Robert Jeffress - The Other Side of Election - Part 1
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. Last time in our study of Romans 9, we learned that God appoints certain people for a relationship with himself. But that doesn't mean we're completely off the hook when it comes to evangelism. Today, we're going to unravel some of the mystery around the subject of predestination, and our responsibility to both receive and proclaim the Gospel. My message is titled, "The Other Side of Election", on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
Imagine you are walking down the street and to your surprise, you see a crisp new $20 bill on the sidewalk. You're excited about your newfound discovery. You pick it up, you look at it and sure enough right there on the front is a picture of Andrew Jackson. You turn over to the other side and there's a picture of Andrew Jackson. What do you conclude about that bill? It's counterfeit, isn't it? Any bill that only has one side on both sides is a counterfeit bill. There has to be a different picture on the other side. It's the same when we come to the teaching of predestination. Any teaching of salvation that just emphasizes one side, the side of God's electing some to be saved. Any teaching that just emphasizes that is a counterfeit teaching about salvation. Because to present the true biblical picture of salvation, we need to present an equally compelling truth. And that is our responsibility to both trust in the Gospel and share the Gospel with others.
We've looked over the last two weeks in Romans 9 at one side of predestination. And that's the truth of God electing some for salvation. But today when we come to Romans 10, we're going to look at the other side of election. Take your Bibles and turn to Romans 10. Now, today, now I think this will be a help to you. To understand this doctrine of salvation, it's important that we differentiate between God's responsibility in salvation, the unbeliever's responsibility in salvation and the believer's responsibility in salvation. Paul does all three in Romans nine and 10. First of all, what is God's responsibility in salvation? Its election. And that's what we saw in verses 1 - 29 of Romans 9. It is true that God has elected some to be saved and passed by other people. Is that unfair?
No. Romans 9:14 says, "There is no injustice in God". All of us deserve eternal damnation for our sins. We are on death row waiting for our final execution. The fact that God chooses to pardon some is a demonstration of his mercy. The fact that others are not pardoned and received their punishment is a demonstration of God's justice. But in no way does God ever act unjustly. That's what we find in Romans 9:1-29, God's responsibility in election. But then beginning in verse 30 of Romans 9, there is a change. There is a hinge in which Paul is now going to discuss our responsibility. Remember the question Paul's answering in Romans nine through 11 is, why isn't all of Israel being saved? Why are the vast number of Jews not accepting the Gospel?
And remember what Paul said. He said, "God never promised to save all of ethnic Israel. Instead, he chose to save those elected to be saved, those who would come to faith in Christ". And that's why Israel is not being saved. It was never God's plan to save all of ethnic Israel, but instead to save all of believing Israel. Now in the first 29 verses, Paul says the reason Israel is not saved is because only the elect will be saved. But then notice in verse 30, he changes. He says, "What shall we say then, that gentiles who did not pursue righteousness attained righteousness, even which the righteousness which is by faith: but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law". In other words, Paul is saying, the reason most of Israel is not saved is not because of God's choice, it's because of their choice to pursue a right standing with God based on their works and not on faith.
And the reason so many gentiles are being saved right now, is not because of God's choice, it's because of the gentiles choice to receive that right standing with God that comes through faith in Christ. And so, beginning in verse 30 of 9, all the way through chapter 10, Paul is secondly going to talk about the unbeliever's responsibility in salvation. And that unbeliever's responsibility is to believe, to believe. Notice how he begins in Romans 10:1. He said, "Brethren, my heart's desire and my prayer to God for them, that is for Israel, is for their salvation". In chapter 9:1, in chapter 10:1, in chapter 11:1, Paul pours out his heart for Israel's conversion.
Let me tell you something. Any understanding you think you have about predestination that leads you cold and apathetic about those around you who don't know Christ, reveals you don't understand predestination. The apostle Paul understood and taught predestination, but he also prayed for and worked for the conversion of his brethren who were not saved. And that's what he says in chapter 10 verse 1. "My heart's desire and my prayer is for their salvation". Let me ask you something. How many people do you have you're praying for right now to be saved? What about that child or grandchild who doesn't know Christ? Do you pray for them regularly? What about that parent who may not know the Lord? What about those you work with? Don't say, "Well, God is going to save whomever he wants to save". No, God does elect people to salvation, but he elects us to pray for the lost as well.
I think about the story, my mentor for so many years, the late Howard Hendricks used to tell about his own dad. His dad was a military man, a good man, a moral upright man, but he wasn't a Christian. And Dr. Hendricks prayed and prayed for his dad's salvation. And he led his kids to pray for their granddad's salvation. And when Hendrick's father would come to Dallas to visit the family, Hendrick's kids would run up to meet their grandfather at love field and say, "Granddad, do you know Jesus yet"? And the granddad would look down and say, "No, I can't honestly say that I do". And they'd look up at him said, "Well, you will soon, because we're praying for ya". That went on for years, for decades.
One day Dr. Hendricks was in his study late at night and the telephone rang. The man on the other end said that he was the chaplain for the nursing home in another state where Dr. Hendrick's father was staying. The chaplain said, "Dr. Hendricks, I thought you would like to know that tonight, your dad prayed to receive Christ as his Savior". And three months later, his dad went home to be with the Lord. You know how long he had prayed for his dad's salvation? 42 years. 42 years praying for salvation. Let me encourage you, if you have people around you who are lost, don't give up. Our responsibility is to pray. But notice in chapter 10 while we can pray, Paul says, "It's the responsibility of the unbeliever to believe". And that's the focus of verses 1 - 13 of chapter 10. The unbeliever's responsibility is to believe the Gospel.
Now, to describe exactly how unbeliever exercises faith. In these first 13 verses of chapter 10, Paul uses three words that describe how a person is saved. What an unbeliever has to do to be saved. You say, well, I thought he doesn't have to do anything. I thought salvation is a gift. It is a gift, but there's something you have to do to receive a gift, isn't there? You have to open your hands. Well, it's the same way with an unbeliever. There are some things he has to do to receive the gift. And Paul talks about that beginning in verse 1 of chapter 10. The first thing an unbeliever has to do to be saved, is to repent, repent.
Now, this word repent is not used in the first eight verses of Romans 10, but the concept is there. Now, what does it mean to repent? I have people all the time who send me letters who say, "Pastor, we don't like the way you present salvation because you don't talk about repentance enough". Oh, I talk about repentance all the time. But I don't talk about it the way they think about it. You know what most people think of when they think of repentance? They think it means to turn away from your sin. In other words, if you're unsaved and you want to become a Christian, you have to turn away from your sin. You have to clean up your life in order to make God accept you. That is a lie from the pit of hell. You cannot clean up your life enough to merit God's salvation. An unbeliever cannot turn away from his sin before he has the power of the Holy Spirit. It is absolutely impossible.
Now, once you become a Christian, you better turn away from your sin. In fact, if you don't turn away from sin after you're a Christian, there's no reason to think you're saved at all the Bible says. But before you're saved, you cannot turn away from sin. No, that kind of repentance is an unbiblical definition of repentance. What does it mean to repent? The Greek word tells us what it means. The word repent is metanoeo. Meta, change. Noeo, the mind. Repentance has nothing to do with the heart, it has everything to do with the mind. It means to change your mind about something. It means to believe something differently than what you had believed. In fact, he alludes to that in verse 2, look at this. "For I bear them, the Jews witness that they have a zeal for God. But not in accordance with knowledge".
Have you ever heard people say, "Oh, it doesn't matter what you believe, just as long as you're sincere about your beliefs". No, it makes a great deal of difference what you believe. Salvation doesn't begin in the heart, it begins in the head. It begins with a change of mind. I'm really concerned about so many churches today, even evangelical churches that say, "Well, we're not going to concentrate on teaching and preaching the truth, we're going to concentrate on worship". Just kind of emptying our minds and just swaying and going this way and that way and having this kind of ecstatic experience. That's what we're into. We don't want cold hard teaching. We want an experience. Let me tell you something, salvation begins with the mind. It means to have a change of mind. Paul said about these Jews, they were zealous, they were sincere, but they were sincerely wrong. They had the wrong understanding of salvation.
You see ladies and gentlemen, there are only two ways to try to reach God. Not many ways to God, two ways. One path to God is a dead end. It's based on self righteousness, self righteousness. There are only two ways to try to have a relationship with God. That's what righteousness means, a right relationship with God. One way is through self righteousness. And that's what the Jews thought in their minds was the way to reach God. Look at verse 3 of chapter 10. "For not knowing about God's righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God". They had wrong thinking about salvation. They thought if they just kept the law, they could be saved. Here's the problem with that, nobody can keep the law.
Galatians 3:11 says, "Now that no one is justified by the law before God is evident: for, 'the righteous man shall live by faith'". See it doesn't matter how much good you try to do, you can't do enough. Isaiah the prophet said, "Our righteousness, our good works are like a filthy rag to God". James Boyce uses this illustration. Imagine a group of American soldiers during the Iraq war who are captured. And they're placed in a pow camp where they remain for years. While they're in that camp, they don't have any way to trade or barter for things that they need. But one day a care package arrives. And in that care package is a monopoly game. And so they take the monopoly game out and they take all of that fake money in the monopoly game and they divide it up among themselves. Everybody has an equal portion of the monopoly money. And they use that monopoly money to barter and trade for cigarettes or other things that they want. They spend years doing that.
Now there's one soldier who's an especially shrewd trader. And so he's making deals back and forth. And he ends up with all of the monopoly money. Well, and navy seals come and they rescue these soldiers, deliver them back to America where they are now free. And this one soldier has all of this monopoly money in his pockets. And so he's so excited. He goes to the local branch of bank of America. He goes up to the teller's window, and he pulls out $845.000 in monopoly money. And he said, "I want you to put that in my account". He is so proud. The teller looks at that and says, "That money is absolutely worthless. What are you talking about? It's play money". He said, "Oh no, you misunderstand. For years while I was in prison, I used this to buy and sell all kind of things that were valuable". The teller says, "In the real world, your money is worthless".
Now, it's the same thing with our good works. In this world we're in, our good works count for something. We think they're valuable. We use our good works to make ourselves feel better than other people. But in God's economy, in God's world, our good works are absolutely worthless. That's the problem with self righteousness. It's a dead end road. The only other kind of righteousness is God's righteousness. He talks about it in chapter 10:4. It's the righteousness not that we earn, but that God grants us. It says, "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes". And then verse 6, he says, "It's a righteousness of God that is based on faith".
We can't be good enough. We don't have enough righteousness to enter heaven. The good news is God has plenty of it. And when you trust in Jesus as your Savior, what God does is, he takes the perfect righteousness of his son, Jesus Christ, and he wraps you in it. So that when God looks at you, he no longer sees your sin and shame, he sees the perfection of his son, Jesus Christ. Now hear me this morning. Paul says, that for an believer to be saved, he has to have a change of mind. Instead of walking to down the dead end road of self righteousness, trying to please God, he needs to have a change of mind that leads to a change of direction, and start walking along the path of God's righteousness, understanding that it comes by faith.
So what does an unbeliever have to do? First of all, he has to repent, that's with the mind. But that's not enough. The second thing he must do is believe. Romans 10:9-13. Now, repentance is in the mind. Belief is in the heart. Look at what he says in verse 9, "That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved: for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the scripture says, 'whoever believes in him will not be disappointed'". And verse 13, "Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved". What is it that we have to believe in our heart? We believe in our heart that Jesus is Lord. That was one of the earliest confessions of the Christian church. Why is that so significant?
That word, Lord, kyrios, is a Greek translation of the Old Testament sacred name for God, Yahweh. It's used 6.000 times in the Bible. When you say Jesus is Lord, you're saying Jesus is Yahweh. You're saying you recognize that the Jesus who died on the cross was God himself. And when he died, he didn't die for his sins, he died for our sins. When you say Jesus is Lord, and don't say Jesus was Lord, you're saying you still believe that he is alive, that he was raised from the dead. And his resurrection proves that when he died, he didn't die for his sins, he died for our sins. And God has declared our sin debt paid in full. All of that is in that phrase, Jesus is Lord. Certainly his confession to the church.
Now listen to this. The Bible says, to be saved, we have to believe that. And we do it not with our head, we believe in our heart. The idea here is this is not just a intellectual ascent to a bunch of facts, it is a crying out in desperation. Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. It's the same kind of cry that came from the lips of Peter. Remember when Peter was drowning out there on the sea, he was going down, what did he cry out? What did he do? Did he say, well, let me think. I believe in 10 reasons that Jesus is a Son of God. And I believe that he came and died and I believe that he will rise again on the third day. Man, if done all of that, he would've sunk. He only had a few seconds, what did he cry out? He cried out, "Lord, save me". That's the cry that leads to salvation. A cry based on the death of Christ, but it is a desperation that comes from our heart. Not just a mental ascent to whom Jesus is. It is a crying out, Lord, save me. It's the same cry that came from the penitent sinner.
Remember the story Jesus told about the two men who walked up to the temple in order to pray. And one was the pharisee. And the pharisee looked up and began to give God a resume of all the great things he had done. And while God ought to be so honored to have the pharisee in his presence. That's how the pharisee prayed. But when the penitent sinner went up to pray, he wouldn't even look up, he felt so unworthy. All he could do was to beat his chest and say, God, be merciful to me the sinner. That's the cry that leads to salvation. The Bible says, "Whoever calls upon on the name of the Lord will be saved". It doesn't say the elect who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. It doesn't say the predestined who call on the name of the Lord will be saved. It says whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
Now, some of you, shortly listening on the message today will say, well, I don't believe that. I believe in limited atonement. I believe that Christ only died for a few people, for the sins of the elect. Let me show you something very, very fascinating. Not only here where it says, whoever believes in him will not be disappointed. Whoever believes in him will be saved. Turn over for a second, or you can just look at it on the screen to 2 Peter 2:1. 2 Peter 2:1 Peter is talking about false profits who are definitely not saved. He says, "But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves".
Is Peter talking about unsaved people? Yeah. He's talking about unsaved people who preach heresy, who lead people away from Christ, who deny that Jesus Christ is Lord and who are being prepared for destruction which will come upon them. But notice how he describes them as those whom the master bought. Did Jesus just die for the sins of the elect? No, he died for everyone including these unbelievers.