The Bible says in Eph.2:3, "We all...were by nature the children of wrath." According to John 8:44, we are all the children of the Devil, and according to Matt. 3:7 we are all the offspring of vipers, and according to the sixteenth chapter of Ezekiel we are all illegitimate children born out of wedlock, dead in trespasses and sins, totally corrupt and discarded on the garbage heap of the world as fit subjects for Hell. There is nothing attractive in any individual that would merit the love of God. Therefore, God has a right to love whom He wants to, whom He pleases and how He pleases, and no man can tell Him, "Nay."
Then someone will jump up and say, "Oh, preacher, what about John 3:16 -- 'For God so loved the world'?" Now, let me give you the shock of your life -- that word "world" in John 3:16 means God's elect only, and not all mankind. I know that shocks you; but that shows how little we study our Bibles, and how little we know of God's dealings with human hearts. You listen! The manifestation of God's love must be traced back to His sovereignty. Why? Because God does not love by rule. If God loved by rule, God would be under law; and if God were under law, He would not be supreme.
God is a law unto Himself. You may say, "Well, I don't see that." All right, listen to God's Word, "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated" (Rom. 9:13). Now, God said that before they were ever born. He did that to let us know that the reason for His love was not in Jacob or in Esau but in Himself. Of the two, Esau was a better man, outwardly, than Jacob. The marvel of God*s grace and the exercise of His love is manifested in the ones He selects and chooses to be the objects of His love. Why did He choose me? I don't understand it. There was nothing in me to attract His love, but He chose me, accepted me in the Beloved (Eph.l:6), drew me with the lovingkindness of an everlasting love (Jer. 31 :3), and shed abroad His love in my heart by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5).
Now, listen to Eph. 1:3-5,
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself according to the good pleasure of his will."
We see here in this Scripture that it was "in love" that the Father elected, chose and predestinated His children; in other words, before the foundation of the world God elected His family according to the good pleasure of His will. He did not select a single one of us because He saw some good in us, or saw that we would believe, for we were no different from anyone else, and the only thing that made the difference was His distinguishing, sovereign grace. And He chose each one according to the good pleasure of His will.
To me this is one of the greatest, most comforting truths in God's Word-to think that I have been an object of His love before the foundation of the world, and that He knew me before I was ever born. Now, this great truth of God's Word deflates us and destruts [sic] us and takes all our pride and all our importance away from us. That is the reason you hate the God of the Bible-because this leaves you at the disposal of a sovereign God.
Let's go a step further, and we see that God is sovereign in the exercise or manifestation of His grace or the bestowal of His grace upon undeserving, Hell-deserving individuals. Justice stands at one end of the line and grace at the other in God's dealing with humanity. The justice of God demands the enforcement of God's law. As all have sinned, so death reigns upon all; therefore, all deserve to go to Hell. Justice bestows no favor, no mercy and is no respecter of persons. Justice said, "Man must die"; the love of God said, "Man must live." Justice said, "I demand an impartial enforcement of the law." Love said, "My elect must live." Love would not let go; therefore, the Second Person of the Triune God said, "Father, I will interpose for Your elect; I will pay their sin-debt; I will stand good for their bond." Therefore, He became a baby in Bethlehem, took upon Himself the form of a servant, took that body to the cross and paid the sin-debt in full to the last farthing. He went back to Heaven leaving the empty tomb, cancelling the sin-debt against God's elect; therefore, God can bestow grace upon His elect.
He sent the Holy Spirit to call out His elect and to reveal to their hearts that they were no different from anyone else, that God did not choose them for any attraction in them. He also reveals the utterly corrupt, vile, sinful nature of that sinner and shows him that he deserves to go to Hell, he is condemned to die, and that he does not deserve mercy. Yes, it is only as the Holy Spirit opens that sinner's heart that he sees that he is Hell-deserving, and recognizes himself as an utterly lost, ruined, wretched, miserable, bankrupt individual, an object of mercy. The same blessed Holy Spirit leads him to look to Christ who died for him as his only hope, the only way out, and as a condemned sinner, an utterly lost sinner, one who does not deserve to be saved, he trusts the atoning blood.
Then God bestows His grace upon such a low, loathsome, contemptible wretch by delivering him from the power of Satan, forgiving his sins, translating him into the kingdom of God and adopting him into the family of God as His child -- all because Christ died for him. Now that is grace, and God bestows His grace upon whomsoever He wills, whom He chooses, and whom He desires, and you cannot make God save you, but you can bow before Him.
I know when I was under conviction they said, "We just doubt that Brother Shelton will ever get saved." You see, I had been preaching 25 years before the Lord awakened me. But that threw me on my face crying, "Lord, make me as a little child. Lord, there are only a few that be saved, but I want to be one of those few. Lord, here I am; take me. If You can get more glory out of sending me to Hell, I'll go to Hell; but if You will, save me by Your grace." And He did! He saved me by His grace, and I am what I am, because of the grace of God. (If you want that story, "How and When God Saved a Baptist Preacher," you write me, and I'll send it to you.) Sinner-friend, the Sovereignty of God is the greatest, most comforting doctrine for you awakened sinners that you will find anywhere.
Now, brother, the Sovereignty of God does away with all your little "decision for Christ," your signing of pledge cards and your religious programmes, and your fleshly movements, and your silk-handkerchief preaching, and it throws you upon your face before a sovereign God as clay in the hands of the Potter. Now, that is so, whether you like it or not. He is God on the throne, and that is the reason folks hate Him and rebel against Him and gnash on Him with their teeth. The greatest thing in the world is to be an object of God's love and an object of God's mercy and His grace. Just to think that you and I have robbed God, have trampled Him under our feet, have rebelled against Him, have done despite to the Spirit of grace, have taken the breath which He has given us and used it to curse Him with, the food He has given to strengthen us to rebel against Him, and then for Jesus' sake He would call us and bring us because of His grace to Christ to save us and forgive us is amazing grace! Now, that is the God I know; that is the God I preach; that is the God I worship; that is the God of the Bible!