ŇKnowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.Ó
(1 Thessalonians 1:4)
When Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica, he spoke confidently to GodŐs saints there about the indisputable fact of their election. He gave thanks to God for them, their faith in Christ, their love to one another, and the other blessings of GodŐs grace upon them, because he knew that all these things were to be traced to their election unto salvation by God. I know that many have never even heard of GodŐs electing love and grace; and many are terribly confused about it. Here are three practical statements, which may help to clarify some things regarding this soul-cheering, God honoring, gospel doctrine.
1. Election is not the first thing to be learned.
Precious, delightful, important as this doctrine is, it is not the first thing to be learned. We preach this doctrine without apology. I preach it everywhere I go. We teach it in our Sunday School classes, beginning with the toddlers. We are not, in the least, bashful about proclaiming GodŐs electing love. However, it is not our mission in this world to convince people that the doctrine of election is true. A person can go to hell believing election as well as he can go to hell denying it. Our mission is to get sinners to believe, trust, and come to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Any sinner who bows to Christ as Lord will have no problem with the doctrine of election. Yet, the first question to be settled in your heart and mind is not, ŇAm I one of the elect?Ó It is impossible for you, me, or anyone else to determine that until the matter of first importance is settled. — ŇDo I trust the Lord Jesus Christ?Ó — ŇAm I a believer?Ó That is the matter of first importance. If you trust the Son of God, your faith in him is the proof of your election. The first thing to be learned is faith in Christ. Where faith is found in the heart, election is believed and loved.
2. GodŐs sovereign election of some to salvation and eternal life in Christ is in no way inconsistent with the promises of God in the gospel.
All the promises of God in Christ Jesus are yea and amen. You may not be able to see how election can be true and the promises of the gospel to sinners are also true; but they are! Hear the promises God makes to sinners in the gospel. Come to Christ, whoever you are, believe on Christ, whatever you have done, trust the Son of God, and these promises are yours! (Read Matthew 11:28-30; Mark 16:15-16; John 3:36; 6:37; 7:37-38; Acts 16:31; Romans 10:8-13; Revelation 22:16-17).
3. GodŐs election, this gospel doctrine of sovereign electing grace does not, to any degree or in any way, remove or destroy your responsibility to obey the gospel.
God commands all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30). Our responsibility is not derived from the decree of God, but from the Word of God. We are not responsible for what God has purposed; but we are responsible for what he has
commanded. We are all responsible to be perfectly holy, but we canŐt! We are responsible to make complete atonement for our sins, but we canŐt! We are responsible to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as our only righteousness and our only redemption, but we cannot even do that! We are, therefore, shut up to GodŐs sovereign grace in Christ! When all things are finished, it shall be said, as we read in Romans 11:7, ŇThe election hath obtained it.Ó And all those elect ones, all who obtain GodŐs salvation say, ŇAmen!Ó
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