Thursday, March 05, 2009

How Jesus Used Election to Evangelize

Matthew 11:25-30, At that time Jesus declared, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; [26] yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. [27] All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. [28] Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. [29] Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. [30] For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Verses 28-30 are some of the most loved verses in the Bible. They are Christ's evangelistic appeal to us to come to him. However, I don't know that I've ever heard someone show the foundation for these verses, which of course are the words right before it, v. 25-27, which is one of the most overt passages in the Bible teaching the sovereignty of God in salvation. Why does Jesus so emphasize these truths in order to invite people to follow him? [I recently heard J.I. Packer say that the doctrine of election was a "family secret". By contrast, the Puritans were actually quite explicit to use God's sovereignty as a basis for their evangelism.]

Verses 25-27 where Christ "rejoices" in God's pleasure in hiding the truth from some people while revealing it to others actually gives people reason to run to Jesus. Unfortunately, too many people are embarrassed by the doctrine and sadly think they are contradictory doctrines.Verse 25a humbles us, reminding us that God alone decides who shall be in his kingdom. As king, he has the right to save or not to save people. It's a miracle he saves anyone. Further, it gives us confidence that we can be saved when we see how great is our sin. We can't save ourselves, but God can do the impossible! He is sovereign. On the other hand, verse 25b gives us hope that God is eager to save us! It is God's good pleasure ["gracious will" in the ESV] to reveal truth to the humble. In fact, v. 27 says, "no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." Obviously, even the unsaved saw Jesus with their physical eyes; the whole point of the passage is that Christ rejoices that God keeps closed or opens our spiritual eyes.

Therefore, we must resist our democratic heritage to the regard that we lose the ability to understand a completely sovereign King. We should gladly proclaim God's sovereignty in salvation as a way of offering humility, confidence, and hope. Election has long to long been seen as a philosophical, abstract system. NO! When we talk like this, it looses it heart. God in Christ has shown himself a personal King, giving us glad reason to come to him for rest!

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