Beloved Sons of the Living God


Manage episode 340861778 series 3038820
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Audio Transcript:
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Heavenly Father, we You thank You for the privilege, the blessing it is to gather as Your people, to hear from You, hear from Your Holy Scriptures. We pray, Holy Spirit, come down, and fill our being, our hearts, our souls, fill it with Your Spirit. We come to You, and with the words of Jesus Christ, who promised us, "Blessed are those who are poor in Spirit." Lord, we want that blessing. And we come to You, recognizing our poverty of Spirit. So we ask for the riches of Your Holy Spirit. We ask for more of You, Holy Spirit, come with the fullness of Your presence and power, and teach us. And Lord, teach us what it means to be Your bride. What it means to be Your Body, that You call each one of us to serve, to fulfill the job that You have called us to do.
And I pray that You fill our hearts with zeal, to continue to serve You. And we thank You for the reminders from Holy Scripture, that You do adopt us into Your family. It's Your decision on whom to pour out Your Love. And for those of us who are believers today, Lord, we thank You for the great blessing it is, the great Truth it is that You call us beloved sons of the Living God, that we are Your beloved, that You pour out Your Love on us, that we are Your sons, we're Your daughters, that we are Your children, and that You are a Living God, You're Holy God and a Loving God. Bless our time in the Holy Scriptures today. And we pray this in Jesus's Name. Amen.
We're continuing our sermon series through the book of Romans, and the title of the sermon today is Beloved Sons Of The Living God. Last Sunday, if you weren't with us, we looked at the life of the early church, and we saw their devotion to worship, community, and service. Those were the main rhythms of their spiritual life, and God blessed their devotion, by sending them a harvest of thousands of souls. And we talked about the fact, why is devotion important? Because devotion is what keeps you faithful. When motivation wanes, when the Christian walk gets hard, we need devotion. And we challenged everyone last week to be more devoted to the Lord, and to the church, by worshiping the Lord, by getting into community here at Mosaic, and by serving the Lord. And if you're new, and you're like, "There's service opportunities at this church?" Yes, there are.
We need, if you're church shopping, I'm telling you, this is the church for you. We need you. You could be very helpful here. You could be very useful. We have, as the church is growing, we have more opportunities to serve. Just to give you a glimpse, we need 20 greeting team members. So if smiling comes easy to you, if smiling does not hurt your face, we would love to have you join the greeting team. We need six welcome center team members, 10 special operations team members. Well, what's special operations? Well, there's only one way to find out.
Four coffee team members. That's very important. We believe in the power of the Holy Spirit and the power of caffeine. Three slides team members, three sound team members, three video team members. And then Mini Mosaic needs a ton of volunteers. We love our children here at Mosaic. We believe in investing in the next generation of the church, and that's our children. And we'd love to have you apply to help there as well. You can just fill out a connection card, or just let them know at the welcome center you'd like to serve, or you can get all the info online as well.
Back to Romans nine, and Romans nine, one of the things that we've been learning and experiencing, and this is things I'm hearing, and in my community group and other community groups. We're learning that this chapter is expanding our vision of God. And what Romans nine reminds us, is that you can't box God. You can't box God, in the sense that you can't fight God, your arms are too short. And then also you can't box God in. And a lot of Christianity tries to box God in. And what Romans nine does, is destroys any theological categories that keep God safe, easy to understand, predictable, comfortable, Romans nine kicks down the sides of these manmade boxes, and tells us that God is God.
He's the only one who has truly free will. A word of caution about the doctrine of election. Don't let the doctrine of election chill your heart. That is one of the temptations of the evil one, and to take a truth and to produce a fruit with that truth that was never intended by God. So how can we make sure that the doctrine of election warms our hearts instead of chilling our hearts? Well, we have to land where St. Paul wants to bring us. Yes, he's making a polemical argument. Yes, he's rejecting false thinking about God and salvation.
But he's chiefly interested in getting us to the point where we see the greatness of the glory of God, and the riches of His mercy, on us, Christians, people that He's poured out this gift of love on. So we are to let the doctrine of God's Grace flame the fire of love in our heart, a love for God, a love for his people and a love for his mission. Today we're in Romans 9:24-33, would you look at the text with me.
Romans 9:24, "Even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only, but also from the Gentiles. As indeed he says in Hosea, 'Those who are not My people, I will call My people, and her who is not beloved, I will call beloved. And in the very place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' there, you will be called Sons Of The Living God.' And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, 'Though, the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, for the Lord will carry out a sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.' And as Isaiah predicted, 'If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring, we would've become like Sodom and become like Gomorrah.'.
What shall we say then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it. That is, a righteousness that is by faith. That Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as it were based on works, they have stumbled over the stumbling stone as is written, 'Behold, I'm laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense. And whoever believes in Him will not be put the shame.'"
This is the reading of God's Holy, inerrant, infallible, authoritative Word. May He write these eternal truths upon our hearts. Three points to frame up our time, "Beloved Sons Of The Living God." Second, "Only a remnant will be saved." And third, "Don't stumble over Saving Grace." First beloved Sons of the Living God, just to help you get the flow of the argument, he begins it in verse 19 of chapter nine, "You will say to me then why does He," that's God, "Why does God still find fault, for who can resist His will? But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its Molder, 'Why have you made me like this?' Has the Potter no right over the clay to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use, and another for dishonorable use?
What if God, desiring to show His wrath, and to make known His power has endured with patience, vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory. Even us whom He has called, not from the Jews only, but also from the Gentiles, as indeed, He says in Hosea, 'Those who are not my people, I will call My people, and her who is not beloved, I will call beloved. And in the very place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people," there they will be called Sons Of The Living God.'"
And Paul's logic here is razor sharp, and it's very simple. If we are creatures created by God the Creator, does not God have the right to do with us what He wishes? Cannot the Creator do what He wants with what he makes? Of course. Dr. Gordon Clark, a defender of God's high sovereignty in the salvation of sinners, he was accused one time of making people into mere puppets, says that doesn't this turn us into just puppets? And his response is, "No, it doesn't turn us into puppets. It turns us into lumps of clay." That's who we are. That's what this text says. That is to humble us completely, just flatten us with the ground. We are absolutely nothing. And then Paul says, "But God, in the riches of His glory and His Grace, and His Mercy, He chooses to make out of some of the lump that he creates, His own people, His own children, His beloved, He calls it.
This is the point of this whole doctrine, it's to land us in this place where we just revel in the fact that God is merciful. So He doesn't give us the doctrine in the abstract. I remember when I heard this doctrine for the first time, I remember wrestling with this in college, and then after college. And I didn't grow up in a church that preached through books of the Bible, or verse by verse expository, expositional preaching. And so when I heard it for the first time, I was shocked. I was like, "No, who is this God? I don't think I like this God. A God that is this sovereign, that is this powerful." But the doctrine is given to us for a reason, as believers. Instead, get us to enjoy the sweetness of the unfathomable Grace and Mercy of God. And that's why at the end of Roman's 11, Paul ends with doxology.
He ends with worship, and true theology is to get us to a point of doxology, "Oh the depth of the riches and the wisdom and knowledge of God. How unsearchable are His judgments, and how inscrutable His ways? For who has known the Mind of the Lord, or who has been His counselor, or who has given a gift to Him that He might be repaid? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to Him be glory forever. Amen." So for Paul, there is no inconsistency between God's sovereignty and human responsibility. Just like in Scripture, the two are taught side by side, and Scripture doesn't even attempt to give us a resolution. Is God sovereign? Or are we responsible? The answer is, yes. It's a spiritual tension. It's not a contradiction. It's a tension. And we are to live in that tension in this worshipful reveling, that God is kind enough to pour out His mercy on us.
Two examples immediately that come to mind where God's sovereignty and human responsibility interplay, is the first one is Joseph, who just spent 13 years in, basically, prison. And then God raises him up. He's number two in the kingdom of Egypt. And then his brothers come to him, his brothers who sold him into captivity a long time ago. And they come asking for mercy, and this is Genesis 50:18, "His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, 'Behold, we are your servants.' But Joseph said to them, 'Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive as they are today. So do not fear. I will provide for you, and your little ones.' Thus he comforted them, and spoke kindly to them." Their human will was to sell him, their brother, into captivity, "You meant it for evil. You wanted to harm me, but God took your evil, your will, and God superimposed His, and by His Grace turned the evil into good."
Just like with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Who crucified Jesus, was it the Pharisees? Was it the Sadducees? Was it Pilate who crucified Jesus? Well, yes, it was all them. And it was also God, there was both. This is acts 2:22 and 24, "Men of Israel, hear these words, Jesus of Nazareth, the man attested to you by God, with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves know. This Jesus delivered up, according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men, God raised Him up, losing the pangs of death until it was not possible for Him to be held by it."
It's both. They are to blame. But yeah, this was part of God's plan as well. God is sovereign. So Paul beginning with Romans 9:6, he's been dealing with the objections to election. He knows people have problems with it. He deals with the objections, but then he does want to take the Christians to this place where they realize that God has poured out His mercy on them. Romans 9:6, "But it's not as though the Word of God has failed, for not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel." So that's what he's been doing in Romans nine. Why isn't all of Israel saved? Aren't they the chosen people? And what he's saying is, "Even from the chosen people, there's chosen people." That God's election isn't just based on the fact that Israel genetically, they're somehow part of the Family of God.
No, God chooses people from Israel, from the Jews. God chooses people from the Gentiles as well. And ultimately the answer is, of why someone gets saved and another doesn't, is because that's what God decided. The lesson of Mercy and Grace that God taught in the Old Testament wasn't just that the Jews are going to get saved. From the very beginning, God told Abraham, "And from you, through you, a seed is coming, and you, through that seed, will be a blessing to all nations." This was to everybody. So Israel's Prophets, from the very beginning, they knew it was Jews and Gentiles that were going to be brought in, especially after the Messianic age was inaugurated by Jesus Christ.
And here Paul quotes Hosea, he goes to the book of Hosea, to talk about the Mercy of God upon the Gentiles, and the lesson of Mercy and Grace that God taught Israel through the prophet Hosea, came at a great expense to himself, to Hosea the prophet. God goes to Hosea the prophet and says, "I have a ministry for you. I have a mission for you. And through this mission, you are going to show Israel what My Mercy is like, and what My Severity is like." The Mercy in accepting Gentiles, who did not deserve to be my People, and the severity of God in that there were Jewish people who rejected God through their spiritual idolatry. That's the promiscuity that he is talking about.
So God goes to Hosea, and says, "You're going to marry a prostitute, and she's going to cheat on you. Her life, your marriage is going to be marked by her infidelity and promiscuity. You're going to have children. And those children are going to be object lessons of what is going to happen to Israel." So for example, in Hosea 1:8 and 9, it says, "When she," that was Hosea's wife, "Had weaned No Mercy," God told him, one of the children, call him No Mercy, "She conceived and bore a son. And the Lord said, 'Call his name, Not My People, for you are not my people, and I'm not your God." This was an object lesson in divine rejection, that God told Israel, because of their sinfulness," they did get to a point where God says, "You're not Mine anymore. You're not Mine." And God says, "I'm going to choose another."
And that's in, and he goes on later in Romans 10 and 11, talking about the fact that, we, the Gentiles, are grafted into the Vine that is Jesus. We are a wild olive branch grafted into the root of the tree. We bring nothing to the table, nothing in us could move God to include us into His kingdom. Our only hope is the riches of His glory and mercy. That's what election's all about. And that's where the emphasis is on verse 25. As he quotes Hosea, "As indeed, He says to Hosea, 'Those who are not my people,'" that's the Gentiles, that's us. "He will call, 'My people,'" and the emphasis on the word, "My." God says, "These are people that are not Mine, and I'm going to make them Mine."
And then He says, "And her who was not beloved," not beloved because she did not deserve to be beloved. That was the whole lesson with Hosea and his wife. She got to a point where she, there was nothing in her that made her loving to Hosea. And God says, "Still love her, still redeem her, still pursue her." And God says, "There are people that have not been loved. There was nothing loving in them, but God, because of His loving kindness, pours out His Love and he calls us, 'Beloved.'"
And then he quotes another place, "In the very place where it was said, 'You are not my people,' there they will be called sons of the Living God." So he's mixing all the metaphors together. "You weren't a people, now you're My people. You were not beloved," talking about spousal Love. Now God is going to pour out a spousal love on you. You are now beloved. And then he brings in the metaphor of children, "That you are sons of the Living God." And he quotes from Hosea 2:23 and 1:10. And all he is doing is saying, "This was only made possible because of Jesus Christ. How can we be sons of the Living God, when we've rejected God, we've run from God?" We're rebels. We're reprobate. We're degenerates.
Only because of Jesus Christ, that Jesus Christ, the only true living Son of God comes lives the perfect life in a human body, fulfills all the moral law, is obedient to God, to absolutely every single one of the commandments. And then He goes to a cross bearing the wrath that He did not deserve. He didn't break any commandments. He took the wrath that we deserve for our law-breaking, and by Grace through faith, we can be adopted into the family of God. This is our identity. We are beloved sons of the living God. Every child longs to see the twinkle of the eye of their dad in delight over them. Every child does this. Every child, there's a hunger inside of Dad looking at the child and saying, "You are My beloved. I love you. I delight in you." Every single one of us. We long for that. That's exactly what God is doing. God is telling us here, "I have given you a brand new identity." And we just need to sit under this truth.
We need someone to speak this truth over us. Who are you? Who are you? How do you answer that question? Well, you don't know who you are unless you know whose you are. Who are you? As a dear Christian, I belong to God. I am a child of the Living God, I am son of the Living God. And not just, I'm a beloved son of the Living God. Not based on anything I've done. Not based on my performance. You are not your job. You are not your education. You are not your GPA. You are not your looks. You are not your gender. You are not your height. You are not your weight. You are not your race. You are not any of this, none of the external stuff. You, dear Christian, if you are a child of, if you have repented of sin and trust in Jesus Christ, you're a beloved son of God.
And I say that, because we live in a culture where, when people hear that God loves them. You just assume, "Well, of course He does. That's His job." And we just assume that God loves everybody the same. And behind that assumption is the idea that we deserve God's Love. That somehow we have a claim to the Love of God. But no, Love of God is not a birthright. It's a privilege. It's not a right. It's a privilege. And not everybody gets the Love of God. It's offered to everybody. Not everyone gets it. So if you have received the Love of God, you need to be reminded that there's nothing in us that would make God Love us. It was God and His Mercy. So He gets all the praise.
And we are not to take it for granted, because this is true. Only a remnant will be saved. Only a remnant will be saved. Not everyone will be saved. This is Romans 9:27 through 29. And Paul goes from Hosea, talking about the Gentiles being grafted in, to Israel. He says, "Not all of Israel will be saved, but some will. The remnant will." And he quotes Isaiah in verse 27, "Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, 'Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved. For the Lord will carry out His sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.' And as Isaiah predicted, 'If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring, we would've become like Sodom and become like Gomorrah.'" What he is saying, is there will always be a believing remnant. And it's because of the Grace of God, God chooses to save a remnant.
And in this context, Isaiah is talking about the fact that had God not chosen to pour out his mercy on a remnant of Israel, that all of Israel would've become like Sodom and Gomorrah. So we finished where we began. There was an election even within the election of Israel. And it's the election of Grace and Salvation. And the answer of who gets saved? It's because of God. If it were not for this teaching, and this teaching, by the way, the doctrine of election, it does change the way you do ministry. And I remember in seminary, wrestling with this text, and also wrestling with my call, "Lord, where do you want us? Lord, where do you want?"
And the Lord said, "You got to go to Boston." And one of the reasons why we had peace in our heart about this, is because I believed in the sovereignty of God's Grace, that sometimes it does feel like we live in Sodom and Gomorrah. And sometimes it feels like Mosaic is this remnant that God is protecting, and God's calling and drawing people. But God is. And this is church is a testimony to the sovereignty of God.
Theologians in the 18th century debated whether in the final analysis, the majority of humans would be redeemed, and their consensus was based on Scripture that a vast majority of people will not enter the Kingdom Of Heaven. We hope for the remnant, but clearly even the language of the remnant means that not everyone is going to be saved. This is a hard truth of Holy Scripture. There's only one way to salvation, and that's by faith in Jesus Christ. And if you reject Jesus Christ, there's no salvation outside of Jesus Christ. Even from among the Household of God, we ask for a remnant of all those who God redeemed from Egypt, how many of them made it into the promised land?
God brings out millions from Egypt, and only a couple were permitted to enter the promised land. But whenever we get into this question of how many people get saved, Jesus never wanted to deal with it. He would never answer the question directly. He put all the emphasis on, "Don't worry about that. Worry about your own soul." Matthew 7:13, "Enter by the narrow gate, for the gate is wide and the ways easy that leads to destruction. But those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it, are few."
Luke 13:22 through 30, a little more explicitly. "He," Jesus, "Went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. And someone said to Him, 'Lord, well, those who are saved, be few?' And He said to them, 'Strive to enter through the narrow gate. For many I tell you will seek to enter, will not be able. When once the Master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door saying, 'Lord, open to us,' then He will answer you, 'I do not know where you come from.' Then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in your presence, and You taught in our streets.' But he will say, 'I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil.' In that place, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
When you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God, but you yourselves cast out. And the people will come from east and west, from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.'" So how do we make sure we're in the remnant? Receive the Grace of Jesus Christ.
And this is where he says, moving forward, verse 30, 33, this is point three, "Don't stumble over Saving Grace." And that's what happened with Israel. Verse 30, he says, "What shall we say then? 'That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained it. That is a righteousness that is attained by faith. But that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness, did not succeed in reaching that law.' Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works, they have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written, 'Behold, I'm laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense. And whoever believes in Him, will be put to shame."
So Paul now is dealing with Israel. What happened with Israel? Why didn't all of Israel, accept the Messiah, Jesus Christ, He came to them. He was their own. Why didn't they receive Him? And here Paul puts all of the emphasis on their responsibility. They chose, the Jewish people chose not to receive their own Messiah. It was on them as it was their responsibility. And Paul has made it plain, that we're saved by Grace through faith. This is chapter two, chapter three, chapter four of Romans, that we need a righteousness, an alien righteousness, that is not our own it's given to us only by Grace, through faith. Ironically, the Godless Gentiles were the first to embrace the gospel. Why? Because the Gentiles knew, they lived in Rome. They knew debauchery, and they knew that they were far from God.
So then someone shows up in Rome, and says, "Let me tell you the greatest news ever. It doesn't matter if you've been living your whole life in Godlessness and immorality, in sin, your whole life as if God didn't exist. If you repent of your sin and trust in Jesus Christ, all of your sins are forgiven. And God gives you a righteousness that is not your own." This is a double substitution. You trust in Jesus Christ, your sin goes to him. His righteousness gets counted to you. The Gentiles Love this. They're like, "This is awesome. I didn't grow up in a Jewish family. I don't know the Torah. I don't know any of the ceremonial laws. I don't know the morals, but you're telling me if I trust in this Jesus Christ, all my sins forgiven, I spent eternity with God? That's all it takes to be accepted. That's all it takes to be adopted?"
And Paul says, "Yes." So the Gentiles loved it. And the Jewish people are like, "Oh, hold on. You're telling us that the Gentiles did not keep any Kosher laws? They had all the pepperoni pizza. They didn't keep any, we went all in. We did circumcision. We did all in. We went all in, and you're telling us the Gentiles have the same access to God that we do?" Well, that was terribly offensive to them. So hold on. By the time Jesus shows up, Judaism had developed into a religion of self-salvation, where they didn't have room for a Redeemer. They didn't have a room for a Savior that would die for the sins of the world. Because they were taught that you save yourself through your own righteous living. You make yourself good enough for God. That's what they taught salvation by works, salvation by your own morality.
And Jesus Christ shows up and says, "No, do you know what the standard is to be accepted by God? The standard is perfection. Be perfect as thou Father is perfect. No one's perfect. Except for the son of God. There's only one way." This is why this cornerstone, Jesus, the cornerstone of the Kingdom of God became a stumbling block for them. They tripped over Grace. They could not imagine that God gives Grace, that God gives Mercy even to Gentiles, and that the Jewish people needed as much Grace as the Gentiles. This is important for us to hear, because especially if you come from a multi-generational Christian family, or if you've been in the faith for a while, there is a temptation to start trusting in your own righteousness instead of trusting in the Grace of God. Where you get to a point where there is discipline in your life, there is character in your life, and you start trusting in yourself, trusting in your works.
And this is a word for us, that apart from faith, we can do nothing to please God. Church membership, or receiving baptism, it's important, but doesn't guarantee redemption. A true Christian is a Christian internally, not just externally. Going through the outward works does not necessarily guarantee salvation. You have to have a regeneration of the heart, a transformation of the heart. Augustine was the one who Fathered the distinction between the visible church and the invisible church. And he made this distinction because he said, "Look at Jesus. He taught that there will be growing along with the wheat. And some people can honor Jesus with their lips, but their hearts are far from him."
And Augustine said, "It's easy to count people in the visible church. You can't count the invisible church, because we can't see a person's soul. Only God can. God sees the heart." But Jesus does warn us to make sure that you are in, that you are the family of God. That you aren't just part of the visible church, but part of the invisible church. And the Matthew 7:21 through 23, Jesus gives a most dreadful warning. He says the following, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the Kingdom Of Heaven. But the one who does the will of my Father, who is in Heaven. On that day, many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, do we not prophesy in Your name, or cast out demons in Your name, and do many mighty works in Your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you, depart for Me, you workers of lawlessness.'"
And then when Augustine was asked, "How do we know where the invisible church is?" And he said, "Most of the invisible church is in the visible church. And yes, it's remotely possible that a true Christian is not part of the visible church, but I would submit to you that won't last long." If you are a true Christian, and you have the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit will prompt you to join a church, to lock arms with like-minded believers.
If our hearts are truly in tune with God, we will sooner or later, in most cases, unite with the visible church. I've heard often, "I don't have to go to church to be a Christian." Well, that's true. We're saved by Grace through faith, but if you're saved by Grace, through faith, you'll long to be with the people of God. Saying, "I don't need to go to church to be a Christian," is like saying, "I can be married without living with my spouse." Yeah, you can be, but it's not going to go well, it'll go downhill quickly. So this is the point where he's saying, "If God saves you, God welcomes you into this family, where God does call us beloved sons of the Living God.
I imagine St. Paul, when he went to Heaven. And I imagine that for multiple reasons. The first is I'd like to see his theology in practice. When he gets up there, and then one of the angels says, "Paul, why should we let you into Heaven?" As if they were testing him. What do you think his answer was? What would your answer be when you die, and you stand before God, or you stand before one of the angels, and, "Why should we let you into heaven?" What's your answer? Well, the Jewish people thought God wanted to hear, "Well, here's all my good works. Here's all the commandments. Here's all the money I gave. Here's my church attendance. I was part ..." Well, that's how they miss Grace. The only thing that we can say is, "Lord, there's no reason at all why you should let me in. Absolutely not. All my righteousness is like filthy rags," the Word says. "The only reason why you should let me in, is because your son, Jesus Christ, that you promised, 'Whoever calls up on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'"
That's the only answer. That's how you know, you're saved by Grace through faith. If you're not sure that you are a believer today, we appeal to you, we plead with you. We urge you call upon the name of the Lord, close your eyes, and just call out to Jesus Christ, "Lord, forgive me, have Mercy on me a great sinner. And Lord, I renounce not just my sins, but also my righteousness. You are the only grounds of my salvation. Trust in Jesus Christ." And we'd like to help you take the next steps in your faith. Let us know if you prayed today to receive Christ. If you committed your life to Him, or recommitted to Him, Pastor Andy will be up here after the service. He would love to pray with you.
And one of the most shocking parts about the gospel. And this is why I like imagining St. Paul. All right, the angel lets him in. Now he's in, I think one of the very first people to welcome Paul in, I think Steven was one of the first ones. Remember Steven? The first martyr. And Paul was there, Paul hated Christians. This is why Paul really understands the doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and of election, because Paul hated Christians. He hated the idea of Grace, to the point that he terrorized Christians. And then God stops him on the road to Damascus. And says, "Saul, why you persecuting Me?" Saves him, that's election. And then Paul realized, "My righteousness was nothing. I need a righteousness that is not my own." Receives the righteousness of Christ. And then in Heaven, Paul's there with people that he killed. That's the marvel of Grace.
John 1:9-18, "The true Light, which gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who are born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." God does the birthing, but it's given to all who receive. So you see both here. But it's not of the will of man. It's the Will of God. God's sovereign. It's both, but you do have to receive it. You have to receive that gift. "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. And we have seen in His Glory. Glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of Grace and Truth.
John bore witness about him and cried out, 'This was He of whom I said, He who comes after me, ranks before me, because He was before me. For from his fullness, we have all received Grace upon Grace. For the law was given through Moses, Grace and Truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. The only God who was at the Father's side, He has made Him known. And I'll close it with Second Peter, 1:5-11, which is so important in putting the emphasis on, "Hey, you got to confirm your election. You got to make sure that you are elect from the foundation of the world. And you do that by abiding in Christ, and bearing good fruit today." Second Peter 1:5-11, "For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with Godliness, and Godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective, or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord, Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so near-sighted that he is blind. Having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore brothers be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election. For if you practice these qualities, you will never fall. For in this way, there will be richly provided for you, and entrance into the Eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen."
Let us pray. Lord, we thank You for the richness of this text. We thank You for the richness of the doctrine of election, but most important, we thank you for the richness of Your mercy on us sinners. Lord, we didn't deserve Your Mercy. We don't deserve Your Love. We don't have a claim to it, and yet Lord, You give it to us. So we receive it.
And we thank You for that. Lord, I pray today, ground us in the foundation of this Gospel, that we're saved by Grace through faith. And that we're given a righteousness that is not our own, a righteousness of Christ. And we hold onto that righteousness. We grow into that righteousness, and remind us today that we are beloved by You, that we are sons and daughters of the Living God. Lord, make that the root and the heart of our identity, put that the core of our being, make us a people who live in a manner worthy of the name of God, and the image of God, and the very Holy Spirit of God that You've given us. Holy Spirit, minister to us as we worship You. Holy God, we pray this in Jesus's name. Amen.

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