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Sermon #107 — Romans Series


Title:                                                   Four Questions

for Thoughtful People


Text:                            Romans 9:16

Subject:                     Salvation by Grace

Date:                          Sunday Morning — January 8, 2016

Reading:       Romans 9:1-33



My text is Romans 9:16. The title of my message is — Four Questions for Thoughtful PeopleFour Questions for Thoughtful People — (Romans 9:16).


(Romans 9:16)So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.”


Common Creed


Religious men and women, preachers, religious leaders, and churches from all the denominations and all sects of Christendom, universally agree upon four things. This is the common creed of the religious world in which we live. All false religion, wearing the name of Christianity, asserts, and asserts vehemently that...


1.    God loves every person without exception. The proof text that is most frequently quoted is John 3:16. — “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”


The word “world” is often used in the Bible in a very restricted sense (Luke 2:1; John 12:19; 14:17, 19; 16:8, 20; 17:9, 11, 12, 21, 23, 25; Acts 17:6; 19:27; Romans 1:8; 1 John 3:1, 13; 5:4; Revelation 12:9; 13:3).


(Luke 2:1) “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.”


(John 12:19) “The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? Behold, the world is gone after him.”


(Acts 17:6) “And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also.”


(Acts 19:27) “So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.”


(Romans 1:8) “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.”


(1 John 3:13) “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.”


(Revelation 12:9) “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”


(Revelation 13:3) “And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.”


2.    God wills the salvation of all men and women without exception. The proof text given for this idea is 2 Peter 3:9. — God “is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”


Read the verse in its entirety and it is obvious that Peter is talking about the elect. God is “longsuffering to usward, not willing that any (of us) should perish!”


(2 Peter 3:9) “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”


(2 Peter 3:15) “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you”.


3.    Christ shed his blood and died for all people without exception, for the purpose of providing redemption for all. In an attempt to prove this doctrine 1 John 2:2 and Hebrews 2:9 are quoted. 1 John 2:2 says, “He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” Hebrews 2:9 says, “He by the grace of God should taste death for every man.”


Š      Christ is propitiation for the sins of God’s elect throughout the world.

Š      The Lord Jesus Christ tasted death for every person he brings to glory.


4.    The Holy Spirit strives to save all men and women without exception, calling all to Christ by the power of his grace. The proof text most commonly quoted is Genesis 6:3, where God says, “My Spirit shall not always strive with man.”


Four Questions


Now listen carefully. — If what they are saying is true, if God loves all men without exception, if God wills the salvation of all men without exception, if Christ died to redeem all men without exception, if God the Holy Ghost calls all men without exception, then I ask you to answer these four questions. —


1.    If God loves all men without exception — What does the love of God have to do with the salvation of anyone? Absolutely nothing!


If God loves all men alike, then when you tell me that God loves me you have told me nothing. You have only told me that the love of God is meaningless!

Š      There is no distinction between God’s love for the saved and his love for the lost. He loves men who are suffering in hell as much as he does those who are glorified in heaven; either that, or God is mutable, changeable, and fickle, like man!

Š      There is no power in the love of God to save and keep his own.

Š      And there is no comfort to be derived from God’s love.


2.    If it is the will of God to save all, and some are lost any way — What does the will of God have to do with salvation? Absolutely nothing!


If God wills the salvation of all people without exception, and some are not saved, then the will of God has nothing to do with anyone’s salvation! His will is like yours and mine, helpless and frustrated, meaningless and insignificant.


3.    If Christ died to redeem and save all men and some are not saved — What does the blood of Christ have to do with salvation? Nothing, absolutely nothing!


If Christ died to save all men and some are not saved, then he died in vain, his blood was a useless waste, he suffered for nothing, his death has nothing whatsoever to do with salvation! If Christ died for all men without exception, then the shedding of his blood was….

Š      An atonement that does not atone.

Š      A redemption that does not redeem.

Š      A ransom that does not deliver.

Š      A sin-offering that does not satisfy.

Š      A propitiation that does not propitiate.


4.    If God the Holy Ghost calls all to Christ and some who are called by him do not come — What does the power, the grace, and the call of the Holy Ghost have to do with the salvation of any sinner? Absolutely nothing!


If the Spirit of God strives to regenerate and save all sinners alike, if he seeks to bring all men and women to Christ in faith, and some are not saved, then….

Š      He has no power to give life to the dead.

Š      He has no grace to regenerate.

Š      He has no ability to save.


To say that God loves all men alike, that he wills the salvation of all, that Christ died to redeem all, that the Holy Spirit strives to save all is to say that salvation is not of the Lord at all, but that it is the response and work of man! It is to blasphemously assert, as multitudes do, that “God has done all that he can do; but salvation is up to you!” — Is not this the preaching of salvation by works?


God’s Revelation


Now, I want by the grace of God to declare, in plain words, what the Word of God has to say about these things. I hope God will speak through me. And I hope you will hear what I have to say. This is God’s revelation. This is God’s Word.


God’s Love


The love of God is the very foundation of our redemption. It has everything to do with salvation! (Jeremiah 31:3; 1 John 3:1; 4:7-10, 19).


(Jeremiah 31:3) “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”


(1 John 3:1) “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.”


(1 John 4:7-10) “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. (8) He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. (9) In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. (10) Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”


(1 John 4:19)We love him, because he first loved us.”


How I wish I had the words and the ability to preach the love of God! It is infinite love! Everlasting love! Indestructible love! Love that “passeth understanding!” And it is saving love (Ephesians 2:4-5).


(Ephesians 2:4-5) “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.)”


God’s love is not helpless, but almighty! God’s love is never frustrated, but always effectual! God’s love is not weak, but strong and saving!


There are two things we need to understand about the love of God.


1.    The love of God is in Christ and for Christ’s sake (John 3:36; Romans 8:38-39).


(John 3:36) “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”


(Romans 8:38-39) “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, (39) Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”


It is a holy love. Therefore, it can be fixed only upon holy objects. It is true, God loves sinners. But God loves sinners in Christ and for Christ’s sake. You have no reason to imagine that God loves you if you do not trust his Son. Apart from faith in Christ, the wrath of God is upon you, not his love.


2.    The love of God is immutable. It does not change!


Those who are loved of God, are loved of God forever.


God is love!” We rejoice to declare it, but God is also a God of burning, unquenchable wrath! “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God!” He declares, “Jacob have I loved; but Esau have I hated.” There are in this world vessels of mercy, prepared by God for glory. And there are vessels of wrath, fitted by unbelief and sin for destruction (Psalm 11:4-7; 7:11-13; 5:5; 2:12).


If you imagine that God loves every person without exception, how can you explain

Š      The flood? — “But Noah found grace!”

Š      Sodom? — “The Lord saved Lot!”

Š      Hell? — “I never knew you!”


But “God is no respecter of persons.” True! To say that God loves all men alike is to say that he is a respecter of persons! He takes some to heaven because of something they do.


If what I have shown you from the Word of God about the love of God offends you, it is because your heart is evil. An honest heart knows that none of us deserve, or merit the love of the thrice holy Lord God! Only in Christ can the holy God love an unholy object, because in Christ the unholy are made perfectly holy!


God’s Will


The will of God, not the will of man, is the cause of salvation (John 1:12-13; Romans 9:16).


(John 1:11-13) “He came unto his own, and his own received him not. (12) 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.”


(Romans 9:16) “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.”


If salvation were left to the will of man, no one would ever be saved. What is the condition of the human will? It is spiritually dead, depraved, perverse, and in bondage to sin!

Š      “Ye will not come to me” (John 5:40).

Š      “No man can come to me” (John 6:44).

Š      (See Romans 3:10-12.)


(Romans 3:10-12) “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: (11) There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. (12) They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”


It was not my will that brought me to Christ, but God’s will (James 1:18; Ephesians 1:3-6, 9, 11; John 6:37-40).


(James 1:18) “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.”


(Ephesians 1:3-6) “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: (4) According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (5) Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, (6) To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.”


(Ephesians 1:11) “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.”


(John 6:37-40) “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. (38) For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. (39) And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. (40) And this is the will of him that sent me, that everyone which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.


If almighty God willed the salvation of all men, all men would be saved!“The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, surely, as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand” (Isaiah 14:24; 46:9-11; Daniel 4:34-35).


(Isaiah 46:9-11) “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, (10) Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: (11) Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.”


(Daniel 4:34-35) “And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth forever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: (35) And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?”


Christ’s Atonement


The blood which Christ shed, the death that he died as the sinner’s Substitute upon the cursed tree is an almighty, effectual, saving atonement for sin (Isaiah 53:8-11).


(Isaiah 53:8-11) “He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. (9) And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. (10) Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. (11) He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.”


Tell me what you believe about the death of Christ, why he had to die, what he accomplished, what purpose his death served, and I will tell you what you think of Christ. This, right here, will determine whether you are a Christian or a pagan. What do you see in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ?


We do not make atonement. We receive the atonement Christ has made (Romans 5:11).


“Not all the blood of beasts

On Jewish altars slain

Could give the guilty conscience peace,

Or wash away the stain.

But Christ, the heavenly Lamb,

Takes all our sin away

A sacrifice of nobler name

And richer blood than they.”


The cause of Christ’s death was the love of God for us (John 3:16).


“Could we with ink the oceans fill

And were the skies of parchment made,

Were every stalk on earth a quill,

And every man a scribe by trade,

To write the love of God above

Would drain the oceans dry –

Nor could the scroll contain the whole

Though stretched from sky to sky!”


The reason for Christ’s death as our Substitute was to make it possible for God to be just and the justifier of all who believe (Romans 3:24-26). “By mercy and truth iniquity is purged!”


(Romans 3:24-26)Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: (25) Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; (26) To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”


The purpose served by the death of Christ was the accomplishment of a work no one else and nothing else could accomplish The putting away of sin!

Š      All the Jewish sacrifices could not put away sin (Hebrews 10:1-9).

Š      The works of the law could not put away sin (Romans 8:3-4).

Š      God, who created the world by the word of his power, could not put sin away without the shedding of blood (Hebrews 9:22).

Š      But Christ, the God-man, put away our sins by the sacrifice of himself (Hebrews 1:3)!


I am telling you that the death of Christ was more than an attempt to save. His death upon the cross was the accomplishment of redemption for God’s elect! What did the Lord Jesus Christ actually accomplish by his death? Hear what God has to say about the matter (2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Galatians 3:13; Hebrews 9:12, 24-26;10:12-14, 17-20; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18; 1 John 1:7, 9; Isaiah 53:4-6, 8, 10-12).


(2 Corinthians 5:17-21) “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (18) And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; (19) To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. (20) Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. (21) For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”


(Galatians 3:13) “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.”


(Hebrews 9:12) “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.”


(Hebrews 9:24-26 ) “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: (25) Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; (26) For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”


(Hebrews 10:12-14) “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God; (13) From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. (14) For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.”


(Hebrews 10:17-20) “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. (18) Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. (19) Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, (20) By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh.”


(1 Peter 2:24) “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”


(1 Peter 3:18) “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.”


(1 John 1:7) “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”


(1 John 1:9) “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”


(Isaiah 53:4-6) “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. (5) But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (6) All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”


(Isaiah 53:8) “He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.”


(Isaiah 53:10-12) “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. (11) He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. (12) Therefore, will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”


Now, assuming that God is true and that his Word is true, it is not possible for a man to both believe the testimony of Holy Scripture and believe that Christ shed his blood to redeem all men (John 10:11-16, 26).


(John 10:11-16) “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. (12) But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. (13) The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. (14) I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. (15) As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. (16) And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.”


(John 10:26) “But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.”


Illustration: The paschal lamb was slain, not for Egypt, but for Israel.


Spirit’s Call


The new birth, regeneration, spiritual life is the gift and work of God the Holy Spirit (John 6:63; Psalm 65:4). The call of God the Holy Spirit is an effectual, irresistible, saving call of grace, causing dead sinners to live, giving them life and faith in Christ by omnipotent mercy.


Anyone who is familiar with the Word of God knows that all men have some awareness of God, of sin, of life, of death, of judgment, and of eternity (Romans 1:18-20; 2:14-15). Man, by nature, is religious (John 5:39-40). And unsaved, religious men often recognize and believe some true facts about Christ (John 3:2).


But the quickening, regenerating work of the Holy Spirit is much, much more than the mere revelation of facts. He reveals Christ (Galatians 1:15-16). He gives life!

Š      The Spirit of God gives impotent, dead sinners life (John 3:5-8; Ephesians 2:1-5).

Š      The Spirit of God convicts and reveals Christ in the heart (John 16:8-15; 1 Corinthians 2:7-10).

Š      The Spirit of God effectually draws sinners to Christ and makes them willing to come (John 6:44-45; Psalm 110:3).




This is what I am saying, “Salvation is of the Lord!” That work of grace which God has wrought in us is because….

Š      God loved us!

Š      God chose us according to his own will!

Š      Christ redeemed us with his own precious blood!

Š      The Spirit of God called us by irresistible, power and grace[SJF1] !

Š      (Romans 8:29-31)


(Romans 8:28-31) “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (29) For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (30) Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. (31) What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?”


(Romans 9:16) “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.”


God has drawn the line between truth and error, between saving doctrine and damning doctrine. There is no middle ground. Who is on the Lord’s side? — To God be the glory both now and forever!








Don Fortner








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