Last week I was blessed to travel to Shreveport with my girlfriend Libby and visit a used bookstore. The store, The Thrifty Peanut (won’t forget that name anytime soon), has locations in both Shreveport and Bossier City. The larger store is located in Bossier City so we shopped at that location.
I love the religion section in used book stores because you never know what you will find. I came across and purchased a book titled, Southern Baptists and the Doctrine of Election by Robert B. Selph. The book introduces the doctrine of Unconditional Election as a Southern Baptist heritage, gives a survey of Baptist and Southern Baptist fathers (17th-20th centuries) who affirmed Unconditional Election, and lastly addresses the doctrine of election and its implications regarding the Christian life.
I’m just getting into the survey of “significant Baptist voices in history” but right at the end of the introduction I came across two paragraphs on page 16 that I wanted to share.
It was the assurance of Unconditional Election that brought the Apostle Paul such tenacity and drive in his Gospel labors. He told Timothy, “Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (2 Timothy 2:10). Paul knew he would not fail. He was deeply convinced that his Gospel preaching and imprisonments were not in vain. He could stand beside riverbanks, inside synagogues, before kings, or lay bound in dark dungeons and preach the unsearchable riches of Christ, fully persuaded that every one of those chosen before the world was formed would eventually bow before the preached Christ for salvation. The word preached would not return void. It would accomplish exactly what God sent it out to do. It is God who prospers His word with success – not man (Isaiah 55:11). His sovereign purpose determines when hearts will be broken or hardened.
This is the confidence that supported the modern missionary movement – “God will save His people from their sins – we shall not fail!” We do not have to cut corners or shave off the rough edges of the Gospel. We must preach the sovereignty and holiness of God, the utter pollution and guilt of the human soul, the absolute necessity of personal repentance – and all the truths that make the unnatural man to quiver with disgust and boil with rage – and then rejoice with assurance that though men walk away, yet God is honored and some will respond! To the amazement of mortal man, the truths God uses to effect the greater success of true conversions are the truths that most exalt God, most debase man, and most magnify Jehovah’s grace. Christ must be declared boldly – fervently – widely, and all of His sheep will hear His voice and follow Him. He will not lose one of them (John 6:37-39; 10:27).
What confidence we can have in our Gospel proclamation since it is God who sovereignly causes ears to hear. All those whom the Father gives to the Son will come because they hear His voice and will be eternally secure under the loving watch of the Good Shepherd. I hope I never find myself rounding the edges of the Gospel of Jesus Christ so that it brings no offense to the unregenerate heart. It is God who softens and hardens hearts, and what grace He has bestowed on His people to participate in the salvation of souls through the proclamation of His glorious Gospel.
Selph, Robert B. Southern Baptists and the Doctrine of Election. Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1991. Print.