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Author:Rev. Sjirk Bajema
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Congregation:The Reformed Church of Oamaru
 Oamaru, New Zealand
Preached At:Reformed Church of Mangere
 South Auckland, New Zealand
Title:Changed Around!
Text:CD 3/4 III:6-17 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:God's Amazing Grace

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Changed Around!


Sermon by Rev S Bajema

on Canons of Dort III:6-17


Scripture reading:

Matthew 13:1-23



Congregation in our Lord Jesus Christ...


You’ve heard me say this before. But it’s echo must be heard again! God does it!

Article 6 cannot but remind us of this. It sums up the heart of the gospel. At the same time we are being confronted with our Total Depravity, we see something else. In fact, we wouldn’t know it was our Total Depravity if we hadn’t first met God’s Irresistible Grace!

Here we come to the I in TULIP - Irresistible Grace. This is what Article 6 tell us: “What, therefore, neither the light of nature nor the law could do, that God performs by the operation of the Holy Spirit through the word or ministry of reconciliation; which is the glad tidings concerning the Messiah, by means whereof it has pleased God to save such as believe, as well under the Old as under the New Testament.”

This glad tidings is the good news you’re hearing right now! This is the seed being sown, as we read in Matthew 13. This is the proclamation of the Kingdom.


Article 7

Then in Article 7 we consider how the LORD has revealed this Gospel in the past, and right through to this present day. The key again is God’s grace. He shows it to whom He desires.

Whether the saving faith came to a small number in the Old Testament, or to many peoples today, it is not because we’re any more blessed, or because Israel was meant to be such a special nation, but simply because of “the sovereign good pleasure and unmerited love of God.” The unmerited love of God is nothing but grace, grace, grace... grace!

In those unforgettable words of John Newton,                       “‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,

              and grace my fears relieved;

           how precious did that grace appear

              the hour I first believed!”

We are so blessed! We’ve been given what really counts!

So - do you look a gift horse in the mouth? Think about it, congregation.

Boys and girls, when you’re given that very special present, do you think then, “But what about those who don’t get this present?” Are you worried then about all those children who haven’t got that gift? Whose birthday is it? You’re too busy thanking the One who gave it to you!


Article 8

Because it is the LORD who thought especially about you, we need to know His calling us is for all eternity. That’s what Article 8 is about.

A friend who has spent a lot of time getting that special present ready for you, shows he loves you. That’s a special moment. And it means there’ll be lots of other special moments, too. Even more presents!

God doesn’t make a promise without being able to back it up. This is a serious call. Anyone who comes to Him will have rest for their souls, and eternal life.


Article 9

In Article 9 we see that all are called, but not all are saved. Those who are saved simply cannot refuse, since it’s the Spirit working upon their hearts. Those who aren’t saved refuse because that’s their own decision.

It’s a teaching of God’s Word that many have wondered about. It’s often called a ‘mystery of the faith.’ A mystery which we cannot know, and which we’re told we should not want to know. It’s part of God’s secret workings.

We do know that many refuse the call. And their response, as they refuse that call, may differ.

Article 9 mentions the parable of the sower from Matthew 13. Our Lord says there that some don’t even want to hear about Him. They’re too proud of themselves. That’s the seed which falls on the path, and gets eaten up by the birds.

Others do hear it. But they don’t take it to heart. They’ve quickly sprung to life - they showed the fleeting joy of a temporary faith - yet they’ve got no root. They’re the seeds on rocky ground, which haven’t got much soil to sustain them.

Still others choke the seed of the Word with the thorns of life’s cares, and with the pleasures of the world. They don’t bear any fruit.

Many hear the Word of God in lots of different ways. They all receive the Gospel invitation.

But the fact is, as Jesus said in Matthew 22:14, with the parable of the Wedding Banquet, “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”


Article 10

That some, however, are saved at all has got nothing to do with us. Dust we are, and to dust we will return. Only the Potter can make anything of this clay of the ground. In the emphatic words of Article 10, “it must be wholly ascribed to God, who, as He has chosen His own from eternity in Christ, so He calls them effectually in time, confers upon them faith and repentance, rescues them from the power of darkness, and translates them into the kingdom of His own Son.

And for what reason? The Article continues, “that they show forth the praises of Him who has called them out of darkness into His marvellous light, and may glory not in themselves but in the Lord, according to the testimony of the apostles in various places.”

You see, there is yet good soil. That’s where He’s planted us. We’re the seed which will grow and prosper.


Article 11

Friends, it’s the beginning of this response which the Confession now shows in Article 11. Not only do we hear the call of the gospel outwardly. And not only are our minds enlightened powerfully by the Holy Spirit, so that we correctly understand and discern the things of God.

Congregation, it’s that same Spirit which changes our whole inner self. We are “Changed Around!

In the words of the last part of Article 11, it’s the Spirit of God who “infuses new qualities into the will, which, though heretofore dead, He quickens; from being evil, disobedient and refractory, He renders it good, obedient and pliable; actuates and strengthens it, so that as a good tree, it may bring forth the fruits of good action.”

By opening the heart that’s closed, and softening the hard heart, God opens us up to the seed not only taking root, but sprouting! We are “Changed Around!

In fact, congregation, we’re so changed around that we’re the complete opposite of what we would have been had not God saved us.


Article 12

Imagine that! God’s working in us! What a glorious thought! And what tremendous reassurance to you and me, as we struggle in this morass called humanity!

Article 12 has the ultimate encouragement. As it says in the second-to-last sentence, “the will thus renewed is not only actuated and influenced by God, but in consequence of this influence becomes itself active.”

In spite of ourselves, we’re working for Him! Because we’ve become part of Him. His will has become joined to our will. That’s why we believe and repent!

So it’s God’s grace that makes us able to do it. That’s why we can say we do it. Because God gives us what we need to do it.

But remember, He gave it! God does it!


Article 13

“Number 13 - Unlucky for some!”

Have you ever heard that? If you have, I could well wonder how you’re spending your spare time! Because this is the cry that goes out when the Number 13 is called in a Bingo game. And Bingo is that game of chance.

It all depends on how the numbers fall. And this is one number those people don’t like at all! Number 13 is not appreciated.

They don’t have a 13th floor. They wouldn’t live at that number in the street. And they dread Friday the 13th!

I mention this superstitious view of the number of 13 because the teaching of this Article 13 couldn’t be more different! For the believer lives his life “satisfied to know and experience that by this grace of God they are enabled to believe with the heart and to love their Saviour.”

Notice, nothing comes by the fall of numbers, the spin of a wheel, or the throw of a dice. It’s in God’s hands - and there’s no safer place. And because it’s part of God’s mysterious plan, we are kept in our place.


Article 14

Congregation,  not only does God lead us to the water of life - He makes us drink from it as well! That’s what Article 14 is all about. It’s about faith being the gift of God.

You see, we don’t accept it. Nor does God give us the power to believe, so that we can agree to being saved.

It reminds me of when a young mother professed her faith, which was followed by the baptism of her daughter. This young girl, however, was not too happy about what was going on. By the time she was at the baptismal font, she was really agitated. So the minister commented jokingly to the congregation, “Sometimes the Lord drags us in kicking and screaming!”

But congregation, it isn’t only very nervous small children who are dragged in kicking and screaming! We all are! Because that little girl shows what we are naturally. We don’t want God!

That’s why it could only be God’s Spirit who brings us in. He brought that little girl in - through the faith of her mother. And we pray that she will confess that faith herself one day, too. But God’s Spirit brings us all in - by faith.

Dear friends - God does it! He gives the gift. The gift which not only comes from a willing God, but which makes sure it’s received by a willing heart. This is the seed which will succeed!


Article 15

In Article 15, eight lines down, we read, “He, therefore, who becomes the subject of this grace owes eternal gratitude to God, and gives Him thanks forever.” How true! Do you know it, too?

Of course we do! That’s our response! We can’t give anyone else any shred of credit whatsoever!

But there are other responses, though. There are those who never wanted to care about the eternal realities. They just want to be left alone. They say they’re happy with their present lot.

Now, you can try and convince them till you’re blue in the face. You can try and love them, and show them Jesus Christ with all you’ve got! But they won’t budge.

Then there are those unbelievers who, in their self-assurance, boast about something they don’t have. Perhaps it’s the good works they speak often about doing.

Or maybe it’s the long traditional ties they have with their church. It’s in their blood - they say - but you hear nothing of Christ’s blood!

Did you ever notice something about those people? They talk about what they have a right to! They have a right to religion, they say. Yet they have no sense of privilege - of receiving that gift - whatsoever!        

But for those who do say they believe and honestly show that, we must thank God. We can only deal with what the Lord has given us to see. And what we do see is most pleasing! God’s gift is overwhelming!

And for others, yet to be called in, there are the words of the second-last sentence, “it is our duty to pray for them to God, who calls the things that are not as if they were.” Until Christ’s work is complete, and the last of the elect do come in, we’re to struggle to make it happen. We remember we once were lost, but now are found; we were blind, but now we see!


Article 16

Friend, do you see God working in our church? Have you experienced the Lord’s love right here? Who of us hasn’t been spiritually revived, healed, and reformed?

What an appropriate word that is - reformed. God brings back what had been distorted right out of shape! We are brought into a moldable form, and though we are the ones being renewed, it’s His Spirit which placed us in the right workshop to make it so!


Article 17

Article 17 ends itself, and this whole Head of Doctrine, with a most definite “Amen.” You see, translated, “Amen” means “So be it!”.

It’s “Amen” which we use to conclude our prayers.

But it’s also the word many preachers use to end their sermons. “So be it!” It means we believe that it is by the preaching and teaching of God’s Word that the Body of Christ is built up in the knowledge and love of her Lord.

It’s after listing the positions of leadership in the Church that Paul says about those leaders, in Ephesians chapter 4, verses 12 till 14, that they are “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith, and in the knowledge of the Son of God, and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.”  It’s by this Word of God, preached faithfully, pictured in the sacraments, and shown in discipline, that the LORD is pleased.

The Article says, in the second sentence from the end, “For grace is conferred by means of admonitions; and the more readily we perform our duty, the more clearly this favour of God, working in us, usually manifests itself, and the more directly His work is advanced.”

It’s His Word which showed us our desperate situation in sin’s quicksand. It’s His Word which spoke the saving faith found alone in His dear Son, and our Saviour. And now it’s His Word which continues to point us constantly back to what saved us first of all.

This is no vicious circle. Quite the opposite! This is a growing and developing along the way.

Like the rolling snowball, it just picks up much more as it goes along. And so comes stronger and stronger the verse of praise at this Article’s end, “to whom alone all the glory, both for the means and for their saving fruit and efficacy, is forever due.

God does it! He’s irresistible! And aren’t you relieved? “Amen.”




Let’s pray...

O Most Loving Heavenly Father, what a gift You gave in Your Son, Jesus Christ! He acted in a way far beyond what we could ever touch - let alone think of doing it in the first place!

Do make Your Spirit to help us grow in the marvellous grace more and more - through everything they do. Because we do want to do it for you! Amen.



* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
The source for this sermon was:

(c) Copyright 2001, Rev. Sjirk Bajema

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