Grant, Lord, that we may fear thee, and understand the proper order of thy grace. Amen.
Acts 13, 44-49. And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together, to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold. and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And when the gentiles heard this they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life, believed. And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.
The Jews of Antioch “put from themselves the word of God, and judged themselves unworthy of everlasting life;” therefore they were rejected. We here learn why men are lost. “God will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2, 4); but they put from them his grace, and reject the only Savior. The statement, in verse 46, that God wished to save them, but that they themselves rejected the word and salvation, teaches us to understand verse 48, which says that the gentiles believed, “as many as were ordained to eternal life.”— This cannot, then, by any possibility be construed to mean that God has ordained some to be saved and others to be damned; it is clear, in regard to the lost, that they are lost for the reason that they themselves put from them the life which God has prepared for them, and which he urges them to accept. But when they who are saved are said to have been ordained to eternal life, this points back to God’s eternal decree in Christ as the cause of our salvation, and is a source of strength to our faith and hope. It was not today, or yesterday, that the Lord decided to call you, dear Christian; it was decreed in the counsel of his love before the world was. He determined, not only to redeem us all by his only begotten Son; but he ordained you, that is, every believer, to become partaker of this salvation. He knew you from everlasting; and he saw that you would accept his call, repent, and believe, and keep the faith unto the end; and “whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” (Romans 8, 29. 30). Do hear this: Whom he called, and whom he justified, them he also glorified. Be, then, sure of this in faith! While we, on the one hand, hold fast the truth that God does not will the death of any sinner, but the conversion of all; and while all are to be told that they are created for salvation, that a place is prepared for each of them at the great supper, but that they are lost, if they do not turn to the Lord; — we declare, at the same time, to every believer: Your salvation rests on an eternal decree; on the immutable counsel of God’s good pleasure and will; and no man shall be able to separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
Lord, teach us to believe, and to build our hopes on thy grace alone; that we may be strengthened in our faith, obtain victory in every temptation, and finally reach a place at thy table in heaven. Amen.
My God is reconciled,
His pardoning voice I hear;
He owns me for his child,
I can no longer fear;
With confidence I now draw nigh,
And Father, Abba Father! Cry.