A Sermon by Charles Haddon Spurgeon, 1855.
2 Thessalonians 2:13-14
If there were no other text in the Sacred Word except this one I thinkwe should all be bound to receive and acknowledge the truthfulness ofthe great and glorious doctrine of God’s ancient choice of His family. Butthere seems to be an inveterate prejudice in the human mind against thisdoctrine—and although most other doctrines will be received byprofessing Christians, some with caution, others with pleasure—this oneseems to be most frequently disregarded and discarded. In many of ourpulpits it would be reckoned a high sin and treason to preach a sermonupon election because they could not make it what they call a “practical”discourse.
I believe they have erred from the truth. Whatever God has revealed Hehas revealed for a purpose. There is nothing in Scripture which may not,under the influence of God’s Spirit, be turned into a practical discourse—“for all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable” for somepurpose of spiritual usefulness. It is true, it may not be turned into a freewill discourse—that we know right well—but it can be turned into apractical free grace discourse. And free grace practice is the best practicewhen the true doctrines of God’s immutable love are brought to bearupon the hearts of saints and sinners. Now, I trust this morning some ofyou who are startled at the very sound of this word will say, “I will give ita fair hearing. I will lay aside my prejudices, I will just hear what thisman has to say.”
Do not shut your ears and say at once, “It is high doctrine.” Who hasauthorized you to call it high or low? Why should you oppose yourself toGod’s doctrine? Say nothing against God’s doctrines, lest haply some evilbeast should come out of the forest and devour you, also.
And when you receive the truth, if God should be pleased to reveal andmanifest it to your souls, do not be ashamed to confess it. To confess youwere wrong yesterday is only to acknowledge that you are a little wisertoday. Instead of being a reflection on yourself, it is an honor to yourjudgment and shows that you are improving in the knowledge of theTruth of God. Do not be ashamed to learn and to cast aside your olddoctrines and views. But take up that which you may more plainly see tobe in the Word of God. And if you do not see it to be here in the Bible—whatever I may say, or whatever authorities I may plead—I beseech you,as you love your souls, reject it. And if from this pulpit you ever hearthings contrary to this Sacred Word, remember that the Bible must befirst and God’s minister must lie underneath it.
Now, first. I shall speak a little concerning the truthfulness of thisdoctrine—“God has from the beginning chosen you to salvation.”Secondly, I shall try to prove that this election is absolute—“He has fromthe beginning chosen you to salvation,” not for sanctification, but“through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” Thirdly, thiselection is eternal because the text says, “God has from the beginningchosen you.” Fourthly, it is personal—“He has chosen you.”Then we will look at the effects of the doctrine—see what it does. Andlastly, as God may enable us, we will try and look at its tendencies andsee whether it is indeed a terrible and licentious doctrine. We will takethe flower and like true bees, see whether there is any honey whatever init—whether any good can come of it—or whether it is an unmixed,undiluted evil.
It is no novelty, then, that I am preaching no new doctrine. I love toproclaim these strong old doctrines which are called by nicknameCalvinism but which are surely and verily the revealed Truth of God as itis in Christ Jesus. By this truth I make a pilgrimage into the past and asI go I see father after father, confessor after confessor, martyr aftermartyr, standing up to shake hands with me. Were I a Pelagian, or abeliever in the doctrine of free will, I should have to walk for centuries allalone. Here and there a heretic of no very honorable character might riseup and call me Brother.
I care not what they say, pro or con, as to this doctrine. I have onlyused them as a kind of confirmation to your faith, to show you that whileI may be railed upon as a heretic and as a hyper-Calvinist, after all I ambacked up by antiquity. All the past stands by me. I do not care for thepresent. Give me the past and I will hope for the future. Let the presentrise up in my teeth, I will not care. What though a host of the Churchesof London may have forsaken the great cardinal doctrines of God, itmatters not. If a handful of us stand alone in an unflinchingmaintenance of the sovereignty of our God, if we are beset by enemies,yes, and even by our own Brothers and Sisters who ought to be ourfriends and helpers, it matters not—if we can but count upon the past—the noble army of martyrs, the glorious host of confessors. They are ourfriends. They are the witnesses of truth and they stand by us.
The great Truth of God is always the Bible and the Bible alone. MyHearers, you do not believe in any other book than the Bible, do you?
I have selected a few texts to read to you. Just let me run through acatalogue of passages where the people of God are called elect. Of courseif the people are called elect, there must be election. If Jesus Christ andHis Apostles were accustomed to call Believers by the title of elect, wemust certainly believe that they were so, otherwise the term does notmean anything. Jesus Christ says,“Except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved;but for the elect’s sake, whom Hehas chosen, He has shortened the days.”
“False Christs and false prophets shall rise and shall show signs andwonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.” “Then shall Hesend His angels and shall gather together His elect from the four winds,from the uttermost parts of the earth to the uttermost part of Heaven.”—Mark 13:20, 22, 27. “Shall not God avenge His own elect who cry day andnight unto Him, though He bear long with them?” Luke 18:7. Togetherwith many other passages which might be selected, wherein either theword “elect,” or “chosen,” or “foreordained,” or “appointed,” ismentioned—or the phrase “My sheep”
But now for the verses that will positively prove the doctrine. Openyour Bibles and turn to John 15:16 and there you will see that JesusChrist has chosen His people, for He says, “You have not chosen Me, butI have chosen you and ordained you, that you should go and bring forthfruit and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever you shall ask ofthe Father in My name, He may give it you.”Then in the 19th verse,
“If you were of the world, the world would love his own, but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore theworld hates you.” Then in the 17th chapter and the 8th and 9th verses,“For I have given unto them the words which You gave Me; and they havereceived them and have known surely that I came out from You and theyhave believed that You did send Me. I pray for them: I pray not for theworld, but for them which You have given Me for they are Yours.”
You scarcely need to be reminded of Romans 8, because Itrust you are all well-acquainted with that chapter and understand it bythis time. In the 29th and following verses, it says, “For whom He didforeknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of HisSon, that He might be the firstborn among many Brethren. Moreover,whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called,them He also justified and whom He justified, them He also glorified.What shall we then say to these things? If God is for us, who can beagainst us? He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for usall, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shalllay anything to the charge of God’s elect?”
It would also be unnecessary to repeat the whole of the 9th chapter ofRomans. So long as that is written there, not the most violentcontortions of the passage will ever be able to exterminate the doctrine ofelection from the Scriptures.