(Article for publication week of 12-29-2010 AD)
“And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained unto eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48).
Ordination unto eternal life is the fountainhead of all spiritual blessings. Note well that our text plainly declares that those who believe the gospel were first ordained unto salvation. If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, be sure you are among the elect of God and you were chosen in Christ from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4).
We see in our text that faith is a result of the saving purpose of God, and not the cause of salvation. Faith is, properly speaking, a fruit of election. God the Father chose His elect people in Christ before He made the world. Christ became the covenant Head of His people and agreed in the covenant of grace to come into the world to save them from their sins (Matthew 1:21). All the sins of all of God’s elect were laid on the blessed Redeemer and He satisfied Divine justice and turned away God’s holy wrath from us. At the set time, the Holy Spirit enters into the heart of every child of grace, regenerating them and giving the gift of faith and enabling them to believe savingly in the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, as many as are ordained unto eternal life will believe in Christ for their salvation.
So we see in our text this week that God has ordained both the end of our salvation and all the means thereunto. In our text Paul and Barnabas were preaching in Antioch Pisidia. God sent them there for He had some of His elect there that must hear the gospel to be saved. The Jews rejected the gospel and thus showed that they were not among the elect of God. However, the Gentiles rejoiced and were glad to hear the good news of salvation and believed to the saving of their souls, proving that they were of God’s elect and ordained to eternal life from before the beginning of time.
What God has joined together we may not separate. God has ordained who will be saved, and He has also ordained the preaching of the gospel as the means to bring salvation to all His chosen ones. It is unbiblical to assume that God will save His elect whether we preach or not. “It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (I Corinthians 1:21). The gospel must be preached for God has ordained it as His means of converting His elect people and turning them from darkness to light (Acts 26:18). This is clearly shown in places like II Thessalonians 2:13-14 where we read, “But we are bound to give thanks for you, brethren, beloved of the Lord, for 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.”
The true gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ embraces both the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man. A supposed gospel that neglects either of these is a truncated “gospel”, and not the whole gospel. May the Lord call out His elect in these parts by the power of His gospel.