In my first post on election I looked at Matthew 11:25-27 which is essentially the same as Luke 10:21-24 which speaks of “no one” knowing the Father except those to whom the Son “chooses to reveal Him.” In this post, I want to briefly look at Luke’s teaching on election. Since I have already essentially covered Luke 10:21-24, I want to focus on some profound verses in Acts (Luke wrote both the Gospel of Luke and Acts). Again–I am shooting for a straight-forward reading of the text–no textual gymnastics here, I am just trying to read the Bible for what is says.
Acts 13:48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.
This word “appointed” is a synonym for ordained. Again, notice these are Gentiles clearly being described as having been first appointed and then believing. This text could not be clearer. It is those who were appointed to eternal life who believed. There is a point in time on this earth when people believe unto salvation but this verse sees them as having been appointed before that point of coming to faith. It is also worth noting that this took place after Paul and Barnabas told the Jews, “it was necessary that the Word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles” (Acts 13:46). Thus Paul and Barnabas understood the Jews rejection of the good news about Christ as making them “unworthy of eternal life.” Election language being applied to Gentiles could not be clearer in this text. Election based merely upon foreseen faith would make no sense of this verse.
Acts 18:9-10 And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” 11 And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
The Lord encourages Paul by telling him that He is with Paul and that He (God) has many people in this city. If you read on you find that many people in this city end up believing in Christ upon hearing Paul’s preaching. This was in Corinth another heavily Gentile area. In fact it was here that Paul ran into heavy opposition from the Jews and proclaims to them “your blood be on your own hands! From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” (Acts 18:6). Thus these “people” in verse 10 must be Gentiles and not Jews. It is also worth noting that Paul’s harsh words to the Jews seem to indicate that he fears that they face divine judgment for their rejection of Jesus.
We should not think, however, that Paul was bitter toward the Jews for their rejection of Christ. In Romans, Paul profoundly says he wishes he were cut off from the Lord for the sake of the Jews that they might be saved:
Romans 9:1 I am speaking the truth in Christ- I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit- 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.
The reality that election depends “not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy” (Romans 9:16), ought to encourage us to be fervent evangelists. Where ever we take the gospel we can trust that “God has people” there–for there will be a people from every tribe, tongue, and nation in heaven. The results of our evangelism are not up to us–they are up to “God who has mercy.”
The primary reason why people (including myself) do not share the gospel is because they fear man or they treasure their own reputation too highly. They fear how people will respond, they fear rejection, they fear that they will not perform adequately to God’s standards. I believe that these fears are stilled with a robust understanding of God’s soveriegnty that says–“God commands me to evangelize, promises to be with me, and will work all things according to the council of his will (Ephesians 1:13)”! I can’t mess it up–I am simply called to be faithful!