17. Its Value. Conclusion
The truth of the election has very practical value in the certainty of the true Christian’s salvation. It is a folly to attempt having assurance of Salvation not founded on the basis of election. It makes no sense to acknowledge the effect while the cause is denied. No true assurance comes to the Christian until he can believe that the glorification of the elect is so infallibly fixed in the eternal purpose of God that it is impossible for any of them to perish. Nor will his faith be firmly strengthened until he believes that he belongs to the company of the elect. For him to do so is not presumption, for the regenerated person has the right to regard himself as a member of the household of faith. For the Spirit renews only those predestinated to be conformed to the image of God’s Son.
The Apostle Paul pointed back to this unshakable basis of assurance when he taught, “Whom He did predestinate, them He also called, and whom He called, them He also justified, and whom He justified, them He also glorified” (Rom. 8:30). Begin on that foundation of divine, sovereign predestination and the end, glorification, is guaranteed. God loveth the elect with an everlasting love. Then He is for them, and “if God be for us, who can be against us? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” What mighty streams flow from this fountain of election! But what folly to attempt choking the stream! There is no eternal security of the sheep except on the foundation of God’s decree. The sheep need this firm foundation as they are naturally timid and often beset with doubts concerning their final perseverance. They therefore find great comfort in discovering in themselves the marks of election. Then they rejoice in the certainty of their eternal life!
It is the apprehension of this truth which enables the true minister of Christ to hold his spiritual balance, continuing firmly to his ministry’s end. What discouragements he meets! Few attend a faithful ministry of the Word. Visible fruits are rare. He is frequently warned that if he continues preaching along the lines of divine sovereignty he will have no one to whom to preach. He is tempted to think that the seal of God’s approval is not on his ministry, that he is a colossal failure and ought to give up. There is enough in his circumstances to fill him with dismay, to tempt him to go along with popular opinion or to enter a more lucrative ministry. This is the rocky path all our ministers have trod.
What is it which revives the drooping spirits from all such temptations? What keeps a servant of the Lord sure that he has not drawn a bow at a venture, but that he is an ordained instrument in God’s hands to accomplish His eternal purpose? It is his faith in the whole Counsel of God. He is commissioned to preach a general proclamation of a particular gospel, knowing, that in my age, it is not God’s purpose that all or even many be saved. The Lord taught His church that His flock is a “very little” one (Luke 12:32), and there is only “a remnant according to the election of grace.” The disciples were, on one occasion, somewhat curious as to whether there are “few that be saved.” In the Sermon on the Mount He stated that many would take the Broad Way to destruction, but that few would course the Narrow Way that leads to life. The servant faithful to his Lord’s word knows and understands this. He knows that some believe because it was given to them in behalf of Christ to believe in Him (Phil. 1:29), and that the rest believed not because they are not Christ’s sheep (John 10:26). He knows that God is using him and other such servants to gather together in one the children of God scattered abroad, in fact, to gather together in one all things in heaven and in earth in Christ (John 11:52; Eph. 1:10). It is this purpose of God according to election, which always stands, that keeps him in perfect tranquility and garrisons his heart and mind in Christ Jesus.
There is no peace of mind like that which rest upon the sovereignty of God brings. He who is sure that God’s decrees cannot fail, that His eternal counsels must come to pass, and that whatever God has ordained for Him to do must be accomplished, is a triumphant conqueror. There may be many adversaries, appalling ruin all around, thousands falling on his right hand, his own many failures emphasizing his own weakness and inadequacy. Yet he is sure that the plan of God is being realized as ordained. He is sure that those ordained to eternal life will believe, that the sheep given to Christ must be saved, and that of their neither to be increased nor diminished number He should lose nothing. He is confident of this very thing, that God who began the work of election, salvation and regeneration, will complete it unto the day of Jesus Christ.
The ministry characterized by election preaching is perfectly cognizant of the promise, “My Word. . .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” (Isa. 55:11). The preached Word may not accomplish that which the preacher desires, nor prosper as the saints had hoped, but the good pleasure of God shall most certainly be done. If God has ordained that the sheep and the lambs shall be fed, then nothing in the world can prevent the giving them the true Bread from heaven. When so many have nothing whatever to do with the church, the Lord’s servants find comfort where He did, in the truth that “all that the father giveth Me shall come to Me” (John 6:37).
“But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself; the Lord will hear when I call unto Him” (Ps. 4:3). Spurgeon, in his great Treasury of David (I& Funk & Co., NYC, 1882, I, 38), wrote “‘But know.’ Fools will not learn, and therefore they must again and again be told the same thing, especially when it is such a bitter truth which is to be taught them, viz., the fact that the godly are the chosen of God, and are, by distinguishing grace, set apart and separated from among men. Election is a doctrine which unrenewed men cannot endure, but nevertheless, is a glorious and well-attested truth, and one which should comfort the tempted believer. Election is the guarantee of complete salvation, and an argument for success at the throne of grace. He who chose us for Himself will surely hear our prayers. The Lord’s elect shall not be condemned, nor shall their cry be unheard. David was king by divine decree, and we are the Lord’s people in the same manner; let us tell our enemies to their faces that they fight against God and destiny, when they strive to overthrow our souls.”
In this day of unbelief there is denial of every article of the faith; no surprise then that men deny the gospel and election. The modernist denies the gospel. The Arminian fundamentalist denies election. In that way, he, too, denies the gospel, for there is no gospel apart from election. (Simple proof: Genesis 3:15). A worse enemy there can hardly be than the modernist. Yet his denial is more open. It is like denying the whole house—all its structure. The Arminian’s denial is a denial of the foundation. For election is basic; the gospel is founded thereon. Successfully deny the gospel and man is ruined; but so deny election and God is ruined. His sovereignty is denied. His will to do what He pleases with His own is denied. Denied is His government, His right to punish evildoers. Denial of election, in effect, forces God to universalism and the salvation of all men. He not only must save them, but do their will, not His will. He is governed by the overriding principle of their will. They run the universe, not He. The denial of election in effect breaks down the bulwarks of heaven, the walls of salvation, cracks the foundations of God’s kingdom, splits His throne, crumbles His scepter and hurls them all to the ground in smithereens, while the violent godless trample God prostrate under their detestable feet. Deny election and God is a “God” with His hands tied; that is, He is no God. Election is based on the attributes of God, on His infinity, eternity, simplicity, immutability, independency, wisdom, holiness, justice, goodness, truth and love. Denial of election, then, is denial of all God’s attributes. It is atheistic. It robs God of His Godhood. Put aside election and the question is, “How man shall handle God.” But with election the question is, “How God shall handle man.” A God without election is a God without omnipotence. Election honors God, saves His justice and manifests His eternal power and Godhead.
The spirit of the gospel honors election. The spirit of the gospel puts us down in the dust before God’s footstool. There man in that spirit learns to cry, “If He slay me, it would be just. I am of no account, nor is the whole human race of any account anyhow—merely the small dust of the balance. Yet though He slay me, still I will trust Him” This is no fatalism. The believer comes to know his election (I Thess. 1:4), yet he examines himself with the question, “Do I trust in the Lord? Do I have faith in His blood, the faith of God’s elect? Do I seek salvation by grace only? Do I see more power in the blood of Christ to save me than evil in all my sins to damn me? Do I belong to Him? and that because God gave me to Him (John 6:37)? Do I hate sin and love righteousness? Do I live and walk in the light? Then I am elect!” The gospel does this for a man because election is the very content of the gospel. With election removed the gospel becomes a species of humanism Election puts first things first. It puts God first because it puts Christ first. It puts Christ first, for not election but Christ is first. It leads to despair of self (a main step to true happiness) and trust in Christ alone. He himself saw all things in the light of predestination, election and reprobation. He prayed, “I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hidden these things from the wise and prudent and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight.” When any are saved and numbered among the elect, the whole of heaven sings, “Grace by unto God for His unspeakable gift!” And when the wicked come unto eternal judgment, heaven responds, “Holy! holy! holy! Amen! Hallelujah!” (Rev. 4:8;Rev. 19:1-6). To Whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.