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Archive for October, 2009

1 John 5:1

1 John 5:1

Sermon by:  Kevin Hay

Sunday Morning (10-25-09)

Kevin has been teaching through the book of 1st John.  We hope you find his exposition of 1st John 5:1 as an opportunity to gain a better understanding of what it truly means to “believe” on Jesus Christ.

Part 1

http://thegracecommunity.com/default.asp?page=42251&int_audioid=481

Part 2

http://thegracecommunity.com/default.asp?page=42251&int_audioid=483

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“Those who love God”

 “Those who love God”

(Romans 8:28)

Sermon by Brad Howerton

10-24-09

This sermon is from our Saturday night study of the “Perserverance of the Saints”. 

 We hope this sermon causes you to examine your love for God.

Part 1

http://thegracecommunity.com/default.asp?page=42251&int_audioid=477

Part 2

http://thegracecommunity.com/default.asp?page=42251&int_audioid=479

 

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I have ran across many great articles, books and sermons on the doctrine of Election.  However, I must admit I don’t think I have yet to read anything so compelling and scripturally sound as the work that Spurgeon has provided on this topic.  I encourage you to please take a few minutes (even if you disagree) to read this sermon so that you may at least understand what the doctrine is and what it is not.  May God open your heart and mind with understanding and cause you to be humbled by His Majesty!

 

Election
by
 C. H. Spurgeon
(1834-1892)

This updated and revised manuscript is copyrighted ã 1998 by Tony Capoccia. All rights reserved.

“But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2Thessalonians 2:13-14).

If there were no other text in the sacred word except this one, I think we should all be bound to receive and acknowledge the truthfulness of the great and glorious doctrine of God’s ancient choice of His family. But there seems to be an ongoing prejudice in the human mind against this doctrine, and although most other doctrines will be received by professing Christians, some with caution, others with pleasure, yet this one seems to be most frequently disregarded and discarded. In many of our pulpits, it would be considered a great sin and treason to preach a sermon on “election,” because they could not make “practical” application of the discussion. I believe that they have clearly misjudged the truth of this subject. Whatever God has revealed, He has revealed for a purpose.

There is nothing in Scripture which cannot, under the influence of God’s Spirit, be turned into a practical lesson because, “All Scripture is God- breathed and is useful for teaching,” some purpose of spiritual usefulness. It is true, that it cannot be turned into a lesson on the “freewill” of man, but it can be turned into a practical sermon on the “free grace” of God. And sermons on the “free grace” of God are the best, because they bring the true doctrines of God’s unchanging love to bear upon the hearts of saints and sinners.

Now, I trust this morning some of you who are startled at the very sound of this word, will say, “I will give it a fair hearing, I will lay aside my prejudices; I will just hear what this man has to say.” Do not shut your ears and say, “It is extreme doctrine.” Who has authorized you to call it extreme or normal? Why should you oppose God’s doctrine? Remember what became of the children who found fault with God’s prophet, and exclaimed, “Go on up, you baldhead!; Go on up, you baldhead!” Say nothing against God’s doctrines, or some evil beast might come out of the forest and devour you also.

There are other griefs besides the open judgment of heaven–be careful that these don’t fall on your head. Lay aside your prejudices; listen calmly, listen objectively: hear what Scripture says; and when you receive the truth, if God would be pleased to reveal and manifest it to your souls, do not be ashamed to confess it. To confess you were wrong yesterday, is only to acknowledge that you are a little wiser today; and instead of being a reflection on yourself, it is an honor to your judgment, and shows that you are improving in the knowledge of the truth. Do not be ashamed to learn, and to throw aside your old doctrines and views, but take up that which you more plainly see to be in the Word of God.

But if you do not see it to be here in the Bible, whatever I may say, or whatever authorities I may plead, I beg you as you love your souls, reject it; and if from this pulpit you ever hear things contrary to this sacred word, remember that the Bible must be the first, and God’s minister must be subject to it. We must not stand on the Bible to preach, but we must preach with the Bible above our heads. After all we have preached, we are well aware that the mountain of truth is higher than our eyes can discern; clouds and darkness are around its summit, and we cannot discern its topmost pinnacle; yet we will try to preach it as well as we can. But since we are mortal and liable to error, exercise your judgment; “Test the spirits to see whether they are from God;” and if on mature reflection on your bended knees, you are led to disregard election–a thing which I consider utterly impossible–then forsake it, don’t listen to it preached, but believe and confess whatever you see to be God’s word. I can say no more than that by way of introduction.

OUTLINE

I. The TRUTHFULNESS of Election – I will speak a little concerning the truthfulness of this doctrine: “From the beginning God chose you to be saved.”

II. Election is UNCONDITIONAL – I will try to prove that this election is unconditional: “From the beginning God chose you to be saved,” not “for” sanctification, but “through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.”

III. Election is ETERNAL – This election is eternal; because the text says, “‘From the beginning’ God chose you.”

IV. Election is PERSONAL – It is personal: “God chose you.”

V. The EFFECTS of Election – We will look at the effects of the doctrine–see what it does.

VI. The TENDENCIES of Election – We will look at its tendencies, and see whether it is indeed a terrible and licentious doctrine.

We will take the flower, and like true bees, see whether there be any honey in it; whether any good can come of it, or whether it is an unmixed, undiluted evil.

I. First, I must try and prove that the doctrine is TRUE. 

And let me begin by using the very words and arguments of those opposed to election. I will speak to you according to your different beliefs and attitudes on the subject. There are some of you who belong to the Church of England, and I am happy to see so many of you here. Though now and then I certainly say some very firm things about the subject of church and state, yet I love the old church, for she has in her communion many godly ministers and outstanding saints. Now, I know you are great believers in what the Anglican Articles declare to be sound doctrine. I will give you a specimen of what they say concerning election, so that if you believe them, you cannot avoid receiving election. I will read a portion of the 17th article, upon Predestination and Election:

Predestination to life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby (before the foundations of the world were laid) He had constantly decreed by His counsel secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom He had chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honor. Wherefore those which were endowed with so excellent a benefit of God would be called according to God’s purpose by His Spirit working in due season: they will through grace obey the calling: they will be justified freely: they will be made sons of God by adoption: they will be made like the image of His only begotten Son Jesus Christ: they will walk religiously in good works, and at length, by God’s mercy, they will attain everlasting happiness.

Now, I think any churchman, if he be a sincere and honest believer in mother church, must be a thorough believer in election. True, if he turns to certain other portions of the Anglican Prayer Book, he will find things contrary to the doctrines of free grace, and altogether apart from scriptural teaching; but if he looks at the Articles, he must see that God has chosen HIs people unto eternal life. I am not so desperately in love, however, with that book as you may be, and I have only used this article to show you, that if you belong to the Establishment of England, you should at least offer no objection to this doctrine of predestination.

Another human authority that confirms the doctrine of election, is, the old Waldensian creed. If you read the creed of the old Waldenses, emanating from them in the midst of the burning heat of persecution, you will see that these renowned professors and confessors of the Christian faith did most firmly receive and embrace this doctrine as being a portion of the truth of God. I have copied from an old book one of the articles of their faith:

That God saves from corruption and damnation those whom He has chosen from the foundations of the world, not for any attitude, faith, or holiness that He foresaw in them, but of His mere mercy in Christ Jesus His Son, passing by all the rest, according to the blameless reason of His own free will and justice.

It is no wonder, then, that I am not preaching a new doctrine. I love to proclaim these strong old doctrines, that are called by nickname “Calvinism,” but which are surely the revealed truth of God as it is in Christ Jesus. By this truth I make a pilgrimage into the past, and as I go, I see Church Father after Church Father, confessor after confessor, martyr after martyr, standing up to shake hands with me. If I was a Pelagian, or a believer in the doctrine of man’s freewill, I would have to walk for centuries all alone. Here and there I would find a heretic, of rather dishonorable character who might rise up and call me brother. But taking these things to be the standard of my faith, I see the land of the ancients populated with my brethren. I see multitudes who confess the same as I do, and acknowledge that this is the religion of God’s own church.

I also give you an extract from the old Baptist confession. We are Baptist in this congregation–the greater part of us at any rate–and we like to see what our own forefathers wrote. Some two hundred years ago the Baptist assembled together, and published their articles of faith, to put an end to certain reports against their orthodoxy which had gone forth to the world. I turn to this old book–which I have just published, and which you will soon be able to have–and I find the following as the 3rd Article:

By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated, or foreordained to eternal life through Jesus Christ, to the praise of His glorious grace; others being left to act in their sins to their just condemnation, to the praise of His glorious justice. These angels and men thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased nor decreased. Those of mankind that are predestinated to life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and unchangeable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, has chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory, out of His mere free grace and love, without any other thing in the creature as a condition or a cause moving Him to do so.

As for these human authorities, I don’t care one bit for all three of them. I don’t care what they say, pro or con, as to this doctrine. I have only used them as a kind of confirmation to your faith to show you that while I may be attacked as a heretic and as a hyper-Calvinist, I am after all backed up by antiquity. All the past stands by me. I don’t care for the present. Give me the past and I will hope for the future. Let the present attack me to my face; I will not care. Though a multitude of the churches of London may have forsaken the great cardinal doctrines of God, it doesn’t matter. If a handful of us stand alone in an unflinching defense of the sovereignty of our God, if we are assaulted by enemies, yes, and even by our own brethren, who ought to be our friends and helpers, it doesn’t matter, if we can but count on the past; the noble army of martyrs, the glorious multitude of confessors, are our friends; the witnesses of truth stand by us. With these for us, we will not say that we stand alone; but we may cry out, “God has reserved seven thousand–all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal!” But the best of all is, God is with us.

The great truth is always the Bible, and the Bible alone. My dear listeners, you do not believe in any other book than the Bible, do you? If I could prove this from all the books in Christendom; if I could bring back the Alexandrian library, and prove it from that source, you would not believe it; but you surely will believe what is in God’s Word.

I have selected a few texts to read to you. I love to give you a whole volley of texts when I am afraid you will doubt a truth, so that you may be too astonished to doubt, if you don’t really believe. Just let me run through a list of passages where the people of God are called elect. Of course if the people are called ELECT, there must have been an ELECTION. If Jesus Christ and His apostles were accustomed to refer to believers by the title of elect, we must certainly believe that they were so, otherwise the term does not mean anything:

Jesus Christ says,

“If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom He has chosen, He has shorten them” (Mark 13:20).

“False Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect–if that were possible” (Mark 13:22).

“He will send His angels and gather His elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens” (Mark 13:27).

“And will not God bring about justice for His chosen [elect] ones, who cry out to Him day and night? Will He keep putting them off?” (Luke 18:7).

Together with many other passages which might be selected, in which either the word “elect,” or “chosen,” or “foreordained,” or “appointed,” is mentioned; or the phrase “my sheep,” or some similar designation, showing that Christ’s people are distinguished from the rest of mankind.

But you have concordances, and I will not trouble you with texts. Throughout the epistles, the saints are constantly called “the elect” or “the chosen.” In the Book of Colossians we find Paul saying, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion.” When he writes to Titus, he calls himself, “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God’s elect.” Peter says, “To God’s elect, strangers in the world . . . who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” Then if you turn to John, you will find that he is very fond of the word. He says, “The elder, to the elect lady” (KJV), and he speaks of our “elect sister.” And we know where it is written, “The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you” (KJV).

They were not ashamed of the word in those days; they were not afraid to talk about it. Nowadays the word has been dressed up with a variety of meanings, and persons have mutilated and marred the doctrine, so that they have made it a doctrine of devils. But, why should I be ashamed of it, even though men struggle with it. We love God’s truth even when it is challenged and twisted by doubters–we don’t call it false. We don’t love to see it perverted and twisted, but we never stop loving the truth that is being abused, because we can discern what the truth really says despite the twisting and perversions by the cruelty and inventions of men. If you will read many of the epistles of the ancient Fathers, you will find them always writing to the people of God as “the elect.” In fact, the common term used in conversation among many of the early Christians to one another, was that of the “elect.” They would often use the term to one another, showing that it was generally believed that all God’s people were unmistakably “elect.”

But now for the verses that will positively prove the doctrine. Open your Bibles and turn to John 15:16, and there you will see that Jesus Christ has chosen His people; for He says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” Then in the 19th verse, “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”

Then in the 17th chapter and the 8th and 9th verses, “For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours.” Turn to Acts 13:48, “When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.” They may try to split that passage into hairs if they like: but it says, “appointed to eternal life,” as plainly as it possibly can; and we don’t care about all the different commentaries that criticize election. You scarcely need to be reminded of Romans 8, because I trust you are well acquainted with that chapter, and understand it by this time. In the 29th, and following verses, it says,

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.

It would be unnecessary to repeat the whole of the 9th chapter of Romans. As long as that remains in the Bible no man shall be able to prove Arminianism; so long as that is written there, not the most violent contortions of the passage will ever be able to exterminate the doctrine of election from the Scriptures. Let us read such verses as these: “Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad–in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls–she was told, ‘The older will serve the younger.'” Then read the 22nd verse: “What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath–prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory.” Then go to Romans 11:7, “What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened.” In the 5th verse of the same chapter: “So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.” You, no doubt, all remember the passage in 1 Corinthians 1:26-29:

Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things–and the things that are not–to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him.

Again, remember the passage in 1 Thessalonians 5:9, “God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” And then you have my text, which I think would be quite enough. But if you need more, you can find them at your leisure, if we have not quite removed your suspicions as to the doctrine being true.

My friends, I think that this overwhelming mass of Scripture testimony must stagger those who dare to laugh at this doctrine. What shall we say of those who have so often despised it, and denied its divinity, who have mocked its justice and dared to defy God and call Him an Almighty tyrant, when they have heard of His having elected only so many to eternal life. Can you, O rejecter! tear it out of the Bible? Can you take the penknife of Jehudi and cut it out of the Word of God? Would you be like the woman at the feet of Solomon, and have the child cut in halves, that you might have your half? Is it not here in Scripture? And is it not your duty to bow before it? To receive it as the truth even though you can’t understand its meaning?

I will not attempt to prove the justice of God in having thus elected some and left others. It is not for me to argue with my Master. He will speak for Himself, and He does so: “But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?” Who is he that shall say to his father, “What have you procreated?” Or to his mother, “What have you brought forth?” I am the Lord your God, I create light and I create darkness. I the Lord do all of these things. Who are you that answers back to God? Tremble and kiss His rod; bow down and submit to His scepter; do not challenge His justice, and do not accuse His actions before your bar, O man!

But there are some who say, “It is hard for God to choose some and leave others.” Now, I will ask you one question. Is there any one of you here this morning who wishes to be holy, who wishes to be regenerate, to leave their life of sin and walk in holiness? “Yes, there is,” says some one, “I do.” Then God has elected you. But another says, “No: I don’t want to be holy; I don’t want to give up my lusts and my vices.” Why should you grumble, then, that God has not elected you to it? For if you were elected you would not like it, according to your own confession. If God, this morning, had chosen you to holiness, you say you would not care for it. Do you not acknowledge that you prefer drunkenness to sobriety, dishonesty to honesty? You love this world’s pleasure better than religion; then why should you grumble that God has not chosen you to religion? If you love religion, He has chosen you to it. If you desire it, He has chosen you to it. If you do not, what right have you to say that God ought to have given you what you do not wish for?

Supposing I had in my hand something which you do not value, and I said I shall give it to such-and-such a person: you would have no right to grumble that I did not give it to you. You could not be so foolish as to grumble that the other has got what you did not care about. According to your own confession, many of you do not want religion, do not want a new heart and a right spirit, do not want the forgiveness of sins, do not want to be holy, you do not want to be elected to these things: then why should you grumble? You count these things as worthless, and why should you complain of God who has given them to those whom He has chosen?

If you believe them to be good, and desire them, they are there for you. God gives liberally to all those who desire; and first of all, He makes them desire, otherwise they never would. If you love these things, he has elected you to them, and you may have them; but if you do not, who are you that you should find fault with God, when it is your own headstrong will that keeps you from loving these things–your own simple self that makes you hat them? Suppose a man in the street should say, “What a shame it is I cannot have a seat in the church to hear what the preacher has to say.” And suppose he says, “I hate the preacher; I can’t stand his doctrine; but still it’s a shame I don’t have a seat.” Would you expect a may to say such a thing? No: you would quickly say, “That man doesn’t care for it. Why should he trouble himself about other people having what they value and he despises?” You don’t like holiness, you do not like righteousness: if God has elected me to these things, has He hurt you by it?

“Ah, but,” some say, “I thought it meant that God elected some to heaven and some to hell.” That ‘s a very different matter from the gospel doctrine. He has elected men to holiness and to righteousness, and through that to heaven. You must not say that He has elected them simply to heaven, and others only to hell. He has elected you to holiness, if you love holiness. If any of you love to be saved by Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ has elected you to be saved. If any of you desire to have salvation, you are elected to have it, if you sincerely and earnestly desire it. But, if you don’t desire it, why on earth should you be so incredibly foolish as to complain because God gives that which you don’t like to other people?

II. Thus I have tried to say something with regard to the truth of the doctrine of election. And now briefly let me say that election is UNCONDITIONAL; that is, it does not depend on what we are. 

The text says, “From the beginning God chose you to be saved;” but our opponents say, that God chooses people because they are good; that He chooses them on account of the many works which they have done. Now, we ask, in reply to this, what works are those that the “chosen” did that caused God to elect His people? Are they what we commonly call “works of law”–works of obedience which the creature can do? If so, we reply to you, if men cannot be justified by the works of the law, it seems to us pretty clear that they cannot be elected by the works of the law; if they cannot be justified by their good works, they cannot be saved by them. Then the teaching of election could not have been formed on good works.

“But,” others say, “God elected them on the foresight of their faith.” Now, God gives faith therefore He could not have elected them on account of faith, which He foresaw. If there were twenty beggars in the street, and I determine to give one of them a dollar, will anyone say that I determined to give that one a dollar, that I elected him to have the dollar, because I foresaw that he would have it? That would be talking nonsense. Likewise, to say that God elected men because He foresaw they would have faith, would be too absurd for us to listen to for a moment. Faith is the gift of God. Every virtue comes from Him. Therefore it cannot have caused Him to elect men, because it is His gift. Election, we are sure, is unconditional, and altogether apart from the virtues which the saints acquire after salvation. What, though a saint should be as holy and devout as Paul, what though he should be as bold as Peter, or as loving as John, yet he would claim nothing form his Maker.

I never knew a saint from any denomination who thought that God saved him because he foresaw that he would have these virtues and merits. Now, my brethren, the best jewels that the saint ever wears, if they be jewels of his own fashioning, are not pure. There is something of earth mixed with them. The highest grace we ever possess has something of earthliness about it. We feel this when we are most refined, when we are most holy; and our language must always be like Paul’s:

“I am the chief of sinners; Jesus died for me.”

Our only hope, our only plea, still hangs on grace, as exhibited in the person of Jesus Christ. And I am sure we must utterly reject and disregard all thought that our graces which are gifts of our Lord, which are planted by His right-hand, could have ever caused His love. And we must forever sing:

“What was there in us that could merit esteem, Or give the Creator delight? Nothing was found Father, so we must forever sing, Because it seemed good in your sight.”

“God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy:” He saves because He wants to save. And if you ask me why He saves me, I can only say, because He wants to do it. Was there anything in me that should cause God to want to chose me? No; I put everything aside. I have nothing to recommend me. When God saved me, I was the most despicable, lost, and destitute of the race. I lay before Him as an infant in my blood. Truly, I had no power to help myself. Oh how wretched did I feel and know myself to be! If you had something to recommend you to God, I never had. I will be content to be saved by GRACE, undiluted, pure grace. I can boast of no goodness. If you can, then do so, I cannot. I must sing:

“Free grace alone, 
from the first to the last, 
Has won my affection and held my soul firm.”

III. Then, thirdly, this election is ETERNAL. 

“From the beginning God chose you to be saved . . . All who were appointed (elected) for eternal life believed” (2Thess 2:13, Acts 13:48). Can any man tell me when the beginning was? Years ago, we thought the beginning of this world was when Adam came upon it. But that was not the beginning; for revelation points us to a period before this world was fashioned–to the days when the morning stars were created; when, like drops of dew from the fingers of the morning, stars and constellations fell trickling from the hand of God; when, by His own lips He launched forth massive, burning stars; when, with His own hand, He sent comets, like thunderbolts, wandering through the sky, to find one day their proper sphere. We go back to years gone by, when worlds were made and systems fashioned; but we have not even approached the beginning yet.

Until we go to the time when all the universe slept in the mind of God, as yet unborn, until we enter the eternity where God, the Creator, lived alone, everything sleeping within Him, all creation resting in His mighty gigantic thought, we have not found the beginning. We may go back, back, back, ages upon ages. We may go back, if we might use strange words, whole eternities, and yet never arrive at the beginning. Our wing might be tired, our imagination would die away. Even if it could move faster than the lighting’s flashing in majesty, power, and speed, it would soon weary itself before it could get to the beginning.

But God from the beginning chose His people; when the unnavigated upper regions of space was yet unfanned by the wing of a single angel, when space was shoreless, or else unborn, when universal silence reigned, and not a voice or whisper shocked the solemnity of silence; when there was no being, and no motion, no time, and no one but God Himself, alone in His eternity; when without the song of an angel, without the attendance of even the cherubim; long before the living creatures were born, or the wheels of the chariot of Jehovah were fashioned; even then, “In the beginning was the Word,” and in the beginning God’s people were one with the Word, and in “the beginning God chose you to be saved.” Our election, then, is eternal. I will not stop to prove it; I only just run over these thoughts for the benefit of young beginners, that they may understand what we mean by eternal, absolute election.

IV. And next, the election is PERSONAL. 

Here, again, our opponents have tried to overthrow election by telling us that it is an election of nations, and not of people. But here the apostle says, “From the beginning God chose YOU.” It is the most wretched lie on earth to make out that God has not chosen persons, but nations; because the very same objection that lies against the choice of persons lies against the choice of a nation. If it were not just to choose a person, it would be far more unjust to choose a nation; since nations are but the union of multitudes of persons; and to chose a nation seems to be a more gigantic crime–if election were a crime–than to choose one person. Surely, to choose ten thousand would be considered to be worse than choosing one; to distinguish a whole nation from the rest of mankind does seem to be a greater production in the acts of divine sovereignty than the election of one poor mortal, and leaving out another.

But what are nations but men? What are whole people but combinations of different units? A nation is made up of that individual, and that, and that. And if you tell me that God chose the Jews, I say, then, He chose that Jew, and that Jew, and that Jew. And if you say He chooses Britain, then I say he chooses that British man, and that British man, and that British man. So it is the same thing after all. Election, then, is personal: it must be so. Everyone who reads this verse, and others like it, will see that Scripture continually speaks of God’s people, one by one; and speaks of them as having been the special subjects of election. “We are sons through God’s election, Who by Jesus Christ believe; By eternal destination Sovereign grace is here received.”  We know it is a personal election.

V. The other thought is–for my time flies too swiftly to enable me to dwell too long on these points–that election produced GOOD RESULTS. 

“From the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.” How many men completely misunderstand the doctrines of election! And how my soul burns and boils when I remember the terrible evils that have been accrued from all the abuses and the struggles over that glorious portion of God’s glorious truth! Many have said to themselves, “I am elect,” and then have sat down in laziness, and worse than that! They have said, “I am the elect of God,” and with both hands they have done wickedness. They have quickly run to every unclean thing, because they have said, “I am the chosen child of God, irrespective of my works, therefore I may live as I want, and do what I like.”

O, beloved! let me solemnly warn everyone of you not to carry the truth too far; or, rather not to turn the truth into error, for we cannot carry it too far. We may overstep the truth; we can make that which was meant to be sweet for our comfort, a terrible mixture for our destruction. I tell you there have been thousands of men who have been ruined by misunderstanding election; who have said, “God has elected me to heaven, and to eternal life;” but they have forgotten that it is written, God has elected them “through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.” This is God’s election–election to holiness and to faith.

God chooses His people to be holy, and to be believers? How many of any congregation can say from their hearts, “I trust in God that I am sanctified?” Is there one of you who says, “I am elect”–I remind you of your sin of swearing last week. One of you says, “I believe I am elect”–but I jog your memory about some wicked act that you committed during the last six days. Another of you says, “I am elect”–but I would look you in the face and say, “Elect! you are a most cursed hypocrite! and that is all you are.” Others would say, “I am elect”–but I would remind them that they neglect God’s mercy and do not pray.

O beloved! never think you are elect unless you are holy. You may come to Christ as a sinner, but you may not come to Christ as an elect person until you can see your holiness. Do not misconstrue what I say–don’t say, “I am elect,” and yet think you can be living in sin. That is impossible. The elect of God are holy. They are not pure, they are not perfect, they are not spotless; but, taking their life as a whole, they are holy persons. They are marked, and distinct from others; and no man has the right to conclude himself elect except in his holiness. He may be elect, and yet lying in darkness, but he has no right to believe it; no one can see it, there is no evidence of it. The man may live one day, but he is dead at present. If you are walking in the fear of God, trying to please Him, and to obey His commandments, then don’t doubt that you name has been written in the Lamb’s Book of Life from before the foundation of the world.

And, lest this should be too high for you, note the other mark of election, which is faith, “belief in the truth.” Whoever believes God’s truth, and believes on Jesus Christ, is elect. I frequently meet with poor souls, who are fretting and worrying themselves about this thought–“What if I am not elect!” “Oh, sir,” they say, “I know I put my trust in Jesus; I know I believe in His name and trust in His blood; but what if I am not elect?” Poor dear creature! you do not know much about the gospel, or you would not talk that way, for HE THAT BELIEVES IS ELECT. Those who are elect, are elect unto holiness and unto faith, and if you have faith you are one of God’s elect; you may know it and ought to know it, for it is an absolute certainty. If you, as a sinner, look to Jesus Christ this morning, and say–

“Nothing in my hands I bring, Simply to your cross I cling,”

then, you are elect. I am not afraid of election frightening poor saints or sinners. There are many preachers who tell the those seeking salvation and are wondering about election, “election has nothing to do with salvation.” That is very wrong, because the poor soul is not going to be satisfied like that. He will continue to think of the idea of election, he can’t help it. Say to him then, If you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ you are elect. If you will surrender yourself to Jesus, you are elect. I tell you–the chief of sinners–this morning, I tell you in his name, if you will come to God without any works of your own; surrender yourself to the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ; if you will come now and trust in Him, you are elect–you were loved of God from before the foundation of the world, for you could not do that unless God had given you the power, and had chosen you to do it. Now you are safe and secure if you will just come and surrender yourself to Jesus Christ, and wish to be saved and to be loved by Him.

But don’t think that any man will be saved without faith and without holiness. Do not conceive, my friends, that some decree, passed in the dark ages of eternity, will save your souls, unless you believe in Christ. Do not sit down and believe that you can be saved without faith and holiness. That is a most abominable and accursed heresy, and has ruined thousands. Do not use election as a pillow for you to sleep on, or you may be ruined. God forbid that I should be giving you pillows that you may rest comfortably in your sins. Sinner! there is nothing in the Bible to excuse your sins. But if you are condemned, O man! if you are lost, O woman! you will not find in this Bible one drop to cool your tongue, or one doctrine to excuse your guilt; your damnation will be entirely your own fault, and your sin will richly deserve it. You are condemned because you do not believe. “You do not believe because you are not my sheep, and you refuse to come to me to have life.”

Don’t think that election excuses sin–don’t dream of it–don’t rock yourself in sweet complacency in the thought of your irresponsibility. You are responsible. We must give you both things. We must have divine sovereignty, and we must have man’s responsibility. We must have election, but we must work on your heart, we must send God’s truth to you; we must speak to you, and remind you of this, that while it is written, “In me is your help;” yet it is also written, “O Israel, you have destroyed yourself.”

VI. Now, lastly, what are the CHARACTERISTICS of a right understanding of the doctrine of election. 

First, I will tell you what the doctrine of election will make saints do under the blessing of God; and, secondly, what it do for sinners if God blesses them with it.

First, I think election, to a saint, is one of the most stripping doctrines in all the world–to take away all trust in the flesh, or all reliance on anything except Jesus Christ. How often do we wrap ourselves up in our own righteousness, and dress ourselves with the false pearls and gems of our own works and doings. We begin to say, “Now I am saved, because I did this or that.” Instead of that, it is faith and faith alone that saves; that faith and that alone unites to the Lamb, irrespective of works, although saving faith will produce works after salvation. How often do we lean on some work, other than that of our own beloved, and trust in some power, other than what comes from on high. Now if we would have this power taken from us, then we must consider election. Stop, my soul, and consider this. God loved you before you had a being. He loved you when you were dead in disobedience and sin, and sent His Son to die for you. He purchased you with His precious blood, before you could even pronounce His name. Can you then be proud?

I know nothing, nothing again, that is more humbling for us than this doctrine of election. I have sometimes fallen prostrate before it, when endeavoring to understand it. I have stretched my wings, and, eagle-like, I have soared toward the sun. Steady has been my eye, and true my wing, for a while; but when I came near it, only one thought possessed me–“From the beginning God chose you to be saved”–I was lost in its luster, I was staggered with the mighty thought; and from the dizzy elevation down came my soul, prostrate and broken, saying, “Lord, I am nothing, I am less than nothing. Why me? Why me?”

Friends, if you want to be humbled, study election, for it will make you humble under the influence of God’s Spirit. He who is proud of his election is not elect; and he who is humbled under a sense of it may believe that he is. He has every reason to believe that he is, for it is one of the most blessed effects of election, that it helps us to humble ourselves before God.

Once again. Election in the Christians should make him very FEARLESS and BOLD. No man will be so bold as he who believes that he is elect of God. What worry does he have about man, if he is chosen of his Maker? What will he care for the pitiful chirpings of some tiny sparrows when he knows that he is an eagle of the royal race? Will he care when the beggar makes fun of him, when the royal blood of heaven runs in his veins? Will he fear if all the world stands against him? If all the earth is at war, he dwells in perfect peace, for he is in the secret place of the tabernacle of the Most High, in the great pavilion of the Almighty. “I am God’s,” says he, “I am distinct from other men. They are of an inferior race. Am I not noble? Am I not one of the aristocrats of heaven? Is not my name written in God’s book?” Does he care for the world? No: like the lion that doesn’t care for the barking of the dog, he smiles at all his enemies; and when they come too near him, he moves and cuts them to pieces.

What does He care about them? He walks about them like Colossus; while little men walk under Him and do not understand Him. His brow is made of iron, His heart of flint–what does he care for man? No: if one universal hiss came up from the wide world, He would smile at it, for He would say,

“He that has made his refuge God, Shall find a most secure home.”

I am one of His elect. I am chosen of God and precious; and though the world throw me out, I am not afraid. Ah! you weak professing Christians, some of you bend like the willows. There are few oaken Christians, now-a-days, that can stand the storm; and I will tell you the reason. It is because you do not believe that you are elect. The man who knows he is elect will be too proud to sin; he will not humble himself to commit the acts of the common people. The believer in this truth will say, “What, me compromise my principles? What, me change my doctrines? What, me lay aside my views? What, me hide what I believe to be true? No! since I know I am one of God’s elect, in the very face of all men I shall speak God’s truth, whatever men may say.” Nothing makes a man so truly bold as to feel that he is God’s elect. The one who knows that God has chosen him, shall not quiver nor shake.

Moreover, election will make us HOLY. Nothing under the gracious influence of the Holy Spirit can make a Christian more holy than the thought that he is chosen. “Shall I sin,” he says, “after God has chosen me?” Shall I be disobedient after such love? Shall I go astray after so much loving-kindness and tender mercy? No, my God; since you have chosen me, I will live to you–

“Since you, my everlasting God, My Father, are to come,”

I will give myself to You, to be Yours forever, by election, and by redemption, casting myself on You, and solemnly consecrating myself to Your service.

And now, lastly, to the ungodly. What does election say to you? 

First, you ungodly ones, I will excuse you for a moment. There are many of you who do not like election, and I cannot blame you for it, for I have heard those preach election, who have sat down, and said, “I have not one word to say to the sinner.” Now, I say you OUGHT to dislike such preaching as that, and I do not blame you for it. But, I say, take courage, take hope, O you sinner, that there is election! So far from discouraging you, it is a very hopeful and joyous thing that there is an election. What if I told you that none can be saved, none are ordained to eternal life, wouldn’t you tremble, and fold your hands in hopelessness, and say, “then how can I be saved, since none are elect?” But I say, there is a multitude elect, beyond all counting–a host that no mortal can number. Therefore, take heart, you poor sinner! Throw away your despondency–don’t you have the same chance as being elect as the other person? For there is an innumerable host chosen. There is joy and comfort for you! Then, not only take heart, but go and try the Master. Remember, if you are not elect, you will lose nothing by asking.

What did the four Syrians say? “If we stay here, we will die. So let’s go over to the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live; if they kill us, then we die.” O sinner! come to the throne of electing mercy. You may die where you are. Go to God; and, even supposing He should reject you, suppose His uplifted hand should drive you away–a thing impossible–yet you, will not lose anything; you will not be more damned for that. Besides, supposing you are damned, you would have the satisfaction at least of being able to lift up your eyes in hell, and say, “God, I asked for mercy from You, and You would not grant it; I sought it, but You refused it.” That you shall never say, O sinner!

If you go to Him, and ask Him, you shall receive; for He never has refused anyone yet! Isn’t that hope for you? Even though there is an allotted number of elect, yet it is true that all who seek belong to that number. Go and seek; and if you should be the first one to go to hell, tell the devils why you are perishing–tell the demons that you are a castaway, after having come as a guilty sinner to Jesus. I tell you it would disgrace the Eternal–with reverence to His name–and He would not allow such a thing. He is jealous of His honor, and He would not allow a sinner to say that.

But, poor soul! know that you cannot lose anything by coming; there is yet one more thought–Do you love the thought of election this morning? Are you willing to admit its justice? Do you say, “I feel that I am lost; I deserve it; and that if my brother is saved I cannot complain. If God destroys me, I deserve it; but if He saves the person sitting beside me, He has a right to do what He will with His own, and I have lost nothing because of it.” Can you honestly say that from your heart? If so, then the doctrine of election has had its right effect on your spirit, and you are not far from the kingdom of heaven. You are brought to where you ought to be, where the Spirit wants you to be; and being so this morning, depart in peace; God has forgiven you sins. You would not feel that, if you were not pardoned; you would not feel that, if the Spirit of God were not working in you. Rejoice, then, in this. Let your hope rest on the cross of Christ. Don’t rest on election, but on Christ Jesus. Rest on Jesus–Jesus first, middle, and without end.  Amen.

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Man’s Utter Inability to Rescue Himself

Thomas Boston

The following article has been extracted from Boston’s classic work Human Nature In Its Fourfold State (Chapter 3, pp. 183-197).


For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. Romans 5:6

No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him. John 6.44

We have now had a view of the total corruption of man’s nature, and that load of wrath which lies on him, that gulf of misery into which he is plunged in his natural state. But there is one part of his misery that deserves particular consideration; namely, his utter inability to recover himself, the knowledge of which is necessary for the due humiliation of a sinner. What I design here, is only to propose a few things, whereby to convince the unregenerate man of this his inability, that he may see an absolute need of Christ and of the power of His grace.

A man that is fallen into a pit cannot be supposed to help himself out of it, but by one of two ways; either by doing all himself alone, or taking hold of, and improving, the help offered him by others. Likewise an unconverted man cannot be supposed to help himself out of his natural state, but either in the way of the law, or covenant of works, by doing all himself without Christ; or else in the way of the Gospel, or covenant of grace, by exerting his own strength to lay hold upon, and to make use of the help offered him by a Saviour. But, alas! the unconverted man is dead in the pit, and cannot help himself either of these ways; not the first way, for the first text tells us, that when our Lord came to help us, ‘we were without strength,’ unable to recover ourselves. We were ungodly, therefore under a burden of guilt and wrath, yet ‘without strength,’ unable to stand under it; and unable to throw it off, or get from under it: so that all mankind would have undoubtedly perished, had not ‘Christ died for the ungodly,’ and brought help to those who could never have recovered themselves. But when Christ comes and offers help to sinners, cannot they take it? Cannot they improve help when it comes to their hands? No, the second text tells, they cannot; ‘No man can come unto me,’ that is, believe in me (John 6.44), ‘except the Father draw him.’ This is a drawing which enables them to come, who till then could not come; and therefore could not help themselves by improving the help offered. It is a drawing which is always effectual; for it can be no less than ‘hearing and learning of the Father,’ which, whoever partakes of, come to Christ (verse 45). Therefore it is not drawing in the way of mere moral suasion, which may be, yea, and always is ineffectual. But it is drawing by mighty power (Eph. 1:9), absolutely necessary for those who have no power in themselves to come and take hold of the offered help.

Hearken then, O unregenerate man, and be convinced that as you are in a most miserable state by nature, so you are utterly unable to recover yourself any way. You are ruined; and what way will you go to work to recover yourself? Which of the two ways will you choose? Will you try it alone, or will you make use of help? Will you fall on the way of works, or on the way of the Gospel? I know very well that you will not so much as try the way of the Gospel, till once you have found the recovery impracticable in the way of the law. Therefore, we shall begin where corrupt nature teaches men to begin, namely, at the way of the law of works.

Sinner, I would have you believe that your working will never effect it. Work, and do your best; you will never be able to work yourself out of this state of corruption and wrath. You must have Christ, else you will perish eternally. It is only ‘Christ in you’ that can be the hope of glory. But if you will needs try it, then I must lay before you, from the unalterable Word of the living God, two things which you must do for yourself. If you can do them, it must be yielded that you are able to recover yourself; but if not, then you can do nothing this way for your recovery.

1. ‘If thou wilt enter into life keep the commandments’ (Matthew 19:17). That is, if you will by doing enter into life, then perfectly keep the ten commandments; for the object of these words is to beat down the pride of the man’s heart, and to let him see an absolute need of a Saviour, from the impossibility of keeping the law. The answer is given suitably to the address. Our Lord checks him for his compliment, ‘Good Master’ (Matthew 19:16), telling him, ‘There is none good but one, that is God’ (Matthew 19:17). As if he had said, You think yourself a good man, and me another; but where goodness is spoken of, men and angels may veil their faces before the good God. As to his question, wherein he revealed his legal disposition, Christ does not answer him, saying, ‘Believe and thou shalt be saved;’ that would not have been so seasonable in the case of one who thought he could do well enough for himself, if he but knew ‘what good he should do;’ but, suitable to the humor the man was in, He bids him ‘keep the commandments;’ keep them nicely and accurately, as those that watch malefactors in prison, lest any of them escape, and their life be taken for those which escape. See then, O unregenerate man, what you can do in this matter; for if you will recover yourself in this way, you must perfectly keep the commandments of God.

(1) Your obedience must be perfect, in respect of the principle of it; that is, your soul, the principle of action, must be perfectly pure, and altogether without sin. For the law requires all moral perfection; not only actual, but habitual: and so condemns original sin; impurity of nature, as well as of actions. Now, if you can bring this to pass you will be able to answer that question of Solomon, so as never one of Adam’s posterity could yet answer it, ‘Who can say, I have made my heart clean?’ (Prov. 20:9). But if you cannot, the very want of this perfection is sin, and so lays you open to the curse and cuts you off from life. Yea, it makes all your actions, even your best actions, sinful: ‘For who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?’ (Job 14:4). And do you think by sin to help yourself out of sin and misery?

(2) Your obedience must also be perfect in parts. It must be as broad as the whole law of God: if you lack one thing, you are undone; for the law denounces the curse on him that continues not in every thing written therein (Gal 3:10). You must give Internal and external obedience to the whole law, keep all the commands in heart and life. If you break any one of them, that will ensure your ruin. A vain thought, or idle word, will still shut you up under the curse.

(3) It must be perfect in respect of degrees, as was the obedience of Adam, while he stood in his innocence. This the law requires, and will accept of no less (Matthew 22:37), ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.’ If one degree of that love, required by the law, be wanting, if each part of your obedience be not brought up to the greatest height commanded, that want is a breach of the law, and so leaves you still under the curse. A man may bring as many buckets of water to a house that is on fire, as he is able to carry, and yet it may be consumed, and will be so, if he bring not as many as will quench the fire. Even so, although you should do what you are able, in keeping the commandments, if you fail in the least degree of obedience which the law enjoins, you are certainly ruined for ever, unless you take hold of Christ, renouncing all your righteousness as filthy rags. (See Rom 10:5; Gal. 3:10).

(4) It must be perpetual, as the man Christ’s obedience was, who always did the things which pleased the Father, for the tenor of the law is, ‘Cursed is he that continueth not in all things written in the law to do them! Hence, though Adam’s obedience was, for a while, absolutely perfect; yet because at length he failed in one point, namely, in eating the forbidden fruit, he fell under the curse of the law. If a man were to live a dutiful subject to his prince till the close of his days, and then conspire against him, he must die for his treason. Even so, though you should, all the time of your life, live in perfect obedience to the law of God, and yet at the hour of death only entertain a vain thought, or pronounce an idle word, that idle word, or vain thought, would blot out all your former righteousness, and ruin you; namely, in this way in which you are seeking to recover yourself.

Now, such is the obedience which you must perform, if you would recover yourself in the way of the law. But though you would thus obey, the law stakes you down in the state of wrath, till another demand of it be satisfied.

2. You must pay what you owe. It is undeniable that you are a sinner; and whatever you may be in time to come, justice must be satisfied for your sins already committed. The honor of the law must be maintained, by your suffering the denounced wrath. It may be you have changed your course of life, or are now resolved to do it, and to set about keeping the commands of God: but what have you done, or what will you do, with the old debt? Your obedience to God, though it were perfect, is a debt due to him for the time wherein it is performed, and can no more satisfy for former sins, than a tenant’s paying the current year’s rent can satisfy the landlord for all arrears. Can the paying of new debts acquit a man from old accounts? Nay, deceive not yourselves; you will find these laid up in store with God, and sealed up among his treasures (Deut. 32:34). It remains then, that either you must bear that wrath, to which for your sin you are liable, according to the law; or else you must acknowledge that you cannot bear it, and thereupon have recourse to the Surety, the Lord Jesus Christ. Let me now ask you, Are you able to satisfy the justice of God? Can you pay your own debt? Surely not: for, as He is the infinite God, whom you have offended, the punishment, being suited to the quality of the offence, must be infinite. But your punishment, or sufferings for sin, cannot be infinite in value, for you are a finite creature: therefore, they must be infinite in duration or continuance; that is, they must be eternal. And so all your sufferings in this world are but an earnest of what you must suffer in the world to come.

Now, sinner, if you can answer these demands, you may recover yourself in the way of the law. But are you not conscious of your inability to do any of these things, much more to do them all? yet if you do not all, you do nothing. Turn then to what course of life you will, you are still in a state of wrath. Screw up your obedience to the greatest height you can; suffer what God lays upon you; yea, add, if you will, to the burden, and walk under all without the least impatience: yet all this will not satisfy the demands of the law; therefore you are still a ruined creature. Alas, sinner I what are you doing, while you strive to help yourself, but do not receive, and unite with, Jesus Christ? You are laboring in the fire, wearying yourself for very vanity; laboring to enter into heaven by the door which Adam’s sin so bolted, that neither he, nor any of his lost posterity, can ever enter by it. Do you not see the flaming sword of justice, keeping you off from the tree of life? Do you not hear the law denouncing a curse on you for all you are doing, even for your obedience, your prayers, your tears, your reformation of life, and so on; because, being under the law’s dominion, your best works are not so good as—it requires them to be under the pain of the curse? Believe it, sirs, if you live and die out of Christ, without being actually united to Him as the second Adam, the life—giving Spirit, and without coming under the covert of His atoning blood, though you should do the utmost that any man can do, in keeping the commands of God, you will never see the face of God in peace. If you should, from this moment, bid an eternal farewell to this world’s joys, and all the affairs thereof, and henceforth busy yourselves with nothing but the salvation of your souls; if you should go into some ‘wilderness, live upon the grass of the field, and be companions to dragons and owls; if you should retire to some dark cavern of the earth, and weep there for your sins, until you had wept yourselves blind; if you should confess with your tongue, until it cleave to the roof of your mouth; pray, till your knees grow hard as horns; fast, till your body become like a skeleton, and, after all this, give it to be burnt; the word is gone out of the Lord’s mouth in righteousness and cannot return, that you shall perish for ever, notwithstanding all this, as not being in Christ (John 14:6), ‘No man cometh unto the Father, but by me (Acts 4:12), ‘Neither is there salvation in any other.’ (Mark 16:16), ‘He that believeth not shall be damned!

Objection: But God is a merciful God, and He knows that we are not able to answer these demands; we hope therefore to be saved, if we do as well as we can, and keep the commands as well as we are able.

Answer 1: Though you are able to do many things, you are not able to do one thing right: you can do nothing acceptable to God, being out of Christ (John 1:5), ‘Without me ye can do nothing.’ An unrenewed man, as you are, can do nothing but sin, as we have already proved. Your best actions are sin, and so they increase your debt to justice: how then can it be expected they should lessen it?

Answer 2: Though God should offer to save men, upon condition that they did all they could do, in obedience to His commands, yet we have reason to think that those who should attempt it would never be saved: for where is the man that does as well as he can? Who sees not many false steps he has made, which he might have avoided? There are so many things to be done, so many temptations to carry us out of the road of duty, and our nature is so very apt to be set on fire of hell, that we surely must fail, even in some point that is within the compass of our natural abilities. But,

Answer 3: Though you should do all you are able to do, in vain do you hope to be saved in that way. What word of God is this hope of yours founded on? It is founded on neither law nor Gospel; therefore it is but a delusion. It is not founded on the Gospel; for the Gospel leads the soul out of itself to Jesus Christ for all; and it establishes the law (Rom 3:31). Whereas this hope of yours cannot be established but on the ruins of the law, which God will magnify and make honorable. Hence it appears, that it is not founded on the law neither. When God set Adam working for happiness to himself and his posterity, perfect obedience was the ‘condition required of him; and the curse was denounced in case of disobedience. The law being broken by him, he and his posterity were subjected to the penalty for sin committed; and withal were still bound to perfect obedience. For it is absurd to think, that man’s sinning, and suffering for his sin, should free him from his duty of obedience to his Creator. When Christ came in the room of the elect, to purchase their salvation, the terms were the same. justice had the elect under arrest: if He is desirous to deliver them, the terms are known. He must satisfy for their sin, by suffering the punishment due to it; He must do what they cannot do, namely, obey the law perfectly, and so fulfill all righteousness. Accordingly, all this He did, and so became ‘the end of the law for righteousness, to every one that believeth’ (Rom 10:4). And do you think that God will abate these terms as to you, when His own Son got no abatement of them? Expect it not, though you should beg it with tears of blood; for if they prevailed, they must prevail against the truth, justice, and honor of God (Gal 3:10). ‘Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. (Gal. 3:12), ‘And the law is not of faith: but the man that doeth them shall live in them.’ It is true, that God is merciful: but cannot He be merciful unless He save you in a way that is neither consistent with His law nor His Gospel? Have not His goodness and mercy sufficiently appeared, in sending the Son of His love, to do ‘what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh?’ He has provided help for those who cannot help themselves: but you, insensible of your own weakness, must needs think to recover yourself by your own works, while you are no more able to do it than to remove mountains of brass out of their place.

Wherefore I conclude, that you are utterly unable to recover yourself, in the way of works, or by the law. O that you would conclude the same concerning yourself!

Let us try next what the sinner can do to recover himself, In the way of the Gospel. It may be you think that you cannot do all by yourself alone, yet Jesus Christ offering you help, you can of yourself embrace it, and use it for your recovery. But, O sinner, be convinced of your absolute need of the grace of Christ: for truly, there is help offered, but you cannot accept it: there is a rope cast out to draw shipwrecked sinners to land, but, alas they have no hands to lay hold of it. They are like infants exposed in the open field, who must starve, though their food be lying by them, unless some one put it in their mouths. To convince natural men of this, let it be considered,

1. That although Christ is offered in the Gospel, yet they cannot believe in Him. Saving faith is the faith of God’s elect, the special gift of God to them, wrought in them by His Spirit. Salvation is offered to them that will believe in Christ, but how can you believe? (John 5:44). It is offered to those that will come to Christ; but ‘no man can come unto Him, except the Father draw him.’ It is offered to those that win look to Him, as lifted on the pole of the Gospel (Isa. 45:22); but the natural man is spiritually blind (Rev. 3:17); and as to the things of the Spirit of God, he cannot know them, for they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14). Nay, whosoever will, he is welcome; let him come (Rev. 22:17); but there must be a day of power on the sinner, before he can be willing (Ps. 110:3).

2. Man naturally has nothing wherewithal to improve, for his recovery, the help brought in by the Gospel. He is cast away in a state of wrath, and is bound hand and foot, so that he cannot lay hold of the cords of love thrown out to him in the Gospel. The most cunning artificer cannot work without tools; neither can the most skilful musician play well on an instrument that is out of tune. How can anyone believe, or repent, whose understanding is darkness (Eph. 5:8), whose heart is a stony heart, inflexible, insensible (Ezek. 36:26), whose affections are wholly disordered and distempered, who is averse to good, and bent to evil? The arms of natural abilities are too short to reach supernatural help; hence those who most excel in them are often most estranged from spiritual things (Matthew 11:25), ‘Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent!

3. Man cannot work a saving change on himself; but so changed he must be, else he can neither believe nor repent, nor ever see heaven. No action can be without a suitable principle. Believing, repenting, and the like, are the product of the new nature and can never be produced by the old corrupt nature. Now, what can the natural man do in this matter? He must be regenerate, begotten again unto a lively hope; but as the child cannot be active in his own generation, so a man cannot be active but passive only, in his own regeneration. The heart is shut against Christ: man cannot open it, only God can do it by His grace (Acts 16:14). He is dead in sin; he must be quickened, raised out of his grave; who can do this but God Himself? (Eph. 2:1-5). Nay, he must be ‘created in Christ Jesus, unto good works’ (Eph. 2:10). These are works of omnipotence, and can be done by no less a power.

4. Man, in his depraved state, is under an utter inability to do any thing truly good, as was proved before at large: how then can he obey the Gospel? His nature is the very reverse of the Gospel: how can he, of himself, fall in with that plan of salvation, and accept the offered remedy? The corruption of man’s nature infallibly includes his utter inability to recover himself in any way, and whoso is convinced of the one, must needs admit the other; for they stand and fall together. Were all the purchase of Christ offered to the unregenerate man for one good thought, he cannot command it (2 Cor. 3:5), ‘Not that we are sufficient of ourselves, to think any thing as of ourselves! Were it offered on condition of a good word, yet ‘how can ye, being evil, speak good things?’ (Matthew 12:35). Nay, were it left to yourselves to choose what is easiest, Christ Himself tells you (John 15:5), ‘Without me, ye can do nothing’!

5. The natural man cannot but resist the Lord’s offering to help him; yet that resistance is infallibly overcome in the elect, by converting grace. Can the stony heart choose but to resist the stroke? There is not only an inability, but an enmity and obstinacy in man’s will by nature. God knows, O natural man, whether you know it or not, that ‘thou art obstinate, and thy neck is an iron sinew, and thy brow brass’ (Isa. 48:4), and cannot be overcome, but by Him who hath ‘broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in sunder.’ Hence, humanly speaking, there is such hard work in converting a sinner. Sometimes he seems to be caught in the net of the Gospel; yet quickly he slips away again. The hook catches hold of him; but he struggles, tin, getting free of it, he goes away with a bleeding wound. When good hopes are conceived of him, by those that travail in birth for the forming of Christ in him., there is oft-times nothing brought forth but wind. The deceitful heart makes many contrivances to avoid a Saviour, and cheat the man of his eternal happiness. Thus the natural man lies sunk in a state of sin and wrath, utterly unable to recover himself.

Objection 1: If we be under an utter inability to do any good, how can God require us to do it? Answer: God making man upright (Eccl. 7:29), gave him a power to do everything that He should require of him; this power man lost by his own fault. We were bound to serve God, and do whatever He commanded us, as being His creatures; and also, we were under the superadded tie of a covenant, for that purpose. Now, we having, by our own fault, disabled ourselves, shall God lose His right of requiring our task, because we have thrown away the strength He gave us whereby to perform it? Has the creditor no right to require payment of his money because the debtor had squandered it away, and is not able to pay him? Truly, if God can require no more of us than we are able to do, we need no more to save us from wrath, but to make ourselves unable for every duty, and to incapacitate ourselves for serving God any manner of way, as profane men frequently do. So the deeper a man is plunged in sin, he will be the more secure from wrath, for where God can require no duty of us, we do not sin in omitting it; and where there is no sin there can be no wrath. As to what may be urged by the unhumbled soul, against the putting our stock in Adam’s hand, the righteousness of that dispensation was explained before. But moreover, the unrenewed man is daily throwing away the very remains of natural abilities, that rational light and strength which are to be found amongst the ruins of mankind. Nay, further, he will not believe his own utter inability to help himself; so that out of his own mouth, he must be condemned. Even those who make their natural impotency to good a covert to their sloth, do, with others, delay the work of turning to God from time to time, and, under convictions, make large promises of reformation, which afterwards they never regard, and delay their repentance to a death-bed, as if they could help themselves in a moment; which shows them to be far from a due sense of their natural inability, whatever they pretend.

Now, if God can require of men the duty they are not able to do, He can in justice punish them for their not doing it, notwithstanding their inability. If He has power to exact the debt of obedience, He has also power to cast the insolvent debtor into prison, for his not paying it. Further, though unregenerate men have no gracious abilities, yet they want not natural abilities which nevertheless they will not improve. There are many things they can do, which they do not; they will not do them, and therefore their damnation will be just. Nay, all their inability to do good is voluntary; they will not come to Christ (John 5:40). They will not repent, they will die (Ezek. 18:31). So they win be justly condemned, because they will neither tam to God, nor come to Christ, but love their chains better than their liberty, and darkness rather than light (John 3:19)

Objection 2: Why do you then preach Christ to us, call us to come to Him, to believe., repent, and use the means of salvation? Answer: Because it is your duty so to do. It is your duty to accept of Christ, as He is offered in the Gospel, to repent of your sins, and to be holy in all manner of conversation; these things are commanded you of God; and His command, not your ability, is the measure of your duty. Moreover, these calls and exhortations are the means that God is pleased to make use of, for converting His elect, and working grace in their hearts: to them, ‘faith cometh by hearing’ (Rom 10:17), while they are as unable to help themselves as the rest of mankind are. Upon very good grounds may we, at the command of God, who raises the dead, go to their graves, and cry in His name, ‘Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light’ (Eph. 5:14). And seeing the elect are not to be known and distinguished from others before conversion, as the sun shines on the blind man’s face, and the rain falls on the rocks as well as on the fruitful plains, so we preach Christ to all, and shoot the arrow at a venture, which God Himself directs as He sees fit. Moreover, these calls and exhortations are not altogether in vain, even to those who are not converted by them. Such persons may be convinced, though they be not converted: although they be not sanctified by these means, yet they may be restrained by them from running into that excess of wickedness, which otherwise they would arrive at. The means of grace serve, as it were, to embalm many dead souls, which are never quickened by them; though they do not restore them to life, yet they keep them from putrefying, as otherwise they would do. Finally, though you cannot recover yourselves, nor take hold of the saving help offered to you in the Gospel, yet even by the power of nature you may use the outward and ordinary means, whereby Christ communicates the benefit of redemption to ruined sinners, who are utterly unable to recover themselves out of the state of sin and wrath. You may and can., if you please, do many things that would set you in a fair way for help from the Lord Jesus Christ. You may go so far on, as not to be far from the kingdom of God, as the discreet scribe had done (Mark 12:34), though, it should seem, he was destitute of supernatural abilities. Though you cannot cure yourselves, yet you may come to the pool, where many such diseased persons as you are have been cured; though you have none to put you into it, yet you may lie at the side of it:

‘Who knows but the Lord may return, and leave a blessing behind Him?’ as in the case of the impotent man (recorded in John 5:5-8). I hope Satan does not chain you to your houses, nor stake you down in your fields on the Lord’s day; but you are at liberty and can wait at the posts of wisdom’s doors if you will. When you come thither he does not beat drums at your ears, that you cannot hear what is said; there is no force upon you, obliging you to apply all you hear to others; you may apply to yourselves what belongs to your state and condition.. When you go home, you are not fettered in your houses) where perhaps no religious discourse is to be heard, but you may retire to some separate place, where you can meditate, and exercise your consciences with suitable questions upon what you have heard. You are not possessed with a dumb devil, that you cannot get your mouths opened in prayer to God. You are not so driven out of your beds to your worldly business, and from your worldly business to your beds again, but you might, if you would,, make some prayers to God upon the case of your perishing souls. You may examine yourselves as to the state of your souls, in a solemn manner, as in the presence of God; you may discern that you have no grace, and that you are lost and undone without it, and you may cry to God for it. These things are within the compass of natural abilities, and may be practiced where there is no grace. It must aggravate your guilt, that you will not be at so much pains about the state and case of your precious souls. If you do not what you can, you will be condemned, not only for your want of grace, but for your despising it.

Objection 3: But all this is needless, seeing we are utterly unable to help ourselves out of the state of sin and wrath. Answer: Give not place to that delusion, which puts asunder what God has joined, namely, the use of means and a sense of our own impotency. If ever the Spirit of God graciously influence your souls, you will become thoroughly sensible of your absolute inability, and yet enter upon a vigorous use of means. You will do for yourselves, as if you were to do all, and yet overlook all you do, as if you had done nothing. Will you do nothing for yourselves because you cannot do all? Lay down no such impious conclusion against your own souls. Do what you can; and, it may be, while you are doing what you can for yourselves, God will do for you what you cannot. ‘Understandest thou what thou readest?’ said Philip to the eunuch; ‘How can I,’ said he, ‘except some man should guide me?’ (Acts 8:30-31). He could not understand the Scripture he read, yet he could read it: he did what he could, he read; and while he was reading, God sent him an interpreter. The Israelites were in a great strait at the Red Sea; and how could they help themselves, when on the one hand were mountains, and on the other the enemy in pursuit; when Pharaoh and his host were behind them, and the Red Sea before them? What could they do? ‘Speak unto the children of Israel,’ said the Lord to Moses, ‘that they go forward’ (Ex. 14:15). For what end should they go forward? Can they make a passage to themselves through the sea? No; but let them go forward, saith the Lord: though they cannot turn the sea to dry land, yet they can go forward to the shore. So they did; and when they did what they could) God did for them what they could not do.

Question 1: Has God promised to convert and save those who, in the use of means, do what they can towards their own relief? Answer: We may not speak wickedly for God; natural men, being strangers to the covenants of promise (Eph. 2:12), have no such promise made to them. Nevertheless they do not act rationally unless they exert the powers they have, and do what they can. For, I. It is possible this course may succeed with them. If you do what you can, it may be, God will do for you what you cannot do for yourselves. This is sufficient to determine a man in a matter of the utmost importance, such as this is (Acts 8:22), ‘Pray God, if perhaps the thought of thy heart may be forgiven thee.’ (Joel 2:14), ‘Who knoweth if he will return?’ If success may be, the trial should be. If, in a wreck at sea, all the sailors and passengers betake themselves each to a broken board for safety, and one of them should see all the rest perish, notwithstanding their utmost endeavor to save themselves, yet the very possibility of escaping by that means would determine that one still to do his best with his board. Why then do not you reason with yourselves, as the four lepers did who sat at the gate of Samaria? (2 Kings 7:3-4). Why do you not say, ‘If we sit still,’ not doing what we can, ‘we die;’ let us put it to a trial; if we be saved, ‘we shall live;’ if not, ‘we shall but die?’

Question 2: It is probable this course may succeed; God is good and merciful; He loves to surprise men with His grace, and is often ‘found of them that sought him not’ (Isa. 65:1). If you do this, you are so far in the road of your duty, and you are using the means, which the Lord is wont to bless for men’s spiritual recovery: you lay yourselves in the way of the great Physician, and so it is probable you may be healed. Lydia went, with others, to the place ‘where prayer was wont to be made;’ and ‘the Lord opened her heart’ (Acts 16:13-14). You plough and sow, though nobody can tell you for certain that you win get so much as your seed again: you use means for the recovery of your health, though you are not sure they will succeed. In these cases probability determines you; and why not in this also? Importunity, we see, does very much with men. Therefore pray, meditate, desire help of God, be much at the throne of grace, supplicating for grace, and do not faint. Though God regard you not, who in your present state are but one mass of sin, universally depraved, and vitiated in all the powers of your soul, yet He may regard prayer, meditation, and the like means of His own appointment, and He may bless them to you. Wherefore, if you will not do what you can, you are not only dead, but you declare yourselves unworthy of eternal life.

In conclusion then, let the saints admire the freedom and power of grace, which came to them in their helpless condition, made their chains fall off, the iron gate to open to them, raised the fallen creatures, and brought them out of the state of sin and wrath., wherein they would have lain and perished, had not they been mercifully visited. Let the natural man be sensible of his utter inability to recover himself. Know, that you are without strength: and cannot come to Christ, till you be drawn. You are lost, and cannot help yourself. This may shake the foundation of your hopes, if you never saw your absolute need of Christ and his grace, but think to contrive for yourself by your civility, morality, drowsy wishes, and duties, and by a faith and repentance which have sprung out of your natural powers, without the power and efficacy of the grace of Christ. O be convinced of your absolute need of Christ, and His overcoming grace, believe your utter inability to recover yourself, that so you may be humbled, shaken out of your self-confidence, and lie down in dust and ashes, groaning out your miserable case before the Lord. A proper sense of your natural impotence, the impotence of depraved human nature, would be a step towards a delivery.

Thus far of man’s natural state, the state of entire depravity.

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1 John 4:16-21

1 John 4:16-21

10-18-09

Sermon by Kevin Hay

Part 1:

http://thegracecommunity.com/default.asp?page=42251&int_audioid=465

Part 2:

http://thegracecommunity.com/default.asp?page=42251&int_audioid=466

(Be sure to turn up your speakers)

 

The Grace Community Church: 

 *Expositional Preaching 
*Biblical Theology 
*Evangelism

*Promotion of Christian 
  Discipleship and growth.
 

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 Church Update:  Service Time Change:

 

Beginning Sunday Nov. 1st we are moving our 7pm Saturday service to Sunday at 6pm.

And, we will also move our 7pm Tuesday Bible Study to Wednesday at 7pm.

As a result of this change there will be no Saturday night service on Oct. 31st. .

 

Our new Schedule beginning on Sunday Nov. 1st will look as follows:

Sunday School 9:30 am (Study of the Sovereignty of God)

Sunday Morning Worship 10:30 am (Exposition of 1st John)

Sunday Evening 6pm (Study of the Perserverance of the Saints)

Wednesday Evening 7pm (Bible Study-Fundamentals of the Faith)

 

Here’s a sample of what we’re about here at

The Grace Community Church:. 

 *Expositional Preaching *Biblical Theology *Evangelism
Promotion of Christian Discipleship and Growth 

Please visit our site www.thegracecommunity.com

 for more information about us,  a more concise explanation of our  doctrinal positions as well as our vision.

 

 

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“Jesus, Our Sabbath Rest”

A copy of a communion service from several months ago…

http://thegracecommunity.com/default.asp?page=42251&int_audioid=456

Lesson by:

Gary Chaffins

 

Visit www.thegracecommunity.com

for more sermons, resources, and to a copy of our church calendar.

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