A Southern Baptist Looks at the Biblical Doctrine of Election
STATED AND DEFENDED
Its Implications, etc.
Election is the gracious purpose of God,
according to which He regenerates,
sanctifies, and glorifies sinners…
Baptist Faith and Message, Article V
By ERNEST C. REISINGER
521 WILDWOOD PARKWAY
CAPE CORAL, FLORIDA 33904
James L. Sullivan, past president of the Sunday School Board, wrote in the Florida Witness, April 17, 1975.
Baptist doctrines are more important than most of us realize. They not only express our experiences and beliefs, they also determine our directions. They even shape our programs whether local or national. They are to the church essentially what the backbone is to the human body. They give unity and stability; they provide sturdiness enabling us to endure the bumps of opposition, even persecution.
Doctrines are of the utmost importance whether they are oral or written. They systematize our expressions of faith. They express our experiences in written understandable form. They proclaim to others our Christian testimony. They constitute the framework in which we carry on our daily activities.
The church which neglects to teach doctrine weakens its membership, works against its unity, invites instability in its fellowship, lessens conviction among its members and stalemates its future progress. It is impossible for us to exaggerate the importance of doctrine. This truth needs to be stressed constantly before every believer.
ABSTRACT OF PRINCIPLES
The following is an excerpt from the Fundamental Laws of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary written into its charter on April 30, 1858: „9 Every Professor of the institution shall be a member of a regular Baptist Church; and all persons accepting Professorships in this Seminary, shall be considered by such acceptance, as engaging to teach in accordance with, and not contrary to, the Abstract of Principles hereinafter laid down.” (Mueller: History of Southern Seminary; BROADMAN PRESS: P. 238).
I. THE SCRIPTURES
The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God, and are the only sufficient, certain and authoritative rule of all saving knowledge, faith and obedience.
There is but one God, the Maker, Preserver and Ruler of all things, having in and of himself, all perfections, and being infinite in them all; and to Him all creatures owe the highest love, reverence and obedience.
III. THE TRINITY
God is revealed to us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit each with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence or being.
God from eternity, decrees or permits all things that come to pass, and perpetually upholds, directs, and governs all creatures and all events; yet so as not in any wise to be the author or approver of sin nor to destroy the free will and responsibility of intelligent creatures.
Election is God’s eternal choice of some persons unto everlasting life – not because of foreseen merit in them, but of his mere mercy in Christ – in consequence of which choice they are called, justified and glorified.
VI. THE FALL OF MAN
God originally created man in His own image, and free from sin; but, through the temptation of Satan, he transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original holiness and righteousness; whereby his posterity inherit a nature corrupt and wholly opposed to God and His law, are under condemnation, and as soon as they are capable of moral action, become actual transgressors.
VII. THE MEDIATOR
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, is the divinely appointed mediator between God and man. Having taken upon Himself human nature, yet without sin, He perfectly fulfilled the law, suffered and died upon the cross for the salvation of sinners. He was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended to His Father, at whose right hand He ever liveth to make intercession for His people. He is the only Mediator, the Prophet, Priest and King of the Church, and Sovereign of the Universe.
Regeneration is a change of heart, wrought by the Holy Spirit, who quickeneth the dead in trespasses and sins enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the Word of God, and renewing their whole nature, so that they love and practice holiness. It is a work of God’s free and special grace alone.
Repentance is an evangelical grace, wherein a person being, by the Holy Spirit, made sensible of the manifold evil of his sin, humbleth himself for it, with godly sorrow, detestation of it, and self-abhorrence, with a purpose and endeavor to walk before God so as to please Him in all things.
Saving faith is the belief, on God’s authority of whatsoever is revealed in His Word concerning Christ; accepting and resting upon Him alone for justification and eternal life. It is wrought in the heart by the Holy Spirit, and is accompanied by all other saving graces, and leads to a life of holiness.
Justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal of sinners, who believe in Christ, from all sin, through the satisfaction that Christ has made; not for anything wrought in them or done by them; but on account of the obedience and satisfaction of Christ, they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness by faith.
Those who have been regenerated are also sanctified, by God’s word and Spirit dwelling in them. This sanctification is progressive through the supply of Divine strength, which all saints seek to obtain, pressing after a heavenly life in cordial obedience to all Christ’s commands.
XIII. PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS
Those whom God hath accepted in the Beloved, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere to the end; and though they may fall, through neglect and temptation, into sin, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, bring reproach on the Church, and temporal judgments on themselves, yet they shall be renewed again unto repentance, and be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.
XIV. THE CHURCH
The Lord Jesus is the Head of the Church, which is composed of all his true disciples, and in Him is invested supremely all power for its government. According to his commandment, Christians are to associate themselves into particular societies or churches; and to each of these churches he hath given needful authority for administering that order, discipline and worship which he hath appointed. The regular officers of a Church are Bishops or Elders, and Deacons.
Baptism is an ordinance of the Lord Jesus, obligatory upon every believer, wherein he is immersed in water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, as a sign of his fellowship with the death and resurrection of Christ, of remission of sins, and of his giving himself up to God, to live and walk in newness of life. It is prerequisite to church fellowship, and to participation in the Lord’s Supper.
XVI. THE LORD’S SUPPER
The Lord’s Supper is an ordinance of Jesus Christ, to be administered with the elements of bread and wine, and to be Observed by his churches till the end of the world. It is in no sense a sacrifice, but is designed to commemorate his death, to confirm the faith and other graces of Christians, and to be a bond, pledge and renewal of their communion with him, and of their church fellowship.
XVII. THE LORD’S DAY
The Lord’s Day is a Christian institution for regular observance, and should be employed in exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private, resting from worldly employments and amusements, works of necessity and mercy only excepted.
XVIII. LIBERTY OF CONSCIENCE
God alone is Lord of the conscience, and He hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are in anything contrary to His word, or not contained in it. Civil magistrates being ordained of God, subjection in all lawful things commanded by them ought to be yielded by us in the Lord, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
XIV. THE RESURRECTION
The bodies of men after death return to dust, but their spirits return immediately to God – the righteous to rest with Him; the wicked, to be reserved under darkness to the judgment. At the last day, the bodies of all the dead, both just and unjust, will be raised.
XX. THE JUDGMENT
God hath appointed a day, wherein he will judge the world by Jesus Christ, when every one shall receive according to his deeds: the wicked shall go into everlasting punishment; the righteous, into everlasting life.
ARTICLES OF FAITH
„Election is God’s eternal choice of PERSONS unto everlasting life – NOT BECAUSE OF FORESEEN MERIT IN THEM, but of His mere mercy in Christ – in consequence of which choice they are called, justified, and glorified.”
How Important is the Doctrine
IF IT WERE NOT FOR THE DOCTRINE
NO ONE WOULD BE SAVED ! ! !
WHAT ELECTION IS NOT:
• Not salvation, but unto salvation. 11 Thes. 2:13, 14; Eph. 1:4; Rom. 8:29, 30.
• Not exclusive of means. II Thes. 2:14; Eph. 1:5, 13; II Tim. 2:10; I Pet. 1:2.
• Not a respecter of persons. Rom. 9:18-24.
• Fame, wealth, wisdom, position, etc., did not cause God to have respect for some and elect them (Job 34:19).
• All being ungodly, none could have been saved had He not shown grace to some.
• Not „salvation regardless,” but unto salvation through the redemption of Christ, applied by the Spirit through the gospel. John 6:37; Rom. 10:17; I Thes. 1:4, 5; II Thes. 2:13, 14; Acts 13:48.
• Not opposed to the Gospel, but the Gospel is a means in accomplishing election’s purpose. (See scriptures already cited).
• Not an enemy of righteousness, but through its appointed means causes those once ungodly to live godly. Eph. 1:4; I Thes. 1:4-10.
• Not based on foreseen faith or works, but it produces faith and works. Rom. 9:11-16; 11:5, 6; Phil. 1:6; II Tim. 1:9; Eph. 2:8-10; Acts 13:48; I Cor. 3:5; Rom. 12:3; Eph. 4:7; Acts 5:31; II Tim. 2:25.
• Does not shut the door of salvation, but opens that door for all those who come to Christ. John 6:37, 44, 63, 65; 10:9; 14:6.
• Not a hindrance to gospel preaching, but assures the gospel of success. Isa. 55:11; John 10:27; 6:37, 45; 17:20, 21;A cts 15:14; 16:14; 18:27; II Tim. 2:9, 10.
• Not of the Jews only. Rom. 9:24; 11:5-8, 11, 12, 25; John 11:52.
• Not merely to service, but to salvation. II Thes. 2:13, 14; II Tim. 2:10.
• Not fatalism, but is the work of God. I Thes. 1:4; Rom. 8:28, 30.
• Does not destroy man’s so-called „free will.” The will of man is his desire, wish or choice. His choice is sin. John 3:19, 20; 5:40; 3:11; 2:2, 3; 4:17-19; Jer. 17-9; 13:23; etc. Man „freely” chooses sin and by God’s grace the elect freely choose Christ –Ps. 65:4; 110:3; John 6:44, 65; Acts 13:48. Lazarus „freely” rotted, but at the word of Christ he „freely” came forth (John 11). So do the elect of God.
• Not anti-missionary, but gives the foundation for missions. John 6:37; 17:20,21; II Tim. 2:10; Isa. 55:11; II Pet. 3:9, 15.
• Does not destroy the responsibility of man. Men are responsible for whatever light they have, be it conscience (Rom. 2:15), nature (Rom. 1:19, 20), written law (Rom. 2:1727), or the gospel (Mark 16:15, 16). Man’s inability to do righteousness no more frees him from responsibility than does Satan’s inability to do righteousness.
• Does not make God unjust. His blessing of a great number of unworthy sinners with salvation is no injustice to the rest of the unworthy sinners. If a governor pardons one convict, is it injustice to the rest? I Thes. 5:9.
• Does not discourage convicted sinners, but welcomes them to Christ. „Let him that is athirst come ” (Rev. 17:17). The God who convicts is the God who saves. The God who saves is the God who has elected men unto salvation. He is the same God who invites.
• Does not discourage prayer. To the contrary, it drives us to God, for He it is who alone can save. True prayer is the Spirit’s prompting; and thus will be in harmony with God’s will. Rom. 8:26.
• Not of man. Some say, „God votes, the devil votes, and man votes. ” The Bible teaches that election is not of the devil and man, but „of God.” I Thes. 1:4; John 10:16; I John 4:10, 19.
• Not of reason, but of Revelation. At first, it does not appeal to man’s reason, but when man accepts God’s Word, it is seen to be the only thing that could be „reasonable.” Matt. 20:15.
I am shocked that many people do not know that ELECTION is in the Bible. I am more shocked that the biblical teaching on the subject has not been discussed, taught or preached. Someone, back along the line, must have thought it important because it is in our Baptist Faith and Message.
„Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners.. .”( Baptist Faith and Message, p. 12)
It is not only in our ARTICLES of FAITH, but we sing it in many of our hymns…. „The Church’s One Foundation”- the second stanza „Elect from every nation…. ”
More importantly, it is in the Bible and in this chapter on the subject I wish to make one point only, that is, EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES THE BIBLE MUST BELIEVE IN ELECTION. They may not understand what the Bible teaches about it. They may not agree as to what the Bible teaches about it, BUT, they must believe that it is in the Bible.
The words Elect – Election – Foreordination – Chosen – Foreknow and Foreknowledge demand that we believe the Bible teaches a doctrine of election, of some kind.
Scriptures where we find it:
Matthew 24:22 „And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved; but for the ELECT’S sake those days shall be shortened.”
Matthew 24:24 „. . . insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very ELECT.”
Matthew 24:31 „. . . and they shall gather together HIS ELECT from the four winds . . . ”
Mark 13.20, 22, 27
Romans 8.28-33 N.B. V 33 „Who shall lay anything to the charge of GOD’S ELECT? It is God that justifieth.”
Romans 9:11 „For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to ELECTION might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth. ”
Romans 11:5, 7 „Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according TO THE ELECTION OF GRACE. What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but THE ELECTION hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded. ”
Romans 11:28 „. . . but as touching the ELECTION, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. ”
Col. 3.12 „Put on therefore, as the ELECT of God. . .”
I Thes. 1:4 „Knowing, brethren beloved, YOUR ELECTION OF GOD.”
II Thes. 2:13 „. . . because God hath from the beginning CHOSEN you to salvation . . . ”
II Tim. 2:10 „Therefore I endure all things for the ELECT’S SAKES, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”
Titus 1 „. . . according to the faith of God’s ELECT. . . ”
II Peter 1:10 „. . . give diligence to make your calling and ELECTION sure . . .”
See also Isa. 42:1; 45:4; 65:9; 65:22.
These passages establish the fact that ELECTION is in the Bible. We could do the same thing with the word „chosen.” Eph. 1:4; Ps. 65:4.
My only point in this chapter is to establish the fact that the Bible is full of the blessed doctrine of election.
In future chapters on this subject we will consider:
The benefits and blessings of this truth.
The encouragement it gives to evangelism.
How it insures the success of the gospel.
How it honors God and humbles man.
1. Don’t make derogatory remarks about what is in the Bible whether you understand it or not.
2. Don’t reject what the Bible teaches on any subject, especially if you have not studied what the Bible says about it.
3. Don’t make a hobby out of any one doctrine. Although this doctrine is of vital importance, it is only one doctrine end must not be separated from all Christian truth.
4. Don’t reject any doctrine because it has been abused and misused. All the key doctrines have been perverted.
(WHAT IS THAT??)
Here is one. Acts 2:23 . . .
„Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God –
100% Sovereignty of GOD
ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain”
100% Human Responsibility
All the devils in Hell or men on earth could not keep Jesus from the Cross – Why?
Because it was determined by the counsel and foreknowledge of God – that is
100% Divine Sovereignty
Yet man was charged with the murder of Christ „ye by wicked hands have crucified and slain” that is –
100% Human Responsibility
Both of these are equally true – they are both in the Bible – and we have no trouble in our minds when we consider them separately, BUT, we cannot ( in our minds) put them together.
DON’T TRY – they are Friends and do not need to be reconciled by us. We cannot reconcile DIVINE SOVEREIGNTY and HUMAN RESPONSIBILITY, but God will do what we cannot do.
The ANTINOMY is only with us – not with God.
ARTICLE IV – PROVIDENCE
„God from eternity decrees or permits all things to come to pass, and perpetually upholds, directs, and governs all creatures and all events; yet so as not in any wise to be the author or approver of sin nor to destroy the free will and responsibility of man. ” (Free to act according to his nature.)
The last words of Article IV are „responsibility of man.”The one thing no one can do is reconcile the responsibility of man and the sovereignty of God.
It is here that most people get into real trouble, and, especially preachers, since we are called upon to preach the whole counsel of God. What do we see in the scriptures? A God Who is Absolutely Sovereign in Creation – Redemption and Providence. And just as clearly we see the Bible teaches that man is 100% responsible.
The errors to be avoided are:
1. Soft peddling either of these subjects. If you do this, you have a God who is something less than Sovereign (not the God of the Bible) and a man who is something less than responsible. Both are 100% true – so believe – teach and preach them. Many times they are both in the same verse. Example – John 6:37 „All that the Father giveth me shall come to me: and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”
II Tim 2:19. „Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”
2. Another danger is being unwilling to go as far as the Bible goes on these subjects, or, with human reasoning, logic or speculation, to go beyond what the Bible reveals.
Deut. 29:29 is a good place to camp. ” The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
3. The third, and probably the most common error is to try to reconcile God’s Sovereignty and Man’s Responsibility.
What we have here is an antinomy (this may be a new word for your vocabulary). What is an antinomy? The Shorter Oxford Dictionary defines it as „a contradiction between conclusions which seem equally logical, reasonable or necessary.” In the case of biblical theology we should say „an appearance of a contradiction.” To put it another way – An antinomy is when we look at two different statements, both very clear and equally true, when we consider them separately, but we cannot reconcile them to each other. This is the case with God’s Sovereignty and human responsibility. They are both in the Bible – both true – but humanly we cannot reconcile them with each other.
That great Baptist preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, was once asked if he could reconcile divine sovereignty and human responsibility. „I wouldn’t try,” he replied; „I never reconcile friends.” Friends? Yes, friends. They are both in the same book – the Bible.
For further study on this point, I recommend the following books:
A Southern Baptist Looks At Predestination – by P. H. Mell
Abstract of Systematic Theology – by James P. Boyce
Theology and Church Order – by John L. Dagg
Election – by Charles H. Spurgeon
Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God – by J. I. Packer
The Sovereignty of God – by A. W. Pink
Predestination – by Loraine Boettner
GOD’S ELECTING LOVE
EXPRESSED IN A HYMN
I WAS A WAND’RING SHEEP
I was a wand’ring sheep,
I did not love the fold:
I did not love my Shepherd’s voice,
I would not be controlled.
I was a way-ward child,
I did not love my home:
I did not love my Father’s voice,
I loved afar to roam.
The Shepherd sought His sheep,
the Father sought His child:
He followed me o’er vale and hill,
o’er deserts waste and wild:
He found me nigh to death,
famished, and faint and lone,
He bound me with the bands of love,
He saved the wand’ring one.
Jesus my Shepherd is:
‘Twas He that loved my soul,
‘Twas He that washed me in His blood,
‘Twas He that made me whole:
‘Twas He that sought the lost,
That found the wand’ring sheep:
‘Twas He that bro’t me to the fold,
‘Tis He that still doth keep.
No more a wand’ring sheep,
I love to be controlled,
I love my tender Shepherd’s voice,
I love the peaceful fold:
No more a way-ward Child,
I seek no more to roam:
I love my heavenly Father’s voice,
I love, I love His home!
Election is such an important biblical doctrine that if it were not for the doctrine of ELECTION no one would be saved, and Christ’s death would be of no effect, that is, it would not affect any one savingly.
I want to show that it is not only in the Bible, but our Baptist fathers believed it, taught it and preached it.
JOHN A BROADUS, former president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary: „From the divine side, we see that the Scriptures teach an eternal election of men to eternal life simply out of God’s good pleasure. ”
B. H. CARROLL, founder and first president of the Southwestern Baptist Seminary: „Every one that God chose in Christ is drawn by the Spirit to Christ. Every one predestined is called by the Spirit in time, and justified in time, and will be glorified when the Lord comes.”
JAMES P. BOYCE, founder and first president of Southern Baptist Seminary: „God, of His own purpose, has from eternity determined to save a definite number of mankind as individuals, not for or because of any merit or works of theirs, nor of any value of them to Him; but of His own good pleasure.”
W. T. CONNER, professor of theology, Southwestern Baptist Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas: „The doctrine of election means that God saves in pursuance of an eternal purpose. This includes all the gospel influence, work of the Spirit and so on, that leads a man to repent of his sins and accept Christ. So far as man’s freedom is concerned, the doctrine of election does not mean that God decrees to save a man irrespective of his will. It rather means that God purposes to lead a man in such a way that he will freely accept the gospel and be saved.”
CHARLES HADDON SPURGEON, The Prince of Preachers, in a sermon delivered on Matthew 24:24 (April 22, 1860): „I do not hesitate to say, that next to the doctrine of the crucifixion and the resurrection of our blessed Lord – no doctrine had such prominence in the early Christian church as the doctrine of the election of Grace.”
If Spurgeon is correct (and he is) there sure have been a lot of preachers successful in avoiding a very important and prominent Bible truth. Spurgeon said, „There seems to be an inveterate prejudice in the human mind against this doctrine, and although most other doctrines will be received by professing Christians, some with caution, others with pleasure, yet this one seems to be most frequently disregarded and discarded.”
If it were true in Spurgeon’s day, I wonder what he would say now when most pulpits are silent about it, and therefore, the pews ignorant of it.
The Old Baptist Confessions, such as, The Baptist Confession of 1689 (London Confession): The Philadelphia Confession of 1742; The New Hampshire Confession – all these confessions are crystal clear on the blessed doctrine of Sovereign Election.
There is no doctrine so grossly neglected and misrepresented in all the Bible. One of our Fathers said, „From hostile lips a fair and correct statement of the doctrine of election is never heard.”
The treatment the doctrine of election receives from the hands of its enemies is much like that received by the early Christians from pagan Roman Emperors. The early Christians were often clothed in the skins of animals and then subjected to attack by ferocious wild beasts. So the doctrine of election is often clothed in ugly garb and held up to ridicule and erroneous attacks.
IN A HYMN
I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew
He moved my soul to seek him, seeking me:
It was not I that found. O Saviour true,
No, I was found of thee.
Thou didst reach forth thy hand and mine enfold;
I walked and sank not on the storm-vexed sea,
‘Twas not so much that I on thee took hold,
As thou, dear Lord, on me.
I find, I walk, I love, but, O the whole
Of love is but my answer, Lord, to thee;
For thou wert long before-hand with my soul,
Always thou lovedst me.
All of the present Bible believing preachers and teachers must also believe in election, but most of them do not preach election at all. And those who do, many times, do not teach what the Bible teaches about it.
In this chapter I want to make some general remarks to turn away preconceived prejudice by those who have never gone to the Bible to search what it actually says about the subject.
1. ELECTION PRECEDES SALVATION.
Election is not salvation but it is unto salvation. ‘ What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election (elect) hath obtained it and the rest were blinded’ (Rom. 11:7).
‘God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation’ (II Thes. 2:13).
Conclusion – if the elect obtain salvation, and since election is to salvation – election must precede salvation.
2. ELECTION HARMS NO ONE.
Election is not the cause of anyone going to hell, for election is unto salvation. Neither is non-election responsible for the damnation of sinners. Sin is what sends men to hell, and all men are sinners by nature and practice.
It does not follow that because election is unto salvation, that non-election is unto damnation. SIN is the cause of damnation; Election, therefore, harms no one but brings salvation to many.
3. ELECTION IS THE MOTHER OF A HOLY LIFE.
Election does not prevent the salvation of any one who wants to be saved. But a very important distinction must be made between a mere desire to escape hell and a desire to be saved from sin. The desire to be saved from hell is a natural desire – no one wants to burn. The desire to be saved from sin is a spiritual desire and is a result of the convicting work of the Holy Spirit – God’s electing grace is the mother of this desire to be saved from sin.
‘. . . he has CHOSEN (elected) us in him (Christ) before the foundation of the world, that we should be HOLY and without blame before him in love:’Eph. 1:4.
Were it not for the redemptive work of Christ, there would be no gospel feast; were it not for the convicting, converting and compelling work of the Holy Spirit there would be no guests. A mere outward invitation brings nobody to the gospel feast.
4. ELECTION IS THE FOUNDATION OF GRACE.
Electing love belongs to the system of grace. In the epistle of Romans Paul tells us that a remnant among the Jews were saved ‘. . . according to the election of GRACE. ‘The attitude of men toward election is the acid test of their belief in salvation by grace. Those who oppose election cannot consistently claim to believe in salvation by grace. A simple proof is seen in the study of the Creeds of Christendom. The denominations that believe in salvation by works, religious ceremony, or ritual have no place in their confessions for the doctrine of Election. But those who believe in salvation by grace, apart from human merit, have not failed to include the blessed doctrine of election in their written Creeds or Confessions. This is just why we have it as Article Five in our ARTICLES OF FAITH and this is why I am calling it to our attention – we believe in salvation by Sovereign Grace.
THE ELECT ARE MARKED.
The elect are ultimately manifest in repentance and faith and good works. These graces, being God-wrought in man, are not the cause but the evidence of election (See I Thes. 1:3-10; II Peter 1:510).
‘Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure'(PhiL 2:12, 13).
‘And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?’ (Luke 18:7).
The man who does not pray, who does not repent of his sins, trust in the Person and work of Christ, and the man who does not engage in good works has no right to claim that he is one of God’s elect.
THE GOLDEN CHAIN OF
IT REACHES FROM ETERNITY PAST
„MOREOVER WHOM HE DID PREDESTINATE,
THEM HE ALSO CALLED: AND WHOM HE
CALLED, THEM HE ALSO JUSTIFIED:
AND WHOM HE JUSTIFIED,
THEM HE ALSO GLORIFIED.”
ELECTION AND DESTINY
I. IS DESTINY IN A CHRISTIAN’S HANDS BEFORE HE IS SAVED?
The statement we so often hear – that every man’s destiny is in his own hands – is a denial of the whole tenor and teaching of the Bible. The Bible clearly teaches that at no time was the destiny of any Christian in his own hands, neither before he was saved or afterwards. If his destiny was in his hands before he was saved, then he regenerated himself out of the state of spiritual DEATH and, if that were true, salvation would be by man and not by grace. If his destiny was in his hands, he is his own benefactor and can thank himself for his great power and wisdom in determining his own destiny. Perish the thought!
John 1:13 ” Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” This one scripture should forever put to silence such a thought. (Read Eph. 2:1-10; I Tim. 1:9; James 1:18).
II. IS DESTINY IN A CHRISTIAN’S HANDS AFTER HE IS SAVED?
If so, then he will either keep himself saved or lose his salvation. The Bible says we are kept by the power of God through faith (read I Peter 1:15; Ps. 37:28; John 10:27-29; Phil. 1:6′ Heb. 13:5).
If the Christian’s destiny is not safe in his own hands after he is saved, how could it be thought to be safe in his own hands before his conversion? Matt. 24:24 „For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” This one verse should settle the question. It teaches that the ELECT cannot be deceived. Matt. 24:22 „And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened ” This text teaches us that the rigor of God’s punishments are abated – WHY?? For the elect’s sake. In both of these verses we see that destiny is being controlled by God.
III. IS DESTINY IN A CHRISTIAN’S HANDS AFTER DEATH?
The Christian dies, his body is consigned to the grave and becomes dust. Is his destiny in his own hands then? If so, what hope does he have of coming out of the grave with an immortal and incorruptible body?? None at all.
The theory that destiny is in the hands of man begets self-confidence and self-righteousness; the belief that destiny is in the hands of God begets SELF-ABNEGATION and faith in God.
The Golden Chain of Theology proves that destiny is in the hands of the ALL WISE – ALL POWERFUL GOD of heaven and earth. This Golden Chain is expressed in our verse of scripture, Romans 8:30 „Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified ” Please note in this verse that it begins in eternity past and extends to eternity future. All the „us’s” found from verse 31 to 39 refer back to this unbreakable Golden Chain. No wonder the great apostle could say in verse 33 „Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.”
Where is the HOPE
for the SUCCESS of EVANGELISM?
THE DOCTRINE OF ELECTION is the certainty of success in the work of EVANGELISM. It is the FOUNDATION and HOPE of MISSIONARY ENDEAVOR.
If the hope of preachers and missionaries was in their own power and ability to convert sinners, or, if our hope was in the power or ability of dead sinners to give themselves life, all would despair. But when the worker’s hope for results is in the work of the Holy Spirit, who alone can quicken, we labour on with hope and expectation . . . in what God will do, and be sure He will effectually call His sheep by His own will and power THROUGH prayer and preaching.
EVANGELISM AND ELECTION
God elected the MEANS of salvation as well as the persons to salvation. His Word reveals that He chose to save His own through preaching and witnessing – „Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”
But we must ever remember that preaching and prayer are the means and not the cause of anyone’s salvation. The cause is God’s unconditional Electing Love – „For God so loved the world that the ‘whosoevers’ will believe and will not perish. ”
WHO ARE THE „WHOSOEVERS”?
John 6:37 „All that the Father giveth … shall come….
John 10:27 „My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me.”
WHY IS IT THAT SOME DO NOT BELIEVE?
John 10:26 „But ye believe NOT because ye are not my sheep.
You see, the Father gave His Son some sheep and He has sent us out to preach and witness because that is the means He employs to call them.
John 17:2 „As thou has given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as THOU HAST GIVEN HIM. ”
THEY WILL COME – CHRIST HAS PRAYED FOR THEM.
John 17:9 „I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for THEM WHICH THOU HAST GIVEN ME: for they are thine. ”
JESUS PRAYED FOR THE FUTURE SHEEP WHO WOULD COME.
John 17:20 „Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word ”
John 17:24 „Father, I will that they also, WHOM THOU HAST GIVEN ME, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, WHICH THOU HAST GIVEN ME: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. ”
WHY IS GOD’S ELECTING LOVE SO IMPORTANT TO THE PREACHER AND MISSIONARY?
It is the doctrine that assures the success of our missionary efforts.
The greatest preacher-evangelists in the History of the church believed in the biblical doctrine of Election:
John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress, and a great preacher.
George Whitefield, the greatest evangelist, ever to set foot on American soil.
John Paton – Missionary to New Hebrides.
Jonathan Edwards – William Carey – Charles Haddon Spurgeon and others.
It was the hopeful doctrine of election that God used to encourage the Apostle Paul when he was afraid to go to Corinth; God said to him, „. . . I have much people in this city ” (Acts 18:9, 10).
No, the doctrine of Election does not dampen evangelism if it is rightly held, but rather, it guarantees the success of it and should be the greatest encouragement that we have.
If you do not believe in the biblical doctrine of ELECTION, you do not understand what it means to be saved by SOVEREIGN GRACE. You will have to write a song entitled AMAZING DECISION, how sweet the sound! It is either by GRACE or by something else, and, since it is by GRACE ALONE. it must be because of ELECTING LOVE.
Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved:
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believed!
Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come:
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures:
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yea, when this heart and flesh shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease:
I shall possess, within the vail,
A life of joy and peace.
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine:
But God who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.
– John Newton –
When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise,
Than when we first begun.
HOW IMPORTANT IS THE BIBLICAL DOCTRINE
1. If it were not for God’s Electing love no one would be saved, that is, man left to himself would not seek God.
2. No one will be clearly convinced, as he ought to be, that our salvation flows from the Fountain of Free Mercy until he is acquainted with God’s Sovereign, Unconditional, Electing Love. Ignorance of this great biblical truth detracts from divine glory and diminishes true humility. On the other hand, an understanding of Election honors God and humbles man. Therefore, a true biblical view of Election brings Praise, Reverence, Admiration and Worship to God; and brings humility, diligence, consolation and comfort to believers.
WHO DOES THE ELECTING??
II Thes. 2:13 „GOD HATH FROM THE BEGINNING CHOSEN YOU
WHEN WAS THE ELECTING DONE??
For an answer we are shut up to the Scriptures. But the Bible answers with sunlight clearness. In Eph. 1:4, we read that „He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world.” The expression ‘before the foundation of the world’ is found in John 17:24 where it speaks of the Father’s eternal love for the Son, and in I Peter 1:20, where it refers to the eternal determination of the Divine mind concerning the death of Christ. There are many similar expressions. See Rev. 13:8; II Thes. 2:13; II Tim. 1:9. ELECTION IS FINAL!
WHY WAS THE ELECTING DONE??
The answer the Scriptures give is found in Eph. 1:5, „Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself ACCORDING TO THE GOOD PLEASURE OF HIS WILL.” And, Eph. 1:11, „In whom we also have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated ACCORDING TO THE PURPOSE OF HIM WHO WORKETH all things after the counsel of his own will.”
There is one thing for sure – it was not because he saw faith and repentance in some and chose them. This cannot be because election precedes Faith and Repentance and therefore, cannot be the Effect – To say that election is because foreseen faith in sinners is as if the President would issue a decree saying that the sun must rise tomorrow morning because he foresees that it would. Romans 8:29 „For WHOM he did foreknow he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. ”
Please note well it does not say what God foreknew, but WHOM HE DID FOREKNOW – and foreknow here means forelove. Not He knew WHAT they would do, but WHOM He did foreknow (forelove).
Thank God our founders knew the importance of this doctrine and thus, we have Article V.
„Election is God’s eternal choice of persons unto everlasting life -not because of foreseen merit in them, but of His mere mercy in Christ–in consequence of which choice they are called, justified, and glorified.”
For those who care to study this more, I suggest Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Arthur W. Pink, and James P. Boyce (Founder of the first Southern Baptist Seminary, Theology Professor).