30 September 2000

A few weeks ago, while preaching in the state of Georgia, I was returning home Saturday night in time to preach at my home church on Sunday morning. As I approached the ticket counter I discovered that the plane was held up due to weather and we might not make our connecting flight. I thought of Paul, and how many times his trips were delayed, not due to plane connections, but due to shipwreck, stonings, beatings and all manner of persecutions. I found great comfort in knowing that even though preachers could be hindered from preaching at a desired place, God would not allow circumstances to affect the eternal destiny of His people. That is why I love the doctrine of election. I have learned that there are many people who love the doctrine of election. When my wife and I first heard it preached in clarity we walked outside the meeting house and I said, "I believe what that man preached". To my surprise Marilyn said, "I've always believed it." The doctrine of election is simple. It means that God chose a people to live with Him in heaven before the foundation of the world(Ephesians 1:4). It means that in spite of circumstances, persecutions, and man's ability, God will bring those He loved, foreknew, and chose to eternal peace. I am convinced that God's election includes a number that far surpasses those who are favored to hear the gospel. The elect includes the little child that dies in childbirth, the aborted, those who are mentally unable to understand the words of man, the persecuted who are not allowed to have bibles and go to church, those in the ghettos and slums of America, children whose parents will not tell them about Christ or take them to church and those who dwell in remote places of ignorance. The doctrine of election is a comforting doctrine. There is always the argument that goes like this, "What if someone wanted to be in the elect and were not. Are they left out?" A good preacher friend of mine who has gone to the Philippines to preach the gospel answers this question appropriately: "There is no such person. If the desire is in the heart to live with God in glory, that is the evidence that Christ already dwells in the heart." The hunger for Christ and a favorable response to the gospel is the greatest evidence a sinner can have that he is bound for glory(I Thes. 1:4,5). Surely, we must rejoice when the gospel is carried to other countries, other lands and spread across this great country in which we live. That is why I write these articles. A belief in the doctrine of election should not quench the fires of evangelism. It should fan the flame. The gospel was never designed to make the elect. It was designed to comfort the elect, to declare their deliverance and full pardon from the consequences of sin. There have been times when men and governments have locked up preachers, burned every Bible they could find, and imprisoned families who have named the name of Christ. There are places where that is going on today! It was definitely going on in Paul's day. So, when Paul writes of the elect in Romans 8, he asks this question, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?" The obvious answer is no one and no thing. Persecutors and broken airplanes will never separate the elect from Christ's love. But Paul does not stop here. He writes of those that do the suffering: "As it is written, For thy sake we(the elect) are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." Who do we find praying around the flagpoles in America today? The elect. Who did Nero burn in his fires? The elect. Who did they throw to the bulls and lions for their testimony for Christ. The elect. When governments have adopted a particular brand of religion and forced it upon the conscience of its citizens who has remained faithful to God and His Christ? The elect. Yes, here is comfort: planes may fail and preachers may stumble, but in the consummation of all things, God will have His precious jewels in heaven with him. Ps. I made my appointment. Many others did not! Come and worship with us at Harmony Primitive Baptist Church, in Donaldson, where God is sovereign, and salvation is by His abundant and amazing grace. Visit our web page at www.primitivebaptist.org/donaldson/ Singing begins at 10:30 each Sunday morning followed by preaching at 11:00. By His mercy and grace, Neil Phelan, Jr., Pastor