Overwhelmed By His Grace: Chapter 8 Responding To Sovereign Grace
By Brian Anderson
Now that we have seen how thrilling God's sovereign grace is, let us note in conclusion how we can respond to this grace in a way that will glorify Him.
Let God's Sovereign Grace Move Us To Worship
At the conclusion of Paul's discussion of God's sovereign plan for Israel in Romans chapters nine, ten and eleven, he bursts out in spontaneous praise, "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For 'Who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again?' For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen" (Rom.11:33-36). The truth of God's sovereign grace left the apostle Paul overwhelmed. All he can do is bow in the dust and give all the glory to his awe-inspiring God.
As we understand God's grace it will have the same effect in our lives. We were rebels, running as fast as we could from God. We spurned His invitations and despised His Word. Yet, before we were even born He had decided that He would have us for His own. He sent His Son for the express purpose of dying for our sins. He sent His Spirit to make us alive when we were dead in sin and lying under the wrath of God. All of this came to us, not because we deserved it, but in spite of the fact that we deserved the opposite. Oh, we need to let these truths press us to our knees in adoring wonder, love and praise.
This is exactly what these truths did for the apostle Paul. As he considered God's sovereign grace in election it caused him to burst forth in praise, "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" (Eph.1:3-6).
Isaac Watts, the great hymnwriter, has captured the kind of praise God's sovereign love should evoke from our lives in these lines:
Jesus, we bless thy Father's name;
Thy God and ours are both the same,
What heavenly blessings from his throne
Flow down to sinners through his Son!
"Christ be my first elect," he said;
Then chose our souls in Christ, our Head,
Before he gave the mountains birth,
Or laid foundations for the earth.
Thus did eternal love begin
To raise us up from death and sin;
Our characters were then decreed,
Blameless in love, a holy seed.
Predestinated to be sons,
Born by degrees, but chose at once;
A new regenerated race,
to praise the glory of his grace.
(William Gadsby, A Selection Of Hymns For Public Worship,
The Gospel Standard Societies, p.69.)
Let God's Sovereign Grace Move Us To Humility
When you realize that your salvation is all of God, your perspective begins to change. No longer will you chalk up your Christian faith to the fact that you had the sense to exercise your free will and believe in Christ when so many others around you went on persistently in their sins. You realize now, that if God had left you to your free will it would have taken you straight to hell. No, the fact that you are a Christian today has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with Him. God's sovereign grace laid hold of you when you had no love for Him. Before reading this book you may have thought, "Yes, God gave me salvation, but I received it. He offered it to all, but not everybody was smart enough to take Him up on it." If that were true, you could stand up in heaven, look down on the man in hell and say, "Look buddy, you are there because you didn't do what I did, plain and simple." But the sovereign grace of God removes all possibility for boasting. Now the only thing you can boast in is the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. "But may it never be that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world" (Gal. 6:14). Through the grace of God you are what you are (1Cor.15:10)! Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord (1Cor.1:31).
Let God's Sovereign Grace Move Us To Obedience
Could there be a more compelling truth to move us to obedience? Paul declares, "And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience" (Col. 3:12). Spurgeon declared,
Nothing under the gracious influence of the Holy Spirit can make a Christian more holy than the thought that He is chosen. Shall I sin after God has chosen me? Shall I transgress after such love? Shall I go astray after so much lovingkindness and tender mercy? No, my God, since Thou hast chosen me, I will love Thee, I will live to Thee, I will give myself to Thee to be Thine forever, solemnly consecrating myself to Thy service forever. (From a teaching tape of John MacArthur on 1 Peter 1:1-2 entitled "Chosen By God.")
Oh, go on to bring much glory to our great God who loved us with an everlasting love. Let us seek to do great exploits in His strength. Let us seek to bring honor and praise to One so deserving, so worthy, so glorious. Let us love supremely the One who first loved us!
Let God's Sovereign Grace Move Us To Face The Future With Confidence
What confidence in the future can a person possess whose salvation is a result of his own initiative? If I believed my free will was what got me into a state of salvation, then I must believe that it can also get me out just as fast. I would have to trust in myself for my future security. Now, that is a scary thought. There is no comfort there at all. No wonder the framers of the 39 Articles of the Church of England wrote, "The godly consideration of predestination and our election in Christ is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons. . ." (Schaff, Creeds of Christendom, Baker, 3:498.) Oh, it is indeed. Go on trusting Him. If He began this work of grace, He will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil. 1:6). Find your confidence and security in Him and His work on your behalf. The more confident we are in Him, the more glory we will bring to Him.
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