Program Air Date - 11-14-04



In Joshua 24:15, we read, "choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, ...But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." Praise God for our opportunity this day to serve Him. Furthermore, it is my hope and prayer that all of us have made this same determination in each of our lives - that we will serve God, with all of our house.

We thank you this day for joining us for the Living Word program. As always, it is a blessing to have you with us as we together break the bread of life and as we magnify our Creator. You have made the right decision to give this time to God, so let's all do so with our full hearts and in accordance to His Will.

So, as we continue to focus on God, will you bow with me in prayer.


Well, it is time to join in our first song of the morning. Our first Hymn focuses on the wondrous friend we have in Jesus. So, won't you participate with the congregation at this time as we sing together, "There's Not A Friend!"

(SONG # 1)


In Philippians 4:4-6, we read, "Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God!" What a great passage this is of strength and encouragement. And what precious truths are clarified here by this inspired writer of God.

The reality is, we need to learn to rejoice in the Lord in all things. Why? Because God is real, He is there and He has promised to be with us every step of the way. So whether we're experiencing joy or sorry, happiness or pain, our God will always pull us through - thus rejoice!

We also notice that Paul says that we should be gentle to all men. What better way can we exemplify Christ than by letting others see Him in our actions, words and deeds. Jesus certainly had a caring and gentle spirit towards all men, and we must learn to imitate this fine characteristic. Finally, notice that our text encourages us that we need not to worry, but rather we must learn to take all of our needs, wants and requests, before the mighty throne of God. And we know that if we speak to our God in prayer, He hears us and He answers our prayers according to His perfect and complete Will.

So how well are you living your life for the sake of God? Are you trusting in God in all things? Are you treating others in this world as God has commanded us to? And are you turning to God for the help which you need to make it through every day?

Our God is great, mighty and wondrous and with His help we truly and do and accomplish all things as He has commanded!

In just a few minutes it will be time to begin our main study of the day. As far as our topic of study, we will again focus on our series entitled, "From Heaven Or Men." Our specific lesson of the morning deals

with, "Predestination." So please stay with us for this study from God's Word, and I will be leading our thoughts at the appropriate time. Now let's join together in our next song of the morning. The name of this hymn, "Savior From Old Galilee."

(SONG # 2)


Speaker: Ray Sullins

We begin our program this morning with a verse found in Joshua 24 and verse 15 where the Bible tells us there in a choice what the children of Israel must determine or decide on. If you'll notice with me again it says, "Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve." Joshua here, being the leader of the Israelites, is now asking them on behalf of God to make the choice. Will you do like your fathers and serve idols or will you serve the Lord your God? And then he boldly makes the statement in the same verse, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Isn't it interesting that Joshua here gives Israel a choice. Even though they were the chosen people of God, not because of their wickedness and their rebellion, Joshua says, "You have a choice. Either follow God or not. If you follow God, you'll be blessed. If you do not, here are the punishments."

We can find even before Joshua's day this was the case, in fact with the very first man and woman there in Genesis chapter 2 and verse 15. We're told that God placed man and woman in the garden and there in verse 16, what is it that God commands man? He says to man, "Of every tree of the garden, you may freely eat, but of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, you shall not eat, for on the day that you eat of it, you will surely die." Notice here that God placed man in such a perfect setting and places them in a way where they will now have all things that they need and then He gives them a choice. He says, "You can do my will. Here's my command, but if you don't do it, guess what? You will die." A choice. A clear choice.

We can go to Noah's day there in Genesis 6 and we again find the wickedness of man had come about. But in 2nd Peter 2 and verse 5, we read that "Noah was a preacher of his day." In fact, he was a preacher of righteousness. And what was he preaching? The Will of God. And why was he preaching? Any preacher or proclaimer of the Word of God says what God's Will to man is so that individuals might obey it and repent and turn to God. Certainly Noah gave the generations of his day the opportunity to respond and repent and obey righteousness just as Noah was doing. They had a choice. He gave them a choice and notice their decision. They rejected it and all but eight souls were destroyed in the flood.

Not only there but also in Exodus chapter 32, we find a story where Moses, now coming off of the mountain after being given the commandments, finds Israel worshipping an idol that they had just made. He throws the tablets and they are broken and after the tablets are broken, what is it that Moses does? He grinds the calf up and places it in their water and he makes them drink it and immediately thereafter, he asks Israel to make a choice. He says, "Choose now who you will serve. If you will serve God, come to my side." Only the tribe of Levite came to the side of Moses. Again, all of Israel, the chosen people of God, those who we might even refer to as the Elect of God, were now given a choice. Those who we would have said, "Oh But God has already chosen them." They were given a choice as to whether they would serve God or not. If they served God, blessings followed. If they did not, just as in Joshua's day, Adam & Eve's day, or Noah's day, punishment, loss of life, and really God turning His face away from those who are disobedient.

Isn't it interesting that all of these stories clearly show us and hereafter as we look at the period of the judges and the kings, as we look at the period of bondage where they were in Babylonian captivity and Assyrian captivity, and we look at periods all the way up to the time of Jesus, over and over and over again to the people of God and to the world, a choice was given. Not only to Israel if you'll remember. Even strangers could come and be circumcised and dwell as an Israelite. All men had an opportunity if they knew the Will of God to obey it, and so certainly again, we find that they were chosen of God and what made them to be chosen was the reality that they obeyed God.

Well isn't it interesting though that many in our day and time would say that "really all of this is a bunch of hogwash or a hoax. It's something that we can't believe. It's not true because God had predestined everything." Now it is true according to the Ephesians if we look in chapter 3 and verse 11 and other places throughout the Ephesian letter that he talks about that God, according to His eternal purpose, even before He made the foundation of the world, planned all of these things that He would do. Certainly God has made the plan and He planned that someday He would give His son, even before He made the first of creation. But that does not negate the fact that He has now given man a choice although He has predestined the opportunity. But we have men and beliefs and religions today that claim that we are predestined and therefore whatever God had chosen before He created the world, whether Ray Sullins is a saved individual or whether he is lost, there's nothing I can do to change that. This is a doctrine that is often referred to as a part of a Calvinist type teaching, a teaching that says that really it doesn't matter what I do, how I live, what I say because God has already said whether I will be lost or will be saved and I cannot change that fact. What a waste of time. God made the whole world and He placed man in it and guess what, He already made us robots and we have no choice anyway, so what good are we? And not only that but He was lying to Adam and Eve because really He already knew they were going to fall and so because He already knew they were going to fall, He just caused them to fall and really He predestined them to fall. And the same in Noah's day and the same that we looked there in Joshua's day and on and on and on. God, a respector of persons? God, picking and choosing? God, not creating us equal actually, but choosing those whom He would pick? Choosing those whom will live eternally and choosing those who will be lost?

This same concept of predestination is often referred to as well as "election." The Bible does talk of the idea of predestination, but in what sense? We can actually turn over if you will to the New Testament and find several references in the book of Romans. In Romans chapter 8 beginning in verse 29, here Paul writing to the Roman church says the following. He says, "For whom He fore-knew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His son that He might be the firstborn among many brethren moreover whom He predestined, these He also called, whom He called, these He also justified and whom He justified, these He also glorified." You see, there is a terminology of predestination. God has predestined something.

We also notice there in 1 Thessalonians 1:4 as there the brethren of Thessalonica are addressed as "the beloved brethren," they are called as "the elect of God." Those who have been elected or chosen or those again predestined by God.

We can go again to the book of Peter there in 2 Peter chapter 1 and verse 10. The Bible continues and says the following, "Therefore brethren, be even more diligent to make your calling and election sure for if you do stumble into these things, you will never stumble," or rather "if you do these things you will never stumble."

Notice here where we already begin to see this concept of election to coming to light. This idea of predestination, when we do something, when we are involved in something, when a choice is made, when God has given us the opportunity as Israel of old to make a choice. What is it that separates man from God? Do you understand that when those who claim predestination takes away our choice that they are saying that Isaiah the prophet has lied in Isaiah 59 and verse 2 when he says, "It is sin that separates man from God." Well, it doesn't matter anyway according to predestination because either God has chosen you or He has not. What kind of God would we be serving if again He has already said, "You are lost," or He has already said, "You're saved," or He has already said, "I'm lost," or "I'm saved," and then He's just dangled this book in front of me and says, "Ha! Ha! I've already made my choice. You're just like a bunch of little rats or animals..." What a ridiculous doctrine! What a ridiculous thing to say that our God would do in fact because it contradicts the very things and principles and guidelines that His Word has set forth.

I want you to look with me at some other verses that certainly show us the type of God we serve. Again in 2 Peter chapter 3 and verse 9, it says, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise as some count slackness, but is long-suffering toward us not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." Is God a liar? He says He doesn't want anyone to be lost. He wants all to repent. How can He make that statement if He has already made the choice? He wants everybody to have that opportunity. Can God know all things? Can He actually know which way I am going to go? Does He force me? No, He does not, because He wants everyone to repent. He provides us all the same opportunity and privilege. The question is: Will we respond?

Not only there in that verse, but we also find in Matthew a very familiar text. In Matthew chapter 7 where Jesus again is addressing His disciples. He mentions there first of all in verse 15 that they should watch out for false teachers. Why? It was already predestined and it's already determined whether I'm saved or lost and God's already made His... Why warn people when it is already set in motion? You see that would be ridiculous. Verse 21 goes on to say, "Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the Will of my Father." You see where it goes back to the doing? It goes back to the working. It goes back to showing us that there is something that must be done to come on God's side, that we actually as they always have from the very beginning of creation and Adam and Eve had a choice just as they did as they were in the Garden of Eden.

Again in Romans chapter 2, if you'll look with me there beginning in verse 6, we find that Paul again speaking to the Roman brethren speaks of this same idea helping us to understand that our deeds determine what God will give us. In fact, in verse 6 he says that "we will be rendered according to our deeds, eternal life to those who are partakers, those who are patient, and those who are moral and good and glorious and those who are striving to stay away from unrighteousness." All this and why? Because verse 11 says, "God does not show partiality." You see that very verse itself, that concept would contradict the idea of predestination because it says that God does not show partiality. If He's already made the decision, if He's already chosen and you're either already saved or lost no matter what you do or think or say, then He has partiality. He has already shown partiality. God has not though! He has given us the opportunity and thanks be to God that He's not a liar, that He has made us a creature and that through obedience we know that we can become new creatures no matter who we were before. Do you remember there in 1 Corinthians it talks about the concepts of the wickedness of man? Even there in 1 Corinthians 6, it talks about those who were once involved and the wicked things of the world. Not because God made them but because they're flesh desired it and they gave in to their own desires and they sinned, but they had been washed in the blood of Christ. You see the plan had been predestined. God said, "Look, I'm going to give all men the opportunity." In John 3:16, "God so loved the world that He gave His only son..." Why? So that whoever believes in Him... He gave His son to die on the cross. He gave the plan. He prepared everything and He made ready the house that we enter into. He predestined it all. He made the election possible so that whoever believes in Him... You see there again the doing? Whoever works. God doesn't show partiality. Whoever has done the deeds, the deeds will justify him, or the deeds, s we read here, will condemn him.

I'd like to end in Matthew 28 in the very familiar what we often refer to as the Great Commission. Notice here what the Great Commission was to His disciples in relationship to our context today. "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit." He went there and He told the disciples to go into all nations. Mark says every creature, to all peoples, and to preach the gospel. If predestination be true, why on earth was He again lying to the disciples and lying to the world at that day when the things were already set in stone? The reality is that He wasn't lying. What He had predestined was the opportunity, the plan, the ability that we all have now to know that He wants us to repent and to do His Will and in the end be found as faithful in His sight. Faith has always been proven by our works.

And so will you choose now to respond to the plan that God has predestined for all men so that in the end you will be found as a faithful child with the reward of eternal life?

(SONG # 3 - "A Wonderful Savior!")


Let me thank you again for choosing to be with us today. How blessed we all are to have times like this to commit to the things of God. We invite you to join us every Lord's Day, at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this offering toward God!

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How wonderful it is to know that God has predestined for us a plan, so that anyone and all who choose to obey His precious Will - they may be saved. Have you responded to this wondrous opportunity from your God?

(Program closing)