This truth is not a part of modern-day evangelism and its methods. In the last two generations, the revivalistic evangelists never referred to it, except, perhaps, to deal it a backhand slap. Modern mass evangelism, mainly, preaches a humanistic religion, based, as it is, on free will. Modern evangelists regard those as naive and narrow who: think of their cause as a compromise. Their “co-operative” evangelism is no compromise. They can co-operate with Romanists, Modernists, Jews, Unitarians, ecumenists, atheists and existentialists “without any compromise of my message.” That may be so, especially underscoring the word my. But what of the message? For thegospel is so badly compromised and so poorly presented, if not sorely misrepresented, that the present generation hardly knows what it is. Years ago, the popular evangelists thought the primary object of the calling of the church was the salvation of souls. Everything had to conform to that man-centered end. But today converts from the Roman, Jewish, Christian Scientist or Modernist circles are not instructed to follow Christ out of the false church into the true church, but to remain where they are as witnesses to Christ there. Not to do this is taken to imply a great lack of faith in the Holy Spirit. Actually, it is anti-predestinarian and anti-Reformation, in that it ignores the leading of the Spirit who directed the saints in the past to re-formation, according to the pattern of holy Scripture. It also by-passes the church with its indispensable, identifying mark, the pure preaching of the Word of God, and drives the sheep out of the oasis into the desert. Consequently, the churches are becoming an ecumenical, one-world church with a membership of mere natural men. Preaching is not even of the devotional type. It comes with a pious, religious veil and verbiage, which sounds very much like language familiar in Reformed circles, but it is all a conveyance to take us down the road to humanism in the form of social democracy or “Christian” socialism. Nothing of it is according to the historic, doctrinal standards of the church. It gets to the flattery of man, not the misery of man; the love of God, not the law of God. It is little above “only-believeism” and “decisionism,” and as much as the latter, if not more, denies the mortal effects of the fall of man and his total depravity. The latter proffers a weak and helpless Christ to a people never prepared to see their helpless impotence to come to any savior. The neo-orthodox have a Christ whose kingdom is of this world, and whose servants will fight, whose kingdom is from this world and for this world.
Listen to Jesus as He preaches in the synagogue of Nazareth, or as He delivers His Bread of Life discourse, or hear Paul, as in Romans Nine. Compare this to the sensationalism of modern preaching. Rev. By-Ends always has one finger in the air, one ear to the ground, and one eye on the cat. This keeps him so posted that he never preaches anything that makes his hearers uneasy in their sins. Such people, he believes, must not be driven from the churches, but must be catered to, and given that which will inflate their ego, flatter their flesh and tickle their ears.
Men who advise, “preach Christ and never mind theology,” do not preach Him as God’s Elect (Is. 42:1) with whom God has made the covenant (Ps. 89:3). They preach an effeminate, sentimental, reactionary Christ, who never takes the initiative, who is not found in Scripture, but only in their own imaginings. But the Christ of Holy Writ is Jehovah’s Elect Servant, the Lamb foreordained before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8), the One set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel (Luke 2:34), the Stone of stumbling and Rock of offence (I Pet. 2:8), as the crucified, risen and ascended Lord in whom all His people died to sin, have been raised together with Him and made to sit together in the heavenly realm in Christ. They preach not Christ according to the eternal counsel of God, but a caricature of Him.
With doctrinal preaching so extremely unpopular, there is a strong aversion to the doctrine of election. Sermons on election are not only not understood by the average church-goer, and way over his head, but are often vehemently denounced and bitterly resented; Back in September 2, 1855, Charles H. 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. In many of our pulpits, it would be reckoned a high sin and treason to preach a sermon upon election, because they could not make it what they call a ‘practical’ discourse. I believe they have erred from the truth . . . There is nothing in Scripture which may not, under the influence of God’s Spirit, be turned into a practical discourse; and free-grace practice is the best practice. . . .” (Sermons on Sovereignty, Election, p. 51, underscoring, CHS). This is the way it was over a hundred years ago. It is much more extreme today. In many Reformed and Calvinistic churches, where Predestination is found in the doctrinal standards, the bare mention of this heart-line of the gospel makes many see red. Ministers who still preach it are either regarded as disturbers of the peace (bulls in a China shop), or untactful menaces long out of touch with reality. Self-righteous hypocrites still think they have every right to the pew while they deny this truth to the pulpit. Faithful men contending for this truth are few.
So deeply embedded is this doctrine that to subtract it from Scripture would mean to tear and destroy the fabric and organism of Scripture, root and branch, to cut out the very heart of the gospel from the bosom of the church. More than once we have heard this truth denied by Arminians in coast-to-coast radio broadcasts. Also it has been contended, that even if it has biblical support, it ought not to be preached, since it only creates division and schism. This is much like the Romish argument against putting the Bible in the hands of the people in their own language, and against putting the Word of God in the pulpit and in the study class. It sounds more plausible to argue that these mysteries are the secret things which belong to the Lord, and that therefore we are not to meddle with them. But this truth, everywhere and plainly revealed in Scripture, is, surely, no secret. It is, indeed, one of the mysteries of the faith. But so are the doctrines of the trinity, the incarnation, the virgin birth, the creation and the resurrection of the dead. It does, too, have its origin in the secret counsel of God. But much of that counsel is revealed in the gospel. Christ is “our chief prophet and teacher, who has fully revealed to us the secret counsel and will of God concerning our redemption.” (Heid. Cat., Q. 31). When it is objected that election preaching kills missionary endeavor, then the patriarchs, prophets, apostles and the Lord Himself were all useless servants of God, for they preached it continually and fully. When it is objected that the doctrine has the effect of driving to despair any who attempt to grasp its teaching, we have a sophism which could as warrantably be brought against the doctrine of regeneration, for it is no easier to determine whether truly born of God than to make personal calling and election sure. These are some of the difficulties encountered in the proclamation of this glorious truth.
A further difficulty in the proclamation of this truth, which its faithful teacher will encounter, is the insistence of some that it is of such a nature, emphasizing God’s sovereignty as it does, that it tends to blind us to man’s responsibility. They hide behind the former as a cover to excuse themselves from the latter. They excuse their sin by hiding behind “total depravity.” They excuse their total depravity by hiding behind God’s sovereign ordination of sin. (“Out of the mouth of the Most High proceedeth not evil and good?”—Lam. 3:38). Their contention is that it makes no difference whether men live in carelessness, idleness, wantonness or lawlessness, for if they are reprobates, they will go to hell, anyway; and if they are elect, they may live as they please, enjoy sin to the full, and still be converted to walk in righteousness and salvation. To this we answer, first, that such reasoning is not that of a Christian. The elect would still prefer a life holy and without blame, even if it could be proved to them “there is no God.” In the second place, this is childish thinking. What truth is there that corrupt men will not pervert? Recently, some hold-up men robbed an entire church while at worship. They took the contents of the offering plates and of individual wallets and pocket-books. With the congregation held at gun-point, the minister childishly called out to the bandits, “God loves you!” One of them, collecting the loot, answered, “I hope so!” Men will easily go on living in sin, on the assumption that God loves all men. The truth is, God is love. Error comes in when men assume that that is all He is! So it is rather strange, yet Arminian, to contend that the doctrine of election either does, or has the tendency to, make men careless and profane. For the doctrine itself, as it stands pure and uncorrupted in Scripture, teaches that the elect were chosen before the creation of the universe in order that they might be holy and blameless before God (Eph. 1:4). While any continue in a life of ungodliness, they may conclude, not that God loves them, for the wrath of God abides on them, but only that they are in the way the end of which is the way of death.
Bad men will not only use the counsel of God as a cover for their indolence and perversity, but, when it suits them, they will also object to it in the most hateful spirit. It was said of all the elder sons of Jesse, “neither hath the Lord chosen these” (I Sam. 16:10), which was, finally, too much for the eldest, whose “anger was kindled against David” (I Sam. 17:28). When Jesus preached that God made sovereign choice of Gentile widow in preference to the widows of Israel, and of a Syrian leper in preference to the lepers in Israel, the people in the synagogue of Nazareth were so incensed that they attempted to do away with Him (Luke 4:25-29). When Jesus taught that all given to Him in the decree of God shall come to Him (John 6:37), and that no man can come to Him except the Father draw him (John 6:44), many of His former adherents went back and walked no more with m. They either wrested the Scriptures to their own destruction, or they rejected the counsel of God against themselves.
For those who have within them the firstfruits of the Spirit, who have been already delivered from the wrath of God, and who long for the perfection of their deliverance in the day of Christ,—the waiting for the Son of God, even Jesus, can bring them only fullness of joy, and everlasting bliss.
This is what the saints at Thessalonica expected, and longed for; that they might see Jesus, in Whom is bound up all their glory.
And this is also your and my expectation, children of our Father Which is in heaven!
You and I who know we have already been delivered from the wrath to come, because the Son of God, even Jesus, bore for us that awful wrath, so as to remove it from us forever. You and I who believe the Word of God’s Son, even Jesus, Who told us in no uncertain terms that as He left us so He would return to take us unto Himself? You and I who, therefore, walk in the midst of the world, not as children of darkness, but as the children of light, who also fight the good warfare of faith daily, joyfully bearing His cross, but always following after Him, we wait, always expecting, never growing weary, but in patience trusting that God’s Son, even Jesus, shall come from heaven,—we wait, and shall never be brought to shame.
No, never idly waiting!
But waiting in hope that always is characterized by a godly, sanctified walk!
Such is the beautiful testimony of all God’s saints!