Sermon #782

          Title:            A Portrait of Sovereign Grace

          Text:            Hosea 1:2-3; 2:5 - 3:3


          Subject:       Hosea and Gomer: An illustration of God’s Grace.

          Date:            Sunday morning - April 10, 1988[1]

          Tape #        




Hosea 1:2-3  "The beginning of the word of the LORD by Hosea. And the LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD. (3) So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; which conceived, and bare him a son."


Hosea 2:5  "For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink."


Hosea 3:3  "And I said unto her, Thou shalt abide for me many days; thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for another man: so will I also be for thee."


          God moves in a mysterious way

His wonders to perform;

He plants His footsteps in the sea

And rides upon the storm.


Deep in unfathomable mines

Of never failing skill

He treasures up His bright designs

And works His sovereign will.


Ye fearful saints fresh courage take,

The clouds ye so much dread

Are big with mercy, and shall break

In blessing on your head.


Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,

But trust Him for His grace,

Behind the frowning providence

He hides a smiling face.


His purposes will ripen fast,

Unfolding every hour;

The bud may have a bitter taste,

But sweet will be the flower.


Blind unbelief is sure to err,

And scan His work in vain:

God is His own Interpreter,

And He will make it plain.


          The title of my message today is A Portrait of Sovereign Grace. Our Lord, by his own example, taught us that one of the best ways to teach the doctrine of the gospel is to illustrate it. After all, “One picture is worth a thousand words.” So today, I want to give you a picture, a portrait of God’s sovereign, saving grace in Christ Jesus. We have many pictures of grace in the scriptures. And this message could be preached from any of them.

·        The Lost Sheep

·        The Lost Coin

·        The Lost Son

·        The Woman at the Well

·        Lazarus

·        Zachaeus

·        Ruth and Boaz

·        Isaac and Rebecca

·        Onesimus

·        Daniel in the Lion’s Den

·        Lydia

·        The Philippian Jailer


The list could go on and on. But if I had to choose one Bible story or parable from which to preach about and illustrate the whole message of the gospel, I believe it would be the story of God’s prophet Hosea and his chosen, loved, harlot wife, Gomer, which I have read in your hearing.


          Without question, the Word of God plainly teaches us that salvation is altogether, from start to finish, the work of God’s free, sovereign, unconditional, effectual and irresistible grace in Christ. The works of the sinner and the will of the sinner have absolute nothing to do with the accomplishment of salvation.


·        Psalm 65:4

·        Psalm 110:3

·        John 1:12-13 (Rom. 9.16).

·        John 6:63

·        Romans 3:23-24

·        Romans 6:23

·        Romans 11:6

·        Ephesians 2:5, 8, 9

·        2 Timothy 1:9

·        Titus 3:4-8


All God’s saints freely and gladly confess, with the apostle Paul, “By the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15:10). But what do we mean when we say that we are saved by grace alone? What does God mean when he declares that salvation is by grace? This story of Hosea and Gomer will give us the meaning of grace.




          Grace is the boundless, free, effectual goodness of God toward fallen sinners, by which he has elected and redeemed, by which he regenerates, calls, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies the objects of his everlasting love for the glory of his dear Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.


          Someone made this distinction between the mercy of God and the grace of God: “Mercy is God not giving us what we deserve. Grace is God giving us what we do not deserve.” We all deserve to be in hell right now. It is the mercy of God that allows us to live upon his earth. Life is mercy. But eternal life is grace. None of us deserve eternal life. That is the free gift of God’s grace. Anything short of hell is mercy. Salvation and eternal life in Christ is grace. We deserve wrath. But God has saved us by his grace.




          This portrait of sovereign grace plainly sets before us seven characteristics of the grace of God by which we are saved. The grace of God is...

1.     Sovereign, electing grace.

2.     Undeserved, undesired, unconditional grace.

3.     Prevenient, preparatory grace.

4.     Distinguishing, effectual grace.

5.     Costly, redeeming, sin-atoning grace.

6.     Preserving, persevering grace.

7.     Immutable, covenant grace.


I. First, I want you to see that the grace of God in Christ, by which we are saved, is SOVEREIGN, ELECTING GRACE (1:2-3).


Hosea 1:2-3  "The beginning of the word of the LORD by Hosea. And the LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD. (3) So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; which conceived, and bare him a son."


          God told Hosea to go love a woman, not just any woman, but a fallen woman, a harlot, not just any harlot, but a particular harlot. “So he went and took Gomer.” Why did he do that? What was the purpose of this? It was to show us a picture of God’s grace toward us. Hosea loved Gomer, “According to the love of the Lord toward the children of Israel” (3:1).


A.  There are many in this world to whom God is not gracious.


          I know that men talk about “common grace” and “special grace.” But there is nothing common about the grace of God. God’s grace is always special and particular. He sovereignly bestows his grace upon some and refuses to be gracious to others (Matt. 11:20-27). God will be gracious to whom he will be gracious. And whom he will he hardens.


Illustration: Israel and Egypt - For four thousand years

                             Israel alone had the light of Divine Revelation.


1.     Most of the people who live in this world have never heard a man preach the gospel.

2.     Most of those who hear the gospel are not called to life and faith by the Spirit of God. “Many are called; but few are chosen.”

3.     Most of those who profess faith in Christ do not persevere in the faith. Some who seek him find him, but not others: Esau, The Ruler.


          There are few to whom the strait gate is revealed, fewer still who enter it, fewer still who walk in the narrow way, and fewer still who walk in that way unto the end. There are many in this world to whom God is not gracious.


B. But, blessed be God, he has chosen to be gracious to some!


          There are some men and women in this world who are loved and chosen of God, whom he is determined to save. To them he is gracious, always gracious, gracious in all that he does. For those elect sinners, whom God has chosen to save, there is a sovereign, unchangeable, eternal purpose of grace, by which he rules the world (Eph. 1:3-6).


1.     We were chosen in Christ and predestinated to be like Christ before the world began.

2.     The basis and cause of our eternal election was and is the everlasting love of God toward us.

3.     Our election in Christ gave us an eternal, immutable acceptance with God. God said, from eternity, “I will love them freely; for mine anger is turned away from him” (14:4).


          The only person who does not love and rejoice in God’s sovereign, electing grace is the one who has not received grace (John 10:26). Every saved sinner gladly acknowledges...


`Tis not that I did choose Thee,

For, Lord, that could not be;

This heart would still refuse Thee,

But Thou hast chosen me.


II. Secondly, the grace of God, by which we are saved, is UNDESERVED, UNDESIRED, UNCONDITIONAL GRACE.


          Gomer was a common whore, a prostitute, a hooker, a street walker. She was not looking for a husband. She did not want a husband. And she did not deserve a husband. But Hosea chose her. Hosea loved her. Hosea wanted her. And his heart could not be satisfied until he had her. That is the picture of God’s grace toward us.


          A. God’s grace toward us in Christ is altogether undeserved.


          B. The grace of God in Christ was totally undesired.


          C. And that grace by which we are saved is absolutely free and unconditional.


·        We were chosen unconditionally.

·        We were redeemed unconditionally.

·        We were called unconditionally.

·        We are kept unconditionally.


III. Thirdly, the grace of God by which fallen, ruined, helpless sinners are saved, always begins with what we might call PREVENIENT, PREPARATORY GRACE.


          It is impossible to tell when the grace of God begins to operate upon the hearts of his elect. Sometimes we can tell when the quickening, regenerating converting grace comes, but not the grace itself. We cannot tell when God begins to work for his elect. Grace always works for us. God’s grace is exercised for his elect long before we are aware of it. Let me show you what I mean.


          A. Prevenient grace precedes God’s saving grace, following, providing for and protecting God’s elect until the time of their calling (Jude 1; Hosea 2:5-8).


          Grace separated me from my mother’s womb, followed me and directed me throughout the days of my rebellion, and then brought me to the place where Christ was revealed in me.


Illustration: Onesimus!

                                                      The Prodigal!


          1. God’s grace begins in our earliest years as Formative Grace.

·        He sovereignly puts us in our homes.

·        He molds our dispositions.

·        He forms our thoughts.


          2. Grace follows us through life, and, following us, it secretly orders our steps as Protective Grace.

·        God provided for our needs, even when we despised his goodness (Hos. 2:8).

·        God protected us, even when we hated him (Heb. 1:14).


          3. In later years, God’s grace was upon us as Preventive Grace.


          He has graciously kept many of you from the depths of open profligacy and sin. The evil that other men do is in your heart. But God has mercifully prevented you from doing the evil things you have imagined, plotted, dreamed about and secretly cherished.


·        Not all women are harlots in deed, but all are harlots at heart.

·        Not all men are whoremongers in deed, but all are whoremongers at heart.

·        Not all are murderers in deed, but all are murderers at heart.

·        Not all are blasphemers in deed, but all are murderers at heart (Matt. 15:19).


NOTE: If God has prevented you from any form of outward evil, give him thanks. But do not glory in personal goodness. You have none.


          4. For others grace is evident as the marvelous Restraining Grace of our Heavenly Father.


          He allows many to walk in the paths of open sin and run the course of profligate rebellion, only that he might bring them down to be gracious to them. Yet, even with us, he restrained the evil we would have done. How I rejoice in those words of my God - “Hitherto shalt thou go, and no further!” (Read Psalm 107:1-31). Parents: God may be bringing them down!


          B. Then, this same grace prepares the hearts of God’s elect for his saving grace (Matt. 13:3-9).


          Grace prepares the heart and makes a way for grace. This preparatory work of grace is beautifully illustrated by the story of Hosea and Gomer.


          1. Gomer was a harlot, but Hosea loved her.


          The godly prophet brought this harlot into his house and made her his wife. Hosea lavished his affections on Gomer. He gave her everything her heart could desire. He gave her three children: Jezreel, Loruhaman, and Loammi. It would seem that Gomer would be very happy and grateful. But she was not.


          Hosea had taken Gomer out of the Red Light District. But he had not taken the Red Light District out of Gomer. She was still a harlot at heart! She lusted for her old companions. She was religious, but not redeemed. Correct, but not chaste. Dutiful, but not devoted.


          One day she looked out her window and saw one of her old lovers. He winked at her. She called him to the door. And there they made their desires known to one another.


          NOTE: Young people, hear me now. Keep far away from temptation. “Flee youthful lusts!” A permissive word, or unguarded moment may bring you into the misery of hell itself. “Blessed is the man that walketh not inthe counsel of the ungodly, nor sitteth in the seat of the scorners, nor standeth in the way of sinners.”


          Gomer’s stupidity was great. She had hearkened to the counsel of the ungodly, for she hearkened to the counsel of her own heart. While she slept in the arms of her loving husband, she thought only of her lovers.


          2. One day Hosea came home, and Gomer was gone.


·        Gomer had gotten into the gutter again.

·        Though she was fallen, by willful and malicious transgression, Hosea loved her!

·        And he sought for her everywhere. Gomer saw Hosea and heard his voice. But she hid from him. Finally, Hosea found his beloved Gomer. He went to her room every night and secretly provided for her. He wanted her more than life itself. He loved that worthless woman. He had every right to take her by force. But he would not bring her home again, until she was willing to come. And he was determined to make her willing! (Psa. 65:4; Hos. 2:9-17).


          3. God graciously prepares his people to receive his grace and makes each one willing to come to Christ in the day of his power.


          He creates in us, by one means or another, a dissatisfaction with ourselves. He strips away our joy. He destroys our peace. He turns our pride into corruption. He brings us into misery. Oh, may God do that for you! Like Gomer, we have to be brought down. Gomer sank into the dunghill of iniquity and learned by bitter experience that “the way of the transgressor is hard.”

·        She came to poverty.

·        She grew old.

·        She was an outcast of society. The “good” folk despised her and the other harlots mocked her. She was helpless and worthless.

·        At last, when she was no good for prostitution, she came to the slave market to sell herself into bondage and servitude, if anyone would have her. Nobody loved Gomer. Nobody wanted Gomer. Nobody but Hosea! Now, she was ready for his love, mercy, and grace.


          That’s the grace of God! Even when we were in the arms of another, we belonged to Christ. He loved us. And he was, even then, preparing us for grace!

·        Grace gave us a tender conscience at last.

·        Grace made us willing to hear the gospel.

·        Grace wrought conviction within us.

·        Grace brought us down!


IV. Here is a fourth characteristic of God’s saving grace: It is DISTINGUISHING, EFFECTUAL GRACE (2:19).


          The grace of God brings salvation. It is always distinguishing, effectual, and irresistible. Everything Hosea did, he did for Gomer alone, that he might have Gomer. And he got her (Rom. 9:16). God the Holy Spirit turns the eyes of the prodigal to his Father’s house, seeks the lost sheep and calls the adulterous wife.


          One day Hosea was walking in the streets. When he came to the slave market, he stopped. There were many slaves, who were sold for many purposes. But, among the most derelict and abominable of those slaves, Hosea saw Gomer! He called her, “Gomer.” She hung her head in shame. He called her again, “Gomer.”


Down in the human heart, crushed by the Tempter,

Feelings lie buried that grace can restore.

Touched by the loving hand, wakened by kindness,

Cords that were broken can vibrate once more.


          Hosea bought Gomer (3:2). He went over to the slave block, kissed her, embraced her, took her hand and tucked it under his arm. And he walked proudly down the streets with Gomer at his side. He was not ashamed of her. And she certainly was not ashamed of him.


          Children of God, this is what our Lord has done for us by his matchless grace.


          A. He came to us when we would not and could not come to him (Ezek. 16:6-8).


          B. He called us and brought us to Christ.


          C. He brought us into his house and owned us as his bride. “He brought me to his banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.”


V. Be sure you see that the grace of God is COSTLY, REDEEMING, SIN-ATONING GRACE (3:2).


          Before Hosea could have Gomer, he had to redeem her. He did not buy all the slaves. He did not want them all. He loved Gomer. He wanted Gomer. He bought Gomer. And having bought her, by lawful ransom price, he could not lose her.


          This is what our Savior says to us: “I have bought you with the silver of my sweat and the gold of my blood. And you are mine” (3:3).

·        Christ redeemed us by costly, but legal price.

·        Christ redeemed us particularly.

·        Christ redeemed us effectually.

·        Now we belong to Christ (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

Illustration: The two black birds.


VI. Sixthly, I must make mention of the fact that God’s grace is PRESERVING, PERSEVERING GRACE (2:20-23).

·        Grace perseveres toward us.

·        Grace preserves us.

·        And grace causes us to persevere in grace.


VII. And in the last place, I want you to see that the grace of God, by which we are saved, his electing grace, his undeserved grace, his prevenient grace, his effectual grace, his redeeming grace, his preserving grace, is IMMUTABLE, COVENANT GRACE ( 2:18).


          In the covenant of grace God not only resolved to save us, but he also made all things to be instruments of mercy and grace to us (Rom. 8:28).


Application: The Touch of the Master’s Hand.

1.     What God has done for us by his grace, he can do for you.

2.     Let us ever praise God for his grace! (1 Cor. 1:26-31).


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