GRACE BIBLE CHURCH
Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries
The Tree of Life is a weekly teaching summary.
The Tree of Life from the week ending 7/04/04
The Illustration of Virtue in Greek Drama. Part 5.
2 Peter 1:10
We are nearing completion on the subject of virtue and the dramatic seven chorus line, with the warning given by the Apostle Peter just before he died in 2PE 1:8-10, "For if these qualities [the dramatic seven chorus line] are yours and keep on increasing [are ready for action], they prevent you from being useless [ineffective] nor unfruitful[unproductive] in the epignosis knowledge [metabolized doctrine] of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities [fails to develop these virtues, the dramatic seven chorus line] is mentally blind or short sighted [unaware of the true meaning of life], having forgotten his purification from his former [past] sins. Therefore, brethren, be motivated even more to make your calling and election a spiritual reality."
The calling of God is an invitation whereby grace can change you; however, you must respond to the invitation. The calling of God simply means that God broke the silence between God and man; He reached out to us. The call of God reveals the mechanics of salvation and is the divine invitation to participate in the greatest victory ever won. The Lord Jesus Christ invites us to "Come to Me" in MAT 11:28; JOH 5:39-40; JOH 6:37,44-45, 7:37-39.
"Come to Me" is a very important phrase; this refers to believing upon the Lord Jesus Christ, not asking Him to come to you. The unbeliever responds to God's invitation; he does not invite God anywhere. No one has ever been saved by "inviting Christ into his heart." We do not invite the Lord Jesus Christ into our heart because our heart is deceitful and wicked, Jer 17:9. Apostate teachers propose substitutes in place of faith, such as "inviting Christ into your life," which an unbeliever could never do, because he has an old sin nature and has not yet been regenerated by God the Holy Spirit, EPH 4:22. He invites us to come to Him; we do not invite Him to come to us. This is a vital matter of accuracy, as we are dealing with salvation itself. Throughout His Word, God demands accuracy, and demands what is right. In GAL 1:6 Paul says, "I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel." The "different gospel" was faith plus works, instead of faith alone in Christ alone.
The invitation is from God to us, not from us to God when we are still spiritually dead. He initiates to us; we do not initiate to Him. We must be accurate in every phase of understanding the grace of God, or else a little deviation will apply some form of human power to being saved, ROM 11:6, "But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace." God does all the work, and that is grace.
When you respond to the invitation and believe in Christ, God provides everything you need in salvation, 1TH 5:24. You must realize the calling of God upon your life-the divine invitation to participate in the greatest victory ever won. The call of God includes 2 concepts-(1) the invitation of God the Father to believe in Jesus Christ, and (2) the election of the believer.
The invitation of God the Father to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ is the logical and inevitable result of the doctrine of common grace. Once a person listens to the Gospel, God the Holy Spirit makes that information understandable. Therefore, once the Gospel is presented, the invitation from God the Father is given to the spiritually dead person to believe in Jesus Christ. The scripture calls this the "calling of God." The call of God follows the ministry of God the Holy Spirit in common grace. The call of God is said to originate from God the Father in ROM 8:28-30, and from both God the Father and God the Son in ROM 1:1-7. And we read in ROM 11:29, "The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable." Even though God knows who will respond and who will not, He still sends out the invitation, in the doctrine of the unlimited atonement.
Paul wrote in 1CO 1:23-29, "But we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, that no man should boast before God."
We should think about and consider the calling of God upon our life and the privilege of receiving the divine invitation.
What you were before is not the issue; what you are now as a Christian is what matters. You are a new creature in Christ, and the only issue now is your spiritual life, which is based on one policy-grace. As a part of our calling we need to understand that we are now Royal Family of God, and the issue is Bible doctrine, not human achievement. InEPH 4:1, Paul said, "I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called." He goes on in Eph 4:4, "There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling."
The "hope of your calling" is the absolute confidence that when you believe in Jesus Christ you have eternal life and tremendous blessings designed personally for you by God in eternity past.
Paul wrote about our calling again in 2TH 1:11a, "To this end also we pray for you always that our God may count you worthy of your calling" The "calling of God" is the doorway into election, where the believer has the opportunity to receive God's highest and best. The word "worthy" is the Greek verb axios, meaning to be deemed worthy, due something, fit for something, or suitable for something. This cannot be talking about salvation because inEPH 2:8-9 we read, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast."
Then what are we to be deemed worthy, due, fit, or suitable for? To be counted "worthy of your calling" means to receive the highest and the best that God has elected you to receive, beginning experientially the moment that He called you into the kingdom of His Son. Your calling is the doorway into election, where you have the opportunity to receive God's highest and best, therefore 2TH 1:11 continues, "fulfilling every desire for goodness and the work of faith with His power."
You have the opportunity to participate in the greatest victory ever won, which is the result of the greatest battle ever fought in COL 2:14, "Having cancelled out the certificate of debt which was against us by means of the decrees, and which was hostile to us and He [by means of the divine decrees] has taken it out of the way having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him."
The Lord has overcome Satan, sin, and death, and we have been called to live the spiritual life through the fulfillment of the dramatic seven chorus line, whereby our personal drama brings glory to God.
The means of God calling you is through the Gospel, to receive the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, 2TH 2:13-14, "But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. And it was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." We are called through the Gospel, and the calling of God has many purposes attached to it:
· We are called into fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ, 1CO 1:9. This fellowship is to take place in time when we "make our calling and election a spiritual reality."
. We are called into His kingdom and glory, 1TH 2:9-12. When we make our calling and election a spiritual reality, we receive what it means to be a part of His kingdom and receive His glory. His kingdom on earth is found in the predesigned plan of God for your life. His kingdom in heaven is the perfect place where we will live forever with Him. His glory is manifested by His character and nature, as well as all the divine blessing that comes from participating in the greatest victory ever won.
· We are also called into eternal life, 1TI 6:12. We are to take hold of this life now, not just in the eternal state. This refers to an extraordinary peace that God desires for us to experience even in time.
· When we make our calling and election a spiritual reality, we enjoy the spiritual life (which is eternal life), in this life, PHI 3:10-11. We can experience resurrection life now in time, Rom 6:4. If you stick with the plan of God, you will go through times when you will experience death to the self-life, and then experience the newness of life, resurrection life. We do not always understand the will of God, but to trust His sovereignty completely is another matter, and this leads us to take hold of the eternal life to which we are called. The issue is "His will or yours?" To take hold of eternal life will allow us to experience fantastic inner happiness, in PHI 4:4. It will stop us from worrying and give us fantastic inner peace, PHI 4:6-7, a fantastic positive attitude toward life, PHI 4:8, total contentment in any and every circumstance of life, PHI 4:11-13, and phenomenal confidence that no matter what the odds, God will supply all our needs, PHI 4:19. We will experience deliverance from the bondage of the world and the stronghold of the cosmic system.
· We are called into His sufferings, 1PE 2:21.
· We are called to inherit blessings 1PE 3:9.
· We are called into eternal glory, 1PE 5:10.
· We are called into liberty and freedom, GAL 5:13.
· We are called into peace, COL 3:15.
· We are called out of darkness, 1PE 2:9.
· We are called according to a predesigned plan, ROM 8:28.
· We were called to receive an inheritance, HEB 9:15.
Again, 2PE 1:10 exhorts us, "Therefore, brethren, be motivated even more to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble." The Greek word eklogen, translated "choosing," means election-the act of God picking you out. It is specifically used for the act of God's sovereignty by which, before the foundation of the world, He decreed his blessings to believers. This does not just refer to salvation, which is just the beginning of election. It was God the Father who elected us, and He willed the highest and the best for each one of us. Therefore, He has given us equal privilege and equal opportunity to receive His highest and best and to participate in the greatest victory ever won.
Our study has now led us to a technical subject that makes our Christian life very meaningful. As a part of the motivation behind the dramatic seven chorus line, we need to understand the doctrine of election. You have been elected, and the question you should have is "elected to what?" You have been elected to receive God's highest and best.
The Doctrine of Election
Point 1: Definition. Election is the expression of the sovereign will of God in eternity past, before the universe existed and before mankind lived on the earth. Election is the sovereign, absolute right that God has over His creation. Election is one of two important principles originating from the sovereignty of God (the other being predestination). Election, along with foreknowledge, predestination, justification, and glorification, are all "printouts" from the doctrine of the divine decrees and the sovereign will of God.
· Foreknowledge is the aspect of God's omniscience in which all things, past, present, future, eternal, material, intellectual and spiritual, and actual, are known by Him. His foreknowledge simultaneously knows every situation as well as every actual decision made by all His people.
· Predestination is the provision of the sovereignty of God for you in eternity past to provide for you God's plan, purpose, and will for your life.
· Justification is a judicial act of vindication, since we are born under condemnation, being spiritually dead. Justification is an official judicial act that occurs every time a person believes in Jesus Christ. The justice of God acts on our behalf, pronouncing us justified, which means having a relationship with God forever, and having the perfect righteousness of God imputed to us. Justification means that God recognizes His perfect righteousness in us.
· Glorification is the act of God whereby ultimately the believer is conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.
These fantastic benefits, direct from the sovereignty of God, belong only to believers and should give us tremendous confidence that God is with us.
Election applies to believers only (there is no such thing as double election, in which some are predestined to heaven and others predestined to the lake of fire), ROM 8:28-33, "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first born among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called and elected; and whom He called and elected, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things [such as election]? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies."
Like predestination, election is for believers only, EPH 1:4. There is no election for an unbeliever; election deals exclusively with the blessing of God for the believer, EPH 1:3-6, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved."
In MAT 22:14 the Lord Jesus Christ said, "For many are called, but few are chosen." The adjective polloi, translated "many," is used from a Jewish perspective which connotes both quantity and totality; therefore "all"would be an appropriate translation. This same word is used to mean "all" in MAR 10:48; LUK 10:40; LUK 18:39. This comes out in Rom 8:29, "For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first born among many brethren." The Lord Jesus Christ is not just the firstborn among many of the brethren; He is the firstborn of all brethren!
Polloi appears several times in the book of Romans, as in ROM 5:12, "Therefore, just as through one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and spiritual death through sin, and so spiritual death spread to all men, because all sinned." Rom 5:15-18 continues, "But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died [referring to "all men" in verse 12], much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men."
All men have been reconciled to God and have the opportunity, through faith in Christ, to be justified before God,ROM 5:19, "For as through the one man's disobedience the many [the entire human race] were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous."
Therefore, MAT 22:14 reads, "For many [the entire human race] are called, but few are chosen [eklektoi, meaning elected]." The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. The Lord Jesus Christ paid the price for the sins of the entire human race on the Cross, and God extends the invitation to all, under the doctrine of the unlimited atonement. Therefore, "the many" (all men) are called, but few are elected.
Election is a benefit which expresses the sovereign will of God for each believer in the Royal Family during the Church-age. Therefore, election is the expression of the sovereign will of God for your life, whereas predestination is the provision of His sovereign will for your life. Predestination refers to the plan God has provided for each believer-the predesigned plan of God, your personal sense of destiny, participating in the greatest victory ever won, and the fulfillment of your very own personal drama. Under election, the sovereignty of God willed the highest and best for every believer, having previously deposited that highest and best into escrow for us in eternity past.
For a more detailed study, order tapes 0190-1176 to 0190-1178.