Pastor Steve Lawson, speaking at the ongoing Resolved Conference in California Sunday, said the notion that God’s election is based on His foreknowledge of who would choose His Son Jesus Christ on their own was flawed.
The idea that “God looked down the proverbial tunnel of time to see who would choose His Son” and then “in a reflexive manner” He chose them, is “grossly ignorant” of two views: the view of God and the view of man, Lawson, pastor of Christ Fellowship Baptist Church, Mobile, Ala., said.
“God’s knowledge is infinite; it is perfect … Whatever God does, He has already foreordained it,” the pastor said. And man, he explained, had a “moral inability to believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ.”
So how could God foresee anyone accepting His Son? Lawson asked the audience at the four-day 2011 Resolved Conference in Palm Springs, which will conclude Monday.
Lawson said when he was at seminary, his professor asked, “What can a dead man do?” And a student replied, he can “stink”…“that’s what a dead man can do ... The world is spiritually dead and unable to believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ.” “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins …,” Lawson reminded the audience, quoting Ephesians 2:1.
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them …,” Lawson now quoted John 6:44, pointing out that the word “can” refers to inability. “God chose by Himself and for Himself.”
Lawson also emphasized that God chose us “not because of us, but in spite of us.” “For reasons known only to God, God chose whom He would set His grace upon. And for reasons known only to God, God did not choose everyone.”
However, Lawson added, “God could have chosen none and we would have all gone to hell and God would have been just and perfect in His holiness, for the wages of sin is death. And we all deserve to die, do we not?” Yet God has chosen “a vast multitude of sinners.”
In eternity past, God made a “determinative, discriminative” choice to set His love upon a “peculiar people,” he said, quoting Ephesians 1:11, “Having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.”
Lawson explained God’s “council” is His “deliberation,” His will is His “decision,” His purpose is His “determination,” and His predestination is His “prescription.”
The speaker then said what universalists cannot come to terms with. “He marked us out for Himself; He drew a circle around our names in eternity past and He passed over other names and left them to their just condemnation …That He would have mercy upon those He would have mercy and He would have wrath upon those He would have wrath.”
And, there is “nothing harsh or offensive” about it. This truth, he said, is “God exalting … pride crushing … joy producing … humbling.”
Lawson said we should know the purpose of God’s choice, which is that one day we would stand before Him holy and blameless. “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him,” he quoted Ephesians 1:4.
We do not deserve a pat on our back, he underlined. “All glory goes to God. It is all of Him and none of me.” And this is accomplished through Jesus Christ.
Christ, Lawson said, did not come to die for a “totally different group of sinners.” God the Father and God the Son have “one mind … one mission … one saving enterprise.” “I and the Father are one,” he quoted John 10:30.
“When Jesus came, His intent was to save by His sacrificial death all those who had been entrusted to Him by the Father from eternity past. It was a very definite death, it was a very particular death … He did not make us ‘savable,’ Jesus actually ‘saved’ us,” Lawson said, quoting from Ephesians 5:26, “… so that He might sanctify her (Christ’s Bride, the Church), having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.”
Lawson reminded the audience that Jesus “intentionally” and “specifically” died for the chosen ones.
Giving an altar call for those who had not yet made a decision to believe in Jesus, Lawson said, you may wonder how you can know if you are chosen. “You may know that you are chosen and you may know that you are predestined if you will believe upon His Son Jesus Christ.”