The ways of God are beyond us. Something in every person yearns for the Lord even when He is somewhat unknown. He calls whosoever will to come. (Proverbs 30:18-19; Acts 17:28-32; Mark 8:14-21)
Speaker(s): Thomas Schaller
7:00 PM on 1/19/2022
Good evening. I went into the lunch rap this afternoon, and there was quite a few people in there. I walked through the
doors into the corridor in the cafe and I saw John Nielson sitting there! Isn’t that great! It was
awesome. I don’t know if he’s here tonight. He’s probably worn out just to get out but boy was it
good to see him! It was just wonderful. What a miracle. Our answered prayers. He said to me,
I’m fifty pounds lighter. I said, well, instead of calling it covid, just say it was weight watchers!
You did well. But he looks wonderful. He looks healthy. He’s got a big smile. Praise the Lord! It’s
awesome. We got John and P. Dan. They’re like our two Lazarus’ in the house. It’s so good.
Tonight, as we gather in the chapel, always remember that as God delivers his word, he can
heal anybody, amen! In fact, the Scripture says he sent his Word and healed them and
delivered them from their destruction in Psalm 107:20.
Remember that. There could be someone here tonight that needs a healing touch from God, and you may have come just saying, God, you know what I need. God can do that tonight. He can do that. It doesn’t take a special healing
service. We don’t have to set aside a particular time and pray and anoint. Although when we do
that, that’s great. There’s nothing wrong. We love to do that. But, you know, when Jesus passes
by, anybody can be healed. Anybody.
So just tonight, I’m so glad to be in the house of God, aren’t you? I’m so glad. Why? Because
there’s so many – do you notice how many voices there are in our culture. You hear them so
often. They’re in the workplace. They’re in the world. They’re in restaurants. They can even be
in our own homes. You hear lots of voices, and those voices so often try to – they think they
know us and they try to identify us. Our failure tries to identify us. The accuser of the brethren
tries to identify us. Always just telling us, getting us, wanting to get us to believe that that’s who
But tonight, praise God. You know who you are? You are a chosen generation. You are a royal
priesthood. You are God’s redeemed, own, purchased possession. You are fully chosen,
completely accepted, extremely valuable, and you are made for a mission. Amen! Just think
about that. That’s why we’re here tonight cause we get to hear those things from God. God
brings us together and reminds us who we really are. And you might not here it out there in this
world we are in. You might not hear it in the workplace. You might not hear it from other people
around you, but we hear it from God. He just wants to remind us of how valuable we are, how
important we are to him. We are eternally loved. Can you imagine that? God chose us. Think
about it. God chose us before the foundation of the world.
Sometimes I say, what were you thinking? What was going through your mind when you knew
what we would be like. And he said yes. I chose you despite the shortcomings, despite the
failures, despite the sinful struggles and habits. All of that, none of that made a difference. I set
my love upon you. You were my choice. God said I cast my vote and it was for you. And he’s
never going to take it back. We need to hear that, don’t we? A lot of voices out there. The Bible
says those voices sometimes as was the case when Christ was before the crowd and Pilate
was present. You know, Pilate wanted to release him and they cried and it says their voices
prevailed. Their voices prevailed. There are prevailing voices out there, but the only voice we
need to hear is God’s voice, because he will remind us of our value. He’ll remind us we have
been chosen. He reminds us that we’ve been accepted. He reminds us that we are loved
eternally. And he reminds us that we were made for a mission. Amen? Amen.
P. Schaller –
Alright. Would you turn in your Bibles please to Proverbs 30. I would like to speak
tonight a little bit on free will and our choices, our decisions that we make in life. We are actually
made in God’s image. I love this in Acts 17 when it speaks to the pagan people about how we
are made. I think that would be another good verse. Acts. 17, I want to point it out to you for
your meditation. Acts. 17:28. Now these are pagan people he is speaking to. They are educated
pagans. They are in Athens. The leaders there, Aristotle, Plato died 300 years before this, but
these were people that had philosophy. They had some education. Paul is speaking to them.
They are not Christians and they are not Jews.
He’s at Mars Hill at a pagan temple speaking publicly to them. And he says, vs. 28. Do you see
that? It does not say we are children of God. It says we are offspring of God. What is the
difference? You cannot be a child of God unless you are born again. When you are born again,
you are a child of God, but before you’re born again, you are the offspring of God, meaning God
made you in his image. You are a sinner. You are lost, but you’re in the image of God. God
loves you. God loves the pagan. He loves the unbeliever. He loves the wicked. He loves evil
people. He gave his Son for them. He draws them to himself if they will be drawn. That’s part of
what I want to say tonight.
Look at vs. 29. We are the offspring of God made in his image with free will. By the way, free
will is a theological term that we have in our theology. We have a will but we are depraved. So
our will has its limitations. We are fallen creatures. We are sinful people. We are depraved. This
is like a theology class tonight, and follow it with me. There are some things that maybe we say
tonight – I hope so – that resonate with your mind and in your heart and understanding so you
will understand the plan of God.
Let me make one other point. I’m afraid that I have so much to say and I don’t want to speak
long, but I want to say the important thing. When we look at the Bible, we see the beginning of
the world and at the end of the Bible, we see the end. Revelations 21, 22. Genesis 1 it was good. Was the
world good when he made it? It was good. When he made man, what did he say? Very good.
Turn to your neighbor and say, very good! Very good! Man was made very good, very good.
Made in the U.S.A.! No. He was very good. Why was he very good? Made in God’s image. This
is a mystery. I want to share this with you in a few minutes.
Notice. I would say this world is what God has achieved. We have arrived at a world without
pain, without death, without sorrow, without sin, without the devil. It’s over. That’s over. It’s gone.
Now we are somewhere in between here waiting for Christ’s Second Coming. And here we have
questions about the suffering and also the evil. We say, why is there evil in the world? Why is
there such pain? Why are our hearts broken? Why are there graveyards and covid and why is
there war and poverty and sorrow? Why? So we can conceive a world in our minds that is more
perfect. We can imagine a world that is better, but we don’t know how, if it will happen. Will it
happen? We know cause we have the Holy Spirit as our teacher, and the Holy Spirit is telling us
it’s going to happen. It’s coming.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come on earth AS it is
there. This is a perfect world and it’s coming on the earth. We can imagine it. We can conceive it
intellectually, but we don’t see it. But we see Jesus and we see his teaching and he tells us that
in between in the plan of God is something very important and it’s called free will. People. I’ll put
I want to make one distinction between a dog and a person. Come on! Come on! And he
comes. Licks your hand and loves you. Can a dog be sympathetic? Yeah, they can. I mean
you’re sad. The dog might feel it, and sit down beside you and be kind of like looking sad
because you are sad. Dog looks at you. You are sad. I’m sad, too! He looks at you. You’re
stupid. I’m stupid, too! Alright. Now. What is it a dog can’t do that a human being can do? A lot
of things. A dog is not moral like you are. There’s a hunger fast for a hunger strike. Human
beings are not eating food. They’re going to die because of something politically not correct or
morally not correct. So they will die. Will a dog do that? A dog will not go on a hunger strike.
They will eat how often? Every day! They will eat every day. Is a dog made like a man? No. Man
is made like God. Man can choose.
Man can suffer. Men also loves and this is a mystery. We didn’t finish Acts 17 but I think we should look at – we’ll move along real fast here. Acts 17:29, we are made in the image of God and as pagans we know that God is not made of gold,
silver or stone. What did they believe? They had something there on the hillside called “TO THE
UNKNOWN GOD.” They had an unknown God in their heart. An unknown God. They had the
idea. Not the sun. Not the moon. Not gold or silver. Not an animal but somebody beyond this world. The unknown God. Are they saved? They’re not saved. Do they have it in their heart for
the unknown God? They have it. They have a capacity to hear the Gospel. They have it. They
have a capacity to make a decision. They have a capacity to respond, to hear. This is what Paul
Look at vs. 30. The phrase “winked at” means he overlooked it. He let it go. In human history,
we have Buddhism in 300 B.C. We have Plato in 300 B.C. We have Confucius in 300 B.C. Or
that century, that period of time. Confucius was not raised from the dead. Buddha was not and
nor was Plato. But Paul said in vs. 31. God overlooked it. He led it be because it was part of his
plan in the development of the world’s civilizations and what he was doing. It’s his business. But
now he is appointed a day, vs. 31. What man has he ordained? Not those men, but this man.
He has appointed him, Christ, to believe in Christ. To be born of God. To have the Spirit of God
to come into our life.
The results were three responses at Mars Hill. Some mocked, vs. 32. Some cleaved and some
said we will hear you again. Some said we will hear you again. Some said it’s crazy and the
others cleaved to him in vs. 34. Now go to Proverbs 30 with me. vs. 18. That phrase I want it in your memory. There are three things too wonderful for me. What does it mean? I’ll put here the word “mystery.” I can put down
here the world. I just don’t know how it works. How does it work? I just don’t know. It’s a
wonderful thing to look at it. How does that thing work? It’s wonderful. Man is wonderful. He’s
wonderfully made. How does it work? How does salvation happen? It’s wonderful. Does he
choose? He chooses but how does that work? It’s a mystery. It’s like our meeting tonight. This
cannot be fabricated in human terms. What you are looking for and what I am looking for is
something wonderful. I want something beyond men figuring it out. I want something – also one
example of it, we’ll read it.
We got three things. It’s love. Let’s look at the list. vs. 18. What are they? The way of an eagle in
the air, vs. 19. What does it mean? An eagle in the air. You’re watching the eagle fly. Where is
the eagle going? Why is he, what’s he doing? What’s he doing with his wings, his speed?
What’s the direction? What’s going on? I don’t get it. I don’t know it. I can study it. I can study it,
but I don’t know what an eagle is. An eagle is a mystery to me. There’s science on it. I know
that. But this is what he’s saying. It’s amazing. That’s what he’s saying. This is why children are
so fun to be with because they are discovering life. They’re asking why. Why is the sky blue?
Why is the water wet? Why does this dog stink? You know. Why did you make pumpkin pie?
And so on. So, go to the next one.
vs. 19. And of course, there are people who study these things but there is a point here. There’s
something about it that blesses me. There’s something about it that is a mystery to me. There’s
something about it with a disciple.
Look at the fourth one: the way of a man with a maid. I think that’s a good example. How about
a guy that likes a girl and he initiates to the girl and everything, and the girl is saying, no. Not
going to happen. Not interested in him. Why aren’t you interested in him? I don’t know. I can’t
explain it. Free will! Experience in the front row! And the same with the guy. A girl may like a
guy. How do you figure it out? How do you understand that?
This point for me is one of the things that makes us Greater Grace World Outreach. Let me
explain it to you or our church to be what it is. We refuse to say that I can figure this out. We
refuse to package it and say as the Reformed and super Calvinistic people talk about election.
And in my opinion and in my study and my understanding, they have such an emphasis on
election that you lose something very precious and that is whosoever believes. Whoever. Come.
Come. If you are thirsty, come. Whosoever will come. What’s that about? That’s what Jesus is
after. Jesus loves that. It’s your choice.
Jesus loves this mystery called life. This is why we are troubled in the world with the world the way it is because it’s conceivable that the world would be a better place, but if it would be a
better place, you’d have to take free will away from our world. You’d have to take away free will.
If it was a perfect world, you’d have to remove the option of men and women and angels
choosing. It would have to be removed, because it would never be a guarantee that it would be
a perfect world unless man had the choice to say no to God. When he says no to God, we have
the suffering, the evil, and the pain.
So God says to us, yes, you are right. You can conceive a perfect world, but I could not achieve
the world that I’m going to achieve without your free will. Wow! I know that’s a tough one to
chew on. It’s easy, but let me say it another way.
You see, unbelievers they say I don’t believe in God because God wouldn’t make a hell. Or I
don’t believe in God because there wouldn’t be suffering. There wouldn’t be all this trouble in the
world, or I don’t believe in your God. And we counter and we say, I understand you. But there is
something wonderful about this life and it is that you are made in the image of God and you
have to have the freedom to say no to God. Because the world is made this way – and they
back off and say, if God was so wise, he could have made it so that you could have both a free
will and a perfect world. And we say, no. Because God could not contradict himself. If he gives
us a free will, then it has to be a free will. And if he has a free will, if man has a free will and
angels have a free will, then there has to be the consequence if they choose contrary. Then
there has to be the consequence of that. So this is heavy meditation for a Wednesday night, but
I’m almost done. I do think you will catch it with me a little bit even more.
Go back to Proverbs 30:18-19. the eagle in the air, I don’t know why it’s doing what it’s doing. I don’t
know why that serpent is moving that way. The way of a ship in the midst of the sea – I didn’t
get it. I don’t have it figured out. And the way of a man with a maid is way beyond me. I don’t
see it. So here comes God made this world.
Turn to Mark 8. We shared this in the morning devotional. What was it? Monday morning
maybe, so if you want to go to that portion you can rehearse it. Mark. 8:14-21 because of time, I
don’t want to go into too much detail, but I want you to read the last part. He is talking to them
and says in vs. 19. He’s talking about how their spiritual I.Q. is very low. They are not
understanding life. They are not understanding Christ. They are not understanding the kingdom.
They did not bring bread on their trip. They think Jesus is talking to them about how they should
have brought bread on their trip. He’s saying, no. I’m not talking about that. I’m not talking about
that. I’m going to put it in here. I’m talking about the way of man with a maid. I’m talking about an
eagle in the air. I’m talking about life and the Christian life is something beyond what you can
package. You cannot figure it out. It’s a mystery.
Why do you love the brethren? Because of God. How did that happen? Grace. What happened
to you? Holy Spirit. What happened? I was born again. Well, can you explain that to me? Not
really. Not really. I know it is so and there is a kingdom coming. I have it in my heart. Well,
you’re crazy. Well, yeah. It’s fun. Like this is amazing. This is what Jesus said.
Look at it with me. vs. 18. He’s talking to disciples. He’s talking to us Christians here in Greater
Grace tonight. Having eyes you don’t see. How much of that happens with us. Having ears you
don’t hear and you do not remember. Here comes the mystery, vs. 19. Let’s write the numbers
down here. He multiplied bread, and how many baskets were there? Five thousand – how many
break – five loaves.
There was 5,000 people and how many loaves? Twelve. Another time he
did the same miracle, vs. 20. So he took seven loaves and there were 4,000 people and then
how many baskets did they take up? Was it seven? Seven. Then what does he say? How is it
you don’t understand? Duh? How is it you don’t understand? Can anybody make sense of this?
I don’t think so. You can sit with your math book and calculator all day long and try to find out
what sense does it make? What is he saying?
My conclusion is that’s the point. The point is I am beyond your calculations. I am beyond, I am
talking about the kingdom of God. I’m talking about love. That’s one thing that is clear here. Love. I love people. I have compassion on people. And also there’s leftovers. I wonder what that
means. There’s leftovers. I care. There’s leftovers. And I love people. I’m compassionate.
Another thing it means is I’m powerful. And another thing it means is leave your – enjoy who I
am and do not get – in the beginning of this is this one. Do not be poisoned by the leaven of the
Pharisees and the Herodians. That’s in vs. 15.
I do want to finish. Did you get anything out of this tonight? Come on. Help me out. Is it – I think
I could, I think the Holy Spirit is saying some things to us. vs. 15. Take heed. Who is he talking
to? Disciples. Take heed. What do you mean? Beware. Be careful. You are disciples. Stay light
hearted, joyful. Live in love and know that my heavenly Father loves you. My heavenly Father is
for you. Do not get poisoned by religion. The Pharisees are very religious and they are tough
And to be honest, I believe this hyper-Calvinism which is popular in some sense is too
packaged for me. It’s too narrow. It’s too much about election. It’s too much you don’t have a
choice. It’s total depravity. Well, do you believe in total depravity? I believe in total depravity, but
why was Paul preaching to pagan people and saying you are made in the image of God and
you yourself know that God is not made of gold and silver and stone? You have an unknown
God that you are worshipping and that’s the one I declare unto you. The unknown God whom
God raised from the dead and he’s your Christ. He’s commanded all men everywhere to repent
and turn to him. That’s what he said.
But this leaven of the Pharisees beware. You don’t go to a Bible college when you finish the
Bible college and you’re in more unbelief than when you started. You don’t go to a seminary and
learn the boxes and the programs. It’s about cherishing the mystery of the eagle in the air or a
serpent on a rock, a ship in the sea, or a man with a maid. And in my little illustration a dog can’t
be a man. But do you love a dog that somehow can speak to your heart and say listen. God is
love and I’m the dog that’s here to lick your hand and tell you God loves you.
Can you go there? I mean this doesn’t mean we contradict the Bible. This simply says, this
simply means we understand the whole picture and man is made in the image of God. He can
choose to be saved. He can choose to believe. He can choose to say yes to Jesus Christ. He
can choose to say I don’t know what is it but I’m after God. What is that? Well, go after God
because God loves you. He’s not willing that any man would perish. Yeah, but I’m not the elect.
How do you know that? Why would you say that? Well, because you’re not being encouraged in
your decision making. You need to make a decision. It’s your decision. God is drawing you and
God cares about you. Come to him as you are. That’s what we want to say tonight.
Please enjoy these sermon notes from the messages preached at Greater Grace Church in Baltimore. These notes are provided to aid in your study and understanding of the Word. Note that these notes do not represent complete, word-for-word transcriptions. Also, they may contain omissions as well as some errors in spelling and structure, etc., as we attempt to provide them as soon as possible. Our hope is that these notes serve as a way to help you search and connect with messages on related subjects and passages. Thank you for your interest in the ministry of Greater Grace.