Robert Jeffress - The Other Side of Election - Part 2
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. Sermons on the doctrine of election tend to leave many Christians feeling confused and discouraged. If God has already predestined certain people to be his children, do our choices and actions really matter or are we just spinning our wheels when we share our faith in Christ? Well, today I'm going to show you that despite the doctrine of election, you and I still have a crucial role to play in God's plan for salvation. My message is titled "The Other Side of Election" on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Now some of you, surely 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 second Peter 2:1. Second Peter 2:1, Peter is talking about false prophets who are definitely not saved. He says, "But false prophets also arise among the people just as there will 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. Those of you who believe in limited atonement, just put this in your pipe and smoke on it for a while, okay? It's a great verse. He bought even unbelievers.
Now, does that mean unbelievers are automatically saved? Of course not, they have to believe. But hear me this morning, the blood of Jesus Christ is sufficient for all, but it's efficient only for those who believe. That's the teaching of scripture. God's salvation is offered to everyone, the blood of Christ is sufficient for all, but it's efficient, it only affects those who believe. What must an believer do to exercise faith? He has to repent, that's the mind, have a change of mind about how to be right before God, to quit trying to rely on self-righteousness and rely on God's righteousness, which is received by faith. Secondly, he has to believe. There has to be that point in his life when he cries out to God, he clings to, he trusts in God saying, "God, there is no other way for me to be saved except through Christ". But thirdly, notice what Paul says, he must confess. Verse 9, "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord". Verse 10, "For with the mouth confession is made to salvation".
There has to be a public declaration of faith for somebody to be truly saved. You say, "Well, how do you do that? How do you publicly confess Jesus as Lord"? In just a few moments I'm going to invite those of you who want to trust in Christ as your Savior to come forward to make that public declaration. Many came in the first service, there'll be many today, I believe, whom God wants to be saved. We do it through that. The biblical way is through baptism. Baptism is a public declaration, a confession of our faith in Christ. For those of you who had just tuned into the broadcast, earlier in the service today we had a woman 78 years old from a different faith with her feet amputated who was baptized today, because there was nothing that was going to keep that woman from making a public confession of her faith in Jesus Christ.
Now, let me ask you, what's your excuse? Some of you right now, you've never been baptized and you've just come up with every kind of excuse you can imagine. "Oh, I'm not sure what my parents would think because they're from a different faith tradition". Or, "I just think I'd be too embarrassed". Or, "I think Alan might drop me and I might drown up there". I mean, I just, you know. Or, "Pastor, I've got this medical condition. I've got this little condition, the doctor tells me about". 78 years old from the Catholic faith and no feet and she said, "I'm going to be baptized as a demonstration of my faith in Christ". The Bible says God requires us all to do that. It's not a requirement that earns our salvation, it's a way to prove that we are genuinely saved. We do it through baptism. One way we do it sometimes is by saying no to sin, by saying no to temptation.
Remember Potiphar when he was being seduced by Potiphar's wife? Remember what his declaration was, his confession? "How could I do this great thing and sin against God"? Our willingness to say no to temptation is a way we confess our faith in God. One way we can confess our faith in God is by the way we confront death. I think about my own parents. They taught me and my brother and sister a lot by the way they lived, a lot about the Christian life by what they lived, but they taught us much more by the way they died. It was interesting, they both had the same experience, almost identical. They both didn't feel well, went to the doctor. Doctor ordered some tests, came back and said, "You're eaten up with cancer and have four months to live". Happened to my mom first, four years later to my dad. And yet during those four months I watched my parents with absolute confidence face their death, knowing that God had prepared something greater for them.
Some of the greatest lessons, parents, you'll ever teach your children or your grandchildren is not just the way you live, but the way you die. Now, some people, "Well, can't you be a secret disciple of Christ? Can't you follow him in your heart without making that public confession"? Remember those words from Matthew 10. I recite them during the invitation. Jesus said, "Everyone therefore who shall confess me before men I will confess him before my father who is in heaven. But whoever shall deny me before men, I will also deny him before my father who is in heaven". There's no such thing as being a secret disciple of Christ. One writer said it this way, "Either your faith will kill your secrecy or your secrecy will kill your faith".
I've read in several different publications a fascinating story about John Lennon, a member of the Beatles, who was gunned down, of course, on the streets of New York city. Many people don't know this, but shortly before John Lennon's death in 1977, he says he became a Christian by watching a Billy Graham crusade and other television preachers. In fact, very privately, he Peppered his speech for a period of time with, "Praise Jesus, thank Jesus". But he was unwilling to make any public declaration of his faith in Christ. His wife, Yoko Ono, was very disturbed about her husband's proclamations about Jesus privately and she did everything she could to discourage him. And she won, because in the final years of John Lennon's life, he spent those years in the presence of psychics and astrologers. He never acknowledged his faith in Christ.
"Pastor, are you saying John Lennon lost his salvation"? No, I'm saying the fact that he was unwilling to declare it is evidence he never had it. Either faith will kill your secrecy or secrecy will kill your faith. The Bible says the unbeliever is to repent. He is to believe with the heart, repent with the mind, and confess with his mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord. Now, we've talked about God's responsibility, that's to elect. The unbeliever's responsibility, that is to believe. But the believer, you and i, have a responsibility in salvation as well, and that is to proclaim the Gospel. Now look at verse 13, he closes that section by saying, "Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved". And then notice the question in verse 14. "But how shall they call on him in whom they've not believed? And how shall they believe on him in whom they've not heard? And how shall they hear of him without a preacher"?
That word preacher isn't a paid professional. It means somebody who shares the Gospel. "How shall they hear without a preacher and how shall they preach unless they be sent? How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things. So faith comes by hearing, hearing the Word of God". Yes, God calls people to salvation. Unbelievers are to call upon God. But the question is, how will they call upon God, a Christ of whom they have not heard?
Many of you are familiar with the name of William Carey. He was the father of the modern missionary movement. William Carey grew up in England. He was a shoe cobbler as a young man, but he was saved as a late teenager and felt the call to be a missionary to take the Gospel to India. One of the greatest privileges I've ever had some years ago was to preach in the pulpit in Olney, England where William Carey preached his first sermon, his trial sermon. But after his conversion, he taught himself Hebrew and Greek. He had a burning passion to go to India to share the Gospel. So when he went to his church's mission board to ask to be appointed to India, the head of the mission board said to him, "When God decides to save the heathen in India, he'll do so without any help from you or me". And it was that hyper Calvinistic response from that mission board that caused William Carey to start the Baptist missionary union. And today we're still reaping the results of William Carey's work.
Is what that man told Carey true? "If God wants to save the heathen, he'll do so without any help from us"? That's not what the Word of God says. The Word of God says, "How are they going to call upon him in whom they've not believed? How will they believe on him of whom they have not heard? How will they hear unless somebody tells them? For faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of God". Now, I'm about to step into it right now, and I realize it, but that's okay. Because I need to clear something up. Maybe you've heard these accounts of where supposedly people in the Middle East, Muslims, others, that they're seeing visions of Jesus. Jesus is appearing to these people visibly and they are being won to Christ without the benefit of a Bible, without the benefit of hearing the Gospel. They just see this vision of Jesus and they are coming to faith in Christ.
Now, I'm never one to put God in a box. I think God can do whatever he wants to do. But the question is, does the Bible say he does this? The Bible says without a doubt, absolutely not. Verse 13 does not say faith comes from seeing the Son of God. It says faith comes from hearing the Word of God. There is nobody ever, ever, ever who is converted without hearing the Word of God, never, anybody. The Bible says there is one way to be saved, it is hearing the Gospel message. Why, if God could just appear visibly to everybody, why not do that? Why not go up appear visibly to everyone? Because that is not God's ordained way to be saved. It is through the preaching of the Gospel that people are saved.
Think about your own salvation, those of you who are Christians. How did you come to faith in Christ? I will guarantee you there was somebody who shared the Word of God with you. It may have been a godly parent or grandparent. It may be a friend. It may be somebody who brought you to an evangelistic crusade. It might have been somebody who brought you to church. It might have been somebody you heard on the radio or watched on television. But somewhere, if you are truly saved, you didn't see a vision, you heard the Word of God. And that is God's ordained way for us to be saved. Verse 17 says, "For faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of God". You know, there is this cliche that is going around today. It was a word that supposedly came from St. Francis of Assisi.
Now, there's no record he actually said it, but even if he did say it, it was still stupid thing to say, and here's how it goes. I bet you've heard it before. Preach the Gospel, use words only if necessary. Have you ever heard that before? Preach the Gospel, use words only if necessary. That's like saying to people, feed the hungry. Use food only if necessary. Well, food is necessary to feed the hungry, isn't it? And words are necessary to share the living water of Jesus Christ. Nobody ever gets saved without hearing the Word of God. You see, behind that statement is the idea that words aren't that important. It's not what you believe that's important. It's not what you say that's important. Why, you can be a witness for God without ever saying a word. By just the way you live you can lead somebody to Christ.
Hogwash. I don't care how good you think you are, you're not good enough. You don't live a perfect enough life where anybody by looking at you can know by osmosis that we're all sinners, that there was a man named Jesus of Nazareth who lived and died and rose again for the forgiveness of our sins, that only by faith in him can we have eternal life. You can't know any of that by looking at somebody's life. You have to hear the word of Christ. And that's why we do what we do in this church. That's why we're doing what we're doing in mission 1:8. We believe that it's only when people hear the Word of God that they have the opportunity to be saved. For faith comes by hearing, and hearing the Word of God. Who's responsible for electing people to be saved? That's God. Before the foundation of the world, God chose the elect.
I don't know how he did it. I don't know on what basis he did it. But I want you to think about the chain of salvation that began in eternity past and leads to that unbeliever who's coming to Christ. Imagine it as a chain with a billion links in it. It starts with God, it starts with God's predestination, and it comes all the way down to God's calling that unbeliever. But here's the question. How does God call an unbeliever to faith? He does it through you and me. We are that final link in the chain between a holy God in heaven who wants to save that lost sinner. When we voice the Gospel, share the Gospel with somebody, we are God's mouthpiece. We are sharing God's invitation.
And so you don't think I'm just making that up, listen to the words of second Corinthians 5:20. Paul said, "For we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God himself were entreating, begging people through us, we implore you, we beg you through Christ to be reconciled to God". And that's why we have such confidence when we go and share our faith with an unbeliever. Whenever we share the Word of God, we're not sharing our beliefs, our opinion. We are simply God's mouthpiece to share his invitation with that lost person. You see, the Word of God promises God's word will never return void but will accomplish the purpose for which it is sent forth. That means, Sunday school teacher, when you're up there struggling through the book of Obadiah or Habakkuk or the Book of Revelation and your class is looking at you like some of you all are looking at me with this glazed expression, you don't have to get discouraged. God's word will not return void.
Teenager, when you're sharing the Gospel with that unsaved friend at school and you're worried about being ridiculed or rejected, you don't have to fear. God's word will not return void. Pastor listening today, maybe you've preached for weeks and years without a convert, don't become discouraged. God's word will not return void. It will accomplish the purpose for which it's sent. And whenever you're concerned about sharing the Gospel with that friend, or even more hard, with that family member who doesn't know Christ, you're fearful about being rejected by that person, remember it's not your invitation you're sharing, it's God's invitation, you're just the mouthpiece. And God's word will not return void. It is our responsibility to share the Word of God. It's the unbeliever's responsibility to believe the Word of God. And ultimately, it's God's responsibility to save.