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Watch 2022 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - The Mystery of Election - Part 1

Robert Jeffress - The Mystery of Election - Part 1


Robert Jeffress - The Mystery of Election - Part 1
TOPICS: Calvinism

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. For thousands of years, the doctrine of predestination has been a hotly debated topic among Christians and has fractured churches into numerous denominations, and here is the bottom line question. Can anyone come to faith in Christ or only those whom God has chosen? Well, today we're looking at Romans 9 through Romans 11 for clarity on this confounding riddle. My message is titled "The Mystery of Election" on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.

Somebody once said, "Try to explain predestination and you may lose your mind. Try to explain it away and you may lose your soul". The fact that predestination is taught in scripture, that God has chosen some for salvation. And yet, even though that truth is clearly taught in scripture, some Christians have a violent reaction against that truth. Some people get all red faced and they say, "How can you say such a thing"? Well, didn't our forefathers tell us that God has given everybody an equal shot at life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? What's wrong with God? Hasn't he read the constitution? Other people, they say, "Oh you can't teach predestination because that discourages evangelism". I mean, after all, if God has already decided whom is going to be saved, why should we witness anybody? It's a fixed game, the outcome has already been determined.

Still other people say, "Well, no, that can't be true, because that violates free will. I mean, aren't we free to do whatever we want to do"? It's true, we have choices, but think about it. Isn't it interesting that the most important things about your life you had nothing to do with? Where you were born, the time period you were born in, the country you were born in, your physical makeup. Did you have any choice about those things? Yet people react about the idea of God choosing people to salvation. Yet the most common response among Christians to the doctrine of election is the don't ask don't tell policy. Let's just not mention or talk about this subject and maybe it will go away. And yet you can't study the Bible without running into this thing of predestination. We certainly see it in the book of Romans as we come to chapter 9.

Today we're going to begin looking at what I call the mystery of election, and I want you to put out of your mind for the next 30 or so minutes every preconception you have about this doctrine and let's look and see what the Bible says and what it doesn't say about this subject. Romans 9, we have come in our study of Romans to the fourth major division in the book of Romans. Do you remember, it's been a while since we looked at the theme of Romans, but it's very clear. This letter to the Romans is about the righteousness of God, and Paul is saying to all of us the righteousness God, that is a right standing with God, is available to everyone who trusts in God as Savior. That's the theme of the book of Romans.

And so beginning in chapter 1 Paul talks about the problem of righteousness. What is the problem of righteousness? We don't have any of it, that's the problem. None of us is in a right standing with God. In Romans 3:9, Paul says, "Both Jews and Greeks are all under sin, for, as it is written, there is none righteous among us". There is no such thing as a good person in God's eyes. We've all sinned, we've all fallen short of God's plan. So that's the problem with righteousness. But with the good news begins in 3:21 through chapter 5, and that is God's provision of righteousness. That's the second major theme of Romans and subsection of Romans, the provision by God for righteousness. Even though we don't have any righteousness, God has plenty of it. God offers to give us his righteousness through his son Jesus Christ. And when we trust in Christ as our Savior, God wraps us in the righteousness of his son.

Romans 4:5 says, "But to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as counted as righteousness". And then we come to the third major section of the book of Romans, and that's found in chapter 6-8. The power of righteousness. When you wrap yourself in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, it doesn't just help you after you die. There is a special power that comes in your life right now to say no to sin and yes to God. In Romans 8:2, Paul says, "For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death".

If you're a Christian today and you are weighted down by habits and by addictions and by wrong relationships, don't fall for this idea that you're a prisoner of sin and you have to live that way, no. The word of God says God has set you free, now live like it, the apostle Paul says. That's the power of righteousness. And then when we come to chapter 12 in Romans through 16 we'll look at the practice of righteousness. How should being a Christian relate to our everyday life? But when we come to chapter 9, and that's where we are today, Paul is going to talk about the program of righteousness. That is how God has offered his righteousness to both Jews and gentiles alike. Now let me show you the connection of this section of Romans, chapters 9-11, to the rest of the book of Romans.

First of all, there is a thematic connection. You may think, why are we going to spend three chapters talking about God's plan for Israel? Well, there's a thematic connection. Do you remember in Romans 1:16, Paul said, "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes, to the," who? "To the Jew first and then to the gentile". God's promise was given first to the Jew. The Jews were his covenant people. Remember when Jesus came? He presented himself first to the Jews and only after they rejected him did he present himself to the gentiles. When God commanded or Jesus commanded the disciples to go out, he said, "Go first to the lost sheep of Israel and then go to the gentiles". The apostles, they took the Gospel first of all to the Jews and then only after that rejection did they go to the gentiles. Even Paul himself, who was a minister to the gentiles, also had a word in acts 9:5 to be a messenger to the sons of Israel.

So what I'm saying to you is this idea of God's plan for Israel is not just some theological detour Paul is taking here. It's been a part of the theme of Romans from the beginning. The Gospel is for the Jew as well as for the gentile. But there's also a contextual connection between chapter 9 and chapter 8. Look at Romans 8:29-30. Remember this is that great climax to Romans 8. There's no condemnation waiting those who belong to Christ Jesus. And remember in verse 29 Paul says, "For whom God foreknew he predestined to be conformed to the image of his son". There's that word, predestined. "For whom God predestined, these he also called, and those who he called, these he also justified, and those whom he justified, he also glorified".

Somebody has called this the five golden links in the chain of salvation. How did God's relationship with you start? He says in verse 29, first of all, he foreknew you. "For whom God foreknew, he predestined". That is before you ever drew your first breath, before you ever existed, God foreknew you. That means he entered into a relationship with you. And not only did he foreknow you, then secondly he predestined you. That is he marked out the boundaries of your life. He made every determination about the course of your life. And after he predestined you, he called you to salvation. And after he called you to salvation and you responded, he justified you, he declared you righteous.

And the same God who foreknew you, who predestined you, who called you, who justified you, Paul says one day he's going to glorify you. That is you can be assured that when you die and God raises you, he's going to give you that brand new glorified body that he's promised you. Nothing is going to keep God's plan from being accomplished in your life. And that's why Paul concludes Romans 8 by saying, "For nothing shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord". Ladies and gentlemen, you know what all of this means? God's elected purpose for you means God will accomplish his plan for your life. If you were called, elected, predestined by God, he will fulfill his plan for your life. Isn't that an encouraging truth? But you know the thinking person might ask the question about predestination. They might ask the question, well, wait a minute. What about the Jewish people? I mean, after all, didn't God predestine the Jews as well? Well, the answer is yes.

In Deuteronomy 7:7-8, Moses said, "The Lord did not set his love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the Lord loved you". That's why he chose you. I mean God looked down and of all the nations he could have chosen he chose Israel, why? For one reason, because he loved Israel, he chose to love them. That's why he predestined Israel. But catch this, even though God predestined Israel, is all of Israel going to be saved? No. In fact, when Paul wrote these words, the majority of Jewish people had rejected Christ. So here is the question. Just because God has predestined people, does that mean they're automatically going to be saved? If God predestined Israel, why isn't all Israel going to be saved? Has the promise of God failed?

And that's what Paul answers in Romans 9-11. He says no, God has not failed in his promises, because nowhere and at no time has God promised to save all of Israel. Did you know that? There has never been a promise that all of ethnic Israel would be saved. Never has there been a promise that every physical descendant of Abraham would be in heaven one day. Over and over again Paul says not all those who claim to be Israelites are true Israelites. It's not being a physical descendant of Abraham that matters, it's being a spiritual descendant of Abraham, related to Abraham by faith. Jesus said that over and over again, he said to the pharisees, "You think it's because you're Abraham's physical descendant that you're okay and God is your father? No, your father is the devil".

It's only those who are spiritually related to Abraham by faith, that's the true Israel. Paul said the same thing in Romans 2, he's going to say the same thing in Romans 9, 10, and 11. Nowhere is there a promise that all ethnic Israel is going to be saved. The promise was to believe in Israel. You say, well, what about Romans 11? We're going to get to that, when Paul said all Israel will be saved. No, he's not talking about all of ethnic Israel, here is what Paul is saying. All of the true Israel, that is those who have been elected by God to salvation, God will fulfill his promise to them. And Paul explains that in Romans 9, 10, and 11.

Now as we begin looking at this very controversial subject of election, I want to remind you of something. You're going to hear it from me over and over and over again. Try to separate the real truth of God's sovereignty and election from the equal truth of man's responsibility to both accept the Gospel and spread the Gospel to others, to try to separate those two doctrines is neither logical nor more important is it biblical. The Bible teaches both. The Bible teaches God's election and salvation and also teaches our responsibility in choosing to be saved and spreading the Gospel with others. The same apostle Paul who believed in predestination and election also wept over the lostness of Israel and gave his life to sharing the Gospel with as many people as possible. In fact, it's that concern for Israel that Paul begins this chapter with.

Look at Romans 9, beginning with verse 1. "For I am telling you the truth in Christ, I'm not lying, my conscience bearing me witness in the holy spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren". Who are his brethren? "My kinsmen according to the flesh". He's talking about his fellow Jews. He said, "I am so concerned for the salvation of Israel that I am willing to be accursed if they would be saved".

I read this week the story of a congregation that had dismissed its pastor. Somebody asked one of the members, why did you fire your pastor? The member said, "Well, because he always kept telling us we're going to hell". And so the person said, "Well, what about your new pastor, what does he say"? The member said, "Well, he also tells us we're going to hell every Sunday". The person was confused and said, "Well, what's the difference then between your last pastor and this pastor"? The member thought for a moment and he said, "Well, you know, when the last pastor told us we were going to hell, he seemed to be glad about it. But when our new pastor tells us, he seems genuinely concerned about it".

Now that's Paul, he wasn't glad that his kinsmen were accursed, separated from Christ, headed for hell. He was deeply grieved over it. In fact, he was so grieved he said, "I will exchange my place in heaven if it will mean the salvation of the Israelites". This reminds us of Moses' words in Exodus 32:32. Remember God was judging Israel once again for their disobedience and Moses interceded. He said, "But now God, if thou wilt, forgive their sin, and if not, please blot me out from thy book which thou has written".

Now contrary to what some people teach, Moses wasn't talking about the lamb's book of life, the book of the saved. There was in Moses' time what was called the book of the living, a census of every person who was physically alive. Moses said, "God, you can strike me dead, take my physical life, if you would quit punishing the Israelites". Paul went a step further, he said, "God, you can not only take my physical life, you can take my eternal life if it would mean the salvation of Israel". Paul was concerned about the Israelites.

By the way, do you have that same level of concern for lost people who are around you, those who are around at your school where you go every day, those lost people around you at work, those lost family members? What about those children who sit across you every morning at the breakfast table? Or your grandchildren, whether they're here or in some other city, do you have that same spiritual concern for their eternal destiny? Let's be honest, most of us are more concerned about our own peace and prosperity than we are of the eternal destiny of others. And that self-centered attitude spills over into our attitude about the church. Our number one concern in the churches are my needs being met. Are things the way I like them? After all, I'm the one who pays the bills around here. Are we more concerned about our wellbeing, our needs being met, or are we more concerned about the needs of lost people being met through our church? Is it about us or is it about them?

I came across this week a great analogy from Daniel Henderson. He compares the Christian life in a way that's very memorable. He said: many believers tend to view their Christian faith as a cruise ship to heaven. We have our ticket by our decision to follow Christ, and now we are sailing to the celestial shore. The pastor is the cruise captain whom we gladly beckon when things are not to our liking. The church staff is the ship's crew and it's their job to be sure the menu of spiritual food and family services cater to our preferences. They also need to have the kind of music we like featured on the ship and stock the midnight Buffet according to our tastes. A chocolate on our turndown bed at night is also reasonable to expect. But we're not actually on a cruise hip. We're on a search and rescue battleship. We are only still sailing on earthly seas because we have an urgent mission to reach the lost at any cost.

Jesus is our captain and all of us are crew members serving under his command for the sake of others. That is a true understanding of what the church is about. Let me be just really blunt. The church is not a place for you to come and get wet nursed. That's not what the church is about. The church is an equipping station where we get the supplies we need to go out into the world and share the message of Jesus Christ with others. What I'm saying to you is if you're unconcerned about lost people, please don't mask your apathy for the lost with a doctrine of predestination. The same Paul who taught predestination also was the world's greatest missionary and evangelist who took the Gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth, and we have that same command as well. After expressing his concern for Israel, now he begins to discuss this whole issue of election.

Again, God never promised to save all of Israel. The promise was to the elect of Israel. And as I get ready to wade into some deep waters here for the next 18 minutes, and next week, I'm going to start with three statements that I want you to write down so that whenever over the next few weeks you think the pastor's gone off his rocker, he's gone off the rails, he's gone to extremes, I want you to come back and remember these three statements. Statement number one, no one is lost without choosing to be lost, and no one is saved without choosing to be saved. Let me say it again, nobody is lost without choosing to be lost, nobody is saved without choosing to be saved. What do I mean by that? What I mean is, first of all, God doesn't drag people to hell kicking and screaming against their will. That's not why people end up in hell. They end up in hell by their choice. No one is lost who doesn't choose to be lost. And nobody is saved without choosing to be saved.

Listen to this, God is not a divine rapist. God does not force his love on people against their will. And for some of you Calvinists who were just offended by what I said, comfort yourself with this. According to your theology, I was predestined to make that comment, so don't blame me for it, you can blame somebody else for it. No, nobody is saved without choosing to be saved, nobody is lost without choosing to be lost. Secondly, God's desire is always to save as many people as possible, not as few people as possible. God's desire is to save as many people as possible, not as few as possible. Where do I find that in scripture? All over the pages of scripture. 1 Timothy 2:4, Paul said, "God desires that all people be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth".
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