THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD IN THE PLAN OF SALVATION (EXCERPT OF JOHN, CHAPTER SEVENTEEN)
From: John, Chapter Seventeen
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
A clear understanding of the sovereignty of God in all of the affairs of His creation, particularly in His plan of redemption, is a rock on which the Spirit-anointed remnant will stand during the dark hours of Antichrist. It may be true that the era of Antichrist, the dreadful hour of temptation, is already upon us.
The reason Christian believers have, in some instances, discarded the major Bible doctrine of Divine election, is that the spirit of Antichrist, of Laodicea, of the “rights of people,” is abiding in us. When the spirit of Laodicea has been removed from us we will be able to see clearly what the Scripture reveals concerning predestination and election.
In the present hour the Kingdom of God contains both wheat and tares. The wheat are people who have been added to the Church by the Lord. The tares are children of Satan. We know this by their works.
At the time of the Lord’s return to earth His messengers will very carefully remove the devil’s children from among the saints. Then the righteous character and deeds of the saints will be witnessed by Heaven and earth.
“I have manifested your name to the men whom you have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, you gave them to Me, and they have kept your word. (John 17:6)
There are two ideas here: (1) the revealing of the name of God; and (2) the separating of the elect from the world and the giving of them to Christ as His special possession, His special treasure among mankind.
Precisely who is the God who created all things? This is one of the few truly important questions of life. The peoples of the earth worship many persons and things, including demons.
The Lord God of Heaven revealed various aspects of Himself to the Jews. He showed to them, His chosen people, that He is One and not many; that He Is the Shepherd, the Healer, the Warrior, the Provider, the powerful and fruitful One; that He will become whatever He chooses to become.
He is the great “I Am”!
The revelation given to the elect, the Church, through the Lord Jesus Christ, is that God is to be worshiped as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We are baptized in water into the names of these three Divine Personages.
To know the name of someone, in the sense in which Jesus is praying here, is to understand the person’s true nature—a nature that may have been concealed behind many activities, but partially disclosed as he chooses to provide glimpses of the many sides of his personality.
Sometimes we say people wear masks, meaning they conceal who and what they really are, what their true identity is. Satan does not often disclose his horrible wretchedness, his hideous passion to destroy all that is virtuous and worthy. He and all other sinners will be unmasked and made manifest in the Day of Christ.
God keeps Himself hidden, and this is why the believer is required to seek the Lord continually.
It may happen that we come to understand our own name, our own identity, as well as the name of God, during a period of intense, prolonged conflict.
And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.” But he said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me!”
So He said to him, “What is your name?” He said, “Jacob.”
And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob [trickster], but Israel [contender with God]; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.”
Then Jacob asked, saying, “Tell me your name, I pray.” And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He blessed him there. (Genesis 32:26-29)
Jesus came to reveal the Person of the Father to the elect, to God’s sons whom God has chosen to bring to glory.
For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:29)
“All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. (Matthew 11:27)
Here we have a major doctrine of the new covenant—that Christ came to reveal the Father to the specific individuals whom the Father gave to Christ from the multitude of earth’s peoples.
The Divinely ordained wall separating the Christian Church, the elect of God, from the world is the highest, thickest, mightiest, most impenetrable wall in the creation of God.
The nation of Israel and the Church of Christ were separated from the world by the grace of God. The Gospel was preached first to the patriarch, Abraham. The Law of Moses added nothing to the eternal grace of God. The Law was provided as a judge of sin and a guide and guardian of the elect until it was time for Christ to be revealed.
The wall of separation between the Church and the world was established at the moment the Lord called Abraham and his family out of Ur of the Chaldees. From that point onward to the new Jerusalem and into eternity, the Church of Christ has been separated from the remainder of mankind by a Divinely ordained wall.
One would suppose the elect would praise God for His love and be thankful for the role of showing forth His righteousness and glory—the responsibility assigned to them as their purpose for being born into the world.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; (I Peter 2:9)
Will we (Jews and Christians) accept God’s plan? We will not! Because of our evil and rebellious hearts we insist on bringing the world into the Church. The moment we do, the Presence of God departs.
The Church of Christ is the only hope of the world—that it will be delivered from the chains of futility and decay and brought into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.
But the authority and power to deliver the world from slavery to sin and corruption is given to the Church of Christ only to the extent that the Church is separate from the world.
We desire to “save” the world. But we desire to do it in our own way and for our own glory. However, it is God who will release the material creation from bondage. He will do it in His way, in His time, and for His own glory.
God’s true saints always rejoice over the righteous ways of the Lord. The name of the Lord is as a pure and fragrant perfume to them. But the Antichrist spirit that dwells in the midst of the churches always will despise the ways of the Lord, always will pervert and corrupt the truth.
The “Christians” who are serving Satan will go out from us in the present hour so it may be revealed that they are not of us. They will not be raised in the first resurrection as part of the royal priesthood (Revelation 20:4-6).
Whoever will choose to do so may make an eternal covenant with God through the blood of Jesus. But woe to those in the present hour who are filled with spiritual pride, who are not walking in continual repentance, who are not working out their own salvation with trembling in the holy fear of God!
The proud and unrepentant will be deceived and will not be able to inherit eternal life even though they are professing faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
God’s true saints will be able to hear what the Spirit of God is saying to the churches in the present hour. But the lukewarm church members are heading toward the Day of Wrath, toward the revelation of the righteous judgment of God Almighty.
The seventeenth chapter of John portrays the wall that separates the Church from the world. God has established the wall of separation. If we will honor what God has created we will be of service to the peoples of the earth in the days of shaking that even now have come upon us.
The Day of the Lord is at hand. Multitudes of people are being brought down into the “valley of decision.” The decision each of us must make is the extent to which he desires to establish Christ as the Center and Circumference of all he is and all he says and does. The question is that of the Lordship of Christ.
We can choose to make a covenant of salvation with God by repentance, faith in Christ, and baptism in water. According to the Scriptures, God will receive us if we turn away from the world and receive the Lord Jesus. If we choose to believe in Christ and serve Him we are blessed indeed and will be delivered from the wrath to come.
The individual who attempts to hold on to both Christ and the world in the present hour will experience confusion and much pain, and may lose his soul.
They were Yours …
The above statement, “They were Yours,” suggests to us that part of mankind belongs to the Father in a special way. Abraham, and those who are called in Abraham including every person on earth who is “in Christ,” belonged to God originally.
(for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), (Romans 9:11)
As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” (Romans 9:13)
The reason we Christian teachers have, in some instances, discarded the major scriptural doctrine of Divine election, is that the spirit of Antichrist, of Laodicea, of humanism, of the “rights of people,” is abiding in us. As soon as this satanic thinking is cast out of us we will be able to see what the Scripture reveals concerning predestination and election.
Some may ask, “What is the use of our doing anything if God already has determined what will happen to each individual? Who is able to resist God?”
Our problem here is one of ignorance and rebellion. The Scriptures inform us that God works in terms of foreknowledge and election. The Scriptures teach us also that each person on the earth may repent and turn to Christ and that it is God’s will for him or her to do so at once.
“But,” we may protest, “we cannot understand how these two truths are reconciled.” Here is the actual problem. We are so proud in our rebellious minds we will not accept a doctrine until we think we understand it.
God’s ways are as high above our thinking as the heavens are high above the earth. Our mortal mind is an enemy of the Lord. If God says a thing is true, it is true. A Divine truth is not affected by our ability to understand it.
Spiritual truths and spiritual realities exist in eternity. They proceed from the mind of God. Our pitiful brains are able to glean only grains of understanding from the universal barns of God’s infinite wisdom. If we could understand God we could control God.
Will we maintain that we shall not accept what God has stated because we do not understand how God can be righteous and yet act in the manner in which He does? Some people today will not receive Christ as their Savior and Lord because they cannot understand why God would allow war and famine to exist in the world.
To maintain such foolish and ignorant criticism of the God of Heaven is nothing more than an evidence we are of Antichrist, that we are in rebellion against the Lord God our Creator.
God is so great He has planned all things from the beginning. God completed all of His works through to the new Jerusalem and then rested on the seventh day. The names of the elect were placed in the Book of Life from the beginning.
However, each person has a “room” of decisions in which he or she operates. Within this area of choice he can choose to fulfill his God-ordained destiny or he can neglect to pursue his goal (Philippians 3:14). Redemption always is an opportunity.
If this were not true, the Lord never could say well done good and faithful servant, because such praise would have no real significance. If God had caused the individual to do the right thing, then praise would be out of place. The truth is, we either are faithful to our calling or else we are careless and neglectful. The Scripture warns us concerning the punishment that will be administered to the servant who has buried his talent.
There appears to be a spirit of inevitability hovering over the Church of Christ. The believers are drifting in apathy, supposing that if they have been elected to glory, or if they have “accepted Christ,” they will arrive in Paradise in spite of their actions. Nothing could be further from the truth. A Divine mark has been set before us. Whether or not we attain our high calling depends directly on the diligence and single-mindedness we apply to pursuing it.
There is an elect whose names have been written in the Lamb’s Book of Life from the creation of the world. Every member of the elect must make his election certain by total consecration to the will of God. If he does not he is in danger of being cast into outer darkness, of having his name blotted from the Book of Life.
Let us read what Christ has prayed and prepare ourselves to believe exactly what He has declared, whether or not we are able to grasp all the implications of His words. Let us receive Christ and obey Christ.
We shall see and understand everything in the Day of the Lord.
For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. (I Corinthians 13:12)
And you gave them [to] me;
Each of God’s elect belongs to Him. Now He has given the elect to His beloved Son, Christ. Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Peter, Paul, you and I—each of us belongs to the Father. Now the Father has given us to the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Scriptures, both Old Testament and New Testament, teach us that some people belong to the Lord in a special way. We do not wish to stress this truth to the point that it overbalances the equally important truth of each individual’s invitation to choose to believe in Christ and receive the authority to become a child of God.
Nevertheless, a clear understanding of the sovereignty of God in all of the affairs of His creation, particularly in His plan of redemption, is a rock on which the Spirit-anointed remnant will stand during the dark hours of Antichrist’s reign, which already appear to be coming upon us.
The Scriptures distinguish between the righteous and the wicked in a manner suggesting that the righteous are of God and the wicked never were of God.
The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. (Psalms 34:17)
The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies. (Psalms 58:3)
Early I will destroy all the wicked of the land, that I may cut off all the evildoers from the city of the LORD. (Psalms 101:8)
The term wicked, as used in the Book of Psalms, provides a revealing study for the devout student, especially when it is kept in mind that it is the Spirit of Christ who is speaking in David.
After reviewing what the Scriptures have to say about the righteous and the wicked, one could gain the impression that some people who are born into the world have been chosen of God to work righteousness. They are the righteous.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
Others are of Satan, who in some manner was their father. They are the wicked.
“You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources [nature], for he is a liar and the father of it. (John 8:44)
This is not to say that any individual born on the earth cannot if he or she so chooses turn to Christ and be saved from wickedness.
The Gospel of the Kingdom is given to the righteous in order to forgive their sins and bring them to the perfection of righteous behavior required of God’s children.
Let us ponder for a moment the parable of the wheat and the tares.
“The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. (Matthew 13:38)
Keeping in mind the scriptural truth concerning election, the present writer has come to the conclusion that all persons born into the world were tares, having none of the wheat of God in them. We were born in sin—every one of us—even though we may be of God’s elect.
To our thinking, the “good seed” of the parable of the wheat and the tares represent those who have received Christ into their personality. Now they have in them both the tares of Satan and the wheat of God.
The day in which we are living is one of removing the tares from the wheat. Each of us Christians must cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He seeks to remove the tares from us. If we cooperate with the Spirit we will be saved into the Kingdom of God. But if we do not cooperate with the Spirit, choosing instead to justify our behavior or to hide our sinful thoughts and motives, we will be removed from the Kingdom of God in the last days.
No matter how we interpret the parable of the wheat and the tares, it is obvious that God is with the righteous and against those who practice wickedness, whether or not faith in Christ is professed.
This is not to say we can substitute good works for faith in the blood atonement made by Christ after we have heard the Gospel. But faith in Christ is not to be used as a substitute for righteous behavior. It remains true that God supports the righteous and is angry with the wicked
We know that the Church of Christ is destined to be without spot, wrinkle, or blemish of any sort. It shall be the perfect, radiantly lovely Bride of the Lamb.
“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. (John 15:16)
In the last days the Lord Jesus will remove from His Church those who are among us now but who are “spots and wrinkles.”
These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; (Jude 1:12)
“The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, (Matthew 13:41)
praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:47)
“The Lord added … those who were being saved.”
“for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.” (Acts 18:10)
The above verse parallels, “I have manifested your name to the men whom you gave me out of the world.” Perhaps the unscriptural emphasis on “going forth to save people from Hell” has obscured the fact that the purpose of the present age is to seek out those people who belong to God and to add them to the Church.
What about the rest of the people in Corinth? Were they the “tares”? Were they the “wicked” spoken of so frequently in the Book of Psalms?
God “owned” the elect of Corinth referred to here, and now He was giving them to the Lord Jesus by the hand of Paul.
Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. (Acts 13:48)
We know—especially from the ninth chapter of Romans—that Paul was convinced of the sovereignty of God in the building of the Church. What about Peter and John? Did they also perceive that the calling of God plays the principal role in the redemption of men?
But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption, (II Peter 2:12)
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. (I John 2:19)
Both of the above passages refer to people who meet with Christians in the assemblings.
Today we have people who profess to be Christians. They attend the church services. They “worship” with us. But they are not striving after righteousness in the Lord. Therefore, they are children of the devil (at this time) though they profess faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Even now the wicked are being separated from us so it may be understood that they are not of us and have no part with us. They are robbers of widows. They are adulterers and belong to the world even though they profess Christ and speak in tongues.
Jude, the brother of the Lord, speaks his mind:
For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness [immorality, lust] and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:4)
“Who long ago were marked out for this condemnation.”
It can become discouraging to the Lord’s little flock to behold the unrepentant attitude of so many who profess to be Christians but who show in themselves the personality of Satan rather than the personality of the Lord Jesus. In their self-exaltation they behave like the people of the world.
As Jude stated, these wicked “Christians” turn the grace of God into an excuse for sin. So it is today. The covetous are accepted rather than being shunned by the saints. Adultery, fornication, hatred, robbery, partying and so forth are practiced by people who claim they are “saved by grace.” Their works reveal that they are children of the devil, not children of God.
We who love the Lord Jesus in sincerity are not to fight against them, defiling our own spirit. We are to keep our eyes on the Lord Jesus, understanding that in the last days the Lord’s angels will separate out from the Kingdom of God those who are practicing wickedness.
Then the Bride of the Lamb will be pure and undefiled, shining as the light of the world.
What, then, is our conclusion? It is that in the present hour the Kingdom of God contains both “wheat” and “tares.” The wheat are people who have been added to the Church by the Lord. They love God in truth, and through the virtue of Christ they are bringing forth in themselves a new creation that practices the righteous and holy works the Lord loves.
The tares are children of Satan. They claim to be of the Lord’s people but are of the congregation of Satan. They speak and act as though they are Christians, claiming to be born again. They preach the Gospel and sometimes they speak in tongues, prophesy, and work miracles. But Christ has never known them—never!
“Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. (Revelation 3:9)
At the time of the Lord’s return to earth His angels will remove the devil’s children from among the saints. Then the righteous character and deeds of the saints will be witnessed by Heaven and earth.
The seed of Satan will be cast into the flames.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind,
“which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away.
“So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just,
“and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 13:47-50)
Let us state in conclusion that we reveal who our father is by how we behave. If our Father is God we will do the works of God. If our Father is Satan we will do the works of Satan.
If it is obvious to us that our works are wicked, and we want to be a child of God, then let us without delay begin to do the works of God.
Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.
Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (II Timothy 2:21,22)
(“The Sovereignty of God in the Plan of Salvation”, 3922-1)