Now in our last lesson we ran out of time to finish our teaching of “how we’re chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world.” So let’s pursue that because we don’t like to give people the idea that they don’t have a thing to do with it. Oh yes, we do! If you’ll turn with me to pick that theme up, to I Peter chapter 1, and let’s just drop right in to verse 2. Remember what we were talking about last week, how that Jesus told the twelve, “You have not chosen me, I have chosen you.” And He asked Peter the basis of his faith and Peter responded:
“…Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
And what did Jesus say?
“… flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”
And then if you’ll remember we looked at the seller of purple, Lydia, in the book of Acts, and again it was the Lord who opened her heart and then she attended to the things of salvation that Paul spoke of. Alright, now how does this work? I think I Peter chapter 1, verse 2 probably throws as much light on this whole idea of election and being chosen as any other portion of Scripture.
I Peter 1:2
“Elect (remember the elect of scripture whether it’s back in Genesis, in Christ’s ministry, in the Church Age, or the elect of the Tribulation, the elect are always the believers) according to the (what’s the word?) foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit (the work of the Holy Spirit) unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ; Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.”
Now that word, “foreknowledge” settles all the controversy. We don’t have to sit back and say, “Well, if someone is going to be saved, they are going to be saved regardless of what I do about it.” And on the other hand, we have to realize that in the flesh we can do nothing. God has to precipitate something. And the word, “foreknowledge” just opens it up for us. The word “foreknowledge” means that before the world was ever created, before Adam was ever created, God knew what you and I would do with the Gospel. That’s mind-boggling, I know it is. But that’s the God the Bible presents. An all-knowing God who knows the end from the beginning. Not just the big picture, but of every individual, of every nation, of every empire.
Now, I can probably be a little more at ease with that whole Middle Eastern situation than a lot of people, because I look at it that the Sovereign God is in complete control. Nothing is going to happen over there that isn’t within His particular program. I hope I’m not stretching the point, but you know Jesus made the statement about “not casting pearls before the swine.” Have you heard that? What was He talking about? Well, there’s no use wasting your breath with someone who is absolutely contrary, rebellious and indifferent to the things of the Word. Now we have to approach and we have to do our best to present, God’s plan of salvation to anyone and everyone. But you see God knows which ones are going to respond. And knowing which ones are going to respond, what can He do? He opens the heart. And now this almost comes full circle, I know it does, but nevertheless, this is where I think Scripture unfolds the beginning step of coming into the plan of salvation.
A body, a soul with nothing going for us but a sin nature and the spirit is dead. And as I said in the last half hour, dead people can’t even believe anything. So the first thing that has to happen as the Word continues to go out among the human race, God the Holy Spirit, somehow lights a spark within an individual and it makes a period of time before that individual finally comes to the place of really believing. Others may not take as long. But the Holy Spirit has to somehow precipitate an activity within the heart and the soul of the individual.
Now turn back with me if you will to Romans chapter 8. Now, I don’t know if the Lord will tarry long enough, and I don’t know if we’ll be staying on the air long enough, to get to the book of Romans. But if we were to teach the book of Romans verse by verse, as we’ve started back in Genesis, I would point out in chapter 7 that there is no mention of the Holy Spirit whatsoever. Paul is almost bereft with all kinds of thoughts: “Why is it that the thing I don’t want to do is what I do and why is it that the things that I want to do, I don’t do.” Aren’t we all in the same boat many times? But you see, the Holy Spirit is never mentioned in chapter 7. And then all of a sudden you turn over to chapter 8 and, remember there were no breaks in Paul’s letters, what’s it filled with? The Holy Spirit.
If I’m not mistaken the Holy Spirit is referred to 19 times in Romans chapter 8. And only once before in the previous 7 chapters and that is in Romans chapter 5 where the Holy Spirit is mentioned only once. Now that should make us sit up and take notice.
“For they that are after the flesh (this person right up here, with nothing more than body and soul and he is dead spiritually) do mind the things of the flesh; (that’s what Jesus meant when He said, “They don’t seek the light.”) but they that are after the Spirit (that word is capitalized, so now the Holy Spirit has come into the picture. And the Holy Spirit has done something to make us pay attention to what God has to say.) the things of the Spirit.”
Now come down to verse 7.
“Because the carnal (the natural, the unsaved) mind (this one right up here on the board now) is enmity against God; (You know what that word ‘enmity’ means? Just what it says. He’s an enemy of God. He’s no friend of God. And that carnal mind is) for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”
Now that’s strong language isn’t it? You know, every time I read that verse I have to be amazed that the world behaves as well as they do and we know that it’s almost coming apart at the seams anymore. But still, there is no concern for the things of God among the carnal mind. Now verse 8.
“So they that are in the flesh (until the Holy Spirit moves in) cannot please God.”
Then in verse 9 Paul draws the difference between the believer and the carnal or unbeliever.
“But ye are not in the flesh (not under the control of old Adam anymore) but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God (what’s the word?) dwell (where?) in you….”
So the Holy Spirit has to begin a work within the very heart or center of a human being. And the first thing, as I said a moment ago, that the Holy Spirit convinces us of is found in Romans chapter 3. The first thing that the Holy Spirit reminds us of and makes us aware of is that we’re sinners.
“For all (everybody, anyone ever born into the human race) have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Now that’s the first step of faith. This is what God says about me. I’m not as good as I think I am. I can in no way please God with my works, because I’m a sinner. Now, when we believe that, then the doors begin to open up. And our mind and our whole make up begin to realize that God is doing something with me. I realize that I’m a sinner, I’m a son of Adam and there’s nothing I can do. Now, again, that’s why I like to keep my circles up here on the chalk board, we have to constantly remember that when man was created by God in the first place, the body is the only part of us that is tangible and visible. The rest is all invisible.
Now something that is invisible and yet is a viable entity, something that we know is there and the Scripture uses the illustration of the wind. You can’t see the wind, but is it there? Yes. Because you can see the effects of it and feel the effects of it, it’s there. Well, it’s the same way with our spiritual makeup. I say spiritual because it’s that invisible part of us, that soul and that spirit, that were invisible. They are all a result of the creative act of God. Now then, if we’re going to deal with the invisible part of our being, doesn’t it follow that there is nothing man can do to correct something that is wrong in the invisible? I mean we can’t lay the invisible on an operating table and perform surgery on it. We can’t feed it a dose of some miracle drug, because we’re dealing with the invisible. People have to understand that we’re in that area of a man’s makeup that only God can do anything with.
So what does God do? He promptly shows us that we’re sinners. Now when we understand that, and the Holy Spirit begins to move us to this place of believing Paul’s Gospel, the power of God unto salvation, and maybe we should look at Paul’s Gospel. Keep your hand here in Romans chapter 3, and come back to I Corinthians chapter 15. We look at these verses several weeks ago, but I’m sure that even the best of us would have forgotten by now, what those verses said. Here in a nutshell is Paul’s Gospel, and the only Gospel you must believe for eternal life. It’s the only one! I’ve told my classes over the years, I wish I could just force myself to use these verses at least every week, but I don’t because we get too covered up with all the other things. Here is where it all has to center.
I Corinthians 15:1-2
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel (notice “the is singular, there’s only one.) which I preached into you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2. By which (this Gospel preached by Paul) also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.”
You must understand what you are believing for eternal life. . Now I don’t maintain that someone has to know the Bible from cover to cover to be saved, but on the other hand we have to know what we believe. Salvation is not just something that is glib. We have to know what the Book says, and where to find it. We have to know what God is requiring of us.Now here comes the Gospel of salvation in verses 3 and 4.
I Corinthians 15:3-4
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4. And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:”
That’s the Gospel of salvation that saves you! Now flip back to Romans chapter 6 if you will. When we begin to comprehend Paul’s Gospel, that Christ died for our sins, and again according to the foreknowledge of God, this was all part of God’s plan of bringing the human race into the picture. God knew that Adam would sin. He knew that mankind would need a Redeemer. He knew there would have to be salvation, and so God programmed the whole thing with that in view.
Romans 6:6 Now remember this is after the Holy Spirit has begun to work on this part of us that we’re going to call the soul and spirit, albeit it’s a sin nature. It is spiritual dead until God begins to open up some understanding, and the first thing we realize then is, we see the Gospel that Christ died for our sin and rose again. Now what do we do with that?
“Knowing this, (full knowledge) that our old man is crucified with him,…”
Now who is the old man? That sin nature. The old man of Scripture is always the sin nature or what we call the old Adam, it’s the nature that we’re born with. Now Paul is saying that when we believe the Gospel, what happened to that old Adam? He was crucified. Let’s read it again.
“Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him (Christ) that the body of sin might be destroyed,…”
That old sin nature is not removed, but merely defeated. He’s put in a place that now we can control him, but how does God see him? Crucified on that cross with Christ. When we begin to understand the Gospel that Christ died 2000 years ago for you and I living now today. God considers this old Adam within us as on the cross. There are so many believers have told me after hearing me teach for while, that they’ve enjoyed an assurance of salvation that they never had before. When we get to the place that we know that our old self is on the cross, it’s been crucified. To back that up, turn with me to the Book of Galatians chapter 2, and here Paul makes it so clear. It’s a verse that many of you memorized when you were kids in vacation Bible school.
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; (Paul wasn’t literally put on a cross and crucified, but yet in the mind of God he was. Paul was living physically when he wrote it, but he’d been crucified) and yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh (in this body) I live by the faith (or the faithfulness) of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
Now come back again to Romans and let’s put something on the board. Just as soon as we believe that we’re sinners and we know that the gospel is the only remedy, and we believe it, then God takes this old sin nature and He considers it crucified. Now, you remember when we were way back in the days of creation, and I do it purposely with the idea of coming to lessons like this down the road. Do you remember that I emphasized, who was the Creator? Who was it? It was Christ. The Lord Jesus in His Old Testament personality. He was the Creator. He was the Creator God. He’s the Omnipotent, Omniscient, All-knowing God. And if He’d been anything less than that, then His death would be for nothing. Then He would have died just like the thief on either side of Him. But He WAS the Creator. He WAS the God of glory. And as such, indeed He could suffer the punishment and penalty for every human being. And this is what we have to understand. This is what it means to put your faith in the Lord Jesus. I’m afraid that too many people are going to miss glory on cliques. You know cliques are little handy things that we pick up along the way. Now, they are alright as far as they go, but if we have nothing more than a cliques, I think we’re on pretty thin ice. I’m thinking of one like, “I’ve taken Christ as my Personal Savior.” Now there is nothing wrong with that. But what do you mean by “taking Christ as your Personal Savior?” That’s just a cliques. It’s not in scripture. The Bible doesn’t say to take the Lord Jesus as your Personal Savior and thou shalt be saved. What does the Bible say? We have to believe the Gospel! And when we believe the Gospel we get an understanding that Christ died my death. He took my punishment. And because I am crucified, now, and all this takes place you want to remember the instant the Spirit opens our hearts and we believe, as soon as this old sin nature is crucified, Christ begins to live in us and I call that then the new nature. And it’s a divine nature and it’s set right opposite the old Adamic nature. Now, I said a moment ago when God considered it crucified, yes, God considers us dead. But in actual experience, where is He? He’s still with us. You bet He is. But contrary to Him now, set in contradiction to the old nature, we now have a new nature.
Let’s go on to II Corinthians chapter 5 and we’ll drop down to verse 17. Normally I like to start with verse 14 but for sake of time, let’s just come on down to verse 17 where Paul writes:
II Corinthians 5:17
“Therefore if any man (woman or boy or girl) be in Christ, he is a (what?) new creature; (who is the Creator of all things? God is. So the moment we believe God does a work of creation. And what does He do? He creates within us a new nature) old things are passes away; behold all things are become new.”
Now let’s drop down to verse 21.
II Corinthians 5:21
“For he (God) hath made him (Christ) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
Now do you get the flow? Who is doing all the doing? God is. All we do is believe. Now let’s go to Ephesians chapter 4. And again, our time is gone and we’re just going to have to cut it off. For those of you on television, just bear with us and come back next week if you will and we’ll pick this up again because this is so paramount. Oh, it’s nice to know what the Old Testament teaches and it’s nice to know some of the other things throughout scripture and it’s nice to know prophecy and what’s coming on the scene. But listen, that’s not going to determine our eternal destiny. This does. This is what’s going to determine where we’re going to spend eternity. And it is so basic and so paramount.
“That ye put off concerning the former conversation (or former lifestyle, your former manner of living) the old man, (who is the old man? The old Adam. We’ve got to put him out to pasture) which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23. And be renewed (regenerated) in the spirit of your mind; 24. And that ye put on the (and here’s the word I wanted and what is it?) new man, which after God is created (an act of God) in righteousness and true holiness.”
Now those are all things that only God can do. And how do we get it to happen in our own life? When we believe the Gospel. Oh, if you would just learn to study it.
by Thomas Bass