0227The Sovereign Word and Will of God
Encounter Radio Outline #0227
Air date: 7/7/02
God's Sovereignty in Relation to the Election of Israel:
The Sovereign Word and Will of God
by Dr. Stephen F. Olford
Introduction: Having dealt with the People of Sovereign Election (0226), Paul now turns to another aspect of his unfolding theme of the sovereign election of Israel:
II. The Purpose of Sovereign Election (vv. 6, 9, 11)
Paul now addresses himself to the task of justifying God’s sovereign purpose in electing the people of Israel. He answers the questions of why God called out a people for His Name and why there was a personal election within the national selection of the Children of Israel.
A. The Eternal Word of God (vv. 6, 9)
At the time of Paul’s writing Israel seemed to be a rejected people. Therefore, the question arose as to whether or not the word of God had failed. To answer this apparent contradiction, Paul uses two illustrations to show that God had not failed in His word of promise. God demonstrated that the true Israelites were not to be of Israel according to the flesh, but rather of Israel according to the spirit. Ishmael was Abraham’s descendant according to the flesh, just as Esau was Isaac’s, but they were both rejected. On the other hand, in the sovereign purpose of God, Isaac and Jacob were elected because they were to fulfill what God, in His foreknowledge, had foreseen and determined.
Here, we learn a tremendous principle. The purposes of God are rooted in His eternal word. To reject this fact is to be hopelessly lost in our understanding of God’s activity in history, as well as in the experience of our individual lives. How this underscores the necessity to obey God’s word as well as to read it!
So he speaks of the authority of the external Word. Every word of Scripture is characterized by the integrity and inerrancy of the being and nature of God Himself (see 2 Tim. 3:16).
Paul also emphasizes the utility of the eternal Word. That is to say, the eternal word educates the mind, liberates the heart, regulates the will, and consecrates the life.
But this is not all. The apostle further spells out the sufficiency of the eternal Word (2 Tim. 3:17). In effect, the Word of God equips us completely for life and work. Without this eternal Word life and work would be incomplete, and we would fail to realize God’s sovereign purpose in history or in eternity.
B. The Effectual Will of God (v. 11)
Everything begins with the word of God. But to bring that word into actuation and fulfillment, God’s purposes must be expressed in terms of His effectual will. With this in mind, Paul once again employs Old Testament history to illustrate God’s sovereign will in choosing, and then calling, men and women according to His purpose. In the case of Jacob he was elected, or chosen, by God even before birth, and then He was eventually called by God. Why God chose him is not for us to question, but the fact is that God did elect him according to His divine purpose.
Being sinners, we must allow God to retreat into His own sovereignty. In other words, we must permit Him to act not only according to His eternal word, but according to His effectual will. If God is God, then all His actions must be consistent with His character.
In the outworking of God’s effectual will, Jacob was not only chosen, but he was also called. If the call at Bethel represents his conversion, then the call at Peniel symbolizes his consecration. Between those two points were many years of purposelessness and fruitlessness. The fact of the matter is that Jacob was not prepared to yield to the sovereignty of his God. Eventually, however, he was cornered at Peniel. There he was broken, humbled and mastered after being left alone after a titanic struggle. He saw the utter impossibility and inconsistency of trying to fight against God’s choice and call. So instead of resisting any further, he capitulated to the Lordship of God and became no longer Jacob, but Israel, signifying a prince with God and with men.
This story emphasizes the truth that it is impossible to accept the sovereignty of God without applying it. Theologically and theoretically we can argue that God is God, but in terms of personal experience, we can equally fail to relate God’s sovereignty to our belief and behavior. Until this act of surrender is complete and continuous, we can never prove what is the effectual will of God.
Conclusion: So we have seen what the Bible means by the purpose of sovereign election. It is a concept that is indissolubly linked with the eternal word of God and the effectual will of God. To fulfill God’s purpose and, as a consequence, to be conformed to the image of His dear Son, we must ever approach His Word and apply His will to every area of our lives – in the home, the church and the world.
Stephen Olford Center for Biblical Preaching
P.O. Box 757800 Memphis, TN 38175-7800
Phone: (901) 757-7977 or (800) 843-2241 Fax: (901) 757-1372
Comments? Send mail to: OMI@olford.org