Reformed Baptist Fellowship

Why Preach “Election” on Sunday morning?

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on November 10, 2009 at 8:39 pm

For readers who could not know, this past Sunday morning’s sermon at GRBC was an over-view of the doctrine of Election.  No one has asked why the decision was made to preach such a difficult subject on Sunday morning; however, I suspect the question has crossed some one’s mind.  In our context, the Sunday morning congregation ordinarily has a larger number of visitors and non-Christians than does the Sunday evening service.  Consequently, the thought might be that the subject matter for Sunday morning ought to be a bit lighter and more “seeker sensitive” (though we would never use that language) than in the evening.  So, why preach on the complex and controversial subject of election?  Again, no one has actually asked, so I am not attempting to defend against protests; but, I do want the reasoning to be understood.

Reason #1: we are preaching consecutive expositions through Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians and we have arrived at chapter 3 and verse 12:

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;

Some explanation must be given to the words “the elect of God”.  In certain respects it is easier to take time to expound the term “elect” more thoroughly than to give an adequate short explanation that would satisfy the inquiring mind.  So, the primary reason for taking up the subject was to deal with the actual text of Scripture.

Reason #2:  the stated purpose of the Sunday morning meeting is the worship of God.  That is as it should be.  The gathered church on the Lord’s Day should be supremely focused on the worship of God.  We should eagerly invite everyone we can to join us in this grand endeavor.  Man exists for the glory of God.  The Christian ought to have a deep concern that all people everywhere know and worship God.  However, because that is the great end of the church and of its Lord’s Day meetings, the subject matter of preaching and singing and praying ought to be expressly the glory of God.  It is a contradiction of our purpose to profess to worship God and then calculate what we do for the unconverted hearer more than for the actual pleasure and praise of God.  Though we must desire the salvation of all people fervently, especially all those that we are able to host in the services of the church, nonetheless, the open and candid worship of God is even more important.  God is to be praised for His electing grace and we should not be embarrassed in the least to praise Him in those terms.  That being said, the doctrine of election should always be preached evangelistically. God chooses sinners for salvation.  It is contradictory to speak of electing grace without doing so in the very spirit of the Gospel itself. Hopefully that was somewhat the case on Sunday.

Reason #3: evidently the Holy Spirit considers it important for the church to know about the doctrine of election.  The doctrine is repeatedly discussed in the New Testament epistles.  Election, exegetically considered, is  doxological and nourishing.  In other words, it fuels worship and edification.  God is robbed of His due honor and His people are deprived of exhilarating comfort when the doctrine of election is treated as some sort of theological contraband.

Reason #4: God has revealed difficult things in the Bible for our good, not our confusion.  The doctrine of election is difficult in large measure because it demolishes our assumption of spiritual neutrality and objectivity.  Even though all Christians would admit that humans are sinful, the common assumption is that people are sufficiently objective and unprejudiced to make the determining decision regarding their own eternal salvation.  However, Scripture teaches much the contrary.  “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent me draws him” said our Lord to people were lost yet thought themselves in control.  In reality, no one by nature is able to choose Christ.  No one is able because no one is willing.  No one is willing to choose Christ and His cross above their sinful preferences and their assumed autonomy.  Yet, even after salvation, we want to think that our choice was decisive.  It is tremendously difficult for many of us to accept that our lostness was such that had God not chosen us, we never would have chosen Christ.  But, we very much need to be humbled in that respect.  We need to recognize what a complete miracle it is that any of us are citizens of Heaven.  We need to worship God in complete awe of His grace.  God has revealed doctrines like election to deepen our humility and to heighten our awe toward Christ.

You are perhaps thinking of other reasons; but, these are the primary reasons behind our decision to have the doctrine of election preached on Sunday morning (and it was a decision of the eldership and not of a single pastor).  No doubt the doctrine could be better presented than it was; however, may we never come to a mindset that would think it inappropriate to hold forth any primary doctrine of God’s glory in a public worship service.

Gary Hendrix, Pastor
Grace Reformed Baptist Church
Mebane, North Carolina
  1. “That being said, the doctrine of election should always be preached evangelistically. God chooses sinners for salvation. It is contradictory to speak of electing grace without doing so in the very spirit of the Gospel itself.”

    Amen! Thank you for this post, Pastor Hendrix!

    I’m also thankful the Holy Spirit chose to place the words “tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering” after the words “the elect of God.” Because election is true, we ought to be humble and gracious. There ought to be no such thing as a proud Calvinist!

  2. “However, because that is the great end of the church and of its Lord’s Day meetings, the subject matter of preaching and singing and praying ought to be expressly the glory of God. It is a contradiction of our purpose to profess to worship God and then calculate what we do for the unconverted hearer more than for the actual pleasure and praise of God.”

    Thank you Pastor Hendrix for maintaining that blessed priority!

  3. Amen.

  4. I thank God for this article. I have always been concerned that some Reformed Baptists churches are hesitant to preach God’s election of grace in the hearing of unbelievers. If we proclaim to sinners a salvation that is solely by grace; what is the problem in defining that grace as electing grace (which it is)?
    It is my conviction that unbelievers should not be shielded from biblical truth – no matter what it may be – because it is the truth that sets them free.

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