For an introduction to the series, read this.
Today we continue our series through my church’s statement of faith, based on the Baptist Faith and Message.
Statement of Faith Article for the Week
V. GOD’S PURPOSE OF GRACE
Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man, and comprehends all the means in connection with the end. It is the glorious display of God’s sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable. It excludes boasting and promotes humility. All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. Those who profess faith but do not persevere, thereby show themselves to be unregenerate.
Thoughts for Discussion with Children
As the good news about Jesus goes around the world, many people believe it, and many don’t. In addition, a number of those who say they believe end up not continuing in their faith to the end, but they fall away at some point. Here’s a good question: what makes the difference between those who believe and then keep on believing to the end and those who either don’t believe or just say they believe but don’t stick with it? In other words, why are some particular people saved in the end, and not others?
The answer, according to the Bible, is not that those who believe are smarter or better than everyone else. The answer is that God is the one who makes all the difference. In his purpose of grace, God chose before the world was ever made those whom he would save through his Son. He didn’t choose them because of anything in them at all. He chose them by grace alone. He set his love on them and said, “They are mine.” And then, to make sure that they would become his, he sent Jesus to die and to be raised for them, and he sent the Holy Spirit to bring them to faith so that they would be saved. And the same Holy Spirit who causes them to believe is the one who makes sure they keep believing to the end. Those whom God has chosen to be his own people will never be lost, even though they might fall into sins from time to time. He will always bring them back to himself in his love for them.
What does this mean for you? It means that if you believe in Jesus, that did not come from you. It came from God’s power at work in you. It also means that you will go on believing for the rest of your life only because God will not let you go. So, from beginning to end, everything depends on God. And if he does everything in our salvation, he is the one who receives all the glory! Thank him for his wonderful gift of grace to you, and pray that he would show that same grace to others whom you love.
If you don’t yet believe, God is inviting you to trust in his Son Jesus for salvation. Nothing that I have said changes that. He is inviting you to believe, and if you do, it will be because he is the one who has drawn you to believe.
Maybe you are wondering why God didn’t choose everyone to be saved. That’s a good question that we cannot fully understand. But what we do know is that God doesn’t owe his grace to anyone. That is what makes it grace! Once we remember that God would have been perfectly just to condemn all of us, the fact that he chose to save any is something that should cause us to be thankful. The Bible also teaches that God has a plan to demonstrate his glory by showing the full range of his justice and mercy, and so even the condemnation of sinners will be something that shows us how glorious God is. And it is important to remember that everyone who will be condemned by God on the Day of Judgment will be a person who lives in rebellion against God and refuses to submit joyfully to him. Nobody wants to go to Hell, but those who will go there will also not want to have God as their Lord either, and in the end, those are the only two options.
Suggested Reading for the Week: Matthew 16:13-17; Romans 8:28-30; Ephesians 1:3-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:13.