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  • Incredulity of Thomas
But For Grace And Grace Alone, I Am Damned.

Introduction

I can be wrong. That’s probably not anything new to you, but it may be disconcerting as an introduction to a very heavy topic. But it is important that I say it. And I’m not saying it so I can absolve myself of any errors, it doesn’t release me of any responsibility. I say it because that way when I am wrong, I can ‘fess up to it more readily.

However, in regards to today’s topic I have done a lot of research. And I have come to the conclusion that what I am about to tell you is Biblical and founded on Scripture and Scripture alone. Yet, that does not absolve you of the responsibility to test what I am saying.

Many times over the last few years I have had the opportunity to witness to people. And at least 2 out of every 5 times I will run into a non-Christian who says, “I can’t believe in a God that would send somebody to hell.” Over and over again I run into this kind of a statement. “If God is love then why does he send anyone to hell. That’s not the kind of God I want to follow.”

How many times have you heard that sort of a statement. How many times in the middle of witnessing you run into a blanket statement like that. And regardless what you say, the person you are witnessing to seems adamant that he or she will define God their way. “How can a kind God send someone who has never really done anything wrong to hell.” or “Are you trying to tell me that if someone like my kind old grandmother lived a perfect life, and only made a small mistake like saying a tiny small white lie dies, God would still send her to Hell? I can’t believe in a God like that. I can’t accept a God like that.”

Last Wednesday while reading the electronic news I ran into this statement. “I don’t believe in Hell, I believe I am a Christian but I don’t believe in Hell. I realize that it mentions Hell in the Bible, but I believe that that was added later.”

Essentially the person was saying, I don’t want to follow a God who could send people to hell. Essentially the person was saying. I will define my own God, my own religion. Essentially the person was saying “I refuse to accept what God has said about Himself and I will create my own sense of right and my own God and I will believe that fantasy that I have created for myself. (Tattoo: Look boss the plane, the plane. I’m Mr. Rourke. Welcome to your Fantasy Religion. Admiral Kirk, this is your Fantasy).

And all of us here, know that that is just absolutely wrong.

You can’t define your own God, you can’t define your own reality. There is an absolute reality, and as much as we may hate it. God is going to send people to hell. As much as we may think it is unfair, yes even your kind old grandmother will go to hell if she does not accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour of her life.

Let me ask you this, have you ever had a chat with a New Ager? They believe that they are at liberty to define God the way they wish Him to be. I have so many times run into New Agers who say: “That’s OK for you, but my god is a very nice god” and some have even said “she is a kind loving god and as long as you are trying your best that’s all that matters.” “It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you believe in something.” [To which WC Fields says: Every man must believe in something. I believe I’ll have another drink.]

Well, excuse me, I can see it now, God is going to change to fit our imagination of Him. Yes, I see it. If I imagine God as a divine elephant. He becomes one immediately. If I imagine God is a benign old grandfather, He becomes one. If I imagine that God is a woman, or a part of the the earth and inhabits vegetable matter. Instantly God becomes a giant tomato.

Not!

God is who He is and what He is and how He is and He don’t change one bit for nobody.

We have and, will continue to run into many many many things in the Bible that we wish weren’t there. For example, how many people wish that it was true that God would heal everybody who’s a Christian. Dang, I wish that was the case.

How many of us wish it was true that once you become a Christian life would be a bed of roses. But that’s not true either because the Bible clearly says that we will have to suffer for God.

How many times have you been dating someone and you get real close, real intimate and you wished that the Bible didn’t say that sex outside of marriage was wrong. Now don’t lie to me. If you’re a normal human being with a normal healthy God given sexual drive, and you’ve had a serious relationship, you’ve probably been in that situation. Didn’t you wish that it was OK. Didn’t you wish that the Bible said “Though may notst commit adultery, unless thou datest for at leastes 6th monthth, then thouest mayeth haveth sexeth. But NO. The Bible says No sex except within Marriage. God’s kind of fussy about that.

In fact, God’s kind of fussy about a lot of things, and we may not understand why, and we may even think it’s unfair or stupid, one day we may understand, but now we don’t. In fact, the Bible says lots and lots of things that we don’t like. But we accept it anyway. We believe it because we don’t have a choice. Either accept the whole Bible or throw the whole thing out.

And you see this all comes back to the Bible. Unless you believe that the original Greek & Hebrew Bible is the inerrant, Holy Spirit inspired, unchanged, immutable Holy Word of God, it makes no sense to even talk theology. Because if you don’t accept the Bible as God’s correct word, then the study of God becomes, fantasy, not theology. Then it becomes our desires, not His Revelation

Shortly after this series is over we will spend some time proving that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. I have proved it to myself, many others in this class have also. If you haven’t you should spend some time studying the Historical Background and proof. But until then and until my talk on it, you will need to work on the assumption that the Bible is 100% correct as written down in the original languages.

Today’s topic is “But for Grace and Grace alone I am damned” It is important for us to expand on this. A subtitle for this talk would be “Unconditional Grace.” [I am unconditionally saved. Through nothing that I could have done].

It is also important at this juncture for me to reiterate what I said about 8 weeks ago when we started into this intense study of theology. What I am about to teach is not something that I do lightly. It has been after much studying and much fear on my part. But over and over again, I have seen that what I am showing you is reinforced by scripture.

Secondly, what I teach you is not something that I jumped upon. I fought pretty soundly against it. I even gave it lip service for a while before I really accepted it.

Thirdly, what I teach you is not new. There is nothing new in Scriptures. It has existed since it was written. We are not at liberty to reinterpret scripture according to the date and century. Nor are we at liberty to reinterpret scripture according to culture and fashion. These facts were written by Paul and the conclusions were arrived at by Augustine, Martin Luther, Calvin, RC Sproul, JI Packer, John Owen, and many others.

Fourthly and most importantly. If you disagree with me that is OK, but do not do not do not, change churches, do not think that this is an unsurmountable problem. But what you need to do is to diligently study the Bible, verse by verse and back your point. If you disagree you need to defend your beliefs. I will spend as much time as is needed with you personally if you so desire. But remember, just like all the other things in the Bible be ready to accept what you don’t want to accept. We don’t get to choose which parts of the Bible to accept and which parts to reject. It is all or nothing. It’s like a light switch. Not a dimmer. It’s either on or off. It’s digital.

I remember that I was talking with a guy about this and when he ran into the concept that Romans so plainly talks about, the fact that God hardens people’s heart and then punishes them he said “Well that’s not the kind of God I want to follow.” Now doesn’t that sound very familiar? And it is familiar. You know why it is familiar. I’ll tell you, it’s because it is exactly the same objection you get from non-Christians and New Agers. When faced with the unpleasantness of the Bible, this guy’s answer wasn’t “Oh, I don’t agree with that because I can show you lots of scripture that explains why you are wrong.” But he and the New Agers fell back on whose reasoning? Their OWN reasoning he said. “Well if that’s true. I don’t want to have anything to do with God, because that’s not the kind of God I want to believe in.” They are saying in effect, “I don’t believe it because I don’t want to.” Not because they have evidence that it’s wrong. Just because they don’t want to. Don’t be like that. If you disagree, get the evidence.

Review

Let’s do a quick review now. I’ll only give you a few of the verses, but if you have been here the last few weeks, you should have covered them all with me already.

Over and over again the Bible says that it was God who acted in our lives to bring us to him. Over and over again it says that God chose us or called us.

Let me ask you all a question? And I want you to answer it to yourself. Can anyone here say that they are saved and it had nothing to do with the Holy Spirit convicting them? Can anyone here say that their decision to declare that Jesus is Lord was their own doing and not that of the Holy Spirit?

Let’s turn to 1 Corr 12:3. 1Corr 12:3

1 Cor. 12:3 Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

1. Man cannot intentionally do spiritual good on his own and there are no good men or women. And secondly no one seeks God out on his own.

Ps 14:2 The LORD looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. 3 All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.

Jer. 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

Rom. 3:10 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.

Thirdly, man cannot change on his own

Jer. 13:23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.

And finally, we see over and over again, when there is a change in man, it is effected by the conviction of the Holy Spirit. It is initiated by God and not by man:

Jer. 24:7 I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.

Matt 16:17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.

John 6:44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.

Acts 16:14 One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.

Col. 2:13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,

So we see that God is the one who calls us to Him, God is the one who saves us, God is the one who opens our hearts and God is the one who opens our eyes.

[If you still disagree with that, it will be because of one or a combination of the following reasons:

1. You have not studied the Bible enough!

2. You have studied the Bible but still refuse to accept the concept because You don’t want to have anything to do with a mean ol’ God who does such mean things! In effect, if God doesn’t fit the picture you had while growing up, then it’s wrong.

3. You have found 5 and only 5 verses that seem to imply that God wants everybody to be saved.

or 4. and I hope this is not true You don’t believe the Bible is correct.

Item 4 can be thrown out. Item 1 means, hey dude, get to work. Pull out the old Bible, buy some books showing both view points and get to work. Read and study. As some of you know I have my sermons written out word for word. I can make copies of all the previous talks available to you.

Item 2 is the one we already dealt with. Sorry bucko God decides who he is and your childhood vision of him is no more valid than Kunta Kinte’s childhood vision of a god that lives in Mt. Kilimanjaro.

As far as item 3. We will deal with those soon enough. But unfortunately not today. However, remember this. If you think the Bible says one thing in one verse and then you find 45 verses that say just the opposite, then I’d say it’s time to go reevaluate what you thought that first verse was really saying. All Bible needs to be interpreted through the rest of the Bible.

EXAMPLE OF SAUL was he open to God? Was he kinder nicer what?

Acts 22:14 “Then he said: `The God of our fathers has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. ]

Predestination Verses

Turn now to John 15:16 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.

Rom. 11:2 God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah –how he appealed to God against Israel: 3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me” ? 4 And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” 5 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. 6 And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. 7 What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened, 8 as it is written: “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day.” 9 And David says: “May their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them. 10 May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever.”

What is he talking about here? There are some that are chosen, that are elect and there are others whom God hardens their hearts and blinds their eyes and gives to them a spirit of stupor.

Rom. 11:27 And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.” 28 As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, 29 for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.

1 Pet. 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

And they have been chosen for what? For obedience to Jesus Christ.

Exod. 4:21 The LORD said to Moses, “When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.

Exod. 7:3 But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt,

Exod. 14:4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD.” So the Israelites did this.

Exod. 14:17 I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. And I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen.

Isa. 63:17 Why, O LORD, do you make us wander from your ways and harden our hearts so we do not revere you? Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes that are your inheritance.

1 Sam. 2:24 No, my sons; it is not a good report that I hear spreading among the LORD’s people. 25 If a man sins against another man, God may mediate for him; but if a man sins against the LORD, who will intercede for him?” His sons, however, did not listen to their father’s rebuke, for it was the LORD’s will to put them to death.

Proverbs 16:4 (NASB) The Lord has made everything for its own purpose, even the wicked for the day of destruction.

Matt 11:25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. 27 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

Matt. 22:12 `Friend,’ he asked, `how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless. 13 “Then the king told the attendants, `Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

Matt. 24:22 If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 23 At that time if anyone says to you, `Look, here is the Christ!’ or, `There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect –if that were possible.

Matt. 24:31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

Mark 13:20 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 shortened them. 21 At that time if anyone says to you, `Look, here is the Christ!’ or, `Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22 For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect –if that were possible.

Mark 13:27 And 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.

Eph. 1:4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will– 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

Eph. 1:11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.

Eph. 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith –and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

Col. 3:11 Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. 12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

2Ths. 2:13 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. 14 He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

Even the Angels are chosen:

1Tim. 5:21 I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism.

Rom. 8:29 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. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. 31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 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? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died –more than that, who was raised to life –is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

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.

[John 1:12-13 (NASB) Need to check this out in a commentary:
But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe in His name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. [Is this God’s will?]]

So the conclusion we have to come to is that God is the one who not only died for our sins, but then he went the next step because He knew that mankind on his own would not choose God, God enabled, appointed, forechose, predestined, elected the chosen few, the remnant to accept that supreme sacrifice.

Wow! The next question that is logical to ask is why did he chose us.

Did he choose us because he knew we were good people?

Did he chose us because he knew that we were going to chose him in turn?

Did he chose us because he looked down the corridors of time and knew that we would be Christians?

Why?

The only answer the Bible says is that because it was to his good pleasure. It was nothing we had done:

Turn to:

2 Tim. 1:8 So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us to a holy life –not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.

I’d like you all to take a ball point pen and underline verse 9. Then in the same verse go to that phrase not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. and underline that twice.

Now by this time some of us are thinking that God is a big old meanie in the sky who is cruel and unfair. And the problem with that attitude is that you are trying to think like a God. You are trying to justify and understand God’s actions. But you can’t, you can’t because you are not capable.

God isn’t this benign old Grandfather up in the sky.

People talk about well, you don’t deserve it, but you have to accept salvation to be saved. God can’t force it upon you. But we just saw over and over and over again that man is totally depraved, we saw over and over and over again that it is God who acts in man’s life to save Him. Now let me ask you this. What makes some one choose God? If we did believe that we are the ones who choose God and God isn’t the one who chooses us, then what makes us choose God? Is it because we are nicer people?

Is it because we are less rebellious people? Is it because we are kinder people? Is it because we are more intelligent people? Is it because we are more obedient people? What?

What makes one man choose God and not the other? Is it because of something we have done? However you look at those things, it all comes down to an action or a type of person that we are. [And in the talk show that we will have I will isolate each one of these and show you where this entire conclusion leads. for later]

But that’s not what happened. You see

John 3:16 God so loved the world. Well did he really love it that much? He could save every single person if he wanted to couldn’t he? Also doesn’t this verse imply universalism if we just stop there and don’t include vs 18?

You can’t comprehend God, but one thing you are capable of comprehending is His grace. Let’s talk about Grace. Turn to:

Romans 9:9 For this was how the promise was stated: “At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son.” 10 Not only that, but Rebekah’s children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. 11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad –in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: 12 not by works but by him who calls –she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” 14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 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 It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. 19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?” 20 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?'” 21 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? 22 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? 23 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– 24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?

Story of Abi Nkala.

You’ve all grown up in this country. You’ve all had warm beds and food and shelter. Some of us have always had strong supportive families. But most of all, all of us have had opportunities that surround us constantly. Now some of you say “What opportunities, I don’t see any opportunities.” Well I’ll tell you about these opportunities. Because you may not see all these opportunities, but I do. I see opportunities dripping from the ceiling. Opportunities to be successful, to be content and the lot. But you don’t always see them. Why? Because they have always been there.

Abi Nkala never had opportunities. You see Abi Nkala was born in Ethiopia, and in the midst of war and destruction, when he was 7 years old, Abi’s entire village and crops were destroyed. As a young boy he watched his mother get ill and without the necessary medication or the necessary nutrition she died in his arms. The young boy was helpless. By the age of 15 he had lost every one of his brothers and sisters to starvation or disease. Then one day for no reason at all, Abi was airlifted out of Ethiopia and brought to a Chicago hospital. You see a reasonably wealthy American Family had decided to adopt Abi not only by sending him money, but by actually brining him to the US.

Once Abi got over the numerous sicknesses that ravaged his body he was invited to live in a house right outside Chicago. He had everything he needed. He was loved & he was cherished.

Now let me ask you a question? Do you think Abi comprehended his new found comfort more than you do? Do you think Abi understands the opportunities available in this land more than you do? Do you think that Abi is more grateful than you are for where he is today?

Now let me ask you another question. If Abi had never been hungry do you think he’d ever comprehend or understand the blessings of being full?

If Abi had never lived a life where he was in fear for his life every minute do you think he’d ever comprehend the value of peace?

Let me ask you this next question then. Suppose there had never been war, ever, would any of us comprehend the value of peace.

If no one was ever hungry, would we appreciate the fact that we have food and that our needs are met.

If none of us had ever been lonely, and if there was no loneliness in the world, could we even dare try to understand what belonging and love have that is so important?

Can we value life without seeing death?

Can we value and understand strength without understanding weakness? Can we really ever comprehend one thing unless there is something else that shows us the difference?

Before the foundation of the world God chose us, he predestined us to be saved. He elected us. He elected us for nothing that we could have done. He elected us despite the fact that we were sinners. He elected us despite the fact that on our own we would have rejected him. Not only would we have rejected him, but we would have worked against him.

Let us re-read Roms 9: 11-13

11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad –in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: 12 not by works but by him who calls –she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

But as much as I don’t like it, we have to go one step further. You see God not only elected us to salvation but he also elected to not save some people. Verse 13

Rom 9:13 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” 14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 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 It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.

It had nothing to do with our intentions or desires or heart, because as we have studied over and over and over again, all man rejects God. It had to do with God’s mercy. And yet the glaring reality of it all, is that some are not going to be saved. And worse, it goes another step and says, these individuals were created for that purpose, and that they were created for God’s glory. Verse 15

Rom 9:15 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 It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

But then we come to the next and obvious question. Why would he do such a thing. Why would a loving God create some people to be vessels of destruction just for His own Glory? And the first answer we get from Paul is:

Right, just who do you think you are to ask such a question? The Creator does what the Creator wants, and you cannot comprehend it.

verse 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. 19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?” 20 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?'” 21 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?

But then he expands. Then he talks about Grace. Then He talks about the Supreme God of Love.

Let me tell you a story. Some of you here have already heard me tell it. You are a thief. And I’d like you to picture this with me. You are a thief, two weeks ago while stealing over $50,000 worth of Jewelry, you were caught by the owner of the store. In your attempt to escape, you hit the owner and he is now is a coma. Yet the police caught you, and now you are in prison awaiting your sentence.

In the same cell next to you is another person. This person is also a thief, except that this person was caught stealing a fruit from a fruit stand.

The day of your sentencing arrives. You both approach the bench. The judge says, you have both been caught stealing. As you know the penalty for stealing is nonexistent. Everybody thinks that there is a penalty for stealing but there is no penalty for stealing. And then he turns to you and says. Both of you are free to go. Just don’t do it anymore.

At that you turn to each other and say, “Oh, great, that was easy” and off you go skipping away, happy to be free.

Let me ask you a question, did you comprehend the mercy the judge had on you? No one was ever punished for stealing, so it wasn’t a big deal. No one had ever been punished for stealing in the past either. So what’s the big deal.

(If the judge had said the penalty was death, but no one from the beginning of time had ever gotten it, or would ever get it, that would not mean anything, and it may mean that it was a false threat and worse just a lie.)

Now let’s go back to the same scenario. You are a thief, next to you is the person who was also caught stealing.

And on that day of sentencing, you are both brought before the judge. The Judge turns to the the person who shared your cell and he says to this person.

“You stole an orange from a fruit cart. As you well know, the just law of the land, says that every violation, whether it be large or small is punished with death ,for we can not allow evil to exist here.

You have broken the law.

Your penalty is that you will be flayed alive with a whip until your skin falls off, after which point each arm and leg will be tied to a separate horse, and you will slowly and tortuously be ripped apart.” Then the judge turns to the guards and says: “Execute the sentence.”

Now I want you to imagine this, as to your horror, they make you watch as they take that person who only stole an orange, and they torture him and they kill him in front of you.

And when it is done, the judge turns to you standing there.

And you know that what you have done is far worse than what that other person did. And you know that what you have done deserves a far worse punishment than that.

And at that moment, God turns to you and He says. “You are a thief, you have been caught stealing, you have almost killed someone, and that is what you deserve.

But, I pardon you.

And then in that moment, you understand what grace is.

Verse 22 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? 23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy,

23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy,

Could we really comprehend mercy without damnation? Can there be one without the other?

Can we really understand what God has saved us from if no one was ever punished?

Can there be Grace without judgement?

Can there be salvation without damnation?

Can one exist without the other?

And he chose you from the foundation of the earth. You and me, prepared in advance before the beginning of time. For what? To shower his mercy and show us His glory.

23 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– 24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?

And if I could for one instant say, well of course, He chose me because He knew that I would be a good person. It would immediately not mean half as much.

If I could even point to something in me that was solely done on my own….

If I could even say I deserved this salvation because of something however min-ute that I had been able to accomplish…

If I could say it was because I was nicer, or less rebellious or kinder, or more obedient, it would not be mercy, it would be just rewards. Because then it would be because I had done and something that they had not done.

It would not be mercy it would be works,

it would not be mercy it would be a competition to see who was better, who was nicer, who was less rebellious.

But from the foundation of the world, before the beginning of time. Before the creation of anything, God said, I am going to create you. I am going to love you.

Not because of anything that you have done, because you couldn’t do anything.

Not because of who you are, because He decided who you were.

Not because of what happened to you, because He controls the universe and every single day to day item including where each little bird is going to land.

And this mighty, powerful, awesome, glorious, God of the entire creation, looked through time and said I am going to create you.

You,

me,

and I am going to love you.

And when all is said and done, I am going to bring you into heaven so that you can enjoy all eternity with me.

Are you having a bad time? Are you having a bad day? Are you depressed, are you feeling insignificant anymore? How can you? God designed and loving formed you. And lovingly called you.

And there is nothing you could have done to deserve it, He died for you and He even did the choosing for you.

The lead guitarist for Petra once said something that I never really comprehended until I started understanding the concept of Unconditional Salvation. He said, non-Christians look at Christians and say, for you God is just a Crutch, Jesus is just a crutch. But I tell you Jesus is not a crutch, he is a stretcher, because you can’t even limp into heaven without him.

We can’t even cry out for help without him because we are dead in our sins.

And yet though we all deserve damnation, though we all deserve destruction, he designed me. Me! Me! for salvation.

When God sends a man to Hell, that’s justice, because we all deserve Hell. When God saves one of those men who deserve Hell, that’s Grace, because none of us deserve to be saved. When we understand that we can do no less than to fall flat on our face and worship Him. That’s Glory.

Now all of a sudden the whole picture changes. Now all of a sudden, I realize how valuable I am to him. Yet, I realize how worthless I am for there is nothing that I can do to earn it. I realize what Grace is, because I don’t deserve it. And let me ask you, when you realize that, is God glorified? Oh, is he ever Glorified. And it changes your entire way of life, it changes your entire attitude. Now you know why you were created. You were created to bring God glory.

 
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