Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Extent of God’s Love

The Extent of God’s Love
Unconditional Election and the Misnomer of “Free Will”

This past week I preached on the topic of God's Unconditional Election.  I know that topics such as this can really get the brain juices flowing (along with emotions as well).  My desire is not to be controversial, but biblical; not antagonizing but affirming of the truth of Scripture.

As the Scottish engineer and inventor, William Symington once noted, “Our object should not be to have scripture on our side but to be on the side of scripture; and however dear any sentiment may have become by being long entertained, so soon as it is seen to be contrary to the Bible, we must be prepared to abandon it without hesitation.”  

When it comes to the "reason" or "reasons" as to why God chose anyone, we must appeal to Scripture and thus the revelation of God's own heart rather than to our our forms of human logic; logic that has been adversely affected by the Fall.  As a summary follow up to this past week's message, I submit to you the words of S. Lewis Johnson, beloved pastor of Believers Chapel of Dallas through the 1960's to the 1990's.  

Be a Berean (Acts 17) and see whether these things be so. As S. Lewis Johnson wrote:

What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy"  (Romans 9:14-16).

God is not responsible for humanity's predicament. Human beings, because of the disobedience in the garden of Eden, are responsible for their condition in sin, disobedience, and coming judgment. Further, it is important to remember that God does exercise mercy with absolute freedom. Therefore, it is not unjust for him to do so, for God is not unjust. In fact, whatever he does is right. God himself is the standard of right and wrong. Election and reprobation are both divine prerogatives.

Since his audience recognized the authority of Scripture, Paul turned to the Word of God for evidence of the truth of his message. He cites the words that God spoke to Moses in Exodus 33:19, "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion" (cf. v. 15). Even though Israel had failed abysmally before Yahweh, he nevertheless acted in mercy toward them, and he acts in mercy sovereignly.

Thus, the apostle concludes, "It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy" (cf. v. 16). If ever a text indicated the unscriptural nature of "free will," this one does. "It is not of him that wills," the apostle says in the original Greek. The doctrine of free will—that it is in the power of a man to turn to God by himself—is contrary to the grace of God. Salvation becomes, then, the work of God and the work of man, and the purity of the grace of God is compromised. Salvation is only of the Lord.

Man is unable to come to God of and by himself. Jesus put it as strongly as anyone in Scripture: "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:44). We are unable to make a decision of the will for God and salvation until God has first worked in our wills to make us willing. Salvation is first of his willing (cf. James 1:18), and only then, of our response of faith.

— S. Lewis Johnson, Discovering Romans: Spiritual Revival for the Soul, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014), 158.

No comments: