God wants Paul to stay in Corinth and proclaim the Gospel to all so that those whom the Lord has already elected will respond.  God’s saving grace is irresistible.  God will save those He’s chosen.  Can anybody ever lose true salvation?  No

#5  Those chosen by God are forever saved

Jesus says in John 10:27 to 28, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand.”  No one, not even ourselves can snatch us out of our Father’s hand–what a promise.  We didn’t do anything on our own strength to get salvation, so we can’t do anything to lose our salvation.  It is eternally secure.  John 6:39 says, “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.”  It is God’s will that no truly saved person can ever become lost, but all will experience eternal salvation–not 50%, 90% or 99.9%, but all.

We do all kinds of things to make our homes secure–we install dead bolt locks, security lights, burglar alarms and more, but no home is 100% secure.  Only God can make anything 100% secure, and that is what He has done for our salvation.  There is a huge difference between God security and man security.  Look at the chart.

Secure Salvation Non-Secure Salvation
Believer’s cannot lose their salvation Believers can lose their salvation
God chooses, therefore His salvation cannot be rejected. Man chooses God, and can repudiate his former choice.
Security depends on the character of God. Security depends on the will of man.
Security is based on standing. Security is based on obedience.
Security and assurance are separate issues. Security and assurance are the same.

God guarantees salvation with His life.  Our eternal security is not based on our own abilities but on the very character of God.  First Peter 1:5, “Who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”  It is the power of the almighty God of the universe that guarantees our security.  God and His Word give us great confidence as His children.

Now we are about to come up for air.  Some of you have been breathing so hard you’ve used up your tank.  A few of you gave up and went back to the surface thirty minutes ago, filling in the O’s, and some want to dive deeper–so let me ask some final questions.  Is this really fair?  Romans 9:14 to 16, “What shall we say then?  There is no injustice with God, is there?  May it never be! 15 For He says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.’”

The scriptural doctrine of God’s choosing people for salvation goes against our American view of fairness.  But election is not some divine random lottery where you get picked by chance.  No, because of His merciful character God said, “I want to have a relationship with that person, that person, and that person and so on.”  Then out of His grace He worked in their lives so they’d come to Him in repentance and faith.  God is not like us–God is independent, transcendent, glorious–He’s the best.  When He calls us to bring Him glory, it is to invite us to enjoy the best there is.

So how should we respond to the doctrines of grace?  Some do’s and don’ts . . .

Don’t slip into the error of double predestination where God predetermines all who go to heaven and predetermines all who go to hell.  No, the Bible says we are all already going to hell, and out of that mass of rebellious sinners on their way to hell God has chosen some to be His people and to live with Him forever in heaven.

Don’t become passive or indifferent.  Some think since God is sovereign and elects those who will be saved, I don’t have to evangelize, or I don’t have to pray or grow, or give, or serve.  If your theology keeps you from obedience to the commands of God’s Word, or keeps you from obedience in sharing with the lost, then your theology is wrong.

Don’t become argumentative–it takes a while to believe these truths.  For some it will not be today and you’ll need to study more.  But once you do embrace these truths, the tendency is to get mad.  People say, “I’ve been in church for years and nobody taught me this”–so they make it their mission to convince everyone by arguing over this truth.  Listen–love Christians and share the Gospel with non-Christians, but don’t spend your life pounding on others concerning a theological truth.

Do grow in humility.  If you embrace election you will be less proud and more overwhelmed by God’s grace.  You’ll say with Paul in 2 Corinthians 9:15, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”  You will ask, “Why me God?  Why’d you choose me?  There is nothing in my life that makes me worthy of salvation.”  Be humbled by God’s unbelievable graciousness to you, a sinner.

Do respond to the Gospel.  Somebody is going to ask today, “What if God didn’t choose me?”  That’s an unanswerable, evasive question, because prior to salvation God has not given anyone the insight to determine whether they are or are not elect.  But God does legitimately make an offer of salvation to all people.  When someone gets all self-focused and asks, “I don’t know whether I am elect or not, I just must not be elect”–you say, “I don’t know if you are or if you aren’t, but God does invite you to turn to Christ today.”

Matthew 11:28 says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”

Acts 2:38 says, “Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let each one of you be baptized.’”

Romans 10:21 says, “All the day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.”

The Bible teaches that those who reject God’s truth will stand condemned before Him.  They will be fully responsible for rejecting God’s offer of salvation.  That’s right, you are responsible to respond.  I know this is difficult for our finite minds to understand, but this is what the Bible teaches.  Let the tension exist (God elects but you’re responsible to respond)–God is infinite, you are finite.

A message like this can be very dangerous, because it can tempt us to try to take the place of God and determine who is or isn’t elect, or even to figure out whether or not we ourselves are elect.  God never wants that–just respond to the Gospel or share the Gospel.  Do share the answer for people’s greatest need.  If you love theology, listen to this.

People have died spiritually, but God offers them regeneration and new life in Christ.

People are God’s enemy, but God offers them reconciliation through the cross of Christ.

People are slaves to the law, sin, death and Satan, but God intervenes to purchase them through redemption out of their prison and bring them to a place of freedom.

People are in Satan’s family, but God reaches down and adopts them as sons or daughters.

People are the objects of wrath, but God sends His Son to be the propitiation for their sins.

People find themselves standing guilty before the righteous Judge, but God mercifully declares them not guilty through justification because of Jesus’ work on the cross and resurrection.

The moment a non-believer embraces the Gospel, God does all this for them and more.  Let’s share the message—it’s good news.

About Chris Mueller

Chris is the teaching pastor at Faith Bible Church - Murrieta.