2 Timothy 1:9


Sermon preached on November 26, 2017 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2017. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at http://www.cantonnewlife.org/.

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

How are people saved? How do they come to Jesus?

We're all familiar with Paul on the road to Damascus. As Paul and his companions neared Damascus, a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, (Acts 9:4)

"Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"

That encounter brought Paul to Christ.

On the day of Pentecost, 3000 people were saved through Peter's sermon. Other people are saved through personal interaction. It wasn't until Philip explained the gospel to the Ethiopian eunuch that he believed.

Still others are saved by a combination of things. Someone planted the seed, others watered it and they came to Christ. Some of these were brought up in a Christian home, they attended church and heard the gospel preached, they saw the example of their parents and other Christians and they became Christians. They can't point to an exact day that it happened, but at some point they realized that they believed.

With some other people it's very different. I've heard of other people being saved when they were alone in a hotel room and found a Gideon Bible. They were discouraged, their lives were a mess and they found the Bible, started reading it and came to Christ.

With others it's even more unusual. There are people who have heard the gospel in their youth, rejected it and then suddenly, years later, realize that they believe. Recently I read a story about a young woman who was traveling the world with her boyfriend. Both of them had all kinds of problems, not with each other so much, but with life in general. One day on a beach her boyfriend told her how a shaman had helped him deal with one of the issues he was having. He urged her to go to a shaman. (Shamans are people who claim to have influence in the spirit world of good and evil. They often enter into trances to work their cures.) Her boyfriend said,

"It felt as if a stone has fallen off my chest, Shamans act as a bridge between your consciousness and your sub-consciousness. But one must believe in their power to deliver, otherwise it would not work."



Here's what she wrote about her reply,

"Suddenly I uttered out loud, 'I need a deliverance like that, but shamanism will not work with me, because the only power I believe in is the power of God.'""This was the first time in years I proclaimed the name of God. I said it so confidently and with so much reassurance that it was surprising even to myself. What I said felt so right. Even though figuring out my real mental burden and getting rid of its weight is exactly what I wanted more than anything in the world, I was still sure that healers like shamans could only solve some of one's problems but they could never cure a soul. I wanted to leave this task to God."



To her surprise she found that she believed in God. Soon after that she started reading the Bible and praying. She wrote,

"I actually found myself enjoying reading the Bible. So much wisdom has opened up to me through it. But the most important thing I learned was the story of Jesus Christ. God for me was no longer just someone from above there who created humanity and determines the destinies of people's lives. In addition to being the Father of all creation, he is also the Son, who came to this world as a human and willingly died on the cross so that my sins and the sins of all people on Earth can be forgiven, and the Holy Spirit, who dwells in our souls to guide us spiritually.""After acknowledging this I got baptized… and became a member of the church. Today, it is my personal relationship with Jesus that has become my focus of life and remedy against the heartache."



God calls in different ways, but what is the same in all those stories is that

it is God that calls.

People may not even be aware of it at first. Even years later they may be unaware of it. You'll hear them talk about coming to Christ and they'll take all the credit for it. Unfortunately many Christians underappreciate and minimize God's call. They don't realize the greatness of the debt that we owe our great God.

At this Thanksgiving time it's important that we meditate on different aspects of God's goodness to us.

How did God call you? Are you aware that it was God who called you to Christ? Do you appreciate what God did for you when He called you? Our text is a great help to us in showing us how amazing God's call to His people actually is. The apostle Paul wrote, (2 Timothy 1:8-9)

"join with me
in suffering for the gospel,
by the power of God, who has saved us
and called us to a holy life—
not because of anything we have done
but because of his
own purpose and grace.
This grace was given us
in Christ Jesus before
the beginning of time,"

God has called us to a holy life. It was according to His own purpose and grace. That grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.

Those statements make it clear that our going to Jesus is not something that originated in us. God is the One who calls us. As John Murray says in his great little book, Redemption Accomplished and Applied, (p. 89)

"We do not call ourselves, we do not set ourselves apart by sovereign volition any more than we regenerate, justify, or adopt ourselves. Calling is an act of God and of God alone. This fact should make us keenly aware how dependent we are upon the sovereign grace of God in the application of redemption. If calling is the initial step in our becoming actual partakers of salvation, the fact that God is its author forcefully reminds us that the pure sovereignty of God's work of salvation is not suspended at the point of application any more than at the point of design and objective accomplishment."



If you're a Christian it's because God has called you. It's not because you were smart enough, or good enough, or better than other people. No. It's all of grace and it was given to you before the beginning of time.

The second thing we see from our text is that God's calling is according to His purpose and grace.

First, consider God's purpose.

The Greek word used here refers to, (BDAG, 869)

"that which is planned in advance"



It was according to God's plan of salvation. The call that came to you was not by accident, by chance, by luck, by karma. No. Long before God created time, God planned to save His people by calling them.

Other verses that use this word 'purpose' also show us how God's plan preceded, creation, our births, our plans. As far as God's purposes preceding creation, Ephesians 1 says that God chose us before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. Verse 11 says,

"In him we were also chosen,
having been predestined
according to the plan of him
who works out everything
in conformity with
the purpose of his will,"

Romans 9:11–13 show us how God's purposes precedes our births. It speaks of Jacob and Esau. It says,

"Yet, before the twins were born
or had done anything good or bad—
in order that God's purpose
in election might stand:
not by works but by him who calls—
she was told,
'The older will serve the younger.'
Just as it is written:
'Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."

Romans 8:28 shows us that God's purposes precede our plans. It says,

"And we know that
in all things God works for the good
of those who love him,
who have been called
according to his purpose."

Putting this all together we see that the call was according to God's will, His plan, His purpose. We have been called, we have been saved, not because of something in us—but because of something in God. Before the beginning of time—God purposed to save us. God's calling you was not haphazard, sudden, spur of the moment decision. It was given to us before the beginning of time. John Murray writes, (Redemption Accomplished and Applied, p. 92)

"God's thought has been occupied with this event from times eternal. Hence the moment and all the circumstances are fixed by his own counsel and will."



Isn't that incredible? You have been saved according to God's purpose. His calling you is just part of His eternal plan. He planning everything. Romans 8:30 makes it clear,

"And those he predestined,
he also called;
those he called, he also justified;
those he justified, he also glorified."

This means that your salvation is not your own doing. Yes, we have a part to do. We have to have faith. We have to believe. But your faith is essentially a gift from God. As Ephesians 2:8 says,

"For it is by grace you have been saved,
through faith—
and this not from yourselves,
it is the gift of God—"

Your salvation and your call were planned by God before the beginning of time.

Our text also says

God called us according to His grace.

God,

"called us to a holy life—
not because of anything we have done
but because of his
own purpose and grace."

What is grace?

Grace is unmerited favor.

In the verse before us grace is contrasted with 'anything we have done'. We have been saved and called to a holy life,

'not because of anything we have done'

We sinners are saved, not because of our works, not by any worth is us, but because of God's grace. With regard to sinners, grace has to do with showing them favor when they don't deserve it.

Paul tells us that grace is the opposite of what you earn. If you earn something, if you deserve something, if you're worthy of it, if you're owed something—it's not grace. Grace is unmerited favor. John Murray writes, (Collected Writings, Vol. 1, p. 120)

"If salvation at any point is contingent upon some contribution which man himself makes, then at that point it is of ourselves, and to that extent it is not of grace."



The third thing we see from our text is that

God's call to us is efficacious.

Verse 9 tells us that God has saved us and called us to a holy life. His purpose in calling us was to give us the salvation that He had planned.

Did you ever get a summons? I believe the only one I ever got was a summons for jury duty. But I didn't even have to go. I checked online the day before and it told me that I didn't have to show up. That wasn't a very powerful summons. Most summons are like that. Even if you get a summons for more serious matters, the officers of the court don't usually come and physically take you to court. You're supposed to show up on your own. If you don't show up, they might come looking for you. But that's different than the summons. I believe when they come for you then they're not coming to take you to court—they're coming to take you to jail.

There are two main types of calls that we see in the Bible.

First, there is the general call to everyone to believe. But for many this call is not efficacious. In Matthew 22:14 Jesus said, (ESV)

"For many are called,
but few are chosen.

Not everyone responded when Jesus said, (Matthew 4:17

"Repent, for the kingdom
of heaven is near.

Not everyone responded when Jesus said, (Matthew 11:28)

"Come to me,
all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.

On the day of Pentecost, when Peter said, (Acts 2:38)

"Repent and be baptized,
every one of you,
in the name of Jesus Christ
for the forgiveness of your sins.

Not everyone responded. As the Westminster Confession of Faith says,

"Man, by his fall into a state of sin, has completely lost all ability to choose any spiritual good that accompanies salvation. Therefore, an unregenerate man, because he is opposed to that good and is dead in sin, is unable by his own strength to convert himself or to prepare himself to be converted."



How hard sin has made people's hearts. Without God's grace quickening their hearts people will not believe the gospel. Ephesians 2 tells us that people are dead in trespasses and sins.

I told you a few weeks ago about going to the door the morning after our cat got killed and calling him. He didn't come. He couldn't. He was dead and buried.

In the same way, no one would believe on their own, with their own power. In John 6:44 Jesus said,

"No one can come to me unless
the Father who sent me draws him,
and I will raise him up at the last day."

But the wonderful news is that God gives grace and calls us with an effective call. He makes us alive. His call to those who are dead is effective. What was God's purpose in giving us grace before the beginning of time? In John 6:37 Jesus said,

"All that the Father gives me
will come to me,
and whoever comes to me
I will never drive away."

And in John 6:39 Jesus said,

"And this is the will
of him who sent me,
that I shall lose none
of all that he has given me,
but raise them up at the last day."

Jesus will not lose one. Christians, what hope this should give you. God's call to you is efficacious.

What about you who are not Christians. I ask you, why have you not responded to Jesus? You may say,

"I can't."



How do you know that? At this point in time you can't know that. Right now, what you have to deal with is what Jesus said it Matthew 11:28,

"Come to me,
all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest."

Respond to Jesus now. You need grace, and grace is in Him.

Lastly, we see that this call is a

call to holiness.

Our text says that God,

"has saved us
and called us to a holy life—"

There are so many people today who claim to have been called by God. They attend church. They pray. They claim they know God.

Yet they don't exhibit holiness in their lives—at least not as the Bible defines holiness. In my younger days I never understood how what is described for us in Matthew 7:22-23 could ever happen. Jesus said,

"Many will say to me on that day,
'Lord, Lord,
did we not prophesy in your name,
and in your name drive out demons
and perform many miracles?' "

How could people be so deceived, thinking they are Christians when they are not?

Well, that's what many in our society are like. They say they follow God but they engage in practices that the Bible condemns. The problem is that they don't believe the Bible, they don't obey it. It's clear they haven't been called by God because they're not holy. Jesus is going to say to them,

"I never knew you.
Away from me,
you evildoers!"

As Jesus said just before that, (Matthew 7:21)

"Not everyone who says to me,
'Lord, Lord,'
will enter the kingdom of heaven,
but only he who does the will
of my Father who is in heaven."

Do you believe in Jesus? Have you been called by God? The answer to that question is the same as the answer to this question? Are you holy? Hebrews 12:14 declares,

"without holiness no one
will see the Lord."



Benediction

1 Peter 5:10

"And the God of all grace,
who called you
to his eternal glory in Christ,
after you have suffered a little while,
will himself restore you
and make you strong,
firm and steadfast."