Five Misnamed Graces

Sermon by David Strain on Nov 5, 2017

Ephesians 1:3-14, 2:1-10

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If you were with us last Lord’s Day Evening, we had a presbytery-wide celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. And the service was structured around the five Solas; those five slogans, almost, that summarized many of the central concerns of the Reformation. Since tonight I have a stand-alone message to preach – next Lord’s Day Evening we’ll have Dr. John Blanchard with us – I thought it might be helpful to look at another five doctrines that summarize the central concerns of the Reformation. They’re sometimes called “The Doctrines of Grace.” Sometimes, “The Five Points of Calvinism.” Whatever their name, they really do get at the molten heart, the core of the Bible’s rich theology of the grace of God in human salvation. They lift the insufferable burden of all our attempts to save ourselves and to fix our own spiritual problem. They lift that from our shoulders. They strip us of all grounds for boasting and confidence in ourselves. And they direct our eyes away from self at every turn and rivet them instead on the glory of the Triune God of the Bible to whom alone belongs salvation.

And so with that in mind, let me invite you, if you would, to take your Bibles in hand and turn with me to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. We’re going to read part of chapter 1 and part of chapter 2 and you’ll find them both on page 976 of the church Bibles. Before we read together, let me ask if you would please bow your heads with me as we pray. Let us pray.

Our Father, we now come to You asking for illumination, for light to shine into our darkness, that we may see the truth about ourselves and see how bankrupt we really are, and then we might see the truth of Your extravagant grace and learn not to try and go it alone anymore but to depend upon You alone as You come to us in the Lord Jesus and in the mighty working of Your Holy Spirit through the Gospel. For we ask it all in Jesus’ name, amen.

Ephesians chapter 1 at the third verse. This is the Word of Almighty God:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even 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 for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”

And then chapter 2 at verse 1:

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Amen, and we praise God for His holy and authoritative Word.

In his book, God and the Crisis of Freedom, the British scholar, Richard Bauckham, summarizes how we tend to think about freedom today in really a remarkable and insightful way. Listen to Bauckham, “In its sublimest form, the modern myth of humanity’s godlike freedom is felt to be opposed to all limits. Freedom means the ability to determine one’s self however one wishes by making any choices without restriction.” In contemporary Britain, this same thing can be said for contemporary America I think, this kind of freedom is thought to be available in two major forms – freedom of opportunity and freedom of consumer choice. Alright, so you hear his diagnosis of the way that we tend to think. We think of freedom as the opposite of all limits. It is “the ability to determine one’s self, however one wishes, by making choices without restriction.” It is total freedom of opportunity and of choice. If we are to be free, we must be radically autonomous, independent of everyone else. We must have freedom of opportunity and freedom of choice. We need to have equal access to the same stuff as everyone else. No one may have an opportunity not afforded to everyone and we must have equal liberty to choose whatever we wish, whenever we wish it. “That is generally our mindset,” says Bauckham. “It is one of radical autonomy.”

Now if that is a fair analysis, and I think it is, then it’s not hard to see why we struggle so much to embrace these five truths we’ll be talking about this evening because they elevate the absolute sovereignty of the God of holy Scripture over every detail of life and especially in this whole question of human salvation. You see, there really is no room for an absolutely sovereign, autonomous self and a truly sovereign God. Those two things are mutually exclusive. God and I cannot both be the center of the universe. And so we struggle. We think, to be free, we must be sovereign. And yet, I think society already demonstrates and shows, and the experience of many of us reveals, that that perspective, in the end, is self-defeating. It's doomed to disappoint. It has to, you see. If you are sovereign, then by definition, I am not. For you to have everything you want the way you want it when you want it, for you to be free of all challenge, all resistance to your perspective, your priorities and your preferences, well then at least sometimes I must curtail my perspective and my priorities and my preferences. You see, on this definition of freedom, for you to be really totally free, you must be sovereign, which therefore means I must not be. In other words, it’s an approach that, in the end, sets us all up for conflict and not for peace. If we all buy into that model of freedom, we will never find it. Will we? We’ll constantly be jockeying for position, demanding others recognition and their toleration and their embrace while we ourselves refuse to compromise. Our model, the dominant model in our culture, is an enormously frustrating, and in the end, utterly dissatisfying approach to finding freedom.

And what I want to do tonight is simply to work through these five truths, these five doctrines, in really a conventional way showing them to you in the passages we read together, try and remove some of the misunderstandings that attach to them, and ultimately to try and show you why embracing these truths, though it means surrendering our own sovereignty, our own radical autonomy, is nevertheless in fact the path to real freedom; to real rest, to true confidence in the face of a chaotic and oftentimes terrifying world. Now that’s a lot to bite off in one sermon, so let’s get right to it. Shall we?

Total Depravity

Let’s think first of all about the first of these five truths, sometimes called total depravity. I called the sermon, if you noticed, “Five Misnamed Graces,” because one of the reasons many of us struggle so much to embrace these truths is that the name given to each is often misleading. We misunderstand. Total depravity may, for example, it may seem to you to suggest that human beings in this understanding are considered to be monsters, totally, absolutely wicked with nothing positive or healthy or good in us at all. But that’s not really what the doctrine teaches. We don’t mean total depravity in the sense of absolute depravity. We mean total depravity in the sense of pervasive wickedness and sin. That is to say, it’s not that we are as bad as we possibly could be, but rather that we are sinful in every part of our lives and in every faculty of our humanity. Sin defaces the image of God in us, though it does not entirely remove it.

Passions of the Flesh

In the opening verses of Ephesians chapter 2, if you’ll look there with me for a moment, you’ll see one of the places where the apostle Paul teaches this truth. He says in verse 1 that before the Ephesians became Christians they were “dead in trespasses and sins in which they once walked.” And in verse 3 he says, “We all lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind and were by nature children of wrath.” So here's our real problem. Our real problem is that as human beings we naturally do what we want. Now, wait a minute. That doesn't sound like much of a problem, does it? Of course we do what we want! Actually, Paul wants us to see just how much of a problem that is. Look at what it is he says we naturally and habitually want. He says we “live in the passions of the flesh.” The Greek translated there, “passions of the flesh,” is identical to an expression Paul uses back in Galatians chapter 5 at verse 17 where we read that “the desires of the flesh,” that’s the same expression, “the desires of the flesh are against the spirit and the desires of the spirit are against the flesh.”

And so this expression, “the desires of the flesh,” means something like desires that are dominated and governed by the principle of rebellion against God. And that is what we want. Or maybe it’s better to say that’s how we want. Our wants themselves trend away from submission to God. And notice how Paul says these rebellious passions work themselves out in our lives. Verse 3, they play out “in the desires of the body and the mind.” Our sinful passions are operationalized by following bodily appetites and the lusts of the mind.

Guilty and Dead

And all of that, Paul teaches us, produces two results. First, he says in verse 3 that we are “by nature” – natively, normally, naturally – “children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” Sin makes us guilty before God and liable to His judgment. And secondly, he says in verse 1, “we are dead in trespasses and sins.” That is to say, sin’s effects are such that we are incapable of change. At least incapable of dealing with the real sin problem in our lives. We are dead; totally unable to remedy our spiritual predicament. Totally unable to choose God and turn to Christ. Totally unable to clean up our act. We don’t want to. We do what we want, but our wants are locked into disobedience. Saint Augustine once used a Latin phrase to describe human beings. He said we are homo incurvatus in se. That is, we are “curved in upon ourselves.” That’s what sin does to us. We do what we want, but what we want to do is all in the service ultimately of the god of self, not the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. And so we are in bondage. We’re free to do what we want, but what we want is sin, and we are totally unable to do anything else.

Now someone will say, “Wait a minute. I thought you said that understanding these five truths was going to help me find freedom! What you’ve just explained spells bondage! That’s not good news; that’s dreadful news! You said that I am going to be more free, but what you’ve just said shows me that I am fundamentally and radically not free. I’m dead. I’m a slave to sin, you’ve said.” Well yes, that’s true, but Jesus said that it’s not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick. “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” You see we never will find the path to freedom until we understand our bondage in slavery. We really do need to face ourselves with honesty. Unless you see how sick you are, you’re never going to go to the doctor for help. Unless you see the real dynamics and nature of your bondage, you never will be prepared to surrender to the kind of radical, pervasive rescue you really need.

And so, there’s first of all total depravity. We’ve got to come to terms with this harsh, difficult truth, an uncomfortable fact that describes us. It’s not a portrait that distorts our image. This is rather a mirror that shows us ourselves with clarity and we have to recognize it and embrace it. That’s the first truth.

Unconditional Election

But then secondly, there’s the next doctrine in the five in the usual order, that is, unconditional election. And once again, there’s a misunderstanding of the name that often comes along. That is, that God is arbitrary in selecting whom to save. That He is sort of whimsical and tyrannical and arbitrarily and randomly picks this one and not that one for heaven or for hell. Robert Burns is the national poet of Scotland and he was a very keen observer of human nature. He wrote a rather scathing, satirical poem about an elder in his local Presbyterian church by the name of William Fisher, that was the elder’s name, whom Burns considered to be a dreadful, self-righteous hypocrite. And so he called the poem, “Holy Willie’s Prayer.” And listen to the opening lines, the opening two stanzas of the prayer that Burns puts in Holy Willie’s mouth. Holy Willie begins:

"O Thou, who in the heavens does dwell, Who, as it pleases best Thysel', Sends ane to heaven an' ten to hell, A' for Thy glory, And no for ony gude or ill They've done afore Thee! I bless and praise Thy matchless might, When thousands Thou hast left in night, That I am here afore Thy sight, For gifts an' grace A burning and a shining light To a' this place"

Translation – Here’s Burns’ perspective. He begins by thanking God for what is a distortion of Biblical teaching about His sovereignty. In Holy Willie’s mind, God is an arbitrary tyrant who sends one to heaven and ten to hell on a whim. And then Holy Willie praises this God that nevertheless He’s chosen him, Holy Willie, to be special and to show everybody else around the truth. You see, Burns thinks this idea of unconditional election makes God a monster and makes those who think themselves elect insufferably proud.

And maybe you can relate to that. That may have been a struggle that you also have had to wrestle with. But that is actually not at all how Paul speaks about this great doctrine of election and the divine sovereignty in His choice of whom to save. It is true there are no conditions in human beings on the basis of which God makes His saving choice. And so in that sense, election is unconditional. But there are conditions that constrain and direct God’s choice, only they’re not in us; they are in Him.

Turn your attention for a minute to Ephesians chapter 1. Look at verses 3 to 6, would you? Ephesians 1 verses 3 to 6: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even 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 for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.” We are chosen, elected in Christ, before the foundation of the world, Paul says. And notice this carefully. He chose us not because He anticipated that we would become holy of our own free will and choice. No, He chose us in order that we should be holy and blameless before Him. Change in us, you see, is a consequence of God’s choice of us; not a reason on the basis of which God would choose us. So there are no conditions in us that constrain God’s choice.

In Love

But keep reading. “In love, he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.” He predestined us, He chose us according to the purpose of His will, but what directs and constrains His will? What conditioned His choice? It was love. “In love he predestined us.” Here’s the Bible doctrine of election. It’s not the result of the arbitrary whim of a capricious, cosmic tyrant. It is, rather, the mysterious, inscrutable love of God that fixes upon unlovely sinners and determines to save them in Jesus Christ and to make them who are neither holy nor blameless by nature, holy and blameless in His sight nonetheless. He will adopt the very people who hate Him and make them His children. “We are dead in our trespasses and sins,” as the Scripture says we are. If total depravity is true, well then the electing love of God is the only hope any of us may have of rescue. Right? We never would choose Him otherwise, would we? We only ever choose what we want, and what we want is rebellion and sin. That’s why Jesus said in John 6:37, “All that the Father gives me will come to me.” All that the Father gives to Christ, that is, all whom the Father has chosen and ordained for Jesus to save, all of them and only they will come to Christ. In love, constrained by love, mysterious, inscrutable love, God chose some sinners to save.

Mystery of Saving Anyone

Now if you are to ask, as many do, “Well why doesn’t God choose everyone to save?” I will be the first to admit that we simply don’t know the answer. But before you declare victory, and dismiss election as harsh and unloving, let me ask you a question in return. Given the sinfulness and guilt of all people everywhere, surely the far greater mystery, the far, far more perplexing question than why God doesn’t choose to save everyone everywhere, the far greater mystery is why God would ever choose to save anyone, anywhere. After all, wouldn’t God be perfectly just and good to treat us as we deserve to be treated? Wouldn’t He be fair to judge us justly? No, no, surely the wonder, the thrilling mystery of the Gospel is that He saves some, that He saves anyone in great love. And the rest, He passes by, dealing with them fairly and impartially according to the demands of strict, perfect justice. No one whom God judges at the last day will ever be able to say to Him in that final tribunal, “You were unfair and unjust in the sentence You have passed over me!”

And what will our song be on that same day, those of us who have come to know the Lord Jesus Christ by sovereign grace? What will our song be who believe the Gospel upon whom God has fixed electing love? Won't it be, "While all our hearts and all our songs join to admire the feast, each of us cries with thankful tongue, ‘Lord, why was I a guest?'" The mystery will continue but will fuel adoration and wonder and praise. Total depravity. Unconditional election.

Limited Atonement

Thirdly, there’s limited atonement. This is the biggie for a lot of people; they really struggle with this. And again, the language is part of the problem. It’s often taken to imply that Jesus’ death is limited in its power and its value. It seems to suggest, at least at first glance, that we are saying that Jesus couldn’t save everyone; that His death wasn’t quite up to the task. That it’s limited. And what a horrible idea that would be. After all, if Jesus Christ is God made flesh, for us and for our salvation, surely His sufferings are of an infinite, limitless value and power. It would be blasphemy to suggest otherwise. Wouldn’t it? That’s quite right. But we have to ask some more questions than just questions about the worth or the power of the atoning work of Jesus. We also have to ask about the purpose and the effects of the atoning work of Jesus. We’re not asking if Jesus’ blood and righteousness are strong enough, virtuous enough, to save a million, million worlds of sinners. They are; praise God that they are. No one is so vile that Jesus’ blood cannot make them clean. No one is beyond the power of the cross to save them. No one.

Full Payment

But that is really not the question. We must also ask whether Jesus’ blood merely makes salvation possible for everyone or whether it makes salvation certain for some. You see, the glory of the Gospel is not that Jesus offered Himself to God at the cross to make heaven an option available for you if you want it. No, the glory of the Gospel is that Jesus offered Himself as a substitute to make full payment for the debts of particular sinners who could never hope to pay otherwise. Dead as we were in our trespasses and in our sin, helplessly serving the passions of our flesh, Christ came on a rescue mission and that mission did not fail.

End of Sin

Look at Ephesians chapter 1 verse 7. Ephesians chapter 1 verse 7, “In him, in Jesus Christ, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses.” There are no possibilities there. No maybes; no uncertainties. What Christ purchased by His blood is our perfect, complete redemption. He bought our freedom. We were slaves. We were not free. But those for whom He died, He redeemed. The price of our manumission, our liberation from slavery, was His death. The cost of our forgiveness was His condemnation. And He paid in full; praise God the debt is paid and you will never be required to pay it! You will never be required to pay it! We’re able to sing now, “When Satan tempts me to despair and tells me of the guilt within, upward I look and I see Him there, who made an end to all my sin. Because the sinless Savior died, my sinful soul is counted free. For God the Just is satisfied, to look on Him and pardon me.” There is no double jeopardy with God, you see. He will not demand payment again from sinners for whom Christ has already paid in full. No, when payment is made, the debt is wiped clean. That is the best news of all. The debt is wiped clean. Christ has made an end of all our sin. God the Just is satisfied to look on Him and pardon us.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd and so He can say in John 10:15, “I lay down my life for the sheep.” He dies for His flock. And because He does, our sinful souls are counted free. Praise the Lord. The doctrine of limited atonement is not some cold piece of abstract logic. It is the very heart of the Gospel. What Jesus does is secure and guarantee the salvation of every sinner that trusts in Him. He doesn’t just simply make it possible; Ha makes it certain. Total depravity. Unconditional election. Limited atonement.

Irresistible Grace

Then, irresistible grace. And again, the mistake is in the name. Sometimes it is taken to mean that God overrides our free wills and forces us to accept what we would otherwise reject. And that’s not the message at all. There is a sense in which grace is entirely resistible. Isn’t it? We resist grace all the time, every day. That’s not the question. The question, rather is, “Can God, by

His grace, overcome my resistance and melt my heart and change my will and enable me, who once was unwilling and dead in my sin, to come and bend the knee to the Lord Jesus Christ?” Look at Ephesians 2:1-10 again. In verses 1 to 3, remember, we saw “we were dead,” unable and unwilling. We were “children of wrath.” Then notice verse 4 of chapter 1. Chapter 2 verse 4, rather. “But God” – those have to be the two most glorious words in the New Testament after that description of our condition. “But God.” But God. We were children of wrath, dead in our sin, but God acted; but God stepped in. But God delivered us. He rescued us and He redeemed us. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.” Even when we were dead. When we were helpless, powerless, uncaring, glibly cruising contentedly toward eternal destruction, then He broke in and made us alive. “By grace you have been saved.”

Made us Alive

In John 6:44 Jesus said, “No one comes to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” God never forces but He draws mysteriously, yet irresistibly by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel making us alive, changing our wills, inclining and enabling them to believe so that we will do what we want. Only now, we find that what we want is to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s what we’re talking about, you know, all those times we’ve sung “Amazing Grace,” that’s what we’re talking about. “Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved! How precious did that grace appear, the hour I first believed.” Grace – irresistible, sovereign grace drew us when we were going in the other direction entirely. He made us alive, united us to Christ, and drew us to Him. He rescues us. Total depravity. Unconditional election. Limited atonement. Irresistible grace.

Perseverance of the Saints

Finally, the perseverance of the saints. Sometimes that is also misunderstood. It’s taken to mean that if you signed a card at an evangelistic rally or you prayed a prayer or you made some profession of faith in Jesus, some claim to be a Christian at some point in your past, well then you can never be lost, irrespective of your lifestyle or your behavior. But that is not at all the Biblical teaching. The Biblical teaching holds two truths together at once. The first truth you can see in verses 13 and 14 of chapter 1. Verses 13 and 14. When we believed the Gospel, Paul says we were “sealed with the promised Holy Spirit who is the guarantee of our inheritance” until we acquire possession of it. Everyone who believes will be kept. The final inheritance of heavenly glory that waits for the people of God is guaranteed by the Spirit in the heart of every child of God. We can no more lose our heavenly inheritance than we can lose the Spirit who’s come to dwell in our hearts. He is a guarantee, an unshakable promise.

So Philippians 1:6, “He that began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:30, “And those whom he predestined he also called; those whom he called he also justified. Those whom he justified, these he also glorified.” Here’s an anchor for the soul of every fearful Christian who looks at themselves and worries sometimes that their sin, their guilt, their repeated screw-ups and missteps, their failures to be and to do all that Jesus has called us to be and to do will somehow finally put us beyond the pale. That God will one day, at last, say, “You know what? I am through with you! That’s one time too many! We’re done!” Sometimes we worry. That’s how we feel about ourselves, our self-reproach. It’s overwhelming. How can God continue to love a wretch like me?

Well here’s the antidote. Don’t you know you never would have believed in the first place if God, in sovereign love, hadn’t chosen a wretch like you? Hadn’t sent His Son to pay the penalty that a wretch like you deserves to pay that you need never ever pay it? Unless sovereign grace irresistibly drew a wretch like you, who never otherwise would have come to Jesus and brought you to Him nevertheless, and now do you really think having done all this for you that He will allow your sin and failure to pluck you out of His hand? No, nothing in all creation, “not angels or demons nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth nor anything else can separate us.” Not your failure; not your sin. Not your mistakes and your confusion. Nothing, nothing, nothing can separate you from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord. Once He has ahold of you, He will never let you go. Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.

Good Works Prepared for Us

But there’s another side, another truth to the great doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. You see it in chapter 2 verse 10. Chapter 2 verse 10, “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Not only does God preserve His people, He keeps them. His people will persevere in God. There are good works prepared for us. A course of obedience laid out before us. And those who are Christ’s follow that path. The way in which we are preserved is by being enabled to persevere, to keep going, to stumble and fall and pick ourselves up by the grace of God and to continue pressing on. So if the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints and the promises of God is comfort for fearful Christians, there’s also a warning, a warning for lazy Christians, for the spiritually passive, for the morally indifferent. Holiness really matters, you see. Without holiness, no one shall see the Lord. If you will not persevere, you will not inherit the kingdom. No matter what commitments you’ve made or what cards you’ve signed or what experiences you may once have had.

And so now stack all of that up. I wonder if you can see that the world's idea of freedom, of radical autonomy, really is so deeply flawed. But the Biblical vision of freedom by sovereign, omnipotent grace offers at last relief, relief. You don't have to save you! You don't have to be omnicompetent for all of the challenges of life. You were never made to be. No, you are a slave in bondage to sin by nature and God loves to break in, to shatter the chains that hold us in bondage and to set us free by the work of sovereign grace. And so here’s the challenge of all of this at the end. If you really want to be free, time to give up your claimed autonomy. Time to surrender your attempts to live in your own terms and by your own wisdom. Time to face yourself honestly, to see your bondage, to recognize your need, and to cry out to a sovereign God to whom alone belongs salvation. He and he alone can set you free. And everyone, everyone who cries to Him for deliverance finds it. Everyone who cries to Him for deliverance finds it. Won’t you come and cry out to the Lord, that by the Lord Jesus Christ He might set you free, that you might be free indeed?

Let’s pray together.

Father, we thank You that those whom Christ sets free are free indeed. Would You help us to revel in the wonder and the glory of the liberty of the children of God that we glimpse here and taste here and will enjoy in its fullness hereafter. We pray for any of us that don’t yet know the Lord Jesus. And we ask You, please, to break in upon them, to show them the bad news of the radical and pervasive depravity of the human heart outside of Christ – that we are in bondage and dead in our trespasses and sins. And if we are to find freedom, it must come by the intervention of God from outside of us, breaking in upon us. And we ask that You would draw them sovereignly, irresistibly, gloriously to come to Jesus Christ to find in Him their Rescuer. For we ask it in Jesus’ name, amen.

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