Matthew 12:18 “Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen; My Beloved in whom My soul is well-pleased; I will put My Spirit upon Him, And He shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
A couple of weeks ago we did a Biblical survey of Sovereign election through the Old Testament in two blog posts which I will list for the reader's convenient reference and review:
In those two posts we summarized material taken from a separate study of over 70 passages in the Books of Moses (Genesis- Deuteronomy) and the rest of the Old Testament books. We discovered the following four truths about election and one other important consideration:
1. Election's purpose: Godliness
2. Election's motive: God's love
3. Election's targets: Helpless people
4. Election's timing: Eternity
5. There is no conflict between Sovereign election and human responsibility.
These major headings will follow us into our study of the doctrine of election through the New Testament. We will focus today on Jesus' teaching and the early church's position on election in the Book of Acts.
Jesus teaching on election in the Gospels
As you may have noticed in the opening of today's blog, the first mention of the word "chosen" in the New Testament is Jesus' self-description of His mission in Matthew 12:18. As we saw in yesterday's post, Jesus Christ was God's chosen one (Messiah, Christ) as predicted in Isaiah 42:1. As much as Matthew 12:18 is the first mention of the word "chosen", the teaching on Christ's election extends back to the first chapter of Matthew. In Matthew 1:1-19 we see 52 generations or three sets of 14 generations of people listen in Jesus' genealogy. When you consider that Abraham and David, the headliners of Jesus' geneaology, were chosen by God, you begin to realize how important election is to God's plan.
As Jesus begins to preach and teach, He unfolds the truth of God's elective purposes in calling forth sinner's unto salvation. Matthew 22:14 is the famous passage that states: "many are called but few are chosen." In Mark 3:13 we read that Jesus summoned the twelve as those whom He had chosen. In the famous Olivet discourse wherein Jesus teaches on what will take place prior to His second coming, we see mention of "the elect" in Matthew 24:22,24,31 and Mark 13:20,22 and 27. Jesus refers to His own disciples as those whom the Father "chose" to receive the Kingdom in Luke 12:32. As you look at Jesus teaching on election in the Gospels, we certainly see the four headings we discovered in our survey of the Old Testament and Moses' writings:
1. Election's purpose: Godliness. (John 15:16)
2. Election's Motive: God's Love. (John 15:13-16; 17:12)
3. Election's targets: helpless people. (Luke 18:7)
4. Election's timing: eternity (John 17:1-3, 12)
We could add a fifth heading about election that we see especially in Jesus' teachings, namely that Election's blessing: comfort. When Jesus speaks about election in the Gospels, it is usually in the context of trying to comfort His people. Read the six times we find election mentioned in Jesus' Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24; Mark 13) or His teaching on prayer in Luke 18:7 to see how election is used to comfort and secure God's people. Jesus taught election because He knew His disciples and church would need the encourage of knowing God was for them and had chosen them to persevere to the end.
The early church's teaching on election in the Book of Acts
After Jesus ascended into heaven in Acts 1, did the Apostles and early church teach on election? We read that Paul was God's chosen instrument to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles in Acts 9:15. In Peter's first sermon in Acts 2:23-24 we discover that Jesus was God's chosen One with Whom He pre-determined to be virgin born and be crucified. Paul in Acts 13:46-48 is evangelizing a group of people and says these words: "Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us, ‘I have placed You as a light for the Gentiles, That You may bring salvation to the end of the earth.’” 48 When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed." Paul clearly points out that the fault of the Jews unbelief lay in their free choice of rejection, whereas the Gentiles decision to choose Christ as their Savior occurred because they were appointed unto eternal life. In this most illuminating passage of Acts we discover the truth we have been affirming throughout this blog series, namely that only God could design a salvation wherein there is no conflict between His elective purposes and man's responsibility to believe and be saved. As the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 affirms: "Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man, and comprehends all the means in connection with the end."
Just as Jesus did and the Old Testament communicated, the Apostles asserted the following five truths about election:
1. Election's purpose: Godliness (Acts 13:42)
2. Election's motive: God's love (Acts 2:23-24)
3. Election's targets: Helpless people (Acts 9:15)
4. Election's timing: eternity (Acts 2:23-24)
5. Election's blessing: comfort (Acts 13:48-52)
Imagine how comforting it is to a persecuted church to hear that God is for them. As one old preacher used to say to me years ago: "you are God called and God walled". My prayer is that as we are studying these scriptures on God's elective purpose that you are beginning to see how amazing God's grace truly is from eternity to eternity!