Robert Jeffress - The Mystery of Election - Part 2
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. The doctrine of predestination is perhaps more misunderstood and confusing than any other topic in scripture. If God loves all people, then why only some chosen to spend eternity in heaven with him? Wouldn't it be unfair of God to pick some people and neglect others? Well, today we're opening to Romans 9 to shed light on this serious topic of predestination. My message is titled "The Mystery of Election" on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
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 are unconcerned about lost people, please don't mask your apathy for the lost with the 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 had 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.
Now, 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 should 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". Does that mean all people are going to be saved? No, that's not a decree of God. It is the desire of God. Two different things. God desires that all people be saved. The apostle Peter said he is not willing that any should perish, but all should come to repentance. Look at the parables Jesus told about the lost sheep and the lost coin and the lost son. Do people rejoice when something is lost? No. Heaven rejoices when someone is found and saved. Just like the father when the prodigal returned, he rejoiced, he embraced him, he welcomed him. The angels in heaven rejoice when one sinner is saved. The heart of God is to save as many people as possible, not as few as possible.
Number three, there are truths in the Bible that appear to be contradictory and cannot be explained. There are truths in the Bible that appear to be contradictory and cannot be explained. In theology, we call it an antinomy, A-N-T-I-N-O-M-Y, antinomy. These are two truths that appear contradictory, but in fact are complimentary. And that's true about predestination and human responsibility. Now, with that background, let's get in to verse 6. Let me say a word about the fact of election, that God actually chooses people for certain purposes. We see that all throughout the Bible. Jesus chose apostles. How many did he choose? How many? Come on, this is simple, 101. He chose 12. Why didn't he choose 14? Why didn't he choose nine? By choosing 12, there means there are some that he did not choose. He chose 12.
Or think about the apostle Paul when he arrived in Troas. Many of us have been Troas, and remember there he was trying to decide whether to go into Asia Minor or to go into Europe, to Greece, and the man appeared to him in the vision and beckoned him to come to Greece instead. Why did God send Paul to Greece instead of Asia Minor? By making that choice, God was ensuring that some people would hear the Gospel and other people wouldn't hear the Gospel. You see, the doctrine of election also all throughout the Old Testament, and that's what Paul begins with in Romans 9:6. He says, first of all consider Abraham. Verse 6, "But it is not though the Word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel: neither are they all children because they are Abraham's descendants".
Now, you remember the story of Abraham. God was ready to begin a nation, so he needed a man, a person to begin with, and he looked over all the earth and he selected, he elected, he predestined this man named Abraham. Now, why did God choose Abraham and didn't choose somebody else? Was it because Abraham was more righteous than anybody else? Was Abraham the only righteous man on the earth? No, the fact is Abraham was just as much of a sinner as everybody else. In fact, the scripture says he was a worshiper of idols, but God chose him in spite of his works, in spite of who he was. He selected Abraham. That's election. You say, "Okay, well, I can accept that. I mean, after all he has to begin with somebody, so, okay I'll give you, he chose Abraham, but it has to stop there". No, it doesn't stop there. Consider secondly Isaac.
Look at versus seven to eight. God said to Abraham, "Through Isaac your descendants will be named. That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as descendants". Remember God said to Abraham, "I'm going to make you a great nation. I'm going to give you a child, and that child will be yours in Sarah," and Abraham couldn't believe it, and after years passed and the promise wasn't fulfilled, Abraham and Sarah decided to take matters into their own hands and allowed Abraham to have intercourse with Sarah's handmaiden named Hagar, and Hagar produced a child, and that child's name was Ishmael. And you remember it was 13 years after that that God fulfilled his promise to Abraham and Sarah through Isaac.
So you have these two sons, Ismael and Isaac. God chose Isaac. You say, "Well, again, that's easy to see, I guess, because after all, Isaac came through Abraham and Sarah, the true descendants, the true children of promise, not through Hagar, but surely election stops there". No, it doesn't. Think about the story of Jacob, Paul says. Look at verse 10 of Romans 9. "And not only this, but there was Rebekah, the wife of Isaac, also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac: and though the twins were not yet born and had done nothing good or bad, in order that God's purpose according to his choice might stand, it wasn't because of his works, but because of him who calls, that it was said to her, 'the older will serve the younger'. Just as it is written, 'Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated'".
Now, Rebekah had two sons. They were twins. They were both true descendants of Abraham and of Isaac. Now, normally the promise would have gone through the older son. Esau was the older son, just by a few seconds. They were twins, but he made it out first, so he should have been the child of promise. But God said, "No, I'm making a different choice. I am choosing Jacob". Why did God choose Jacob? Was it because of something Jacob did to earn God's favor? No, Jacob hadn't even been born yet when the choice was made. Was it because God looked down the corridor of history, and said, "You know, Jacob is going to grow up to be such a godly man. I'm going to choose him". Think about Jacob. His name was trickster, schemester. He was hardly godly man, but God said, "I am choosing him for my secret sovereign purpose". And that's why the scripture says, "Jacob I loved, Esau I hated".
Now, don't get hung up on that. That's not an emotional love and hatred. It's a strong word of choice. "For my own reason, I have chosen Jacob over Esau". Some people will say, "Well, that's just not fair that God would choose somebody over another person for no reason at all". Listen, God's sovereignty is not capricious. God doesn't say, "Eeny, meeny, miny, moe". That's not what election is about. What election is about is God has a reason for choosing some people over other people, but that reason is hidden from us. It's beyond our understanding. In verse 14, next week we're going to see this. If you think it's unfair that God would choose some and not choose others to be saved, verse 14, Paul says, "Clearly there is no injustice in God".
Now, we've just gotten started into this, and I know you have a lot of questions, and many of those questions will be answered next week. But as we pause here right now, I want to leave you with two practical applications of what we've seen so far about the doctrine of election. I want you to write down these truths. First of all, truth, number one. The doctrine of election encourages confidence in God's plan. The fact, if you're a Christian that God has chosen you to be saved means you have great security in Christ, for if our salvation depended upon our choice, if salvation were simply a case of me choosing God, what happens if one day I wake up, and because I'm not feeling well, I un-choose God, I let go of God? Am I lost forever?
But as we've said over and over again, salvation is not my choosing God. It began with God choosing me. It's not me reaching up and grabbing hold of God. It's God reaching down and grabbing hold of me. As we sang this morning the words from John 10:28 and 29, Jesus said, "I give eternal life to them and they shall never perish. No man shall pluck out of my hands those whom the father has given me". The doctrine of election is the basis for our eternal security in Christ. The second truth is the doctrine of election encourages compassion for lost people. Never forget this. The same Paul who expounded upon the doctrine of predestination is the same Paul who gave his life to spread the Gospel to as many people as possible. He never found any inconsistency between election and evangelism.
You know, one of the great proponents of the doctrine of election and predestination was our Baptist forefather, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, and yet Spurgeon was a great evangelist. Thousands upon thousands were saved through his preaching of the Gospel. And one time, somebody approached Spurgeon, and said, "Wait a minute, if you believe in election, why do you preach so evangelistically? And why don't you just preach to the elect instead of preaching to the whole wide world"? Spurgeon's reply was classic. He said, "If God would paint a yellow stripe down the backs of the elect, I would go up and down the streets of London picking up shirttails, but since he hasn't done that, I preach the Gospel to everyone". And so should we. Our mandate is to preach the Gospel to everyone.
I used to hear Dr. Criswell say all the time he believed strongly the doctrine of election. He said the doctrine of election doesn't discourage evangelism. It encourages evangelism, because it means there's always somebody who will respond, somebody whom God has chosen to salvation. We don't know who that someone is. We preach to everyone and let God's purpose be accomplished. This week, I reread this true story of Albie Pearson. You may know the name of Albie Pearson if you're a sports enthusiast. He grew up in new England. He dreamed of becoming a major baseball player, and because of his commitment to Christ and his habit of witnessing to all of his teammates, he got the nickname, Angel, Angel Pearson.
And so it was appropriate, when Albie Angel Pearson was transferred to play for the Anaheim angels baseball team in California, and while he was there in the Los Angeles area playing for the Anaheim angels, he began working with the March of Dimes charity, and he rose a high position, became an executive with the March of Dimes charity. And so one night, before a game of the Anaheim angels, the March of Dimes was going to present an award to the mayor of Los Angeles, and Albie Pearson, the executive, was chosen to be the one to present the award to the mayor on home plate before the game, and to assist Albie Pearson would be the famous movie star, Marilyn Monroe.
Well, Albie Pearson, even though he was a Christian, he was excited about meeting Marilyn Monroe, as you can imagine. And so she arrived with her entourage and she sat on one end of the bench in the dugout with Albie Pearson. And Albie said he looked over at her, and her eyes looked like they were dead. Her body sagged. And he said he felt this word from God, saying, "Albie, go over and tell her about Jesus". So Albie went over, they did some chit chatting, but he never said word about Jesus, and they walked out onto the field, and as they were walking, they talked, and again, the Lord impressed him. "Tell, tell Marilyn about me. Tell her about Jesus".
Again, he refused. He said, when they arrived on home base there, and under the lights, that those lights came on, and Marilyn Monroe awakened like a movie star, and you could see that charisma exuding from her. They finished their little ceremony, and they walked back to the dugout, and once again, Albie said God said to him clearly, "Tell her about Jesus". He said nothing. She said nothing. When they stopped, Marilyn looked at Albie Pearson and said, "Is there something you wanted to say to me"? He said, "No," and they said goodbye. Two days later, Albie Pearson was awakened when his wife threw a copy of the Los Angeles times on their bed, and the headline screamed, "Marilyn Monroe dead, suicide".
Albie Pearson began to convulse and to cry uncontrollably. He got out of his bed and he knelt down beside the bed, and he cried out to the Lord, "Lord, forgive me of not talking to her about Christ". And then he made a life-changing commitment on his knees. He said, "Lord, with your help, I promise, I swear to you that I will never miss another opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ". The same sorrow Albie Pearson faced that morning is the same sorrow that awaits many of us on that Judgment Day, when we look and we see friends, family members, perhaps our children and grandchildren sentenced to an eternity in hell, because they never heard the Gospel from our lips. As we go through this study of Romans, yes, let's embrace the theology of Paul, but let's also embrace the heart of Paul. And more importantly, the heart of God himself, who is not willing that any should perish, but all should come to repentance.