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EVANGELISM AND ELECTION

A lesson by Dr. C. L. Cagan
given at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Afternoon, January 28, 2018

“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

“Many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14).


In our first text, Jesus told us to preach the Gospel to every creature – to all people. In our second text, He said that only a few will trust Christ. Those few are the “chosen” – the elect – those whom God has elected, chosen to salvation. It is written that C. H. Spurgeon, the Prince of Preachers, said:

If God had put a yellow streak up and down the backs of the elect, I’d go up and down the streets lifting up shirt tails to find out who had the yellow streak up and down his back. Then I’d give that person the gospel. But God didn’t do that. He told me to preach the gospel to every creature and that whosoever will may come.

But God did not put a yellow streak up and down the backs of those who are elect. We can’t see who’s elect and who is not. We don’t know who is elect and who is not. So we invite everyone to come to church and hear the Gospel, knowing that only the elect will come to church and then be converted.

No, we don’t know who is elect. But the Bible tells us that election is true. Listen to what happened when the Apostle Paul preached in Antioch of Pisidia:

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

Those who were elect trusted Christ. Those who were not elect did not trust Christ. Someone may say. “I don’t understand election. It doesn’t seem fair to my modern mind.” But God says, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8, 9). God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts. I accept what God says in the Bible whether I fully understand it or not, and so should you!

Should election discourage us from doing evangelism? No! It should encourage us and comfort us! Yes, most of the people will not receive the message. But the elect will certainly, without a doubt, come to church and be converted. They will live true Christian lives until they die. You can count on it.

Election tells us that only a few will be saved. “Many are called, but few are chosen.” We do not go to evangelism expecting that everyone will be saved. We do not expect to win everyone in Los Angeles to Christ. Only a few will come in and be saved. But we can be absolutely sure that the elect will come in and be saved. They cannot be lost! Though they go through opposition, trials and sacrifice, they will come in. They will be saved. They cannot be lost. They are “chosen... in [Christ] before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4). Before the world was created, God chose them to be saved. They cannot be lost. You can count on it.

Why do some people get converted and others don’t – even though they hear the Gospel for years, and we speak to them individually after each sermon? The non-elect can’t get saved. They don’t and they won’t. But all of the elect get saved. Some are saved the first time they come to church, like Dr. Chan, Mrs. Hymers, Mr. Griffith, Mrs. Cagan, and others. Others trust Christ after more time. But all of them get saved.

Election applies on an individual level. One person is elect and another is not. But election also applies on a national level. In the Old Testament, God said to the nation Israel, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth” (Amos 3:2). Only the Jewish people were chosen by God. None of the Gentile nations were chosen by God. All in the Gentile nations, with their wicked sin and idolatrous religions, went to Hell. Within the nation Israel, there was a “remnant” – the chosen, the elect. The prophet Isaiah 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). Someone may say, “I don’t understand this It doesn’t seem fair to my modern mind.” But God’s ways are higher than our ways. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. God says that election applies on a national level – whether we like it or not.

It’s true in our time. In Communist China, in spite of severe persecution –prison and death – millions of people come to Christ every year. That didn’t happen five hundred years ago. But God is now drawing millions of Chinese people to Jesus every year. What a wonder of His grace!

In the Middle East, God is now drawing hundreds, perhaps a few thousand, of Arabs to Jesus, even though it may cost them their lives. For more than a thousand years none of them trusted Christ. All of them held to Islam. But now God has drawn some of them to Jesus. Not tens of millions, as it is in China, but hundreds or a few thousand.

The number of elect is different from one nation – one group – to another. In China it is many millions. Among the Arabs it is hundreds or a few thousand. In the past none of the Arabs were elect. Now almost all of them are non-elect, but a very few of them are.

We must be aware of election in doing evangelism. We are trying to build a church here in the civic center of Los Angeles, one of the most wicked cities in the world. Millions of people live here without a good-size church to go to. Only a few of them are elect. We don’t know who is elect and who is not. But if we want to build a church here, we should focus our work and attention on the people and groups which are most likely to be elect. If we spent thirty years trying to bring Arabs, we might win only a handful of them. That would be good – but there wouldn’t be a church here. But God has used our work with Chinese people to bring some of them to Jesus. God is working among them. God has elected some of them to salvation. God has brought some of them to Christ.

We must remember this when we do evangelism. The Bible says, “He that winneth souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30). This could be translated from the Hebrew as “he that is wise wins souls.” A Christian who is not wise does not win souls. If you want to win souls, be wise enough to remember the doctrine of election.

We do our evangelism differently from other churches. Dr. Hymers developed our method after years of trial and experience. We go out to invite people to church on Thursday night, Saturday night, and Sunday afternoon. We go to personal evangelism on our own to college campuses, malls and other places. We get their names and phone numbers. The deacons and Christian workers arrange a ride for them to come to church. In church they hear the Gospel. Some of them trust Christ. That’s our method of evangelism. It works!

Most churches have only one ethnic group. But we have many different groups here. We have an Asian class and a Spanish class. The Asians invite Chinese and other Oriental people. The Spanish people get Spanish names. And so it is with other groups.

But you must be wise when you go out to evangelism. If you want to win souls, put your work on those whom God is working on. Agree with God in your evangelism! God is bringing Chinese people to Christ. You should bring many of them to church.

Some people and groups are so ruined by their depraved nature and their depraved culture that they can’t come to church every week. If they do visit church, they don’t stay very long They like having friends in church, but they don’t stay. They are like the people of which Jesus said,

“Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away” (Luke 8:12, 13).

They show that they were not elect. Don’t spend hour after hour, day after day, with them. In our church we speak of the “grab bag.” The “grab bag” means people who are too confused and disorderly to stay in church. They may talk to you. They may give their names. They may even come to church a few times. But they have no self-control and so they don’t stay. They show that they are not among the elect. Don’t throw away your time.

About ninety percent of all conversions happen before the age of thirty. Study after study has shown that. The Bible shows that. All the Apostles were young men. The oldest among them was perhaps thirty, no more than thirty-five years old. The Apostle Paul was young. When Stephen was stoned, they “laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul” (Acts 7:58). Saul of Tarsus was converted soon after that, and became the Apostle Paul. The Bible says, “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth” (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

A few people are converted when they are old. Dr. Hymers’ mother was 80 years old when she trusted Christ. But ninety percent of conversions happen before the age of thirty. There are psychological reasons for this. The time from 16 to 25 years of age is when most people make up their minds about what they are going to do and believe. Before that they are usually controlled by their parents. When they get past 30 they have usually made up their minds and they are busy with the cares of life. But there is a divine side to this as well. God has chosen that most conversions happen while people are young. That happens – because God has chosen it. Be wise enough to agree with God. Look for people between the ages of 16 and 25, and spend most of your time with them.

Many people from a Catholic background have come to Christ. They know they should be good – and they know they aren’t good. Most of them have a sense of guilt. That’s why some of them come to Christ. Some have been saved from nonreligious backgrounds. I was. I didn’t believe in God. I didn’t go to church even once until I was 21 years old. I knew I was not a Christian. One day I trusted Jesus and was converted. People from Buddhist backgrounds know they are not Christians. Yet some of them have trusted Jesus and been converted.

It is much harder to bring people to conversion who are deep in new-evangelicalism. They think they are already saved. They think they know about the Bible. They think they know about trusting Christ. To them I say what Jesus said to the Pharisees, “Ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth” (John 9:41). They think they know about salvation. They think they are already saved. So they don’t come as helpless sinners to be washed in the Blood of Christ. By doing this they show that they are not elect.

God practices election. He sent His angels to take out three people from Sodom: Lot and his two daughters. Thousands of people were left in Sodom because they were not elect. They perished in the judgment of that city. Lot’s wife went out of the city, but perished in that judgment. She was not elect. This shows what election does. It takes out those that God has chosen. It leave out those whom God has not chosen. Was God wrong? No! God is sovereign, and He sovereignly chooses who He wants to save.

My friends, be wise enough to agree with God in your evangelism! Choose the ones that God may have chosen. Put your time and effort on those who are more likely to be elect. May God bless you as you do it. Amen.


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