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05 Salvation's Foundation in God's Sovereign Omniscience

So Great Salvation  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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Introduction and Review

Highlight the importance of theology.
If you don’t agree with me, at least you will know why I believe what I believe.
All of God’s other attributes operate in symphony with one another and all are rooted in His infinite, personal character.

God is omnipresent.

Omnipresence. God is infinite. He is everywhere at all times. He is everywhere present in all time (past, present, future).
In order to be truly infinite. You cannot have a beginning. To have a beginning to to be inside a sequence of events.
Any thing that began to exist was created inside time. God never began to exist. God is outside time.
Psalm 90:2 KJV 1900
2 Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.

God is omnipotent.

Omnipotence. God can do anything, and He freely chose to create free, moral creatures.
No one else makes or compels God to do anything.
God freely decided to create morally-free creatures.
God freely decided to save those same morally-free creatures in accordance with His divine, eternal nature.
John 1:12–13 KJV 1900
12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
For those reasons,
Salvation is available to every person in the world.
But salvation is only applied to those who believe.
So salvation is founded in God’s free, sovereign will.

God is omnibenevolent.

Omnibenevolence. God loves everyone, but He never forces people to love Him (align with Him).
So salvation is founded upon God’s intrinsic and infinite all-goodness.
1 John 4:16 KJV 1900
16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
Jeremiah 31:3 KJV 1900
3 The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: Therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.
The questions we covered in our last lesson…
Does God only love those He knows will be saved? (omnibenevolence and election)
Does God save people before they place their faith in Jesus? (omnibenevolence and irresistible grace)
Does God forbid certain people from redemption (omnibenevolence and double predestination)
So we covered:
Salvation’s foundation in God’s infinite love.

God is omniscient.

Omniscience. God knows everything, and He never learns anything new.
Psalm 147:4–5 KJV 1900
4 He telleth the number of the stars; He calleth them all by their names. 5 Great is our Lord, and of great power: His understanding is infinite.
God’s knowledge is so vast that He even knows what would have occurred had a different set of human decisions or actions occurred (or even a different set of divine actions). (Matt 11:21; 1 Sam 23:10-12).
God is not waiting on us to make our decisions before He knows what to do or what we will do. (see Isaiah 42:9).
Everly eating smarties. The reason I know that is because I eat smarties and smarties make you smart.
God is also all-wise.
In order to be all-wise, God must be all-knowing. That is obvious.
But in order to be all-wise, God must also be all-good.
It is the combination of God’s infinite-knowledge (omniscience) with God’s infinite-goodness (omnibenevolence) that integrate into God’s infinite-wisdom (omnisapience).
So, we concluded:
God has a plan (because He is all-knowing).
God’s plan is the best plan (because He is all-wise).
God will complete His plan (because He is all-sovereign).
Disclaimer. I won’t handle every objection; but I do intend to handle their most common and most powerful arguments.
This leads us to questions about salvation.

1. Does God change His mind when we change ours?

Or, what does foreknowledge mean?
Let me split this question into two parts.

A. Can we change our minds?

There would be no reason for the Bible message exhorting us to repent unless we could change our minds.
Mark 1:14–15 KJV 1900
14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
God is the “Eternal Now.” ~C.S. Lewis
“God has always experienced the totality of time and everything before time (eternity past) and after time (eternity future) as the present.” ~Richard Land, “Congruent Election,” Whosoever Will, 55
“Past, present, and future are all present to God.” ~Geoffrey Bromiley, “Foreknowledge,” The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 320.
“The foreknowledge of God is based upon his omniscience, or all knowledge. Since the Bible views God as present at all times and all places contemporaneously in his universe, he knows all things simultaneously.” ~Herschel Hobbs, What Baptists Believe, 24.
Romans 8:29–30 KJV 1900
29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
Wuest stated the foreknowledge here meant more “here than mere previous knowledge, even though that knowledge be part of the omniscience of God.” ~Word Studies, 2.144
In light of these, we can understand that foreknowledge means pre-experience with.
So...
“There is no moment in eternity when the sum total of God’s experience with each person was not God’s present...” ~Richard Land, “Congruent Election,” Whosoever Will, 56
Can we change our minds?
Yes, but not in a way that impacts God’s foreknowledge or sovereignty.
Armenianism doesn’t teach this about God.
In this view, man is so free to determine their destiny that God is waiting to see what they will decide so that He will can determine how to govern in order to bring about His sovereign plan.
It is possible to overemphasize the free will of man.
In light of our view of God’s omniscient foreknowledge, that Armenian view is irrelevant.
The bigger question, then, becomes…

B. Does God change His mind? | Exodus 32.

Does God change His mind? No.
Malachi 3:6 KJV 1900
6 For I am the Lord, I change not; Therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.
Jeremiah 4:28 KJV 1900
28 For this shall the earth mourn, and the heavens above be black: Because I have spoken it, I have purposed it, And will not repent, neither will I turn back from it.
James 1:17 KJV 1900
17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
Titus 1:2 KJV 1900
2 In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;
(Other verses: 1 Samuel 15:29; Psalm 102:26-27; Hebrews 6:18; 13:8; 2 Timothy 2:13)
If that’s the case, what do we make of the verses that indicate that God changed His mind?
Exodus 32:12 KJV 1900
12 Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people.
Exodus 32:14 KJV 1900
14 And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.
But then almost in the same historical context (40 years later), the Bible says...
Numbers 23:19 KJV 1900
19 God is not a man, that he should lie; Neither the son of man, that he should repent: Hath he said, and shall he not do it? Or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?
I believe that the Bible teaches that God cannot change, otherwise it would be that He has learned something new.
Armenians argue that God obviously doesn’t know all that people will choose because several places in the Bible tell us that God repented of what He was about to do.
Thus, God changed His mind and reacted to human free-choice rather than it being predetermined.
He changes in answer to prayer. Exodus 32
He changed His mind about creating the world. Genesis 6:6
He changed His mind when Nineveh repented. Jonah 3:10
The answer to this seeming paradox is twofold.

1) Sometimes the Bible uses human descriptions to help people understand some aspect of God.

The Bible often uses human descriptions to better relate God to people.
This is called anthropomorphism.
But this does not make God those things.
Eagle | Exodus 19:4
Mother hen | Matthew 23:37
Rock | Psalm 42:9
Stone | Psalm 118:22
Tower | Proverbs 18:10
Speaking of God as changing is anthropomorphism.

2) When a change does take place, it is man who actually changes.

Illus. When riding our bikes into the wind we say that the wind is against us.
When we turn around and ride our bikes in the other direction we say that the wind if for us.
Likewise, when a sinner repents, God does not change; the sinner does.
God is unchanging in justice toward the sin.
And God is unchanging in His love toward the repentant sinner.
The word “repent” in the OT (Nahum).
God brings about a satisfactory set of circumstances.
A test case in Exodus 32.
The people were worshipping the golden calf. 32:4-6
God instructed Moses to go down to the people and that He was going to consume them and make Moses a great nation. 32:10
When Moses heard this, he pleaded with God to turn from His anger.
Then God repented from the destruction He had planned. 32:14
There are two reasons a person changes their mind.
Either new information has come to light that was not previously known.
God cannot change His mind because it would mean that He learned something new. He knows everything.
Or the circumstances have changed which now requires a different kind of attitude or action.
If the circumstances have changed, then it is not necessarily the case that God has changed His mind.
It may simply be that, since, the circumstances have changed, God’s relationship to the new circumstances are different because they have changed, not God.
Proper perspective for Exodus 32.
When Israel was at the foot of the mountain participating in idol worship, God was prepared to justly destroy the people for their sin.
However, when Moses interceded for them, the circumstances were changed.
God’s attitude toward sin is always anger, and His attitude toward those who call to Him is always an attitude of mercy.
Before Moses prayed for Israel, they were under God’s judgment.
By Moses’ intercession for the people of Israel, he brought them under God’s mercy.
Point. God did not change. The circumstances changed.
The language used to say that God relented or repented of the destruction is anthropomorphic.
>Several statements about Exodus 32 are from Norman Geisler, Systematic Theology.
Illus: It is similar to someone moving from one place to another and saying…
The pulpit is on my left;
now the pulpit is on my right.
These statements are not meant to imply that the pulpit moved.
They are just designed to show that my relationship to the pulpit changed because of my circumstances.
Judah would be the seed the eternal king would come from (Genesis 49:10), but Saul was told his kingdom could have been perpetual if he had made the right choices (1 Samuel 13:13-14; 15:28). Did God make a fake offer to Saul since it was already determined by God who the eternal kingdom would belong to? Was God waiting for Saul to decide before He could move ahead with His plans for the Messiah to come from the line of David?
Does God change His mind when we change ours?

2. Can a person only come to Christ when God “draws” him?

(omniscience and irresistible grace)
Some would say that “No one is able to come to God in salvation unless God has already selected that person to be drawn to God.”
One key verse in support of this view is…
John 6:44 KJV 1900
44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
How would I respond?
In my opinion, John chapter 6 contains some of the hardest passages in all of the Gospels.
For instance, in this passage, Jesus tells the crowd that unless they eat His body and drink His blood, they cannot be saved. (6:53-4)
And even the disciples found this hard to swallow.
Every Jew knew that God had expressly commanded that blood was never to be consumed.
To some, this verse shows that a person has already been regenerated before they can place their faith in him. (“Irresistible Grace” or “Effectual Calling”)
Also, some strong Calvinists would prefer to interpret the word “draw” as God “dragged” people to Himself. (R.C. Sproul)
Their point with this verse is to show that …
Human free-will has no ultimate bearing on whether a person can accept Christ or not.
But another passage in John used the exact same Greek word; and interestingly enough, it uses the same English word as well.
John 12:32 KJV 1900
32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
Both verses are in the context of salvation.
So, what can we learn?
Putting these two verses together, we can conclude…
First. Whatever was implied in God’s drawing was available to all people.
Jesus was saying that the cross made salvation (or the “drawing”) available to all.
Rather than break up our argument that “salvation has been provided for all, but it is only available to those who believe,” this verse, taken with the whole of Scripture, actually seems to confirm it. (John 12:32).
No doubt, God does open hearts.
Acts 16:14 KJV 1900
14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.
So, God does open hearts. God does draw.
But we must respond to God.
Second.
If you are to interpret John 6:44 that draw means “dragged,” as does Sproul.
Then this doesn’t fit with John 12:32.
If the Calvinist interpretation of John 6:44 remains consistent, then the same interpretation would lead to universalism in John 12:32 (the view that everyone is ultimately saved).
To say that a person can only come to Christ when God draws that person is true.
But you must also add that, through the cross of Jesus, God is drawing all people to Himself.

Summary

Does God change His mind when we change ours? (omniscience and foreknowledge)
Can a person only come to Christ when God “draws” him? (omniscience and irresistible grace)
Has God pre-determined all human decisions? (omniscience and election/predestination)
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