Monday, October 31, 2011

Prerequisites to Understanding Grace (Part 3)

In this third of three posts, I will point out a third crucial concept that is prerequisite to understanding God's grace. There are many others, but these three are most relevant in the conflict between Reformed theology and free-will theology within the Appalachian territories.  They are in my experience the most frequent sources of error in the prevalence of free will theology in West Virginia.

·         The Glory of God—God’s glory motivates everything that he does, including his gracious work of predestination.  Read Ephesians 1:3-14  and take note of what brings him glory.
o   God exercises his will—he does what he wants to do. 
o   His will is described as being based upon what would give him pleasure. In other words, God always does what makes him happy. 
o   The ability to do whatever you want to do is known as free will.  In other words, God has complete and total free will.  He can do whatever he wants to do, whatever makes him happy.  His will is not forced by someone or something else--He works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.   Have you ever noticed that some people think this free will more properly belongs to human beings than to God? 
o   God used his free will, his right and ability to do whatever he wants to do, to develop a plan for everything that happens.  Before time began, God planned everything that would ever happen.  What happens could not happen any other way than the way he planned it.  This plan was based upon his own wisdom and desires without any outside influences.  
§  Eph. 1:11 In him we were also chosen,[e] having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.
§  Is 46: 10 I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’  11 What I have said, that I will bring about;   what I have planned, that I will do. 
o   God’s plan has an ultimate purpose or goal—his own glory.
§  5. he[b] predestined us for adoption to sonship[c] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will. 6. To the praise of his glorious grace. 
§  In him we were also chosen,[e] having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.  
§  14. To the praise of his glory.
o   Everything God does is to the praise of his glory.  His plan is designed to glorify himself.  Therefore, predestination glorifies himself. 
§  His plan demonstrates how beautiful, weighty, and valuable all his perfections are.   God’s glory is all about demonstrating his perfections. 
o   Predestination is an act of God’s grace.  God’s motivation for the grace that he bestows upon humanity is to bring himself glory.
o   If we deny predestination, or try to explain it away, or avoid it because it is controversial, then we are denying something that God says in no uncertain terms, brings him glory.
o   For that reason, we need to take the grace of predestination out of closet and put it front and center in our instruction and understanding within the church. 

In order to understand the grace, we need to understand our own human depravity.  We need to understand that God chooses people who lack any ability to choose him.   We need to understand that God’s motivation for this grace is completely and entirely his own glory.  Apart from understanding these three things, we will not understand grace as fully as we should. 

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