By Grace Alone

Brent Aucoin October 8, 2017 Ezekiel 16
Outline

5 Pillars of the Christian Faith

Sola gratia—By Grace Alone

Sola fide—Through Faith Alone

Solo Christo—Christ Alone

Sola scriptura—As found in the Scriptures Alone

Soli Deo Gloria—To the Glory of God Alone

Ezekiel 16 presents three truths to help us understand God’s Grace

1) Understand our condition before God—not viable to live the life for which He created us

Question: Is the discarded baby in Ezekiel 16 free to live if she so chooses?

Our spiritual life is unviable—incapable of life on our own.

“God command what Thou willest, but give what Thou commandest.”—Augustine

Question:  What has to happen to a discarded baby in order for it to live?

Answer: Only something external to it must come to give it the possibility of life.

Ezekiel 16:6 - When I passed by you and saw you squirming in your blood, I said to you while you were in your blood, “Live!” Yes, I said to you while you were in your blood, “Live!”

Colossians 2:13 - When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him…

“God must first make himself known before we can know him, and he must first call us before we can call on him; and then his grace works within us to enable us to do this.” Carl Trueman, Grace Alone, p. 56

2) Understand how God magnified our condition by showing us how we could never be righteous even with “rules.”

Question: When you think of a wicked city in the Bible, what city do you think of?

Ezekiel 16:48, 52 - “As I live,” declares the Lord God, “Sodom, your sister and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done…Because of your sins in which you acted more abominably than they, they are more in the right than you. Yes, be also ashamed and bear your disgrace, in that you made your sisters appear righteous.

Question: Why was Israel “worse” than Sodom?

Answer:  One reason is that Israel had been the recipient of the knowledge of God through the law. God had given Israel the beautiful adornments of God’s righteous requirements (Ezekiel 16:9–15).

Paul summarizes in Romans 5:20 “The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; …”

Those with moral “rules” like Israel—the “religious”—or those without “rules” like Sodom—the “irreligious” — have the same issue because they are from the same parents. Our hearts love something other than God alone. And we give all or “pay” for these other gods.

Ezekiel 16:44-45 - Behold, everyone who quotes proverbs will quote this proverb concerning you, saying, “Like mother, like daughter.” You are the daughter of your mother…You are also the sister of your sisters,…Your mother was a Hittite and your father an Amorite.

“Augustine’s great insight…is that sin is far more radical. It is something that is inherent in humans being after the fall. To have sinned in Adam is not simply to have followed a poor example. It is to be subject to a fundamental change in the human relationship to God and to self. It involves a corruption of human nature that came about directly as a result of Adam disobeying God. I love myself rather than God, am ignorant of the good, and I will die because of the actions of Adam long ago in the garden of Eden, confirmed here and now by my own twisted psychology and inability to love God as I should.” – Carl R. Trueman, Grace Alone, p. 79.

We are incapable of loving God in our naturally born state and life.

3) Understand that grace is God’s “gift” response to our unviable birth condition and our perpetually adulterous heart

Ezekiel 16:60-63  - “Nevertheless, I will remember My covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you…Thus I will establish My covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the Lord, …when I have forgiven you for all that you have done,” the Lord God declares.

a. Israel (and you and I) paid for her false gods to love her, without ever being satisfied. What she (and you and I) would need is the One satisfying God who would love her and would pay for her—that would be grace

1 Peter 1:18 - …knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.

b. Israel (and you and I) was exposed in the “shame of her nakedness” (her unrighteousness). What she (and you and I) would need was a God who is righteous who would bear the shame of her nakedness and give her His righteousness—that would be grace

Mark 15:24 - And they crucified Him and divided up His garments.

2 Corinthians 5:21 - He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

c. Israel (and you and I) was born from adulterous parents. What she (and you and I) would need was to be born again through a pure parent—that would be grace

John 3: 3-7 - Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” Jesus answered, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again’…Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things?”

John 1: 12-13 - But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

GRACE FIRST AND FOREMOST IS GOD’s LOVING RESPONSE TO OUR INABILIABLITY TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT OUR CONDITION. THUS GRACE IS NO MERE SENTIMENT OR PITY, BUT IT IS GOD’s REAL RESPONSE IN GIVING THE PERSON AND WORK OF JESUS CHRIST.

 

Today we are continuing our 5 part series on the

5 Pillars of the Christian Faith

…that formed the foundation for the Protestant reformation which began 500 years ago on October 31 (Halloween) when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg Church in Germany.

If you want a good Halloween costume this October…maybe go as Martin Luther. Or the Wittenberg castle door. Or the 95 theses.

God used the “reformation” to bring His people back to the fundamentals truths of the Christian Faith

These 5 pillars are often called the 5 Solas

Sola gratia—By Grace Alone

Sola fide—Through Faith Alone

Solo Christo—Christ Alone

Sola scriptura—As found in the Scriptures Alone

Soli Deo Gloria—To the Glory of God Alone

I would encourage you to know well the English version even if you never do remember the Latin version.

Last Week P. Viars spoke to you about Sola scriptura—the Scriptures Alone

This week I would like to speak to you about Sola gratia—

By Grace Alone—Salvation as God’s Response to Humanity’s Unviable Condition

The apostle Paul says that salvation is a “gift” of God.

We in our culture may have heard that so much that it is possible that we have lost the sense of what Paul meant by that term gift.

For just a moment, think of the last gift you received.

For me the last gift I received was this one-of a kind shirt with two of my passions on it….

That fact that someone made that gift for me and thought about some of  the things I like—bacon and Starwars—meant a lot to me.

And I thanked the individual for their thoughtfulness.

However, I have a question for you.

Was I incapable of getting that gift on my own?

If I had thought about making a shirt like that was I incapable of obtaining that?

Think about most of the gifts you receive. For the most part are you INCAPABLE of obtaining that gift on your own?

For the most part the answer is no.

And when we think of gifts, certainly we are thankful.

But how much more so, when the gift, is something that we could have never achieved by ourselves.

Turn if you will to Ezekiel chapter 16. That is on page 597 in the front section, the OT of the bible in the chair in front of you.

When you get there, if you are using the chair bibles, notice what the title of this section says, “God’s Grace to Unfaithful Jerusalem.”

You probably don’t normally go to the book of Ezekiel for your daily devotions.

Nor have I ever met anyone who says that Ezekiel is “My favorite book of the bible”

It is a difficult book of the Bible.

So, let me set up the context for you for just a moment.

Really, the only piece of information for context that will help you right now is that God has brought foreign nations against the capital city of Israel, Jerusalem, because of God’s people’s sins.

In this chapter God is simply describing the condition of the city of Jerusalem and when you think of the city that is a metaphor for His people.

Along the way you will see God’s response to His People’s condition.

I think in all of my exposure to the scriptures, this passage of Scripture is the most graphic in regard to what humanity is like.

There will be some very shocking images here in the passage.

Those of you who know the story of Hosea and his prostitute wife, Gomer….

This is that story in more vivid detail…..

I chose this passage to speak to you about today because when you see the shocking nature of our condition is when you really understand there is ONLY ONE solution—Grace

Ezekiel 16

                1              Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying,

                2              “Son of man, make known to Jerusalem her abominations

                3              and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God to Jerusalem, “Your origin and your birth are from the land of the Canaanite, your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite.

Israel was from the same genetic stock of people as the Canaanites —the Canaanites were like the epitome of the “bad” pagan people.

If you want to look at our condition, you don’t have to look any further than your parent’s right….?

Intrinsically, I am the sinful offspring of my sinful parents…I am like my parents, my parents were like their parents…and it goes all the way back…

One of the issues with Israel, however, is that she thought she was better than her parents throughout her history..

Let’s continue to read…

                4              “As for your birth, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water for cleansing; you were not rubbed with salt or even wrapped in cloths.

                5              “No eye looked with pity on you to do any of these things for you, to have compassion on you. Rather you were thrown out into the open field, for you were abhorred on the day you were born.

Couple of observations on these two verses

First, the practice of the parents in this case is horrifying—throwing out a baby. This description is most likely symbolic for the detestable practices of the Canaanite culture and their view of children.

Israel came from these kinds of parents….what would she grow up to be….?

However, she may not even grow up….

Why?. . .Secondly, Israel was like a baby girl, just delivered with the bloody placenta still surrounding her, left in the open field for death…

What was her condition?

God says,

                6              “When I passed by you and saw you squirming in your blood, I said to you while you were in your blood, ‘Live!’ Yes, I said to you while you were in your blood, ‘Live!’

                7              “I made you numerous like plants of the field. Then you grew up, became tall and reached the age for fine ornaments; your breasts were formed and your hair had grown. Yet you were naked and bare.

                8              “Then I passed by you and saw you, and behold, you were at the time for love; so I spread My skirt over you and covered your nakedness. I also swore to you and entered into a covenant with you so that you became Mine,” declares the Lord God.

                9              “Then I bathed you with water, washed off your blood from you and anointed you with oil.

When the birth parents did not perform the practice of bathing, washing with water, anointed with oil it meant that the child was not legitimate and would not be accepted by the family.

When God says he did it, it means that God adopted this child.

                10           “I also clothed you with embroidered cloth and put sandals of porpoise skin on your feet; and I wrapped you with fine linen and covered you with silk.

                ….

                14           “Then your fame went forth among the nations on account of your beauty, for it was perfect because of My splendor which I bestowed on you,” declares the Lord God.

                15           “But you trusted in your beauty and played the harlot because of your fame, and you poured out your harlotries on every passer-by who might be willing.

. . .

                26           “You also played the harlot with the Egyptians, your lustful neighbors, and multiplied your harlotry to make Me angry.

                27           “Behold now, I have stretched out My hand against you and diminished your rations. And I delivered you up to the desire of those who hate you, the daughters of the Philistines, who are ashamed of your lewd conduct.

                28           “Moreover, you played the harlot with the Assyrians because you were not satisfied; you played the harlot with them and still were not satisfied.

                29           “You also multiplied your harlotry with the land of merchants, Chaldea, yet even with this you were not satisfied.” ’ ”

                30           “How languishing is your heart,” declares the Lord God, “while you do all these things, the actions of a bold-faced harlot.

. . .

                32           “You adulteress wife, who takes strangers instead of her husband!

                33           “Men give gifts to all harlots, but you give your gifts to all your lovers to bribe them to come to you from every direction for your harlotries.

                34           “Thus you are different from those women in your harlotries, in that no one plays the harlot as you do, because you give money and no money is given you; thus you are different.”

                35           Therefore, O harlot, hear the word of the Lord.

                38           “Thus I will judge you like women who commit adultery or shed blood are judged; and I will bring on you the blood of wrath and jealousy.

                39           “I will also give you into the hands of your lovers, and they will tear down your shrines, demolish your high places, strip you of your clothing, take away your jewels, and will leave you naked and bare.

                . . .

                44           “Behold, everyone who quotes proverbs will quote this proverb concerning you, saying, ‘Like mother, like daughter.’

                45           “You are the daughter of your mother, who loathed her husband and children. You are also the sister of your sisters, who loathed their husbands and children. Your mother was a Hittite and your father an Amorite.

                46           “Now your older sister is Samaria, who lives north of you with her daughters; and your younger sister, who lives south of you, is Sodom with her daughters.

                47           “Yet you have not merely walked in their ways or done according to their abominations; but, as if that were too little, you acted more corruptly in all your conduct than they.

                48           “As I live,” declares the Lord God, “Sodom, your sister and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done.

. . .

                52           “Also bear your disgrace in that you have made judgment favorable for your sisters. Because of your sins in which you acted more abominably than they, they are more in the right than you. Yes, be also ashamed and bear your disgrace, in that you made your sisters appear righteous.

                60           “Nevertheless, I will remember My covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you.

                . . .

                62           “Thus I will establish My covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the Lord,

                63           so that you may remember and be ashamed and never open your mouth anymore because of your humiliation, when I have forgiven you for all that you have done,” the Lord God declares.

By Grace Alone—Salvation as God’s Response to Humanity’s Unviable Condition

In the time we have remaining…

Ezekiel 16 presents three truths to help us understand God’s Grace

I. Understand our condition before God—not viable to live the life for which He created us

Lest we think that the vivid pictures used by God through the prophet Ezekiel are simply extreme for the sake of shock value.

We actually have record of a real Roman solider about 500 years after Ezekiel writes instructed his wife to discard a baby girl.

This is the excerpt from the letter of the Roman solider writing to his wife…

“know that I am still in Alexandria. And do not worry if they all come back and I remain in Alexandria. I ask and beg you to take good care of our baby son, and as soon as I receive payment I shall send it to you. If you are delivered of a child [before I come home], if it is a boy keep it, if a girl discard it. You have sent me word, ‘Don’t forget me.’ How can I forget you? I beg you not to worry.”

In a list of common conversation about when he returns and exhorting his wife not to worry what rolls off the lips of this Roman solider casually, “If it is a girl, discard it.”

The Roman soldier didn’t invent the practice. God uses that metaphor of a discarded child 500 years earlier that probably described realities going on in the culture at that time.

Just as a big aside, today, things have not changed—we just have a very fancy word for it—abortion.

The point I am making is, however, not about abortion or what Israel’s parents did.

I want you to zero in on Israel’s condition at birth

She was born from sinful parents and left out in the elements

Let’s imagine just for a moment that the newborn baby had the capacity to actually think, understand, and choose.

Let’s say the baby squirming in her blood thought, “I am dying”

Let’s say the baby even thought, “I chose to live”

Even those the baby thought and chose to live, could the baby accomplish that…?

No,

At that point in time although she is for the moment alive, there is no viability in an of her own capacity to live.

She can not feed herself

She can not muster up any ability to walk and get food

She can not muster up any ability to crawl and get shelter

Question

Question: Is the discarded baby in Ezekiel 16 free to live if she so chooses?

Horrifically, that is why the text paints the baby as “squirming in her blood”

Our spiritual life is unviable—incapable of life on our own.

Martin Luther was heavily influenced also by Augustine, a 5th century BC church Father who had meditated extensively on original sin.

In fact, Augustine got involved in a great controversy, called the Pelagian controversy, regarding the freedom of man because of this statement

“God command what Thou willest, but give what Thou commandest.”—Augustine

The statement seems to imply that man doesn’t have the ability to even choose God and life.

Sin is so radical and poisonous in our life that in our natural condition we can do nothing but choose self and sinning.

That view fits with the picture of the unviable life of a discarded baby here in Ezekiel.

Even if the baby could choose, though it’s mental capacities are not there to, it could not realize its own life.

Question:  What has to happen to a discarded baby in order for it to live?

Answer: Only something external to it must come to give it the possibility of life.

Ezekiel 16:6“When I passed by you and saw you squirming in your blood, I said to you while you were in your blood, ‘Live!’ Yes, I said to you while you were in your blood, ‘Live!’

Col 2:13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, . . . ,

Augustine’s began to understand as did Luther the Biblical teaching that 

God must first make himself known before we can know him, and he must first call us before we can call on him; and then his grace works within us to enable us to do this—Carl Trueman, Grace Alone, p. 56.

Here is my point, while we certainly understand grace as a gift.

It is far more than that,

Grace means more than given us what we don’t deserve

Grace means giving us something that we could have never achieved whether we deserved it or not.

What is your response to this??? [Apply]

Are you beginning to see grace more now?

Secondly, Ezekiel helps us to

II. Understand how God magnified our condition by showing us how we could never be righteous even with “rules.”

Think with me for just a moment.

Question: When you think of a wicked city in the Bible, what city do you think of?

  • Now, Babylon is certainly up there!
  • But who votes for: Sodom and Gomorrah?--from which we get the term sodomy.

When people are reaching for a metaphor for wickedness they tend to go to Sodom.

God completely destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and Brimstone because of their wickedness. You can read about Sodom and Gomorrah in Gen 19.

However, based upon our passage today, we should change who we think about as the epitome of wickedness instead of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Is it possible for anything to make Sodom and Gomorrah look righteous?

Yes.

At the end of this story there is an amazing twist.

Let’s rehearse the story for just a moment we have seen the discarded baby, but the baby did grow up because of God’s life sustaining grace.

However when that baby grew up she became something that really nobody expected….although everyone should have.

  • Now, that baby came from the wicked Canaanites
  • So that baby was a Canaanite.
  • If the Canaanite was wicked what would we expect of the Canaanite baby?  Wicked.

But there is something even more surprising here in this story.

Even more surprising than Darth Vadar is Luke’s Father and Leah was his sister.

Israel had a sister….who was it? 

Sodom!

48“As I live,” declares the Lord God, “Sodom, your sister and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done… 52Because of your sins in which you acted more abominably than they, they are more in the right than you. Yes, be also ashamed and bear your disgrace, in that you made your sisters appear righteous.

They were from the same stock!

Question: Why was Israel “worse” than Sodom?

Answer:  One reason is that Israel had been the recipient of the knowledge of God through the law. God had given Israel the beautiful adornments of God’s righteous requirements (Ezekiel 16:9–15).

So in this sense, Israel has seen all the miracles of God, been recipients of all the law of God

She was more accountable before God…But even with the commandments of God… something was still wrong internally with this lady!

So let’s summarize what we have here in the text— Israel and Sodom--both are from the same parents

One sister does not receive the law of God—Sodom…Sodom is clueless to the ways that they should live…they are like dumb animals doing what animals do. Sodom plunges herself into wickedness and God wipes her out.

One sister, Israel gets the “law” of God—the commandments of God’s righteousness—the 10 commandments and all of the rules of the OT.

Paul summarizes in Romans 5:20 “The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; …”

In in this case transgressions did “increase” through Israel.

God magnified with a magnifying glass with the example of Israel---you can not be good enough by following the commandments.

It didn’t work.

God showed that Israel with the Law (and more accountable) resulted in the same fate as her sister Sodom with out the law.

Why did Isarel and Sodom suffer the same fate?

Because they have the same heart.

Our text with Israel make it very clear. the Law asked Israel to keep God as her husband.

The text is very graphic in that Israel chased after other lovers.

She was a harlot but worse than a harlot…

A harlot gets paid to have relationships with another

Israel would pay to have relationships with another

As God acts to discipline Israel…he shows everyone including us that…

Those with moral “rules” like Israel—the “religious”—or those without “rules” like Sodom—the “irreligious” — have the same issue because they are from the same parents. Our hearts love something other than God alone. And we give all, or, “pay,” for these other gods.

What do you give all to that is not God? [apply]

Pastor Goode, the former senior Pastor of Faith very simply would say, “All of us are like the rest of us.”

That is because we are born this way….

Ezekiel 16:44“Behold, everyone who quotes proverbs will quote this proverb concerning you, saying, ‘Like mother, like daughter.’45 “You are the daughter of your mother . . . You are also the sister of your sisters, . . .Your mother was a Hittite and your father an Amorite.

Luther landed on grace alone for many reasons but he was an inheritor of Augustinian thought.

“Augustine’s great insight…is that sin is far more radical. It is something that is inherent in humans being after the fall. To have sinned in Adam is not simply to have followed a poor example. It is to be subject to a fundamental change in the human relationship to God and to self. It involves a corruption of human nature that came about directly as a result of Adam disobey God. I love myself rather than God, am ignorant of the good, and I will die because of the actions of Adam long ago in the garden of Eden, confirmed here and now by my own twisted psychology and inability to love God as I should.” – Carl R. Trueman, Grace Alone, p. 79.

So what we have seen is that in our birth we are not viable to even live and even when we do in in our physical life we cannot help but love everything else but God

We are incapable of loving God in our naturally born state and life.

What is our only hope?

III. Understand that grace is God’s “gift” response to our unviable birth condition and our perpetually adulterous heart

Is the Gospel of Grace in Ezekiel 16…OH my yes…listen to this….

                60“Nevertheless, I will remember My covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you. . . .62“Thus I will establish My covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the Lord, 63 . . . when I have forgiven you for all that you have done,” the Lord God declares.

“I don’t think there are any more beautiful words than Nevertheless or but”

And in that last sentence, the word “forgiven” has several meanings…

Literally in means cover, or forgive or make an atonement.

Please notice that it was God who had to respond to the human condition.

God says, I WILL MAKE ATONEMENT”

You would think that since Israel was the harlot who could not stop committing adultery, that she would need to make an atonement

You would think that since we are people who cannot help but love something other than God that we would need to make an atonement.

God says, here “I WILL MAKE ATONEMENT”

  1. Israel (and you and I) paid for her false gods to love her never being satisfied. What she (and you and I) would need is the One satisfying God who would love her and would pay for her—that would be grace. 

1 Peter 1:18 knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers,19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.

  1. Israel (and you and I) was exposed in the “shame of her nakedness” (her unrighteousness). What she (and you and I) would need was a God who is righteous who would bear the shame of her nakedness and give her His righteousness—that would be grace

Mark 15:24 And they crucified Him and divided up His garments.

2 Cor 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

  1. Israel (and you and I) was born from adulterous parents. What she (and you and I) would need was to born again through a pure parent—that would be grace

John 3: 3              Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus *said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?”5 Jesus answered, “. . .6That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.7 “Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.. . .Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things?

John 1: 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

GRACE FIRST AND FOREMOST IS GOD’s LOVING RESPONSE TO OUR INABILIABLITY TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT OUR CONDITION. THUS GRACE IS NO MERE SENTIMENT OR PITY, BUT IT IS A GOD’s REAL RESPONSE IN GIVING THE PERSON AND WORK OF JESUS CHRIST.

 

Brent Aucoin

M.S. - Engineering, Purdue University
M.Div. - Central Baptist Seminary
Th.M. - Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Ph.D. - Baptist Bible Seminary

Pastor Brent Aucoin and his wife, Janet, came on staff in July of 1998.  Pastor Aucoin serves as overseer of Faith Seminary and Soul Care Ministries at Faith Church.

View Pastor Aucoin's Salvation Testmony Video