(Article for publication week of 9-15-2010 AD)
“Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (II Timothy 2:10).
For the past several weeks we have been declaring the scriptural doctrine of the Sovereignty of God. One of the first questions people raise when presented with this truth is, “if God is absolutely sovereign (and He is) and has predestinated who would be saved (and he has), then why preach?”
The first answer to this question is BECAUSE GOD SAID TO! Our Lord plainly told us to preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15-16). Whether we understand anything else about it, we must obey God. “Our first duty is not to understand, but to believe” (A. W. Pink). Paul said he endured all things for the elect’s sakes that they would obtain salvation. We must imitate his example, whether we understand the Biblical connection between the end and the means of salvation.
Secondly, we preach the gospel to the whole world because the only way we know who the elect are is by their response to the gospel. In Acts 13:48 it says, “as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” As surely as God ordained salvation, He also ordained to bring all His elect to faith in Christ, and He accomplishes this by the preaching of the word. Let no one imagine themselves to be among the elect of God who is not trusting in Christ Alone for salvation. The gospel draws out the elect from the rest of the world. I will illustrate my point like this. If you had a pile of steel shavings mixed with sawdust and drew a magnet over the pile, the magnet would draw out the steel shavings. So it is with the drawing power of the gospel. It draws out the chosen of God. The Lord sends His Holy Spirit into the hearts of His elect so that the gospel comes to them in power (I Corinthians 1:18).
Thirdly, we preach the gospel to the whole world because it is the means God ordained whereby His elect should obtain salvation. Although salvation has been decreed from all eternity, it must be obtained. It is through “sanctification of the spirit and belief of the truth” (II Thessalonians 2:13) that God’s elect come into possession of salvation. This is the reason Paul endured all things (no small statement) for the elect’s sakes, for he knew that not a single soul would be saved, unless the gospel be preached.
The preachers that have been most used of God in evangelism and missions have been Calvinists; men like George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, William Carey, and Rolf Barnard to name a few. Their belief in the sovereignty of God moved such men to do as the Apostle Paul and endure all things for the elect’s sakes that would obtain salvation. May we do likewise for God has commanded it, and it is His means to bring salvation to His elect.