My Chosen Instrument

October 8, 2009 at 9:29 am | Posted in It's All About God, Theology | Leave a comment

            This week I gave a bold sermon on Calvinism.  I address these matters often, but since many lay people are turned off by the name, I usually take a more subtle approach by pointing out the depth of our sin or the sovereignty of God, by telling the congregation “it’s all about God,” or by showing how He is the subject of most of the verbs, etc.  But when I came across the emphatic phrase, “he is my chosen instrument,” in Acts 9:15, especially after Luke’s emphasis on Saul’s evil, I had to address it more plainly.  I feared how some of our Arminian attenders might respond.  But the responses from the ones who talked to me were far more positive than I imagined.

          I read the following quote, from Michael Horton in Modern Reformation, as an illustration: 

          The doctrine of election, like many other hard theological topics, is taboo in many Christian churches today.  Instead of discussing the central doctrines of our faith, many only want to talk about marriage, child rearing, church organization, or spiritual warfare.  These “practical” subjects are considered to be more important than controversial doctrinal issues that only serve to divide our churches.  But the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Ephesians begins his teaching of marriage, child rearing, church organization and spiritual warfare with a no-holds-barred discussion of God’s sovereign election of individuals to salvation in Christ.  A subject that many Christians will avoid by moving to the other side of the room is the foundation for all of Paul’s subsequent instruction on the day-to-day life of the saints.

Then I read Ephesians in my devotions this week.  I was tickled by chapter four because I think of the first three chapters of Ephesians as being the “controversial doctrinal issues,” and the last three as being the “practical matters.”  But what I noticed was the number of times these “doctrinal issues” are referenced in the fourth chapter.  Paul begins with “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” and “There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you were called.” (4:1, 4)  Then the chapter ends with these reminders, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption,” and “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (4:30, 32) 

            It is our calling by God, our sealing by the Holy Spirit, and our forgiveness in Christ that is the basis for practical matters in the church.  The practical matters are an outworking of the doctrinal matters, or, as Horton put it, “the foundation of all Paul’s subsequent instruction on the day-to-day life of the saints.”  If we want to get our day-to-day life in order, then we must begin with getting our theology in order.

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