Sermon #689 Miscellaneous Sermons
Title: The Sovereignty Of Divine Grace
Text: Hebrews 2:16
Date: Sunday Morning - March 9, 1986
My subject is The Sovereignty Of Divine Grace. It is set before us most clearly in our text. “For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.” When our Lord Jesus Christ came to save fallen creatures, he passed by the fallen angels and laid hold upon the seed of Abraham. He did not take hold of the seed of Adam, but he took hold of the seed of Abraham, God’s elect, and delivered them from the bondage of death by the irresistible power of his grace. We were lost, rushing headlong to destruction, until Christ reached down the hand of his sovereign power and delivered us. Every saved sinner is “a brand plucked from the burning” (Zech. 3:2), snatched out of the jaws of hell, snatched out from among perishing men by sovereign mercy and irresistible grace. He passed by the fallen angels, passed by the sons of Adam, and took hold upon the seed of Abraham.
God our Savior reserves the right of absolute sovereignty in the exercise of his saving grace and in the application of his mercy. As he is sovereign in creation and in providence, our God is absolutely sovereign in the salvation of sinners.
You cannot read through the Bible without being confronted with the fact of divine sovereignty on almost every page. Today we hear much talk about the “fundamentals of the faith.” Yet, those who boast of being “uncompromising fundamentalists” seldom ever mention the gospel doctrine of divine sovereignty. When they do mention it, it is only to denounce it and poke fun at those who believe it. Let men, if they dare, deny it, ridicule it, and rebel against it as they will. God’s indisputable sovereignty is a fundamental doctrine of Holy Scripture, a vital point of Christian theology. If you doubt the prevalence and importance of this doctrine of God’s sovereignty in grace, I challenge you to read the Word of God through one more time. Begin at the Book of Genesis and go right through the Book of Revelation. You will find the gospel doctrine of divine sovereignty repeatedly declared, explained, and illustrated throughout the Sacred Volume. It is set forth, not in a few isolated verses, but upon every page of Inspiration. God has mercy on whom he will have very, and whom he will he hardeneth. “For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy” (Rom. 9:15-16).
The illustrations of God’s sovereignty in the exercise of his grace are as numerous as the characters mentioned in the Bible. Satan led a revolt in heaven against the throne of God. One third of the heavenly angels fell from their holy habitation. As a result of their sin, they were forever doomed to suffer the wrath of God. No mercy was extended to them. No grace was offered to them. No savior was sent to deliver them. The fallen angels were forever damned without the least measure of grace. Then Adam did the same thing. He sinned against the throne of God. He challenged God’s right to be God. What happened? God was gracious. God promised the fallen sons of Adam a Savior, a Redeemer, a Way of mercy (Gen. 3:15). The angels who sinned were passed by, reprobate, without mercy. Yet, when Adam did the same thing, God extended mercy to man. That is divine sovereignty! Why did God pass by the angels that fell? Why did God extend mercy to fallen men? Only one answer can be given, “He hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth” (Rom. 9:18). You can either rebel against this message of divine sovereignty and perish in your rebellion, or you can bow to the sovereign God and say with Christ, “Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight” (Matt. 11:26). Whether you bow to God’s throne or rebel against it, the fact remains the same. The God of the Bible is an absolute sovereign. He can save you, or he can damn you. That is his right as God. It is entirely up to him.
As God chose some angels who lost their first estate, and passed by others; even so, among the fallen sons of Adam there are some who are chosen of God, to whom he will be gracious, and there are some whom God has passed by, to whom no grace is given. Adam had two sons, Cain and Abel. God passed by Cain, the older, and saved Abel. Abraham had two sons, Ishmael and Isaac. God passed by Ishmael and saved Isaac. Isaac had two sons, Esau and Jacob. God passed by Esau because he hated Esau, and saved Jacob because he loved Jacob. In the days of Noah, God destroyed the entire human race, except for one man and his family. Why did God save Noah? Because “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen. 6:8). Throughout the Old Testament we are given example after example of God’s sovereignty in salvation. One glaring example of God’s sovereignty is Pharaoh. God raised him up for no other purpose but to harden his heart and dump him and the entire Egyptian army in the Red Sea, so that his sovereign power might be declared throughout the world (Rom. 9:17).
Perhaps you think, “All that was in the Old Testament. God is different now.” Do not be so foolish. The God of the Old Testament is the God of the New Testament, too. He never changes (Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8). His glorious sovereignty is just as clearly exemplified and even more fully revealed in the New Testament. When our Lord passed by gathering his disciples, he called Simon and Adrew, but not their father. He chose James and John, but not Zebedee. He healed some, and left others to die. He called some, and passed others by. He saved some who sought him (The woman with an issue of blood), and he did not save others who sought him (The rich young ruler). Christ died for some; but did not die for others (John 10:11, 26). He was gracious to some, but not to others. This is a fact - God does not deal with all people alike.
The New Testament plainly and forcibly teaches the gospel doctrine of God’s absolute sovereignty in the exercise of his grace (Matt. 11:20-27; John 12:36-41; Rom. 11:5-11, 32-36).
This one thing you must see - The God of glory is absolute sovereign in salvation. He wounds; and he heals. He kills; and he makes alive. It is his sovereign right to either save you or damn you, to either be gracious to you, or to pass you by. You will be wise to fall down before his sovereign throne, and beg for mercy. Like the Leper, fall down at his feet and say, “If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean” (Mk. 1:40). Will you perish in your proud rebellion; or will you take your place in the dust and beg for mercy?
Pass me not, O gentle Savior,
Hear my humble cry:
While on others Thou art calling,
Do not, do not pass me by!
I tell you without hesitation that this gospel doctrine of divine sovereignty is vital. You will either bow to God’s righteous sovereignty, or you will perish in your rebellion. C.H. Spurgeon said this - “If you in your heart hate the doctrine that God has a right to save or to destroy you, you give me very grave cause to suspect whether you know your own position in the sight of God; for I am quite sure that no humble sinner will doubt God’s right to destroy him….I tell you, it is your unhumbled pride that kicks against these doctrines; it is your infernal self-conceit, born of hell, that makes you hate this truth. Men have always kicked at it, and they always will. When Christ preached it once, they would have dragged him out to the brow of the hill, and cast him down head long; and I expect always to meet with opposition, if I speak out broadly and plainly; but let me tell you solemnly, if you do not believe God’s right over you, I am afraid your heart has never been right before God.”
I am here today to lift high the glorious banner of God’s absolute sovereignty. I am calling for proud worms to bow down before God’s sovereign throne. I am, in the name of God, calling for you to lay down your weapons of rebellion and surrender to God our Savior in his total sovereignty. You have two choices: Either surrender to Christ’s sovereign dominion, or be crushed into hell for your rebellion. Men rail at me for preaching the sovereignty of God’s grace as I do. They angrily denounce me as a Hardshell, an Antinomian, and a Hyper-Calvinist. I care nothing for it, I am happy to make them angry. If a man hates the truth, I shall never be bckward about stirring up his wrath. If a man is offended by the character of God, I shall be delighted to offend him (Isa. 45:5-10, 20-25).
I want you to look now at this verse - Hebrews 2:16. There are four facts plainly revealed in this verse which set forth the sovereignty of divine grace.
1. It was never the intention, desire, or purpose of our Lord Jesus Christ to save the angels who fell.
2. It was never the intention, desire, or purpose of Christ to save all men.
3. It is the intention, desire, and purpose of Christ to save all the seed of Abraham.
4. All the seed of Abraham shall be saved.
I. It was never the intention, desire, or purpose of Christ to save the angels who fell. “For verily he took not on him the nature of angels.”
The word “took” means “to lay hold of.” Paul’s language is very strong. Quite literally, he is saying, “Christ never took hold of angels to deliver and save them.” Our Lord did not come into this world as an angel. He came as a man. He did not come as a Surety for the angels who fell. He never took hold of them.
A. There are some elect angels who never fell.
The vast majority of the angels are elect. Two-thirds of those mighty creatures were chosen by God. Only one third fell (Rev. 12:4).
1. God would not allow those elect angels to fall.
2. Their preservation was a great act of mercy. Their election by God preserved them.
B. But for those angels that fell, God offered no mercy whatever. They are eternally reprobate, without hope (Jude 6).
Here is a hard rock for the Arminian to grind his teeth on: If it is unfair for God to give mercy to some men, but not all men, would it not be equally unfair for God to give mercy to fallen men if he did not also give mercy to the fallen angels?
C. Suppose for a moment that our Lord had taken upon him the nature of angels when he came into the world.
Suppose that instead of coming into the world as a man, the Lord of glory had assumed the nature of angels. I think there is something here that will cause us to glorify God for his wisdom, love, and grace toward us in Christ. “He took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.”
If Christ had taken on himself the nature of angels:
1. He could not have obeyed the law of God for us or made atonement for our sin (Heb. 2:9-10).
2. He could not have left us an example to follow (1 Pet. 2:21).
3. He could not have been a sympathizing High Priest (Heb. 2:17-18; 4:14-16).
4. He could never have been one with his church (Heb. 2:11-12).
5. He could never have delivered us from the fear of death and given us the hope of the resurrection (Heb. 2:14-15; 1 Cor. 15:51-58).
II. It was never the intention of our Lord to save fallen angels. And, secondly, It was never the intention, desire, or purpose of the Lord Jesus Christ to save all men.
Thank God! He does save some of Adam’s fallen race! “He delighteth in mercy!” He forgives iniquity, transgression, and sin! But to say that the Lord Jesus Christ wants to save all men, tries to save all men, or provides salvation for all men is both absurd and blasphemous. Notice the wording of our text. It does not say, “He took on the seed of Adam.” It says, “He took on him the seed of Abraham!”
I say that doctrine which says that Christ wants to save those who perish, tries to save those who perish, and provides salvation for those who perish is nonsense, theological rubbish, and blasphemy! Jesus Christ is God almighty. He is not a whining wimp. What he wants to do he does (Isa. 46:10). He never tries to do anything. He simply does what he will. His power is irresistible (Psa. 135:6; Dan. 4:34-35). If he wanted to save everybody in the world, where is the force that could stop him from doing so? Any man who worships a god who wants to do what he cannot do or tries to do what he fails to accomplish is a fool. Such a god, if he existed, would be as useless as a lantern without oil. Failure is an embarrassment to man. How much more so it would be to the eternal God.
The doctrine of universal redemption, that doctrine which says that Christ wants to save everybody, tries to save everybody, and provides salvation for everybody tramples the blood of Christ under foot, despises the work of Christ, robs the Son of God of all glory in salvation, and puts him to an open shame. Universal redemption is no redemption at all!
A. It says that there is no power, merit, or efficacy in the blood of Christ, without man’s faith to ignite the power.
B. It makes the grace of God nothing but a frustrated desire in God to save.
C. It makes the will of God subject to the will of man, and makes the power of God weaker than the power of man.
D. It robs the Lord Jesus Christ of his soul’s satisfaction.
E. It portrays the blood of Christ as a waste, shed in vain.
F. It makes salvation nothing but a package God offers to man, rather than a work performed by God in man.
G. It makes man his own savior.
Universal redemption robs Christ of all glory in salvation. If everything is dependent upon man’s will, man’s power, man’s work, man’s faith and nothing is really determined by the righteousness, blood, and grace of Christ, why should any man worship and praise Christ?
My friends, hear me well. Redemption was effectually accomplished by Christ on the cross (John 19:30; Heb. 9:12). And redemption is effectually applied by Christ on the throne (John 17:2).
It never was our Lord’s intention, desire, or purpose to save all men.
III. But it is the intention, desire, and purpose of Christ to save all the seed of Abraham.
He took not on him the nature of angels. And he took not on him the seed of Adam. “But he took on him the seed of Abraham.” The Son of God took hold of the seed of Abraham to save them. This expression, “the seed of Abraham,” does not refer to the Jewish race, Abraham’s natural seed. It refers to the whole company of God’s elect. We are Abraham’s spiritual seed (Rom. 4:16; 9:6-8; Gal. 3:7, 13-16).
A. Christ took hold on Abraham’s seed as their Surety in the covenant of grace before the world began, and agreed to save them (Gen. 43:9; John 6:39; Eph. 1:13).
B. Christ took hold on his elect as our Substitute, legally taking our place under the wrath of God, dying under the penalty of our sins upon the cross (2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13).
When our Substitute died, in so far as God’s law and justice were concerned, we died in him (Rom. 7:4). We were crucified with Christ.
C. In the fulness of time the Good Shepherd comes to each of those sheep for whom he died. He takes hold of them by the hand of his almighty, irresistible, saving grace (Lk. 15:45).
I was lost and undone,
Without God or His Son,
‘Til He reached down His hand for me!
And blessed by his matchless name, our Lord holds us securely in the hand of his grace and will not let us go, until he has brought us safely into the heavenly fold (John 10:28, 16).
IV. Since Christ took on himself the seed of Abraham, you can be sure of this - All the seed of Abraham shall be saved (Rom. 11:25-26; John 10:16).
“He shall save his people” (Matt. 1:21). “He shall not fail” (Isa. 42:4).
A. The purpose of God cannot be overturned.
B. The covenant of grace cannot be nullified.
C. The cross of Christ cannot miscarry.
D. The grace of God cannot be frustrated.
E. The intercession of Christ cannot be ignored.
F. The hold of Christ cannot be broken.
All who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ are the seed of Abraham! (Phil. 3:3).
Illustration: The Hankerchief
· I did the falling. He did the lifting.
· I did the running. He did the catching.
· I did the wandering. He did the fetching.
· I did the sinning. He did the saving.
1. My friend, you must acknowledge and bow to the absolute sovereignty divine grace. God can either save you or damn you. “Be ye reconciled to God.”
2. We who believe must ascribe the whole of our salvation to the sovereign grace of God in Christ (1 Cor. 4::7).
3. If you will now take hold of Christ by faith, you can be sure of this - He has taken hold of you to save you.
Illustration: The Prodigal.