Puritan Gems

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Gospel of Power and the God of Successful Evangelism

“For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.” (Romans 9:15-16)

Much of the Scripture and Theology surrounding God's Sovereign Grace has been addressed in the three previous articles, so I keep a narrow focus on this one, short and sweet. So far, we have:

T-Total Depravity
U-Unconditional Election
L-Limited Atonement

And now for the “I” – Irresistable Grace. We'll focus on “P” later in the week, especially in light of the modern "easy-believism-no-lordship" heresy.

We established earlier that man has no part to play in his own salvation. He is totally depraved. Man is unable to will himself to God's Grace. The Scripture is Romans 9 verifies that. There is another related aspect of Grace as it relates to man's will. Can man use his will to thwart God's Saving Grace?

Back to Ezekiel 36:26-27, we see that God will give His people a new heart, and put His Spirit in them, causing them to walk in His Statutes and keep His commandments. Jesus Christ seeks and saves. He does the work. He neither seeks our permission nor requires it. Man is powerless, either to accept or reject God's will, including His will to show mercy on whomever He chooses. This, however, does not mean the God “force-feeds” salvation to someone while they consciously resist it, fighting with God tooth and claw. Our wills have a direct connection with our hearts, and when God changes the heart, the will changes as well. For we are born again not by man's will, but God's (John 1:12-13). Christ is the Sovereign Lord, and as a result, "...The Son quickens whom he will" (John 5:21). They belong God, even before they are saved, for He purchased them with His own blood (Acts 20:28), therefore, "All the Father gives shall come" (John 6:37). God gives eternal life to “as many as thou hast given” (John 17:2). He predestined His elect, then called then, then justified them, and will glorify them (Romans 8:30).

Thomas Watson describes the Effectual call of God’s People.

“It is a sweet call. God so calls as He allures; He does not force, butdraw. The freedom of the will is not taken away, but the stubbornness of it isconquered. "Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power" (Psalm 110:3). After this call there are no more disputes, the soul readily obeys God’s call: as when Christ called Zacchæus, he joyfully welcomed Him into his heart and house.”1

This is done by the foolishness of preaching, and "God's word always accomplishes what he pleases" (Isaiah 55:11) God's election is "not of him that willeth or runneth" (Romans 9:16), for "Who has resisted His will?" (Romans 9:19). "He does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, "What have you done?" (Daniel 4:35). "God works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure" (Phil. 2:12-13). (See August's Blog on The Power of the Gospel).

I once heard an Arminian pastor preach a message on Ezekiel 36:26:

"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh."

After a wonderful and detailed sermon on the need and the purpose of this new heart, he concluded with an altar call stating. "God wants to give you a new heart, if you'll only let Him".


1 Thomas Watson –
A Divine Cordial, Chapter 7

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