Why are any saved?

CHAPTER 10: OF EFFECTUAL CALLING
(Parts Three & Four)

So what about those who do not receive the effectual call, or are, using other terms, not elected to salvation?

First, if the concept of God electing some to salvation and allowing others to continue on their natural path of sin offends you as “unfair,” let me ask you to consider the following:  “Fair” means every person is lost because “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  And because “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), all are lost for eternity.  No one who understands the holiness of God, and therefore, the sinfulness of man, wants justice for all!  But if in His providence God chooses to save some, is He therefore obligated to save all to be fair?  I hope you can see that the answer is no.

Second, God “commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:3).  Those who do not, do not because they are free to do as they please.  Those who repent and trust in Jesus do so because God has elected them to salvation (based on nothing whatsoever in them).  Those who repent and trust in Jesus do so because God has graciously extended an effectual call, coupled with the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, resulting in a new heart, faith, repentance, and subsequently conversion.

(Part Four)

There are many who hear the outward, or general, call of the Gospel, but reject it outright.  There are many others who, hearing only the outward call, respond with religious activity, but because they have not received the effectual call of God’s Spirit, they are not truly converted. 

These people’s spiritual state is confirmed by 1 John 2:19 which says, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.

But even if they persevere in their spiritually dead religion, they shall not be saved but will be like those of whom Jesus spoke in Matthew 7:21-23, not denying their good works, but saying “Depart from Me you workers of iniquity, I never knew you.”

Those who hear the effectual call not only respond; but they persevere in the faith, even in the midst of the most difficult of life’s trials.  Nothing or no one can remove them from the love of God (Romans 8:35-39). 

If no one can come to Christ, how can anyone be saved?

CHAPTER 10: OF EFFECTUAL CALLING
Parts One & Two

Since all men are born dead in sin (our sin, not God’s, so charge cannot be laid on Him!); and since spiritual deadness renders all people disinterested and unwilling to look to Christ for salvation, if left to ourselves, no one would be saved.  No one.

In His mercy, God has therefore, appointed some to be saved.  This salvation takes place because the Holy Spirit regenerates (brings to life) the spiritually dead, who He has appointed to eternal life (Acts 13:48).  When this happens, the spiritually regenerated person “hears” the gospel message, not only with his ears (as he may have repeatedly in the past, yet with no effect), but effectually (meaning it accomplishes God’s desired effect) with his heart.  Regeneration causes the gospel to make sense and become compelling.  It becomes all-important to the extent that the previously disinterested person wants to surrender to Christ and longs to follow Him.

This effectual calling does not save anyone against his will.  Rather, God graciously changes the person’s will so that he comes freely, willingly, and eagerly.  This effectual calling is by God’s grace alone, not being based on anything foreseen in those God is pleased to effectually call to salvation.  All glory for salvation, therefore, belongs to God alone.

(Part Two)

The effectual calling of God, whereby individuals are saved, depends on nothing whatsoever in the individual.  It is a sovereign work of God.  The individual is not even a partner with God in salvation.  As Jonah 2:9 succinctly says: “Salvation is of the Lord.”

Not only do saved individuals do nothing to cause their faith, they do not even contribute to their faith.  Spiritually dead people have no faith to contribute.  So, even one’s saving faith is God’s sovereign and gracious gift.  It is for this reason that regeneration must precede faith—though most Christians get that order wrong, insisting that one is born again because one believes.  Apart from the effectual call of God, no matter how religious a person may be, he cannot be saved.  As Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father draws Him” (John 6:44 emphasis added).  And drawing is not wooing until a person decides to come to Christ.  It is a unilateral action taken by God like a man drawing a sword out of his sheath (John 18:10), or like dragging a person to court (Acts 16:19, James 2:6).

God’s effectual call is so effectual, that saved infants and the redeemed that are incapable of understanding the outward call of the gospel (preaching) do, nevertheless, receive the effectual call and are saved.

Remember this: no one who is lost is lost because God kept him from believing.  Personal sin keeps people from believing.  But by the effectual call of God, He graciously overcomes that inability.

The truth about one of the biggest myths believed even in the Church

CHAPTER 9: Of Free Will
Parts One and Two

God has given human beings the natural liberty and power of acting upon choice.  In their state of innocence (before sin and the fall), the first humans had freedom and power to will and to do what was pleasing to God.  But they also had the freedom and power to do what displeased God.

When they chose to do what was displeasing to God (disobey and sin)
(Genesis 3), they, and all their descendants after them ever since, lost the ability to desire what is truly pleasing to God, and instead were left with an innate desire to please themselves above God (Romans 5:12-21).  The Bible refers to this state as being “dead in trespasses and sin” (Ephesians 2:4-5). 

In this state of spiritual deadness, no human being seeks God (Romans 3:10-18).  Those who are spiritually dead have neither the desire nor the ability to do anything to make themselves acceptable to God (John 6:44), who demands perfect holiness from those He created in His image (Leviticus 11:44-45, 19:2, Matthew 5:48, 1 Peter 1:16).  This is why we need God’s grace, or unmerited favor, to be forgiven of our sins, to receive a heart for God,  and to be reconciled to Him.  God gives this grace by regenerating, or giving new birth to His people.  As Jesus put it, “You must be born again” (John 3:3-8).

 (Part Two)

Being “spiritually dead,” human beings are incapable of not sinning.  Thankfully, that does not mean that we are as sinful as we could be.  It does mean, however, that we are (a) incapable of doing anything that cannot be improved upon, and (b) that we never do anything solely for the glory of God.

Beyond what people do or do not do, our greater problem is that of the will.  Sinful people act sinfully because we want to.  Our affections are not inclined toward perfect righteousness.  It is, therefore, our wills and our affections that are at the core of our sin problem.  We are slaves to sin because we are bound by our own prevailing sinful desires and affections.

We must choose to believe and repent; but no one who, dead in sin, ever will.  Why?  Because being dead in sin we have neither the will nor or the desire to believe in Christ, or to repent of sin

How then can one be saved?  We must choose to believe and repent; and God does neither for us.  But to the praise of His benevolence, without violating our wills, God sovereignly and most graciously changes His people’s wills and captures His people’s affections so that we believe and repent most willingly and even eagerly. 

One Mediator Two Natures

CHAPTER 8: Of Christ the Mediator
(Parts Seven & Eight)

The strength of our Mediator is incredibly great.  He not only atoned for the sins of and redeemed all those who would ever believe in Him after His work on the cross was finished, but the benefit of that same work was applied and communicated to the elect of all ages—including those who lived and died before His work on the cross.  All who were ever saved, are saved, or will be saved, are saved by the finished work of Jesus Christ and by no other means whatsoever.

How is this possible?  Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God slain from before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8), and He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

No one at any time has been or will be saved except by faith in what Christ has done to redeem His elect.  The elect who lived before Christ trusted in what God would do for them—even though they had no knowledge of the details of how He would do it.  All of the elect who have lived, or will live after Christ, trust in what God has already done in Christ.  Because of where we live on the timeline, we have greater knowledge of Christ and of what He has accomplished on behalf of those He came to save, than those who lived and died before Jesus accomplished salvation for His people.

 (Part Eight)

To be our Mediator Jesus had to be fully God and fully man.  From eternity past He was fully God and not man, but when He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb, while not becoming any less than fully God, He also became fully man.  He continues to be fully God and fully man ever since, and He will continue as fully God and fully man forever.

Both natures (divine and human) are resident in one Person.  Sometimes Jesus’ humanity is in clearer view in the scriptures (John 1:14; Luke 23 46).  At other times His deity is more in view (John 1:1, 5:18; Colossians 2:9).  This is no problem because He is fully God and fully man.  That is why He is the perfect (only) Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5); the Prophet, Priest and King of the Church of God.

We need His prophetic office, since without His Word, we remain in darkness (John 6:67-68; Luke 4:24).  We need His priestly office because if He had not offered Himself as the sinless Lamb of God who takes away the sin of those He came to save, we would remain enemies of God, deserving only of His wrath.  He continues as our Priest by constantly interceding for us (Hebrews 7:25).  We need His kingly office to convince, subdue, draw, uphold, deliver, and preserve us to His heavenly kingdom (John 12:15, 18:37; 1 Timothy 6:15).

The Mediator solves our TWO big problems

CHAPTER 8: Of Christ the Mediator
(Parts Five & Six)

Jesus, the eternal Son of God, was, and is, both God and man; having both natures in One Person.  He was like no other man who ever lived (Matthew 8:27).  Besides having a divine nature, He was filled with the Holy Spirit as no other man ever was or will be: “holy, harmless, undefiled” (Hebrews 7:26), and “full of grace and truth” (John 1:17).  When it was time to execute the office of Mediator, He did so willingly, not of His own accord alone, but in obedience to the will of His Father (John 5:19).

As the Mediator, He fulfilled the Law for those He represents (Matthew 5:17).  He underwent the punishment due those He came to save (Romans 4:25, Matthew 1:21).  Though He “knew no sin,” He was “made sin” and was a “accursed” for His elect (2 Corinthians 5:21, Galatians 3:13).  He endured not only the hatred of the Jewish religious elite, but also the wrath of Rome as He was beaten, mocked, and scorned.  Yet these were nothing compared to His death on the cross where He received the unbridled wrath of His Father for the sin and guilt of His people.

While dead for three days, He experienced no corruption and on the third day He arose from the dead with the same body in which He suffered (John 2:19-21), with which He also ascended into Heaven (Luke 24:51, Acts 1:9-11), where he continues as Mediator, ever interceding for His own (Hebrews 7:25).

 (Part Six)

We were all born with two BIG problems.  The first is that our sin condemns us (Romans 3:23, 6:23).  The second is that even if our sins were forgiven, we lack righteousness (Romans 3:10).  Jesus, our perfect Mediator, has addressed and overcome both of those problems.  How?

First, by His active obedience to do the Father’s will throughout His sinless life, Jesus earned the reward that He would give to the righteous, if there were any righteous—which there are not.  Second, by His passive obedience Jesus subjected Himself to death on the cross, by which He purchased complete forgiveness for all sins of those He came to save. 

By these two acts of obedience, our Mediator made His people “not guilty” and altogether “righteous” in the eyes of God.  God’s justice regarding our sins has been satisfied, and His requirement of righteousness has been met—not by us, but by Jesus on our behalf.

Our Mediator will one day return to earth as Judge of all people.  Those who have sinned (all men) and who have rejected God’s one and only Mediator, will be assigned their place in the eternal lake of fire (Revelation 20:15).  Those who have sinned (all men) but who have received God’s one and only Mediator as Savior and Lord, will be gathered by Christ and will be delivered safely into Heaven for eternity as both “not guilty,” and as “righteous as Christ is righteous.”

Jesus, who is God, is the only Mediator. To have any others is blasphemy.

Chapter 8: Of Christ the Mediator (Parts Three & Four)

It pleased God from all eternity past to ordain Jesus, the eternally Begotten Son of God, to be the only Mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5).  As Mediator, Jesus is Prophet, Priest, and King. 

As the Prophet, He represents God to man, not only declaring God’s Word (Mark 1:14, 38), but by being the Incarnate Word of God (John 1:1). 

As our Great High Priest, He represents man to God, not only offering a sacrifice for man’s sin, but offering Himself as the once-for-all, never-to-be-repeated Sacrifice for man’s sin (Hebrews 7:27, 10:11-12).  He continues as our Great High Priest, ever living to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25). 

As our King, He rules over all things (Ephesians 1:22, Revelation 19:16).

Christ is the Head of His Body, the Church (Colossians 1:18).  He is the Savior of His Church (Ephesians 5:23).  He is the Heir of all things (Hebrews 1:2).  He is the Judge of all the world (John 5:22; 2 Corinthians 5:10).

(Part Four)

The Son of God is the second Person in the Holy Trinity.  He is eternal God, equal in every way with the Father and the Holy Spirit—including in His substance, essence, and being.  He is the physical expression of the brightness of the Father's glory (Hebrews 1:3).  Everything that is made was made through Christ (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16).  He also sustains and governs all He has created (Colossians 1:16).

In the fullness of time, Christ assumed a human nature (Philippians  2:7), was conceived by a supernatural act of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35; Matthew 1:20) and born of the virgin, Mary (Matthew 1:23; Luke 2:4-7).  While never being any less God, He became a man in every way except that He was without sin (Hebrews 4:15). 

From that time forward and on into eternity, Christ has two natures, divine and human, that are inseparably joined in one Person.  His two natures are distinct, yet never separated, never confused, or co-mingled as one nature.  This God Man is the one and only Mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5).

There is only one fit to be our Mediator

CHAPTER 8: Of Christ the Mediator 
(Parts One & Two)

God’s plan to save sinners, which is actually about His grace more than it is about our salvation, begins with His decision from all eternity past that the eternally begotten Son of God be the Savior of His people (Matthew 1:21).  He alone is the perfect Mediator between God who is holy and man who is sinful (1 Timothy 2:5).

He is the perfect Prophet who represents God to man and gives man God’s Word (Matthew 7:28-29, John 4:19).  He is the perfect Priest who represents man to God, interceding on man’s behalf (Hebrews 4:14-15, 7:25-26).  He is the perfect King who rules over all with perfect justice and who teaches by His example that the way to rule is to serve (John 12:14-15, 1 Timothy 6:13-15, Revelation 19:16).  He is the perfect Head over the company of those He saves, which we call the Church (Ephesians 1:22, Colossians 1:18).

He is the Heir of all things—all things are His because He is God (Hebrews 1:2). 
He is the perfect Judge of all the world because as God, He knows all things and is righteous in all His ways (Matthew 25:31-46).  The Father has given to Him from all eternity an elect people who He has graciously redeemed from sin (John 18:9), called to Himself, justified (declared righteous because of what He has done for them), is sanctifying (making holy), and will glorify (one day removing them from all sin and delivering them safely into the presence of God in Heaven for eternity.)

(Part Two)

The Confession rightly points out that the Bible teaches that Jesus, the Son of God, is God (John1:1).  He is the second Person of the Trinity.  (We dealt more specifically with the Trinity when we covered Chapter 2 of the Confession.)  What is pertinent in this chapter is that Jesus, the Son of God, is God.  He is one in essence and being with the Father and the Holy Spirit.  He is co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Spirit.  The Son is the co-Creator of all things; He sustains and governs all things that He has created.

At a specific point in time, the Son became a Man in every way (except without sin).  In so doing He never ceased, even for an instant, to be less than God in every way.  He is the only Person ever to have both a human and divine nature.  His two distinct natures are inseparably joined together in one Person and cannot be co-mingled into one hybrid nature, or separated into two persons.  While His deity is from eternity past, His humanity began when He was conceived in the womb of the virgin, Mary.  He is the God-Man forever into eternity future.  As the God-Man, Jesus is the only Mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5). 

Our Mediator lived for us (sinlessly), died for us (vicariously), rose for us (victoriously), intercedes for us (ceaselessly), and will return again for us (triumphantly).

All previous covenants point to Christ; the New Covenant is fulfilled in Christ

Chapter 7:  Of God's Covenant 
(Parts One-Three)

The Confession recognizes the Bible’s teaching that the relationship between God and man must be initiated by God.  Without God’s initiation, man would not even know of God.  Man would have no idea how to obey God, nor would man even desire to do so.  God, therefore, condescends to initiate relationship with man through covenants. 

God’s first covenant with man was the Covenant of Works established in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve.  In this covenant God gave Adam life, many blessings, and one command: “Do not eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:16-17).  God wrapped the command in a threat: “In the day you eat, you shall surely die.”

The covenant was initiated by God and included great blessing from God.  It also contained a responsibility of man, and a consequence for failing to uphold that responsibility: death!  We all know what happened.  Man failed to keep his part of the Covenant of Works by breaking God’s one law.  As a result, though Adam and Eve did not die physically on the spot, (a) they  experienced spiritual death;  (b) they began to die physically (and eventually they did die); and (c) all Adam’s offspring have been born spiritually dead ever since (Romans 5:12-21).

The good news will continue in Part 2.

(Part 2)

Last time: The bad news is that when Adam sinned breaking the covenant of works, all of humanity became sinners (Romans 5:12-21).  This time: The good news s that on the very day our first parents sinned, God unveiled the first installment of the Covenant of Grace (Genesis 3:15-16, 21).  God has related Himself to man through the Covenant of Grace ever since.

Though man brought himself under the curse of the law by sinning, God graciously and immediately instituted the Covenant of Grace.  Under this covenant God offers forgiveness of sin and eternal life in Heaven (rather than eternal wrath).  This Covenant of Grace is based on the person and work of Jesus Christ.  He kept the Law for sinful men and He died to pay the penalty for sinful men.

This covenant, though declared to all people, is only applied to those who trust in Jesus Christ as the only way to God (John 3:16-18).

One major problem is that left to ourselves in sin, no one will trust in Christ for salvation, because in our sinful fallen state no one has any desire to trust in Christ and repent of sin (John 5:50).

That brings up the next essential factor of grace in the Covenant of grace.  God elects some (but not all) to be spiritually reborn by the Holy Spirit.  When a person elected to salvation is reborn, God graciously changes that person’s heart, giving him both the faith to trust in Christ and a desire to repent and follow Christ.

Salvation is all of God and all of grace. 

(Part 3)

God’s Covenant of grace was first extended to Adam and Eve immediately after their sin in the Garden of Eden.  There in the Garden of Eden, God foretold of a Deliverer who would come and defeat the devil (Genesis 3:15).  This Deliverer was said to be “the Seed of the Woman.”  From our vantage point on the time line, we can see that this clearly points to the virgin-born Son of God; but if a person had no information beyond what is written in Genesis 3:15, that person would not know that this the coming Deliverer was Jesus. 

Throughout the Old Testament, God continued revealing more information about the Covenant of Grace, making numerous covenants with His people, each time giving promises to His people that progressively pointed more clearly to Jesus as the Deliverer. 

The fullness of the Covenant of Grace was revealed in the New Covenant in Christ Jesus (Matthew 26:28).  All of the preceding covenantal promises were fulfilled in Christ when He lived sinlessly and died vicariously for those He came to save.

Natural Born Sinners? Really?

Chapter 6:  Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and of the Punishment Thereof
(Parts Three & Four)

Adam and Eve’s sin affected not only them; it affects all their posterity.  Adam was (as explained in Romans 5:12-21) the federal representative for all mankind.  Because all we who, though not yet even conceived, were “in him,” when he sinned, we sinned.  Proof?  Death has reigned ever since, just as God promised.

The cry of the natural man is almost always, “That’s not fair.”  But think about it.  Aren’t their countless decisions made by others, over which we have no control, that affect us?  The president declares war, and whether we are for it or against it, we are at war.  Parents move due to a job change, and whether the children like it or not, they are uprooted and resettled into another town.  Examples could go on and on.  The point is, as our federal representative, Adam’s sin is our sin as well.

For those who insist that they want to be judged for their own lives, not the life of Adam, our sins only confirm our sinfulness and validate God’s just judgment.  So even if we were not guilty in Adam (which we are) we are no less off the hook.

One more thing: If we reject the concept of a federal head standing in the place of those he represents, we must also reject Christ as the Federal Head over all who are saved.  Just as Adam’s sin condemns all who are “in him,” Christ’s righteousness saves all who are “in Him.”  Are people are “in Adam.” The question is, are you “in Christ”?

 (Part 4)

Jesus said we must be perfect even as our Father in Heaven is perfect. [1]  We not only do not do anything perfectly, Adam’s sin has corrupted all mankind, rendering us incapable of doing anything (much less everything) perfectly. 

Because we are born into this condition, the Bible says we are by nature children of wrath [2] and servants of sin, the subjects of death. [3]   Because (a) we are sinners by nature, (b) we commit sins, not the other way around.  Stated another way, we are not sinners because we sin; we sin because we are sinners.

Even after we are born again, given new hearts, and made new people, [4] vestiges of the  corruption of the Adamic nature remains until we are glorified and in Heaven, where there is no more temptation or sin—at all. 

In the mean time, let us put off the old man and put on the new man, growing in sanctification, looking forward longingly to that great day of glorification.

[1] Mat 5:48,   [2] Eph 2:3,   [3] Rom 6:20; 5:12.  [4] 2 Cor 5:17.

Was God in charge of Adam's sin? Did Adam's sin affect all human beings?

Chapter 6: Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and of the Punishment Thereof (Parts One & Two)

God graciously created man upright and sinless.  God gave man His righteous law, which at that point contained only one prohibition: “Do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (Genesis 2:16-17)  Had man keep, instead of broken that law, he would have continued to live forever in perfect harmony with God in the garden.  But God was so serious about man’s obedience that He wrapped the law in a threat.  “In the day you eat of it [the fruit from the forbidden tree] you shall surely die.”

Satan, the father of lies (John 8:44) and the master of subtlety (Genesis 3:1), used a serpent to tempt and overcome Eve, who then tempted and overcame her husband, Adam.

“Life or death?”  Our first father Adam, without compulsion, willingly broke God’s law, choosing disobedience and the promised subsequent death over obedience and life.

None of this was beyond God’s sovereign control.  God permissively decreed it in order to show His grace to mankind for His greater glory. (Ephesians 2:7)

(Part Two)

 When Adam and Eve sinned, they not only fell from their original state of righteous communion with God, their sin became “spiritually genetic.”  Because they are the original parents of the entire human race, all of their posterity are also ruined by their sin (Romans 5:12).  When Adam and Eve died spiritually, all of us who were “in them” and would ever come from them, also died spiritually.  All human beings since are born in sin and are spiritually slaves to sin (John 8:34, Romans 6:16-17). 

People usually do not think this is fair and therefore often reject this biblical teaching.  Yet we have no problem accepting (even if we do not like it) that we genetically inherit from our parents everything else we are.  We have nothing to say about our height, or our hair and eye color, do we?  Neither do we have any say in the fact that we are natural born sinners—like it or not!

Application?  This is why Jesus said “unless a man is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  Our first birth is in sin and leads to judgment.  It is the second birth of which Jesus spoke that leads to righteousness and entrance into the kingdom of God (Romans 5:15-19).

Does God actually decree ALL things?

CHAPTER 5: Of Divine Providence  (Parts Three & Four)

In His providence, the Lord accomplishes His will either by working through people and circumstances, apart from people and circumstances, or even in opposition to people and circumstances.  As Psalm 115:3 clearly states, “Our God is in Heaven; He does as He pleases.”  The accomplishment of God’s pleasure, not people or circumstances, is what determines all things.

The question is often asked, why does God allow evil, pain, and suffering in the world?  The answer is that according to His wisdom and goodness, God providentially brings about His purposes, the sins of men notwithstanding.  Though God does not endorse sin, nor is He responsible for sin in any way (God is not tempted by evil nor does He Himself tempt anyone to do evil, James 1:13), God providentially decreed that Adam and Eve would sin, and that that sin would result in the fall of humanity.  God did not merely permit sin (of man and angels) He determined it to bring about His ultimate purpose: to show grace in saving sinful people for His own glory.  He decreed that they would do according to their desires so that He could achieve His most holy and benevolent ends.  It is because of their sin that He most brilliantly reveals His grace to forgive sinners.

When we do not understand God, it is because He is beyond us, never because there is any contradiction in Him.  There is only one reason to have a problem with this: our view of God is small.  Is anything too hard for God?

(Part Four)

At times God providentially decrees even His beloved children to face temptations and sin to bring about in us greater holiness and dependence on Him.  Would we not all agree that our greatest times of spiritual growth are the result of trials, even if those trials are the consequences of our own sin?

As the Confession states it: “Whatsoever befalls any of His elect is by His appointment, for His glory, and their good.”

Why are the wicked and ungodly as they are?  This also is God’s providence.  As the righteous Judge (He cannot do evil), God blinds the eyes of some, withholding His grace.  Someone objects, “That’s not fair!”  Isn’t it?  Let us not forget that God makes no man evil, nor is He in any way responsible for the evil anyone does.  Evil resides in man due to his own sin and rebellion.  God owes no one grace.  If He did, it would not be grace but a debt owed by God.

When people persist in their sin and rebellion, suppressing the truth about God in unrighteousness, God sometimes turns them over to their sinful desires, withholding even the restraining grace that previously kept them from being as bad as they would otherwise be if it were not for God’s intervention on their behalf.

Lastly, regarding God’s providence, He cares for all creatures as a benevolent Creator, but He cares especially, and in special ways, for His people, those saved by His grace.

Yes, God uses even sinful acts by human beings to accomplish His purposes

CHAPTER 5: Of Divine Providence  (Part s One & Two)

God graciously created man upright and sinless.  God gave man His righteous law, which at that point contained only one prohibition: “Do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”  Had man kept instead of broken that law, he would have continued to live forever in perfect harmony with God in the Garden.  But God was so serious about man’s obedience that He wrapped the law in a threat:  “In the day you eat of it [the fruit from the forbidden tree] you shall surely die.”

Satan, the master of subtlety, used a serpent to tempt and overcome Eve, who then tempted and overcame her husband, Adam.

“Life or death?”  Our first father Adam, without compulsion, willingly broke God’s law, choosing disobedience and the promised subsequent death over obedience and life.

None of this was beyond God’s sovereign control.  God permissively decreed it in order to show His grace to mankind for His greater glory. (Ephesians 2:7)

 (Part Two)

The doctrine of God’s Providence instructs us that while God is the first cause of all things, and that all things He decrees will necessarily come to pass, leaving nothing to chance, God also providentially works through secondary causes.  Secondary causes include decisions and acts of sinful people—including sinful decisions and acts.  Almighty God is able, however, to even use these even these secondary causes to bring His will to pass, without being responsible for sin committed by those He created. 

A classic example is Christ’s crucifixion.  This greatest of all injustices ever committed was carried out by the hands of sinful people.  But according to Acts 2:23, it was also clearly the providential will of God by which He would forgive the elect of their sins.  What a comfort to know that God is in control of all things—including the sinful acts of people, for the purposes of His perfect will.