Text: Mark 13:20 And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect's sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon wrote: "I'm so glad that God chose me before the foundation of the world, because he never would have chosen me after I was born!"
Intro: I haven’t always believed the doctrine of election unto salvation. That was because I didn’t understand it and had been brainwashed by so many sermons by so much Armenian preaching in Baptist pulpits, maybe because the natural man is born an Armenian in belief. Most 20th century Baptists have succeeded in shedding the title “Calvinist.” However, Baptists were all “Calvinists” until the belief of Armenianism began to sweep into our ranks by preachers guided by human wisdom instead of the Word of God. How could Baptist churches change so much? Thru faulty reasoning of those in leadership positions, the higher criticism of those in our preachers schools who’ve taken the higher educational stand that elevates itself above the apparent teaching of the Scriptures to tell us what it is really saying, difficulty in explaining the bibles doctrine of election to the rebellious mind, and general ignorance of our preachers and people and their unwillingness to even study it out for themselves. “There’s none so blind as he who will not see.”
Daniel Wallace of the Dallas Baptist Theological Seminary stated my 10 outline points that I will be using, and I applaud him for taking this stand for the truth. Now I already knew all of these things, but I like the progress of his thoughts which I will follow and add to.
II. Election does not mean that God merely knew who would believe and on that basis elected them. D. L. Moody thought that election meant this: "God chose me for himself, but the devil chose me for himself. My choice is the tie-breaker." Or as I heard someone state years ago, God voted for me, the Devil voted against me, and I cast the deciding vote. That gives sovereignty to man, and that is unbiblical and unprovable.
This really would not be election or "choice." God would not be choosing us; rather, we would be choosing him and he would simply know about it. (Further, the devil, a creature, would be put on a plane equal to God.) The consistent testimony of scripture is that God is the one doing the choosing, not us. Having made His choice it is necessary for God to call us to repentance and faith resulting in our personal salvation through His grace.
Two things must be at work here. 2 Peter 1:10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:” Of course, our election by God came first; our calling with the gospel came in our lifetime.
A sinner cannot and will not come to Christ until he hears the call of the Holy Spirit, Rev 22:17 “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” It is not in human depravity to come until enabled.
John 5:40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” Why? Because sinners are spiritually dead and cannot see or hear anything until quickened by God’s Spirit.
Eph 2:1-5 “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)”
Eph 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.”
Rom 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;)”
Rom 9:21-24 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? 22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, 24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?” ;”
1 Thess 1:4 Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.”
1 Thess 2:12 That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.”
2 Thess 2:14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
2 Tim 1:9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,”
1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:”
1 Peter 5:10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”
Jude 1:1 Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:”
Rev 17:14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.”
Rev 19:9 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.” That God calls us to the embracing of the Gospel is a given. If He didn’t, we wouldn’t.
2 Peter 1:10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall(margin: stumble)
II. Election does not obliterate human responsibility. Each person is held responsible before Almighty God as to what they will do with his Son. "There are unsaved people alive today, who, though elect, are now lost and will not be saved until they believe. Eph 2:4-5 “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)”
II. Election is necessary because we are totally depraved sinners.In other words, we would not choose God unless he first chose us. Total depravity does not mean that we are as bad as we could be. Rather, it means that (1) sin has tainted every aspect of our being--our hearts, bodies, and minds; (2) we would be as bad as we could be if it were not for God's common grace (by which he protects humans in general from becoming as wicked as possible); and (3) there is no spark of the divine within us, nothing good that moves God toward that person, as though he or she deserves to be saved.
Non-believers are portrayed as unable to do or think anything which would move them one step closer to God. There is nothing they can do or say which would please God.
Eph 4:18-19 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: 19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.”
Rom 3:10-12 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none 0that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”
Rom 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” In fact, unbelievers are spiritually dead until the Spirit of God calls them: that is, they are unresponsive to anything outside the realm of sin. (Eph 2:1-3). Just as Lazarus was dead until Jesus called his name, so unbelievers are dead until the Spirit of God calls them. And just as Lazarus could not boast that, "Jesus couldn't have done it without me!", neither can we. Dead men don't have much to bargain with. It is important to note that Ephesians 2:8-9 is in the context of God raising us from the dead spiritually.
IV. The process of election, as worked out in our own lives, does not violate our will. That is, the doctrine of "irresistible grace" does not mean "divine coercion," as if God bullies you into submission to do his will. Rather, it is compelling persuasion. The devil has blinded the eyes of the world (2 Cor. 4:4) and once our eyes have been enlightened by the Spirit of God, we see clearly what God has done for us. Further, if grace were resistible, this would mean that the person who can resist God's will is a strong and powerful individual and those who can't (and thus those who get saved) are weaklings. That is not the biblical picture.
A sinner will not respond to the gospel until God moves to draw him to it and give him the will. Ps 110:3 Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power,” 1 Thess 2:13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” Philippians 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”
V. The means of election is always through human agency. That is, God uses other believers to communicate the gospel to the lost . Rom 10:14-17 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? 17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Therefore, we cannot excuse ourselves from sharing the gospel by saying, "If a person is elect, God's going to save him anyway. He doesn't need me to do the job." It's true that God doesn't need any of us to do his will, he could have called the angels to do it, but it is equally true that God uses those who are willing to obey him. Angels would not make good spreaders of the gospel because they have not experienced being lost and then saved by grace. Consequently, the doctrine of election should motivate we, who have been lost and found, to share the gospel--not out of fear but because we want to be used by God to do his will.
VI. Election does not contradict any of God's attributes and, in fact, is a direct outgrowth of his love. Eph 1:4-5 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,”
VII. Election is not just to salvation, but to sanctification and glorification. Rom. 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.” In other words, those whom God has chosen are chosen not just to be saved, but also to be justified, sanctified and glorified.
VIII. The question of whether God is fair or not in choosing some but not others, diminishes how great our salvation is and how much our sinful depravity permeates us. Look, if God were fair, we would all go to hell. If he saves only one person, he is infinitely merciful.
IX. Actually, three basic questions arise when discussing election: Is God fair? Doesn't this make us robots? Why should I evangelize?
All three questions are answered in Romans 9-11, the great passage in the Bible which deals with this doctrine. Romans 9, answers the question of our choice, Rom 10 answers the question of the need for evangelism, and Rom 11 answers the question of God's fairness. It should be noted as well that Paul's theology here is not in a vacuum; he begins (vv 1-3) by almost wishing that he could be accursed from Christ in exchange with his kinsmen in the flesh so they might besaved!
X. Many folks want to seek a balance between God's sovereignty and human free will. A balance needs to be sought, but this is not the place. Nowhere do we read in the Bible that God is not sovereign over our wills. Daniel 4:35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” Further, we have the explicit testimony of Romans 9 to the opposite effect. As well, there is an inherent imbalance between a creature's will and the Creator's will. What right do we have to claim that these two are equal?
The real balance comes between the two broad categories of God's attributes. God has moralattributes (goodness, love, mercy, justice, etc. which are shared by man) and natural attributes (he is infinite, eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, etc. none of which man is capable). In short, the balance is between his sovereignty and his goodness. If God only had natural attributes, he may well be a tyrant. If he only had moral attributes, he would be incapable of effecting change in the world; he would be impotent.
Putting all this together we see the majesty and mystery of God. God's attributes cannot be compartmentalized. That is, he is good in his sovereignty, infinite in his mercy, loving in his omnipotence. However, we as mere finite creatures cannot comprehend the grandeur of his plan. Isaiah 55:8-9 says: "My ways are not your ways, and my thoughts are not your thoughts; but just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." There is no contradiction in God, but there is finite understanding in us.
XI. The doctrine of election is analogous to that of inspiration. God has inspired the very words of scripture (2 Tim 3:16), yet his modus operandi was not verbal dictation. Isaiah was the Shakespeare of his day; Amos was the Mark Twain. Both had widely divergent vocabularies and styles of writing, yet what each wrote was inspired by God. Luke’s style of writing is quite different from John’s, yet both penned the Word of God. We understand from Peter’s writings that no prophet originated his own prophecies, but was led by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:20-21 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
Thus, we are presented with a mystery: Each biblical writer wrote the very words of God, yet each exercised his own personality and will in the process. The message originated with God, yet the process involved human choices. The miracle of inspiration, as Lewis Sperry Chafer long ago noted, is that God did not violate anyone’s personality, yet what was written was exactly what he wanted to say.
This finds parallels with election. The mystery of election is that God can choose unconditionally, yet our wills are not coerced. We are persuaded by the Holy Spirit to believe. Further, we have the sense of free will in the process, just as the biblical authors did. That is, the biblical authors did not always know that they were even writing scripture, even though God was directing their thoughts.
XII. Summary: the biblical doctrine of election is that it is unconditional, irresistible, and irrevocable. All this is to the glory of God--without in any way diminishing the dignity or responsibility of man. To put this another way: A large part of maturing in the faith is that we learn this: “I am not the center of the universe.” God is, and Or, as John the Baptist put it, “That he might increase and I might decrease.”
Isaiah 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”
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