Summary: Introductory Comments 1.
1. Faith is not necessary for our salvation. Instead, faith is the result of our salvation. In case you did not hear me let me say this again. Faith is not necessary for our salvation. Instead, faith is the result of our salvation.
2. This is what I hope to teach you this morning. If you take your faith seriously, your first reaction might be to disagree with me. How can I say that faith is not required for our salvation? Is that not against the teaching of the Bible
Heb 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
3. Am I going to teach a heresy this morning? I hope not, but listen carefully to make sure I don’t.
4. The one thing I must clarify is how I am using the word salvation. Not as a process but as the point at which we become children of God. The time at which we are regenerated, given a new heart.
1. In the passages from Ezekiel, God is talking to the people of Israel. They knew about God. They had heard of His faithfulness from their fathers. They knew that they were His chosen people. They had seen His hand of judgement upon them when He took then from their promised land and made them captive in Babylon.
2. And yet they were lost. Their exile in Babylon represented their exile from God’s kingdom. They were lost in their own sin. For they put their trust not in God but rather in the work of their own hands. They lived to satisfy their own desires rather than to please God. They only loved themselves and they did not love God and their neighbour as He had commanded them to.
3. God had tried to warn them and tell them that they were lost. He showed them by their exile.
4. But they just could not get it. Why? Because they had hearts of stone. Hearts so hard that they could not receive or absorb what God was trying to tell them. Even when their hearts were crushed, the small broken pieces still remained hard and unreceptive.
5. We are no different, at least in our natural, fallen state. Our hearts are hardened to the call of God to repent and put our trust in Jesus. To have faith in Him. We have seen how there is no good in us. How, left to our own devices, we are lost. We cannot even receive the gift of eternal life on our own.
6. And yet as we have seen in the past few weeks that, just as the people of Israel - at least a remnant of them, had been chosen or predestined by Him, so we also have been predestined to be His children.
7. How then are we able to do that which we cannot do? How can we say yes to the gift of grace that God offers to us? How can we believe, to have faith in God?
8. We cannot? And so God does to us that which He did to the people of Israel. He gave them a new heart, a heart of flesh. A a soft heart that is able to be receptive to His Word and His Spirit.
Ezek 11:20 Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.
Ezek 36:27-29 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow mydecrees and be careful to keep my laws. You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God. I will save you from all your uncleanness.
9. He says that He will move them to follow His decrees. To love him with all their heart, mind and soul. To trust and obey them. And He will save them from the uncleanness. He will justify them and make them acceptable to God.
10. This promise is to us as well. The promise is that He will call us to salvation. This is not outer call that God makes to all people . Instead it is the inner call that God makes only to His elect, as we saw last week.
11. We need to choose how to respond to this call, to this prompting of the Holy Spirit to repent and return to God.
12. And , as we will see, we have no choice but to make the choice to come to new life. We are not talking about the choices we make as Christians but the choice to be a Christian. God calls us to new life, to life itself.