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We have been talking about the gospel according to Paul, and looking at a number of aspects of that gospel.  We’ve intersected and overlapped and that’s the way it should be.  There is a component to the gospel according to Paul and the gospel to the other apostles, and the gospel according to Jesus, and the gospel of God, and the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, the gospel of salvation.    There is a component to it that cannot be ignored, and of course Paul makes a major issue out of that, and it is that this is a sovereign gospel.  It is dispensed, the power of the gospel, the saving work of the gospel at the will of God.  Not only does righteousness come down from above, as we have learned, but faith comes down from above, conviction comes down from above.  It is the Holy Spirit who convicts the world of sin and righteousness and judgment.  It is the Holy Spirit who grants repentance, Paul says.  It is faith itself, which is a gift of God.  All the elements of salvation come down from above.

None of them rise from within us by our own will, our own works, our own intuition, our own good intentions.  We are the recipients of salvation granted to us in every sense by the sovereign grace of God. 

Now, Paul makes this very clear in Ephesians 1 and let’s start there.  Ephesians chapter 1, and we’re going to look at a number of passages to help you to understand the sovereign aspect of salvation and how it relates to human responsibility.  Whenever I do conferences around the world, and we throw in a question and answer session, inevitably one of the questions will always be: how are we to harmonize divine sovereignty human responsibility?  How can we understand that salvations is a matter of God’s will, and God’s choice, and God’s purpose, and God’s timing, and at the same time make man, in any sense, responsible for what happens?  This is the inevitable question.  I might just say to you, you should get comfortable with that question.  You will not in this life have a sufficient answer; so, your comfort must come in the question. 

But if I can help you a little bit let me spread your discomfort a little further.  If I ask you a simple question like this: who wrote Ephesians?  What is the answer?  Now, I heard two responses, I heard God and Paul.  Which was it?  Folks, this is basic stuff here.  Who wrote Ephesians?  You can’t answer the question simply.  You can say Paul, but you have to qualify that.  Is it the vocabulary of Paul?  Yes.  Is it the mind of Paul?  Yes.  Is it the reasoning of Paul?  Yes, and yet every word is ordained and authored by the Holy Spirit.  So, you can’t even answer the simple question who wrote a book in the bible.  Without having attention you can’t resolve.  It wasn’t mechanical dictation.  It is the heart, the mind, the soul, the vocabulary, the experience of Paul, and yet every word is from the Holy Spirit. 

If I ask you another question; who lives your Christian life?  Who?  It’s a basic question.  Come on, you’re doing this every day.  Who’s doing it?  You say, well, it’s me.  That’s too simple an answer.  If you’re living the Christian life, is it your or is it the Holy Spirit?  Look, you don’t want to take credit for the good stuff, and you don’t want to blame the Holy Spirit for the bad stuff, so who is it?  See, you have the same dilemma.  Let me help you.  The apostle Paul said this: “I am crucified with Christ nevertheless I live, yet not I.”  So, he didn’t understand it either; that’s the reality of it.

Now, this is like trying to unscrew the inscrutable.  You really cannot resolve these divine tensions.  If we talk about the doctrine of the security of the believer, that we’re held safe by Christ, you can’t talk about that without flipping it over and talking about the perseverance of the saints.  We will enter into glory if we continue in the faith.  Every major doctrine regarding salvation in the Scripture, and many beyond salvation, have within them an apparent paradox that cannot be resolved on the human side.  This is one of the evidences that God wrote the Bible and not men, or they would have eliminated all of those unsolvable paradoxes.

So, I’m just spreading out the confusion a little wider, so that you understand it’s not limited to the issue of sovereignty and human responsibility.  There’s going to be this kind of tension that will one day be understood by us when we know as we are known in the presence of God, but with our pusillanimous, hammered down, disconnected, stove-pipe, pea brains in this world, we have serious limitations.  So, you have to get comfortable with the question, and I’ll help you with that comfort a little bit this morning. 

Let’s look at Ephesians 1 and I just want to drive you down to verse 3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.  And it all started just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world that we would be holy and blameless before Him.  In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself according to the kind intention of His will to the praise of the glory of His grace which He freely bestowed on us in the beloved.”  Is that clear?  Why are you saved?  Because you have the sense to believe the gospel?  No.  Because God had the grace to choose you before the foundation of the world.  The ultimate end of that choosing would be that you would be holy and blameless before Him, that’s justification imputed righteousness.  It was by His love, as we saw in 2 Corinthians 5, that He predestined us to be adopted as His sons.  All this according to the kind intention of His will so that all the praise and all the glory would go to Him.  And that is repeated through this long sentence, verses 3 through 14, one sentence, it’s the longest sentence in literature.  All of it, according to verse 12, to the praise of His glory.  All of it, according to verse 14, to the praise of His glory.  All of it, according to verse 6, to the praise of the glory of His grace. 

The whole plan of salvation then is to be understood as the outworking of a divine purpose, before the foundation of the world.  God determined who would be saved.  Their names were inscribed in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  The Lamb, who Himself was slain before the foundation of the world in the sense of divine intention.  Matthew 25:34, such a beautiful verse, it says this, “Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

Well, the apostle Paul understood this.  He understood the words of Jesus in John 15, “You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you.”  This is the great doctrine of predestination, the doctrine of election.  It is resisted.  It is hated by some, rejected.  It’s one of those unacceptable doctrines to people who are used to living in a democracy and being told that life should be conducted by your own free will and your choice.  People who grow up in monarchies have a little more understanding of sovereign power and authority over their lives.  Those of us who have been raised in this great republic, this great democratic experiment, the likes of which have not occurred in the history of the world until our nation was founded, think we should be able to choose everything for ourselves.  We’ve never lived under a sovereign. 

Well, you are living under a sovereign when you come into the Kingdom of God.  And the sovereign has determined everything.  It is by His will that we will become holy, blameless and stand before Him in perfection, justified.  Based on His predestined purpose, we are adopted as sons.  All of this according to the kind intention of His will.  The language of Paul in verses 3 through 6 is unmistakable.  It is by His will that we have redemption.  It is by His will that we have been given forgiveness of our trespasses in verse 7.  It is by His will that He lavished all of this on us.  It is by His will, verse 9, that He has revealed to us the kind intention of what He has purposed for us in the future.  In other words, He’s given us in Scripture a full understanding of our future hope.  What is awaiting us, the inheritance he refers to in verse 11, is a result of His predestining us according to His purpose.  And this goes on down into verse 14, the inheritance yet to come.

Everything from election to glorification, all the things in the middle, justification, sanctification, are according to His divine will and purpose.  This is inescapable also in the eighth chapter of Romans.  Look at 8 of Romans for a minute.  And this is just kind of the introduction.  I want to take you to some texts in a minute that you probably haven’t looked at in the way we’re going to look at them.

Verse 29 of Romans 8 says, “Whom He foreknew,” foreknowledge is not God knowing something before, it is God predetermining something before.  “For whom He predetermined,” the word “to know” can have an intimate sense.  “Adam knew his wife and she bore a child.”  It doesn’t mean he knew who she was.  It means he had an intimate relationship with her.  Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice and I know them,” it doesn’t mean that He knew who they were, it means that He had an intimate relationship with them.  This is a predetermined intimate relationship that God has designed.  And because of it He predestines us to be conformed to the image of His Son.  And verse 30 says, “Whom He predestined, He called.  And whom He called He justified.  And whom He justified, He glorified.”  Predestination, effectual calling to salvation, justification, glorification.

In the sixth chapter of John, it’s as we said the other day, “All that the Father gives to Me will come to Me, whoever comes to Me, I will not refuse.  Whoever comes to Me I will receive, I will keep, I will raise in the last day, I will lose none of them.”  That is the way to understand this great doctrine of predestination which is so much a part of Paul’s theology.  And it comes out in a lot of other places as well. 

Now, the question that I want to have you think through with me a little bit, this morning, we’ll see how long we go here.  The question is: does the truth of divine, sovereign election eliminate human will?  Does the truth of divine, sovereign grace, divine sovereign predestination, and election, which is unmistakable in the Bible, eliminate human will?  That’s the prevailing question.

Now, to help us get a kind of a running start on the apostle Paul on this subject, I want you to go back to an Old Testament prophet, Isaiah.  Will you turn to Isaiah chapter 10 with me?  Isaiah chapter 10.  It is a popular criticism, of course, of those of us who teach biblical theology, it is a nagging issue among those who are offended by the doctrine of predestination, sovereign election, that we are guilty of removing human freedom and human will.  There have been many pastors that I’ve talked to through the years who feel that if you teach this doctrine, it will take the passion out of evangelism.  It will make your people indifferent toward the lost.  Well, we’ve already learned, haven’t we, from 2 Corinthians 5, that Paul says, “My life is lived for one thing, it is ruled and controlled by the love that Christ has for me and it’s not just for me that He died, but He died for all who died in Him, and therefore I am an ambassador for this glorious gospel and I am preaching, giving my life to the ministry of reconciliation.”  So, it didn’t have a negative effect on his passion.  In fact, his passion for the gospel and preaching the gospel to the lost took him all the way to martyrdom.

But the accusation is that this sucks the life out evangelism if we say that this is all the work of God.  So, let’s begin to understand this in the words of Isaiah, in a kind of unique setting.  Chapter 10 and verse 5, “Woe to Assyria, woe to Assyria, judgment, damnation, cursing, divine wrath is going to fall on Assyria.”  Assyria is going to be judged by God.  “Woe to Assyria,” and then this strange identification, “The rod of my anger and the staff in whose hands is my indignation.”  That is a very, very strange statement.  Assyria is here presented as God’s rod that God will use in His own hands to unleash His indignation against apostate Israel.  Assyria is God’s instrument of judgment against apostate Israel.  In this passage, God commissions Assyria sovereignly to act as the destroyer of Israel.

Verse 6, “I send it against a Godless nation.”  That’s Israel.  “And commission it against the people of My fury,” the Jews in Israel.  “To capture booty and to seize plunder and to trample them down like mud in the streets.”  That is a divine decree that God is going to bring the Assyrian invasion on the Kingdom of Israel.  Now, let me tell you something.  This has nothing to do with intentions on the part of Assyria.  God didn’t ask Assyria if they would like to do this.  Assyria didn’t have this in the plan.  Pick it up in verse 7.  “Yet it does not so intend.”  Assyria had no intention of being the instrument of God in the destruction of Israel.  Assyria had no interest in acting as Jehovah’s agent.  Assyria had no relationship to the true and living God.  It has no such plan in its heart, verse 7 say.  Rather, it is its purpose to destroy and cut off many nations for it says, “Are not my princes all kings?  Is not Kalno like Carchemish, or Hamath like Arpad, or Samaria like Damascus?”  It’s all the same to them.  They don’t have any more interest in destroying Israel, the capital city of Samaria, than any other nation.  “As my hand has reached to the kingdoms of the idols, whose graven images were greater than those of Jerusalem and Samaria, shall I not do to Jerusalem and her images just as I have done to Samaria and her idols?”

In other words, Assyria is indiscriminant.  They’re happy to destroy all the nations around them.  They don’t have any particular interest in Israel.  But God is going to take control of Assyria and use Assyria as the rod of His judgment for the destruction of the Northern Kingdom from which that Kingdom, by the way, never recovered.  And yet, that does not put Assyria in a favored position with God because we read in verse 5, “Woe to Assyria.”  God literally uses a nation as His judgment rod while that nation has no intention of doing that.  It is serving the purposes of God but it will be cursed and judged and condemned itself.  Pick it up in verse 12.  “So it will be that when the Lord has completed all His work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, He will say, ‘I will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the King of Assyria and the pomp of his haughtiness.’“ Wow.  What you have here is the sovereignty of God acting through Assyria.  And yet for the deeds that Assyria does, Assyria will be held fully responsible.

This is placing side-by-side divine sovereignty, and human responsibility.  Assyria is haughty.  For He has said, “By the power of My hand, by My wisdom I did this, for I have understanding and I removed the boundaries of the peoples and plundered their treasures and like a mighty man, I brought down their inhabitants,” et cetera.  “And My hand reached to the riches of the peoples like a nest, and as one gathers abandoned eggs, I gathered all the earth and there was not one that flapped its wing or opened its beak or chirped.”  In other words, as if they plundered birds’ nests.  “Is the axe to boast itself over the one who chops with it?  Is the saw to exalt itself over the one who wields it?  That would be like a club wielding those who lift it, or like a rod lifting him who is not wood.”  In other words, this puts the power in the hand of the rod rather than the one who wields the rod.  God says, “I’m going to go after Assyria.  I’m going to destroy them.  I’m going to burn and devour.”  Verse 18, “Destroy the glory of his forest, fruitful garden,” et cetera, et cetera.

How do you explain the fact that Assyria has no choice about what they do to Israel, and yet they are held fully responsible for the atrocities that they exacted on Israel by God?  See, I’m telling you, you have to become comfortable with this dilemma.  Scripture doesn’t give us an explanation; it doesn’t give us a philosophical defense.  How, God, can You use this nation as an instrument of Your holy justice and then turn right around and destroy them for the sins that were exacted in the process?

Turn to John chapter 3.  By the way, do we know this?  Shall not the judge of all the earth do what?  Right?  Turn to John 3; I want to show you this.  This is so important.  There’s a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, ruler of the Jews, the ruler of the Jews, which really means the teacher of the Jews.  This is a man who was a notable teacher, one of the leading teachers.  Came to Jesus by night, said to Him, “Rabbi, we know You’ve come from God as a teacher, for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”  So, he’s affirming the fact that everybody affirmed this, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the whole leadership of Israel, even though they rejected Jesus and crucified Him, never denied His miracles, okay?  Never.  They never denied His miracles, they were not deniable.  They were ubiquitous, they were everywhere.  They were every day.  They were all over the place.  They were not deniable.  They never tried to deny them.  But here’s the testimony of one who speaks for all and says, “No one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”  It’s obvious.  Miracles, power over demons, power over disease, power over death, power over nature.  But Jesus knew there was a question in the heart of Nicodemus that Nicodemus hadn’t verbalized and so He went right to the heart and He said, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born again he can’t see the Kingdom of God.”  And Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he’s old?” 

Now, he understands Jesus speaking metaphorically, you need to be born again.  You need to go back and start all over at the very beginning.  It’s not about religious advancement, it’s about birth.  So, he asked the question, “How can a man be born when he is old?  How do I do that?  How do I go back to the beginning?  I’m an old man now and I’ve been in this legalism all these years, my whole life.  He can’t go a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?”  And he’s talking metaphorically.  He understands it.  He’s not talking physically.  He’s not making a joke.  Jesus said, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born of water in the spirit,” and He’s borrowing from Ezekiel, right?  The New Covenant passage.  “That you need to be washed with water, cleansing, and be given a new heart to replace the stony heart.”  So, He’s talking Ezekiel talk to a teacher of the Old Testament.  You need New Covenant experience.  You need what even Jeremiah 31 talks about: you need to be cleansed, and you need to have a new heart, and you need to have the Spirit planted within you before you can enter the Kingdom of God.  That’s the New Covenant.  You need to be regenerated.  You need to be transformed.  Because “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”  Your flesh, and you’re just continuing to continue the process of the flesh, until you go back to the very beginning, are born again spiritually by the Holy Spirit, then you can enter the Kingdom of God.  So, don’t be amazed that I say you must be born again.

Now, at this particular point, you would say to someone, “I’m telling you, you need to be born again.”  And if a person said to you, “How do I do that?”  You would say, “Oh, pray this prayer,” right?  “Repeat after me, pray this prayer.  You just need to repent and believe.  What did Jesus say to Nicodemus?  A really strange thing.  Verse 8, “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it’s going, so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”  What is that?  If somebody came to you and said, “I think I need to be born again, I think we need to get out of this sort of relentless life of the flesh.  I need a new birth.  I need a new heart.  I need a new Spirit.  What do I do?”  Would you say to them, “Can’t do anything, you can’t do anything.  This is the work of the Spirit and He comes and goes when He wills on whom He wills.”  What?  So, much for formula evangelism.  So, much for “pray this prayer.”  This is Jesus; this is not some novice who doesn’t quite get evangelistic technique.  This is Jesus.  What He’s saying to Nicodemus is, I just have to tell you, you need to be born again, you need to be born anōthen, literally from above, and you’re not in charge of when that happens.  What a statement.

I recognize what you need.  I also recognize that you are not in charge of its reality.  Wow, the Spirit comes and goes as He wills, and that’s why people are born in the Spirit.  You say, “That may be the most overlooked statement in Scripture on divine sovereignty in salvation.  Wow, divine sovereignty, you can’t argue that.  But let’s look a little further into this chapter, okay?  Come down to verse 27.  John the Baptist is also a Calvinist.  He didn’t know that because very few Baptists are.  Listen to what John said.  Verse 27, “A man can receive,” what?  What’s the next word?  “Nothing, unless it has been given him from heaven.”  You can’t receive anything unless it comes down from heaven.  Yet John knew that, and John is the last of the Old Testament prophets.  Divine sovereignty, absolutely, in salvation it’s a divine work.  It’s a work that heaven does.

Now, let’s go back to verse 15.  Are you ready for this?  “So that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.”  What?  What’s that “whoever” doing there?  Whoever believes, will in him have eternal life.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life, for God didn’t send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be judged through Him.  He who believes in Him is not judged, he who does not believe has been judged already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

Why are people judged and go to hell?  Because they aren’t elected?  No, because they don’t believe.  “This is the judgment that light has come into the world and men love the darkness rather than the light, for their deeds were evil.  For everyone who does evil hates the light, doesn’t come to the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.  But he who practices the truth comes to the light so that his deeds may be manifest as having been wrought in God.”

Drop down to verse, well, verse 36, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life.  He who does not obey the Son will not see life but the wrath of God abides on him.”  The eternal wrath of God falls on people because they do not what?  Believe.  Are you having a little trouble putting that all together?  Good.  Because you need to have that trouble.  That means you understand both.  Don’t find some middle ground that wipes out both of these truths.

Let’s look at John 6.  Spurgeon was criticized for preaching this and somebody said, “Why don’t you just preach to the elect?”  He said, “Well, if you’ll pull up their shirttails so I can see if they have an E stamped on their back, I will.”  John 6, and here we go back to this one I’ve commented on, John 6:37, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me.”  That’s an absolute statement, isn’t it?  There it is again, it comes down from heaven.  The work of the Spirit, the purpose of the Father, all the Father gives to Me will come to Me, the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.  I have come down from heaven not to do My own will but the will of Him who sent Me.  So, if His will is to give Me these people, I’m sure going to receive them.  This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me, I lose none but raise them up on the last day.  So, look, I’m going to do what the Father wills Me to do and what He wills for Me to do is to receive the people that He gives Me, hold them and raise them to eternal glory.  And since I came to do the will of the Father, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. 

Down to verse 44, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws Him.”  Did you get that?  No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws Him and I will raise Him up on the last day.  That’s our security, isn’t it?  That we are kept by Christ to eternal glory.  He will lose none of them.  Go back to verse 35, right in the middle of this passage, right in between what I’ve just read you essentially, or in and around what I’ve read.  Verse 35, “I’m the Bread of Life, he who comes to Me will not hunger.  He who believes in Me will never thirst.”  Huh, on the one hand, no one can be saved unless it comes down from heaven by the will of the Father, unless someone is chosen by the Father, ordained from eternity past, name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, predestined by the purpose of God, uninfluenced by any behavior by anyone, anytime.  “No one will be saved apart from the divine sovereign work of God and yet I am the bread of life,” Jesus says, “He who comes to Me will not hunger.  He who believes in Me will never thirst.”  Verse 36, “I said to you that you’ve seen Me and yet you do not believe.”  You do not believe.  Look at verse 47, “Truly, truly I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.  He who believes.”  Verse 57, “As the living Father sent Me and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me.”

The sum of it is in verse 63.  “It is the Spirit who gives life, the flesh profits nothing.  The words that I have spoken to you are Spirit and are life.  But there are some of you who do not believe.  For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe and who it was that would betray Him.”  And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted from My Father.”  Those two things are intermingled without any explanation.

“You have to believe, you must believe, you’re condemned because you don’t believe.  And yet you can’t believe unless you’re called and drawn and given life by My Father.”  And, folks, I promise you, I can’t do any better than to show you what the Scripture says.  I can preach with every ounce of passion I have in my heart on the glories of the doctrine of sovereign election.  And I can preach with the same passion, the realities of the doctrine of human responsibility.  I can tell you that unless you believe, you will die and go to hell.  If you will believe, you will rise to enter heaven.  And I can tell you that you must repent and you must believe, and that’s exactly what Scripture says.  But I can also say it is a sovereign work of God.

There are other passages of Scripture that do this, and I’m only trying to point out to you that the Bible doesn’t try to explain this; it mixes it.  There’s a good illustration in Acts 2, do you want to look at that?  Do you think the devil wanted Jesus crucified?  No.  No, the devil didn’t want Him crucified, the devil came to Him and said, “Look, You can miss the cross, just bow down to me and I’ll give You the kingdoms of the world,” right?  The devil didn’t want Jesus on the cross.  The devil was tempting Him in the Garden, right?  “Let this cup pass from Me.”  Who wanted Jesus on the cross most?  God, ‘cause He was God’s Lamb.  He was God’s Lamb.  “Men of Israel,” says Peter on the Day of Pentecost, his theology was so accurate, “Men of Israel, listen to these words, Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst just as you yourself know, this man, listen to this, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.”  godless men did God’s work.  You delivered Him over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross this man by godless men, putting Him to death.

Was Israel guilty?  You better believe it.  Jesus on the last day of Passion Week looks at the temple and says, “Not one stone will be left upon another, right?  Your house is left to you desolate.  Judgment came in the form of the Romans in 70 AD, hundreds of thousands of Jews were massacred.  They were massacred in the following years in 985 towns across the land of Israel, the Romans went and left dead bodies.  Judgment came in a massive way.  And you have to understand that the judgment against Israel and its rejection of Messiah goes on even today.

I don’t know what you think when you look at the nation Israel today.  It is not a nation under divine favor; it is a nation under divine judgment.  And it will continue to be under divine judgment as it looks on Him who is pierced and mourns for Him as an only Son, and in the words of Zechariah, “A fountain of cleansing will be opened to Israel,” but until that happens that nation is under judgment, but it’s the same judgment precisely that any unredeemed sinner is under for the rejection of Jesus Christ.  In the case of the crucifixion of Christ, they did the will of God and yet they were godless men who were held fully accountable for what they did.

I’m so comfortable with divine mystery because it means that God is so much greater than I am and that His ways are not my ways.  In Acts chapter 4 and verse 27, “Truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles, the peoples of Israel.”  Everybody got together in the death of Christ, didn’t they?  It wasn’t just the Jews.  Here it says: it was Herod, Pontius Pilate, Gentiles, people of Israel.  If anybody ever asks you the question, who is guilty of crucifying Christ?  Take them to that verse. 

But look at this.  Verse 28, “To do whatever,” this is speaking to God, “to do whatever your hand and your purpose predestined to occur.”  Here again, you have full responsibility in the case of Herod, in the case of Pontius Pilate, in the case of the Gentiles, the Romans, in the case of the Jews, the people of Israel.  And yet they were doing the divine and sovereign work of God.

These are samples of Scripture’s consistency in putting these kinds of things together without ever trying to explain the inexplicable.  Do you remember the story of Judas?  Was he responsible for what he did?  Was it ordained of God that he do it?  He’s even prophesied in the Old Testament.  “Mine own familiar friend who would lift up his heel against Me.”  And yet Jesus said, “One of you is a devil.”  And Jesus said he would die and he went to his own place.

Look, we have to understand this: that every one of us bears responsibility to believe, and we’re held accountable if we believe or if we don’t believe.  It has consequence eternally.  As believers, we’re responsible for living our Christian lives and yet inexplicably anything good in us is the work of the Holy Spirit, anything bad is us.  On the other hand, we must also persevere in faith.  But at the same time, we’re being kept by the power of God in the hands of Christ.  This is profound stuff.  It’s consistent through all of Scripture.  And I celebrate this.  Look, I’ve been at this a long, long time.  And the longer I live, the more I rejoice in these doctrines that I can’t resolve ‘cause they speak of the greatness of God.

Well, that was the introduction.  And in the next hour, I’m going to take you to Romans 9, 10 and 11.  We had to get to Paul, right?  That’s what we’re supposed to be doing.  We’re messing around with John, and Luke, and Isaiah, so we’re going to get to Paul in the next hour and you’re going to enjoy looking at Romans 9, 10 and 11, one of the most controversial portions of Scripture.

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Please be aware that these items are sent out from our office in the UK. Since the UK is now no longer a member of the EU, you may be charged an import tax on this item by the customs authorities in your country of residence, which is beyond our control.

Because we don’t want you to incur expenditure for which you are not prepared, could you please confirm whether you are willing to pay this charge, if necessary?

ECFA Accredited
Unleashing God’s Truth, One Verse at a Time
Since 1969
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Unleashing God’s Truth, One Verse at a Time
Since 1969