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Sermon #127 — Romans Series

 

Title:                                       Providence, Election,

            Grace, and Reprobation

 

Text:                            Romans 11:1-10

Subject:                     Providence, Election, Grace, Reprobation

Date:                          Sunday Morning — August 27, 2017

Reading:       2 Thessalonians 2:1-17

 

Introduction:

 

If you can remember four words you can remember my outline and my message. — Just four words: providence, election, grace, and reprobation. That is the title of my message; and that is my outline. Have you got it? — Providence, Election, and Grace, Reprobation. — Our text is Romans 11:1-10. — Providence, Election, Grace, and Reprobation (Romans 11:1-10).

 

In preparation for our Bible conferences, I always try to preach messages to you, in the week or two preceding them, that will lay before you what you are about to hear from the men who will be preaching the gospel to you during the conference. Our annual conference is always billed as a Sovereign Grace Bible Conference. The preachers are never assigned subjects, but they are always men who will come here to preach what I know they incessantly preach in their own pulpits — The Gospel of God’s Free and Sovereign Grace in Christ, the Message of the Bible. My messages this morning and again tonight, if blessed of God to you, will whet your souls for what you will hear from those faithful men you will be privileged to hear preach the gospel to you next weekend.

Š      This morning’s message is Providence, Election, Grace, and Reprobation.

Š      Tonight, I plan to preach to you from Isaiah 9:6-7. The Title of my message for tonight is This is My Savior.

 

Alright, let’s read Romans 11:1-10 together.

 

(Romans 11:1-10) “I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. (2) God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the Scripture saith of Elias? How he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, (3) Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. (4) But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. (5) Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. (6) And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. (7) What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded (8) (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day. (9) And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them: (10) Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.”

 

Let’s look at these ten verses of Holy Scripture line by line, asking God the Holy Ghost to take the things of Christ and show them to us.

 

Proposition: Here the Lord God shows us, by his inspired apostle how he accomplishes the salvation of his elect and brings judgment upon the wicked by providence, election, grace, and reprobation.

 

I remind you that Paul has been telling us about God’s great, eternal, sovereign purpose of grace throughout chapters 8, 9, and 10. He continues with the same subject here. He is showing us God’s purpose of grace as it involves all men, Jews and Gentiles, elect and reprobate, in all ages, throughout the course of history.

 

After writing as he did in chapter 10 about Jews being lost and God saving Gentiles, Paul saw objections arising from his adversaries. — Gospel preachers always have their adversaries, adversaries who do not hesitate to twist and misrepresent their words.

Š      Has God cast away his people?

Š      Are all Jews forever damned?

Š      Where is God’s covenant with Israel?

Š      What about God’s promises to Abraham?

Š      How are his promises to Israel to be fulfilled?

Š      Is there no hope of a Jew obtaining God’s salvation?

Here Paul answers those questions.

 

Providence

 

1st — The first thing I see here is God’s providence. Paul uses himself as a marvelous example of the work of God’s providence is salvation. Read the 107th Psalm, and you will see that God’s providence is always at work in bringing chosen, redeemed sinners to salvation in Christ. In fact, Paul specifically tells us that in the 8th chapter of this epistle.

 

(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?”

 

Everything God does in providence he does for the salvation of his elect. In the opening verse of Romans 11, God the Holy Ghost inspired Paul to tell us that the reason for Israel’s existence as a nation was for the salvation of God’s elect, his true Israel, Abraham’s spiritual seed.

 

“I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.” (v. 1)

 

In his usual way (Romans 3:3-4; 31; 6:1-2), when the objections men raise against the gospel are obviously contrary to Scripture, Paul expresses disgusting shock, “God forbid!” He says, “Has God cast away all Jews? God forbid! I am a Jew!” The Lord was pleased to save Saul of Tarsus, who was of the seed of Abraham and of the little tribe of Benjamin. God even made him a preacher of the gospel.

 

Ezekiel

 

This statement by Paul reminds me of Ezekiel’s words, when Ezekiel found himself in a similar situation. In Ezekiel 9, we read about God’s judgment falling upon the nation of Israel and particularly upon Jerusalem. The Lord Jesus Christ, whom Ezekiel saw as “the Man clothed with linen, the inkhorn by his side,” came in judgment against the apostate nation. He was sent in judgment; but before judgment came, he “set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and cry for all the abominations” committed by the people of Israel. When the judgment came, Ezekiel, being preserved by Christ, said, in Ezekiel 9:8, “And it came to pass, while they were slaying them, and I was left (I was spared!), that I fell upon my face, and cried, and said, Ah Lord GOD! Wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy fury upon Jerusalem?

 

When we get to chapter 20, the Lord God explained to Ezekiel, and to us, what he was doing then and what he is doing now.

 

(Ezekiel 20:33-38) “As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm (omnipotent grace), and with fury poured out (justice satisfied by Christ), will I rule over you: (34) And I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm (omnipotent grace), and with fury poured out (justice satisfied by Christ). (35) And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face. (36) Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord GOD. (37) And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant: (38) And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.”

 

(Ezekiel 20:41) “I will accept you with your sweet savour, when I bring you out from the people, and gather you out of the countries wherein ye have been scattered; and I will be sanctified in you before the heathen.”

 

Salt of the Earth

 

Back here in Romans 11, Paul says, I stand before you as proof positive that God has not cast away his people. Though the nation of Israel has been cast off, none of “the Israel of God,” none of God’s true Israel, none of God’s elect, none of Abraham’s spiritual seed have been cast off.

 

You see, God’s elect are the salt of the earth, the preservers of humanity. Providentially, all the earth, all people, all nations, including Israel and the United States, are preserved and kept from the utter destruction of divine judgment only for the salvation of God’s elect.

Š      The physical nation of Israel has been cast away; but they are not utterly destroyed because God has some of his elect among them.

Š      The world, though obviously cast away in divine judgment as a whole (2 Thessalonians 2:7-12), still exists because God yet has in this world a people, chosen by grace and redeemed by blood, who must and shall be saved (2 Peter 3:9).

Š      Beholding these things, beholding the judgment of God all around us, every saved sinner, ought to, like Ezekiel, cry out with thanksgiving, “And I was spared!” Let us fall on our faces before the throne of God, crying with gratitude and praise, “Ah Lord God! And I was spared!

 

This is the secret to understanding God’s providence. He who is our God does all things for the salvation of his elect (Romans 8:28-31).

 

(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?”

 

Election

 

2ndHere is divine election (vv. 2-5). Here is an emphatic and important statement. — “God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew,” neither among the Jews nor among the Gentiles. There is a sense in which all mankind are God’s people. All are his creatures, his subjects, his possession, and his property, his to do with as he will. But all are not foreknown; all are not objects of his eternal love and grace (Romans 8:28-30). Many will hear him say, in the Day of Judgment, “I never knew you.” Even so, Israel was chosen from among the nations. They were called the people of God and were blessed with the promises, the prophets, the law, and the sacrifices; but all were not foreknown, for most of them perished in unbelief (Hebrews 4:2). Elijah made intercession, not for Israel but against them.

 

(Romans 11:3) “Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.”

 

Instead of praying for them as prophets were accustomed to do, Elijah was obliged to complain against them for their idolatry, contempt, and unbelief. He thought that God was finished with Israel and would totally abandon them. He thought that he was the only Israelite left who knew and worshipped the Lord God (1 Kings 19:10). But how did God respond to Elijah? — Read verse 4.

 

(Romans 11:4) “But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.” — (1 Kings 19:18)

 

God had not completely cast Israel away then; and he has not cast all Jews away now. Sincere men, like Elijah, are often wrong. Even faithful men, sometimes, are in despair for the cause of God and truth. When the church and the cause of Christ seem at the lowest (when idolatry, superstition, and heresy are seemingly in full command), God always has a people whom he foreknew, redeemed, and called.

 

Understand this and rejoice in it. Few in this apostate generation of will-worship idolatry do. God’s grace is discriminating grace. All who are God’s are separated from and distinguished from the rest of Adam’s fallen race by…

Š      Special Foreknowledge (Electing Love)

Š      Special Redemption (Limited Atonement)

Š      Special Calling (Irresistible Grace)

 

As it was in Elijah’s day, so it is today. — Read verse 5.

 

(Romans 11:5) “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.”

 

There always has been, there is now, and there always shall be, until time shall be no more. Even so, at this present time there is a remnant, “a remnant according to the election of grace.” Elijah was not the only Jewish believer in his day; and Paul was not the only one in his day. God’s elect in any age or among any people may be but few, nothing but a remnant, but God has his people, exactly as many as he has chosen, “according to the election of grace” (Ephesians 1:3-7; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14). Oh, how I thank God for electing love!

 

(Ephesians 1:3-7) “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. (7) In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.”

 

(2 Thessalonians 2:13-14) “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: (14) Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

Š      God chose us.

Š      God chose us in Christ.

Š      God chose us from eternity.

Š      God chose us to be like Christ.

Š      God chose according to his own will (John 1:12-13; Romans 9:16).

 

Grace

 

3rd — Next, our text talks about God’s grace. Paul tells us, again, that all the work of salvation is by grace and by grace alone (vv. 5-7).

 

(Romans 11:5-7) “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. (6) And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. (7) What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.”

 

Almost all religionists believe in some sort of election. They must, because election is a Bible term. But the election taught in Scripture is not based on works, foreseen merit, nor man’s will. The Bible never speaks of conditional election, but always of unconditional election. God elected us according to his own, sovereign, eternal, will, purpose, mercy, love, and grace (2 Timothy 1:9-11).

 

(2 Timothy 1:9-11) “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, (10) But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: (11) Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.”

 

Left to ourselves we would never love God, seek God, or come to Christ (John 5:40-44).

 

(John 5:40-44) And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. (41) I receive not honour from men. (42) But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. (43) I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. (44) How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?”

 

The doctrine of the Bible is crystal clear.Salvation is by the pure, free, unmerited, unconditional grace and mercy of God in Christ. The works, efforts, and deeds of men are not involved (John 1:12-13; Romans 9:15-16).

 

(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.”

 

(Romans 9:15-16) “For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. (16) So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.”

 

There can be no mixture of works with grace, without completely denying salvation by grace (Galatians 5:1-4). If salvation comes to us because of our works (however small), then it is not of grace. If you can find any reason why God should save you other than that by his grace in Christ he was pleased to show mercy, then you are advocating salvation by works.

 

Look at verse 7. — “What then?” What are we to make of all this? I’ll tell you what we are to make of it. — “Salvation is of the Lord!” It is…

Š      By His Purpose!

Š      By His Purchase!

Š      By His Performance!

 

Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for.” — That is, carnal Israel (the body and bulk of that people, those who sought life and righteousness by works), has not obtained God’s salvation. They sought righteousness in the wrong place, in the wrong way. Therefore, they are cut off and perish.

 

But the election hath obtained it and the rest were blinded.” — Paul divides Israel and the world into two parts: the election and the rest! Those chosen of God obtained mercy, grace, righteousness, and salvation in, by, and with Christ; and the rest were left in darkness (Romans 9:30-10:4; 2 Corinthians 4:3-6).

 

(Romans 9:30-10:4) “What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. (31) But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. (32) Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; (33) As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. (10:1) Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. (2) For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. (3) For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. (4) For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth. “

 

(2 Corinthians 4:3-6) “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: (4) In whom the God of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. (5) For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. (6) For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

 

Reprobation

 

4th — God the Holy Ghost inspired the apostle Paul to tell us the cause of reprobation. Reprobation is both eternal and judicial. Here Paul is talking about judicial reprobation. Judicial reprobation, that is to say, God’s judgment upon Israel as a nation and upon individuals is God’s just response to man’s determined rejection of the gospel (vv. 8-10).

 

(Romans 11:8-10) “(According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day. (9) And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them: (10) Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.”

 

Š      If you go to heaven, it will be by God’s doing. — You will have no one and nothing to thank and praise, but God, the Triune Jehovah, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Š      If you go to hell, it will be your own doing. — You will have no one and nothing to blame but yourself.

Š      If God saves sinners by grace alone, without, works, without merit, why not me? Why not you?

 

(Romans 6:23) “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

 

“Come humble sinner, in whose breast

A thousand thoughts revolve;

Come with your guilt and fear oppressed,

And make this last resolve.

 

‘I’ll go to Jesus, though my sins

Like mountains round me close;

I know His courts, I’ll enter in,

Whatever may oppose.

 

Prostrate I’ll lie before His throne,

And there my guilt confess;

I’ll tell Him I’m a wretch undone

Without His sovereign grace.

 

I’ll to the gracious King approach,

Whose scepter pardon gives;

Perhaps He may command my touch,

And then the suppliant lives!

 

Perhaps He will admit my plea,

Perhaps will hear my prayer;

But if I perish, I will pray,

And perish only there.

 

I can but perish if I go,

I am resolved to try;

For if I stay away, I know,

I must forever die.

 

But if I die with mercy sought,

When I the King have tried,

This were to die (Delightful thought!) —

As sinner never died!’”

 

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

Don Fortner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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