Election is the heart of the Church.
In the measure that we do damage to that “heart,” we destroy the idea of the Church.
You cannot destroy the Church, for she is God’s “workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.” Ephesians 2:10. The Almighty God will keep His Church so wonderfully that no man can pluck one of her members out of His hand. John 10:28. “And this is the will of the Father which hath sent me, that of all which He hath given me should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.” John 6:39. There is nothing more sure than the complete salvation of the entire Church of God. We can hold fast the profession of our hope without wavering, for He is faithful that promised.Hebrews 10:23.
But you can destroy your own congregation and denomination!
The Church of God is bigger than any congregation or denomination. The Son of God gathers from the beginning to the end of the world by His Spirit, out of the whole human race, a church chosen to everlasting life. This Church He defends and preserves so that the gates of hell cannot prevail against her. You can, then, destroy a congregation, and you can destroy a denomination without destroying that Church. That which is called church but actually is part of the world, can be lost from that position of being called church without the Church suffering to any degree whatsoever. Many unbelievers in Israel in the Old Testament dispensation died in their unbelief. But the will of God, spoken of above as quoted from John 6:39, was not frustrated. The Church of God did not lose a soul when Cain was cursed into banishment before God’s face, when the earth opened up and swallowed Korah, Dathan and Abiram and when Ananias and Sapphira fell down dead at Peter’s feet and their souls were at once cast into hell. They simply were not given to Christ in sovereign election from before the foundation of the world. The Son of God simply did not come to seek and to save these lost ones. Surely the text that the Son of God came to seek and to save that which was lost cannot and does not apply to every lost man or woman. Then Jesus was a tragic misfit and suffered a staggering failure in His work. By far the largest part of the human race still goes lost. Did He not seek them? Was He not faithful to the Father’s will that sent Him? Was man able to resist Him who is almighty? Is John given to hallucinations and fancy dreams when he declares that Christ is Lord of lords and King of kings? He, who resists the Christ successfully, remains hidden when Christ comes to seek Him, perishes when Christ tried to save him, is Lord and ruler over Christ. Perish the very thought! But surely he, who in the end is able to cause another to fail to reach the goal which this one had set, is the conqueror and victorious one. Nay, but read again 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.” Here is exclusive giving. All are not given; and therefore all are not sought, found and saved. Those whose names were eternally written in the Lamb’s book of life shall to the last one be sought, found and saved. And the rest who are simply enrolled on the books which men keep were not given to Christ and do not come to Him. We do not say that they did not give themselves to Christ. They do not, and they can not. And the reason is that God did not give them eternally to Christ.
We must avoid at all cost denying God His eternal virtues. Under the power of Satan’s lie we still want to be like Him; and we strive to become such by dragging Him down to our level. We can never reach up to Him. Death is such a humiliating thing! It always shows us that we are not like Him and cannot decide for ourselves what is good and what is evil. We shall never overcome death, and no unbeliever today dares even to boast of that ability. Men strive to extend the span of life, but none are so foolish and proud as to claim that .man shall ever attain to everlasting life here on this earth. All flesh is as grass and shall pass away. But it gives that creature of a moment satisfaction to drag God down to his level in his thoughts and to ground his philosophies on such nonsense. However, our ideas and attempts to change God are futile. God remains what He eternally is. And His name without any interruption remains Jehovah. He is and remains the I Am. There is no change in Him. And we do not change Him. He does not change His mind about who is and who is not a member of His Church. There are no new names written down in glory, as the Negro spiritual has it. They are all old names, written from before the foundation of the world. Revelation 13:8. Man does not determine in time whether or not his name shall be written. God is not changeable, nor does He allow men to change His mind and will. Before the children were born or could do good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, it was stated, “Jacob have I loved and Esau have I hated.” Romans 9:11-13.
However, a denomination that departs from the truth can and will disappear. An individual in a congregation, and the whole congregation that rejects the faith will disappear and perish in the just wrath of God. The true Church, the elect from all nations, tongues and tribes; in every age and generation shall be saved. The body of Christ shall be perfect, without a single member missing. Satan and all his hosts cannot stop the heart, of the Church from beating. He cannot bring death to that Church. God is for us and nothing can be against us. Nothing is able to separate us from His love in Christ. And that means that we cannot separate ourselves from that love either. A falling away of the saints is impossible. What falls away, whether it be individual, congregation or denomination, never belonged to God’s Church and was numbered only among the members of man’s church.
It might seem different, however. Churches and denominations that not only deny election but fight vigorously against this doctrine seem to thrive. Many “decisions” are made for Christ in such circles. They grow often very rapidly in numbers. Sometimes their leaders die with a beautiful testimony on their lips. They are then, true, elect children of God, and the faith and success in their group is not due to this denial of the heart of the Church but in spite of their denial. They are not consistent, and therein lies also their salvation and is there hope of faith and salvation in their midst. As the one opponent of the doctrine of election once is reported to have answered the question, “When you pray, are you an Arminian or a Calvinist ?” in this amazing way, “It all depends. When I pray publicly I am an Arminian, but when I pray privately in my closet, I am a Calvinist.” The same attitude and inconsistency is found among those who deny sovereign and eternal election, when they will reject all the consequences of this error upon being shown where it leads. No, they do not want to make God a changeable God. Then He can still change His mind in the future about those whom He, according to their way of speaking, chose in time. No, they do not want to deny Him His sovereignty and elevate man’s will above God’s so that the Almighty God can be frustrated by the creature of dust that depends upon Him for every breath of life. No, they do not want to say that Christ will be disappointed and that some of His blood was shed for naught. No, they do not want a creature that is greater than the Creator.
In all this there is hope; and on their death beds they reject all their denial of sovereign election and rejoice in belonging to a faithful Saviour by the unchangeable decree of the unchangeable God.
But make no mistake about it, the heart of the Church is as important to the life and existence of that Church as your heart and my heart is to our earthly life and continued existence. When there is failure of the heart to any degree whatsoever, there are visible, noticeable symptoms. The lips turn blue. There is pain in the chest. The breath comes in gasps that are painful. If severe enough, unconsciousness overtakes the person suffering from heart failure. Even after a “recovery” the work is curtailed. One must be careful of exertion and excitement. No strain must be placed upon that weakened heart. For though it is called “recovery” that heart is not what it used to be and ought to be.
No different is it in the Church. Those congregations and denominations that suffer from heart failure in that they, have destroyed the truth of election, which is the heart of the Church, or done damage to that truth, and thus to that heart, will give symptoms of heart failure. The whole body of doctrine is affected. That is exactly why our forefathers called election the heart: of the Church. Your doctrine concerning God Himself, concerning man, concerning Christ, salvation, the Church and the last things will all be affected by your stand in regard to election. This is true because it affects the doctrine which we maintain concerning God. And when you have corrupted the truth concerning Him, you cannot maintain the truth in regard to man, Christ, salvation, the Church and the last things. It makes no difference where you begin: when you attack any point of doctrine, you deny God as the God that He actually is. And the denial of sovereign, eternal election with its accompanying reprobation prevents us from believing in God as the Scriptures present Him. By that error we rob God—or try to rob Him, for we can never take anything away from Him—of His glory.
All of salvation is God’s work, and man is the creature that God created. Christ is the One Whom He sent and will send at the last day. Therefore we are always dealing with God, for we are always dealing with His works. A denial of sovereign and eternal election, therefore, will be a denial of God in one way or another. You simply get a creature with more power than the Creator. You get a creature that can frustrate the Creator and make Him turn away weeping and disappointed. But a disappointed God is a God with weakness; and a creature that can bring sorrow to the Creator is a powerful creature. A creator who lets the creature decide and will not impose His wishes upon that creature is a creator who abdicates his position to let the creature rule—and that, mind you, to a sinful creature! You touch the holiness and righteousness of God as well. For, how can a righteous and holy God let the unrighteous and’ unholy creature have his way? On what basis can He justly and in righteousness offer salvation to all sinners, and then choose in time those who will accept? You say, on the basis of the blood of the cross? But, if Christ merited that right for all men to be given an offer, aid He not die in vain for those who do not accept? And wills God’s Church be as big as He wants it to be, or is it limited by the creature?
The “blue lips” of the patient with heart failure are evident in the doubt and fear that Arminianism produces. The shortness of breath and pain in the chest is to be seen in the wavering hope and lack of confidence that Arminianism fosters. Of what can we be sure, if it all depends upon us? Why does the Arminian speak of an incomplete and a non-decisive election, and maintain that not every election unto salvation is unchangeable? Such a doctrine instills fear and not peace and comfort.
The Scriptures speak otherwise and in different vein. Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ.Romans 8:38, 39. “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.” II Timothy 2:19. “And as “many as were .ordained to eternal life believed.” Acts 13:48. “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy.” Ephesians 1:4. Note: not because we were holy or became such by believing, but “that we should be holy.” sheep.” “Ye believe not because ye are not of my John 10:26. Note again: the Arminian says that we are His sheep because we believe; and then God then chooses us because of our faith. God Himself declares in the Person of His Son that election determines who will believe and that faith does not determine election. “Ye did not choose me, but I chose you.” John 15:16. These truths give comfort and peace, for they show us that we are, safe amidst all the enemies, because salvation is of the Lord, He keeps our hearts beating, even while we sleep. And He keeps His Church alive, because He chose her eternally in Christ, loves her and is faithful to all His promises.