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ELECTION

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, February 1, 2015

“And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48).


In their travels Paul and his companions came to Antioch in the Roman province of Pisidia. They went into a synagogue. The leaders of that synagogue invited Paul to speak. When Jewish elders came all that way to Antioch, they customarily asked them to say something. They wanted to hear a word about what was happening in the religious center of Jerusalem. This gave Paul a great opportunity to preach. Paul stood up and began to speak. He recounted the history of Israel. He spoke of the coming of Jesus, of His death on the Cross, of His resurrection from the dead. When Paul was finished, some of the Jews and many Gentile converts to Judaism were very interested in hearing more of the Gospel.

On the next Sabbath  almost the whole city came to hear Paul preach the good news of salvation.

“And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48).

Literally, “as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.” God had chosen some of these people beforehand.  Now God drew them to Christ by faith. Luke used the passive voice “were appointed” – “were ordained” showing that God was the one doing this work. Only God grants eternal life. This is one of the clearest statements of God’s sovereign work in saving sinners. God chooses who will be saved. He calls them. He draws them. He converts them. “As many as were ordained [appointed] to eternal life believed.” Dr. W. A. Criswell said of our text,

Those who were not appointed to eternal life did not believe. Those who were elected believed (“Election: God’s Sovereign Purpose Achieved”).

It’s as simple as that! The doctrine of election is a Bible doctrine. It’s all through the Bible.

We read of Noah living in a world of corruption, vice and abominable sin. “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8). Noah and his family were saved from the great Flood because God chose them and saved them by grace. That is election!

We read of Abraham, who was called out of Ur of the Chaldees, one of the most idolatrous cities of the ancient world. God called Abraham out of that idolatry and saved him and made of him a great nation. That is election!

We read of Lot living in the sin-hardened city of Sodom. The city was doomed. Lot did not want to leave the city,

“And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the Lord being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city” (Genesis 19:16).

That is election! “But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt” (Genesis 19:26). Why did that happen to Lot's wife? She was not one of the elect.  That’s why she perished!

We read of the children of Israel in Egypt, in slavery. God sent Moses to deliver them. At the burning bush in the wilderness, God said to Moses,

“I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:8).

That is election! And that is taught again and again throughout the Old Testament Scriptures.

In the time of the prophet Isaiah the nation of Israel had become idolatrous and wicked. At that time, the prophet said,

“Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah” (Isaiah 1:9).

Only the remnant was saved. That too is election!

In the New Testament we read again of God’s sovereign, electing grace. In Romans we read,

“Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace... What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded” (Romans 11:5, 7).

In Ephesians we read,

“Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will... Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Ephesians 1:5, 9-11).

In II Thessalonians we read,

“But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (II Thessalonians 2:13-14).

God chooses, God calls, and God elects His people. No matter what any politician says, or what any court of the nations says, or what any Muslim terrorists say, God promised the land of Israel to Abraham and his seed forever. That land belongs to them. It is because of the elective purpose of God that Israel has been spared and has come back to the land God gave to them. And no nation or terrorist will be able to take it from them. That is election!

Some people say if you believe in election you will not win souls. I suppose they see some modern Calvinists who don’t win souls. But Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said they are not real Calvinists, they only have their beliefs as a “philosophy.” Men who really believed in election have been the greatest soul winners across the ages – Whitefield, the mighty evangelist; William Carey, the pioneer missionary; Adoniram Judson, the first American missionary; Dr. David Livingstone, the apostle to Africa; C. H. Spurgeon, the greatest Baptist preacher of all time – these men all believed in election!

I started this church forty years ago this April. I didn’t always believe in election. I thought it all depended on me. It nearly broke me to carry that load! But as I began to see this great truth, of the electing grace of God, the work of evangelism became a delight to me, as I hope it is to you! You cannot fail! We go out to the streets and malls of this great and wicked city – and human wisdom would say, “You can’t do it. It won’t be done! Everyone you bring to church will fall away!” But that is the voice of the Devil! The Word of God says,

“As many as were ordained to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48).

We cannot fail! The elect will come in and stay! The elect will be saved! Go out and get them! Do it! Do it! Do it! And Christ will be glorified in them! The elected ones will be saved! “Bring Them In.” Sing it!

Bring them in, Bring them in,
   Bring them in from the fields of sin;
Bring them in, Bring them in,
   Bring the wandering ones to Jesus.
(“Bring Them In” by Alexcenah Thomas, 19th century).

The Devil will say, “There will never be a revival! You tried it before! It will never happen!” But in the elective purpose of God it can happen! And I believe it will happen! God can do what we cannot do! Lord, send a revival! Sing it!

Lord, send a revival,
   Lord, send a revival,
Lord, send a revival
   And let it begin in me!

But there is a terrible warning in the Bible that applies to us today. It is this,

“The election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded” (Romans 11:7).

“It” refers to salvation, and the verse applies to us in our church.

Why do the elect obtain it? Well, because God has given them ears to hear, and eyes to see. They listen carefully to the sermons. They see their sins. They trust Christ. It’s as simple as that. “And the rest were blinded.” I hope that is not true of you, but I am afraid it might be. “The election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.”

You see, “the rest” have heard it all before, and, so, they close their minds to it. They have already seen the video of Pastor Wurmbrand’s scars, received from red-hot pokers, tortured for Christ. They have seen that before. And since they have already seen it, their minds are closed to it. They don't hear, and they don't think about what Pastor Wurmbrand says! They have already heard Dr. Chan speak – many times. And, so, the utter simplicity of his heart, and the transparent honesty and earnestness of his sermons do not touch them. They have already heard him preach and pray, so their minds are closed to what he says. They have already heard me preach – many, many times. And so, no thundering voice of mine could penetrate their wall of resistance. They have already heard my denunciations and pleadings. And, so, my sermons do not touch them. Their minds are closed to what I preach.

But the elect are not so. When they hear Pastor Wurmbrand on that video, they are struck with awe and wonder. They listen to him as though he were the Apostle Paul, fresh from the chains and darkness of a Roman prison. They hear Dr. Chan as though he were the physician Luke, fresh from an encounter with God. They hear my thundering preaching as though I were Luther, proclaiming the terrors of God’s law, and the consolation to be found in the bleeding wounds of Christ.

“The election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded” (Romans 11:7).

Before Pastor Wurmbrand was put in solitary confinement he was able to speak to other prisoners in that Communist concentration camp. One man, named Stancu, said to him,

[George] Bernard Shaw once suggested that people are so inoculated in childhood with small doses of Christianity that they seldom catch the real thing (Richard Wurmbrand, In God’s Underground, Living Sacrifice Book Co., 2004 reprint, page 120).

Has that happened to you? Have you been inoculated? Have you received so many small doses of Christianity that you cannot receive the real thing?

To experience a real conversion you must see everything with new eyes and hear everything with new ears. The truths you read about in the Bible must become valuable to you. The worth of your soul, the sins of your heart, the awfulness of eternity apart from Christ – these things must grip your very soul in a new way, or there will be no salvation.

Dr. Cagan and I have seen people we never thought would be saved, suddenly confronted with their sins and their evil hearts. We have seen them weep for their sins. We have seen them trust Christ. We have seen them pass over the border of this world and encounter Christ by faith in the realm of the spiritual. We cannot rationally explain this sudden faith, this divine-human encounter. It was not produced by something special that we said or did. We told them the same words which they had heard many times before. But suddenly God spoke to their hearts. They felt the perversion of their sinful natures. They rushed to Christ by faith. They were washed clean from their sins by His Blood. They were born of God. They were now in Christ Jesus. This is the miracle of conversion. This is the wonder of salvation. This is the reason Christ came to earth to die on the Cross. This is why He shed His Blood – so that your sins could be washed away forever! This is why He rose physically from the dead – to give you life.

“The election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded” (Romans 11:7).

“Oh pastor,” someone may say, “I do not want to be blinded. I want to be one of the elect.” Then “make your calling and election sure!” (II Peter 1:10). Do not reject the Spirit of God, penetrating you and revealing to you your polluted and deceitful heart. Do not resist the Spirit of God as He draws you to Christ. Be plunged beneath the flow of His Blood.

My mother had been in and out of church many times throughout her life. Yet her mind was foggy and unclear regarding the Gospel. She couldn’t grasp it. It seemed strange and foreign to her mind. She was lost. Then she heard my two boys singing in the backyard of our home. They were only about seven years old. She heard them singing,

Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
   (“Are You Washed in the Blood?” by Elisha A. Hoffman, 1839-1929).

She commented on it to me later that day. She said, “What a strange song that is for little boys to sing, ‘Are You Washed in the Blood?’ What a strange song!”

Yet, a short time later, it no longer seemed strange to her. She came to Christ and was converted. She said to me, “Jesus is real, Robert. When He came to me, He smelled so clean and fresh.” I never heard anyone say that before. I never read it anywhere. I know of no one who has that exact experience in conversion but her. Yet that was my mother’s experience, when she came to Jesus Christ by faith. She was “washed in the blood of the Lamb!”

You must not expect that same experience to happen to you – but when you come to Christ by simple faith, you, too, will be washed in the Blood of the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world. Even though you do not have the exact experience she had, Jesus promises, “Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). When you trust Jesus, you, too, are revealed as one of the elect! Dr. Chan, please pray for someone to trust Jesus today.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Acts 13:44-48.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“I’ve Found a Friend” (by James G. Small, 1817-1888).