Election

Ask 100 “Christians” what Salvation means to them and the vast majority today will reply “my sins are forgiven and I believe in Christ as my savior. Ask them how this process of Salvation comes about (order of) and again the vast majority will give you a funny look, as if to say don’t you know; by faith of course. The result is a very narrow theological view of what salvation is and worse an unbiblical view of how it comes about.

I found this while surfing the web and it applies here:

      Religious people talk about "getting saved." Yet even most religious people understand no more of what the Bible teaches about salvation—the real meaning of the word "salvation"—than a certain young man did about another religious expression.

      He said to me, "I gave my heart to the Lord at the revival meeting last night."

     "Well," I said, "Just what do you mean—you gave your heart to the Lord? Just how did you do that? Did you reach in your hand, take your heart out, and actually hand it to the Lord—and was He really right there, in Person?"

     "Well, uh—uh—" he stammered, confused, "uh—well, no, I didn't do that."

     "Then just what did you do? How did you give your heart to the Lord?" He stammered some more, then guessed he didn't know.

     That's the way it is with a lot of people who say "I got saved." They don't really know what they mean by "getting saved."

     Do you know what the Bible teaches about salvation? Millions of sincere people have supposed they knew—yet have been deceived into accepting a false salvation.

The Oxford English Dictionary (online) defines salvation as: Deliverance from sin and its consequences, believed by Christians to be brought about by faith in Christ

I like this definition for its use of the words brought about in the definition. This explicitly implies it is a process. One I prayerfully hope to unfold for you.

Let me give credit to Tim Challies for his article entitled, Visual Theology - The Order of Salvation, {hereafter noted as VT} from which I drew the outline for this sermon. I will further acknowledge that in an effort to write an introduction the one at the top of his visual was in fact better, so here it is:

“Ordo salutis” is Latin for “the order of salvation”, which refers to the sequence of conceptual steps involved in the salvation of the Christian. The sequence is meant to be logical instead of chronological; some steps occur sequentially while others occur instantaneously. What follows is a classically Reformed understanding of the way in which God saves his people.

The order is:

Election

Calling

Regeneration

Conversion

Justification

Adoption

Sanctification

Perseverance

Glorification

Since we could spend a year or more digging deeply into these topics I will attempt to provide an overview of each over the next several weeks starting with the election tonight.

The Doctrine of Election is nearly a curse word in some circles. Yet few Doctrines are so clearly defined in scripture.

Dr. William Crews of Spartanburg SC noted in his manuscript of this topic: "The doctrine of election perhaps encounters stronger opposition than does any other Bible doctrine . . . . I have seen people become violent under the preaching of the doctrine of election.

I was preaching a special meeting years ago when on the next to final night of the meeting a young man rose at the end of the service, after I finished preaching on God's sovereignty in election, furiously enraged. He made his way to the front of the church expressing before the congregation his disagreement and detestation of what had been preached. His appearance indicated that in his fit of rage he might become sufficiently violent to physically attack me. It was obvious that he was so mad that he was beyond the point of self-control. The man was not an infidel, agnostic, or atheist. He was not an irreligious person. He was a professing Christian" (The Bible Doctrine of Election, 4-5).

My hope is not to stir such anger but to stir the very hearts of the listener and reader to do as the Berean’s and search the scripture as to the truth of the matter.

     Election “before creation because of his sovereign good pleasure, God chooses some people to be saved”{VT}

     R.C. Sproul puts it this way: The Reformed view of election, known as unconditional election, means that God does not foresee an action or condition on our part that induces Him to save us. Rather, election rests on God’s sovereign decision to save whomever He is pleased to save.

     John MacArthur says: In the broad sense, election refers to the fact that God chooses (or elects) to do everything that He does in whatever way He best sees fit. When He acts, He does so only because He willfully and independently chooses to act. According to His own nature, predetermined plan, and good pleasure, He decides to do whatever He desires, without pressure or constraint from any outside influence.

     The Baptist Faith and Message, p. 12 says “Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners”.

First when discussing any biblical doctrine we must affirm that God is God and therefore sovereign over all things. If your belief is otherwise you cannot have a right understanding of biblical Doctrines, for all doctrines hinge upon this principle. He is ruler and in control of all. He rules justly and righteously over all things and requires no assistance from us in this process.

Ex 15:18 The Lord shall reign for ever and ever

Ps 22:28 For the kingdom is the Lord's: and he is the governor among the nations.

God is in control and it pleased him to choose some to be saved. Why some and not others or all I have no idea. I do know this, it pleased Him and therefore it was right and just.

It is not over only a select few that God’s election is seem; God makes righteous and just choices all the time. I have heard some say that His choice to allow Job to be tempted and tried by Satan was unfair, unjust, I even heard someone call it cruel. Really, that is what you take away from that book, a sense of God’s abandonment? Hate to tell you but ya missed the whole message of hope, promise, and comfort. Job’s belief on God never wavered, he got it, “but with God all things are possible” Matt 19:26.

God’s elects or chooses:

     1.  His angels 1Tim 5:21 I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.

     2. His peculiar people, Israel Exo 6:7; Deu 7:6-8; Deu 10:14-15; Psa 33:12;

     Isa 43:20-21 Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple.

     3. Individuals to salvation

This is obviously the sticking point for so many. Yet before we look at some verses let us consider what it would be like with man in control or with man’s assistance in this matter.

Many years ago while I was incarcerated there was a volunteer who used to come and preach once a month. He was a very “nice” man; he attended a main stream church and seemed to truly love God. Yet he would end his sermon/study each time with an invitation to accept Christ as Savior offering the incentive what have you got to lose? Well I searched and search the bible trying to find a biblical case for “what have you got to lose?

I hope you can see this. His theology was so flawed. In an attempt to “save souls” he had minimized the work of Christ on Calvary to a flip of the coin, 50/50 shot at heaven or hell. He had put the emphasis on your decision not on the sovereignty of god. Those who would deny the biblical doctrine of election would seem to so the same.

     - Ps 65:4tells us God chooses individuals

     - Mt 24:31 His angels (whom He chose) will gather His elect (choosen)

     - John 1:12-13 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God

Our salvation is not of man but of God.

     - Romans 8:28- 30And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

Here it is in a nutshell. Those who are saved are called according to God’s purpose. Notice God’s choice in election is first, then He calls them that He knew before their birth. He predestined or predetermined them to salvation (become conformed to the image of His Son) Nothing on our part not even faith has entered into the process. It is by God’s grace alone.

     - Romans 9:11for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls,

How was it that Jacob had favor before God over Esau? Was it because of his faith or maybe his good deeds? NO!!! it was only because God chose him.

     - Romans 9:15-16 (the whole chapter) For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.

Again God’s sovereignty in election is explained.

     - Rom 11:2God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel?

Who are the saved ones? The ones God will not cast out? The ones He foreknew His elect.

     - Romans 11:5-7In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace. What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened;

Who are the ones who receive God’s Grace? Those who were chosen obtain it.

     - 1 Cor 1:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

Foolish and weak apart from God describes me pretty well, what about you?

     - Ephesians 1:5,11He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,…also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,

     - 1 Thes 1:4His choice of you;

     - 2 Thes 2:13God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.

God has chosen from the very beginning those for salvation. I cannot emphasize enough that the process does not (and as we have discussed, man’s evil sinful state many times, and understand) and cannot be initiated by any action of man.

     - Titus 1:1 for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness,

     - 1 Peter 1:2according to the foreknowledge of God the Father,

     - 1 Peter 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."

God choses, not based upon anything (including our faith) we do. He has need of sinful, depraved man’s input.

Dr. Wayne Grudem in his work Systematic Theology, says Scripture Never Speaks of Our Faith As the Reason God Chose Us: In addition, when we look beyond these specific passages that speak of foreknowledge and look at verses that talk about the reason God chose us, we find that Scripture never speaks of our faith or the fact that we would come to believe in Christ as the reason God chose us. In fact, Paul seems explicitly to exclude the consideration of what people would do in life from his understanding of God's choice of Jacob rather than Esau: he says, "Though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad, in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of his call, she was told, 'The elder will serve the younger.' As it is written, 'Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated'" (Rom. 9:11-13). Nothing that Jacob or Esau would do in life influenced God's decision; it was simply in order that his purpose of election might continue.

     4.  Individuals to condemnation

Ex 4:21; Rom 9:17-18; Pharaoh

Rom 9:13; Esau

Rom 9:21-22 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? 22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:

1Pet 2:8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.

5. Election (choice) in all things

- Numbers 22:28 And the LORD opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?

- Gen 1:3-25 and 2:7 God chose what and how to create all things

- Jonah 1:17 Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

- Matt. 5:45, “in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Let me close by recapping what we have heard. God chooses whom He will. The power to do so rests solely with God. Man has no say in the matter the choice was made before the foundations of the world.

In stating my case above I was careful and deliberate in choosing my words. The bible is explicit and specific in this fact. There is nothing, I say again, nothing implicit or implied about it. One need infer nothing unless it is their personal interpretation (2 Peter 1:20) which the bible clearly warns against.

Some say the doctrine of unconditional election is the most despised teaching of reformed theology, some would disagree. Many believe the most rejected doctrine is irresistible grace, better termed “effectual grace”, which is also oftentimes referred to as the internal call of God. We will look at “calling next time.

 

And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

- - - 1 Corinthians 3:1-3

   Let me ask you this, you believe in carnal Christians don’t you? That was a comment from one of the men I minister to the other day. My reply was simple. No, not in the modern understanding, but my belief does not matter. What God says in the bible is all that matters.

   In order to explore this I think we need to define what most folks are referring to as a carnal Christian. In the New Testament the word “carnal’ is translated from the Greek word, sarkikos; which literally means “fleshly.” When the vast majority of folks today refer to carnal Christians they are in context referring to one who lives a fleshly depraved life (old creature) and not a life for Christ (new creature)

   In examining this topic more closely I wish to make three points. First a true Christian cannot be a carnal Christian as we defined it above. Second Christians can act in a carnal (sinful) manner. Lastly Christians will always battle with their carnal (evil) nature.

   I believe one of the great failings in the church today is rightly dividing the word of God. It is far easier to take a scripture and barely scratch the surface of it when proclaiming its meaning than spending countless hours studying it in context. I believe this belief in “carnal Christians” is such an example. This belief that a true Christian can come to Christ and then live a life of sin and depravity is unbiblical.

    The theory that a Regenerated, Born Again, Holy Spirit indwelled Christian can be living a carnal life comes from a misunderstanding of 1Corinthians 3:1-3. The Apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is writing to believers (Brethren) in the city of Corinth. He three times refers to them as carnal, but as unto carnal, for ye are yet carnal, and are ye not carnal. So it would on the surface appear that “carnal Christians” are a reality. If we ignore our definition above the answer could be yes in this context. BUT, Paul started preparing the road for these verses back in Chapter 2 verse 12, turn there with me.

12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

    True believers, Christian brothers and sisters receive not the spirit of the world {could read flesh}. No they must in fact receive the spirit which is of God. Why? Simply put an unbeliever, natural man v.14, cannot receive the things of God and foremost on that list is Salvation. Salvation starts with regeneration or rebirth, the work of the Holy Spirit upon those who living the carnal or fleshly life Ephesians 2:1-10

And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;

2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,

5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

    Note here in verse one Paul says they were dead, meaning slaves to trespasses and sin but made alive (quickened) in Christ. They in times past walked according to the world because their conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath. BUT ! ! ! For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Do you see it friends, prior to our regeneration we were carnal in every aspect of our lives but now we are made alive in Christ to do good (Biblical standards need apply) works. A man cannot claim to be a Christian and live a life of fleshly service.

    Need more, check out 1 Peter 1:23:

23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

    Regenerated man is born of what kind of seed incorruptible. The Greek word here is Aphthartos, meaning not liable to corruption or decay.

    Paul could not have been referring to the brethren in Corinth as in the modern understanding of “carnal christians”. To accept the modern belief that a true Christian can live a corrupted, depraved life is to deny the power of God in regeneration.

    Our second point today is a familiar one; Christians can act in a carnal (sinful) manner. We spent a good deal of time during our series on Free Will looking at this topic but it is worth another look.

    Allow me to summarize using Romans 7:15-23 {Amplified Bible}

15 For I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled, bewildered]. I do not practice or accomplish what I wish, but I do the very thing that I loathe [that which my moral instinct condemns].

16 Now if I do [habitually] what is contrary to my desire, [that means that] I acknowledge and agree that the Law is good (morally excellent) and that I take sides with it.

17 However, it is no longer I who do the deed, but the sin [principle] which is at home in me and has possession of me.

18 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot perform it. [I have the intention and urge to do what is right, but no power to carry it out.]

19 For I fail to practice the good deeds I desire to do, but the evil deeds that I do not desire to do are what I am [ever] doing.

20 Now if I do what I do not desire to do, it is no longer I doing it [it is not myself that acts], but the sin [principle] which dwells within me fixed and operating in my soul].

21 So I find it to be a law (rule of action of my being) that when I want to do what is right and good, evil is ever present with me and I am subject to its insistent demands.

22 For I endorse and delight in the Law of God in my inmost self [with my new nature].

23 But I discern in my bodily members [in the sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh] a different law (rule of action) at war against the law of my mind (my reason) and making me a prisoner to the law of sin that dwells in my bodily organs [in the sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh].

    Here is the Apostle Paul, who says he does things he knows to be morally corrupt (v15) and evil v19. So by his own admission the Apostle Paul is a Carnal Christian? I think not. Look at verse 21 with me again:

21 So I find it to be a law (rule of action of my being) that when I want to do what is right and good, evil is ever present with me and I am subject to its insistent demands.

    Do you see it Paul says, that when I want to do what is right and good, he is speaking of his desire. He does not desire to live a carnal life no he desire to live a righteous one. BUT!! He understands evil is ever present with me and I am subject to its insistent demands, and occasionally he will stumble and sin. This is not describing a modern “carnal Christian”. This is describing every true Christian.

    The Bible is absolutely clear that no one is sinless 1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. Every time we sin, we are acting carnally. This is the carnal Paul is referring to when writing to the Corinthians. Again many in the modern church have twisted the idea of a “carnal Christian” by saying that it is possible for people to come to faith in Christ and then proceed to live the rest of their lives in a completely carnal manner. It is one thing to sin another to embrace sin.

    Our final point is that Christians will always battle with their carnal (evil) nature. Since some struggle more than others with the battle between flesh and spirit maybe that is how the misguided concept of “Carnal Christians” has evolved today. It is a fact man will always battle with his old self. So much so Paul devotes two entire sections of letters to two churches (Galatians 5 and Ephesians 6) to the matter.

    In Galatians chapter 5 Paul starts with a plea for the Galatians to Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

    The next 15 verses are dedicated to showing the old sinful nature is one constrained by the law. If you choose to pursue righteousness under the law good luck. Verse 17 makes is plain: For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. Starting in verse 19 Paul lays it out. Here are the fruits (works, actions, desires) of those under the law (carnal man) and those who have the Holy Spirit guiding their lives. What to know if someone is a Christian what fruits are they displaying?

    The key for me is in verse 16: This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. The word walk is the Greek word Peripateo and means to regulate one's life and to conduct one's self. In context here is to live one’s life as a matter of habit in the Spirit.

    How can you live a life pleasing to God? A fulfilling life that may occasionally be marred by sin; yet a life that is not consumed by sin? Make it your habit, your daily practice to Walk in the Spirit. Listen, practice makes perfect is not joke.

    Lest I neglect to mention Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, you cannot win the battle over flesh alone. Practice is great but is requires the power of God. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians explains this:

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

    Carnal (devoted to sin) Christians are an unbiblical concept. You cannot be a child of God and live a life dedicated to sin. You cannot be a child of God and expect not to fight with your flesh, fail and sin sometimes. You cannot expect just because you are a child of God that you can defeat your sinful temptations on your own. You can as a child of God through practice, prayer and the providence of God, be victorious over your old sinful nature living a life that Glorifies God.

    Until next time may God greatly bless you all.

God’s Answer

Last week we covered point number three of The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689’s (TBCF1689) section on Free Will. There we looked at three main points: There was and is a consequence to sin; un-regenerated man (man without Christ) is dead in sin and opposed to doing good and because of this man has no ability to will or desire to do anything leading to salvation

Today we are going to look at points four and five of the TBCF 1689 that I have entitled God’s Plan. First, salvation is God’s work alone next even then (after regeneration) man will battle to choose between good and evil and finally once in glory man will always desire to do that which is right alone.

Let’s read the 1689’s point number four:

4. When God converts a sinner, and brings him out of sin into the state of grace, He frees him from his natural bondage to sin and, by His grace alone, He enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good. Nevertheless certain corruptions remain in the sinner, so that his will is never completely and perfectly held in captivity to that which is good, but it also entertains evil.

Point Number One: Salvation is God’s work alone

Note is says when God converts a sinner, not when man chooses to accept, not when man agrees to this or that. No it is God’s work alone.

Col 1:13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,

Who is He that delivers, verse 12 says The Father. It is He who delivers us from the domain (rule) of sin to His Son.

Ephesians 2: 4-10 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,

5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved)

6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

John 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Who set’s man free? The Son, Christ Jesus alone. True freedom is not being out of jail or kicking some addition habit. True freedom is no longer being under the constant rule of sin. And only through and by the Grace of God can anyone experience true freedom.

Point Number Two: Even then, after Salvation, man will battle to choose between good and evil

This is where I will spend the majority of my time today. Far too many pulpits preach this prosperity theology today. Saying all ya gotta do is believed and everything will be right with the world. Unfortunately that is far far from the truth declared in the bible.

I have chosen to use chapter 7 of the Book of Romans to illustrate the point. Here is the Apostle Paul describing his own action. He says he does not understand why he still falls prey to temptation and does that which he knows is bad even though he wants to do good?

Rom. 7:15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.

A little context here, this is the Apostle Paul speaking of being a sinner. Not Joe Smith that no one ever heard of. He is the man that walked with Jesus, wrote two thirds of the New Testament and handpicked by Jesus to start evangelizing the gentile world. It is he who is saying I do the things (sinful things) that I hate.

Rom 7:18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.

Amplified Bible: For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot perform it. [I have the intention and urge to do what is right, but no power to carry it out.]

I want to focus here on this middle sentence. Paul says I can “will” what is right, that is the desire of his heart is to do right.

Remember earlier we decided that no matter how “good” by the world’s standard an un-regenerated person’s desires are, they are but sin to God. So Paul here is clearly speaking of himself to believers.

But, Paul says he cannot perform the righteous thing he desires.

Rom 7:19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.

Again this verse is one that says a lot in a few words. It might be easy to focus on the last half where Paul says the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing in fact many non-Christians will quote this as to say see its all fake your God isn’t so powerful. They miss the point and the difference between them and you is in the first half. Paul says the good I want.

Friend’s this is key Paul’s, and hopefully your desire is to do good. It is the “THING” that separates believers from the world, that even WHEN we fall and sin we desire in our hearts to repent and do good.

Rom 7:21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.

C.H. Spurgeon wrote on this: Speaking for myself, I can say that, often, when I am most earnest in prayer, stray thoughts will come into my mind to draw me off from the holy work of supplication; and when I am most intently aiming at humility, then the shadow of pride falls upon me. Do not gracious men generally find it so? If their experience is like that of the apostle Paul, or like that of many another child of God whose biography one delights to read, it is so, and it will be so.

Rom 7:23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members

One of the best sermons ever on this subject is The Dual Nature and the Dual Within NO. 1459B, by C.H. Spurgeon. Here is a extract of that sermon:

THERE ARE IN ALL BELIEVERS TWO PRINCIPLES.
1. The first in order of time is the old Adam nature. It is born of and with the flesh. Some fancy that it is to be improved, gradually tamed down and sanctified; but it is enmity against God, and is not reconciled to God; neither, indeed, can be.
(1) This old nature lives in our members; its nest is the body, and it works through the body. There are certain appetites of ours which are perfectly allowable, nay, even necessary; but they can be very easily pushed to sinful extremes.
(2) The sin which lurks in the flesh will grow weaker in proportion as the holy principle grows stronger; and it is at no time to be tolerated or excused, but we are to fight against it, and conquer it.
2. When we are born again there is dropped into our soul the living and incorruptible seed of the Word of God. It is akin to the Divine nature, and cannot sin, because it is born of God. It is at deadly enmity with the old nature, which it will in the end destroy; but it has its work to do, which will not be accomplished all at once.
II. THE EXISTENCE OF THESE TWO PRINCIPLES NECESSITATES A CONFLICT. The lion will not lie down with the lamb. Fire will not be on good terms with water. Death will not parley with life, nor Christ with Belial. The dual life provokes a daily duel.
1. The conflict is not felt by all young Christians at the first. Christian life may be divided into three stages.
(1) That of comfort, in which the young Christian rejoices in the Lord.
(2) That of conflict. The more of this the better. Instead of being children at home we have grown into men, and therefore we must go to war. Under the old law, when a man was married, or built a house, he was excused from fighting for a season, but when that was over, he must take his place in the ranks; and so is it with the child of God.
(3) That of contemplation; in which the believer sits down to reflect upon the goodness of the Lord towards him, and upon all the good things in store for him. This is the land Beulah, which Bunyan describes as lying on the edge of the river, and so near to the Celestial City that you can hear the music and smell the perfumes from the gardens of the blessed. That is a stage which we must not expect to reach just now.
2. The reason of the fight is this; the new nature comes into our heart, to rule over it, but the carnal mind is not willing to surrender. A new throne is set up, and the old monarch, outlawed, and made to lurk in holes and corners, says to himself, "I will not have this. I will get the throne back again." (Read the "Holy War.") And let me warn you that the flesh may be doing us most mischief when it seems to be doing none. During war the sappers and miners will work underneath a city, and those inside say, "The enemy are very quiet; what can they be at?" They know their business well enough, and are laying their mines for unexpected strokes. Hence an old divine used to say that he was never so much afraid of any devil as he was of no devil. To be let alone tends to breed a dry rot in the soul.

5. It is not until man enters the state of glory that he is made perfectly and immutably free to will that which is good and that alone.

Eph. 4:13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,

The following is taken from A.W. Pink’s The Doctrine of Revelation, Chapter 19; Revelation in Glory; The State of Saints in Glory:

But those who, by God’s grace, enjoy a real communion with Him who is "Spirit" (John 4:24), ought not to flounder on this matter, for they have proved by experience how much more important is the soul than the body, and how infinitely more real and satisfying are spiritual objects than the perishing things of time and sense. So far from regarding his soul as a mysterious, nebulous and indefinable thing, the believer looks upon it as a living, intelligent, sentient being—his real self We should view a disembodied soul as one which has cast off its earthly clothing and is now appareled in a garment of light, or, to use the language of Scripture, "clothed in white raiment" (Rev. 3:5; 4:4).

At death the soul of the saint is freed from all the limitations which sin had imposed upon it, and its faculties are then not only purified, but elevated and enlarged. It will be like a chrysalis emerging from its cramped condition, or a bird liberated from a cage, now free to spread its wings and soar aloft. It is true the body is a component part of man’s complex being, yet we must endeavour to view it in a due proportion. Which is the more important: the tenant or his tenement, the individual or the tent in which he resides? It must be borne in mind that the soul derives not its powers from the body. That is clear from the Divine account of man’s creation: after his body had been formed, and as a separate act, God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living soul" (Genesis 2:7). The mind is the noblest part of our being, and therefore it must find exercise and satisfaction in the disembodied state, otherwise we should not be "blessed" or happy (Rev. 14:13) immediately after death. "It is the mind maketh the man; it is our preferment above the beasts that God hath given us a mind to know Him" (Thomas Manton).

"The soul can and does operate without the use of bodily organs in its present state, and in many things stands in no need of them. The rational soul thinks reasons and discourses without the use of them. Its powers and faculties need them not: the will is directed and guided by the understanding; and the understanding has to do with objects in the consideration of which bodily organs are in no way assisting. As in the consideration of God, His nature and perfections; of angels and their nature; and of a man’s own spirit, and the things of it—it penetrates into without the help of any of the instruments of the body. It can consider of things past long ago, and of things very remote and at a great distance; and such objects as are presented to it by the senses, it reasons about them without making use of any of the organs of the body. And if it can operate without the body, it can exist without it; for since it is independent of it in its operations, it is independent of it in its being. Since it can exist without it, it can act in that separate state of existence without it. Wherefore since it dies not with the body, it is not affected as to its operations, by the absence of it, nor at death becomes insensible as that is" (John Gill).

Point Number 3: Finally once in glory man will always desire to do that which is right alone. In the final point today I hope the concept has been clearly laid out. Man will always battle with sin until the day he reaches glory, As long as our essence (soul) is a part of sinful flesh it will battle with that flesh. Once freed it can and will act upon its desires alone. Good or bad in heaven or in hell.

I hope and pray these three sermons have both blessed you and piqued your hunger to seek the truth of The Doctrine of Free Will.

I encourage your comments, complements and concern. Until next time may God greatly bless you.

Copied from http://www.challies.com/ ; TIM CHALLIES

I am a follower of Jesus Christ, a husband to Aileen and a father to three young children. I worship and serve as a pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto, Ontario, and am a co-founder of Cruciform Press.

 

If you have read this blog for any length of time, and especially the daily A La Carte posts, you know that I’ve got a thing for info graphics. What appeals to me about them is their ability to display information visually. Just as there are many words that can be used to describe any one fact, there are also many ways to display facts.

Today I’ve got an info graphic for you, and one that I is going to kick off a series called “Visual Theology”—an attempt to display theology using a combination of words and pictures.  I have asked one designer to take a shot at displaying the ordo salutis, which is to say, the order of salvation, which refers to the sequence of conceptual steps involved in the salvation of the Christian. I will let the graphic explain it from here.

OrdoSalutis_Infographic_HIGH

Please note this is a PDF file and takes a few moments to load.

Man’s Inability

    Last time in Part I we discussed the two main schools of thought on free will, Arminianism: Free-will or human ability and Calvinism: total depravity or human inability. Utilizing A Faith to Confess: The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689 Rewritten in Modern English we looked at the first two points on this topic which I will simplify into three key points:

1) Man does have choices. Prior to the fall man was fully capable of free will. God did not in fact create robots. Yet seemingly always man desires what he does not have. Better put he covets those things he thinks will better his life.

2) We have a choice in our personal deeds. You have the Free Will to choose to cave in to the temptations of life or not. Johnathan Edwards in his work The Freedom of the Will defines “will” as “that by which the mind chooses”. We as human being make choices daily. You are choosing to be here tonight (or to read this online). You choose to eat, drink and much much more.

3) Our desires or the things we covet drive our will. R. C. Sproul in Chapter 63 of his book Essential Truths of the Christian Faith writes: even the most ardent Calvinist would not deny that the will is free to choose whatever it desires. Even the most ardent Arminian would agree that the will is not free to choose what it does not desire.

    Let us begin today with point 4 of the confession:

3. As the consequence of his fall into a state of sin, man has lost all ability to will the performance of any of those works, spiritually good, that accompany salvation. As a natural (unspiritual) man he is dead in sin and altogether opposed to that which is good. Hence he is not able, by any strength of his own, to turn himself to God, or even to prepare himself to turn to God.

    Let me attempt to make it even plainer by breaking it down some. First we see the word consequence, which tells us that an action has taken place and there is a definite result of that action. Next that result is un-regenerate man (man without Christ) is dead in sin and opposed to doing good. Therefore because of his fall into a state of sin, man has no ability to will or desire to do anything leading to salvation.

    I am going to stop there for a minute and remind everyone that this is nothing new. We covered this at length in our Series on John 3 (see John 3 Part I) when we looked at verse 19. Man in his unregenerated, unspiritual state will always desire or covet sinful things. He has no ability therefor to covet or desire spiritual or Godly things including the salvation of his soul.

    Let us look at the confessions reference verses:

John 6:44: No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

    Wow that my friends is a powerful verse. No man not anyone can come to Christ, that is be saved except those God the Father draws to and sends him. Listen we not only depend on God alone for our salvation we depend on Him alone to open our ears to begin to hear the Word and prick our hearts to even consider coveting or desiring Godly things. We are useless in our own filthy state of sin.

    Note also the second part of this verse covers the topic of resurrection of the saints our great hope which we looked at in our All Must Die to Live, series.

Rom. 5:6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly

    Hope, a hope that is greater than man can produce, that is what the loving and merciful God of the Bible promises. Not some contrived reward for being good. No we have hope not in and of ourselves but in Christ whom God sent to pay the punishment for our sins.

Rom 8:7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot.

    Think about this for a moment and be honest with yourselves. Prior to your conversion prior to the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit in you what was your mind focused on? The things of God? I dare say not! Again our mind, apart from God’s work in us, is set on (covets, desires) things hostile to God. It can do nothing less. It will do nothing less.

Eph. 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;

    Note when God makes us alive anew. It is not after we have done some grand “good” deed and earn His esteem. It is not after we have spent countless hours seeking after Him. No God chooses to quicken (new birth) those who were dead in trespasses and sins.

Eph. 2:5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

    Again we are made alive not by our own works (lest any man boast) no we are made alive together with Christ (it is a partnership) solely by the grace of God.

Titus 3:3-5 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when)the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but )according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,

    What more can be said it seems plain enough; we were slaves to our lustful self-centered desires. We lived each day in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another until the day he saved us. Praise God.

    In his book The Truth About Man, PAUL DAVID WASHER, writes in Lesson Four about The Bondage of Will:

Man’s will is an expression of his nature. If man possessed a morally pure nature, then his will would be inclined to doing acts that were morally pure. If man were holy and righteous, he would love a holy and righteous God, and he would love and obey His commands. However, fallen man possesses a morally corrupt nature, and so his will is inclined to doing acts that are morally corrupt. Fallen man is unholy and unrighteous, and therefore, he hates a holy and righteous God, fights against His truth, and refuses to submit to His commands. Here we find the answer to the often-debated question:

Does man possess a free will?

The Scriptural answer is that man is “free” to choose as he pleases, but because his very nature is morally depraved, it pleases him to turn away from the good and choose evil, to hate truth and believe a lie, to deny God and fight against His will. In one sense, fallen man does have a “free will,” but he does not have a “good will.” Therefore, he will always “freely” choose in opposition to the person and will of God. Man cannot escape what he is. He is by nature evil, and the works of evil he does “willfully” and “freely.”

Lets us look at a proof text for this: Matt 7:16-20

16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?

17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.

18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.

19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

Study Help:

v.16: We identify the nature of a tree by the fruit that it bears. In the same way, the true nature or character of a man is revealed, not by what he confesses, but by what he does

v.17: There is a direct and undeniable relationship between the nature of a tree and the fruit that it bears. The same is true of a man’s nature and his works. A corrupt nature can only produce corrupt works

v.18: A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit

v.19: Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire (Eternity in damnation)

v.20: So then, you will know them by their fruits; (whom will you know both sinner and saint)

Lesson Four also includes a section entitled Fallen Man “Cannot Love” God

Most, even the irreligious, claim some degree of love or affection toward God, and very rarely would we ever encounter an individual so bold as to confess their “hatred” toward Him. Nevertheless, the Scriptures testify that fallen man “cannot” love God. In fact, all of Adam’s race “hates” God and lives at war against Him. Most who claim a genuine love for God, know very little about His attributes and works as they are revealed in the Scripture, and therefore the “god” they love is nothing more than a figment of their imagination. They have made a “god” in their own image and they love what they have made. As God declares in Psalm 50:21, These things you have done, and I have been silent; you thought that Iwas one like yourself.
But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you.

    If fallen men who claim to love God were to investigate the Scriptures, they would most certainly find a God much different than the object of their affections. If they went on to study the attributes of God, such as holiness, justice, sovereignty, and wrath, they would most likely respond in disgust and declare, “My God’s not like that!” or “I could never love a God like that!” We would quickly see that when fallen man is confronted with the true God of the Scriptures, his only reaction is hatred and hostility! What is the reason for this adverse reaction? Again, it has to do with who man is at the very core of his being. If man were by nature holy and righteous, then he could easily love a holy and righteous God and would joyfully submit to His laws. However, man is by nature depraved and corrupt, and therefore he cannot!

    Next week God's answer.